Wednesday, July 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India



P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



30 SGPC employees removed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 22
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today removed 30 employees, including Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, as per directions of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission. The orders issued by the SGPC stated that they (those above the age of 60) were being relieved on the directions of the judicial commission, issued on June 13.

The bylaws of the SGPC were also clear that no employee, after attaining the age of 60, could continue to hold the post.

However, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, would continue to hold the additional charge of the priest of the Golden Temple.

Those who have been relieved today include Bhai Banta Singh and Bhai Jaswant Singh, both ‘hazoori raagis’, Mr Gurpal Singh, an executive engineer, Mr Inder Singh, a patwari, Mr Gursharn Singh, a revenue official, Mr Sulakhan Singh Meet, in charge, Sikh Itihas Board, and Mr Onkar Singh, a research scholar.


British couple didn’t have valid car papers
Our Correspondents

Wagah , July 22
The Commissioner, Customs, Mr Ramesh Bhattacharya, today gave a clean chit to his men posted at the joint checkpost here saying there was no lapse on the part of officials manning the post. He said the British couple fled on finding the outer gate open, adding that they did not possess a valid vehicle certificate for driving through India.

The Commissioner said the security at the customs barrier had been beefed up. Giving a detailed account of the getaway vehicle, he said senior customs officials were informed about the speeding car by a guard posted at the gate within few minutes and immediately a message was flashed to arrest Mr Nashwar Ali Sheikh and his wife Hassina Sheikh.

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Sheikh were remanded in judicial custody yesterday till August 4 under the Foreigners Act for dodging the immigration and the customs authorities. The couple had applied for bail and hearing on their application would take place tomorrow. The Customs authorities have impounded their vehicle and it will be released after they provide the relevant documents.

Overzealous customs officials today prevented journalists from entering the customs and immigration area for talking to Pakistani passengers who arrived by the Delhi-Lahore bus service. The officials prefering anonymity, told The Tribune team that instructions had been received from senior officers not to allow mediapersons in the area.

However, the Commissioner said it was an overreaction by his men, adding that fresh instructions would be issued for allowing in recognised mediapersons holding valid identity cards.


Scam in purchases for Ganguwal powerhouse?
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, July 22
Can two or more firms located at different places have the same phone number? If records of the Saharanpur-based firms supplying various materials to the Ganguwal powerhouse of the PSEB, located in the district, are to be believed, this seems to be the case.

Documents available with this correspondent showed that over the last two years, various purchase orders were placed by the Ganguwal powerhouse authorities with two Saharanpur-based firms having different addresses but similar telephone number.

On October 5, 2001, an order worth Rs 46,680 for supplying sealing rings was awarded to M/s International Engineering, Saharanpur. On February 14, 2002, an order worth Rs 1,54,290 for the repair of compressor and on March 25, 2002, an order worth Rs 29,800 for the fabrication and supply of GM heater oil bush was awarded to the same firm.

Simultaneous orders for the supply of high-tension nuts and bolts worth Rs 46,812 on April 4, 2002, supply of 125 kv engine set worth Rs 1,55,000 on October 24, 2002, and fabrication and supply of cap seal worth Rs 47,220 on November 21, 2002, were placed with M/s Tech and Techno of Saharanpur.

An interesting fact about the two firms was that, according to their letterhead pads, M/s Tech and Techno firm was located in Sarai Shahji near Islamia inter-college area of Saharanpur, while the M/s International Engineering was located on the Dehradun road, Khanalampura Badshai Masjid Wali Gali, Saharanpur. However, despite being located at different places, both firms have the same telephone number — 0132-612547.

Sources said that same firm was being given all orders by certain officials posted at Ganguwal. The modus operandi in the scam was that in connivance with the officials, a Saharanpur-based supplier submitted four take quotations on different letterheads. Besides the said two firms, the quotations in the above said orders were also sought from Super Gear Engineering Works, Saharanpur and Vishkarma Engineering Works. While the Super Gear Engineering Works firm also has the same phone number 0132-612547, the person putting his signature under the letter from the Vishkarma Engineering Works has signed as manager of the Tech and Techno Engineering Works.

All works were allotted to a similar firm at higher prices. The orders, in connivance with the officials of the Ganguwal powerhouse, were allotted to the firm using fake quotations submitted by the similar person.

The scandal that shows the nexus between certain officials posted at the powerhouse and firms has come to the fore due to infighting between certain officials of the engineering and finance wing. A finance wing official has recently sent a report in this regard to the Chairman of the PSEB, who has further marked it to the PSEB (Vigilance). However, any action in this regard is yet to be taken.

Mr Prem Sagar, Superintendent Engineer, heading the Ganguwal powerhouse when asked to comment on the matter, said that since he had joined on June 1, he had no knowledge about it. He, however, added that all orders were first pre-audited by the finance wing, and the wing also has to shoulder the responsibility if some scam had been committed.

