Tuesday, June 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Who is Kanwal Sidhu?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
“Kanwaljit and Kalvinder Sidhu, Chairman and Managing Director, respectively, of Palmier, a London-based distributor of women’s clothing. The business is solid, turning in pre-tax profits of sterling 1.4 million on sales of sterling 26.5 million in 1996-1997. Valued on a par with a quoted textile company, Palmier would be worth sterling 15 million. The Sidhus own all the shares”, reads the book “Britain’s Richest 200 Asians” of 1998. The book was published by Eastern Eye.

Kanwal Sidhu has been in the news ever since the Punjab Vigilance Bureau took into custody five of his employees in New Delhi. Kanwal Sidhu has the India office of Wimpy’s International in Kailash Colony, New Delhi, and has a popular fast food outlet in Connaught Place. Besides, he runs a chain of fast food home delivery outlets in the union Capital and employs about 1200 persons.

Mr Kanwal Sidhu and his father had worked for the erstwhile princely family of Patiala.

Mr Sidhu and his wife, Dr Sukh — Sukhwinder Kaur, live in Central London and own a couple of prime properties there, including flats in the prime St John’s Wood area, which is just a walking distance from the mecca of cricket, the Lords. Dr Sukh works in Middlesex Hospital as a general physician.

Before emigrating to England, Kanwal Sidhu had worked for Maharaja Yadavindra Singh as his Private Secretary-cum-General Assistant-cum-ADC, looking after both his office and household. In fact, he said, when he accompanied him to the USA, he was not even 18 and served him with complete loyalty and commitment.

After Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh accused him of living on the dole of the British Government and maintaining that he was a non-entity in Britain, Mr Sidhu told The Tribune over the telephone that “it has caused me deep pain and anguish that the present guardian of Patiala traditions has made a statement knowing full well that it is contrary to the facts.

“I have never been out of job as I have always been on my own. There is no question of getting dole or anything. In fact, the British have a scheme to feed the ‘ousted Princes and Princesses”, besides providing them with housing and some dole.

“As widely reported in the Indian media that I am supposed to be living on the dole of the British government, I suggest to them to go through the Easter Eye’s 1998 edition of Britain’s Richest 200 Asians. My listing at the 53rd position in the book was on the basis of the turnover of only one of my companies.”


Randhawa forgoes Punsup chairmanship
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was appointed Chairman of Punsup (Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation) today decided to forgo the post, it is reliably learnt.

The letter of resignation (a copy is available with TNS) gives four reasons: 1) appeal by Capt Amarinder Singh to the public to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in view of the “financial crunch and precarious fiscal health” of the state. 2) The government’s inability to implement the promises made in the January, 2002, election manifesto on continuation of ‘’shagun’’ scheme, free electricity to farmers for tubewells, jobs for the youth, old-age and widow pension and education reforms. 3) On the contrary, due to the fiscal health TA/DA (travelling allowance and dearness allowance) to the employees had been frozen, fees in educational institutions enhanced by more than 300 per cent, facility of free education to the girl child has been withdrawn, scholarship to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes students withheld and all development activity in the state was at a standstill. 4) Instead, roughly 100 law officers and close to 200 party workers had been appointed chairmen and members of different boards and corporations.

In this backdrop, Mr Randhawa offered to forgo the Punsup chairmanship and contribute in a “small way” towards austerity in response to the Chief Minister’s appeal. A copy of the resignation letter has been sent to the state Congress President, Mr H S Hanspal.

Indications are that some more chairmen may follow suit. This action of Mr Randhawa has come at a time when Capt Amarinder Singh addressed a meeting of the newly appointed chairmen and impressed upon them to play a “pro-active role” in disinvestment in the “sick” public sector units.

The state had sunk Rs 8,500 crore in various public sector undertakings (PSUs), the returns from these PSUs were a meagre 1 per cent. Barring a few boards and corporations, the rest were in the red.

An interesting aspect of the appointment of chairpersons of 29-odd boards and the corporations and nomination of over 60 political workers as Directors is that in several cases the rules do not permit such appointments, particularly of sitting or former MPs and MLAs. These appointments, say observers, have been made in contravention of the rules and understandably under “political pressure” to accommodate different dissident groups.

