Sunday, December 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vice-Chancellors discuss higher education
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The coordination committee of Vice-Chancellors of three Punjab universities discussed the academic and administrative problems and needs of higher education with the Minister of Education, Mr Khushal Behl, here on Friday.

The Vice-Chancellors, it is learnt, agreed in principle that practice of establishment of separate chairs in the universities should be rationalised and duplication avoided. They also drew broad contours of a uniform policy to be adopted on grant of leave to teaching/ non-teaching staff. They decided that all universities will celebrate the 100th birthday of Hindi writer, Yash Pal, in a befitting manner.

The participating Vice-Chancellors, Prof K.N. Pathak (Panjab University, Chandigarh), Dr S.P. Singh (Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar) and Mr S.S. Boparai (Punjabi University, Patiala) had earlier deliberated on ‘’core’’ issues of higher education that affect teachers and students vis-a-vis education system as a whole. They had earlier discussed ways to make higher education ‘’relevant to the social and economic needs of the society with degrees being awarded to students enabling them to get jobs or self-employment’’, said sources.

The core issues include 1. Uniform syllabi for undergraduate courses covering all streams — arts, science, commerce, professional etc. in all colleges affiliated to the three universities. 2. Reservation/weightage for cultural activities at the time of admission of students. 3. Compulsory paper of environment education and also computer application at the undergraduate level in all government/private colleges. 4. Re-determining jurisdiction of universities as per new districts. 5. Same rate of fees/funds for all colleges; and 6. Representatives of the government on universities’ committees for issuing of ‘’no objection certificate’’ for affiliation to new colleges.

Though not listed in the agenda of the coordination committee meeting on Friday, it is reliably leant that at least two other important academic changes are likely to be effected in higher education in Punjab: One, re-organisation/restructuring of government colleges, 53-odd, and stabilising at least 5 ‘’autonomous’’ colleges; Two, proposal to transfer ‘’plus two classes’’ from colleges to schools.

These two points may find resistance and stir the sensibilities of the staff and managements of the private-aided affiliated colleges. There is likely to be opposition to the transfer of plus two classes to schools, as colleges have invested heavily on creating necessary infrastructure for plus two science and other courses. The proposal on ‘’autonomous’’ colleges is not a new one. It dates back to 1986, when such colleges were first suggested by the National Commission on Education Policy and later included in the Programme of Action.

According to Panjab University Senate Member, Professor Charanjit Chawla, who is a former General Secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, the states in the South were the first to opt for ‘’autonomous’’ colleges. Experience, however, showed that these colleges did not succeed. Several factors contributed to their failure. Now Prof. Chawla says the same, perhaps, will be true of Punjab: The Service Security Act of Employees working in the affiliated colleges will become meaningless; private-aided affiliated colleges eligible for 95 per cent grant will lose this financial help from the government; credibility of the degrees to be issued by autonomous colleges will be questioned; apprehension of victimisation of employees by management committees, which will also add or drop any course further affecting services of teachers; fee structure would be disturbed to the disadvantage of the students; payment of salaries will be effected etc.

A senior functionary of the Higher Education Department, however, disputed such perceived apprehensions. On condition of anonymity he told TNS ‘’wait for the final scheme to unfold’’.

Informed sources say that if Vice-Chancellors have received positive response to some of the ‘’core’’ issues, several teachers have also cautioned them about the pitfalls on some issues. In fact, the University Grants Commission has already directed all state universities to adopt uniform syllabi, as proposed by it. The universities concerned are still in the process of implementing this, perhaps, in their own way. Panjab University is the only one to have introduced compulsory paper of environment education in all streams in its affiliated colleges, since 1994-95, as per directions of the Supreme Court.

The Vice-Chancellors are keen that the issue of ‘’jurisdiction’’ be resolved soon. This would mean transfer/reallocation of affiliated colleges in particular district from one to another university keeping in view proximity and convenience of students. The move for the same rate of fees/funds for all colleges in Punjab has already received bouquets from the teachers’ union. Having government representatives on the committees of the universities is also a positive sign.

Regarding granting leave to teaching/non-teaching staff, while meeting the compulsory stipulated number of teaching hours or academic working days, two systems at present operate in Punjab: One, leave rules for non-government colleges are framed by the university concerned, while, in government colleges it is done by the DPI or the government.

