Wednesday, April 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab’s loss is Pak’s gain
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Punjab’s fight for saving every drop of water notwithstanding, the state has been constantly losing water good for irrigating 33,000 acres of land to Pakistan because of the poor upkeep of the Madhopur headworks.

While during the dry season the loss through leakages is about 100 cusecs, it touches as much as 5 per cent of the total discharges made from the Madhopur headworks during the peak season.

At present, the discharges from the headworks include 8,000 cusecs to the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC), 10,000 cusecs in the Madhopur-Beas Link and 950 cusecs in the Kashmir canal. As such, the peak time loss comes to about 1,450-1,500 cusecs.

The total neglect of the machinery and the gates at the headworks came to the notice of Principal Secretary , Rajan Kashyap during his recent inspection visit to the site. The repairs were undertaken last about 11 years ago.

“It is a big loss. We have already asked the Finance Department to release Rs 3.26 crore for immediate repairs of the Madhopur headworks before the start of the peak season for the coming paddy crop next month.”

“We have asked for Rs 30 crore for the overall maintenance of the canal network throughout the state. In fact, a meeting has been convened for April 24 to review the condition of the canal network in the state. The Irrigation Minister would preside over the meeting,” said Mr Kashyap, revealing that “the money for repairs and maintenance of the canal network would come from the user charges.

“We have requested the Finance Department that in case no money was available for maintenance and repairs of canals, a part of the collection of user charges should be released immediately as these repairs should not be delayed.”

For a technical appraisal of the repair works, a special team headed by Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, Adviser to the Punjab Government on Irrigation, would visit the Madhopur headworks tomorrow.

An estimate of Rs 3.26 crore has been submitted by the Chief Engineer (Irrigation) and the Superintending Engineer, Madhopur headworks. “We want that the repair work must be completed by May 10,” Mr Kashyap added.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister wants an indepth report about the complaint made by farmers of the Malwa belt in general and Patiala, Sangrur and Bathinda in particular. The farmers have complained that though the state has decided to introduce user charges or abiana on irrigation water, the system was deficient.

“The farmers were being forced to pay though the flow of water was not there,” the complaint said. A team headed by Mr Rajan Kashyap and comprising Irrigation Adviser, Bhagat Singh Sandhu, adviser on the SYL canal, S.K. Goel and the Chief Engineer (Canals) has been constituted to study this complaint and submit a report to the Chief Minister. The team would also study the Haryana system.


Truckers’ perspective of strike
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

First, the official side of the strike story. With truckers on strike since April 14, the movement of goods across the country has been adversely affected leading to a hike in the prices of several commodities. The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has been in dialogue with the All-India Motor Transport Congress, which has submitted a nine-point charter of demands. There have been advertisements in newspapers giving the stand of the government on each demand.

Second, the other side of the strike story — the human angle. This has been either overlooked or ignored both by the media and people. Even when the strike is called off, it would leave scars on the psyche of men at the wheels, conductors and cleaners.

The strike has struck a severe blow to the daily business of unions, truckers, drivers, conductors and cleaners, ‘mistris’ of small workshops, wayside ‘dhabas’, labour force in mandis and goods transport companies and even small tea shops near union offices. “We are also consumers. The price hike pinches us, as much as it does anyone else”, say the strikers.

The Mohali Truck Union secretary, Mr Jagtar Singh, says: “It is time to empathise with us. We are viewed wrongly. The common people must analyse the factors behind our strike that has hit us more severely. There has to be a solution to the systems aberrations, which has corrupted and abused our profession”.

A cross-section of truck transporters, including owners-cum-drivers like Suresh Kumar and Randhir Singh contacted on Monday in the office of the union were idling, sulking and cribbing about the ostrich-like attitude of the government. But what really seemed to irk them most was ‘’goonda tax’’ and ‘’vagar’’ they were required to shell out within the state and en route to other destinations.

“Goonda tax” is one which the truck drivers are forced to pay to officials and mafia in every state. A national permit holder, Channi, was almost in tears when he said that his return from three trucks he owned was a mere Rs 5,000 per month. “A return trip from Mohali to Mumbai cost Rs 11,000 in ‘goonda tax’. How do you expect me to pay even the loan insalments”? he asks.

On the other hand, “vagar” was stated as “forced labour” extracted by the powers that be without being adequately compensated. It is an ordeal they faced and have learnt to live with, irrespective of the political party in power. This “vagar” varied from free movement of goods of police officers and bureaucrats to taking hired crowds to political rallies without being compensated even for diesel, what to say of mandays lost.

“Transportation is no longer either lucrative or profitable business. The outgo of money as forced ‘’taxes’’ is far more than the earnings and even upkeep of the vehicle costs money”, laments Randhir Singh.

These drivers and conductors poured their heart out as to how difficult it was to make both ends meet. Their greatest worry is the future of their children, who are neglected. These truck drivers are keen on imparting vocational education to their children, as they are aware of the job market squeeze.

Some of them admitted that they were accused of spreading Aids or HIV, since they were courting call girls. They admitted to this but hastily added that call girls were driven by poverty and no work. They met them at wayside “dhabas” in other states. “We may not have a first aid kit but now we all carry condomns”.

Today, the “King of the road” stands aside. But it still costs the truckers and companies, who continue to pay salaries and daily allowances to their drivers and conductors and return loan instalments.

