Wednesday, January 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSEB abolishes Chief Engineer’s post
May introduce VRS soon
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided not to fill the post of Member, Transmission, following the retirement of Mr Suresh Gupta, besides abolishing one post of Chief Engineer. It also proposes to introduce a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in the board.

In a major decision the board has decided to allocate the responsibilities of the Member, Transmission, to two other Members. Board Chairman Sudhir Mittal has through an office order allocated the responsibilities held by the Member between himself and the Member, Distribution, and the Member, Generation.

Mr Mittal has brought the two Chief Engineers of the Dispute Settlement Authority (DSA) and Energy Audit and Enforcement under his charge. Three Chief Engineers of Planning, Workshops and System Operation and Communication and the Director , Computer Services, have been placed under the charge of the Member, Distribution. Four Chief Engineers of Civil Design, Transmission Lines, (Sub-Station, Patiala) and Production and Maintenance (Ludhiana), besides the Senior Architect have been associated with the Member, Generation.

The board has also abolished the post of Chief Engineer, Micro and Mukerian Hydel Projects following the retirement of Mr K.S. Tucker. The post has been merged with that of the Chief Engineer, Hydel Projects. A few more posts of Chief Engineers may be abolished.

Meanwhile, the board is also thinking of introducing the VRS. According to highly place sources, the board is presently examining the VRS facility that it can offer to its employees. The State Regulatory Commission has directed it to ensure downsizing of the board which has nearly 90,000 employees on its rolls. As the government has already announced that there will be no retrenchment the board seems to be left with no other alternative. However, this can happen only once the board can generate funds for the same.

Board Member, Administration, K.S. Kang said the board was already in the process of downsizing. He, however, said it was waiting for the Haldea Committee report, which had been constituted by the government to suggest power sector reforms. He said in case the committee recommended restructuring of the board, need based utilisation of employees would be undertaken.

Mr Kang said the board still had nearly 10,000 work-charge employees with most of them posted at the Ranjit Sagar hydroelectric project site. He said as work on the Shahpur Kandi project could not be initiated due to lack of funds these employees were presently idle and the board was saddled with the issue of paying them salaries.

He said the board was thinking on the lines of arriving at an amicable settlement with them but refused to elaborate on the issue. Meanwhile, the board is also likely to go in for streamlining of its staff. According to sources, there seemed to be unequal distribution of staff in many categories. They said in case of linemen against a sanctioned strength of 2,808 in the border zone, as many as 2,846 linemen had been posted. The sources said in contrast to this the Muktsar and Bathinda circles of the board were facing staff shortage of as many as 561 linemen.


Unbundling of PSEB proposed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Power Sector Reforms Committee headed by Mr Gajendra Haldea has recommended unbundling of the PSEB.

Sources said the draft report by Mr Haldea was presented today at a meeting chaired by Capt Amarinder Singh. The statement issued by the government with regard to the meeting is silent about the contents of the draft report and recommendations etc. Dr Haldea is expected to submit its final report soon.

Besides Capt Amarinder Singh, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Surinder Singla, and senior officers of the Power and Irrigation Departments attended the meeting.

A government functionary, who attended the meeting, said there was a proposal to divide the structure of the PSEB in three wings — generation, transmission and distribution. While the apex body would be headed and managed by a chairperson, each wing would be run by a managing director.

The board will be run on almost the Haryana pattern. He clarified that it would not be “privatisation” of the board. However, it would be given complete functional autonomy.

The privatisation of the board was not possible in the existing circumstances. The board had huge financial liabilities and accumulated losses in crores. No private party would like to take over such an organisation with a huge establishment cost. And the Punjab Government was not in a position to cut the number of employees before going in for privatisation. Hence the middle path of unbundling the board.

Meanwhile, sources said the PSEB authorities had not taken adequate steps to implement the reforms ordered by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission at the time of increasing the power tariff last time. The board authorities were asked to bring down the loss to 26 per cent but it was likely to be in the range of 30 per cent by the end of the current financial year. No efforts had been made to check power theft and stop connivance of board employees in the pilferage of power at certain places.

As per international standards, with the existing tariff regime, the board should have a profit of Rs 1400 crore whereas it had projected an annual loss of over Rs 1400 crore this year. The board had filed a petition for mopping up Rs 1682 crore more during the next financial year by getting the tariff jacked up. The petition has put the commission, which had last year promised to reduce the tariff in the next financial year, in an awkward position.

The average tariff per unit fixed by the commission last year was 311 paise. If the commission agrees with the petition filed by the board, it would have to jack up the tariff to at least Rs 4.50 to wipe out the annual cash loss of the PSEB.


