Thursday, February 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Heavy damage to crops
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Residents of Jandwala Meerasangla village, Ferozepore, shift to safer places
Residents of Jandwala Meerasangla village, Ferozepore, shift to safer places on Wednesday after houses were damaged following strong winds  that hit the district on Tuesday. 
— photo Kulbir Beera

Chandigarh, February 19
Heavy damage has been caused to various rabi crops especially wheat and mustard. Three factors — heavy showers, violent winds and hailstorms — are responsible for the misery that has hit various sections of the populace in the countryside.

The Tribune team, which visited various parts in the countryside this morning, found farmers busy in draining out rainwater from the wheat and mustard fields that were flattened by the ravaging winds. They were visibly in a sad mood because of the prevailing nasty weather conditions.

Reacting to the situation emerging in the state following such reports, Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner ( Revenue), has directed the Deputy Commissioners to submit to him reports at the earliest possible of the damage caused by the hostile weather in the countryside. “ I am in touch with all Deputy Commissioners to have the latest reports in this connection”, said Mr Bhagat Singh, when contacted.

Meanwhile, Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore district, dashed here today from the border district to seek emergency grant to provide relief to the squall-hit farmers and others.

Mr Bhagat Singh, who was approached by Mr Raminder Singh for the release of the emergency relief fund for the affected families, released this afternoon Rs 50 lakh for Ferozepore district. Mr Bhagat Singh said he had asked Mr Raminder Singh to order a special girdavari in the affected areas and also the survey of the damaged houses.

Farmers at Gosalan village near Samrala told The Tribune that hailstorm hit their village early this morning. Mr Piara Singh, a former Panch, said already farmers were facing financial problems, but the bad weather had further added to their woes. He said the damage to wheat, potato and mustard crops was significant. Mr Mewa Singh, Mr Rulda Singh and Mr Telu Singh said the mustard crop that had been flattened by the fast blowing winds would not come up again as it was one of the most sensitive among crops. However, there were chances of recovery of damaged wheat crop to a large extent. They said the cycle stand shed of a nearby school was blown off by the squall last night. Similar reports of blowing off of roof tops have been received from elsewhere also.

When asked about the power supply, they said it was missing for the past 24 hours. Even otherwise, power supply in the area remained woefully inadequate. “Though we pay power bills of tubewells now, power supply was given to operate tubewells only after 9 p.m. for a four-five hours”, they said. “The Punjab Government is playing a joke on us in this connection. We have to pay for getting even the burnt transformers repaired,” they added in one voice.

Sarwan Kumar, a farm hand at Boothgarh village, who was busy draining out water from a wheat field, said the power supply had disappeared three days ago. The draining out of water was required immediately as otherwise roots of wheat plants would be affected leading to further damage to the crop, he explained.

Interestingly, the Punjab Agriculture Department had not received any report of the hailstorm till the close of the office today. When contacted an official of the department said, “We have not received any report in this connection from any district”.


1 more MLA in Gujarat scandal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 19
The figuring of the name of another Congress leader and MLA from Punjab close to the Chief Minister in the Gujarat call girl racket has further complicated the problems of Capt Amarinder Singh.

The name of the MLA had figured in the preliminary investigation by the Gujarat police.

It is likely to intensify factionalism in the Congress, especially in the border belt.

Meanwhile, Mr O.P. Soni, Congress MLA from Amritsar, has alleged that the statement of the Gujarat Home Minister was ‘out of frustration’ and the BJP tried to tarnish the image of the two Congress ministers with ‘unethical methods’. Mr Soni said he had stayed in the same Taj Residency Hotel and no such incident had occurred.

The emergency meeting attended by mr Soni, Mr Dharmvir Sareen, Mr Kanwal Nain Singh, Mr Surinder Singh, the Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation, Mr Darljit Singh Chinna, Mr Baljit Singh, Ms Usha Sharma, Mr Kulbhushan Duggal, Mr Surinder Kumar, Ms Nirmal Kanta Suri, Mr Pyara Lal Seth, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, President, Punjab Beopar Mandal, and other senior leaders of the city also condemned the “malacious propaganda” which had linked senior Congress leaders with the Gujarat call girl racket.

