Wednesday, November 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM opposes IT on farm income
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 19
Accusing the BJP-led NDA government of “ignoring” the interests of farmers, particularly of Punjab, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today alleged that the Central Government was “just taking care of the trading community and its interests”.

Drubbing the government for its proposed move to impose income tax on the agriculture sector in the light of the recommendations of the Kelkar Commission, Capt Amarinder Singh said the NDA government “could not see beyond the trading community.” “We condemn any such move and we have already conveyed it to the Centre,” asserted Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Chief Minister said keeping in view the hard times being faced by the farming community and the agriculture sector, he had already conveyed to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, that the Centre should retain the minimum support price (MSP) system and the central procurement of major crops like wheat and paddy for at least another 10 years, to facilitate diversification.

He said the state government had sought Rs 1,280 crore from the Planning Commission to provide an incentive of Rs. 10.000 per acre to Punjab farmers to enable them to switch over to alternative crops like winter maize, barley and hy-brid variety of oilseeds, such as mustard.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was accompanied by the AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni and his ministerial colleagues Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Avtar Henry, Ramesh Chander Dogra, Gurchet Singh Bhullar, PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal, senior Congress leader Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder and Arvind Sood attended the state-level rally in connection with the 85th birth anniversary of the late Indira Gandhi.

“We are in the process of large-scale diversification. We have plans to bring about 28,000 acres of land under oilseed crops annually. Moreover, we have already taken up the issue of setting up hi-tech dairy plants with companies like Nestle and Beecham. Another leap towards diversification was the Malta Research Centre, being set up near Hoshiarpur. 1,200 hy-brid four-year malta plants have been brought from California for research purpose. This will be followed by eight other such research centres in different parts of the state,” said Capt Amarinder Singh. He gave credit of the Green Revolution and projects like the Bhakra dam and setting up of the PAU to the “vision” of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

Talking about the recent visits of the World Bank teams and a 16-member delegation led by Canadian minister Herb Dhaliwal, the Chief Minister said the WB was likely to resume the grants to the state government, which had been suspended for free power to the farm sector, by December while the Canadian team had agreed to assist the state government in the field of soil improvement. “We expect a positive response from the WB and we expect more financial assistance from it. On the other hand, since the soil quality of the state has deteriorated due to overuse or misuse of fertlisers and pesticides, the Canadian team has assured full cooperation for soil rectification and detection of crop diseases through geomatic satellite surveillance,” said the Chief Minister.

Taking on SAD and BJP leaders he said nobody who had indulged in corruption would be spared. “Our campaign against corruption has instilled some fear among corrupt elements,” he said.

Talking about the “jail bharo” campaign to be launched by the SAD from November 27, the Chief Minister said holding of rallies was a democratic right, but it was the wish of the government whether to send them to jails or not.

He said his government was contemplating to implement the 73rd and 74th Amendments in the Panchayati Raj Act to hand over control of primary education to panchayats as this would result in drastic cut in school dropout rate which was highest in Punjab at 31 per cent.


SAD MLA alleges victimisation
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
“The Vigilance Bureau is vindicative. Its one-point agenda is to arrest anyone from the Opposition even before holding preliminary investigation,” alleges Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, SAD MLA from Mansa, maintaining that he was being harassed at the instance of a former Akali MLA owing allegiance to the SHSAD.

“Let the investigations be conducted by the CBI,” he says, maintaining that both the Vigilance Department and the present setup of the Education Department were “vindictive and we are being victimised out of political vendetta”.

“I also demand that an inquiry should be held into the immovable and movable properties of Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, ex-MLA,” Mr Datewas said, naming Mr Khiala as the man behind his harassment, alleging that “he has the backing of the SHSAD as well as the ruling Congress”.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Datewas says the Vigilance Bureau has registered a counter case against him and 10 other members of the managing committee of Khalsa High School, Mansa.

Producing various documents pertaining to the case, he says he was made the president of the managing committee of the school for a five-year term on June 21, 2001. But then came the assembly elections and he was elected to the Assembly but his party — SAD — was ousted from power.