Most of the universities already have several Chairs and seldom have their role and performance been reviewed. In fact, even the Punjab Development Report-2002 has a detailed paper on present status of higher education and outlines future strategies to make it more relevant to the day-to-day life.


Eight officials booked for scams
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha (Muktsar), December 14
In a significant development, which could expose the politician-official nexus in corruption, a criminal case has been registered against at least eight high-ranking officials of the Irrigation and Drainage Department of Punjab under the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act late last evening. They have been booked for their alleged involvement in siphoning-off crores of rupees of the state government while executing various projects to check the problem of waterlogging in Muktsar and other districts during the previous SAD-BJP combine government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Though no formal arrest has been made so far, those, against whom the cases had been registered, included Mr Chanan Singh Kahlon, Chief Engineer, Drainage (Retd.), Mr B.S. Virdi, Superintendent Engineer, Gidderbaha Drainage Circle and drawing branch, Mr Gursharan Singh Wasan, Executive Engineer, Floods, Mr A. K. Batta, Executive Engineer, Mr Rajinder Singh, Sub-divisional Officer, Mr V.K. Mittal and two Junior Engineers. A Chief Engineer of the drawing branch of the Drainage and Irrigation Department had also been booked in the case.

A case under Sections 409, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471, and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 (D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against them in the local police station after they were found guilty in the inquiry conducted by Mr R.K. Arora, Chief Engineer (Vigilance) and Quality Control, Irrigation Department, Punjab. Mr Arora had conducted the inquiry few years back during the SAD-BJP combine government in Punjab.

Mr Harchand Singh, SP (Crime), Chandigarh, had been deputed as the investigating officer by Mr A.A. Siddiqi, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Punjab Government on law and order.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that though the inquiry indicted a number of senior officials of the Irrigation and Drainage Department for embezzlement of crores of rupees in various works executed from 1997 to 1999, they were never taken to task allegedly due to their “connections” with certain political leaders. Instead of registering criminal cases against them, the then SAD-BJP combine government not only kept them on important posts but also managed to get their matter hushed up.

According to the documents in possession of The Tribune, these officials had been found guilty of making exaggerated estimates, committing financial irregularities, using sub-standard material and making overpayments to contractors and allowing them to defraud the state exchequer to the tune of crores of rupees while executing the work pertaining to the installation of deep bore tubewells alongside the Sirhind feeder, construction of an aqueduct at Abul Khurana drain and another one at Wahabwala drain.

As per the documents, the purpose behind installing the 500 deep-bore tubewells alongside the bank of Sirhind feeder was to check the problem of waterlogging. But its faulty implementation created a mess. The state government suffered financial loss to the tune of crores of rupees in this project where sub-standard material, including low quality pipes were used by the contractors in connivance with the officials concerned. The official concerned had also extended undue benefits to the tune of about Rs 1 crore to the contractor, who executed the project.

During the inquiry, bloated estimates and bloated payments were found to have been made by the officials concerned to the contractors during the execution of the Rs 4 crore project to construct the aqueduct on the Wahabwala drain. Excess payments were also made in connection with the inflated measures of earthwork in the project of constructing an aqueduct at the Abul Khurana drain. In this project, which was worth Rs 4.32 crore, the officials concerned had caused a loss to the tune of lakhs of rupees to the state exchequer by extending undue favours to the contractors concerned.

Official sources said the Punjab Government had so far taken up one part of the multi-crore irrigation and drainage scams, which took place during the previous SAD-BJP combine government in various parts of the state. The state government was yet to take notice of the multi-crore irrigation scam, which took place in the Bathinda circle and pointed an accusing finger towards the then political functionaries of the SAD-BJP combine government.


Judicial remand for Pherurai’s son-in-law
Our Correspondent and PTI

Kharar, December 14
A local court today remanded a Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officer, Arvinder Pal Sandhu, who is the son-in-law of former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai and presently posted as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) at Mansa, in judicial custody till December 24.

Judicial Magistrate (Class-I) Roshal Lal Chohan ordered to produce the PCS officer before a Special Court in Roopnagar after the expiry of his judicial remand for further remand-related purposes.

Sandhu was produced before the court here after the expiry of his two-day police remand.

