Tuesday, July 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder exonerates ministers under cloud
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today defended his Cabinet colleagues Mr Ramesh Dutt and Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar who are facing flak for alleged irregularities, by claiming that both of them were “fine ministers” and had done nothing wrong.

The Chief Minister, while talking to reporters after attending a function to listen to the grievances of people at the municipal corporation office alongwith Mayor Vishu Sharma, said there was no truth in the allegations levelled against Minister of State for Cooperation, Transport and Removal of Grievances and Pensions Ramesh Dutt that he had “grabbed” three acres of Punjab Wakf Board land in Ropar district. He did not give more details about the matter.

About Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar, the Chief Minister said there was no truth in the allegations levelled against the minister as contained in a purported letter supposed to have been written by Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, who was till yesterday the Adivser on Irrigation to the Chief Minister. When asked as to why the Adviser had been sacked, Capt Amarinder Singh said, “Advisers are there to advise. They cannot take up cudgels with Ministers. If he had any problem, he should have come to me. I will not allow my Advisers to speak in a derogatory manner about ministers”. He said, due to this, the state government had asked Mr Sandhu to tender his resignation which had been accepted.

When asked why former minister Harbans Lal was not given an opportunity to reply to the allegations made against him and summarily sacked, the Chief Minister said Mr Harbans Lal had given a contractor two permits to cut 3,373 and 935 trees, respectively. He said despite the fact that Mr Harbans Lal had been “warned” on the issue, he did not take corrective steps, adding that the government was then forced to take action in the matter.

The Chief Minister said the government had written to the Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice recently to institute special courts to try corruption as well as crime cases against women. He said this was necessary as various corruption cases were proceeding slowly and gave an example of the case of former PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu. He said his government did not believe in forming commissions and committees to look into corruption cases, adding that the record of such bodies was poor. “It is better to get the cases investigated from the Vigilance Department and register a case in the matter”, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh also said that the state government was in the process of privatising around 150 hospitals in the state besides asking polytehcnics to tie up with private parties. He said this was being done to ensure that the hospitals could provide proper service to the people as the government was unable to do so. He said the hospitals would be bound to give free treatment to a certain number of people living below the poverty line. He said, similarly, private parties could conduct courses required by them in the polytechnics and absorb students in their concerns.

Earlier, the “Khula Darbar” function saw a large number of people narrating their grievances to the Chief Minister who was accompanied by Mayor Vishnu Sharma, Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla, Warehousing Corporation Chairman Hardial Singh Kamboj, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta and Improvement Trust Chairman K K Sharma.


CM’s village to have largest solar plant
Tribune News Services

Mehraj (Bathinda), July 21
The native village of chief minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in Bathinda district is all set to get the country’s largest solar power project with grid interactive system by the end of this year.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who has not visited the village since he became Chief Minister, is likely to lay the foundation stone of the grid interactive solar photovoltaic power plant of 1 mw capacity on August 15. The project will be commissioned by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA).

The proposed plant worth Rs 21 crore, for which the panchayats of the village have transferred eight acres to PEDA, will be five times bigger than the solar power plant at Khatkar Kalan, the native village of martyr Bhagat Singh.

Mr Ripjit Singh Brar, Chairman, PEDA, told The Tribune here today that all formalities for setting up the plant had been completed and it would be commissioned by the end of the year. He said Rs 14 crore would be given by the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, Government of India and Rs 7 crore would be contributed by the Punjab Government. The World Bank would fund the Punjab Government for contributing its share of Rs 7 crore.

Claiming that the project would be the biggest in Asia and not in the country alone, Mr Brar pointed out that after commissioning the project, it would generate an income of Rs 40 lakh to PEDA per annum. A major part of this income would be spent on the development of this village, while some part of the money would be spent on the upkeep of the project.

PEDA had already reached a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to sell surplus power to the latter.

From the power generated from the plant, about 350 streetlights would be energised and the balance power would be diverted to the village grid of the power sub-station. The plant would have very less operational and maintenance cost and it would provide voltage upgradation to the tune of 10 per cent thus improving the quality of power to the village.


CM should step down: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to step down on moral grounds in the wake of media reports regarding the alleged involvement of certain ministers in cases of corruption, fraud and land grabbing.

“More and more corruption skeletons would start tumbling out of the state government’s cupboards in the days to come. The government will collapse on the issue of corruption itself”, said Mr Badal in a statement.

He said Chief Minister’s Adviser Bhagat Singh Sandhu had to face the music for the Chief Minister’s patronisation of questionable conduct of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar as Irrigation Minister while a scandal involving fraud and land grab caught up with another minister, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma.


Tohra’s appointment as SGPC chief may be delayed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has convened another emergency meeting of its executive committee on July 24 at Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara to nominate Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra in the executive body in place of Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur.

Sources said that Mr Tohra was unlikely to be elected as the SGPC chief in the forthcoming meeting of the executive body due to the one-point agenda (to nominate Mr Tohra into the executive). As per the bylaws of the SGPC, another emergency meeting with a prior notice of 72 hours has to be convened to nominate Mr Tohra as the SGPC chief.