Badal denies hand in kidney scam
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 21
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Punjab Chief Minister, refuted the allegations of Dr Parveen Kumar Sareen, main accused in the kidney scam of Amritsar, that the latter had paid Rs 1 crore to him on two occasions. He said he neither knew Dr Sareen nor took any money from him during his tenure as the Chief Minister to hush up any of the cases registered against him. The allegations were labelled to defame him. He also denied knowledge about registration of any case in connection with the scam during his tenure as Chief Minister.

Mr Badal, who was here to attend the fifth death anniversary of late Arjun Singh Josh, SAD MLA, while talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mrs Mohinder Kaur Josh, former state minister and daughter of Arjun Singh, here today, said the state government was trying to drag his name in false cases. Capt Amarinder Singh earlier said Badal had amassed property of Rs 3,600 crore through corrupt means for which he would be put behind bars. But when he failed to prove his allegations, he was now trying to implicate him in false cases. He said he had been the Chief Minister of Punjab thrice and during his rule he never supported or helped any criminal.

He said the scam was a blot on society. Kidney transplantations were being done throughout the country but to stop the exploitation of poor persons in the name of kidney donation, a legislation was needed.

Referring to the inquiry being conducted by the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, in to the scam, Mr Badal said an impartial probe by the bureau was not possible as it was under the direct control of the Chief Minister. To bring the facts about the scam to light an inquiry by a high court judge or the CBI should be got conducted. He criticised the Vigilance Bureau for making partial inquiries into the corruption charges being faced by some of the former ministers of the SAD government.

Later at a well-attended bhog ceremony, Mr Badal paid tributes to Arjun Singh Josh and said Josh always fought for the downtrodden and worked for the Khalsa Panth.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC president, Mr Balbir Singh Miani, a former minister, Mr Des Raj Dhugga, MLA, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, president of the SAD, and many other leaders also paid tributes to Josh.

LUDHIANA: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh was misleading people with distorted facts about the SYL canal issue. This was stated by SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, who was in the city on Tuesday. Mr Badal met party workers and also called on former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal, who is lodged in the Central Jail on corruption charges. He was accompanied by his son Sukhbir Badal, MP.

Talking to TNS at the Circuit House, he said the Congress had always harmed the interests of Punjab. The award to give the waters of the state to Haryana was given by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency and the canal was dug during the party’s regime. He said we had started a morcha in protest against this unjust step and had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court. Capt Amarinder Singh was trying to mislead the people by distorting the facts since Giani Zail Singh had taken Rs 2 crore for constructing the canal and had even thanked the then Haryana Chief Minister, he pointed out.

Commenting on the functioning of the government, the former Chief Minister said the government had not even started a single development scheme for the people but had misused a grant of Rs 800 crore given by the Centre for foodgrains. The interests of the farmers were being harmed by the government by levying taxes on fertilisers and pesticides.

Mr Badal said he had demanded an inquiry into the assets of Capt Amarinder Singh in Himachal Pradesh from Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal.


Kidney scam: IMA forms panel
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 21
In order to check the “defaming” of the medical fraternity in the multi-crore kidney racket, the Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has formed an 11-member action committee, including its state president, Dr R.C. Garg, and the state secretary, Dr Surinder Singla. The committee has also been formed to plan the future line of action to press the state government to expose the nexus, related to the scam, completely within a stipulated period.

A spokesman of the Punjab IMA said here today that the committee had been empowered by the state council of the IMA to take any decision on its own, like the filing of a writ petition for “seeking justice” for the medical fraternity and holding meetings with the Punjab Chief Minister and members of the special investigation team (SIT), if required, for clarifying the role of doctors in kidney transplantation.

The spokesman clarified that the Punjab IMA would not support any doctor found guilty in the kidney racket. The IMA would consider the boycott of such doctors in future. The Punjab IMA had again expressed its resentment over the alleged biased attitude of the investigating agencies towards doctors. The IMA had also sought the intervention of the Union Government and the President of the Congress, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to direct Capt Amarinder Singh to hold a transparent inquiry, exposing all guilty persons, including politicians and officials, in the racket, he added.


PCMSA’s plea to CM
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 21
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) yesterday urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to direct the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the infamous kidney scandal, to take strict action against all those influential persons at whose behest the kidney trade thrived unchecked since the enactment of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.

Dr Hardeep Singh, president, and Dr Ajay Bagga, press secretary, PCMSA, said SIT’s approach did not appear to be above board as it had acted against the doctors only and due to this resentment was increasing among the medical fraternity.


SIT: Sareen’s aides not cooperating
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) is contemplating to move court to seek the custodial interrogation of alleged accomplices of Dr Parveen Sareen, the prime accused in the kidney racket.

