Friday, January 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Planning Board for White Paper
on PSU losses
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
Punjab’s economy and financial position were today reviewed at the first full meeting of the state Planning Board today. The board revived the financial and physical performance in the Ninth Five Year Plan and had a glimpse of contours of the envisaged priorities in the Annual Plan (2003-04).

It viewed with concern the functioning of public sector undertakings (PSUs), boards/ corporations and sought a White Paper on their huge losses and hold bureaucrats/ politicians accountable for the same. Sources told TNS that the bureaucracy was “indicted’’ for its role in PSUs etc. The members favoured disinvestment and closure of “sick’’ PSUs, board/corporation. They were informed that disinvestment proceedings had started in respect of at least five PSUs.

The board appreciated steps taken to put the state’s economy/ finances back on the track. The MPs favoured discontinuation of all freebies and giving only targeted subsides, re-structuring of the PSEB by making its operations cost-effective and functioning autonomous and a drive for resource mobilisation. The members also expressed concern over the high cost of credit available to farmers through co-operative banks.

The board also desired “downsizing’’ of the police, as also effective steps to deal with over 1 lakh employees who are “surplus’’ but draw salaries.

The MPs assured that they would effectively take up the case of Punjab to demand that the outstanding special term loan of Rs 5,800 crore be waived as per the announcement by a former Prime Minister. They would also raise the demand for compensation to the state for fighting drought to save its kharif crop, mainly paddy, and exert pressure on the Centre to lift sugar stock worth Rs 438 crore so that sugarcane growers could be paid their dues.

Deep concern was also expressed over the deteriorating school education and health delivery system in rural areas and the delay in decentralising the administrative, financial and functional powers to panchayati raj institutions, despite constitutional amendments some eight years ago.

The financial performance of ninth Five-year Plan (1997-02) was 78.64 per cent. The mid-term review of the Annual Plan (2002-03) showed a performance of only 25.46 per cent against 40 per cent that is usually considered “satisfactory’’. The current year’s shortfall was attributed to the non-release of funds by the Finance Department in view of the financial constraints. Moreover, funds were not released by Nabard. But out of the total expenditure of Rs 711.16 crore, the sum incurred as capital expenditure was Rs 596.70 crore; which is 83.90 per cent. In other words, 84, per cent of the total funds were spent on creating infrastructure.

The size of Punjab’s 10th Five year Plan is Rs 18,657 crore, against Rs 14,300 crore for the Ninth Plan. Taking an objective view, Punjab proposes to peg its Annual Plan (2003-04) at Rs 3,100 crore against Rs 2,793 crore for the current year’s Annual Plan.

The board was informed that 21 priority areas had been identified for the next year’s Annual Plan. These relate to agriculture, industry, power, infrastructure, panchayati raj institutions, educational and health.

The Annual Plan, (2003-04), will incorporate measures to reduce the poverty level, population growth, female foeticide, gender bias in literacy and to provide potable drinking water in villages/ urban areas. There will be emphasis on widening tax base and improving collections as well as removing tax incentives and concessions.

Ambitious targets have been fixed for resource mobilisation for the next Annual Plan. These would, however, not be achieved unless the government made whole-hearted efforts, the meeting was told.

The following five basic postulates for meaningful economic growth were also listed: 1). Infrastructure development—roads, transport, communication, market access and connectivity; 2). uninterrupted power supply at reasonable tariff; 3). education and skill development to improve productivity and make production cost-effective, 4. Healthcare that augments human productivity and quality of life; and 5). adequate availability of rightly priced credit.

The meeting agreed that agriculture and allied sectors would play the key role in jacking up the economy and employment. The meeting identified factors that have led to slow economic development, poor financial health and infirmities that did not allow the “second-push-to-agriculture’’ programme to take off.

In the absence of the Chief Minister, the meeting was presided over by the Minister of Finance, Mr Lal Singh. The board’s Vice-Chairman, Dr S S Johl, initiated the discussion after giving an overview, followed by presentations by some Principal Secretaries. As many as eight MPs attended the meeting.


Fog leaves porters high and dry
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 2
Commuters may have some options to choose from to counter prolonged delays in the arrival and departure of trains due to foggy weather, but for hundreds of porters, any such delays, particularly, for about two months during winter mean nothing but a source of big cut in their daily earnings.

