Friday, February 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Transparency Act on anvil
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
In pursuance to the Congress’ poll commitment of ‘’transparency’’ in all government business, a ‘’Punjab Transparency in Public Procurement Act, 2003’’ is on the anvil.

The Act was reviewed today by the Chief Secretary, Mr Y. S. Ratra. It is being fine-tuned in the light of suggestions made at the meeting, it is reliably learnt.

The intended purpose is to ensure transparency in public procurement of goods and services by streamlining the procedures in inviting, processing and acceptance of tenders by all government departments, boards, corporations or any other public/quasi-public organisations.

The Act will be applicable in respect of construction works/ demolitions, repairs/renovations of buildings, roads and bridges or other structures, including fabrication of steel structures and all civil works as well works ancillary to these.

The Act, informed sources told TNS, would also be applicable to goods like machinery, motor vehicles, equipment, furniture, articles of stationery, textiles, raw material, drugs, scientific instruments, chemicals, food grains, oil /oil seed or other commodities required for processing, sale, consumption, use or distribution by procurement agencies of the government or owned or controlled by it.

The Act has provisions for prosecution/punishment with jail and fine or both as also a bar of jurisdiction of court. There is a provision for immunity for action taken in good faith. The penalty prescribed in the Act would mean jail up to three years and fine up to Rs 5,000. In other words, no order passed or proceedings taken by any officer or authority under this Act shall be called in question in any court, and no injunction shall be granted by any court in respect of any action taken or to be taken by such officer or authority in exercise of powers conferred on him or it by or under this Act.

In view of the financial assistance received from external agencies, international/national, namely, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, NABARD, HUDCO, the PFC, the NTPC and the like, the Act will not be applicable to projects sanctioned/financed by these organisations, as there exist specified provisions for such projects.

Once the Act comes into effect, regulation of procurement stipulates that no procurement entity shall procure goods/services except through tenders. However, this system can be circumvented during the period of ‘’natural calamity or emergency declared by the government or where goods/services are available only from a single source or where a particular supplier or contractor has exclusive rights in respect of goods or services or construction work and no reasonable alternatives of substitution exist’’.


Class XII exams from March 5
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 13
The Class XII examination of the Punjab School Education Board will start on March 5 with the Maths examination for all groups scheduled for the first day.

Students from the humanities group will appear in the Business Organisation and Management examination on March 6. On March 7, students of all groups will appear in General English. On March 10, humanities students will appear in history, commerce students in Theory and Practice of Management while the agriculture, technical and science students will appear in Chemistry. Humanities students will appear in Psychology on March 11 and in Book Keeping and Accountancy on March 12.

On March 13, humanities students will appear in the Rural Development and Environment or Music Instrumental, science group in Elements of Electronics Engineering or Biology, commerce group in Office Management, agriculture students in Rural Development and Environment and technical students in Elements of Building Construction or Mechanical Engineering, or Electronics Engineering or Electrical Engineering or Engineering Drawing.

On March 14, students of the humanities, science and agriculture group will appear in the agriculture examination. On March 15, humanities students will appear in Philosophy or General Perspective and Architectural Drawing examination. On March 17, all groups will appear in General Punjabi or Punjab History and Culture. On March 20, humanities group will appear in Political Science, commerce group in Accountancy and the science, agriculture and technical students in Physics. On March 21, all groups will appear in Computer Applications. On March 22, the humanities group will appear in optional Punjabi, Hindi, optional English, Urdu or Bengali or Gujarati or Kannada or Marathi or Malyalam or Manipuri or Oriya or Assamese or Sindhi or Tamil or Telugu.

On March 24, girl students of humanities and science groups will appear in Home Science. On March 25, humanities students will appear in Public Administration and Science students in Geology. On March 26, humanities students will appear in Sociology. On March 27, humanities students will appear in Physical Education and Sports or Insurance and the Commerce students in Insurance or Business Statistics.

On March 28, humanities students will appear in Education. On March 29, all students other than technical group will appear in the Economics examination. On March 31 the humanities, science and agriculture students will appear in geography. On April 1, humanities students will appear in Sanskrit or Persian or German or French or Russian or Arabic examination and the science students will appear in Sanskrit.

On April 2, humanities students will appear in Defence Studies or Music (tabla). On April 3, humanities students will appear in Music vocals. On April 4, humanities students will appear in Religion or History and Appreciation of Arts examination. On April 5 humanities students will appear in the Gurbani Sangeet examination.


CET to be held on May 23
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 13
The common entrance test (CET) for admission to all degree courses in engineering and technology will be held on May 23.

The Secretary of the Technical Education and Industrial Training Department, Mr K.B. Sidhu, in a press statement issued here today, said the decision was aimed to avoid any clash of dates with the joint entrance test (JET) conducted for admission to ITIs of the state and the all-India engineering entrance test being conducted by the CBSE.

He said it was decided unanimously during a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Dr Y.S. Rajan, and representatives of other three universities that the students seeking admissions to various courses being offered by all universities of Punjab would have to clear the CET exam.

Mr Sidhu further said the structure notification regarding the reservation of the seats would be issued shortly and the same would be incorporated in the admission brochure, which would be made available by PTU in the first week of April. He said the two rounds of counselling would be held within June even as classes for the next academic session would start in July.


Calendar: consensus eludes Sikh scholars
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 13
The 11-member sub-committee on Nanakshahi calendar, which met at the Akal Takht secretariat here today, said the Panth would continue to celebrate Divali and other common festivals of the Hindus and the Sikhs on previous dates till a consensus was reached.

