Thursday, January 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM deliberately delayed petition on SYL: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal SAD leadership while accusing the Punjab government of bartering away the interests of the state under the “diktat” of the party high command, today alleged that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, deliberately delayed the filing of review or fresh petition in the Supreme Court in connection with the settlement of river waters share between Punjab and Haryana before the completion of the SYL canal.

Justifying its boycott of today’s all-party meeting on the SYL issue convened by Capt Amarinder Singh by terming the same as “farce” the SAD leadership asked him to explain to the people of Punjab why such a meeting was convened so late when the deadline given by Supreme Court for the completion of the SYL canal was approaching near.

“If Capt Amarinder Singh was serious about not allowing a single drop of water to flow to Haryana through the SYL canal, why his government could not file the review petition of fresh petition in the past so many months after the Supreme Court fixed the deadline of completing the SYL canal,” asked Mr Sukhbir Badal, general secretary, SAD.

Mr Sukhbir Badal talking to TNS pointed out that on the one hand the Chief Minister had been repeatedly saying the petition would be filed in the Supreme Court to protect the interest of Punjab particularly of the farmers but on the other hand, he gave water to Rajasthan at the moment when the Punjab farmers were facing acute shortage of water. He said this action of Capt Amarinder Singh proved that he was not serious about protecting the rights of the state.

“Come what may, the SAD will not allow the Congress government to play a mischief on the SYL issue. It has always made sacrifices for protecting the interests of Punjab and it will continue to do so in all circumstances,” claimed Mr Sukhbir Badal.


Panel on Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 8
The Akal Takht today formed an 11-member committee on the Nanakshahi calendar issue prepared by Canada-based Sikh Scholar, Pal Singh Purewal.

Earlier the implementation of the calendar had created division in the Sikh Panth. While the general house of the SGPC (when Bibi Jagir Kaur was president) had approved to implement Nanakshahi calendar, the then Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Puran Singh had ordered to stop its implementation following serious objections. The pro-Nanakshahi calendar scholar had pleaded that the Sikhs should have own calendar while those opposing it had stated that its implementation would create division among the Sikhs.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, in a press noted here today said that a meeting of the 11-member committee would be held at Akal Takht on January 16. The press note stated that calendar would be implemented after a consensus among Sikh scholars and Sikh institutions emerged.

Giani Puran Singh was removed as Akal Takht Jathedar by pro-Bibi Jagir Kaur SGPC executive committee members for stopping the implementation of Nanakshahi calendar. Earlier Bibi Jagir Kaur was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth through an edict issued by Giani Puran Singh, for violating Akal Takht directives on the calendar issue.

Mr Pal Singh Purewal, Prof Kirpal Singh, Dr Balwant Singh, Dr Jodh Singh, Dr Darshan Singh, Prof Gurnam Kaur, Giani Ajit Singh Purewal, Dr Amarjit Singh, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, Principal Swarn Singh Patti and Prof Kulwinder Singh are members of the committee.


Bus operators refuse new PRTC rates
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 8
Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) operations have been hit with as many as 150 private bus operators running buses on contract with the corporation under the “kilometre scheme” refusing to accept the new rates finalised by the organisation.

The kilometer scheme was initiated three years back by the corporation when it realised it could not cover all routes due to lack of funds to purchase new buses as well as decrease in efficiency due to the aging fleet of vehicles. Under the scheme, the operator provides the bus and the driver to the corporation which posted its own conductor on the bus and gave payment to its owner on the basis of the number of kilometres covered. The three-year contract with private bus operators is expiring in phases and will be completely over by March. Despite months of negotiations, the operators could not prevail upon the corporation to renew the contract on the same terms.

Of the 150 buses contracted with the PRTC, the contracts of 37 operators have expired. This has led to a shortage of buses to cover the routes on which contracted buses were plying. The situation is likely to worsen by the month-end when time most of the contracts will expire. The PRTC depot at Patiala is likely to suffer the most as 87 private buses were placed under it. The corporation’s depots at Bathinda, Ludhiana and Sangrur also have private buses attached to them under the scheme.

