Saturday, December 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



People suffer as govt sleeps
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
While people in about 300 villages of Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar districts in the periphery of Chandigarh continue to suffer for various reasons, the Punjab Government has done nothing to mitigate their sufferings.

The biggest problem being faced by people in villages is of getting power connections for starting self-employment ventures such as opening small shop or setting up of flour mills and small-scale industries. Under the Periphery Act, power connections can be given to built-up structures within the “Lal dora or lawfully extended abadi” of the village concerned. For this purpose, a no objection certificate is issued by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority before a connection is released by the PSEB.

However, hundreds of people approach PUDA almost every month to get no-objection certificates to get power connections from the PSEB but they have to return disappointed as PUDA officers have no authority to issue NOCs for this purpose because shops, floor mills etc are considered commercial establishments and not “structures”.

Consequently such people resort to “kundi” connections or other illegal means that leads to a vicious circle of corruption. PSEB officials of the areas concerned charge monthly for allowing illegal connections.

Residents of the affected villages say “there is no one to attend to our problems. Why can’t we have a shop to cater to our local petty needs. Why should a village not have a flour mill. Why should the residents of villages be denied the right to start self-employment small-scale ventures in their own houses or within the legal boundaries?” they ask. If the government can allow several alterations in the land use and land plan of Chandigarh, why the Periphery Act cannot be amended, they plead.

Such harassed residents say that they have been raising this issue for the past several years. Almost all politicians have assured of this problem but they have failed to do so. Sources said the matter had been brought to the notice of the top brass of the Punjab Government and PUDA but nothing positive had happened so far. “We had high hopes on Capt Amarinder Singh’s Government in this connection but his government has also failed to do something for us”, a few affected villagers rued.


Army hands over de-mined fields
Ashok Sethi and Pawan Kumar

Dag Tut (Ajnala), December 27
Much to the relief of farmers whose fields had been mined, the Army, during the first phase of its de-mining operations in the area, today handed over the fields back to them. They ploughed their fields after the Army certified that the fields had been thoroughly de-mined.

The mines were spread over 10,000 acres in the district during the Army build-up immediately after the attack on Parliament. After the Army deployment in the area, their wheat crop was destroyed and paddy could not be cultivated. A large number of panches and sarpanches had been seeking suitable compensation for the destruction of their crops.

The government had given them of Rs 11,000 per acre. They had felt that this amount was only for the wheat crop which was destroyed and were awaiting compensation for the next two crops.

Expressing relief at the completion of the de-mining of the area around Saiyidipur, Dag and Tut villages, the residents said it would take a couple of months before the fields could be made cultivable again. They also appreciated efforts of the Army for accomplishing the task.

According to an Army spokesman, the de-mining operation involved searching every inch, both manually and with sensitive equipment. Army engineers had driven tanks and bulldozers to make sure that no mines has been left behind.

The Army had faced a peculiar problem as rodents had taken the mines deeper, making the task more arduous. The Army spokesman lauded the role of their engineers, who had not suffered any injuries.

Senior Army officials had supervised the de-mining operations had been constantly visiting the areas under mines. The fields were handed over in the presence of district administration officials.


No end to PF bungling controversy
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 27
The deadlock over the illegal withdrawal and misappropriation of the provident fund money between teachers and the management of Guru Nanak College continues with the indefinite strike by teachers entering the 72nd day on Thursday. The teachers are at loggerheads with the management as they allege gross financial and administrative irregularities on part of management running into crores of rupees.

The teachers allege that the management had not been depositing the provident fund deducted from their salaries in their accounts along with the share of the managing committee since March 1997 and 5 per cent house rent allowance was also not being paid to them. The issue virtually rocked the Panjab University Senate meeting held last week in Chandigarh where the teachers held a demonstration outside the meeting venue. The Vice-Chancellor, Mr K N Pathak, taking cognisance of the allegations levelled by the teachers decided to appoint a fact-finding committee to look into the matter which is supposed to visit the college this week to take stock of the situation.