Almost all long-distance passenger trains, including the Malwa Express, Chhattisgarh, Hawra and Flying Mail are running far behind schedule these days, forcing most of the commuters to opt for alternatives like cars or buses. Sometimes, the situation, according to sources in the Railways comes to such a pass that unlike normal summer days, booking in all such trains barely touch the 50 per cent mark, which results in huge loss to thousands of porters, working at different small and big railway stations in northern India, as far as their daily earnings are concerned. Winter may be a season to rejoice for many, but, for porters, it come as what they call it — “a curse” — which leads to a considerable fall in their income and their ability to meet both ends.

Talking to The Tribune about their predicament, a sad looking Doodh Dass, who is one of 133 porters at Jalandhar city’s railway station who work in two 12-12 hour shifts, said winter might be welcome for others, but not for people like him as usually it is the season when rush in almost all trains dwindles considerably, resulting in nosediving of their daily income. “Usually, we earn anything between Rs 150 and Rs 200 per day, but during December and January, our daily income dips to a mere Rs 40-50, which is nothing to meet the daily needs of a family, particularly, if it is a large one with more than four members. Nobody can even buy proper food with this much of money,” said a worried looking Doodh Dass, sitting in the corner of the railway station waiting for passengers and trains. “It is the time when all of trains run half booked and when routine passenger trains go five to 17 hours behind the schedule,” said Doodh Dass, who has been into the profession for 18 years.

According to Gurnam Singh, president of the ‘coolie’ union, such prolonged delays and arrivals force passengers to other means of transportation, which leaves porters almost unemployed”. “Since we have been into this for decades we cannot switch over some other profession even as it has fastly been becoming such a non-lucrative job with which we cannot even feed our children in a proper manner,” rued Gurnam Singh.

Similarly, Biju, another porter maintained that taking advantage of their position and large number at the local railway station, some passengers try to force them to charge “unrealistic” amounts. “Moreover, people prefer not to carry large baggage these days which has added to our woes,” said Biju. He maintained that instead of a routine arrival of 200-300 passengers through arrival of a single train, the local station received just about 50-70 passengers during winter.


One dead, 4 hurt in mishaps due to fog
Our Correspondents

Batala, January 2
Life here and in nearby villages was hit due to dense fog. Mr P.S. Malhi of Buda-Kot village 20 km from here, on the Batala-Kahnuwan road said here today that a tractor coming from Kahnuwan collided with a tonga near Dhupsari village, about 5 km from here, and injured four persons.

The tonga owner was unhurt. Two of them were injured seriously and sent to Amritsar for treatment. The remaining two with minor injuries were given treatment and sent to their villages.

A thick fog had affected life in the area in the morning hours for the past three days.

HOSHIARPUR: Hoshiarpur and surrounding areas are covered under thick fog visibility. A tourist Bus (No. DL-1RA-503) collided with a Van (No. PB-04-3051) near Dadial village on the Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road this morning. Darshan Singh driver of the Van died on the spot while his father Updesh Raj of Malkana village under police station Noorpur (HP) was wounded. He was admitted in local Civil Hospital.

Entire region is in grip of severe cold. Power cuts are adding great inconvenience to people.


Three vehicles overturn due to fog
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 2
Three vehicles overturned due to poor visibility early morning today on the Pathankot - Jalandhar road near Mukerian, 40 km from here. The passengers of a tourist bus, which overturned were able to come out safely. A truck also overturned near Mirthal, 30 km from here, due to dense fogging. According to the driver, Mr Gurdeep Singh, he was negotiating a turn when the mishap occurred. The third vehicle also overturned near the Ravi bridge, 25 km from here. No one was injured.


Test for Panchayat Secretaries on Feb 23
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
The Punjab Government has decided to hold an objective test for the recruitment of Panchayat Secretaries on February 23 at all district headquarters under the supervision of the respective Deputy Commissioners an official spokesman, said here today.

The written test would consist of 85 marks and the interview would be of 15 marks.

In this test which have negative marking only those 700 posts would be filled for which a written test was held in July, 1999, only those candidates who were found eligible for the test held in July, 1999 would be allowed to take this test. Those 470 Panchayat Secretaries who were appointed on a 89 days’ basis earlier but their services were terminated under the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court would also be eligible to sit in the said test.

According to the spokesman, if any Panchayat Secretary from the group of 470 has become overage, the necessary relaxation in the upper-age limit would be given. However, the candidate concerned would have to apply on a simple application to the Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, for the purpose. A demand draft for Rs 100 for the general category and Rs 25 for the reserve category would be required from those 470 Panchayat Secretaries who had earlier not applied for 700 posts advertised and who had not appeared in the test held in July, 1999.

