Saturday, December 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tribune follow-up
CM urged to ensure fair probe
Rs 100-crore irrigation scam
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
A controversy has broken out with regard to the committees set up by the Punjab Government for probing the Rs 100-crore scam pertaining to the Upper Bari Doab canal remodelling project.

After holding a preliminary inquiry on the basis of which four top engineers were suspended last week, the government early this week ordered a full-fledged inquiry the report of which is to be submitted to the Chief Minister within a month or so.

A section of the engineers, which does not want to be identified for obvious reasons, appreciating the initiative taken by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged him today to change those members of the inquiry committee, who have remained associated with the project at any stage starting from its planning, designing, implementation and quality control. This was required to bring out the truth.

Under the over-all supervision of Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, Adviser to the Chief Minister on irrigation projects and related issues, the government has set up a number of committees for holding the probe. Among those heading the inquiries committees will be Chief Engineer R.P.S. Yaduvanshi and Chief Engineer (Internal Vigilance) Jasbir Singh and his junior staff.

A section of the engineers says that Mr Yaduvanshi remained associated with the project till June, 2001, as Superintending Engineer. He was also associated with its planning etc. He should not be associated with any inquiry committee. Likewise, it was the duty of Mr Jasbir Singh and Executive Engineers and other staff working under him to ensure that work at the project was executed as per design and plan and that quality was maintained. He should have reported to the government from time to time for stopping work at the project if it was not being executed as per the laid-down norms, rules and procedure.

In fact, engineers say that if the vigilance wing of the department had pointed out major irregularities committed at the project in a proper manner, the scam could have been either contained or stopped. Engineers say that in fact a separate inquiry should be held to find out whether the vigilance wing had played its assigned role of ensuring quality control at the project. Where the vigilance wing failed should also be the subject-matter of the inquiry. They say the vigilance wing’s primary duty was to ensure quality control and execution of the work as per the approved design and estimates. How many memos and charge sheets were issued to the officials concerned by the vigilance wing for non-conforming to the laid-down design and quality of work should also be made part of the inquiry report, they plead.

The inquiry committees, they demand, should be headed either by senior engineers, who have never remained associated with the project or by retired engineers known for their competence and honesty. They have urged the Chief Minister to personally supervise the inquiry on a day-to-day basis and set up an example for staff working on other projects so they could not dare siphon off even a single penny. They have urged the Chief Minister not to spare any politician and contractor involved in the scam. They have further emphasised the need for rushing the inquiry committees to the project site keeping in view the enormity of the scam.

Mr Bhagat Singh and Mr Jasbir Singh were not available for their comments.


Jalalabad town has 89.5 p.c. voters
State EC orders probe
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 6
Punjab State Election Commissioner C.L. Bains has ordered an inquiry into the voters’ lists of Jalalabad and Abohar towns of Ferozepore district. Voters’ lists of these towns revised for Municipal Council elections.

Official sources said that Mr Alok Shekhar, Director-General (Schools), Punjab and Mr Sanjay Kumar, Labour Commissioner, Punjab, had been deputed to hold the inquiry and submit report at the earliest.

Mr Bains ordered the inquiry after complaints in respect of bogus votes for the Municipal Council elections in Abohar and Jalalabad towns of Ferozepore district were made to him.

In Jalalabad town, on the basis of existing voters’ lists, it appears that there were very few persons under 18 years of age as out of the total population of 32,500 per 2001-Census of the town, 29,081 had been shown voters per the voters’ lists.

It was also found that in the last Assembly elections, the number of registered voters of this town was 21,000 which went up to more than 29,000 in the past six months.

Mr Pawan Kumar Valocha, President, Municipal Council, Jalalabad, had taken up the registration of bogus voters with the state Election Commission time and again. He had alleged several irregularities in the preparation of new voters’ lists for Municipal Council elections.

Mr K. Valocha in his complaint to the state Election Commission on November 13 gave ward-wise breakdown of voters in 1998 and the one in the present fall rolls (2002-2003). According to him 89 per cent of the population of the town figures in the voters’ list.

He also alleged that a few Congress leaders had a role in the registration of bogus voters. He added that names of many villagers already registered as voters in their respective villages, had been there in the revised voters’ lists for Municipal Council elections.

He pointed out that though verification of voters’ lists was done on the orders of state Election Commissioner earlier, but nothing fruitful came out of it because of the Congress leaders.

The officers, deputed to probe the voters’ lists, has started collecting relevant documents and would visit Jalalabad and Abohar towns shortly for on spot verification, sources added.


IAS to oppose Police Commissioner system
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
When Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh takes up the ‘’problems’’ of the police and its ‘’innovative’’ ideas of policing on December 11, the issue of introducing the Commissioner system of policing in the three corporation cities — Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana — will top the agenda.

This particular issue has alerted IAS officers, who have decided to launch a ‘’whisper campaign’’ to oppose the move. At least five IAS officers have already met and devised a strategy on this issue. The Commissioner system of policing has not surfaced for the first time. It has made news headlines in the past as well whenever a new political government assumed office. Each time the proposal was shelved, say sources.

The IAS officers feel that they need to enlighten their respective political bosses giving details of the pitfalls of the new proposed system. It is anticipated that this issue is likely to divide the rank and file of the police and the civil administration. Divisions among politicians are also likely to emerge.