The teachers alleged that the college management illegally withdrew Rs 13,94,425 vide cheque No. 590875 dated June 15, 2001 and Rs 9,12,300 vide cheque No. 614523 dated November 25, 2001 from the Provident Fund Commissioner, Bathinda, for sending the same to the DPI, Colleges, for the pension scheme but neither this amount was deposited with the state government nor was credited back to the teachers’ PF accounts.

The teachers had not been paid salary since June 2002 and arrears pertaining to the revision of grades for 15 months were also due towards the college management. The president, PCCTU, Mr Hundal, in a press release claimed that the teachers had been duped of not less than Rs five to Rs six lakh each for which the college management was responsible.

Both the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari and the SSP Mr Praveen Sinha have marked inquiries to the SDM, Mr Jaswant Singh and SP (Detective) Mr Manish Chawala, respectively, to look into the matter and submit their report.

Prof M.S. Bains and Mr R.K. Khanna, union representatives talking to The Tribune asserted that if the issue is not resolved soon, it would jeopardise the career of hundreds of students studying in the college.

Meanwhile, President, Guru Nanak College, Managing Committee, Mr Ratinder Singh Saiyanwala refuting the charge of embezzlement of college funds said the issue would be settled soon as he would deposit the required amount in the provident fund account of the teachers from his own pocket and later adjust the same against the release of grant by the government. He said an amount of Rs 10 lakh had been deposited by him. He, however, was evasive when asked where the amount taken from PF Commissiner, Bathinda, on pretext of depositing it with the DPI, College, Punjab had vanished.


Jor Mela: remember martyrs?
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Sirhind, December 27
From a ‘shok sabha’ to a pleasure haunt having circuses dancing girls, swings and temporary liquor ‘ahatas’, Shaheedi Jor Mela has come a long way.
The town had been razed by Banda Bahadur to avenge the killing of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons and the demolished bricks continued to be thrown in a nearby river. The town is now holding an annual mela in which rejoicing, has become the order of the day.

“I remember the old days”, said 74-year-old Sadhu Singh. He said as most people had come to settle here after Independence and had witnessed the holocaust of 1947, the inhuman manner in which the Guru’s sons had been treated by the then Sirhind Governor had touched them. “We used to sleep on the floor and only make the most simple food during the three days and try not to cook anything on the last day of the bhog, held to commemorate the sacrifices of the Sahibzadas”, he said.

People started coming in large numbers to commemorate the occasion, Gurnam Singh said. He said the concept of langar came into being to provide food to the pilgrims who used to visit the gurdwara built at the site where the ‘Sahibzadas’ were walled up alive. “Then, people used to come for three days and stay with their relatives in the town or at the gurdwara”, he said.

“Now, our young relatives call up and tell us that we are coming to the fair and expect special treatment”, said another resident. He said along with the thinking, the change was most visible in the langar. These included bread ‘pakoras’, sugarcane juice, ‘jalebis’ and ‘kheer’. It is not uncommon to see various langer committees announcing their menus through mikes”, he said.

The spiritual feeling has been lost and rapid commercialisation has occurred. Young boys come in groups to have a good time. There is limited space to listen to various ‘katha kirtans’ and ‘dhadi jathas’ in gurdwaras.

This year, there was a circus at the mela site, besides a virtual amusement park, gambling stalls and tents selling and serving countrymade liquor. The wine contractors have put up temporary shelters just outside the radius of 200 metres, inside which liquor sale is banned. Songs and dance sequences are also held in the mela grounds.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Kirpal Singh Badungar, when contacted on the issue, said the SGPC did not allow any ‘wrong’ activity in the area auctioned by it. He said some area in the mela site was in private hands, where such activities took place.

Asked about the decrease in devotion due to commercialisation of the mela, he said lakhs of Sikhs had joined the ‘nagar kirtan’ from the Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara to the nearby Jyoti Swarup to commemorate the last journey of the Sahibzadas from Fatehgarh Sahib, where they were bricked alive, to Jyoti Swarup, where their last rites were performed.


‘Langars’ that underscore amity
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
Their indomitable spirit of community service blended with their religious belief of contributing one-tenth of their income (daswandh) for the welfare of society in general and the poor and needy in particular make them organise community kitchens — “langars” in common parlance — on all national and state highways, besides link roads, during several major religious melas and fairs held in the state.