Mr S.K. Sharma, IG (Jalandhar zone), who is the SIT, alleged that it was difficult to dig out information from Dr Sareen’s alleged accomplices as they were not cooperating with the investigating officers. It may be mentioned here that their anticipatory bail will expire tomorrow.


Forget SYL, go for GYL’
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 21
Instead of constructing the SYL canal, the Central Government should construct a Ganga-Yamuna Link (GYL) canal in Haryana as the state falls in the Ganga-Yamuna basin.

These views were expressed by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president, and Prof Manjit Singh Kadian, secretary-general of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal), while talking to The Tribune here.

Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian said if 3.5 million acres feet (MAF) water was given to Haryana through the SYL canal, agricultural land in seven districts, including Bathinda, Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepore, would become barren. They said all political parties of Punjab should join hands on the canal issue as it was a matter of state’s interest.

Both BKU leaders were of the view that the issue should be settled at political level. They said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, should meet the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on the issue of the SYL canal. They said the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, should also meet the Prime Minister in this regard.

They claimed that the Prime Minister had already sanctioned the GYL canal for providing water to Haryana. They said after the construction of the GYL canal, Haryana would get more water as per acre availability of water in the Ganga-Yamuna basin would be more than Ravi-Beas basin in Punjab.

Mr Lakhowal also urged the Punjab Government that it should form zones in the state regarding the production of different crops so that the farmers could get remunerative prices.


Dal (Amritsar) launches enrolment drive
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, January 21
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has launched a special drive to raise the strength of party workers at the grassroots level to protect the democratic rights of the minority communities and to defeat the evil designs of the anti-secular forces in the country. Under the plan more than one lakh members will be enrolled in the next two months to meet the cause of the party effectively. This was stated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar) while talking to mediapersons here today. Mr Mann who arrived here to address a district-level rally of the party accused the Central Government, particularly the BJP, for promoting Hindutava. He criticised the CPM and the Congress, who he charged, had also joined hands with the BJP in this regard.

Assailing the Sikh clergy for its decision to celebrate only the religious functions related with Sikh gurus as per the Nanakshahi calendar and the others according to Bakrami calendar he said it showed that the Sikh clergy also aligned itself with the BJP.

He also deplored the press statement of Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Chief Minister, West Bengal, for expelling the Christian missionaries and members of Amnesty International from the state under the false alleged charge of spying and helping the ISI and other agencies in carrying out terrorist activities in the country. He made it clear that he would not only raise this issue at the international level but also in the forthcoming session of Parliament to expose the real face of the West Bengal Government which always claimed the saviour of the minority communities and the secular policies.

Mr Mann disclosed that his party was organising a state-level conference at Fatehgarh Sahib on February 12 to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrenwale. Later addressing the district party workers’ meeting, he impressed upon them to visit each village in the area to make the programme of the party a success.

SANGRUR: Activists of the local unit of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by its president Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, on Tuesday held a march through the town in protest against the lack of basic amenities, like sanitation, water supply, disposal of sullage, and installing street lights in different wards of the town.

The protesters passed through different bazaars, raising slogans and carrying banners in support of their demands.

Later, a deputation, led by Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party submitted a memorandum, containing demands of the protesters, to the SDM, Mr Neelkanth Avhad, in his office.


SGPC wants direct talks with Pak
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Jaisinghwala (Bathinda), January 21
The SGPC has requested the Central Government to allow it to hold direct talks with the Pakistan government about the upkeep of gurdwaras in Pakistan by the SGPC before full-fledged jathas were sent there on Baisakhi.

Stating this here today, the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar said if the permission was granted, the SGPC would send a team to Pakistan to make arrangements for sending jathas. He said in place of a token jatha, a big jatha could be sent. The SGPC had stopped sending jathas to Pakistan in protest against the formation of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The SGPC president was here to attend a function organised to honour Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo. Talking to mediapersons, Mr Badungar said the control of gurdwaras in Pakistan by non-Sikhs was not justified. He said all religious places in India, including mosques, were maintained by the persons of the respective religions, then why were the Indian not allowed to look after gurdwaras in Pakistan.

It may be mentioned that the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had some time ago assured the SGPC, that India would open diplomatic channels with Pakistan so that the SGPC could be allowed to look up after gurdwaras in Pakistan. Mr Badungar did not say, why the SGPC wanted to have direct talks with Pakistan.

When his attention was drawn towards the alleged distortion of facts in some history books issued by the NCERT, he said, “Nobody will be allowed to alter the Sikh history and any such move will be opposed.”