All gurpurbs and other important dates of the Sikh history would be fixed on the basis of 1469 — the year when Guru Nanak Dev was born. However, the sub-committee decided to continue to celebrate the Guru Nanak Dev birth anniversary in the month of ‘Kattak’ as per the previous practice till a consensus was reached. The sub-committee also failed to evolve a consensus on the foundation day of Akal Takht due to the contradictory sources of information. Hence, it was of the view that the ‘miri-piri’ day should continue to be celebrated as per the dates already fixed by the SGPC to avoid further complications till a consensus was reached.

The Nanakshahi calendar would be tropical, based on the ‘barah mahai’, authored by the gurus, which would be started from the month ‘chetra’ (the first month of the year as per the Nanakshahi calendar).

Meanwhile, the sub-committee, in a unanimous resolution passed in the presence of the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, condemned the statement of Mr K.S. Sudarshan, RSS chief, who had said the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar would create division between the Hindus and the Sikhs. The resolution also flayed Mr Sudarshan for his purported statement that the Sikhs were part of Hinduism. The sub-committee said such statements showed that Mr Sudarshan was devoid of any knowledge about the Sikhism and hence wanted to create confusion.

On the other hand, Col Surjit Singh Nishan (retd) said the Nanakshahi calendar should be based on the traditional ‘bikrami’ (lunar). However, members of the sub-committee dismissed this theory on the plea that the ‘solar calendar’ was more scientific as it was popular in most of the countries of the world.

The names of the Satwant Singh, one of the assassins of Indira Gandhi, and Kehar Singh, one of the co-conspirators in the assassination, figure in the draft of the Nanakshahi calendar authored by the Canada-based Sikh scholar, Mr Pal Singh Purewal. The draft has also described Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Hirjinder Singh Jinda, the assassins of General Vaidya, as martyrs’. It has been published on behalf of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Gurdwara of Edmonton (Canada).


SGPC Directorate of Education to be set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
With a view to streamlining education in the Sikh educational institutionals and also with the aim of giving autonomous character to SGPC-run schools and colleges, the SGPC has decided to set up a Directorate of Education at Chandigarh. Initially the directorate under a director the post of which has already been created will be run from the Kalgidhar Niwas. After some time the directorate will be housed in a newly constructed building.

The Director (Education) or the Academic Adviser will be the head of the Directorate. He will be given the grade equivalent to that of a university vice-chancellor (Rs 18,300-22,400). The Directorate will have a post of director for each discipline — schools, colleges, professional and vocational education, religion and sports and administration.

Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, the SGPC President, has entrusted the whole task to Principal G.S. Walia, Principal, Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, for creating a suitable infrastructure.

According to an SGPC circular received here yesterday, an academy will also be set up where Sikh students, Dalits and students of other lower castes will be trained to compete in IAS and IPS exams. According to Principal Walia, reputed academics, senior retired IAS and IPS officers will be engaged in imparting training to Sikh students.

Prof Badungar confirmed to TNS that the SGPC would open more educational institutions in all big cities and towns throughout India where ever there is a sizeable Sikh population. Refused to be bound by the boundaries, the Directorate in consultation with the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC and the Sikh History Research Board will move towards establishing a World Sikh University for the spread of Sikh ethos and philosophy.

Since most educational headquarters like those of the Punjab School Education Board, the DPI (College), Punjab, and Panjab University, are based at either Mohali or Chandigarh, the SGPC has also decided to run the Directorate from Chandigarh.


Badungar seeks CM’s intervention
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, February 13
The SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, has sought the intervention of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for rescinding the anti-Punjabi language decisions taken recently by the Syndicate of Punjabi University, Patiala. Talking to newsmen here today, he said he had also spoken to the Education Minister, Mr Khushhal Behal, about the issue.

The decisions have now made it necessary that the language be promoted, said Prof Badungar. Violating Act of 1961, the syndicate had taken anti-Punjabi language decisions, including scrapping the condition of Punjabi at the matric-level for jobs, allowing MA (Punjabi) in the Devnagri script and waiving off the condition of matric with Punjabi for Ph.D registration.

He said though the Chief Minister and the Education Minister had expressed ignorance about these decisions but the state government cannot escape from the responsibility. The Education Secretary and the Director, State Language Department, being members of the Syndicate, must have been aware of the agenda of the meeting, he said.

Objecting to the government’s decision of charging commercial rates for LPG cylinders used for preparing langars at the Golden Temple, Prof Badungar said domestic rates should be charged. He said a deputation, including the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, would meet the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, in this regard.

PATIALA: Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai today claimed that the SGPC President had misrepresented facts while speaking on the recent changes in the recruitment policy of teachers as well as doing away with the study of Punjabi for science undergraduates. The Vice-Chancellor, who has written a letter in this regard to the SGPC President, also said that his statement on the use of Devnagri script for Punjabi was taken out of context by Prof Badungar.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university had only removed the pre-requisite of Punjabi in matric for recruitment to be on a par with other universities in the region. The university had removed the clause, but not done away with the process of learning the language, he said adding that all new teachers had been given two years to learn Punjabi and a special incentive of Rs 10,000 would be given to those who learn it in the first year.

He said as far as teaching Punjabi in science undergraduate classes was concerned, the decision had been taken by the Academic Council, followed by a referendum by science students of colleges affiliated to the university. He said a decision had been taken to teach Punjabi in the first year and English in the second, leaving the students to concentrate on science subjects in the third year.


Gurmat Sangeet to remain compulsory in
Punjabi University
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 13
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr S.S. Boparai, today clarified that Gurmat Sangeet would remain compulsory subject for students of music at the University. A delegation of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) headed by Jaspal Singh met the Vice-Chancellor today morning in view of the meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Culture of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and Punjabi University, Patiala held on February 12 that had virtually made the study of “Gurmat Sangeet” optional as it was decided in the meeting to allow the study of music of other regions as well as “Gurmat Sangeet” in one of the four parts of the music course at undergraduate level.