Mr Kulwant Singh Randhawa, a former SGPC secretary, alleged that certain officials of the SGPC had “deliberately” tried to delay the appointment of Mr Tohra as the next SGPC chief against the wishes of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

It may be mentioned here that the SGPC secretary, Mr Harbeant Singh, had to issue two notices to call the previous emergency meeting in which the resignation of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and Mr Bhaur were accepted.


Narottam in police remand till July 23
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 21
Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate, here today remanded Narottam Singh Dhillon, a close relative of former Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal in police custody till July 23.

He was produced in this court in connection with the production warrants which were issued on July 17 by the court.

While moving an application before the court public prosecutor, Mr Jatinderjeet Singh Punn, alleged that Mr Badal during his tenure as the Chief Minister amassed movable and immovable properties through corrupt means and in connivance with some of his relatives, including the accused Narottam Singh Dhillon.

He said Dhillon had accepted huge amounts of money as bribe on behalf of the Badal family. He alleged that the money earned through corruption had been deposited in banks in India and abroad. Later, this money was given to Badal family by issuing different cheques through his NRI and NRO bank accounts. Narottam Singh thus converted crores of rupees of black money of Mr Badal to white through his various bank accounts, he added. While pleading for 14-day police remand police prosecutor said a bank manager had already recorded his statement with the Vigilance Bureau that the accused gave Rs 78.5 lakh through different cheques to the Badal family.

Defence counsel, however, said proceedings were being initiated as per the instructions of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.


Punjab DGP reverses own orders on promotions
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Reversing his own orders, the Punjab Director-General of Police, Mr M.S Bhullar, has ordered the demotion of 40-odd police officials promoted recently in violation of the rules.

Taking cognizance of news reports the Punjab Government has also ordered the cancellation of transfers of SP-rank officials ordered by the outgoing DGP recently, overstepping his authority. An order to this effect was issued by the Principal Secretary (Home), Mr S.K, Sinha, today.

Sources in the police said hundreds of officials in the ranks of constable to Inspector were recently found to have been promoted out of turn. In a few other cases, such promotions were ordered on compassionate grounds.

Most of those demoted either had unsatisfactory service records or did not fulfil the eligibility criteria for promotion.

Certain zonal police chiefs had brought to the notice of Mr Bhullar that in some cases the benefit of promotion was given twice in a short span. For instance, an employee was given one local rank after another even as he continued to draw the salary in his original rank. In a few other cases, an employee has not put in the required number of years in service to desire promotion.

However, DGP Bhullar underplayed the magnitude of the promotions, claiming that these were ordered as per rules and the extra-ordinary powers vested in him. “I served in the PAP for over 11 years as an IG and the ADGP, and the 400-odd promotions ordered by me in that organisation over a period of time were as per norms.” He said exceptions were made in the cases of eminent sportspersons, who had brought honours to the police force at the national and international levels. It was only in recognition of their achievements that they were given promotions waiving certain conditions with regard to promotional tests and courses.

About the reversal orders, Mr Bhullar admitted that his subordinates in the field had brought to his notice that in certain cases, the service records of the promotees had not been examined properly. Hence, demotions had been ordered in such cases. The number of such reversals, however, was small.

He clarified that the DGP had discretionary powers to exempt 10 per cent of the officials from passing the eligibility test or attending a professional course before getting their next promotion.

On the issue of transfers of officials of the rank of SP and above, he said certain adjustments had been made subject to the approval of the state government.

Meanwhile, another controversy has arisen regarding 300-odd promotions ordered earlier in the PAP. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the reversal of all such promotions made in violation of the rules.

The judgement held that promotions could not be made over and above the fixed quota of 10 per cent. However, sources allege the court order was never implemented and the promotions were later justified, saying that the promotees were adjusted against vacant slots. The backlog of such promotions is maximum in the PAP, sources add.


19 more join Punjab law officers’ jumbo team
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The administrative and financial constraints, besides the poor fiscal condition of the state, notwithstanding, the Department of Home, Affairs and Justice ordered 19 new appointments to the existing 93-member jumbo-sized law officers’ team in the office of the Punjab Advocate-General here today. While the sanctioned strength of law officers is 55, the actual number has now gone up to 117, including five advocates on record in New Delhi.

Punjab Law Office at a glance

  • Advocate-General 1
  • Sr Additional Advocates-General 2
  • Additional Advocates-General 28
  • Sr Deputy Advocates-General 8
  • Deputy Advocates-General 29
  • Assistant Advocates-General 44

While sources in the Home Department denied any “political pressure” in making these appointments, a careful scrutiny of the list provides a basic who’s who of the state’s bigwigs in politics, administration and the legal system.

For example, the basic qualification for appointment of an Additional Advocate-General is minimum 10 years’ professional standing, appointments have been made this time of lawyers who have less than five years of professional standing.

Mr Ajaypal Singh Mann, now appointed Additional Advocate-General, is a nephew of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, while Mr Maninder Singh Patti is son of Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission’s President, Mr Kashmir Singh Patti. Mr Ajaib Singh, appointed Assistant Advocate-General is related to a sitting Judge.

Of the two law officers redesignated as Additional Advocates-General, Mr Amarjit Singh is a brother of Baba Jaswant Singh of Ludhiana.

