Tuesday, December 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC to confront scholars on hukamnama
To move SC against Sajjan’s acquittal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
The SGPC Executive today decided to confront a group of Sikh scholars who have challenged the institution of hukamnama. It was disclosed at the meeting that edicts had been issued since the time of Gurus.

The executive meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, described the move of a section of Sikh scholars as a ‘deep rooted’ conspiracy which could not be tolerated by the Sikhs. Mr Badungar urged Akal Takht Jathedar to take a serious note of the move of the so-called intellectuals.

On the other hand, sources close to Akal Takht Jathedar said the institution of the Sikhs was challenged by those who wanted to pre-empt the move of the Takht to summon some of them in connection with the alleged blasphemous acts of Mr Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana, an author of controversial sets of books. The Sikh clergy has already directed Mr Kala Afghana to appear before Akal Takht on February 10.

Among those who have challenged the institution of ‘hukamnama’ are Mr Gurtej Singh, a professor of Sikhism and Mr Joginder Singh Sahni who were directly connected with the publication of controversial books of Mr Kala Afghana.

The executive meeting also passed bills worth Rs 3.73 lakh for advertisements published in various newspapers against the police entry into the SGPC complex. The resolution was passed by a majority vote as five SGPC members belonging to the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, opposed the move. Mr Badungar said the opposing of the move to pass the bills showed that the SHSAD was ‘hand-in-glove’ with the state government. Mr Bhaur had said that the SAD should have paid the bills as it took ‘political advantage’ by inserting advertisements in various newspapers. The SGPC executive also decided to send a jatha of 300 pilgrims to Pakistan on Baisakhi.

Briefing the Press, after the executive meeting, Mr Badungar said the SGPC would move the Supreme Court against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar one of the main accused of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. He said the SGPC would hold a meeting with the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee to give more financial assistance to the riots victims.

The SGPC executive appointed a two-member fact-finding committee comprising Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, senior vice president and Mr Hardalbir Singh Shah general secretary on the activities of Ashutosh. The report would be completed within a month and would be submitted to the Akal Takht Jathedar for taking appropriate action. The SGPC executive also resolved to approach the Central Government for displaying the portraits of great Sikh warriors who had made supreme sacrifices during the freedom struggle.


Sikhs decline ‘kar seva’ offer by PSGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
In a significant development, Mr Mopi Muta Faqir, Deputy Transport Minister, Afghanistan, today said the Sikhs in his country had refused to get the ‘kar seva’ of their shrines done by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Mr Faqir said Afghani Sikhs were of the view that the SGPC had the sole right to carry into the renovation work of the gurdwaras.

It may be mentioned here the SGPC had taken up the matter of ‘kar seva’ with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.


Ensure refinery’s completion: Capt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has asked the Centre to ensure that the successful bidder in any privatisation of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd should provide a guarantee for the completion of the company’s refinery in Bathinda.

Adding a new dimension to the controversy over the privatisation of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), the Chief Minister, in a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, drew his attention to the reports quoting the Department of Disinvestment saying that the Planning Commission felt that the Bathinda refinery was now considered unviable.

The successful bidder should not be allowed to walk away with the assets of HPCL without any commitment, he said.

The Chief Minister sought assurance that the government would seek Rs 500 crore performance guarantee from the bidder for completion of the Bathinda refinery which was “crucial for Punjab.”

“I would request you to kindly ensure the completion of the refinery with appropriate financial security in the form of an irrevocable performance guarantee of at least Rs 500 crore, which will stand to be forfeited if the refinery project is not completed with in the given time-frame,” he said in his letter. The Chief Minister said without performance guarantee there was no way to ensure that the project would be taken up by the successful bidder even if the refinery project was made an integral part of the disinvestment package.

“If the HPCL is sold without the commitment to complete the project, the buyer will walk away with the profit opportunity of a ready-made all India marketing network. Why should anyone else, whether the private or the public sector, find it economically viable to build a green-field refinery without any marketing network?” he said.