In the PSIDC (Punjab state industrial development corporation) the new Chairman, Mr Raman Bhalla, a former minister, is reported to be its “defaulter”. His industrial unit, Echerche Spice and Oils Ltd, was taken over by the PSIDC in July 2002. Mr Bhalla had taken a term loan of Rs 185.50 lakh from the PSIDC in May, 1998. The interest payable by him, as on January 31 was Rs 195.52 lakh. He has so far paid only Rs 4.20 lakh, as interest. By July 31, his interest liability would be Rs 40 lakh. The total dues he owes to the PSIDC are Rs 381.2 lakh, say sources.

In view of these facts, some changes are on the cards, including the shifting of Mr Raman Bhalla from the PSIDC to the PSEB and of Mr Sunil Jakhar from the PSEB to the PSIDC.

Sarbjit Dhaliwal adds: Sources said Mr Avtar Singh Sidhu, alias Billu, who has been appointed as a member of the Punjab State Subordinate Services Selection Board ( PSSSB) has also expressed unhappiness over his appointment. He is not interested in joining as a member of the board. Mr Sidhu said he would soon meet the Chief Minister in this connection. Mr Sidhu had been expecting the chairmanship of an important public sector undertaking.

Meanwhile, a controversy has started with regard to the installation of Mr Ripjit Singh Brar as the Chairman of the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA). Mr Brar was installed as its Chairman at the end of last week when rules regarding the appointment of a private person as the PEDA chief had not been amended. Mr D.S. Kalha, Secretary of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, today called a meeting of the Board of Directors of PEDA, which functions under the control of the council.

Mr Kalha, said that the Board of Directors approved the amendments in the rules governing the appointment of the Chairman.

A non-official Director raised the issue, saying that Mr Brar’s appointment was illegal and it should not be approved by the Board of Directors. Objections were also raised over not giving enough time to study the agenda, which was circulated on Friday.


Unanimous panchayat poll for 7th time
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Multania (Bathinda), June 23
When the late Lal Singh was elected sarpanch of this village unanimously about five decades ago, little did he know that it will become a “custom” in the village. In the past nine panchayat elections which have been held so far, residents have elected the sarpanch and other panchayat members unanimously for seven times with the sole motive that development of the village can be carried out by keeping party affiliations away.

Mr Harsewak Singh was unanimously elected sarpanch, the voting for which will take place on June 29. He also elected the panchayat members as he was authorised to do so by villagers.

Earlier, late Bakhtaur Singh, father of Mr Harsewak Singh, had been elected sarpanch unanimously.

Members of the Gill community, who were residents of Pakistan, migrated to India in 1947. They remained in Moga district for three years, after which they were allotted land in this village. Since then, the residents of this village, most of whom are related to one another, have been managing the affairs of the panchayat by keeping their political leanings away from it. The residents have been electing a candidate belonging to the party that was in power so that the funds kept coming for the development of the village.

Due to the unanimous election of panchayat for seven times, the village has managed to get special grants from the government under different schemes. The village boasts of two primary schools, a secondary school, metalled link roads and a veterinary hospital. The village has also been getting adequate supply of water and power.

The others who have been elected sarpanch unanimously include Mr Kheta Singh, Mr Rann Singh, Mr Manjeet Singh and Ms Harwinder Kaur.

Mr Harsewak Singh pointed out that the village had already been selected for the Integrated Rural Development Programme and would get a special grant of Rs 35 lakh. He said apart from it, the village would get a special grant of Rs 2 lakh as its panchayat had been elected unanimously. He said the funds would be spent as per the priorities of the village.


Panchayat poll: 20 villages to get grants
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 23
As many as 20 villages in the district have become eligible for getting special grants from the government as the panchayats in these villages have been elected unanimously.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had announced that special grants would be given to the villages where the panchayat members would be elected unopposed.

In some villages either the sarpanch or the panches have been elected unanimously. There are 29 villages where sarpanches were elected unopposed, while 166 panches were elected unopposed in the district.

While no sarpanch or panchayat was elected unopposed in the Sangat block, the maximum number of panchayats — six — were elected unanimously in the Bathinda block. The number of sarpanches and panches who got elected unopposed in this block is 11 and 36, respectively.

The details about other blocks are: Nathana-sarpanches (3), panches (30) and panchayats (2); Maur block-sarpanches (2), panches (7) and panchayat (1); Talwandi Sabo sarpanches (2), panches (15) and panchayats (2); Raman — sarpanches (5), panches (42) and panchayats (4); Phul — Sarpanches (3), panches (16) and panchayats (3); and Bhagta — Sarpanches (3), panches (20) and panchayats (2).

