Wednesday, February 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSEB staff strike work
Impact negligible, says board chief
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, February 4
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees struck work today in protest against the proposed dismantling of the board today. The strike partially affected services in the field even as work continued on a normal pace in the board headquarters here.

The employees, however, claimed that the strike was near complete all over the state. Board Chairman Sudhir Mittal claimed that the impact of the strike was almost negligible.

The Employees Federation (PSEB), the Technical Services Union, the Bijli Mulazim Front, the Punjab Raj Bijli Mazdoor Sangh, the PSEB Employees Federation and the Workers Federation (AITUC) today jointly organised a rally in front of the board’s Patiala Circle Office. Speaking on the occasion, employee leaders alleged that the state government was bent upon privatising the board to the detriment of the employees as well as the people.

The employee leaders, Mr Amarjit Singh Sodhi, Mr Radhey Shyam, Mr Joginder Singh Jindu, Mr Karam Chand Bhardwaj, Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Surinderjit Singh Walia said the move to split the board into three corporations was a prelude to its complete dismantling. The leaders claimed that the Haldia Committee, which had been formed to suggest reforms in the power sector, was bent upon dismantling the board.

The association leaders claimed that the strike had been extremely successful in all field areas and that reports of the success of the strike had also been received from the three thermal plants as well as board hydel projects. They claimed that the agitation by the employees would be intensified in case the government did not drop the move to dismantle the board.

Meanwhile, Board Chairman Sudhir Mittal appreciated employees who attended to their duties despite the “unjustified” stroke call given by a section of the Board’s employees unions. In a statement here, the Chairman said the attendance in offices in Patiala, including the Head Office, Shakti Vihar and Shakti Sadan was complete. He said the thermal and hydel projects of the boards had functioned normally.

ROPAR: Workers of the PSEB on Tuesday struck work and staged dharnas outside their offices in protest against the proposed government move to privatise the board. Reports of strike and dharnas were received from Anandpur Sahib, Ghanauli, Ropar and Nangal.

BATHINDA: Various employee unions of the PSEB observed a strike here on Tuesday. The unions claimed that the strike was near complete.

The GNDTP Employees Federation, the GHTP Employees Union, the PSEB Employees Federation, the Bijli Mulajim Front and the Technical Services Union held rallies and dharnas at various offices of the PSEB in the district to press for their demands. Their agitation was supported by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), the Lok Morcha, Punjab, and various other trade unions and employee organisations in the state.

AMRITSAR: Members of various PSEB employees organisations, including the Technical Services Union, the Employees Federation and the Ministerial Services Union, on Tuesday observed a complete strike against proposed privatisation of the board. The associations held protest rallies and raised slogans against the state government at various sub-divisions.

Addressing the protesters, leaders criticised government policies and warned of serious consequences if the government tried to split the board.

TARN TARAN: The strike call given by employee organisations of the PSEB got a good response in the area. Mr R.K. Sagwan, Deputy Chief Engineer of the local PSEB circle, said the strike was near total. However, he claimed that the power supply remained normal.

Employees organised a rally and warned the board management against the privatisation move.

HOSHIARPUR: The Employees Federation of the PSEB, the Bijli Mazdoor Sangh, employees of the PSEB, Hoshiarpur Circle, observed a complete strike on Tuesday in protest against the proposed privatisation of the PSEB.

Mr Om Parkash, general secretary, Punjab Ministerial Services Union, PSEB, in a press note, said the employees staged a dharna in front of the office of Sub-urban Division in the city.

GURDASPUR: The Joint Action Committee of PSEB Employees, including the Technical Services Union, AITUC, the Employees Federation of PSEB Employees, owing allegiance to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, INTUC, and the Employees Federation (Walia), held a dharna here on Tuesday in protest against the proposed privatisation of the PSEB.

Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Mitter Mann Singh Malhi, Mr Darbara Singh and Mr Hans Raj, presidents of the divisional units of the Joint Action Committee, the Technical Services Union, the Employees Federation and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh addressed the protesters.

They condemned the recommendations of the Haldia Committee, stating that its implementation would increase power tariff.

PHAGWARA: A complete strike was observed here on Tuesday by employees of the PSEB in protest against the government’s proposed move to privatise the board.

The PSEB employees disrupted road traffic and held a rally in support of their demands.

Badal: seek people’s consent on PSEB move
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 4
Former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal said today that the state government should take the consent of the people as well as the employees before taking any step to dismantle the PSEB.

Talking to newspersons at the Circuit House here after attending a function in the city along with party leader from Dakala Amarjot Singh Punia, Mr Badal said the government should not act in a dictatorial way while taking any decision regarding the future of the PSEB.

He said the experiment of breaking up of state electricity boards in other parts of the country had not been successful.

Asked about the purported complaint submitted to him regarding “harassment” committed by a former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, at Nabha in August, 2002, he feigned ignorance. He, however, said “we are inquiring into it” (Dr Ahluwalia’s activities).


14 Local Govt officials charge-sheeted
Winked at building rules violations
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
The Punjab Government today charge-sheeted 14 senior Local Government officials allegedly who allowed large-scale violation of rules and regulations by owners of 27 buildings in this city.

The charge-sheeted officials, include Mr V.K. Talwar, Mr Hemant Batra and Mr S.S. Bhatia — all municipal town planners; Mr R.S. Randhawa, assistant engineer, Mr Suresh Raj, Mr I.P. Randhawa and Mr Bankey Bihari — all assistant town planners. Seven building inspectors, who have been charge-sheeted include Mr Madan Gopal, Mr Sharanjit Singh, Mr Mangat Singh, Mr Raman Kumar, Mr Suresh, Mr Pardeep and Mr Narinder Sharma.

