Wednesday, October 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BSNL unearths free call racket
Espionage angle being probed
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 29
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) authorities have unearthed a racket involving some of its employees who allegedly used to make domestic and international calls, including to countries inimical to India, free of cost from its exchange located at Bahini Bagha village in the district.

Though the BSNL authorities and its investigation wing have been keeping the matter secret, some state and center-level Intelligence agencies have joined investigations to find out whether the STD and ISD facilities of the Trunk Automatic Exchange (TAX) at Bahini Bagha village was being used for espionage.

Mr Yoginder Mohan, General Manager, BSNL, Bathinda, said about 4,000 to 5,000 calls were made from that exchange, but refused to disclose whether any ISD call was made. He also refused to comment on the details, which the Intelligence wing of BSNL could collect from the record of the exchange.

However, another senior functionary of the BSNL on condition of anonymity said so far it had been found that the calls had been made to those Muslim countries which were inimical to India. A high-level BSNL team was investigating the matter, he added.

Mr Yoginder Mohan said investigations into the functioning of Bahini Bagha TAX were started when the authorities concerned came to know about abnormal activities going on there. After that a team from Chandigarh came to the exchange and seized all record. The record was being scanned.

The BSNL authorities had also not handed over the case to the district police saying first it would establish the guilt of the employees.

However, sources said it would take much time to scan the voluminous record seized from the exchange. The entire record had been taken to Chandigarh where the vigilance wing of the BSNL was scrutinising it.

They said a section of employees used the telephone installed in the exchange for customers for making STD and ISD calls using password of the computer installed there.

The sources said the racket came to light when the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) pointed out to the BSNL authorities that some international calls were being made from TAX located at Bahini Bagha. After that the exchange was put under observation and some irregularities were detected.

Mr K.K. Chopra, Vigilance Officer, BSNL, Chandigarh, while confirming that investigations were going on in the case, said he did not know more details as he was away for two weeks on some training.


Tohra faction moves Sikh judicial panel
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 29
The Tohra faction has moved the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission to get five SGPC members, loyal to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, disqualified before SGPC chief election scheduled for November 12.

Mr Harminder Singh Gill, president, All-India Sikh Students Federation, who is a close confidant of Mr Tohra today filed petitions against the SGPC members who had allegedly indulged in violation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. The petitioner urged the commission to debar the members from contesting election for the post of executive body.

In one of the petitions, Mr Gill sought action against the beleaguered former Akali leader Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Mr Darshan Singh Kaunta (Gurdaspur), Mr Dilbagh Singh (Pathankot), Mr Bakshish Singh Dharowali for allegedly organising 501 ‘paths’ of the Ramayana at Dhariwal in Gurdaspur district.

The petitioner alleged that the participation or organising of the ‘paths’ was in gross violation of the Sikhism. The petitioner attached photographs and other proofs to substantiate his allegations.

Another petition has been filed against Mr Jaswinder Singh, a senior member of the SGPC and convener of the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj. The petitioner alleged that the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj had taken Rs 1 lakh from the SGPC funds in violation of SGPC rules.

The petition has been entertained by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, Chairman, Sikh Judicial Commission.


Badungar’s plea: PSHRC orders inquiry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the Chief Secretary of Punjab to file a reply by November 8 with regard to kin of SGPC members who have been allegedly picked up and whose whereabouts are not known.

The PSHRC has also directed the Additional Director-General of Police (Crime), to conduct an inquiry about the missing kin of SGPC members and submit his report to the commission within four weeks.

The commission has also directed the Home Secretary to ensure that there was no interference by the police or any other government agency in the affairs of the SGPC and its members so that the elections to its executive committee were conducted impartially and in accordance with the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act.

These directions were issued today by the acting chairperson of the commission, Mr N.K. Arora, and Member Maninder Kaur Mattewal after the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, and some other office-bearers presented a detailed complaint yesterday. The complainants had alleged that the SGPC members were being subjected to various coercive tactics at the hands of the state government. These included registering false cases, organising vigilance raids on their houses, subjecting them to surveillence under the garb of providing them with security even without their requests or refusal to accept security.

The complainants had alleged that this was done to wean away SGPC members away from supporting the SAD (Badal) group and force them to support the SHSAD candidate. Apprehending police harassment, the complainants said many members had fled their homes. Close relatives of eight members of the SGPC had been allegedly picked up and there whereabouts are not known.

The commission decided to take cognizance of the complaint and decided to register a case under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.


SGPC member close to Bibi for consensus
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 29
Mr Partap Singh Advocate district president of the SAD Urban Unit and an SGPC member considered close to Bibi Jagir Kaur, wanted unanimity in the party over SGPC chief selection. He said choice of the SGPC chief should not be a one-man show.