Neither the state government nor the District Education Department either dissolved or suspended the managing committee approved by the previous District Education Officer. In fact, the previous DEO has also been named in the case registered against the “ousted managing committee”. Instead, a close confidant of a former Akali Dal MLA has been made manager of the school in the new committee as his wife, a headmistress in the school, who had remained absent for more than 15 months, was not only brought back but also paid salary for the period of absence.

“Our political opponent had been supporting the previous committee which remained in power for more than 15 years. All these years not even a single paisa income from 125 acres of land belonging to the Bhai Gurdas Trust running the school was shown. When our committee took over, we got a grant of Rs 5 lakh from the Badal Government and added a new primary block comprising a few rooms and a verandah, besides getting the entire school building repaired and renovated. We spent much more than what we got as a grant from the government. In eight months, the strength of students increased from 700 to more than 1250. The school, which was blacklisted by the Punjab School Education Board, was made an examination centre again.

“Before we could do anything more,our term was arbitrarily cut to eight months against five years. The case of embezzlement which was pending against the previous management has been shelved. Instead, same charges have been repeated against us,” said Mr Datewas, holding that while the committee handled a total financial transaction of Rs 5 lakh, it has been accused of misappropriating Rs 23 lakh. “We want that the entire case should be investigated by an independent agency like the CBI,” he said.


Jails being readied for Akalis
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 19
The otherwise non-descript jails in the state are witnessing intense activity these days thanks to the forthcoming ‘jail bharo andolan’ of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The jails are being readied for Akali activists. The problem of space is proving to be a stumbling block.

For fine-tuning arrangements and to take stock of the situation as well as the capacity of all jails in the state, a high-level meeting of Superintendents of jails in Punjab was held at Central Jail here under the chairmanship of the ADGP, Jails, Mr R. S. Chalia yesterday.

Sources revealed that apart from discussing general issues, the main agenda of the meeting was to take stock of the situation in jails and to determine whether the premises would be able to accommodate the Akalis courting arrest.

A proposal was mooted for make-shift jails in the open grounds of jails. However, this too seems improbable as a rough estimate for temporary ‘tent jails’ for incarcerating 10,000 people in Ludhiana Central Jail with a capacity for 2500 stands at over Rs 50 lakhs.

The proposal was discussed and, according to sources, chances for its implementation are few. The meeting did not take a final decision on the matter and left it to the government.

While some Superintendents contacted by TNS claimed that there was no problem of space and refused to come on record, reliable sources revealed that the jail officials were hoping that the state government would find a way out of as it had done in case of the ‘jail bharo andolan’ of the CPI (M) yesterday. The government released the detainees after barely half-an-hour. Sources said if similar action was taken against the Akalis, no problem would arise for the Jails Department.

Sources say the state Jails Department has finalised a plan to shift some inmates and undertrial to other jails to make room for the Akalis in bigger jails. For this purpose, inmates in Central Jail here will be shifted to Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur, besides the local Borstal jail.

Conditions at the second-biggest jail in Punjab, Central Jail, Patiala are also dismal. Barracks constructed more than a century ago are unfit for keeping any inmate. Very few jails in the state have actually been constructed in recent years due to the paucity of funds faced by the state government.

Things had come to such a pass that Central Jail, Patiala, had no funds to arrange for flour for the inmates in the late nineties. There was no money to provide raw material to the inmates working in factories. Even the jail staff could not get salaries for months.


Badal denies report on police entry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today described as “totally incorrect” reports in a section of the Press ascribing to him a statement that he too had ordered the police into the Golden Temple during his tenure as Chief Minister.

“The statement attributed to me has surprised even me. Perhaps, some part of my comment on providing routine escort in plainclothes to the Queen, who was a distinguished guest of the Khalsa Panth, has been taken completely out of context. Sending the police into the Golden Temple has only one connotation, and that is sending it in to storm the place and to show disrespect to the maryada of the shrine. Not even my enemies can accuse me of doing that,” Mr Badal said in a statement here today.


A lakh Akalis will court arrest: MLA
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), November 19
“One lakh Akali workers will court arrest during the morcha to be launched by the SAD on November 27”. This was claimed by Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, General Secretary, SAD and Sardulgarh MLA, while addressing Akali workers in Gurdwara Sahib here. He condemned the registration of a “false” case against the son of the district jathedar and member of the SGPC, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Tandian.