They put up “nakas” — different from the ones put up by the police — where all passersby, irrespective of the mode of transport used by them, are requested to take food or snacks before continuing their journeys. The vagaries of weather notwithstanding, their voluntary service continues round the clock, beginning one or two days before the actual start of a religious mela until a day after its conclusion.

These volunteers are none other than villagers of Punjab for whom it is their “religious duty” to look after the “yatris” going to a religious mela. Their motive is to “serve all yatris” irrespective of their religion, creed, caste, colour or age.

Today, a Tribune team counted 40 such community kitchens on the SAS Nagar-Fatehgarh Sahib Road. Then there were five others between Banur and Landran.

In the 50-km periphery of Fatehgarh Sahib town, spread over Patiala, Ludhiana, Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, the number of such community kitchens which have been functioning round the clock since December 25 must be over 1000. These “langars” will continue till December 29.

Interestingly, all these roadside “langars” are organised voluntarily with contributions coming mainly from the organisers themselves, and which at times are “supplemented by people from adjoining villages and donations from those who partake these “langars”.

These “langars”, though a routine for the people of Punjab, are as frequent as big religious fairs, including Maghi at Muktsar, Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, Baisakhi at Talwandi Sabo and Shaheedi Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib. Then there are other festivals and fairs, including the Chappar and the Puranmashi (full moonlight) congregations, at various historic places of worship throughout the state.

Though there is no formal setup to oversee the running of these community kitchens yet invariably the village elders, including women, supervise the arrangements operation. The village panchayat, the gurdwara committee, the village youth club or the naujwan sabha takes the initiative and villagers support it with their contributions in the shape of milk, sugar, tea leaves, vegetables, oils and ghee, wheat flour, cereals and pulses, loaves of bread, rice and even fuel. On an average, each of these kitchens spends anything between Rs 15,000 and Rs 50,000 a day serving between 2,000 and 5,000 persons.

The bigger kitchens, which are organised at the venues of religious melas and fairs, have proportionately bigger budgets and larger beneficiaries.

The most articulate speakers of the village are picked to manage the public address system while women and girls take the responsibility of both cooking ‘chapatis’ and cleaning utensils while menfolk are assigned the job of requesting the passersby to stop and serving them hot food and snacks. The participation is of the whole family. And families take turns as the langar continues round the clock.

Another interesting aspect of such community kitchens is that people — cutting across religion and caste lines — join these and work as a team. They symbolise communal harmony, brotherhood and amity.

The overwhelming participation in these langars reflects not only social ease in the state but also gives a silent rebuff to those who want to divide people in the name of religion, colour, caste, or even language.


Kisan Express from Jan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 27
The Northern Railway will offer a New Year gift to the residents of the Bathinda region by introducing Kisan Express from Delhi to Bathinda via Hisar and Sirsa from January. The railway authorities have decided to discontinue the Shatabadi Express plying between Delhi and Bathinda as it has failed to attract the required number of passengers. They have decided to convert the Shatabadi Express into inter-city express.

Kisan Express will depart at 3.00 p.m. from Delhi and will arrive at bathinda at 10.00 p.m.

Mr R.K. Singh, General Manager of the Northern Railway, who was here today in connection with the inspection of the local railway station told mediapersons that the railway authorities had held, discussions with the Punjab Government for the acquisition of land for laying the Abohar-Fazilka rail track. He said as soon as the railway authorities would get the land, they would lay the rail track in three years. Besides work on laying the Chandigarh-Morinda rail line would be completed by December, 2003, he added.

To a question, Mr R.K. Singh said the railway authorities had received a demand from the people to start a train from Bathinda to southern states. He said the demand would be considered on a priority basis.

Mr R.K. Singh said the Northern Railway had earned Rs 221 crore more in the past nine months as compared to the corresponding period last year.

Earlier, the General Manager, along with a battery of top railway officials, including Mr Keshav Chandra, Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala Division, and Mr Anit Dullat, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Ambala Division, arrived at the local railway station as part of inspection from Sriganganagar to Dhuri today.

