Friday, January 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



VB gears up for 2nd anti-graft phase
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is all set to launch the second phase of its campaign against corruption. The bureau chalked out a strategy at a high-level meeting here today, attended by over 60 gazetted officers posted in the field and state headquarters. Though no details of the strategy were made available at the official level, sources said during the second phase, the focus would be mainly on three categories — officers, procurement agencies and the Vigilance Department itself.

The meeting was addressed by Mr A.P. Pandey, ADGP-cum-Chief Director of the bureau. The meeting, according to sources, was to be addressed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh but he was in Delhi.

The bureau has till now been targeting top politicians of the previous SAD-BJP Government. It has registered cases against several Akali politicians such as Mr Tota Singh, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, besides members of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board and certain members of departmental recruitment committees. However, it did not touch any top politician of the BJP in the state, except one member of the Board.

For its first phase of the campaign which has been described by former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal as “Akali centric and politically motivated,” it drew flak from top Akali and BJP leaders. However, it did not stop the bureau from acting against former Akali ministers.

Sources said the bureau’s top brass had reached the conclusion that “corruption in the middle rung of the administrative machinery required to be dealt with an iron hand”. Though the Vigilance Bureau has been arresting big guns in corruption cases, these arrests have failed to eliminate corruption in government offices at the district level. In fact, politicians of all hues say that corruption has increased.

The bureau has got reports that procurement agencies have been resorting to corruption during procurement and there is need to stop it by launching a sustained campaign against corrupt officers of such agencies. “Officers with bad reputation would be put under the scanner during the wheat procurement season”, according to a senior officer of the bureau.

The bureau has also got reports that the rates of bribe have gone up in tehsils, PUDA offices and other government departments having public dealing at a large scale in the field. Even politicians have given information in this connection to the Chief Minister. It will be a big challenge for the bureau to stop corruption in such offices where people are virtually looted.

The bureau will start “operation clean-up” within its own department also. As bureau officers are enjoying tremendous powers in the field, there are all chances of their misuse to mint money. Complaints from certain places have been received by the bureau’s top brass in this connection. “We would keep a strict watch and not spare the corrupt within the bureau”, asserted a vigilance officer.


FIR against me fabricated: Ajnala
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, former Akali Minister today pointed out some “discrepancies” in the FIR, registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau.

Addressing a press conference, here today, Dr Ajnala claimed that some of the moveable assets mentioned in the FIR did not belong to him. He, however, claimed that he did not possess huge properties, disproportionate to his known sources of income, as claimed in the FIR. He said all immovable and movable properties purchased after his induction into the Akali cabinet had been mentioned in the Income Tax returns. He claimed that his wife, who is a doctor and two sons were also Income Tax assesses.

Mr Ajnala who was accompanied by Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike — both former Akali Ministers and Mr Manjit Singh and Mr Veer Singh Lopoke — both Akali MLAs, alleged that the case against him was out of vendetta as he had already moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for revamping the Vigilance Bureau.

Giving detail of his Income Tax return, Dr Ajnala claimed that he had purchased some moveable and immovable properties on loan and nothing was concealed.

Dr Ajnala said that Shiromani Akali Dal would file a defamation case against officials of the Vigilance Bureau for filing ‘fabricated FIR.


Khaira trying to scuttle issue: Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
Mr Satya Pal Dang, Communist leader, reacting to the statement of Dr Navdeep Khaira, president, Nephrology Society, seeking the arrest of Mr Mehar Chand who had confessed to having bought a kidney for his son, and his interrogation (veteran CPI leader) for his association with Mehar Chand, termed it as an attempt to confuse the issue to save the kingpin and others in the ‘kidney racket”.

In a press release the Communist leader, lashed out at Dr Khaira of making efforts to scuttle the kidney racket case by seeking a CBI inquiry while the local team by SP (city) Kunwar Vijay Pratap was trying to crack open the case.

He said the fact was that Mehar Chand, an ex-sarpanch of Kalsian Khurd village, lost his young son Balwinder Kumar in 1993 as a result of alleged gross negligence by doctors at Kakkar Hospital who arranged the donor for the kidney transplant. It was alleged that the mandatory AIDS test was not conducted on the donor who was arranged by Dr Varinder Gupta in Delhi.

An inquiry subsequently held by Capt Shergill, District Officer (Grievances), recommended a thorough investigation by the CBI into the case besides recommending that earnings of three doctors, Dr P.K. Sareen, Dr Harsharan Kaur and Dr P.K. Jain be scrutinised by the Income Tax Department.

However, no action followed and an FIR was registered. Later the case file also disappeared and was subsequently reconstructed.

