Sunday, March 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder loyalists seek action against dissidents
Condemn ‘negative’ role during HP poll

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
Immediately after the Congress victory in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, loyalists of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh prepared themselves to launch another offensive against that section of the Punjab Congress leadership, which allegedly played a negative role in the elections to show Capt Amarinder Singh in a poor light before the party high command.

Sources close to Capt Amarinder Singh today pointed out that party high command leaders, including AICC President , Sonia Gandhi, would be approached by the loyalists of Capt Amarinder Singh shortly to make them aware about the activities of Punjab Congress dissidents, who were trying to engineer party’s defeat in Himachal Pradesh election so that they could dethrone Mr Amarinder Singh, who remained a star campaigner before the polling.

The loyalists would use paper clippings of statements made by some dissidents, establishing the fact that they were ever trying to facilitate the defeat of the Congress in Himachal Pradesh. Besides, they would also highlight the fact that some prominent Congress leaders of Punjab did not go to Himachal Pradesh for campaigning for the party candidates during the election process. They would demand suitable action against such leaders.

Mr Surinder Singla, chairman, High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, said the victory of the Congress in Himachal Pradesh was due to the offensive launched against Mr P.K. Dhumal and his colleagues by Capt Amarinder Singh on the issue of corruption. The verdict given by people of Himachal Pradesh had endorsed the anti-corruption campaign launched by Capt Amarinder Singh in Punjab also.

He alleged that the BJP leadership, instead of giving explanation to the people about how Mr Dhumal acquired such a huge wealth, had started indulging in cheap tactics.

He said either the Press Council of India (PCI) should take suo motu cognisance of the publication of such photographs by a section of newspapers or the Congress leaders would approach it shortly. He added that mere certification of honesty issued to Mr Dhumal by Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, did not click with the voters of Himachal Pradesh, who today ousted the corruption-ridden BJP government from their state.


Akalis in LS for Mann as spokesman
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
In an endeavour to bring all Punjab MPs on a common platform to lobby for the interests of the people of the state in general and farmers in particular, the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has invited them to dinner on March 6 after all three Akali members of the Lok Sabha requested the Speaker to treat them as members of a single group.

This latest important development identifying Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the lone nominee of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) in the Lok Sabha, as the spokesman of the unified group is significant. Their unification is not only to secure a separate identity and time to speak on important issues, but also to get them better representation in the government and the Union Council of Ministers.

Interestingly, only last week, the Akalis cut across their political lineages, to plead the case of Mr Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, before the Deputy Prime Minister- cum-Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, and Mr Arun Jaitely.

The immediate issues that have paved for unity, at least on the floor of the Lok Sabha, are the Union Government’s proposal on Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural produce, increase in the defence Budget, non-payment of any compensation to farmers of border areas and ignoring the interests of Punjab , both in the rail and union Budgets.

Both Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur and Mr Zora Singh Mann representing the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), a partner in the NDA at the Centre, in their separate letters to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Mr Manohar Joshi, have complained that the Akali Dal is being ignored as only leaders of the main groups in the Lok Sabha are invited to speak on issues.

Mr Tur said in his letter that many a time he had sent chits to let Mr Simranjit Singh Mann speak on behalf of the combined strength of the Akalis in the House. He maintained that the Akalis were the principle representatives of the Sikh community. Mr Zora Singh Mann also clarified that this would not alter the stand of the SAD (Badal) as a member of the NDA as they would continue to support the NDA government.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann said MPs from Punjab, whenever in the Union Council of Ministers, had always held important portfolios, like Defence, Home, Foreign Affairs and Railways. But at present, the only portfolios given to Punjab MPs were Chemicals and Fertilisers and a Minister of State for External Affairs.

Mr Mann also pleaded for the construction of rail overbridges, construction of an international airport, a complete compensation package for farmers of border areas who could not cultivate their land due to the deployment of armed forces there for almost 18 months, besides strongly opposing freezing of the MSP as anti-Punjab and anti-farmer measures.

“Increase in the prices of fertilisers and diesel was another anti-farmer step,” Mr Mann said demanding that now when the government proposed to increase its defence outlay, it should have provided for the construction of nuclear shelters in Punjab as this border state faced the maximum security threat from neighbouring hostile Pakistan.


