Monday, October 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Lay off religious affairs, Badal warns CM
Tribune News Service

Bir Behman (Bathinda), October 13
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today took a hard stance when he threatened that there would be a revolution in Punjab if the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had started “harassing” the members of the SGPC, did not stop interfering in the religious matters of the Sikhs.

Mr Badal said in case of his arrest, it was up to the party rank and file to decide the future course of action. Capt Amarinder Singh would be solely responsible for the situation in Punjab after he (Mr Badal) was arrested.

Alleging that Capt Amarinder Singh was facilitating the “occupation” of the SGPC by a section of the Akalis, Mr Badal said to accomplish this, Capt Amarinder Singh had started harassing members of the SGPC belonging to the SAD by unleashing police atrocities and terror on them. Last night, a Scheduled Caste member of the SGPC from Barnala had been picked up by the police, he added.

“Punjab has suffered a lot already due to the decade-long terrorism and now the Chief Minister, who has been working on the direction of “five officers”, is again trying to bring back black days in the state,” pointed out Mr Badal.

Mr Badal, who was here to attend the bhog ceremony of senior Akali leader Daya Singh, while talking to mediapersons, warned Capt Amarinder Singh that the latter and his associates would have to pay the price for torturing the Akalis, including former ministers, with third degree methods.

Significantly, no member of the SGPC, belonging to the SAD, of this area was present at the bhog ceremony of Daya Singh. Most of them had underground fearing their arrest any time.

He urged members of the SGPC, belonging to the SAD, not to accept the gunmen being offered by the Punjab Government to them through the district police chiefs. He added that the Congress government was trying to attach CID sleuths with members of the SGPC as gunmen and the same people would be used to pick them up when the election of President of the SGPC would be held.

When asked whether he feared his arrest any time, Mr Badal said he was roaming freely in Punjab and anybody could arrest him anytime. He added that he would not apply for pre-arrest bail. He said the Congress government and its Chief Minister had got frustrated as the Chief Minister could not find anything against him despite brutally torturing a number of his associates for making them approvers against him. The Congress even mentioned in its manifesto that if it came to power, it would send Mr Badal and his family members to jail.

“I have been to jails for the people’s cause for more than 15 years. I could not attend the marriage of my daughter and my niece as I was in jail. Has Capt Amarinder Singh ever went to jail or has he ever sacrificed anything for protecting the interests of the people,” asked Mr Badal.

To another question, he said the SAD was taking all legal steps to save the party leaders from the atrocities being committed on them by Capt Amarinder Singh and his associates.

Mr Badal said the resolution passed by Congress government in the Vidhan Sabha was politically motivated. He alleged that the Congress government had been doing nothing for the farmers and all those facilities, which were extended to the latter by the previous SAD-BJP combine government, had been withdrawn.

During the five-year rule of the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab, the average increase in the MSP of wheat per year was Rs 46 and increase in the MSP of paddy was Rs 33. The Congress government could get an increase of Rs 10 in the MSP of wheat and zero in the MSP of paddy, he pointed out.

If the Congress government continued to press the farmers hard, it would give lead to a revolution in the state. He added that all political parties of country should come on a common platform to think about the solution of problems being faced by farmers, including debt.


Badal flays Amarinder on security for SGPC men
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
SAD President, Parkash Singh Badal today decried the Punjab Government’s move to put surveillance on SGPC members in the garb of security personnel. Describing it as a brazen attempt to throw a ring of government officials around the members in order to put them virtually under house arrest, he said that “the Punjab Government, especially its Chief Minister, must stop drawing inspiration from Veerapan.”

In a statement here, Mr. Badal said that this ring of custodial surveillance was aimed only at whisking the members away in order to prevent them from exercising their franchise during the forthcoming SGPC presidential elections. The idea, he said was the brainchild of the Ravi Inder Singh-Gurcharan Singh Tohra nexus who want to grab control of the Sikh shrines these two leaders had helped the Congress during the last elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on a quid pro quo basis. As the other part of the deal, these so-called Panthic leaders had committed to the Congress leaders to hand over the control of the gurdwaras to that party.

The Akali leader said that it was amazing that the Amarinder Government which had summarily and blindly withdrawn security from a majority of the Akali leaders, including several ex-ministers, ex-M.P.s, ex-M.L.A.s, S.G.P.C. members and senior party functionaries, was now keen on post the spies as securitymen.