NCERT chief ready to correct Sikh history

Amritsar, January 21
Mr J.S. Rajput, Director, NCERT, has assured to make appropriate changes in the textbooks relating to Sikh history wherever necessary.

In a letter written to Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, Mr Rajput said he had received a copy of the news item published in The Tribune wherein he (Mr Rajput) had expressed his willingness to ensure that the contents of the textbooks were objectively written without any bias or prejudice towards any particular community or religion.

The NCM had brought to the notice of the director NCERT, certain distortions in the Medieval India book prescribed for Class XI wherein it was mentioned that Guru Nanak had “renounced” the world and Guru Gobind Singh was “a devotee of Goddess Chandi”. Sikhism accepts no avtar between god and humanity. Similarly, there were other facts, which were contradictory to the Sikh history and required to be corrected. Certain Sikh scholars had alleged that through the NCERT books the attempt was being made to subvert the teachings of Sikhism.

Mr Rajput said NCERT in past had expressed its willingness to receive comments, suggestions and observations with an assurance that the same would be examined and steps taken wherever required.


Sinha writes to Tarlochan Singh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 21
Mr Yashwant Sinha, Minister for External Affairs, in a communication to Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, recently has observed, “We attach the highest priority to the welfare of our nationals and our embassies have standing instructions to provide them all possible assistance under the rules.” He was responding to the letter of Mr Tarlochan Singh, who in his letter to the External Affairs Minister had highlighted the difficulties being faced by Sikhs seeking asylum abroad, particularly in the USA and Canada.

Mr Sinha further stated that in the case of illegal migrants who enter Canada with or without passports our missions were authorised to issue travel documents once they were satisfied that the applicants were Indian nationals. “In many instances our missions are constrained in providing assistance because of the failure of the applicants to establish proper proof of their antecedents. Cases of such persons are forwarded to the state governments concerned for verification”, he said.


Holland experts prepare clean-Amritsar plan
Ashok Sethi and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, January 21
Holy city planners are confronted with a gigantic task of managing 600 tonnes of garbage daily. The task has become tougher in the absence of efficient handling, transportation and disposal system, even as the city is due to be declared a heritage city by Unesco.

The Lions Club International, in collaboration with the local Municipal Corporation, has proposed a solid waste management project and invited leading experts from Holland to prepare a master plan for making the city clean and free of garbage heaps. The two solid waste management consultants — Mr W. de Feyter and Mr L.J.M. Hogendoorn — have been assigned by the Netherlands government to give advice on the collection transportation and processing of solid waste and also to create awareness among the public for their cooperation in keeping the city clean.

Mr Feyter and Mr Hogendoorn, in an interview with The Tribune felt that it would require mammoth efforts to handle the huge amount of daily garbage. But they were optimistic of preparing a project which would bring the desired results. They said that it took more than 25 years for Holland after the World War II to prepare a solid waste management programme. A similar plan could be worked out for a growing city like Amritsar.

To begin with the experts have decided to prepare a test project for localities in Chheharta, Kot Khalsa, Rani Ka Bath, Rose Avenue, Rattan Chand Road, Albert Road and Yasim Road and Kot Mit Singh a slum area on the outskirts of the city. They will examine the handling, transportation and waste processing plans. A detail report for these areas has been prepared.

The experts are looking into such critical aspects of waste management as hospital bio-medical and solid waste which could be hazardous to the environment as the city does not have any system to handle this kind of waste. They are alarmed by the huge quantum of waste generated by hotels, restaurants, marriage palaces, dhabas etc.

The eatery owners throw the waste on public roads, causing a major health hazardous with stray animals poking into the garbage littered on the road for food particles.

Another critical area, they say, is the large number of dairies. The cattle are responsible for choking sewerage.

Expressing annoyance over the widespread use of plastic bag container which is another difficult part of the project, they suggest that special arrangements must be made for their collection and recycling. The government must prohibit the use of recycled plastic bags, as they are major pollutants.

The team from Holland has been visiting various institutions and localities for creating awareness about the waste project. They said the public response had been overwhelming.


Probe transferred to Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has transferred to Chandigarh the investigation of a corruption case, allegedly involving the Station House Officer of the Rajpura police station.

The first information report in the matter was registered under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides Sections 342, 295-A and 506 of the Indian Penal Code on December 2 last year.

Pronouncing the orders in the open court, the high court observed: “Investigation of the FIR is hereby transferred to the Superintendent of Police, Crime, Chandigarh, since the main accused in the case is the Station House Officer of the Rajpura police station”. The Judge added: “The order is being passed to repose confidence....”