Power board XEN in dock over appointments
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) management has recommended criminal and departmental action against an Executive Engineer, Sub Divisional Officer and three other employees for “illegally” making 22 persons work-charged employees from daily wagers.

PSEB Vigilance head ADGP Lalit Bhatia has sent a report in this regard to the board management recently, according to sources. Mr Bhatia however could not be contacted as he was out of station.

According to the sources, the office of the Senior Executive Engineer, Amritsar appointed 22 persons as work-charged employees from daily wagers even though they did not fulfil the criterion for the same. The report said the employees had not completed the stipulated 500-day service to become eligible for being taken on as work charge employees.

The report said during investigation when the case was reopened a year ago it was found that the office had asked the daily wagers to submit affidavits that they had completed 500 days of service. Interestingly, these affidavits were found to be missing now. Besides this the investigation received that bogus record had been created to adjust the workers in their new jobs.

The board suffered a loss of around Rs 2 lakh by the move as work charge employees are entitled to House Rent Allowance and other benefits. Moreover, the workers would have been otherwise been in line for further promotion in case of vacancies, the sources said. They said the workers had been adjusted in both Amritsar East and Harshacheena sub division in the same area. They said the Vigilance Department had recommended criminal action against the then XEN, Sub Divisional Officer and three other clerical staff members for theft of record as service books of the board were missing.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance Department has also recommended action against the workers who were allegedly benefitted from the largesse of the office of the XEN. It has recommended the registration of a case for misappropriation of government money. The case refers to the period between 1991-1994. Earlier the then XEN had been chargesheeted in the case but had claimed that he was not responsible for the lapse as he had signed according to the briefing received by him. 


Ravi Sidhu had licence to keep liquor

Chandigarh, July 22
The Vigilance Department, Punjab today suffered a major set back in a case under the Excise Act registered by it against former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission(PPSC) Ravi Sidhu in Chandigarh. The Excise and Taxation Department of the Chandigarh Administration submitted documents saying that Ravi Sidhu had been issued life time licence for possessing Indian made foreign liquor, beer and wine by it in 1998. The UT police had registered a case under the Excise Act against Ravi Sidhu after recovery of foreign liquor from his house in Sector-39.

The documents submitted by UT Assistant and Taxation Commissioner through official representative in a local court revealed that total 50 licences (permit for purpose of transport and possession of foreign liquor exceeding the limit of retail sale and private possession) had been issued by the office.

It was further mentioned in the documents that serial number 511 issued on November 5, 1998, to Ravi Sidhu, a resident of H.No 914, Sector-39 Chandigarh for life time against a payment of Rs 1,000 paid in the S.B.I on same date for the possession of — Indian made foreign liquor (24 quarts of 750 ml including brandy and imported liquor), beer (48 bottles of 650 ml), and wine (24 bottles of 750 ml).

Ravi Sidhu was arrested by the Vigilance Department, Punjab, on March 26 allegedly while accepting a bribe of Rs 5 lakh. Thereafter the UT police had registered two different cases under the Excise Act and the Arms Act against Ravi Sidhu acting on the complaint lodged against him by the Vigilance Department, Punjab, that it had recovered 14 bottles of foreign liquor, 250 rounds of .12 bore gun and 225 rounds of Springfield rifle from Ravi Sidhu’s house in Sector 39.

Ravi Sidhu had moved an application in the court stating that he had a valid licence for possessing foreign liquor issued by the UT Excise and Taxation Department. But when the raids were conducted at his house in Sector-39 all relevant records were taken by it. He had requested the court to summon official of the UT Excise and Taxation Department to submit the record concerned in the court. Acting on his plea, the court of UT Additional District and Sessions Judge had directed the UT Excise and Taxation Department to probe the record and Ashok Kumar, junior assistant with the Excise and Taxation Department submitted the document in the court.


Heavy rain damages cotton, paddy
Farmers live in tents as houses collapse
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Midhu Khera (Muktsar), July 22
The heavy rain, which lashed this region three days ago, have left behind a trail of destruction as hundreds of houses collapsed and cotton, paddy and other crops, including vegetables, in thousands of acres have been badly affected in this and other villages, including Fatta Kera, Bhullarawala and Bhitiwala, of the district.

Even as a section of the affected farmers have been making efforts to drain out water from their fields to save their submerged cotton, paddy and other crops, the residents of these village have been exposed to various kinds of epidemics due to stagnation of water and absence of officials of the Health Department to take preventive measures.

During a visit to the affected areas, it was found that a large number of people, whose permanent and kutcha houses had collapsed, had pitched tents to save themselves from the vagaries of weather while heads of cattle, owned by them, were still living in their damaged dwellings.

The four villages were presenting a picture of destruction. Some of the schools, civil and veterinary dispensaries and dharamshalas in these villages had also been inundated. Rain water could not be drained out from these pockets of Muktsar district despite the fact that crores of rupees had been spent during the previous SAD-BJP government on anti-water logging measures in this area.

