Tuesday, November 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM working on 11-point action plan
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
It will be a while before the Punjab Government emerges from the shadows of SGPC poll. Even as an echo of that event will take time to fade into silence, one can hear faint whispers of political and administrative disquiet.

It will require the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take hard decisions to silence such murmurs and improve “housekeeping”, if he is to define Punjab’s economic destiny. Indications are that even as he struggles to implement the manifesto, the Congress high command has ordained him to implement an 11-point action plan, evolved at the November 8-9 conclave of the Congress Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled state at Mount Abu.

As such, an administrative reshuffle, including change of portfolios of some ministers, is expected after the party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi returns from her two-day visit to the UK later this week.

The Chief Minister is reportedly working on a strategy to implement the action plan. He is also believed to have been asked to put the proposed radical reforms on the back burner in view of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh.

He is keen on governance that is transparent, accountable and efficient, focuses on the poor and the weak and is committed to social harmony. The aim of the 11-point action plan is to expand food security and remove malnutrition; ensure universal elementary education and reduce the school dropout rate, put in place a health and immunisation programme and integrate these with safe drinking water and empowerment of women and create awareness about HIV/AIDS, enhance income-generating opportunities for rural women through self-help groups and provide them credit; draw up plans for the 10-point mahila sashaktikaran resolve of October 2, 2002; speed up the diversification of agriculture through incentive, credit, marketing and price policies on the basis of agro-climactic zones, besides reverse declining trends in public investment in agriculture, particularly, irrigation; focus on convergence of land and water policies; reform tenancy and agricultural marketing laws; enhance rural employment by building food processing and other non-farm activities and complete reforms in the power sector.

The Chief Minister is working on plans to garner the support of his ministers and MLAs, identify committed bureaucracy, ensure strict monitoring and of course, work for financial back- up for economic resurgence of Punjab through the action plan. For this he already has the support of Ms Sonia Gandhi, who feels more ‘’comfortable’’ with him than, perhaps, with any of his detractors within the party, say sources.

Thus, taking a hint from her address to party workers here on November 23, Capt Amarinder Singh may take the opportunity to assign organisational responsibilities to some ministers — as the recasting of the PPCC is on the anvil — and change the portfolios of others.

The sources say that administrative changes may see the successor to the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, joining next month. Even some of the recent postings and transfers have been held in abeyance because of impending changes in view of the Chief Minister’s endeavour to change his style of functioning. It is also imperative for the Chief Minister to bridle the politicised police and strike a balance between civil authority and the uniformed force and also change tacks, if he wishes to strengthen the state’s economic policies, say the sources.

There is a proposal to establish a Punjab Sports Authority and post the present Director-General of Police, Mr M S Bhullar, as its Managing Director. There are two opinions as to when this should happen. Before or after Mr Bhullar retires? Some civil/police changes are also likely to take place in the districts, as well. Unless there are strong political and administrative compulsions this may not happen before March.

In the wake of feedback received by the Chief Minister there are reports of a strategy being evolved by him on the management of men and matters close to him. Besides revamping the Chief Minister’s Office to expedite file clearance, he is worried about the decline in work culture as there are reports that only 15 per cent bureaucrats are working. Also, several well-meaning and upright officers are hesitant to take decisions, because of fear of reprisals in the light of reports to ‘’frame’’ certain honest officers in false cases simply because they are considered close to politically inconvenient ministers. In so far as reports of “in-house” corruption, are concerned, he is dealing with them his own way.

He is conscious of the need to show results. People want tangible results in economic development. Say independent observers of Punjab scene: ‘’Capt. Amarinder Singh has made a beginning, howsoever small. He must do some soul searching as well”.


53 Ashutosh followers arrested
Khalsa panchayat member attacked
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 25
Tension gripped Bharta Ganeshpur village near Mahilpur when 60 armed persons allegedly belonging to the Noormahalia sect, attacked a cassette seller and a member of the Khalsa Panchayat who had put up his stall at a religious fair in the village, beat him up and “sevadars” of gurdwara, before to fleeing the village in trucks.

Meanwhile, the police arrested 53 alleged followers of Baba Ashutosh. the police also threw a security blanket around the small village, where the fair, an annual feature was at a place Baba Lakhon.

The trouble started when three truckloads of armed persons came to the fair in three Tata 407 trucks and enquired about Jarnail Singh, a cassette seller and a member of the Khalsa Panchayat. After reaching the stall, one of them demanded, “noormahlion ki kartoot,” a cassette allegedly containting some derogatory remarks against the sect. When the arguments between Jarnail Singh and followers of the baba become heated sevadars from a nearby gurdwara tried to intervene, they were allegedly attacked with “lathis”, and swords, resulting in injuries to Jarnail Singh, his son Gurvir Singh, Gurmit Singh, Lakhbir Singh and Amrik Singh. The condition of Gurmit Singh, who was admitted to the local civil hospital was stated to be serious.

Harjit Singh and Buta Ram, followers of the baba, alleged that as they reached the Jarnail Singh’s shop a group of people attacked them. The incident has a general panic in the area, particularly in the village, where heavy deployment of the police was made after the incident. Villagers were so scared that they were not ready to divulge details on the incident.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said 53 followers of the baba have been arrested. A case under Sections 307, 204, 295-A and 427 registered.

