Wednesday, May 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal: Akali unity imminent 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
Senior Akali leader and former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal today said that unity between the two Akali factions led by him and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was imminent and it was only a matter of time before it was finalised.

In an informal conversation with reporters after attending a religious function and visiting victims of a recent fire tragedy at the CMC here today, Mr Badal refused a direct reply when asked about the developments, but said, “it is a matter of time only and it may take a week or a month...but I am not sure when”. Mr Badal said that he had met Mr Tohra only once so far and it was about a month ago.

He pointed out that both he and Mr Tohra had been authorised by their followers to take a final decision and it would be taken in the interest of the Panth. He did not elaborate on the stage upto which the deliberations had reached, but hinted that the talks were progressing in the right direction.

Mr Badal criticised the Congress government, alleging that it was still continuing with the victimisation and political vendetta against the Akali workers. He was referring to the cases being registered against Mr Man Singh Garcha, younger brother of former minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha. “They are trying to dig 30-year-old cases just to serve political ends”, he alleged.

Mr Badal was accompanied by the Union Minister for Fertilisers, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and the SGPC President, Mr KS Badungar. Mr Dhindsa welcomed the process of dialogue initiated by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with Pakistan. He said the entire NDA was behind the Prime Minister in his peace mission. However, he also sounded a note of caution, saying that India should ensure that Pakistan sticks to its commitments of stopping terrorism in letter and spirit.

Mr Dhindsa said that the control of all gurdwaras in Pakistan should be handed over to the SGPC. He said that this would be taken up with the Pakistan government in due course of time. 


Govt yet to nominate advisory board members
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The decision on Shiromani Awards for Excellence in Literature, which have not been given for three years by the State Language Department, may get further delayed with the government yet to nominate non-official members to its advisory board, which is to select the awardees.

The Shiromani Awards are the highest form of recognition for writers by the state government. The government awards 13 prominent writers in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu. It also confers the Sahit Shiromani award to one Punjabi writer annually. While the Sahit Shiromani award carries a cash prize of Rs 1.25 lakh, other awards carry an amount of Rs 1 lakh each. The awards were last given in February 2001. The government is yet to give awards for the financial years 2001 - 02, 2002 -03 and 2003 -04.

Sources disclosed that the selection of the awards for the past two years and the present year was stalled, as the government was yet to nominate the non-official members of the advisory board of the Language Department. They said that according to the newly formed advisory board, there were to be 13 official members on its panel and 30 non-official members. The sources said the non-official members were to include 12 Punjabi writers, three Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit writers, three mediamen and six prominent personalities from various spheres.

The sources said that besides the delay in the nomination of the advisory board, the Language Department was also presently facing a resource crunch, which was making it difficult for the distribution of the awards for the past three years. The Language Department needs Rs 45 lakh to distribute the awards for three years to the selected writers. The government has not earmarked any money for this purpose in the planned budget of the department. In Language Department Director, Dr M.L. Hasija, when questioned about this, said the government could release the money under the non-plan head also.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed that the department was also facing problems in carrying out other schemes initiated long ago due to the lack of funds. One of these includes providing pension of Rs 800 per month to writers belonging to the economically weaker sections. The department had selected 25 writers under this scheme out of which six writers had expired over the years. The remaining writers have been getting pension for the past one year. Even though the department is unable to pay pension regularly even to these 19 writers, various Lekhak Sabhas have asked it to increase the pension to Rs 2,000 per month, besides increasing the number of writers covered under the scheme.

The department is also unable to ensure the publication of its various books due to the shortage of funds. Sources said presently as many as 300 publications of the department were awaiting publication. They said the Printing and Stationary Department of the state government had not got any work allotted from the Language Department this year because the department had not cleared bills amounting to as much as Rs 45 lakh. They said nearly an equal amount was due to private publishers.

The Language Department has now made a proposal to the government to allow it to install a small offset press in its main building here so that work on its publications could be carried out quickly. The department has already started composing its books itself. This proposal has been mooted because the relevance of some books on science and general knowledge, which are pending publication, may not remain if the publication is delayed further.


Local Area Development Tax to replace octroi’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 13
The Punjab Government has made all arrangements to replace octroi with the “Local Area Development Tax” in the state from July 1. This would benefit the state exchequer as well as the councils, as it would generate an income of approximately Rs 150 crore more than that generated by the octroi. This income will be distributed as grant to those economically weaker councils, which are unable to meet even their establishment expenses, so that they may also initiate development projects in their respective areas, said Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, while addressing a function organised to distribute development cheques to the five municipal councils of the district at Sirhind town today. The minister also laid the foundation stone of Municipal Community Centre at Sirhind town.

He directed the Executive Officers as well as the council presidents to ensure that the grant given by the government is properly utilised and spent only on those projects for which it had been earmarked. He also directed them to ensure that no sub standard material was used in the development works. He also announced that the government would honour all those presidents of the councils, who would take personal interest in the development of their towns and cities. He said besides this the Punjab Government would also honour and encourage municipal councils by providing extra grants.

Lashing out at the Akalis, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh alleged that the previous government had failed to initiate all schemes sanctioned by the central government for the panchayat samitis, zila parishad, village panchayats as well as for the municipal councils.

In his address Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests, who arranged the function said the state government was committed to the development of this historic district and had chalked out the plan to commemorate the 300th anniversary of bricking alive of younger sahibzadas and a special committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister had been formed and special funds had been allotted for the purpose. He demanded more funds for the development of the area.

Mr Sadhu Singh, MLA, Amloh, in his address urged the minister to sanction more financial assistance for the Municipal Council, Amloh.

The Minister also presented cheques of grants amounting to the tune of Rs 1.16 crore to the councils of the district for urban development in the district, which include Rs 40.33 lakh for Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, Rs 44.01 lakh for Mandi Gobindgarh, Rs 10.07 lakh for Amloh, Rs 14.73 lakh for Bassi Pathana and Rs 7.05 lakh for Notified Area Committee, Khamano. The Municipal Employees Union, Sirhind, presented a memorandum to the Local Bodies Minister demanding 7.5 per cent House Rent Allowance for the employees working up to the limit Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council as the population of the Municipal Council had crossed the limit of 50,000.

Mr Charanjiv Channa, president MC, Sirhind, Mr Joginder Pal Gupta, president, MC, Mandi Gobindgarh, Mr Baldev Singh, president, MC, Amloh, Amita Tangri, president, MC, Bassi Pathana, Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, VP, MC, Mandi Gobindgarh, and Mr A.K. Sikka, Deputy Director, Local Bodies, also spoke on the occasion.


SGPC organises ‘Fateh Divas’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 13
The declaration of unity between the two warring factions of the Akali Dal is possible any time as the working committees of both factions have given rights to their respective leaders Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, to negotiate and, moreover, both leaders have finalised the agenda after various rounds of discussion, said Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, while talking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib yesterday. He had come here to preside over the “Fateh Divas” celebrations organised by the SGPC to commemorate the victory of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur over the Mughals on this day in 1710. He expressed concern over the remarks of Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia regarding Sikh principles and traditions. Answering a query about the controversy involving Gurtej Singh, former IAS, the SGPC chief said he had harmed the Sikh community and institutions in a big way by challenging its principles, traditions and authority of Akal Takhat. He said the SGPC had honoured him but Mr Ahluwalia was condemning the same institution. He said Mr Ahluwalia was a frustrated man and was misguiding the public. He also urged the Prime Minister to appoint a Sikh as the next Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University. He said no Sikh had ever been appointed as the VC of the university.