FARIDKOT: Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said here on Monday that 19 gram panchayats had been elected unanimously in this district. Sarpanches of Moranwali, Dhurkot, Nangal, Ramgarh, Bajakhana villages, besides five panches each at Janeria, Kothe Santa Singh and Fatehgarh villages had been elected unanimously. He said 600 candidates and 2,264 aspirants had now been left in the fray. He said 103 polling stations had been identified as sensitive and more than 700 security personnel, besides 15 mobile teams, would be deployed to maintain law and order during the polling. More than 1,800 government employees would be deployed to ensure fair and free elections to be held on June 29.

ABOHAR: Residents of Gaddandob village today held dharna in protest against the “arbitrary” rejection of nomination papers in the panchayat elections.

Mr Ravinder Kumar, Mr Om Parkash, Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Resham Singh who had been debarred from contesting the poll for sarpanch led the protesters. They alleged that their nominations had been “fraudulently” rejected with the connivance of the assistant returning officer (ARO). Earlier, they faxed messages to the state election officer, levelling serious allegations against the local election machinery. The SDM told the protesters that their complaint had been received through the CEO and the ARO had been asked for a clarification.

Meanwhile, two out of the 69 panchayats had been unanimously elected in the Abohar block.


Use of health staff for poll duties resented
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 23
A large number of women employees and emergency duty staff of the Health Department have been dismayed their deployment on election duty in panchayat elections. According to available details, about 20 per cent of the total poll duty staff comprises of women employees. In many cases the employees have been assigned duties at distant places in Ferozepore district.

The Punjab Government has in its recent instruction directed the state Health Department to keep its machinery in top gear to meet out any eventuality. However, a large number of emergency duty staff of the department, including doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lab technicians and radiographers, were put on poll duty.

The Deputy Commissioner, about a week back, directed that the poll duty of emergency duty staff of the Health Department be cancelled. Despite these instructions, the duties of some emergency paramedical staff have not been cancelled.

Sources point out that in rural areas about 75 per cent of the health services are maintained by pharmacists and other staff as the posts of doctors are lying vacant. Besides this, the women employees having small children are facing hardships in performing the election duties in distant places.

Mr Ravinder Luthra, president of the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Ferozepore district, in press note here today demanded that the polling duty of women employees and emergency duty staff of the Health Department be cancelled in view of threat of violence, tension and open use of alcohol in elections.


EC seeks report on complaints
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 23
The Election Commission, Punjab, today took cognizance of a complaint by two candidates whose nomination papers for the posts of Sarpanch from Guru Har Sahai were rejected.

A deputation of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by party General Secretary Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singhwala, called on Mr CL Bains, Election Commissioner, in Chandigarh today and alleged that the nomination papers of Mr Iqbal Singh, SAD (A) circle president, and Mrs Sarabjit Kaur were rejected from Guru Har Sahai illegally at the behest of Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister.

Referring the complaint to the District Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Ferozpore, Mr Bains observed: “I enclose herewith a complaint wherein it has been alleged, and apparently it appears so from the list of approved candidates for the elections, that under pressure or some other extraneous consideration, the list was modified and names of the candidates for the post of Sarpanch were deleted subsequently. This is a very serious matter and the commission would like to have report on it. These applicants should be heard personally by the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) and a report should be sent to the commission by 4 pm on 24.6.2003.”


Galiara project: SGPC seeks meeting with CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 23
The Secretary of the SGPC, Mr Harbeant Singh, today requested the Chairperson of the Amritsar Improvement Trust, Ms Ratna, to arrange a meeting with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to expedite the Galiara (Golden Temple beautification) project.

Ms Ratna in a press note issued here today said she had visited the Golden Temple complex to inspect the site opposite the Information Office, which is owned by the trust.

Ms Ratna held a meeting with the SGPC, Secretary who was assisted by Mr Raghbir Singh, PA to the SGPC President Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, and Mr Ajaib Singh Manager of the Golden Temple. She discussed in detail the beautification project and the construction of parking lot to facilitate the large number of pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple in their vehicles.

Ms Ratna assured the SGPC that she would urge the Chief Minister to personally intervene for the early implementation of the last two phases of the beautification project.

Earlier, Ms Ratna inspected Nehru Shopping Complex on Lawrence Road and met the representatives of the complex and assured them that the trust would take all possible efforts to repair the damaged area. She said a letter had been written to the Secretary, Local Government asking for sending a team of experts to look into the problems of the complex in view of its deteriorating state of the building.

