Friday, April 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC to file plea for becoming party to 1984 riots case
Tribune News Service

Malooka (Bathinda), April 3
In a significant statement, the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, today said the SGPC would file an appeal in the Delhi High Court to become a party to the case pertaining to the massacre of Sikhs during November 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Prof Badungar, who was here today in connection with some religious function, while talking to some selected mediapersons, pointed out that there was great resentment among the Sikhs against the Centre Government’s apathetic attitude towards filing an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the decision of the sessions court, which had acquitted the accused of 1984 Sikh massacre. He added that the SGPC would file an appeal against that order before April 7. Apart from it, the SGPC would bear the expenses of all appeals filed in the Delhi High Court against the judgement of sessions court by widows of riot victims.

The Sikhs are agitated over the fact that the Union Home Ministry has not so far asked the CBI to file an appeal against the judgement of the sessions court, which acquitted the accused of anti-Sikh riots despite the fact that the last date of appeal is April 7,” pointed out Prof Badungar and added that it was time for the Centre Government to pacify members of the Sikh community whose tempers were also running high over the death sentence awarded to Prof Devinder Pal Singh Bhuller in the bomb blast case.

The SGPC chief also expressed his displeasure over the fact that LPG was being supplied to Golden Temple by different agencies at commercial rates though the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, has promised domestic rate when he along with Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, met him in this connection in Delhi.

He also expressed his displeasure over the fact that the Centre Government had not allowed the SGPC to send big jathas to Pakistan for visiting Sikh shrines despite the fact that tension between India and Pakistan had de-escalated. Apart from it, the Centre Government was not allowing for sending Jathas to Afghanistan and Bangladesh for starting upkeep of Sikh religious places in those countries.

Regarding the Akali unity, he said he was not a hurdle in the Akali unity and said he would abide by the decision taken by the President, SAD (B), Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said Akal Takht could play a role in Akali unity only when all groups concerned expressed their willingness for it.

Earlier, Prof Badungar honoured Baba Harbans Singh Dilliwale and others for completing the kar seva of local historical Taru Sahib Gurudwara. He added that the SGPC had increased the budget for religious preaching and expansion and on education.


Badal, Tohra may come together on Baisakhi
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 3
The formal announcement of unity of the parties led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra may be made on Baisakhi.

Takht Damdama Sahib sources said moves from different quarters had been initiated to bring the different factions of the Akalis led by Mr Badal, Mr Tohra and others on a single platform on the occasion of Baisakhi for making a formal joint announcement of unity.

The sources added that various Sikh religious and social organisations, apart from some political and other prominent figures, had been putting pressure on Mr Badal and Mr Tohra to sink their differences for making the Sikh Panth strong in order to fight anti-panthic forces. Prominent persons had been trying to make Mr Badal and Mr Tohra understand that Sikhs were being marginalised and unity was the need of the hour.

Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, when contacted, expressed his strong desire for unity among Mr Badal and Mr Tohra. He said the only indication regarding unity among the SAD and the SHSAD was coming from the fact that neither had moved separate applications to the Takht for the allotment of space for holding their respective conferences on Baisakhi. He added that Mr Badal and Mr Tohra were capable leaders and they did not need any mediator. He said unity was a must for the betterment of the Sikh Panth.

A senior functionary of Takht Damdama Sahib, on the condition of anonymity, pointed out that a meeting of prominent Sikh personalities, including functionaries of the SAD and the SHSAD, was being held in Chandigarh this evening in connection with Akali unity.

Meanwhile, five Independent MLAs have started making arrangements for holding a separate conference here for the first time.

Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, MLA, Talwandi Sabo, when contacted, confirmed that he, along with Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar, MLA, Muktsar, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, MLA, Rampura Phul, Mr Harmeet Singh, MLA, Tarn Taran, and Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur, MLA, Dhariwal, had held a meeting in the Vidhan Sabha recently to discuss the matter pertaining to holding a separate conference.

He added that the proposal of holding a separate political conference had been accepted by all MLAs and now the people of this Assembly constituency were being taken into confidence. He added that if the conference was organised, all MLAs would press the state government to fulfil its promises to the people. The problems of the people would be brought to the notice of the state government.

He pointed out that a separate political conference would also establish the fact that they were with no party and had their independent identity.


Operational faults caused 417-cr loss: CAG
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Comptroller and Auditor General ( CAG) has found several operational faults causing loss worth several hundred crores at the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar.

