Saturday, March 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Oppn grills Finance Minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Opposition again raised today the issue of Mr Lal Singh not replying to the discussions on the Budget, which concluded in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha yesterday.

The matter was raised by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal during zero hour. He expressed concern over the “lowering” of the established traditions and dignity of the House by saying a goodbye to conventions. The Opposition was not satisfied with the way the issue of serious lapses on the part of Mr Lal Singh had been put on the back-burner.

He was joined by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who said: “The Finance Minister is guilty”. He asked the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, as to why was he showing such leniency to the Finance Minister, when he had broken the convention. He went on to say that “we will not now allow him to reply to the discussion on the Budget. He can speak only on the appropriation Bill”.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal stood up to say what for was zero hour if the Opposition members were not to be either given time to speak or allowed to raise issues? Why sit here at all”? He demanded that Mr Lal Singh must express his regrets for the lapse on his part.

As the Speaker disallowed any further discussion on the matter by members, the entire Opposition that had been on its legs reluctantly sat down but not before Mr Manpreet Singh said that it was not the done thing that while the Opposition was not allowed to speak, the treasury benches were allowed to postpone questions or seek extension on one pretext or the other.

Thereafter, normal business started. While the select committee Chairman laid on the table of the House its report on the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Bill, 2002, the Chairman of the committee on public accounts also presented the report.

Earlier, during question hour, the Minister of PWD, B and R, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, who had answered several questions on the deteriorated condition of road network, national, state, district and other key roads in Punjab, lamented the paucity of funds and discriminatory attitude of the Centre in releasing funds for projects already submitted for the past several months.

Mr Bajwa said even the Chief Minister had met the minister concerned but to no avail. He reiterated that in such matters of the state, the Opposition, Akali-BJP, which was a partner in the Centre, must come forward to discharge its responsibility in co-operating with the government in the larger interests of the state.

At this, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, stood up to ask if the minister would make available a copy of the pending road projects to enable him to help the state. Promptly, Mr Bajwa gave a copy to Mr Badal.

While replying to most questions, the ministers were found prefacing their replies with acerbic political comments and apportioning the blame to the previous government and then going about giving vague answers, much to the consternation of the MLAs. At times, the Speaker also intervened to demand proper replies. Capt. Kanwaljit Singh objected to the ministers blaming the Akalis to cover up their failures and faults or inabilities to find money for development. He demanded that the Speaker must check the ministers as well form making political statements and give to-the-point replies.

Today, the Opposition was on the offensive right from the beginning of question hour and occasionally found itself locking horns with the Speaker and asserting their right to raise issues of public and state interest. But the Speaker held his ground steadfast.


Confusion rules voting
Motion on grants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
There was commotion and confusion when the motion on grants related to the Budget estimates (2003-04) was put to vote at the fag end of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha session today.

When Speaker, Kewal Krishan, after discussions on four specific demands, put all 30 demands together to vote, there was a feeble response to his saying ‘’ayes’’ from the Treasury Benches, whereas, the ‘’nos’’ by the Opposition Benches echoed in the House. Capt Kanwaljit Singh quickly stood up and pointed out that since the Opposition outnumbered the Treasury Benches, the motion stood defeated and that the government must resign.

Taken aback, the Speaker immediately asked for ringing the bell. As the Vidhan Sabha staff ran helter-skelter to ask Congress MLAs to rush into the House, he hurriedly again put the motion to vote and later declared ‘’It has been carried’’, much to the consternation of the Opposition.

Even as Dr Kewal Krishan read out relevant Rules (84 to 87) from the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, saying that his decision could not be questioned, one could see Congressmen still rushing into the House. Abruptly, the Speaker adjourned the House till 10 am tomorrow.

Piqued at these actions and decisions of the Speaker, the entire Opposition stood up to protest demanding head count and resignation of the government. Capt. Kanwaljit Singh said it was now a matter of record that since the motion on demands for grants was put to vote and defeated, the government must, therefore, quit. It has lost on money matters’’. Protesting vehemently, the Akalis staged a walkout.

