Saturday, January 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Shagun scheme to go: Chaudhary
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 10
The Punjab Government has decided to abolish the well-publicised Shagun scheme started by the previous government. Giving this information while talking to newsmen here today the Minister for Social Security, Mr Santokh Chaudhary, said the scheme was not pragmatic. Thousands of applications were pending at the subdivisional level due to which the government had decided to do away with the scheme. Instead, the state government had decided to launch the Kanya Jagriti Jyoti Scheme in place of the shagun scheme. The government would provide an insurance of Rs 5,000 to the new-born girls of poor families. This scheme would help the girls in attaining education. The Budget provision for this scheme would be made in the next financial year, the minister added.

He said besides this scheme the government was also planning to start a scheme for homeless. The Department of Social Security had identified 8,000 destitutes in the state who would be provided with 5 marla plots by the government. A Budget provision of Rs 20 crore was being made for the scheme.

The minister further said the government was now trying to identify officials of his department, who were allegedly responsible for issuing pension to undeserving candidates. Once identified departmental action would be taken against the erring officials.

Mr Chaudhary was here to celebrate the state-level Lohri festival for the new-born girls. The function was organised by the Department of Social Security and Ambedkar Bhavan. On the occasion he distributed a shagun of Rs 200 among each girl child and a shawl each to their mothers. The ceremony was organised to celebrate the first Lohri of 21 new-born girl child.

Speaking on the occasion the minister declared that the state government had decided to observe 2003 as the year for women. The government would launch various schemes for the welfare of women. To start with the government had decided to implement the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution in the state. Under this the government had decided to reserve 33 per cent seats of presidents of panchayat samitis and zila parishads for women.

The Principal Secretary, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Ms Tajinder Kaur, the Director Social Security, Mr Som Prakash, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, were among those present on the occasion.


5 narco-terrorists held
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 10
The police today arrested five members of an inter-state gang of narco-terrorists of Jammu and Kashmir, including two having links with dreaded terrorist outfit Hijbul Mujahideen, and seized 20 kg of charas worth Rs 25 lakh from the truck in which they were travelling.

Disclosing this at a press conference here this evening, Mr Rohit Chaudhary, DIG, Jalandhar Range, and Mr R.N. Dhoka, SSP, Kapurthala, said those arrested were Jalaludin, driver of the truck, Mohammed Aslam Bani, Mohammed Hussain Malik and Mohammed Maqbool of Jammu and Kashmir and Kiran Kumar Arora of Jalandhar. Kiran Kumar was at present working as a truck-body builder in Jammu and Kashmir.

On a tip-off, a police party headed by local DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill, searched the truck loaded with boxes of grapes and pomegranates at Hadiabad sub-town and seized charas concealed in three boxes.

The police officers said Kiran Kumar of Preetnagar, Jalandhar, went to Vijaybihada in Anantnag district in February last year to work as a truck-mechanic and there he came in contact with Mohammed Aslam Bani of Ramani and Mohammed Hussain Malik when the latter had come to get their truck repaired. They told Kiran Kumar that they wanted to sell charas in Punjab and promised to pay him commission for helping them.

The police officers said Mohammed Aslam Bani had admitted to be a terrorist of Hijbul Mujahideen and having gone to Pakistan in 1991. Twentyfive youths of Armani village had also gone with him to Pakistan. He had later surrendered before the Army. His accomplice Mohammed Hussain Malik also had links with Hijbul Mujahideen. His nephew Munna was the area commander of the outfit.


Travel agents booked on fraud charge
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, January 10
The Majitha police today registered a case against a Delhi-based travel agent for allegedly duping three persons of Rs 25 lakh by promising to send them abroad.

Rajinder Singh, a resident of Waraich village, in his complaint lodged at Beas police station in Majitha police district alleged that Navin Nayyar of Karol Bagh, New Delhi, had duped his brother-in-law Manjit Singh of the same village on pretext of sending him to Australia. He said the accused took more than Rs 12 lakh from Manjit Singh. Similarly, he said the accused took Rs 5 lakh from Jarnail Singh and more than Rs 3 lakh from Sukhwinder Singh of Tapiala village for sending them to New Zealand and Canada, respectively.

The complainant said the money was given to the accused in the presence of Rajbir Singh and Baldev Singh of Tapiala village on May 15, 2002. He alleged that the accused had neither send them abroad nor returned back the money.