Giving details of the charge sheets, Mr Anil Kansal, Chief Vigilance Officer, said that he was directed by Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Local Government to inquire into building violations on the basis of which charge sheets were served. He said the charge sheets had been despatched to the officials concerned.

Mr Kaushal said that no official found turning a blind eye to the violation of the rules, could be allowed to get scot-free. He said though the Cabinet sub-committee had recommended one-time settlement under the voluntary disclosure scheme, yet the department had initiated proceedings against the erring officials who had connived with builders in the past. He said entire urban plan had gone haywire due to the dereliction of duty by such officials. Such violations had led to frequent traffic bottle-necks causing inconvenience to people. He said the department would take strict action against the officials found guilty of violating bylaws of the Local Government.

The recommendations of one-time settlement of the irregularities in the construction of buildings under the voluntary disclosure scheme has been awaiting clearance by the Cabinet.

All 14 officials have been given 21 days to reply to the charge sheets. The charge sheets have been served under rule eight of the Punjab Civil Services Rules (Punishment and Appeal Rule 1970) the charge sheets read, large-scale violation of the rules/regulations and building bylaws, vis-a-vis parking area, front set-back and floor area ratio, as prescribed in schedule (1) of the Building Bylaws — 1997, has taken place because of non-compliance of instructions issued by the government to you in respect of properties narrated in the list. It has led to irreparable damage to the urban environment leading to parking problems, congestion, pollution and avoidable burden on already cramped infrastructure. You had not taken timely and expeditious action to check unauthorised constructions at the initial stage. Further, even after the detection of unlawful constructions and issue of notices under Section 269 and 270, respectively, of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, no prescribed action was taken. You have thus shown gross misconduct and grave dereliction of duty with mala fide intentions to give undue benefit to private parties at the cost of public interest.

Construction work is still in progress at The Mall and other elegant localities and owners have converted houses into business establishments.


Structures built flouting laws
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
The Municipal Corporation has identified 22 buildings, including 12 marriage palaces, five shopping complexes four hospitals and one hotel, built in violation of bylaws. These are Richi Richi International, Albert Road, Sifti International, Court Road, Deep International, Randev Palace, Majitha Road (owned by Ram Sarup), Shaina Garden, Mall Road, Kamal Palace, Batala Road, Kishore Castle, Queen’s Road, Ashirwad Palace, Batala Road (Owned by Usha Mahajan), the banquette at Majitha Road (Surinder Singh), Rajindera Garden, Court Road, Queen’s Garden at Queen’s Road, Lakhbir Singh Shehnai, Majitha Road, Roop International, GT Road — all marriage palaces; Sardar Hatti — a shopping complex, The Mall (owner Karanjit Singh), shopping complex, a shopping complex at M.M. Malviya Road (Shiv Kumar) Lawrence Road (owned by Tejinder Singh), another shopping complex at Lawrence Road (owned by Tejinder Singh), another shopping complex at Lawrence Road (owned by Tasvir Singh), Kamaljit Singh’s showroom at Mall Road, a shopping complex by Simi Sharma at MM Malviya Road. The hospitals included Amandeep Hospital, GT Road, Dr Ved Gupta’s Hospital, Mall Road, Ajit Hospital, Green Avenue, Dr Daljit Singh Eye Hospital Mall Road.

Illegal marriage palace: even PM’s letters failed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
Shaina Garden, a marriage palace, on the Mall is one of the 27 buildings, built flouting bylaws of the Municipal Corporation on a complaint by residents of the locality, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee wrote to the then Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, for initiating action vide his letter of June 12, 2000. Another letter was written by Prime Minister office (PMO) on August 8, 2000 to the Chief Secretary in this regard. Though the inquiries by the SDM and the district police chief had reported that the marriage palace was built flouting bylaws and recommended the closure of it same, vide their letters number 1408 M.C. 1 dated July 20, 2000 and 241/DC/11730, dated March 22, 2000 respectively.


Kidney scam: PCMSA’s arguments ‘hollow’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 4
Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran Communist leader today stated that arguments of Dr Ajay Bagga of the PCMS Association on the kidney scam were “hollow” and “flawed”.

He said Dr Bagga in a statement, had argued that the joint family system was on the way out and it was not possible for patients of kidney failures to have a relative as a donor.... He quotes Dr Bagga as saying that “though it was ‘incorrect’ to make organs saleable for a living in a welfare state, yet an amendment to the Human Organs Transplantation Act 1994, was the only solution to illegal practices”.

Severely criticising PCMS, Mr Dang states that it is obvious that the medical association wants sale and purchase of kidneys to be made ‘legal’ even though they were pointing out the practice as ‘incorrect’.

He said if the proposal was accepted, the rich would be able to buy kidney from the poor but where would a poor person in a similar health condition get a kidney? He asks if the health system in the country should only be concerned for the welfare of rich, that too at the cost of the poor?

Besides, the acceptance of the proposal, he said, it would not end illegal practices rather it would enhance these, as assumptions that the poor would be too ready part with their kidneys would lead to deception, coercion. This has been proved by the kidney scam exposed here. With the sale becoming legal, all possible methods were likely to be used to force the poor to compel their young daughters and sons to part with their kidneys for money.