Mr Chatin Singh Samaon, former member of Parliament and SGPC member, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, former Mansa MLA, circle jathedar Harkaran Singh Dodra, Mr Surjit Singh Boha, Mr Major Singh Reond, Mr Surjit Singh Gill and Mr Jarnail Singh also spoke.


Gurpurb celebrated with fervour
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, November 19
The 533rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated with traditional fervour and enthusiasm here today. Lakhs of devotees took a dip in the holy sarovar on the occasion. As many as 30 schools and colleges participated in various competitions like debate, declamation, painting and kirtan and were given prizes. Manji Sahib Diwan Hall, Akal Takht, Darbar Sahib and other buildings of the complex were tastefully decorated with multi-coloured lights. Fireworks display marked the occasion.

ANANDPUR SAHIB: On the occasion of the 533rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Head Granthi, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, on Tuesday performed ardas at the Takht for the successful setting up of World Sikh University, being established by the World Sikh Foundation with its headquarters here. Another campus of this proposed university will be near Chamkaur Sahib.

Among others present at the Takht were Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Dr Gurcharan Singh and Mr Kartar Singh, president, vice-president and secretary of the World Sikh Foundation, respectively; Dr G.S. Sethi, Director, Institute of Career Education, Zirakpur, retired Principal B.S. Watni, a member of the World Sikh Foundation, and Bhai Harsimran Singh, convener of the local project committee of World Sikh University.

However, Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, could not join the ardas as he reached in the Takht complex from Amritsar after the performance of ardas. Later, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president of the World Sikh Foundation, met Prof Manjit Singh at the Jathedar’s residence and obtained blessings from him. Other members of the foundation also accompanied Mr Mann on the occasion.

Later, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann said the World Sikh University project would be completed at a cost of Rs 500 crore.

ABOHAR: The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated in the subdivision with a lot of enthusiasm. Hundreds of devotees visited gurdwaras. Shabad kirtan and Gurbani started early in the morning in gurdwaras where langar was also served. An impressive nagar kirtan was led by Panj Piaras.

FATEHABAD: Gurpurb was celebrated here with religious fervour. Shabad kirtan was organised at Gurdwara Sri Singh Sabha, Guru Nanak Pura, Fatehabad. Langar was also served. A nagar kirtan was organised in the town last evening.

Reports of Gurpurb celebrations have also been received from Rattia and Tohana in the district.

FARIDKOT: The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated with great enthusiasm here on Tuesday. Bhog of akhand path was held at all gurdwaras and langar was served. More than 10,000 persons took a dip in the Baba Farid Sarovar at Gurdwara Godri Sahib, 4 km from here. The management committees of Gurdwara Balbir Basti and Gurdwara Singh Sabha honoured Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Dr Rajinder Singh, Civil Surgeon, and Mr Davinder Singh, SDM, Faridkot, for their devoted services in checking drug abuse in the district. Earlier, a nagar kirtan was taken out in the town.

MOGA: Gurpurb was celebrated by almost all sections of society here with great enthusiasm. Langars were served in all local gurdwaras.

KAPURTHALA: Gurpurb was celebrated in the town and the adjoining areas with religious fervour. Congregations were held in all gurdwaras. Langar was also served. The main function was held in the local state gurdwara.

A large number of devotees took a dip in the sarovar at Gurdwara Ber Sahib at Sultanpur Lodhi where Guru Nanak Dev lived for 13 years with his sister Bibi Nanki.

PHAGWARA: Gurpurb was celebrated here with traditional fervour. Bhog of akhand path, shabad kirtan, kathas, kavi darbars and langars marked the celebrations in and around the city. Gurdwaras and houses were illuminated and crackers were burst. The main congregation was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town. Noted bards, including Bhai Jasbir Singh, and MLA Joginder Singh Mann, addressed the congregation.


PTU VC’s aide Dhaliwal in Vigilance Bureau net
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, November 19
Though the Vigilance Bureau is yet to arrest two prime accused — former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU) H.S. Gurm and Parminder Singh, son of former Technical Education minister Jagdish Singh Garcha- in the multi-crore PTU scam, it has arrested J.S. Dhaliwal, a close associate of Dr Gurm, for flouting norms to obtain no-objection certificates (NOC) to get PTU affiliation for various colleges.