Mr Badal referred to the case of former SGPC chief and Bhulath legislator Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was denied adequate security despite serious threats to her life. “How come now even the members who had clearly stated that they do not require any security are being encircled by an army of government agents posing as security personnel. The fact of the matter is that if the SGPC members face any real threat, it is from the Punjab Police itself which has registered false cases against a number of SGPC members with the sole aim of preventing them from voting in favour of the SAD candidate.


Punjab in financial straitjacket
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The Punjab Cabinet will discuss two important issues at its forthcoming meeting here. One, the tariff order of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission and two, the financial situation as on August 31 up to when the Accountant-General has also submitted the state’s “performance” report. The third item pertains to the presentation to be made by Capt. Amarinder Singh on the ‘fiscal situation of the state’ at a meeting of all Chief Ministers convened by the Prime Minister in New Delhi for October 18.

It is over five weeks since the tariff order was passed. Its implementation has been delayed due to indecisiveness and political compulsions of the government over billing agriculture power, which has been free for tubewells since February, 1997. This delay is there despite the fact that the tariff order is legally binding.

The second issue, the state’s financial position, sources say is likely to make the Cabinet sit up and ponder as to why it has not improved despite a clear roadmap shown in the current year Budget. Even the decisions already taken at the level of the Cabinet and the Cabinet sub-committee on fiscal reforms and management have not yet been implemented.

Sources told TNS that there had been no restructuring of the departments, no identification of surplus employees, no creation of a pool of surplus employees, no steps forward on the voluntary retirement scheme, no disinvestments in the public sector undertakings (on whose behalf the state has given a guarantee of Rs 24,500 crore with practically no returns) and no user charges on transport, education (general, technical and medical), health delivery system and water supply and sewerage. Even the select committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha has not met so far to consider the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Bill.

But for some small progress in revenue income in respect of excise and taxation, there is no activity in respect of other proposals.

The Cabinet, therefore, would have to introspect and decide on effective implementation of the fiscal reforms and financial management. As per the report of the A-G, revenue deficit is Rs 3,781 crore, which is 5 per cent of the gross domestic product while the gross fiscal deficit is Rs 4,958 crore, which is 6.5 per cent of the GDP. The revenue deficit is 80 per cent of the gross fiscal deficit, which means a very high percentage of revenue continues to flow into “consumption” expenditure and very little into capital formation.

Besides looking towards the Centre for debt relief, the state has to take suggested measures at its own level as well. The debt burden at present is high — 45 per cent of the GDP. The fiscal profile of the state shows that it is in a straitjacket. It shall remain so unless debt relief comes from New Delhi. It is in this context that the Cabinet will also deliberate on what the Punjab Chief Minister should put forward at October 18 meeting.

The key issues for the meeting are, 1) Debt position of states and the way out; 2) revenue improvement; 3) making available funds under the centrally sponsored schemes through the consolidated fund of the state and not directly to the implementing agencies; 4) regulatory scheme on overdraft by states; 5) implementation of the Supreme Court judgment in respect of revision of pay scales of judicial officers; and 6) issue of containing non-plan expenditure.


Indian youth in Italy caution parents
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
“Please do not repeat the mistake we made,” is the caution given by Punjabi youth —- awaiting regularisation of their “stay” in Italy — to their parents back home .

The provocation for cautioning their parents back home are the reports of their exploitation by “certain touts and agents” who on the pretext of getting the “ necessary documents for their wards staying illegally in Italy” have been extorting huge amounts from them.

“Please do not pay anybody anything,” says Mr Nirmal Singh Sidhu, President of the Italy unit of the Lok Bhalai Party. In a fax message to The Tribune, Mr Sidhu said “it is unfortunate that certain mischievous elements have been trying to make a quick buck by exploiting unsuspecting parents and relatives of youth struggling to get their stay in Italy legitimtised.”

“Reports of such cases of cheating and fleecing have come from Moga, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other districts.

“Initially, we all were exploited by human smugglers in the garb of travel agents who fleeced us of huge amounts of money to get us in Italy and other western countries by illegal means. After struggling here for years together, now when the Italy Government has announced general amnesty for us, these agents have become active again. They have been targeting our parents and other relatives back home”.

“We have been receiving complaints from various parts of Italy, saying that either parents or other blood relatives of the youths here have paid anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 each to get documents so that the stay of their wards is regularised. “I want to tell them — parents and relatives of all boys living in Italy now — not to pay anything to any agent as no one can help them. Whatever help they needed was given to them by the Indian Missions in Rome and Milan. The requisite authority letters have been issued to them to enable them to file applications for the regularisation of their stay ,” Mr Nirmal Singh Sidhu said.