But what really weighs on their minds is the money that is regularly given on a monthly basis, as a bribe to the state officials concerned and also during trips to other states. They reeled off “rates” at which they bribed their way in different states to keep the transport operations functional. They insisted that the rationalisation of diesel tariff was imperative in tune with the international market as also freight charges and insurance of goods.

When asked that truckers are usually charged with making roads ‘unsafe’ for other reckless drivers, they confessed in a chorus — “our professional and domestic tensions, worries, sleeplessness, drink, carelessness and fear of the traffic police and human predators at the entry points, octroi posts, toll tax barriers, cause accidents. More so, a loaded lorry takes time to stop or give side to vehicles from the rear and the front. No one appreciates this”.

Sunil Arora, Bittu to friends, is a postgraduate in history from Panjab University. He is Assistant Manager in the union office. He had no choice but to rub shoulders with truckers for want of a job. This has been so for the past seven years. He says the union has over 400 trucks and nearly 200-odd are owners-cum-drivers. The returns per truck for a return trip to New Delhi fetches just Rs 2,000 or so. It takes four days to complete one return trip. “One should appreciate the loss truckers will suffer due to this strike, which has been thrust upon us,” he reasoned.


Grain dealers sore at procurement agencies
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 22
Resentment prevails among a large number of grain dealers against various state government agencies, including the FCI, for their failure to make payment to them for the purchase of wheat during the past one week in Faridkot district.

According to official sources the agencies had purchased over 181 lakh metric tonnes of the produce costing over Rs 100 crore in the district since April 12. They include Pungrain 18,350 mt, Markfed 46,220 mt, Punsup 49,700 mt, The Warehousing Corporation 27,300 mt, the FCI 38,103 mt, and traders 1543 mt.

Expressing concern over the prevailing conditions, Mr Bhushan Lal, president, Kutcha Arhiatya Association, Faridkot, besides Mr Arun Kumar, alias Billu, a leading grain dealer of the area said Markfed and the Warehousing Corporation had paid the bills of the dealers for the purchase of wheat of April 12 and April 14 and after that no payment had been received by the dealers. The conditions of payment of other agencies were also not satisfactory. More over due to the non-release of the bonus amount Rs 10 per quintal of the wheat by the government the grain dealers had to pay the same to the farmers from their own pockets.

Similarly the government had also taken no steps to release the market fee which was also being paid by the dealers themselves. They also regretted the poor lifting arrangements of the produce particularly at the local grain market. Over 1.50 lakh bags were lying unattended which was causing problems for farmers.

When contacted Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner said Rs 20 crore had already been received from the state government and the same had been distributed among grain dealers who had submitted their bills to the different agencies so far. He asked the dealers to submit their bills immediately. Meanwhile it is further learnt that the Deputy Commissioner also held a meeting with all senior officials of the agencies earlier today and directed them to make adequate arrangements to ensure the timely payments of the produce, its lifting besides the proper supply of power, drinking water and gunny bags at all purchasing centres.

Mr R.P. Narang, A.M, FCI in the absence of DM of the agency clarified that the agency had been allotted 36 purchasing centres. Out of these it had received bills from traders of the Hari Nau centre only. These traders had been paid in full. He said there was no shortage of funds and the payment of other centre would be cleared after the receipt of the bill from the grain dealers.


CBI approver alleges police harassment
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 22
One of the five conspirators in the attempt to assassinate the then Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi case Mr Narinder Singh, alias Kala, who latter turned approver today alleged that he was being harassed by the Amritsar police.

In an affidavit, Mr Kala alleged that he was an accomplice of Karamjit Singh who was arrested by the security guards when he tried to kill Mr Gandhi. He alleged that instead of rewarding him for helping the CBI by turning approver, the police had framed a ‘baseless case’ against him. He said it was on the basis of his testimony that four persons were awarded sentence while he was released after nine years. The other conspirators in the case were Amarjit Singh, Prem Singh, Baldev Singh Mastana and Karmjit Singh.

However, Mr S.K. Kalia, S.P. (City) claimed that Kala was arrested in connection with the theft of a scooter last year and was on bail these days. He said during routine checking a police party had summoned him at police station recently. Mr Kalia said he knew that Kala had helped the CBI and he should not be harassed unnecessarily.

Mr Kala said he was given security guards by the district police earlier in the wake of danger to his life after turning approver. He said he was being dubbed as a ‘traitor of the panth’ by radical Sikhs.

However, the security was withdrawn when he started living in his native village Wadali in the district.

Mr Kala alleged that the Chheherta police had been harassing him.

He alleged that a police party raided his house and took him to the police station on March 4. He further charged the Chheherta police with torturing him in the police station.

Mr Kala alleged that the CBI had asked the Punjab police to give him protection. However, instead of giving him security, the Amritsar police wanted to implicate him in one or the other case. However, these charges were denied by the Amritsar police. 


Travel agent cheats youth, goes to USA
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 22
A travel agent duped a youth of his own village of Rs 8.25 lakh in the name of sending him to the USA and instead himself went there.

It was learnt today that Surinderpal of the nearby Khera village had lodged a complaint against two brothers of the same village — Surinder Kumar, alias Shindu, and Bhagwan Das, alias Mahna — for having duped him of Rs 8.25 lakh after promising to send him to the USA in 1996. Not only was he not sent abroad, but instead one of the travel agents, Surinder Kumar, himself went to the USA. The deal was struck for Rs 8.25 lakh though initially the duo had demanded Rs 9.5 lakh, alleged the complainant, a small shopkeeper.