The government has decided to sell the HPCL to a strategic partner and is awaiting the opinion of the Attorney-General on legality of the sale.

The Chief Minister sought to remind the Prime Minister that he himself had laid the foundation of the Bathinda refinery.

“If the project is abandoned by the Central Government, the people of Punjab would take it as a breach of faith they reposed in you (Mr Vajpayee),” the letter said.


Heritage status for city opposed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 30
Even as the 63rd session of the Indian History congress has passed a unanimous resolution supporting heritage status for Amritsar, Prof Balwinder Singh, Reader, Guru Ram Dass School of Planning, at Guru Nanak Dev University today presented a detailed paper on the city, on the concluding day of the congress here today.

Prof Balwinder Singh said during the partition holocaust more than 20 per cent of the area within the walled city was burnt and this led to the re-development of the areas around the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh. In the aftermath of the Operation Bluestar and the Operation Black Thunder the government had planned to built corridors around the Golden Temple. Under this project, many historic and architecturally important buildings within a radius of 30 metres around the temple complex were demolished. This led to a total destruction of the mini-traditional shopping markets popularly known as ‘muniara’.

Expressing anguish at the proposed plan of the government to link Golden Temple with the GT Road by constructing an overbridge, he said it would destroy the environment of the world famous monument.

He pointed out the latest legislation introduced in Punjab, under the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act of 1995, had also ignored the conservation aspect of the historic city. The government has also failed to check the practice of change of land use from residential to commercial purposes. The problems have multiplied due to the reckless conversion of the land use in and around the Golden Temple. He has also expressed concern over the construction of ‘Mata Ganga Niwas’ in the Golden Temple Complex, which had obstructed the view of the tallest structure of “Baba Atal’ for the pilgrims entering the Golden Temple from the northern side.


Punjab was test case for Christianity’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 30
“Punjab was viewed as a test case for the spread of Christianity,” said Prof Indu Banga, a historian from Panjab University, Chandigarh, at the concluding day of the National History Congress held at Guru Nanak Dev University today.

In her paper on “Urban social structure in colonial Punjab”, she said Christian missionaries aggressively propagated their religion in a culturally and religiously “fragile” environment which presented minimum resistance to change, hence Punjab was a “test case” for Christianity.

After annexation by the British in 1849, the missionaries became active in Punjab and had nearly six different missions of various denominations, including the Anglican Church, the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church.

This set the tone for cultural change in Punjab. The propagation of Christianity was done through special techniques and methods.

The first missionary school was started in Ludhiana. Later printing presses, dispensaries and relief centres were set up.

Their early success in securing converts from among the elite evoked a strong reaction from educated Punjabis in the form of socio-religious associations like the Arya Samaj and the Singh Sabhas. Thus the model set by the missionaries gave an impetus to other communities to identify with their own religion.

These religious communities borrowed the blueprint of action from the missionaries. This brought about modernisation among Punjabis. Religious identity became predominant and the British encouraged communal competitiveness which reflected in jobs, medium of language in education, and even politics.

Significantly, the fallout of this process was “communalisation of consciousness” which meant that communal-categorisation of thinking took place which “left its legacy” for the post-independence era. Thus to this date, Punjabis relate to all their activities, profession, status and others through the communal spectrum.

Meanwhile, Dr J.S. Grewal, another historian, said the Jathedar of Akal Takht was the only conscious-keeper of the community and could issue an edict as per the aspirations of the Panth.

Talking to The Tribune after the conclusion of the congress session he said according to the convention, the Jathedar of Akal Takht was supposed to enforce the collective decision of the Sikh sangat. He said there were no set rules but the institution of Akal Takht had been running as per the conventions established in the 17th century.


Tax on farmers to open Pandora's box
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Economists oppose proposal

Punjab Planning Board Vice-Chairman S. S. Johl believes that those who have income must pay up and should be taxed. Even the ''specialised, mechanised and big'' farm- owners should pay the tax. But there should be no tax up to the prescribed ceiling limit on land holdings imposed in most of the states. And it is also well known how the influential farmers have devised ways to circumvent ceiling limit provisions. Thus "benami" ownerships do exist in most of the states.