On other hand, Mr Satya Pal Jain, former BJP Member of Parliament and chairman legal cell of the party said that there were two Congress MLAs (not one as reported earlier) whose names figures in the preliminary inquiry with regard to the call girl racket in Gujarat.


Vedanti fails to end confusion over ‘seva’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 19
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Akal Takht failed to resolve the issue of whether baptised Sikh women should be allowed to perform ‘seva’ inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, though gender discrimination is not permitted in Sikhism.

The manager of Darbar Sahib, Mr Ajaib Singh, said there was no precedent in Sikh history allowing women to perform seva in the sanctum sanctorum. However, he said the SGPC would implement any directive by the Sikh clergy allowing baptised Sikh women to perform any seva. He feigned ignorance about the directive already issued by the Sikh high priests in 1996 directing the SGPC to allow Sikh women to perform seva as tenets of Sikhism did not preach gender discrimination. In a letter to Akal Takht Jathedar, the Darbar Sahib manager alleged that some UK-based Sikh women tried to touch the ‘palki’ (palanquin) on February 13. However, they (the UK-based Sikh women) started threatening the SGPC sevadars when they tried to stop them from carrying the ‘palki’. The manager sought guidance from the Sikh clergy on the issue so that such incidents do not recur.

In his reply to the SGPC chief, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, said Akal Takht had been flooded with reactions (negative and positive both) on the issue whether baptised Sikh women should be allowed to perform seva in the Golden Temple? Jathedar Vedanti asked the SGPC to take concrete steps in the wake of the gravity of situation. He said steps should be taken keeping in view the sentiments of the devotees and the Sikh traditions. Interestingly, Jathedar Vedanti who was one of the signatories to the directive allowing the baptised Sikh women to perform seva in the sanctum sanctorum in 1996, did not mention the same (the directive of 1996) in his reply to the SGPC chief.

While the Sikh Panth is clear on the issue that a directive once issued could not be withdrawn, Jathedar Vedanti has failed to stress it perhaps under pressure from the ‘orthodox’. Earlier, Jathedar Vedanti had stated that there was no gender discrimination in Sikhism.

Meanwhile, the inquiry committee constituted by the SGPC to probe into the issue disallowing UK-based women to perform seva had reportedly given a ‘clean chit’ to the SGPC employees, the manager of Darbar Sahib in his statement recorded by the inquiry committee had claimed that it was the ‘fault’ of the UK-based Sikh women who tried to browbeat the SGPC employees and the ‘premis’ (the devotees) and insisted on performing the seva which was against Sikh traditions.

On the other hand, Mr Baldev Singh, an SGPC member, urged Jathedar Vedanti not to take any decision with regard to allowing women to perform seva in the sanctum sanctorum.


Badal okays Justice Jain’s name
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has reportedly given his consent to the appointment of Justice N.C. Jain, retired Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court, as Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Commission. The position has been lying vacant ever since the retirement of Justice A.K. Khanna.

Under the rules, the consent of the Leader of the Opposition is required before the appointment of the new Chairman is formally notified. Sources said Mr Badal gave his formal consent to the proposal this evening and returned the file to the government. It would now be sent to the Governor, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (retd), for formal approval and subsequent notification.

Meanwhile, the names of a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, scheduled to retire by the end of the next month, and a former District and Sessions Judge of Chandigarh are also being considered for appointment as members of the Punjab Human Rights Commission against the positions reserved for a retired high court judge and a district judge, respectively.

At present, the commission has only two members, including the officiating Chairman, Mr N.K. Arora, and Mrs Maninder Kaur Mattewal.

Mrs Mattewal will complete her five-year term as a member in March and will go back to the Department of Law, Panjab University.

With specialisation in human rights from a US university and with age on her side, she could be given another term as a member of the commission.


Corridor plan: building bylaws may be amended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 19
The Punjab Government has expressed commitment to implementing the proposals for beautifying the surroundings of the Golden Temple, according to the dossier presented to the Union Government for submitting it to UNICEF for declaring it a world heritage site.