Mr Sidhu said the only people who could help the youth stranded in Italy were those in the Regional Passports Offices at Jalandhar and Chandigarh who had to send either police verification reports or reports about the passports held by the applicants before they landed in Italy.


Gap in PSEB, PSERC figures
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 13
The PSEB during the recent paddy season came to the rescue of the farmers by maintaining nearly a 10-hour power supply to the tubewells despite facing a severe financial and coal crisis. The PSEB also diverted 861 million units from the industrial sector to the agriculture sector by bearing a net loss of Rs 247 crore. It also incurred extra expenditure of Rs 118 crore on the purchase of about 630 million units from the central sector this year as compared to the last year.

In these circumstances, even if the Punjab Government allows the PSEB to implement the decision of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) of imposing tariff on the agriculture sector, the PSEB will not be in a position to come out of red because the PSERC has considered the power consumption by the tubewells at 5235 million units against the consumption of 5986 million units as worked out by the PSEB for the year 2002-03.

This leaves a gap of 751 million units that has not been attributed to the agriculture sector.

Sources in the PSEB engineers association say that the PSERC has worked out 1700 units per kilowatt per year consumption by a tubewell against 1930 units per kilowatt as worked out by the PSEB. The connected load of tubewells in the state is 3079396 kilowatt for more than 8.5 lakh tubewells in the state.

Sources further stated that the PSERC was of the view that the PSEB had not worked out the power consumption on any scientific base as it was simply based on the sample metering of 3220 tubewells getting metered supply and this figure represented only 0.38 per cent of the about 8.5 lakh tubewells. In view of this, the PSERC had also directed the PSEB to get a study of power consumption by the tubewells conducted in the state from an independent agency to arrive at a realistic consumption.

The power supply to the tubewells is limited to 8 to 10 hours a day during the paddy season and for considerably lesser periods during the rest of the year as per an observation made by the PSERC in its report. However, as per the PSEB records, the power supply to the tubewells during the recent paddy season was 8.56 hour in June, 8.48 hours in July, 9.27 hours in August and 9.40 hours in September this year.

Besides the PSEB, the Punjab Agriculture University has also conducted a study on the power consumption by the tubewells in Punjab and worked out an average of 1635 units per hectare in a year. As per the PAU report 1422 units are consumed per hectare for paddy crop, 187 units per hectare for wheat crop, 44 units per hectare for cotton crop and 172 units per hectare for other crops.

Taking a serious view over the low power tariff for the agriculture sector as fixed by the PSERC at the rate of 57 paise per unit, the engineers feel that the PSEB should take effective steps to justify the power consumption worked out by the board before the PSERC for higher tariff on the agriculture sector in its next submission to the PSERC.


4,000 acres identified for crop diversification
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 13
With the launch of the contract farming programme by the Punjab Government the district administration has identified about 4,000 acres in the district in this regard.

Agriculture Department officials told TNS here today that farmers were being encouraged to plant hybrid sarson (hybrid rapeseed-mustard) instead of wheat, as it would bring them better returns. Stress was also being laid on the growing of winter maize and gram.

While the department officials claim that the programme was getting good response, officials of Punjab Agro, the agency implementing the programme, however, revealed that so far only about 150 acres have been registered.

In Bathinda farmers have so far shown interest only in sarson.

The departmental officials said at least 500 acres each in seven blocks of the district have been earmarked for the diversification programme. These include Bathinda, Phul, Rampura Phul, Maur, Bhucho, Sangat and Talwandi Sabo.

Agriculturalists said a yield of about 20 quintals of sarson was expected from 1 hectare (2.5 acres). The minimum support price (MSP) has been set by the government at Rs 1,400 per quintal. The hybrid seeds are being made available by a company, Adventa, at Rs 500 per acre.

According to experts, the resources required to cultivate sarson are less than those required for wheat. “Farmers can save around Rs 1,500 per acre in cultivating sarson as compared to wheat . Sarson seeds are available at a cheaper rate and it requires less fertilisers, pesticides and water,” an official in the Agriculture Department commented. Besides, the soil conditions in this area are extremely suitable for its cultivation.

While the area under wheat cultivation in the district has been reduced, experts still expect a better harvest vis-a-vis last year. Last year 9.41 tonnes of wheat was harvested from 2.43 lakh hectares in the district. This year the yield expected to be 9.88 tonnes from 2.38 lakh hectares.

Owing to their previous experience, farmers, however, are still sceptical about the diversification programme and have expressed uncertainty over assured procurement.