''It is like opening a Pandora's Box. The expected net tax returns will not be much. It is not worth even a trial-run. It is a misplaced concept, a costly affair and will be a waste of effort. Moreover, it will be yet another source of corruption and cause harassment to farmers. I see no positive gains but only negative factors at play. To say the least, such a proposal at best will result in ripple-effect: economic, social and political causing societal tribulations''.

The Head of Department of Economics at Punjab Agricultural University, Dr Joginder Singh, says, the proposal, if implemented, will generate more heat than light. Any such move will be disastrous. The Centre is viewing huge stocks of foodgrains produced by Punjab from the angle of freezing procurement process. Moreover, the ceiling on land holdings, 18 standard acres, is limited to agriculture, which takes care of social aspects rather than economic rationale. Under these circumstances, taxation of farm income is totally unjustified.

Chandigarh, December 30
The recommendation of Vijay Kelkar to tax agriculture income has come at a time when agricultural economy is fragile, farmer is walking on the razor's edge, subsidies to the farm sector are shrinking, shadow of the WTO regime is lengthening, income returns from farms are reducing, debt burden is increasing and there is uncertainty.

The political reaction to the proposal to tax agriculture income has been along predictable lines—strong and shrill. Cutting across political lines and ideologies, politicians have opposed the proposal with one voice. Even Rajnath Singh of the ruling BJP has had to publicly say that the government will not accept the proposal on agriculture.

Kisans constitute a large political constituency, a formidable vote-bank, howsoever, unorganised. Therefore, one is skeptical if Kelkar’s proposal will come through, though in the final report the decision is left to the states.

The proposal, say experts, is also technically flawed as it will be difficult to assess the income returns of farmers, who range from small, medium and marginal to rich. Moreover, there are always production fluctuations every season, rabi or kharif.

It is also erroneous to assume that the government is missing out at least 40 per cent to 45 per cent tax returns from the agriculture sector in a ''prosperous'' state like Punjab. The fact is that evenly distributed over the densely populated rural sector, the per capita income of a farmer in the state is much below the prescribed taxable income limits.

One school of thought as to why Kelkar has suggested income tax on agriculture is because the corporate sector is exploring this avenue to avoid tax. To farmer, agricultural farms are "factories" of grain production, whereas, for the corporate or non-agriculture sector these are nothing but only a means for "money laundering". Kelkar, seemingly, had an eye on the ''luxurious'' farm houses close to New Delhi or several other urban centres and cities.


VRS for Punjab PSUs, corpns approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved as voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for the employees of public sector undertakings (PSUs) and corporations.

A government spokesman said in a press note that this scheme would be applicable to the employees with over five years of service in a PSU and having a minimum of five years service left. An employee opting for the VRS would be paid compensation consisting of 35 days’ salary for every completed year of service and 25 days for the each balance year of service until superannuation.

The compensation would be subject to a minimum of Rs 25,000 or 250 days’ salary, whichever is higher. However, this compensation should not exceed 80 per cent of the sum of the salary that the employee would draw at the prevailing level for the balance of the period left before superannuation. And 100 per cent of the amount of ex-gratia would be paid in cash to an employee opting for the VRS within 60 days of the date of his relieving.

The council also accorded ex-post facto approval for the implementation of the recommendation of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission with regard to the classification of the posts. The commission had recommended that instead of classification of services into class I, II, III and IV, grouping of services should be adopted on the sole criterion of pay scales as Group A, B, C and D. Now, the posts in the initial entry revised scale of pay having a maximum of Rs 13500 or more, the maximum ranging between Rs 10640 and Rs 13499, the maximum ranging between Rs 5160 and Rs 10639 and posts carrying the revised scales of pay the maximum of which was lower than Rs 5160, would be included in Group A, B, C and D, respectively. Consequently, both ‘A’ and ‘B’ group personnel should now have all powers of attestation etc which are currently vested in gazetted officers.