That the issue of police commissioners is on the agenda was today confirmed to TNS by Principal Secretary (Home) S.K. Sinha. The other issues listed for that meeting, he said, included, the posting of police officers in the prosecuting agencies, empowering police officers to compound traffic challans and also that 50 per cent of the proceeds realised from traffic challans be retained by the police for effecting improvements in traffic management.

Also on the agenda is the issue of police housing and the Police Welfare Fund and ways to increase revenue receipts for the same.

The police may be permitted to raise one or two battalions for security duties. Since such men would be put on security duty for which hiring individuals/institutions now have to pay, it is argued that this would not entail much financial burden on the exchequer but fetch the police revenue.

Besides the issue of own rank and pay, the police is demanding the facility of ‘’free travel’’ to cops on duty in buses operated by the PRTC under the ‘’kilometer scheme’’.

Certain amendments to the Police Act are also on the agenda, as per the recommendations of the National Police Commission. For this purpose, a committee is likely to be constituted.

Those invited to the meeting are Minister of Finance, Lal Singh since there are some pending issues involving financial matters, the Chief Secretary and the Secretaries of Finance and Transport, besides Mr Sinha.

Some IAS officers, on condition of anonymity, confided that it was time to bridle the police that has a definite bias favouring the Congress while it had let loose a reign of terror horror on other politicians. Even the beneficiaries of the government’s anti-corruption initiative was the police and reportedly several dishonest people were on the payroll of the police and the Vigilance. Even in this campaign it was the prerogative of the police to let anyone off the hook . ‘’Punjab today needs a development agenda and not a ‘khaki-face’ since the police has been given a freehand’’, remarked a bureaucrat.

The inner factionalism and discontentment within the police was also now visible, said yet another officer. If the Police Commissioner system was adopted, this would defeat the very purpose of the desired system of decentralised, transparent and good governance, as the police was already highly politicised/criminalised. Such commisionrates were suited to systems that had unitary government and unitary society and not in a plural society or governance, where a multi-party political system operated.

‘’The police always needs appropriate checks and balances. Our experience shows that already the existing Punjab Police Rules that clearly establish the supremacy of the civil authority (magistracy) over the police have been observed more in breach than in practice. How can the police be the prosecutor and also the judge’’? asked a Deputy Commissioner.

It was well established that when political parties in power used the police to their vested advantage, the human rights and civil liberties of ordinary citizens were trampled upon, he continued. ‘’In a democratic system of government and society police can not be allowed to become either autocratic or autonomous. The command of the civil authority over the uniformed force is important from the point of view of the citizens, as well. his is an established law all over the civilized and developed world, baring a few autocratic dictatorial regimes’’, remarked another IAS officer.

Other sources said that all reports brought out by the Punjab Human Rights Commission had so far underscored the fact that despite the restoration of the Rule of the law, the major quantum of complaints received by the commission was against the police, its berserk behaviour and undue interference in property disputes. ‘’In fact, such is the scare of the police that even the compensation announced by the commission is not being accepted by those who have been wronged by the police due to fear psychosis created by the men in uniform’’, he added. This fact has been confirmed by a District and Sessions Judge, who was deputed to take up case studies as to why people were not accepting compensation given to them by the commission.


Inspector continues to wear DSP’s uniform
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 6
Left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, seems to be true in case of the border range police here. An Inspector, attached to the IG (Border) as a personal security officer (PSO) still wears the uniform of a DSP even as his ORP (own rank pay promotion) was withdrawn more than a year ago on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court along with other officers.

While the rank and file of the police is tight-lipped about the ‘status’ of Mr Gurdyal Ram, senior IPS officers of the border range gave divergent views about his rank. Mr Gurdyal Ram claims that he was given an ad hoc promotion, however, Mr R.N. Gupta, IG, said that he (Mr Gurdyal Ram) was an Inspector Interestingly, Mr Gurdyal Ram was wearing the uniform of the DSP when he was with the IG and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister Local Bodies, on the Independence Day. In the orders, issued by the SSP Amritsar on August 12, Mr Gurdyal was directed to command the Independence Day parade as a DSP.

When contacted, Mr Narinder Paul Singh, district police chief, feigned ignorance about the ‘rank’ of Mr Gurdyal Ram. He said, “We always see him as a DSP, but I shall have to check from the records the actual rank of Gurdyal Ram.” However, the voluminous orders about the security arrangements, issued on August 12, reads that Mr Gurdyal Ram, DSP, would command the parade on the Independence Day. It is a precedent that only a gazetted officer commands such parades. Mr Gurdyal Ram also commanded a parade on the commemoration day (October 21) to pay tributes to those police personnel who became martyrs while performing their duties in the past.

Though Mr Gurdyal Ram reiterated that he had been regularised as a DSP yet his name did not figure in the gradation list of officers of the Punjab cadre including, the IPS and the PPS as on August 1. His name was not included in the subsequent list of the PPS and the IPS officers issued after the publication of the gradation list.

It may be mentioned here that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed the appointments of all those Punjab police officers who had been given the rank of SP, DSP and Inspector, all in the ‘own rank pay’ (ORP) on August 20 last year. The order upheld that the appointments were made in violation of the prescribed procedures. The appointments in the ORP were challenged by the SP, Mr Bachan Singh and other police officials.