The PRTC, had three years back awarded contracts at the rate of Rs 8.56 per km for new buses to private operators. The new package stipulates Rs 8.20 per km for new buses and Rs 7.60 per km for old buses for a period of two years. This package has been rejected by the operators.

Pradeep Gautam, office-bearer of the association formed by the private operators, claims that the PRTC had unilaterally announced the new contract rates without abiding by the tenders submitted by the operators or the submissions made by them. He said the lowest tender submitted by any operator under the Kilometer Scheme had been Rs 8.67 per km and average rates ranged from Rs 8.75 to Rs 9 per km for new buses.

Mr Gautam said the association would oppose new rates and none of the 150 operators who had been plying on PRTC routes would join the scheme again under the new contract offered. He said the association had also decided to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the corporation saying that unemployed youths, who had put up buses with the PRTC by taking loans, were now being forced to run their vehicles on unviable terms.

Meanwhile, attraction for the kilometer scheme has reduced tremendously. The PRTC had planned to sign new contracts with as many as 250 private operators for another two years under the scheme. However, very few persons, other than the 150 operators who are already running buses for the corporation, have come forward to offer their buses on contract. The PRTC authorities said this target may be reduced to 200 buses now. Though the authorities said non-plying of some of the contracted buses had not affected operations much due to the severe cold which had decreased occupancy rates, operations could be affected in March if the deadlock with the private operators continued.

The PRTC has regularly earned profits from the kilometer scheme. This year, it is expected to earn a profit of Rs 1.5 crore from buses plying under the scheme. Last year’s profits were Rs 1.25 crore and the year before last Rs 90 lakh.


No takers for pension scheme
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The much publicised pension scheme of the Punjab Government for staff members of private colleges of the state has fallen flat as not even a single application has been received to avail the benefits of the proposal which has ‘gaping holes in the draft itself’.

The biggest problem with the scheme is that without government share in the gratuity and commutation funds, the scheme is unlikely to make a start. The problem involves 4025 teachers and 2865 members of the non teaching staff besides the college principals in approximately 140 aided colleges of the state. It may be remembered that the first in the current series of schemes was announced during the tenure of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as Chief Minister in December, 1996. Nothing happened during the tenure of the following government which was of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Capt Amrinder Singh, the Chief Minister, announced the pension scheme for private colleges in his election manifesto and a formal announcement of the current scheme was made on July 9, 2002. In a changed stance this proposal had the employer and the employee contributing to the contributory provident fund. This was against the existing norms where the employer’s share was always contributed by the government. The current scheme will also not provide for commutation, gratuity and is not DA linked.

A senior teacher said the problem had an easy solution in case the government could make a one time contribution of about Rs 25 crore to the scheme.

This scheme clearly states that payment of gratuity and pension will not be through government treasury; payments will be made through private trusts of managing committees; and the government will not fund the deficit.

Due to changed dates for implementation of the scheme, the proposal is loosing on the numbers of staff members who could possibly benefit because of the dwindling numbers. No recruitment has been sanctioned after 1981.The scheme during the tenure of Mrs Bhattal was proposed to be implemented from April, 1992, onwards; the scheme during the tenure of Mr Badal was later gazetted from April, 1999, onwards; and the current scheme is proposed to be implemented from the date of notification (July, 2002, onwards). The affected party points out the significant differences in the earlier schemes and the current one.

It is worth mentioning that Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are probably the only states where colleges do not have pension schemes for private colleges. Interestingly, Panjab University also happens to be probably the only recognised university which does not have a pension and a gratuity scheme.


Post offices not to accept BSNL cellphone bills
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 8
Post offices will not accept the bills of the BSNL mobile phones from the subscribers. However, bills of the BSNL mobile phones will be accepted by Punjab and Sind Bank and Punjab National Bank at their cash counters. Besides, cash counters of the BSNL will also accept mobile phone bills.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL, Sangrur, said the issuance of bills of the mobile phones in the district was expected by January 15. He also said in case of any mobile phones-related problem, district subscribers might contact the BSNL officers on helpline numbers, including 94170-96000 and 94170-00088.

