Thursday, July 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM seeks Opposition support
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
A one-day conference on ‘’Implementation of Reforms in Punjab’’ held here today ended on two positive notes. One, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh made a public offer to the opposition parties to join hands with the government to implement the reforms in the larger interest of the state’s economy and two, the setting up of an industrial advisory council to monitor and co-ordinate the implementation of the reforms.

There was also a word of warning by the Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, who delivered the keynote address. ‘’To implement the advice from the body of economic experts and successful captains of industry assembled here, an overhaul of the present departments’ structure and procedures, which ultimately result in the departments acting against one another other rather than as a team, is essential.”

Capt Amarinder Singh gave genesis of the proposed reforms in the fiscal, social, economic and agricultural sectors and identified the problems faced by Punjab. He also outlined the future challenges and allayed the apprehensions about peoples’ reactions to such radical reforms. He assured the participants that the response of the people was positive even when the free power and irrigation water facilities were withdrawn or user charges were levied on the socio-economic services provided by the government.

In his call to the Opposition for co-operation on implementation of the reforms, the Chief Minister said irrespective of the party in power, the process of carrying on with these reforms must continue to build an economically secure Punjab.

The proposed council would have, among others, representatives of major industrial associations and NRIs. It would meet every semester with the Chief Minister in the chair. All Cabinet Ministers would attend these meetings. Written reports on different aspects of the progress of implementation of reforms would be reviewed. The first round-table conference today was a sequel to the presentation on the economic and fiscal reforms made by Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap and Principal Secretary Finance, K.R. Lakhanpal, at Stanford University in the USA in the first week of June.

There were four inter-active sessions, each chaired by an eminent person (name given in the bracket): 1. Fiscal Reforms—Punjab strategy (Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, independent evaluator, IMF, 2. Power and infrastructure (Mr Michael Cater, Country Director, India, World Bank), 3. Agriculture and allied sectors (Dr G.S. Kalkat, a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana) and 4. Social sector — managing human resource, health and education (Ms Ishar Ahluwalia, chairperson, Board of Trustees, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington).

The conclusion of the conference was that for the implementation of these reforms the Chief Minister should provide ‘’political leadership’’ and an impetus to the process. ‘’Only good political risks can yield a good economy,” as Ms Ishar Ahluwalia put it. Capt Amarinder Singh responded positively to her suggestion and remarked: ‘’We have already taken a political risk by initiating these reforms, aimed at making a better Punjab.”

The participants suggested an appropriate communication strategy to educate people with all MLAs involving their constituents and frankly telling them the real purpose of these reforms. The government also must do away with archaic laws and rules, encourage public-private sector partnership, project a clear vision on what is intended to be achieved and how.

Several participants suggested that the government must set an example by rightsizing its bureaucracy, cutting down on unproductive expenditure, focus on state entrepreneurs while attracting investments from outside the state, stop comparing with other states but aim high by following the example of China, show aggressiveness in marketing and projecting Punjab, lead by coming upfront and create a conducive environment for business-friendly investment.

In each session the presenters pointed to the strengths and weaknesses in the respective fields and invited comments. One unique feature was that there was no bitterness or attempt to scuttle the other’s point of view on any issue. There were positive and practical suggestions on power reforms, problems of agriculture, wide fiscal and revenue deficits, low tax collections, unsatisfactory health delivery system, poor quality education etc. There were comments even on good governance and how to tackle the problems faced by the state.

At the end of the day, it was agreed upon that all efforts should be to enable the state to perform its constitutional duties rather than tinkering with the system. The need was as much to diversify the economy as to break the wheat-rice rotation, take unpleasant and unpopular decisions.


Punjab geared up for reforms
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
The attendance at a one-day round-table conference on the ‘’Implementation of Reforms in Punjab’’ here today showed wide interest these have generated both at home and abroad. Among the participants were Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Ms Ishar Ahluwalia and Mr I.K. Sud, and, of course, Mr Michael Carter, the World Bank Country Director for India. They shared their views on the reforms with TNS.