Even after the HC Judge (Mr R.S. Grewal) passed the comment that the case had been unnecessarily delayed for over four years and directed the chief Judicial Magistrate to expeditiously conclude the trial by November 2001, Mr Dang claimed that the case was still pending and no summons had been issued to the accused in the case.


Thermal plant account attached
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 23
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) authorities have attached the bank account of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant here, which is one of the major generating units of the PSEB.

Highly placed sources told this correspondent that Mr Labh Singh, Assistant Commissioner, EPF, Chandigarh, had directed the authorities of the State Bank of Patiala branch at the local Power Colony to attach the account of the plant. The letter states that the EPF authorities, exercising powers under the EPF and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, were attaching the bank account of the plant.

The bank authorities have also been directed to credit an amount of Rs 42 lakh from the attached account of the plant to the account of the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Chandigarh. The amount was outstanding against the Calcutta Construction Company, the plant’s labour contractor, who allegedly swindled the said amount from the accounts of the contract labourers from April, 1997 to December, 1999.

The sources said at present, there was not a substantial amount in the said account but it was used by the plant to make payments to contractors and labourers.

The EPF authorities had also attached the bank accounts of the plant last year to realise the amount swindled by some labour contractors. The plant authorities had moved the EPF Tribunal against the attachment of their bank accounts.

On the orders of the EPF Tribunal, the case of deciding the principal employers of the contract labourers working in the plant was taken up in the court of then Assistant Commissioner, EPF, Mr Naveen Janjua. Mr Janjua had held the labour contractor as the principal employer of the contract labourers. With this, the onus shifted to the labour contractors.

However, with the bank account of the GGSSTP being attached again, the sources said the EPF authorities were overruling the judgement of their officer and holding the plant authorities in the capacity of the principal employer.


Bhattal exempted from appearance
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 23
The counsel for Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Agriculture Minister, today opposed the appearance of a private counsel on the behalf of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, the complainant in a case pertaining to alleged corruption and embezzlement of Rs 20 lakh registered against Ms Bhattal, Punjab.

Pleading that the complainant has no right to engage a private counsel in the case, the counsel for Ms Bhattal argued in the court of the UT Additional and Sessions Judge, Mr Balbir Singh, that since the cognisance of the matter was taken by the State, the complainant’s counsel had no right to address the court, even to file reply in the case. However, Ms Bhattal was today granted exemption from appearance in the case.

While opposing the filing of a reply by Mr Dhillon’s counsel, the defence counsel submitted before the Judge that the permission to file a reply by the complainant’s counsel was contrary to the provision of sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure code. Therefore no permission be granted to a private lawyer. Only a state lawyer was authorised to file a reply, the defence counsel argued.

After hearing the arguments from both sides the Judge, adjourned the case for further arguments for March 8.

Meanwhile, the complainant opposed the application moved by Ms Bhattal requesting for dropping the proceeding against her in the case. He said: “Ms Bhattal was just raising a wall of technical pleas to hide and suppress the truth”.

The fact investigated by the Vigilance Bureau had established a prima facie case that a sum of Rs 20 lakh had been withdrawn by her from the Chief Minister’s relief fund in violation of rules, the complainant alleged in the reply.

The state counsel has also filed reply in the case stating that Ms Bhattal should be prosecuted in the case under the provisions of law. 


SAD opposes shifting of Jalandhar DD
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 23
The move to shift the Punjabi news section of the Jalandhar DD to Chandigarh has sparked a row with its officials apprehending it to be a brainchild of some Chandigarh-based bureaucrats. The SAD (B) and the Congress here dubbed it as an “anti-Punjab” step.

The Prasar Bharti authorities have planned to shift the DD-Jalandhar’s Punjabi news section to Chandigarh in order to cater to the needs of Haryana, which already has Doordarshan centre at Hisar.

Enquiries with the authorities revealed that shifting of the news section to Chandigarh would divest border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore from “proper and the same day coverage”. The DD-officials apprehended that it would be almost impossible for them to do justice to the people of Punjab and Rajasthan as far as the coverage was concerned.

“How a party sent from Chandigarh for covering an important function in any remote border areas can return and file the news on the same day.

A senior official alleged that the move would hamper the working of the DD-Jalandhar as its huge infrastructure would remain underutilised.

Meanwhile, a former Union Minister and SAD MP, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, said DD-Jalandhar had been instrumental in keeping the roots and culture of Punjabis intact.

“Moreover, there is no valid reason as both Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have their own independent centres. Mr Badal said he would personally meet and take up the issue with Ms Shushma Swaraj.

Similarly, Mr Tejinder Bittu, president of the district unit of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), alleged that the step was an example of “discriminatory” attitude of the BJP-led government towards Punjab. He said his party was opposed to the idea.