The PCS officer had surrendered before a local court on Thursday morning after remaining underground for nearly two months since the registration of a corruption, forgery and criminal conspiracy case against three PCS officers, including him, on October 17.

The police prosecutor, accompanied by Vigilance Bureau officials, appeared in the court on behalf of the state and sought 10 days extension in the police remand for Sandhu on the grounds of his further interrogation for ascertaining the details of his wealth and bank accounts.

It was submitted that during the custodial interrogation in the past two days, the PCS officer disclosed the details of majority of the arms’ licences issued by him during his stint as Additional District Magistrate in Amritsar from 1997 to 1998 while the details of some arms’ licenses issued by him were yet to be ascertained.

On the other hand, the defence counsel strongly opposed the prosecution’s plea and argued that during the police remand, there was no bar on the investigating agency to interrogate Sandhu on the points which they mentioned as ground for extension in police remand.

Reacting to the submission that Sandhu had admitted certain facts of the arms’ licences issued by him, the defence counsel further argued that there was no wrong that Sandhu had issued duplicate arms’ licences to certain persons as per the office records but the prosecution had failed to establish that Sandhu had contravened the prescribed rules during discharging his official duty.

After hearing the arguments of both sides and adjourning the proceedings for about half-an-hour, the court finally rejected the prosecution’s plea of extending the police remand and ordered to send Sandhu to judicial custody as there was no ground to extend his police remand. 


Talwandi’s charges baseless: Badal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today accused former Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee Jagdev Singh Talwandi of making ‘baseless allegations’ to defame him and the party.

Talking to mediapersons here at the residence of the Samana legislator, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, former Chief Minister said all ills were being attributed to him now just because the party had decided to expel Mr Talwandi.

He pointed out that the party had held Mr Talwandi in respect even though he had torn the ballot paper during the last SGPC elections and had even announced the candidature of the Tohra dal candidate, Mr Vir Singh Madhoke for Presidentship of the Shiromani Committee.

Accusing Mr Talwandi of playing into the hands of Mr Tohra, he said his actions during the recent SGPC elections to elect the Presidents were designed only to help the Congress. Mr Badal said the Sarb Hind Akali Dal President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, was in league with the Congress.

Mr Badal has appealed to the people to support the party during its forthcoming agitation on February 10. He said party workers would jam all important roads in the state from 1 pm to 4 pm to protest against the anti-people measures being taken by the Congress government.


Cong rift comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 14
The simmering rivalry between three groups of the local Congressmen came out in the open after the government turned a deaf ear to the objections filed by various aspirants to the Secretary of the Department of Local Government of Punjab against the allegedly biased delimitation of wards of Dera Bassi Municipal Council by the Wards Delimitation Committee.

In many instances, the sitting councillors will again be eligible for election while others will not be since the wards of certain political opponents have been declared reserved.

As many as 24 aspirants, owing allegiance to these groups - including some sitting Municipal Councillors (MCs) and residents of the civic body, had filed objections before the Secretary and the Election Commissioner alleging that the committee had delimited certain wards in an allegedly biased manner to benefit a particular group.

The complainants had also alleged that the committee had not followed the norms during the exercise. The members had not discussed the issue with the present Municipal Councillors and local residents during the time the delimitation process was being carried out, they complained.

Terming the allegations as baseless, the government had turned down their objections and issued the notification to hold the election on January 23. The Election Commission has also directed to the Sub Divisional Magistrate to prepare the voter lists.

Sources revealed that the government had kept a report on the issue — submitted by Mr A K Sikka, Deputy Director, who was also heading the committee — for consideration.

After this, the infighting spilled over and local Congressmen have split into three groups-headed by Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Additional Advocate General, Punjab and Mr Amrit Pal Singh, president (city) of the local unit of the Congress.

Supporters of the first two groups have started a campaign against the latter and are approaching the SAD-BJP candidates to ensure the defeat of the presidents candidates. Meetings to chalk out further plans, strategies and the terms and conditions on the local “ alliance” with the SAD-BJP have already been held. The mood is upbeat in the rival camps and each group is leaving no stone unturned to get their candidates elected. As such, the city is in the grip of the election fever.

Aspirants belonging to various parties, besides those willing to contest as Independent candidates have started testing the waters.

