Saturday, November 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal loyalist debarred from voting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Even as one more SGPC member, Mr Kashmir Singh Gandiwind, loyal to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been restrained from functioning as SGPC member, thereby debarred from casting vote in the ensuing annual poll of the SGPC executive, four more petitions were filed against Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath and Bibi Darshan Kaur Tufan in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, here today.

While the commission has fixed November 11 (one day before the SGPC poll) for hearing the cases of Prof Badungar and Bibi Jagir Kaur, the other two cases have been reserved. The fifth petition filed by Mr Kartar Singh Takkar against Mr Surjit Singh Niddar of Haryana has been rejected.

While, Mr Dara Singh, one of the members of the commission, has already been placed under suspension by the state government, another member, Mr Raghbir Singh Sandhu, was ‘ignorant’ about the cases or decisions taken today. Mr Sandhu said he did not want to provide any information as he did not want to be “wrong”. He however, said he had been working with complete “understanding” with Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, Chairman of the commission. On being asked about the petitions filed today, he said he was only a “signing authority”.

In a petition filed against Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Kulbir Singh, a leader of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Gill), sought her disqualification as SGPC member apart from debarring her from voting in the SGPC poll as she was facing the charge of murder of her daughter, Harpreet Kaur. The petitioner said the CBI had already filed a charge sheet against her in this regard.

In a petition filed by Mr Sandeep Singh Walha, a senior leader of the AISSF (Gill), Mr Walha sought disqualification of Prof Badungar for getting a job for one of his relatives in an SGPC-run institution. However, Prof Badungar claimed that none of his relatives had got a job in any SGPC-run institution.

Meanwhile, Mr Patti, talking to reporters, refuted charges that he was working under any pressure or favouring the Tohra faction.


SGPC member revolts against Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 8
Veteran SGPC member, Mr Puran Singh Josh, has revolted against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD.

Mr Josh held Mr Badal responsible for the current Panthic crisis and denigration of the age-old Sikh institutions.

In a written press statement, Mr Josh declared that he would support the candidature of any honest member for the coveted post of the SGPC chief, fielded by the six-member ‘non-aligned’ group. He alleged that Mr Badal had indulged in “anti-Sikh” activities to please his political partner, the BJP. He also appealed to the other SGPC members to support the move of ‘non-aligned’ members.


Tohra not in SGPC poll fray
Our Correspondent

Sunam, November 8
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, MP and former President of the SGPC, is not in the race for the post of President of the SGPC as the Centre and the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have been interfering in the elections of the SGPC. This was stated today at a press conference here by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD).

Mr Chandumajra alleged that certain political leaders had been misusing the powers of the SGPC for petty political gains. He also criticised the statement of former Chief Minister and President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, that the Congress had been projecting Mr Tohra as President of the SGPC in the forthcoming elections.

Mr Chandumajra said the SHSAD was in favour of alliance among various factions of Akali Dal. He added that the SHSAD had also offered to elect any member as President of the SGPC among the seven members of the core committee, which had been recently constituted to solve the problems of the Sikhs.

He said the state government had failed to fulfil the promises made to the people of all sections of the society, including employees, traders and farmers.

Mr Chandumajra criticised the state government for imposing entry fee, sales tax exemption and subsidy due to which, he said, the farmers had to purchase fertilisers from Haryana. He urged the state government to review its economic policies.


Tohra dares Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
A former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today said if the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal will take one lakh party activists to Amritsar, his party- the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal- would take two lakh activists to Amritsar on the SGPC election day. He said Mr Badal’s call asking his party activists to reach Amritsar would create tension and bitterness.

Mr Badal should not issue threats of bloodshed but adopt the path of peace and humility. He said Mr Badal should not use SGPC members to settle score with the ruling Congress in the state. Mr Tohra has claimed that his party activists also have been arrested by the police from Moga, Rajpura, Mansa and other parts of the state.


SGPC poll: preventive steps ordered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
It has become clear from the statement issued here today by Mr M.S. Bhullar, DGP, Punjab that no Akali activists other than eligible voters on members of the SGPC would be allowed to enter Amritsar city on the day of the SGPC Presidential election. Even leaders like former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal may also not be allowed to enter the city.

Mr Bhullar said to maintain law and order, several preventive measures had been ordered and it had also been directed that none else than eligible voters or members of the SGPC duly authorised to cast their vote, would be allowed to proceed towards the venue of the election.