Ms Ratna also visited the City Centre commercial area near bus stand to understand the problem of sewerage faced by the people of the area. She assured them that all possible steps would be taken immediately to find solutions to the overflowing sewerage.


VC ‘sidelines’ Pro-VC
Delegates powers to panel
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 23
Despite earlier protests on the issue, the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, today again “ignored” the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal, by delegating his powers to a four-member committee, which does not include the Pro-VC, while proceeding on leave for a couple of days.

According to sources, Mr Boparai proceeded on leave for a few days today and appointed a four-member committee, including the Registrar, Dr Param Bakshish Singh; Dean, Academics, Prof U.C. Singh, Dean, Colleges Dr S.P.S. Virdee and Sociology Department Professor, Mr S.K. Choudhary. The sources said an order to this effect had been issued to all relevant departments.

The issue of whether the Vice-Chancellor should depute his powers to the Pro-VC has been in focus for the past few months, with the VC deliberately not assigning any duty to the Pro-VC during his absence. The Pro-VC has already registered his protest against this move to Higher Education Minister Harnam Das Johar but it does not seem to have had any effect.

The sources says the core issue of debate is the university calendar which clearly states that the Pro-VC will perform duties assigned to him by the VC whether in his presence or otherwise. He is to preside over any meeting which has been fixed before the departure of the VC from the university. The university authorities have claimed that it is for the VC to decide who is to be assigned powers in his absence, though the Pro-VC has claimed that all powers should be devolved to him in the absence of the VC.

The issue has become more complicated with the VC going on record to state that he had delegated his powers to the Pro-VC on two occasions in the beginning of his term which had resulted in “disastrous” consequences for the university. He has stressed his authority to give charge to people whom he can trust, asserting that he was giving charge to men of integrity.

The matter has been taken to the level of the Chief Minister, who has apparently sided with the Vice-Chancellor, saying that the universities were autonomous bodies and that the VCs could take independent decisions. The Chief Minister had also claimed that the government would back its VCs on such issues.

Meanwhile, the new committee constituted by Mr Boparai to function in his absence has a surprise entrant in Dr S.K. Choudhary. According to sources, Dr Choudhary is a member of the United Teachers Front (UTF) of the university, which had supported the former VC, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, and has not been able to get much representation in the new set-up against Mr Boparai.

The sources said this could be another move to isolate the UTF leader and former Dean, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, besides causing a divide within the UTF. Earlier, the UTF was weakened when its senior leader Dr R.K. Sehgal was given the post of Finance Officer of the university.



BSP call to boycott Cong Dalit ministers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 23
The BSP has decided to mobilise its cadre to boycott Dalit Congress ministers during their visit to Punjab villages in protest against the “failure” of these ministers to save Dalits from “Congress -Sponsored atrocities”. The party has also decided to go ahead with its July 7 rally, even if official permission was denied to it.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Avtaar Singh Karimpuri, President of the Punjab unit of the the BSP, said party workers had been asked to boycott Dalit ministers during their visit to the villages. “We were forced to do so as they have been a total failure as far as protection of Dalits is concerned. This was apparent from their attitude towards the Dalits who were facing social boycott for about six months. None of them went there even once to listen to their grievances so we feel that they don’t represent our community, ” he said.

He said during the six months after the “public announcement ” of the boycott of the Dalits, these ministers “failed” to take up their cause, “which means that they have got alienated from the Dalit mainstream. So much so, none of them thought it fit to go to the house of Vijay Kumar who was killed in police firing in Buta Mandi to express their sympathies with the bereaved family”.

The BSP had decided to go ahead with the rally even as the Congress government, which was afraid of the polarisation of the Dalits after the Talhan incident was planning to scuttle it, he said. “ The UP Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, will address the rally as per schedule. If they have power to stop a Chief Minister, they can try it. I wonder how they can prevent us from holding a rally. Actually, fear is lurking in the minds of Congress leaders that the rally would provide a Platform for the Dalits, with whose votes the Congress has come to power,” he said.

He said the Congress government had created an atmosphere of “undeclared emergency” where the Congress leaders and workers alone could speak or move freely. 


Keep out of Punjab affairs’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 23
Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Minister for Transport, Punjab, said an NDA team should not visit Punjab as demanded by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, during his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on June 20.

He said Mr Badal had initiated this step only to save face in new of corruption charges.