Badungar decries sacrilege incident
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 25
Taking strong notice of the sacrilege incident at Gurdwara Bawa Lakh in Hoshiarpur district allegedly by goons of Ashutosh Noormahalia, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the SGPC, said that it was the most heinous act and an attempt to break the peace and harmony of the state. He condemned the attack.

Disclosing this in a press note he claimed that around 100 followers of Ashutosh forcibly entered the premises of gurdwara and committed the sacrilege.

Badungar’s plea on control of Sikh shrines
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 25
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President, today urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to take up the issue of restoring the control and management of Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan in the hands of the SGPC.

In a press note, the SGPC chief expressed dismay over the violation of ‘maryada’ in Pakistan gurdwaras within where ‘mini bazars’ were being run in gurdwara parikarmas, besides even a shoe shop. The violation of ‘maryada’ was reported in The Tribune columns.

Prof Badungar, terming the violation as a deliberate attempt by the PSGPC to hurt Sikh sentiments, said a non-Sikh committee could not be expected to follow the ‘maryada’ or implement it in the right manner or perspective.

Buttressing the claims of the SGPC on the management of Sikh shrines in Pakistan, he said the proof of violations like bestowing of ‘siropa’ by co-chairperson of the PSGPC on a police officer, while in uniform, in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, had upset Sikhs all over the world.


Bhattal to appear in court today
Plea filed on prosecution’s double standards
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 25
Even as former Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, facing trials in the case pertaining to corruption and embezzlement, appears in the special court here tomorrow in connection with the framing of charges, the defence counsel have moved an application in the court today to place those documents on record which allegedly exposed the double standards of the prosecution agency.

Though Mr Nand Lal Garg, counsel for Mrs Bhattal, refused to divulge the reason behind the move, information gathered by TNS revealed that efforts were afoot to establish the fact that trials of Mrs Bhattal by the state prosecuting agency were being conducted on political consideration.

Today when the Special Judge was to decide whether charges under Section 409 and 13 (1) D, read with Section 13 (2), of the Prevention of Corruption Act should be framed against Mrs Bhattal or not, Mr Garg moved the application.

The documents include the affidavit and application filed by Mr Paramjit Singh Rai, Director, Prosecution and Litigation, Punjab, on January 28 in which he had urged that a challan could not be presented against Mrs Bhattal in the special court Bathinda, as it did not come under its jurisdiction and she could be put on trial before getting prior sanction. The application along with an affidavit was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Mr Rai.

A similar application was filed in the court of Special Judge, here by the then DSP (Vigilance), Mr Khushi Mohammad, on January 2.

However, with the change of government in the state Mr Mohammad moved another application in the court of Special Judge here on March 27 to withdraw the previous application and a statement in the high court was also made to withdraw the application moved by the senior functionary of the Department of Prosecution and Litigation, Punjab, to withdraw the application along with the affidavit moved by Mr Rai on January 28.

Now the prosecution authorities have deputed special staff members posted in other districts to help the local office to ensure that charges were framed against Mrs Bhattal without any delay.

A cross-section of lawyers to whom TNS talked to said they were surprised that why the state government had failed to initiate legal action against those officials, who had allegedly adopted double standards.


Serais part of Darbar Sahib complex, says historian McLeod
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Darbar SahibChandigarh, November 25
“Serais are very much part of the Darbar Sahib complex,” avers Prof W.H. McLeod, a renowned Sikh historian, suggesting that the sanctum sanctorum should be addressed as “Golden Gurdwara” and not “Golden Temple”.

“Temple” has a different connotation and those who know only English tend to get confused between a “gurdwara” and a “temple”.

“Recently, I reviewed a book on the Golden Temple by Justice Chur Singh of Singapore where I mentioned that “temple” is not an appropriate word to describe “Darbar Sahib”. The ideal would be that it should be described as “Golden Gurdwara” for proper appreciation and understanding of its importance,” said Prof McLeod during an interaction with The Tribune here this after-noon.

He feels that for all practical purposes, serais are part of the gurdwara and his knowledge of Sikh history says that serais are very much part of the Darbar Sahib complex.

After doing his M.A. from University of Otago in Dunedin in New Zealand, he completed his doctorate from the School of Oriental and Afgrican studies in London. For nine years, he taught in Punjab. In 1971, he returned to the University of Otago to teach history. In 1990, he received a D. Litt from the University of London.

Considered to be one of the most knowledgeable Sikh scholars, Professor McLeod is credited with writing a number of books on Sikhs and Sikhism besides Sikh diaspora. Interestingly, he is here in connection with the release of his latest book “Sikhs of the Khalsa” later this week.

Professor McLeod has given depositions in a number of court cases where he as an independent expert held that turban and kirpan were part of Sikhs’ religious wear. In the first case, his evidence helped Sikhs in Canada not only gain entry in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but also settled a controversy over allowing ex-defence personnel wearing turbans entry into various branches of the Canadian Legion.

In the second case, though the plea of a Sikh for carrying a kirpan on board a Canada 3000 aircraft was turned down, Professor McLeod opined that kirpan was part of the religious wear.

Professor McLeod , accompanied by his wife, Margaret, also plans to visit Amritsar and New Delhi. In the Capital, he would deliver a lecture on Sikhs in New Zealand. In fact, one of his books is about Punjabis in New Zealand where he thinks that in 118 years, the Sikhs have been successful in maintaining their “separate identity”.