The General Manager also informed that the BSNL had decided to provide mobile phones to the BSNL gazetted officers, directly involved in the mobile phone related services.

He said due to regulatory and technical reasons, telephone numbers and STD codes in the district would be changed from January 15. The authorities would provide complete information to the public and subscribers about the change before January 15 through pamphlets and other mediums of publicity, he added.

Mr Labh Singh said the Internet connections in the Sangrur district were being provided on demand. He said the capacity of Internet nodes had been increased recently from 450 to 900. He also claimed that out of total 139 telephone exchanges of the district, telephone connections were being provided on demand in 133 exchanges. He said by the end of March, telephone connections in all exchanges would be available on demand.


Notice issued on Gurdev Badal’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Taking up a petition filed by Punjab’s former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal seeking the grant of regular bail in an alleged corruption case registered against him, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for February 13.

The former minister was booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Patiala on November 23 last year under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the first information report, the then minister had misused his official position. During his tenure, he had given promotions to his favourites with mala fide intentions after ignoring seniority. Besides this, the former minister had “gathered movable and immovable property”.

Claiming to have been implicated in a false case, Gurdev Badal alleged that the FIR, registered to “wreck vengeance and take revenge”, was misuse and abuse of law. Giving details, counsel submitted that the former minister was 70-year-old and had been elected MLA 11 times.

Seeking the grant of bail, counsel added that the former minister had been in custody since November 23, 2002, and no useful purpose would be served by not releasing him on bail. Gurdev Badal would not tamper with the evidence, nor leave the country without the Court’s prior permission, counsel concluded.


Award an Xmas gift: Dosanjh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Former British Columbia Premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who is one of the 10 persons of Indian origin (PIOs) being honoured in New Delhi tomorrow by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with the Pravasi Bharati Sanman, may rejoin politics, but not in the immediate future.

Asked for credence in reports that he was being approached by the ruling Federal Liberals, he said: “Mr Paul Martin, who may be the next Prime Minister of Canada, is a good friend of mine. We have known each other for a long time.

Reacting to the award , he said: “I felt really humbled.” Talking to The Tribune over the telephone from New Delhi where he just arrived this morning, he said, “It’s meaningful to be recognised to a kid from a village of not much consequence,” claiming that the announcement came as a “Christmas gift”.

Accompanying him on this three-week trip to India are his wife and his son Aseem.

He welcomed the dual citizenship, saying that it “will not only open India’s economy by getting more investments from Indians abroad but also save Indian diaspora from the hassles of getting visas to visit their motherland. It will ensure equal rights to NRIs and will be easier for them to invest and feel secure in India.”

Talking about the economic scenario in South Asia in general and India in particular, he said: “India itself needs to change. When someone asked me to compare overseas Chinese with overseas Indians, I said while Chinese have only one focus — change the face of their country — we have to follow them. We have changed the fate and face of India. For this change has to come at all levels, at the panchayat level, at municipal level and district level. If this change takes place, the NRIs would have no hesitation in investing in India,” he added.


Trade union members block traffic
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, January 8
On a call given by the All-India Trade Union Congress (INTUC), activists of several trade unions staged a dharna in front of the PRTC workshop for about two hours and blocked traffic at the bus stand in protest against the privatisation policy of the government.

Mr Pritam Singh Brar, district president, INTUC, in a press note issued here on Wednesday, claimed that activists of eight trade unions participated in the token dharna.

DHURI: On a call given by several trade unions of the country, activists of AITUC, CITU, Punjab Kisan Sabha, Punjab Khet Majdoor Sabha and other trade unions here on Wednesday disrupted rail traffic and staged a dharna on the railway track for two hours in protest against the alleged anti-worker and anti-people economic and labour policies of the Central Government. Railway traffic on the Bathinda-Ambala, Ludhiana-Hisar and Ludhiana-Ambala sections of Northern Railway remained suspended for two hours due to the dharna by the protesters.