The CAG report says that the actual generation at the plant was less as compared to “ possible generation” during all five years up to 2001-02. The total shortfall in generation during the five-year period was to the tune of 2197.05 million units, worth Rs 417.11 crore.

The percentage of plant availability factor of the whole plant showed downward trend during the four years, from 85.42 in 1997-98 to 80.99 in 2000-01, but increased to 88.15 next year. However, plant availability was below the norm of 80 per cent recommended by the Rajadhyaksha Committee in respect of Unit -1 during 1997-98 ( 72 per cent), 1998-99 ( 63 per cent ) and 2001-02 ( 77 per cent). The availability factor in case of Unit 11 and Unit 111 was also almost the same.

As far as the overhauling of boilers is concerned, four overhaulings of boiler were got done during 1998-2002. The actual time taken ranged from 49 to 68 days. However, as per the standard set by the Kulkarni Committee, the outer limit fixed for such overhauling is 45 days. The excess time taken was worked out to 65 days that resulted into the generation loss of 246.07 MUs worth Rs 15.09 crore. The board authorities, when asked in this connection, said the PSEB had not adopted the Kulkarni Committee report and so it was not applicable to the Ropar power plant. The plea was not tenable because the recommendations of the expert committee appointed by the Union Government could not be ignored by the board, the CAG report said.

The report has highlighted the improper repair of generator rotor at plant site. The plant authorities engaged the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited ( BHEL) in November, 1999, for carrying out inspection and to overhaul the rotor No. 544 of Unit IV. The BHEL was to provide guarantee of 30 days after repair and commissioning of the unit for any loss due to bad workmanship. On being put to use on January 26,2000, after overhauling, high vibrations were observed in generator bearing and the turbine had to be stopped.

After restart on January 29, high vibrations were again observed and the BHEL declared imbalancing in the rotor. The rotor was replaced on February 7 with another spare rotor bearing No. 523. The BHEL made checking of the imbalanced rotor at the plant site and declared that the rotor was in satisfactory condition and could be used in any machine. On August 24, Unit IV tripped because of a rotor earth fault. Its rotor was replaced with rotor No. 544 which was declared in “satisfactory condition” by the BHEL experts.

However, high vibrations appeared again on generator bearing. The BHEL experts were again allowed to balance the rotor at the plant site. Finally, the machine was rolled on September 27 but it again failed. At last the rotor No. 544 was taken out of the machine and sent to the BHEL factory at Haridwar for balancing at a cost of Rs 19.70 lakh. Because of the repeated faults caused by imbalanced rotor, there were a number of forced shutdowns in the plant and in all it caused a power generation loss worth Rs 6.99 crore. The board did not claim loss from the BHEL on the plea that the latter seldom committed such negligence. The CAG report says that the plea was not acceptable because the BHEL was required to compensate to the board for loss as per terms of the work order.

The excess consumption of coal to the tune of 40.74 lakh tonne caused a loss worth Rs 772.68 crore during the five years up to 2000-01. There was also excess consumption of oil worth Rs 8.59 crore in 1999-2000 and the next financial year. The board replied that the excess consumption of oil was due to the poor quality of coal leading to break-down of coal mills. The reply was not tenable as the excess oil consumption was only during 1999-2000 and 2000-01 when the plant was fed with superior quality imported coal from September, 1999, to October, 2000. There was extra expenditure on coal handling. The tender for coal handling were allotted at high rates, ignoring the low rates without any justification. And it led to extra payment of Rs 38.94 lakh to contractors from May 1997, to March, 2002.


PSEB to ‘empower’ panchayats
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 3
The Punjab State Electricity Board has taken some action on the request made by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats for supplying power through village panchayats to generate additional income for them and ensure an optimum utilisation of electricity through community participation.

The board has now decided to distribute power from one point and measure units sent out in the secondary side of distribution transformers feeding a village. A check meter will also be installed on the 11 KV side to ensure an accurate recording of the energy consumed on the LT side, as it is easier to tamper the meter on the LT side than the one on the 11 KV side.

The responsibility of installing and maintaining the system, releasing new connections, extending load, replacing defective meters and attending to complaints will remain of the PSEB. However, later, if a panchayat is ready to maintain the distribution system after developing requisite technical skills, the responsibility will be passed on to it.