Meanwhile, the Majitha police has busted a gang of looters and seized two pistols of .303 and .315 bore, four cartridges of .303 and three cartridges of .315, sharp-edged weapons and two motorcycles from them. Those arrested have been identified as Gurmukh Singh of Dhulka village, Jagat Narain of Hansali Bazar, Amritsar, KaranKapoor of colony Prince, alias Vicky, of the Misra Singh colony, Inderjit Singh of Dhulkha village and Jogeshwar Singh of the Lachhmansar chowk.

GURDASPUR: The police has arrested a travel agent and booked four others for duping Mr Ranjit Singh, a resident of Naussehra Bahadur, 6 km from here of Rs 5 lakh on the promise of sending his son abroad.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said that travel agent Kuldeep Singh had been arrested in this regard. However, his accomplices Paramjit Singh, a resident of Naussehra Bahadur, had left for Korea about a year ago, Sanjiv Kumar had left for Japan six months ago while his wife Surekha was still at large.

The SSP said Mr Ranjit Singh complained to the police that on June 18, 2001, he paid Rs 5 lakh to Kuldeep Singh for sending his son abroad but the latter neither fulfilled his promise nor refunded the money.

Mr Varinder Kumar said Kuldeep Singh had confessed to having taken Rs 5 lakh from Mr Ranjit Singh but the accused claimed that part of the money had been returned to Mr Ranjit Singh. Kuldeep Singh has been sent to judicial custody.

Phagwara: Two travel agents of Delhi have cheated five youths of Malikpur-Pandori village of Rs 30 lakh on the pretext of sending them to the USA.

It was learnt yesterday that Rashpal Singh of Malikpur-Pandori, Jaswinder Singh, Charanjit Singh, Dalbir Singh and Kashmiri Lala had struck a deal with Delhi-based travel agents Azim Mohammed Karim and Gurdev.


Another lot of missing paddy found
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 10
The police, bolstered by its success in recovering the missing government paddy and unearthing the clandestine ways allegedly adopted by certain rice millers to embezzle government paddy, claims to have recovered another lot of the missing paddy from two rice mills in Guruharsahai. With today’s seizure, the total government paddy recovered by the police amounts to staggering more than 1.30 crore.

According to Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, the police has seized more bags of paddy belonging to Punsup from Satnam Rice Mills, Guruharsahai, and another remaining lot has been recovered from Shivalik Rice Mills, Muthanwali Road, Guruharsahai. He said Gurpreet Singh, son of Ranjit Singh and Vijay Kumar Dhuria who was working as an accountant with Satnam Rice Mills, were arrested. On the basis of information given by Surjit Singh who had been earlier arrested, the police yesterday raided Shivalik Rice Mills, Guruharsahai, where paddy belonging to Punjab Agro had been stocked. The police found that 1,710 bags of paddy were in excess and recovered raw rice equivalent to 3,339 bags of paddy from Shivalik Rice Mills and later, scaled the same.

Besides, this, the police seized 1,950 bags of rice bearing the stamp of Punsup and Pashupati Rice Mills from the residence of Vijay Dhuria in Fazilka which is equivalent to 4,101 bags of paddy. He said Vijay Dhuria, who owns a flour mill also, allegedly sold off some rice earlier.

Mr Sinha said till date the total physical recovery of paddy amounted to 55,888 bags which was worth Rs 1,30,94,558. He said 8,129 bags were still missing out of which there was a probability that some quantity must have been sold off earlier. The SSP said the alleged offenders had managed to create false I and J forms showing the purchase of paddy from some commission agents. He said the statements of truck operators who had allegedly shifted the stock of government paddy from Pashupati Rice Mills, Abohar, to various places in Guruharsahai had been recorded. He said since Punsup was using fresh bags to stock and store paddy, there was no possibility that the bags were recycled and as they had been stitched only once.


Varsity removes clause on Punjabi
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 10
Punjabi University today removed the clause of proficiency in Punjabi as a criterion for recruitment of teachers in the university. Non-Punjabi teachers recruited by the university would be given time to learn the language besides a monetary incentive. The decision to this effect was taken at a Syndicate meeting here today.

Deciding to do away with reservation in promotions for Scheduled Caste candidates, it was made clear that reservation would only be at the time of recruitment and the caste factor would not play any role with regard to promotion. Earlier, SC/BC and general category employees distributed pamphlets among the syndics stating their viewpoints.