PHILLAUR: Activists of the Technical Service Union, the Punjab State Electricity Employees’ Federation, and the Punjab State Ministerial Employees Union, sat on dharna and blocked vehicular road traffic on the national highway at Goraya for more than an hour on Wednesday in protest against the privatisation of the public sector. A protest rally was also organised at the dharna site on the GT Road.

ROPAR: Employees’ unions of various government departments on Wednesday blocked traffic in various parts of the district in response to a nationwide call in protest against the privatisation policy of the government.

Activists of the PSEB Employees Federation blocked traffic for about two hours on the Ropar-Chandigarh road near the power colony. Activists of the Contract Labour Union of the Ropar Thermal Plant blocked traffic on the main Chandigarh road near Ghanauli.

AMRITSAR: Activists of several labour organisations, including AITUC, CITU, Punjab, Hind Mazdoor Sabha and Punjab Mazdoor Dal, blocked traffic at different places for two hours here on Wednesday in protest against the economic policies of the government. This was stated in a press note issued by Mr Amarjit Singh Assal, secretary of the state committee of AITUC.

JALANDHAR: Activists of various employees’ unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) observed a “chakka jam” on Wednesday to oppose the proposed move of the state government to go in for privatisation of the board.

According to reports available here, members of the Technical Services Union of the PSEB blocked traffic near the bus stand in Jalandhar, Nakodar, Bhogpur, Goraya, Phillaur, Phagwara and Kartarpur for about two hours, resulting in the disruption of traffic on the GT Road from Phillaur to Jalandhar.


Thermal staff stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 8
Employees of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) today sat on a dharna on the Bathinda-Malout road near the Plant, in protest against the proposal of forming of corporations in place of the PSEB. Traffic on the national highway was disrupted for about two hours due to the dharna. Leaders and workers of the GNDTP Employees Federation alleged that the proposal of forming different corporations after dismantling the PSEB would increase the rates of electricity manifold.

They alleged that the Haldia report was one-sided and the views of the employees were not taken into consideration before the formation of the report. The leaders of the association said while the PSEB had taken various steps to revive its financial resources, the government was planning to dismantle it. The employees also showed resentment over the conducting of medical examination of employees of the board who had attained the age of 50.

Mr Gursewak Singh, president of the association, said they would mobilise employees of all thermal plants in the state and the PSEB to launch a massive agitation against this move.


Now, Lohri for girl child
Our Correspondent

Burj Mehma (Bathinda), January 8
The Social Security and Women and Child Development Department, the local youth clubs and residents organised a “Lohri” function to celebrate the birth of girls here today, to motivate people against the menace of female foeticide. There were allegations by certain Congress leaders that they were not invited to the function.

The function attracted the attention of large number of residents of this and nearby villages. The customary “Lohri” function is organised on Makar Sankranti (which normally falls on January 13 every year) to celebrate the birth of male child.

The function was organised to break the myth that birth of a girl in any family was a curse. The organisers tried to give the message that the birth of a girl should be celebrated with the same fervour as that of a boy. The parents of 13 girls, who were overjoyed while celebrating “Lohri” of their daughters, pledged not to discriminate between a daughter and son. Women from the village held a procession asking the people not to go for female foeticide.

Anganwari workers and students of Guru Nanak Public Senior Secondary School, Dashmesh Public Senior Secondary School and Guru Kashi Public School presented a cultural programme highlighting female foeticide and its ill-effects on society.

Mr Som Parkash, Mr Ashok Kumar Sharma, Director and Deputy Director respectively, of the Social Security and Women and Child Development Department Punjab, Lieut-Col (retd) Uma Ratra, Secretary, Child Welfare Council, Punjab and principals of various schools and representatives of religious bodies participated in the “Lohri” celebrations.

Mr Parkash said parents as well as doctors were responsible for female foeticide. He said though testing the gender of the foetus was illegal, but many clinics in the state were conducting such tests.