The Principal Secretary, Local Government, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, who presided over a special meeting with representatives of the SGPC, INTACH, municipal corporation, district administration and experts from Guru Nanak Dev University asked them to work out a time bound plan to prepare a final blueprint through consensus.

Later, Mr Kaushal while addressing newspersons said a Rs 75-crore plan had already been approved by the CPWD and was lying pending with the Union Home Ministry for the completion of phase IV and V of the Golden Temple corridor scheme.

The work will involve the construction of parking lots and widening of the roads leading to the temple.

Mr Kaushal said the government was contemplating amending building bylaws for the houses, on the periphery of the Golden Temple and which should be in consonance with the temple’s architecture. He recommended similar designs for the facades surrounding the temple, which should be in conformity with it. He also recommended a freeze on the change land use on the periphery.

Ms Gurmeet Rai, Secretary, Local Bodies, announced the setting up of a special heritage and conservation cell for looking after the old buildings. The Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, who was present at the meeting agreed to earmark Rs 10 lakh annually for the heritage cell.

The secretary, while reviewing the traffic problems around the Golden Temple, presented a report prepared by RITES. He urged the experts to look into the report and make their suggestions in the next 15 days to the Mayor so that the same could be implemented for preparing a master traffic plan to ease the growing traffic around the temple.

He said the corporation had agreed in principle to provide land for establishing Maharaja Ranjit Singh panorama, which was likely to be set up at an early date.

Meanwhile, the SDM, Mr Gurwaryam Singh, told newspersons later that he had already ordered the removal of encroachments around the clubs.

He added that the clubs had not paid their annual lease fee since 1989 and the corporation had filed case against them under the Public Properties Act.

However, when the mediapersons requested the SDM to hand over the copies of the judgement he said he had yet to complete the judgement.

Interestingly the Amritsar Vikas Manch, an NGO, has filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking eviction of the three clubs from Ram Bagh.

It may be pointed out that the Deputy Commissioner is the president of one of the clubs located in Ram Bagh and the administration has been reluctant to take action.


Canal water cess collection biannual
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The process of realisation of charges for the use of canal water for irrigation has begun. The revenue from ‘’abiana’’, as canal water cess is called in revenue parlance, will be of the order of Rs 60 crore per annum. It is to be collected bi-annually on May 31 and September 30.

It may be recalled that water charges along with billing of tubewells were withdrawn by the previous SAD-BJP government in 1997. These have since been restored.

A major part of Punjab’s 14,500-km canal irrigation network is in a shambles for want of on-time repair and maintenance due to paucity of funds. Thus, the revenue to be collected from the canal water charges will, henceforth, be retained and utilised by the Department of Irrigation itself for operation/maintenance of the net-work system.

As per revised calculation of norms for operation/ maintenance of the irrigation network, the cost worked out is Rs 306 per hectare with base year 1996-97. This has been done as per the guidelines of the 10th Finance Commission with a provision for 10 per cent annual increase for works component. Consequently, the department has arrived at a figure of Rs 97 crore for the operation/maintenance cost of the network for 2003-04.

This was disclosed by the Principal Secretary, Irrigation, Mr Rajan Kashyap, here today. A new in-house system in the Department of Irrigation has now been devised for the collection of canal water charges. Under the new system, the role of ‘’nehri’’—canal—patwari has been done away with. This is because of complaints against these officials, who created hindrances and caused harassment to farmers.

The Chief Engineer, Canals, Mr R.P.S. Yudhwanshi, said under the new system, canal water charges had been levied at the rate of Rs 80 per acre per year in the cultural command area. Now, the realisable revenue would be Rs 60 crore against Rs 19 earlier. The cultural command area was 75 lakh acres.

The main canal irrigated areas fall in the districts of Ferozepore, Bathinda and Faridkot. The problem areas are tail-ends of Sangrur, Sidhwan, Bist Doab. The state spends nearly Rs 140 crore, annually, on canal administration.

Meanwhile, a meeting of all superintending engineers has been called here tomorrow to discuss the drainage and flood protection works programme. The bottomline is to undertake cleaning/deepening/strengthening of the embankments well in time before the onset of monsoon. There are also reports that sanctioned money has not been received from Nabard-sponsored projects. Against nearly Rs 60 crore, money received is merely Rs 16 crore.