Talking about the state of Sikh studies worldwide, Professor McLeod feels that “comparatively it is a new subject as the work on the Sikh religion started only a few decades ago.

“In my opinion, the scholars engaged in Sikh studies in any of the universities in Punjab have certain constraints and may not feel as free as scholars overseas. Some of the Sikh chairs are doing well overseas,” he said admitting that in certain cases “these have been discontinued for lack of support, including financial support from the community”.

Professor McLeod does not agree that Sikh studies have run into any serious controversy or anything. “It is basically lack of knowledge. It is why Sikhism is not understood well in the outside world, especially the western world.”

“Essentially , there are no Sikh chairs outside. These are basically teaching appointments at the level of Associate Professor or Assistant Professor. At some places, including the one headed by Dr G.S. Mann in the USA, which has good support from the community, they are doing very well. Even Dr Pishaura Singh (MIchighan) is doing OK. I am not aware as whether someone has been appointed in place of Dr Harjot Oberoi at Vancouver after he quit,” said Professor McLeod.

He plans to pen down his autobiography next, with the focus being on his relations with the Sikh community .


BBMB abolishes 500 posts
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 25
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has abolished over 500 posts of various categories. This would reduce the posts to which the Punjab government could shift its employees in the BBMB.

The Punjab government recently decided to replenish its depleted employee quota in the BBMB. The Finance Department of the State government recently calculated that it could save crores by sending its employees to the BBMB. Over the years the employee quota of Punjab in BBMB decreased from 11,000 employees to 1100 due to indifference of authorities concerned.

Now the Punjab government realise the financial benefit and the importance of maintaining its employee quota in the BBMB. However, the decision of the BBMB to abolish 500 posts might hamper efforts of the Punjab government to send its employees in the BBMB.

The Financial Adviser (FA) BBMB, Mr Jagbans, admitted that over 500 posts had been abolished in the BBMB. This had been done in view of economy measures being adopted by the BBMB. On the effect of the decision on the Punjab government efforts to send its employees in the BBMB, the FA said that the overall percentage of employee quota of Punjab would remain in tact despite the abolition of 500 posts.

Mr Jagbans, added that due to economy measures and success in securing dues from the partner states, after a long time the Public Ledger Account (PLA) of the BBMB has gone positive. Now the arrears of the BBMB due from partner states have decreased to Rs 65 crore. While Punjab has also started paying its current dues, its arrears of Rs 40 crore were not coming forth.

Due to financial crisis the PSEB has also not paid arrears of Rs 13 crore to the BBMB. To improve its financial position the BBMB now has also started imposing charges on the board for using the BBMB system. These charges were not being paid by the organisations since long, Mr Jagbans added.


Rs 16.39 cr plan for technical education
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
The Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Department has proposed a quantum increase in its annual plan for the year 2003-2004 to Rs16.39 crore from the current year allocation of Rs 3.88 crore. Formal orders in this regard were passed here today by Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Technical Education Minister, Punjab.

Giving details, the Secretary, Technical Education Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said the bulk of the outlay was devoted to creating a new infrastructure in the existing state-run engineering colleges and polytechnics. While Rs 3.40 crore was being earmarked for the Malout Institute of Management and Information Technology, Rs 3.20 crore had been proposed for the College of Engineering and Technology at Bathinda. The plan included a tentative contribution to the corpus of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, as required by its parent Act.

Mr Sidhu said the two engineering colleges at Gurdaspur and Ferozepore were being earmarked for Rs 57 lakh and Rs 22.00 lakh, respectively. Similarly, an allocation of Rs 80 lakh had been proposed for Government Polytechnic, Bhikhiwind (Rs 50 lakh), and Government Polytechnic, Dinanagar (Rs 30.00 lakh). A salient feature of the project was an outlay of Rs 30 lakh for infrastructure for disabled persons. An amount of Rs 35 lakh had also been proposed for post-diploma courses in computer applications in various government polytechnics.

Mr Sidhu said the thrust of the plan was also on the maintenance of the existing assets for which Rs 3.65 lakh had been earmarked, while capital contribution towards the setting-up of new polytechnics in emerging technical disciplines had been pegged at Rs 1.25 crore.

The Secretary said Rs 108 crore project had separately been forwarded to the Union Government under the World Bank assistance scheme and accordingly a token contribution on account of the state share had also been incorporated in the proposed Annual Plan.


Gurdev Badal’s remand extended

Ludhiana, November 25
The police remand of former Akali minister Gurdev Singh Badal, who was arrested by the Ludhiana vigilance on Saturday night, was extended by four days by a local court here today.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Arunvir Vashisth extended the remand. Mr Badal was sent in police custody for a day by Duty Magistrate D.P. Singla yesterday.

Mr Badal, who was the Agriculture Minister in the previous Parkash Singh Badal government, was arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 1.07 crore to his known source of income.

The Akali leader yesterday had alleged that he was being implicated in a false case and accused the Vigilance Bureau of harassing him in spite of knowing that he was a heart patient.

Besides Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, his son and re-elected SGPC junior vice-president, Kewal Singh Badal, another son, Suba Singh Badal, daughter, Karnail Kaur, and 11-year-old grandson, Bhupinder Singh, have been booked. UNI


Jail bharo: 5,000 to take part
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 25
At least 5,000 activists of the SAD (B) will participate in the “jail bharo” agitation on November 27 as part of the statewide agitation of the party.