The minister made it clear that any interference by the Central Government would not be tolerated. He said the state government was aware of its responsibilities and would perform them in democratic ways.

He reiterated the government’s resolve to contain corruption.


Beant’s grandson eyes top state Youth Cong post
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 23
Mr Gurkirat Singh, grandson of a former Punjab Chief Minister, the late Beant Singh, has surprised everybody by staking claim to the coveted post of the President of the Punjab Youth Congress.

Mr Gurkirat Singh has also approached a number of top Congress leaders and the party high command, where he is believed to have claimed that he is the most eligible candidate for the post. At least six Youth Congress leaders are eyeing the post. Others who have staked their claim include Mr Kuldip Bhullar, son of the Punjab Director-General of Police, Mr M.S. Bhullar, Mr Balbir Raja Sodhi, Mr Bobby Sehgal, a senior Youth Congress leader, Rakhi Bhargav, Mr Jaspal Singh Abdul Khurana and Kunwar Raunak Singh.

The mainstay of the claim of Mr Gurkirat Singh, vice-president of the state Youth Congress and member of the District Planning Board, Ludhiana, it is learnt, is his family background and the sacrifice made by his grandfather for the sake of the unity and integrity of the country.

Admitting that he was in the race for the post, Mr Gurkirat Singh said he wanted to serve the youth of the state. “I thought it would be the fittest tribute to my grandfather and those who fought for the nation if I am able to serve the youth and motivate them to do their best for the nation,” he said and expressed the hope that he would get support from all quarters within and outside the party.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that all candidates for the top post are lobbying to win support. A majority of them are toying with the idea of putting pressure on the party high command to adhere to the 35-year age limit.


543 panchayats elected unopposed
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, June 23
Sarpanches for the 206 out of the 852 panchayats of this district have been elected unanimously. The sarpanches include 45 from the Ropar block, 24 from Kharar, 26 from Majri, 14 from Morinda, 24 from Chamkaur Sahib, 32 from Anandpur Sahib and 40 from Nurpurbedi. The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, gave this information in a press note here today.

The elections for the remaining panchayats would be held on June 29. After the withdrawal of nominations, 1,841 candidates for sarpanches and 6985 candidates for panches are left in the fray for 646 panchayats.

AMRITSAR: As many as 2,798 candidates are in the fray for the posts of sarpanch and 13,471 in the race for panches in the coming panchayat poll to be conducted in 16 blocks of the district for 1,288 panchayats.

Deputy Commissioner-cum-district poll officer Raminder Singh said in the Ajnala block, for a total of 142 sarpanch posts, 380 candidates were in the fray while in Bhikhiwind 124 candidates were in the fray for 64 panchayats.

SAMANA: There are only 87 panchayats in this block out of which 20 panchayats have been elected unanimously. At Kotla Nasru village, the post of sarpanch is reserved for a woman belonging to the Scheduled Caste. However, nobody has filed nomination papers because there are only two houses belonging to Scheduled Caste members in the village and none of them wants to be the sarpanch.

GURDASPUR: As many as 235 panchayats, including 43 from the Dera Baba Nanak block, 25 from the Gurdaspur block, 16 from Kalanaur, 17 from Dhariwal, 28 from Dinanagar, 24 from Kahnuwan, eight from Pathankot, 27 from Batala, 18 from Fatehgarh Churian, 15 from Qadian, and eight from Sri Hargobindpur in this district have been elected unanimously.

In addition, 36 candidates for the posts of sarpanch and 26 candidates for the posts of panch have also been elected unanimously in various panchayats of this district.

SANGRUR: Residents of 82 villages of this district have elected the panchayats unanimously. As many as 102 sarpanches, and 571 panches have been declared elected unanimously. The percentage of unanimously elected sarpanches in the district is about 14. 


Coop bank employees observe strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 23
Employees of Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank today observed a pen-down strike against the decision of the government to reduce their salaries.

Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, district president of the union of the cooperative bank employees, said in a press note issued here today that the strike was observed on the call of the Punjab State Cooperative Bank Employees Federation against the announcement of the government regarding their salaries. He said the decision of the government was uncalled for. He added that the employees of the cooperative banks get their salaries from the profit earned by the banks and there was no burden on the state exchequer for paying these salaries.

He said the bank officials were not given pension. He said the number of holidays were less in cooperative banks than in other government departments and the workload was more than that in other departments. He said despite those facts, the government was giving step-motherly treatment to them.