Those appointed or redesignated today are : Mr Amarjit Singh, Mr R.K. Joshi and Mr Ajaypal Singh Mann (all Additional advocates-General), Mr Harpreet Singh Sandhu, Mr Jasbir Singh Brar, Ms Shakun Sharma (for Delhi office) — (Deputy Advocate-General); Mr Brajeshwar Singh Chahal, Mr Sandeep Jain, Mr Inderjit Singh Ghuman, Mr Gurpartap Singh Gill, Mr Maninder Singh Patti, Mr Ajaib Singh, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Manish Kumar Singla, Mr Satinder Singh Randhawa, Mr Rajeshwar Singh, and Mr Jayender Singh (all Assistant Advocates-General).

“I got the list of new law officers only after I came to office this afternoon after attending the court,” remarked Mr Harbhagwan Singh, Advocate-General, holding that “some of those appointed were on my recommendation while some others were cleared by the Home Department.

“I know the team is very big but our workload has increased tremendously. New cases are coming up. For example, I am not supposed to appear in criminal cases, but as the Chief Law Officer of the state, I have to appear in these cases also. On an average we have 500 cases in high court and 20 cases in the Supreme Court everyday.

“We have 2,50,000 cases pending in the high court. And in 1,10,000 cases, the Punjab Government is a party,” Mr Harbhagwan Singh added.

“Under the rules, Senior Additional Advocates-General and Additional Advocates-General are allowed private practice provided they do not appear against the state. The Senior Deputy Advocates-General, Deputy Advocates-General and Assistant Advocate-General are not allowed to do private practice.

The Additional Advocates-General get Rs 15,000 per month as honorarium and a maximum of Rs 8,000 per month as house rent. The Senior DAG, DAG and AAG get between Rs 20,000 and Rs 26,000 per month as salary.

On March 31 this year, the government had slashed the number of law officers from 96 to 84 as an “austerity measure”. But a day later, nine more , including an Additional Advocate-General and three Deputy Advocates-General, were appointed to take the number to 93. Besides there are five advocates on record.

The Delhi office has now one Senior Additional Advocate-General, six Additional Advocates-General, two Deputy Advocates-General and five advocates on record.

The state had on March 31 notified the extension in service of 84 law officers and five advocates on record.


Cops ignored complaint of rape, woman tells CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
A 40-year-old woman who seemed to have been a battered about one eye today created a stir in the first khula darbar function of the Chief Minister held in the city. She claimed that she had been kidnapped and raped by several persons four days back and that the local police had not taken any action in the matter.

A little after the start of the function, the woman told the Chief Minister that she was appearing in his “court” because she had not been left with any option. She claimed that nearly 40 persons had attacked her house behind Khoobsurat Palace in the city and that the persons had taken her to the Khoobsurat Palace building where she was kept for the night alongwith her son and raped.

The Chief Minister asked Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal to look into the matter. When the SSP asked her to tell him her problem, she replied, “What should I tell you? I have told you 20 times already”. The SSP then deputed a DSP to look into the case.

The woman claimed she had been subjected to “ashleel chedkhani”. She said her husband had put up a “jhuggi” on a piece of land in Aman Colony in 1982 and had later constructed a pucca house in 1990. In 1995, the owner of Khoobsurat Palace got her husband’s signatures on some papers through force following which she had to fight a long-drawn case to protect her house, she alleged.

The complainant alleged that on September 14, 2002, she had submitted a complaint in the Civil Lines police station that some persons had kidnapped her young daughter to put pressure on her to leave her house. She said her house was also ransacked on the occasion but the police did not act in the matter.

She claimed on July 16, 35 or 40 armed persons came to her house and thrashed her and her son. She said she and her son were both “kidnapped” and taken to Khoobsurat Palace where its owner forced her to put her signatures on some plain papers. She claimed she managed to get out of the illegal confinement at 4 am the next day and even approached the Civil Lines Police Station, but no action was taken. The woman claimed that she had lost faith in the local police and that her case should be marked for inquiry to an outside agency.

Meanwhile, the Khoobsurat Palace owner when contacted claimed the entire story was a concocted one and that the main aim of the woman was to blackmail him. The owner said the woman’s husband and been his employee and that the property in question was his. He said since the woman was in possession of the property for a long time, he had arrived at a settlement with her and even paid her money to vacate the premises. He said the woman had vacated the premises once, but had resurfaced with her belongings to blackmail him so that she could extract more money from him.

The police version on the incident could not be taken with the SSP not being accessible.


Judicial remand for British couple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
A local court today remanded a British couple in judicial custody till August 4, 2003 under the Foreigners Act. A case was registered at Gharinda police station near the joint check post, Wagah. The Muslim couple, Mr and Mrs, Sheikh Nasafor Ali with British nationality, who had crossed the international border at the joint checkpost here on July 19 and drove away in their Toyota car without obtaining immigration and customs clearance, was arrested near Jalandhar by the Punjab police on Saturday evening and was brought back to face the charges of giving a slip to immigration and customs authorities.

The British couple had categorically denied the charge and said they would not do anything to jeopardise the security of India and had left the border and due verification with BSF personnel manning the border. They left as no body asked them to stop at the immigration and customs block.