The Deputy Commissioners would constitute special teams to get the papers checked by table marking and would declare the result on the same day. In order to avoid the malpractice of copying, different sets of question papers would be prepared. The interviews would be conducted by a committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner concerned. The entire process of selection would be completed by March 15.


SGPC to file appeal against Sajjan’s acquittal
Our Correspondent

Samana, January 2
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, said here today that the investigating agency had not been able to prove the guilt of the accused in the 1984 riots, which had resulted in the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar and others. He was addressing mediapersons at the residence of Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath, executive member, SGPC. He alleged that the then SGPC authorities had not pursued the riot cases.

He said the SGPC would file an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the acquittal order. He stated that a deputation of the SGPC would meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani, along with Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, on January 8 and demand that the CBI should also file an appeal against the order.

Mr Badungar alleged that certain Congress workers had gone to the residence of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President, AICC, and congratulated her after the acquittal. He said sweets were also distributed at her residence. He alleged that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was supporting the Congress government in Punjab and acting as a tout of the Congress.


SAD threatens stir over SYL
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 2
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister, said today that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would launch an agitation to prevent any move to complete the SYL canal. He also urged the Union Government to conduct a detailed inquiry into the circumstances that had led to the acquittal of 1984 riots accused, including Sajjan Kumar.

The former Finance Minister, addressing a press conference here, said the Congress government was concerned with the election in Rajasthan, which would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the SYL project. He said even though the January 15 deadline was approaching, the government had not filed an appeal against the project.

He exhorted the people of Punjab to oppose the project and court arrest in protest.

Talking about the acquittal of 1984 riots accused, he said as the killers of innocents were termed terrorists, those who had unleashed a reign of terror and killed thousands of Sikhs in the riots should be treated as terrorists.

Describing the Congress government as directionless, he said it had no clear-cut programme for agricultural reforms, fiscal benefits or development.


Imported cattle semen lies undistributed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 2
One lakh doses of semen arrived in Punjab from New Zealand five months ago under a special scheme to improve breed of cattle and raise milk production. The semen has not been distributed among farmers due to delay in fixing its price and absence of “guns” needed to inject it.

The semen was imported in August last year and approved by the Animal Husbandry Department in September. The quality semen is of two breeds of cows: Pure HF (Holstein Friesian) and Jersey. The Animal Husbandry Department received 79,500 doses of Pure HF semen and 33,500 doses of Jersey. The semen is from bulls whose mothers yielded 10,000 litres of milk a year.

Average milk yield from cross HF cows is between 4500 litres and 7000 litres a year. Of Jersey breed is between 3,500 litres and 4,700 litres a year. The department had planned to release the semen to farmers in the second week of November. The state Chief Minister was to release it during the Horse Show planned in Patiala in mid-December. This function was postponed. Semen is stored in the department’s Semen Bank here.

The Animal Husbandry Department had recommended Rs 100 per dose. The case is pending with the government. The department presently charges Rs 8 per dose for the semen sold from its bank here.

Animal Husbandry Department Deputy Director Tejinder Singh Sandhu said the semen had cost $ 1.25 per dose besides transportation and handling costs. He said it was proposed that part of the cost be subsidised and each dose be sold for Rs 100. He said presently lower quality semen was being sold between Rs 20 and Rs 40 per dose in other states.

Rich farmers are enthusiastic about the imported semen. Small farmers feel the department should increase semen stock in its banks at the grass root level. Others said the department should also spread awareness on the upkeep of high-value livestock reared from imported semen.


Loans of 14 coop sugar mills waived
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 2
The Punjab Rural Development Board has waived loans of as many as 14 cooperative sugar mills in the state amounting to Rs 190 crore by converting the entire amount into a grant in aid.

A notification in this regard was issued by the board on December 31, last year to the Managing Director of Sugarfed, which had taken the loan in instalments since April, 1992, for running the cooperative sugar mills in the state.

According to details of the notification, the board had released Rs 20 crore in 1992, Rs 46 crore in 1996, Rs 30 crore in 1997, Rs 17 crore in 1999, Rs 40 crore in 2000 and Rs 25 crore in 2001 to Sugarfed. The notification has also asked Sugarfed to send the utilisation certificate with regard to the amount released.