Moreover the Communist leader contended that with the breaking-up of the joint family it does not mean an end to concern for each other hence the argument was void. He said the definition of ‘near relatives’ should be widened, arrangements made to prepare registers with addresses of willing donors who could be called, when needed. Methods to develop cadaver transplant should be examined where organs of brain-dead persons could be transplanted on the needy patients. Also the clause of donation on grounds of ‘love and affection’ should be considered seriously for deletion due to its ‘gross misuse’.


Punjab made to follow RBI directive
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
At last, the Reserve Bank of India, which had been pressing the Punjab Government over the years to account for Rs 2700 crore that was advanced to it as cash credit for the procurement of foodgrains, has had its way. It has made the State Government to maintain the foodgrains procurement account separately and not to route the cash credit through the state treasury.

Informed sources said today that the RBI had warned the State Government to either fall in line on this issue or face action. As the government was not in a position to annoy the RBI authorities in any manner, it decided to follow the bank’s directive.

Sources said that following a detailed meeting on this issue, the State Government has decided to set up a food procurement company within the Food and Supplies Department. This company would manage the funds meant for the procurement of foodgrains by the State Food and Supplies Department.

Sources said that the RBI had been insisting for long asking the State Government to separate its foodgrains funds from other budgetary allocations. The RBI arranges about Rs 14,000 crore as cash credit from consortium of banks for various State Government agencies for the procurement of foodgrains mainly wheat and paddy every year.

However, the allocation made to the Punjab Food and Supplies Department, one of the procurement agencies, is routed through the state treasury and likewise the money reimbursed by the FCI in lieu of the foodgrains supplied by Punjab to the Central pool is also deposited in the state treasury.

Because of the persisting financial crisis for the past several years, the successive State Governments have been diverting these funds, meant for the procurement of foodgrains and other related activities, to meet their other financial needs. Because of this reason, funds allocated for the foodgrains remain unreconciled.

When contacted, Mr Lal Singh, Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, confirmed the setting up of the company. He said that he had taken the staff of his department in confidence before putting this proposal before the State Government.


First step towards cultural revival
10-day event to feature music, fashion, sports, crafts
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
It’s never too late to have space for culture in a land otherwise more famous for political shades. The project of initiating a formal cultural festival, with its concentration on Patiala, has long been pending in the files of the government. But it will finally see the light of the day, with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today talking aloud about preservation of heritage through the 10-day Patiala Heritage Festival, beginning on February 14.

As the Festival rolls, the government will take its first step towards promotion of heritage tourism along with religion tourism in Punjab. With a grant of Rs 40 lakh coming from the Centre and another Rs 1 crore made available through the state of Punjab, the Patiala heritage festival is set to create history. Not only will it reflect the grandeur of Patiala’s legacy, it will also help the government in converting the historic city of Patiala into a tourist destination. The government is seeking industry’s sponsorship for the event. From the next year the funding of the festival will be managed from a corpus fund.

After the Harbhallabh Sangeet Sammelan, solely dedicated to the promotion of classical music, Patiala Heritage festival will have something to offer on every sphere, right from crafts to visual, performing arts to fashion design, popular music and sports. Overlooked and executed by Patiala Heritage Society, headed by MP Ms Preneet Kaur, the festival aims at recreating the splendour of Patiala, known for its musical lineage, arts, architecture, crafts and sports.

Giving details of the festival, which will be held annually, the CM said the festival would work to set the process of revival into motion. Specifically concerned about the dilapidated condition of Patiala fort, Qila Mubarak, the CM Said that encroachments along walls of the Fort were making it more brittle. He said the government was hopeful that the Qila would soon be declared an endangered monument.

“Patiala has been famous known for its music, arts, crafts and sports for ages. We had wanted to host the festival in 1996 but things did not work out. This time it is a rather hurried effort. But we have tried to include everything, right from the unique miniature paintings of Patiala and its rich craft line to classical music concerts, fashion shows, polo and equestrian events.”

Where Qila Mubarak will serve as a venue for classical concerts, to be presented by great exponents like Reza Ali Khan (grandson of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan) and Pt Jasraj. Some of the other performers during the festival include maestros like Birju Maharaj, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Padma Vibhushan Sonal Mansingh, Jagjit Singh and Hans Raj Hans. Apart from the classical musical fare the festival will also host popular events like fashion show on February 21 (at Old Motibagh Palace) when top models of the country will showcase garments designed by JJ Vallaya and Ranna Gill. The YPS Stadium will host the pop music concert to be enlivened by Sukhwinder and Sukhbir.

On the sports front, a one day golf tournament has been planned at the Army Golf Course. In order to revive Patiala’s equestrain tradition, an Equestrian championship and an exhibition polo match are being organised in collaboration with the Indian Army. Some of India’s leading horsemen from different organisations will participate in the event.

Capt clears stand

Clarifying his stand on shifting of Patiala Archives out of Rajendra Kothi, Capt Amarinder Singh today said that one side of the whole foundation of the Kothi had sunk. The archives were under continuous threat on account of the brittle wall that could fall any moment. The plan of shifting the archives, he said, was eight months old. The CM added that currently some of the Archives had been housed in Bhasha Bhawan and the rest were with the Punjabi University. He also said that PUDA would soon build a new place where the archives would be kept.


60,000 khair trees face axe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Nearly 60,000 khair trees valued at nearly Rs 8 crore in Mirzapur forest along the Shivalik foothills in Kharar tehsil of Ropar district of Punjab may be put to the axe following a controversial order issued by the government, permitting fresh felling in violation of a ban imposed by the Supreme Court.