The serious security lapse has sent alarm bells ringing in the corridors of ministries of Finance and Home Affairs which have sought a complete report on the circumstances of the cases and the names of the officials who were involved in maintaining security on the border with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, senior officials of the Immigration, the Customs and the BSF interrogated the British couple today in their bid to collect detailed information about their background which was being cross-checked with their Higth Commission in Delhi.

The Customs authorities have instituted an internal inquiry into the incident and, according to reliable sources, a number of heads may roll who had allowed the British couple to bypass the security network.


New Akali outfit no threat: Bibi
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 21
Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC President and Akali MLA, today said the new Akali outfit floated by Mr Ravi Inder Singh would not have any impact on SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The new outfit was a Congress brainchild, she remarked.

On the resignation of Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar as president of the SGPC for the sake of larger Panthic interest, she said it a laudable step.


Court summons ex-minister in betting case
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 21
In a unique case filed in the court of the Civil Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Grewal, Mr Surjit Singh, alias Shery, a resident of Ropar, has moved court to recover a bet amount from former state Minister for Education, Mr Tara Singh Ladal.

In his complaint before the judge, Mr Surjit Singh alleged that during the election campaign for the last Assembly elections, Mr Tara Singh Ladal had issued a press statement that he would definitely win the election. In his statement reported in the Press, he claimed that he was ready to bet over his winning prospects. The Press reports say, he in a bet about winning the elections, offered to pay Rs 1 lakh and to take just Rs 10,000 if he won.

Upon reading the bet offer of the minister, Mr Surjit Singh deposited Rs 10,000 with the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, as part of the bet. Eventually, Mr Tara Singh Ladal lost in the election.

Mr Surjit Singh alleged that Mr Ladal declined to pay him the bet amount. In the recovery suit filed against Mr Ladal, Mr Surjit Singh had demanded Rs 1 lakh bet amount along with an interest of 6 per cent per annum. The Civil Judge Ropar today issued summons for Mr Ladal, who has been directed to file his reply in court on October 7.


High Court
Former SSP Pherurai gets bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Former Senior Superintendent of Police Gurcharan Singh Pherurai was today granted bail by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was accused of giving Rs 2.8 crore to Punjab Public Service Commission’s former Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu for getting his son selected as a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Pronouncing the orders on his petition seeking the grant, the Bench headed by Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi directed the petitioner to surrender his passport. He was also asked to furnish a bail bond for Rs 20,000, along with two sureties of the like amount.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, Pherurai had earlier contended that his son was deserving. His counsel had added that the government was prejudiced against him as they considered him to be close to Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

He had further submitted that no useful purpose would be served by keeping him in custody as charge sheet had already been filed in the court. Moreover, he had been in custody for over six months.

Notice of motion to Punjab Govt

Taking up a petition seeking probe by the CBI into the alleged bir-burning case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

In his petition, the Baba, initially accused of sacrilege, had asserted that he had nothing to do with the incident pertaining to the burning of the holy birs in a village on the GT road near Ambala.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case due to political reasons, he had asserted that just before the trial court was to deliver the judgement acquitting him in the case, the holy birs were again set on fire by some miscreants to build up opinion against him. His counsel had added that certain politicians, without going into the details, had blamed him for the incident.

It may be recalled that the high court had earlier issued notice of motion on a petition filed by the Baba seeking directions to the state and other respondents to inform the court how Bhavsagar Samunder Amrit Vani Granth, written by him, was hurting the religious sentiments of any community.


First phase of Khalsa complex to be completed by 2004
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, July 21
The Punjab Government has decided to complete the first phase of the Khalsa heritage complex by September 2004. The phase will be opened for the public to coincide with the tercentenary of the martyrdom of Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Jhujhar Singh next year.

The Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, said this while talking to mediapersons here today. He was here to attend a meeting of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation to review the progress of the project.

Mr Lal Singh said, despite paucity of funds, all efforts would be made to complete the first phase. The total cost of the project was Rs 210 crore. Till date the government had spent about Rs 70 crore on civil works. After discussing the matter with officials of the foundation the matter would be taken up with the Chief Minister for the release of funds, he said. Ms Romila Dubey, Principal Secretary, Tourism, who was also present, said the first phase includes the completion of exhibition blocks, library, canteen and auditorium. The foundation had demanded funds ranging between Rs 15 crore and Rs 20 crore for the first phase. Another Rs 30 crore would be needed for the internal designing, which would be undertaken by the National Institute of Design.

When asked about the response to the Punjab Government’s appeal regarding donations for the complex, Ms Dubey said no substantial donation had been received so far. About the grant from the Centre she said the Punjab Government had sought Rs 50 crore from the Union Ministry of Tourism, which had sent the proposal to the Union Finance Ministry for approval.


Rs 60-lakh water scheme fails
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 21
A Rs 60-lakh NABARD-funded water supply scheme at Dhoong village has put a question mark over the functioning of the Punjab Public Health Department as the scheme has proved to be a non-starter. Resentment prevails among residents of the Dhar Kalan area on account of the failure of this scheme and other schemes launched by the department.

Sources said the Central Government had sanctioned Rs 60 lakh for the installation of a deep-bore well and a water tank along with the construction of a residential building under the scheme. The department had reportedly invited the tenders for the jobs and claims to have completed the scheme according to specifications.