Mr Michael Carter said the World Bank had received one project from the Centre for state highways and bridges in Punjab worth $ 125 million. Of the total engagement of $ 13 billion, the bank has in different projects in India the share of Punjab was $ 168 million. Appreciating the reforms initiated by Punjab, he said policy-level discussions had taken place on probable projects. Though the main thrust had to be on rural development and agriculture, formal discussions were yet to be held. In his view, diversification, contract farming, optimum utilisation of water, breaking the wheat-rice rotation and support to infrastructure development were some of the important aspects.

Asked to comment on the reforms, he said Punjab had geared up to these and was optimistic of a turnaround in its economy.

Ms Ishar Ahluwalia is totally convinced that Punjab would be back on the fast track to development. Given its recent past, Punjab has practically no choice but to take some hard decisions in view of the resource crunch faced by the state. To a question, she said people must be educated and sensitised on these reforms, particularly those concerning the power sector, which hold the key to other areas of the economy.

Her heart is in education and health. She was on the committee on macro-economy and health, constituted by the WHO under Prof Jeffery Sach last year. She feels Punjab is not doing much in these two social sectors. “Here, even the sex ratio is skewed”.

She is on a World Bank mission on “development of policy review” to Bangladesh, which has invested a lot in health and education. She plans to compare Punjab with Bangladesh. She today presided over the session on the social sector.

Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia was the star attraction at the conference. He applauded the reforms and said the best thing about the conference was the confidence and determination with which Capt Amarinder Singh presented Punjab.

There was no money either with the Centre or states. The key issue, therefore, was to generate financial resources through rational user charges without politicising the issues.

Mr Ahluwalia said the fact that the government did not duck on any issue at the conference was proof of his political commitment. The deliberations — where two presentations were made by Mr K.R. Lakhanpal on fiscal reforms, power sector and infrastructure and one by Mr P.K. Verma, on agriculture — showed that much would depend how power sector reforms shaped up. ‘’The very fact that Punjab intended to go even ahead of the Central Electricity Act, 2003, showed its seriousness to transform its economy’’.

Mr Ahluwalia, who is the IMF independent evaluator, said regulatory frame-work and legislative measures were needed in the critical areas. In that context the ‘’open access’’ system merits attention in privatising the power sector, as that would lead to competition, so essential for the success of separate companies for generation and transmission.

Mr I.K. Sud is a Punjabi, who is Managing Director of the Washington Advisory Service. He had sought retirement from the World Bank to set up this consultative company suggesting reforms to various world governments. Speaking about his impressions on the conference, he said much would depend how ‘’political image is translated into reality on the ground’’. The reforms idea and concept were fine. But the question was how and where to begin. For this, the government vision must be clear. It must fix targets objectively.


SAD, Cong claim poll win
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 2
The SAD and the Congress have started making claims that in the recently concluded panchayat elections, candidates affiliated to their respective parties have won the maximum number of panchayat seats.

As the elections were not contested on party symbols, the race to claim credit for the maximum number of seats is on.

While former Akali minister Chiranji Lal Garg has claimed that his party candidates had defeated Congress backed candidates, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, DCC general secretary, said candidates backed by his party had won the maximum number of seats.

The candidates, however, have still to decide whether to join any party.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, an Independent MLA from Rampura Phul, talking to TNS, claimed that out of more than 50 panchayats in the Bhagta Bhai Ka and Phul blocks, 18 candidates belonging to his group and 13 candidates supported by him had been elected as sarpanch of their respective villages.

The district election authorities have been receiving complaints from the defeated candidates that votes were not counted in their presence and their counting agents were sent out of the room when the counting was on.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, district election officer, conforming the complaints, said the allegations were baseless. He said the polling and counting of votes was held in a transparent manner and every candidate had been provided with polling and counting agents.

FEROZEPORE: People have reposed their faith in the Congress government by voting to power sarpanches and panches of the Congress in large numbers. This was stated by Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, parliamentary secretary (NRIs), while interacting with sarpanches and panches here on Wednesday.


Dalit Sarpanch assaulted, trouble follows

Hoshiarpur, July 2
The defeat of a general-category woman candidate for Sarpanch by a Dalit woman in the Panchayat elections at Pandori Khajoor has led to a dispute between the Dalits and Jats in the village. The post of Sarpanch was reserved for a woman of the general category, but the Dalits fielded their own candidate, who defeated her nearest rival by 40 votes.