Though the aspirants and the supporters of the Sohi and the Dhillon camps have had a meeting with the SAD candidates, members of the Amrit Pal group have opted to do their ground work in a door-to-door canvassing drive.

Aspirants for the post of councillors, who feel that they would not get party tickets, have decided either to fight the elections as Independents candidates or on the newly formed Dera Bassi Vikas Manch.

Meanwhile, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon denied any groupism among the Congress workers. He, however, made it clear that they would fight the MC elections jointly for a clean sweep. Mr Amrit Pal Singh, while talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, also echoed the same feelings and added that the decision of the party High Command would be final. Ms Sohi was not available for comments.


Gupta dares Hoon to dissolve unit
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 14
The infighting in the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), Punjab, deepened further today when Mr Pawan Gupta claimed at a press conference here that he was the president of the sena’s state unit, that there was no ad hoc committee and that Gen P.N. Hoon (retd), sampark parmukh, had no locus standi to dissolve the state unit.

When asked that office-bearers of the 30-member ad hoc committee, including its chairman Swami Pushpinder Swaroop, co-chairman Surinder Dogra, vice-president Pawan Parbhakar had claimed at Phagwara on November 19 that he was no longer the president and had rather been issued a show-cause notice for anti-sena activities, Mr Gupta shot back that these persons were not even primary members of the Shiv Sena. “I had expelled Swami, Dogra, Parbhakar, Ravinder Arora, Neeraj Verma, Anil Bitta and others for supporting Mr Jagdish Tangri, a rival group leader, about a year ago on the directive of Bal Thackeray and they still stand expelled,” asserted Mr Gupta. “Besides, if I was so bad then why Pushpinder Swaroop begged me to allow the merger of the Hindu Shiv Sena into the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray),” he asked.

Mr Gupta dared General Hoon to dissolve the state unit. Even Mr Mohan Gawale, MP and the then in charge of the north zone of the sena had no knowledge about all this, Mr Gupta claimed.

When told that the ad hoc committee claimed to have issued him a show-cause notice, Mr Gupta retorted that the committee had no such power and he did not give it any recognition. He asked the committee as to why it had not secured any letter from the sena supremo against him even though it claimed to have been set up on November 15. Moreover, all district presidents had reposed faith in my presidentship at a meeting at Patiala on November 20, he claimed. He denied that he was responsible for the sena’s drubbing in the Assembly poll.

He declared that the sena would contest the municipal poll on January 23.

The Shiv Sena would hold a state-level protest rally at the Parade Ground, Chandigarh, on January 23 against the Punjab government, Mr Gupta stated. The kisan cell of the sena would meet at Devigarh near Patiala on December 18, he added.


Sena threatens to gherao PM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14
The All-India Shiv Sena chief, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, has threatened to gherao the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, if the Union Government did not permit Hindu pilgrims to pay obeisance at temples in Pakistan.

In a letter sent to the Prime Minister, Mr Billa alleged that more than 200 temples had perished since Partition as the Pakistan Government did not bother for their proper upkeep and maintenance.

He said while Pakistani nationals were granted citizenship in India, more than 50,000 Pakistani Hindus had migrated to India after they were denied similar facility.


Water: Chandumajra against Centre’s interference
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, today said that the people of the state would not allow any interference in the water distribution system by the Central Government in the name of reforms.

Talking to mediapersons here after submitting a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh, Mr Chandumajra said the entire water passing through the state belonged to it and should be treated at such. He said distribution of water to other states should be done according to the international riparian laws adding that no other system could be put in place to distribute water of the rivers among different states.

The Akali leader said the state had already been discriminated against on this issue adding that even though Haryana had less irrigated land than the state, it was being given more per hectare water than Punjab at the time of re-organisation of the states. He said the party would start a public protest in case the state government succumbed to the pressure of releasing more water to Haryana through the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal adding that a complete protest plan would be unveiled during the December 26 party conference during the holding of the ‘Jor Mela’ at Fatehgarh Sahib.

Meanwhile Mr Chandumajra also demanded that the government should finalise the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act. He said his party was also in favour of convening the general elections of the Shiromani Committee, saying that Badal dal had lost all rights to continue to head the august body after the naked manner in which it herded its members to ensure re-election of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as the SGPC President.