Pleading that teaching of “Gurmat Sangeet” was important in respect to giving purity to rendition of kirtan and shabads, the SSF members said as Punjabi University stood for the promotion of Punjabi language, “Gurmat Sangeet” should be compulsory for students.

The Vice-Chancellor assured the delegation that under no circumstances would “Gurmat Sangeet” be made optional, even if this hampered uniformity in the syllabus of the universities in the state.

Confirming the decision of the Vice-Chancellor, the Public Relations Officer of Punjabi University, Dr Baldev Singh Sadhu, said “Gurmat Sangeet” would remain a compulsory subject for students of music in the university.


CM’s nod to ganda nullah project
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 13
After PUDA and the local Municipal Corporation had locked horns for nearly a year over the financing of the ganda nullah-project worth crores, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in a significant move, intervened and overruled objections by PUDA.

PUDA had decided to ‘drop the project under its OUVGL (optimum utilisation of vacant government land) scheme. Reportedly on the basis of a viability report by the Additional Chief Administrator, Jalandhar, Mr Parveen Kumar, who had found that PUDA could in no way commercially benefit from the scheme by the resale of the covered land.

Ms Gurpreet Sapra, Estate Officer, PUDA, and Deputy Director, Local Bodies, also agreed to the same.

However, the Chief Minister intervened and stated that “in view of the imperative need of ecological improvement in the holy city, PUDA should continue the scheme and immediately release the balance amount of Rs 7 crore to PWSSB”.

The first phase of covering the nullah, one of the biggest drains here passing through the sabzi mandi to the railway colony and the Durgiana mandir, was declared to be funded by PUDA to the tune of Rs 8 crore in 2001 by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The project started some six years back in 1997.

Taking further cognizance of the second phase of the scheme wherein the drain passes through the Sultanwind area, the Chief Minister directed the Secretary, Local Government, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, to arrange a loan of Rs 5 crore as the first installment for the local Municipal Corporation either from the local Improvement Trust or any other source “to expedite the work of covering the ganda nullah in the Sultanwind area.”

Taking personal interest, the Chief Minister directed that necessary action be taken “immediately” with regard to both phases of the scheme and the “compliance report” be sent to him.

The scheme of covering the drain, which emits a foul stink, gases and is a source of air and water pollution due to chemical and other effluents, had started in 1997. The first phase of the project entailed Rs 11 crore, of which PUDA was to pay Rs 8 crore to the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB), which is the executing authority of the project.

Not only did this large drain remain uncovered due to lack of funds, its de-silting operation had also come under a cloud. The State Human Rights Commission had time and again directed the state government to prepare and implement plans to make these drains pollution free. However, stalemate among different departments led to the plans remaining in cold storage. The drain, which has also become a dumping place for nearby colonies and eventually merges into the main drain on the border, had elicited objections from Pakistan. Pakistan had accused India of pushing polluted water in to its territory at international forums.


Stocks, dues sour sugar situation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Uncleared stocks and unpaid dues have together precipitated the sugar crisis in Punjab. By the end of the current cane-crushing season, the state would have 50 lakh quintals of sugar. The quantum of levy sugar will be 7 lakh quintals. The sugar mills owe to the farmers over Rs 130 crore, as on January 31. The share of 14 cooperative sugar mills is Rs 56 crore.

The Centre continues to maintain a silence on Punjab pleas to allocate an additional quota of at least 10 lakh bags or double the monthly releases of free sale sugar from the present 3.50 lakh bags to 4 lakh bags or allow the sale of levy sugar to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. These states are getting sugar from the far-off Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Despite being a contiguous state, the Centre has denied Punjab permission to sell levy sugar to these states.

There has been no response from the Centre, despite a series of official letters that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has written to the minister concerned or even to the Prime Minister. The Punjab Food Minister, Mr Lal Singh, again spoke to the Union Minister, Mr Sharad Yadav, here on February 7. In fact, he presented him a memorandum on issues related to foodgrain procurement by Punjab agencies and non-payment of expenditure incurred by them. It amounts to a whopping Rs 4,342 crore.

The poor off-take of levy sugar, non-payment of dues to farmers and their agitations in the recent past has landed Punjab in a crisis situation. When the Chief Minister met the MPs here on February 10, this issue was raised.

The farmers, under the banner of the Bharti Kisan Union, had blocked traffic on several national highways, recently. The BKU leader, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, has once again called a meeting on this issue. The farmers are agitated over several other agriculture-related issues. Non-payment of dues for sugarcane to farmers has further aggravated the situation. The Chief Minister has conveyed to the Centre his apprehensions of farmers from neighbouring states joining hands with the BKU and resorting to agitations that would cause public inconvenience and may eventually affect sugarcane production.

Referring to the MPs’ meeting, the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, told TNS that they were asked to lobby in New Delhi to help Punjab resolve the sugar crisis. The present stock of all cooperative sugar mills is 39.93 lakh quintals, out of which nearly 7 lakh quintals is levy sugar. The releases received by these mills are between 1.75 lakh quintals and 2 lakh quintals, per month. At this pace, at the end of the cane crushing season — 2002-03, cooperative mills would have 50 lakh quintals of stock.

Another worrying aspect is that the quality of 11 lakh quintals sugar stored in temporary godowns is fast deteriorating due to climatic effect.


SHSAD not to contest civic poll on party symbol
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 13
The SHSAD may have an electoral understanding with the Bhujan Samaj Party for the March municipal poll and will also have local-level adjustments.