The money was given in two instalments of Rs 4.25 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, besides the passport to the two brothers. He was told to be ready to go to the USA, but instead Surinder Kumar went to the USA, leaving him high and dry in July, 1996. He demanded his money back from the other travel agent, but was not given anything except threats.

Surinder Kumar has returned from the USA.

The police has booked the travel agents under various Sections of the IPC, including 420, on the charge of defrauding the complainant.


Pro-VC powerless in VC’s absence
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 22
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai has again proceeded on leave for a few days without delegating any powers to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal.

Informed sources stated that the Vice-Chancellor had left for Andretta in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh yesterday to participate in a workshop being organised at the University centre there in memory of B.C. Sanyal. The sources said the varsity management was abiding by the earlier directions of the VC issued before he left on leave early this month under which he had asked all administrative officers to carry on with their work at their own level and had formed a panel of six senior functionaries for taking important policy decisions. This panel excludes the Pro Vice-Chancellor.

The sources said the six-member team includes Dean, Academics, U C Singh, Dean, Colleges S.P.S. Virdie, Director, Public Relations, B .S. Sandhu, Registrar Param Bakshish Singh and Prof H S Rose, Professor of Zoology. The team would have to inform to the Deputy Registrar or the Personal Assistant of the VC about any decision taken by it.

Meanwhile, the sources disclosed that Higher Education Minister Harnam Das Johar had been sent a copy of the University calendar. This had been done in light of reservations expressed by the Pro VC towards the formation of the committee and his exclusion from it.

There seems to be some ambiguity in section 9 aa (5) of the university calendar which defines the power of the Pro-VC in the absence of the VC. According to it in case of illness or absence of the VC or in any other contingency the Pro-VC will preside over meetings of the university and will exercise duties as may be assigned to him. The sources said though the Act made it clear that the Pro-VC would preside over meetings already fixed but there was no clarity about the transfer of powers to him. This ambiguity is being studied legally, the sources said. 


Tohra for unity with Badal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra said today that he was for unity with Mr Parkash Singh Badal. “ But I want that in the process of the unity, the ‘maryada’ of the Akal Takht should also be restored,” he said.

In the light of the views expressed by Mr Tohra on the issue of unity today, the April 26 meeting of the political affairs committee (PAC) of SAD, headed by Mr Badal, has become crucial. It seems that at the meeting, Mr Badal would discuss with his senior colleagues the issue of unity with Mr Tohra.

Mr Tohra said he was not laying any pre-condition for unity by raising the issue of “ maryada”. “It is our duty to maintain the supremacy of the Akal Takht and that is why I have raised the issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today called on Andhra Pradesh Governor Surjit Singh Barnala. Informed sources said early this morning, Capt Amarinder Singh drove to the local residence of Mr Barnala, who later left for Andhra Pradesh.

But a lot of speculation is going on about today’s meeting. Is Mr Barnala interested to come to Punjab as Governor ? New Governors are to be appointed in the days to come and in this process, some of those already holding the office of the Governor may be shifted.


SAD condemns Cong misuse of helicopter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today cited the latest episode concerning loyalists of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as the strongest evidence of murder of democracy in the state.

“Punjab is no longer a part of democratic India. It is being subjected to the worst form of dictatorship and this extends even to the Chief Minister’s opponents within his own party,” said Mr Badal in a statement released here.

The Akali leader was reacting to the newspaper reports which said that members of the Sangrur Zila Parishad owing loyality to Mrs Bhattal were physically whisked away by the police to ensure the defeat of her candidate for the chairmanship. One of Mrs Bhattal’s loyalists has gone to the high court against the police high-handedness. Mrs Bhattal also reportedly complained against the brazen conduct of the state administration at the behest of the Chief Minister.

The former Chief Minister said the systematic decimation of all democratic norms in the state began with the Malout byelection which had been perfected into a fine art by the Chief Minister in all subsequent elections.

The SAD President also took exception to the gross misuse of the state helicopter by various functionaries of the Congress.


Unity issue: Badal, Bibi hold talks
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 22
To discuss the proposed unity between the Shiromani Akali Dal and Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief and member of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Akali Dal, today held a closed-door meeting at Circuit House, Jalandhar. The meeting lasted more than an hour.

According to SAD sources, both leaders discussed at length the reflection of the proposed unity of both the factions on the rank and file of the party and SGPC.

Even as the SHSAD has authorised Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to take any decision with regard to the proposed unity, the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD, scheduled to be held on April 26 at Chandigarh, is likely of give the powers to Mr Badal. The party circles give a lot to significance to the meeting between the two stalwarts as Bibi Jagir Kaur remained loyal to the party even though she was unceremoniously removed as SGPC chief in the past.


Punjab Shiv Sena reconstituted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 22
The Punjab Shiv Sena chief, Swami Pushpender Swaroop, today reconstituted the state unit and the district units of the party after consultations with Gen P.N. Hoon, (retd) in charge of the Punjab affairs of the party.

Stating this Mr Pawan Parbhakar, media in charge, said Mr Surinder Dogra had been appointed vice-president and in charge of organisational affairs, Mr Ravinder Arora would work as chief spokesman and vice-president, while Mr Jyoti Gupta had been appointed treasurer.

The new district presidents are: Gurdaspur — Jog Raj Sharma; Kapurthala — Jagdish Kataria; Amritsar — Baldev Bhardwaj; Hoshiarpur — P.K. Shiv; Nawanshahr — Manoj Pathak; Jalandhar — Naresh Soni; Ropar — Raj Rajan; Ludhiana — Rajiv Tandon; Ferozepore — Naresh Setia; Patiala — Anil Sood; Mansa — Satish Garg; Faridkot — Santokh Singh Babbi; Bathinda — Sandeep Sharma; Moga — Harwinder Arora; Fatehgarh Sahib — Manoj; and Muktsar — Neeraj Verma.