No security man and private persons would be allowed to enter Amritsar. Potential troublemakers would be taken into preventive custody. Several regulatory measures had been taken to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections he added.

It may be mentioned that Mr Badal had called upon his party activists yesterday to converge in Amritsar in big numbers to prevent the “state government from carrying out any foul play in the elections”.

Mr Bhullar has stated that “keeping in view the threatening postures of the both Akali groups the police would take all possible preventive measures. They were planning to organise big gatherings in Amritsar as a pressure tactics. He said there were reports that some of the political workers had also threatened to indulge into violence.

However, the statement is silent about the number of Akali activists arrested today.


Bhunder not to be held sans notice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
In less than a week before Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections were scheduled to be held, Punjab MLA Balwinder Singh Bhunder today alleged that the state authorities were bent upon arresting him so that he could not participate in the process.

Taking up his petition seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, Mr Justice Hemant Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the MLA would not be arrested unless he was given a seven-day notice in advance. Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Gupta also issued notice to Punjab’s Advocate-General for November 15.

In his petition, the MLA had earlier claimed that he had no direct, or indirect, hand in the purchase of utensils allegedly distributed during the Assembly elections. Quoting a report appearing in Punjabi Tribune, he had added that Vigilance Bureau, after completing the investigations, had submitted a report to the government, claiming that utensils worth lakhs had been distributed by him during the election campaign. His counsel had added that a probe had apparently been initiated by the bureau though the petitioner had nothing to do with the distribution of the utensils.

Claiming political vendetta to be the reason behind the attempt to implicate him, the counsel had added that Mr Ajit Inder Singh Moffar of the Congress had been defeated by him during the elections. Seeking the grant of bail, the counsel had further added that Mr Bhunder had remained a Cabinet Minister from 1977 to 1980, besides being a Rajya Sabha member and an MLA five times.


Extradition of boat tragedy accused sought
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 8
In a letter to Mr L.K. Advani, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission has urged for the extradition of persons who were responsible for the deaths of 170 young men of India, 91 of Sri Lanka and 33 of Pakistan in the Malta-Sicily channel on December 25, 1996.

Due to the efforts of the mission in Rome cases were going on in Malta, Greece and Italy against the accused.

According to the latest information given by Mr Yogesh Gupta, deputy chief of the mission in Rome, the court had changed the charge against 15 accused from culpable murder to wilful murder on the request of the Chief Prosecutor Dr. Campisi. According to this decision the kin of the victims of this tragedy would now be able to join the case as plaintiff to claim damages from the accused.

He said Indian Embassy officials in Athens were not taking enough interest in the cases. He further alleged that the embassy had neither produced any witnesses nor gave information and evidence from India. He pointed out that during his last meeting with Mr Advani, he had brought to his notice that the Greek govt had furnished information and evidence to the Indian government a year back in Greek language. But Home and Foreign ministries could not decide who should bear the expenditure for getting it translated into English. He urged Mr Advani to ask the officers concerned to explain the criminal delay in this regard.

Mr Khera urged that the government of India should become a party in all these countries or engage counsels through its embassies to safeguard the interests of victim families.


Arjuna awardee wrestler held
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 8
The Morinda police has arrested Jagdish Singh, alias Bhola, an Arjuna awardee wrestler, resident of Bathinda district. He was wanted by the police in three cases and had been declared proclaimed offender.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Ropar, said following a tip-off, Jagdish Singh was caught at the Samrala bypass in Morinda.

He said during interrogation, Jagdish Singh told the police that he was recruited in the police in 1993 in Bathinda district and later due to his achievements in wrestling, he got promotions and became an inspector. He won the Arjuna Award.

Jagdish Singh got involved in the smuggling of poppy husk in December 2001 after meeting Joginder Singh, a resident of Phillaur. Jagdish Singh, Joginder Singh and another accused Randhir Singh allegedly smuggled two trucks of poppy husk from Rajasthan to Punjab and sold it in the Bathinda and Barnala areas. In January 2002, they brought two trucks of poppy husk from Rajasthan, but the trucks were caught by the Punjab police and he fled the scene.

The police also impounded his car, loaded with two bags of poppy husk, from his cold storage.