Later, talking to TNS Capt. Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal charged that the Speaker had saved the government by ignoring the Opposition’s protests and denying it justice. In fact, the government had made a mockery of all democratic norms, both inside and outside the House by its acts of omission and commission. It was also apparent that the Congressmen were more intent in spending time outside the House rather than inside on the deliberations, they added.

In all 30 demands for grants were presented to the House. Out of these, four related to agriculture, irrigation and power, health and family welfare and education, were singled out for specific discussions. Several members chose to speak on one or two of the demands of their choice. Rather than engaging in blatant rejection of grants, some Akali MLAs gave suggestions as well as a word of caution.

The grants were passed amidst the chaotic end to the discussions. Thereafter, only the Minister for Agriculture, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and the Minister for Education, Mr Khushal Behl, spoke.

The MLAs who participated were Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, who rejected out of hand the huge outgo on agriculture and wanted the government to justify the veracity and need for such money. He drilled holes in some of the proposals. Mr Tota Singh spoke on education. He urged the government to strengthen ‘’village vikas committees’’, set up at least four regional centres of the Punjab School Education Board for the convenience of students and fill all 18,000 vacant posts of teacher.

Mr Sadhu Singh wanted the posting of doctors in the village dispensaries and extension of same facilities to rural areas as obtain in urban settlement. Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi stressed on evolving a state population policy and greater stress on prevention of diseases. Rana K.P. Singh expressed concern over the deteriorating standards of education and lack of basic facilities of infrastructure and other essential items. He spoke feelingly about the menace of copying and growing disparities and discrimination between rural and urban educational institutions.

Ms Aruna Chaudhary said if economic growth and development were dependent upon agriculture, irrigation and power, human resource development was founded in good education and health and family welfare. She expressed concern over the declining standards of education and outsmarting of government educational institutions by private institutions.

Dr Rattan Singh drew the attention of the House to the absence of education in border villages, as also rampant absenteeism among teachers and students. ‘’The primary education system has been given a go by and copying is omnipresent’’. He demanded separate competitions and reservations for rural students, who were way behind in education and exposures, as compared to their urban counterparts. Mr Avinash Rai Khanna also made similar points.

In her reply, Ms Bhattal gave details of the recommendations of the Johl Committee report on diversification and the lukewarm response of the union finance ministry to it. She highlighted steps taken by the government in the past one year to enable farmers stand on their own feet and improve their economy and incomes.

While she listed the areas of concern like the declining water table, she also castigated those who had alleged that she had shown favours to MLA Raj Kumar Khurana in allotting him a contract for supply Gypsum.

Mr Khushal Behl, said henceforth teachers would not be put on election duties so as to ‘’apoliticise education and ensure that the teachers distanced themselves from politics’’. He asserted in the House that 18,000 vacancies of teachers would be filled on ‘’merit in a transparent manner’’.

Admitting a high dropout rate (25 per cent to 30 per cent) of students at the primary level or a high figure of children (3 lakh), who never went to school, Mr Behl said the government would provide all necessary facilities to attract students to schools . He also listed steps taken so far, including implementation of the ‘’Sarb Sikhiya Abhiyan’’ under which funds to the tune of Rs 130 crore had been released.


PUDA’s can of worms spills over
Sarabjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Cracks have appeared in the building of the subdivisional office complex even before its scheduled inauguration by the Chief Minister. The complex has been constructed at a cost of Rs 3 crore at Jalalabad by PUDA.

This has been revealed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha’s official business committee that has presented a detailed report in the House with regard to the functioning of PUDA. It appears that from the report PUDA is one of the worst managed departments, reeking with scandals.

The committee has questioned the quality of houses built by PUDA and has recommended recovery of the amount, to be spent to remove the poor quality work on buildings, from the officers concerned.