According to Mr Gurmukh Singh, a Dalit who was recently elected Panch of Pandori Khajoor, when Ms Charan Kaur, new Sarpanch, along with seven other women, went to the fields to collect fodder early today, for persons of the Jat community did not allow them to take it and assaulted them. They forced them to sit under the scorching sun and did not allow them to go to home.

When the Dalits of village informed the police, Mr Bhagwan Singh Chauhan, general secretary of the Bahujan Samaj Party in Punjab; Mr Sumitter Singh Sikri, district president of the BSP; Mr Maninder Singh, a BSP leader and a; police party led by Mr Randhir Singh Uppal, Deputy Superintendent of Police, reached the village and got the women released. The police took the leaders of the Dalits and Jats to the village gurdwara to settle the dispute.

Mr Gian Chand, a former Sarpanch and husband of the new Sarpanch, Mr Bhagwan Singh Chauhan and the others alleged that the police had offered chairs to the Jats and told the Dalits to sit on the ground. At this, all Dalits stood up and demonstrated against the police. They also held a protest on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road.

Meanwhile, the Dalits of Sherpur Glind, Hardokhanpur, Sikri, Lambra, Asalpur and Mohalla Aslamabad assembled there and joined the protest. They blocked traffic on the road for half-an-hour.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner Hoshiarpur, had to send Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Subdivisional Magistrate, there to defuse the situation. On the assurance of the DSP and the SDM, that an action would be taken against the culprits, they lifted the blockade.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, Senior Superintendent of Police, said five members from each community would meet the SDM Hoshiarpur on July 4 to settle the dispute amicably. A police force has been deployed in the village to avert any untoward incident.

The Jats refuted the charges levelled by the Dalits and said they had only stopped the women from taking fodder from their fields.


Members of panchayat elected unopposed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Moondkhera (Patiala), July 2
While Talhan will remain a blot on the Punjabi spirit of brotherhood, this village, where Dalit labourers and their families have been boycotted, with a list being issued by the village panchayat, has proved that wounds can heal when an effort is made.

Around eight months back, the village panchayat had issued a list of 15 Dalit labourers to the local milkman, flour mill owner and grocery shop owner. The panchayat had asked them not to deal with the labourers or their families because they had complained that they were being treated as bonded labourers to the National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission.

The issue had flared up when the panchayat imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on a ‘karyana’ shop owner who had given items on credit to the family one of the Dalit labourers on the list. The labourers had protested against the move and the issue had been highlighted in the media, following which a compromise had been arrived at after two high-level visits to the village by local administration officials.

Mr Ashok Kumar of the village said he had first mooted the proposal of ensuring unanimity on the choice of sarpanch and panches in the village by talking in this regard to Mr Bachan Singh, Mr Jagir Singh, Mr Mahinder Singh and Mr Ashok Kumar. He said they decided on ensuring unanimity to erase the bad name earned by the village due to the deterioration of relations between the Jats and the Dalits.

He said he, along with others, went to the Dalit ‘vera’ to convince them about having unanimity on the panchayat. He and others said the Scheduled Caste families were hesitant, but they were told that the measure would restore the ‘sanjh’ of the two communities. He said a Scheduled Caste person, Mr Nachhatar Singh, was coopted as panch, following which the Dalits agreed not to field any other candidate.

The Dalits had been boycotted due to differences with their landlords after a Phillaur-based agency working on freeing bonded labour had initiated a case against the landlords under the Bonded Labour Act. Mr Bachan Singh, a villager, said though the Akalis and Congress workers had been asking the panchayat to declare their allegiance to their respective parties, the panchayat had decided on unanimity to ensure the development of the village.

Dalit families said unanimity was expected to ensure fair treatment to them. They said there had been differences between some Dalit families and their landlords over the amount due to the landlords.


Domeli issue resolved
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 2
The Domeli village issue was resolved after SP Harmanbir Singh Gill and SDM Pritam Singh held a meeting with representatives of both sides in the office of the Market Committee on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road here today.

When contacted, the SP and the SDM said the situation in the village was peaceful and there was no communal tension.

It is learnt that the Jat group headed by former sarpanch Kulwinder Singh Kinda tendered an apology to Dalits for blocking the pathways to their fields.