This was stated here yesterday by Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra general secretary, SHSAD, and a former MP. “We are opposed to contesting the poll on the party symbol and our candidates will contest as Independents and have local-level electoral adjustments” he said. “The BSP also contests the civic poll sans party symbol and as such can be our like-minded ally in the elections,” he remarked.


Police remand for Thandal’s 2 ‘touts’
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 13
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded two alleged touts of a former Akali minister, Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, who is already in judicial custody, in police custody till tomorrow. The touts, Charan Dass, a resident of Bharowal, village and Karnail Singh, a resident of Garshankar, were arrested by the Punjab. Vigilance Bureau on corruption charges.

Mr Charnjeev Arora, public prosecutor, and Mr Jaspal Singh Jassal, DSP, Vigilance, pleaded for a 14-day police remand of the accused. They said Mr Thandal as a minister allegedly amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. Mr Jassal said the accused were close to Mr Thandal and used to get appointments and transfers done from the minister after taking bribe from the interested parties.

He said information was yet to be collected from the accused about the various properties amassed through corrupt means. The defence counsel refuted the charges of the prosecution and said the names of the accused were not mentioned in the FIR registered against Mr Thandal. He said the accused had nothing to do with the registered case and they were simply working as “Arji Nabis” (deed writers).

ROPAR: The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, on Thursday extended the judicial remand of Mr Thandal till February 27.

Besides, the judicial remand of the Chief Executive Officer, Punjab Digital Industrial Systems, Col Manmohan Singh (retd), was also extended till February 26. Colonel Manmohan was booked by the Vigilance Bureau for defrauding the Punjab Digital Systems to the tune of Rs 40-45 lakh.


Punjabi ambience for Crafts Mela
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February13
With preparations in full swing for the Patiala Heritage Festival, the district administration is leaving no stone unturned to ascertain that the venues where different items of the festival are scheduled to be held, also contribute to the aesthetic whole of the festival.

Sheesh Mahal, the venue of the Crafts Mela, is all decked up with traditional artifacts and decorated with vibrant coloured tents. Crafts Mela, the star attraction of the festival, will be organised at the ground below the “Laxman Jhula” and Swiss collage tents have been put up on islands in the dried up royal lake behind the palace. The Crafts Mela, would be attended by more than 150 artisans from all over the country, who had participated in the Surajkund Fair in Haryana, which is to end tomorrow.

The venue of the mela is all decked up with six different coloured tents, some of which have single phulkari motif on top. With an aim to make the atmosphere of the mela gel with the theme of a Punjabi crafts fair, each tent has a “takht” on which the craftsmen can sit, a table for the display of wares and “murras” for visitors. With an aim to give a more local touch, Patiala ‘parandis’ adorn the bamboo poles at the venue.

Keeping in mind the traditional gates of Patiala, five wooden gates, with vibrant colours have been erected at the main entrance of the venue. The set up near the entrance will also be the orientation centre which will provide assistance and security to the visitors. Two originally designed performance arenas have been set up along with provision for seating besides a ‘special walking area’ with overhead bunting decorated with phulkaris.

Siddharth Talwar of Lotus Design Services, the company hired for the arrangement for the Crafts Mela said high quality special stalls were being used for the mela and the special care had been taken to maintain a proper ambience for the Crafts Mela.


Tent city coming up
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 13
Rajasthani men saying "hukum" at every wish and command of a guest is likely to become a reality with the setting up of Swiss Cottage tents of the Maharaja of Jodhpur on two islands of the dried-up lake at the back of the Old Moti Bagh Palace.

However getting men to say “hukum’’ to you is going to be a costly affair with the rent of each tent pegged at Rs 8,500. The rent will, however, include all three meals for two persons.

As many as 12 tents have been put up on two islands of the erstwhile lake by the Welcom Heritage group which is a joint company of the Maharaja of Jodhpur and the Welcom group. The tents come with the trappings of royalty as well as comfortable living. Subtle motifs adorn the walls and the roofs of the tents which are replete with fine mosquito nets, a dressing table, one long reclining chair, tables, brass lanterns fitted with electric bulbs, cloth racks, sitting chairs and the mandatory two comfortable single beds with a peg table in between.

The tents come with an attached bathroom cum toilet with showers, WC and a mirror which can be folded in a wooden frame. Traditional durries and rugs and lanterns lend an old world charm to the tents. Giving details about the tented accommodation, Welcom - Heritage employee Karan Singh who is supervising their erection, said these were the latest tents which had been installed at the Pushkar and other fairs in Rajasthan besides being used in the Chattisgarh festival.

He said besides top class facilities, an attempt was made by the company to provide an exclusive ambience. He said underground rooms and a covered verandah on one of the islands which was used by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh to take in the air further added to their appeal. He said besides being assured complete privacy, the guests would be served North Indian food to cater to their taste buds. The company has incidentally even got its flour from Rajasthan.

Meanwhile efforts are on even now to ensure that the entire area adjoining the tented accommodation is made fit for expected guests. The grass and shrubbery of the dried up lake has been removed. The under growth in the virtual jungle which had come up adjoining the lake is still being cleared up to ensure the special guests can roam around between the trees without any problem.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said the Patiala Heritage Society, which was organising the Heritage Festival along with INTACH, had decided to set up the tented accommodation to cater to guests who wanted high end accommodation which was presently not available in the city. He said the aim was to cater to every kind of tourist and also showcase the exclusive environment of the islands amidst a forested area.


Sale of spirit for drinking not new
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
Deaths of 12 persons brought the use of spirit as an intoxicant into focus today. Use of methylated spirit for drinking by under-privileged is not new in the city. It has been going for a long time and tragedy of lower scale occurred in 1997 when four persons died after the consumption of the killer drink. Twelve persons in three different localities of the city last night are the latest victims of “Bhakra da Pani”.