Plan to clip wings of unauthorised colonisers
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 22
Raising unauthorised colonies in the urban areas may become a costly affair for colonisers if the recently mooted proposal of the Ministry for Urban Development gets through. The Ministry of Urban Development is planning to impose 10 times penalty on the actual development charges for the unauthorised colonies mushrooming in the state. The said proposal is being finalised and will soon be presented before the Chief Minister and the Cabinet for approval.

The state Minister for Urban Development and Jails, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, gave this information to newsmen at Canal Rest House here today. He was here to visit Ropar sub jail, which is under construction.

The previous government had reduced development charges for ‘A’ class municipal councils in Punjab from Rs 7.5 lakh per acre to Rs 3.5 lakh per acre and for other municipal council from Rs 3.5 lakh per acre to Rs 1.5 lakh per acre. The present government is considering the proposal of reimposing the previous rates of development charges.

If the government proposal of imposing 10 times penalty gets through, unauthorised colonisers will have to pay about Rs 75 lakh per acre in A class municipal councils and Rs 35 lakh per acre in other municipal councils as development charges.

Mr Birmi said master plans for major towns and cities of the state were also being developed. In these master plans sites for parks, future colonies and other community infrastructure in a periphery of 10 km to 12 km of the urban centres would be fixed in advance. This would help control the unorganised growth in the urban centres of the state.

Responding to a query regarding PUDA, the minister said working of the agency was not satisfactory. At present cost of the properties developed by PUDA was more than colonies developed by private colonisers. The working of PUDA needed to be streamlined to make it more competitive vis-a-vis private colonisers, he added.

He said the Ministry of Urban Development also might take strict action against persons who were illegally occupying PUDA properties in the name of riot victims.

About the state of jails in Punjab the minister said the state government had received Rs 12 crore from the Centre for the development and improvement of jails. With 25 per cent contribution from the state about Rs 15 crore would be spent on the development of jails in the state in the current financial year.


NCP plans agitation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 22
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will mobilise political parties to launch an agitation in the state against the hike in user charges and other “anti-people policies” of the government.

The party may also support the agitation to be launched by the SAD against the policies of the government. A decision about this, however, will be taken at a meeting of the party to be held on April 25 in Chandigarh.

Mr Amrit Pal Singh Sidhu, member, national council of the NCP and state general secretary of the party, stated this here yesterday while talking to this correspondent. He said the need for an agitation was felt as people belonging to all walks of life were facing hardships due to the wrong policies of the government. He, however, said that no date had been fixed for starting the agitation. He said they were in touch with other parties so that a massive agitation could be launched.

Criticising the hike in user charges on social and economic services, he said it was a blow to the poor people who were finding it difficult to make both ends meet. He said after the increase many services would virtually become out of reach for the poor families.

Mr Sidhu also criticised the hike in college fee.

Mr Sidhu alleged that the so-called economic reforms started by the Central Government had rendered thousands of workers jobless.

He alleged that the wrong policies had lead to unemployment in the country.


Jacob kicks off dental awareness campaign
Tribune Reporters

Ghoh (Pathankot), April 22
The Punjab Governor, Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) today inaugurated Shaheed Udham Singh Dental Programme organised jointly by the Director Health Services, Punjab and the Punjab Red Cross Society at Ghoh village near here.

Addressing the gathering General Jacob said the state government had decided to launch a statewide programme for taking dental care and healthcare to remote villages of Punjab.

Emphasising the need for dental healthcare, the Governor said dental healthcare was important for the overall health of an individual.

The Governor sanctioned over Rs 3 lakh to the Red Cross Society for the preventive dental scheme.

The Governor provided 83 artificial limbs to the handicapped five tri-cycles 20 hearing aids, and eight crutches. He also distributed toothpaste among the schoolchildren on present on the occasion and distributed 25 sports kit among them. More than 100 persons were inoculated against hepatitis B.

The Governor presented a cheque for Rs 20,000 to the Deputy Commissioner for providing diesel and for the maintenance of mobile dental van in the district. He also released a special book on dental care. He directed Urban Development Minister Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, who was present at the function to upgrade the Government High School at Ghoh to the plus two level.

The Governor presented a cheque for Rs 1 lakh for the construction of the school building and Rs 50,000 for improving sports facilities in the school, from his discretionary fund.

The Governor later inspected an exhibition organised by four rural development committees of the Shahpur Kandi area under self-help group scheme. Twentyone women of these committees were given sewing machines.

He inspected check dam constructed in the area and released water for irrigation. The check dam would irrigate 13 hectares of land in the area.

General Jacob was accorded a warm welcome by Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.P.S. Brar SSP, Mr Puneet Goyal, SDM, Pathankot, Mr Manminder Singh, local SP and others.


Anti-corruption drive to continue
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 22
The drive initiated by the district administration to check corruption and make the administration transparent and efficient has led to suspensions, charge sheets and dismissals of employees of different departments of the state government in the past about five months.

Official sources said about seven revenue patwaris, two clerk, one accountant and some secretaries had been either placed under suspension or dismissed from service by the district administration while a criminal case was registered against a Naib Tehsildar for his alleged involvement in making irregularities in the mutation record to extend favour to a party.