Take the case of the Jalalabad complex. The committee has recommended an inquiry against the officers concerned and identification of those who are involved in the use of poor-quality material in the complex building. The committee has not only urged for recovery of the amount to be spent on repairing the newly built complex building but also an entry in the service books of the officials found responsible for using substandard material.

The committee was earlier headed by Mr Hans Raj Joshan but following his elevation as Parliamentary Secretary, he was replaced by Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur.

PUDA officials concerned have admitted before the committee that nine cases have come to their notice where the technical staff have caused a loss to the authority. With regard to Malout, where the roof of the Institute of Management had collapsed immediately after its construction, PUDA officials have admitted a loss of Rs 84 lakh to the department.

Six officers were held responsible for it. Of these three officials who were on deputation from the PWD have been sent back to their parent department. Their charge sheet has been sent to the department for necessary action. One of the other three, who were from PUDA, have since been retired. A charge sheet will be sent to him. The others have charge sheeted.

Interestingly, the PUDA authorities have taken years to act in this case and issue charge sheets. This case was, in fact, detected by Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister for Urban Development in the Badal government. In fact, he had to face the wrath of PUDA officials who have joined hands against him.

Though it is a proven case of use of substandard material and structural design failure, PUDA has kept the matter caught in the web of official procedures instead of asking for recovery from all concerned and decisive action against the PUDA officials concerned. Another case is pertaining to the PUDA headquarters where a loss of Rs 13 lakh had been reported. PUDA has told the committee that on inquiry was on after charge-sheeting all concerned.

The committee has recommended that PUDA should stop taking officials on deputation. Those who had come on deputation from other departments and are responsible for any loss, its recovery should be made from them by writing to their parent departments.

The most interesting part of the report is regarding the construction of HIG, MIG and other houses at various places by PUDA. Hardly has there be on a place from where complaints have not been received regarding the use of substandard construction of such houses.

The first complaint was about the construction of 44 HIG houses at Patiala. An inquiry panel set up to check the quality of these houses came out with comments that quality of these houses was not as per the laid-down norms. One Subdivisional Engineer and three junior engineers have been chargesheeted in this case. The price of these houses has been slashed by 30 per cent.

Another case pertains to 117 MIG houses at Patiala. After the inspection of these houses by an inquiry panel, it has been recommended that a regular inquiry should be handed over to the Vigilance Bureau and the faults in the construction should be removed immediately. Another inquiry has been ordered into the construction of 784 MIG houses in sector 70 of Mohali. The report is connection.

In another case at Mohali 46 LIG rental houses have been repaired at a cost of Rs 1.94 lakh as substandard material was used for their construction. Besides, another inquiry has been conducted with regard to the use of poor quality wood in MIG houses at Mohali. The officials concerned have been charge-sheeted in this case and a decision has been taken to get the case registered against the contractor concerned.


Village telephones non-functional for year
Tribune News Service

Kusla (Mansa), March 28
“With the BSNL’s phone plus service, it’s convenience beyond your imagination.”

Thus reads the slogan coined by the BSNL to popularise its basic telephone services in every nook and corner of the country.

However, the slogan seems hollow for about 118 subscribers of this village who have been waiting for about one year for their telephone sets to function. Despite this, they have been shelling out money from their pockets to pay the periodical rent of their phones.

In a telegram to the Union Minister for Communication and other authorities concerned, the Telecom Users Welfare Association pointed out that though the subscribers had been running from pillar to post to get their telephones revived, nothing had happened.

The association, while demanding an inquiry into the matter, urged the Union Minister to make arrangements to remove the fault at the earliest so that the connections could be restored.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a section of subscribers of the village had been facing a number of problems while using their telephones despite the fact that the BSNL had been claiming that it had provided about nine services pertaining to different types of facilities to its subscribers to improve its customer care.