The Judge had directed the Principal Secretary (Home) to look into all such cases in consultation with the Director-General of police and that ORP personnel in the rank of SP, DSP and Inspector be withdrawn forthwith and the promotion to those ranks be made in accordance with the law. This exercise of regular promotion should be carried out within six months from the date of receipt of the copies of the judgements.

However, Mr Gurdyal Ram claimed that he was one of the senior most officers and his appointment had been regularised by the then DGP, Mr Sarbjit Singh.


Education Dept officials drawing excess salary
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Certain superintendents and administrative officers with District Education Offices in the state have been drawing excess salary. The Education Department has initiated an inquiry into the episode.

Sources said here today that certain officials of the rank of superintendent and administrative officer, who also enjoyed the powers of the District Education Officer in certain matters, had fixed their salary in violation of norms. The sources said in an official communication, the Administrative Director of the department had said service records of these erring officials should be brought to the respective Circle Education Officers/offices for scrutiny.

The sources added that these officials had availed themselves of increments in number while fixing their salary. This had led to objections by the authorities while auditing their records, but no official had acted against them. The sources said 18 employees had been drawing excess salary every month, causing a huge loss to the state exchequer.

The sources pointed out that the Circle Education Officers had been directed to inspect the relevant records and file their reports before December 18. They had also been asked to name the officers who had fixed the salary of these employees. Though such directives and orders had been issued earlier, no district-level officer of the department had proceeded against these employees, claimed the sources.

The sources said five employees here had been drawing salary in excess. They said the relevant records had been sent to the Circle Education Officer/office at Faridkot and such exercises were also being carried out in Jalandhar and Nabha. The department had also asked them to recover the salary paid in excess from these employees. Further disciplinary action was also not ruled out against these officers.

While the Circle Education Officer, Mr Jaskartar Singh, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts, the District Education Officer, Ms Surinder Kaur Kataria, when contacted, confirmed that an inquiry into the episode was in process. She said as the same was being conducted by the higher authorities, she could not comment on the same.

Meanwhile, the sources added that the inquiry had sent shivers down the spine of the erring officers. With the appointment of Mr Alok Shekhar, as Director-General (School Education), the government had shown its seriousness in the episode, they said.


Only 5 PSUs to be privatised: Lal Singh
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 6
The Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today clarified that only five sick public sector undertakings (PSUs) of the 29 recommended by the Disinvestment Committee would be privatised.

He told reporters here that these were the Punjab Tourism Corporation, Punjab Tractors Ltd, the Punjab Poultry Corporation, Punjab Alkalies Ltd and Punjab Conveyors Ltd.

He said World Bank officials, during their visit to the state last month, had agreed to sanction grants for some development projects. “The World Bank team has agreed in principle to sanction Rs 817 crore for the augmentation of water supply and for sewerage projects in the state,” he said.

Regarding the announcement of the new industrial policy, the minister said the draft of the policy had been prepared and would be tabled in the next Cabinet meeting for approval.

He said government had decided to decentralise the recruitment process of teachers and panchayats would be entrusted with appointing teachers on contract.

Asked about the delay in the release of the proposed bonus of Rs 10 per quintal on paddy purchased last year, the minister said the officials concerned had already been instructed to release the bonus from December 15 onwards. “Though we have not received the sanctioned amount for disbursement of Rs 20 per quintal on paddy purchased during the current season from the Central Government, the Punjab Government has decided to release the sum from its own funds to the farmers,” he added.


Cong faction revolts against MLA
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 6
The political understanding between rival Congress factions headed by local MLA Joghinder Singh Mann and PPCC member Balbir Raja Sodhi received a jolt as the Sodhi group revolted against Mr Mann, accusing the latter of disobeying the party high command by changing its decision regarding the elections of the local Nagar Council last evening and striking a deal with opposition.

However, Ms Santosh Chaudhary, Congress MP from Phillaur and co-chairperson of the AICC Relief Committee, today gave a clean chit to Mr Mann who also justified his action.

Mr Sodhi, Congress councillors Padan Dev Sudhir and Ramesh Kumar Jordon and Ms Sita Devi, vice-president of the council, today alleged that Mr Mann had flouted the agreement reached between the groups in Chandigarh on Monday. As per the agreement, Mr Malkiat Singh Raghbotra of the Mann group was to be elected council president while Ms Sita Devi of the Sodhi group was to be made senior vice-president. However, during the council election last evening, the Mann group made an Independent candidate, Ms Hardip Anand, senior vice-president while Ms Sita Devi had to settle for junior vice-president, they alleged, adding that Mr Mann had struck a clandestine deal with the opposition.

It may be mentioned here that both Ms Sita Devi and an Akali candidate, Mr Iqbal Singh Kundi, got nine votes each for the post of junior vice-president and the issue had to be decided by a draw of lots which went in the favour of Ms Sita Devi.

Meanwhile, opposition parties, including the SAD and the BJP, have decided to take out a protest march in the town against the alleged betrayal by Mr Mann during the nagar council elections.