Although not on the agenda, the syndics also discussed the case of B.Sc students studying in colleges under Punjabi University, as they have to study more subjects compared to their counterparts in other universities. High-level sources said a decision with regard to the problem of B.Sc students was taken, whereby they would now study Punjabi in the first year, English in the second year and only science subjects in the third year of their degree course.

With an aim to attract better talent, the Syndicate has increased the remuneration for artistes to be invited to the university’s Department of Theatre and Television.

The Syndicate also enhanced the amount for house building loan to university employees besides allowing them to avail of medical facilities at any well-known private cardiology centre in Patiala.

Presiding over the meeting, the Vice-Chancellor, Mr SS Boparai, stressed that there was an urgent need to upgrade the courses offered by the university and equip the teachers with the latest techniques in the field of education. He further stated that Punjabi University would undertake a comprehensive exercise to consolidate its strength and remove its weaknesses.

It was also decided at the meeting to award punishment of compulsory retirement to office superintendent Harpal Singh for his “acts of indiscipline and various other serious lapses”. Dr Baldev Singh and Dr Param Bakshish Singh were formally appointed as Professor in charge of Examinations and Registrar respectively.


Giani Mann Singh joins as Head Granthi of Damdama Sahib
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, January 10
Giani Mann Singh, a former Head Granthi of Takht Damdama Sahib, who had submitted his resignation after he was transferred to Gandha Singh Gurdwara, Barnala, in June, 2001, by the then SGPC President, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, allegedly for raising his voice against the violation of “maryada” by Jatha Bhindran, today again joined as Head Granthi here.

Giani Mann Singh today went to Takht Damdama Sahib and paid his obeisance and then took charge of Head Granthi from Giani Sukhdev Singh.

Giani Mann Singh, a confidant of the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, was transferred when he objected to the ‘maryada’ followed by Jatha Bhindran, which differed from “maryada” followed by Akal Takht. He also raised his voice against granting permission for organising a ‘path bodh’ (recitation of Gurbani) by Jatha Bhindran by the SGPC in which the “maryada” of Akal Takht was voilated in 2001.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that after Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar became the SGPC President, Giani Mann Singh was taken back into service and was posted at Anandpur Sahib. He was transferred to Talwandi Sabo in the recent past.

Sources at Takht Damdama Sahib pointed out that Giani Mann Singh had been appointed as the Head Granthi again. There was no protest from any quarter against the appointment of Giani Mann Singh.


Tubewell connections cut due to non-payment
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 10
Consequent to the withdrawal of free electricity to farmers, the Punjab State Electricity Board has issued bills to the farmers for their tubewell connections. The PSEB has issued 3,100 temporary disconnection orders to farmers falling under this and Ladhuka subdivisions.

The Punjab Government had on October 1, 2002, decided to charge Rs 60 per horse power per month for motors used by the farmers for running their tubewells. According to a survey conducted by the PSEB, 5,561 tubewells here and about, 4,200 in the adjoining Ladhuka subdivisions respectively, were being run by the farmers who were asked to pay their bills by seventh of every month. However, as the Congress Government has reimposed it after five years the farmers were allowed to clear their bills by January 7, 2003. The government has reportedly given this permission due to the lack of infrastructure and the shortage of staff. In this subdivision about 4,000 farmers out of 5,561 have cleared their bills so far.

Due to the shortage of staff both offices of subdivisions could not calculate the exact outstanding amount towards farmers yet according to an estimate they owe more than Rs 10 lakh to the PSEB. The board has issued instructions for the temporary disconnections of the farmers’ tubewells. However, PSEB sources reveal that the board has recovered more than Rs 30 lakh from 6,700 farmers.

The PSEB authorities don’t have any clear instructions pertaining to issuance of bills to the farmers in whose fields landmines were laid. Hence connections of the farmers who have not consumed power will also be disconnected due to the non-payment. There are about 250 such farmers in Fazilka and another 200 in Ladhuka subdivisions, respectively.

The sources reveal that the functioning of the PSEB office has been hit hard due to the shortage of staff. The only post of the Revenue Accountant in Fazilka office has been lying vacant since long. There is only one clerk to collect the bills against six sanctioned posts and one cashier against four approved posts. Similarly there is one upper divisional clerk in place of two. Only one bill distribution clerk works against three sanctioned posts. In Ladhuka subdivision too there is one bill distribution clerk against sanctioned three posts. All four posts of cashiers are also lying vacant. Besides there is one bill clerk against three posts and one upper divisional clerk against three.