Contrary to the claims of the department, residents of the area say that several irregularities have been committed in the completion of the work. It is alleged that the water level was not verified prior to the start of the schemes and funds were not properly utilised, flouting the rules and regulations prescribed for the purpose.

Despite completion of work, the Dhoong water scheme remained a non-starter allegedly on account of negligence on the part of officials concerned as the depth of water was not ascertained prior to execution of the work.

The officials concerned are shifting the blame on one another. Mr Svatam Dass claims that the work was complete in all respects except the electrical fittings. The SDO, Mr G.S. Ball, claims that certain equipment is yet to be installed for launching the scheme. However, according to villagers, the ground reality is entirely different. They allege that due to interference by some ruling party politicians, a portion of the funds was misutilised.

About 12 years ago, due to alleged negligence by the Punjab Public Health Department, a water scheme launched at Dhangu Saran village after spending lakhs of rupees remained a non-starter.


Ludhiana leads in slum concentration
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 21
It might come as a surprise to many that every seventh urbanite in Punjab is a slum dweller. Ludhiana, the most urbanised city in Punjab, is leading the state in slum concentration and by 2031, there will be an equal number of people living in Punjab’s cities and villages.

This has been brought out by a document released by the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, on July 19. Titled ‘Urban Vision Punjab 2021’, the document records that the growth of cities in Punjab has increased sharply in the last ten years with the number of townships going up from 134 to 157.

It points to two disturbing trends. Increase of population in the cities of Punjab is due to inter-state migration and is not natural. “Urbanisation in Punjab has come to mean the transfer of rural poverty. Migrants are coming to cities earn their livelihood and not to settle down” said Mr Jeet Kumar Gupta, Advisor, Town Planning, PUDA who has authored the document.

A second form of migration is when people shifted from smaller urban centres to larger ones in order to improve their quality of life. ‘‘This has led to lop-sided urbanisation in Punjab. The concentration of population in Class-1 cities has increased making them difficult to manage while the population in smaller towns has not shown a similar trend,” said Mr Gupta. As a result, cities like Ludhiana and Amritsar are bursting at the seams while some very small towns have actually lost out on population.

The study recommends that focus be shifted away from the spine of Punjab — the GT road. “In the next 15 years the focus will be away from this road. Enhancement of rail and road network in these areas should be the government’s first priority in order to ensure uniform urbanisation,’’added Mr Gupta.

The study concedes that the urbanisation process, despite its positive aspects, has come under extreme criticism because of the failure of the government to effectively meet the basic needs of land, shelter, services and infrastructure for the growing urban population.

“But looking at the entire process of urbanisation it can be safely concluded that it is not urban growth per se which is causing problems but the scale and rate of growth of urban population which outpaces the institutional, administrative and financial capacities to cope with it,” concludes the document.


Power theft may be made criminal offence
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said the state government was contemplating to invoke Section 153 of the Central Electricity Act, 2003, making power theft a criminal offence as an anti-theft measure to check the whopping loss to the board on this account.

The Chief Minister asked the employees to be vigilant and bring the incidents of power theft to the notice of the management and assured of strict action against the erring consumers.

Talking to representatives of various unions separately, he said power reforms were aimed at providing a fillip to industrialisation.

Capt Amarinder Singh informed the union leaders that the state government had appointed a Dehli-based firm of consultants, Ernst and Young to study the pros and cons of the recommendations of the Haldea Committee constituted to suggest ways and means for unbundling and corporatisation of the PSEB . He said the consultants were likely to submit their report within three months.


Bogus pensioners: action against officials demanded
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 21
While hailing a recent decision of the state government to overpower panchayats and zila parishads to supervise the functioning of several government departments, the chairman of different zila parishads of the state today demanded strict action against the erring officials of the Welfare Department for facilitating around 1.2 lakh ineligible pensioners to draw pensions during the SAD-BJP regime.

At a meeting of the chairman of different zila parishads held here this afternoon, it was unanimously resolved to work for rural development and implement the state and Centrally-sponsored schemes at the grassroots level. The meeting was attended by the chairmen of Jalandhar, Mukatsar, Amritsar, Faridkot, Kapurthala, Ferozepur, Bathinda, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Nawanshahr zila parishads.

Later, talking to reporters, Choudhary Surinder Singh, chairman of the Jalandhar Zila Parishad, said the Central Government was likely to release Rs 1,550 crore shortly for carrying out various rural development projects in the state. “The amount was earlier held up due to the failure of the then Badal government to hold panchayat elections during the past five years,” he said.

The meeting also passed a unanimous resolution to improve drinking water supply, drainage of sewerage water, roads and power supply in villages.


State in financial crisis, says CS
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
Punjab Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap today installed new Rotary team of one of the oldest clubs of the country.

Mr Kashyap said that recent hike in taxes would fetch Rs 360 crore to tide over difficult financial situation of the state.

The Chief Secretary said that the government under the disinvestment programme would sell-off some units along with hospitals to the private sector so that the cash-strapped government could get some additional funds to pay for social responsibilities. He said that the government had recently got a bid for Rs 12 crore for 150-bedded Civil Hospital at Amritsar and similar projects would be taken to dispose of provided the government got reasonable bid.