Harbhajan Mann to awaken youth
Politics of loot and plunder
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Noted folk singer and cine star Harbhajan Mann has volunteered to work for creating “political awakening on important issues of public interest” among the youth of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

“Politics of loot and plunder for selfish ends during the past more than 50 years has ruined the future of the youth. Corrupt leaders and politicians have wreaked havoc on the economies of their respective states. There are lakhs of qualified unemployed youth in the region. A very little is being done for human resource development.

“This politics of loot and plunder has also taken a heavy toll on the small and medium-scale industry, besides destroying the farm sector. Trade, too, has not been spared. Now is the time for the youth to get actively involved and raise their voice against the present system,” says Harbhajan Mann.

“I have decided to work for the Lok Bhalai Party because it is this party which has raised issues of public interest and worked hard to get justice to hundreds of women deserted by their NRI husbands.

“I myself had immigrated to Canada some time back. But love for the motherland brought me back. Things, instead of changing , have deteriorated. In the name of politics, many criminals, anti-social elements, even proclaimed offenders, and known bad characters have amassed heaps of unaccounted wealth without ever bothering for the aspirations for the talented and educated youth of the region. It is only the youth and students who can put a stop to this trend of loot and plundering.

“I shall visit various colleges and universities in Punjab and Chandigarh in the first phase to interact with students there. The purpose of my interaction with them is to empower the youth in an endeavour to create a big task force for fighting the present system of loot and plunder,” he added.

Harbhajan Mann says it is unfortunate that only a handful of young men and women are evincing interest in politics as a career. And a majority of them are the wards of the present-day politicians. “Otherwise, students and youth, have shun politics because of rampant corruption.

“I have had meetings with the Lok Bhalai Party President, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, and had seen him working from close quarters” admits Mr Mann, maintaining that the work done by the Lok Bhalai Party to check the exploitation of NRIs at IGI Airport in New Delhi, taxi and truck drivers throughout north India and the exploitation of young girls by their NRI grooms has impressed him.


Medical equipment worth lakhs lying unused
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, January 23
Machines worth lakhs of rupees in the Civil Hospital here remain unused due to want of space to install these and lack of trained staff to handle these.

Authorities concerned sent the machines to different departments of the hospital some months ago, but these have not been used due to lack of trained personnel.

Hospital authorities have even put up notices informing the patients to avail themselves of the facility of special examination by these machines. But whenever a patient asks for examination making use of these machines he is told that the machine is there, but nobody knows how to use it.

The Blood Bank was given Blood Component Separator but there was no space to install the machine. The authorities had claimed that the machine would revolutionise blood transfusion. A unit of blood would be used for different patients after separating it into different components like RBCs, platelets, plasma, leucocytes etc. Bathinda was one of the four cities where such machines was provided.

The sources said the Blood Bank could not get the licence from the Central Government for using the machine as it failed to provide the necessary 50 square feet roofed space for installing the machine. The machine worth Rs 15 lakh has been gathering dust.

Medical experts said if the machine was put to use, it was possible to give a patient the component of blood he needed, while other components could be used for other patients.

Other machines, which have remained unused, are colonoscope and the hysteroscope used for the examination and treatment of disorders of intestine and womb respectively. Each of these machines cost between Rs one to two lakh.

The experts say that without proper knowledge these machines could not be used. The doctors and other staff, therefore are not taking any risk, though want to use of the machines if given proper training.

Some of the doctors said it was a waste of funds. They said if the machines were to remain unused, what was the need to send these to the hospital.

The sources said though the Punjab State health Systems Corporation had planned to appoint specialist and medical staff on contract for the hospitals where these machines were provided. However, nothing of the sort was made so far in the Civil Hospital here.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, confirmed that he machines were not used. He said they had written to the senior functionaries of the PSHSC several times for appointing trained staff or train up the local staff on use of Colonoscope and Hysteroscope. He added that it was up to the senior authorities, when they would do so.

On the Blood Component Separator, he said he had requested the district administration to make some arrangements of roofed space so that the machine could be installed. He said although the machine had been lying with the Blood Bank for many months, two other machines which keep blood at below 0°C were sent only some weeks ago. He said he would meet the Deputy Commissioner and apprise him on the need of space for the Blood Bank.


Campaign against travel agents
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 23
The district police has started a campaign against the travel agents who cheat youths on the pretext of sending them abroad.

In a press note issued here today, Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said seven cases of cheating involving an amount of Rs 21,28,000 had been registered against nine travel agents, including three women, at various police stations in the district. She asserted that these travel agents would be arrested soon.

Meanwhile, a team of the CIA staff, led by Inspector Surjit Singh Kandhali, raided the showroom of Shivam Electronics at the local main bazaar today and caught Vimal Kumar, Avtar Singh, Sunil Kumar, Roshan and Sukhwinder Singh while they were selling duplicate audio and video CDs. As many as 2,707 CDs were seized from the showroom. A case has been registered.