The cooperative sugar mills in the state owe Rs 85 crore in arrears to sugarcane growers. Cane growers and farmers’ organisations had claimed that the delay in paying arrears to the farmers had severely affected the crop diversification plans of the government.


Cong Dal to enrol 20,000 by March-end
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 2
Mr Prahlad Yadav, chief organiser, All-India Congress Seva Dal, has admitted that the Congress leadership in Gujarat could not counter the false propaganda during the last two days of campaigning that an Imam had issued “fatwa” in its favour.

Talking to newspersons at the concluding ceremony of a training camp here today Mr Yadav said none of the imams had either been approached nor any “fatwa” was issued but the Hindutva forces distributed false pamphlets to mislead voters in the state. Such pamphlets were distributed after campaigning had officially ended.

Denying reports that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was confining herself to 10, Janpath residence after the Gujarat election results, Mr Yadav claimed that the Congress President had been regularly holding closed-door discussions with senior AICC functionaries for the next Assembly elections in the states.

Mr Yadav said the Congress Seva Dal was planning to organise training camps for its workers in each Assembly segment. A target of enrolling 20,000 volunteers by March-end in Punjab had been fixed. The organisation would set mahila mandals, children and sports clubs in rural areas, he added.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, president, Ferozepore District Congress Committee, Mr Rajinder Rasrania, state organiser of the dal and Ms Geeta Vajpayee, camp commandant, also addressed the gathering.


Corporation status for city welcomed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 2
Congress leaders today hailed the decision of the Punjab Government to give municipal corporation status to Bathinda.

The District Congress Committee (DCC) at a meeting said the long-pending demand of the residents of the city had been fulfilled and now the city would see all-round development.

The SC/ST cell of the DCC, at a separate meeting, expressed gratitude to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, and Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, municipal corporation status to the city.

It demanded that the post of the Mayor be reserved for a member of the reserved categories.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, in a press note issued today said Mr Surinder Singla had fulfilled the promise made during the election campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, senior SAD leader and former Punjab minister said the giving of municipal corporation status to the city at this time would keep members of reserved categories away from getting the post of president of the municipal council. As per the rules, the next president of the municipal councilor was to be from the reserved categories. He said corporation status was given so that members did not claim the presidentship of the municipal council. He alleged that the Congress used the Dalits as vote bank only, but never did any thing for their welfare.


Implement HC order, IMA to govt
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 2
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) yesterday urged the Punjab Government to issue strict guidelines to all Civil Surgeons and other authorities concerned in the state to ensure that the unauthorised practice of allopathic medicine (modern system of medicine) by ayurvedic, unani and homoeopathic practitioners was not allowed in the state.

Dr Surinder Singla, state secretary of the IMA, on Wednesday stated that in a representation to the Principal Secretary, Health Punjab, he had brought to the notice of the Punjab Government a recent judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the above context. He said the IMA wanted that the state government should effectively implement this judgement without delay, otherwise the IMA would be compelled to file a contempt of court notice in the High Court against the Punjab Government for the non-implementation of the judgement.

In this landmark judgement, delivered on October 24, 2002, the high court had observed that a person who was not enrolled on state medical register within the meaning of 1956 Act (Indian Medical Council Act 1956) could not practice modern system of medicine, he added. Dr Singla also clarified that to enable a person to get enrolled on state medical register, one must possess MBBS degree and that too recognised by the Medical Council of India.

Dr Singla said the IMA was not averse to other systems of medicine but wanted that practitioner of a particular system of medicine should practice in his/her medical system only and that too as per the law and guidelines.


Vets seek probe into relief disbursement
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 2
The eight veterinary officers whose names have been sent by the Revenue Department, Punjab, for charge sheet due to alleged irregularities in the disbursement of compensation to flood victims of 1997, have demanded a factual probe into the matter.

During the audit of compensation disbursed in 1997-98 to villagers of the Fazilka area it was found that Rs 9.73 lakh were disbursed among 700 residents of 27 villages in an inappropriate manner. The compensation was paid to villagers whose pucca, kutcha houses and huts were damaged by extensive rain in 1997.

In a press release issued on Tuesday by Dr Karan Arya, president, Punjab State Veterinary Officers’ Association, Ferozepore district, and signed by other veterinary officers concerned it was stated that the job of verification of beneficiaries of compensation was done as per the list provided by the Revenue Department at Fazilka. Moreover the payment was also disbursed through cheques according to lists of beneficiers submitted by revenue officers. The entire work was finished in short span of time limit fixed by the Revenue Department and no alterations regarding beneficiaries were made in the lists by any veterinary officer at that time.