Earlier, they had gone in for cultivating fruits like grapes and kinoo, besides vegetables and oilseeds. However, their returns failed to match expectations. The government had fixed Rs 1,160 per quintal as MSP for oilseeds but did not purchase any of the produce, saying that there were no agencies willing to buy the same. The produce was bought by local traders at a much lower price of Rs 800 per quintal. In the case of fruits the government had simply failed to fix the MSP.


Contract farming to cover 30,000 acres
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 13
The Department of Agriculture, Punjab has planned to increase area under contract farming to 30,000 acres this season.

Contract farming envisages farmers and private companies signing an agreement before the sowing of crop ensuring buy back of these crops — barley, hyola mustard and winter crops thus eliminating the problem of marketing. The plan has elicited encouraging response from farmers in Sangrur, Patiala, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts, where it was introduced as an experimental. Barley and hyola mustard was being sown in Patiala and Sangrur, while winter maize in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur districts under the plan.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr R.K. Rampal, on his first visit to the Doaba region, after assuming charge as Director Agriculture Punjab, said contract farming had yielded encouraging results as the plan was farmer friendly in the sense that farmers would not face marketing problem following an agreement before sowing of crop between private companies and farmers.

The Punjab Agro Industries Corporation was also playing useful role by farmers and private companies face to face, supplying of seed was also the responsibility of companies making agreement.

Seeing positive results, the area under the farming would be increased to 30,000 acres in the state and increased gradually. He said the farming would be developed to enable farmers to meet the challenge posed after the implementation of the WTO. “I feel that farmers and technocrats have to strive hard to meet new challenges.

We need more efforts than that of during the green revolution in late sixties as on one hand we need to cut cost of farm inputs and on the other we will have to maintain production and quality levels,” said Dr Rampal. He said the department had taken steps to reduce area under wheat and promote sowing of pulses and oil seeds from current season.

Mr Rampal, who was accompanied by Dr Baldev Singh Kahlon, Chief Agriculture Officer, said his department had already made arrangements for the supply of inputs to farmers for rabi sowing. The department, according to him was prepared to make the Integrated Pest Management and zero tillage popular as using these chemical free methods farmers could bring down cost of inputs to a great extent.


Farmers to gherao DCs today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Seven organisations of farmers, including the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta), have decided to gherao all deputy commissioners of the state tomorrow to press for their demands.

Mr Surjeet Singh Phul, state press secretary, BKU(E), while talking to ‘The Tribune’ over the phone here this evening said the state government was shying away from its responsibility towards the farmers. It always shifted the ball to the court of the Union Government, whenever there were problems in the agriculture sector. He said that if the state government was sincere about its duties towards the farmers, then all genuine demans of the farmers which could be fulfilled by the Punjab government should have been accepted by now.

He said that after a state-level meeting of the union held here today in which seven district presidents and secretaries participated, it was decided that the agitations against the indifferent attitude of the Centre and the state government would continue till their demands, including an increase in the paddy MSP, were met.

Mr Phul said activists of the BKU(E), Kul Hind Kirti Kisan Union, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Kirti Kisan Sabha and three other organisations would gherao the deputy commissioners tomorrow for four hours starting from 12 noon.

Replying to a question, he said they were ready for arrest under any Section or law imposed upon them for demanding their rights.

The kisan leader said that the expenses incurred by the farmers this season on paddy had increased by about 30 per cent, but the increase in the MSP was not proportional to the same. He added that the state government was also planning to discontinue the free electricity facility to the agriculture sector, which was against the poll promise of the ruling Congress.

He claimed that even the commission agents were supporting their demand of an increase in the MSP of paddy.


IAF ex-official, son held in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 13
The police has arrested Dr Karandeep Singh, his father Air-Vice-Marshal Prithipal Singh (retd) and his mother Ravinder Pal Kaur, residents of Ludhiana, for harassing and torturing Dr Kiranpreet Kaur for bringing less dowry. Dr Kiranpreet Kaur, daughter of Dr Surinder Kaur Pannu of Pannu Nursing Home, here was married to Dr Karandeep Singh on October 28, 200.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said here today that Dr Kiranpreet Kaur in a complaint to the police said the accused had demanded Rs 1 crore in dowry though her mother had spent Rs 30 lakh on her marriage.

She said her in-laws started pressurising her to bring a Honda City car and Rs 10 lakh for opening a clinic in Chandigarh for her husband. They also pressurised her to force her mother Dr Pannu to transfer her house in Sector 21-D, Chandigarh, in their name.

The complainant said when she refused to oblige her in-laws her husband after consuming liquor used abusive language and threw her out of the house on November 10.

A case under Sections 406/498-A, IPC, was registered on October 9. Ramandeep Singh, brother-in-law of the complainant, is still at large.