The General manager also visited an exhibition of railway material put up by the Engineering Department, Ambala Division. Deputation of the Railway Passengers Association and the Public Grievances Association met the General Manager and briefed him about their demands.


Railway commuters air grievances
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 27
Consumer organisations have urged the Railways to convert the Bathinda-New Delhi Shatabdi train into Jan Shatabdi Express. In memorandums submitted to Mr R.K. Singh, General Manager, Northern Railway, on his arrival here this morning, representatives of these organisations suggested that the Jan Shatabdi Express be run between Sriganganagar-New Delhi via Bathinda to make it financially viable.

Commuters alleged that the Udyan Abha Toofan Mail generally ran late by three to six hours. They said the passengers were deprived of basic amenities.

Another demand was for extending the Sriganganagar-Hardwar Inter-city Express to Dehra Dun. They urged that four coaches each be added to the inter-city trains for New Delhi and Hardwar as hundreds of passengers had to travel without berths. They urged that the shed on platform No. 1 here be extended and the platform be raised as per norms to prevent accidents.

They also demanded the linking of Abohar with Fazilka by rail. They said the frequency of trains on the Bathinda-Sriganganagar section be increased keeping in view the rush of passengers.

The commuters alleged that though three booking windows had been provided at the computerised reservation counter, yet only one was working.

Mr R.K. Singh told newspersons that the experiment of introducing the anti-collision device system in the Northern Railway had been successful and the entire region would be covered under the system within five years. He said the electrification of trains on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar-Amritsar-Pathankot section would be completed by next June.

The inter-locking system was being introduced to prevent accidents in all divisions of the Northern Railway.


GM fails to keep date; train gheraoed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 27
A group of about 100 persons today gheraoed a train at about 4.00 pm at the Rampura Phul railway station for about half-an-hour and raised slogans against the General Manager of the Northern Railway and other officials.

According to information, the protesters gheraoed the train, which was carrying railway staff, because the special train carrying the General Manager, Mr R.K. Singh, did not stop at the Rampura Phul station though representatives of the public had been reportedly invited by the railway authorities to air their views and demands before the General Manager.


BJP to ‘have pact with like-minded parties’
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 27
The SAD and the BJP will make the “non-performance of the Congress government” as its main poll plank in the municipal elections.
This was stated by Punjab BJP organisational general secretary Avinash Jaiswal, while talking to The Tribune here yesterday. He said the BJP would make poll adjustments with anti-Congress and like-minded parties. He condemned the state government’s decision to postpone the municipal elections which were to be held on January 23, and alleged that the state government did not want to hold civil poll, as it had read the writing on the wall.

Answering a question, the BJP leader said the party’s membership drive to enrol five lakh members in Punjab had been extended till January 31.

He demanded a high-level probe into the Gujarat sex scandal.

Mr Jaiswal claimed that BJP’s “gaon chalo abhiyaan” had also been extended for a month and the BJP would make its contact base in more than 6,000 villages of the state.

Meanwhile, former Punjab minister Swarna Ram has claimed that the Congress is losing its mass base due to its wrong and selfish policies.


Sedative claims woman’s life?
Tribune News Service

Ajnala (Amritsar), December 27
Ranjit Kaur (27), mother of three, died while three others fell unconscious at the Civil Hospital here.
On being administered sedative injections before the tubectomy operation during a special camp held today. The three women who have been rushed to the Guru Nanak Hospital, Amritsar, are Kashmir Kaur, Beero, and Gurdip Kaur — all residents of Tera village.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr K.K. Sharma, who went to the spot and sealed the stock of injections.

Talking to TNS, Dr Sharma said 12 women were given injections before the tubectomy operations. However, Ranjit Kaur died after the injection was administered and all efforts made by the doctors to revive her proved futile.

Dr Sharma gave a clean chit to the doctors and ruled out any negligence on their part. He said the samples were being sent to the laboratories for further investigations and said action could be taken on the basis of the report.

The Civil Surgeon said Rs 50,000 would be given to the kin of deceased as ex-gratia. Senior officers, including the SDM Ajnala, Mr Inder Yash Patti and Dr Manjit Singh, Senior Medical Officer also went to the spot.