The SSP said the accused had admitted to committing these crimes due to greed for money. He also stated after the registration of cases against him, Jagdish Singh had not joined duty and had been declared a proclaimed offender.


Bureaucrat posted as DG (school education)
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
Resistance of educationists against the posting of any bureaucrat as head of the Department of School Education notwithstanding, the Punjab Government today posted Mr Alok Shekhar, an IAS officer, as the new Director-General (school education) by creating a new post in the Education Department. He has been designated as DGSE and will be enjoying over-riding powers in the department, which has been restructured recently.

The DPI (elementary education), the DPI (secondary education) and Director SCERT have been placed under his charge, thus putting an end to the independent status of these officers at the departmental level. He has also been authorised to oversee the work of the Director Private-Aided Schools and the Deputy Director State Institute of Science Education.

It may be mentioned here that the educationists have been resisting the posting of a bureaucrat as the overall head of the department for the past several years. They have been successful in convincing the successive governments that as education was a specialised field, its various wings should be headed by educationists promoted from ranks over the years. A detailed order, according to sources, has been issued by Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Department of School Education. The order says that “the DGSE will be the overall in charge of work of all DPIs and others concerned in the department. All establishment proposals of the three directorates beyond the current powers of the DPI (secondary education) will be placed before the DGSE. A proposal regarding the delegation of work from the Principal Secretary School Education, will be formulated shortly.


CPI MP Bhora to surrender security
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 8
Mr Bhan Singh Bhora, a lone MP of the Communist Party of India (CPI) from Punjab, today said he would surrender his security to the state government in protest against the decision of the state police to enhance the security of ministers.

Talking to The Tribune, he said on the one hand, the state government had scaled down the security of MPs and MLAs while on the other, the state police had decided to enhance the security of ministers.

He said if the state police did not withdraw its decision, he would go to Chandigarh to surrender his security to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.


Panchayat secys threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 8
The Nav Niyukt Panchayat Sakatar Union has alleged that the Congress government has initiated the move to terminate their services to settle political scorers with the previous SAD-BJP government and claimed that they were appointed on merit.

Mr Gurjivan Singh, district president of the union, said as many 907 panchayat secretaries were recruited by the previous government on the directions of the competent courts. He alleged that the Congress government had been trying to undo all that had been done by the SAD-BJP government without thinking about the consequences.

He alleged that the Congress government was trying to negate all things done by the SAD-BJP government and said that even those who had been recruited on merit were now being threatened. He said the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB) had conducted a written test and an interview for their selection.

He threatened that if the state government tried to terminate the services of the 907 panchayat secretaries, the affected employees and their families would launch an agitation against the Congress.


MLA helping octroi defaulters?
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, November 8
Mr Charanjit Singh Jatana, president, Municipal Council, in a statement here today, alleged that the local MLA, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, was supporting an electronic goods dealer, who had been evading octroi and was pressurising the police to harass him (Mr Jatana.)

Mr Jatana alleged that he spotted a vehicle, unloading television sets at a shop in the town a week ago.

He said while the vehicle had been issued a transit pass (challan) to transport goods beyond the municipal limits, the TV sets were being unloaded in contravention of law.

He said the TV sets were seized by the council authorities as the challan presented by the trader Mr Mohinder Pal, was found to be ‘fake’. The council wrote to the police authorities to register a case against the trader and an employee of the council, Mr Rajinder Singh who had allegedly connived with Mr Mohinder Pal to cheat it, he added. He said Rajinder Singh had allegedly issued the ‘fake’ challan.

Mr Jatana claimed that the confiscated TV were kept at the local fire station and Mr Mohinder Pal along with Mr Kangar took the sets away after pressurising employees there.

He said despite the council’s requests for registration of a case against Mr Rajinder Singh and the trader nothing had been done due to the pressure from Mr Kangar.

He said the Executive Officer of the council had again requested the police authorities to register a case against Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Kangar and Mr Mohinder Pal.

Mr Jatana alleged that Mr Kangar was doing this to settle political score. He said he had been threatened that a police case would be registered against him.

While no senior police official was available for comments, sources said no case had been registered against Mr Jatana.

Mr Kangar, meanwhile, said he had nothing to do with the controversy. He said he was aware that some TV sets belonging to a trader of his constituency were impounded by the municipal authorities but denied that he helped the trader get them back. He claimed that he was unnecessarily being drawn into the controversy by Mr Jatana.