Capt has no proof against me: Badal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 19
Capt Amarinder Singh has no proof against me. He just used the rhetoric by levelling baseless charges of corruption against me during the Punjab Assembly elections to befool people. However, now one year has passed but he has not been able to establish even one allegation despite spending about Rs 1 crore on various investigating agencies hired to probe into the much hyped charges against him, said Mr Prakash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, Punjab while talking to newsmen at Nangal yesterday. He was here before leaving for election campaign in Himachal Pradesh. Mr Badal alleged that the politics of political vendetta had started by Capt Amarinder Singh had strained Punjab’s relations with the neighbouring states.


Postpone MC poll, says Ramoowalia
Our Correspondent

Bhucho Mandi (Bathinda), February 19
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, said today that the election to various municipal councils scheduled for March 2 and 9 should be postponed keeping in view the annual examinations.

While addressing the party workers here Mr Ramoowalia said campaigning for the council elections would affect the students studies.

He said the elections should be held along with those of the panchayats which were proposed to be held in June or July, saving election expenditure to some extent.

He said parties like the VHP and the BJP which talk about saving cows were not concerned about stray cows which damage crops.

He added that the meance had attained alarming heights but the parties claiming to be “protectors” were not doing nothing to build shelter for them.


Rally seeks CM’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 19
Party workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP gathered at Gurdwara Singh Sabha on the Jail Road here today and held a rally to demand the immediate resignation of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues in view of the alleged involvement of two Punjab ministers identified as Partap Singh Bajwa and A.S. Samra in the Gujarat sex scandal.

The prominent speakers included Mr Sewa Singh Seikhwan, former Revenue Minister, Mr Sat Pal Saini, former Minister of State for Technical Education, Mr Pritam Singh Kounta, Chairman SugarFED, Mr Kartar Singh Pahra, former MLA Mr B.K. Mittal, president district unit of the BJP and Mr Kulbir Singh Sandhu Akali activist.

The speakers highlighted the ‘misdeeds’ of the ministers and pointed out that their continuance as ministers is a reflection on the moral values of the country. They demanded their immediate sacking and resignation of the Chief Minister to put in his resignation immediately owing responsibility.

Mr Seikhwan said protest meetings would be held at Qatlian on February 21, at Dera Baba Nanak on February 22 at Batala on February 23 and at Dina Nagar on February 24 and at Pathankot on February 25. A protest meeting would be held at Dhariwal on February 26, where the further course of action would be decided.

JALANDHAR: While criticising Capt Amarinder Singh for patronising two Punjab ministers, whose names figured the alleged sex-scandal during the Gujarat-elections, the SAD on Wednesday demanded the immediate expulsion of the ‘tainted’ ministers from the Cabinet. Hundreds of SAD (Badal) activists today staged a dharna outside the office of Deputy Commissioner here and burnt the effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister.


Admn ‘sabotaged’ parishad poll
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 19
SAD members alleged that no official, including the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) or the District Development and Panchayats Officer (DD&PO), Mansa, turned up to conduct elections for the post of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Zila Parishad here which were scheduled to be held today.

Out of 15 members, seven members — Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Paul Singh, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Ms Sarbjit Kaur, Ms Shinder Kaur and Mr Major Singh Maujo, all from SAD and Mr Rajinder Singh Chakerian of the ruling Congress were present. They kept waiting for the presiding officer and others to come and conduct elections but till 1 pm no one turned up.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, a former MLA of the SAD from here said that seven members had reached the venue of elections at 10.45 am today but no official came till 1 pm. He accused the district administration of sabotaging the victory of SAD and of helping the ruling Congress to gain majority.

When contacted Mr Kulwant Singh, ADC, here said that as per orders received from Mr S.R. Ladhar, Director, Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats, the elections of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Zila Parishad had been deferred till further orders. In this regard he had directed the DD&PO to inform the Zila Parishad members accordingly. Efforts were made to contact DD&PO who was not available for comments.