The meter readings from individual consumers will be taken by representatives of the panchayats and sent to the PSEB for preparing bills that will be handed back to them for further distribution at their level.

The panchayats will be responsible for timely payment of bills raised on the basis of single-point metering, for which, rebates will also be allowed. The board will deduct 10 per cent distribution loss from the total consumption recorded and allow 5 per cent service and handling charges on the billed amount.

Late payment will attract surcharge and disconnection as per the PSEB rules. The supply to individual defaulters will be disconnected by the panchayats with the assistance of the board staff. Any other assistance sought will be given by the PSEB.


FACT facility at PPA soon
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
An ultramodern computerised fingerprint analysis and criminal tracking facility will soon become operational at Punjab Police Academy’s (PPA) Fingerprint Bureau at Phillaur.

Though the bureau, which is under the computer wing of the Punjab police, maintains a record of about half a million fingerprints of both convicts and undertrials, with the introduction of computerisation in the bureau, the intake capacity would multiply manifold and facilitate instant fingerprint mapping and matching for faster identification of law-breakers.

“We are going for FACTS — fingerprint analysis and criminal tracking system — software for our new computerised lab, the building plans of which are ready,” says Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional Director-General of Police, Computerisation, disclosing that orders for the supply of hardware and software, including terminals, server, scanners, monitors, printers and operating systems have already been placed. The entire project, he says, will cost Rs 1 crore.

Mr R.P. Singh, DIG, Computerisation, says that the entire plan of computerising the police stations and the introduction of computerised fingerprint analysis has been approved by the Department of Information Technology of the Punjab Government. At present, there are different vendors offering different software packages but the state has opted for FACTS of the CMC group for the Fingerprint Lab and CCIS for police stations.

“The computerisation of fingerprints of both convicts and undertrials would not only facilitate foolproof and quicker investigations but also eliminate malpractices prevalent in the manual finger print matching system,” adds Mr R.P. Singh.

Many states, including Jammu & Kashmir, have already gone in for computerised fingerprint analysis. Such systems have given very good results even in tracking down known criminals.

Another important factor has been the complexities involved in the rapidly changing crime trends. Only reliable scientific tools and software can help in detect and solve many present day criminal cases, especially those relating to white collar or economic crime.

“The Finger Bureau staff would be trained in house to operate these highly sophisticated gadgets,” reveals Mr R.P. Singh, saying that the help of some cyber-savvy NGOs would also be solicited in crime detection and regular upgradation of the software.



Judicial remand for Vigilance IG Reader

Kharar, April 3
A local court today remanded Harnam Singh Rana, Reader to Punjab Vigilance Bureau Inspector-General S.M. Sharma, in judicial custody till April 11.

He was arrested on March 31 by bureau sleuths in a case of corruption, criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy registered against him at the Vigilance Mohali police station on March 29.

He is alleged to have passed certain confidential information of the Department to Gurcharan Singh Chahal, the Punjab Animal Husbandry Director, Punjab Poultry Development Corporation Managing Director and Punjab Live Stock Development Board Chief Executive Officer. Chahal, who was arrested on March 29 in a case of corruption by the vigilance, is under judicial remand till April 10.

Judicial Magistrate Preeti Sahni, while rejecting the prosecution’s request for extending Rana’s police remand, today directed them to produce the accused before a special court at Ropar on April 11 for further remand-related matters. After nailing several top politicians and bureaucrats on corruption charges, the Vigilance Bureau for the first time targeted one of its own men for favouring corrupt bigwigs and leaking confidential information and official documents to the accused for some consideration.

The bureau sleuths had found a photocopy of an office order given by the IG in the case against Chahal during search of Chahal’s place on March 29, the Vigilance sources said. UNI


Drug addict sells teenaged daughter
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), April 3
Fourteen-year-old Reema (name changed), a resident of Nangal was allegedly sold by her father, a drug addict, under the pretext of marriage on March 30.

Investigations by this correspondent revealed that the father, initially struck a deal with Dharam Raj to give his teenaged daughter in marriage to him in lieu of Rs 25,000. However, later he tried to sell her to certain Samrala-based persons.

When these persons came to take away the girl, Dharam Raj and his associates came to Reema’s house and claimed first right over the girl. The former left and the girl was taken away by Dharam Raj after a simple marriage ceremony at the local temple.