Senior officers of the board appear to have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of their junior employees who have been persistently demanding filling up of the vacancies for several years.


Parties gear up for Maghi Mela
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 10
Even as devotees from far-flung areas have started converging on the town to pay obeisance in the historical gurdwaras by braving the biting cold and foggy weather, both SAD (Badal) and Congress leaderships have started mobilising crowds for their respective conferences on January 14 as a show of strength.

While SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal has been contacting central BJP leaders to attend the conference, the Congress has been making efforts to ensure the presence of its high command leaders and MP, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. The Congress and SAD leaders have been touring the villages and surrounding towns to draw people in their respective “pandals”.

Mr Jagmeet Brar, who was not invited to all-party meeting convened by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the issue of minimum support price (MSP) of paddy a few months ago, was invited at the all-party meeting convened by him on the SYL canal issue held in Chandigarh. Mr Brar has been gaining acceptability in the state Congress leadership after inter-state issues have started re-surfacing and embarrassing the Congress government. Last year, Mr Brar and his supporters did not attend the party conference on the occasion of Maghi Mela.

Sources in SAD revealed that the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, who is a friend of Mr Badal might miss the party’s conference to avoid any embarrassing situation on the SYL canal issue. The Delhi BJP chief, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, union minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP Central leader Arun Jaitley might attend the Akali conference.

The Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), SAD (Amritsar), Lok Bhalai Party, CPI and BKU will also hold their respective conferences.

The district civil and police administrations have made elaborate arrangements of basic amenities and security for the convenience of devotees.

Both the Congress and SAD are expected to use the SYL canal issue to show each other in bad light. The two parties will also use the occasion to launch the campaign for the municipal council elections scheduled for March.

Meanwhile, small traders have started pitching up tents on the roadside to sell toys, religious literature, audio cassettes and delicacies.

About 10 lakh devotees are expected to attend the Maghi Mela.


‘Misbehaviour’ by DC irks Cong
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 10
The District Congress Committee (Rural) is likely to take up the issue of alleged misbehaviour of the Deputy Commissioner with a senior Dalit Congress leader, Mr Amrik Singh Mardi, in the former’s office yesterday.

Mr Inderjit Singh Baserke, DCC (Rural) president, said the issue could be taken up at its meeting scheduled to be held here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Dalit Council, Punjab, has also decided to take up the issue with the Congress high command for taking strict action against the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, for allegedly using derogatory remarks against its state chairman, Mr Mardi.

Mr Mardi has sought a high-level inquiry into the incident. He has said Mr Sidhu should be transferred from Amritsar to ensure an impartial inquiry.

Mr Sidhu has been in a web of controversies ever since he took over as Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar before the annual election of the SGPC executive held in November, last year. He was the first Deputy Commissioner to get all ‘serais’ in the SGPC complex vacated by issuing prohibitory orders.

Even after 24 hours of the submission of an affidavit by Mr Mardi, the Deputy Commissioner has failed to issue any clarification.


Land grab: residents form panel
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 10
Residents of the local Subash Basti have formed a five-member committee to save a piece of land in their locality valued at crores of rupees which they claim is a “shamlat” (common land) from being encroached upon by two former police personnel, who claim to be the owners of the land.

The issue has virtually divided the residents into two groups. While the retired cops want to use the land claiming to be its owners, most of the residents are against it. The police personnel even tried to construct a wall on the piece of land, but the municipal authorities foiled their bid.

As per information land in question belonged to a person settled in Haryana. As the owner was not residing in the city, a mafia allegedly tried to grab the land. The two cops had led the residents in getting the land vacated from the mafia, by pleading the case in a local court, some years ago. The residents alleged that now the cops themselves wanted to grab the land, which has a market price of about 1.5 crore.

Tension has gripped the colony for the past few days. One of the alleged encroachers has claimed that a head of a religious body gifted the piece of land to him, while residents negated the claim.


Staff shortage in hospital
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 10
Inadequate medical facilities at the state-run Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here has been causing problems for patients who come from far-off places.

Shortage of experts, non-availability of medicines and other requisite medical items and modern equipment were major shortcomings. Many departments like medicine, anatomy and cardiac care were working under assistant professors or lecturers for the past many years. Emergency services were being maintained by deputing doctors from different departments on rotation basis in the absence of regular emergency medical officers. The working in the Surgery Department is also likely to suffer the end of next month after the retirement of Dr Inderjit Singh, Head of the Department. One of the senior doctor in this department, Dr H.P.S. Sandhu, had already got premature retirement and the other Dr R.S. Khurmi had also applied for the same.