Later, Mr Kashyap installed the new office-bearers of the Rotary Club including Mr Surinder Singh as president, Mr Daljit Singh as secretary. Dr K.J.S. Ahluwalia welcomed the chief guest.


Found ammunition imported scrap, says Army
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 21
The Army authorities here have stated that the ammunition which was recovered from a sewerage channel called “Sukhbar Nullah” near the Church Road area in the Ferozepore Cantonment was discarded imported scrap. According to a press note of the Army, the ammunition might have found its way to some junk dealer, who disposed it of in some sewerage gutter on the apprehension that it could be dangerous to handle.

Ammunition experts of the Army could not classify the ammunition or the gun for which it could be used. They said it was some kind of old and rusted scrap ammunition, which had never been used by the Army. The experts stated that as no markings were visible on the ammunition, it was difficult to identify the make and the year of manufacture of the ammunition.


Kali Devi temple fountains non-functional
Our Correspondent

Newly constructed fountains at Kali Devi temple, Patiala, remain non-functional most of the time
Newly constructed fountains at Kali Devi temple, Patiala, remain non-functional most of the time.

Patiala, July 21
This picture reflects the sorry state of affairs of the recently constructed fountains in the Kali Devi temple complex which is situated along the Mall road in the city.

The management simply refuses to wake up to the issue which in any case is getting from bad to worse with every passing day.

This is one of the oldest temples of the city and is visited by hundreds of devotees every day.

The affairs of the temple are being run by a committee which functions under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner.

Recently a few fountains and a sarovar were constructed by the managing committee to enhance the beauty of the temple. The beautification drive was undertaken as the sarovar had remained without water for many years.

Though the fountains are decorated with colourful lights but the visitors cannot enjoy the beauty of these as they remain non-functional most of the time. When contacted a temple sewadar said the fountains were usually switched on during morning hours and after 7 p.m. But a visit to the temple premises reveals that all these claims were false as the fountains remain non-functional even at these hours.

Despite the fact that funds and basic infrastructure are available the upkeep and upgradation of the fountains and the sarovar seems to be last on the priority list of the management concerned.


Dalits denied basic facilities, says Kesri

Moga, July 21
Member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Narain Dutt Kesri, who visited Muktsar town, has expressed concern over the alleged failure of the Nagar Council to provide basic amenities to the Dalits of the town.

Some municipal wards and slum areas of the town were not even provided toilet facilities, Mr Kesri said, adding that the commission would write to the Punjab Chief Secretary to urge the Muktsar Nagar Council to provide the basic amenities to people.

Mr Kesri told reporters at Muktsar yesterday that most of the Dalit population in the country was not aware about its rights and duties and urged Dalit leaders to bring awareness among them.

He said that condition of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh was worst followed by Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. — PTI


Withdrawal of docs’ NPA final
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, July 21
The Finance Minister, Punjab, Mr Lal Singh, has declined the possibility of the government going back on its decision to withdraw the non-practicising allowance (NPA) of the doctors. While talking to reporters here today, Mr Lal Singh declined the possibility of a roll back in fee hike in government colleges that had led to a steep decline in the number of students taking admissions. Mr Lal Singh was here to chair a meeting of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation.


Frequent transfer of officials decried
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
Veteran Communist leader Satya Pal Dang has decried the frequent transfer of good officers from the city. Criticising the recent transfer of Mr Rahul Tiwari, SDO (II), barely two months after his service here, Mr Dang, in a letter of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, stated that the officer had done good work during his short stint in the city.

Similarly, Mr Chander Shekhar, Inspector General of Police, was also transferred from the city despite his good record. He asked the Chief Minister to give a thought to the manner in which transfers were being effected in the state.


Chawla decries fashion show
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, former MLA and BJP leader, has condemned the India Fashion Week being broadcast from Mumbai on a number of television channels.

In a press note issued today, she said India was merely a ‘market’ to sell foreign ideas. Seeking a ban on such shows, she said the fact that more than a billion people reside here, the Western nations were simply seeking to cash in on their buying power. In the long run, they had set wrong role models and examples for the mostly poor and illiterate public of our country.

She said our public was not mature enough to feel the repercussions of these western concepts, which had led to the increasing crime rate against women.


Dharmarth board to meet on July 24
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 21
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, has convened a meeting of the Dharmarth Trust Board at Amritsar on July 24.

Deliberations are to centre on the ex-communication of Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president, management committee, Takht Patna Sahib and Member SGPC by Jathedar Iqbal Singh, Takht Patna Sahib.


2 labourers killed in wall collapse
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 21
Two migrant labourers were killed and two seriously injured today at Kaunterpur village near here, when the wall of a house fell on them. The dead were identified as Chandrika and Armika, while the injured were identified as Vinod Kumar and Gagan Dev, all residents of Sirsa (Bihar). The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


Marginal increase in cotton area: association
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
The fresh appraisal carried out by the Northern India Cotton Association Limited about the area brought under cotton crop in the current season in the North, comprising Punjab, Haryana and the Sriganganagar circle of Rajasthan, has indicated that there will be a marginal increase in the crop area as compared to the last year.