A press note issued by Akali leaders, including Mr Jarnail Singh Wahid, Mr Gurmukh Singh, Mr Sarwan Singh Kular and Mr Gurjit Singh Khalsa, and Akali councillors Iqbal Singh Kundi, Mr Inderjit Sonkar and Ms Sarbjit Kaur, today alleged that Mr Mann had backed out of an agreement reached in this regard.

While the opposition had honoured the agreement and supported Mr Malkiat Singh Raghbotra, Mr Mann and his supporters ditched the opposition in election of vice-president, they alleged. They said as per the agreement, the vice-president’s post was to be left for Akali candidate Iqbal Singh Kundi, when contacted, Mr Mann denied all allegations.


Stop Cong infighting, Sonia urged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Mr Gurbax Singh Bhasin, a senior Congress leader, has appealed to the All-India Congress chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to intervene and stop the “fight” between the present Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Mr Bhasin, who claimed to be a close associate of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said it was high time that the AICC President should intervene and stop the fight between two senior party leaders as their actions were tarnishing the image of the party.

Mr Bhasin urged the AICC President to constitute a high-level team of senior Congress leaders, including Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr A.K. Anthony and others.


Dharna by BSP activists
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Activists of the Bhahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by district president, Mr Sham Jaura, held dharna at Ambedkar Park here today in protest against the carving out of a road from the park. Mr Jaura said earlier the district authorities had “embroached” upon a portion of the park when the district administration complex was constructed. He said, the then Deputy Commissioner, and the then Chairman of the Improvement Trust had assured them that a gardner would be employed and the park maintained, however, nothing had been done.


10 persons fall ill as gas leaks in CMC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
At least 10 persons were taken ill in a gas leak incident at old CMC building here today. The injured included four women. All of them were being treated at CMC hospital.

The leakage occurred in the pharmacy unit of the CMC. Tarsem Lal, who was seriously injured was allegedly opening some gas cylinders when the incident took place.

Apart from Tarsem Lal, there were nine persons. They have been identified as Arik Khan, Ravi, Parkash, Bholla and an unknown person. They are being treated at Ward No. 6 of the hospital. Four women namely Kali, Olive, Pushpa and Lali have been admitted to Ward No. 5 of the hospital. Tarsem Lal has been admitted in the ICU. His condition is stated to be stable. Mr John Ibrahim, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, said this incident took place due to the alleged negligence of Tarsem Lal.


Vir Chakra awardee remembered
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 6
The 31st death anniversary of Naik Naib Singh, a Vir Chakra awardee and hero of the Indo-Pak war, 1971, was observed at his native village Maln Wala in the district today. More than 5,000 persons including, panches and sarpanches, representatives of various political and social organisations and Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP Faridkot, paid rich tributes and laid wreaths on the memorial of the martyr.

Later, addressing the congregation Sant Karnail Singh, a renowned saint and in charge of the Vivek Ashram announced that there was a plan to set up a 100-beded hospital to provide medical aid free of cost to the needy persons. The construction work on the same had already started and was likely to be completed in the next six months. The project is likely to cost more than Rs 1 crore and the land for the same has been donated by members of the martyr’s family. The funds will be collected through donations.

The ashram has been organising a medical camp in the village on the 10th of every month to give medical aid free of cost to the needy patients for the past many years. He also informed that an eye hospital in the name of the martyr was already running at Jalal village on the Bajakhana-Barnala road in the district.

Sant Karnail Singh appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh that being an ex-Army officer he should pay special attention towards the main demands of the area and which will be a real tribute to Naik Naib Singh. The officials of the 6th Sikh regiment honoured the family members of the brave soldier.


Takht can take action on firm proof: Vedanti

Amritsar, December 6
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti today hinted that Akal Takht would not hesitate in taking action against the pro-Badal SGPC executive committee member Joginder Singh Panjrath if someone approached Akal Takht with a complaint along with facts.

Jathedar Vedanti said that he had not received any complaint, so far, against Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath since the publication of his photograph in a section of the media allegedly showing him bowing before the photograph of Ashutosh Maharaj, head of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS) at Patiala recently.

A former SGPC acting president Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and a Tohra loyalist has sought early action against Panjrath. PTI


Dalit families allege boycott
Tribune News Service

Malout, December 6
A major section of farmers of Khema Khera village in this subdivision of Muktsar district have boycotted six Dalit labourer families as they had allegedly failed to repay the loans they had taken from their landlords.

Though SDM Baldev Singh claimed that there was no boycott of Dalit families as reported in various newspapers, those who have been facing the boycott alleged that it was continuing despite the visits of SDM and Tehsildar to their village.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a major section of farmers of Khema Khera village, falling in the Lambi block, boycotted the six Dalit families a few weeks ago. They boycotted these families after passing a resolution in this regard.

Mr Baldev Singh denied that any such resolution had been passed by the farmers or panchayat. He pointed out that there was a dispute among some individuals regarding loan repayment. He added that matter was solved and now there was no boycott.

The families of Mr Babbi Singh, Mr Balkar Singh, Mr Sewak Singh, Mr Jeeta Singh, Mr Baldev Singh and Mr Chanan Singh were facing boycott.

The Block Development and Panchayat Officer of the Lambi block could not be contacted. Even the Sarpanch of the village did not know whether any such resolution had been passed.

However, the members of the families facing boycott said they were facing many hardships in earning their livelihood. They alleged that they were not even allowed to enter the fields of farmers to get fodder for their cattle.