Army meeting on February 27
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 19
Mr KAP Sinha, Deputy Commissioner said here today that the Union Ministry of Defence was concerned at village constructions within a radius of 1000 feet of the ammunition depot at Pathankot. A meeting of Defence officials to discuss the issue is being held at Jammu on February 27. The DC has also been invited to the meeting.

The DC said that the Army authorities objected to new constructions coming up at Pathankot in the prohibited area near Mamoon Cantonment on the Saili Kulian Road and the Mission Road which fall in the prohibited area. He said that the police had been told to stop such constructions and not to allow new constructions and register cases against the defaulters under Section 188 of the IPC.

When told that the local Municipal Committee had approved the drawings of the new constructions, residential as well as commercial the DC said that it was either illegal or had been done out of ignorance. The Army Act prohibiting such constructions was in force since 1903 said the Deputy Commissioner.

The BSF authorities have also complained to the Deputy Commissioner that constructions near ammunition dumps in the district were being done by people despite a ban imposed by the Deputy Commissioner. BSF officials said that ban orders’ violations must be checked for security reasons. People have started new constructions and when stopped by the authorities to do so moved courts for permission for such constructions.

A fire broke out in the ammunition depot at Pathankot last year and people left their places to save lives. Prices of land in elegant colonies near the ammunition depot have fallen. Time passed and people forgot everything constructions near the depot which was objected to by the Army authorities. Houses worth more than Rs 100 crore have come up in the areas near the ammunition depot and the owners of houses expressed helplessness to shift to ‘safer’ places pleading that they had spent their life’s savings on the construction of houses and commercial set-ups in the area. Mr Ashok Kumar MLA of the area said he would approach the state and central governments to shift the ammunition depot. 


Punjab asked to file inquiry report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Taking up a petition filed by a dera head initially seeking the registration of a first information report against police officials and an Akali leader, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state of Punjab to file inquiry report in the matter. The case will now come up for further hearing on February 27.

In his petition filed against the state of Punjab and other officials, Giani Harjinder Singh of Dera Dharamshala in Sekhwan village in Ferozepore district had also sought directions for getting the case investigated by a senior officer, besides providing him and his family with para-military security.

Claiming to have been managing the dera affairs since 1991, the petitioner had added that he was tortured at a police station in Khanna after being picked up by five persons on February 25 last year from a dhaba on the Bathinda road. He was also threatened with implication in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act if he did not hand over 27 acres.

Arguing before the Court, counsel for the petitioner had contended on his behalf that the matter was reported to the police, but action was not taken against the officials.

Bail petition

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 March 12.

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.

Punjab’s plea

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the state of Punjab has sought cancellation of bail granted to 34 PCS officers by Patiala’s Special Judge in a case registered against them. The petition will now come up for hearing on February 27.

The state asserted that all the applicants had allegedly given bribe through different channels to the then chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. It was added that for proper investigation of the case, it was necessary to ascertain the source of money and other information.


The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday fixed May 5 as the next date of hearing on a bunch of writ petitions filed in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment case.

The officers were recruited in the state of Punjab during the tenure of Punjab Public Service Commission’s former Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. Challenging the orders passed against them, the petitioners had claimed that they were not related to the alleged scam in any manner.


Blood shortage in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 19
“Even as the Punjab based patients need about two lakh units of blood annually, the total availability of blood from various sources not more than 1 lakh units.”

Stating this while addressing a blood donation camp at the local ApeeJay College of Fine Arts, Prof. Lakhbir Singh, a social worker and the head of Pahi, an NGO, said there was dearth of healthy blood in the state. He said though the total annual demand of blood in India was 60 lakh units, the availability was however, just 30 lakh units and this deficit could be met only if youngsters came forward to save lives of patients in agony. He said the need of the hour was to create awareness among youngsters about the importance of blood donation.

Col. Manmohan Singh (retd.), Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board Jalandhar said only youth could provide healthy blood.


MC blamed for cracks in houses
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 19
Two houses in local Tambakoo Kuttan mohalla caved in recently. The civic authorities yesterday declared them unsafe, advising inmates to move out. Due to caving in of two houses some other surrounding houses had inclined forward and had developed cracks.