Bungling by Milkfed MD alleged
BKU for CBI probe into charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has levelled serious allegations of bungling against the Managing Director of Milkfed. Addressing a press conference at the Press Club here today, the General Secretary of the BKU, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, said the BKU wanted that the inquiry against the MD and the affairs of Milkfed should be handed over to the CBI immediately. If this was not done, the BKU would knock the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to pray for such an inquiry.

The BKU has also questioned the credibility of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau as far as holding probe into the affairs of Milkfed is concerned. Mr Rajewal said on May 1, last year, the BKU had met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, requesting him to order a vigilance probe into the alleged bunglings of Milkfed. The Chief Minister had asked the ADGP, Mr A.P. Pandey, to hold the probe. On the directions of Mr Pandey, the BKU recorded its statement against the MD of Milkfed on May 7 to an SP rank officer of the Bureau. What happened to the probe in the past 10 months is what the BKU, the complainant party, would like to know.

But since then, the BKU had been collecting more details with regard to other alleged bunglings in Milkfed. The Bureau was also requested to probe the assets of the MD. “We have lost faith in the Vigilance Bureau and want the inquiry to be handed over to the CBI”, said Mr Rajewal. The MD of Milkfed should be transferred to his parent department immediately. Milkfed was set up as an apex body to strengthen the milk movement in the state. But it had virtually started “looting milkplants by making them its fiefdom”, he added.

Mr Rajewal said without the approval of the elected Board of Directors, the MD had given the contract of supply of milk to private contractors in certain big towns which amounted playing a fraud with the milkplants concerned. He said these plants used to spend 88 paise per litre on the distribution of milk, but with the handing over of the supply to private contractors, the cost had touched Rs 1.20 per litre and that was paid by the milkplants concerned. Milkfed had sold “desi ghee” to certain select firms cheaper at least by Rs 10 to 12 per kg, he alleged.

The BKU has alleged that Milkfed was paying Rs 154 for per kg fat while its counterpart in Haryana was paying Rs 169, Milktime at Dera Bassi Rs 165, Milkfood Limited at Bahadurgarh Rs 163, Haryana Milkfood at Pehowa Rs 165 and Smithkaline at Nabha Rs 160. Milkfed was paying milk suppliers Rs 9.24 per kg for the milk having an average of 6 per cent fat, whereas its counterpart in Haryana was paying Rs 10.14, Milktime at Dera Bassi Rs 9.90, Milkfood at Bahadurgarh Rs 9.78, Haryana Milkfood at Pehowa Rs 9.90 and Smithkaline at Nabha Rs 9.60.

The providing of milk at less rates by Milkfed compared to others was a part of a big conspiracy of denying the supply of milk to milkplants being run by Cooperative Milkfed Societies and diverting the supply to private milkplants. He said the milk supply to milk plants in cooperative sector was decreasing, but it was increasing to private ones. Because of this factor, even the best Cooperative Milkfed plant at Ludhiana was facing financial problems and also there was the exploitation of farmers.

Dry milk powder even of the poorest quality was selling at a rate varying between Rs 68 and 70 per kg. But Punjab Milkfed was selling it at Rs 57 per kg to a Delhi firm and the per day loss suffered by Milkfed was around Rs 8 lakh. Ultimately, this loss was suffered by milk producers.

Two private plants hired by Milkfed for processing milk though milk plants in cooperative sector remain under utilised in this connection. About 1.5 lakh litre milk was being processed by these private milk plants for Milkfed and that cost Milkfed Rs 1.50 lakh per day. Milkfed was paying Rs 10 per km to transporters for the supply of milk to Mother Dairy in Delhi, while a private firm at Patiala had agreed to transport the milk to Delhi at Rs 8.50 per km. First the milk was taken from Patiala to Ludhiana and then from there to Delhi. It was also being done to benefit a private transporter, he added, at the cost of milk producers.

One old machine was brought from Australia at a cost of Rs 2 .38 crore. It was installed at Ludhiana and had not been functioning for the past five months. Normally, such second-hand machines were donated by countries like Australia to developing countries. There was also bungling about the purchase of veterinary medicines for various milk plants, he added. Talking about automatic milk collection machines, Mr Rajewal said the same machines had been bought at a rate of Rs 1,10,000 per unit by the Goa Milk Federation while Punjab Milkfed had paid Rs 1,48,232 per unit for 1000 machines. Why was there such a huge difference in the price, he wanted to know.