The order dated 30.1.2003 says that ‘‘all green standing khair trees above 60 cm girth ... be marked freshly for felling from Mizapur forest and uprooting of dead and dry and fungus eaten trees may also be allowed to prevent spreading of disease in the forest.’’ The order, which has been issued following a series of representations by the wellknown forest lessee and former MP Lachhman Singh, not only ignores the ban imposed by the Supreme Court but also flies in the face of the felling policy approved by the Government of India laying down that the difference between two consecutive fellings in area should of 10 years. During 2000-2002, Mr Lachhman Singh cut and carted away 59,389 trees valued at nearly Rs 6.5 crore from the same area. He also allegedly took the opportunity to undertake some illicit felling of trees for which he was fined Rs 11.50 lakh by the Forest Department.

Mirzapur forest is one of the biggest forests of Punjab. Lying along the Shivalik foothills, the forest has a tree population of five lakh spread over an area of more than 3,800 acres. Most of the trees are khair trees whose bark is used for producing katha used in paan and are, therefore, regarded as a high value commodity. It has been attracting the covetous eyes of several forest lessees but Mr Lachhman Singh has been the most active in the area.

After felling thousands of trees in the forest last year under a licence issued by the state government, Mr Lachhman Singh claimed that ‘‘thousands of khair trees marked for felling are still standing in the forest and if they are not allowed to be felled, they will outlive their natural lives and become diseased or dead and be susceptible to fire damage also’’. He represented that he should, therefore, be given an ‘‘extension of felling period’’ of khair trees in Mirzapur forest. The Forest Department, however, in its report said that Mr Lachhman Singh had already cut and removed all the trees in respect of which he had been issued permits. Therefore, there was no question of granting him an ‘‘extension’’.

But Mr Lachhman Singh persisted with his representation to the government and finally, the Minister of State for Forests, Mr Harbans Lal, appears have succumbed to his pressure, as evidenced by the new order issued by the government granting an ‘‘extension’’ to Mr Lachhman Singh. Interestingly, the Minister did not deem it fit to seek comments from the department before issuing the order. Mr Dogra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab, is reported to have objected to the order and suggested that it be reviewed. In a communication to the government, he is said to have pointed out that ‘‘ there is also no reference to the comments on the earlier representations sent by this office and it therefore appears that these comments have not been considered while issuing the orders under reference’’.

He is said to have pointed out that as per the felling policy, the difference between two consecutive fellings in any area should be of 10 years. ‘‘Though the state government is competent to change or modify the felling programme on merit basis and subject to other conditions, such change should not disturb the next felling programme of the area. In the instant case, the admissible extension in felling period of the permit issued in 200-01 has already been granted by the government by allowing deviation or extension in felling in 2001-2002 and as such the new permit for felling the green trees from Mirzapur forest can only be granted in 2009-10. The question of allowing further ‘extension’ in period felling does not arise since all trees in respect of which the permit had been issued have already been cut and removed. The directions of the government, therefore, amount to issuing a fresh permit from Mirzapur forest area.

‘‘Apart from the legal position, it is also important to bring to the notice of the state government that felling of all eligible trees in the Mirzapur forest has only been completed last year and permitting fresh felling in the Mirzapur forest is totally unwarranted and will result in highly accelerated soil erosion in the area. In view of the legal and administrative reasons, the government should reconsider the directions issued by the government’’, he added.


BKU men force bank staff to free two farmers
Arrested for ‘failure to repay loan’
Tribune News Service

Jaitu (Faridkot), February 4
Two farmers who allegedly had defaulted in the repayment of cooperative bank loan Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) by the activists of BKU (Ekta) and employee unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) while they (farmers) were being taken to Faridkot central jail after having them produced in the court of local SDM today.

Official sources said that more than 100 activists of the BKU (Ekta) and employee unions of the PSEB gheraoed the officials of the bank accompanying the defaulting farmers and forced them to release them.

Some of the officials of the bank were allegedly manhandled by BKU (Ekta) activists and others when they (officials) resisted and tried to foil the attempt of the activists.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, Manager, PADB, Jaitu said that two defaulting farmers, Mithu Singh of Chaina village and Kuldip Singh also of this village were brought from Faridkot central jail, where they were lodged for the past 10 days after they were arrested for failing to repay instalments of loans taken for non-farm sector purposes, in a car by the field staff of the bank for presenting them (farmers) before the SDM. The farmers reported to have not paid even single instalment of the loan.

As the SDM was on leave, the field staff took the farmers back to the jail. While they were going to Faridkot and passed in front of the bank building, they were gheraoed by BKU (Ekta) activists and activists of employee union of the PSEB. The field staff, accompanying the farmers, were forced to release thereafter the farmers fled from the scene. No policeman was accompanying the field staff when the farmers were brought here from Faridkot.

He said that when he informed higher authorities of it he was directed by M.D., PADB, Punjab, Mr Bhupinderjit Singh Randhawa to make a complaint in this connection to the local police station. He added that an application would be moved to the police by this evening.

Meanwhile, the PADB, Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district has secured warrants against 25 farmers each in their respective areas for default in the payment of loan taken by them.


PCS candidates to be shown answer sheets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Acting on a bunch of petitions in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the answer sheets should be shown to the PCS (Judicial) candidates.

Issuing the directions in the open Court, the Judges also ruled that the Sub-Committee’s report would as of now not be shown to the candidates. The Judges further asked counsel for the parties to submit written submissions in the case. The petitions will now come up for further arguments on Wednesday.