Jalandhar doctor’s royal connection
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hardly does anyone know that a local doctor has been doubling as a high-profile consultant physician of Bahrain’s royal family.

The royal family had hand-picked Dr Jasbir Singh Dosanjh, a staunch follower of Osho, after it heard of him from one of Sikh workers employed in the family’s construction company that he could treat almost incurable diseases like complete baldness (allopecia totalis) and as it had failed to get Princess Sheikha Latifa treated of a skin disease even after consulting hospitals in London and Paris. Sheikha is the king’s niece as her mother is the sister of the king as well as of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

It was a big surprise for Dr Dosanjh, a skin and leprosy specialist who is running his own clinic in the local Model Town, when he got a telephone call one morning about one and a years back and it was Dr Abdul Gaffar, personal physician of the king’s family who is an orthopaediac surgeon with the Bahrain’s Defence Forces Hospital, on the other side.

“Without mincing words, Dr Gaffar, also an Indian, stated that the family intended to retain him as a consultant physician and it desired that he treat the skin disease of Sheikha Latifa. This had initially put him in a fix but thereafter, there was no looking back, and since then he has been treating the whole royal family, headed by the king and Prime Minister,” said Dr Dosanjh, who was hesitant to divulge details about the family and how this came about. “Actually, I am not a publicity seeker and believe in just God and Osho,” he observed.

After his first visit to the Royal Palace last year Dr Dosanjh, an author of two acclaimed books on psychological and sex problems —” Oh God, it is Too Much”, and “Sex—Vatsyayana, Freud to Osho” — was accorded special travel status by the Interior Ministry, General Directorate of the Immigration and Passports, which also makes arrangements for his monthly visits to Manama, the locality where the cluster of palaces belonging to the royal family is situated.

He said Sheikha Noora, the mother of the princess, had an affable nature and she even invited his wife to the palace for dinner.

As to how the royal family appointed him, Dr Dosanjh said in fact he had treated Sukhdev Singh, hailing from Manna village in Hoshiarpur district, of complete baldness in the late nineties. When he went back, everybody was so stunned to see a bald man growing a full flowing beard. As the family got wind of it, they contacted Sukhdev to learn about the development. On revealing the details, Dr Gaffar and Sheikha Latifa invited him to visit Bahrain.


State BJP to enrol 5 lakh members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The Punjab BJP has decided to enrol five lakh members. Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the state BJP, has divided the state into four regions for the purpose with Mr Avinash Jaiswal as the state membership convener.

According to a press note, the Malwa region convener will be Mr Harjit Singh Grewal and his co-conveners will be Mr Mohan Lal Sethi and Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, MP.

The Doaba region convener will be Mr Om Parkash Kalia, and the co-convener for the region will be Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.

In the Majha region, the convener will be Mr Narrotam Dev Ratti, state unit General Secretary, and the co-convener will be Mrs Trishna Minhas, president of the state BJP Mahila Morcha.

For the Municipal Corporation region, the convener will be Mr Ashok Loomba, ex-president of the state BJP Yuva Morcha while the co-convener will be Mr Anil Sareen, Secretary of the state BJP.

Professor Rinwa has appointed Dr Balbir Chand Kapila as the state convener for the Gaon Chalo Abhiyan.


Foul play in agency allotment: millers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 13
Even as a section of rice mill owners on the condition of anonymity alleged that money and political connections had played a significant role in the allotment of agencies to the rice mills for milling paddy, the Punjab Food Minister, Mr Lal Singh, has claimed that it was done as per the norms.

Mr Lal Singh said that process of allotment would be over by October 15. It was being done by the committees constituted at the district level, with the approval of the Deputy Directors concerned of the Food and Supplies Department. After October 15, the allotment would be done by the Director, Food and Supplies in special case.

Information gathered by the TNS revealed that an MLA of this region has brought to the notice of an aide of the Chief Minister, Punjab, that large-scale bunglings had been made in connection with allotment of agencies to the rice mills. He has alleged that field staff had been misguiding senior functionaries of the department to mint money.

A section of rice mill owners alleged that some mills were denied allotment of agencies on the pretext that their premises had no power connection despite the fact that Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials had assured them in black and white that power connections would be given to them as per their convenience. These mill owners pointed out that if they took power connection at the moment, they would have to pay for load charges and other rent for about a month as the milling operation would start in November.

Other rice mill owners had been denied allotment on the pretext that their premises were not cleared by the Pollution Control Board. However, in certain cases of rice mills such objections had been removed due to “political interference” and other considerations and same were allotted procurement agencies for milling the paddy.