This was stated here in a press note by Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president of the local Municipal Council. He said the agitation was to show resentment against the wrong policies of the Congress government in the state. The policies of the state government were anti-traders, anti-farmers, anti-employees and anti-labourers, he added.

Badal urges all to join stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today called upon Punjabis to join Wednesday’s “decisive struggle against an inept, insensitive and anti-people government’’ which had already played havoc with the socio-economic and religious fabric of the state.

In a statement here, he said “the struggle would continue till forces out to ruin Punjab and destabilise peace and Punjabi unity are brought to book”.


Residents allege threat by DSP
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 25
The case pertaining to a Punjab police DSP, who, along with a woman was “gheraoed” by residents of Rasila Nagar three days ago for patronising a pimp, has taken a new turn with residents of the area alleging that the DSP Gurmukh Singh Cheema was threatening them with dire consequences in case they failed to “strike” a compromise with him.

Talking to The Tribune residents today alleged that the DSP was on one hand sending feelers to them for a compromise while on the other hand was threatening them. Yesterday about 10 persons came to me with and told me that I should strike a compromise with the DSP,” alleged Yashpal, a resident, who had led the group which had detained the DSP. “Not only this, Cheema has been threatening us. Two persons, claiming to be CID officials came to us yesterday and said we should give a statement to the police that we had caught the DSP by mistake,” rued Ms Balwinder, wife of Yashpal, adding that they had already complained to the SSP in this regard.

Though the DSP was not available for comment, Rajinder Kaur and Bhagwan Das, both residents of the Rasila Nagar locality, alleged that the DSP had called residents, including Yashpal, to a restaurant near DAV College for striking a “deal” with them.” Our only condition was that he should seek apology in writing, but he was not ready for it,” they maintained.


PPCB move to curb pollution by tanneries
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 25
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to ask all tanneries working in the Punjab Leather Complex to run units to capacity only even as the tannery owners have claimed that a severe decrease in exports has severely affected business and that most of the units were working below their stated capacities.

The PPCB on its part has identified 47 of the total 67 tanneries in the complex as polluting and hearings have been granted to them in a phased manner by Board Chairman Satish Chandra.

The board feels that the tannery owners should run their plants according to the capacity laid down by them while setting up their plants. According to a survey done by it most of the tanneries are being run to four to five times of capacity the sanctioned. This, the board feels, is causing pollution as the 1.5 million litre capacity common treatment plant is not able to handle the discharge caused by the units.

Besides this, the tanneries have been directed to install pre-treatment plants in which chrome recovery is to be undertaken before the effluent is passed to the common treatment plant. They have also been asked to install water meters at

both the inlet and outlet sources so that the water used by them can be monitored. Tanneries are allowed to used 27 kiloliters of water per tonne of raw hide processed by them. The board survey charges them of using more than this amount of water for treating hides.

Board Chairman Satish Chandra disclosed that the common treatment plant which was functioning in the complex had been set up nearly 10 years ago by the PSIEC. He said since then the operations of the tannery owners had increased causing problems. He said the board was following a two-point strategy of asking tannery owners to go in for pre-treatment as well as starting the process of getting the CTP upgraded.

Leather Complex Federation President Parveen Kumar, when contacted, said the leather industry was already in a dire straits and that the PPCB was harping on increased capacities even though most of the units were not even working. He said the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York had resulted in severe fall in exports to the extent of 56 per cent. Mr Kumar said due to this 30 to 35 factories were not running presently and only 10 to 12 factories were running regularly.

The federation President said presently the discharge of the factories was easily treated by the 1.5 million litre plant running in the complex. He said this fact was cross-checked by the PSIEC recently which had also taken readings of the effluent treated by the common treatment plant.

Sources, however, attribute the present recession in leather business as a passing phase. They said earlier the tanneries had got additional business due to shortage of water in Kanpur and Chennai.


Govindgarh Fort row
DC blames it on ASI
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 25
Even as the controversy regarding the alleged unauthorised construction around the 1800-year-old Govindgarh Fort refuses to die, the local Deputy Commissioner has pointed out that the authorities of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under whose jurisdiction this monument of national importance falls, has failed to take necessary steps.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, in his letter to the Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chandigarh, pointed out that while the district administration had been playing its role to stop and demolish the unauthorised construction, the ASI authorities have failed to do their part. He said in some cases the new construction being raised by some residents did not violated the Municipal Act but many had violated the provisions of the AMASR Act which could be enforced by the ASI.

The Deputy Commissioner in his letter, a copy of which was procured by The Tribune yesterday, pointed out that in the case of an alleged unauthorised construction by Mr Surinder Aggarwal, the Executive Officer of the local municipal council had informed that no provisions of the municipal by-laws had been violated. He added that under the provisions of the Municipal Act, unauthorised construction could be compounded on the payment of a prescribed fee. He said as the provisions of the AMASR Act were violated, the ASI should get the building demolished .

The Deputy Commissioner said the orders to demolish such buildings that violated the provisions of the AMASR Act could only be issued by the ASI authorities. He asked the ASI authorities to pass the demolition orders after taking up proceedings under rule 38 of the AMASR 1959.