According to Vigilance Bureau sources, Dhaliwal was heading four educational societies — the Desh Bhagat Trust, Mohali, Balaji Educational Society, Talwandi Sabo, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Society, Mohali, and Baba Ishar Singh Society.

VB sleuths found that Dhaliwal obtained NOCs to get PTU affiliation for about a dozen colleges running graduate and post-graduate courses in management and computer applications in sharp violation of the norms.

VB sources said that Dr Gurm sanctioned affiliation to these colleges during his stint as the VC to help Dhaliwal mint money by running these courses even though these colleges did not have the requisite infrastructure and did not comply with the norms of the university. Dhaliwal, a resident of Kot Isse Khan village in Dharmkot, according to the VB, is a close associates of Dr Gurm. He was arrested last night.

Jagdish Singh Garcha and the Director (Outreach) of the PTU Amarjit Singh Grewal were arrested about two months back for causing loss to the tune of Rs 11 crores to the university in its Distance Education programme. Besides, it was alleged that Garcha in connivance with Dr Gurm, had recruited about 95 ad hoc employees in the university in violation of norms.

The Vigilance Bureau produced the arrested person in a court, who remanded him to three days of police custody. Meanwhile, the VB is still clueless about the whereabouts of Dr Gurm and Parminder Singh.


Shahnawaz justifies VHP leaders’ arrest
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 19
Justifying the arrest of senior VHP leaders for defying the ban imposed by the Election Commission of India on carrying out the Godhra yatra, the lone BJP Muslim MP and Union Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Shahnawaz Hussain, today asserted that no political or religious organisation would be allowed to disturb the law and order during Gujarat elections. Addressing a press conference here today, the Civil Aviation Minister said the Government of Gujarat had rightly arrested the senior VHP leaders as the proposed Godhra yatra could have disturbed the communal harmony in the state, which had recently recovered from the communal riots.

“One thing is sure that nobody, irrespective of his position, will be allowed to disturb the law and order situation during Gujarat elections and the statement of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, asking the VHP to defer the yatra as per the Election Commission’s directive is a clear indication to this effect,” he added.

Launching a fresh salvo on the Congress for allegedly using the recent communal riots in Gujarat to lure the votes of the Muslim community, the minister alleged that it was the Congress, who had promoted the riots in different parts of the country to take political mileage during its rule.

“The Congress had never punished any rioter during its long regime in the country. It has no moral right to question the role of the BJP government as the state as well as the Central government had taken stern action against the rioters by arresting about 30,000 persons during the Gujarat riots,” Mr Hussain said, adding that the Parliament should pass a strong Act to curb the activities of the rioters.

“Being a Muslim MP, I assure the community that they are safe in the NDA rule and the Congress will not be allowed to divide the communities to achieve political gains,” he added.

Elaborating on the proposed plan to revamp the Civil Aviation sector in the country, the minister said the ministry had decided to spend Rs 16,000 crore for the upgradation of four international airports at Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata in collaboration with private investors. “The proposal in this regard will soon be tabled before the Parliament for approval. Private investors will be invited for these joint ventures even as 74 per cent of Rs 16000 crore investment will come from private share holders,” he added.

He further said the ministry was planning to upgrade Ludhiana Airport in collaboration with private partners and they were preparing a comprehensive draft in this regard. “Keeping in view the demand of Punjabi NRIs, we are planning to allow some more flights from Amritsar Airport for western countries,” he added.

UNI adds: The Civil Aviation minister said there was no move as of yet to disinvest Air-India as there were presently no buyers in the global aviation market which had been facing crisis.

The government’s first priority was to strengthen Air-India by improving both, on-board facilities as well as upgrading major airports in the country to international standards.

Then disinvestment could be considered later, he added.


Amarinder devout Sikh: Madhoke

Moga, November 19
Sant Vir Singh Madhoke, who lost last week’s SGPC presidential poll to Mr Badal’s nominee Kirpal Singh Badungar, today lauded the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by describing him a “devout Sikh”.

Talking to mediapersons at his native Madhoke village, he said: “It is his (Amarinder’s) anti-graft drive which has scared Mr Badal into taking shelter behind religious facade to save himself and his family.’’