It has also approved the creation of 11 posts of Law Officer in the office of the Advocate-General for 2001-2002 and 43 posts for 2002-2003. These posts included Additional Advocate-General, Senior Deputy Advocate-General, Deputy Advocate-General, Assistant Advocate-General, Senior Additional Advocate-General, Additional Advocate-General, Senior Deputy Advocate-General and Assistant Advocate-General.

The council has approved the administrative restructuring of the Cooperation Department, thereby creating 39 posts of Assistant Registrar at the Tehsil level, eight post of Assistant Registrar at the district headquarters, namely Amritsar, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ferozepore, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Sangrur and one post each of Assistant Registrar (Audit) and Deputy Registrar (Legal) in the office of the Registrar, Cooperative Societies at the Headquarters.

Simultaneously, it was decided to abolish 64 posts, including 50 posts of Inspector, besides one post of Assistant District Attorney (Legal), one post of Leather Designer, four posts of leather supervisors, two posts of instructor and six posts of Lecturer under the Assistant Registrar, Education.

The council has exempted the Punjabi film ‘Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khas’ from payment of entertainment tax to the extent of 100 per cent for six prints for 10 weeks under the Punjab Entertainment Tax (Cinematograph Shows) Act, 1954.


7,000 teachers not paid for 7 months
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 30
Many government school teachers have not received salary for the past many months.

Earlier, nearly 7000 government teachers could not celebrate Divali due to non-payment of salary by the government.

The teachers, who have not received salary since June 2002, have been borrowing from friends for their subsistence. Several of them are forced to borrow money at a rate of interest of 24 per cent to 50 per cent.

Sources said that 7000 teachers, who have not been paid salary, were recruited under the “Operation Blackboard” a central scheme. Initially the teachers used to get salary regularly but after some years, delay in getting the salary started.

Mr Charanjit Singh (name changed to protect identity), a teacher, pointed out that he was engaged to be married three months back but the marriage had to be put off due to non-payment of salary by the state Education Department for the last seven months.

Mr Kanwarjit (name changed) another hard up teacher said that he had to sell his motor cycle to meet routine expenses. He is only earning member of the family. Several teachers are finding it difficult to visit doctors for major ailments due to lack of money. Some of these teachers have started doing private jobs in the evening to earn something.

Sources said the authorities concerned had been diverting funds meant for the salary of Operation Blackboard scheme to other areas despite the Centre releasing 85 per cent of such funds for the specific purpose.

Mr Basant Kumar, general secretary, Democratic Teachers Front, Punjab, said that several representations had been given to the Chief Secretary, Finance Minister, the Education Secretary and other authorities concerned for a sympathetic view of the plight of the teachers, not paid for the past many months, but to no avail. He added on December 24, 2002, a deputation of the teachers met District Education authorities. They were assured that salary would be given to them within a day or so. But so far nothing has come out of it.


CM offered Rs 20 lakh each to SGPC members’
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 30
Former Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal has accused the Congress for misleading peoples of the state on core issues.

Addressing 20th ‘barsi’ function of Late Sohan Singh father of former Akali MLA Gurdip Singh Bhullar in Mao Sahib Gurdwara near here this afternoon, Mr Badal alleged that the Congress was interfering in religious matters of Sikhs. He said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tried to mislead people on the state’s loan of Rs 8500 crore which was waived by former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and later by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. He added his party would organise “Rasta Roko Andolan” in the state on February 10. Former Akali Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur, and Gurmit Singh Daduwal also spoke.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: UNI adds: Mr Badal suggested that the term of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President should be two years.

He was addressing a function at Nirmal Dera Loolon organised to honour SGPC member Sant Hardev Singh Loolon, for voting for Kirpal Singh Badungar, in the SGPC election.