Apart from it, disciplinary action has been recommended against one of Tehsildars of the district for his involvement in the revenue record irregularities with malafied intention.

Official sources said the district administration had also written to the heads of departments concerned for taking necessary action against 150 employees who were found absent during surprise checking by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia.

As per information made available to The Tribune, an assistant secretary of the District Red Cross Society had also been dismised while two senior assistants along with a clerk of the DC office had been charge-sheeted. The action against the patwaris and other officials had been taken only after they were found guilty of any act of omission and commission in the inquiries conducted separately, according to information.

However, the drive has also triggered an agitation as member of the Revenue Patwar Union, Mansa, have been staging a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner since April 10 for pressing the authorities concerned to accept their demands, which included the reinstatement of some revenue patwaris who had been placed under suspension.

Mr Ahluwalia pointed out that he had taken up the matter pertaining to the agitation with Mr Gurnek Singh, state general secretary of the Revenue Patwar Union, Punjab, today. He added that in a letter written to Mr Gurnek Singh, he (Mr Ahluwalia) had mentioned that only those patwaris had been suspended or dismissed along with other officials against whom serious allegations had been proved.

Mr Ahluwalia, while claiming that the anti-corruption campaign would continue, said he had urged Mr Gurnek Singh to persuade the members of the union to withdraw the strike.


Representation sent to PSERC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
The Punjab Government today submitted its representation with regard to the revision of power tariff to the Punjab State Electrcity Regulatory Commission (PSERC).

The commission has forwarded the representation to the Punjab State Electricity Board ( PSEB) for comments.

Mr R.S. Mann, Chairman of the commission, said that the board was expected to send its comments within a week.

Sources said the government’s representation was almost on the same lines as reported in The Tribune today.


Employees of 3 depts not paid wages
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 22
Government employees working against the non-plan posts in education, drainage and irrigation departments are going without wages due to delay in the renewal of drawing and dispersing powers to officers concerned of the said departments.

The drawing and dispersing powers of the heads of temporary sub-divisions is renewed every year by the Finance Department before March. However, this year the renewal orders have not been issued so far.

Over thousand employees in the education and drainage departments are going without salary.

Beside the serving employees the pensioners have also not been given their dues.

If the powers of drawing and dispersing officers were not renewed by monthend the sanctions of their dues would lapse.

If this happens their payment would be delayed by at least six months.


Minister stands up for heritage site
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 22
The state Education Minister, Prof Darbari Lal, today announced that he would not let Saragarhi Memorial Senior Secondary School, Town Hall, established 152 years ago be demolished for making a parking lot.

Talking to TNS on telephone, Prof Darbari Lal said he was a representative of Amritsar and hence it was his duty to preserve the heritage of the holy city. If the Centre wanted to create a parking space, it should come through the Chief Minister.

Prof Darbari Lal claimed that earlier he had saved one of the oldest buildings of Mahna Singh School from being demolished as per the decision of previous Badal government. He said poor children were studying in the school and they should not be shifted.

Meanwhile, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, the Municipal Corporation, said he would review the decision of demolishing the school. He said the corporation was committed to preserving the heritage of the ancient city.


Action against two docs recommended
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 22
The Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala, Mr Rakesh Verma, has recommended to the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, to take necessary disciplinary action, including withdrawal of powers of Dr Subhash Sharma, SMO, Phagwara, and Dr Barinder Gill, SMO, Bhullath, vested under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test Act, 1994, after their deliberate and wilful default in not launching proceedings against certain scanning centres, which were found violating the provisions of the PNDT Act.

The Civil Surgeon of Kapurthala had brought to the notice of the DC that the two officers had not launched a complaint in the court in certain matters of violation of the Act. The DC had personally held meetings with both the officers and directed them to launch the cases. Instead of taking action, it was reported by the Civil Surgeon, Dr Subhash Sharma, SMO, Phagwara, connived with the accused doctors and allowed tampering of records to make up for the deficiencies earlier detected during inspection and were admitted by the doctors.

There is no provision in the PNDT Act to compound the offence and once the offence is prima facie proved, the same has to be launched in the court of law.

The DC has recommended disciplinary action under Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970, for dereliction of duty and also for withdrawal of powers under the Act and conferring the same on the next senior most medical officer.


Channi, others told to join probe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 22
The Special Judge, Mr R.M. Gupta, today directed for three accused in the multi-crore composition fee — Chairman of C.T. Public School Charanjit Singh Channi, Mohinder Singh and A.S. Tuli — to join the investigation in the case.

After hearing the arguments of defence counsel and the public prosecutor on anticipatory bail applications filed by the three accused, the Special Judge issued directions to the letter not to leave the country and to deposit their passports forthwith.

The judge further directed the Vigilance Bureau to produce records of the case in the court on April 28 to decide the anticipatory bail applications.

The Vigilance Bureau had earlier arrested two civic body employees — the then Municipal Town Planner Raj Kumar and Assistant Town Planner Bhagwant Singh — who were remanded in police custody till April 23.

The remaining three accused have been evading arrest since the registration of the case on Friday.


Rest house phone dead for 8 months
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 22
Telephone connections of the PWD Rest House here was disconnected eight months ago. The telephone number (34204) was disconnected by the BSNL authorities on August 27, 2002 on account of non-payment of telephone bills.

Sources in the BSNL here told TNS today that the PWD authorities had “failed” in depositing two telephone bills to the tune of Rs 7662.