CBI begins probe into Punwire case
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 27
The CBI has started an investigation into the reasons that led to the financial debacle of Punwire. A team of CBI officials from Delhi, led by an ASP, Mr Lucky Prasad, today met district administration officials for obtaining logistic support in conducting the investigation.

The CBI inquiry into the alleged misappropriation of company funds by the top management of Punwire, which allegedly led to the closure of the company, was earlier ordered by the Supreme Court on a petition of some former workers of the company. Sources revealed following the directive of the Supreme Court, a team of CBI officials initially met the Chief Secretary, Punjab, for logistic support, who referred them to the Ropar district administration.

The CBI officials have also met officials of PUDA for obtaining the details of the property owned by the former Punwire management. The ousted workers of Punwire carried out a prolonged agitation to get their retrenchment dues from the government, but to no avail.


Ahmadiyyas deplore violence
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 27
Visa restrictions made less number of foreign delegates attend at the annual 111th convention of the Ahmadiyyas held in Qadian today. Last year members of the community from 48 countries participated.

However, despite this, a number of foreign dignitaries arrive here today from 13 countries, including from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, Mauritius, Malaysia, the UK, the USA, the UAE and Zimbabwe. Mr Muzaffar Ahmad Sodhan, missionary in charge Mauritius, presided over the convention.

The flag for the convention was hoisted by Mirza Wasim Ahmad, chief secretary Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, while recitation of Koran was done by Mr Ahmad Khair from Malaysia. Mr Hakim Mohammed delivered the first sermon. The Muslim Jammat Ahmadiyya, in a joint statement, deplored violence in the name of religion.


Plea for revised pension
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 27
Pensioners of recognised and aided schools are yet to receive their pension under the revised scales implemented in January 1, 1996.
Sources said even as the grades of pensioners had been revised with effect from January, 1996, only a handful of pensioners had got these. A section of these pensioners have got orders from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, directing the state to award pension under the revised scales along with arrears, if any.

Mr B.K. Kaura, a spokesman of the pensioners, alleged that many cases were pending in the court and some that had been decided were also yet to be implemented. He pointed out that a large number of pensioners were still getting pension under the old-grades whereas the new grades had been implemented in the government-aided schools.

Mr Kaura said if the government did not pay heed to their grievances and award them pension calculated on the revised basic pay, they would be forced to launch an agitation. He lamented that while their counterparts who had retired from the government schools were getting the pension calculated on the revised basic pay, the pensioners of the government-aided schools, who were less than 3,000 in number, were being denied the same.


Discrepancies in voter list
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 27
More discrepancies regarding deletion and duplication of names in the voter list of ward No. 11 in the local nagar council has come to light. According to reports, the names of over 100 voters are missing and more than 150 names had been enlisted in both ward No. 9 and ward No. 11.

Mr Surinder Singh Romana, general secretary, SHSAD, Faridkot, and resident of ward No. 11, alleged that the names of six voters of his family were missing from the voter list. In a press note issued here today, he said he had brought the matter to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer yesterday.

In a representation to the Punjab Election Commission, he has demanded on inquiry into the matter.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, has said discrepancies regarding the duplication of names in the voter list will be removed.


Vigilance notice to sena chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 27
The Vigilance Department in a letter to the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena chief, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, has directed him to join investigations tomorrow in the multi-crore sugar scam which took place in connivance with the municipal corporation and the Customs Department when sugar was imported from Pakistan.

More than 1,60,000 metric tonnes of sugar imported in 1998 from the neighbouring country. However, massive evasions of custom duty and octroi worth crores of rupees came to notice. An earlier inquiry by the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, on instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office had established a number of officials’ connivance in the evasion. Subsequently the municipal corporation suspended increments of 10 of its officials for a year each.


Teachers flay police action
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 27
The Bathinda district unit of the Berozgar Adhyapak Front has condemned the picking up of the unit president, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, by the police on Wednesday. He is observing a fast in Chandigarh in support of the demands of the union.