Milkfed had purchased a milk- packing film that was enough for the coming two and half years. Why was such a huge stock of the film purchased, he asked.


Unclear status compounds handicap of kidney recipient
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 1
From fighting for two years to get a disability certificate for himself and leading the struggle to get the same for other kidney recipients, Vishal Mohindra has come a long way. Vishal, who had to fight a two-year battle to get a disability certificate from the local Civil Surgeon in 1997, is still unsure of his status even as he gets ready to appear in the re-examination for PCS Executive posts in April next. This is because of ambiguity in the rules. While there is no scope for reservation of kidney recipients under the Disabilities Act of the Union government, the PPSC had recruited a kidney recipient under the handicap category in the batch, whose services were terminated.

Vishal wants to appear for the PCS examination again and wants to know whether the PPSC will accept the disability certificate issued by the District Civil Surgeon’s office. He has also written to the PPSC to make its stand clear on the issue, especially because it had selected a person with a similar handicap earlier. The young man, who has just completed his LLM despite several obstacles, says the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Chander Bhan Shastri had provided reservation to persons with one kidney in securing admission in various courses run by the state. He said this reservation was, ironically, not provided in jobs and that the policy of various state governments was not clear on this issue.

“Chronic renal failure is a serious disease and eats the person from inside”, Vishal said. He said such persons generally suffer from many ailments like cataract, glaucoma, skin problems, high sugar levels and high blood pressure. He said young kidney recipients like him had difficulty even in getting married with the government policy unclear on reservations. Vishal said the PPSC should not fill any of the vacancies meant for handicapped persons till the status of kidney recipients was made clear by the High Court in which a case in this regard is already pending.

He also feels the making of handicap certificates for kidney recipients should be streamlined. He said presently the issue was at the discretion of the Civil Surgeon’s Office. He said while he had got his certificate after a gap of two years, Deepak Kumar, a small-time dhaba owner of Patiala, who also had only one kidney, had stopped coming to the Civil Surgeons Office after failing to get the certificate despite constant endeavour.

Vishal’s plight began in 1992 when he had to undergo surgery for appendectomy and was later treated for hemocharia after his condition was wrongly diagnosed as brain tumour. It was at the PGI in Chandigarh that he was told that both his kidneys had shrunk and that he would have to undergo a transplant. It was in 1995 that he read a news report pertaining to some students of Haryana, in which the court ruled that persons with one kidney should be considered as physically handicapped. The ruling changed his life and he started the process of getting a disability certificate for himself and others also. He could not give his Main examination of the PCS Executive in 1998 because of uncertainty of his case even as another students were able to avail of reservation under this category.


IMA to boycott Escorts function
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
The ceremony of the inauguration of the prestigious Escorts, Heart and Superspeciality Institute has run into rough weather with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today deciding not to participate in the function due to the derogatory remarks allegedly used by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, against the medical fraternity.

Capt Amarinder Singh is the chief guest of the inauguration function which is scheduled to be held tomorrow.

Dr Harpreet Singh Ahuja, secretary, public relations, of the IMA in a press statement issued here today revealed that the Chief Minister had allegedly said that he (Chief Minister) had directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to pull up each every doctor involved in the kidney scam.

The association alleged that the Chief Minister also stated that he “does not care or bother about doctors”.

He said that the step had been taken on the direction of the Punjab state Indian Medical Association which had directed the doctors not to attend the opening ceremony of the institute.

The association also condemned the role of the Escorts management for inviting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for the inauguration function.


Council elections: nominations withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Dhuri, March 1
Out of the 113 nomination papers filed for the elections to 17 wards of the Dhuri Municipal Council, 22 nominations were rejected yesterday and 12 candidates withdrew their nominations today. Now 79 candidates have been left in the fray. The elections will be held on March 9. Mr Kesar Singh of the Congress had been declared unopposed from ward No 12.