The group also agreed to give compensation to the Dalits for ploughing fodder from the fields the latter had taken on lease from the Jats.

The Jats also tendered an apology to NRI Harjit Singh who had sided with Dalit Jatinder Mohan Ghuggi who had won the election of sarpanch defeating his opponent Kulwinder Singh Kinda by 82 votes. Mr Ghuggi is a BSP activist while Mr Kinda is a Congress leader. Both had contested as independent candidates.


NDA team to visit Punjab on July 16
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 2
The much-publicised visit to the NDA team to take stock of the alleged atrocities on Akali workers by the Congress government in the state, particularly after the registration of a case against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members, will take place on July 16.

Talking to the correspondent over phone, the state BJP chief, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, said he was camping in Delhi and had held discussions with senior party functionaries about the proposed visit of the NDA team.

“Senior BJP leader and party spokesman V.K. Malhotra told me that the NDA team will visit Punjab on July 16. It will visit Amritsar on July 16 and participate in the bhog of akhand path being held at the Golden Temple with regard to the forging of unity between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra,” he said.


SAD, BJP meeting today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
Feeling “ ditched” by the Central leadership of the BJP for maintaining a studied silence over the alleged “ political vendetta “ launched by Capt Amarinder Singh’s government against Akali leaders, the Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) has decided to have a “ final word” tomorrow on this issue with the top brass of the BJP.

A crucial meeting between the SAD leaders and the BJP’s senior leaders would be held tomorrow in Delhi. According informed sources, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, a former Chief Minister, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, the BJP leader, Mr V.K. Malhotra, the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and certain other Akali leaders would attend the meeting.

Mr Badal, who today left for Delhi via Patiala, will not attend the meeting. However, he will be available for consultations by the SAD leaders attending the meeting.

Mr Badal, who earlier held several meetings with the Central leadership of the BJP and also with the Convener of the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA), Mr George Fernandes, has been feeling dejected. In fact, Mr Badal did not attend the last meeting of the NDA held about two weeks ago, to lodge a protest against the “ indifferent attitude” of the NDA towards the SAD, whose several leaders had been booked in criminal cases in the state.

A close confidant of Mr Badal told The Tribune today that the political relationship between the SAD and the BJP had touched all time low. Tomorrow’s meeting would be very crucial. It would be made clear to the BJP leadership that the SAD’s rank and file had been feeling hurt and also let down by the party and the SAD leadership was under pressure to review its ties with the BJP as well as with the NDA.

“ We will not ask for any support from the Union Government for Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his family tomorrow. We would only tell the BJP top brass that how one sided campaign has been started by the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government through the Vigilance Bureau to fix Akali leaders”, said a senior leader of the SAD.

“We are all for campaign against corruption and want it to continue but it should not tarnish the image of senior Akali leaders to demolish the SAD. The campaign against corruption should be even handed and all should be treated as equals before the law”, said the Akali leader. The Congress leaders, who were facing corruption charges, should also be taken to task.

“ We would submit a list of Congress ministers and certain police officers to Mr Advani and seek a CBI probe against them”, said the Akali leader. “ It is a clear break down of the constitutional machinery to enforce the law against a select few . Equality before the law is a constitutional provision”, said the Akali leader. In such a situation, the Central Government would be asked to use its powers to set the things right in Punjab.

Meanwhile, breaking its silence, the Punjab unit of the BJP said today that the Vigilance Bureau had been victimising Akali leaders for political reasons. The President of the BJP, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, said the BJP would support any agitation started by Akalis against the victimisation.


Arrested on graft charge, rejoins duty
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 2
Accounts Officer of the PSEB A.K. Mahajan, who was arrested by the Punjab Vigilance on June 24 on the charge of accepting bribe, has rejoined office. Mahajan, who is posted at Anandpur Sahib, was caught by the vigilance while accepting bribe from a contractor. He was remanded in one-day police custody and then three-day judicial custody before being released on bail on June 28.

According to sources, if any employee remains under arrest for more than 48 hours, as per the rules, he has to be suspended. However, despite the fact that Mahajan remained under arrest for four days, he was not suspended and he rejoined duty on July 29. The Superintending Engineer at Anandpur Sahib, Mr Prem Sagar, admitted that Mahajan had rejoined the office. He said the information regarding the arrest of Mahajan had been sent to the head office and it was for the head office to take decision on his suspension.