The veterinary officers clarified that while assessing the loss there were no instructions with regard to the location of damaged structure and moreover the record of ownership of land or property was with the Revenue Department and they had merely assessed the damage to houses, huts etc.


Farmers await relief for land acquired
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 2
The Punjab Government has failed to pay compensation for the land acquired in 1995 from nearly 20 farmers of Sultanpur village, near Ropar. The government had acquired 6.25 acres from the farmers for the construction of a ring bandh on a rivulet passing through the village.

The farmers told this correspondent that the bundh was built in an emergency situation. Their standing crop, too had been destroyed for the construction of the bundh. However, the farmers were not paid any compensation for the land acquired or damage to the crop.

The farmers then approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for getting the award for their acquired land. The court in May, 2002, ordered the Punjab Government to pay the farmers at the rate of Rs 3.38 lakh per acre for the land acquired along with the interest and a compensation of Rs 4,000 per acre perannum.

However, despite the court orders the government has failed to pay the compensation. The farmers have threatened to move contempt proceedings.


Illegal structure on land for college
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur-Garibdas, January 2
The Punjab Government is considering to allot a piece of land in Mullanpur Garibdas village to the Puri Development Trust for setting up an institute of engineering and technology. Meanwhile, an unauthorised religious structure has come up on the same stretch of land. The Ropar Deputy Commissioner has said that she would visit the spot tomorrow and order an inquiry, if need be.

As per sources the government was considering to transfer the land which falls under Provincial Government (of the Capital Project) to the trust for setting up of the college on a lease of 99 years on nominal rates.

A UK-based NRI, Mr Nathu Ram Puri, had announced to construct an engineering college in presence of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while the latter was in the village to inaugurate a school building constructed by the NRI. He had later handed over the building to the government.

It was alleged that the encroachment, which had come up recently, was being done in connivance with some lower rung officials of the district administration and some members of the village Panchyat. When contacted, Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, said that she would look into the matter. ‘‘I will have an on-the-spot assessment of the land tomorrow” she added.

Earlier, haphazard and unauthorised quarrying was also taking place on the land. The quarrying only stopped after the matter was brought to the notice of Ms Seema Jain. Chandigarh Tribune had carried a report regarding the unauthorised quarrying.

The matter of setting up of the college was taken up on November 22 at a meeting of high officials of the Punjab Government chaired by Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister. Punjab.

The NRI had expressed his desire that the Chief Minister himself lay the foundation stone of the college in this month only. According to Mr D.D. Puri, chairman of the Puri Development Trust, Mullanpur, the profit from the college would also be reinvested for further development of the college. The college would be managed and run by the Punjab Government and other non-profit institutions.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary, Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training, had written to the Public Works Department to bring up a Cabinet Memorandum in this connection for the consideration of Council of Ministers.

The land in question falls within the Periphery Control area. Mr Sidhu had reportedly also made a request to Punjab Department of Housing and Urban Development to permit the change of land use from existing one to educational (technical institute) under the appropriate law.


Daily-wage workers to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 2
Daily-wage earners of the Bhakra Beas Management Board, who have been sitting in dharna outside the office of the Chief Engineer (Irrigation) at Nangal for the past 27 days, have now decided to intensify their agitation.

In a press note issued here today leaders of the daily wagers’ union alleged that since the BBMB management had failed to respond to their demands they would intensify their stir.

As per the programme chalked out they would organise rallies at Nangal and Chandigarh, where they would protest in front of the office of the Chairman of the BBMB.

The daily-wage earners have been seeking regularisation of their jobs. They allege that they have been serving in the BBMB for the past 10 to 15 years. Each year the BBMB employs them for seven months and they have to remain without job for five months in a year.

The BBMB management on the other hand has declined the possibility of regularisation of daily-wage earners. The management maintains that they are employed for a particular job only due to which their jobs cannot be regularised.


Govt to distribute saplings
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 2
The Punjab Government has decided to distribute one lakh saplings among visitors to the Maghi Mela at Muktsar on January 13.

Stating this, the Forest Minister, Mr Harbans Lal, said an exhibition would be organised at the mela to bring awareness among the people for a pollution-free environment.

Mr Harbans Lal was here to address a district-level training camp organised by the Congress Seva Dal at RSD Girls High School.