Power plant to part with information to cops
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 8
The PSEB authorities have granted permission to the GGSSTP, Ropar to give information sought by the police. With this, decks have been cleared for the plant management give the names of the officials who passed the bills of the labour contractors between 1997 and 1999.

Earlier, the SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, had written to the General Manager, GGSSTP to give names of the officials who passed the bills of the labour contractors against fake challans during the said period. The General Manager had sought the permission of the board for passing the said information to the police.

As per the work order the GGSSTP officials had to obtain a certificate from the EPF Commissioner every month before clearing payments of the labour contractor. However, certain officers of the plant allegedly in connivance with the labour contractor kept clearing the bills against xeroxed copies of bank challans.

They also allegedly did not obtain clearance certificate from the labour contractors continuously for 33 months. The police officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said if the allegedly guilty officials failed to justify their passing of bills without obtaining clearance certificates, a criminal case would be registered against them.

The contractor despite being involved in the EPF scam continued to be the major labour supplier to the plant. At present about 1200 contractors labourers working in the plant were on the rolls of Ms Sodhi Erectors.


Running from pillar to post for dues
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 8
Beant Ram, who was prematurely retired on May 17, 1994 as a Constable here, yet to get his pensionary benefits and other arrears, including provident fund and gratuity. Mr Beant Ram appealed in the court of the Civil Judge here challenging his premature retirement on November 17, 1994. The judge accepted his appeal on November 13, 1997, and ordered the Police Department to take him back on duty. He was also granted full service benefits by the court. The district police filed an appeal against the decision of the Civil Judge in the court of the Additional District and Sessions judge on Jan 16, 1998. However, the appeal was rejected on February 2, 2000. However, the district police paid salary to the constable for February to June 2000 but did not pay the arrears, which ran into several lakhs.

Meanwhile, Mr Beant Ram sought premature retirement from service in June 2000, which he was granted. But till date he had not been paid pension or other benefits due to him after retirement. Mr Beant Ram said he had approached the higher police authorities several times, which only marked enquiries in the matter. He said he was forced to lead a miserable life due to non-payment of dues and pension. Official sources said the delay was caused because his service book was incomplete. and As soon as the service book was completed Mr Beant Ram would be paid his dues and pension.


Brahmpura seeks bail

Chandigarh, November 8
Taking up another application filed by Punjab MLA Ranjit Singh Brahmpura seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, Mr Justice Hemant Gupta of the High Court today directed that the petitioner would be given a three-day advance notice for enabling him to avail legal remedy in case he was required in any case.

In his application filed today, the MLA claimed that a police vehicle chased him on Thursday while he was on his way to attend a political affairs committee meeting at Alamgarh in Ludhiana district.

Seeking the grant of bail, the MLA, in his petition, had earlier expressed apprehension that he would be implicated in a case as the government wanted to tarnish his image due to oblique political reasons.

Going into the background of the case, his counsel had added that the tactics were being used against the petitioner for demoralising the supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal so as to help the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal during the forthcoming elections to the SGPC’s executive committee.

Detained woman set free

A woman, allegedly detained by her parents because of her marriage against their wishes, was “set at liberty” by Mr Justice Hemant Gupta of the High Court.

Issuing the directions, Mr Justice Gupta added that Ms Chandan Deep Kaur, present in the court, could “proceed with her husband if she so desired”. In his petition, her husband, Mr Paramjit Singh of Gurdaspur district, had earlier claimed that Ms Chandan was not being allowed to leave her parents’ residence and was being beaten up by them.


Recruitment rally at Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 8
The Deputy Director General, Recruiting, Punjab and J&K, Brigadier Ajay Pahwa, today told newsmen here that the recruitment rallies did not attract Punjabi youth of impressive physique.

Brig Pahwa said he had noticed it at the recruitment rally at Akal Stadium here and in Amritsar and Ferozepore districts. Brig Pahwa asserted that the ongoing rally had nothing to do with the conditions at the international border.

He said from April this year the qualification for a jawan would be matric with the minimum of 45 per cent marks. While Jat Sikhs with 45 per cent marks in matric were coming in more numbers than the available vacancies, the same was not true in case of Mazhabi and Ramdasia Sikhs (M&R).


Km-scheme buses remain off road
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 8
The km-scheme buses of the PRTC remained off the road today as their owners observed strike in protest against the non-fulfilment of their demands.