Reema was to appear in her class X examinations this year. Her teachers say she was a good student. However, she did not deposit the examination fee for appearing in the board examinations. Hence, her name was struck off the school register in October 2002.

As per the school records, Reema is 14 years and eight months. Hence, her marriage before the age of 18 is illegal.

The matter was reported to the Nangal police which this morning picked the girl from the residence of her husband. The DSP, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Varinder Brar, when contacted, said the police would get the girl medically examined.

Sources said her father had also been questioned. He had admitted taking Rs 5,000 from Dharam Raj in lieu of marrying his daughter to him.


Hike in legislators’ incentives flayed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
Mr Hardev Arshi, CPI leader and former MLA, has criticised the decision to increase the salaries and allowances of ministers and MLAs, terming the additional burden of Rs 8 crore on the state exchequer as unjustified.

Mr Arshi, in a statement here today, said the Congress was raising a hue and cry about the empty state exchequer and had imposed a ban on new appointments. From where did it get the money for spending on ministers and MLAs, he asked.

He alleged that development works had taken a back seat due to scarcity of funds, the government had failed to provide monetary help to the agriculture sector, forcing debt-ridden farmers to commit suicide and farm labourers were facing acute shortage of foodgrain. He said keeping this in view, the increase in allowances and salaries of legislators and ministers was not justified.

Mr Arshi alleged that it was strange that the Bill on more monetary incentives to legislators had been passed and no MLA had raised his voice against it. He said although it was a good sign that those on the treasury benches and in the opposition were unanimous on some issue, it would have been better if they had shown unanimity on issues related to the welfare of the people.


Hike in MLAs’ salary: CPI flays govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, and a member of the National Council of the CPI, Mr Bhupinder Samber, have criticised the Punjab Government for passing ”anti-people and undemocratic” Bills in the last sitting of the Budget session of the Punjab Assembly yesterday.

They said 17 Bills were passed on the last day hastily putting a heavy financial burden on the people of the state.

He said members of the House exhibited unprecedented unity while passing the bill pertaining to the salary and allowances of the MLAs, ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition in the House. A financial burden of Rs 8 crore had been put on the people of the state.

He said while the government had stopped a number of schemes meant for the welfare of the poor and needy, it was spending money without an hesitation on providing facilities such as new luxury vehicles to MLAs at people’s expenses.


GSP’s party constitution
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
The General Samaj Party (GSP) will hold a function on April 6 at public library in the city to announce the party constitution, symbol and flag.

Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the party, in a press note issued today said a meeting of office-bearers of the party was held here today in which the new constitution, symbol and flag was adopted unanimously.


Congress govt a failure: Sukhbir

Jalandhar, April 3
Criticising the Congress government for its “failure” on all fronts, Mr Sukhbir Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal MP, today expressed hope that the SAD would win all 13 seats in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Mr Badal, talking to mediapersons after meeting former Punjab Technical Education Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha at the Central Jail here, said the state government’s performance was “dismal” on all fronts. TNS


Compensation ordered for illegal detention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Directing the registration of an illegal detention case against two police officials, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the payment of Rs 25,000 as compensation to the victim.

Pronouncing the orders on a habeas corpus petition seeking the release of victim Pappu Singh from illegal custody of Assistant Sub Inspector Manjit Singh and Head Constable Roop Singh of Handiaya police post in Sangrur district, Mr Justice Gupta also directed Barnala’s Senior Superintendent of Police “to take suitable action”.

In his detailed order, the Judge ruled: “From warrant officer R.S. Khera’s report, it is clear that ASI Manjit Singh and HC Roop Singh had illegally detained Pappu Singh from July 23, 2001 till he was found in illegal custody”.

The Judge concluded: “Since the officials had illegally detained Pappu Singh, without any authority of law, the court is competent to award monetary compensation by way of exemplary costs....”


UK cops visit Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
As many as eight British police officers, including women, visited the city today to continue the interaction between British and Indian police personnel. The British officers have come here to finalise the details of a two-day conference for about 50 Indian police officers to be held in Merseyside in September this year.

The invitation to their Indian counterparts would help Indian officers to get first hand experience of British policing and improve their force’s effectiveness and constitution. During their visit these police officers interacted with senior police officers from Punjab and New Delhi besides officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Bureau of Police Research and Development.