As many as 192 candidates have been left in the fray for elections to three Municipal Councils of Mansa, Budhlada and Bareta and one Nagar Panchayat of Sardulgarh after 140 candidates withdrew their nomination papers on Saturday. Ms Parmjit Kaur and Mr Jaskarn Singh, both Independent candidates, were declared elected unopposed from ward Nos 8 and 21, respectively, of the local Municipal Council while Ms Raj Rani, an Independent candidate, was declared elected unopposed from ward No. 2 of the Bareta Municipal Council on Saturday. For the Municipal Council Mansa, 123 candidates had filed their nominations and 37 of them withdrew their nominations on Saturday, leaving behind 81 candidates in the elections arena for 19 wards. For the Budhlada Municipal Council 55 candidates had filed nominations and 20 withdrew on Saturday, leaving behind 35 candidates for 13 wards. For the Bareta Municipal Council, 65 candidates had filed their nominations out of which 27 withdrew on Saturday, leaving 36 candidates behind for 12 wards. For the Sardulgar Nagar Panchayat, 96 candidates had filed their nominations out of which 56 withdrew on Saturday, leaving 40 candidates in the field for 13 wards.

HOSHIARPUR: The Nagar Vikas Manch. constituted by local leaders of various political parties has announced its candidates namely Mr Shivcharan Kataria in ward No. 7; Ms Baldev Kaur in ward No 8; Mr Parminder Singh in ward No 9; Mr Mohan Lal in ward No 15; Mr Jagta Singh in ward No 16; Ms Manjit Kaur in ward No 17; Ms Savita in ward No. 20; Ms Kailash Rani in ward No. 26; Mr Dalbir Singh in ward No 27; Mr Ranjit Singh in ward No 25; and Mr Narinder Kumar Bagga in ward No 28.


SAD fears violence, rigging
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, March 1
Apprehending large-scale rigging and violence during the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, has written to the State Election Commission (SEC) for deputing additional force under the supervision of unbiased officers.

He said the state government had already deployed police personnel in plain-clothes to indulge in large-scale rigging to ensure victory for Congress candidates.

In his complaint to the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said: “The ruling Congress party, anticipating its defeat in the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat election to be held on March 2, has issued instructions to the Patiala police to deploy police personnel, inclined towards the ruling party, under a police officer of SP rank, to ensure victory of the Congress candidates”.

‘‘We are fearful of police repression during the polling process on March 2, 2003. You are requested to take steps to prevent the rigging in the election and ensure a free, fair and peaceful election,’’ he appealed.

Talking to The Tribune, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said: ‘‘Following an unfavourable report on the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat elections that was submitted by the Punjab Intelligence, the ruling Congress deployed additional Congress-minded cops here so that all possible methods of rigging be opted to ensure the victory of the Congress candidate on the same pattern as it used in the Zila Parishad and the Block Samiti elections.’’

‘‘I have also informed the Director-General of Punjab police and have sought his intervention to conduct free and fair elections to protect the constitutional right of the voter,’’ he claimed.

Besides requesting the print and electronic media to send their teams, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said he had also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association and the Patiala Bar Association to send teams of advocates to ensure free and peaceful polling.

The presence of media and different teams of advocates would also help in checking the misuse of government vehicles and other machinery by the police and other officials during the polling process.

He expressed the hope that the SAD-BJP combine would make a clean sweep during the Municipal Council elections saying the Congress had disappointed the public by withdrawing all benefits extended by the previous Akali government.


MC poll: 52 left in fray
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 1
After the withdrawal of nominations, 52 candidates have been left in the fray for 13 wards of Municipal Council Bassi Pathana in the district. The main contest is likely to be between the candidates backed by Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest, and Didar Singh Bhatti and Mr Rajesh Pal Singh Lalli senior Akali leaders. The SAD (A) has also fielded its candidates who are contesting on the party symbol.

Meanwhile, Mr R.S. Cheema, general secretary of the SAD, has expelled Mr Inderjit Singh Sethi, district general secretary of SAD (A) from primary membership of the party for anti-party activities and has served show cause notices, to Capt Ajaib Singh and Mr Jaswinder Dhillon, leaders of the party, for anti-party activities.


Trees drying and dying in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 1
Even as the authorities concerned have been trying to find the reasons for the death and dryness of a large number of kikar (Acacia nilotica) and tahli (Dalvergia sissoo) trees in Punjab over the past more than two years, the high mortality rate in the neem (azadirachata), maharukh (ailanthus) and Cassia manzium trees during the past three months has added to their worries.

What has become a subject of worry for the authorities is the fact that for the past two to three years, the state Forest Department has been promoting the plantation of neem trees, which have started drying up now. The department has set up a number of nurseries of neem trees in Punjab.