He alleged that the employees of the cooperative banks were sent on deputation to other departments and it put a burden on the banks as they work for other departments, but get salaries from the banks. He alleged that the government was doing this even after the repeated requests of the bank officials not to do so. 


Fix water supply timings’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 23
Residents of the Ajit road area have urged the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggrawal, to make arrangement so that the time for the supply of drinking water in the city should be fixed. The residents said they had to wake up at 4 am every day for getting water. They alleged that on certain days no water was supplied.

They urged the Deputy Commissioner that instructions should be issued to the department concerned that water should be supplied to the residents at a fixed time. He said the residents should be intimated about the time when the water would be supplied to a particular area.


Villagers gherao police post
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 23
Residents of Fatehgarh Sukar Chak village today gheraoed a police post to protest against a raiding party from the Excise Department. According to reports, an Excise Inspector fired in the air to disperse a crowd gathered outside the police post. The excise team conducted raids on the house of Balwant Singh today.

According to Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, the team had found five liquor bottles from the house of the accused Balwant Singh. However, when the accused alleged that the bottles had been planted by excise officials the scenario turned tense as a mob collected to protest against the raid by excise officials.

The villagers alleged that one of them was injured in the firing. The gherao lasted for three hours.


Pursue cases against doctors’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 23
The issue of death of a head constable in a local hospital due to the alleged negligence of two doctors, yesterday took a new turn with the wife of the deceased seeking the intervention of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) for stopping the police from succumbing to “political pressure” and for preventing the cancellation of the case registered against the doctors.

Head Constable Gurdish Singh had died in the hospital on June 18 after he underwent minor operation. The police had booked two doctors under Section 304, IPC, which evoked protest by the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

In a letter to the commission, Ms Kashmir Kaur, widow of Gurdish Singh, alleged that her husband died following an overdose of anaesthetic drugs and failure of the hospital authorities to providing requisite medicare to him in time. “They did not even inform us and shifted him to another hospital where he died,” she said, apprehending that the police might buckle under pressure.


Stone of rail project laid
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 23
The MP, Mr Balbir Singh, laid the foundation stone of the Rs 408-crore Jalandhar-Jammu rail line doubling project here today.

The project is aimed at improving the rail services between Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country.

The doubling of the railway line involves the construction of 92 major bridges and 390 minor bridges. The work would be completed by 2007.

Mr R.K. Singh, General Manager, Northern Railway, said the project would enhance communication linkage in the north and provide effective transport links from Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of the country.


Rotary ex-Governor accused of misusing funds
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 23
‘Service before self’ may be the Rotary International’s slogan but the same does not seem to hold true for a Past District Governor (PDG), who believes in serving the interests of his family and servant before that of the club by doling out lakhs received from the Rotary International to the clubs headed by them.

Past District Governor Parshotam D. Bansal was expelled from the Rotary membership of the district for this indiscretion during a special meeting of the Council of Governors held last month. It was also decided to take action against Mr Bansal according to the law of the land and Rotary International bylaws.

It was also decided to take action against the four clubs headed by his relatives and former servant and the latter’s wife, who have been accused by the District Council of Governors of misusing the matching grants received from the Rotary Foundation.

Mr Bansal’s son Anil Bansal, who headed the Amloh Club, was given Rs 10 lakh to help provide a school van for carrying students to and from a school at Nabha from where his father belongs. Mr Bansal’s daughter-in-law, who headed the Bhadson Club, was given three grants. While a grant of Rs 6.1 lakh was given to provide computer equipment for an educational centre at Bhadson, Rs 5.93 lakh for a school van to take students to Bhadson and Rs 7.04 lakh to buy 10 water coolers with Aquaguard filters for students at Bhadson.

Besides this, the former Past District Governor’s one time servant Raj Kumar Verma, who headed the Bhawanigarh Club, was given a matching grant of Rs 7.24 lakh to provide two vans to carry children to a school in Bhawanigarh. Mr Raj Kumar Verma’s wife Asha Verma was also given Rs 6.25 lakh to start a computer programme to train poor students at Nabha. The Council of Governors has accused the Past District Governor of misutilising Rs 7.24 lakh meant for providing two school vans to needy schoolchildren of Dulladi village. Vinay Kumar Gupta of the Dulladi Club has also been accused of misusing Rs 8.46 lakh meant for providing 10 water coolers for needy children of Dulladi. The total money claimed to be misutilised is Rs 58 lakh.

