Tuesday, January 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Link MSP with price index: SAD
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Dhanaula (Sangrur), January 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today asked the Union Government to link the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat, paddy and other crops with the price index to safeguard the interests of farmers. The MSP should be hiked on the pattern of dearness allowance. The SAD also urged the Centre to evolve a formula for this purpose.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD, said the Union Government should take steps to link the MSP with the price index immediately to help farmers.

Mr Badal was here in connection with the annual Jor Mela, organised at Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Natha Singh Dhanaula.

Mr Badal extended the SAD’s support to the agitation by sacked panchayat secretaries. He said these secretaries should be appointed again. He also supported the agitation by sugarcane growers regarding the payment of arrears. He said the state government should make immediate arrangements for the released of the payment to pacify the agitating farmers.

Mr Badal said the SAD had not participated in the all-party meeting convened by the Punjab Chief Minister on the issue of the SYL canal because it felt that the Congress had always “betrayed” by the interests of the state on the issue of river waters in the past. The SAD was also not in favour of a proposal of the Union Government for linking the rivers of all states in the country. He said water was a natural resources, like coal, of the states so it should remain with the states on the basis of riparian laws.

With regard to the controversy in connection with the appointment of Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla as Sangrur district president of the SAD, Mr Badal said the matter would be sorted out soon.

Addressing the gathering Mr Badal lashed out at the Congress and its government in Punjab. He said the Congress had always worked against the Sikhs by doing injustice to them after interfering in their religious affairs. He said the Amarinder government proved this by interfering in the recently held SGPC presidential election.

Mr Badal sought the help of the people in the proposed “rasta roko andolan” on February 10 by the SAD in the state. He said the SAD would fight to save the interests of all Punjabis. He predicted that Capt Amarinder Singh would not remain the Chief Minister after four months as he was facing opposition even in his own party.

Mr Badal said the Congress government had taken several “anti-people” decisions, including the reimposition of power tariff on farmers and octroi on traders. He said the Congress government had even stopped the old-age pension of needy persons.

Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, MLA from Dhanaula, also criticised the Congress government in Punjab on various issues. He said the river water dispute was the creation of the Congress. He asked the gathering to participate in the “rasta roko andolan” in a big way.

Several BJP leaders from Punjab, including Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, state BJP president, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary (organisation) of the Punjab BJP, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal and Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general secretaries of the Punjab BJP, Mr Vijay Sampla, vice-president of the Punjab BJP and Mr Sukhwant Singh Dhanaula, vice-president of the Punjab BJP, also addressed the gathering. They also criticised the government in Punjab for allegedly adopting “anti-people” policies.


SYL: BJP’s offer to govt
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 13
The state unit of the BJP is ready to support the Punjab Government on the SYL issue and even negotiate with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on the same provided Capt Amarinder Singh, takes the Opposition in confidence and convenes an all-party meeting soon.

Stating this to the media here, state BJP unit president, Brij Lal Rinwa alleged that a sensitive issue like the SYL was not being properly handled by the state government as it had failed to properly negotiate with the Central Government, besides failing to file a review petition in the Supreme Court on the issue. Offering to initiate a dialogue between the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana and the Prime Minister, the BJP president said his party supported the argument put forward by the Punjab Government that the state did not have surplus water and that experts should be appointed in this regard.

Accusing Capt Amarinder Singh of abruptly calling the recent all- party meeting, Mr Rinwa said as the SYL issue concerns the people of Punjab the same should not be politicised, especially when there was acute water scarcity in Bathinda, Ferozepore and Faridkot districts.

He also criticised the reported decision of the state government to disinvest 18 tourist complexes in the state and alleged that the decision of the state government to bill the agriculture sector would further hit the farmers.

National vice-president of the Bhartiya Janta Kisan Morcha and general secretary of the state BJP unit, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, disclosed that more than 500 members of the morcha would meet the Prime Minister today with regard to the alleged non-utilisation of Central Government relief money meant for drought victims.

Speaking on the coming Himachal Pradesh elections Mr Rinwa said 15 BJP teams from Punjab would shortly leave for the hill state in this regard.


90 colleges face closure if grants cut
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
At least 90 government-aided private colleges will face closure if a 50 per cent cut in grant-in-aid is effected in Punjab.