In his petition against the state of Punjab, the Director-General of Police and two other respondents, transporter Karnal Singh of Rajpura had earlier sought directions for handing over the investigation of the FIR to the crime branch of the Punjab police in Chandigarh, or the Punjab Vigilance Department. He had also sought directions to the police to ensure his safety and that of the supporters “so that they may not be harassed or threatened to withdraw the case.

Proceedings stayed

Staying further proceedings in an attempt to murder case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that Bathinda’s Additional Sessions Judge could not have adopted the present course of action.

Pronouncing the orders on a petition filed by Raj Bhadur Singh of Bathinda district, the Judge observed, “Earlier the petitioner was sought to be summoned under Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but vide order dated November 23, 2000, the Additional Sessions Judge declined to summon him since the prosecution witness had not been cross-examined”.

The Judge added: “Subsequently, the witness was cross-examined and a fresh application was filed on the basis of which the accused/petitioner has been summoned. This course of action could not be adopted because there was no material before the Additional Sessions Judge in the first instance and in the second instance, the Additional Sessions Judge merely relied upon the cross-examination”. The case will now come up for hearing on February 28.


Fast track court awards punishment

Patiala, January 21
A fast track court today awarded seven years’ imprisonment to a man who had demanded a refrigerator and a scooter from his in-laws, which led to his wife committing suicide.

The court directed that Bahadur Singh, the accused, also pay a fine of Rs 500. The complainant, Surjit Kaur, had alleged that her son-in-law used to torture her daughter, Rajpal, because she did not meet the demands for more dowry made by Bahadur.

Surjit Kaur had alleged that Bahadur had demanded that he be given a refrigerator and a scooter, which she could not afford. She claimed that her daughter could not stand up to the situation and took a poisonous substance which led to her death.

The court acquitted Bahadur’s mother, Samti Kaur, of all charges. TNS


Markfed consignment to Dubai flagged off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, today flagged off a consignment of one metric tonne of fresh vegetables to Dubai.

This is the first consignment of vegetables export from Markfed designed to encourage the farmers of Punjab to take to vegetable cultivation. Markfed has made export arrangements for winter vegetables (iceberg/lettuce, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, cauliflower, cherri tomato, knol knol, zuccini, squash, parsley and carrot) under the contract farming arrangement through Punjab State Fruit Federation Ltd. The supply of vegetables, which is costing Rs 1 lakh per day (four consignments per week) is being sent directly to Super Markets to realise better prices. Markfed consignment was sent to M/s Lulu Hyper Markets, which owns the biggest chain of super markets in Dubai and Gulf countries.

Speaking on the occasion, Capt Amarinder Singh said there was a massive potential for agri exports from the state and his government would make all out efforts to harness this. Markfed has procured orders for 5,000 mts of onions, 2000 MTs of turmeric, 5 mt vegetables per week to Dubai and Sri Lanka on a regular basis.

Mr S.S. Channy, Managing Director, Markfed, said in order to maintain consistency in exports and to avoid glut, Markfed had taken initiative and identified exports of 10,000 mts of potatoes to Sri Lanka and Dubai costing approximately Rs 13 crore. ‘‘We have made long term marketing arrangements with Sri Lanka Business House M/s Cyclone Overseas Trading Company. At the moment, Sri Lanka is buying seed potatoes from Holland. Punjab had Rs 900-crore business of seed potatoes and was supplying seed potatoes at present to all potato producing states in the country. Mr Channy had a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Government of Sri Lanka, Mr S.B. Disanake, on December 9 in New Delhi and had presented Punjab’s case. The minister assured him of all possible cooperation in this regard. The matter was being followed up through Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka through APEDA and the Ministry of Agriculture. There was a very huge potential to export potatoes to SAARC, Middle East and Far East countries, since India exported 0.1 per cent of the total potatoes in the world and was the fourth largest producer of potatoes. Potato — a wholesome food was characterised as a high input and high output crop and one rupee of potato cultivation gives a return to Rs 1.40 within a short period of 80-100 days and this crop generated larger returns per unit land and time, because of high level of yields, short growing period and remunerative market value.

Onion and turmeric were also being exported from Punjab. Punjab was already growing 1.47 lakh MT onions in the major onion growing areas — Patiala, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Ropar, Moga. There was a big potential for increasing the area from 6855 hectares, if consistent export activities were promoted and value addition units were set up. Turmeric was grown as an under canopy crop in popular plantation because of the bulk production and lack of processing units farmers find difficulty in marketing. Markfed has procured a order of 2,000 MT from Sri Lanka.