Later addressing the “Fateh Divas” gathering he called upon the Sikh youths to come forward and protect their rich heritage, culture, traditions, principles. He urged them to realise that they were sons of great gurus and martyrs like Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and Phoola Singh and they must protect the dignity of the Sikh community. He said the SGPC had chalked out various programmes for youths and for strengthening the community. He said seminars on Sikh history were organised in Amrit Sanchar Camp to clear the misconceptions in the community, attacks on Guru Granth Sahibs and to end social evils. Similarly to strengthen the Sikh youths mentally and physically and to utilise their energy in positive manner Sikh Khalsa games had been introduced. He declared that May 12 would be celebrated every year by the SGPC as the ‘Fateh Divas’ and June 25 as “Shaheedi Divas” of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. He also announced to construct memorials in the memory of all those who sacrificed their lives and made contributions for the Sikh cause.

On this occasion a renowned Punjabi writer, Dr Harchand Singh Sirhindi and Dr Harkirat Singh, a renowned translator of Guru Granth Sahib, were conferred with Baba Banda Singh Bahadur awards.

The highlight of the function was the Amrit Sanchar camp organised by the Dharm Parchar Committee of the SGPC.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA, Mr Gurdev Singh, former MLA, Mr Jaswant Singh Rajindergarh, member SGPC, also addressed the gathering.


Multi-crore PDS kerosene scam unearthed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
The police here has detected a scam under which the kerosene meant for distribution among poor people at subsidised rates through fair price shops was being sold to a petrol station in Punjab and Haryana for the past several months.

The scam by certain persons allegedly with the connivance of the officials of oil companies, Food and Civil Supplies department officials and officials of the Octroi wing of Municipal Councils of different towns and some fair price shops owners came to light when the Sangat police seized two tankers transporting kerosene meant for poor people to various destinations in Haryana and Punjab two days ago.

Investigation revealed that certain persons were allegedly diverting lakhs of litres of kerosene to petrol stations every month. They were allegedly earning Rs 60,000 per tanker of 12,000 litres of diesel. The accused allegedly used to purchase kerosene directly from the persons, who had agencies for it and were supposed to deliver the commodities to fair price shops of their areas after getting it from the fuel dumps or oil depots. Every month, those involved in the scam operators had been making crores from this business.

Official sources said that during questioning the four arrested by the Sangat police two days ago, revealed that they had been transporting 70 tankers of kerosene to different destinations in Punjab and Haryana and they had been doing so for the past many months. They also revealed that they had been fetching kerosene from the oil dumps in Bathinda city and then transporting it same to certain petrol stations in Punjab and Haryana.

The arrested also disclosed that they would put a chemical in the oil tanker to change blue colour of kerosene meant for poor people on subsidised rates through public distribution system (PDS) to change its colour to matching with that of diesel. Only 250 gm of chemical, red in colour was used to change the colour of the 12,000 litres of kerosene in the tanker.

After changing the colour it was mixed with petrol and diesel at the petrol station and same was sold to the unsuspecting customers. They added that they would get receipts of payment of Octroi from various octroi posts without taking the tankers there by bribing the officials concerned.

Police sources said that process to summon records of oil dumps, Food and Supply Department and fair price shops had been started and any agency not cooperating in the investigation, would face the law. Even district police chief, Ishwar Singh had written to various authorities and agencies to detect actual magnitude of the scam and for producing the relevant record required for investigation.

Sources said that a special team of police officials had been formed to probe the scam that was believed to have national dimensions and ran into hundreds of crores of rupees. The ration cards of the beneficiaries, for whom the commodity was meant would also be taken into possession for investigating the scam to its source.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, confirming that kerosene diversion was a big scam, said that he would write to the state government to take steps to work out it and for taking necessary action in the matter.


Notification soon on construction ban
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
With the Central Government notification regulating construction activities within a specified distance from military installations having “lapsed”, a fresh notification is expected to be issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) shortly.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amrinder Singh, had yesterday announced that the notification, prohibiting any construction within a radius of 900 metres from the perimeter of a military installation, was no longer in force. The notification had been issued in May, 2001.

The status of the notification brings into focus not only the security and flight safety aspects, but also the use of thousands of acres of land adjoining military installations across the country.

“After examining the case, we found that the notification has expired,” Dr P.K. Bandhopadhyay, MoD’s Director, Public Relations, told TNS. “A fresh notification will be issued soon,” he added.

When asked about the status of construction activities in the intermittent period between the expiry of the earlier notification and issuance of a fresh one, he said that the new notification would take care of it.

Air Force officers, on the other hand, maintain that as far as they are concerned, the orders prohibiting construction within the notified zone is still in force. “The notification does not have any expiry date. We have not received any information or orders stating that the notification is no longer in force,” a senior Air Force officer remarked. Till the time a new notification is enforced or orders to the contrary are issued,” the earlier notification stands,” he added.

Following reports of the ban on construction being lifted, Air Force sources said that they had sent a signal up the chain of command, seeking advice on the matter. Officers said that they learnt about the notification’s expiry through media reports quoting the Chief Minister on the issue.

The Chief Minister’s statement was not based on any written communiqué from the MoD, but reportedly on a DO letter written by a joint secretary in the MoD, Arvind Joshi, to the IGP, Central Reserve Police Force, on May 6 in response to the latter seeking permission for construction in the CRPF campus adjoining the Air Force Station here. The joint secretary had, in his letter stated that at present there was no restriction on constructions around the airbase.

The prime concern among Air Force authorities is security and flight safety. Given the sensitivity of an airbase, the notified zone was conceived from the security point of view. Constructions along the perimeter near the runway ends also have serious implications on flight safety.

Although the Chief Minister stated that no constructions would be permitted in the airbase’s funnel, which is the glide path of an aircraft on its final approach to the runway, the funnel is already dotted with unauthorised constructions.


Criminal cases against colonisers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Municipal Corporation today decided to get criminal cases registered against owners of as many as 10 unauthorised colonies coming up in the city who have uprooted boards put up by the corporation warning the public against buying any land in the upcoming colonies.

Sources disclosed that Mayor Vishnu Sharma had taken this decision when the issue was brought to his notice. The corporation authorities have decided to identify the owners of the land on which the colonies are being cut to get cases registered against them. The sources said this was being done because the land was being sold by brokers who had acquired the power of attorney of the land even though it was still owned by someone else.

The corporation had put up boards in colonies which were coming up at Ablowal (two), behind Thapar institute, Model Town drain, Seona road (near Anand Nagar), on the Sirhind road near the rice shellers, on the Sirhind road near Lehal Nursery, near New Green Park on the Jhill road, near railway crossing Number 17 on Rasulpur Jaidan road, on the Alipur Akaaian road, near the Focal Point (two) , Azad Nagar, Ranjit Vihar and Modi Mill.

The sources said owners or promoters of the colonies had uprooted boards put up by the corporation authorities at 10 places in the city. These boards had clearly stated that the colonies were not approved by the corporation and that anyone buying any land in the area would be doing so at his own risk.

Meanwhile, corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma when contacted said he had got the entire matter investigated and it was revealed that the colonisers were taking advantage of some loop hole in the Corporation Act. He said the Act was silent on the issue of the fee to be taken from the colonisers as well as how much land they were to keep vacant for creation of green spaces and proper roads.

Mr Sharma said it had been decided that the corporation would frame new laws for all the upcoming colonies in the city. He said the corporation would follow the guidelines set by Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) as far as the amount of land which was to be left vacant while it could frame its own laws on the fee to be taken as development charges. He said the matter would be presented for a final decision in the next meeting of the general house of the corporation.

Meanwhile, the corporation had decided that fresh boards would be put up following registration of criminal cases against the owners of the land at all the places where they had been uprooted. The corporation is also undertaking a survey on the amount of money to be charged as development fee from the colonisers separately. Besides this it is also launching another drive to ascertain unauthorised colonisation and construction on the outskirts of the city.