Most of these colleges, believed to be ‘financially sick’, are in backward, semi-urban and kandi areas and scores of these are women colleges. This has come at a time when the actual release of grant has been Rs 64.8 crore against Rs 104 crore for the current year. The total grant availed of by schools/colleges was Rs 185 crore in 2001-02.

College teachers have not received salaries for periods ranging from one month to nine months for want of timely receipt of full grant-in-aid. In fact, these aided, affiliated colleges have already been facing a 10 per cent, per annum, cut in grants since 1998-99.

The intended 50 per cent cut has come at a time when the PCCTU is fighting for a pension-cum-gratuity scheme as approved by the then Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on December 18, 1996. There are no takers of the one introduced recently. Teachers and non-teaching staff have already refused to accept this ‘’slanted’’ pension-cum-gratuity scheme. The government did not receive any option during the designated four months till July 2002.

Articulating the sentiments of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, Prof Charanjit Chawla told TNS that any reduction in grants to the private colleges would be a step closer to hitting the cause of higher education, a public service to the needy. It would also be against the spirit of advancement of higher education, which was the ‘’responsibility of the state’’ as Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has often observed.

Prof Chawla pointed out that PCCTU office-bearers had not been able to meet Chief Minister Amarinder Singh since October, 2002. The appointments had been postponed time and again and the next one was now on January 16. Though the state government promised to honour its word and every commitment made in the February 2002 election manifesto, it had also put a rider — this would be possible only if and when the money became available. This bottomline holds good as much for PCCTU demands as for all other promises which have financial implications.

A cross-section of the college teachers from various districts told TNS on the telephone today that 170-odd government-aided private colleges catered to 80 per cent of the higher education needs against a mere 20 per cent met by 53 government colleges. The enrolment in private colleges was 2.19 lakh students and only 49,000 in government colleges.

The grant-in-aid was available to 140 colleges based on their staff strength till 1981. Thereafter, at least 32 more colleges have come up and the strength of teachers and non-teaching employees’ has also gone up. It is these post-1981 colleges which are facing the financial crunch and would be hit the most. At least 50 per cent of the existing senior staff of the aided colleges will retire by 2006 while 10 per cent each will retire in 2003-04, 2005-06, other 30 per cent in 2004-05. The government desires that these colleges should hire teachers on contract.


Role of underworld in films on decline’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 13
Film-maker and winner of this year’s Dada Sahib Phalke award Yash Chopra said though he worked hard, but it was God who made him succeed otherwise, “a lot of people do hard work and strive for success in their own and best possible ways.”

Mr Chopra, whose heart “bled” over today’s “soulless” film music and lack of encouragement to Punjabis in Bollywood by the Punjab government, said despite being in Bollywood for five decades, he was “staunch” Punjabi and loved Punjab like any other true Punjabi.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Chopra, who hails from Jalandhar, and was here to meet friends and relatives, said God’s blessing had made him carve a niche for himself in Indian cinema by making over 30 popular films like “Kabhi Kabhi”, “Silsila”, “Waqt”, “Dhool Ka Phool”, and “Daag”. I feel that God blessed me with a vision to create something good. People do hard work and may not achieve success, but my case was like “Laloo Kare Kawallian, Rabb Sidhian Paawe.” After God my elder brother and noted film-maker B.R. Chopra, gave me opportunity to grow as a film-maker. Though, he was reluctant to take me as his assistant as he wanted me to be an engineer and go abroad, but after lot of persuasion, he agreed and my career in films took off on January 1, 1951 when I went to Mumbai and started working as B.R.’s assistant. My first film as a director “Dhool Ka Phool”, was released in 1959,” he said.

On his sojourn in Bollywood, Mr Chopra said in 1971 I started flying on his own wings and when he tried his luck by making the Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore starrer, “Daag” which turned out to be a great success. “The film established me and after this there was no looking back. But real moment of joy for me came decades later when my son Aditya’s film, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge” set new records. I was happy to hear that the film succeeded in conveying its message when wards of Indians settled abroad started visiting India to have a feel of their motherland as the story was of a youngman who stood for Indian values and refused to elope with his girlfriend and marry her till her parents agreed,” said Mr Chopra.

Asserting that it was constant struggle for people like him in Bollywood as people wanted new things and had more and more choices nowadays. “People now watch world cinema and you can succeed only if you give them something really good.”