Worried over high casualty rates of the trees being used in Punjab for its afforestation, the Forest Department has engaged scientists of Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Himachal Pradesh, to find the reasons and suggest corrective steps.

Though the scientists who have made an on-the-spot investigation of drying and dying trees are yet to submit their report, the authorities are concerned over the massive destruction of trees resulting in the depletion of the forest cover over the past four months.

According to information gathered by TNS, thousands of kikar, tahli, neem, maharukh and other traditional trees in Punjab had either died or dried up in the past three to four months. The scientists say that growth in only old trees could revive while damage to the younger trees, which were two to three years old, was permanent.

Damage to the forest cover in Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Mansa, Moga and Muktsar districts has been severe with thousands of kikar trees drying up in the past three to four months.

Dr Avtar Singh, Scientist, Forestry, Regional Research Station, (RRS), Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Bathinda, told TNS pointed out that the long spell of intense fog in the current winter season could have resulted in this damage.

He added that due to severe climatic changes, which took place from 1995 to 2000 in Punjab, the kikar, tahli and other trees started dying and drying up.


Pension payment from banks opposed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 1
Resentment prevails among government pensioners over the transfer of pension payment from the government treasuries to the nationalised banks in the state.

A meeting of the Punjab State Pensioners Union of Sangrur district, held under the presidentship of Mr Avtar Singh, Kaptan, president of the union, here today criticised the letter, the Punjab Government transferring of pension payment from the treasuries to the nationalised banks, and urged the government to withdraw it.

Mr Vinay Kumar Gupta, president of the local unit of the union, said with this order of the state government, the pensioners would face difficulties in drawing pensions from the banks, as the banks would not be able to issue pension to hundreds of pensioners in a day due to shortage of staff in banks.

Mr Gupta added that a large number of class IV pensioners were almost illiterate and they could not even fill withdrawal form of the banks and could not be able to maintain record of pensions properly.

Mr Gupta said there were one lakh government pensioners in the state who would be in difficulty by the new order.

He said in view of the difficulties being faced by the pensioners they wanted the state government to withdraw the order soon.


Ban humour: Punjab artistes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A number of eminent Punjabi big screen and small screen stars, led by Jaspal Bhatti, today urged the Punjab Government to “ban humour” and designate the Principal Secretary to the Government for clearing all “songs, comedies and skits” before public performance.

A joint statement issued by Jaspal Bhatti, Gurpreet Ghuggi, Gik Grewal, Gursharan Singh, Deepak Raja, Prem Kakaria, Harbhajan Jabbal, Lali Gill, Surinder Farishta and Vinod Sharma, said the incident which took place at the Punjab Civil Secretariat with two eminent comedians, Jaswinder Bhalla and Bal Mukand Sharma, was shameful and threatened the freedom of expression of artistes.

“It seems as if it has become very risky now to crack jokes with full freedom in Punjab. In the times of rajas and maharajas, only court jesters could get away with any sarcastic remarks. But we feel this is not applicable in the court of Maharaja Amarinder Singh. We demand that humour and laughter be completely banned in Punjab and keeping in view the non-cultural environment in the state, no artist should dare to speak against the government or the Chief Minister. Every comedian should take permission to crack a joke from the Principal Secretary to the Punjab Government. Singers should only be allowed to sing in the praise of the government. Artistic expression should be gagged with an iron hand and the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister should be given complete powers to slap or beat any comedian, artiste or singer who does not fall in line with him,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, both Jaswinder Bhalla and Bal Mukand Sharma, in an unsigned statement, have said that the news items, which appeared in the media about yesterdays’ incident, were far fetched and away from the reality.

They said that yesterday, when they had gone to clarify their position about the comments they made at the Heritage Festival at Patiala, Mr S.K. Sinha refused to listen to them. “Nothing else happened,” they said.

They said there was a “high-level meeting at the residence of the Chief Minister today where their contribution to the Punjabi comedy was appreciated and Capt Amarinder Singh said he had taken no offence to their comments. Mr Sinha also said he was a great admirer of comedy and regretted his emotional outburst by leaving the programme in protest.”