Charges framed against ex-MLA
Our Correspondent

Sunam, April 3
Mr Sham Lal Chalana, Judicial Magistrate, First Class, here has framed charges against Mr Manmohan Singh Sathiala, a former SAD MLA of Beas, who had allegedly slapped and pushed a constable of the Punjab Police Ranjit Singh to the ground when he (Ranjit Singh) objected to the entry of Mr Sathiala into a polling booth at Daska village during the Sunam Assembly byelection on September 29, 2000. Mr Ranjit Singh was on poll duty at the booth.

The police has registered a case against Mr Sathiala on the complaint of Mr Ranjit Singh, constable, under Sections 353, 506, 186 of the IPC and 134 and 131 of the Representation of People’s Act on the day of polling in the Sunam Assembly Constituency on September 29, 2000, at Lehragaga police station.

The counsel further said earlier the Sunam court had dismissed the application of the state of Punjab in which the government has sought court’s permission to withdraw the case registered against Sathiala. The sessions court at Sangrur had recently dismissed the appeal filed by the state of Punjab against the decision of the Sunam court and directed Mr Sathiala to appear before the trial court at Sunam.


Ultrasound centre loses registration
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
The Malerkotla Subdivisional Appropriate Authority for the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act-cum SMO of Malerkotla Civil Hospital has reportedly seized two ultrasound machines, including an unregistered machine, from the premises of Surinder Ultrasound Scan Centre, Malerkotla, for allegedly violating the provisions of the PNDT Act.

Talking to TNS here today, Dr J.R. Bansal, District Appropriate Authority for the PNDT Act-cum Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said SMO of the Malerkotla Civil Hospital along with his team had raided the premises of Surinder Ultrasound Scan Centre, Malerkotla, yesterday and found that provisions of the PNDT Act were being violated by the centre. On this, he sealed the machine and seized it. During the raid, the team also found another unregistered ultrasound machine from the premises of the centre which had also been sealed and seized by the SMO. Both the machines were now in the custody of the SMO, the Civil Surgeon added.

Dr Bansal said the registration of Surinder Ultrasound Scan Centre, Malerkotla, had been suspended for an indefinite period.


Punjab officials review SARS threat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
A high-level meeting, chaired by Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Punjab, was held here today to review the steps taken in the state to ensure preparedness in tackling the worldwide health threat posed by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The meeting was attended by senior health administrators.

Mrs Bajaj emphasised upon the need for creating awareness in view of the high influx of visitors from Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore and other affected countries to Punjab, especially in the Doaba region.

Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health and Family Welfare has issued instructions to all the Civil Surgeons to report any suspected/probable case to the headquarters immediately and also inform the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD), Delhi. 


Garcha released on bail
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 3
Former Technical Education Minister SAD MLA Jagdish Singh Garcha was released from the Central Jail here this afternoon.

Mr Garcha had been arrested for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 11 crore to the Punjab, Technical University and appointing 95 ad hoc employees at the university in violation of rules on October 19 by the Vigilance Bureau.

Relatives and family members of Mr Garcha were present outside the jail.


Police ‘shielding’ guilty cop
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
The Deputy Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, has alleged that the district police had not taken any action against the Constable who had beaten up Surat Singh Manawala more than six months ago.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr Randhawa said a case was already registered in police station Civil Lines under Sections 326, 325, 324 and 341 against Constable Gurbaksh Singh. He alleged that the SP (City-I) was shielding the Constable.

He said on the night of April 1 four armed persons, including three in uniform, barged into the house of Tasweer Singh of Ajad Nagar falling in police station Chhcharta and took him away forcibly to some unknown place. He said he had written to the DGP, Punjab, IG, DIG and SSP of the city about the matter.


Debate standard has fallen: Bir Devinder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 3
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha and MLA from Kharar, has said that he will work with responsibility in this new post which has been given to him by his party and members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha unanimously.

He was on his first visit to his constituency after his election as Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. He addressed journalists at the local Press Club and Bar Association of Kharar.

He said that he is satisfied with his working for whatever days he has worked. However, he said that the standards of debate in the Vidhan Sabha were going down and that this was not a good signal for any democracy. He said the debate in the House should be constructive and the members must refrain from passing any personal remarks. He also advised the legislators to attend the meetings of the House regularly and added that his personal experience showed that many developmental works can be started through question hour in the House.

He supported the decision of the government to raise the pay and other perks of the legislators and said that these facilities are used for the welfare of the people.