He made the statement after a closed-door meeting with SGPC member Mal Singh Ghuman at his home. Mr Ghuman headed the SGPC panel which had advocated consensus in the SGPC poll held on November 12. UNI


‘Probe role of EPF authorities’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 19
The police has moved to probe into the alleged connivance of officials of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) in the EPF scam. However, the dereliction in duty on the part of the EPF authorities, which led to the scam, has yet not been probed by the investigating agencies.

In the much published EPF scam, unscrupulous contractors allegedly duped the poor labourers of the GGSSTP to the tune of Rs 1 crore. The contractors allegedly did not deposit the EPF deducted from the salaries of the labourers and the PSEB share in it, continuously for 33 months in the accounts of the workers.

They deposited fake bank challans with the GGSSTP and the EPF authorities for drawing the monthly EPF payments of the workers. While the GGSSTP authorities issued the payments to the contractors, they had to deposit it every month with the EPF authorities. However, it was strange that the EPF authorities failed to detect the non-deposition of Rs 1 crore in the workers’ accounts during 33 months.

These EPF authorities failed to detect the large-scale bungling on the part of the contractors despite the fact that they had to conduct quarterly checking of the accounts of the each contractor registered with them. In addition to that the contractors failed to deposit the EPF of the 1,500 labourers working under them for the past two years but the EPF authorities failed to detect the anomaly even in the annual reports.

In addition to this the EPF authorities also failed to recover swindled amounts from the contractors who continued to work in other organisations. It was only after the scam hogged the media headlines that the EPF authorities have written to organisations like the NFL to stop the contractors payment.

The authorities concerned of the GGSSTP who got the works of the contractors executed and are now under the police scrutiny, while speaking on the condition of anonymity alleged that the police should also question the EPF authorities, who failed to detect the scam. While the GGSSTP authorities had to just pay the contractors, it was to be deposited with the EPF authorities. How was it that the EPF authorities failed to detect the non-deposition of money by the contractors, they alleged.

Meanwhile, the sources have also pointed the needle of suspicion towards the authorities of the GGSSTP. They alleged that while the GGSSTP management has given 110 names to the police in the EPF scam, it has failed to figure the irresponsibility of higher authorities in the scandal.

The contract of the contractors was initially for three months. Further extension of the contract was subject to depositing the clearance certificate obtained from the EPF authorities. However, none of the contractors obtained clearance certificate from the EPF authorities continuously for two years, still their contract was extended.

The sources said the lower officials on every quarterly extension of the contract used to inform the committee of the GGSSTP about the non-production of the clearance certificate by the contractor. The committee which comprised the General Manager of the plant, the chief accounts officer and the superintending engineer concerned, however, ignored the discrepancy every time and extended the contract. However, these officers were not being made party in the case.


Show-cause notice to former Sena chief
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 19
A show-cause notice would be issued to Mr Pawan Gupta, former President of the state Shiv Sena, for violating clause 6 of the party constitution by going to the media on controversial matters.

However, Mr Gupta, who is said to have been divested of his office by the Sena high command, was advised to meet Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for sorting out the matter for the sake of the organisation.

This was stated at a press conference here today by Mr Devinder Arora, co-chairman-cum-spokesman of the 30-member state ad hoc committee of the Sena constituted after the state Sena unit was dissolved by Lieut-Gen (retd) P.N. Hoon.

Swami Pushpinder, chairman, Mr Surinder Arora, co-chairman, and Mr Pawan Parbhakar, vice-chairman, of the committee were present at the press conference along with other five office-bearers of the provisional panel. In case Mr Gupta did not reply to the notice within 10 days, a recommendation for disciplinary action would be sent to the Sena high command, Mr Arora said.


Britannia told to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 19
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked Britannia Industries to pay Rs 2,000 as compensation and Rs 1,000 as costs to Mr Gurpiar Singh Bhatti of Talwandi Sabo, as a biscuit manufactured by the company and purchased by Mr Bhatti contained an insect.

The forum recently held that the biscuit supplied to Mr Bhatti by the company was not fit for human consumption which amounted to unfair trade practice. It said the compensation and costs should be paid to the complainant within two months of the date of receipt of the order.