Police constables in civil dress nabbed Varinder Singh, alias Mintu, son of Jarnail Singh of Jahan Khelan while he was teasing girl students in front of DAV College here today. His accomplice Raju of local Mohalla Aslamabad, however, escaped.


Sodal temple offerings: DM seeks report
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 23
The District Magistrate, Mr K. Siva Prasad, today sought a report from the SDM pertaining to alleged non-accountability of offerings and other revenues running into lakhs of rupees being collected by Sodal Temple following an appointment of a receiver to run daily affairs of the temple by a local court in the recent past.

Mr Avinash Chadha, a local resident, in his complaint to the District Magistrate, alleged that though a local court had appointed a receiver to run daily affairs of the temple following attachment of its property in the recent past, but he had failed to maintain the account of offerings and other revenues thus collected including rent by shopkeepers and contract fee collected from different vendors for setting up their stalls during the annual mela.

He further maintained that though several eminent citizens had approached the receiver to inquire about the accounts of income of the temple, but the latter had failed to provide them with details in this regard. He said though it was illegal to allow structural changes in the attached property, but some persons were carrying out construction activity even as the matter was brought to the notice of the receiver.

The complainant further alleged that they had met the SDM concerned to take necessary steps in this regard, but he failed to respond to their demands. The District Magistrate, in his order, has sought a detailed report from the SDM concerned within 10 days.


Urban estates’ scheme: PUDA extends date
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Move of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to have urban estates at Nabha and Barnala has been received well response to the move at Fatehgarh Sahib and has been non-existent average at Rajpura. Meanwhile PUDA decided to extend date for applying for plots in the urban estates by one week.

PUDA sources said, 1758 persons had applied for 747 plots in the Nabha Estate 1428 persons for 1,000 plots in the Barnala Estate. They said 514 persons had applied for 700 plots at Fatehgarh Sahib. Only 150 applications were received for Rajpura urban estate.

Keeping in mind response to the Fatehgarh Sahib and Rajpura schemes. PUDA has extended by one week the date for inviting applications of plots. At Fatehgarh Sahib urban estate was being developed in the revenue limits of village Attewali, Mandofal and Sirhind situated on the backside of Jyoti Swarup gurdwara on the Chunni road. Though No Objection Certificate had been issued for establishment of the Urban Estate, it could not be cleared by the State-Level Acquisition Board due to certain objections. This has caused apprehensions in the minds of people. Besides Fatehgarh Sahib is yet to develop as a town. Land identified by PUDA has a substantial number of people residing in it. These persons have built houses at vantage points along the main road, forcing PUDA acquire land at more disadvantageous location.

On Rajpura, the sources said the response to urban estate scheme could improve if the government decided to set it up on 50 acres of the Pepsu Township Development Board in the heart of the city. Response to the Estate scheme was not good mainly because the government had not identified the site of the Estate but only stated that it would be near to the city.

PUDA sources said the land of Development Board would be acquired under the scheme. PUDA has in a communication to the government claimed that it did not have the expertise for proper management of properties.

PUDA Additional Administrator Hussan Lal said he could not comment on the acquisition of the land of the Pepsu Development Board as the government alone could take a decision on this. He said PUDA had gone in for developing an Estate at Rajpura following a demand survey conducted for it. He said the Urban Estate which was already existing had disposed of all but three of its residential sites.

On the Nabha Urban Estate, Mr Hussan Lal said the decision to shift the office of the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to the Urban Estate had given boost to the Urban Estate and was largely responsible for the large number of applications received from there. He said in Barnala though 270 acres had been earmarked in 1981 for the Urban Estate, the process had been delayed due to litigation. He said in the meantime constructions had come up on a large part of the land and now PUDA had only 125 to 150 acres of land on which it was developing an Estate following a survey report conducted by the district administration in league with public representatives.


Rs 62 lakh released for disabled
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 23
The Central Government under the NPRPD programme has released a grant of Rs 62 lakh for the rehabilitation of disabled persons in the district. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, stated this in a press note issued here today.

She said at a camp organised under the NPRPD at Chamkaur Sahib today 50 disabled persons were given tricycles, wheel chairs and hearing-aid machines.

Earlier, at a camp organised at Nurpur Bedi 20 persons were given tricycles, artificial limbs, wheel chairs and hearing-aid machines.

The district administration has identified 11,500 such persons in the district who would be provided with aid under the said programme, she added.

Mr Shamsher Singh, Member of Parliament from Ropar, who presided over the camp at Chamkaur Sahib today said he would provide funds from his discretionary quota for 10 ambulances to help accident victims in and around Ropar. He also announced a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh for the charitable hospital being run by the Lions Club at Chamkaur Sahib. He also distributed cheques for Rs 3.60 lakh to help 18 persons construct houses.