Mr A. Venu Parsad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, who has been given additional charge of Muktsar district, could not be contacted.


Gaiety marks Id celebrations
Tribune Reporters and UNI

Malerkotla, December 6
More than one lakh Muslims performed namaz and greeted one another on the occasion of Id here today. Maulana Hashim Shah Shabib, Shahi Imam of the local Jama Masjid, led the namaz at the Idgah. Mr Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal, SDM, addressing a huge gathering at the Idgah, extended greetings and good wishes to people.

Most of the top leaders of political parties were not seen on the occasion and the usual political speeches were missing.

A large number of Sikhs and Hindus greeted Muslims on the occasion and visited the houses of their Muslim friends. Id-ul-Fitr prayers were also offered at various mosques of the town and adjoining Ahmedgarh, Amargarh, Sandour, Sherpur, Bhaini and Saround villages.

FARIDKOT: Muslims celebrated Id-ul-Fitr with enthusiasm here on Friday. A large number of inhabitants of the town, besides representatives of various social and political organisations, greeted people on the occasion. Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, who attended an Id-related function, said the District Red Cross Society had decided to start evening classes to impart free education to children of Muslims. Mr S.K. Gupta, Congress leader, and Mr Gurtej Singh Gill, president of the local nagar council, also spoke.

BATHINDA: Id-ul-Fitr was celebrated here with traditional fervour and gaiety by Muslims. A large number of people gathered at the Idgah in the city and prayed for peace. Mr Sukhdev Khan, president of the Muslim Human Welfare Society said the SDM, Mr Upjit Singh Brar, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, municipal council president and other prominent personalities took part in the celebrations.


Book those behind Babri demolition under POTA’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 6
Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann today demanded that the people responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya be booked under POTA. Mr Mann led a march of 1000 persons in main bazaars here on the 10th anniversary of Babri demolition and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur in this regard forwarding it to the President of India. Claiming that secular fabric of India was in danger, Mr Mann said that the President should ensure that minorities in India felt safe.

Denouncing recent statements of Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, on the “fourth war” with Pakistan, Mr Mann said that such statements fuelled right-wing fundamentalism in the country.


Artificial leg to amputee’s rescue
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 6
Life has turned full circle for Satnam Singh, a retired bank manager whose legs had to be amputated three years back. After failing to get back on his legs through use of the conventional knee prosthesis system, an imported leg, known as endoskeleton prosthesis, has come to his rescue.

The new leg, which was till now only available in metro cities, can now be fitted at the District Disability Rehabilitation Centre on the Jail Road here. Though the procedure is still costly at Rs 90,000, it is cheaper than similar treatment being offered in big cities at Rs 1.40 lakh. However, the centre is flexible in its approach and those who only want to try on a foot from the entire kit will have to pay only Rs 3,500.

The new leg is much better than the conventional system, known popularly as the Jaipur leg. Under the conventional system, a patient can only bend upto an angle of 90 degrees. The conventional leg is also more wider and heavier, weighing between five to seven kilograms. This means persons using it get tired easily and can only walk 40 to 50 steps in one minute. Besides this, the conventional leg has to be unlocked before the person can sit.

The endoskeleton prosthesis is less than three kilograms in weight, meaning that persons using it can walk nearly 80 to 100 steps a minute. Bending is possible during its use to the extent of 120 degrees. The fibre glass construction gives it additional strength.

Giving details of the leg, centre prosthetic in charge Dr Pritpal Singh Sidhu said another unique feature of the endoskeleton device was that it could store energy when pressure on it was increased, which it transformed into kinetic energy making walking more easy. He said besides this, it was ideal for old persons and women due to its reduced weight. Dr Sidhu said girls could also wear skirts while using this leg because of its better sculpted features.

Dr Sidhu said the leg was being fitted free of cost at the centre here and patients only had to pay for the cost of the kit. He said two patients had been fitted with the new leg, adding that the centre was in touch with philanthropists also who were able to chip in some money in case of deserving patients.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today distributed 15 trolley cycles, five prosthetic devices, five hearing aids and three calipers at the centre to mark International Handicapped Day. Speaking on the occasion, he said there was an urgent need to spread awareness that the handicapped could lead normal lives with the help of special tools developed for them.


Improvement Trust flouts court order
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Mr Atma Ram a resident of this city has alleged that a wall constructed by him on his land was demolished today by the Improvement Trust Authorities despite the trust authorities having been restrained by the competent authorities.

He alleged that the executive officer and other Trust officials along with the Tehsildar this morning had the wall demolished. He alleged that the police was also deployed at the spot by the authorities.

He said that he owned four bighas and 10 biswas of land on the Bathinda-Goniana road. He claimed that the trust had made part payment to the owner of another piece of land, and wanted to acquire his land also. He said that a court had allowed him to raise construction on his land and restrained the Improvement Trust from dispossessing him of the land.

He said that the tehsildar, on his application had appointed a local commissioner to demarcate the said piece of land. The local commissioner has called up the parties on December 11 and the patwari concerned had been directed to be present on the spot when the demarcation was to be made but the trust demolished the wall built on his land, without notice. He claimed that even a portion of the office of the Improvement Trust had been built on his piece of land.