Mr Joginder Mohan, General Manager, Telecom, BSNL, when contacted, denied that about 118 telephones had been non-functional in the village. He, however, said that the telephones of the village were connected with the exchange which had the junction cable facility, which had been causing problems to the subscribers in making out-station calls.

He added that shortly the exchange would be provided with the optical fibre cable (OFC) facility and the subscribers would start enjoying excellent service within 15 days.

He said by the end of the next month, all exchanges would be connected with the OFC facility.


Kharar MC chief poll today
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 28
The election of the President and Vice-President of the local municipal council has been fixed for March 29 at 4 p.m.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Gill, SDM, here who has been deputed to hold the election, has written letters in this regard to all newly elected 15 members of the council and the local MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh.


Park fountain network in need of immediate repairs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 28
Tall promises seem to explain the predicament of the only one its kind fountain network installed in the Nehru Park in the city. Even though it has been repeatedly promised since the last four to five years that the deeply corroded fixtures would be replaced with a musical fountain network, nothing has been done to revive the present fixture itself.

The fountain network has been out of order since years. This is because most of the pipes and fittings of the fountains have been deeply corroded with the passage of time and are beyond repair. This means a large amount of space in the centre of the garden where the fountains have been installed to add beauty to the park, has not been utilised for years. Stagnant water in the fountain area is a nuisance, giving rise to mosquitoes which discourage visitors from visiting the park.

Due to non-running of the fountains which is the main attraction of the park, the park is not attracting the people it ordinarily should. A visit to the park revealed people sitting around in groups to play cards with hardly any regular walkers.

The corporation has been planning to revive the fountain network since years and had once also announced that a musical fountain would be set up at the place. However, present Municipal Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma, when contacted, said the idea of installing a musical fountain at the spot had been given up due to noise emanating from the residential locality next to the park as well as the Patiala-Rajpura road along which it is situated.

The corporation had claimed that work on replacement of the fountains would be started in March and would be over in April this year itself. However, the work has still to be started. The Mayor said a programme had been charted out to completely overhaul the park to make it more attractive. He said under this scheme, the fountain would be relaid. He said besides this two waterfalls would be installed in both corners of the Park. He said it had also been decided to increase the height of the grill railing along the park as there had been reports that anti-social elements had been misbehaving in the park.

The Mayor said besides Nehru Park, other important parks in the city had also been selected for development. These, he said, included three parks in Model Town , Anardana Chowk Park, two parks situated in Arna Barna chowk and one in Tripri. He said under the scheme, all the parks will be developed following which they would be given on lease to private parties who could used designated space inside them for marketing purposes.

Meanwhile, even though the corporation has plans to develop Nehru Park and replace its fountains, residents of the city also want that the gardens in the park should be better maintained.

Randhir Singh of Sirhindi Gate said permanent gardeners should be posted in the park, besides other employees to stop gambling and other vices being committed in it.


Sewerage project goes to Hyderabad firm
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Patiala National Capital Region Project was today kicked off with the allotment of Rs 25.07-crore turn-key sewerage project in the municipal area of the city to a Hyderabad-based company, M/s Ramky Engineers Pvt Ltd.

The sewerage component of NCR Project would be completed within 30 months. The contract was awarded by a high-level committee headed by Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary.

The 134 km sewer lines would be laid in the city to cater to old Patiala and newly developed bastis. The areas of the rear of the Thapar Institute of Technology and Centurion Enclave would be covered in Phase II of the project, in which 55 km of sewer lines would be laid. It would cost Rs 16.62 crore, said Secretary, Local Government, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal.

The concept of National Capital Region, Counter Magnet Programme, Mr Kaushal said was to reduce the inflow of population to Delhi by developing Patiala, as the regional nerve centre of socio-economic activity. The Government of Punjab had prepared an elaborate plan to upgrade physical, social and cultural infrastructure in Patiala. The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board had installed 21 new water supply tubewells in the municipal areas of Patiala in the past four months at a cost of Rs 2.25 crore, he added.