Mr Bhatti had purchased one packet of biscuits manufactured by the Britannia Industries, along with other household items on February 21, 2001. When his 2-year-old son started eating a biscuit, Mr Bhatti found an insect in it. An employee in the Health Department, Mr Bhatti thought that the biscuit was not fit for consumption.

He wrote to the Marketing Manager of Britannia Industries in Kolkata. The company asked its officers in New Delhi to look into the matter.

Mr Bhatti was assured by the company that the packets of the biscuits would be replaced, but nothing like that happened even after two months of the complaint, alleged Mr Bhatti.

He then sent a legal notice to the company, but the company allegedly did not take any action in that regard.

On August 17, 2002, Mr Bhatti filed a case in the forum which decided the case in November this year.

Alleging that he had to face mental tension, agony and physical harassment, Mr Bhatti demanded Rs 2 lakh as compensation.

However, Britannia Industries pleaded that the complainant wanted to blackmail the company. It claimed to have sent its representative to Mr Bhatti to apologise and replace the packet of biscuits, but the complainant allegedly refused to show him the biscuit.

But the forum said that from the evidence produced by both the parties, it was observed that no representative of the company visited the complainant and that there was also no evidence that the complainant was a blackmailer.


Lift irrigation schemes not operational
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 19
Resentment prevails among residents of villages surrounding the lift irrigation schemes at Madhopur and Bhimpur villages around the distributaries, including Nanonangal and Fatehnangal.

Official sources said the schemes are not operational due to lack of maintenance. The sources said no funds had been allocated for the repair of motors operating these schemes.

The sources said the Madhopur lift irrigation scheme had four pumphouses with 12 motors of 60 hp each and the left and the right side schemes of the Bhimpur lift irrigation scheme had eight electric motors of 15 hp each. Most of these motors are not operational.

The sources said Mr Parkash Singh Badal as Chief Minister gave Rs 15 lakh in 1999 for the maintenance of the scheme. The management of the Ranjit Sagar Dam received the amount and spent Rs 7 lakh on the maintenance of the Madhopur irrigation scheme. The balance is still with the management of the dam. The Punjab Government since then had provided no funds for the maintenance of the schemes.

The villagers badly affected included Chauhana, Bhimpur, Gharota Awankha, Mustafabad, Singhowal, Nanonangal, Majeethi, Raipur and Fateh Nanga.


10 water connections snapped
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, November 19
Even as at least two deaths have been reported in localities situated on the Tarn Taran road due to jaundice in the past 10 days, the local Municipal Corporation has disconnected 10 water connections allegedly responsible for contaminating the water supply.

According to sources, one Mohan Singh of Kot Mit Singh had died on November 9. A woman, Sunita Rani in Kot Mangal Singh area had died a couple of days before him due to jaundice.

It may be mentioned here that hundreds of people in Kot Mit Singh, Ishwar Nagar, Ramgarhia Colony, Dashmesh Nagar and adjoining areas are suffering from jaundice and other water-borne diseases.

A report regarding this was first published in The Tribune columns. Most of the residents hold poor sanitation and sewage bottlenecks responsible for the water contamination.

Mr Gurdev Singh, SDO, Municipal Corporation, when contacted, said the corporation had disconnected at least 10 private connections as decay in pipes had led to the situation.

Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president, All-India Youth Association, alleged that there was a strong possibility of the epidemic spreading in the area as the Health Department had yet to take action in this regard.

Civil Surgeon Dr K.K. Sharma was not available for comment.


Indira Gandhi remembered
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, November 19
A district-level National Integration Day function in connection with the birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was organised by the District Congress Committee here today. A large number of people, including representatives of various social organisations and senior Congress leaders and workers participated in it.

Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh, president, DCC, presided over it. Later the participants took pledge for maintaining communal harmony and national integration in the country.

YAMUNANAGAR: The birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi was celebrated here on Tuesday by Congressmen. Mr Satpal Kaushik, secretary, Haryana Pradesh Congress, Mr Ram Kumar Gupta, president, block Congress and Mr Niley Saini, member HPCC, were among those who spoke on the occasion.