Use of “Bhakra da Pani” has been going on for a long time say residents of Dhiru ki Majri nine men of which died after taking the spirit. They said one of yesterday victims — Ram Kali — lost her husband in similar tragedy in 1997. Residents disclosed that “Bhakra da Pani” was sold in pouches as well as in bottles and even cans mostly by spirit licensees who had government’s permission to sell spirit for industrial use, particularly to furniture industry.

Sources said though the use of spirit for polishing furniture and other work was limited, several unscrupulous persons had obtained licences to sell spirit which usually found way into the hands of youngsters looking for a kick. Spirit licensees, mainly concentrated in the Nabha Gate, Lahori Gate and Tripri area, today put up the shutters at most places following police presence in the Raghomajra and nearby areas to check spirit depots.

The sources said the spirit licensees treated spirit with Copper Sulphate (neela thotha) to discourage its drinking as an intoxicant. They said the licensees first add “chalk mitti” to the industrial spirit to absorb Copper Sulphate following which the mixture was heated to reduce its degree. Then, sources said it was sold for consumption.

Residents said the price of the spirit sold by licensees as intoxicant was Rs 10 per pouch of 250 ml. They added industrial spirit was available for Rs 22 a litre. Spirit was sold in pouches, bottles as well as cans. Poor people were main buyers of it because one litre of spirit was diluted to make three litres of the mixture which then could be consumed by 15 persons. This made it the cheapest intoxicant in the market.

The sources said problems arose when a licensee failed to treat spirit and failed to rid it of poisonous contents. This they said could have happened yesterday as spirit was purchased from a licensee in the Raghomajra areas. Residents said he used to sell the mixture regularly to youngsters of the locality.

It is not only “Bhakra da Pani” which is selling in the city. Sources said wine contractors had set up several of sub-vends in localities of the city where adulterated country liquor was sold. “When it takes Rs 10 to produce a bottle of adulterated country liquor it is naturally big business”, disclosed many residents. They said certain injections and a little of spirit was used for this job.

The city has also several chemist shops interested more in selling cough syrups like Phensdryl and Corex besides capsules of Proxyvan, Orthodex-MR and Diazepam also used as intoxicants. Some of these chemist shops do not have refrigerators and some even do not have an electricity connection.


President to visit Punjab on March 23
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Punjab Government has started making preparations for the visit of the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Informed official sources told The Tribune today that the President’s office has confirmed the visit of Mr Kalam to the state on March 23, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The President is scheduled to visit the Golden Temple and Khatkar Kalan, the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, it is learnt.

The sources said Mr Kalam would land in Adampur from where he would move to Khatkar Kalan village to pay tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He would also inaugurate a solar lighting system that is to be installed by the Punjab Energy Development Authority in Bhagat Singh’s village.

The President will address a convocation in the Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar. In fact, Vice-Chancellor of the PTU, Dr Y.S. Rajan, who has worked with Mr Kalam for years, is the brain behind the President’s visit to Punjab.

Besides addressing the convocation in Jalandhar, Mr Kalam will also visit the Pushpa Gujral Science City and then move on to Amritsar to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Mandir. He would also visit the Jallianwala Bagh to pay tributes to the martyrs of the Indian freedom movement. He would return to Delhi the same evening, it is learnt. 


HC withdraws work from judge
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has withdrawn judicial work from Mr A.L. Khichi, Civil Judge (Senior Division).

The decision was conveyed to members of the District Bar Association in an order issued today by Mr Gurdev Singh, District and Sessions Judge, entrusting the judicial work of the court of Mr A.L. Khichi to the court of Mr S.S. Dhaliwal, Additional Civil Judge, (Senior Division).

However, no reason was assigned in the order withdrawing the judicial work from Mr Khichi.

Meanwhile, in a resolution passed at a meeting held today, which was chaired by Mr Ashok Kumar Sabharwal, president of the District Bar Association, members termed the decision as shocking and said Mr Khichi was an honest and upright judicial officer.

They have decided to meet the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court tomorrow in this connection.


Kidney case: notice of motion issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
In less than a month after the great kidney conspiracy was unearthed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 12 on a petition filed by Dr Parveen Sareen seeking the quashing of a first information report under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

Dr Sareen, in his petition, had earlier submitted that the police was not competent to register the case. He had added that otherwise also another case under Section 302 of the IPC could not be registered.

The High Court had earlier stayed the arrest of another doctor, an advocate and another accused in the case. Pronouncing the orders on petitions filed by Dr Bhupinder Singh, advocate Pardeep Saini and Suresh Kumar, the Court also fixed February 25 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Seeking the grant of bail, Dr Bhupinder Singh’s counsel had also submitted that the police had no jurisdiction to register a criminal case. The police, he had added, was trying to snatch power from the appropriate authority appointed by the state government which was to inspect the hospitals, besides the nursing homes, and in case of complaint look into the matter before filing complaint before the Magistrate if there was any violation.

It may be recalled that as per newspaper reports, two well-known doctors were in the docks, while several donor-labourers were in jail. Reports had added that the estimated value of the kidney racket was Rs 100 crore. As many as 1,922 transplants had taken place in Amritsar, while 650 had taken place in Delhi, since 2000. About 300 labourers had lost their kidneys, approximately 25 their lives.


Poets lament hypocrisy, alienation
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 13
Hypocrisy in relations, sense of isolation and alienation, communalism, the Delhi riots and Godhra killings need for religious tolerance, brotherhood, emergence of new feminine identity and urgency to fight forces of darkness and enlightenment were major themes that dominated “kavi darbar” held at local Guru Nanak College today with noted Punjabi and Urdu poets like Surjit Pattar, Dr Jagtar, Sardar Panchhi, Kashmir Qadar, Prof Surjit Jaj, Sukhwinder Amrit Anoop Virk, Darshan Buttar enthralling the audience with their composition.