Ms Ratra said the women should come forward to stop female foeticide. She said declining sex ratio could unbalance the social set up, resulting in the increase in crime in society.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurmeet Singh, a Congress leader, alleged that they were not given proper invitations for the function. They alleged that for holding such an important function senior Congress leaders belonging to the district should have been invited. They alleged that some of the leaders who had lost last Assembly elections had hijacked the function just to gain political mileage. Although Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu, a district-level Congress leader was present on the occasion.

However, Mr Som Parkash refuted the allegations and said it was not a political function. He said the main purpose of the function was to create awareness among people. He said as per his information no discrimination was made while giving invitations.


Traffic rules explained to drivers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
Due to congestion of traffic and lack of traffic sense, more than 50,000 people lose their lives in road accidents in the country every year, affecting about five lakh families, said Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a function organised by the Sirhind Truck Operators Union yesterday to educate the drivers about the traffic rules. This function was organised as part of the Road Safety Week celebrations being held in the district. He said that it was the moral responsibility of all the drivers to drive safely and to obey the traffic rules.

He expressed concern over the growing menace of drug addiction among the drivers, particularly among the young drivers. He said that a majority of the accidents occurred only because the driver of the vehicle were found under the influence of intoxicants and they drive their vehicle by ignoring all rules and regulations. He said that the traffic rules were made for the convenience of the public and the Transport Department in the district had initiated to educate the drivers, particularly truck drivers, to obey the traffic rules.

Addressing the function, Mrs Raghbir Kaur Khera, DTO, said that the department was making efforts to educate the drivers about the traffic rules. She said that during Road Safety Week the half portion of the headlights of vehicles would be blackened and reflectors fitted on the tractor-trailers. She urged the parents not to allow their minor children drive vehicles.

Mr Ranjit Singh, president of the union, urged the Deputy Commissioner to remove the wine shops from the roadside as it becomes convenient for the drivers to purchase liquor and they consume while driving.

Mr Gora Lal Jhanjhi, president, Lions Club, assured the district administration about all possible help from the club for the success of Road Safety Week.

The Deputy Commissioner also inaugurated an eye and pollution check-up camps.


Follow rules, admn tells circus owners
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 8
The District Magistrate, Mr Iqbal Singh, has ordered the owners of Bharat Circus to conform to rules and regulations as directed by the Animal Welfare Board of India under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, failing which strict action would be taken against them.

However, the District Magistrate today admitted that no team had been sent to verify whether the circus was registered with the national board or conforming to rules of the Act.

The board had recommended action against the circus owners in view of alleged violations of rules and a number of complaints regarding cruelty towards animals. The matter had been highlighted by The Tribune in its edition dated December 24, 2002.

Meanwhile, the permission given to the circus to perform in Goal Bagh has caused a controversy, with BJP leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla contending that she had already given Rs 25 lakh from her MLA fund for a park to be built at the site.

Talking to The Tribune, she said work for the first phase of the project, with an initial budget of Rs 9 lakh, had already started with the laying of pavements in the demarcated area. However, the administration thought it fit to lease the ground for a circus without verifying its registration and ignoring the fact that the pitching of tents could damage the ground. She said Rs 25 lakh had been given to the corporation through cheques issued by her.


Better power supply for temple area
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has prepared a plan to improve power supply to the area surrounding the Golden Temple.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, at a meeting held here today directed the PSEB to enhance the power sub-station from 11 kva to 66 kva situated outside Ghee Mandi Gate so that the power to entire Golden Temple area could get quality supply in the area.

The Deputy Commissioner said the Municipal Corporation had already passed a resolution to give 1100 square yard plot to the board for installing the 66 kva sub-station. The modalities to transfer the plot had already started and the board has already allocated Rs 2 crore for establishing the substation which was likely to be commissioned with next three months.

The local MLA, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, said the Deputy Commissioner had been authorised to work out the price of land measuring of 1100 square yardsand it would be transferred to the board within next few days.

The Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Chief Engineer, PSEB, Mr C.J. Rai and Superintending Engineer, City Circle, Mr A.S. Samra also attended the meeting.