Mr Chopra said his heart beat for Punjab and Jalandhar. “It is where I was born and brought up. You can see the Punjabi spirit in me. I love to be here whenever I get a chance even if it was for the shooting of a film,” observed Mr Chopra, adding that he would shoot large part of his forthcoming film in Punjab. “It is about western influence on youngsters. We have the script ready and we are likely to start shooting in Punjab from March. You see north Indian influence in all of my pictures in one or the other way,” said Mr Chopra.

AMRITSAR: “I am proud to be a Punjabi but the Punjab government does not seem thinking the same way,” said Mr Yash Chopra. Mr Chopra visited Amritsar to pay his obeisance at the Golden Temple here today.

Mr Chopra said that the Punjab Government should reorganise the artistes of the film world and encourage them to make films in Punjab and in the Punjabi language. He felt disappointed that the government had not come forward to promote rich and robust Punjabi culture. He said that he would love to visit Punjab more often and make film here.

On the role of underworld in the film industry Mr Chopra pointed out that underworld was not able to make much dent in the film industry at present and its involvement had been on the decline. He said the new generation of film producers, directors and actors were working on their own and were not afraid of the underworld.

Talking about the crisis-ridden film industry in 2002 in which only a handful movies did well on the box office while majority of these flopped, Mr Chopra said last year was the worst in the history of the Hindi film industry with not a single great success and only a few films which ‘could be’ described as hits. He blamed piracy and lack of good scripts and new ideas. He said audience had become exposed to world cinema. Creating an acute need of new ideas which could click with the audience. TNS


Armenia, Georgia beckon Punjabis
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Punjabis must look beyond Punjab and grab all opportunities coming their way for profitable ventures not only outside the state but also outside the country. Times have changed when getting investments in the state was the mantra. Venturing out and investing in economically viable ventures is the key word in present-day economics.

This is the message given by Mr Deepak Vohra, India’s Ambassador to Armenia and Georgia, two highly literate members of the erstwhile Soviet Union, to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his brief visit to the city today.

“I am here to invite Punjabis to have a look at tremendous opportunities these two friendly nations have to offer. Both Armenia and Georgia have always been looking up to India for everything.

“And our relations with Armenia and Georgia are more than 2500 years old. Recently, when I went to call on the Pope of Armenia — it was the first country in the world to declare in 301 AD Christianity as its religion and Georgia was the next — he allowed me the privilege of visiting the basement of the church which had an ancient Hindu temple beneath.

“One of the Begums of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Mariam, was an Armenian. So were a doctor and a judge of his Court. Even the Nawab of Oudh had an Armenian wife who was known as “vilayati begum”.

“The Constitution of Armenia was written and published in Chennai in 1791 and the first Armenian newspaper, Azdarar, was also published from Chennai in 1773. In fact, the first Armenians to come to India were a part of the force Alexander the Great brought with him. And Indians had been regularly going to Armenia for centuries”. “So much so that there is a village in Armenia which is called India. Of course, now there are not many Indians in Armenia but still there are about 500 Indian students studying medicine there. The standard of education is very high and it is much more cheaper than studying medicine in India,” says Mr Vohra, holding that education is one area where Indians in general and Punjabis in particular can benefit.

“I am here to invite Punjabis to explore possibilities of their investment in small-scale industry, agriculture and education. Broadly, both Armenia and Georgia have tremendous potential in information technology and science and technology. It can serve as a good transit point for exporting goods to various European countries as Armenia has no quota limit. Entrepreuners from Punjab can bring their half-finished products to Armenia, finish them and then market them to any place in Europe.

“One of the major advantages of exploring industry in Armenia is cheap, skilled labour. The average per capita salary of a skilled worker is about $ 50 a month while for an unskilled worker it is $ 30 a month.

“Georgia is credited with winery. Ghvino had been the first wine Georgians made. Its wines, cognac and brandy are world known. In Georgia, most girls are named Indira,” adds Mr Vohra.

“My meetings with the Punjab Chief Minister went very well. A CII delegation is coming in March and I hope Punjab will bring its delegation to Armenia and Georgia before that. There are light engineering industrial units available,” he adds.

Armenia is one country whose diaspora is almost double than its actual population of three million. It was no security concern. Georgia on the other hand is facing secession and is a bigger country. The bilateral trade between India and Armenia is $ 5 million while it is $ 7 million with Georgia. India mainly exports meat, leather goods, light engineering goods and textiles to Armenia and imports virtually nothing but for some non-ferrous metals.