Horse show begins today
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 28
Even as the indigenous “Marwari” and “Kathiawari” horses will delight horse lovers by displaying delightful feats along with their riders, horse owners and breeders from across the country will share their experiences at the two-day state-level Equire show being organised by the Punjab Animal Husbandry Department from tomorrow at the Shahid Darshan Singh kaypee Stadium here.

The show, according to the department, will provide a rare chance to horse lovers to enjoy a host of events at one place— breed competitions of horses and mules, tonga-rehra race, trick riding, dancing mares, tent, pegging martial arts display by riders besides discussions on management of horses, their diseases and financial viability in today’s context.

“The show is likely to be a nodal point for exchange of information by horse lovers and breeders from across the country. Punjab has already been sending horses to different race courses of the country,” said Dr G.S. Chahal, Director Animal Husbandry, Punjab, adding that the total horse-pony population of the state was around 33,000 as per the 1999 livestock census. He said after the show, more farmers were likely to adopt new and advanced horse-breeding techniques. “This will be another step towards diversification of agriculture in the state,” he added.

The show would be inaugurated by the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee.


Councillor’s complaint lacks substance: SSP
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, march 28
A woman councillor of the Congress has complained to the police that her husband was taken away by Major H.S. Bhullar, OSD to the Chief Minister, Punjab, on the penultimate day of the election for the Municipal Committee president. The election was slated to be held on March 22, 2003 but later it was postponed.

She also alleged that Mr Bhullar wanted her to vote for a group aligned with the BJP, which she refused.

Mr Bhullar termed the allegations as baseless. He said that he neither tried to influence anybody to vote for a group nor he forced anybody to his house.

Without naming any person, Mr Bhullar said the PA of an influential leader was behind the incident.

Mr Gurdev Singh, husband of the woman Municipal Councillor, Veerpal Kaur, in a statement to the police denied that he was taken away by Mr Bhullar but Ms Veerpal Kaur said that her husband was afraid of the position of Mr Bhullar due to which he was concealing the facts.

At a press conference today, called by Mr Gurdeep Singh Dhillon, MC, who is PA to Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, MLA, Political Secretary to the CM, Ms Veerpal Kaur handed over an affidavit of her allegations.

Later talking to reporters Mr Dhillon alleged that Mr Bhullar had worked against the interests of the Congress party in the recently held civic elections.

Mr Dharampal, former general secretary, Youth Congress and Mr Javed Akhtar MC and Mr Amritpal Singh, who is also a PA to Rana Sodhi, were also present at the press conference. Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, said that the police had received a complaint from Ms Veerpal Kaur but after investigations the police found no truth in the story.


SSP told to submit report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Mystery surrounding the disappearance of a Mansa district resident’s minor daughter trudged towards a solution with a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing the Senior Superintendent of Police to submit progress report regarding the recovery of the girl.

Apprehending murder or forced prostitution, besides the existence of human trafficking racket, her father Jangir Singh had earlier moved the High Court seeking directions to the state of Punjab and Mansa’s SSP for handing over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation “so that the true facts may come to light”.

In his petition, the father — a farmer of Lohgarh village — had claimed that the family had gone to sleep on August 31 last year, but found 16-year-old Arshdeep missing from her cot in the morning. All attempt to trace her had proved futile.

He had added that a first information report was registered after the matter was reported to the police on September 23 last year under Sections 363, 366 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. Accused in the case were also arrested, but the police failed to recover the alleged victim.

Counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the accused were members of a gang involved in selling village girls for flesh trade. Chances were that the girl had been sold off, or might have been killed. He had added that the petitioner had even contacted the Senior Superintendent of Police and had prayed for his daughter’s recovery. An application was also submitted, but the SSP expressed his inability after stating that the accused were related to “influential leaders of the ruling party” and could not be interrogated for recovering the petitioner’s daughter.