The minister said preference would be given to dependents of terrorism-affected families in the recruitment for forest guards and rangers.

Addressing participants at the camp, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Vice-President, Punjab Pradesh Congress, said senior Congress workers would campaign in Himachal Pradesh for coming Assembly elections.

Mr Sharma and Mr Harbans Lal charged the SAD-BJP leadership in the state with launching a character assassination campaign against some Punjab ministers.

The Congress leaders claimed that the “Hindutva wave will freeze” in Himachal as it was not easy to mislead the “peace-loving and secular electorate” in the state.

The PPCC Vice-President later visited the family members of those who died in the bus-canter collision near Qabarwala village on December 27.


Truck drivers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 2
Truck drivers today disrupted traffic on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road, near the Chuggitti bypass, for about an hour following alleged misbehaviour of the traffic police with a truck driver.

The president of the Punjab State Goods Transporter Association, Mr Bhupinder Singh, said three traffic police officials posted at the Chugitti bypass signalled a truck coming from Amritsar to stop.

They demanded Rs 200 as fee for allowing the truck driver to pass. The truck driver refused to pay the bribe, following which the cops allegedly misbehaved with him.

Later, other truck drivers came to his rescue and lined up their trucks in the middle of the road to lodge their protest, which continued for about an hour. The SP (Traffic), Mr D.S. Dhindsa, reached the spot and assured the agitating drivers that action would be taken against the cops.


Safai sevaks stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 2
Safai sevaks of the local Civil Hospital today staged a dharna outside the office of the Civil Surgeon to protest against the decision of the stage government to award sanitation work of the hospitals in the state to private contractors.

Mr Mohan Lal Bawa, state INTUC leader, alleged that it was an anti-employee step. He said the sanitation work contract of Jalandhar Civil Hospital for Rs 53,000 per month was allotted at a higher rates to benefit certain contractors.

Raising anti-government slogans, they demanded that the government withdraw its orders in this regard, failing which the safai sevaks would launch a statewide agitation.


2 die, 15 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 2
Atleast two persons were killed and 15 injured, eight of them seriously when a canter and a truck collided near Chohan village in the Majitha police district at 7 am here today. The canter was coming from Dera Beas to Amritsar.

According to information available, Kailash Rani, and a 13-year-old boy Manni, both of Haripura locality here died on the spot while all injured persons were admitted in Dera Beas hospital. The canter (PAT-1922) was carrying 40 devotees all residents of Haripura and Kot Khalsa localities here collided with the truck due to poor visibility due to fog.

Eight of the injured persons have been admitted in Guru Nanak Dev hospital here in the evening. Remaining injured persons were discharged after being given first aid. The police has registered the case against the driver of the truck, who fled after the incident.


3 orchestra artistes die in mishap

Sangrur, January 2
Three artistes of a Nakodar (Jalandhar)-based orchestra party were killed and five injured seriously when their vehicle dashed against a roadside tree on the Lehragaga-Sunam road near Khokhar village late last night.

The artistes were returning after performing at a marriage function in Haryana. The police, confirming the mishap, identified the victims as Miss Bobby (20), Channi (22) and Sonu (22). The injured were admitted to the Sunam civil hospital. UNI


Poets’ meeting postponed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 2
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, has postponed the Panthic poets’ meeting, which was scheduled to be held on January 3 at Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir (Ludhiana), due to certain reasons. This was stated in an SGPC press note.


CPM leader dead

Sangrur, January 2
Senior Communist leader Magghar Singh Batooha died at his residence in Longowal last night. He was 87.

Senior state CPM leader Chand Singh Chopra, Kalicharan Kaushak, Ganga Singh, Shaminder Kaur were among the prominent leaders of Left Parties who were present at his funeral today. Leaders of other political parties also attended his last rites. UNI


Vedanti bereaved

Amritsar, January 2
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, today expressed grief over the demise of Jora Singh, younger brother of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht. OC


Admn budges from initial stand
Asks Local Bodies Dept to allot plots

Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, January 2
The more than quarter-century-old wrangle over the shifting of the Kabari Market situated on the Bahera road in the heart of the city to Transport Nagar on its outskirts is inching towards a solution with the district administration writing to the Local Bodies Department to allot plots to the junk dealers at reserved prices.