Mr M P Singh, Joint Income Tax Commissioner, Phagwara, Range was the chief guest. Dr Jagtar presided over it. Noted Punjabi poet Surjit Pattar lit the lamp.

Surjit Pattar’s couplet lamenting clashes over faiths “Sikha” Musalmana atey Hinduan Di Bhid Wich, Rab Dhundada Phirda Mera Banda Kidhar Giya” drew applause. Dr Jagtar’s lines “Ho ke khand har bhi, riha pooja da kendar Somnath, Ghaznavi itihas andar phir bhi lutera hi riha” was also praised. Sardar Panchhi’s Urdu composition was lauded by old as well as young. “Kalion ko jab tak is taranh masla karenge log, khushboo ki boond boond ko tarsa karenge log” lone woman poet Sukhwinder Amrit talked of women’s helplessness and strength. Prof Jaj and Prof Qadar talked of exploitation in the society and yearned for justice for all. Prof Piara Singh Bhogal, columnist, and Jagat Singh Palahi, College President, thanked the poets and the chief guest Mr M P Singh.


BKU (E) activists gherao bank
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 13
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) today gheraoed Primary Agriculture Development Bank here and alleged that even as the Chief Minister had promised that no farmer would be arrested for defaulting agriculture loans, the bank authorities were despatching a warrant orders against farmers.

The activists, including women, accused the Central and state governments of being hand in glove with corporate groups, which have been “looting” banks. They alleged that politicians had doled out crores for industrialists in the form of loans, which were never paid back.

They demanded that the names of the industrialists, who had not been paying up the loans, should be made public.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district president, BKU (E), alleged that a large number of farmers, who had taken loans for farming and allied activities, had been arrested by the bank authorities. He said farmers had raised loans on the advise of experts, but their business failed due to unavoidable reasons. He claimed that the “poor policies” of the successive governments had led to debt on farmers.

Mr Jethuke said those who had incurred losses in allied activities of farming should also be considered farmers and no warrants for their arrest should be issued.

Mr Shingara Singh Mann, district general secretary, BKU (E), alleged that commission agents were cheating poor and innocent farmers as their account books were not transparent. He said even graduates were not able to comprehend the account books.

He urged the authorities to ask them to maintain accounts on the banking pattern and demanded that farmers should be issued passbooks.


Star Cool told to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 13
The District Consumer Forum here has directed Star Cool, an Ambala firm to pay compensation to Mangat Ram of Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district.

Mangat Ram had alleged that he purchased a display counter from Star Cool for his shop for Rs 58240, but the counter stopped working just one day after the installation as its refrigeration system failed to work.

The defect was brought to the notice of the firm whose mechanic visited his shop but failed to repair the fault.

The complainant besides the refund of the cost of counter demanded Rs 20000 for deficiency in service. The firm failed to respond to the summons of the forum.

As the firm failed to turn up, the forum comprising president J.P. Gupta and member S.K. Bhatia, gave ex-parte decision. Directing the firm to refund to the complainant Rs 58240 the cost of counter, and pay Rs 10000 in compensation. The complaint was also allowed litigation costs of Rs 1000. The amount is to be paid within 30 days after which the interest of 18 per cent per annum will have to be paid.


Cable TV owners rivalry intensifies
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Two rival groups of cable TV owners in the city have filed several cases against each other in the last week. Siti cable group, a subsidiary of Zee Telefilms, has been under attack from rivals.

An FIR was lodged on February 11 with the Civil Lines police station against the management of Siti Cable for the infringement of copyright by Sandeep Kumar on behalf of Eagle Cable Communication for the film ‘Mohra’ exhibiting unauthorised video CD for which they did not have the rights.

The two groups of cable operators have been filing cases for the cutting of cables against each other with the police here.

A group of cable operators organised dharna in front of the office of Siti Cable and also held a demonstration outside the police station for the registration of cases for the cutting of cables.


CRPF jawan cremated with honours

Moga, February 13
Constable Gurmeet Singh (31) of 22 Battalion of the CRPF, who laid down his life while fighting against militants in Jharkhand on February 10, was cremated with full honours at his native village, Kanwanka Pattan, today.

His father Jeet Singh lit the pyre.

A CRPF contingent reversed arms.

Mr Partap Sarangar, DSP, laid a wreath on the body on behalf of the district police chief.

At least five jawans of the CRPF were killed and 10 injured in an encounter with militants. PTI


CPI protest against ‘police repression’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 13
Hundreds of activists of the CPI today staged a demonstration here in protest against increasing “police repression, custodial deaths and atrocities on Dalits in the state”.

The secretary of the state unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dyal, alleged that the Congress government in the state had failed to check the police, which was holding law to ransom. “Jungle raj is prevailing the state, where custodial deaths are on the rise and the situation has worsened to such an extent that even an eight-year-old child was mercilessly beaten to death in police custody in Jalandhar”, he alleged.

Accusing the district police of trying to hush up the case of Chetan’s custodial death, in which four police officials were arrested, Dr Dyal said Bhola, a key eyewitness in the case, had mysteriously disappeared from the local Civil Hospital recently.


IAS officers meet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The executive of the Punjab IAS Officers Association met here today to discuss the issue of suspended Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore, Mr D.K. Tiwari. The association has not come out with any official statement with regard to the meeting.

Informed sources said Mr Tiwari, who was also present at the meeting, told executive members that he had explained his position in writing to the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra. The association said it was expecting a positive outcome of the reply submitted by Mr Tiwari to the State Government. 