Mr Verma said though the matter was taken up by the ASI on June 28, but even after a lapse of five months no demolition orders had been passed by them. He said the municipal authorities had been directed that no building plan should be approved and no unauthorised construction should be allowed in the prohibited area without the approval of the ASI authorities.


DC bypassed protocol: MLA
Tribune News Service

Malout, November 25
Mr Nathu Ram, MLA from the Malout Assembly segment, who alleged maltreatment at the inauguration of new Municipal office complex here by Deputy Commissioner Ms Usha R. Sharma, today said he, with other party MLAs, would approach the Speaker in the same connection.

At the inauguration of the new municipal office complex here on November 24 the name of Mr Nathu Ram on the foundation stone was engraved at number 22 and the names of 21 Municipal Councillors preceded his name.

Mr Nathu Ram alleged that he felt insulted. His name should be before the names of all Municipal Councillors as his status was equal to that of the Chief Secretary. He added that apart from it, his name was engraved on the stone without his premission.

Mrs Sharma inaugurated the office of Municipal Council on November 24. Present president and vice-president of the Municipal Council, Mr Ram Singh Aarewala and Mr Diwan Makkar, respectively, were senior members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). Mr Nathu Ram, who was elected to the Vidhan Sabha on the CPI ticket, later joined the Congress.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that when the district administration came to know of the fact that Mr Nathu Ram felt hurt, the foundation stone was removed today.

Mr Nathu Ram alleged that though his political opponents had played a trick, Mrs Sharma, had ignored the protocol.

He added that he would meet Speaker and if needed, a question in this connection would be raised in the Vidhan Sabha.

Mrs Sharma despite repeated calls at her office, residence and Red Cross Bhavan, could not be contacted.


Punjab MPs to raise drought relief issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Upset over the rejection of Punjab’s case for drought relief to the tune of Rs 3100 crore by the Central Government, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has decided to activate his party MPs to raise the issue in Parliament.

Sources said Capt Amarinder Singh would hold a meeting with MPs in this connection soon. The sources said MPs from Punjab would be asked to raise this issue forcefully as the Central Government had discriminated with the state on this issue.

The Punjab Government had told the Centre that as per the existing parameters framed by the authorities concerned, the state could never get any relief from the fund meant for drought-hit states.

Other issues, which the MPs would be asked to take up with the Centre included procurement of foodgrain, and compensation for farmers in the border belt. Punjab was opposed to the new procurement policy framed by the Union Government. In fact, the Union Government wanted to withdraw from the procurement of foodgrain in states like Punjab and Haryana.

Another issue pertained to the non-payment of certain taxes on foodgrain by the Central Government to the Punjab Government. The Union Government had mooted a proposal to pay only 4 per cent tax on foodgrain procurement for the Central pool from Punjab. At present, the taxes on foodgrain were around 11 per cent. If the Union Government implemented the proposal, Punjab would suffer a huge financial loss.

Farmers in the border areas had not been given full compensation by the Defence Ministry which had deployed the Army in the border belt. The MPs would be asked to press the Centre to clear the dues.


Move to regularise encroachments
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, November 25
The Ferozepore Cantonment Board is considering a proposal to earn profits by giving provisional relief to people who have built unauthorised constructions by charging certain amount from them.

As per the details available, a sub-committee of the board comprising elected members was constituted to look into the possibilities of giving time-bound relief.

After a proper study of the ground realities the sub-committee was of the view that the funds raised from unauthorised constructions could be utilised for development plans.

According to Mr Ravi Sohi, member of the cantonment board, the sub-committee has divided the unauthorised constructions into three categories for residential constructions. Category A — posh constructions with luxurious facilities, category B — medium range normal cemented constructions with wooden work and category C — houses constructed by lower class in the slum areas. All types of commercial constructions have been separated from the residential constructions.

As per the recommendations made by the sub-committee Rs 400 per feet would be charged for the unauthorised constructions falling in category A. Similarly Rs 300 and Rs 200 per sq feet would be charged from categories B and C respectively.

The unauthorised commercial constructions have also been categorised in a similar pattern into three categories. But the proposed amount to be charged from them would be double the amount of residential unauthorised constructions.

According to an estimate, at least 2,500 unauthorised constructions have emerged in the past few years.

Mr Parshotam Lal, Cantonment Executive Officer, when contacted, told TNS that new constructions of all types in the areas falling under the cantonment board have been banned from the past couple of decades.

He said the board had started the process of identifying these unauthorised constructions and notices were being issued in this regard.

The proposals of the sub-committee are likely to be placed at the meeting of the cantonment board scheduled for November 30.


Hippo finally dropped from circus
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 25
Jumbo Circus today dropped its blind hippopotamus, who has opacity in both eyes, from its routine performances. The circus is being held at the Atma Ram Kumar Sabha Grounds here.

Chandigarh Tribune yesterday highlighted how the hippo, who has cataract of the cornea in both eyes and has been rendered blind , was being made to perform by the circus management with the help of a stick and commands to nudge him to open his mouth wide for the benefit of spectators. The management had made the hippo perform despite the fact that it had given an undertaking to the district administration that it would not make either the hippo or the lone chimpanzee in its possession perform before spectators.

Sources said the circus dropped the hippo act after the administration turned the heat on it this morning. Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh, when contacted, said a notice had been served on the circus asking it to explain why it had made a sick hippo who required urgent medical attention perform during shows yesterday. The circus had also been asked why it reneged on the undertaking given to the administration in this regard.