Official sources said about 50 per cent of the rice mills of the state were defaulters in April, 2002. These mills had not delivered rice worth crores of rupees to the different procurement agencies. The Congress government, to pressurise the defaulting mills for clearing their dues, had also registered criminal cases against their owners. However, the state government failed to take action against those officials of different agencies, who allegedly facilitated the non-delivery of rice.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, Deputy Director, Food and Supply Department, Ferozepore, when contacted, said that all those mills, which were cleared by the committee comprising District Food and Supplies Controller and district managers of different agencies, had been allotted procurement agencies to stock paddy for milling for them.


Police remand for Hardeep Singh’s accomplice
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 13
Mrs Harinder Sidhu, Duty Magistrate here today remanded Sukhwant Singh, Director of Land Mortgage Bank, Maloud (Ludhiana), and a close associate of Hardeep Singh, OSD to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday, in police custody till October 16. Mrs Sidhu ordered that he should be produced before the Ilaqa Magistrate at 2 p.m. on that day. The court also allowed the counsel of the accused to meet him daily during the remand period from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Phase 8 police station, SAS Nagar.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecutor, and Mr Surinderpal Singh, SP, VB (Economic Offences Wing) appeared in the court and pleaded for 14 days’ police remand of the accused. They informed the court that the accused had been arrested in connection with an already registered case against Hardeep Singh. Mr Punn said Sukhwant Singh was the right handman of Hardeep Singh and he, along with another accused Darshan Singh, used to work as property dealers. They used to purchased disputed properties cheap and get these vacated through pressure from the Chief Minister’s office through Hardeep Singh.


No takers for Palika Bazar shops
Gurbax Puri

Tarn Taran
Shops constructed at the local Palika Bazar have become a white elephant for the Municipal Council as not even a single shop has been sold for the past six years. Palika Bazar has become a haven for anti-social elements. It is being used as a taxi stand these days.

These shops had been constructed under a central scheme, Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMP). The government to implement the scheme gave a grant of Rs 1.50 crore to the Municipal Council in 1996-97. The Municipal Council earmarked an amount of Rs 86.57 lakh for Palika Bazar.

As many as 24 shops and the same number of booths have been constructed here. Until now only nine booths had been sold. Not a single shop has been sold yet.

The council estimates that it could get of Rs 3.04 crore from the sale of these shops and the booths and this way the council could earn a profit. With these funds developmental works could be initiated.

The main reason is said to be the Rs 10 lakh reserve price for these shops.

The bazar is proving to be a white elephant for the council as the invested amount has failed to bring returns.


Weavco in fiscal knots
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 13
The re-audit report done by the Audit Department, Punjab has reportedly found large-scale financial irregularities in the audit of books of local unit of Punjab State Handloom Weavers Apex Cooperative Society Limited, by Tilak Raj, the then incharge of the unit. The unit was closed down more than a year ago allegedly due to financial irregularities.

The audit reports, were ordered two months back has shown the misappropriation of Rs 16 lakh.

According to sources, Tilak Raj was earlier chargesheeted by the Managing Director, Mr K.S. Pannu, of weavco, Chandigarh, after receiving complaints by some workers. The charges levelled against him include dumping of carpets and durees for which low quality yarn was used.

Besides fake entries were made of bogus weavers’ societies, facts were concealed duty neglected causing financial loss to the organisation and no efforts to clear the old stock.

Manufacturing material worth Rs. 30 lakh continues to lie in godowns as damaged and beyond redemption.

Sources alleged that even though the complaint against Tilak Raj had been proved beyond doubt after an inquiry, no action was taken against him. Priya textiles, in its complaint to the department concerned, alleged huge property of Tilak Raj, disproportionate to his known of income.

Interestingly, when the production centre of Hoshiarpur was closed, All dying masters and boiler attendants were shunted out, but when the production centre of Amritsar was closed down, all 22 workers were dismissed except Tilak Raj which shows the involvement of high officials the sources added.

Mr Amarjeet Singh Ansal, district secretary of the CPI, has demanded a vigilance inquiry instead of a departmental inquiry, so that the connivance of high officials of the department could be brought to light and the accused.


Leopards devour cattle

Hoshiarpur, October 13
A pair of leopards on a cattle-killing spree are giving sleepless nights to the inhabitants of about 10 odd villages in the Kandi area bordering Himachal Pradesh.

The sarpanches of these villages have brought this to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner and other officials but so far no steps have been taken by the administration to check the attacks by the wild cats.

The pair migrated to the lower Shivalik hills a few months ago following forest fires in the upper reaches in Himachal Pradesh and has since made the jungles bordering the Kandi area as their home.