ABOHAR: Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary was celebrated at a meeting organised by the city Congress committee at Shri Sanatan Dharam Temple complex. Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, veteran party worker B.L. Nagpal, Vimal Thathai, MC and others paid tributes to the former Prime Minister.


CPM demands free power
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 19
The district unit of the CPM has urged the state government to provide power free of cost to the small and marginal farmers.

In a memorandum submitted to the state Chief Minister through the Deputy Commissioner here, the party demanded that an attempt should be made to bring the sick industrial units back in profit.

The party urged the government to create more employment opportunities or provide financial help to the unemployed. The secretary of the party’s district unit, Mr Harnek Singh Alike, said the fees in the government-run schools, colleges and technical institutes were too high for common people.

NAWANSHAHR: Activists of the district unit of the CPM, on a call given by its state body, organised a protest rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner under its “jail bharo andolan” in protest against the “anti-people” policies of the Amarinder government.


Liquor being sold at Ramtirath despite ban

Ramtirath (Amritsar), November 19
Notwithstanding the ban by the district authorities on the sale of liquor in the 500-meter area surrounding the historic Ramtirath till November 26 to maintain the sanctity of the Ramtirath Mela, free flow of liquor continues.

The management of Ramtirath said today that, “if any of the mela organizers dares the mobile liquor vendors, he has to face their wrath.”

Former MLA Satyapal Dang said when the Deputy Commissioner had imposed a ban on the sale of liquor, it ought to be enforced strictly to uphold the sanctity of the fair.

The local Vishawa Hindu Parishd (VHP) and Bajrang Dal units have lodged their protest and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner on the issue.

Former BJP MLA Laxmi Kant Chawla condemning the liquor sale, has urged the district administration to act swiftly.


Singla says none will be displaced
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 19
Residents of Shant Nagar and Bhagu Road area who feared that their dwellings would be demolished by PUDA were today told by the local MLA and Chairman, Finance Committee, Mr Surinder Singla, that they would not be displaced.

Mr Singla said the relief granted to these residents (from street number 11 to 21) by the government in 1991 would be continued.

He was addressing a meeting of residents of the area. He claimed that the purpose of various government schemes was to provide shelter and not to dislodge legitimate residents.

Meanwhile, Mr Amar Chand Gupta, convener, of the PUDA Effected Action Committee, said in a press note today that PUDA had said the residents’ ownership claims would be scrutinised.

Mr Gupta, expressing satisfaction at the assurance by Mr Singla, said the MLA had also said that pending work in the area would be completed soon.


ASI photo exhibit in Ropar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 19
The Archaeological Survey of India, Chandigarh Circle, today celebrated the World Heritage week at the local museum. Mr Daljeet Singh, SDM, Ropar, inaugurated a photo exhibition.

The photographs displayed at the exhibition were relating to monuments falling under the ASI, Chandigarh circle in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. Besides, photographs for conservation works, done by the Chandigarh Circle of the ASI in the recent past, were also displayed.

The SDM also released a booklet titled “Monuments and sites of national importance in Punjab”. School children presented a cultural programme on the occasion.


Kidney racket: guilty “being shielded”
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
Even as the illegal market in human kidney trade continues, Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has alleged that certain beneficiaries of the racket are being shielded.

In a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he alleged that the claims of the government of transparency were hollow as was evident from the ban imposed on police officers except the SSP or the SP (HQ) from talking to the Press.


NRI couple killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 19
An NRI couple was killed in a fatal road accident that took place near the Cantonment area here today. Sources said Joginder Singh and his wife, Gurdev Kaur, were coming from Rampura town along with their daughter, Jasbir Kaur, and one of their relative, Niranjan Kaur, when their car collided with a truck coming from the opposite side.

The sources said while the couple was killed on the spot, their daughter and relative sustained injuries and were admitted to a hospital. The police has registered a case in this regard.


WB may fund diversification
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 19
Efforts being made by the Punjab Government to carry out diversification of agriculture in the state without disturbing the economy of farmers during the transition period may bear fruit as a World Bank team which visited the state last week, has hinted at funding the same by adopting this border state as pilot project for all nations.

Members of the World Bank team took a keen interest in the issue during formal talks with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his team, including senior bureaucrats, Dr S.S. Johal, Agriculture Expert and Vice-Chairman, State Planning Board, and Mr Surinder Singla who chairs the high-powered committee of finance.