Shortage of senior staff was also affecting quality education. In spite of all this, the Punjab Government has placed the services of many doctors including Dr Bimal Garg (Medicine) and Dr Manjit Singh (Gynaecology) at the disposal of the Director, Health Services.

The Medical Council of India has already stopped admissions to the post-graduate courses in ophthalmology from the next academic session due to non-availability of senior professors. Lack of proper facilities in biochemistry laboratory was another problem.


Resource crunch hits work on mini dams
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 10
The scheme for the construction of mini dams in the Kandi area has been adversely affected because of the shortage of funds.

The state government had prepared a scheme to construct a chain of 31 mini dams on various choes/khuds in the Kandi area to store rain water for irrigation purpose. Besides storing water, these dams were to control the fury of floods during monsoon.

The construction of Thanna Dam at Khawaju Khud in Dasuya subdivision of this district was sanctioned by the state government for the department concerned had completed the formalities.

According to official sources, the estimated cost of the dam would be Rs 1981 lakh. With its completion irrigation facility to 1160 hectares of land of 11 villages around it in the Kandi area would be provided. But due to the non-availability of funds the construction has not started yet.

There is one Superintending Engineer, four Executive Engineers, 14 Sub-Divisional Officers, 60 Junior Engineers and hundreds of work charged and non-technical staff members in the Dholbaha Dam construction circle who are carrying on construction work on these dams. The annual expenditure on the establishment of the circle is more than Rs 6.50 crore. The non-availability of requisite funds has rendered the entire staff idle.

Mr Kuldip Kumar Nanda, president, District Congress Committee, told this correspondent that he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister and stress upon him to release the requisite funds for construction of Thanna Dam.


Corporation NoC must for power connection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The PSEB will now insist on production of a “no-objection certificate” from the Municipal Corporation before releasing any new electricity connection in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

The step is intended to enable the Department of Local Government to prevent unauthorised occupation of “illegal” buildings. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken cognizance of non-compoundable building bylaws’ violations in the corporation cities. To escape necessary action by the enforcement agencies, these buildings are generally occupied by defaulters without getting “completion certificates” from the Corporation, under Section 272 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976.

As per this section, anyone who gets a building erected with the assistance of a qualified person: engineer/architect or one approved by the corporation has to get a ‘’completion certificate’’ within one month of the execution of the work done before occupying the same and also extend full facilities to the inspecting authorities. If the “completion certificate” is not received within 30 days, the building is deemed to have been “approved”.

Therefore, the Secretary, Local government, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, has asked PSEB Chairman, Sudhir Mittal that field officers of the board must insist on a “no objection certificate” from the corporation from an applicant seeking a new power connection.


Sekhon’s appointment challenged

Chandigarh, January 10
A petition challenging the appointment of J.S. Sekhon as the Chief Commissioner for Gurdwara Elections was rendered infructuous.

In his petition, the President of the All-India Human Rights Watch, Col N.S. Pandher had earlier challenged the appointment of Justice Sekhon as the Chief Commissioner, claiming the same to be “illegal”, “void” and “without jurisdiction”.

Giving details, the petitioner had submitted that Justice Sekhon was not entitled to any assignment under the Punjab and the Union Governments as he had served as a member of the human rights commission. Elaborating upon his contention, he had added that according to Section 24 (3) of the Human Rights Commission Act, a member could not accept any government assignment after serving in the commission.


VB completes probe into Mayor case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 10
The Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar Range, has completed a departmental inquiry into the corruption charges against Mr Suresh Sehgal, a former Mayor of Jalandhar, and sent the report to its head office in Chandigarh for further action. This was stated by Mr Lok Nath Angra, SP, Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar Range, while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Sehgal said the bureau had not received any complaint against any of the former BJP ministers so far. Referring to a recent case of taking illegal gratification by the Additional Superintending Engineer of PSEB, suburban division, Hoshiarpur, he said Mr Jagdish Kahlon, SP, Vigilance Headquarters Range, Jalandhar, was investigating the case and action would be taken as per his report. Mr Angra said the bureau had caught 24 government employees while taking illegal gratification during the current financial year.