Dangs had raised land-grab issue
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, May 13
Even as sleuths of the internal vigilance, Local Bodies, Chandigarh, have seized the entire case record of encroached 7.5 acres of prime land purchased from the Jammu and Kashmir Government for the extension of a government school, former communist MLAs Satya Pal Dang and Bimla Dang have made startling revelations, consistently raising the issue on the floor of the state Assembly during their respective tenures.

The communist leaders in their correspondence to the Education Minister in 1999 had alleged that a former Deputy Mayor from the Congress and family of one Beli Ram, who had occupied this land worth crores, had started carving out and selling plots. Construction thereon was going on in defiance of a “status-quo” order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The state government did not take any action, he had alleged. He had said a municipal councillor along with a former Mayor had allegedly helped the encroachers significantly, the former MLAs had said “the same councillor executed an ‘iqrar-nama’ with the sellers of plots for a ‘larger’ plot and then donated this plot to the corporation.” A copy of this incriminating document is with The Tribune, which was provided by Mr S.S. Sharma, a local resident, in his complaint to the Director Local Government.

The communist leaders had further said in violation of the court orders the then Mayor had got a community hall constructed on this large plot.

As the community hall was in a shambles, Mrs Dang and Mr Hardev Arshi, another communist MLA, had raised unsuccessfully in the Vidhan Sabha the issue of contempt of court by the Mayor. So much so that Mr Dang had alleged the Principal of Damganj School was also threatened to prevent perusal of the case.

A survey by The Tribune showed that the names of both councillor and Mayor were engraved on the foundation stone outside the community hall, which now stood locked.

In 1995, Mr Balraj Puri, vice-president of the Parents Teachers Association, had written to the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation accusing the encroachers defying court orders. A land Superintendent had also brought the issue of development works being done on the encroached land to the notice of MTP Department. In a report of the tehsildar to then SDM in 1999, it was detailed that in 1965-66 the land belonged to Jammu and Kashmir and later was transferred to the Damganj School authorities. The report had said the revenue department had no knowledge as to how the land was encroached. It stated that the community hall was constructed by the corporation and it now stood ‘closed’. It had also stated that the corporation was answerable as to how development facilities, including sewerage drains, water and electricity supply, were provided to the area. Mr Dang and Mrs Dang had demanded that the land records should be seized and action initiated against all guilty of encroachment, contempt of court and providing development facilities in violation of the town planning scheme.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation said today that the internal vigilance team from Chandigarh seized the entire record of the case a few days back. Meanwhile, the state vigilance, which were also simultaneously conducting on inquiry into the case had asked for the list of officials who gave permission for carrying out various tasks, including NOCs for the development of the area that belonged to the school under the town planning scheme No 38.


Pahal’s effort to conserve water
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 13
‘Pahal’ an environment conservation organisation, under the National Environment Awareness Campaign of the Ministry of Forests and Environment organised a programme on rain-water harvesting at wonderland theme park on the Nakodar Road here yesterday. Demonstrations on rainwater harvesting and recharging were held.

Speaking on the use of water, Dr S.K. Saxena said that injudicious use of water had caused serious threat to life. He said though water was being used for agriculture, industry, power generation and for domestic purposes but its injudicious use could create havoc. “It is estimated that 2.5 per cent of water on earth was fresh, but only 1 per cent of it available as fresh stock only to us. Estimates are that out of this 93.7 per cent of water was being used for agriculture and rest for domestic use, industry and for municipal use,” said Dr Saxena.

Ms Sarojini Gautam, Commissioner local Municipal Corporation said she would make efforts to conserve water through rainwater harvesting and recharging.

Prof Lakhbir Singh, the head of “Pahal”, said that water could not be generated beyond available stock and the only measure which could be taken was its judicious use, for which awareness was needed.

Mr Kulwant Singh, of the Wonderland, said that the theme park had made arrangements for water recharging and infrastructure for it had been set up.

Of the 26 participants of painting competition among students of different schools organised on this occasion, Ms Shivani Negi and Ms Ela Vohra of the Army Public School won first position.


Tohra opposes casinos in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Former SGPC chief G.S. Tohra has opposed the opening of casinos in Punjab. In a letter written to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Tohra has urged the state government to drop the move to set up casinos and find other sources for generating revenue.

A statement based on Mr Tohra’s letter was released to the press today by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD).

Mr Tohra has criticised the state government move to engage a private agency for its publicity campaign. 


Leader re-admitted to Congress
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 13
Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, re-admitted Mr Sunder Sham Arora, a political leader of Hoshiarpur, along with his supporters into the Congress today. Mr Santokh Singh and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, were present at the party headquarters here on the occasion.

It may be recalled that Mr Arora was expelled from the Congress party for six years. Mr Kuldip Kumar Nanda, president, District Congress Committee, Hoshiarpur, welcomed the re-induction of Mr Sham Sunder Arora into the Congress and said that the move would strengthen the party.


Shiv Sena men burn govt’s effigy

Kapurthala, May 13
Activists of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) today burnt the effigy of the Punjab Government in protest against the recent hike in the sewerage, water supply, power and telephone charges.

They also held a rally, which was addressed among others by Shiv Sena district president Jagdish Kataria and other leaders.

They demanded the immediate withdrawal of the hike in the charges of sewerage and water supply.

They also presented a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Verma. They demanded the withdrawal of all decisions taken allegedly against government employees, pensioners, traders, farmers and industrialists. PTI


Illegal felling of trees in Bathinda cantt
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA: Braving adverse climatic conditions army personnel toiled hard for two decades to convert thousands of acres of sand dunes in Asia’s biggest cantonment here into lushgreen forests by extensive plantation of different varieties of trees.

The men in uniform have again been toiling hard to save this green cover as residents of a number of villages around the cantonment have started axing these trees with a view to stealing wood for earning their livelihood and domestic use.

Though the Army has started patrolling the cantonment area to check the illegal felling of full-grown trees, the same has been going on very fast, depleting the forest cover. The situation has come to such a pass that long patches of barren land have become visible in the cantonment where it was very hard to find even a meter of vacant land a few years ago.

Due to lushgreen forests, there used to a significant difference in temperature between the cantonment and the city, which has fewer trees and green patches. The forests also led to a heavy rainfall in this area, which once was a rarity. The cantonment also boasts of the country’s best 72 par and 18-hole golf course spread over 200 acres.

“We have been catching a number of people axing trees from the cantonment area but to secure punishment for them by prosecuting them through the local police is a cumbersome process. Hence, FIRs are registered rarely,” a senior army official pointed out.

For a number of residents of the surrounding villages, the illegal cutting of trees had become a full-time occupation as they had been selling wood in the market, the army official added. Some of them had been supplying wood at throw-away prices even at the doorstep of consumers.

Though the exact number of felled trees could not be worked out, the figure certainly ran into thousands. Most of those involved in this illegal trade belonged to the Katchi Bhucho, Gobind Pura, Nathana, Joga Nand, Bibiwala and surrounding areas. A large number of women were also involved, apart from a significant number of ex-servicemen.

The illegal felling of trees increased in the cantonment spread over 65 square kilometres and having 18000 acres of land when most of the army personnel posted here went to different locations during “Operation Parakaram”. As the cantonment was virtually vacant, the unscrupulous elements cashed in on the opportunity. However, the menace has been going on though troops are back at their peacetime locations.

Interestingly, the axing of trees has been going on during daytime with unscrupulous elements roaming about freely in the cantonment area with loads of wood on their heads. Some of these unscrupulous elements even use tractor-trailers to transport the axed trees from the cantonment.