Mr Partap Singh Advocate said to enjoy influence over 19 SGPC members of Doaba region and who returned from Nadha Sahib Gurdwara near Panchkula where he had gone fearing government “Pressure”, said, he was of the firm view that the SGPC should be kept away from petty politics and groupism. “I feel that Sikhism has suffered a lot on account of petty politics intruding into the affairs of the SGPC. Moreover, this has led to increasing “Patitpuna” among Sikhs,” said Mr Partap Singh Advocate. He said a religious towering personality, who could bring Sikhs out from the quagmire,” should head the SGPC.

On whether he was supporting the move of senior SGPC member Mal Singh Ghuman that the new SGPC chief should be the one without political interests or he was supporting the Tohra faction, Mr Partap Singh Advocate said whatever he had said was the voice of his inner-self. “I feel that the SGPC should be elected by SGPC members and not through a sealed letter of one person, said Mr Partap Singh adding that he was of the view that the forthcoming SGPC poll was an opportunity for forging unity among different Akali factions. 


Ministry for diversification mooted in Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Chief Minister’s committee on agriculture policy has suggested the setting up of a ministry for diversification in Punjab in the final report submitted to Capt Amarinder Singh by its Chairman, S.S. Johl, here today.

The report aims at 1) needbased production through scientific farming practices, 2) cutting down drastically the financial losses incurred by the Centre on procurement and distribution of foodgrains, 3) reducing responsibilities of the state on handling, transport and storage, 4) freeing farmers, who are caught in the vicious circle of wheat-paddy rotation and 5) helping Punjab save precious subsoil water, improve soil health and save on electricity to the agricultural sector, Dr Johl told TNS today.

The report deals with diversification of at least 1 million hectares each under wheat and paddy to cut down production by 8.04 million tonnes foodgrains per year (4.69 million tonnes of wheat and 3.35 million tonnes of rice). Dr Johl says that the cost of handling, transportation, storage etc. of 8 million tonnes foodgrains is Rs 9,000 crore per year. When the Centre exports it or sells it off at below poverty line prices, the government suffers a loss of Rs 5,000 crore in one year. The present foodgrain stock is around 65 million tonnes. Its disposal is slow. The withdrawal of area at the rate of 1 million hectares each under wheat and paddy per year has to continue to reduce production till the stock reaches a sustainable, economic level of 20 million tonnes to 25 million tonnes.

This shift of 1 million hectares each can be targeted and achieved at a cost of Rs 1,280 crore only by providing that much compensation to Punjab farmers for not growing wheat/paddy and instead shifting to say pulses or oilseeds or crops of their own choice.

In other words, against incurring a loss of Rs 5,000 crore per year by selling at BPL price or exporting foodgrains, often ‘’unfit’’ for human consumption, the money saved (Rs 1,280 crore) could be given to Punjab.

This financial package is to be funded by the Centre and implemented by the state. Once this happens, the Centre saves Rs 3,720 crore (loss of Rs 5,000 crore minus the payment of Rs 1,280 crore to Punjab farmers=Rs 3,720 crore less loss).

Another important aspect of the report is the chapter on water. The main worry of Punjab should be paddy not wheat as the former is a water-guzzler that has created economic and environmental hazards for the state and peasants. Therefore, the report underscores the need for water-saving devices and methodologies, which though are accepted and acknowledged by the PAU, Ludhiana, are not yet recommended.

The report has pointed to increasing soil ‘’sickness’’, which has become acute due to heavy doses of agro-chemicals, affecting the total productivity factor in the state. Likewise, its focus is on the crop sector and adjustment programme. This deals primarily with economics of production and marketing of different crops and identifying area-specific zones for particular crops to be sown. An independent agency to check inflow of ‘’spurious’’ farm inputs (fertilisers to plant protection agents) must also be set up.

Dr Johl hopes that once the farmers are financially compensated and the area is reduced under wheat/paddy then oilseeds, pulses, cotton, sugarcane etc. will fill the land. Moreover, the shift towards vegetables, fruits, agro-forestry, sericulture etc will also make farmers ‘’quality’’ conscious.

On marketing, Dr Johl says that since there is a proposal to phase out FCI operations and the MSP regime, it is imperative to awaken and educate farmers of future challenges and opportunities. The three main concerns of the committee are diversification, exports of foodgrains and dairying as an industry.

The first point is the Rs 1,280 crore financial package sought by Punjab from the Centre. The second point relates to exports. Dr Johl says in the present system ‘’unfit’’ foodgrains (despite the fact that quality of Punjab wheat is one of the best in the world) are shipped bringing a bad name to the country. This is because of huge stocks of foodgrains in the state. A solution, the report says, lies in entrusting this task directly to exporters, who should directly procure foodgrains from the farmers at the recommended minimum support price (MSP) the responsibility of handling, transportation, storage etc should also be that of the exporter and not of the state or say the FCI on whose behalf foodgrains are stored. This will ensure ‘’quality’’ as exporters would supervise farmers’ fields. Then the government should negotiate the minimum export price (MEP) also with exporters from season to season, keeping in view the market forces and trends. The difference between the MSP and the MEP should be passed on to exporters, who will have their own silos to store grains in a better environment to maintain quality.