The sarpanch of Dholbaha village, Mr Mangat Ram, while talking to a group of visiting mediapersons yesterday, said wild cats initially killed stray cattle roaming in the jungles. But of late they have been entering villages and killing buffalos and cows for meat, he added.

Mr Harnam Dass of Kookanayer village said only last month he lost four calves when the two wild cats entered his farm-house and killed the calves. The residents of Tappa, Kot Bakshi, Baheri and Badifehad also reported loosing their cattle which probably were devoured by the leopards.

Capt Chaman Lal (retd) of Tappa village said after following the pug marks left by the wild cats, there was a possibility that it was a male and female pair along with cubs. He said cattle that strayed into the forests never returned.

Forest Department officals did try to trap the wild animals with the help of cages but failed in their task. Villagers do not venture out of their homes after dusk for fear of being attacked by the roaming wild cats.

Residents, who have licenced firearms, keep their weapons with them when they are engaged in farming operations. The residents of the villages do not venture out into the forests to collect dry wood for cooking purposes. UNI


50 pc passport applications fail scrutiny
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 13
“Fifty per cent applications seeking new passports, get rejected, due to several technical mistakes in filling the forms”, Regional Passport Officer Amarjit Singh said here today. He said 28 passport offices were working in the country and all Speed Post Centres, Post Offices and all Deputy Commissioners’ offices, had facility to deposit the application forms for passports.

He said 415 authorised passport agents were working to help applicants. He said unauthorised agents were found guilty and their licences were suspended.


IMA conference on AIDS
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 13
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), Patiala branch organised the North Zone Conference of the IMA College General Practitioners in Government Medical College here today. The conference discussed ways of spreading on awareness among people on diseases like AIDS and TB. It was inaugurated by Dr D.P. Sandhu, Director Health Services, Punjab.

Dr Ajmer Singh, former DRME, Punjab, appealed to professionals not to shy away from treating patients carrying HIV virus. Dr Jai Kishen, Head of the Chest and TB Hospital here emphasised the role of medical practitioners in the prevention of AIDS and TB.

‘Living Legend’ award was given to Dr L.S. Chawla, one of the oldest members of the IMA, Dr Indervir Singh, and Dr S.B. Lal Mittal, former national vice-president of the IMA. The ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ was given to Dr R.C. Garg, Dr N.S. Bawa, Dr Raman Aggarwal and Dr O.P.S. Kande.


Doctors, staff await salaries
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 13
Two doctors and five members of the post-partum (PP) unit attached to the local Civil Hospital, have not been paid salaries due to non-allocation of the budget for the months of February, June, July, August and September 2002.

This was disclosed by Mr Romesh Katodia, president, district PCMS Association and in charge of PP unit, here on Friday. He said in the absence of the allocation of budget by the government, family planning work was suffering as they had no funds to purchase medicines. It is learnt that employees attached with such PP units have not been paid salaries throughout Punjab. Dr B.D. Mittal, SMO, Civil Hospital, Mansa, when contacted said he had forwarded the case to the Civil Surgeon. Efforts were made to contact Dr Hardev Singh, Deputy Medical Commissioner-cum-Civil Surgeon, Mansa, who was not available.


Sarbjot Bedi lays stone for kendra
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 13
Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, the 17th descendant of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of Sikhs, here today laid the foundation stone of Bhai Ghanaya ji Seva Simran Kendar religio-educational medicare project. Swami Ishwar Das Shastri, Sant Satnam Singh Unawale, and Sant Anoop Singh Unawale are authors of the project. More than 24 religious leaders, Panthic followers and raagis attended the function. Sant Satnam Singh, Sant Darshan Singh, Sant Dilbag Singh, Sant Pritpal Singh, Sant Ranjit Singh, Sant Chamkaur Singh, Sant Anoop Singh, Bhai Harjinder Singh, Srinagarwale, Bhai Harbans Singh Jaghadariwale, Bhai Sadhu Singh Dehradunwale, Bibi Baljit Kaur Khalsa were also present.

The kendar will be run by the Seva Panthi Samparda. It will train bilingual Sikh missionaries, ragis and dhadis with proficiency in English to orient younger generation for their initiation into Sikhism. It will also have a charitable hospital and a hostel.

Robes of honour (siropas) were presented to Sant Anoop Singh Unawale and others.

Talking to newsmen, Baba Bedi claimed that some SAD activists were interested in joining the Panthic Morcha.

Refuting some reports, Baba Bedi asserted that the Akali Dal (Amritsar) was very much in the morcha.