Mr Gora Lal, Executive Officer, Bathinda Improvement Trust, said that he joined duty here yesterday evening and was not aware of complete details. He said that justice would be done to the complainant.


Minister’s effigy burnt
Tribune News service

Ropar, December 6
The Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) unit of the General Category Welfare Federation burnt the effigy of Punjab Social Welfare Minister Chaudhary Santokh Singh at the main chowk of the plant last evening in protest against the interest taken by him in preparing a memorandum for the implementation of 85th Amendment of the Constitution and getting it signed from the Chief Minister, by passing official channels.

The 85th Amendment provides consequential seniority along with promotion to SC/ST employees. Addressing the gathering, the speakers, including Mr Ajit Singh Sekhon, president of the local unit of the federation, said in Punjab SC/ST employees were already getting their share of quota posts in promotion which was 14 per cent for Class I and Class II employees, and 20 per cent for Class III and Class IV employees as per the Punjab Government policy for reservation to the SC/ST employees. They emphasised that there was no need to implement the 85th Amendment in the state.

The speakers demanded that promotion to Class I and Class II on the basis of reservation from the SC and ST categories should be stopped immediately.


Phagwara to be made model town’

Phagwara, December 6
Mr Malkiat Singh Raghbotra, unanimously elected president of the local nagar council yesterday, declared today that the top priority would be to make Phagwara a model, eco-friendly city. He said he was committed to the development of the city by rising above party politics and corruption would not be tolerated.

Mr Raghbotra is associated with several NGOs. Over 50 organisations has lobbied for his candidature.


Tributes paid to martyr
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 6
Naik Patil Sadashiv, who died while demining an area near Indo-Pak border in Tarn Taran recently, was today cremated with the honour. He is survived by his wife Sunanda and three children.

Commanding Officer and all ranks of 106 Engineer Regiment along with the GOC (7-division), GOC (9-division) and Commanding Officer, 118 Engineering Regiment, besides relatives of the martyr were present. Col Deepak Sharma said: “He was a brave, courageous and dedicated soldier who attained martyrdom in the line of duty. We salute the brave soldier”.


Writers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 6
More than 200 writers owing allegiance to the Kendriya Punjabi Lekhak Sabha from all over Punjab sat in dharna in front of the residence of the Education Minister here today in support of their demands, which include punishment to government employees who do not use Punjabi in their official work, Punjabi be made compulsory subject for students up to class XII, grant of pension by the Language Department to 100 writers as against 25 at present. The sabha also demanded the allotment of a plot free of cost at Jalandhar for the construction of its office.

The Education Minister was not present at his residence today.


Seminar on plans for Patiala
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 6
The Punjab Writers Forum today announced that it would hold a seminar on “government plans to develop Patiala” on December 21. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been invited to deliver the keynote address.

Disclosing this here today, forum president Ved Prakash Gupta said the seminar aimed at educating the people of the city about the development projects planned for them as well as taking their views on the projects.


Rs 23.8 lakh for mast lights at roundabouts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 6
The Patiala Municipal Corporation in its Finance and Contracts Committee meeting today passed proposals for erecting high mast lights at all roundabouts in the city besides acquiring a loader truck to make the task for collecting garbage more easy.

The committee at its meeting passed a proposal for providing Rs 23.85 lakh for erecting high mast lights on all important roundabouts. The proposal said this was necessary due to the increased traffic during night hours in the city.

Besides this the committee also passed a proposal envisaging purchasing of an Ingersoll Rand modern loader at a cost of Rs 18 lakh. It was submitted that the loader would help in garbage collection because it was able to lift garbage even from narrow streets in the old city.

The committee also decided to give the corporation parking lot at the Anardana Chowk to a private contractor. \The private contractor would give the corporation Rs 3.80 lakh annually.

Other decisions include providing Rs 1.15 lakh for repair of the Rajindra Tank, purchase of a truck for the Health branch at a cost of Rs 7.82 lakh and further Rs 70,000 for installing a frame on it besides work orders for half a dozen development works started by the corporation. 


Multi-crore complex site to be auctioned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 6
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today announced that it would hold auction for a 3.15- acre plot comprising the old Home Guard office on the Mall here on December 17 for development into a commercial facility in the form of cineplex, shops, offices and hotels.

Addressing a press conference here, PUDA Additional Chief Administrator Hussan Lal said that the site would be offered to a single bidder at a reserve price of Rs 7,500 per square yard. He said the site was being offered for commercial exploitation with the aim of catalysing development activity in the town.

He said the complex, which had been named Crown Royale, would allow the buyer the maximum ground coverage of 40 per cent of the total area. He said a 100 per cent basement had been allowed but at least 75 per cent of this area would have to be used for parking. The rest could be used for other services, he said.

Mr Hussan Lal disclosed that zonings had been done in the area. He said intending buyers would have to deposit an eligibility fee of Rs 25,000 which was refundable. He said while 10 per cent of the money would have to be paid at the fall of the hammer, 15 per cent to be paid within 15 days and the balance 75 per cent in four yearly instalments.


MC launches drive against encroachments
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 6
The Municipal Corporation today carried out an anti-encroachment drive targeting temporary encroachments by various food shops as well as rehris.