Earlier during the proceedings, counsel for the PCS officers, challenging the action of termination, submitted that it was not possible for them to defend the case in a proper manner as they had not been shown the record.

Arguing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, counsel added that applications in this regard had already been submitted. Counsel had earlier contended that there was no material with the state government for passing the termination order. He had asserted that the state should have acted only against the tainted candidates, and not against all.

Bail plea

A petition seeking the grant of bail filed by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s officer-on-special-duty Hardeep Singh will come up for further hearing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 6.

It may be recalled that Hardeep Singh had earlier accused the Congress government of adopting a revengeful attitude towards political opponents. He had asserted that the Chief Minister had openly declared that Badal and his men would be taught a lesson and as such he was being targeted. His counsel had added that a false and a baseless case had been registered against the petitioner by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau and his house was raided even though nothing incriminating was recovered.


Taking up a petition filed by Punjab’s former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha seeking the grant of bail in a cheating and corruption case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed February 20 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Garcha was earlier booked in a case registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the India Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that a false case had been registered against him. He had further submitted that the Congress government was framing cases against its political opponents. The allegations that the employees recruited by Punjab Technical University were from his constituency were also baseless, counsel had added.


More BSF deployed on WB border: Addl DG
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 4
Mr A. K. Mitra, Additional Director-General, BSF, said today that keeping in view the attempts of Bangladeshi nationals trying to enter India in the area of Satgachi, Cooch Behar district, the deployment of BSF jawans had been increased on the West Bengal border. Mr Mitra was talking to mediapersons at the Subsidiary Training Centre (STC) of the BSF at Kharkan, 12 km from here. He said that earlier, the West Bengal border was neglected and out of the 4,500 km-long border, a barbed wire fencing had been provided for 2500-km area. Fencing work in the remaining areas was being completed and watch towers set up to keep a round-the-clock vigil, Mr Mitra added.

Replying to a question regarding the fate of 213 Bangladeshi migrants stranded in no man’s land, Mr Mitra said all of them had ration cards and electric bills issued by Dhaka authorities. Some receipts seized from them were also from purchases made in shops in Dhaka, proving that all were Bangladeshi nationals. But the Bangladesh Government had refused to accept them back. However, the international Red Cross Society had been informed, he added.

He said the Union External Ministry had also been informed about the incident and the issue taken up with the Bangladesh High Commission in India.

Mr Mitra said that the BSF had recently seized medicines worth Rs 44 lakh, being smuggled from Bangladesh to India. He said that the BSF was being shifted from Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur to the border area. The CRPF would be deployed at both these stations in place of the BSF.

He said the BSF had 157 battalions in the country. One company was being raised against each battalion to further strengthen this force.

Mr Mitra also took the salute from 260 newly passed out recruits at a passing out parade at the STC. Mr Mitra awarded trophies to nine constables for outstanding performance in different subjects during their nine-month basic training. Sheshmani Yadav was adjudged the best overall constable.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mitra applauded the role of the STC for imparting excellent training to recuits. Congratulating the newly passed out recruits, he told them that since the responsibility to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the nation was with them, they should be prepared to meet any eventuality on the border. He also advised them to be prepared, mentally and physically, to sacrifice their lives to eliminate the menace of terrorism. He cautioned them to be honest towards their duty, dedicated to the force and devoted to the profession.

Mr V. K. Sharma, DIG, Commandant, STC, Kharkan, said every effort had been made to make the constables confident, disciplined and self-reliant bordermen.


Kala Afghana refuses to appear before Akal Takht

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 4
The Canada-based Sikh scholar, Mr Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana, has reportedly refused to appear before Akal Takht on February 10, and his opponents are making all-out efforts to submit an online petition against him before Akal Takht.

Mr Kala Afghana, who is the author of the controversial book, “Bipran ki Rit”, alleged to be a blasphemous attack on Sikhism, had been directed by Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti to appear before the Takht on February 10 to clear his position.

The author had cited his doctor’s advice not to travel following his being bed-ridden till recently as the reason for not appearing before Akal Takht.

He had requested Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS officer, to represent him instead. UNI


Army canteen inaugurated

Jalandhar, February 4
Fulfilling the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen of Una district in Himachal Pradesh, the Army authorities have set up an ultramodern canteen at Daulatpur, replacing extension counter which was set-up in 2000.

According to a Defence press note issued here today, the canteen was inaugurated today by Lieut-Gen H.S. Kanwar, Chief of Staff (Hq,) Western Command. The canteen has been equipped with all facilities on the pattern of modern department stores.

The Una Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Kaushal, and around 500 ex-service-men who were led by Major-Gen, Vikram Singh attended the function. TNS


Block samiti poll results declared
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 4
The elections for the chairman and the vice-chairman of Garhshanker, Hajipur, Mahilpur and Bhunga block samities of Hoshiarpur district were held today. The Congress, the BJP and the SAD (B) captured the chairmanship of Bhunga, Hajipur and Mahilpur blocks, respectively, while an Independent became the chairman of Garhshanker block.

According to Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, Mr Gian Chand, an Independent candidate, was elected the chairman and Mr Inderjit Kaur, (Congress) the vice-chairperson in Garhshanker Block Samiti. Ms Balbir Kaur (BJP) was elected chairperson and Mr Prem Nath (Congress) the vice-chairman in Hajipur block. Mr Jiwan Singh was elected the chairman and Mr Darshan Ram the vice-chairmanin Mahilpur block. Both are from the SAD (B) Mr Jaspal Singh was elected the chairman and Ms Meena Kumari the vice-chairperson in Bhunga block. Both are from the Congress. The elections of these samitis were postponed on January 28.