This is a major shift from the earlier stand of the administration as well as the local Improvement Trust that had insisted that the shopkeepers buy plots in Transport Nagar by participating in a restricted, and later open, auction. This had resulted in a stalemate with very few dealers coming forward to participate in the auctions.

A change in the administration stand was effected by lobbying done by a section of dealers close to the Congress party. This resulted in a recent meeting between MP Preneet Kaur and junk dealers in which the MP assured them that their case would be looked into sympathetically and efforts would be made to get them the plots at reserved prices.

The Improvement Trust has now made a request to the Local Bodies Department in this regard. However, Trust Chairman Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said it was for the Local Bodies Department to take a final decision in the matter.

Earlier, the talks between the government and dealers had failed on the issue of how the plots were to be given to the dealers. The junk dealers have been rejecting the open auction and even restricted auction schemes floated by the administration and want that the plots should be allotted to them at a reserved price.

The junk dealers, who had settled on the Bahera road after partition, claim that the Municipal Committee then had allotted them plots on lease basis. They claim that in 1976, in a bid to relocate the junk market, the Improvement Trust had asked for a deposit of Rs 1,000 per shopkeeper, while offering the facility to shift outside. Around 300 persons deposited the required sum and a price of Rs 70 per square yard was fixed as the rate at which they would be allotted their respective plots.

The scheme, however, fell through and it was only when the Badal government came into power in 1992 another scheme was devised to acquire the land on which the junk market exists to create parking facilities and reduce congestion in the area. Despite opposition, an open auction was held for junk dealers in Transport Nagar but only around 20 per cent of the plots were bought by junk dealers due to which the problem of shifting the junk dealers out of the city remained unresolved.

Junk Dealers Association President Sarup Singh Sehgal while talking with this correspondent said the junk dealers refused to agree to shift from Kabari Market to Transport Nagar during a recent meeting with the administration. He said the dealers had listed their demands and only when all of them were met would they shift out. He said the demands included allotting them plots in Transport Nagar at a reserved price, accepting payments in installments over a five-year period and allowing a flexible building plan according to individual needs of the dealers.

Mr Sehgal said business fortunes of the junk dealers had changed over the years and most of the shopkeepers could not afford to buy costly plots and relocate their shops. He said unless the conditions were fulfilled by the authorities the junk dealers would not shift out. Sehgal said a list of 172 shopkeepers had been submitted to the authorities and demanded that the administration hold a draw and allot plots to the shopkeepers.


Jurisdiction of VB SPs notified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
The Punjab Government has declared the seven offices of the Superintendents of Police. (Vigilance Bureau) as police stations and their jurisdictions have been notified.

An official spokesman said that the SP (VB) at SAS Nagar would have jurisdiction over the whole of Punjab. The SP, Jalandhar Range, would cover the districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahar.

Ferozepore, Moga and Muktsar districts would come under the jurisdiction of the SP Ferozepore range.

Patiala, Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts would come under the SP, Patiala range while Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts would come under the SP, Amritsar range.

Ludhiana and Ropar districts would be under the SP Ludhiana range, while Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot districts would come under the jurisdiction of the SP Bathinda range.


Rs 30,975 penalty for evasion of octroi
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 2
As a part of a drive launched by the new civic body chief, Mr Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, to check octroi evasion a penalty of Rs 30,975 was today slapped on a transport company.

Mr Ragbotra had raided the premises of this company a few days ago and seized goods for which no payment of octroi was made.

The drive to curb octroi evasion will continue unabated for boosting the revenue of the Nagar Council and the development of the township. Daily income from octroi used to be Rs 1,50,000 during the privatisation. However, the income from octroi fell below Rs 50,000 and Rs 70,000 daily in the period intervening the expiry of the private contract last year and the take-over by the civic body.


Chemist shop raided

Faridkot, January 2
The District Administration in a raid today seized intoxicating medicines from a chemist here.

According to sources a team led by SDM Davinder Singh raided the shop and seized Lomotil, Phensedryl Syrup and some intoxicating injections. UNI


Fake currency gang busted
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 2
The district police has busted an inter-gang involved in printing counterfeit currency of Rs 500 denomination and distributing it in the market.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said in a press conference here today that in a late night operation, a police team intercepted a Maruti 80 car recovered Rs 4 lakh in counterfeit currency of Rs 500 denomination from the occupants. One of the occupants, who was later identified as Kuldeep Singh, Director, Primary Agriculture Development Bank, Malerkotla, managed to escape under the cover of darkness while three others — Surinder Singh alias Shinda, Harjinder Singh, alias Jinda, both of Bohar High Kalan, village and Gurdeep Singh of Jogi Majara, Sangrur district, were arrested.