Badungar releases cassette
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 10
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Kirpal Singh Badungar today released a cassette of gurbani “Sach Kahoon” by Dr Gurnam Singh from Department of Music, Punjabi University at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Gurnam Singh said the cassette consisted of recital of bani of Guru Gobind Singh and is based on classicial ragas. The SGPC President said the SGPC would honour Dr Gurnam Singh for his efforts in rendering the ‘bani’ of Guru Gobind Singh in classical style. He said the SGPC was also going in for training its own ‘ragis’ so that they could also render all ‘gurbani’ according to classical ‘ragas’ instead of using modern trends. He said three-month courses would be run to train ‘ragis’ at Sultanpur Lodhi in this regard.

Academician Kulwant Singh Grewal also spoke about the contribution of Dr Gurnam Singh’s family to the cause of ‘shabad gurbani’ rendition. T Series Managing Director Darshan Kumar said his company had produced this cassette as part of its series to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa.


CM’s advice on town planning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today stressed the need for developing cities/towns keeping in view the future needs in terms of physical infrastructure.

Presiding over a meeting of the Punjab Regional and Town Planning Board , he said that the town planning process must address the problems of haphazard growth of unplanned and illegal colonies on the one hand and mushroom growth of slums on the other.

The board approved the outline master plans of SAS Nagar and Anandpur Sahib.


Waste management plant to be set up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
The municipal corporation here will collaborate with Netherlands Management Cooperation Programme (NMCP) and the Lions Club, Amritsar, to set up a solid waste management plant, according to a joint statement issued by Mr D.P. Gupta, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, and Mr K.R. Jain, Coordinator, waste management project, here today.

A two-member team comprising Mr W.De Feyter and Mr L.J.M. Hogendoorn, which reached here today, will tour the city.

The team will carry out a suriety for a fortnight to advise on collection, transportation and processing of waste. Simultaneously, the corporation with assistance of resident welfare association and NGOs will create awareness amongst residents through seminars, workshops that will be attended by MC officials and NGOs.

The team will also visit areas of Chheharta, Kot Khalsa, Rani Ka Bagh, Rattan Chand Road, Albert, Yaseen roads and Rose Avenue.


NRIs hail dual citizenship
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 10
Non-resident Indians of the Doaba Region today hailed the dual citizenship granted to them by government of India.

A random interaction with them, including philanthropist-cum educationist Jagat Singh Palahi from Canada, business woman Kanwaljit Dhatt of Toronto (Canada), Social activist Lehmbher Singh Ghagg of the UK, employees Sukhinder Singh Ranu of the UK, Swarn Singh Ranu of Surrey, British Columbia in Canada, and Manjit Singh Gill of the USA revealed that they all welcomed the step. They said it would further strengthen their bond with their native land, besides encouraging the children to visit India frequently.


SGPC to probe conversion of Sikh youth
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
Taking serious note of the conversion of a Sikh youth by a Muslim “tantrik”, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President said an inquiry would be conducted into the incident. He said the Muslim community should identify such elements who were bent upon flaring communal passions and take strict action against them.

Expressing concern, Prof Badungar said Pragat Singh, a resident of Khair village, was lured by a Muslim “tantrik”, Mohammed Bashir, for a job in Uttar Pradesh, where he was forcibly circumcised to convert him into a Muslim. Prof Badungar demanded action against the accused.


PSEB unions hold rally
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 10
Various employee unions, including the PSEB Employees Federation, the PSEB Technical Services Union and the Employees Federation, PSEB, participated in a “rasta roko” programme in the Post Office Chowk here today.

The employees also held a rally which was addressed by Mehar Singh, president, Technical Services Union, PSEB, Mr Darbara Singh of the Employees Federation, PSEB, and Bibi Amrik Kaur, president Istri Welfare Association. The employees by and far condemned the privatisation of the government and added that joint action committee of the PSEB would oppose the privatisation of the PSEB.


Ban orders near ammo dumps
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
The District Magistrate today prohibited the burning of remnants of wheat and paddy crops and the construction of buildings in the vicinity of ammunition dumps in the district. The orders read, ‘Burning of remnants of crop and constructing buildings near the ammunition dumps may cause considerable danger to the properties and to the lives of the people residing in the vicinity of the dumps.


BSF troops gun down intruder
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 10
Troops of 132 Battalion of the Border Security Force thwarted an intrusion bid from Pakistan on the dark foggy night of January 8.