Two Indian companies engaged in gold extraction and diamond cutting and polishing are doing very well in Armenia, a country where “Raj Kapoor and Jimmy (Mithun Chakravarty) continue to be public “heroes”.

“I hope to double the bilateral trade within next two to three years,” says Mr Vohra.


Heartland of Malwa sans places of recreation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 13
The city’s civic body has been upgraded to a Municipal Corporation is often described as heartland of Malwa, but a large section of residents feel that it will take a long time to shed the image of a backward city as it lacks recreation centres. The only one such centre, the Municipal Rose Garden is in bad shape and cannot meet the needs of the population of the city.

The residents this correspondent contacted said the city touched the borders of Haryana and Rajasthan and there was ample scope for the development of recreation centres, gardens etc. But they alleged that either due to apathy of authorities or lack of funds, no such centre had been developed.

A hope was raised among the residents when the authorities had proposed to develop a recreation centre called “Leisure Valley” near the Rose Garden some years ago. Although several plans had been formulated for the development of a Leisure Valley, but nothing concrete happened in the past.

The proposal to develop the Leisure Valley was shelved for some time as the construction of a water treatment plant started in a part of it. Pits were dug for the construction of a huge lake and tank for storing canal water and the treated water, respectively, for supply to the residents. The earth dug up from the pits was dumped in another part of the valley.

Residents have urged the authorities concerned to develop the “Leisure Valley” without removing the earth dumped there. The residents said grass and plants grown on small dunes formed by the earth would give an aesthetic look to the parks. They said that it would also not be economical to remove earth from the area rather the “curls and curves” should be maintained.

Sources said that while some officials wanted that earth should be sold, others wanted that it should be used by while levelling land for the construction of roads. The residents who had been urging the authorities for the beautification of the ‘Leisure Valley’ area, wanted that the authorities should not waste time in deciding about the earth. They said that the authorities should start growing saplings and grass in the area for the beautification of the same.

Mr Chander Mohan Ruby, a resident of the city, said if properly landscaped, grass and plants grown on earth dunes would look more beautiful than those grown on plain land. He said that in some gardens in big cities, the authorities have artificial dunes, to give these a better look. He said that the lakes built by the Thermal Plant management and NFL plant could be utilised for boating. He added that some years ago, the lakes were open for boating to the residents, but due to certain reasons the authorities concerned, it was not allowed now.

Ms Mandeep Kaur, a college lecturer, said that the Chetak Park developed by Army authorities in the cantonment area was 3 km from the main city, and most of the residents preferred not to go there. She said the authorities should develop the ‘Leisure Valley’ as a picnic spot. She said that on certain occasions there was rush in the Rose Garden making it difficult to walk.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar of the Municipal Council, when contacted said that some of the residents brought to his notice the situation in the ‘Leisure Valley’. He said that the Municipal Council authorities were proposing that the earth from the Leisure Valley should not be removed and plants and grass should be grown on earth dunes. He added that at the next meeting of the Council, he would propose it on the agenda and a resolution on it would be passed.


Tehsil complex to be shifted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 13
The Punjab Government has decided to shift the tehsil complex at Nabha, near here, which houses the Subdivisional Magistrate’s office, to the Urban Estate, which is to come up on the outskirts of the town.

A decision in this regard has been taken by the Empowered Committee, which had been set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary a few days ago. The committee periodically reviews under-utilised government vacant land which has been taken over by PUDA.

The committee has given the go-ahead for shifting the tehsil complex at Nabha to the Urban Estate coming up on 111 acres, which earlier belonged to the Government Seed Farm. PUDA had urged the committee to take this step to make the Urban Estate a commercially viable alternative.

PUDA Additional Chief Administrator Hussan Lal disclosed that the authority had decided to allocate seven acres for the establishment of the tehsil complex . He said besides allocating space for the offices of the SDM and his staff, space would also be earmarked for lawyers and typists. He said shops would also be allocated to private entrepreneurs who wanted to open documentation centres, phone booths and other associated services.

He said the authority had also initiated a survey regarding the plots to be offered to the public in the new estate. He said though 747 plots of different sizes had been identified by the authority, an effort was being made to have a relook into this aspect according to the demand of the people. He said plot sizes in the estate ranged from 150 sq yd to 500 sq yd.