A factor which promotes illegal felling of trees is that the boundary of the cantonment is not fenced. About Rs 15 crore is required to erect a fence around the cantonment, which would certainly check the entry of intruders. Even though the army authorities have taken up the matter with the higher authorities for making arrangements to check this menace, nothing tangible has been done so far. 


NGO apprises Chief Secretary of problems
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
A deputation of the local NGO, Jagriti Foundation, met Mr Rajan Kashyap, Chief Secretary of Punjab, here today to apprise him of the problems being faced by the 60,000 persons settled in the ‘beet’ area, comprising 27 village panchayats in the Garhshankar tehsil of Hoshiarpur district.

Jagriti Foundation, which carried out a survey of the remote area recently, presented a detailed report of the findings to the Chief Secretary, demanding solution to demands.

It may be mentioned that the survey revealed that there were only eight tubewells functioning at the moment in the area as against the required 27.

The state government first initiated the water supply scheme in this area in 1992 through the Kandi Area Development Board (KADB) with the assistance of World Bank. “An outlay of Rs 2.67 crore was reserved for the 27 tubewells but with the non-utilisation of the funds, the funds were diverted by the Badal Government to tackle water-logging in other parts of the state”, alleged Air Marshal P.K. Jain (retd.), chairman of the NGO.

The other problems highlighted in the survey report included pathetic condition of the only primary healthcare centre, bad condition of roads, poor education infrastructure and rising unemployment.

Mr Kashyap assured the deputation that he would seek a detailed report from the departments concerned in this regard within three weeks and initiate necessary action.


Notice issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Issuing notice of motion on a petition filed by Punjab's former Agriculture Minister, Gurdev Singh Badal, challenging an order dismissing his application for discharge in an alleged corruption case, Mr Justice Virender Singh of the high court directed against the framing up of charges by the trial court.

In his petition, Badal, now MLA, had asserted that his application for discharge was dismissed by Ludhiana's Special Judge without applying judicial mind. He had asserted that the prosecution had not obtained sanction for prosecuting an MLA even though it was mandatory under the provisions of the law. His counsel had claimed that irreparable loss would be caused in case further proceedings before the trial court were stayed.

The former minister was booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Patiala on November 23 last year under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the first information report, the then minister had misused his official position. During his tenure, he had given promotions to his favourites with mala fide intentions after ignoring seniority. Besides this, the former minister had "gathered movable and immovable property".

Claiming to have been implicated in a false case, Gurdev Badal had alleged that the FIR, registered to "wreck vengeance and take revenge", was misuse and abuse of law.

Court informed

Member of the Rakran Dhana Gram Panchayat in Nawanshahr district Savitri Devi has been placed under suspension — the fact was brought to the notice of the high court by counsel for the state of Punjab.

Appearing before Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the high court, counsel submitted an order issued on April 8 by Deputy Director of Panchayat whereby Savitri Devi had been suspended and an inquiry for alleged unauthorised possession of land had been ordered. The order was submitted during the hearing of a petition filed by Savitri Devi herself. 


Lawyers to boycott SDM’s court
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 13
Members of the District Bar Association, Faridkot, have decided to boycott the court of SDM Devinder Singh indefinitely following his alleged indifferent attitude towards lawyers in the recent past here. The decision was taken at a meeting of advocates at the Bar office here today.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Dhudi, president of the association, presided over the meeting. A resolution demanding the immediate transfer of the SDM would be sent to the Chief Minister.

Earlier, a delegation of the lawyers met Mr Justice M.M. Kumar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It sought his intervention to resolve the issue.

Later, Mr Dhudi said Mr Mangat Arora, an advocate, who appeared in the court of the SDM in connection with a case on May 2, was humiliated by the SDM. Despite repeated requests, the SDM did not hear the case and ignored him.

There was a heated exchange between the lawyer and the SDM. The SDM ordered his gunman to take the advocate out of the court. The matter was also brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner.

When contacted, Mr Devinder Singh refuted the charge. He said the lawyer had come to his court to get some documents of a .32 revolver signed. Due to his busy schedule, he requested the lawyer to come in the afternoon. He alleged that the lawyer had used foul language and humiliated him.

The documents were with him, said the SDM. He added that the lawyer was also not in uniform and had never appeared in his court earlier.


Thandal case: 1 remanded in custody

Kharar, May 13
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, here today remanded Nirmal Singh police custody till May 15. He was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) and is one of the alleged accomplices of former Akali minister Sohan Singh Thandal.

Mr Sohan Singh Thandal has a case registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act under Sections 420, 468, 467, 471 and 120-B.

Mr Charanjeev Arora, Public Prosecutor, appeared on behalf of the VB and said that the accused maintained joint bank accounts with Mr Thandal. He added that the accused, in 2001, sent five persons to foreign locations and took Rs 7 lakh per person for this purpose. He said that it was yet to be ascertained from the accused as to who had been sent to foreign countries and the bank accounts he had. He said that the anticipatory bail of the accused had already been rejected.


No action in bribery case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
Two PUDA officials, who were caught red-handed while allegedly accepting bribes by the Vigilance Bureau, have not been placed under suspension by the authorities concerned.

He Subegh Singh, Head Draftsman, posted here, was arrested while accepting a bribe of Rs 1,500 from Mr K.P. Goyal, a contractor. A few days later, another official, Mr Shushil Kumar, SDE, was arrested at the Hussianiwala border in Ferozepore district while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000 from a contractor, Mr Amarjeet Singh Happy.


Police remand for 4 travel agents

Phagwara, May 13
Three travel agents Gurdev Singh, Joga Singh and Kashmiri, arrested for defrauding four persons of Rs 4.50 lakhs were remanded in police custody on Sunday for two day’s by a court here. OC


Stipend for young lawyers sought
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 13
The District Bar Association hare yesterday demanded stipend for young lawyers at least for five years, Mr Bhupinder Singh Raja, an advocate, here addressing a function in bar room said that the young lawyers these days faced stiff competition found it difficult to sustain. The government and the Bar Council should consider providing them stipend in the initial years of practice to continue in the profession with honesty.

The function was attended by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandry and Sports, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi member of Parliament from Hoshiarpur and Mr Ramesh Dutt, Minister of State for Cooperative and Grievances Punjab. Mr JPS Dher president of the District Bar Association, requested the ministers for funds for the construction of chambers for the young lawyers and for the library. Mr Dher said that 100 young lawyers faced hardship in the absence of chambers. 


Farmer loses foot in mine blast
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 13
Surjeet Singh (24) of Mumbeke village of Fazilka sub-division was injured in a mine blast on Sunday morning. According to details the Army had certified that fields of Surjeet Singh were de-mined yesterday. Surjeet Singh went to switch on water pump motor in a well in his fields. His left foot was blown up in the blast of a mine laid during in the operation. He was removed to the local Civil Hospital where his foot was amputated.

FEROZEPORE: The Punjab Government has taken up the matter of handing over the mined fields back to the farmers with the Army authorities. Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh said that the Army authorities had assured the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that the fields would soon be handed over to the farmers and the tillers after the de-mining operation was completed.

The Deputy Commissioner was addressing residents of the border areas during a sangat darshan programme at Mamdot. He said that till date, an amount of Rs 32 crore had been distributed as compensation to residents of the border villages. He further said that an amount of Rs 6 crore would be distributed to the border farmers at the rate of Rs 2500 per acre.

He said that to give relief to the farmers of the border areas, the bills of electric motors, bank loans and school fee of the children would be partly waived off. The government had released Rs 12 crore for the border area development, which would be utilised for the repair of roads, construction of school buildings, and other development works.

The Deputy Commissioner said that no person would be allowed to encroach the government or panchayat land. However, plots for the construction of houses would be given to people belonging to the weaker sections of society, he added.