Office-bearers of the Action Committee of the Km-scheme bus owners claimed that the strike had been successful throughout the state. They said no bus belonging to the category plied in Punjab.

The owners of these buses have demanded that no new tenders should be invited for giving the contract for plying buses under the km-scheme. They said the contract made with them should be extended further on the same conditions.

No bus belonging to the category entered the local bus stand, neither any left from here for its destination. The drivers of such buses remained idle throughout the day.

An owner of the km-scheme bus said these buses were introduced in 1999 by the Punjab Government and the PRTC for giving some relief to the financially weak corporation. He said the scheme was of great benefit for the passengers also.

The scheme was launched by giving contracts to different persons for plying 150 buses on different routes in the state. He said private bus operators contributed a lot to make the scheme a success.

He said after completion of three years of the scheme and the expiry of the contract, the PRTC authorities allegedly ignored the old contractors and floated new tenders for hiring buses for the scheme. He said the consent of these operators might have been taken before floating new tenders. He said there were certain conditions in the new tenders that would make an adverse affect on the operators, who had given buses under the scheme.

Another owner said the tenders invited for November 15 should be cancelled and the contracts given to the owners of buses already plying under the scheme. He said they would meet senior officials of the PRTC and urge them to rethink about floating tenders.

He said they would also request that no km-scheme bus should be asked to ply in hill areas. He said if these buses were to go there, these should be given extra money.


Km scheme: bus operators observe strike
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 8
Private bus operators running buses under the kilometre scheme with the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) today opposed pressure put by the corporation and the local police to keep their buses out of circulation. In protest against the decision of the corporation to invite tenders for fresh contracts under the scheme, the bus operators parked their buses in the Vir Haqeeqat Rai ground here today and refused to run them on any PRTC route. They have been fined Rs 600 per bus for this violation.

The police used mild force in the morning to break the strike of the operators in which a driver, Ranjit Singh, was injured. The operators alleged that the police used force on the directions of the corporation staff. The latter denied the allegation.

Addressing the operators on the occasion, PRTC Kilometre Scheme Bus Operators Association president Baljit Singh and general secretary Pradeep Gautam said in case the demands of the operators were not accepted by November 12, they would proceed on an indefinte strike, besides resorting to “chakka jam”. The leaders also condemned the “stubborn attitude” of the corporation management which, they alleged, was bent upon adopting a confrontationist attitude with the operators.

The bus operators have resorted to an agitation following the invitation of tenders by the PRTC for grant of fresh licences under the kilometre scheme as the present contract of most of the bus operators is slated to end in a few months. The management, while inviting tenders, has also expressed its intention to reduce the per kilometre mileage money presently being given under the scheme.

Association leaders said the bus operators had stood by the PRTC, hoping that they would get a good deal with their contracts being renewed on the old terms.

They said instead of doing this, the corporation was violating the old contracts also by making kilometre scheme buses ply in the hill areas of Himachal Pradesh at the same mileage rates. They said the bills of operators were being withheld for long periods, making the venture unviable.

Association vice-president Mohan Lal Sharma also demanded that the corporation, while drawing out a new contract for the bus operators, should delete the discriminatory clauses which called for heavy fines in case of breakdown.


Students, BKU men get judicial remand
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 8
The court today sent five persons to judicial remand till November 21 while two others were sent to judicial remand till November 22 in connection with cases registered against them for their alleged participation in agitation against mini-bus operators as part of the bus-pass conflict.

Those who have been sent to judicial remand till November 21 included Gurjeet Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Kirpal Singh and Chanchal Singh, all of Chauke village, and Balkarjeet Singh of Khokhar village while Natha Singh and Nirmal Singh, both of Ballianwali village, will be in judicial remand till November 22.

The cases were registered against these persons after they participated in the ongoing tussle between the students of the Rampura Phul area and mini-bus operators, as the operators allegedly did not honour the concessional passes issued to the students.

The students held rallies and dharnas in different villages and near the office of the SDM, Rampura, last month. On October 31, the students, along with the support of BKU (E) activists, gheraoed some mini-buses at various villages in the Rampura Phul area. The students and BKU activists deflated the tyres of buses, which had caused harassment to the passengers.

Subsequently cases were registered against students and activists of the BKU (E).