Talwandi still claims to head SAD panel

Moga, January 13
Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi a former SGPC chief who was expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and removed from the chairmanship of the SAD disciplinary committee said that he was still president of disciplinary committee and Parkash Singh Badal, president SAD Badal, had no right to expel him from the party.

Talking to reporters, he reiterated his charge against Mr Badal that he had helped Nirankari Chief Baba Gurbachan Singh escorting out of Punjab in an official vehicle and under police protection after the Amritsar Sikh carnage on the Baisakhi day in 1978. PTI


Facilities elude residents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 13
Even though Urban Estate, phase I and II, was developed by PUDA more than 20 years ago, yet there are no good roads and well maintained streetlights and parks.

Barring a few, all roads in these colonies show a picture of apathy on the part of the authorities concerned. Most of these are in a bad shape. Some of the residents allege that they are suffering from backache due to the bad roads.

Moreover, the space provided for parks in different blocks of the colonies serve as shelter for stray animals.

Although PUDA had promised the moon to the prospective buyers by saying that 40 per cent of the total area would be developed as green belt, residents use the open area earmarked for the parks as garbage dump.

The authorities have provided streetlights but most of these are non-functional.

Residents lamented that when the plots were sold the authorities had lured them by promising that the area would be developed as a model colony. But given the present condition of the facilities provided residents resent the decision of building houses here.

Mr Shekher Garg, a resident of phase-II, said they were maintaining the streetlights themselves. He said they had urged the authorities to provide the infrastructure for planting saplings and installing swings, etc in parks in their areas and added that they were ready to maintain them afterwards.

Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, Additional Chief Administrator, said the repair of roads in phase-I was underway. He refuted the allegations that the authorities had not provided facilities. He said if the residents wanted to take the upkeep of parks in their hand the authorities could think about the proposal.


Pbi varsity asked to declare results
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Taking up a bunch of petitions filed by certain institutes and study centres seeking directions to Punjabi University, the state of Punjab, and two other respondents for allowing them to continue holding classes, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the result of the students admitted should be declared by the university as per the rules.

In one such petition, G-Cad Technologies Limited had earlier sought directions for quashing an order issued by the university for cancelling an agreement with them for setting up an information technology institute.

Challenging the orders, the company had claimed that the same had been passed without the issuance of a show cause notice. Moreover, the orders had been hurriedly passed and were against the factual position.

Pronouncing the orders after hearing the arguments, the Bench also directed that the students admitted, but not allowed to take the semester examinations, should be permitted to do so. The Bench further ruled that the process of admissions may continue, but no fresh admissions should be made. The prospective students should be informed that the admissions would be subject to the outcome of the writ petition.

In their detailed order, the judges added that the university should take a fresh decision after hearing the parties concerned. A seven-day comprehensive notice should be issued to the petitioner institutes and study centres. The reply to the notice should be filed within two weeks. The university, on the other hand, should take the decision in another two weeks.

The judges also expressed “hope” that the competent authority would keep larger public interest in mind, including the prevailing education system in the state, besides the dire need to impart education in the field of information technology and computer sciences.


District admn exhumes woman’s body
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 13
The district administration here today exhumed the body of a woman, Dalip Kaur, a resident of Seona village, near here, whose last rites were not performed in accordance with her religion, and cremated the body according to the norms of her religion.

It may be mentioned that Mr Hansraj, son of the woman, had filed a report at the Sadar police station on Saturday that a “tantrik”, Mohammad Shabir, and his accomplices had been forcing him to bury the body of his mother instead of cremating it, but when he opposed this, the “tantrik” and his accomplices drugged him and forcibly buried the body.

Alarmed by the fact that some organisations were trying to give the incident a communal angle, the district administration cremated the body as per the norms of the woman’s religion in the presence of the SDM, Mr Manjit Singh, DSP (rural), Mr Bhupinder Singh and members of the village panchayat. A video film of the cremation was also made by the administration. Although the police has registered cases against the “tantrik”, he is yet to be arrested.


Gastroenteritis: 3 water samples taken
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 13
Even as no fresh case of gastroenteritis was reported here today the district health authorities took three samples of potable water from Sanjay Gandhi Nagar and adjoining localities and distributed 6000 chlorine tablets among residents of the affected areas.

The condition of 29 patients of BSF Colony, Gandhi Camp and Satnam Nagar, suffering from gastroenteritis was reported to be stable.