Licences of 32 chemist shops suspended

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab government has issued instructions that no chemist shop will sell any schedule-H drugs without the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

An official spokesman said here today that Drug Inspectors had been directed to ensure that only qualified pharmacists sold medicines at chemist shops.

Meanwhile, the Health and Family Welfare Department, Punjab, has stepped up its drive to ensure the sale of good-quality medicines at chemist shops. During the first four months of the current year, the licences of 32 chemist shops had been suspended. TNS


Octroi evasion: action sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
Seeking immediate action against the importers and staff members of the Octroi Department allegedly involved in the evasion of octroi levied on the sugar imported from Pakistan, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena sought the registration of cases against the persons involved.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Billa said though the Prime Minister had demanded an inquiry into the case, no action had been taken against the offenders. Mr Billa said the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Punjab, had conducted an inquiry and the Vigilance Bureau had recorded his statements twice, but no action had been taken against the importers.

Mr Billa claimed that an inquiry conducted by the SP, CID, had mentioned the connivance of members of the municipal corporation with the importers in the evasion of octroi worth crores. He said lakhs of metric tonnes of sugar was imported from February, 1998, to August, 1999, but the importers had paid octroi for only a few thousand quintals. He said there was discrepancy in the records maintained by Customs and the municipal corporation over the quantity of sugar imported.

Mr Billa alleged that most of the sugar had been sold in the city in wholesale. He said an importer had been caught red-handed while selling about 200 sugar bags on which octroi had not been paid. Two octroi clerks had been suspended, but later reinstated. No action had been taken against the importers, he added.


Response to shoe-shine campaign ‘encouraging’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 13
Shoe-shinning campaign by Mr Abinash Rai Khanna, BJP MLA from Garhshankar for raising funds for the repair of the Garhshankar-Hoshiarpur road was widely lauded. Mr Khanna and his supporters are visiting, educational institutions, industrial and business houses and public places for donation and are getting donations after shinning shoes.

Mr Abinash Rai Khanna said from Garhshankar that he along with Abinash Sharma, Bhushan Gupta, Parveen Kumar, Bhisham Sharma and Rama Kant visited SD Public School Tuto Mazara this morning. Besides shinning shoes they were enlightening people on the non-performance of Capt Amarinder Singh government. He said they would shine shoe at bus stands of Mahilpur and Saila Khurd today. He said people’s response for donation was encouraging. The donation boxes would soon be opened and the collected money counted before the public.

He thanked all those who donated for this cause. He clarified that shoe-shining campaign was not a political stunt, but an exercise to repair the road on account of the failure of the government.

To enlighten people of Hoshiarpur on failure of Captain Amarinder Singh’s government on all fronts, the BJP would launch “shoe shining” campaign in the district. This would raise funds for the completion of the projects facing funds’ shortage. This was disclosed by Mr Sanjiv Kumar, member Vigilance Committee of the Government of India while addressing a meeting of BJP office-bearers of various cells at Jahan Khelan 8 km from here today.

He criticised Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, for suggesting to Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President state unit of BJP to stage a dharna before residence of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee for funds for held-up projects. He said Mr Channi should stage a dharna before the office of the Chief Minister Punjab to compel him to re-start development activities in the state instead of harassing opponents. 


“No clergy-like role for jathedars”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, a wellknown Sikh scholar and former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, said today that there was no clergy-like role of Takht jathedars in Sikhism.

In a statement issued here, he observed after the fierce debate of 1994 about the authority of Akal Takht Jathedar — documented in the book Sri Akal Takht co-edited by Prof HS Dilgir and myself — the controversy had again erupted, now, in relation to the case of Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana’s book on Sikhism. Leaving aside the pros and cons of the book, the basic issues needed to be re-stressed. Dr Ahluwalia said, “One of the revolutionary aspects of Sikhism is its rejection of clergy, of priestly class, there being a direct, non-mediatory, relationship between a Sikh and his Guru and God. In particular the following four traditional roles of clergy have been discarded doctrinally in Sikh religion: ex-communications; imposition of religious punishment; prescription of all-time, unchangeable code of conduct, and pontification, that is, the exclusive right to interpretation of Sikh doctrine and traditions. 


Police excesses alleged
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 13
A case of alleged police excesses has been reported at Dhariwal police station here in the district. Mr Satnam Singh, a resident of Kaler Kalan, was allegedly beaten up by the police on May 11. The victim showed bruises on his back inflicted by the police to mediapersons today.

Mr Satnam Singh said he had a land dispute with his brother and mother at Kaler Kalan village. He said he had been given only 11 kanals of the family holding of 40 acres.

He alleged that when he went to the police station in connection with the dispute, he was made to lie on the ground and was beaten up by policemen, including Mr Surinder Singh, Station House Officer. He said one of has relatives came to his rescue and got him released on the promise that he would be produced in the police station at 10 am on May 12. He along with his relatives also went to the police station on time the next day.

Mr Satnam Singh said he had complained against the police excesses to the chairman, Punjab State Human Raights Commission, the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Director-General of Police, Punjab.


Junior engineers sit on fast
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 13
A batch of seven Junior Engineers of the Central Zone today sat on a fast as part of chain fasts being held by JEs to protest against the state government’s move to dismantle and privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The JEs sat on the fast under the leadership of Mr Charanjit Singh. Speaking on the occasion, patron of Council of Junior Engineers Sukhdev Singh and general secretary Davinder Singh said any dismantling or privatisation of the PSEB would result in a sharp rise in tariffs. The leaders said this would affect the rural segment of society besides the underprivileged.

The council leaders called for strengthening the present structure of the board by providing it with adequate funds besides going in for internal reforms which, they said, would result in reduction of losses by 2 per cent. They also called for an open debate on the future of the board by involving all its stakeholders, including employees.


PCMS Assn objects to electoral rolls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association has alleged gross irregularities in the ongoing process of holding elections for three vacancies in the Punjab Medical Council (PMC).

One of the serious objections raised by the Association is the issuance of ballot papers to many doctors, who are either no more or have gone abroad while a majority of those registered with the council and residing in Punjab are being denied their voting right.

According to Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Vijay Kumar, president and treasurer, respectively of the association, PMC officials are busy posting ballot papers to those eligible as per the electoral list prepared by them. The election process of the PMC has to be completed by May 22 . The election rules provide the voting right to any doctor who has completed his her medical graduation even before 1947 the oldest ones enrolled are those who had done their medical graduation in 1908.

The PMC electoral rolls contain the names of 7500 doctors only though 34,000 are registered with the council.

The Registrar-cum-returning officer for the PMC elections is the Joint Director of the Department of Medical Education. He has circulated the election notification among Civil Surgeons and medical colleges of the state but refused to acknowledge the presence of doctors serving under him. More than 3,000 doctors registered with the council from 1908 to 1973 have retired from these government departments. "It clearly indicates the intentions of the Joint Director," they alleged. Representatives of doctors have been alleging a foul play by the returning officer, who has allegedly monopolised the whole game to favour his loyalists. They alleged that ballot papers were being sent to many who had either expired or gone abroad.

The PCMS representatives demanded an immediate end to this undemocratic process and demanded the voting right to all doctors, besides a high-level inquiry into the whole process.


No new cancer case in Hamidi
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 13
Three teams of doctors today completed the check-up of the entire population of Hamidi village, near Barnala, to detect cancer cases. The teams were constituted by the Sangrur Civil Surgeon, Dr J.R. Bansal.

Talking to TNS here, Dr Bansal said the teams examined nearly 4,200 persons today. No new case of cancer was detected, he added.

Dr Bansal said now only five persons were suffering from cancer in the village.