Around 3 am, alert troops of the battalion spotted an intruder trying to negotiate the cobra fencing and creep inside the Indian territory at the border outpost of Mohammadiwala. When the intruder ignored the challenge of the BSF troops, they gunned him down on the spot.


Bar members meet on lawyers’ chambers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 10
An emergency meeting of the Sangrur District Bar Association, held under the presidentship of Mr Sirjiwan Jain, president of the association, discussed the matter of construction of chambers for advocates here today.

Later, Mr Jain said the Bar members had authorised him to pursue the matter. He said he had also discussed it with the District and Sessions Judge, who had assured him that the construction would start soon.


Hike in Punjab bus fares likely

Sangrur, January 10
Travel in Punjab Government buses is likely to cost more soon in view of the steep hike in the prices of diesel and spare parts, besides the salaries of the staff. This was hinted by Transport Minister Tej Prakash Singh, while talking to reporters at Sunam, near here today.

He said committees had been constituted to introduce reforms in the operations of Punjab Roadways and the Pepsu Transport Corporation buses, which had been incurring considerable losses.

This would automatically affect travel by private buses, operating on important long-distance routes. UNI


Another EPF scam, 1 arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 10
Even as the dust raised by the multi-lakh Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scam at Ropar Thermal Plant is yet to settle down, a scam pertaining to irregularities committed by contractors in EPF accounts have come to light at Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, in the district.

The scam came to light today when the district police arrested one of the culprits, Jasvir Singh. Jasvir had committed irregularities in the EPF worth about Rs 3 lakh.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, in a press note issued here today, said Jasvir was looking after the affairs of a construction company that had employed labourers for undertaking a job at the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant.

There were 40 labourers working in the company and the contractor had to deposit money in the EPF accounts at the rate of 12.5 per cent of the salary of each labourer. But Jasvir deposited only some instalments and afterwards stopped making payments in the EPF accounts.

However, Jasvir withdrew the payments from the thermal plant by preparing false papers and fake challan bills. He kept everybody in the dark about the withdrawal of the amount. The company concerned had taken the contract in the chemical department of the plant from April 1, 2001, to July 31, 2002.


Kanungo’ booked for graft
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
The Majitha police has booked a ‘kanungo’ allegedly for demanding a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from Mahinder Singh, a resident of Rayya, for solving a land dispute in his favour pending in a tehsil court.

Mahinder Singh alleged that his land dispute had been pending in Baba Bakala tehsil court. He said he had given the money to Ninder Singh, the ‘kanungo’ in the presence of Santokh Singh of Wadala village and Dilbagh Singh of Bholjola village. He alleged that the accused neither returned his money nor solved the case in his favour.

A case has been registered after an enquiry.


Truck recovered
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 10
The police here today recovered the truck that was stolen after the murder of its three occupants yesterday. The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said the truck along with the material loaded on it was recovered from Khanna.

He further said the third victim had also been identified. With this the three persons murdered yesterday have been identified as Kashmiri Lal, the driver of the truck and a resident of Bassi Pathana, Murli Ram of Allahabad and Krishan Lal of Rajasthan, both labourers.

The motive of the crime either seems to be robbery or rivalry.


Scribe surrenders before police

Ropar, January 10
Balbir Singh Shantpuri, a journalist, who has been booked for allegedly molesting a noted Punjabi artiste, was arrested by the police after he surrendered before it this evening. The police had registered a case against him and his accomplice Jagjit Singh Billu, a few days ago on a complaint of the artiste, who had alleged that both the accused had tried to outrage her modesty after she was coming out of Dr Ambedkar Bhavan here after performing in a programme.


Bhangra prizes for Ludhiana students
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 10
Teams from two Ludhiana schools won top positions in Bhangra on the concluding day of the annual state-level inter school competitions organised by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB), at Bal Bhavan, Sector 23, Chandigarh, today.

While the team from Ramgarhia Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, won the first prize in bhangra, the team from G.H.G. Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Guru Sar Sadhar, Ludhiana, won the second prize in the competition. The team from Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Ropar won the third prize.

In the declamation contest, Tejinder Singh of Government Senior Secondary School, Khumanon, won the first prize while Amitoj Dhaliwal of Baba Farid Public School, Bathinda, came second. Navkiran Kaur of J.S.F.H. High School, Nawanshahr, was third.