The sources also said recently on April 1, 2003, the BSNL authorities had sent a notice to the Xen, PWD Rest House, stating that the telephone number 34204 was disconnected due to the non-payment of dues on August 27, 2002. A balance amount of Rs 8462 is pending against this closed connection, so make the payment of the outstanding amount in a local post office by April 8, 2003, failing which the department has no option other than to pursue the case in court. However, it is learnt as the payment had not been made so far, the department will now pursue the case in the court shortly.

Mr K.S. Sohal, Executive Engineer, PWD, said due to un-availability of funds the payment of the telephone bills could not be made which resulted in the disconnection of telephone number.

Sources said in the past months, at least on two occasions when the Chief Minister and the Governor visited this town, the BSNL authorities had to make the telephone operational for some time.


CM convenes meeting of farmers’ bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has called a meeting of various farmers’ organisations tomorrow.

Various farmers’ organisations have been on the path of agitation because of the non-implementation of their demands accepted three months ago. As many as seven leaders of the Bharti Kisan Union ( Ekta) started an indefinite fast here yesterday.

The main demands of the BKU (Ekta) include free power to the farming sector, withdrawal of the hike in fee charged by the PSEB to increase power load and a white paper on money deposited by farmers with the board as security to get power connections for tubewells.


Pottery here may soon vanish for good
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, April 22
The handful of potter`s wheels still working in some houses of Khumhara Da Mohalla, near Safabadi Gate, here may soon stop turning altogether. The technology-laced modern era has indeed sounded the death knell for a number of traditional professions — one of which is pottery.

Queries about his ancestral profession do not bring forth a spirited response from potter Ram Chand of Khumhara Da Mohalla, “What is there to tell. Ninety per cent of our community has switched over from this dying profession to more lucrative trades, even my own children are working as daily wagers”, he said.

Till about a decade ago, the situation was not so grim for these potters as they used to be occupied for nearly the whole year. The onslaught of summer saw hectic “ghara”, “dahi kujjas” and “surahi” making, then came Divali and “diyas” were much in demand, followed by the flower season when “gamlas” were much sought after. Says Lachhman Das of Kaulon Wala Tobba: “Now people prefer cement ‘gamlas’ and steel utensils for setting curd. “Refrigerators are a common household item and even petty shopkeepers keep small refrigerators in their shops instead of ‘gharas’.”

The potters lament that even the sale of ‘diyas” has declined drastically due to the advent of Chinese lights in the market. Intricate clay work and the finer elements of “ghara” making have been lost for quite some time, however now even the basic craft is on its last legs. A couple Shiv Lal and Lachho of Mathura Colony say only five houses in this locality of potters are engaged in this profession and they are able to eke out a living only on the basis of a limited demand for fancy earthen pots.

The “ghara” makers today have only the lesser known festival of Nimani Kashti to look up to. During the festival, Hindus donate “gharas” alongwith other items to priests. The only other times when earthen pots are needed are during “pujas” or “antim sanskars”. Mainly people who opt for earthen pots for drinking purposes are the ones who have been medically forbidden to use refrigerated water. The potters have also no more place for donkeys that for centuries have carted clay for them.

A medium sized average “ghara” sells in the whole sale market for Rs 6, while a trolley of mud comes for Rs 1,000, informs Ram Chand who sums up gloomily with this prediction that soon the potter’s wheel will join the articles on display in a museum housing antiquities.


1.14 lakh bogus cases of pension detected
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 22
Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Social Security Minister, has said pension will be given to the beneficiaries in the state within time.

Addressing a district-level officers meeting at the local Yojna Bhavan yesterday, Mr Mann said 1.14 lakh bogus cases of pension had been detected. He announced that the government was starting the process afresh to give pensionary benefits to needy and eligible persons.

Later, Mr Mann inaugurated a Rs 22 lakh water supply scheme at Durgapur village.


Getting pucca road after 55 years
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 22
After 55 years of Independence residents of Nari village for the first time saw development yesterday when Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, inaugurated the pucca link road linking it to Mangowal village.

Nari village is located in the remote area of Kandi in the district and had no pucca link road. Earlier, the villagers had to travel on foot for more than 2 km after crossing a choe bed to reach Mangowal village for catching a bus. Mr Channi said a sanction had been granted for 16 pucca link roads.


BJP councillor gets bail

Hoshiarpur, April 22
BJP councillor of the Mukerian Municipal Council, Vinod Sahbi, was today granted bail by District and Sessions Judge C.D. Gupta in a case of forgery which the council member alleged was politically motivated.

The judge granted him bail on a security bond of Rs 5,000.

The councillor was elected in the reserved category of backward classes, the claim which was contested by defeated Congress candidate, Parbod Kumar, on whose complaint the police had arrested the BJP councillor under Sections 467,468,406,120-B of the IPC on April 11.

Mr Sahbi alleged that the case was registered against him on April 10 after he declined the Congress offer to join the party to become the council president. The offer, he alleged, was made by senior leader of the area. UNI


Poverty forces man to marry off minor daughter

Moga, April 22
A poverty-stricken man of Ladhaike village in this district married his minor daughter to a 26-year-old man, but the girl refused to go to her husband, forcing police to direct her parents not to send their daughter till she attained the age of 18.

Buta Singh married his 13-year-old daughter Amarjeet Kaur to Gurjant Singh of Langeana village in this district about eight months back, police sources said.

However, the girl refused to go with her husband, following which her husband lodged a complaint with the Women Cell here in the first week of April, pleading that his wife be sent to her in-laws, the police said today.