The third point is dairying. The report talks of increasing productivity through breeding, veterinary health cover, feeding, organisational policies of the agencies involved in animal husbandry and milk production etc. The recommendations are such that there is a minimum financial burden on the state.


Police team raids Ropar thermal plant
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 29
Following the registration of an FIR against the labour contractor of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), the police today raided the plant premises in search of the accused. However, police sources said the contractor was at large.

The contractor had moved an application for anticipatory bail which had to be heard today. The contractor stated in his application that he had deposited the “swindled” amount along with the penalty. The thermal plant authorities had also issued him a certificate in this regard. The next date of hearing in the case has now been fixed for October 31.

The police has asked the thermal plant authorities for muster rolls, work orders of the contractor, bank challans through which salaries were deposited in the EPF account of labours and other relevant documents.

Highly-placed sources said the police was trying to identify GGSSTP officers who were allegedly involved in the scam.

As per the work orders, the thermal plant authorities had to ensure that the amount deducted from the salaries of labourers as EPF and the share of the PSEB was deposited with the EPF Commissioner on time. They had to obtain a certificate in this regard regularly from the EPF Commissioner. However, the officers concerned never demanded the certificates from labour contractors.

If the authorities fail to provide the certificates to the police, the officers directly dealing with the labour contractor might also be booked, the sources said.

One of the labour contractors, on being apprehended, spilled the beans about the method used to misappropriate funds. He alleged that “fake attendance” was marked in the muster rolls in connivance with the thermal plant authorities. He also submitted a list of 27 contract labourers whose names existed only on paper to the PSEB (Vigilance).

The contractors had also allegedly claimed 30-day salary for several labourers, despite the fact that as per the work order, each labourer was allowed a paid rest of four days a month.


CM cheated farmers, says Akali leader
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
Mr Parambans Singh Romana, vice-president of the All-India Youth Akali Dal (Badal), has alleged that the Amarinder government had cheated farmers by imposing power tariff on them.

In a statement issued here, today, Mr Romana alleged that Captain Amarinder had cheated every section of the society by not fulfilling his election promises. He alleged that the Congress government was settling political scores by implicating SAD-BJP minister’s in false cases.

Mr Romana said the Congress has maligned the image of Mr Parkash Singh Badal by issuing advertisements alleging that he had amassed wealth by illegal means. He said that while Captain Amarinder had been claiming to provide a corruption-free government, he had failed to declare his property as promised.

He pointed out that the Congress had promised that all ministers and MLAs of the party would declare their assets within 90 days of assuming office, but it had not kept the promise.


SAD PAC meeting on Oct 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, has called a meeting of the party’s Political Affairs Committee, (PAC) past and present MPs, MLAs, district jathedars and other office-bearers of the organisational wings at Chandigarh on October 31.

According to SAD secretary, Iqbal Singh Tiwana, the PAC will meet at the residence of Mr Badal in the morning. It will be followed by another meeting at Kalgidhar Niwas in the afternoon. The meetings will take stock of the political situation and draw up a strategy for the SGPC poll.


Ex-MLA rejoins Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
Mr Shamsher Singh Rai, ex-MLA and a former Chairman of the Scheduled Castes Welfare Corporation Punjab, today rejoined the Congress along with his supporters.

He was welcomed into the party by Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, and others, says a press note.


Singla’s bid to expose Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Chief Minister’s advisory committee on fiscal reforms and financial reconstruction and resource mobilisation Chairman, Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, today gave a political twist to the inclusion of user charges, including tariff on agriculture power, in the terms of reference of the 12th Finance Commission to be set up shortly.

The Union Cabinet has approved it.

In a signed statement, Mr Singla has tried to expose Mr S.S. Dhindsa, Cabinet Minsiter in the NDA government, referring to the “double speak, double face” policy of the senior Akali leader.

Mr Singla said on the one hand Mr Dhindsa had supported levy of tariff on agriculture power and on the other hand he was opposing it by being a party to protest against withdrawal of the free power facility to agriculture, he added.

The statement reads that it is not the first time when the Akali Dal has adopted such a stance.

He charged Mr Parkash Singh Badal with abandoning claim on the disbursement from the Rs 10,607.72 crore “incentive fund” created pursuant to the 11th Finance Commission recommendations. Thus, Punjab lost a few hundred crores.


Pherurai seeks transfer from Ferozepore jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for November 12 on a petition filed by former Senior Superintendent of Police Gurcharan Singh Pherurai seeking directions to the police for keeping him in any prison except Ferozepore’s Central Jail.

Acting on a related petition filed by an accused in the fake arms licences case allegedly involving Pherurai’s relatives, the High Court stayed further proceedings after issuing notice of motion for November 28.