Thandal’s remand extended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 4
Ms Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today extended the police remand of Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, a former minister, till February 6. He was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau in connection with corruption case.

Mr Charanjeev Arora, Public Prosecutor, and DSP Tarsem Singh, Vigilance Bureau, informed the court that the accused had gone to Canada in April 2000 and May and September 2002 and left some youths, accompanying him, there illegally.

They alleged that he had charged Rs 8 lakh from each of them.

They said that a news item had been published in ‘The Province’, a newspaper in Canada, under the headline ‘Punjab Minister in Canada’ in which it was said that the minister was leaving some youths in Canada illegally. Mr Arora and Mr Tarsem Singh also produced a photocopy of the news item in the court. However, the defence counsel refuted the charges of the prosecution.

The defence counsel also submitted an application in the court for directing the investigating officer to produce the accused before the court at 11 a.m. to allow him to cast his vote in the block samiti elections, held today. He said that the accused was a sitting MLA and had to cast his vote. He alleged that the state government was trying to prevent him from doing so.

The court issued a notice to the Public Prosecutor regarding this application. The Vigilance Bureau was also informed. However, the accused was produced in the court around 2.40 p.m. Following this, defence counsel alleged that the accused had been delayed intentionally. The Public Prosecutor informed the court that the investigating officer in the case, a DSP had gone to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in connection with another case.


Takht Punjab’ staged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) Patiala presented two shows of "Takht Punjab", a Punjabi musical play directed by theatre couple Pran Sabharwal — Sunita Sabharwal, at Patiala and Ferozepore.

The chief guest, Mr DK Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner Ferozepore, speaking on the concluding performance at Dev Samaj College of Education for Women, Ferozepore stressed the need for allowing the great Gurus' teachings, impressively shown in 'Takht Punjab'. Appreciating the 28th performance of 'Daaire' the other anti-female-foeticide Punjabi play, staged on the occasion. Mr Tiwari urged the people to create social pressure against the menace of female foeticide.

He honoured the Sabharwal couple and presented mementoes to the artists, including Sunita Sabharwal, Akhilesh Happy, Davinder Singh Mann, Lakhwinder Lucky, Gulshan Pandey, Davinder Kaur, Kirandeep Kaur, Manasi Saxena, Sampan, Suneel Chauhan, Sham Thapa, Sandeep Kumar, Ravinder singh Ravi, Anupma Sabharwal, Santosh Rani, Parminder Pam and Vikas and Kumud Sabharwal.

Earlier the performance of 'Takht Punjab' at Patiala was inaugurated by Dr Swaraj Singh (USA), a well-known surgeon-litterateur. Mr GS Kakkar, President, NTAS, Mr RS Gill, Additional Director, Punjab Department of languages, Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, President, Punjab Writers Forum, and other dignitaries presented cash awards to the artists. Both plays 'Takhat Punjab' & 'Daaire' will now be repeated at Central State Library Auditorium on February 8 at 2 pm, said Mr Pran Sabharwal, director NTAS.


Clinics for backache needed: expert
Tribune News Service

Lower back pain may have become common but there is little awareness of its prevention and cure. A mechanical engineer-turned-professor orthopaedics, presently working in the USA recommends the opening up of special clinics to treat people with spinal problems.

Prof Vijay Kumar Goel, who is currently on a visit here from the University of Toledo in the USA, says that special clinics to deal with spinal problems will help as patients can exercise under supervision. He says that “back” school programmes can be opened on the pattern of those in USA where people can be screened for surgery or conservative treatment.

Dr Goel says that these programmes are now needed in India too because of the increasing incidence of lower back pain, particularly among women. He says the advent of new technology has resulted in an increase in the lower back pain among Indians. Besides overwork, back pain can be triggered off by excessive driving, wrong posture while sitting in office and also psychological pressure. He says while people with acute back pain doing stressful jobs needed to change their lifestyle, regular exercise is the best way to tackle this problem.

He says that while saying there are special exercises for people suffering from chronic back pain those having minor or bouts of pain could find relief with only a few minutes of exercise.

Dr Goel says office goers can push their back against a wall to tighten muscles, use coat hanger in their cars to lift themselves up and keep their back straight or just walk for a few minutes after every few hours of sitting.

Explaining why the problem occurred, Dr Goel said the spine was like a central column of a tent which would fall if not supported properly. He said the muscles supported the spine and needed to be strengthened to ensure there was no problem. He said he was working on making mechanical supports for people who needed surgery in case of spine fracture. He said the supports were designed while working with surgeons to understand their requirements. “I can tell surgeons the affect of a plate or rods on the human body and whether it will fuse in the spine or not”, he added.

Dr Goel took to biomedical sciences after completing his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Roorkee University. A winner of prestigious Volvo award for his research work on the lower back, Dr Goel has also served as Director of the Iowa Institute of Biomedical Engineering. He has also been working for developing artificial joints for younger people.

Speaking on the new trends in spinal research, the doctor said genetic applications were being developed to stop degeneration of disc. He said scientists were trying to understand why degeneration took place and whether stem cells could be changed. He said research was also going on to place a micro-processor in the body which could record the force on the spine so that measures could be taken to lighten the pressure.



Bairagi Mandal decries Hindutva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Bairagi Mahamandal, Punjab, today said that the minorities were scared as the BJP leadership was indulging in the extreme postures of Hindutva.