“We feel the subsequent controversy was unfortunate. We appreciate the priority Capt Amarinder Singh gave to put an end to this unsavoury and unwanted controversy. We were neither prevented from going to the media nor threatened with any vigilance enquiry. We also appreciate the role of Mr Harchand Singh Barsht, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister. We also thank all those who stood by us,” they said in the statement written in Punjabi, while appreciating the support of Harchand Singh Barsht, Jaspal Bhatti, Jasbir Jassi, Hans Raj Hans, Sardool Sikander, Hardeep, Pammi Bai, Sukhi Brar, Sukhwinder Sukhi, Prem Kakaria, Sukhi Pawar and Dr Sukhnain.


‘Bring pollution under control’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 1
Mr Sharat Chander Mahajan, General Manager, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, yesterday said that the increasing pollution had been causing serious damage to environment and urgent steps were needed to be taken to bring pollution under control.

Mr Mahajan, addressing a gathering during the second phase of ‘Van Mahotsava’ at GNDTP colony said the only way to control pollution was by planting more trees, recycling paper and paper products and by saving energy. He said by saving power, constructing buildings which used maximum solar energy and cutting down wastage of power even the commonman could contribute to improve environment.

The GNDTP authorities had planted 3100 saplings in the first phase of the movement and 2500 more trees were being planted currently. Mr Mahajan said the colony would be developed into a ‘green colony’.


Vajra Corps celebrates Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 1
Vajra Corps celebrated its 53rd somewhere in the Western Sector today. Having drawn its name from the Lord Indra’s powerful thunderbolt ‘Vajra’, 11 Corps has been proving its mettle right since its inception on March 1, 1950. The corps was raised at Ambala under the leadership of Lieut- Gen Kulwant Singh, who was the first corps commander. Later the corps was commanded by Lieut Gen S.P. Thorat, Lieut-Gen V.P. Malik, Lieut- Gen H.B. Kala. Lieut-Gen Chaudhary and Lieut-Gen Kamal Davar. The battle honours of the corps, which was presently headed by Lieut-Gen K. Nagraj, included Asal Uttar, Dera Baba Nanak, Dogri and Barki.

On this occasion, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Vajra Corps War Memorial where Maj-Gen R.S. Jamwal, Chief of Staff, Vajra Corps, laid a wreath in memory of those soldiers who laid down their lives. 


‘Make Amritsar pilgrimage destination’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman National Minorities Com-mission, has urged Union Minister for Tourism, Mr Jagmohan to promote Amritsar as a pilgrimage destination on the pattern of Kurukshetra.

In a fax message here yesterday, the Chairman underlined the potential of the holy city here from the tourist point of view. He said even as lakhs of pilgrims from abroad come here to pay obeisance no special plan for strengthening infrastructure had been chartered out for it. He said few foreign flights operated from here and that too from Central Asia whereas no major city was connected in the country. Besides upgrading airport, there was a need improve facilities at the railway station and the bus stand. 


Canadian minister calls on Punjab CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Mr Tony Clement, Minister of Health and Long-term Care, Ontario (Canada), called on the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, here today to discuss the prospects of improving health-care services between Canada and Punjab, besides building a base for mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise.

Mr Clement informed Capt Amarinder Singh that Canada offered some of the best medical welfare and health-care programmes in the world with a vibrant economy. He mentioned that 45 per cent growth rate in the health-care budget and advance medical research and technology in Canada was noteworthy.


Bus pass row: PRSU men threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 1
The Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) has condemned the withdrawal of bus pass facility to thousands of students in the state.

In a press release issued here yesterday the union leaders, including Mr Amarjit Raju, state president, and Mr Harbans Sonu, state secretary, said the withdrawal of the bus pass facility had affected a large number of students.

The union leaders said with the withdrawal of concessional bus pass facility, a number of students might be compelled to drop their studies.

They warned the state government if that the PRSU would launch an agitation if the facility was not restored immediately.


Shivratri celebrated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 1
Shivratri was celebrated with gusto in a number of Shiv temples in the city on Saturday. Most of the temples saw a heavy rush of people. Patiala MP Preneet Kaur paid obeisance at Shiv Mandir in the Bishen Nagar locality here. Mayor Vishnu Sharma and party senior leader K.K. Sharma also visited separate temples on the occasion.

Abohar: Maha Shivratri was celebrated with fervour and gaiety in all temples here on Saturday. The main function was held at Brahmakumaris’ Rajyog Ashram on the Zohri Mandir road. Ms Ritu Garg was the chief guest. Hundreds of men and women were present.