Meanwhile, Mr Rajwinder Singh, an office-bearer of the Bus Pass Struggle Committee, in a press note said the authorities had been harassing the students. He alleged that the students were being implicated in false cases. The authorities were helping mini-bus operators, he alleged.

However, the police and civil officials of the district denied these allegations.


6 units of GNDTP, GHTP trip
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 8
All four units of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) and two units of the Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohabat, located 25 km from here, tripped this afternoon when a fault developed in the Barnala-Malerkotla main power transmission line.

Official sources said due to tripping of all six units of these two thermal plants, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had suffered a generation loss of about 40 lakhs units worth more than Rs 1 crore.

The sources said the six units of the GNDTP and the GHTP were tripped when a conductor in the Barnala-Malerkotla main power transmission line broke. The power supply to a number of areas, including some important areas, was disrupted.

Mr S.C. Mahajan, Chief Engineer, GNDTP, said all units got tripped around 12.30 pm. The power supply to light them up again was again taken from the Bathinda-Muktsar line. The first unit was lighted up around 3.20 pm, second around 4.50 pm and the third around 5.15 pm. The fourth unit would be lighted up late tonight.

He said the transmission wing of the PSEB would investigate to find out why the conductor of the Barnala-Malerkotla main power transmission line broke.

Both units of the GHTP had also been lighted up again, official sources said.


NZCC folk dance competition
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 8
Tiwari Model Senior Secondary School bagged the most number of prizes in the inter-school bhangra and giddha competitions organised by the North Zone Cultural Centre on the occasion of its foundation day here yesterday .

More than 350 students belonging to 20 schools of the district participated in the competitions under various categories. In the giddha competition, Tiwari Model Senior Secondary School secured the first position both in Group A and B, while it bagged the second place in Group C . In the bhangra competition the school bagged the second place in Group B and third place in Group C.

While Government Girls Multipurpose Senior Secondary School secured first position in Group C of the giddha competition, Government Multipurpose Senior Secondary School bagged the first position in Group C of the bhangra competition. Guru Nanak Academy and National Public High School secured the first positions in Group A and B, respectively, in the same competition. Guru Nanak Academy also bagged the third place in Group B in giddha and second position in Group C in bhangra competition.

Kaintal School bagged third place in Group A of the giddha competition while also securing second place in Group A of the bhangra competition. The other schools which won include Yadavindra Public School which bagged second place in Group B of the giddha competition, Rose Garden Senior Model School which bagged the second position in Group A of giddha and Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib Mission Senior Secondary School which bagged the third place in Group C in giddha competition.The prizes were given away by Mr G. S. Anand, Director, NIS, Patiala.


Residents, safai workers enter into scuffle
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 8
The local residents who started cleaning the city and removing garbage as safai karamcharis of the municipal council are on strike these days had to face rough weather when the safai karamcharis allegedly started a scuffle with them today.

The safai karamcharis, who have been on strike for the past some days due to the non-fulfilment of their demands, allegedly clashed with the residents and objected to their cleanliness drive.

According to reports, the local health authorities had warned the administration of the spread of diseases as heaps of garbage had been lying at various places in the town. Subsequently, officials of the municipal council motivated the residents to clean the town on their own.

The MC authorities deployed some labourers and started the campaign in the presence of some prominent citizens and mediapersons. The local police authorities and an official of the Revenue Department was also present on the occasion.

The cleanliness campaign gave a setback to the agitation of the safai karamcharis.

The local police authorities, when contacted, said no complaint had been registered in this connection.


Lawyers observe strike

Ropar, November 8
Members of the executive committee of the Ropar District Bar Association went on fast on Friday and abstained from the court work. The lawyers also held a rally on the District Judicial Complex here.

BATALA: Advocates here observed a strike on Friday an a call given by the All-India Lawyers Association.


Extortionist remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 8
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded an Assamese, Shankar Singh, alias Vasu, in police custody till November 11 on the charges of extortion. Shankar was arrested by the SAS Nagar police and he was believed to be a member of an extremist organisation.


Agriculture extension service a shambles
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
The agriculture extension service system merits attention. The earlier focus in extension service was only on Green Revolution technologies. It is no longer that relevant today. A paradigm shift is required from production-oriented extension service to “knowledge/information”-based extension that is relevant to market demand and supply, pricing trends (inputs/outputs), weather forecast and is situation-specific as well as crop-specific. It must also enable farmers to adopt “coping” strategies for crop management and profitability, say farm experts.