Simultaneously, the Deputy Commissioner has asked the Divisional Forest Officer to ensure that the circus does not make either the hippo or the chimpanzee perform during any show. DFO (Territorial) Karamjit Singh. said he had posted men at the circus to ensure the directions were not flouted. He said he would submit a report of any irregularity in this regard to the Deputy Commissioner.



Kahlon seeks challan copies
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 25
Former Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon today submitted an application in the court of Special Judge here seeking copies of the remaining documents of the challan papers in a case registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on June 14 at SAS Nagar under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case was registered against in connection with the recruitment scam in the Rural Development and Panchayats Department and accumulation of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, besides misuse of power.

The challan was presented against him and Mr J.P. Singla, Deputy Director, Rural Development and Panchayats Department, Punjab, by the bureau on September 19 in the court of the Sessions Judge here. Mr Singla is also an accused in the case. Mr Kahlon and Mr Singla are now on bail.

Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, fixed December 18 as the next date of hearing.


Jawan cremated
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 25
Paramjit Singh (31) of 6 RR Sikh Regiment, who attained martydom in Kupwara sector on November 21 was cremated with full military honours at his native village Dhaulan falling under Balachaur subdivision of the district, here today. 

Mr Surinder Mohan Sharma, SDM, Mr Simratpal Singh Dhindsa, DSP, Mr Nand Lal, MLA, Subedar Gurdip Singh of 6RR Sikh Regiment, among others, attended the funeral.


Subscribers cry foul over telephone bills
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 25
Telephone subscribers of Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib town and the surrounding area have alleged that the BSNL was over charging them. A large number of subscribers gave photocopies of their bills to The Tribune in which the opening meter-reading had been shown as 0 and the closing meter-reading much less than the number of gross calls mentioned in the bills.

For example, in bill No 33111, the opening meter-reading was 0 and the closing meter-reading 366, but the number of gross calls was shown as 512. In telephone bill No. 32935, the opening meter-reading was 0 and the closing 1065 but the number of gross calls was shown as 1219.

Similarly, a majority of subscribers alleged that due to the technical fault in the computers of the department, there were discrepancy in the bills. They have demanded that details of these bills be given to them.

When contacted, the District Engineer Telephone (DET) said there was no discrepancy in the bills. He said that on September 13, the department had made some technical changes in the exchange to start the Wireless Local Loop (WLL) service. Due to this, they had to make opening meter-reading as 0 in the computer, so the calls of the period from September 1 to 13 had been added in the bills. He said the bills were as per the number of calls made by subscribers. 


Hoshiarpur roads in deplorable condition
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 25
Despite tall claims by leaders of the previous SAD-BHP government regarding the construction and repair of roads in the state, the condition of plan and link roads in the district is most deplorable causing great inconvenience to passers-by and the smooth flow of vehicular traffic.

According to official sources, the present Congress government has not provided even a single paisa to the PWD (B&R), Hoshiarpur, to carry out the repair of the roads since its coming to power. On account of the non-availability of funds, about 200 technical employees, including Executive Engineers, Sub-Divisional Officers and Junior Engineers are sitting idle.

There are 402 km-long plan roads (state highways) and 2949 km-long link roads in the district. The condition of the 18 km-long Hoshiarpur-Dharamsala road, located in the hilly track from Chohalto, the boundary of Himachal Pradesh, is the most deplorable. The entire road has developed big pot holes and the brims of both sides are completely damaged causing frequent accidents and damage to the shockers of vehicles. A small culvert near Chohal village, on the road, which was washed away two years ago, has yet to be constructed. This road leads to the holy shrines of Goddess Durga Mata, Chintpurni, Kangra, Chamunda Devi, Jwalamukhi, Dera Gur Bud Bhag Singh and to Himachal Pradesh.

Similar is the condition of the Hoshiarpur-Balachaur road. There is a great rush of vehicular traffic on both roads.

The condition of link roads, especially those located in the Kandi belt, is also deplorable.

The Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur-Dharamsala road has been converted into a national highway. But the repair of this road too has yet to be done.


Define publicity norms, MCI urged
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 25
At least 300 eminent eye surgeons and specialists, who participated in the three-day sixth annual conference of the Punjab Ophthalmological Society while condemning the publicity measures adopted by medical professionals have decided to approach the Medical Council of India (MCI) to take corrective measures.

Participants at the conference which ended yesterday felt that the publicity trend by medical professionals had acquired sickening dimensions. They said advertisements like ‘Divali discount for treatment’ or ‘One treatment free with two treatments’ had been bringing a bad name to the profession.

Mr Amrit Sethi, organising secretary, said participants would approach the MCI to redefine its guidelines for publicity. The MCI would be urged to evolve dignified ways of publicity so that sanctity of medical profession could be kept intact.

At least 12 eminent eye surgeons presented their papers on the aspects of glaucoma in the symposium. Those who participated included Dr Kirti Singh, Dr H.C. Aggarwal, Dr S.K. Chopra, Dr J.K. Pasricha, Dr Karanjit Kooner and Dr Ashok Sharma.

At least 280 doctors from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi took part in the conference. Eminent doctors from the USA and other countries also participated while some sent their papers for presentation.

The participants urged the doctors not to make any “claim” in connection with treatment of any ailment.