Pak invites Sikhs to Nankana Sahib
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 13
The Pakisan Government has invited Sikhs for the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev at Nankana Sahib from November 17 to 19.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, said afer seeking permission from the Government of Pakistan, the Pakistan Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee has also invited Indian journalists to cover the function of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary celebrations.

Meanwhile, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann said if the Union Government did not allow Sikhs to visit Pakistan he would hold a massive protest rally at Malerkotla on October 25.


Tarksheel member donates body
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Surinderpal Sharma (42) of Khialiwala village, who died on Thursday, donated his body to a private medical college and hospital for medical research through his will.

Sharma, who was an active member of the Tarksheel Society, Punjab, and promoted rational thinking throughout his life had willed that his body should be donated to a medical college for research and had also donated his eyes. His eyes were accepted by a charitable hospital run by a religious organisation.

Mr Uttam Singh, district secretary of the society, in a press note issued here yesterday, said that blood donation and donation of body organs after one’s death were the supreme gifts one could offer to the needy. He added that though Sharma was suffering from cancer, he never gave up the spirit to work for society.

Mr Uttam Singh urged people to promote blood and organ donation.


MC chief summoned
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 13
The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, summoned Mr Pawan Kumar Matti, president, municipal council, here on October 10 in connection with the recruitment scam of some Executive Officers in the municipal council panchayat secretaries and clerks in the Rural and Panchayat Development Department, Punjab.


Anti-drug campaign bears fruit
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
The anti-drug campaign launched by the Bathinda Vikas Manch, an NGO, yielded good results.

Mr Rakesh Narula, president of the association, claimed in a press note yesterday that several students came to it and requested it to educate their fathers against the menace of narcotics.


Mill MD held for GP fund scam
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 13
The Faridkot police today arrested Sukhdev Kapoor, one of the four managing directors of the Kotkapura Cooperative Spinning Mills, Sandhwan, for embezzling more than Rs 80 lakh of the GP fund of the employees and workers of the mills from 1996 to 1999.

Another MD, Mr Rajan Malhotra, has already got anticipatory bail and the other two, Mr S.P. Dahiya and Mr V.P. Gupta, are untraceable.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Faridkot, said, two years ago the workers had lodged a complaint at Kotkapura police station against the management of the mills for not finding a proper record of their GP fund in spite of requests to senior officers.

The police registered an FIR under Section 406 on October 4, 2000 against the officials and started an investigation into the matter.

As the functioning of the unit was closed in 1999, officials concerned could not be traced by the police.

A special fraud squad headed by Mr Tara Singh and Mr Balwant Singh, Sub Inspectors, took up the investigation on top priority.


Funds for primary schools released
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 13
The district administration has released Rs 99.20 lakh in the first phase to uplift the standard of education in the primary schools of Faridkot district.

Earlier, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and the state Education Department had jointly sanctioned around Rs 2 crore for this purpose under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan.

Disclosing this here, today, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner and Chairman, District Education Development Committee, said the main task of the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan was to enrol all children in schools by the end of 2003. Targets had been fixed to provide all of them basic education by the year 2010.

According to a survey conducted in Faridkot district during the year 2001, out of 22,856 children between the age group of 3 to 5 years, 6,013 children did not attend school. Similarly,between the age group of 6 years to 11 years a total of 62,856 children were identified out of which 5,098 did not attend school. And between the age group of 12 years to 14 years 29,932 children were identified out of which 5,420 did not attend school.

The survey also revealed that 479 children below 14 years of age were engaged in labour works to earn money for a living.


No salaries for 4 months
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 13
The Punjab Government had opened 50 primary schools in different parts five years ago and appointed 100 teachers in these schools. These teachers have not been paid their salaries for June, July, August and September so far. Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, a spokesperson for the Government Primary and Secondary Teachers’ Union, Punjab, said seven months had passed in the current academic session, yet the Education Department had not accorded sanction for these posts. He demanded that these posts be given regular sanction so that the affected teachers got their salaries.


Overall trophy for Adesh institute
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 13
The Adesh Institute of Engineering and Technology (AIET) Faridkot, has bagged the overall performance trophy at the technical festival organised by the Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), New Delhi, at Lala Lajpat Rai Engineering College, Moga. Students who won the first prize are Supriya, Kanehan, Naha, Nurpur, Sabneet, Ranjana, Geetu, Anshu and Namrata. Those who stood second are Ajita, Supriya, Sonia S. Kumar, Siddhartha and Raman.Prof S.K. Gandhi, faculty adviser, ISTE, New Delhi, was also honoured.

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