She said Gurdeep Singh ran a computer centre at Adda Kup Da Toda which, an hamlet near Ahmedgarh Mandi.

On interrogation, the suspects revealed that the computer, scanner and laser printer used in printing the counterfeit currency were lying in Gurdeep Singh’s computer centre. The police raided the computer centre and recovered Rs 1 lakh in counterfeit currency and the equipment.


2 arrested for smuggling liquor
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 2
The police has arrested Suraj Kumar alias Mintu, a resident of Chack Fool Piara, and Som Raj alias Gogli, a resident of Sujanpur, both under Pathankot subdivision, for smuggling liquor from Himachal Pradesh to the Pathankot area. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said today that 480 bottles of illicit liquor were seized from them.

Mintu and Gogli said they purchased illicit liquor at Rs 15 per bottle in Himachal Pradesh and sold it at Rs 40 per bottle in the Pathankot area.

A case has been registered.


Illicit poppy worth Rs 65 cr destroyed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 2
In a drive against poppy cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh the Customs authorities destroyed poppy crop worth 65.12 crore.

Deputy Commissioner (anti-smuggling) S.J.S. Kahlon told The Tribune here that a crackdown had been launched against drug smugglers and other anti-social elements to curb smuggling of drugs and destroying an illicit crop of poppy. He was seized 12 kg of charas and 15 kg of ganja in Srinagar valley alone. He added that this was the first such seizure in the past 20 years by any security/customs agency. The customs has established a Customs Preventive Station at “Nyoma” near Leh on the India-China border.

Mr Kahlon said that the department had identified poppy fields in 700 kanal area in the Srinagar valley which could have produced 1400 kg of opium worth over Rs 14 crore was destroyed in one operation.

The commissioner said in the Kulu valley also illicit cannabis was also destroyed on 643 bighas which could have yielded of 5100 kg of charas. The customs in association with the Narcotics Control Bureau also destroyed poppy plantation in Kulu valley on 1300 square yards.


Gang of thieves busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 2
The Bholath police has busted an intersstate gang involved in murders and burglaries in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab by arresting five of its members.

In pressnote issued here today Dr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said the police had recovered three countrymade pistols, along with cartridges from them.

Those arrested are Ashok Kumar, Subash Kumar and Vipin Kumar, all resident of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Rajiv Kumar of Tajpur in Gajipur and Sushil Kumar of Ludham, Chattisgarh. The SSP said they were arrested when they making plans to commit robberies in the district.


3 held for theft in showroom
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 2
The burglars, who had ransacked a readymade garment showroom on the Mall Road here on December 12, had been identified while three of them had been arrested.

The police said Harcharan Singh, Sukhjit Singh, both residents of Faridkot, and Amarjit Singh of Bathinda had been arrested. The accused had run away after snatching Rs 8,000, 10 jackets, 5 pants, and 5 belts and had broken the glasspane of the showroom. In another case the police arrested Sunil Kumar of this city for speculating on a cricket match. 


2 ‘ex-terrorists’ arrested for extortion

Moga, January 2
The Punjab Police today claimed busting an inter-state gang of terrorists-turned extortionists by nabbing two members of it during a special checking in this district.

The arrested persons were identified as Amarjit Singh and Balbir Singh both of the Shahkot police station area of Jalandhar district.

Two country-made pistols and ammunition were also recovered and the motor cycle they were riding was also found to be stolen one, the police said today.

Senior Superintendent Police Shiv Kumar said that on interrogation it came to light that both were members of extortionists who had even received money through Hawala transaction.

The kingpins of the gang who were arrested recently were Balwinder Singh alias Binder and Gurdas Singh alias Billa both brothers and residents of village Lande under the Bagha Purana police station of Moga district.

The police also arrested third and fourth members of the gang identified as Jarnail Singh of Boparai near Nakodar and Ashwani Kumar of the Jalandhar District on December 15.

The police also recovered two 12 bore pistols from their possession. PTI


College panels to implement MPLADS
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 2
Managing committees of educational institutions can now be implementing agencies of the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

Mr V.K. Arora, Director (MPLADS), Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, has directed that a reputed non-governmental organisation, including the managing committee of an educational institution, could be the implementing agency for MPLADS works if the Collector considered it capable.

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