The World Bank team was in Chandigarh last week to explore the possibility of financing projects pertaining to social infrastructure, including health, education and water supply.

Mr Singla, talking to TNS here today, pointed out that during interaction with members of the World Bank team, Capt Amarinder Singh advocated that the bank should adopt Punjab as a pilot project for diversification. He also pointed out that the farming community in developing nations had little access to international markets.


Two held with fake currency
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 19
The police has arrested two members of a gang involved in the theft of cars and preparation of counterfeit notes of the denomination of Rs 500, Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today said.

The accused, identified as Amanat Masih and Kishan Dev, alias Mattu, were arrested by the Sujanpur police on specific information on November 17.

The SSP said a stolen car (PB-10-AV 5110) and fake notes were found on the person of the accused. During preliminary interrogation, the accused confessed to having prepared fake notes to the tune of Rs 2.4 lakh.

A case has been registered.


Man murdered, three villagers booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 19
Sarwan Singh, a resident of Masatgarh village, was murdered by three residents of the village yesterday.

Police sources told this correspondent that a case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC had been registered against Jagtar Singh, Sardool Singh and Mukhtar Singh.

A land dispute is said to be the cause of the murder.


Man murders wife, son
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
Pankat, a resident of Azad Nagar here, killed his wife Kaushalya and his son with a sharp-edged weapon. He suspected his wife had illicit relations.

According to the FIR, he killed his wife by stabbing her repeatedly and ran away with his one-year-old son whose body was found later near the Sultanwind canal.

The accused has absconded. A case has been registered under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.


No takers for Punjabi books
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 19
Butter chicken may be in, but books definitely are not. Punjabi books are a strict no for the youth of the state if the response to a book fair, organised by the State Language Department at its headquarters, here, to mark the Punjabi Week celebrations is any indication.

Publishers, displaying their books at the fair, cannot help but lament at the declining interest of the youth in Punjabi books, which have no takers despite being offered at as much as 50 per cent discount on the listed price at a few stalls. Twenty to thirty per cent discount is a norm at all stalls, but this also does not seem to be attracting anyone.

“See my bill book,” said Mr Amarnath from Navyug Publication, New Delhi, who has come specially to participate in the fair. He has sold only a few books despite the fact that the fair has been open since the past four days. Mr Amarnath said the interest in reading Punjabi literature was on a decline since the past few years and was limited only to the older generation.

He said there was an urgent need to publish the works of new authors as well as talk about hopes and frustrations of the youth if Punjabi literature was to become popular today. Others said it was unfortunate that even though the world was becoming a global village, Punjabi literature was still being projected to a micro audience in Punjab instead to reaching out to Punjabis all over the world.

Few book lovers, who were present at the fair, said a complete lack of reading culture was responsible for the general poor response to book fairs. Mr Satnam Singh, a teacher, said youngsters today were more interested in pop songs and emulating western culture to the detriment of Punjabi literature. “Instead of just popularising ‘giddha’ and ‘bhangra’ dances to show off the culture of the state, stress should be to make youngsters interested in Punjabi literature by reflecting their hopes and frustrations in popular Punjabi writing,” he said.

Though the quality of Punjabi literature is debatable, in the manner in which the Language Department failed to publicise the fair is not. A stall in charge, Mr Ramesh Chander, said the department could have made efforts to make the people of the city aware of the fair being held in its compound. He said it was unfortunate that not even a single poster, advertising the fair, had been put up either at the entry or exit gates of the department building or in other parts of the city. He said good publicity could have attracted more people to the fair.

The manner in which some schoolchildren were brought to the fair on the initiative of the organisers is also being criticised by the booksellers. They said the schoolchildren were not briefed in advance that they were being taken to a book fair. “This means that even if a child wanted to buy a particular book, he did not have money for it,” said Mr Amarnath.

This is not all. Booksellers said they had been told in advance that two of their representatives would get free lodging. They said the lodging was given, but in Writers Home where electricity connection had been disconnected due to non-payment of dues. The booksellers were using candles to pass their time in the home with the Language Department not even offering lamps or any other source of light to them.

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