The inmates alleged that they had brought it to the notice of municipal authorities on Saturday last but little had been done. They further alleged that the caving had occurred due to a faulty sewerage.

But a resident asserted that the problem had arisen due to internal leakage in the houses and not due to the sewerage. Despite the houses being declared unsafe, the inmates were still living there.


10,000 birds die in poultry farm building cave-in
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 19
More than 10,000 birds (hens) were reportedly killed today morning when a double-storeyed building of a poultry farm collapsed at Barnala, 40 km from here. More than 10,000 hens were buried alive under the debris of the building of Seharash Poultry Farm on the Khudi Kalan road at Barnala. The loss is said to be of Rs 22 lakh.

Mr Jagroop Singh, an employee of the poultry farm claimed that 15,000 birds had been killed in the building collapse. He claimed the loss to be of Rs 50 lakh. Mr Jagroop Singh said they were taking the dead birds out of the debris with the help of a crane. He said the farm building fell down this morning when its pillars started collapsing.


End contract system for loading work: union
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 19
A state-level rally was held by the All Food and Allied Loading and Unloading Mazdoor Union here today for getting the contract system regarding the loading and unloading work undertaken by various state government agencies and the FCI abolished for protecting the interests of the labour class.

The participants also demanded that their wages should also be fixed on a par with Class IV employees of the government agencies.

Addressing the rallyists Chetu Yadav and Ganga Paswan, senior representatives of the Haryana Workers Association regretted that more than 6,000 labourers, who were working with different government agencies under contract system, were not being provided with proper facilities under labour laws.

A deputation of senior representatives of the union will meet the Union Labour Minister to apprise him of the situation.

Mr H. P. Singh, former MP, sought an enquiry against certain senior officials of agencies and contractors who had amassed huge wealth and properties through unfair means.


IMA conference on medical ethics
Tribune News Service

Sangrur February 19
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) will organise its 57th state-level conference on March 16 at Mansa.

The theme of the conference will be “Promoting medical ethics”.

Giving this information here, Dr Surinder Singla, state secretary of the IMA, said there would be a special session on “How to check menace of unethical practices by some qualified doctors” as this trend was harming the medical fraternity.

Dr Singla said the IMA felt that members of the association should actively participate in this session by rising above personal interests and prejudice.

Eminent doctors of the country would also update the knowledge of the participating doctors on latest diagnostic and treatment procedures for diseases like heart ailments, tuberculosis and diabetes etc, he added.

Dr. R.N. Bhardwaj and Dr C.L. Goyal have been appointed as chairman and organising, secretary respectively, of the 57th conference of the Punjab IMA.


Cane growers get remaining dues
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 19
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced that the remaining dues of Rs 47 crore to sugarcane planters of the state were being released today even as he alleged that the Centre was discriminating against the state by not giving permission for sale of Rs 550 crore worth of sugar in stock with the 14 sugar mills of the state.

Addressing a press conference here, the Chief Minister said the situation was at present such that the state was getting sugar for consumption from Gujarat and Maharashtra. He said this was the main reason why the state government had difficulties earlier in paying off the accumulated dues of the farmers.

He also announced the state government's decision to sell the cooperative sugar mills to private parties. He said except for two of the mills, all other 12 mills were in the red and the government did not have the money to run them.

The CM also announced that he had received the interim report of the Haldea Committee. He said the report was introduction of power reforms in other states and what had gone wrong. He said the object was to ensure 24 hour power to the people at reasonable rates. He said the report would be made public and discussed before it was approved by the Cabinet. Capt Amarinder Singh also announced that a new industrial policy was being implemented in the state from March 1. He said as a first step, the multi national Quark company was being given 500 acres of land to set up an IT Park at SAS Nagar.

The CM also announced that he had ordered all DC to recruit Panchayat Secreteries wherever needed on contract basis immediately.


Cane arrears: dharna by farmers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 19
Wearing black clothes farmers, protesting against the non-release of the remaining payment of the cane crop, staged a dharna under the aegis of the Kisan wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) at Ajnala village. Mr Satnam Singh Behru, state President of the kisan wing of the SAD (A) said if the balance amount due to the farmers were not released till March 1, their party would block the rail and road traffic at Phillaur.