Minister’s effigy burnt
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, December 14
Activists of the General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, supported by some other bodies, today took out a protest march from Gurdwara Akalian here, burnt an effigy of Punjab Social Welfare Minister Santokh Singh and presented a memorandum to the local authorities against the move to implement the 85th constitutional amendment.

Addressing the rally Mr Nirmal Singh, general secretary and Mr V.K. Malhotra, Mr Narinder Sharma, Mr Swaran Singh, leaders of federation, alleged that the implementation of the amendment would lead to a chaos. They demanded that the amendment, which provides for consequential seniority along with promotion to SC and ST employees on the basis of reservation, should not be implemented in the state.

PHILLAUR: The police took away an effigy of Social Welfare Minister Santokh Singh meant for burning by demonstrators of the General Categories Welfare Federation. Federation’s local unit president Sham Lal Sharma addressed a rally held in protest against certain policies of the government. The administration did not allow them to burn the effigy. Later, the demonstrators took out a protest march and raised slogans against the government. They also presented a memorandum to the SDM.

NAWANSHAHR: The district unit of General Categories Welfare Federation took out a protest march and burnt the effigy of Social Welfare Minister Santokh Singh here against his alleged discriminatory attitude towards the general category employees. Dr Brij Mohan Barthwal, state press secretary of the federation, Mr Vijay Dutta, district president, Mr T.R. Sharma, Mr Varinder Bhatti and Mr H.S. Dhillon, block presidents, addressed the rally.


Giani Kewal Singh case hearing on December 24
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, failed to secure bail today as the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Surinder Mohan, adjourned the hearing to December 24 on the fact that it was yet to be seen that whether the statement of the complainant, Mr Amarjit Singh, had been recorded in the trial or not.

The examination-in-chief part of the statement of Mr Amarjit Singh was recorded in the court of the Additional Session Judge, Mr Jaspal Singh, on December 10. But the cross-examination part of his statement was yet to be recorded and the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Jaspal Singh, had fixed January 28, 2003, for the same.

Mr Amarjit Singh had deposed in length in the court on December 10, stating that his sister Sharanjit Kaur, who was married to Baljinder Singh, had died under abnormal circumstances within a few years of her marriage.


Disability pension claim allowed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Allowing an ex-serviceman’s claim for disability pension over 20 years after his discharge due to epilepsy, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has awarded costs of Rs 10,000 to the petitioner and held that ‘the attitude of adamant denial despite clear enunciation of the legal position is not acceptable in a welfare state, specially while dealing with the legitimate claim of armed forces personnel’.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by ex-Sepoy Bhola Singh of Faridkot district against the Union of India and three other respondents, Mr Justice J.S. Khehar ruled: “The respondents were party to all claims for disability pension based on the disease of epilepsy, yet they objected to the rightful claim of the petitioner, subjecting him to an uncalled for hardship involved in the process of litigation.”

In his detailed order, the Judge held: “It is natural to conclude that the petitioner fulfils all conditions for the grant of disability pension. The petitioner’s claim for disability pension is, accordingly, allowed. On account of his having approached the court belatedly, it would be in the fitness of the matter that the petitioner is paid arrears only for a period of three years and two months prior to the date of filing the instant petition. In case, disability pension is not released to the petitioner within the specified period, it shall be liable to be paid with interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum.”

In his petition, Bhola Singh had earlier contended that he was enrolled in the Army after being found medically fit on January 1, 1979. Arguing on his behalf, Chairman of the All-India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association Bhim Sen Sehgal had submitted that the petitioner, a year after his joining, was admitted to a military hospital for medical examination, where he was declared to be suffering from epilepsy. As a result, the petitioner was placed in the lowest medical category, which led to his discharge.

Beggary Act

In a public interest litigation filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the state of Punjab, the Chief Minister and other respondents, directions were sought to ensure the implementation of the Punjab Prevention of Beggary Act ‘in all its aspects with necessary changes, amendments and improvements in consonance with the current situation’.

Ludhiana-based Resurgence India, in its petition, also sought directions for ensuring ‘social and economic rehabilitation’ of the physically fit persons engaged in earning easy livelihood through begging. Taking up the petition, a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice S.S. Saron, ordered the issuance of notice of motion for February 25.