He criticised Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for his alleged interference in the SGPC presidentship election. He said SGPC members loyal of the SAD (B) were even offered Rs 20 lakh each but they refused to take it.


Kaushiki’s effortless melody charms
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 30
Jugalbandi of vocalists Mohan Singh and Sukhdev Singh and solo performance of vocalist Kaushiki Chakarvorty enthralled the music lovers gathered at the Devi Talab Temple Complex here on the conclusion of the three-day 127th Baba Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan.

Known for melodious voice Kaushiki rendered intricacies of subtle ragas with an ease that kept the audience spellbound, particularly when she presented “bandish” — “Sab Dukh Deo More Kartar”, in Bilambit and in raga “Rageshwari”. Another “bandish by her — “ Ban Phul Sohe, Birsan Barse, Rag Sang Ragini”, in Drut was equally impressive. But her light classical presentation, “Rangi Saari Gulabi Chunaria, Mohe Maare Nazaria Sanwaria”, impressed the audience the most. Accompanied by noted classical singer and her father Ajoy Chakarvorty on the harmonium and ace tabla player Yogesh Shamsi, she made liberal but thoughtful use of “alaaps” and “taans”, which charged the atmosphere.

Vocalists Mohan Singh with Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, disciples of Rajan-Sajan Mishra of Benaras Gharana filled the atmosphere spiritual bliss when they rendered “bandish”— “Jinke man Ram Birjaae, jaake Safal Hot Sab Kaaje”, in “Bilambit Ek Taal”, based on raga “Malkauns”. Another “Bandish” — “Aaj More Ghar, Aaye Re Balma”, in Raga “Bahar” and “Bandish” — Hatat Tum Chodo ji Langar Mori Bahian”, in the same raga followed.

Noted violinist Dr N. Rajam cast a spell by touching the right chord with audience through various intricacies of music, particularly, through raga “Bageshwari Kanada.” It appeared as if it was not the violin, but a woman with a beautiful voice rendering the song.

Sitar player Arshad Chaudhary and Tabla player Amjad Chaudhary wove musical patherns on their instruments. Tabla player Sandip Das, sitarist Shubendra Rao too presented raga Bageshwari and were applauded.

Noted musician Dr Joginder Bawra, social activist Prerna Jaikhani and Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Punjab Culture Minister were also present. Mr Sekhri said he would take up with the Centre for getting national status for the sammelan.


Garbage piles up in Pathankot
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 30
This border town of Punjab is stinking as garbage has not been removed for about a month. Heaps of filth are seen lying in various parts of the town. If no immediate steps are taken to remove the garbage the town may see an outbreak of a contagious disease.

The failure of the local Municipal Council to identify proper sites for dumping garbage has led to the present problem.

More than 500 heaps of garbage and dust have been lying in almost every corner of the town. Nearly 10 tonnes of garbage is collected from the town daily, said a local resident.

The administration has earmarked five sites in various parts of the town for dumping garbage.

It is said that due to an ongoing tussle between the BJP and the Congress the problem has not been solved.

A team of the civic body recently inspected many sites for dumping garbage but could not take final decision.

People have to cover their noses with handkerchiefs while passing through the main bus stand area and Ramlila grounds.

Mr Jagir Singh Thind, Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, admitted that garbage had plied up at various places in the town. He said it would be cleared shortly.

Laying of telecommunication cables has added to the miseries of residents. This has led to frequent traffic jams on the Dhangu road, Kali Mata Mandir road, A.P.K. road and other parts of the town.


Tohra to be discharged today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 30
The former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who underwent bypass surgery in the Capital earlier this month, will be discharged tomorrow, an aide close to the veteran Akali leader said.

Doctors attending on the senior Akali leader said Mr Tohra was doing fine and was responding to the treatment.

Mr Tohra was admitted to Batra Hospital on December 16 for unstable angina and an angiography test showed blockage in all his heart arteries. The blockages have been successfully bypassed, doctors attending on him said. A senior SGPC member Mr Harinderpal Singh, a close lieutenant of Mr Tohra, said doctors would discharge him tomorrow.