As per the cotton bulletin issued by the association last month, it was predicted that the entire North zone would witness about 15 per cent increase in the crop area. Now it was pointed out that, as per its revised estimates, the increase in area would be around 9 or 10 per cent.

The association, which has been carrying out regular survey, predicted on June 7 that area in Punjab this year would go up to 6 lakh hectare from 4.5 lakh hectare.

Similarly, the area in Haryana this year would touch 6 lakh hectare from 5.38 lakh hectare and in the Sriganganagar circle the area would go down to 2.5 lakh hectare this year from 2.72 lakh hectare.

The area in Punjab, according to the fresh survey, would be around 5.90 lakh hectare, in Haryana 5.60 lakh hectare and in the Sriganganagar circle 2.25 lakh hectare.

The total area in this year in the North would be around 13.75 lakh hectare against 14.50 lakh hectare, which was estimated earlier.


Farmers to get green gram seeds
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
Mr Bikkar Singh Sidhu, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture (pulses), said 500 quintals of improved seeds of green gram would be given to farmers by the Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation (PAIC) to bring about 10,000 acres under the contract farming programme of the state government.

Mr Sidhu stated this while addressing farmers at Khet Divas organised by the Department of Agriculture at Kothe Budh Singhwala village in this district.


Tough steps to discipline patwaris, kanungos
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, July 21
The Deputy Speaker and Kharar MLA, Mr Birdevinder Singh, today announced tough measures to curb the activities of indisciplined patwaris and kanungos and improve their services to the public.

Mr Birdevinder Singh, who was addressing a press conference after meeting patwaris and kanungos here, said that often patwaris were found to be doing the work of property dealers instead of attending to their duties. They were usually not found by the public in their offices and were frequently in the offices of property dealers. Such a trend had to stop if the public was to get better services.

He said there were allegations that a nexus existed between the patwaris and property dealers. He said if any patwari was found in the office of a property dealer, his presence there would be treated as a professional contempt. And if he was found to be indulging in any business transactions with the property dealers, action would be taken against the former.

The Deputy Speaker said a model to ensure excellence and streamlining services for the public was being introduced in the SAS Nagar and Kharar tehsils. Under the model it was mandatory for patwaris to sit in their offices from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily. They would be allowed to do field work or attend to department meeting only in the latter half of the day. They have been asked to maintain a movement register. A blackboard would also be put up outside a patwarkhana on which the patwari would have not intimate his whereabouts.

It has been made compulsory for them to coordinate with each other on a day-to-day basis. Both the departments have been asked to fax a copy of the information, that they exchanged with each other, to the office of the Deputy Speaker for day to day monitoring. Operation night vigil would be introduced to improve the services. In addition to this social vigilance groups would be formed in villages to monitor essential services. If same officials were found absent from duty, the information could be passed to the office of the Deputy Speaker.

He said a recommendation had been made to the government to do away with Punjab Capital Periphery Act as it was redundant and only acted as a spanner in the wheel. A meeting had been fixed several times with the Chief Minister in this regard but it could not materialise for one reason or the other.

Mr Birdevinder Singh said a part of the Kharar block was not in the Kandi area. It had been demanded that the remaining area be included in the Kandi belt and also be declared as a backward area.


Monga appointed SP (Headquarters)

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Government today posted Mr R.L. Monga as SP, Headquarters, Patiala, and Mr Harminder Singh as SP, Headquarters, Batala. — TNS


Inter-state gang of cheats busted
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 21
The district police claims to have busted an inter-state gang of cheats and robbers, arresting Kabul Singh, a resident of Mandofal village in the district, and Jarnail Singh, a resident of Nandpur Kesho in Patiala. The two would cheat the traders by carrying goods in their trucks and selling these in the market.

Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, said today this gang was involved in 17 cases of fraud in various states. The gang members would prepare fake documents relating to the Transport Department as well as fake revenue records and with the help of bogus witnesses procure the bail of the arrested members and release orders for the impounded vehicles. During interrogation, the culprits had admitted that in one of the case registered against Kabul Singh, his accomplice, Rajinder Singh Nambardar, a resident of Gadhera, had prepared a fake copy of jamabandi. In another case, Paramjit Kaur, wife of Jarnail Singh, and Sarbjit Kaur, wife of Kabul Singh, managed to get the bail of Jarnail Singh by obtaining a bogus registration certificate of a truck (PB 11B-2164).

He said the CIA staff, Sirhind, had nabbed the gang members after keeping a watch on their activities for a long time. He said a case under Section 420 had been registered against the culprits.


School management booked for roof collapse
Tribune News Service

Malout (Muktsar), July 21
The local police has registered a case against some members of the management of a private school located in Ekta Nagar for negligence in maintaining the building of school as about 10 Dalit students were injured when the roof of one of its rooms collapsed on July 17.

The case under Sections 337, 338 and 34 of the IPC was registered against the members on the directions of Mr Narian Singh Kesri, member of the National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, to the Muktsar police.

Official sources said the case was registered in the matter pertaining to repairing the roof which collapsed due to heavy rains.

Mr Kesri, who visited this town yesterday, expressed his displeasure over the fact that nobody had bothered about the treatment of the injured students.

He also directed the Municipal Council, Malout, to take action against the management of the school.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SSP, when contacted, said the case had been registered and the Station House Officer concerned had been directed to do the needful yesterday.