He said that contrary to media reports, the developmental works in Kharar constituency were not less than any other constituency in the state.

Meanwhile, he gave a cheque of Rs 1 lakh each to the Kharar Bar Association and the Kharar Journalists Association as grant out of his discretionary fund.


Meat shops foul up things for residents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
Residents of a colony opposite Rose Garden rue their decision to construct their houses there, so intolerable is the stench emanated by shops selling meat near their colony.

Meat shop owners who run their business in “khokhas” on the main road near the colony are a source of nuisance for the residents as they throw the residue after extracting meat at the rear of their “khokhas”.

Residents of Green Avenue say their requests to the authorities to shift the “khokhas” elsewhere have fallen on deaf ears.

The residents also allege that the “khokhas” have been an obstruction in the construction of a road connecting the colony to the Bathinda-Goniana road.

The residents say the “khokha” owners do not have the licence to sell meat. “Khokha” owners, on the other hand, say they have been running the business there for may years. They pay rent to owners of the land and have the requisite licence for selling meat.


MC chief takes charge amid protest
Our Correspondent

Sunam, April 3
Ms Geeta Sharma, Congress councillor, today took over as president of the local municipal council amid protests by a Congress faction, led by Mr Rajinder Deepa and his wife Sonia Deepa Arora, who had lost to Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa in the last Assembly elections.


Four FCI officials suspended
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
Four officials of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) have been placed under suspension after the grains stored under their charge were found to be less than recorded.

Mr Amrik Singh, District Manager of the FCI, said here today that a committee of three Assistant-Manager-grade officials had been deployed to conduct the quarterly physical verification (QPV) of the stocks. At two plinths under the Bhuchu depot, the stocks were found to be less than recorded. An inquiry report prepared by the committee had been forwarded to the Senior Regional Manager of the FCI (Punjab zone)

The department sources, however, said a senior official had given in writing after a QPV that the stocks being verified were not available as per records. It was after much efforts by this official that the team of three AM-grade officials was formed. It reported 8,175 wheat bags, 130 rice bags and 14 bags of paddy to be missing.

The sources said some of the FCI officials at the Rhuchu office had been reporting irregularities being committed there to the District Manager. They said the DM had taken action in only a few cases and overlooked misuse of gate pass by some officials. The quality-control staff had accepted the bad-quality rice after rejecting it initially.

In a letter to the FCI Senior Regional Manager in Chandigarh, the officials at Bhuchu had said that even the quality of the grains being sent by special trains was bad. The SRM in Chandigarh could not be contacted.


PRTC losses mounting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its latest report submitted in the Punjab Assembly has rapped the management of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) for not making enough efforts to check the embezzlement of cash. It has observed that non- observance of instructions regarding maintenance of cash books resulted in the embezzlement of Rs 20.62 lakh, while the accumulated losses of the state corporation had reached Rs 377.78 crore by March 31, 2002.

The audit report for the year 2001-02 has been tabled in the state assembly. The report has observed that the net losses of the state corporation, incorporated in 1956, has crossed Rs 28.93 crore for the financial year 2001-02. The employees’ strength has come down from over 6,000 to 5,184 by December 31, 2002, with about 1,000 buses. The trade unions of the corporation have, however, alleged that due to bad management and subsidised travelling to freedom fighters, senior citizens and other categories, the corporation was suffering substantial losses.

The CAG has observed that scrutiny of records of the Faridkot depot of the corporation revealed that the finance and accounts section had flouted accounting rules. It has noted: “Neither any serial number was assigned to the vouchers nor the passed vouchers were stamped as paid and cancelled. The cash book was also not closed daily. It was also observed that the monthly statements were not sent to the head office with delays ranging from two to eight months during April, 1999, to March, 2001. Further, the statements sent to the head office included figures other than those recorded in the cash book.” Consequently, the cashier of the depot embezzled Rs 20.62 lakh during January, 2000 to May 2001, said the report.

Though the management lodged an FIR against the cashier yet no recovery has been effected from him so far. The enquiry is reportedly still pending. The government has failed to reply to the CAG, observed the audit report.


Road cleared of encroachments
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
In the anti-encroachment drive launched by the district administration, the ‘tandoors’ of two restaurants owned by a relative of a former Punjab Congress Cabinet minister at the Gole Diggi Market here were removed today.