3 arrested for NRI’s death
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 1
The police has arrested Jagmohan Singh of Raipur Rasulpur village, Jatinder Singh, alias Lucky, of Sarbha Nagar Reru and Avtar Singh of Reru near Jalandhar on charges of killing Mohan Singh, an NRI of Rasulpur village on February 23.

A press note issued by DSP, Harmanbir Singh Gill yesterday said NRI Mohan Singh was killed when these persons opened fire. They had come to attend a marriage where the deceased NRI was also present.

The arrests have been made under Sections 304, 336, 120-B, and 34 of the IPC and 25, 27, 54, 59 of the Arms Act.


Girl refuses to marry addict, abducted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
A girl (20) was allegedly abducted from her house in Rup Nagar locality by four persons including three women here last evening.

Jagdish Kaur, mother of the victim in a complaint has alleged that the four accused entered her house, locked her in a room and kidnapped her daughter in a car. The accused were identified as Gurpinder Kaur, a friend of the abducted girl, Baljit Singh (cousin of Gurpinder), Manjit Kaur and Mannu, mother and sister of Baljit Singh, respectively, all residents of Dyalpur. In the complaint she said Gurpinder Kaur had brought a proposal of marriage of Baljit Singh and her daughter. It was found that accused was a drug-addict and the proposal of marriage was rejected


Varsity probe into institutes of IT complete
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 1
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai today said that an inquiry into the establishing and functioning of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Guru Gobind Singh Institutes of Information and Technology, Bathinda and Patiala, respectively, had been completed and senior officials of the university and a very senior leader of a political party were involved in it.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Boparai said that these two institutes were set up during the tenure of his predecessor and many irregularities were committed. He said that an inquiry by the university had listed more than 40 acts of omission and commission. He said that some companies had been favoured and the process was replete with irregularities, falsehoods, misrepresentations and favouritism.

He pointed out that the 60-page report with documentary evidence against many persons occupying positions of responsibility in the university (he did not name former VC), would be submitted to the Punjab Vigilance Bureau for action. He declined to name any of the persons indicted in the inquiry report. He added that a prominent political personality could also be in trouble but again declined to name Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

To a question, Mr Boparai said that the students already admitted to these institutes would be seen through their courses and the university was committed to look after their interests. He said that the contract with the software company which was signed to start these courses had been terminated and an appeal by the company against it was pending before the Syndicate.

He disclosed that the university had decided to establish a chair of Gurmat Sangeet on the university campus and the year 2004 would be celebrated here as the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar.

He said that new job-oriented courses would be started here and preference would be given to local students.


Probe irregularities in college, says PCCTU
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 1
The district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today demanded a thorough and impartial probe into the various “irregularities”, allegedly committed by the management of Desh Bhagat College, Bardwal (Dhuri), with regard to the non-payment of salaries and arrears of revised pay scales to the teaching staff.

Prof P.K. Sharma, president of the district unit of the PCCTU, said the college teachers had not been paid their salaries for months although the DPI (Colleges), Punjab had sent grant-in aid to all colleges in Punjab up to November 2002. The teachers had also not been paid their revised pay scale arrears though the DPI (Colleges) had also sent arrears of revised UGC scales of the teachers.

He said the teaching staff of the college was also sore over the intimidating means, adopted by the college management, as its staff was being pressurised to accept salaries of only a few months and give receipts and signatures on more.

He said the district unit also assailed the college management’s decision of serving a charge sheet on Prof Dev Raj Himtanvi, a lecturer in political science in the college, and sending a resolution to the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, and Dean (Colleges), Punjabi University, Patiala, seeking their approval to stop economics and mathematics courses at the college. 


Education Dept intervenes in school row
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 1
The conflict between the Principal and the management of MG Ashoka Girls Senior Secondary School took a new turn today with the intervention of the state Education Department. The DPI (S), in an order to the DEO (S), Fatehgarh Sahib, has appointed her the correspondent of the school till further orders. The DEO (S) has directed the school Principal to submit the school record in her office.

The Principal had been under suspension for the past several months and the DPI (S) had revoked the suspension. The management had appealed to a tribunal against the decision. The dispute was over the issue of joining. The Principal and the management were not available for comments.

When contacted, Mr Gurcharan Lal, ADEO, said the office had received a communication from the DPI (S), office, appointing the DEO the correspondent.

Sources said the DEO office had made the Principal resume duty. She was also given a farewell by the staff on superannuation.

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