Mahajan said he rejoined the duty as he had not received any intimation regarding his suspension. He also alleged that he was a victim of a conspiracy. He had detected the violation of limit of telephone and vehicle use worth Rs 1.5 lakh by certain engineers posted at Anandpur Sahib. These engineers allegedly in connivance with the contractor got him trapped in the vigilance net.


Stone laid by CM vandalised
Our correspondent

Phagwara, July 2
The inaugural stone of the Mehli-Mehtan bypass, bearing the name of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at the Mehli point of the 9.53 km bypass between Phagwara and Banga, was found vandalised yesterday. The bypass was inaugurated on June 25 by the CM with full fanfare and he had also addressed a huge gathering there. The vandals damaged the bricked structure as well as the slab. The pillar was broken partially.

Mr Surinder Sagri, a former block Youth Congress president; the Block Congress (Urban) President, Mr Manmohan Sharma; and a Congress councillor and former DCC vice-president, Mr Brij Bhushan Parbhakar, condemned this act of vandalism. They said it might be the work of political adversaries of the CM.


Chandigarh cops roughed up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 2
A team of the Chandigarh police that came here to arrest Narinder Chopra, resident of Tilak Nagar, in connection with a dowry case, had to return empty handed when family members of the accused reportedly roughed up the SI who was heading the team and helped the accused flee.

Narinder Chopra along with his son Aman Chopra, wife Sunita Chopra and another son Gaurav Chopra were booked by the Chandigarh police in mid-June on the complaint of Nidhi, wife of Aman Chopra. Nidhi alleged that her in-laws had been demanding more dowry.


Programme to solve problems of villagers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 2
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, addressing a meeting of district officials here today, announced a special programme to provide speedy justice to the people on their doorsteps and to sort out their problems in the district.

He said the district administration would go to every village to know their problems and solve these within a time frame.

Mr Ahluwalia said he would visit at least six villages of different subdivisions every Wednesday. The revenue and other officials of the subdivision would also accompany him. He said after listening to the grievances of the public, he would visit their villages and recommend initiation of required development projects. He said revenue disputes of public would be sorted out there only so that rural people might not waste their time, energy and money.

He said this programme would solve the basic problems like shortage of teachers in schools, problems of drinking water, disposal of sullage water, shortage of electricity, illegal encroachments, construction of drains and roads at villages.

He said Fatehgarh Sahib would be made a model district. The campaign against encroachments and cleanliness drive had yielded good results and now the people had started removing the encroachments on their own, he said.

Later, addressing a meeting of the Public Welfare Committee constituted to eradicate bonded labour menace from the district, Mr Ahluwalia said no case of bonded labour had been reported in the district for a long time. Officials of the labour department had been directed to visit the rural areas to find out if there was any such case.

He appealed to public representatives, social organisations and other social workers to cooperate with the district administration in rooting out evil.

He said besides this, the district administration was also conducting a secret survey to find out if anyone was employing bonded labour. Mr S.S. Bains, Assistant Commissioner, Labour; Mr N.P.S. Randhawa, Assistant Commissioner General, DDPO and other members also addressed the meeting.


Truck with goods seized
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 2
Close on the heels of the seizure of five new Indica cars which were trying to evade octroi, the Municipal Corporation today seized a truck load of goods which had been brought into the city last night without the payment of octroi.

Disclosing this city Mayor Vishnu Sharma said the corporation received a tip off that a truck containing hardware and other goods was being offloaded in the Transport Nagar on the outskirts of the city early today. He said the truck had entered the city last night without paying octroi on any of the items brought into the city.

Mr Sharma said following the tip off the truck and the goods were seized by a team of corporation led by its Joint Commissioner Bhupinderjit Singh. He said the truck had evaded an octroi of around Rs 5,000. He said according to the norms the party would have to deposit a penalty of Rs 1 lakh which was around 21 times the value of the octroi which was to be originally levelled on the goods.


Shiv Sainiks hold rally
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 2
Workers of the Shiv Sena yesterday took out a procession in support of their demands. They also held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

They presented a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Verma in this regard.