The Mahamandal meeting was attended by Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, President, Bairagi Mahamandal, Punjab, Mr Rajinderpal Bairagi, Prof Jeewan Das Bawa, Advocate Naseeb Bawa, Bawa Ravinder Nandi, Rajinderpal Bawa — all general secretaries — and the President of the Banda Bahadur Brigade, Principal Baldev Bawa.

The leaders decried the shortsightedness of the BJP about Hindutva and its long time effect which would put the unity of the country in danger.

Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa said BJP’s Hindu card would not be able to hoodwink the people of Himachal. The Himachalis were aware of the true colours of the BJP and would defeat its nefarious designs.

Criticising the defence deals, Mr Bawa said Mr George Fernandes had no moral right to continue as Defence Minister. Mr Bawa urged the people to rise above the narrow confines of caste, creed and religion and work for the secular fibre of the country, for which the Congress Party had stood like a rock.

He said the faith of the minorities towards the nation would be shaken by the divisive acts of the BJP.


4 injured in separate incidents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 4
As many as four persons, including a girl received injuries in separate incidents in the district today.

Mamta (16) a resident of the local Subash Street, sustained 100 per cent burn injuries today. She was admitted to the local Civil Hospital where her condition is stated to be serious. The cause of the injuries could not be ascertained.

In another incident, a migrant labourer was found injured at the local railway station. He has been identified as Kamlesh Jha from Darbanga in Bihar. Volunteers of an NGO admitted him to a hospital, where his condition is reported to be serious.

A youth Jugraj Singh was injured when his scooter skidded this morning while 65-year-old Vinayak fell ill due to cold last night. Both of them have been admitted to the hospital by an NGO, Sahara Jan Sewa.


10 more buffaloes die of disease

Faridkot, February 4
With 10 more deaths of sick buffaloes at random last night, the pecullar disease of rinderpest, commonly known as ‘gal ghotu’, has taken its toll to 100 in Pakka village alone in the district in the past three months.

The post-mortem report of the dead buffaloes has revealed that the cattle had died of the said disease.


Fake voter lists: 7 patwaris to be suspended
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 4
Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner today said that seven patwaris whose suspension was recommended by the Chief Election Commissioner, Punjab, for committing irregularities while preparing new voter lists in October last year for the municipal poll, were being issued charge sheets. After the completion of the necessary formalities, the patwaris would be placed under suspension to implement the orders of the Election Commission.

In October, the district administration had started preparing voter lists for the municipal poll. The BJP had complained to the Chief Election Commissioner that fake voters had been enrolled in ward numbers 3, 4, 8 and 9.

In December, the Chief Election Commissioner directed the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, to hold an inquiry into the matter and submit its report within 2 weeks. The DC had deputed the concerned SDM to hold the inquiry. The report confirmed the irregularities committed by the staff engaged in preparing the voter lists. The DC issued orders of their suspension yesterday.

The seven patwaris likely to face suspension, included Keshav Pal of Allechack, Ashwani Kumar of Hayat Nagar, Hardeep Kumar of Nabipur, Ramesh Kumar of Bariar, Pardeep Joshi of Gurdaspur, Rashpal Singh of Nangal Kotli and Lakhbir Singh of Khokhar. All these patwaris had been engaged by the district administration to prepare voter lists of the municipal committee, Gurdaspur, for the forth coming municipal poll proposed to be held on March 5 and 15.


9 JEs reverted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 4
Nine more Junior Engineers working in the Civil wing of the municipal corporation here were reverted to their original posts.

Eight of them were working as work mistris and one as a surveyor. All these persons were first regularised after an 89-day probation period and were subsequently promoted as Junior Engineers, it was observed in an order from the local self government.

Mr B.R. Banga, Special Secretary-cum-Director local government, issued the orders on the ground of violations of service rules under the Municipal Corporation Acts 1996 and 1989. Those reverted are Manjit Singh, Sharanjit Singh, Ashok Kumar, Santokh Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Iqbal Singh, Ravinder Singh, Arvinder Singh, all work mistris and surveyor Sukhwinder Singh.

Three JEs were also reverted recently in the operation and maintenance (O&M) cell to their original posts of tubewell drivers for alleged violation of the Municipal Corporation Act recruitment and conditions of services) rules. Although many of the JEs in corporations of Ludhiana and Jalandhar were ordered to be reverted on similar grounds, Amritsar reports the highest number of reverted JEs exposing widespred corruption at the highest level by the corporation here compared to the other three corporations in the state.


Herd registration ordinance draft approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Council of Ministers at its meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, today approved the draft of the Punjab Herd Registration Ordinance.

The ordinance envisaged the setting up of a Herd Registration Authority and made it mandatory for registration of all dairy animals above a prescribed herd size. It would register all dairy animals, fix identification marks on them and maintain their exhaustive data base. The government said that the animal recording system had been in existence in advanced dairy countries for over 80 years.

The Council of Ministers also accorded its approval to withdraw cess imposed on milk plants. An ordinance to this effect would be issued in pursuance of the Cabinet decision.

The developmental programmes of the Punjab Dairy Development Board would be funded from the revenue generated through collection of purchase tax on milk. The purchase tax is expected to be 4 per cent.

The Council of Ministers also approved to implement the Valmiki Ambedkar Malin Basti Awas Yojna (VAMBAY). Under the scheme subsidised shelters would be provided to the identified urban poor living below poverty line.