Martyr cremated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
The motral remains of constable Dilbagh Singh, who laid down his life while fighting terrorism in J & K , were consigned to the flames at his village, Rupal Heri, with full state honour yesterday. People from all walks of life attended the cremation.

Martyr Dilbagh Singh (23) was working as constable with the BSF and was posted in the Ramban area of J & K . He was the youngest son of Mr Sewa Singh and was going to be married next month. The family was making preparations of his marriage. He lost his life in an encounter with militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba on January 3 in the Ramban area.

Dr Harbans Lal, Minister of Forest, and Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, laid wreaths on behalf of the state government. They said that all the facilities being provided to the martyr’s families would be given to the family at the earliest. The Deputy Commissioner released Rs 10,000 from the District Red Cross to the family for cremation.


BKU jams traffic for arrears
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 8
A large number of farmers belonging to the Bharatiya Kisan Union Lakhowal (BKU-L) here today sat on an indefinite dharna and blocked traffic starting 3 p.m. on National Highway 21 (Kharar-Ropar section) to protest against non-payment of sugarcane arrears amounting to 80 crore.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the BKU (Lakhowal), said, the Punjab Government was yet to pay farmers sugarcane arrears worth 80 crore since January 26 last. He said the farmers had sat on dharna last year on September 23 and September 24 at the same site and blocked traffic for 28 hours. On the promise of two ministers of Punjab, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, and Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Kharar, MLA Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain, and officials of Sugarfed that dues would be cleared by Dushera, the farmers had lifted the blockade.

It was surprising that in spite of the assurance of the ministers, the money was yet to be paid to them. He said the farmers would not lift the dharna till the payment was made to them.

Earlier, a large number of farmers gathered at Khanpur village, Kharar organised a panchayat. At 3 p.m., they set off the Kharar bus stand, where they sat on dharna. A farmer told mediapersons that instead of payment of arrears, the Punjab Government had registered cases against four of their leaders in connection with the dharna organised last year.


Information Centre opened
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 8
The Information Centre of Guru Nanak Dev University was inaugurated by Dr Satinder Singh, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, on the varsity’s regional campus at Ladhewali here today. The Centre would provide study material, forms, information on admission and examination to the students.

Dr Daljit Singh, Director of the Regional Campus, lauded faculty members and expressed satisfaction over construction work on at the new campus.


Nagar kirtans organised
Tribune Reporters

A view of the nagar kirtan at Golden temple on the occasion of 337th birth anniversary of tenth Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh Ji on Wednesday.
— photo by Rajiv Sharma

AMRITSAR: Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, while extending wishes on the occasion of the 337th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh asked the Sikhs to be cautious about deteriorating values of society.

BATALA: A nagar kirtan was taken out on Wednesday to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. The procession began from gurdwara Kandh Sahib and passed through the main bazars and roads of the city.

HOSHIARPUR: A procession was taken out by the local Singh Sabha through the main bazars of the city this afternoon. All bazars were tastefully decorated and illuminated to mark the celebrations. 


Pak national dies in jail

Amritsar, January 8
A deaf, dumb and illiterate 60-year-old Pakistani national, undergoing one-year sentence in the local Central Jail, died in the local government hospital today. The jail medical officer last night found him unwell and advised for his shifting to the hospital, outside the jail where he breathed his last. PTI


Water priority of council
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 8
A meeting of the local nagar council was held today with Mr Malkiat Singh Ragbotra in Chair. Councillors, cutting across party lines, resolved to accord top priority to streamline drinking water supply.

Eightytwo development proposals were taken up in the meeting and it was decided that these would be implemented turn by turn depending upon the availability of funds.


Improve potato quality, farmers urged
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, January 8
If farmers ensure an adequate supply of better-quality potato to the food processing industry, they could make a profit and potato could become a substitute for traditional crops. This was stated by scientists of the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) while speaking at a seminar on “Potato for processing”, organised by the Rampura Phul Potato Growers Association here yesterday.