District police chief Major Singh Dhillon directed that the girl should not be allowed to go to her in-laws’ house till she attained the age of 18.

Mr Dhillon said poverty was the only reason of the marriage of the minor girl. PTI


Forum honours Sikhs on calendar

Patiala, April 22
At a meeting of the Sikh Intelligentsia Forum held here yesterday members unanimously passed a resolution thanking the SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, for fulfilling the long-standing need of the Sikh community to have a calendar of their own. The members also felicitated the Sikh community over the implementation of Nanakshahi Calendar. Others present were Dr Kulwant Singh Grewal, Dr Surinder Singh Khera, Dr Ajit Singh and Dr H.S. Pannu. OC


Madhopur village to have sewerage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
A beginning at last will be made from Madhopur village, on the Sirhind-Patiala road to lay sewerage in the rural areas of the state. Earlier several schemes were made at the official level to provide sewerage in villages but these plans could not take off.

Punjab will perhaps be the first state to provide such facility in the rural areas. Almost all Punjab villages all linked with pucca roads, each village has electricity supply, besides telephone and bus service. The provision of sewers in the rural areas will add yet another feather in the Punjab cap. This measure is expected to slow down the migration of people from the rural to urban areas.

Official sources said today that all groundwork had been done to start the work on laying sewers in Madhopur village next week. It will be completed by June end. The cost of laying sewerage will be Rs 27 lakh while Rs 13 lakh will be spent on constructing toilets etc. Sewerage will be laid at Modhopur under the supervision of the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology. Besides, Madhopur, the council has been allotted four other villages for this work. Two villages have been allotted to the Punjab Public Health Department and one to the Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Department.

In the first phase, 145 of the over 12,000 villages will be covered. The government has released in all Rs 8 crore for the first eight villages.

Special high-density polyethylene pipes, will be laid at Madhopur. Septic tanks will be constructed near the main out-lets of dwellings. The system has been designed in such a manner that solid material will be collected in septic tanks with the rest flowing into pipes. There will be no manholes. Mr N.S.Tiwana, Executive, Director of the council, said today the sewerage technology being adopted in villages had been finalised after holding a number of meeting with the villagers concerned. The village panchayats concerned have agreed to collect Rs 100 per connection as user charges from those opting for sewer connections. In one of the villages, the Swedish design would also be tried. Sewage would be collected in a pond outside the village. It would be treated usual a duck-weed system.


MC to keep 51 daily wagers to clean drains
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 22
The Municipal Corporation has decided to keep 51 daily wagers to ensure proper cleaning of drains along the “ganda nala” in the city with the daily wagers being recruited for a three-month spell initially.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Finance and Contract Committee of the corporation which met here yesterday under the chairmanship of Mayor Vishnu Sharma. The daily wagers are being kept as a temporary measure as the corporation has still to finalise the project of covering the “ganda nala”. Sources said a plan had been drawn to cover the “nala” and once this was done, the small drains running along the “nala” would also be covered. The corporation will bear an additional cost of Rs 3.2 lakh in hiring the extra staff.

Besides this, the corporation had also decided to issue uniforms to its employees attached with the Sewerage Wing of the A Tank. The Mayor disclosed though the corporation had agreed to issue uniforms and slippers to as many as 172 employees in January, last year, the decision could not be implemented. He said three uniforms would be supplied to each employee at a cost of Rs 1 lakh.

The committee also passed development projects, mainly pertaining to the construction of new roads in various parts of the city. The Mayor said development works of Rs 1.50 crore had been passed by the Committee.


5 held for smuggling poppy husk

Jalandhar, April 22
The Jalandhar police today busted a six-member gang of poppy husk smugglers with the arrest of its five members and recovery of more than 600 kg of contraband.

The district police chief Varinder Kumar stated here today that a police party laid a naka near Kang Sabo village yesterday and a Tata Sumo and Toyota Qualis were intercepted. The search of the two vehicles led to the recovery of six sacks of poppy husk weighing 360 kg from each vehicle, he added.

While five occupants of the vehicles identified as Swaran Singh, Mukhtiar Singh, Joga, Kulwinder Singh and Raman Kumar were arrested, Makhan Gujjar managed to give a slip to the police.

On the basis of revelations made by the arrested persons the police succeeded in recovering eight more sacks of poppy husk from the residences of Swaran Singh, Mukhtiar Singh, four sacks of the contraband containing 120 kg were recovered from a bunker constructed in the house of Swaran Singh and similar quantity of the drug was recovered from a bunker constructed in the cattle shed of the house of Mukhtiar Singh, the SSP added. PTI


2 travel agents booked for fraud

Phagwara, April 22
The local police has booked two travel agents for duping three persons. The agents took cash from them on the promise that they would be sent abroad, but never did.

Om Parkash of Chak Hakim village has alleged that he had given Rs 2.40 lakh and his passport to travel agent Prem Lal of Talhan village for being sent to Italy. He was neither sent to Italy nor his money returned.

An ex-serviceman of Jagpalpur village, Ajit Singh has alleged that he had given two passports and Rs 50,000 to Balbir Singh of the Monica Travel agency in Hoshiarpur, but was defrauded. OC


Girl’s body found, father arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 22
The post-mortem of eight-year-old Divya, who was allegedly killed by her father, Rajiv Bansal, by throwing her into a canal on the intervening night of April 20 and 21 was conducted today. The police claimed that Rajiv had been arrested.