IG’s ex-security officer held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
The police here arrested Gurdyal Ram a police inspector, (He used to wear the uniform of DSP), the then personal security officer of the Inspector General (Border Range), who was declared proclaimed offender in the kidney sale scam, when he was coming from Jalandhar to Amritsar yesterday evening.

Involvement of Gurdyal Ram in the kidney sale racket was proved on the basis of the print-out of his mobile bills, procured by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). Gurdyal Ram had been absconding after his preliminary interrogation by the SIT. The print-outs showed that he used to get frequent calls from Vickey Bhatia and an advocate middlemen in the kidney trade.

Mr Rajan Gupta IG police was transferred from Amritsar after the busting of the kidney trade with a view to conduct fair inquiry. Gurdyal Ram was reverted to the post of inspector but he continued to wear the uniform of DSP, he also used to command the parade on the independence day and other important days (by wearing the uniform of DSP). A photograph of Mr Gurdyal Ram the DSP’s uniform receiving award from Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Cabinet Minister in presence of the then IG (border), Mr Rajan Gupta is a proof that he had been violating the orders of the state government even when was reverted in connivance of his seniors.


Woman, daughter booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
A case under Sections 447, 427, 511 and 34 of the IPC has been registered at the city police station against Pritam Kaur and her daughter, Shawinder Kaur, for damaging a shop located near the old bus stand.

According to the complainant, Mr Subash Garg, the accused on July 19 damaged the roof of the shop, from where he had been operating business as a tenant. Pritam Kaur had filed a suit in the civil court for getting the shop vacated on the pretext that the tenant had not been paying rent to her. The case is still pending in the court.

However, no arrest has been made so far.


Husband, wife kill man
Tribune News Service

Mehma Sarja (Bathinda), July 21
Gora Singh, a resident of this village,15 km from Bathinda town, was allegedly killed today by Balbir Singh and his wife Jagdeep Kaur with the help of others.

Police sources said Gora Singh was murdered with a curd churner this morning when he had gone to the couple’s house. The accused have fled. Information gathered by TNS revealed that he was murdered as he had even been warned by the panchayat members verbally.

A case in this connection has been registered in Nehianwala police station. Police parties have been dispatched to nab the culprits.


Education officers told to maintain diary
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 21
Mr B. Sarkar, Commissioner, Faridkot division, here today directed all District Education Officers (DEOs) of Faridkot, Bathinda and Mansa to maintain a diary in every school to ensure the proper working of the schools.

Mr Sarkar said that there were a large number of complaints about the poor functioning of schools, particularly in rural areas. He asked the DEOs to personally look after this problem on a priority basis. He also sought cooperation from non-government organisations and gram panchayats in this connection.

Addressing his first meeting with district officers, the Commissioner also asked the officials of the Irrigation Department to make elaborate arrangements for providing better irrigation facilities to the areas located at the tail-end.


Tandon flays govt on fee hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Senior BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon has condemned the state government for making higher education expensive, thereby leading to a decline in the number of admissions to various colleges in the state this year.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Tandon stated that by affecting a major hike in the admission and tuition fees, the government had made college education beyond the reach of ordinary students. In most cases, students from the lower and middle class of society made it to the Central and state services, but this decision of the government would also have a bearing on the position of Punjabis in these competitive examinations.

He urged the government to take corrective steps at the earliest, otherwise all Opposition parties would resort to agitation.


Patiala boy meets Nobel Laureates
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 21
A local boy, Angel Rajan Singh, a student of Government Medical College, has done the city proud by representing the country at the 53rd meeting of Nobel Laureates and students in Lindau, Germany.

While giving the credit of his success to his teacher and parents, Angel Rajan Singh said attending the meeting was an eye opener for him. He added that the meeting had given him a chance to interact with as many as 15 Nobel Prize winners in the field of medicine and physiology and with the top most young researchers and students from around 36 countries of the world.


Pathankot gears up for litchee export
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Pathankot, July 21
The Pathankot Cooperative Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Marketing Society has drawn out an ambitious plan to produce one lakh quintals of litchee to meet the demand in the international market.

Mr Rajiv Mahajan, president of the society and a keen horticulturist of the area, told The Tribune that a total of 2,000 acres in Pathankot and kandi belt would be brought under litchee cultivation. At present 1,600 acres of land was covered by the litchee crop.

He said the society had made agreements with the Punjab Agro Industries and Exports Corporation and the Cooperative Department of the state for the export of 20 tonnes of litchee to European countries where the Indian litchee is in great demand. “There is no other competitor in the international market, except China, whose crop is not as good as compared to the Pathankot litchee,” he added.

Mr Mahajan said the state government should provide facilities to horticulturists and encourage them to boost fruit production. Since there was a lot of potential for the export of litchee — either fresh, canned, juice or pulp — the government help would generate an atmosphere at the international level to earn foreign exchange by declaring Pathankot as a litchee export zone, he added.

Mr Mahajan said sprinkler and fogger system should be provided to horticulturists to enable them raise the quality of litchee and mangoes. He demanded that farmers should be given fruit plants and spray pumps at a minimum subsidy of 75 per cent.

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