AOs hold meeting at Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
A meeting of the Agriculture Officers Association, Punjab, was held at PAU Ludhiana today under the Presidentship of Dr B.S. Sohal, Chief Agricultural Officer, Patiala.

The following office-bearers were elected unanimously: President - Dr R.S. Chechi, AIO, Chandigarh; Senior Vice-President - Dr Sulakhan Singh, AO, Gurdaspur; General Secretary - Dr Narinder Singh Josan, AO, Patiala; Joint Secretary - Dr Parwinder Jit Singh Chahal (Zaildar), AO, Mansa and Treasurer - Dr M. P. Sharma, AO, Malout.


Probe into co-option of bank directors
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 13
The Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab Government, has ordered an inquiry into the alleged irregularities committed by the authorities concerned while co-opting two directors of the Bathinda Primary Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank, here, under political influence during the previous SAD-BJP regime in the state.

Official sources said the Registrar had directed the Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Mr Raghubir Singh, to hold a probe in this connection when residents of Balluana village of the district had lodged a complaint with him. Mr Raghubir Singh further deputed the Assistant Registrar, Mr Jarnail Singh, to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

The sources said in the complaint, the residents alleged that the directors were big landlords and were co-opted against the norms laid down by the state government. They alleged that as per the norms, only those persons could be co-opted who had land holdings less than two hectares and belonged to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribe and the backward classes.

They alleged that the landlords were selected due to the influence exerted by a former minister in the previous SAD-BJP government. They said the directors belonged to a higher caste and owned more than two hectares. They demanded a suitable action against them and the officials who had played “foul” in the case.

Mr Raghubir Singh, when contacted, said the inquiry had not yet been completed despite a reminder to Mr Jarnail Singh. He added that in the past staff members of his office remained busy in the economical survey of various villages.


Naib Tehsildar suspended
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 13
Mr Dharam Vir, Commissioner, Faridkot division, has placed Mr Gurpreet Mohinder Singh Chahal, Naib Tehsildar, Sardulgarh, under suspension with immediate effect through an order. The copy of the said orders reached here today. Mr Chahal will draw a subsistence allowance during the suspension period as admissible under Rule 7.2 of the Punjab Civil Services Rule Volume-I Part I. His headquarters during the period of suspension will be the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa.

Earlier Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, had ordered for the registration of a criminal case against eight persons, including Mr Chahal. The action was taken following the recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, to the higher officials for the suspension of Mr Chahal.

According to Mr Ahluwalia, the above eight officers and beneficiaries prepared a fake will and after its registration got six mutations sanctioned illegally. Later on the basis of the mutations Jora Singh was made the owner of the land. The mutation of inheritance of Jora Singh was also sanctioned by Mr Chahal. But later, he cancelled all six mutations.

Mr Chahal also sanctioned mutation No. 3559 illegally as due to the cancellation of the previous mutations, Jora Singh did not become the owner of the land. Later Mr Chahal cancelled the mutation by tampering with the official record. The government fees for these mutations, which were cancelled, were deposited in the government treasury on November 15, 2002. In fact, the whereabouts of the owner of the land in question was not known and the same was to become government property by escheat thus Mr Chahal and other accused hatched a conspiracy to grab the land illegally.

Mr Chahal was not authorised to sanction mutation on the basis of unregistered will. Moreover a will becomes suspicious if executed jointly by six persons. Mr Chahal registered the will illegally as a will is to be registered within six months of the death of a person but the six owners of the land were shown to have died in between one-and-half-year ago. No death certificate was placed with the mutation nor any pedigreeable was prepared on the back on the mutation. This was avoided because the beneficiaries were not related to the original owner of the land.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Punjab, has reinstated with immediate effect Ms Baljinderpal Kaur Brar, Naib Tehsildar, Jaito, in Muktsar district, now at Bhikhi in the district, without prejudice to the finding of the proceedings against her.


Jalandhar police chief shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Besides ordering the transfer of three other IPS officers, the Punjab Government today also transferred the district police chief of Jalandhar and Gurdaspur, respectively.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, district police chief, Jalandhar, has been shifted to Patiala as DIG, Administration (current duty charge), IRB, Patiala. He has been replaced by Mr Varinder Kumar, who was posted at Gurdaspur, as district police chief. The slot vacated by Mr Varinder Kumar will be filled by Mr Rajinder Pal Singh Brar, who was posted as Commandant, 13th PAP, Battalion here.

Mr Parampal Singh has been posted as DIG (current duty charge), PPA, Phillaur. Mr Kultar Singh, SP (Crime) , has been posted as Commandant 13th, PAP, Battalion, here. 


Rs 5.47 crore for development
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 13
A sum of Rs 5.47 crore was released for development work and welfare schemes in the district at a meeting of the District Planning and Development Board held under the presidentship of Mr Avtar Henry, Punjab Industry Minister and chairman of the board, here today.

The state government had allocated Rs 18.37 crore to the district during the current financial year for development work.


Two held for smuggling
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 15
The police nabbed two persons on the Faridkot-Talwandi road near the canal yesterday and recovered 115 gm smacks from them. They have been identified as Major Singh alias Pargat Singh son of Balwinder Singh alias Bahal Singh of Kler village in Tarn Taran police district and Sunil a resident of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. A case under Section 21/61/85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against them.

The intoxicant is said to be worth Rs 40 lakh. District Police Chief Harminder Singh Chahal said that the police had information that the smack was being sold in the area and yesterday a naka was set up near the canals at 9.30 a.m. A white Maruti car without any number plate and documents from the side of Bholuwala road was seen and signalled to stop. Later a packet containing 15 gm smack was recovered from Major Singh who was driving the car.