Winged visitors at Ropar wetland
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 25
More than 1,000 migratory birds from Central Asia and Siberia have arrived at the wetland, near here. A function was organised today under the “Environment education in school system” programme on the bank of Sutlej. Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the function which was attended by students and teachers of various schools of the city, Katli, Garhbaga and Kotla Nihang villages.

The birds which have been seen so far in the wetland area include coots, sholler, millards, pintales, and breminy ducks. Addressing the function, Mr Jaspreet Singh, a bird lover and member of District Environment Society, said in the wetland area, the habitat of the local birds had almost been destroyed due to pollution and soil erosion in the past some years. Besides, the population of local birds, including king fisher, purple moorhen and small green bee eater, had also dwindled, he added.

Ms Jain announced that the Ropar-Lodimajra road from Pinkcassia Tourist Complex had been named as Dr Saleem Ali Ornithological track. She also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for developing the track. She also honoured eight scouts who have won state awards.

Mr Jaspreet Singh demanded a ban on the boating in the Sutlej in the wetland area. The function was addressed among others by Mr P.C. Gupta, Principal of the local Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, and Mr Surinder Singh, in charge scouts, Kotla Nihang village.


Villagers block traffic against ‘police excesses’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 25
Hundreds of villagers today blocked traffic on the main Attari-Wagah GT Road at Attari bus stand and gheraoed the Kahangarh police post at Attari. Main bazaar of the Attari remained closed for over six hours. Villagers were allegedly protesting against the atrocities of the police on the village sarpanch, his family members and other villagers.

The residents alleged that some policemen entered the house of Buta Singh demanded bribe for selling illicit liquor. When he refused to give bribe they allegedly started to beat him up. After that the police in the late evening attacked the house of Attri village sarpanch Hardev Singh who reportedly got released Buta Singh from the police. The police took at least 10 persons into custody from their houses. Dr S.K. Kalia, SP (Headquarter) said that the villagers were protesting to pressurise the police and administration but the arrested persons and village sarpanch used to sell illicit liquor.


Pak flag burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 25
The Anti-Terrorist front workers here today burnt the Pakistan national flag and raised slogans against Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir Government. They were protesting against the terrorist attack on Raghunath Temple at Jammu.

Mr Narinder Singh, secretary of the front, demanded President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir.


4 BKU leaders jailed in Jethuke incident case
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 25
The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate today sentenced four BKU (E) leaders Jhanda Singh Jethuke, District president, Natha Singh, Chak Fatehsingwala, Shingara Singh and Buta Singh Burjgill to one-year rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of 1,000 each in a case registered against them in January, 2000.

The BKU (E) leaders were held guilty of inciting a mob to attack police personnel on duty for misusing police uniform. A case had been registered against them under Sections 307, 353, 332 and 333 of the IPC by the local Railway police.

The leaders were, later, released on bail.


De-addiction camp today
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, November 25
A de-addiction camp will be held tomorrow to educate the local residents against the menace of drug addiction.

Mr Ashotosh, DSP, said here today the camp would be organised by the police, civil administration and the Health Department. He said drug addiction had reached an alarming stage in the town. He said residents would be motivated against drugs. Special counselling sessions would be held in this regard.


Labourer buried alive
Our Correspondent

Moga, November 25
One labourer was buried alive and another extricated alive from a mound of earth which fell on them while they were engaged in digging a tubewell at Kotha Mehar Singhwala village under the Baghapurana police station in the district yesterday. Body of the deceased, later identified as that of Rajin, was sent to a nearby hospital for postmortem examination.


Thermal plant staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 25
Activists of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant Employees Federation held a rally on call given by the GNDTP Employees Coordination Committee here today.

Mr Gursewak Singh, president of the federation alleged that the management of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was bent upon reducing, pay packages of the employees by claiming losses in the operations of the board. He said the management was planning to reduce other financial incentives.

Mr Gurnam Singh Khialiwala, general secretary, and other leaders of the federation also addressed the rally.



2 get life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 25
The District and Sessions Court here has sentenced two brothers to life imprisonment on charges of murder.

According to the details available from the court, Gurbachan Singh, Thana Singh and Bhajan Singh, all brothers were booked on charges of murdering Jagseer Singh, a resident of Dala village. An FIR was registered against them under Sections 34 and 302 of the IPC on August 30, 2000, at Mehna police station. Jagseer Singh was murdered with an iron rod on suspicion of having illicit relations with Gurbachan Singh’s wife.

After hearing the arguments of the district attorney, Mr Jagmohan Singh Chawla, Additional District and Sessions Judge, sentenced Gurbachan Singh and Thana Singh to life imprisonment but acquitted Bhajan Singh. Both convicts have also been fined Rs 5,000 each. Failure to pay the fine will lead to an additional jail term for one year.


Two arrested for robbery bid
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 25
Dhanna Singh and Gurbhajan Singh have been arrested for robbery bid in Burj Gill village on the night of November 13.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said Dhanna Singh and Gurbhajan Singh were arrested from near Sichana village on Saturday night.

A case under Sections 459, 380, 34 of the IPC and 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act was registered against them on November 14. The police remand of the accused had been procured for further interrogation.