In his petition taken up by Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, Pherurai had earlier submitted that as Ferozepore’s SSP he had solved many cases involving heinous offences committed by hard core criminals and as such they were holding grudges against him. His counsel had also expressed apprehension that there was threat to the former SSP’s life. He had added that the petitioner had been falsely implicated due to political reasons.

In the other petition seeking CBI probe into the allegations, Darshan Singh of Ludhiana district had added the premier investigating agency was already looking into the matter and all the relevant documents were already in their possession. His counsel had further contended that the matter was being investigated properly and it would be in the interest of justice and equity to hand over the case to the CBI. Otherwise, the petitioner would have to face two investigations regarding the same offence, counsel had asserted.

Going into the background of the case, counsel had submitted that as per the first information report, accused residing outside Ferozepore district, had ensured the issuance of fake licences after giving fictitious addresses.

Proceedings stayed

Acting on a petition filed by former Chairman of the Punjab State Subordinate Service Selection Board Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu seeking the quashing of an order passed by a Kharar court whereby process had been initiated to declare him a proclaimed offender, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday stayed further proceedings.

Challenging the orders dated September 25, Mr Sandhu — now in America — had earlier claimed that he had left the country on June 12 while the first information report was registered a month later. Going into the background of the case, counsel had submitted that the FIR was registered against the petitioner on the basis of statement made by a co-accused even though the same was not admissible.

Two-day notice

Taking up a petition filed by senior Akali leader Mann Singh Garcha, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta of the High Court on Tuesday directed that the petitioner would not be arrested without the issuance of a two-day notice.

In his petition, Mr Garcha had earlier stated that he, being local leader of the farmers, was “natural target”. Going into the background, his counsel had added that he, along with his ex-minister brother, was involved in the on-going agitation against the anti-farmer policy of the government and as such could be roped in some false case.

Permission granted

Allowing an accused in Bibi Jagir Kaur case Dalwinder Kaur Dheshi to leave the country for four weeks, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday asked her to give an undertaking that she would not have any objection if evidence was recorded in her absence.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh directed that the petitioner was permitted to leave the country for treatment on furnishing a bond of Rs 2 crore, along with a bank guarantee of the like amount, to the satisfaction of the trial court. The Judge further asked counsel for the petitioner to give an undertaking that he would appear on Dheshi’s behalf on every date of hearing. Dheshi, in her petition, had earlier sought permission to go to England as she was suffering from depression and was on anti-depressants since 1985.


Bhattal case hearing on Nov 12
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
Mr Jaspal Singh, Special Judge, today adjourned the hearing in the corruption case against Punjab Rural Development Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal till November 12 as she failed to appear in the court. Charges were to be framed against her today.

The counsel for Mrs Bhattal, Mr Nand Lal, pleaded before the Special Judge that she was not able to appear in the court due to traffic jams at various places as part of the Punjab bandh by farmers’ unions. He added that Mrs Bhattal had to return from Banur in Patiala district.

The judge accepted the plea and adjourned the case.

The counsel of Mrs Bhattal had argued during the previous hearing that charges could not be framed against her as no sanction from the authorities concerned had been taken by the prosecution as she was a public servant.

The counsel had also raised their objection against the jurisdiction of a local court to take cognisance of the crime, which the complainant alleged, had taken place at Chandigarh.

The Vigilance Bureau of the state has filed a challan in the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Mr S.K. Garg, here in connection with the corruption case registered by it against Mrs Bhattal for her alleged involvement in the irregularities committed in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

The challan was filed in the court of Mr Garg as the then Special Judge Mr B.C. Rajput, was not available due to winter vacation. The challan was presented on December 26.

A case under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 409 of the IPC was registered against her at Ferozepore on May 22, 2001. Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, senior vice-president of the Lawyers for Human Rights International had lodged the complaint.

In the complaint it was alleged that Mrs Bhattal had withdrawn Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund on December 30, 1996, in her own name for giving it to needy persons and institutions.


SSP acquitted in kidnapping case
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 29
Six police officers, including SSP Harinder Singh Chahal, were today acquitted by a CBI court in a case regarding the Kidnapping and disappearence of a Jagraon resident on the basis of a closure report filed by the CBI.

Complainant Pritam Kaur had alleged that her son Kulwant Singh was kidnapped, tortured and kept in illegal detention in October, 1993 by the then Jagraon SSP Chahal and five others and that her son was missing since then. The five other policemen named by her included SP(D) Shiv Kumar, DSP (D) Raghubir Singh, Jagraon SHO Gurmeet Singh, CIA Inspector, Jagraon, Joginder Singh and main police post ASI Gurmeet Singh Pinky.

Ms Pritam kaur had also alleged that besides being responsible for her son’s disappearence, the police also kept her and her husband in illegal detention for one-and-a-half years. She also alleged that SSP Chahal had demanded a sum of Rs 70,000 for the release of her son. On the basis of her application, the High Court directed the CBI in November, 1993, to register a case and conduct investigations.