Order to re-verify  poll rolls
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 21
The State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, in an order yesterday, directed the District Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, to re-verify  the electoral rolls of the civic body poll. Acting on a memorandum filed by Ramesh Verma, president, BJP Mandal, Fazilka, and other prospective BJP contenders Mr Bains in his order stated that local officials had allegedly been partial in dealing with claims and objections of the complainants. He directed the Deputy Commissioner to constitute teams from outside the Fazilka area and supervision of the teams be done through some senior officer from the headquarters. Mr Bains also expressed concern over not supplying copies of the draft electoral rolls to the applicants and described it as highly irregular. He has sought a full report within 10 days for passing final orders of the commission.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari, when contacted on the telephone said Gian Singh Ball, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, had been entrusted with the job of reverification of electoral rolls immediately and he would conduct the inquiry from tomorrow. Forty officials, including 10 gazetted officers of Ferozepore district from towns other than Fazilka, have been deputed to carry out the reverification on January 22 and January 23. Thereafter, the Deputy Commissioner would send his report to the State Election Commissioner, Punjab.

A deputation of BJP activists led by Ramesh Verma, president, BJP Mandal, Fazilka, met Mr C.L. Bains, State Election Commissioner, on January 20 at Chandigarh and presented a memorandum in which it was alleged that an increase of about 10,000 new votes had been recorded during the revision of electoral polls of municipal council, Fazilka, in December. It was also alleged in the memorandum that names of certain BJP activists had been deleted from the voters list at the behest of the ruling party.


Panchayat resigns in protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
In an unprecedented move, the panchayat of Jaid village in this district submitted its resignation to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) to protest against the “indifferent” attitude of the authorities towards the problems of the village.

Mr Major Singh, husband of Mrs Dalip Kaur, sarpanch of the village, while talking to TNS on behalf of his wife, said that the panchayat had resigned as it had failed to get justice at the hands of the district administration. He said that a piece of land measuring about 1.5 acres had been encroached upon by some residents of the village and all efforts of the panchayat to get it vacated had failed.

Mr Major Singh, who is also a member of the panchayat, said they had met the officers concerned, including the ADC and the Deputy Commissioner, in this connection. They had also gone to meet the Deputy Commissioner today but he was not available. He alleged that the officers did nothing but to refer their application to the next junior officer, or if they started from the junior-most officer in the chain, they were asked to move up the ladder and meet the next senior officer. Even after one and a half months after the submission of their first application, no officer had bothered to visit the village.

He said the encroached land was being used to keep cow-dung and other items by some families. The panchayat members had also faxed their resignation to the Punjab Chief Minister.

Those who signed the resignation letter included Mrs Daljit Kaur, sarpanch, Mrs Surjit Kaur, Mr Major Singh, Mr Baldev Ram, Mr Jeet Singh and Mr Mukhtiar Singh. Mrs Anarjit Kaur, member of the panchayat, who could not be contacted for comments, did not sign the resignation. The Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) and the Block Development and Panchayat Officer said the matter had not come to their notice.


Tension in village
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 21
There was tension in Nagra village and surrounding areas near here today following the recovery of carcasses of two cows from a vacant plot.

According to the police, Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Nagra village, in his complaint said his two cows were hale and hearty when he left his ancestral “haveli” last evening. The carcasses were found in a vacant plot in the village in the morning and the matter was reported to the police.

Meanwhile several religious organisations here have condemned the killing of cows and demanded that those responsible should be arrested immediately.


SPO killed as gun goes off accidentally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 21
Jaswinder Singh, an SPO, was seriously injured on January 19 when his carbine accidentally went off during a scuffle with a person, who allegedly misbehaved with his sister. The SPO died in a local hospital yesterday.

Meanwhile, in another incident Sandeep Singh of Kartar Nagar in Chheharta was allegedly attacked by Jobanjit Singh of Guru Ki Wadali, Anup Singh of Navi Abadi along with five other persons last evening.


Subsidies elude farmers
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 21
Various subsidies announced for farmers of the district have not reached them. Even the subsidies under the Centre-sponsored schemes have not been released to the farmers for a long time.

Over the past four years, 160 small farmers had applied for subsidy for installing biogas plants. The Agriculture Department had approved their cases. As per the instruction of the Union Government, which provides for the subsidy, each small farmer installing a biogas plant was entitled to a subsidy of Rs 1,800. The subsidy for the Scheduled Caste farmers was fixed at Rs 23,00.

Though the Agriculture Department has approved the cases of the farmers, they have not been paid any subsidy during the past four years. Officials of the Agriculture Department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told this correspondent that they had repeatedly forwarded the subsidy bills of the farmers to the state treasury, but to no avail. The farmers who installed the plants allege that the state government has duped them. The government encouraged them to set loans from banks to set up biogas plants in lieu of subsidy. However, they have been forced to pay back the loans on their own and no subsidy has been released.