Gurdaspur, Kangra police at loggerheads
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 23
The Gurdaspur police and the Kangra police are at logger- heads on account of last evening incident, in which SHO Purana Shalla police station in Gurdaspur district was allegedly injured by a mob at Jassur falls in the jurisdiction of Nurpur police station in Kangra district.

According to the district police chief, Mr Varinder Kumar, official of Purana Shalla police station yesterday arrested one Raj Pal, a charas smuggler and recovered 1 kg of charas. A case under Section 20/61/85 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, was registered against the accused.

The police chief said that during the course of interrogation the accused confessed to having links with a Jassur- based shopkeeper who was also involved in charas smuggling.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, SHO Purana Shalla, raided the shop of Kishan Kumar at Jassur, and allegedly recovered 250 grams of charas.

However, the Kangra police said no charas was recovered from Krishan Kumar.

It alleged that certain officials of the Punjab police, some of them in civil dress were seen moving around Jassur, this created suspicion among people, who later entered into heated conversation with the cops and pelted stones on them. Some cops were reportedly injured in the incident. Meanwhile Mr Varinder Kumar said a request was sent to the police station concerned to take legal action against the guilty but no action was taken by the Kangra police. 


Border villages face stray cattle menace
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
Residents of Punjab and Haryana villages, which are located on the border, are facing the menace of stray cattle, which has been damaging crops.

Though no untoward incident has been reported so far due to extra vigilance being kept by the authorities concerned, the situation may turn ugly if the menace of stray cattle is not checked effectively.

A few days ago there was tension among residents of Ramsra village, Punjab, as residents of villages located in Haryana had allegedly pushed stray cattle into Punjab territory. When Ramsra villagers tried to push it on back residents of Haryana villages bordering Punjab stopped them from doing so.

About a week ago tension had gripped Harnamsinghwala village of the district when a driver of truck was unloading cows brought from other states here. Recently a compromise had been reached over stray cattle among residents of two villages located near Kot Shamir village. Residents of some of the villages surrounding this town started bringing stray cows to the office of the Deputy Commissioner yesterday to lodge their protest.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the menace had acquired alarming proportions after the drought-affected farmers of neighbouring Rajasthan had started pushing their cattle into other states after finding it difficult to arrange fodder for them. Even a section of government officials of Rajasthan had allegedly started forcing truck drivers of Punjab to either take a herd of stray cattle along with them in their respective vehicles or get their vehicles challaned.

On the other hand to cash, in on the situation some transporters have started charging fare four times the normal to transport stray cattle from one area to another despite the fact that truck operator unions in the region have decided not to transport stray cattle.

Meanwhile, to save their crops farmers have started organising “thikri pehra” at the entry points of their respective villages. A number of farmers have erected fences around their farms in this connection.

The stray cattle have also led to road accidents in the area. The stray cattle also pose a threat to the inmates of deer park at Beer Talab village, 6 km from here.

About two years ago the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had decided to set up a cow-sheds at a cost of Rs 13 crore to check the menace. However, the project failed reasons best known to the authorities concerned.

Mr Ishtpal Singh Khialiwala, president, SHSAD, Bathinda district unit, in a memorandum submitted to the district administration demanded that the affected farmers should be given adequate compensation.


Fog hits telephones
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
Of the total 1.7 lakh BSNL telephone connections, more than 11,000 telephones have remained out of order for the past fortnight. Officials of the BSNL reveal that the problem is due to the unrelenting fog in the region.

Overhead wires due to wet and moist conditions develop low insulation, thus leading to ‘dead’ telephones, they claim. As soon as the sun shines, many telephones revive.


NCM members’ term ends
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
Even as the three-year term of eight-member National Commission for Minorities (NCM) ends today, the outgoing Vice-Chairman, Mr Tarlochan Singh today urged the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, to arrange a meeting between SGPC delegation and Gen Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, for the upkeep to Sikh shrines in Pakistan which were in dilapidated conditions.

“The issue of the maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan is very dear to the Sikhs all over the world. The SGPC which is the supreme Sikh organisation has desired that the Government of India should allow a delegation of the committee to go to Pakistan to meet the authorities in this regard. The meeting assumes importance because the Government of Pakistan has not taken any steps to conserve the historical shrines,” Mr Tarlochan Singh stated.


Netaji’s birth anniversary celebrated
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, January 23
The District Congress Committee today celebrated the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chander Bose. A large number of Congress workers and people from other sections of the society attended it. While remembering the services rendered by him, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, Vice-President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said it was Netaji who formed the Indian National Army (INA) and played a significant role in mobilising the freedom movement even abroad.