The drive, which was headed by corporation Assistant Commissioner Bhupinder Singh covered the area from Sheranwala Gate to Adalat Bazar, the bus stand to Lahori Gate, the Commissioner's office as well as the railway crossing No 22 market. However, the Lower Mall area, in which Gopal Sweets is situated, was left out of the drive.

Corporation employees loaded rehris and other material, including weighing scales and fruits into trucks during the drive. At the railway crossing market it confiscated the gas ''chulha'' of the Khansama eatery. Wooden benches and other stuff lying outside shops was seized.

The Corporation Commissioner when asked about encroachments made by Gopal Sweets said though his men had been told to come near Fountain Chowk, they became confused about the instructions and went ahead the Leela Bhavan area missing the Lower Mall area. He said the area would be taken up tomorrow for checking. He said penalties were being imposed from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 on those whose material was seized during the drive.

Meanwhile, even though the drive continued till the evening, rehris were out in the Sheranwala Gate area selling vegetables and fruits in the evening. Residents of the area said either the drive should be launched regularly or a definite area should be earmarked for rehris from where they could be allowed to do business.

Some residents, including Amarbir Singh from Sheranwala Gate, even alleged that the antecedents of the rehri owners should be verified. He said contrary to popular belief most of the rehris were owned by businessmen who employed migrant labourers to run them on a daily lease.


Couple, BSF jawan’s wife killed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 6
Mr Shanker Dass son of Mr Rulda Ram and his wife Mrs Tarsem Kaur died on the spot when four/five unidentified persons suspected to be members of Kale Kacchewale gang attacked them with sharp-edged weapons, iron rods and lathis in their house in Mand Bhandair village under Dasuya police station at 4 a.m. this morning. After killing the husband and the wife assailants searched the house and took away valuables. They also removed gold earrings of deceased Tarsem Kaur and her two daughters before escaping.

On receiving the report of killings Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP Hoshiarpur reached the spot for investigation. The SSP said that police patrolling had been intensified in her area to check anti-social element and search was on in the entire Dasuya Sub-Division to arrest the culprits. She said villagers had been appealing to organise Thikri Pehras in villages at night to nab anti-social elements.

To a question she said that personal enmity was behind the crime. However, involvement of members of Kale Kacchewale gang was not ruled out.

Earlier unidentified persons suspected to be members of Kale Kacchewale gang killed Ms Kamaljit Kaur wife of Balbir Singh with sharp-edged weapons, iron rods and lathis etc. in Khunkum Khurd village PS Dasuya on December 3 night 2002.

A police report here today said a gang of three to four looters, armed with rods, attacked Kamaljit Kaur (35), wife of a BSF jawan in Khunkum Khurd village last night. She was beaten to death while her two teenaged children — daughter Savita and son Mandeep — were injured in the attack.

The police said the victim was asleep in a room in her house when she was attacked. The looters, before fleeing, took away the gold earrings of the victim.


Gang of cheats busted, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 6
The police has busted a gang of cheats involved in defrauding people with the arrest of two persons. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said today that Satnam Singh of Dhariwal and Sunil Kumar alias Lattu of Pathankot had been arrested while the kingpin of the gang, Raman Kumar of Dhariwal, and his brother Sheroo were at large.

The SSP said on February 17, Raman Kumar posted as Principal of Dalhousie Public School and his brother Sheroo as his PA. The accused met Mr Avtar Singh of Pathankot, a furniture merchant, and told him that they wanted to buy furniture for the school. They said the supplier would have to deposit a security amount of Rs 20,000 with them. The accused took Mr Avtar Singh to the local court on pretext of preparing an agreement, from where they slipped away.

Mr Avtar Singh realised that he had been cheated and chased the accused. He managed to find out their address. He lodged a complaint with the police. Following this, the police registered a case under Sections 420/506/34 of the IPC.

On being interrogated the accused confessed to having cheated Mr Avtar Singh. It was also disclosed that the accused are involved in various cheating cases and already facing trials in cases registered against them at Dhariwal and Dharamsala police stations. The accused have also been taking money from people on the promise to get them jobs.


Man with fake visa booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 6
The district police has booked Ajit Singh, a resident of Kapurthala, for allegedly possessing a fake visa at Raja Sansi airport. He had come from Germany.

Mr Vivek Awasthi, Immigration Officer, in his complaint, said Ajit Singh had gone to Holland on the passport of another person about four years ago. From Holland he went to Germany. He came to India, possessing a fake passport. A case has been registered at Raja Sansi airport.

Meanwhile, the Civil Line police has booked Angrej Singh of Nand Nagar on the Fatehgarh-Churian road for allegedly abducting a minor girl.

According to Mukesh Kumar, father of the girl, his daughter went to school on November 28, but did not return. He alleged that the suspect had lured her for marriage. A case under Sections 363 and 364 of the IPC has been registered.

In another incident, Manpreet Kaur of Talwandi Ajan was killed in a collision between a Matador and a Peter rehra in Jandiala last evening.