The scientists said breaking away from sowing traditional crops could not be achieved easily. They said for the purpose, efforts by farmers, the Agriculture Department and other government agencies were needed. They said the marketing of potato would not be a problem as better-quality potato was in great demand due to the setting up of fast food units in the country.


Encroachments removed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 8
The district administration claims to have removed encroachments in the rural and urban areas of the district under the anti-encroachment drive launched by the government.

In a press release issued here today the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, claimed that in the said drive the district administration had succeeded in evicting unauthorised persons from government land worth crores.

In the said drive the administration got vacated 15 acres of shamlat land in Beli village, 9 acres and 4 marlas in Mazri Gujran village, 2 kanals in Jallian Kalan village, 5 acres and 3 kanal in Badhal village, 6 kanal 2 marlas in Nurpurbedi and 10 acres in Dhaulran village.

Besides this 80 acres of government land of the Irrigation Department, in Garhbagha village worth Rs 2.50 crores was also got vacated. In the municipal council areas of Ropar and Nangal force was provided to the local authorities to remove decades old encroachments in the main markets and around the PTDC Complex.


Three held for selling spurious drugs
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 8
The police has arrested three persons, including two brothers, who are owners of Prince Medical Store located at the Alliwal road here, for selling spurious drugs and drugs without valid prescription.

About 90,000 capsules, 31,000 tablets and 507 bottles of spurious medicines were seized from them.

Those arrested are Kulwant Singh, Balwant Singh, both brothers, and their neighbour Diwan Chand, a kiryana merchant who too sold these drugs at his shop, Dr Naresh Kumar, SSP, said.

Meanwhile, Bhupinder Singh has been arrested for possessing 600 mg of smack.


Mansa school wins Kavishri contest
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 8
A three-day annual state-level competition of Secondary and Senior Secondary Classes organised by the Punjab School Education Board started at Bal Bhavan, Sector 23, Chandigarh today. The following are results of various competitions held today:

Kavishri: Bal Khan’s team from Government Senior Secondary School, Thakawali, Mansa, 1; Baldev Singh and his team from Guru Ram Das Khalsa School, Amritsar, 2; Darshan Singh and his team from M.R.N.C Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Faridkot 3; and Ranjit Kaur and her team from Adarsh Senior Secondary School Khat Khat Kalan, Nawanshahar 4.

Poetry recitation: Harpreet Inder Kaur of Government Senior Secondary School, Gidderbaha, Faridkot 1; Rajinder Kaur of Doaba Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar 2; Anju Rani of Government Senior Secondary School, Banga 3; and Sukjit Kaur of Adarsh Senior Secondary School, Khat Khat Kalan, 4.

Vaar gayan: Sarbjit Kaur’s team from Sant Isher Singh Senior Secondary School, SAS Nagar, 1; Harjit Singh’s team of Government Senior Secondary School, Sangrur 2; Harjit Kaur’s team from Adarsh Senior Secondary School, Khat Khat Kalan, 3; and Gagndeep Kaur’s team from Robin Model School, Sangrur 4.

Shabad gayan: Prabhdeep Kaur’s team of Khalsa College High School, Amritsar 1; Ashu’s team of Shining Star Senior Secondary School Jalandhar 2; Sharanjit Kaur’s team from Government Senior Secondary School, Hoshiarpur 3; Manprit Kaur’s team of Punjabi University Patiala, 4.

On the second day, ghatka, one-act play and painting competitions will be held. Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, School Education, will be the chief guest on the second day. Declamation contests, folk singing, bhangra and creative writing competitions will be held on the concluding day of the competitions. Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor, The Tribune, will be the chief guest on the concluding day. of the competitions.

The Minister of Education, Punjab, Mr Khushal Behl, presided over the competitions. Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, inaugurated the competitions.


New school timings
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 8
Keeping in view the inclement weather, Mr Sarvjit Singh, District Magistrate, Sangrur, has ordered new timings for the opening and closing of all government and private schools in the district.

As per the order the schools will now function from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. till January 24.

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