Though it was for the third time that it had spread in these localities in the past one year, the failure of the local municipal corporation authorities to solve the problem of mixing of sludge with drinking water through underground pipes has once again exposed its indifferent attitude.

“In fact, the health authorities should educate people living in slums by organising health camps periodically, wherein the latter should be explained about the preventive measures to be adopted to avoid its spread”, Dr Ravi Verma, a social worker of the area, said.

Meanwhile, senior health officials, including Civil Surgeon O.P. Chabra and District Health Officer Raman Trehan visited the affected localities and supervised the preventive measures being taken by the department.

“Members of the Rapid Response team, constituted to conduct a door-to-door survey, has found no fresh cases of gastroenteritis in these localities today. Besides, a special medical camp has been organised to provide medicare to the patients,” Dr Chabra maintained.

Meanwhile, the MC authorities today visited the place to check the underground pipes supplying drinking water.


Token strike by doctors today
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 13
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA) will hold a token strike at Patiala Medical College and Rajindra Hospital tomorrow in protest against the arrest of Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, in the alleged kidney scam. Emergency services would, however, continue.

Claiming that Dr Mahajan was arrested without the prior permission of either the Health Minister or the Director, Medical Education, the doctors demanded a CBI inquiry by a sitting High Court Judge into the matter.

Meanwhile, president of the PCMS Association, Dr Hardeep Singh, demanding a CBI probe into the scam, said it was unfortunate that advanced medical procedure like kidney transplant had got negative publicity owing to “greedy and unscrupulous elements.”


Post offices to sell stamp papers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 13
Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister of State for Revenue, Punjab, said last night that the stamp papers would now be available at post offices. He added those who would create artificial scarcity of stamp papers would not be spared. “I will conduct surprise checks to curb this and its alleged sale on the black market” he declared.

Mr Samra was here as the chief guest at the annual prize distribution function of local Mahavir Jain Model Senior Secondary School. He inaugurated the Atam block and distributed prizes to meritorious students.

ADGP, Punjab, Dr Bhatti, presided over the function and inaugurated Shri Parshav Nath Science Block.

Mr Yash Paul Jain, president, school management, Mr Jagat Singh Palahi and Mr K.K. Sardana, both educationists, were also present.


Punjab may raise old-age pension
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 13
Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High-Power Finance Committee, Punjab, said today that the Punjab government was thinking of increasing the amount of old-age, widow and handicapped persons’ pension from the existing Rs 200.

An official press note here today said that Mr Singla at a function distributed cheques to panchayats for development. He felt that welfare pension under various categories should be increased. He did not mention the time by which the pension would be enhanced.

He said that the department concerned had approved 8,658 pension cases including those of old persons, widows and physically-challenged persons in the district and the beneficiaries would be intimated about it, this week. Mr Singla gave away cheques worth Rs 21.6 lakh to 14 panchayats of the district. He said that no work would be delayed for the want of funds.


PSEB staff oppose Haldia panel report
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 13
The Employees Federation of the PSEB today at a meeting in the city, alleged that report of the Haldia Committee on the formation of corporations in place of the PSEB amounted to privatisation.

The employees opposed the PSEB’s privatisation as similar experiments in certain other states had failed. Consumers and the employees of the board also would suffer after privatisation, they added.

Mr Bikkar Singh Mangiana, President of the federation said that association of employees of the PSEB were against the Haldia Committee report.

Mr Mangiana said that loss to the PSEB was due to wrong policies. He alleged that politicians, for political mileage, announced schemes against the board’s interests.

Next week the federation would organise dharnas, rallies and protest marches at different places in the district.


Bhai Ranjit Singh’s marriage today

Amritsar, January 13
Former Jathedar, Akal Takht, Ranjit Singh will marry a baptised Sikh girl tomorrow at a simple ceremony. Fortyfive-year-old Jathedar, who remained unmarried till now, decided to tie the knot after years of celibacy. The “anand karaj” will be held at Jadomansura near Ludhiana. OC


Lohri celebrated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 13
The Citizens Forum, headed by Mr Brij Bedi, and Vidya Mandir, a school being run by Master Ajit Singh for drug-affected children, celebrated Lohri with the people of Maqboolpura, infamously referred to as “locality of widows” owing to a number of deaths due to drug addiction.