Besides the subsidy on the biogas plants, 135 other farmers in the district have also not been released subsidies on farm-related items since the past four years. These include three cases of subsidy of Rs 10,000 each on the purchase of reapers, two cases of subsidy of Rs 5,000 each on the purchase of power thrasher, 10 cases of subsidy worth Rs 15,000 each on the purchase of sprinkler sets and 120 cases of subsidy of Rs 1,000 each on the purchase of agricultural implements.


Change policy’ on fertilisers’ distribution
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 21
The policy regarding the distribution of fertilisers is proving a blessing in disguise for Markfed. This is because the policy ensures greater margin for Markfed while there is negligible margin for retailers i.e. the cooperative societies. Mr Deedar Singh Khatra, senior vice-president, Punjab State Agriculture Cooperative Societies Workers Union, stated this at a press conference here. He further said Markfed had failed to complete with the private sector as it did not have any fertiliser-manufacturing unit. It was a supplying fertilisers to cooperative societies after purchasing them from private manufacturers and earning profits.

Mr Khatra alleged that due to the wrong policies of the previous government Markfed had abolished cooperative marketing societies and now it was planning to do away with agricultural cooperative societies.

The union in its memorandum to Capt Amarinder Singh urged him to fulfil his pre-election promise of converting the societies into mini-banks. It further said that the present policy regarding fertilisers should be abolished and to prepare a foolproof policy that would prevent the monopoly of a single institution on fertilisers.


26 employees found absent
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 21
Following the directions of the Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, Mr Devinder Singh, SDM, conducted surprise checks at different government offices yesterday and found 26 employees, including five senior officers of different departments absent from duty.

The officers found absent were Mr Surinder Kumar, Assistant Director, Fisheries, Mr Balbir Singh, Assistant Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Mr Ram Saroop, District Social Security Officer, Mr Surinder Kumar, Manager, Warehousing Corporation and Mr H.S. Riar, District Food and Supply Officer.

In a press note issued here today, the SDM said the report in this connection had been sent to the Punjab Government for disciplinary action against the erring officials.


DC suspends 12 sarpanches
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 21
Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, has suspended 12 sarpanches, including five of Gurdaspur, two of Dinanagar, two of Sujanpur and one each of Dhariwal Kahnuwan, Derababa Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian development blocks, four various irregularities.

These sarpanches who have been suspended have been identified as Sarabjit Kaur of Bajechack, Saranjit Singh of Alechak, Prabhjot Kaur Chawa Manider Singh of Nabipur, Manohar Lal of Gazikot, Rai Singh of Lahri Samancha, Ramesh Kumar of Jhangi Saroop Das, Darshan Kumar of Rasoolpur Gharotian, Fateh Singh of Gogowali, Joginder Singh of Dehriwal Daroga, Harbans Kaur of Sangehra and Baldev Singh of Sarchoor.

Mr Sinha said the allegations levelled against the sarpanches included the wrongful distribution of grants among houseless labourers and wrongful lease of panchayat shops, misappropriation of panchayat funds, non-entry of funds received through the auction of shamlat land, illegal and forcible possession of shamlat land, embezzlement of panchayat funds and misutilisation of development funds and grants of village panchayats.

The Deputy Commissioner said inquiries against the sarpanches had been directed to be held by the respective Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs).

He said several cases regarding the embezzlement of funds had come to the notice of the administration against the sarpanches. Criminal proceedings had been initiated against six sarpanches in the courts. Meanwhile, Mr Sinha has directed all BDPOs to obtain utilisation certificates from the sarpanches and ensure the proper utilisation of development grants.


Blue film CDs seized, two arrested
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 21
The police has unearthed a racket of spurious CDs of blue and Hindi films. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, while talking to newsmen here today identified the accused as Satish Kumar, alias Sonu who owns a shop in the name of Vohra Album House in Purana Bazar, Dhariwal. His an their associate Pardeep Kumar, alias Deepu of Dhariwal has also been arrested. Other associates have not been identified so far.

The SSP said Pardeep Kumar was arrested near Improvement Trust Colony on the GT Road, yesterday. Whereas Satish Kumar was arrested from his shop.

As many as 15 blue films CDs and 92 CDs of new Hindi films were recovered from Pardeep Kumar and 25 CDs of blue films and 370 CDs of new Hindi films, three CTV sets four VCRs were recovered from Vohra Album House. One computer and one CD writer used in this regard had also been seized by the police.

The SSP said during preliminary interrogation, the accused confessed that they used to prepare duplicate CDs at Vohra Album House.