Resource centre for disabled
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 30
The district administration has identified 10,723 handicapped persons in the district who would be provided financial and medical help under the Union Government sponsored National Programme for the Rehabilitation of handicapped persons.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, gave this information while talking to mediapersons here today. She said under the said programme of the Union Ministry of Social Security and Welfare, a state-level resource centre had been established at Ropar with all modern equipment to provide medical aid to the handicapped.

The resource persons posted at the block level would inform the handicapped about various schemes available to them at their doorstep.

The union government has released the first instalment of Rs 25 lakh to the district for the programme. This money would be used for providing medical help to the handicapped in the form of artificial limbs, tricycles, wheel chairs and hearing aids etc. Loans and special training programmes would also be organised for the destitute handicapped persons so as to enable them to get self-employment.


All set for Maghi Mela

Muktsar, December 30
More than 10 lakh devotees are expected to visit the three-day Maghi Mela in memory of 40 Sikh martyrs known as “muktas” who sacrificed their lives while fighting the Mughals.

The district administration has made all arrangements and Additional Deputy Commissioner Ajaib Singh Bhatti has been appointed mela officer.

Deputy Commissioner R. Usha Sharma briefing mediapersons said today that the town had been divided into seven sectors and each sector was under the supervision of a Duty Magistrate and a police officer. The mela will begin from January 13.

The district administration, with the consultation of political parties, has decided to shift the traditional venue for political conferences of the mela from the Malour road to near the mini-secretariat.

One main control room and 10 sub-control rooms have been set up where health services will be provided. Four mobile health units will also be pressed into service. Drinking water facilities will also be available.

The administration has also made arrangements for police divers in view of any untoward incident at Darbar Sahib sarover.

Arrangements have also been made for 10 fire engines for the supply of drinking water. Passes for vehicles will be available at the Red Cross bhavan under the supervision of the District Transport Officer. The executive officer of the nagar council has been directed to supervise the cleanliness of the town on the eve of mela.

District police chief Shiv Kumar said the police was geared up for the mela. Preventive measures had been taken and special care would be taken to check anti-social activities. UNI


Filth dots Beant Singh complex
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, December 30
The Beant Singh showroom-cum-shopping complex here, once projected as a model of a modern shopping complex, is in a state of neglect.

The complex, situated in the Chhoti Baradari area of the city, is dotted with heaps of refuse and filth in its corridors.

The stairs, not without their share of garbage, have empty cough syrup bottles and “paan” stains. Though one may steer clear of the “decorated” walls and floors, it is impossible to avoid the stink which hits your nostrils as you come up the stairs into the corridors, which have been converted into open urinals by the general public owing to absence of any facility for the same in the building.

The building, which has become a centre for IT institutions, banks, government and newspaper offices, is nobody’s baby. While the Improvement Trust is currently engaged in constructing booths on its third floor, it does not have the provision for the maintenance of the building and removal of garbage. The Municipal Corporation has been ignoring the building as it has not yet been officially handed over to it despite offices and institutions having been using the premises for the past six to seven years.

The water supply to the building gets hampered occasionally. Sewers get blocked and conditions of general squalor prevail in the building at all times. Any problem concerning the maintenance of the building, including clearing its sewers, has to be dealt with by the owners themselves. As there is no facility for lifting of garbage from the premises, the refuse keeps accumulating in front of unoccupied shops, sometimes resulting in blockage of whole corridors with filth.

Owing to inadequate lighting arrangements in the stairs as well as corridors, the building is frequented by drunks and drug-addicts in the evenings.

Holding of a Sunday Market in the parking lot in front of the building has compounded the problems. The stairs and empty corridors are used as urinals as there is no public toilet in the entire complex. Amarjit Singh, who lives near the Chhoti Baradari area, said it is a pity that basic facilities had not been provided in the complex even after seven years since came up. He said either the Improvement Trust should maintain the complex or transfer it to the corporation for maintenance purposes. He said that people could not wait for more years for the completion of the top floor of the building without basic facilities as they had spent lakhs of rupees to purchase show rooms and booths in the complex.