Mr Behru said their party had formulated a programme to present a memorandum to Mr Chowdhury Ajit Singh, Union Agriculture Minister, and Mr Shanta Kumar, Food and Civil Supply Minister under the chairmanship of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann. Though they had been agitating since January 26 but no minister or any official of the department concerned had paid any attention towards it, he alleged.

GURDASPUR: Workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) held a rally in front of the office of the DC on Wednesday in protest against the death penalty given to Davinder Singh Bhullar for his alleged involvement in the terrorism attack on Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta.


Admn gears up for MC poll
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 19
On the directions of the Punjab Election Commission the district administration has formulated a plan to ensure free and fair poll of the Faridkot, Jaito and Kotkapura municipal councils in this district on March 9. Under the plan the nomination papers will be accepted for four days starting February 24.

The scrutiny and the withdrawal of the papers will take place on February 28 and March 1, respectively, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner-cum-district returning officer, said in a press note released here yesterday. He said 126 polling booths would be set up for 59 wards in the three councils.

The SDO (Civil), Faridkot and Jaito, will look after the process in their respective areas whereas the Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, will take care of Kotkapura.

The voter list is available at the three councils by paying the requisite fee, the Deputy Commissioner said. 


Additional charge

Chandigarh, February 19
Mr Prithi Chand, Additional Secretary, Vigilance, will also look after the work of the Officer on Special Duty to the Principal Secretary to the Punjab Chief Minister in addition to his present assignment with immediate effect. TNS


Doctor held on fraud charge
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 19
A senior doctor of the local Civil Hospital, Dr Yashpal Mitra, was arrested yesterday on charges of fraud, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy by floating a company with his wife Anu Mitra as its director and cheating people to the tune of about Rs 13.5 lakh under a false promise of doubling the amount after four and seven years respectively.

However, Mr Anu Mitra, Director, of the firm and its other partners had absconded it was learnt today. DSP Harminder Singh Gill confirmed that Dr Mitra had been arrested under Sections 420, 406 and 120-B of the IPC. The arrest followed a complaint by a number of people.

The couple had first established the office of the company at Hoshiarpur and then at Phagwara. Five women are among seven persons defrauded of the amount, the police said. 


Judicial remand for girl in extortion case
Tribune News service

Sangrur, February 19
Mr Varinder Aggarwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Sangrur, today remanded Gurmeet Kaur, alias Happy, in judicial custody for 14 days after the expiry of her one-day police remand today. Ms Happy was arrested by the local police on February 17 in a case of extortion and intimidation registered on February 14 against six persons, including her and three policemen.

The police had registered the case against Mr Darbara Singh, Then SHO of the local Sadar police station, ASI Anup Singh, Head Constable Kewal Singh, Ms Happy and two others. However, except Happy, who is now in judicial custody, all other accused have been absconding. Mr Darbara Singh, Mr Anup Singh and Mr Kewal Singh had reportedly filed their anticipatory bail applications in the judicial court here. Counsel for Anup Singh said hearing on the anticipatory bail applications would be held in the coming days. The case was registered on the complaint of Mr Varinder Kumar, a local resident.


Cricket match: 6 bookies held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 19
In a crackdown second time against those indulging in speculation on Cricket World Cup, the police has booked six bookies. Cases were registered against them last night on the eve of the India-Zimbabwe match.

Sources said since the police action against the bookies made them shift bases from the city, none of them had been arrested so far. The sources said those booked last night were operating from Panchkula in Haryana.

The booked included Sandeep Aggarwal, Satpal and Pritam. They have been booked under Sections 420 of the IPC. One of them happens to be a kin of a senior politician of the district.

The police earlier arrested five bookies on February 15 allegedly for booking bets on the cricket matches.

The police further plans to intensify its campaign to keep a check on the activities of the bookies before the India-Pakistan match to be played on March 1.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City), said special teams had been formed to arrest the bookies. The district police would also contact its counterparts in other districts to nab the bookies.