With the changing role of farmers’ wives in decision-making at home/farm and women becoming sarpanches/panches, the next generation of extension services shall also have to be oriented towards them as well in respect of home management, education of girl child, health, nutrition, female infanticide etc. as part of the government endevour to empower women.

Is Punjab prepared for such an aggressive extension service? It is time to reorient this service for dissemination of farm/home science information and knowledge from laboratory to land in tune with the world farm produce/product market or the WTO regime or to re-invent extension education teaching at Punjab Agricultural University in the interest of farmers and their wives.

The World Bank has also taken cognizance of this aspect of agriculture development. In its rural strategy backgrounder series, it has circulated “rural extension and advisory services” report that shows a roadmap to re-orient state extension service and re-invent university’s extension education programme. The bank has also evolved a national agricultural extension system, which it expects to be adopted. The analogy of the World Bank extension service system is that agriculture has to act as an “engine of growth” for integrated rural development, which is the key to meeting global challenges of poverty reduction, economic growth, food security and environment conservation. The bank has provided some $3.07 billion in direct support of extension, while mobilising another $2.54 billion from governments, beneficiaries and other sources in the past 20 years.

The report suggests the public/private sector’s role in providing and catering to demand for extension/information service. Since a World Bank team is visiting Punjab next week and agriculture is one of the priority areas, the state is expected to discuss funds to re-orient/re-invent extension and rural information systems by promising to overhaul the state’s extension service and the PAU’s extension education to make these responsive to farmers’ and farm women’s needs.

The main responsibility of providing extension services to farmers is of the state Department of Agriculture, a lethargic monolith, as insiders admit. It has collapsed as a bridge between the PAU and farmers and has outlived its utility as a vehicle of change.

Ever since Agriculture Inspectors got designated as Agriculture Development Officers (ADO) by using political influence as a fulcrum, extension service has been neglected and ignored. At present while ADOs’ links have snapped with farmers, particularly small, marginal and medium, who own up to four hectares and are the backbone of agriculture, their inter-action, relation and equation have become more pronounced with “dealers/ahrtiays” of farm inputs. Today, an ADO is “equal” in status to a Chief Agricultural Officer. This has severed the chain of command and control in the districts, as even transfer/posting of an ADO is now done at a higher level.

Insofar as ADOs’ functions and responsibilities, less said the better, say sources. As catalysts of change, ADOs are to distribute mini-kits to farmers for trial run of new crops, establish “demonstration” plots, showing application of recommended agronomic practices, supervise quality production, collect samples to check sale of spurious inputs (fertiliser, seed, insecticides etc.) and ensure timely supply of farm inputs. But sources say it is best left to ADOs to spell out how “honestly” they discharge these functions and who their real clients are.

Therefore, expecting any meaningful change from the Johl report on the agricultural policy will rest as much on extension service personnel as on political will and bureaucratic intentions.

The PAU too has its own Directorate of Extension Education, which operates through district extension specialists (DES) and krishi vigyan kendras. Though the number of districts has increased to 17, the corresponding district extension specialists have not been posted in the new districts.


Work on Ropar bypass to begin before March 31
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 8
Construction work on the abandoned Ropar bypass project will be resumed by the PWD before March 31 next.

An assurance to this effect was given by Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister for Public Grievances, Punjab, while presiding over the annual prize distribution function of Government Girls Senior Secondary School here today.

Mr Sharma said arrangements had been made to complete the project at the earliest.

He said in the first phase, the bypass would extend from the Ropar-Chandigarh road to the Ropar-Bela road. A bridge on the Sirhind canal would also be constructed as part of the bypass project.

Mr Sharma, who is also the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, said the state government had decided to hand over the supervision work of rural government health institutions to panchayats.

Mr Sharma laid the foundation stone of a multi-purpose hall to be constructed at a cost of Rs 12 lakh in the school. He also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the construction of the hall.


Vehicle thieves’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, November 8
An interstate gang of vehicle thieves was busted with the arrest of Rajinder Singh yesterday.