The CBI, in its closure report, submitted that no witnesses or evidence could be found to support the case during the course of investigation and recommended that the case be closed. The report was accepted today by the Special Magistrate of CBI court, Mr Jaspinder Singh Hayer.


Charges framed in Saru Rana case
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 29
Charges were framed in the Saru Rana case against former Vice-Chancellor Punjabi University Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia under Section 376, IPC, here today on the basis of an FIR registered by Saru Rana on February 19.

Saroj Rani, HoD, Fine Arts, employee Jaspal Singh and research scholar Amandeep Kaur were named co-accused in the case in the court of District and sessions Judge S N Aggarwal.

Amandeep and Jaspal have been accused of trying to stop Saru Rana forcibly with an intention to outrage her modesty.

The next date for the hearing of the case has been fixed for January 16.


Vigilance raids on grain markets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
Following complaints from farmers of irregularities in paddy procurement and allegations of demanding commissions and cuts by Inspectors of procurement agencies and arhtiyas, the Vigilance Bureau today conducted raids in 150-odd mandis. This is the second instance when the bureau has checked paddy procurement operations.

According to the Chief Director (Vigilance), Mr A.P. Pandey, 32 teams were constituted for the purpose and several cases were registered against erring officials and arhtiyas under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Those who figure in the cases include PUNSUP Inspector Vivek Kumar, Jagroop Singh Dhillon, an arhtiya, PUNSUP Inspector, Mangat Rai, commission agent, Som Nath and FCI Inspector, Lakshmi Narayan Rai.


PPSC scam: lawyers leave for Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
In less than two days after a memorandum was signed by over 1,000 advocates of the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking presidential support for action on the basis of a report submitted by the high court’s former Chief Justice Arun B. Saharya on the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) recruitment scam, a group of lawyers today left for Delhi to meet the members of the Committee on Judicial Accountability.

According to sources, the delegation was to personally hand over the copies of the memorandum to senior members of the judiciary. In the memorandum addressed to the President the advocates had earlier demanded that the report should be made public and action should be taken in accordance with the law.


Industrialists apprise MP of problems
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 29
The Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, today chaired a meeting of members of the Dera Bassi Industries Association and officials of the department concerned in Kisan Bhavan, Sector 35, Chandigarh today.

The industrialists had been giving representation listing their problems to the officials concerned, but no action had been taken till date. After being fed up with the problems, the association had fixed the meeting with the MP and Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Punjab, for a permanent solution.

A nine-page memorandum listing the problems relating to truck union, octroi, electricity, sales tax, information collection centres, stamp duty, transportation and social infrastructure was given to the MP by Mr Inderjit Bajaj, its president.

Complaining against the truck union, the industrialists alleged that the truckers forcefully prevent the loading of goods. Besides this, the truckers had been charging exorbitantly from them and even ‘restrain’ them from hiring trucks from outside.

Taking the octroi problem, the industrialists said as the octroi collection had been privatised in the Zirakpur and Dera Bassi civic body limits, octroi men had been harassing them unnecessarily.

The value added and sale taxes imposed by the government had affected the industry. They demanded relaxation in the taxes.

Power connections should be done on the basis of contract demands and not through connected load.

Among others present at the meeting were Mr Tejvir Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa, SDM, Dera Bassi, and Mr Kewal Garg, a former president of the Dera Bassi Industries Association.


Preneet chairs meeting to develop Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
A meeting of the Patiala Urban Development Authority (PUDA) held here today under the chairmanship of Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP from the Patiala Parliamentary Constituency, finalised the development plan of Patiala as a counter magnet to the national Capital. Patiala is one of the five locations identified to play the role of the counter magnet to the National Capital Territory of Delhi by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCR PB). It may be recalled that the PUDA was constituted on May 3 under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister for developing Patiala as the counter magnet area. besides, the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, administrative secretaries of the Departments of Health, Education, Agriculture, PWD (B&R), Food and Civil supply, Technical Education, Industries, Power, Cultural Affairs, Local Government, Housing and Urban Development, Transport, Sports, Medical Education, Chief Administrator, PUDA who is also Chief Administrator of PUDA and the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, were among those present in the meeting.

The development plan prepared by C.B. Richard Ellis, official consultants, for preparation of development plan of Patiala as the counter magnet area primarily highlights the desired development pattern and quantum of development required in Patiala for the next 20 years within identified sectors. The plan also highlights the existing status for agriculture, industry and commerce, housing, physical infrastructure, social infrastructure and transportation sectors along with the broad development framework and future course of action to be adopted. The plan identifies extent of development besides critical infrastructure projects that require to be undertaken to sustain the envisaged development.

The Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department who is also the Secretary concerned revealed that the NCR Planning Board has already approved Rs 126 crore for the development of Integrated Township and Augmentation for water supply and sewerage. The development of Patiala as a counter magnet is expected to start with these two projects. An amount of Rs 60 crore will be spent on the augmentation of water supply and sewerage and Rs 66 crore on the development of an integrated township at Patiala. The development is proposed to be undertaken in a phased manner. Phase I concentrates on the development of Patiala city, (Phase II) on the development of the area between the Patiala city and the designated boundary of Patiala as a counter magnet. The boundary designated by the NCR Board includes suburban areas around Patiala roughly up to 5-10 km from the outer boundary of Patiala city. Phase III of the development plan is envisaged to augment the power supply in the counter magnet area. Initially, the areas proposed to be focused are drainage of stored water, solid waste management, healthcare and storage.

The Secretary, Local Government Department, disclosed that under the augmentation for water supply and sewerage programme, 25 tubewells would be commissioned. Twelve tubewells are meant to supply water in the new areas and 13 tubewells will be commissioned to replace the old tubewells . He added that the project entails laying of 173-km long pipeline for supplying the water.

A proposal to develop Patiala Haat on the pattern of Delhi Haat was also discussed.


Police callous on stipends, says Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 29
Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has said the police has been callous in streamlining the stipend by the Punjab Istri Sabha Relief Fund to dependents of former police officers who died fighting terrorists.

The honorary secretary of the trust, Mrs Bimla Dang, had on numerous occasions asked the police to provide her with details of the stipends recently sanctioned by the government to dependents of terrorist victims with retrospective effect.

Since 35 or more such children of police personnel are being supported in their education by the Istri Sabha trust, it was deemed prudent to stop or revise the stipends of police wards according to the government stipend and extend them to other needy families.

However, Mr Dang, in a letter to the DGP, alleged that even senior police officers did not extend any help with regard to the details of the stipend which could streamline the funds of the trust.


Report on ‘police harassment’ sought
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 29
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the Principal Secretary, Home, Punjab, and IG (Litigation), Punjab, to submit a report after looking into a complaint lodged by Mr Guru Dutt Sharma, a postal assistant serving in the main post office here. The complainant alleged that he was being harrassed by the Barnala police at the behest of Parmod Kumar, a local journalist.

The PSHRC has ordered the registration of this complaint as a case under provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Mr Sharma alleged that he filed a criminal complaint against Parmod Kumar in a local court. The complainant alleged that the journalist, in order to press him to withdraw the complaint in connivance with the Barnala police, filed several complaints against him. The complainant said he was being subjected to harassment by the police at the behest of the journalist.

The PSHRC has listed this case for hearing on March 6, 2003. The PSHRC has asked these two senior officers of the Punjab Government to comply with its order before the next date of hearing.


Village education panels formed
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 29
The Punjab government has constituted 13,000 village educational development committee to launch the Jan Sampark Abhiyan scheme to ensure universalisation of elementary education under the centrally sponsored Sart Shiksha Abhiyan Programme in the state. Each committee comprises of seven members who will inspect the primary schools in their respective areas. The committee will also seek the cooperation of DEO in this regard (Primary) and submit the final report to the November 10. This was stated by Mr Khushal Behl, Minister for Education, Punjab, while talking to newspersons. Mr Behal who had arrived here to inaugurate the state-level sports meets, said the government had already distributed Rs 64 crore in 216 blocks to improve the infrastructure in educational institutions under the Sarb Shiksha Abhiyan. Scheme expressing concern over the deterioration of educational system during the past five years in the state, he said dropout rate was 25 per cent and more than 3 lakh children in the age group of 6-14 years were still lagging behind in getting education. He made it clear no more educational institutions would be upgraded and an enquiry had already been started against those institutions which were upgraded by the previous SAD-BJP government sans proper facilities .

In a question the Education Minister said the teaching of English from the first standard had started and any change in this regard would be finalised after the consultation with the state Chief Minister.


Ayurvedic doctors unhappy with government
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 29
Resentment prevails among hundreds of unemployed ayurvedic doctors against the “indifferent” attitude of the Punjab Government to provide them with jobs. According to reports, more than 100 ayurvedic dispensaries against 450 were functioning without experts for the past many years. In 1995, the government recruited 60 doctors on an 89-day basis and later terminated their services without any reason.

Again in 1997, it sanctioned 50 posts for the same category on a contract basis. Similarly in 1998, the government advertised 19 posts by spending hundreds of rupees for recruiting Ayurvedic Medical Officers. In spite of 3,000 applications, the plan could not be finalised.

Dr Dharminder Kaushal, president of the Unemployed Experts Association, Punjab, said here recently the government, which had planned in 1980 to open 20 dispensaries every year in the state to generate employment for the doctors, had failed to take any positive action in this connection.

He expressed concern at the government failure to take action against fake RMPs, despite the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Brahma Kumaris focus on mind, time management
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya organised a discussion on “Mind Management” and Time Management” in its office here last evening.