Mr Yadwinder Singh, state general secretary, said in a press note issued here today that the action of the police was unjustified. He alleged that the government wanted to weaken the agitation of the unemployed BEd degree holders.

He said the agitation would continue till they were given jobs.


Fortis to hold cardiac OPDs in Bathinda, Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
Fortis Heart Institute and Multi-Speciality Hospital will hold cardiac OPDs at Bathinda and Sangrur for the benefit of people in and around the belt on December 29. Well known cardiologist, Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalra, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Heart Institute and former Professor of Cardiology at G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, will provide consultancy on various heart ailments.

Fortis is holding this Cardiac OPD in Sangrur in association with Dr Ravinder Bansal of Bansal Hospital & Heart Care Centre, Haripura Road, from 10 am to 12 noon and in Bathinda in association with Dr K.K. Nohria of Nohria Medical Heart Centre, opposite State Bank of Patiala, Zonal Office, from 2 pm to 4 pm and with Dr G.S. Nagpal of Nagpal Superspeciality Hospital, Mall Road, from 4 pm to 6 pm on December 29. Fortis will hold such cardiac OPD every fortnightly in Bathinda and Sangrur.


Signature drive against terrorism
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 27
The Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha will collect one lakh signatures against terrorism from January 12 to January 26 and its Kapurthala district unit will collect 5,000 signatures.

This was stated at a joint press conference by Mr Arun Khosla, state vice-president, and Mr Dev Sharma, district president of the morcha here yesterday.

The drive against terrorism coincides with the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12 and Republic Day on January 26.


Fog delays trains

PHAGWARA: Most of the trains were up to 17 hours behind schedule following poor visibility due to thick fog in the entire region today. Railway sources said the Howrah Express, the Frontier Mail, the Howrah Mail, the Jhelam Express, the Morrie Express and the Malwa Express were among the trains delayed due to heavy fog.

Meanwhile Railways have set up ‘Fog Signal Posts’ near the stations to ensure smooth traffic.

Sources said railway employees would give clearance signals to train drivers by setting off crackers on Railway lines near these fog signal posts.


Accountant admits to embezzlement
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 27
Rajinder Kumar, suspended accountant of the District Red Cross Society, has admitted to an embezzlement of Rs 42,000. He has deposited the amount with the society.

This was disclosed by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said the city would soon have an old-age home. He said a grant of Rs 10 lakh had been received for the purpose.


They saved him, but died
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 27
Four persons lost their lives while saving the life of a person at Jhanda Kalan village in the district last evening. According to information, Harbir Singh was burned while digging a tubewell in the fields of Jarnall Singh. Gurjit Singh, Major Singh and Kashmir Singh, all residents of Jhanda Kalan village and Jagdish Rai of Sirsa district in Haryana, jumped into the tubewell to save Harbir Singh.

Although they were able to save the life of Harbir Singh but they were buried as a portion of the tubewell caved in. The SDM, Sardulgarh, went to the spot along with a team of doctors. The bodies were handed over to the relatives after post-mortem today. A case has been registered.


IAS Officers Assn office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
Mr B.R. Bajaj, who has been re-elected president of the Punjab State IAS Officers Association, today announced following office-bearers: vice-president — Mr J.R. Kundal; general-secretary — Mr Sarvesh Kaushal; joint secretary — Mr Sanjay Kumar; treasurer — Mr N.S. Kalsi; and joint-treasurer — Mrs Raji Srivastva.


Undertrial dies in hospital

Jalandhar, December 27
An undertrial died following a heart attack at the Civil Hospital here today. According to sources, the undertrial, identified as Gurvinder Singh, was referred to the Civil Hospital in a serious condition by the jail doctors where he died. Gurvinder is the second prisoner to have died in hospital in the past fortnight. Earlier, an undertrial, Pritam Singh, of Ghadhara village under the Nakodar police station also died in the Civil Hospital on December 12. UNI


PSEB staff flay two-tier system
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 27
Employee unions of the PSEB today condemned the implementation of the two-tier system in the city division of the board. The PSEB Employees Federation, the AITUC Employees Federation and the Technical Services Union said in a press note issued today that the introduction of the new system was against the interests of the employees and customers of the PSEB.