Probe killing of Sikhs: panel
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 14
A four-member fact-finding panel of SAD (A), headed by party’s general secretary Jaskaran Singh, today indicted the Jammu and Kashmir police and criticised the government on the issue pertaining to the killings of Sikhs in the valley.

It was pointed out that while the killings were attributed to the gangs of “kale kacchewale” or the gun — wielders, these were actually the handiwork of the police itself.

This information was given by the panel head, Mr Jaskaran Singh, on his return from Jammu. He will submit his report to the party President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, on December 17, who being a Lok Sabha member will raise the issue in Parliament. The panel has demanded a CBI probe into the incidents pertaining to the killings of Sikhs, Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the affected families, arms licences for the Sikhs in the valley for self protection.

Citing the latest case, Mr Jaskaran Singh alleged that Pritam Singh, his wife and a daughter were killed in Jammu on December 2 but the killings were conveniently attributed to the “kale kacchewale”. Earlier, Seva Singh, who lived in the Gol Majaral camp, was killed and his wife injured.


17 couples tie nuptial knot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 14
Seventeen couples, belonging to the weaker section of the society, from Moga, Muktsar, Ferozepore and Faridkot districts tied the nuptial knot at a simple but impressive ceremony organised by the local Gurmat Raagi Granthi Sabha, at the local Gurdwara Singh Sabha today.

The wedding ceremony was performed according to Sikh traditions. Home appliances along with beds, suits and blankets were given to the couples.

While giving blessings to the newly-wed couples, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, who was the chief guest of the function, underlined the need for holding marriages in a simple way in order to curtail heavy expenses.

He appealed to all non-government organisations to launch a special campaign in this regard. He announced a grant of Rs 10,000 to the organisers.

Mr Jaswant Singh, president of the sabha, said the sabha had spent about Rs 2 lakh on the function. He said during the past two years the sabha had solemnised the marriages of nearly 80 couples.

Mr Inderjit Singh Khalsa, Chairman of the Tilla Baba Farid Management Committee and president of Baba Farid Public School, blessed the couples.

Earlier, the couples, who were lodged at Circuit House here, arrived accompanied by their family members at the wedding venue. A large number of representatives of different social and political organisations along with senior district officers received them. ‘Langar’ was served on the occasion.


PSEB way of saving energy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 14
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities today observed Save Energy Day and held a state-level function in this connection at the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant Colony. Interestingly, the function was held in an open ground in broad daylight with streetlights switched on.

The function was attended by students, senior PSEB officials and a section of industrialists. The speakers urged the participants to save electricity for economic and industrial self-reliance of the country.

Mr Sharat Chander Mahajan, General Manager, GNDTP, said every unit of power saved meant efficiency.

Mr O.P. Ahuja, Director, Energy Conservation, said while the demand for electricity was increasing the production was not keeping pace. He said one way to bridge the gap between the demand and the supply of electricity was to check power wastage.

While the speakers stressed the need for saving power and stopping its wastage somebody had forgotten to switch off the streetlights installed near the venues of the seminar. A section of the gathering in a lighter vein said this was perhaps the PSEB way to teach the people how to save energy.

The Punjab Energy Development Agency held an exhibition of solar devices. Students who had participated in the paper reading competition were given prizes by the organisers.

Mr G.C. Goyal, Chief Engineer, Distribution (west), Mr N.K. Aggarwal, Chief Engineer, Operations and Maintenance, GHTP, Lehra Mohabbat, Mr M.S. Thind, Chief Engineer, Construction, GHTP, Lehra Mohabbat and other senior officials also attended the seminar.


Accused in forgery case acquitted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 14
Mr Harsh Mehta, Chief Judicial Magistrate, acquitted Mr Sukhwinder Singh, alias Sukhi, former president of the District Congress Committee, and others in a case (FIR No 114) registered against them under Sections 419, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC at Sardulgarh police station on the complaint of Bhag Ram of Ahlupur village in the district on November 21, 1989.

The court ordered to send a copy of the judgement to the SSP for the registration of a case of forgery against complainant Bhag Ram for forging a death certificate produced in the court as evidence.

Bhag Ram had lodged a complaint against Sukhwinder and others on the ground that they had fabricated a power of attorney of his brothers, Shiv Lal, Raja Ram and Jeet Ram, who were residing in England. He had alleged that on the basis of the fabricated power of attorney 8.5 acres of his brothers were transferred by way of sale deeds to some of them.