Rail passengers stranded
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 28
A large number of passengers many of whom were going to a religious place at Sirsa, were stranded at the local railway station this afternoon as a train bound for Sirsa was full to capacity.

While the passengers complained that the railway authorities had failed to make adequate arrangements in view of the rush of passengers, the railway authorities said it was not possible for them to arrange for extra coaches at the eleventh hour.

The passengers said they had urged the railway authorities on many occasion to arrange for special trains on weekends so that all the them could visit the shrine without any inconvenience whatsoever. However, the railway authorities had not taken any step in this regard, they alleged.

The railway authorities should not have issued them tickets if the train could not accommodate all of them, they said.

At least 100 passengers, most of them from the city, got the fair refunded while those from neighbouring towns and cities did not have any option but to stay at the station. They said they had to face inconvenience every time they visited Sirsa.

Mr M.L. Meena, Station Superintendent, said it was not possible to accommodate all passengers in the train.

He said the authorities had asked the passengers to get their fares refunded, but if some of them wanted to wait for the next train, it was up to them.

He said if he received an application about running a special train on the weekends, he would inform the authorities and a decision in this regard would be taken by them.


‘Give heritage status to Durgiana temple’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 28
The Durgiana Committee has written to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to bestow world heritage status on the temple befitting its ancient roots (Pracheen Hanuman Mandir).

In a statement Mr Surinder Arjun, administrator of the committee, said the Golden Temple and the Durgiana temple had become most reverent pilgrimage shrines in north India. To dispel the notion of sidelining this great temple connected with Ramayana, the government should make allout efforts to bring it on the world heritage sites like the Golden Temple. The temple complex also houses Laxmi Narayan Mandir, Bara Hanuman Mandir and others.

He also requested the President who visited the temple on his Amritsar visit a few days ago to intervene in the matter of allotting defence land where Dasehra is held in the name of the temple. A memorandum in this regard was earlier presented to the President.

Meanwhile the Durgiana Committee has announced to undertake “kar seva” of the temple in mid April. A meeting of its committee is likely on March 30.


32 gift buses leave for Afghanistan
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), March 28
Thirty-two buses rolled onto Pakistan from the joint check post (JCP) here at 1 p.m. today for Afghanistan. Thirty-nine persons accompanied the buses, including the leader, Mr Mohammed Sif Dir of Mili Bus Authority Ministry of Transport Afghanistan government, 34 drivers, three mechanics and another staff members.

Till now 224 buses have been gifted to the war-torn country of which 199 were built by Tata Telco, Ashok Leyland till now, sent a fleet of 25 buses. Mr Mohammed talking to The Tribune said India was the first country to have provided such significant aid to his country and Iran was the second such country.

He urged the Indian authorities to set up a workshop for repair and maintenance of buses in Afghanistan. He also sought for mini-buses from the Indian government.

The ministry official added that buses gifted by India were running on 39 routes in Kabul and Kandahar and shortly more routes would be covered with new fleet of buses. The buses were received by Mr Mohammed Hamraz Second Secretary Embassy of Afghanistan in Pakistan. Meanwhile, a fleet of 25 buses of Ashok Leyland are awaiting clearance for tomorrow to proceed to Afghanistan.


VB raid on MC ex-chief’s house
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 28
Sleuths of the Vigilance Bureau today raided three houses at Sujanpur including former president of the Municipal Council Vinay Mahajan and reportedly seized certain important documents in connection with the alleged job scam and other irregularities committed during his term as president.

According to sources the raids were conducted in the morning, in connection with recruitments by the former president allegedly against rules. The other house which were searched by the raiding party were of Girdhari Lal and Surinder Kumar, both former municipal councillors. Mr Vinay Mahajan, was not present at his house at the time of raid .

According to reports the authorities have Registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act at Jalandhar against Mr Vinay Mahajan and Others.

After the raids a majority of shops were closed in protest against the raids. Residents raised anti government slogans, According to the residents the raids were conducted at the behest of a local Congress leader.