Probe ordered into sale of blood
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, today asked Dr Jagjit Singh, District Family Planning Officer, to hold a probe into the sale of two units of blood to a patient, who was operated upon for removal of a stone in uterus in a private clinic here.

Dr Goyal said he had ordered the inquiry when Mr Balwant Singh, an attendant of the patient, accompanied by volunteers of an NGO, complained to him that Rs 3,200 had been charged from him for providing two units of blood.

In an affidavit, he pointed out that after charging Rs 3,200 the doctor concerned asked him to arrange two more units of blood for his wife.

Dr Jagjit Singh have recorded the statements of Mr Balwant Singh and the owner of the clinic, Dr Subash Aggarwal.

Dr Subash Aggarwal, while denying the allegations, said only one unit of the blood was given to the patient and Rs 1,500 had been charged as expenses.


450 examined at TB camp
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 13
The Social Welfare Society, Fazilka, organised sixth annual TB check-up camp. The two-day camp, which concluded on Sunday, was organised in memory of late Bhiranwa Bai and Hari Chand Kalra. A team of specialist doctors comprising Dr Gian Chand Aahir, Head of TB and Chest Disease Department, Medical College Faridkot, Dr A.P. Kansal of Patiala, Dr D.P. Godara of Abohar, Dr Anil Chopra of Ferozepore, Dr Vijay Sachdeva and Dr Davinder Kumar Bhukal examined about 450 patients in two days.

X-rays and sputum samples of 100 patients were tested. The local branch of State Bank of Patiala got X-Rays of 50 patients done free of cost. As many as 57 open cases of TB were identified. All patients were adopted for providing them treatment for a period of 9 months which entails an expense of about more than Rs 3000 per patient.

Mr Rajinder Kumar Rinwa Chairman, Zila Parishad, Ferozepore, presided over the closing function on Sunday. As many as 100 philanthropist of town were honoured. Mr Rinwa announced a grant Rs 31,000 on behalf of Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab. He also announced to donate Rs 11,000 of his own. A local businessman Mr Surinder Kumar Ahuja donated Rs 15,000, Mrs Kulwant Kaur Rs 10,000, Mr Davinder Kumar Sachdeva, Rs 5,100 and Mr Dina Nath Sachdeva, Rs 5,000. 


Red Cross turns saviour
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 13
The District Red Cross Society, has saved the lives of three deserted mentally-challenged children, including two girls, by providing them timely and proper medical aid during the past five months.

According to information available, a girl child, Pooja (12), who could only tell her name and was not able to give more details, was initially noticed by some members of the local Truck Union while she was roaming in their area on January 6. They, with the help of the local police and members of the Sahara Service Society, handed her over to the District Red Cross Society.

The officials of the society got her medically examined by a board of doctors of the local Civil Hospital, who advised prompt medical treatment to her. The girl was admitted to the Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here and given medical treatment free of cost for about a month. She was later sent to a school for mentally retarded girls at Kapurthala on February 11.

Another case of a handicapped girl came to light when a resident of area located on the Kotkapura-Jaitu road noticed her on April 25 in the town. She was also brought to the District Red Cross office. She was suffering from cerebral palsy along with spastic quadriplgia disease and taken to the GGS Medical College and Hospital. She was also unable to speak or give any information about her. She was still under treatment at the hospital.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner and Chairman of the society, said here today that a boy of 7 or 8 years, who was noticed by Mrs Charanjit Kaur, a resident of the local Sanjay Nagar Basti on May 7 was also taken to the society office the same day. He was being examined medically. Later he would be sent to the observation home for children at Bathinda, he said.

Mr Prasad said the society was already running a school for deaf and dumb in the district, where over 20 children were being looked after free of cost for the past three years.


Hepatitis-B camp held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Rotary Club Patiala Midtown in association with the State Bank of Patiala, The Mall, Patiala, organised a free hepatitis-B camp at Government Primary School, Rajpura Colony, Patiala, on Tuesday.

Mr Rameshwar Gupta, president of the club, informed that this was the second dose of the vaccine. The third dose would be given after four months.

The camp was inaugurated by Mr M.S. Narang, SDM, Patiala. Mr A.S. Bhatia, Assistant General Manager, State Bank of Patiala. The Mall, Patiala, was also present.

Mr Narang and Mr Bhatia appreciated the social work being done by the Rotary Club Patiala Midtown from time to time.


Meeting discusses anti-malaria steps
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 13
The district authorities have decided to observe next month as anti-malaria month.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said here today that special monitoring cells would be set up. He said a meeting of senior officials of various departments was held today.

Dr Avtar Singh Sekhon, District Health Officer, and Dr Sunder Navetia, District Malaria Officer, also attended the meeting.


Nurses told to dispel myths about AIDS
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 13
The State Institute of Nursing at Badal, near here, observed the International Day for Nurses yesterday by holding a seminar on HIV/AIDS.

In a press note issued here today, the institute said that the plight of the HIV patients was highlighted at the seminar, and it was stressed that these patients should not be seen with contempt.

Ms Prabhjot Kaur, Principal of the institute, said that while society had accepted the patients of other diseases, the HIV/AIDS patients were treated differently. She said that nurses could play a vital role in dispelling common myths about AIDS and other such diseases.

Dr Surjit Singh Toor, Civil Surgeon, Muktsar, who was the chief guest on the occasion, also urged the nurses and other participants to dispel fears and myths about AIDS/HIV. 


Suicide by farmer in debt
Tribune News Service

Jeon Singhwala (Bathinda), May 13
Mr Harcharan Singh alias Harna, a young farmer of this village, 23 km from here, committed suicide by hanging from ceiling fan in his house today. He was said to be under heavy debt.

Police sources said that Harcharan Singh was found dead in his house by his family members. He was taken to Talwandi Sabo hospital and then shifted to Bathinda Civil Hospital for a post mortem examination.

Sources added that Harcharan Singh, who owned seven acres of land, was under heavy debt and failed to repay the loan of a commission agent and other government agencies due to repeated failure of crops. Due to heavy debt Harcharan Singh was depressed and felt harassed by the lender.

Mr Harcharan Singh leaves a wife and two children. No suicide note was recovered from the possession of the deceased.

Police sources added that while the case against a commission agent of Bathinda and another businessman had been registered. The FIR was registered on a statement of Mr Sucha Singh, father of the deceased. A case under Section 306 of the IPC was registered in Talwandi Sabo police station.

Mr Ashutosh, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, said that the matter was under investigation and no arrest had been made.


Traffic park to educate public
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
To educate the schoolchildren, truck drivers, state government drivers and other section of societies, a traffic park is coming up near the Rose Garden in the city.

The traffic park, which is being set up by the district police under the traffic training programme of the community police resource centre (CPRC) scheme, will be equipped with all traffic facilities, all traffic signs and signs for railway crossing roads as well as audio-visual aids, museum and a library. Prominent features of the city would also be displayed in the traffic park. The funds for setting up the traffic park have been arranged from the M.P. Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

In the traffic park, the schoolchildren, private and government drivers would be educated about traffic rules and would be imparted education to make them able to drive safely without causing accidents. Various demonstrations by using small vehicles would be given to trainees drawn from all walks of life. The medical examination of drivers would also be conducted in traffic park.

The trainees would be also educated about historical facts. Apart from it, how and when the changes took place in the traffic rules and signals. Lectures by the eminent traffic experts would also be delivered to the trainees.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said the traffic park would be opened for public shortly. He said that one teacher of every school would be trained as traffic warden. After that demonstrations about how to follow traffic rules and how to drive safely, would be organised in each and every school of this district.

He pointed out that over a few years, the volume of traffic in this city had gone up due to coming up of various schools, marriage palaces, guest houses, tuition centres and commercial centres. The only method to regulate the huge volume of traffic was that public should be educated about its rules, he added.