Two accused persons in the case, Kulwinder Singh and Parag Singh, both residents of Sherpur Kalan in Sangrur district, were declared as proclaimed offenders by the court. Two accused persons, Jarnail Singh of Jodhpur Pakhar in Bathinda district and Piara Singh of Kaler village, died during the trial.


Panchayat Secys hold protest
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 14
Panchayat Secretaries led by Mr Rajinder Singh, Amrik Singh and Kuljit Singh, gheraoed Ms Santosh Chaudhary, MP, and her husband Ram Lubhaya, MLA, at Canal Rest House here today to show their resentment against the decision of the Punjab Government to sack 909 Panchayat Secretaries in the state.

Ms Chaudhary assured them that she would soon take up the issue with the Chief Minister to get them justice. The Panchayat Secretaries went to the resident of Mr Kuldeep Nanda, president of the DCC, who assured them that he would discuss the issue with Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the PPCC. They also went to the house of Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, who was not available there.

The Panchayat Secretaries warned that if the leaders failed to get them justice, they would not allow them to hold any public meeting.


Ex-Punjab Chief Secretary dead
Tribune News Service

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, mourning the death of Mr Gian Singh Kahlon, former Punjab Chief Secretary, at Chandigarh.

Chandigarh, December 14
Mr Gian Singh Kahlon, ICS, former Chief Secretary, Punjab, today died here after a prolonged illness. He was 88. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. The daughters are Ms Praneet Kaur, MP, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, and Ms Geet Inder Kaur, married to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP. His son Himat Singh is with UNO.

Born on August 15, 1914, Mr Kahlon did graduation from Government College, Lahore. He belonged to the 1937 batch of the ICS. He was Chief Secretary in the joint Punjab from 1962 to 1967. Mr Kahlon was cremated today. The antim ardas and bhog ceremony would be held here on December 22, says a government press release. The PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has mourned the death.


Councillors demand EO’s transfer
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 14
At least 22 out of 27 councillors of the Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council have demanded immediate transfer of the Executive Officer of the council for allegedly promoting factionalism among them.

This was stated by them in a press note issued here yesterday. In a memorandum to the Chief Minister they alleged that Mr Surinder Kumar, Executive Officer, was promoting factionalism among the councillors for his vested interests. They further alleged that as the elections for the municipal council in the state have been declared and the work on the delimitation of the municipal wards is in progress, the Executive Officer is interfering in the process just to favour those known to him. They said this action of the Executive Officer had created tension and in such an atmosphere free and fair poll could not be held. They also urged the Chief Minister to transfer him from his hometown keeping in view the Punjab State election rules. The councillors also sent a copy of this memorandum to the Principal Secretary, Local Self Government.

They submitted another memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner and demanded that the Executive Officer should not be allowed to take part in the meeting of the delimitation of the wards committee as he was the permanent resident of the town and wanted to favour those known to him.


Probe into kidney scam sought
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 14
Former BJP MLA Prof Lakshmi Kanta Chawla has demanded a high-level CBI probe into kidney racket in Amritsar, Jalandhar and other places of the state.

Talking to mediapersons here today, she said CBI officers from outside Punjab should be deputed to hold the enquiry.

She said the transfer of the police enquiry to four different police agencies one after another in the scam had created several doubts in the minds of peoples.


Rally against drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 14
Volunteers of Sankalp, an NGO dedicated to create awareness about drug abuse, took out a rally in various bazars of the city today.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, flagged off the rally and said a special de-addiction centre had been opened at the District and Civil Hospital and medicines were also being provided free of cost to the needy.

Mr Sham Murari, a spokesman of the NGO said handouts with motivational messages, posters were distributed while banners and signboards were installed at several places. The volunteers were holding messages like, “Drugs Thrill, but kill” not only in English, but also in Hindi and Punjabi.


Three-month-premature infant survives
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 14
In a bizarre case, a baby born three months premature has won the battle for life. The baby boy remained in an incubator for about 20 days.

In a press note issued here today, Dr B.K. Nagpal said the child was born on November 24 to Ms Kulwinder Kaur of Multania Road in the city and had been responding to treatment.