Cash, jewellery stolen
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 25
Gold ornaments and cash worth Rs 1 lakh was stolen this afternoon from the house of Mr Bal Kishan Sharma, a cloth merchant at Model Town here. According to police reports, members of the family had gone to a doctor for a medical check-up of their daughter when the thieves entered the house by scaling the outer wall and stole gold ornaments weighing eight tolas and cash after breaking the lock of an almirah.

A case has been registered in this connection.


Students hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, November 25
More than 2,000 students of the local Government College held a rally at Government College here today in protest against the death of a student in the college campus due to wall collapse.

The students took out a protest march through the main bazars of the town raising slogans against the college staff and management. They demanded thorough investigation of the college building and demanded that a hall be built in the memory of the student.

Sameer Sood, a student, was seriously injured in the college campus when the wall of the notice board collapsed. Later, he succumbed to his injuries in a Ludhiana hospital.

A student of the college alleged that the college had been facing administrative problems about which the Civil Administration, the Education Department and the Punjab Government had shown an indifferent attitude.


Jacob’s surprise visit to school
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 25
Lt-Gen (retd) JFR Jacob’s surprise visit to Dherari Jatan village, near here, today caught the district administration totally off-guard when the Governor decided to visit the small village to listen to the woes of the village enroute to inaugurate the 27th National Yoga Championship being organised here.

The Governor went straight to the small school of the village and witnessed the pathetic state of affairs there. Besides lack of essential facilities reminiscent in almost all the village schools, the Governor pointed out to the District Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, total lack of sports equipment and other recreation facilities in the school. The Deputy Commissioner assured the Governor that the school would be provided with the requisite sports equipment within 15 days and that the playing field would be levelled with the help of the village panchayat.

Taking a round of the village, the Governor listened to the problems faced by the villagers. Noticing the state of affairs in regard to the sanitation of the village, he called upon the panchayat to ascertain that proper hygiene was maintained and the village environment was kept clean. Lauding the role of the institution of ‘panchayat’, he stressed that the village panchayat should listen to the problems of the villagers and acquaint the district administration with the same. He also said that the facilities required by the villagers should be brought to the notice of the administration and the latter should ensure that all efforts were made to make life in villages more comfortable.

The Governor also listened to the problems faced by the numerous ‘aaganwari’ workers in the village who complained that they did not even have a single room for carrying out their work. Announcing a grant of Rs 50,000 for construction of a room for workers, the Governor said that the construction work should get completed within two months. 



Need for quality education stressed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 25
It is the need of the hour that teachers should own the moral responsibility of imparting quality, value-based and spiritual education to students so that they may serve society and the nation in real sense, said Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner (R), while addressing the annual function “Vibration 2002” of Divine Light International School here today. Mr Bhagat Singh said teachers were the backbone of society. At present moral values were fast eroding and indiscipline was increasing among the students, which is an alarming signal for society as well as the teaching community, he added.

The Financial Commissioner urged the teachers to do their duty honestly and dedicatedly. He said a teacher could help students become good citizens by paying a little attention at the grass-roots level. The responsibility of the primary teachers was more important than that of the teachers at the higher levels, he added. He later inaugurated the new building of the school.

Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner stressed the need for providing moral education, besides making sports and co-curricular activities compulsory along with computer education. He said in the present age of Information Technology, if our tiny tots were trained in computer only then they would be able to compete at the international level.

Mr Ashok Sood, Director of the school, read out the annual report of the school and highlighted its various achievements. The schoolchildren presented a cultural programme on the occasion.


Symposium at Punjabi University
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 25
A national symposium on “Fungal Diversity: Present status and future challenges", organised by the Department of Botany, Punjabi University, will commence at the university’s Senate hall tomorrow. 

The symposium will be inaugurated by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr R.N. Pal. Prof H.S. Sohi, Former Director, National Research Centre, Mushrooms, Solan, and Prof K. Natarajan from the University of Madras will preside over the function.



Traders get octroi auction put off
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 25
Local traders held a demonstration today in front of the office of the Deputy Director, Local Bodies here. Because of the demonstration, the auction for the octroi collection for Rampura Phul to private contractors had to be postponed.

The traders of Rampura Phul also held demonstrations in the town. They raised slogans against the state government for allegedly not fulfilling its promise of abolition of octroi. They alleged that the move to privatise octroi collection was to deceive the traders.

The officials concerned decided not to conduct the auction as there were apprehensions that the traders could intensify the agitation.

Officials of the Municipal Committee, Rampura Phul, the local authorities of the Local Bodies Department that the situation could become worse if the auction of octroi collection was carried out. Thus, the auction had to be postponed.

Although the traders claimed that the auction of octroi collection had been cancelled and the same would not be given to private contractors. However, the sources said the auction had only been postponed.

Mr Sunil Bitta, president of the Yuva Beopar Mandal, Rampura Phul, said if the octroi collection was privatised they would resort to a massive agitation.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor and Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal, president and chairman of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, respectively, were also present on the occasion.

Mr Kapoor said the traders would launch a massive agitation throughout the state if the government did not withdraw the move to privatise the octroi collection. He said meetings of different associations of traders of different cities, were being held to mobilise them against the privatisation of octroi collection.

Mr Tilak Raj Sharma, Deputy Director, Local Bodies, on being contacted said the auction would be held on December 2. He said the authorities did not want any confrontation with the traders, thus the decision was taken to postpone the auction.

He confirmed that octroi collection would be given to private contractors.

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