Cane growers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 27
Hundreds of sugarcane growers today staged a dharna outside Bhogpur Co-operative Mills, near here, for about two hours in protest against the failure of the state government to release Rs 11 crore as payment for their crop.

The Ganna Utpadak Sangharsh Committee, led by former MLA Kulwant Singh, alleged that while the farming community was already reeling under debt for the prevailing non-profitabily in the agriculture sector, the delay in release of Rs 11 crore including Rs 5 crore as last year arrears had worsened their financial position.

Mr Kulwant Singh said Congress government had virtually failed to solve their problems and further aggravated their woes by not disbursing their dues.

The surgarcane growers raised anti-government slogans and held a march on the streets of Bhogpur town, before staging a dharna outside the police station on the G.T. Road for about 15 minutes.


Notice served on 5296 polluting units
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 27
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has issued notice to 5296 small-scale industries in the state to obtain the necessary approval under the Pollution Acts up to December 31, 2002, failing which the defaulting units will be forced to close down. The PPCB issues the necessary approval to units releasing solid waste, polluted water and air in the atmosphere.

According to information available, the PPCB has issued notices to 27 industrial units of the district to obtain consent from the PPCB before December 31, 2002. Thirteen units in the district are running without the necessary approval of the board under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, while 14 under the air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act 1981).

Similarly, the PPCB has also issued notices to 167 units in Amritsar, 371 in Gurdaspur, 405 in Jalandhar, four in Kapurthala, 37 in Hoshiarpur, two in Nawanshahar, 90 in Ropar, 1013 in Ludhiana, 23 in Fatehgarh Sahib, 55 in Patiala, 56 in Sangrur, 20 in Bathinda, 18 in Muktsar, one in Faridkot and four in Ferozepore districts under the Water Pollution Act 1974 and 317 units in Amritsar, 301 in Gurdaspur, 388 in Jalandhar, 53 in Kapurthala, 120 in Hoshiarpur, 29 in Nawanshahar, 31 in Ropar, 1353 in Ludhiana, 34 in Fatehgarh Sahib, 59 in Patiala, 69 in Sangrur, 43 in Bathinda, 21 in Muktsar, 22 in Faridkot, 49 in Moga and 18 in Ferozepore districts of the state under the Air-Pollution Act 1981.

It is also learnt that there are 331 big industrial units in the state out of which 59 are running without approval under the Water Pollution Act, 48 are running without approval under the Air Pollution Act. Out of 340 medium-scale industrial units in the state, 65 are running without approval under the Water Pollution Act and 67 are running without approval under the Air Pollution Act. The position of the small-scale industries is worse in the state as out of total 10,744 small-scale industries in the state. 3,412 units are running without approval under the Water Pollution Act and 4,636 units without approval under the Air Pollution Act.


Sarpanch suspended
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 27
Mr Des Raj Bhagat, Deputy Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, has placed Mr Gurpiar Singh, Sarpanch, Maghania gram panchayat under suspension for not getting vacated 12 marlas of land belonging to the gram panchayat from Darbara Singh. The action has been taken on the complaint of Mr Malkiat Singh, a resident of Maghania village.


Four die as bus, truck collide

Hoshiarpur, December 27
At least four passengers of a private bus were killed and 25 others injured, six of them seriously, in a head-on collision between a bus and a truck at Ucchi Bassi on the Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway under the Dasuya police station this morning.

According to the police, the accident occurred when the bus, which was on its way from Pathankot to Jalandhar, collided with a truck.

Two of the victims could not be identified as they were crushed badly while the other two were identified as Yakuv Masih and Bhim Sen of Jalandhar.

Six of the injured, who were stated to be critical, were identified as — bus driver Harbans Singh of Dasuya, Kamaljit Singh of Panma, Bhajan Singh and Harbans Singh of Kallowal, Rakesh Pal and Rajinder Singh of Bhatnura under the Tanda police station.

All the injured have been admitted to the Dasuya Civil Hospital.

The police has registered a case and are looking for the truck driver who is absconding.