The other packet containing 100 gm smack was recovered from his accomplice Sunil. During investigation both admitted that they had been receiving smack from Pakistan through the Rajasthan border and were selling it in Punjab for the past seven years.

They reportedly had also deployed agents in this connection. Major Singh said that a case regarding the sale of smack was already registered against him in Ferozepore. The SSP added that a fake police identity card was also recovered from Major Singh.


1 more held in church land scam
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 13
Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said today that the police had arrested Sanjiv Kumar, alias Samual Masih, alias Semi, a resident of Amritsar, for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore church land scam at Madhopur in Pathankot subdivision in the district. A case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC was registered on January 11 in this regard.

Subhash Padam, the then Tehsildar, Pathankot, and Numberdar Bhag Mal had attested that the land under sale belonged to the Amritsar Diocese Association, Amritsar. The other members of the gang are still at large.

The accused sold nine acres, touting that the land belong to the church of Madhopur and Sanjiv Kumar, one of the accused, was authorised to sell it. However, after investigation it came to light that the land was the property of the government. The land was sold for Rs 29 lakh whereas its market value is said to be in crores.

The SSP said Sanjiv Kumar had prepared a fake document, appointing himself secretary of the Diocese Association. Exercising the powers of the secretary, he had given the general power of attorney to sell the properties of the church to Sadiq Masih, one of the accused, and further through a fake resolution this power of attorney was transferred to Parkash Masih, another accused in the scam, who was authorised to sell the properties of the Diocese Trust.

The fake power of attorney was attested by Hansa Singh, the then Tehsildar of Gurdaspur, on August 20, 2001.


700 kg poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 13
The police has seized 700 kg of poppy husk, worth Rs 5 lakh, from Manga and his sister-in-law Tarsem, residents of Kirpal Pur colony.

A press note issued by DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill today said the two were retailers of poppy husk and had brought a truck load from Rajasthan.

On a tip off, the police raided their place and found 20 bags of poppy husk in a room stacked with “toodi” (wheat straw). Each bag carried 35 kg of poppy husk. However, three to four accomplices of the two managed to flee.

The accused have relatives in Phillaur, Noormahal and Nawanshahr areas and police teams have been sent there.

The narco-gang had inter-state links and the police expected more revellations during investigations, the press note added.


6 inmates injured in clash

Amritsar, February 13
Six inmates of the Central Jail were injured in a clash between two groups inside the prison complex here today.

A case registered at the Sadar police station under various sections of the IPC said that the clash took place while the jail inmates were lining-up to have lunch.

Amongst those injured in the clash were Lal Chand, Ram Kirpal, Ashok Kumar and Vijay Kumar who belonged to one group, while the other two were identified as Ranjit Kumar and Ramesh. All six were admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital. UNI


Nod to degree courses in polytechnics
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 13
The Punjab Government today gave formal approval to run degree engineering courses in its seven polytechnic colleges in the state from the next academic session to make them financially viable and to generate an additional, 4,500 seats of diploma and degree courses in these institutions.

Official sources said the approval was given at a high-level meeting of officials of the Department of Technical Education, including its Director and Secretary, held today. The Minister for Technical Education, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, chaired the meeting.

The department made this departure from the existing set-up in the polytechnic colleges for generating additional seats of diploma and degree courses for deserving poor candidates under the free seat category and to make these institutions financially viable while keeping the sanctity of the polytechnic colleges intact.

The sources said that at a meeting of principals of all government polytechnic colleges held in Chandigarh under the chairmanship of the Director, Technical Education, Punjab, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, on January 22, this proposal was discussed and all participants endorsed it.

As per the details of the decision taken at today’s meeting, seven polytechnic colleges, including three government women polytechnic colleges, have been selected for starting the degree courses in the initial phase. As many as 2,880 seats of various engineering degree courses and 1,640 of diploma courses will be created. At present, there are about 7,000 seats in all government degree engineering colleges in the state.

The selected polytechnic colleges — Government Polytechnic College (GPC) Lehra Gaga, the GPC, Khuni Majra, the GPC, Ropar, the GPC, Bhikhiwind, Government Women Polytechnic College (GWPC), Patiala, the GWPC, Amritsar, and the GWPC, Ludhiana, will be made autonomous and will be run by a board of governors, headed by the minister for Technical Education. The department is also planning to include the GPC, Guru Teg Bahadurgarh in Moga district in the list.

Seven degree courses will be started in the GPC, Lehra Gaga, to make it a centre of excellence in information technology (IT); seven degree courses will be started in the GPC, Khuni Majra, to make it a centre of excellence in mechanical engineering and related courses; five degree courses will be started in the GWPC, Ludhiana, to make it a centre of excellence in textile engineering and related courses; five degree courses would be started in the GWPC, Patiala; four degree courses will be started in the GWPC, Amritsar four in the GPC, Bhikhiwind and six in the GPC, Ropar. Besides, new polytechnic courses will also be introduced.

The norms for the administration of these colleges will be laid in such a way that the sanctity of the polytechnic colleges remains intact.


IT festivals at DAV College
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
To create awareness about various computer programmes amongst the youth, the local DAV College organised state-level IT festivals ‘netwest’, ‘skillfest’ and ‘e-fest’ here yesterday.

Workshops on networking, computer functioning and Internet were conducted during the festivals. Engineers from the CEDTI, SAS Nagar, delivered lectures on computer networking.

More than 13 colleges of the state participated in the workshop. Mr M.L. Aeri said more such workshops would be conducted in the future. He said DAV College would be the first college to have video conferencing facility in the state. Mr Ashok Bhatia, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, distributed the prizes.

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