MANSA: The city police has registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC under the Gambling Act against some bookies indulging in speculation on cricket matches.

Those bookies include — Tarsem Bangru alias Pachi (25), Subash Chand alias Gigi and Surinder Kumar alias Momna. The police has also registered criminal case against some unidentified bookies. No arrests have been made in this regard. 


Rape victim fears danger to life

Hoshiarpur, February 19
A woman who was raped at Sidh Jandi Ashram of Mahilpur along with her husband has alleged that there was danger to their life from Swami Alkhanand, who had threatened to kill them. She was talking to mediapersons at Mahilpur, 25 km from here today.

The Mahilpur police had registered a case against Swami Alkhanand and his two disciples Joganand and Avtar Singh and arrested them on February 14. Presently they are in judicial remand till March 3. OC


Bhag Singh elected PGTCA president
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 19
The elections to the posts of president and general secretary of the Punjab Government College Teachers’ Association (PGTCA) were held in all government colleges of the state.

Prof Bhag Singh Sandhu, a lecturer of mathematics in Government Mahindra College, Patiala, has been elected president whereas Prof Jaipal Singh, a lecturer in physics in Government College for Boys, was elected general secretary.

Prof Bhag Singh defeated his nearest rival Prof Darshan Singh, while Prof Jaipal Singh defeated Prof Manjit Singh of Government Mahindra College, Patiala, by a margin of 90 and 150 votes, respectively. The total votes polled were about 1000.

Prof Hardeep Singh of the Bikram College of Commerce, Patiala and Prof Ashwani Bhalla of Government College for Boys, who contested for the posts of president and general secretary, respectively, polled less than 100 votes and lost the elections.

Prof Darshan Singh was defeated by Prof Jaipal Singh by 164 votes in last elections too . Prof Jaipal talking to Ludhiana Tribune said he was happy that elections were held in a peaceful manner.


BA, B.Com, B.Sc exams from March 29
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 19
Annual theory examinations of BA/B.Sc and B.Com of Guru Nanak Dev University would start from March 29. The examinations of BA/B.Sc (part I, III) and B.Com (part-II) would also start from March 29. The examinations of B.Com (part III) would commence from March 31, while examinations of BA/B.Sc (part-II) would start from April 1, a university spokesman said. He added there were 181 examinations centres at various places for smooth conduct of examinations.


Chemists evading sales tax
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 19
Even as a small section of chemists in the region have allegedly been evading sales tax on the stock being purchased by them from outside Punjab, the authorities concerned have so far failed to curb the menace.

Over the years Bathinda has developed into one of the biggest wholesale markets of medicines and drugs. For the past few years certain chemists have allegedly been evading sales tax by making wrong entries in the C-form carrying the details of the transaction done by them from outside the state being submitted to the Excise and Taxation Department every year.

About two months ago the Enforcement Wing of the Excise and Taxation Department had seized medicines worth Rs six lakh which were being brought by a wholesale dealer from Delhi through a train without any invoice to evade sales tax on the same. The department had imposed a penalty on the dealer in this connection.

However, information gathered by TNS revealed that the seizure was the tip of the iceberg.

Information further revealed that these chemists were bringing the medicines from Delhi and other places outside Punjab without invoices of the same and never made entries of these purchases in their stock books.

They were also misusing the C-forms. In their stock register they would enter the cost of medicines less than its original cost and in the C-form issued by them to the seller they would enter details of genuine transaction and actual mount paid by them in connection with the purchase of medicines. The C-form issued to seller and submitted to the Excise and Taxation Department of the same transaction by the purchase were never tallied by the sales tax authorities.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, here said some of the wholesale dealers might be indulging in making wrong entries in the C-form being submitted to the department every year. He added that so far the local authorities have not detected any such dealer.

Mr Kulwant Singh Brar, Joint Director, Enforcement Wing, said information was being collected regarding such dealers.

Meanwhile, some chemists expressed their opinion that if the authorities concerned managed to check the evasion of sales tax on the medicines being purchased from outside Punjab then it could also curb the entry of spurious medicines in the market of the region.

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