B.K. Mahinder Bhai, national chairman of the administrative wing of the association and Editor of “Gian Veena”, said that in today’s complex world, mind management was very necessary. He said that due to pressures of competitive society, the human mind had become negativity oriented.

Mr Mohinder observed that today’s social conflicts were the result of the failure of mind management. He said that it was not possible to compartmentalise the potential of mind, but it could be given positive orientation.

B.K. Sunita Behan, from the Sangroli (Madhya Pradesh) branch of the organisation, said that it was important that the time available in a day should be managed properly. She said that today people had luxuries of life, but they did not have the time to enjoy these luxuries. She added that due to scarcity of time there was need to divide it for different activities judiciously.

B.K. Jyoti Behan and B.K. Kiran Behan, lecturers in mathematics in a college at Bhopal, also participated in the discussion.

Mr Mahinder, while addressing mediapersons here today, said that he had been visiting different places in the state to educate people on the management of stress. He said that besides for the members of the organisation, he held camps for students, bureaucrats and employees also. The in charge of local branch, B.K. Kamlesh Behan, said that they would organise camps at different places in the district for the benefit of people.


HIV-positive truck driver dies
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 29
Pooran Singh (name changed), an HIV-positive patient who was operated upon by a team of doctors at the local Civil Hospital about two weeks ago, died here last night.

The body of the deceased has been handed over to his family members after a post-mortem examination. However, the exact reason for the death could not be known. He was undergoing treatment at the hospital for the past two weeks after he suffered head injuries and got his right leg fractured in a road accident.

Hospital sources said the probable reasons for the death could be infection and gangrene of legs. The information about the death has been given to the state health authorities.

Initially, no relative of the deceased, who was unmarried and a truck driver, came forward to take care of him. Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, directed a team of doctors to operate upon him to save his life.

In the operation, which was done in a specially set up operation theatre after taking all preventive measures, the right leg of Pooran Singh, which was crushed in the road accident, was amputated. After the amputation, most of the equipment and other material used in the operation was disposed of in scientific manner.

Dr Goyal said Pooran Singh died last night despite the best medical care given to him at the hospital. 


AIDS, TB cases on the rise
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 29
The future of a three-year-old boy suffering from HIV infection, whose father died recently due to AIDS and mother is also infected with HIV and tuberculosis at Patti village, 12 km from here, hangs in the balance. This is not an isolated case. Another such family is facing the same situation. Three persons have died due to AIDS at Bohan, Shergarh and Chabbewal villages during the current year.

Two drivers of Patti village and a mechanic and a driver of adjoining Bohan village were declared HIV-positive in 1999 and 2000. One of the drivers died on September of 18, 2002, at Patti village. His wife and three-year-old son were also found to be HIV-positive.

Besides more than a dozen cases of tuberculosis have been identified at Patti and Bohan villages.

Mr Rajmal, Sarpanch of Patti village, told this correspondent that one of the major reasons for the spread of HIV infection might be the occupation of a number of village youths in big cities. He criticised the health authorities for not providing help to the TB patients. He said the health authorities should organise HIV screening camps in the area and conduct all tests for AIDS free of cost to control the further spread of HIV infection.

Dr M.L. Kakkar, Civil Surgeon, said on receiving information about AIDS cases in the area, two seminars, one each for men and women were held at the village last week to create awareness about the dreaded disease.


Runway extension work delays flights
Our Correspondent

Raja Sansi (Amritsar), October 29
The runway extension being carried out at Raja Sansi Airport has been delaying the landing of various international flights at night.

The Airport Director, Mr V.S. Mulekar, said since the instrument landing system (ILS) had been rendered non-functional due to the runway extension project presently under way. He admitted that it had caused some delay in the landing of flights, especially at night, due to low visibility. He, however, added that the international operators and the Indian Airlines had been advised to cope with the situation till November 30 as the work on the extension of the runway was likely to be completed by then.

Mr Mulekar pointed out that all precautions were being taken without the ILS system for the safe landing of the aircraft.


Amarinder takes objection to recruitments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
Taking serious view of the recruitments in certain government departments in contravention of a blanket ban imposed by the Cabinet, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today ordered a high-level inquiry.

After it was brought to the Chief Minister’s notice that the Police, Education and Forest Departments had carried out recruitments in gross violation of the ban, he has constituted a committee comprising the Chief Secretary, the Finance Secretary and the Home Secretary to probe the circumstances under which these recruitments were made.

Capt Amarinder Singh said strict action would be taken against those found guilty.


1,210 Home Guards await salaries
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 29
With Divali round the corner 1,210 Home Guards serving in the district have not been paid salaries for the past three months.

Mr Balbir Chand, a Home Guard serving in the district, told the correspondent that they were not being paid the salary despite the fact that Finance Department had passed a budget of Rs 69.95 lakh in this regard. While the Home Guards in other districts have received the salaries, those serving here have not got it, he alleged.