Mr Major Singh Dhillon, SSP, in a press note said Rajinder Singh of Rampuraphul, involved in a number of vehicle lifting cases, was arrested from near Middukhera village in the Labi police station area. He said during interrogation the accused confessed to involvement in 50 thefts in Punjab and Haryana. A .12 bore rifle, along with cartridges and two cars, VCR and TV were seized from him. Bakshish Singh of Kattianwali was arrested while he was driving a stolen scooter from near Malout Chowk last evening.


‘Techfair 2002’ inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 8
Technical education is the need of the hour and to ensure a bright future and safe placement of youths of the state, the government has decided to initiate various steps. Biotechnology is being introduced and the new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is being set up at Mohali shortly, said Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Minister for Technical Education, while addressing a gathering after inaugurating the national-level “TECHFAIR 2002”, being organised by the local Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College here today.

More than 600 students from various Engineering institutions from all over the country are participating in TECHFAIR 2002”.

The minister said that by setting up IIT, a long-pending demand of the state youths would be fulfilled, giving them a chance to avail specialised training in engineering. Besides, an information technology park is also being set up in the state for providing better Technical education. He said to ensure safe placement, technical students and big industrial houses would be provided better infrastructure and facilities so that they may open their industrial units in the state, where our students could get employment.

The minister said that it is unfortunate that the previous government in the state did not earmarked and spend even a single penny on technical education. He said that 12 ITIs being constructed by the then Beant Singh government were not operated by the Akalis and the government in spite of facing a financial crunch, has decided to start these 12 ITI’s. He said that the youths should be encouraged for job-oriented courses. BBA, BCA and MCA courses are also being introduced in various government institutes and for the girl students hostel capacity is being increased in the government polytechnics.

Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest, in his address urged the minister to set up new projects being initiated by his department in the district. He said it was the Congress which gave Fatehgarh Sahib the status of a district and the present government is committed to all-round development of the district. He lashed out Akalis for neglecting the district and for not initiating any development project.

Dr. D.S. Hira, principal of the engineering college, read a detailed report of the achievements of the college in academics, sports and cultural fields. He said the college is organising the TECHFAIR for the second time and this fair would provide a chance to local students to interact with the students of the country.

Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, SLIET, Longowal, in his presidential address urged the students to achieve excellency in technical field and to prepare themselves for hard competition. He said in the present age of competition, only those with mastery in their field can survive.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, member secretary of the managing committee, also gave detailed information about the achievements and infrastructure of the college. Mr Mohan Lal, SDM, also spoke on the occasion.

Meanwhile, on the first day of the TECHFAIR competitions, eight events were conducted and there was enthusiastic response from the participating delegates for these competitions.


Behl hopes to achieve literacy target
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 8
With the introduction of the new education policy and restructuring of school education system, there will be a tremendous improvement in the quality of education and the target of imparting compulsory education to children between the age group of six and fourteen in the state will be achieved. The state will positively achieve the target of 100 per cent literacy by 2005, claimed Mr Khushal Behl, Minister of Education, while addressing a press conference here today.

Mr Behl here to preside over the state-level Education conference of heads of schools, DEOs and CEOs to discuss problems being faced after the introduction of the new policy.

He said the state government wanted to make improvement in the government school education a mass movement and the services of retired teachers would also be availed for this purpose. He said the state government had earmarked Rs 65 crore for providing infrastructure in the schools. Elaborating on the new education policy, he said as per the new system, there would be only two levels —elementary and secondary — in place of the four earlier. He said the Directorate of Primary Education would be called the Directorate of Elementary Education and the Directorate of School Education would be known as the Directorate of Secondary Education. He said all existing primary and middle schools operating from the same campus would be merged as an elementary school. The staff of these schools would also be merged and in case the distance between a primary school and a middle school in a village was more than 1km both schools would work as two independent elementary schools. All high schools would be, henceforth, designated as secondary schools, but their senior secondary sections would start only when they had more than 20 students for class 11.

The minister said the government had also decided to make secondary education as vocational education. Asked about the unrest among the teacher unions against the new education policy, he said whenever a new system was introduced criticism from various quarters was natural. The government would soon call the union leaders and try to allay their apprehensions.

Later addressing a seminar being organised by the officials of the department, the minister said that the government would lift the ban on recruitments to fill the vacant posts of teachers. He urged the teachers of the government schools to do their duty dedicatedly and get ready to face the challenge being posed by the private schools. He directed the DEOs to visit secondary schools and elementary schools regularly to check absenteeism among school staff and students.

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