The Amrik Singh Road was also cleared of encroachments. Five tractor-trailers, one canter and one bulldozer were pressed into operation. Roadside fruit and vegetables sellers complained that their means of livelihood was being snatched by the authorities.

A large number of persons volunteered to remove their encroachments on seeing that the authorities were not yielding. A shopkeeper said he was expecting this action.


2 PCS officers transferred

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab Government today transferred two PCS officers. Mr Gobind Ram Bansal has been appointed Additional Secretary, Local Government, against a vacant post. Mr Satish Kumar Singla has been posted as Deputy Director, Colonisation. TNS


Robbers’ gang busted, arms seized
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 3
The police has busted a gang of robbers and recovered a revolver and two pistols with live cartridges from their possession.

Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, said here yesterday that Naresh Kumar, alias Pandit, a resident of Timowal, Narinder Singh Nagi, alias Doctor, a resident of Kotli Babar, Balwinder Singh, alias Bitta, a resident of Bharathwal, Sarmukh Singh, alias Babu, a resident of Khalchian, Hardeep Singh, alias Deepa, a resident of Ghanie-ke-Bangar, Mohinder Singh, alias Minda, a resident of Bharathwal, all under Batala police station, and Daljinder Singh, alias Doctor, a resident of Kadrabad under Kathunangal police station had been arrested.

Mr Brar said Sukhdev Singh, in charge, CIA staff, Gurdaspur, on specific information conducted a raid in Dhariwal village where the gang members tried to escape but were overpowered by the police.

A case under Sections 399 and 402, IPC, and the Arms Act has been registered against them.


VB nabs 2 officials on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 3
Vigilance Bureau sleuths have arrested two police officials while accepting bribe. According to Ms Anita Punj, S.P. Vigilance, Assistant Sub Inspector, Jatinder Singh and Gurbaksh Singh, Head Constable, were arrested by the vigilance team while they were accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from Ghuman Singh, a resident of Alike village.

Ms Punj said the two police constables had asked the complainant to shell out Rs 2,500 after threatening to book him in a false case of brewing illicit liquor. The complainant got scared and agreed to give Rs 2,000 to the two. On getting the information, the Vigilance Bureau laid a trap and arrested the two officials.


Man absconds after duping investors

Pathankot, April 3
The owner of a finance company has absconded with more than Rs 2 crore collected by him from investors, in deposits raised on the promise of high interests. The affected businessmen and employees, who are mostly retired, have formed a joint action committee also to raise the issue with the police and the civil authorities.

Committee members Mr Ashok Verma, Sunil Marwaha, Mr Jasbir Arora and Mr Heera Lal, at a press conference here today, said the attitude of the police in dealing with the case was bad.

Mr Ashok Verma said financier Vikas Nijhawan’s company, Real Investments had lured investors with the promise of handsome interest rates, and, then, absconded two months ago. Verma said the investors had lodged a complaint at the Division No. 2 police station, here and met the Senior Superintendent of Police at Gurdaspur in this regard.

The financier had disposed of his property here before leaving the city.


Robbers injure MC official, son
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 3
At about 1 am today, robbers struck at the house of Mr Raj Kumar, Sectional Officer in the Municipal Council, at Lamini village on the outskirts of the town and injured the SO, his son Vikram and servant Samita. They also took away cash, jewellery and other articles.

According to neighbours, robbers were seven to eight in number. Fear-struck, the neighbours could not inform the police or come out of their houses before 5 am.

On April 1, robbers had struck at the house of the CMO, Dr Bui Dass Dogra, near Bridge No. 4 of Sujanpur and injured the doctor and his wife.

The injured in today’s attack were rushed to a local hospital. According to Dr Ravi Dogra, SMO of Civil Hospital, the three are out of danger. The Superintendent of Police, the Subdivisional Magistrate and other officials visited the injured in the hospital and also went to their house.

Last year, the police had arrested six suspected robbers, two of whom, Chaman ‘Guddu’ and Dilbagh Singh ‘Gogi’, had escaped. It is being suspected that the Guddu gang is involved in the fresh robberies here. The Senior Superintendent of Police at Gurdaspur, when contacted, said security had been beefed up in the area.


Convict commits suicide

Gurdaspur, April 3
A prisoner, serving life sentence in Central Jail here, allegedly committed suicide in the prison hospital last night.