The function was presided over by Ms Kiranjot Kaur, a former Secretary of the SGPC. Blankets, shawls and sweaters were distributed among widows, aged persons and children. Groundnuts and reoris were also distributed.


Park to be named after martyr
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 13
Shaheed Dilbagh Singh Children Park will be set up soon in the memory of BSF personnel Dilbagh Singh in his native village Rupalheri, who was killed in an encounter with Lashkar-e- Toiba in Ram Ban Sector of Jammu and Kashmir on January 3.

This was stated by Dr Harbans Lal Minister for Forest and Civil Supplies at the ardas of the martyr at Rupalheri village last evening. Paying tributes to the martyr, Dr Lal said three terrorists of ‘Lashkar-e-Toiba’ were also killed in the encounter. The minister assured the family of the martyr of all facilities within a stipulated time. Dr Harbans Lal also announced that the Senior Secondary School, Rupalheri, and the Badali Ala Singh-Rupalheri link road would be renamed Shaheed Dilbagh Singh Senior Secondary School and Shaheed Dilbagh Singh link road.

Dr Harbans Lal announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the construction of ‘Shaheed Dilbagh Singh Memorial Gate’ on behalf of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, Ropar.


Helpline for ex-servicemen
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 13
Chetak Corps has started an ex-servicemen helpline at the military hospital in Bathinda Cantonment.

A pressnote issued today by the Army authorities said the helpline would cater to the day-to-day problems of ex-servicemen and counsel them on their rights and privileges. It said the Army authorities would provide the ambulance facility to ex-servicemen. The helpline would be functional round the clock.


One killed, 16 injured as buses collide
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 13
One person was killed and 16 others were injured in a head-on collision between the buses near Kaunterpur village today. Two persons are stated to be in a serious condition.

According to eye witnesses, dense fog led to the accident.

The driver of one of the buses is among those dead. The other driver is stated to be serious. Mr Puneet Goyal, SDM, visited the injured at the Civil Hospital.

A case has been registered in this connection.


Couple held for cheating bank

Moga, January 13
The district police has arrested a couple on the charge of cheating a bank and unsuspecting people by selling financed cars to the latter. It has also recovered three cars from them.

Briefing mediapersons here today, Senior Superintendent of Police Major Singh Dhillon said the couple, Ashwani Kumar and Madhu Sharma, along with the other accused — Sukhjinder Singh Kataria, Sukhdarshan Kataria and Usha Kataria — used to get cars financed from a bank in Delhi and then shifted these vehicles to other places and prepared their fake registration numbers.

They also used to make fake No Objection Certificates to show there was nothing due against the vehicles, the SSP added.

All the accused have been booked under Sections 420, 406, 407, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code for committing a fraud on the bank as well as the unsuspecting buyers, the SSP said, adding that the remaining members of the gang would be arrested soon.

While Ashwani Kumar has been sent in judicial custody, Madhu Sharma has been sent in police custody. UNI


Youth run over by train
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 13
A 26-year-old youth was killed today when he was run over by a train at the Rattangarh-Kanakwal station near here.

Sources said as per the documents recovered from the deceased he appeared to be a migratory labourer. The body was brought to the local Civil Hospital by an NGO after the Government Railway Police completed the formalities.

Meanwhile, two bodies of beggars were found from the railway station and railway washing line. The post-mortem examination was got conducted by the police authorities and it seemed that they had died of cold. Both bodies were cremated by volunteers of the NGO.


Liquor smugglers’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 13
The district police has busted a two-member gang of liquor smugglers with the arrest of one person and seized 1,140 bottles of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) from him.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said that following a tip-off, a police party intercepted a tempo in Noormahal and seized 95 cartons of liquor bottles. The driver of the tempo was arrested who was later identified as Raju Yadav of Madhuban district in Bihar.


Gang of vehicle thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Moga, January 13
The district police has busted a gang of vehicle thieves which had been operating in various states and had stolen about 12 vehicles. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Major Singh Dhillon, said at a press conference here today that on a tip-off the police had arrested Narbanda Prashad of Alwar, Rajasthan, and Navin Kumar of Brahmada, Rajasthan. Cases had been registered case against various sections of the IPC.

He further said the stolen vehicles were sold on fake document, which were prepared in connivance with certain employees of the DTO offices in various districts.

The SSP added that action would be taken against the suspected employees soon.

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