PSEB, IT offices open on weekend
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to keep all its offices open on March 29 and March 30 to ensure that consumers can clear pending work, including issue of first bill, clearance of defaulting amount, short assessment and overhauling of accounts. A board press note issued here said all cash counters of the board would remain open on the two days to facilitate the consumers.

Meanwhile, the offices of the Income Tax Department under the administrative control of the Commissioner of Income Tax, Patiala, will remain open on March 29 and March 30 to facilitate the filing of returns.


PSEB connections: notice to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Acting on a petition challenging the decision of the Punjab State Electricity Board against releasing connections in the periphery of Chandigarh without obtaining a no-objection certificate from the Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents for April 3.

In his petition, Nayagaon resident Kaka Ram Dogra and another petitioner had contended that such restrictions were not permitted under the India Electricity Act and rules. The circular issued by the PSEB was, therefore, infringing the petitioners’ fundamental right.


Airport project to be completed in December
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 28
The Pathankot Civil Enclave of the Indian Air Force base, which is being developed to handle civil traffic, would be commissioned in December.

This was stated here today by Dr Samrinder Sharma, political secretary to Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India.

With the completion of this project, people of this area and tourists would have better air connectivity with other destinations in the country.

The Punjab and Himachal Pradesh Governments are cooperating with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the completion of the project.


SGPC budget today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 28
The annual budget of the SGPC (2003-04) will be presented to the general house on March 20. The general secretary of the SGPC, Mr Hardalbir Singh Shah, in a press release said budget proposals for Sikh gurdwaras under Sections 85 and 87, Dharam prachar, educational institution being run by the SGPC and printing press would be discussed.

The SGPC today passed the annual budget of Shri Guru Ramdass Medical College, Dental College, Cancer Hospital and Guru Ram Dass Charitable Hospital for 2003-04.

The budget also approved special grants for the purchase of latest medical equipment.


Ex-sarpanch killed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 28
Paramjit Singh Sheron, a former sarpanch of Sheron village, near Sunam, was killed last night at his residence when his revolver went off and the bullet hit him, killing him on the spot.


MC passes budget of Rs 9.81 crore

Phagwara, March 28
An annual budget of Rs 9.81 crore for 2003-04 of the Phagwara Municipal Council was passed here today at the council’s special meeting, presided over by its president Malkiat Singh Ragbotra.

All councillors attended the meeting except Manmohan Sharma of the Congress and Rakesh Duggal of the BJP.

According to the council president, 58 per cent of the budget would be spent for the development of the town. He said Rs 1 crore would be spent on street lights, Rs 80 lakh on water supply, Rs 45 lakh on sewerage, Rs 32 lakh on repair of roads and streets and Rs 32 lakh on drainage.

Meanwhile, BJP councillor Arun Khosla raised objections to the sanction of Rs 10 lakh for the construction of the Municipal Bhavan at SAS Nagar. UNI


Sudhir Mittal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Mr Sudhir Mittal, Chairman of the PSEB Patiala, will also look after the work of the Secretary, Power, during the leave period Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Irrigation and Power, from 31.3.2003 to 7.4.2003.

Mr Phulwant Singh Sidhu, Special Secretary, Irrigation, will submit immediate matters directly to the Irrigation Minister during the leave period of Mr Kashyap, according to Mr Y. S. Ratra, Chief Secretary.


Case against SAD workers ‘motivated’
Our Correspondent

Patti, March 28
The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 332, 333, 186, 188 149 of the IPC against 33 SAD workers who allegedly pelted a police party with stones. However, according to Mr Rajinder Pal, DSP, no arrests have been made. Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, SAD MLA from Patti, yesterday allegedly that the case registered against the Akali workers was politically motivated as during the elections of office-bearers for the Patti Municipal Council, Congress workers had indulged in violence to get their nominee elected as president since there was a tie as both parties had equal number of members.