Mr S.K. Gupta, member, District Planning Board, and Mr Gurtej Singh Gill president, local Nagar Council, also paid rich tribute to Netaji Subhas Chander Bose. Earlier, a large gathering garlanded his statue on the District Court road.

AMRITSAR: The birth anniversary of Subhas Chander Bose was celebrated at Government Senior Secondary School, Puttalighar, here on Thursday. The function was organised by the All-India Azad Hind Fauj Freedom Fighter’s Successors Association. This was stated in a press note issued by Mr Manohar Singh Saini, president of the association.


SDM to probe conflict between arhtiyas, farmers
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 23
Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday asked the SDM Gidderbaha, to conduct an enquiry into the incidence of brawl between farmers of Chak Attar Singhwala village in Bathinda and arhtiyas of Gidderbaha on January 18.

The enquiry was ordered on a complaint of farmers that they were allegedly beaten up by the arhtiyas when they visited their shop at Gidderbaha on January 18. They had alleged that they were forced to sign some papers and kept in confinement for more than four hours. The farmers, Mr Sukhraj Singh and Mr Harinder Pal Singh, said they visited arhtiyas shop to know about their accounts and crops sold.

They alleged that the arhtiyas did not tell about the balance in their accounts for the past three years. The farmers said they had been selling the crops through the arhtiyas for the past two decades.

The farmers had earlier sent a letter to the Secretary, Mandi Board, Punjab, and urged him that the arhtiyas should be instructed to give the account statement for the past three years.


Two more farmers held for non-repayment of loan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADE) authorities of the district today arrested two more farmers against whom warrants were issued by the authorities concerned after they allegedly defaulted in there payment of instalments of the loan taken by them for non-farm activity and allied purpose.

Official sources said that Lakhbir Singh of Manwala village in the Talwandi Sabo area and Nachhattar Singh of Jai Singhwala in Bathinda area were arrested after they failed to repay the loan. Lakhbir Singh had taken loan for starting electronic goods business while Nachhattar Singh for setting up tent house.

Sources added that with these arrests, number of farmers, arrested for defaulting in the payment of loan had gone up to five in Bathinda and Mansa districts. In these two districts, warrants against 61 farmers, who had become defaulted in loan repayment had been issued while documents had been prepared for warrants against more 150 such defaulters. Meanwhile, nearly 150 activists of the BKU (Ekta) today staged dharna in front of the PADB office here to protest against the arrest of farmers for failing to repay loans. Mr Manjeet Singh, General Secretary, BKU (Ekta), in a press note here today said if the authorities did not release the farmers the BKU would intensify the agitation. He said on one hand, the authorities concerned had been waiving loans worth crores of rupees of industrialists and big business houses, on the other the farmers were being jailed. He added that the state government had been ruining the farmers by imposing tax on fertilizer and insecticides and withdrawing the facility of free electricity for the farm sector. Sources said heated exchanges took place between activists of the BKU staging a dharna and a senior functionary of PADB today.


Plan to develop rural areas
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 23
The Punjab Government has drawn up a plan for the overall development of the rural areas in the state.

Under the scheme initially two villages in each block will be selected for providing various facilities like a sewer system, augmentation of the piped water supply and the pavement of streets.

Each area will be given a grant of more than Rs 1 crore and the villages will be identified at meetings of the District Planning Board. The scheme will cost about Rs 242 crore.

Stating here yesterday, Dr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, ADC (Development), Faridkot, said Rs 1.40 crore had been received in this regard and the selection of the area was likely to be finalised at a meeting of the District Planning Board to be held here shortly.


Farmers electrocute field rats
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, January 23
The mined fields of farmers living in villages along the zero line of the Indo-Pakistan border have become breeding grounds of rats. Numerous gangs of these fat rats swiftly rush to fields without mines during the night or in wee hours and eat away crops within hours. Nambardar Jagir Singh’s stored grains have been attacked by the battalions of the rats.

Mr Surinder Makker of Panjike-Uttar village said efforts to kill the rats had gone in vain.

Saudagar Singh, a resident of Panjike Hitad, a village close to Pakistan border, says he even sprayed anti-rat pesticide on the fruit and vegetable crops, but without any tangible result. He says submerging of the fields was not possible due to mines.

Chaman Singh, Sarpanch, says if rats went on multiplying like this, plague was imminent. The farmers have now resorted to electrocuting the rats.


Panels to review development schemes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
With a view to giving greater role in the implementation of the rural development programmes by MPs, the Union Ministry for Rural Development has reconstituted state and district-level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees.

These committees will keep a close watch on the implementation of programmes of the Rural Development Ministry in the rural areas.

These committees have been set up to ensure the execution of rural development programmes. Besides, the committees will provide benefits of the rural development schemes to the poor in the rural and underdeveloped areas.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from Sangrur, has been nominated Chairman of the Sangrur district Vigilance and Monitoring Committee to get the programmes of the Rural Development Ministry implemented.