The workers are demanding the stoppage of printing of photographs of Hindu gods and goddesses on calendars, lottery tickets, advertisements and packing material. They also sought a Hindu university in every state and a ban on conversion.


Employees stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 2
Members of the Market Committee Employees Union today held a dharna against the arrest of three employees accused of rigging in the recently concluded panchayat elections.

The employees led by its district union president Rajeshwar Handa demanded the release of the employees.

The police said an FIR had been lodged against two others at the Mattewal police post. According to information, five employees have been booked under Sections 420, 467, 468 471 and 120B, IPC.


Cleaning of Kali Bein begins
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 2
Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Social Welfare Minister, today refuted the change that the case against Mr Parkash Singh Badal was politically motivated.

Mr Mann was here to participate in kar seva undertaken by Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal to clean and widen the Kali Bein rivulet. Talking to newspersons, he said the Punjab Government had adopted the project of cleaning the 180-km Kali Bein. Mr Mann directed the Punjab Pollution Control Board to take action against the industrial houses which pumped effluent into Bein.


Nodal officer to redress grievances
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 2
Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said today that a nodal officer had been appointed to address grievances of ex-servicemen and widows of martyrs in the district.

Addressing a meeting of the District Sanik Board held at the Red Cross Bhavan here, the Deputy Commissioner said he himself or the Additional Deputy Commissioner would listen to the grievances of ex-servicemen on every Monday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. He said Executive Magistrate Amandeep Kaur had been appointed as nodal officer in this regard. He said the nodal officer would be available on full-time basis.

Besides this, the Deputy Commissioner said a resolution regarding the construction of a sanik sadan near the Sanik Rest House has been also sent to the state government. He said the construction of the sadan would further facilitate ex-servicemen coming to the district headquarters from far-off places.

He added that a three-member committee had been appointed to make use of ex-servicemen in development work, plantation and diversification of agriculture in the state. He said the members of the committee were ADC Shivdular Singh Dhillon, District Sainik Welfare Board Vice-President Brig Dalip Singh Sidhu (retd) and District Sainik Welfare Officer Sarmukh Singh.

The Deputy Commissioner also presented seven sewing machines to widows of martyrs and distributed cheques for Rs 2.57 lakh to six ex-servicemen and their dependants.


Bharadwaj to head Punjab Warehousing

Chandigarh, July 2
Mr Surinder Bharadwaj, president of the local unit of the Janata Dal (United) and Director of the Haryana State Warehousing Corporation, has also been appointed Director of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation as a nominee of the Central Warehousing Corporation.

Mr Bharadwaj would replace Ms Gurucharan Kaur whose appointment had been rescinded by the Central Warehousing Corporation, a press note said here today. TNS


Power board extends deadline

Patiala, July 2
On the persistent demand of various associations of farmers, the Punjab State Electricity Board has further extended the deadline for the regularisation of unauthorised agricultural power load under its voluntary disclosure scheme to July 18. The board authorities have said that this is the final opportunity for those drawing more load than sanctioned. — OC


Ice-cream seller murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 2
Ice-cream seller Suresh Kumar, hailing from Rajasthan, was murdered by two unidentified youths near the sports stadium while he was returning to his house late last night.

In another incident, the body of Babu Singh of Bhucho Khurd village in the district running a grocery shop, was found in the cantonment forest. His head had been crushed. The deceased was missing since June 29.

Police sources said Suresh Kumar, used to go to his house late at night. Last night, two youths stopped him near the stadium and asked him to part with his money.

When he refused, he was threatened. When he refused again to part with his money, he was stabbed in the stomach with a knife. The accused fled after committing the crime.

He was taken to the local civil hospital. He died this morning. A case was registered.

The police said the body of Babu Singh was in a bad shape. Murder could be confirmed only after the post-mortem examination was conducted.


Five held on robbery charge
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 2
The police has arrested five more suspected members of a gang responsible for dacoities and highway robberies in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.

Two pistols, one motor cycle and one mobile phone have been recovered from their possession. Those arrested have been identified as Narinder Singh, Ashwani Kumar, Dara Singh, Onkar Singh and Gulzar Singh.

During preliminary interrogation, three of them reportedly confessed to have committed highway robberies at Dasuya in May last year, in which they had snatched a scooter at pistol point and looted the scooterist.