The DSP said seven SAD councillors has gone underground to prevent harassment. According to the information on March 25 elections to the Patti Municipal Council had to be postponed due to scuffle between two warring factions of the councillors.


Loan misused; 3 arrested by VB
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 28
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Manager, Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADV), Budhlada, Mr Gurpiar Singh, Sarpanch of Maghainia village of Mansa district, and Mr Parveen Kumar, owner, M/s Shiv Shakti Dyeing and Tent Works, Bathinda, for their alleged involvement in sanctioning a Rs 10-lakh loan to Mr Gurpiar Singh on the basis of fake documents for setting up a tent house and later diverting the money for some other purpose.

In a press note issued here yesterday, the SSP (Vigilance Bureau), Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, said a case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered.

He said following a tip-off, the bureau came to know that Mr Gurpiar Singh had taken a loan from the PADV for setting up a tent house but used the money for some other purpose.

Following an inquiry into the case, it was found that Rajinder Singh, Field Officer, who later died, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Gurpiar Singh and Mr Parveen Kumar had managed to get the loan on the basis of fake invoices.

The inquiry also established that Mr Gurpiar Singh had purchased a piece of land by using the sanctioned loan. Interestingly, officials had also given Mr Gurpiar Singh a utilisation certificate for using the loan for the purpose it had been sanctioned for.

As per the records of the bank, it was shown that Mr Gurpiar Singh had purchased some equipment from M/s Shiv Shakti Dyeing and Tent Works and had shown that the money sanctioned by the bank had been paid to the firm through a cheque.

However, during the inquiry, it was found that no such purchases were made by Mr Gurpiar Singh and fake documents had been prepared to show the purchase.


Addict sets mother afire
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 28
Kuldeep Singh, a drug addict, today brunt his mother Bhagwant Kaur to death at their Paras Ram Nagar residence. The incident took place in the morning.

Police sources said Kuldeep Singh, who was addicted to petrol sniffing for the past many years, poured the same on his mother and set her on fire. Kuldeep Singh did this when his mother objected to his sniffing petrol.

After setting his mother on fire, Kuldeep Singh fled the scene. Bhagwant Kaur, who suffered more than 90 per cent burn injuries, was shifted to Civil Hospital where she died.

A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered.


MC executive officer held

Tarn Taran, March 28
Jagtar Singh, executive officer (EO) of the local municipal council, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau today from his office under the Anti-Corruption Act.

According to the information available, the accused, Jagtar Singh, has been found guilty of committing irregularities in the recruitment of seven employees when he was the EO at the Sujanpur Municipal Council (Gurdaspur). The matter was investigated by the council and the vigilance also in which Jagtar Singh was found guilty and a case under Sections 409, 120B and 13 of the Anti-Corruption Act was registered by the Vigilance. The four-member team of the Vigilance was headed by Mr Udham Singh, Inspector, Vigilance.


One arrested for export fraud
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 28
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has arrested Gaurav Kirpal, a partner of M/s Kirpal Exports, Ludhiana, on charges of misusing advance licence granted by the DGFT.

According to Mr B.S. Nunwal, Joint Director, Revenue Intelligence, the firm was allowed to import duty-free raw material for woollen garments. It had imported raw material worth Rs 33 lakh, involving customs duty of Rs 15 lakh.


Travel agents booked
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 28
The district police has booked travel agents on charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy in three separate cases.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said in a press note here today that Mr Mohanjit Singh of Bahadurpur village in Gurdaspur alleged that Gagandip Singh had approached him through a friend and offered to send him to Israel. The complainant paid him Rs 10,000 for the preparation of a passport and subsequently Rs 3 lakh was paid to Gagandip Singh.

However, neither complainant was sent abroad nor the money was returned. A case under Sections 406, 420 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered.

Meanwhile, the police, acting on a complaint filed by Mr Sushil Kumar of Mangat village in Nawanshahr, has registered a case under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC against Kishan Lal and Resham Singh of Phillaur.

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