Apart from it, the schoolchildren, who would be trained in the traffic rules, would augment the traffic regulation force in the city and other parts of district which would help in minimising accidents. At present, a section of students had been performing the task of traffic regulators in the city with the help of traffic police personnel.

The district police had also set up a traffic helpline, to aid people in trouble. The highway integrated traffic enforcement centre (HITEC) posts set up at various points in this district had been provided with ambulances to shift victims of road accidents to nearby hospitals without delay.

Meanwhile, some residents pointed out that state government should take up the matter with the Ministry of Surface Transport to set up a traffic aid centre (TAC) in Punjab on the pattern of Haryana to reduce the accidents on main roads.


Retired teachers resent non-payment of pension
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 13
Resentment prevails among 2,500 retired teachers and heads of government-aided private schools against the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards the payment of their pensions for the past three years.

In 1986, the state government had acceded to the demand of teachers of aided schools for payment of pension to those who would not avail themselves of the share of the government in their provident fund. The scheme had been implemented in 1992. The teachers who had retired before or in 1999 were getting pension benefits, but those who had retired after 1999 were being denied the benefits.

Mr Om Parkash Chabbra and Mr Sewa Singh Chawla, members of the working committee of the Private Government-aided School Teachers Association, charged the government with failing to implement its decision made on November 11, 2001, to give them pension benefits with revised pay scales. The government had released a notification in this connection. A large number of pensioners had later filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The state body of the association at a meeting at Ludhiana last week, had decided to start a stir from June 3. They added that the teachers had got their demand accepted after a long struggle and their colleague Romesh Dogra had sacrificed his life for their cause.


Speedy disposal of pension cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Mr Nand Lal, Accountant-General of Punjab, said today that a new system of day-to-day monitoring of pension cases had been put in place here. In the head office an officer had been appointed in the head office for the redressal of grievances of pensioners. The pension cases were processed on a first-come-first-served basis. Only five of the 13,338 pension cases were pending at the end of the past financial year.

The officials concerned had been educated to submit pension cases complete in all respects to avoid any objections at the clearing state. During the past financial year, 2,272 gratuity cases were received and settled. All 470 pending cases of pension arrears had been cleared. As many as 11,175 cases of pension revision were received during the past year out of which only 332 were pending for want of certain documents.


PSEB extends bill payment date
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has extended the cut-off date for depositing outstanding dues by agricultural consumers to May 31 even as it warned that those failing to pay their bills will face disconnection of their power supply.

An official release here said the board had issued directions to its field officers to accept all pending bills of agricultural consumers relating to the period October, 2002, to April, 2003, without late payment surcharge.


Poor to be involved in welfare plans
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 13
Schemes for poor’s welfare can not succeed without the participation of the beneficiaries. Mr P. Ram, Principal Secretary, Welfare Department, Punjab government stated this here yesterday at a workshop on “How social organisations can get grants from government.

The workshop was organised here by the Punjab AIDS Control Organisation and Indian Non-government Organisations Association. 


Minimum wages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Chowdhry Jagjit Singh, Labour and Employment Minister, Punjab said here today that the minimum wages payable to an unskilled worker with effect from March 1 would be Rs 2185 per month and Rs 83.98 for daily-wage workers. 


Colony faces water shortage
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 13
Residents of the Mission Road area have facing an acute shortage of drinking water for the past five days. Mr Baljit Singh, president of the colony urged the Municipal Council authorities to restore the supply of water at the earliest. 


Duststorm upsets life

PHAGWARA: A duststorm hit the area on Tuesday, throwing life out of gear. It was hazy, reducing visibility. A number of tree guards, signboards and hoardings were either bent or uprooted. Power supply and telecommunication links were disrupted.


Wheat stubble being burnt despite ban
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 13
A customary ban imposed by the district magistrate has failed to deter the farmers from burning wheat stubble in at least 20 per cent of the total area. The authorities concerned have reportedly failed take any action against erring farmers.

The district magistrate, Mr Anurag Verma, had banned the burning of wheat stubble in the district as the practice not only caused air and land pollution but could also cause fire incidents. The copies of these orders were sent to about 100 government offices in the state, including the subdivisional-level officers, the Punjab Chief Secretary and some other top offices of civil and police administration, for ‘information and necessary action’.

According to available information as compared to previous years, the trend of burning wheat stubble had declined this year but many farmers had been burning the stubble with impunity. Information revealed that it was not the ban that had led to a decline in the trend of wheat straw burning this year, but it was due to the increasing prices of the ‘turri (wheat husk) last year which had put the farmers in a tight spot at that time. So this year the farmers had been saving the wheat stubble, which is converted into wheat husk, the main fodder for the dairy animals. Last year the prices of ‘turri’ had touched Rs 250-300 per quintal as a large number of farmers had burnt wheat stubble, rather than converting it into wheat husk.

Mr Gurdarshan Singh Ludhar, a farmer of Ganga village, near here said that he had been converting the wheat stubble into wheat husk. He added that he was aware of the losses to the fertility of the soil and environmental degradation caused due to the burning of wheat stubble. He said that radio, TV and newspapers had created awareness about the ill effects of burning wheat stubble.

Some farmers, who had burnt wheat stubble, claimed that they had done so to save time effort. They pointed out that the recommended sowing season of cotton was from April 15 to May 15 and they did not wanted to waste time in clearing the soil of wheat stubble by using cultivators or disks, which took about five days. Almost all farmers admitted that except for saving time, the practice of burning wheat stubble was harmful.

Sources in the Agriculture Department said that besides pollution, the burning of wheat stubble had been causing harm to trees near the fields. The sources said that the micronutrients, which could be made available to the soil from the wheat stubble, were lost and the high temperatures caused due to fire also reduced the fertility of the soil. Some friendly insects and worms that were found in moist earth were also burnt to death due to the heat, they added.

Official sources said that the District Magistrate had recently asked the district police to take necessary action against some erring farmers, but the nature of action taken could not be known.

Mr Didar Singh, Executive Engineer and district chief, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), when contacted, said that the pollution caused by the burning of the wheat stubble did not come under the purview of the PPCB. He said that the PPCB followed the Pollution Control Act which was concerned only with the industrial pollution. He said that it was up to the district administration to check pollution caused by the burning of wheat stubble.


Markfed to get special cell
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab Minister for Finance and Cooperation, Mr Lal Singh, has ordered the creation of a special cell in Markfed to deal with cases regarding misappropriation of paddy stocks.

Presiding over a meeting of officers of Markfed here today, the minister said the cell would review the progress of these cases every fortnight. It was stated at the meeting that there were 247 arbitration cases and as many as 68 FIRs regarding embezzlement of paddy stocks. However, the number of arbitration cases had declined since 1994-95, he added.

Mr S.S.Channy, Managing Director, Markfed, said owing to the foolproof system of checks and balances at the district level, Markfed had been able to minimise pilferage. 


Water schemes dry up due to fund paucity
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 13
Due to paucity of funds various projects launched by the government for providing drinking water in rural areas, are either not complete or are inadequate for the population of various villages.

Sources said that more than 100 schemes had been started to provide drinking water to villages in the district during past about four decades, but about 40 per cent of these schemes remained incomplete. Many of these schemes had become meaningless now as the machinery and technology used for these had become obsolete.

The schemes launched in the past three to four years with much hype, like the sector reform scheme, Nabard project, scheme funded by World Bank had also met with the same fate. Different state and Central agencies had failed to provide adequate funds in time hence the villagers were deprived of safe drinking water.

The sector reform scheme, under which the villages were to provide 10 per cent of the total expenditure of the project while the rest of the amount was to be given by the Central Government, had died a premature death.