The Council of Governors, while expelling Mr Bansal from membership of the Rotary International, has asked the Club to terminate his membership and advised all other clubs of District 3090 not to admit Mr Bansal as a member. It has also asked the clubs not to recognise him as a Past District Governor, a Rotarian or even a non-Rotarian. It also claimed that the Rotary Clubs of Bhawanigarh, Dulladi, Amloh and Bhadson were prima facie found guilty of misusing matching grant funds and action would be initiated against them.

Mr Bansal said all allegations levelled against him had stemmed from political rivalry. 


Rain gives breather to power system
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Widespread rain in the region today provided the power generating and distribution system, that remained stretched for the past few weeks of heat wave, with a much-needed relief.

Various parts of Punjab today received light to moderate rainfall. Weather experts say that these are pre-monsoon showers and monsoon is expected to arrive in this region in the first week of July.

The demand for power in Punjab fell by 150 lakh units today after reports of rain from almost all districts except Bathinda.

The Punjab State Electricity Board had to close one unit of the Ropar Thermal Plant because of the decline in demand.

The board, which used to impose regular power cuts on rural feeders, today provided these with three-phase power supply.

There are reports of fast-blowing winds having damaged power distribution system in certain parts.

Earlier, the board used to supply power to only one group of tubewells, but today it fed all four.

The state has been divided in to four groups as far as supplying power to tubewells during the paddy season is concerned.

Even the domestic sector in rural areas was also given full supply today. In the paste few days, the demand for power here had touched 1,160 lakh units, but it fell to 1,010 lakh units today.


Ex-Mayor questioned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 23
The CBI today detained Mr Subhash Sharma, a former Mayor of the municipal corporation, for interrogation in connection with the sleaze scandal which had rocked the city three weeks ago. He was let off after a three-hour investigation.

Earlier, Mr Sharma, a senior BJP leader, was removed from mayorship when he was allegedly caught with a girl in a hotel.

Mr Sharma was taken to the PWD rest houses where he was reportedly asked about his association with the kingpin of the cable network. According to sources, some of the girls who were “exploited” by the kingpin in the SITI cable sex racket had in their statement recorded at the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had named a number of influential persons, including the former Mayor. 


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The High Court fixed June 24 as the next date of hearing on a bunch of about 15 petitions pertaining to the panchayat elections scheduled to be held in the state of Punjab on June 29.

In one such petition, Makhan Singh of Joga Nand village in Bathinda district has alleged wrong rejection of nomination papers. The papers, he asserted, were rejected even though there was no defect. 


J.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Mr Jasbir Singh Gill “Dimpa” today took over as the Chairman of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

Mr Gill said he would strive hard to improve the efficiency of the board. He would draw a token salary of Re 1 only. 


Crop on 100 acres damaged
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 23
Standing crop, mostly paddy, in 100 acres was damaged when the Faridabad feeder near Faridabad village in this district breached at four places near the village, submerging the crops yesterday.

Official sources said power generation at hydel No 3 was stopped due to repair and water was released in the feeder without informing the authorities concerned. However, no loss of life was reported.


Transfer orders modified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The Punjab Government today made some modifications in the transfer and posting of police officers ordered last week.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill will hold additional charge as the DIG (Administration) while Mr CSR Reddy will continue to be the DIG, CM’s Security. Mr Sanjiv Kalra will be the new DIG of Faridkot range.


SI booked on HC directive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
A former police cat and a serving sub-Inspector of the Punjab Police has been booked on charge of kidnapping and illegal confining a man on the directions of the Punjab and High Court in a three -year-old case.

SI Surjit Chand was booked in an FIR registered late tonight at Shimla Puri police station. He had been charged with picking up a city resident Ram Kumar while he was the in charge of Anti-Goonda staff here.

The orders of the high court were received here late in the evening. After taking legal opinion from the DA (legal), the police booked him under Sections 365 and 342.

Surjit Chand was allegedly a controversial police cat. He was termed an expert in picking up people. He was a close confidante of some senior police officers also. He is at present posted in Ferozepore police range.

The SSP, Ludhiana, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, confirmed the registration of the case. He said the alleged victim had petitioned against the cop in the high court and the police had acted on the basis of the court’s orders. The police was yet to arrest him.

The victim, in his petition, had claimed that the accused had some personal rivalry against him. He claimed that three years ago, he was picked up from his house and kept in illegal confinement in a city jail. He was beaten up mercilessly and treated like animals.