Fake affidavit lands couple in police net
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 4
The police has arrested Sawinder Singh and his wife Surinder Kaur, residents of Mann under the Kahnuwan police station, on charges of forgery. SSP Varinder Kumar said today that the accused had prepared fake documents to help their son secure a green card in the USA by changing his name, date of birth and address.

The SSP said that a complaint was received from the Prime Minister’s Office that Harpal Singh, son of Sawinder Singh and Surinder Kaur, had gone to the USA in the 1994, but had not returned. According to the police, in 1997, Harpal had rung up his parents to say that he had changed his name, date of birth and address.

Harpal Singh asked his parents to send an affidavit saying that he was Bikramjit Singh Mann, resident of Sidhwan village. His parents got an affidavit prepared from the office of the Executive Magistrate here through a local advocate.

The SSP said an enquiry was held and the allegations against the couple were found to be correct. A case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 34 of the IPC had been registered. 


NRI dupes girl

Amritsar, February 4
The police has registered a criminal case against an NRI based in Malaysia for allegedly defrauding an Indian girl with whom he solemnised second marriage after concealing the fact that he was already married and that his wife was living in Malaysia.

Police sources said the fact came to light when Mukesh Chand demanded $ 1 lakh as dowry and allegedly started torturing his second wife.

After the marriage, Mukesh took Shobha to Malaysia along with the dowry given by the family, but on reaching the foreign land Shobha learnt that her husband was already married and had children, the girl’s father said in the FIR. PTI


Cong leader ‘murdered’

Malerkotla, February 4
Congress leader Santokh Singh (40), son of Bachan Singh of Dasondha Singh Wala village, was murdered allegedly by a person of the same village, near here, last night.

Gurvinder Singh, son of the deceased, in a complaint lodged with the police alleged that his father along with Darshan Singh of the same village had been taking wine when a quarrel occurred between them. Darshan Singh badly injured his father, he said. An injured Santokh Singh was taken to his house by some of his friends. They told his family that Santokh Singh fell in a ditch after consuming wine.

A case has been registered under Sections 302 and 120B of the IPC. Darshan Singh is on the run. OC


MLA’s sons booked

Moga, February 4
The Baghapurana police in this district has registered a criminal case against local MLA Sadhu Singh Rajiana’s two sons and three others for threatening, beating and wrongfully confining a man on February 2.

According to the police, the complainant, Lal Singh, lodged an FIR, alleging that on February 2 morning, he was waylaid by the MLA’s sons, Avtar Singh and Jagtar Singh, and three others Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, Bhag Singh and Kala Singh — near the bus stand and was beaten, threatened and paraded in Rajyana village with a garland of shoes around his neck.

The police registered a case against all the accused under sections 42, 500, 506, 147 and 149 of the IPC yesterday.

Though the police has initiated an investigation no arrests have been made yet. Personal enmity is said to be the reason behind the incident. UNI


500 technical words in Punjabi approved at workshop
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 4
Nearly 500 technical words in Punjabi were coined and received the approval of experts and linguists. Similarly, 2000 technical words were also coined at the five-day workshop to update ‘Punjabi Technical Terminology’, which concluded here today. Subject experts, linguists and scientists who gathered here were of the opinion that instead of Pan-India glossary and comprehensive glossary, only fundamental glossary be updated, revised and common Punjabi words already in use should not be parted with.

The workshop was organised by Guru Nanak Dev University under the aegis of its School of Punjabi Studies with help from the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology, the Government of India.

Mr S.P. Arora, Deputy Director of the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology, suggested that technical words coined in Punjabi should be circulated among students, persons of relevant fields and feedback from them received and then proper words finalised.

Besides subject experts, linguists and research scholars of Punjabi, experts of science, biosciences, life sciences, social sciences and professionals from technical departments from various universities and institutions participated in the workshop.

Dr Satinder Singh, pro Vice-Chancellor of the university presided over the function.


Educate poor, SGPC urged
Our Correspondent

Mattewal (Amritsar), February 4
A former Advocate-General, Mr H.S. Mattewal, has urged the SGPC chief to make concerted efforts to spread education among the poor in the state.

Mr Mattewal stated this while speaking at a function at his native village school after inaugurating the computerisation of education in the school yesterday. He said the primary aim of the SGPC, besides preaching religion, was to spread quality education by opening more schools, colleges and professional institutions, including engineering and management, and running vocational courses. He felt that the state was lagging behind in the field of higher education and it was the duty of apex Sikh bodies to provide more funds for education infrastructure.

Earlier, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, inaugurated the computer education section of Sant Baba Labh Singh Higher Secondary School. He donated Rs 5 lakh to the school and offered to build a modern sports stadium at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. Mr Dhindsa said it was important to impart computer education to all children from class I.


PTU to hold common entrance test
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
At a meeting held today under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, it was decided to hold a common entrance test for the engineering degree courses being run by various universities in Punjab.

Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Mr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of the PAU, Ludhiana, and Dr Y.S. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor of the PTU and several senior officers of the state government attended the meeting.

Punjab Technical University (PTU) has been made a nodal organisation to hold such a test. The PTU would retain 70 per cent of the money earned from the test and remaining 30 per cent would be shared by Punjabi University, the PAU and Guru Nanak Dev University.

Though admission for most of the engineering degree courses in various engineering colleges fall in the purview of the PTU, but other universities also run certain engineering courses on their campus in the state. And for these courses, separate tests used to be held for admission.

The issue to introduce English from Class I was also discussed at the meeting. However, it was postponed for lack of unanimity on the issue, it is learnt. 

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