Improvement Trust Chairman Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, when questioned on the issue, said he had written to the corporation authorities to take over the complex but they were dilly-dallying on the issue. He said when the corporation was taking house tax and other taxes from the owners of the showrooms and booths, it should be maintaining the building itself. Mr Dhillon said, in the meantime, the Trust was in the process of laying concrete in the parking lot in front of the building as well as creating a public urinal to facilitate the general public.


Phone subscribers deplore poor services
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 30
Resentment is brewing among telephone subscribers of the Urban Estate and its surrounding areas here over the callous attitude of the Telecom Department and the poor services being provided to them. Telephones have been lying out of order for the past about 20 days and no action has been taken despite repeated reminders by the complainants.

Subscribers resent that in spite of lodging complaints with the telephone exchange in Phase I, officials have failed to rectify the problem in their phones. Most of the complainants allege that their telephones have been lying out of order for the past 15 to 20 days.

A subscriber residing in Phase II said: “I visit the exchange every day and lodge a complaint in the complaint register. The complaint is noted down by the exchange officials but no action is taken. Twelve days have passed and my phone is still not working.”


PRTC employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 30
Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) workers today organised a dharna in front of its headquarters here under a call given by the PRTC Workers Union (AITUC) group to protest against the report of the Disinvestment Commission which has been submitted to the Punjab government.

Addressing the rally, union president Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal said the union would not tolerate ‘anti-worker moves’, including deduction of overtime pay of staff members, transfer of workers at the time of closing of Patiala and Bathinda depots as well as the decision to wind up the Budhlada depot.

Mr Dhaliwal said instead of just targeting workers, the PRTC management should also target officers, including General Managers charged with indulging in corrupt activities. He also called for abolishing the post of independent Chairman of PRTC saying it only added to the expenditure of the corporation and was not needed.

Other employee leaders who spoke on the occasion were Pritam Singh and Raj Kumar, who alleged that the management had transferred Mr Dhaliwal from his post to force him not to indulge in union activities.


Dairy workers seek encashment of DA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
The Punjab Dairy Development Workers Union, at an emergency meeting held here today, urged the Punjab Government to pay the arrears of 3 per cent DA in cash, released in July 1, 2002, besides granting of LTC and casual leave on the pattern of Punjab Government employees.

Ms Sita Devi, president of the union, said, “Milk plant workers should be paid night time allowance and overtime, and bonus and interest-free loans for the purchase of house, scooters and other durables on the pattern of Punjab Government employees.”


Gurdev Badal’s remand extended
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 30
Ms Anshul Berry, Duty Magistrate, today extended the judicial remand of former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Badal till January 11. He is facing charges of amassing property worth Rs 1.7 crore disproportionate to his known sources of his income.

A large number of his supporters, including Mr Sital Singh, MLA, Dharmkot, were present outside the court when he was produced amidst tight security. He is most likely to file bail application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court after the winter vacation.


Weed control expert’s advice to farmers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
Dr Lall Singh Brar, Head, Department of Agronomy and weed control specialist of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), has advised the Punjab farmers to administer certain directions regarding the spray of herbicides in wheat crop for the efficient and better control of Gulli Danda (Phalaris minor) and other broad leaf weeds.

New alternative herbicides — namely leader (13g/acre), topik (160 g/acre) and Pumasuper (400ml/acre) — are recommended for the control of Gulli Danda in the fields where isoproturon failed to control it. A uniform spray should be done on clear sunny days using a flat fan nozzle having discharge rate of 100 litres water/acre. These herbicides may be applied 8-10 days after the first irrigation over the second flush of Gulli Danda.