Student ends life
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
Sachin Sharma, a student of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, allegedly committed suicide in his hostel room at Longowal village, about 20 km from here, today.

Sachin was a student of Mechanical degree (welding technology) and hailed from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.


Rice scam accused in police custody
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 23
Rajvir Singh, prime accused in the Barnala rice scam, has been remanded to police custody till January 27.

Rajvir Singh who was arrested by the Barnala police was produced in the court of Mr Jagnahar Singh, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Barnala, yesterday. The magistrate remanded him to police custody till January 27.

The Barnala police, following a tip-off, had unearthed a rice scam worth Rs 2 crore after raiding local godowns of Markfed, Punjab Ware Housing Corporation and Punjab Agro. This scam came to light when something fishy about the local Durga Rice Mills’ packing of rice bags purchase by the Food Corporation of India was pointed out.


PSIEC Junior Engineer sacked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Junior Engineer, (Electrical) Guljinder Singh was dismissed from service by the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Managing Director, Mr P.S. Aujla, on January 17.

This action has been taken following inquires instituted against Guljinder Singh, who has been charged with “dishonesty, misappropriation, defalcation or misappropriation of funds’’ to the tune of Rs 14,39, 686 of the corporation with mala fide intentions.

The orders passed by Mr Aujla also say that the perusal of evidence on record prima-facie also revealed the likelihood of connivance of others in aforementioned offences while getting the works executed in the Industrial Growth Centre, Pathankot.

The Corporation has decided to refer the case to the Vigilance Bureau to ascertain criminal liability of all other involved in this matter.

The corporation has also placed under suspension Executive Engineer G.S. Kainth, posted in Jalandhar. A charge-sheet has been served on him.


PSEB JEs hold protest rallies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Junior Engineers (JEs) of south zone of the PSEB today held protest rallies in front of their respective circle headquarters to lodge their protest against the reported move of the state government to dismantle and privatise the board.

Addressing a rally in front of the PSEB office here, Council of Junior Engineers Association president Sukhdev Singh and general secretary Davinder Singh expressed serious concern at the “undue haste” being shown by the Haldea Committee in finalising its report in this regard.

Both leaders claimed that the committee was misleading the people and inviting only a select group of consumers for discussions. They said the dismantling of the board into corporations would result in further tariff hikes.

The Junior Engineers demanded that the government should release a white paper on the effects of power reforms in the states of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. They said the effects of the reforms must be explained to the people.


Junior grade for 5 IAS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Punjab Governor has placed the following IAS officers of the 1994 batch in the Junior Administrative Grade of the Indian Administrative Service (Rs 12,750-375-16,500 (non-functional), with effect from January 1, 2003.

This grade is given after the completion of nine years of service. The officers are: Mr Vikas Partap (Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr D.K. Tiwari, Mr Alok Shekhar, Mr J.M. Balamurugan, Mr Tejvir Singh, according to a press note.


Vikas Partap, 4 others promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Punjab Governor has placed the three IAS officers of the 1994 batch in the Junior Administrative Grade of the Indian Administrative Service (Rs 12,750-375-16,500 (non-functional), with effect from January 1, 2003.

This grade is given after the completion of nine years of service. The officers are: Mr Vikas Partap (Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr D.K. Tiwari, Mr Alok Shekhar, Mr J.M. Balamurugan, Mr Tejvir Singh, according to a press note.


Selection grade for 17 IAS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Punjab Government today placed 17 IAS officers in the selection grade. They are Mr Anirudh Tiwari, Mr Vijay Kumar Singh, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Mr Kulbir Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Mr Jagjit Puri, Mr Bidhi Chand Thakur, Mr R.L. Kapoor, Mr P.S. Aujla, Mr Hans Raj Megh, Mr Phulwant Singh Sidhu, Mr Kulbir Singh Kang, Mr Kanwal Bir Singh Sidhu, Mr G.S. Grewal, Mr Harjit Singh and Mr S.K. Ahluwalia.


Revision of poll rolls from Feb 3
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 23
Mr Anurag Verma, District Election Officer, in a statement here yesterday said the revision of electoral rolls for panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads would be started from February 3.

Mr Verma said the date for eligibility had been pegged at January 1, 2003. Thus, the names of all those who attained the age of 18 years on January 1 would be included in the new lists. Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, ADC, said the revision would be completed by February 20. The final lists would be made public on April 10.


Undertrial flees, rearrested

Jalandhar, January 23
The police today arrested Emunal Masih, an undertrial, who had fleed away from the Civil Hospital here after giving the slip to the guards early today.

Emunal Masih, convicted to 10 years’ imprisonment under the NDPS Act and lodged in the Central Jail here, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital day before yesterday on after he complained of a severe stomach ache, police sources said adding the accused managed to give the slip to the security guard and fled from the custody.