5-yr-old rescued within 24 hours

Hoshiarpur, December 14
The district police today rescued five year old girl, Manjit Kaur, within 24 hours of her abduction restoring the child to her parents, and arrested the three accused.

The girl was kidnapped yesterday by three persons who were acquainted to the girl’s father, Mr Kulwant Singh, SSP Gurpreet Deo, here said. UNI


BKU (E) asks farmers not to pay power bills
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 14
Mr Manjit Singh, general secretary, BKU (E) Bathinda block, in a statement here today said the state government had imposed power bills on debt-ridden farmers under the pressure of the WTO.

He said while big industrialists managed to get away even after defaulting loans worth crores of rupees, the small and marginal farmers were issued notices and were being threatened of arrests.

He said no farmer should pay the bills for power being used for irrigation purpose. He claimed that PSEB officials would be opposed if any move to cut the power connections of farmers was initiated by them.

He added that effigies of the government would be burnt here on December 23 to press for their demands.


More transfers ordered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The following postings/transfers were ordered in Punjab today.

Mr V.N. Ojha will also be Financial Commissioner (Appeals-II); Mr P. Ram, Principal Secretary, Welfare of SCs/BCs and in addition Presiding Officer, Sales Tax Tribunal-II, has been given the powers of Financial Commissioner for the purpose of deciding revenue cases. Mr R.N. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Programme Implementation, will also be Additional. Secretary, Punjab State Women Commission.

Mr Sudhir Mittal will be Commissioner for the Persons with Disabilities, relieving Mr D.S. Guru of the additional charge, and continue as Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala.

Mr K.S. Kang is now Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Patiala. He will also continue as Member, Administration, PSEB, Patiala. The transfer/posting orders of Mr Surjit Singh, PCS, as Additional Secretary, Excise and Taxation and Mr S.S. Khara, PCS, as Joint Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development issued earlier have been cancelled as per the press note. Posting of an officer as executive Director, BACKFINCO, will be issued later on, separately.


Suicide by girl
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 14
A first year BDS student of the Sri Guru Ram Das Dental College and Research Institute, Amritbir Kaur (20), committed suicide by throwing herself in front of Chhattisgarh Express yesterday near the Vallah bypass railway crossing.

According to the Principal of the medical college, Amritbir Kaur was staying in the hostel and had gone to her parents who live in Dasuha last weekend. On her return she did not talk to anyone. On the fateful day while all students boarded the college bus for the medical college near the Vallah bypass, she did not take the bus and instead went alone on foot. Later, her body was found on the nearby railway track.


Man shoots at son, 4 others
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
A man who had made a deal to sell off his land at Raisal village, near here, today allegedly shot at and severely injured his only son, stopping him from handing over the possession of the land to another party.

Four other persons also received bullet injuries when Bhim Singh tried to hand over the possession of his land to one Takhwinder Singh, who had brought a number of vehicles and men to the village to take possession of the land. While Bhim Singh’s son Narinder Singh received two bullets in the chest and lungs, Narinder’s wife received knife wounds in her hands.

All injured persons were brought to Government Rajindra Hospital here today. Narinder has been referred to the PGI at Chandigarh while the rest of the injured have been admitted to the hospital.

According to sources, the father and the son were not on good terms due to a tussle over the control of the family land. The injured persons disclosed that Bhim Singh had entered into an agreement to sell off the land to Takhwinder Singh was being opposed by Narinder.

They said that yesterday also a number of persons had come to the village at Bhim Singh’s instance to take over the land, on which wheat is presently growing but had to retreat when villagers requested them not to take the law into their hands. They said today, however, Bhim Singh and around 20 to 30 other persons came to the village and forcibly started ploughing the land. They said first Narinder and his wife were injured when they tried to stop them. Later more villagers, who came to the rescue of Narinder, were fired at and fell down on the spot. A case has been registered.


Drug racket unearthed

Sangrur, December 14
The district police has unearthed a racket of drug peddling near educational institutions in Malerkotla and discovered 7.65 lakh intoxicating tablets and capsules, besides 517 intoxicating injections. Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, said here today that a car carrying a huge stock of intoxicants near government college Malerkotla was intercepted and two of its occupants Hari Chand and Rajesh Kumar, were arrested.

On the basis of information provided by them, their house being used as a godown, was also raided. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered in this regard. PTI

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