The third person killed was identified as Satpal Singh of Jalandhar while the fourth, who was a woman, could not be identified. The police has registered a case under Sections 304-A, 279 and 427 of the IPC. UNI


5 BKU leaders held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 27
To implement the warrant of possession of a piece of land, the sadar police arrested five BKU leaders, including the district president of the union, Mr Ram Singh Bhainibhaga and president of the Bhikhi block, Mr Gurcharan Singh, in connection with a case registered on October 30 against eight BKU leaders under Sections 341, 283, 153, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC and Section 174 of the Railway Act, 1989.

The accused were produced in the court of Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Duty Magistrate here who sent them in judicial custody till January 7. The BKU leaders were booked for disrupting the road and railway traffic due to a “rail roko” agitation launched by the BKU on October 30.

A big police contingent led by the DSP, Sardulgarh, Mr Amarjit Singh, yesterday went to Kotdharmu village in the district to deliver possession of the land to the party as per an instrument of partition prepared by the revenue court and a warrant of possession issued by the Assistant Collector (Grade-I), Mansa, in favour of Raj Kumar of Bereta.


Girl crushed to death

Jalandhar, December 27
A girl was crushed to death near Nari Niketan on Nakodar road in the city this morning.
According to the police, the accident occurred when the rickshaw in which the victim, Alka Verma, along with her sister was riding was hit by a speeding truck from the rear. Alka fell under the wheel of the truck and was crushed to death on the spot. But her sister and the rickshaw-puller escaped unhurt.

The Bhargwa Camp Chowk police has registered a case and sent the body for a post-mortem examination to the Civil Hospital. The driver of the truck fled after the accident. The police has impounded the vehicle. UNI


Indian History Congress begins today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 27
All arrangements to host the 63rd session of the Indian History Congress by the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) have been completed. A university press note issue here today said the three-day conference would commence tomorrow.

More than 500 research papers will be presented by eminent historians of India in five different sessions. More than 1,000 historians from all over India and abroad are expected to participate.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab will inaugurate the Congress in the Dasmesh Auditorium of the university while, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of GNDU will welcome the delegates. Mr Khushal Behal, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, will be the guest of honour. Prof Dwijendra Tripathi, General President of the IHC will deliver the presidential address.

In the inaugural session, ‘Rajvade award’ would be awarded for outstanding contribution to the discipline of History. Similarly, ‘Professor J.S. Grewal Prize’ would be presented for the best paper on Medieval Indian History while ‘Professor Partha Sarathi Gupta Memorial Prize’ would be given for the best paper on Modern Indian History. The ‘Indian History Congress Prize’ would be awarded for the best paper on the Ancient Indian History.

The Chief Minister would also release five volumes of Umda-ut-Twarikh’ in English and Punjabi.


PTU’s ‘knowledge reservoirs’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 27
With a view to bridging the gap between students of rural and urban areas, the Punjab Technical University (PTU) has decided to come out with ‘knowledge reservoirs’, under which prominent figures from the industrial and education sectors would visit colleges in rural and urban areas to share their knowledge with the students.

The university authorities have also decided to hire the services of some placement agencies to prepare the students for campus placements by big industrial houses.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Y.S. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor of the PTU, said the university was all set to create its own ‘knowledge reservoirs’, for which, senior and experienced intellectuals, who have excelled in different fields such as the industry would be appointed as ‘Visiting Professors’. “This would be a three-tier system and the idea behind the move is to fill the gap between the students of urban and rural areas. Since, such eminent persons would share their experiences and views with the students of all colleges, functioning under the PTU, and since knowledge of the same level would be imparted, the gap would get eliminated,” Dr Rajan maintained adding that while very senior intellectuals and top industrialists would act as guides, others would be teaching up to 20 days during a session. “Talks are also on with some people from Germany and other countries, who are ready to come for this purpose. Moreover, top industrialists, who hail from Punjab but have set up industry outside the state, are more than willing to come and share their experiences with students of about 100 colleges,” said Dr Rajan.

To ensure more employment opportunities to the students, the university plans to focus more on the improvement of communication skills.

The university also plans to engage the services of some placement agencies to help its students meet the requirements of varied employers during the campus placements in the next academic session.

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