DSP surrenders in murder case
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 21
Mr Gurjit Singh, DSP, Sherpur, Barnala police district, who was booked by the Mansa Sadar police in a murder case on November 7, 1998, along with Inspector Chuhar Singh posted in the district under sections 302, 364 and 34 of the IPC, surrendered today in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Mansa, Mr Harsh Mehta.

The trial magistrate, Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial, Magistrate, First Class, Mansa, had earlier issued non-bailable warrants against both police officials on December 2, 2002. The salary of the above had already been attached by the court as both had failed to appear in the court on December 2 and 21, 2002 despite the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. They again failed to appear in the court despite non-bailable warrants on January 15.

The court of the CJM, Mansa, today ordered the recall of the non-bailable warrants of the DSP, Gurjit Singh, as he had appeared in the court.

The case had been registered against the above police officials for murdering Gurmail Singh of Akkanwali village in the district after kidnapping him from Dullowal village on January 29, 1993, in the presence of villagers.


ASI held for taking bribe

Ferozepore, January 21
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested Balkar Singh, an ASI, posted at Jalalabad police station while taking a bribe of Rs 1000 from Chiman Singh, a resident of Chak Raiyanwala.

Mrs Anita Punj, SP, Vigilance Bureau, said Balkar Singh was dealing with a case pertaining to a scuffle between Chiman Singh and Kishore Singh. She said the accused demanded the bribe in order to establish that the mother, wife and brother of Chiman Singh were innocent. OC


Case registered

The police has registered a case of forgery, cheating and fraud against Devinder Singh of Sirhind, his wife, two sons and others for an alleged conspiracy in connection of the sale of 15 marlas of land in Badmajra village.

The police has registered an FIR under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, 504, 506 of the IPC as per a complaint registered by Mr Paramjit Singh of Amritsar.

Naib Tehsildar held

Sleuths of the Vigilance Department arrested a Naib Tehsildar after catching him red-handed while accepting illegal gratification. Naib Tehsildar Sohan Singh Mann was caught red-handed in the District Court premises while accepting a bribe of Rs 500/-. The vigilance team was led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Jaipal Singh.


Efforts to start 12 ITIs in Punjab
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, January 21
Efforts will be made to restart 12 industrial training institutes (ITIs) in the state and a sum of Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore is required to make these functional. There is a proposal to privatise these institutes and if need be help will also be taken from NRIs in this regard.

This was stated by Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Minister for Technical Education and Industrial Training, while talking to mediapersons at the Industrial Training Institute in Phase V,here today. The institute had organised a fair on science and technology, in collaboration with the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. Mr Kaypee was the chief guest at the function.

The minister said 27 outdated courses had been stopped at the ITIs as these had no significance in today’s world. New courses, related to science and technology, had been introduced in the place of these courses. Institute management committees were being set up at the level of ITIs which were headed by representatives from industry. The industry would be interacting with these institutes to make them aware of its requirements.

Later, while addressing a gathering, the minister said the Hi-Tech Training Institute, set up on the premises of the ITI here, was a part of the multi-crore project launched jointly by the Government of India and the Punjab Government in collaboration with the GTZ Germany and the World Bank. The World Bank had provided a loan of Rs 2 crore for the local institute. Punjab was one of the 10 states selected in this regard. Under this scheme, sophisticated machinery, equipment and technical expertise were being provided.

Mr Kaypee said the government had not been able to generate enough employment opportunities and a number of persons had started going abroad. The government, however, faced the problem of limited resources. It did not have enough money to pay the salaries of employees and in such a situation, it was difficult to create any infrastructure, he said.

The minister said the industry would grow if it had government backing and technically trained manpower. He said outdated courses in the ITIs were being replaced by new ones so that students passing out of such institutes kept pace with the global advancement. Computers were being provided at five ITIs.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training, said a revolution should be brought about in the sphere of technology. A basic knowledge of science and technology should be made the part of the education system. Awareness about science had to be created because knowledge about the basic concepts of science would help in everyday life in the coming years.

Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training, said there were 30 engineering colleges, 140 ITIs and 20 polytechnics in the state and between 25,000 to 30,000 students were being provided training in the technical sphere.


Sukriti wins poster contest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
Sukriti Vadhera today bagged the first prize at a poster-making competition-cum-blood camp organised by Punjabi University N.S.S. Department here today. Vice-Chancellor S S Boparai inaugurated the blood camp by donating blood.

Among the other winners of the poster-making competition were Madhuri Aggarwal, Arvinder Kaur and Rashi Paliwal. In the slogan-writing competition — Arvinder Kaur and Kamal Nain — won the first prize, NSS Department Head, Dr Baltej Singh Mann said here.

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