One more held in misappropriation case
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 6
The economic offences wing, Mansa, has arrested Sukhdev Singh Dayallpura, chairman of the Mansa Central Cooperative Bank Limited, Mansa, in connection with a case registered against him under Sections 420 and 463 of the Indian Penal Code, read with Sections 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

He was produced before the Duty Magistrate, Mansa, Ms Jatinder Kaur, today, who remanded him in police custody till tomorrow. The case was registered on October 17 against him along with advocates Dalip Singh, Kuldeep Singh Chahal, Harcharan Singh Sidhu and Jagjit Singh, Harbant Singh Datevas, SAD MLA from Budhlada, Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, former SAD MLA from Mansa SGPC member Mukhtiar Singh Tandian, former District Education Officer (Secondary) Bhupinder Kaur, former Truck Operators Union president Malkiat Singh Bhapla, Dr Lakhwinder Singh Noosa, president of the district Youth Akali Dal, Narinder Paul Danewalia, of the Punjab Arhtiya Association, and others on the complaint of Mr Maghar Singh president of the managing committee of the local Khalsa High School.

The complainant had alleged in the FIR that the accused, in connivance with Ms Bhupinder Kaur, had misappropriated about Rs 22 lakh from the school funds. Mr Pargat Singh, headmaster of the school and Mr Bhapla had earlier been arrested. The four advocates and the then DEO (S) had obtained stay of arrest orders from court.

The hearing of the case, fixed for December 5, was adjourned to December 19 as the Special Judge was on leave. Anticipatory bail applications of Mr Datevas, Mr Tandian, Dr Moosa and Mr Danewalia were dismissed by the Special Judge, Mansa, on November 13.


Man held for selling Mizoram lottery tickets
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 6
Vikas, lottery ticket vendor, was arrested on Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the sale of lottery tickets of Mizoram, in violation of a ban imposed by the Punjab Government in this regard.

Police sources said Vikas was arrested when a flying squad team of the Director, State Lotteries, Punjab, raided the business premises of the accused.

The sources said about 10 lotteries of Mizoram state were seized from him.

A case has been registered.


PTU to review contracts
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, December 6
With an aim to safeguard the interests of nearly 30,000 students enrolled in various courses under the Distance Education Programme (DEP) throughout the country, Punjab Technical University (PTU) has set up a three-member task force to review the contracts with its existing service providers responsible for providing education through affiliated study centres. The university authorities are considering a move to terminate agreements with those service providers who had failed to provide quality education to the students in the past.

The task force will study the existing agreements signed with 18 service providers for various courses and submit its report within 15 days.

“We have received complaints regarding poor quality of education being provided at some of the study centres, which are alleged to have been running without the requisite infrastructure. The force will study the functioning of service providers and study centres. We will terminate the contracts with those service providers who are not complying with the provisions of the agreement,” Dr YS. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor of PTU, told this correspondent here today.

The Vice-Chancellor said he was planning to bring industry closer to the students.

Dr Rajan said the university had decided to interconnect all its affiliated engineering colleges and educational institutes through internet. To bring complete transparency in the functioning of the university, we have also decided to launch a new website, he said.


Quality education must for children’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 6
If we provide quality education and give encouragement to our children to participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities only then the spirit of competition and sense of confidence can be developed among them, otherwise our coming generations will lag behind in the present age of computers, space and competition and they will be able to compete at the national and international level, said Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, educationist and Principal of MG College, Fatehgarh Sahib, while presiding over the annual prize distribution function of Sacred Heart Public School Sadhugarh- Fatehgarh Sahib today.

He said though the knowledge of English language was important as it was an international language but we should not ignore our mother tongue. He said these days a race had begun among the parents that their children should be well-versed in English.Children were often discouraged by their parents for speaking mother tongue, which was unfortunate.

Appreciating the efforts of the management of the school, he said a ray of hope had emerged among the people of the area, particularly among the rural people, whose children would get quality, value-based education.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, SSP, Khanna, in his address urged teachers and parents to make joint efforts to prepare the coming generations. He also expressed concern over the growing impact of western culture and drug abuse among the youth. He cautioned the students against this menace.

The students presented an impressive cultural programme. However, the main attraction of the function was that the compering of the programme was done entirely by the students. Even the annual progress report of the school was read by a tiny tot Raman Preet Kaur. Besides a Punjabi play “ Ek Vichari Maa”, various dances, skits, mime, solo songs were performed by the students.


B.Tech (Electronics) exams postponed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 6
Guru Nanak Dev University today postponed the examination of B.Tech (Electronics) here today to avert further clashes of the warring student groups.

Earlier, a student belonging to one of the group’s was allegedly thrown from the balcony of the Sahibzada Jujhar Singh hostel.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of DU, confirmed that the exams of B.Tech (Electronics) had been postponed. However, no new dates have been finalised as yet.

Several students of B.Tech (Electronics) had boycotted their examinations in protest against the registration of cases against eight students who had allegedly attacked fellow inmates.

The VC said security arrangements on the campus were being reviewed to stop such incidents in future.


Students informed of traffic rules
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Students of various schools were educated about traffic rules at the traffic park at Rose Garden today.

Mr Sham Sunder Juneja, founder in-charge of the Children’s Traffic Park, Ludhiana, said training the students in traffic rules was necessary. He said every year about 90,000 persons were killed in accidents.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said the police had launched a programme to educate schoolchildren about traffic rules. He said accidents usually occurred due to the use of drugs by drivers or ignorance of traffic rules. For solving the traffic problems in the city, he said encroachments would be removed.

He said the District Transport Officer would be asked to conduct the driving tests properly before issuing licence.

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