However, a police party was sent to his native village, Nangal Ambia, in the Shahkot area near here and arrested him, the sources added. PTI


Theft bid foiled
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, January 23
An attempt by some unidentified persons to cart away rice bags belonging to the FCI from near the railway track under the cover of fog was foiled yesterday morning.

According to information, a special train had to be loaded in the afternoon on Tuesday which for some unavoidable reasons could not be loaded as the Railways failed to deliver the rake on time, with the result that some of the trucks, which had brought the rice bags to the rail head from the godowns, were left parked at the rail head as the rake was to arrive in the morning. But when some of the labourers arrived early morning, they noticed some men taking away the rice bags from one of the trucks and challenged them. The thieves dropped the bags and escaped under in the cover of the dense fog.


Grewal’s statement irresponsible: Principal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
The Government Physical Education College Principal, Dr Indu Sarwal, today claimed that the Punjab Women Grievances Commission Chairperson, Ms Surinder Kaur Grewal, was making irresponsible statements with regard to happenings in the college which were contrary to the factual position.

In a statement here, the Principal said Ms Grewal had given statements to the media even before receipt of her explanation regarding the allegations of sexual harassment made by college student Rajni Thakur.

She said the statements made by Ms Grewal against her had insulted her modesty and were uncalled for. She also claimed that persons with vested interests in the case had been meeting her regularly at her residence to influence her and that they seemed to have succeeded in their designs.

Speaking on the issue, which has already seen the transfer of two teachers from the college, including Mr Kulraj Singh Gill, who is accused of sexually harassing Rajni Thakur, the Principal said the incident was that of 1999 - 2000. She said she had only taken over as Principal in July this year.

Dr Sarwal said even though the girl claimed that the incident had occurred in 1999-2000 she failed to bring it to the notice of as many as five Principals who had served in the college since then to the present time. The Principal said in spite of the fact that the complaint was brought up after so many years she told the girl to submit it in writing, Rajni did not give any material on the basis of which action could be taken.

Meanwhile, the strike by students of the college entered the eighth day today. Students held a rally on the campus and were also joined by students of the local Government College of Commerce.


Recounselling for dental colleges on
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 23
Following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for recounselling of candidates for admission in the BDS courses in various government and private dental colleges in the state, The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFHUS), Faridkot selected 290 aspirants of the general category at the two-day interviews which ended here today.

More than 600 candidates appeared in the interviews for seats in Government Dental College Amritsar, Government Dental College, Patiala, Guru Ram Dass College, Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev Dental College, Sunam, Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences, Faridkot, BJS Dental College, Ludhiana, Laxmi Bai Dental College, Patiala, Desh Bhagat Dental College, Muktsar, and National Dental College, Dera Bassi. Dr A.S. Gill, Chairman of the selection committee, clarified that the students who were earlier selected in the four-day counselling from September 10 last year and had again come on the selection map would not have to pay any admission charges and their study period would be considered from the last date of the admission. If any of them was allocated a seat to some other college, his or her related documents will be transferred to the respective institution.

Dr Gill stated that the 90 candidates who were on merit but could not be selected in September on some technical ground had also been adjusted. The study period of these students will strictly be considered from the admission date.

Interviews of the reserve category of 130 aspirants will be held tomorrow on the university campus.


B.Pharma students go on strike
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Students of the Pharmacy Department today decided to go on indefinite strike following repeated cancellations of a meeting of a committee constituted by Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor S S Boparai to look into their demands.

The committee was constituted by the Vice-Chancellor on Monday and was headed by the Dean, Academic Affairs. It would also include Dean, Research, T.A. Sharma, Controller Examinations and Department Head Dr Manjit Singh. Two scheduled meetings of the committee, including one scheduled for today, could not take place, forcing the students to go on strike.

The students were demanding that more teachers be posted in their department. In a release issued by the students today, they said teaching work was almost paralysed with the situation coming to such a pass that M Pharmacy students were forced to take B Pharmacy classes. They said there were only six teachers in the department at present and the demand to post more teachers had been ignored despite a strike having taken place on the issue one year back also. The university authorities had then agreed to appoint regular teacher within two months of appointment of a regular Vice-Chancellor.

The students said besides this there was no stipend for M Pharma students who had qualified the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). They said stipends were provided to students studying in other such courses in the university, including Panjab University, Chandigarh. They also demanded that 75 per cent of the seats in M Pharma be reserved for students who had passed their B Pharma from the university department.

Besides this the students demanded that the supplementary examination of B Pharma (third year) be reconsidered because students had failed the examination despite good attempts. They said students had scored very low marks in the examination and that the marking of the examination was completely different from other examinations conducted by the university.

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