In the folk music/geet contest, Lakhvinder Kumar of DAV Senior Secondary School, Amritsar, got the first prize while Nitesh of Ramgarhia Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, came second, Amanpreet Singh of S.D.C. Senior Secondary School, Mirjajan, Gurdaspur, came third. In the creative writing competition, Navkashdeep Singh of SRSD Senior Secondary School, Faridkot, got the first prize while Ashish Syal of Arya Senior Secondary School, Phagwara, came second. Jagroop Kaur of Mahavir Jain Senior Secondary School, Phagwara came third.

The winners were given away prizes by the Cultural Councillor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr Bang Linh Hai, who presided over the day’s events.


Private college teachers observe strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
Teachers of private colleges of Punjab and Haryana observed strike for one period here today, to protest against inaction of the DAV College managing committee and the Punjab Government regarding allegations of corruption, nepotism and sex scandal against the Principal of DAV College, Jalandhar.

Dr V.K. Sharma, secretary, Punjab-Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), asserted that the union would agitate against the unwarranted attitude of the authorities and demanded an inquiry against the charges against the principal of the said institute. He said although a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister in December for a vigilance inquiry into the incident but nothing has been done so far.

Meanwhile, colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh would observe a two-period strike on January 16 in this regard.


Elementary schools closed in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
All elementary schools in Punjab were today ordered closed up to January 15 in view of the cold weather. In the case of composite schools, where classes from Class-I to high school or higher secondary are present, the elementary section will be closed.

The Deputy Commissioners, who have issued separate orders on the subject are requested to modify their orders accordingly, says a press note.


Stone laid for boys hostel
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 10
Mr Khushhal Bahl, Education Minister, today laid the foundation stone of a hostel for boys on the Guru Nanak Dev University Regional campus, here. The hostel would have 30 dormitories, a dining hall, a common room, a canteen and other amenities.

One hundred students would be accommodated in this hostel which would be completed before the next academic session. It would be constructed at a cost of around Rs 1.35 crore.

A separate hostel for 100 women students is already under construction and it would be ready in June.

Mr Bahl also inaugurated the Centre of Dress Designing, Tailoring and Cutting set up recently under the supervision of the Adult Continuing Education and Extension Department of the university.

Mr Bahl directed the university authorities to open a floriculture institute in this border belt which is known as the horticulture belt.

Mr Bahl said the government had released Rs 40 lakh for development works by the local Municipal Corporation. Of this amount, Rs 10 lakh would be spent on the completion of sewerage and Rs 30 lakh on water supply and sewerage facilities in the areas of Prem Nagar, Krishna Mandir Gali, Arya Nagar and Rori Mohalla.

He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh from his discretionary fund for the university regional campus.


Cold wave cheers dealers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 7
With fog engulfing the region and mercury dipping further normal life seems to have been thrown out of gear. But these foggy days have cheered up traders of woollen garments.

While the delay in the arrival of winter had dampened the spirits of wool traders, intense cold wave which started about a week ago has cheered them up. The delay in the onset of winter had forced them to resort to the ‘distress sales’ of their goods.

The sales have been picking up, not only at the showrooms, but with those selling woollen garments at the roadside too. Some customers at a roadside garment seller said they did not plan to spend lavishly on winter clothes, which were used only for a month or two. They claimed that garments sold at roadside shops, were as good as the ones sold in expensive showrooms.

A garment seller, having an expensive showroom on the Mall Road, said their garments were purchased by customers who viewed woollens as a fashion statement. Admitting that their garments were costly, he claimed that now the customers were ready to pay for quality as well.

The anti-encroachment drive launched against the poor rehri, rickshaw and roadside garment sellers on the Mall Road by the district authorities has yielded results but has also made a considerable dent in their earnings. Some of the roadside traders have now installed their temporary shops on some other roads of the city to keep their kitchen fire burning.

Mr Beant Singh, who has been selling woollens for the past 20 years claimed that they had been buying these from Delhi. Answering a question he said they purchase these garments by weight and sell them per piece after proper grading.


State-level meeting of builders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
A state-level meeting of the Builders Association, Punjab, was held here today under the chairmanship of Mr P.S. Sandhu, president of the union. Mr V.P. Takyar, president of the building consortium, was guest of honour.

The meeting unanimously stressed the need for improving professional approach in the construction business. It was decided at the meeting to bring out a yellow-page directory on civil engineers, manufacturers and suppliers.

This would lead to adoption of new and faster construction techniques and specialised services in civil construction practices, Mr S.K. Malhotra stated in a press note here today.

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