On repeated enquiries the treasury officers tell them that the salaries could be released only after obtaining a clearance from the Finance Department.


Allow Hindu jathas to Katasraj: Billa
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 29
Close on the heels of Sikh religious bodies demanding the opening of route for pilgrimage to Pakistan-based shrines, the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena has written to the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for similar facilities to Hindu jathas desirous of visiting Katasraj shrine in Pakistan.

Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president of the sena, said Hindu jathas were not being allowed to visit Pakistan-based shrine for the past three years whereas Muslims in Pakistan were allowed to visit their shrine in India and vice-versa.

He said, only Hindus were being discriminated against in this regard. He urged the President to take immediate steps.


Corpn employee asphyxiated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 29
One Corporation employee died and three others were taken ill after inhaling a poisonous gas when they went to clear sewage pipes at Focal Point industrial area on Mehta Road here today.

Lovely (30) was taken to a hospital in a serious condition, where he died. Baldev Singh, Surinder Singh and Rajinder Kumar, who were also admitted in Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, are reported to be out of danger.


Mann to oppose Oct 31 as Martyrdom Day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 29
While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will preside over a state-level function here to observe October 31 as the martyrdom day of Indira Gandhi Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the SAD(A), has decided to hold protest to oppose the observance of the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi.

Mr Mann, in a press note here today said his party would hold a protest on October 31 to oppose the observance of Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary by the Congress.


3 Pak nationals deported
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 29
Three Pakistani nationals who were arrested on the charges of possessing fake currency and brown sugar have been deported from the Wagah border without following the formal procedure in this regard, as no senior official from across the border had reached there to receive them.

Those deported include Kamrudin, a resident of Karachi who was arrested under the NDPS Act in March, 1992, and Abdul Bashir, also a resident of Karachi, and Iqbal Masih were arrested on the charge of possessing fake Indian currency.


SHSAD workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 29
Workers of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal staged a dharna on the Chandigarh-Kharar-Ropar road for about 2 hours and blocked the traffic from 12 am to 2 pm today.

The workers demanded that the New Punjab Periphery Control Order should be dropped immediately and the red line of the villages in the area should be extended.


Labourer commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 29
A labourer working at a shop in Sherawala village of this district allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree yesterday. The cause of the suicide is not yet known. The police has sent the body for a post-mortem examination.


3 travel agents booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 29
The Dhilwan police today registered a case under Sections 420, 406 and 120-B of the IPC against three travel agents for allegedly duping two persons of Rs 17.30 lakh on the pretext of sending them to the USA.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said the travel agents had been identified as Jagtar Singh of Dhilwan and Kamal Kumar and Avtar Singh of Jalandhar.

In a press note issued today, Mr Dhoke said these travel agents, after taking the money from Mr Gurdial Singh of Ibrahimwal village and Mr Hardeep Singh of Maqsoodpur village, sent them to Indonesia instead of the USA, from where they returned after three months.

After their return to India, they demanded their money back but the agents did not return it. Their complaint was probed by the police, which found it true. Upon this, the SSP ordered the registration of a case against them.


Fee overcharged, allege BDS students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
A section of students of the Sri Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences and Research have alleged that they had been cheated and overcharged during their stay at the college during the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course. They also filed a complaint with the Punjab Chief Minister, besides the authorities concerned.

Ms Mansi Arora (name changed) and some other students of the BDS course, 1997-2002 batch, have alleged that while the course fee prescribed by the government was Rs 8,000 (free seat) and Rs 75,000 (paid seat) per annum, the college authorities charged Rs 43,000 and Rs 1,00,000, respectively, from the students.

The students in their complaint, a copy of which was given to The Tribune alleged that 51 students were admitted to the course during the session and 21 of them were in the paid-seat category. They added that the college authorities had overcharged students admitted against free seats (Rs 1,35,000 per student) and paid seats (Rs 1,00,000).

The students pointed out that the next batch was not overcharged and even got back the fee which was overcharged from some of them. They alleged that despite requests the college authorities had failed to return their money of this particular batch.

They further alleged that the college authorities had taken Rs 1,00,000 as security which was also against the guidelines and the rules laid down by the authorities concerned. They said the college authorities had refunded their security sans the interest on the amount.

Students added that they had also approached the Central Vigilance Commissioner in this connection.


Rotaract Club holds GK contests
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
The Rotaract Club organised cultural and general knowledge competitions for school students. Mr Surinder Sharma, secretary of the club, in a press note issued here yesterday said 150 students from 25 schools of the district participated in the competitions.

He said all participating students would be given basic computer education free of cost by the First Access computer centre of the city. Navneet Kumar, who stood first in the general knowledge competition, was given a prize of Rs 1,200. Bhupinder Kaur, who stood second, received Rs 900 and Ishat Arora, who was placed third, got Rs 600.

In the general knowledge competition of the high school category, Ritu Singla stood first, followed by Hasan Karkara and Rina Rani.

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