For controlling broad leaf weeds like bathu, maina, khandi etc 2,4-D 250 g/care and against Kandiali palak, Algrip 10g/acre is recommended. These herbicides are to be applied 7-8 days after using herbicides for managing Gulli Danda. Application of any of these herbicides mixed with each other further complicates the weed menace instead of managing them, besides reducing the efficiency of the herbicide itself. Use leader in rice-wheat rotation and topik or pumasuper if a crop other than rice is to be sown in following kharif season. These herbicides should be used in rotation. Leader should never be used in the fields where raya has been intercropped with wheat.


Art historian appointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
Ms Alka Pande, art historian and curator, Habitat Centre, New Delhi, has been appointed president of the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi.

Ms Zoya Sharma has been appointed vice-president and Mr Viren Tanwar is the secretary of the body, according to official sources here today.


Liquor smugglers arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 30
The police today arrested two liquor smugglers near Basti Danishmanda here and seized 25 cases of liquor from their possession.

According to the police, the police set up a naqa and intercepted two cars. The occupants of the cars were arrested following the seizure of 25 cases of illegal liquor from the vehicles. Those arrested have been identified as Rajinder Kumar and Sunil Kumar.

The police has also impounded the cars and registered a case under various sections of the Excise and Taxation Acts.


Official nabbed while taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 30
A senior assistant posted at Dasua subdivision was nabbed by the Vigilance Bureau, while taking Rs 2000 for issuing a marriage certificate to a farmer.

Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Jorra village in Dasua subdivision, in a complaint to the Vigilance Bureau, alleged that though he had completed all formalities for the registration of his marriage, but Kashmira Singh, a senior assistant, was delaying the issuance of the certificate. Kashmira Singh had allegedly demanded Rs 2000 for getting his work done, he said.

Subsequently, a Vigilance team led by Rajwant Kumar, DSP, laid a trap this afternoon and caught the senior assistant red handed while taking Rs 2000 from the complainant.

A case under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.


Crime rate up in Mansa
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, December 30
The district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, today said that 3,888 cases had been registered, besides 17 cases under the NDPS Act this year.

He said some drug smugglers who had been giving the police sleepless nights had been arrested. Eleven proclaimed offenders had also been arrested and eight interstate gangs had been busted.

The police had seized 44 pistols, a revolver, five rifles, six guns, 449 cartridges, three magazines, and 2 hand granades this year.

MANSA: The police has arrested 28 proclaimed offenders during 2002. This was stated by Mr Sandhanshu Shekhar Srivastava, SSP at a press conference on Monday.

The comparative crime chart of the district showed an upward trend. Rape cases had increased by 66 per cent while cases under the NDPS Act had risen by about 90 per cent. Cases under the Excise Act had gone up by 20 per cent, he said.

Cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act had increased by 200 per cent while those under the Essential Commodities Act had shown a 100 per cent increase.

The cases of murder had neither declined nor risen while those of theft had shown a decrease of about 10 per cent.


Couple drugged, looted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
A middle-aged couple was found drugged and looted in a train at local railway station early this morning. They were returning to the city from New Delhi. Near Rohtak, two youths became friendly and gave them a drug-laced tea. The couple fell unconscious and was looted of Rs 3000 besides precious jewellery.

The couple identified as a trader Mohan Lal and his wife Brinda Devi were the residents of Barnala. The couple was found unconscious in a train by passengers today. They were handed over to the Railway police, which got them admitted to the civil hospital.


11,000 schools to be set up in rural areas
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 30
The Punjab Government in collaboration with the Union Government has decided to set up 11,000 schools under the education guarantee scheme to impart education to children under 14 years of age. The schools will be opened in the slum and rural areas.

Teachers will be appointed by the gram panchayat of the respective area and will be paid a monthly salary of Rs 1,000.

According to a spokesman for the Education Department, teachers will put in five hours of work and women will be given priority. The buildings for the schools will be provided by the gram panchayat. Initially, 200 such schools will be started in various parts of the state from next month.

The Central Government has sanctioned Rs 18 crore out of which Rs 1 crore has been received.

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