They snatched a car at gunpoint near Ropar and left the car in New Delhi, after which they snatched another car near the Karnal bypass in Delhi and later looted a petrol pump in Rajasthan, the police claimed.


JE gets police remand
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 2
Mohinder Singh, a Junior Engineer of the Punjab Mandi Board here , who was arrested by the officials of the Vigilance Bureau yesterday under the Prevention of Corruption Act for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, was remanded in police custody till July 4 by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Harsh Mehta, today.


Students protest against fee hike
Our Correspondents

Bathinda, July 2
Students of Government Rajindra College organised a dharna on the college premises today to protest against the fee hike by the Punjab Government. They raised slogans against the state government and criticised the move to privatise education.

The students alleged that the hike in fee would deny education to many students as they were unable to bear the expenses. The students alleged that under the National Policy of Education, 1986, the minimum expenditure on education should be six per cent of the Budget. They claimed that the expenses on education in 1992 were 3.6 per cent and were reduced to 2.8 per cent in 2001-2002. They claimed that the expenditure on education last year was less than that in 1950.

The students said if the coffers of the state were empty, what was the need for 21 ministers, two Parliamentary Secretaries and a Chief Minister, who was incurring expenses of Rs 1.5 lakh per day for commuting by helicopter. They asked why the loans to various industries, running into hundreds of crores, were being waived.

MANSA: The Punjab Radical Students Union, in a press note issued here on Wednesday, expressed concern over the steep hike in the fee of colleges and universities. The union organised a rally at Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College.

Addressing students, Mr Kuldeep Singh, district president of the union, said before the Assembly elections, the Congress had promised to issue 95 per cent grants to colleges, but after coming to power, it had forgotten all its promises. He said the government had, in fact, decreased the grants to 65 per cent, besides increasing the fee in government and non-government colleges and universities.

He said education was now accessible only to the rich. He said girls’ education in the state had also been affected after the state government withdrew the facility of free education to them.

He urged the Punjab Government to review its decision. He said students of Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College, Mansa, and Guru Nanak College, Budhlada, had decided to boycott the hike in fee.


Summer camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 2
The annual summer camp of Saffron City School, Kotla Bajwara, concluded the yesterday. More than 300 students from different schools participated in one-month camp and took training in computer designing, computer hardware, skating, bhangra, classical dances, judo, spoken English, painting, soft toys and oil painting.

The students, said such camps should be organised so that they could gain self confidence and compete with students from other cities.

On the concluding day of the camp competition were organised and the students presented a colourful cultural programme.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Jasdeep Kaur, Chairperson of the school, said the school had started with an idea to provide best educational facilities to people living in rural areas in the district. She said students of the school had won awards at the district and state level in sports, academies and cultural activities.

She said the aim of the camp was to develop overall personality of the students and improve their communication skills and leadership qualities.

Mr Kahlon, Principal of the school, also spoke at the function. The winners were given prizes.


Six heads of dept appointed

Amritsar July 2
Six new heads of teaching departments of Guru Nanak Dev University were appointed by vice-chancellor S.P. Singh for three years here yesterday.

According to a press note Dr Pushpinder Kaur has been appointed head of the department while. Dr Paramjit is head of Punjab School of Economics. Dr Jagroop Singh has been appointed head of department of political science while Dr Renu Bala has been appointed head of department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit. Dr P.S. Sharma and Mr Harkamaljit Singh have been appointed heads of foreign languages department and applied chemical sciences and technology department, respectively. — OC


Declare Patiala SEZ: industry
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 2
The Patiala Industries Association has urged the Punjab Government to declare the city as a “Special Economic Zone" (SEZ) to boost industrial climate besides establishing an engineering cluster in the city by bringing in big engineering and automobile industries to the city.

A representation in this regard was submitted to newly appointed Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta at a function organised by the association on Monday. Earlier, the association president Mr Naresh Gupta said Patiala had not developed as an industrial centre till now due to locational disadvantage with it being neither on the main railway track or the GT Road. He said besides this there had been a lack of will by earlier governments on this count as government patronage had resulted in the development of Chandigarh and Mohali as industrial centres despite they having the same locational disadvantage.

City Mayor Vishu Sharma, who was the guest of honour said he would look into the problems listed by the association.

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