A police report today said the body of Joginder Singh, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988,was found hanging in the bathroom of the hospital on the jail premises.

The Deputy Commissioner has asked the Senior Divisional Magistrate to conduct an inquiry into the death of the convict. UNI


Cash, gold looted from dera

Nawanshahr, April 3
As many as 15 youths armed with iron-rods entered the Suraj Kund Dera, a historic temple near Rahon, and took away cash, gold ornaments, silver utensils and coins worth Rs 70,000 with them on Wednesday.

This was reported by the Dera Mahant, Ganapati Giri, to the Rahon police.

The police has registered a case under Sections 448, 342, 457, 380, 323 and 506, IPC. OC


Engineering students to be honoured
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 3
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Member, Rajya Sabha, while addressing a gathering at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC), here today said students who had done outstanding work in social and religious field would be honoured at annual convocation of the college.

Mr Tohra was here to attend an ‘akhand path’ organised by the college staff and students. Mr Tohra said the college had organised a number of functions, seminars and discussions of national and state-level on the issue of social evils, moral degradation, pollution and environment. He said in a short span of 10 years the college had reached among the top engineering colleges of the region.

Mr Tohra expressed concern over the degradation of social, religious and ethical values in the Sikh society and appealed to the masses to get baptised and receive blessings of the Gurus. He also talked about the increasing menace of drugs in the society and student community in particular and said these social evils were eating into the vitals of the society.

He lauded the role of teaching, non-teaching staff and students under the leadership of the college Principal, Dr D.S. Hira, for bringing the institution to the forefront in the field of technical education.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, member secretary of the college trust, said college would honour all students and employees who would perform well in the field of academics or other social activities.

Dr Hira expressed his thanks to the students, staff, local leaders and gathering of people from neighbouring areas. Mr Gurpal Singh, Head of Department, Computer, on behalf of the teaching staff of the BBSBEC, expressed gratitude to Mr Tohra and Mr Libra for releasing their arrears since 1996.


PCCTU executive meets on April 6
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 3
An emergency meeting of the executive of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) will be held at DAV College, Jalandhar, on April 6 to decide the future course of the teachers’ agitation in the wake of dilly-dallying attitude of the state government towards teachers’ demands.

Disclosing this here today, Dr V.K. Tewari, General Secretary and Dr V.K. Sharma, Secretary, of the PCCTU, said the next phase of the agitation was likely to include total or partial boycott of the ongoing university examinations and other official work. However, the teachers will continue to perform duties till any decision was taken in this regard.

They denounced the indifference of the government towards the colossal financial crisis being faced by the non-government affiliated colleges. About 70-80 colleges had not paid salaries to the staff for the past three to nine months and about 40 colleges had not been able to pay salaries to the staff for the past three months, they informed. The imposition of 10 per cent cut on grants last year and 20 per cent in this year’s budget had worsened the situation for the staff of colleges, they rued.


Excise duty on knitwear favoured
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 3
Mr M.K. Jutshi, Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs, New Delhi, said that incentives like reduction in taxes on various items had been given in the Budget to encourage manufacturers and exporters to compete in world market under WTO agreement. This would cost the Union Government, Rs 4000 crore a year, Mr Jutshi, who was on his way to Jammu, told reporters here yesterday that the Central Board of Taxation was re-structured recently. The number of Chief Commissioners had been increased from 21 to 46, Commissioner from 144 to 290, Group A Officers from 1711 to 2300 and Inspectors from 7000 to 12000 in the country. All fresh appointments had been made through departmental promotions. No direct recruitment had been made. He said board had more than 71,000 employees.

To a question he said that income from Excise and Customs was estimated at Rs 1,15,000 crore in the current year against Rs 1,23,000 crore the last year which was 60 per cent of the total in revenue of the Central Government.

To another question on the introduction of value added tax (VAT), he said that it was state governments’ issue. Mr Jutshi pleaded the imposition of Excise Duty on knitwears. He said he met knitwear manufacturers of Ludhiana yesterday and explained them on the imposition of Excise Duty. He will meet knitwear manufacturers of Jammu on April 4, to discuss the issue. He would also meet Knitwear manufacturers of other states shortly.

Mr Jutshi was accompanied by Mr Kalaish Sethi, Chief Commissioner of UT Chandigarh and Mr G.S. Narang, Commissioner, Jalandhar.

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