He had also alleged that the then officials in Ludhiana police did not hear his complaint and he had to knock the doors of the judiciary.


Man murdered
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), June 23
Mr Jasbir Singh, a mason, was murdered under mysterious circumstances late last night when he along with his wife Binderpal Kaur and five-year-old son was sleeping on the roof of his house located near the local bus stand.

Police sources said no clue to the murder had been found. Mrs Binderpal Kaur, wife of the deceased, was injured and admitted to the local civil hospital. The assailants took away the gold chain and earrings of Mrs Binderpal Kaur.


2 Kathua lawyers killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 23
Two Kathua-based lawyers died and were injured this morning when the car in which they were travelling met with an accident near Kotli, village, about 15 km from here.

According to reports, Jagdev Singh and Subash Rattan Pal died when their car collided with a truck.

Sanyogita and Chhaju Ram, the other occupants of the car, were seriously injured and admitted to a hospital in Jammu.

A case has been registered.


One killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 23
One person was killed and another injured when the scooter in which they were travelling was hit by a car after it skidded while trying to circumvent a cycle near the Aviation Club on the outskirts of the city today.

According to sources, the deceased has been identified as Sukhdev Singh, a resident of Waraichan village, near here. Sanjeev Kumar (25) who was riding pillion on the scooter has been seriously injured and admitted to Government Rajindra hospital.



Students make robot
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 23
Students of Engineering College and Polytechnic College, Chhapianwali (Muktsar), have made a robot, which they claim can replace human beings working in hazardous industries and can be used for detecting landmines, if it is developed and manufactured on a commercial scale.

Nine students from the colleges took three months to make the smaller version of the robot. They claim that the robot can be used at places where the working for human being is dangerous, if it is upgraded and made on a larger scale.

The robot can pick and put the objects from one place to another with accuracy. The robot, which can lift a weight of 300 gm, can move in left and right directions and can be programmed to work either manually or automatically. In the manual mode, the robot can be commanded through a remote control, while in the automatic mode, it is programmed to do a specific work, which it keeps on doing without any outside help.

The robot consists of 4 single-phase motors of 125-milli-ampere and .003 horsepower each. It is basically operated by a programmable logic controller (PLC), a device that receives instructions from the operator and makes the machine execute the same.

Raman Garg, one of the students, said the robot could be upgraded by installing a detector, besides some alterations, to make it more efficient and powerful. He said they were planning to upgrade the robot by taking a loan. He said one of their teachers had assured to arrange for the loan and other technical help. He said the upgraded version of the robot could be prepared with an amount of Rs 2 lakh in a period of two-months.

He said a majority of the parts of the robot were made of material collected from daily-use household items like geometry box, aluminum rods used in windowpanes, rubber brakes of bicycle, rubber belt of a pressure cooker, gear chain of a motorcycle.

Besides Raman Garg, the other students who contributed in the making of the robot are Pawan Sood, Tarun Bansal, Yogendra Gosain, Sumit Kumar, Amit Salaria, Pawan Sood, Maninder Singh and Homi Gaud. They are planning to get the robot patented after making the upgraded version.


Hoteliers seek industrial tariff on power
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab has reiterated its demand seeking industrial tariff on electricity for hotels instead of commercial tariff which they are paying. The tourism and hotel sector was declared as an industry in 1996. However, it is yet to get the benefits in the shape of various concessions granted to the industry by the government.

In a memorandum submitted to the Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, Mr R.S. Mann, the president of the association, Mr Nanda, regretted that the hotel industry had been denied its due all these years. He pointed out that according to the new policy, hoteliers should be charged industrial tariff of electricity instead of commercial tariff on a par with other industrial units. He said, all hotels were registered with the Director of Industries as small scale industrial units and they had all been issued registration certificates.

Mr Nanda said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had agreed in principle that the hotel and tourism industry would be charged industrial tariff subject to the approval of the PSEB Regulatory Commission.

He said hotels had been asked to pay Rs 750 per kw as transformation charges on total loan in case they do not install their own transformer which was quite unjustified. He demanded that the transformation charges should be charged on extended loan and not on the total load.

Mr Nanda suggested that the air conditioners and geysers should not be counted together. He pointed out, while the ACs were used in summer only and the geysers in winter only. As these were not operated simultaneously, the load of ACs should be counted in the summer season and that of the geysers for the winter season separately.

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