The villagers did not show much interest in the scheme. They were not even ready to deposit the 10 per cent share. At the time of launch 24 villages had accepted to be the part of the scheme. Two villages had backed out later.

The Central Government had issued the first instalment of Rs 2.10 crore for the sector reform scheme, about one and half years back, but the project was still waiting for the second instalment. Sources said that at least Rs 3.50 crore was needed more for the completion of the project. If the issuance of funds was further delayed the cost of the project could increase. As the sector reform scheme had almost failed, the government replaced it with another scheme Swaiyjal “dhara”. Only difference between the old and new scheme was that a ceiling of total expenditure had been put under the “Swaiyjal dhara” while there was no such restriction in sector reform scheme.

The funds to the tune of Rs 25 lakh would be provided for each project under the new scheme. However, the sources said that for each canal-based water project, Rs 35 to Rs 40 lakh were needed.

The sources said the delay in completion of projects had another effect. They said that while the proposals for projects were prepared keeping in view population of particular villages according to census 2001, but when there was a delay in completion of projects, the population of the villages inevitably increases, thus the projects become inadequate for supplying water.

Mr T.K. Bansal Executive Engineer (Division No. 1) of the Public Health Rural Water Supply Department, when contacted confirmed that various schemes could not be completed due to shortage of funds. He said the Secretary of the department was in constant touch with the Minister (concerned) of Union Government and funds for the sector reform scheme would be released soon.

He added that efforts were made to get funds for other projects also. He said that cooperation of villagers was necessary for completion of different projects.


Civic bodies get Rs 9 crore
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, presented cheques for Rs 9 crore for municipal committees, councils, panchayats and other civic bodies in the district at a function here today.

Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, said a cheque for Rs 7.74 crore was given for the local municipal corporation. The money would be utilised on roads, sewerage, water supply and green cover.


Cop suspended

Faridkot, May 13
Punjab police Head Constable Jaspal Singh, posted at the Kotkapura police station, has been suspended and sent to the district police lines on the complaint of a Dalit woman.

Senior Superintendent of Police H.S. Chahal said here today that the Head Constable had been suspended following the complaint of a Dalit woman of Hari Nau village, who had alleged that she was beaten up by the policeman four days ago.

In her complaint, she had informed the police that the Head Constable along with three Constables, raided the house of a village panchayat member in search of his son Harjit Singh, against whom a complaint was lodged with the police.

The Head Constable allegedly started beating up his brother Manjit Singh and his sister. UNI


2 minor girls abducted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
Two sisters — Sunita (17) and Sonia (15) — were allegedly abducted by two persons from the Navi Abadi area here two days back.

In a complaint to the police, the girls’ father, Mr Didar Singh, alleged that his daughters had been lured by Ravinder Kumar and Sonu while he was attending to his ailing wife in a hospital. A case of abduction was registered.


Four held for theft
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 13
The police claims to have arrested four persons.

According to the police, the Goraya police raided a place near cremation grounds in Goraya and arrested four persons with weapons.

They were later identified as Kuldip, Sarabjit Singh, Harjit Singh and Sarabjit. Two of their accomplices escaped and were identified as Zora and Billa of Phillaur.

The arrested persons admitted involvement in several incidents of theft.


3 killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 13
Three persons namely Gian Kaur (55), Kirandip Kaur (18) and Paramvir (2) were killed and Balwinder Singh and Hardip Singh, all residents of Daulatpur village, and Parminder Singh injured when their car rammed into a tree at the Chandigarh road, near Sajawalpur village last night.


Woman’s bid to end life in police station
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
A 35-year-old woman today consumed DDT in an attempt to commit suicide in the Kotwali police station premises where she had been called in connection with a complaint made against her by her landlord.

Police sources disclosed that the woman — Harcharan Kaur of Jauhrian Bhattian — consumed DDT even as she was being questioned about the complaint submitted against her. The police sources said the woman fell unconscious in the police station from where she was taken to Government Rajindra Hospital.

At the hospital, the woman claimed she had consumed the poisonous substance as she was constantly harassed by her land lords who submitted one complaint after another at Kotwali police station. She is now stable. A case has been registered.


Hony secy of Khalsa College removed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
The president of Khalsa College Governing Council, Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, today removed the honorary secretary of the college, Mr Bhag Singh Ankhi. Mr Majitha has requested the additional honorary secretary, Mr Gunbir Singh, to look after the working pending decision for the appointment of the new incumbent.

According to sources, Mr Ankhi had been removed by the president in view of simmering discontent in the Khalsa College Managing Committee. In the last meeting held on May 9 the managing committee, in a majority decision, had removed the secretary due to difference of opinion on account of one-year extension being given to the principal of a college being run by the governing council.


Primary education in mess
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 13
Primary education in the district is in a mess. Vacancies of teacher and lack of infrastructure have worsened the situation.

There are more than 1000 vacancies, including 13 of Block Primary Education Officers (BPEOs), 48 of Centre head teachers, 475 head teachers and 383 JBT teachers. The vacancies have been existing for the past more than five years with more posts falling vacant every year. There are no funds to improve infrastructure. Whenever, provided for funds were insufficient.

Under the Sarab Sikhya Abhyan, the Union Government has set apart funds to improve literacy. The contribution of the state has to be 15 per cent for this. Last year the Punjab government failed to avail itself of the grant of Rs 150 crore due to its failure to contribute its share. This year the state contributed Rs 129 crore to improve infrastructure but the amount was not sufficient for a large number of primary schools.

Political interference too has hit education in schools. During vigilance raids the teachers found absent from schools last year were transferred away from their places of residence. But the affected teachers got themselves transferred back to places near their residences due to political influence and absenteeism sought to be ended persists even today.

The worst affected are primary schools in villages on Indo-Pak border beyond river Ravi. The other pockets in this regard included those in block of Dhar and border blocks like Narot Jaimal Singh, Bamial, and Dera Baba Nanak. The Riarki block of Sri Hargobindpur also does not lag behind in this respect. In the past five years more than 4000 teachers were transferred with posts are on deputation from rural areas to urban areas.


Lecturer’s explanation sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
The Dean Academic Affairs, Guru Nanak Dev University has reportedly sought explanation of Ms Anita Tamarkar a lecturer in the Physical Education Department, here for allegedly defying the Head of the Department. Dr Daljinder Singh, Head of the Department of Physical Education, Guru Nanak Dev University had urged Dr S.P. Singh Vice-Chancellor for action against the lecturer.

In a letter to Dr SP Singh Vice-Chancellor, he had charged Ms Tamarkar with indiscipline. He stated that Ms Tamarkar repeatedly defied office orders, requiring her to be punctual for faculty meeting. However, despite reminders Ms Tamarkar did not behave, the Head of the Department is reported to have alleged.


Poor upkeep of colleges: probe ordered
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 13
Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Higher Education, has lamented the unclean premises and dilapidated buildings of the government colleges at Ropar and SAS Nagar. Addressing a press conference after his visit to the colleges today, he said the maintenance of the buildings was being neglected.

He said it appeared that the authorities concerned had been misappropriating the funds for keeping the buildings and toilets clean. The college canteens were unhygienic, he added.

Mr Johar said he had directed the DPI, Colleges, Ms Nisha Shard, to get an inquiry conducted and responsibility fixed. Three-member committees of officers of the rank of Deputy Director would conduct the inquiry. They would submit their reports within 10 days.

The teachers of the colleges had been directed to stay on the college campus at least five hours a day. To discipline the college teachers, a transfer policy would be implemented, under which every employee who had completed five years at an institution would be transferred.

The minister also visited the Ropar Bar Association. He announced a grant of Rs 25,000 for the Bar library.

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