The body of Divya was handed over to her maternal relatives this afternoon, which was cremated later. Earlier, the body was fished out from the canal this morning.

Rajiv, along with his parents Aasha and Dharmpal, was booked for allegedly killing Divya and injuring her mother.

Rajani (28), wife of Rajiv, who is undergoing treatment at the Civil Hospital, had lodged a complaint with the police.


Three die in jeep mishap

Ferozepore, April 22
Three jeep-borne men were killed on the spot and five wounded when their vehicle went out of control after its front tyre burst and hit a roadside tree near Waraimsinghwala village, 15 km from here, on the Ferozepore-Mamdot road this morning, the police said.

Those killed have been identified as Sarup Singh Barkhana Budawala, Jaskirat Singh, alias Happy, of Raichak and Karaj Singh of Mamdot.

Of the wounded, Gurvinder Singh of Harmirpur village in Gurdaspur district, and Gursewak Singh of Sahanipur in Fatehgarh Sahib district have been admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh, while the remaining three — Gurnam Singh Mamdot, Beant Singh and Kulwinder Singh-are under treatment in the local Amar Hospital. UNI


Schools await detailed results
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 22
Even as the results of Class V examinations held last month were declared on March 31 by the Punjab Education Department, a large number of schools, including government schools, have not received the details of marks scored by their students.

Sources said the marking of answersheets and the compilation of the results was conducted at the district level, and according to the government deadline, the results were declared on March 31. The sources added that even in the case of three top students, no subjectwise marks were given on March 31.

The sources said it would take a month’s time to prepare the detailed marks cards of the students and till then the school authorities would issue provisional certificates, which would not have the details of marks. The sources said some schools had managed to obtain the details of marks unofficially, though no school had been issued the subjectwise details.


Medical college students stop traffic
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 22
Post-graduate students of the local Government Medical College yesterday disrupted the functioning of Government Rajindra Hospital attached to the college, besides stopping traffic in front of the college to protest against the discontinuation of their stipend from this month.

The students, who had earlier sent a representation in this regard to Research and Medical Education Minister Santokh Singh, also warned that they would intensify their agitation in case the stipend of Rs 10,000 per month was not revived immediately.

Junior Doctors Assocation president Sarabjeet Rana said before joining the college a bond had been signed by them which had assured them a stipend of Rs 10,000 per month. He said the government had suddenly withdrawn this stipend in mid-session without assigning any reason.

The students said the stipend being given to them was much less that the Rs 18,600 being given by the Delhi Government to its post-graduate students and Rs 15,000 being given by the Union Territory Administration. They said the students more than made up for the stipend being given to them by virtually running the hospitals attached to medical colleges in the state. The students said the government had not filled any PCMS vacancy for seven years and there had been a steady exodus of teachers from the medical colleges in the past few years for which no replacements had been given.

The students also protested against the high fee of Rs 33,000 being charged from them per annum besides Rs 17,000 as hostel fee. They said there was a proposal from the government to further increase the tuition fee to Rs 1.20 lakh which would be protested by them. The students claimed that the minister had assured to take up their problems with the Chief Minister to ensure an early solution.


PAU reinstates Harcharan Bains

Chandigarh, April 22
The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Mr KS Aulakh, today reinstated Mr Harcharan Bains, Assistant Professor (English) in the Extension Department. Mr Bains, a former media adviser to former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, was suspended on August 22 last year.

Mr Bains’ suspension was revoked today with the rider that the suspension period would not be considered on duty. The university had set up a one-man inquiry panel headed by Prof A.S. Sandhu following the suspension of Mr Bains. The panel held three meetings. However, today's revocation order had no mention of the report of the inquiry panel. TNS


Milkfed set to face dry season
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Milkfed has drawn up plans to ensure regular supply of milk at reasonable rates to the major towns and cities of the state during the coming “dry season” when the demand for milk increases but milk production falls by as much as 50 per cent. “We are fully geared to meet the enhanced demand for milk during the summer”, said Dr B. M. Mahajan, Managing Director, Milkfed, during an interview with TNS here today. “We will not allow anything to come in the way of fulfilling the milk needs of the people of the state in the coming months”.

Dr Mahajan said during the flush, winter months, Punjab produced as much as up to 3 crore litres of milk every day. Of this, nearly 50 per cent was consumed by the producers themselves. Of the remaining, Milkfed procured and processed up to 11 lakh litres of milk a day while milk plants in the private sector handled the remaining produce. This included nearly seven lakh litres of milk handled by Nestle, three lakh litres processed by Smith-Kline, three lakh litres by Milkfood and one lakh litres by Milktime. The rest of the produce went to the halwais and petty milkmen for door-to-door selling.

Dr Mahajan said during the dry season, milk production in the state was expected to decline by as much as 50 per cent to between one crore litres and 1.5 crore litres. The processing of the milk by Milkfed too was expected to decline from 11 lakh litres to about seven lakh litres. But this was still more than the demand for milk which was expected to be about 5.50 lakh litres a day.

The major towns and cities being served by Milkfed included Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Ropar, Bathinda and Sangrur.

During the flush season when several milk plants in the private sector either stopped procuring milk or began to offer less price to the milk producers, Milkfed stepped in to save the day. Although the combined installed capacity of Milkfed was 13.50 lakh litres a day, it processed as much as 18 lakh litres of milk a day during the flush season by taking on lease milk plants from the private sector to ensure that the milk producers did not have to indulge in distress selling and that they continued to get a remunerative price for their produce.

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