Mr Karam Singh and Mr Sukhpal Singh, both brothers, of Fatta Kera village say, “We are wrecked as our entire cotton and paddy crops in about 18 acres of land have submerged under more than two feet deep water. It is difficult to find a place where the water stagnating in our fields can be drained out. The drain is about 2 km away from our fields. Our crops will be totally damaged by the time, the water is drained out”.

Mr Baltej Singh, a farmer of Fatta Kera village, said his cotton and paddy crops in about 60 acres of land had been damaged. Mr Gurminder Singh, another farmer, said heavy rains damaged his house besides ruining his cotton crop in 10 acres of land. He added that he had fixed up the marriage of one of his three sisters after a few days but now he would have to postpone the marriage as he had been left with nothing to spend on the function.

The farmers pointed out that a drain passing from the village had not been cleaned by the authorities concerned. They added that various drains dig by the Irrigation and Drainage Department to prevent waterlogging also failed to drain out the rain water.

Though there are a number of farmers whose crops have been damaged and houses collapsed, no official from the district administration, Health Department and Agriculture Department has visited them alleviate their misery.

Mrs Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, said so far nobody had informed the district administration about the rain water problem in any village of the district. She added that she came to know about submerged fields in about four villages of the district when she sought reports from the field staff.

She said the executive engineers of Gidderbaha, Malout and Muktsar had been given Rs 1 lakh each to make arrangements for draining out rain water from the fields in their respective areas.

Our Correspondent adds from Moga: Several thousand acres of land sown with paddy in various villages on the banks of the Sutlej river in the district has been submerged under deep water following an overflow in the Sutlej, according to reports available here on Tuesday.

The villages which have been affected include Mehlanwala, Tarewala, Kalirao, Milk Mandir, Milk Kangan and several others. The overflowing water has not only affected crops but also villages in the district situated on the banks of the Sutlej. Farmers said it had not been possible for them to drain out water from their fields which had surrounded their paddy crop.


Record paddy milling by Markfed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Mr S.S.Channy, Managing Director, Markfed, today described as outstanding the performance of Markfed in procurement, storage and custom milling of paddy stocks during kharif marketing season 2002-2003.

The highest ever record paddy of the tune of 21.16 lakh mt paddy was procured by Markfed with 99.97 per cent (i.e. 21.15 lakh mt) of paddy milling already completed till June 30 and the resultant rice delivered to the Food Corporation of India. Though, the cut off date was the earliest ever, yet every care was taken to ensure speedy milling.

In the year 2000-2001 out of 14.85 lakh mt of paddy procured 34.76 per cent (5.16 lakh mt) was got milled and in 2001-2002, out of 17.95 lakh mt procured 51 per cent (9.15 lakh mt) paddy was got milled. However, this year against the procurement of 21.16 lakh mts, 80.69 per cent milling (17.07 lakh mt) was completed up to March 31, 2003.

An official press note stated that while comparing with the results obtained during the previous years, it hae become apparent that in 2000-2001, out of 14.85 lakh mt paddy procured, 11.10 lakh mt was got milled and percentage came to 74.75 per cent. Similarly, in 2001-2002, out of 17.95 lakh mt procured, 17.17 lakh mt was got milled and percentage came to 95.64 per cent.

Similarly, the position regarding carry-overs and embezzlements in paddy stocks has also been compared with the previous years and it has been found that in 2000-2001, 16,325 mt paddy valuing Rs 16.32 crore was left un-milled. Again in 2001-2002, 6304 mt worth Rs 6.50 crores was left un-milled.

However, more stringent steps were taken against the defaulters and also to ensure that the paddy stocks were kept safe. Only three cases of malpractices were noticed during the season, where in stocks equivalent to 21 lakh mt were involved. Police action has been initiated to book the culprits and the cases are being pursued vigorously to make good the losses as quickly as possible.



Councillor appointed PPCC secy

Phagwara, July 21
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president H S Hanspal has appointed party’s Councillor Kusum Sharma organisational secretary of the party.

Dr Satish Kumar Suman has been appointed district president of the Congress SC/ST cell, a party spokesman said. — UNI


Sandhu made PPCC secy

Bathinda, July 22
Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), has been appointed a secretary of the committee by Mr H.S. Hanspal, PPCC president. — TNS


Cong leaders seek action against Rinwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Senior Congress leaders and MLAs today sought action against the President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, and Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, BJP leader, for questioning the patriotism of a senior Punjab-based IPS officer, Mr Mohammad Mustafa.

Addressing a press conference, the Congress leaders, along with Mr Varinder Kataria, former President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, and Ms Razia Sultana, wife of Mr Mustafa and Congress MLA from Malerkotla, said all allegations against Mr Mustafa regarding the settlement of Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslims along the Indo-Pak border in Ferozepore district were political motivated and false.

Mr Kataria said he knew Mr Mustafa for the past several years. The BJP leaders were playing a big mischief by manipulating such communal issues, he added.

Ms Razia Sultana said the BJP leaders were questioning the patriotism of Mr Mustafa today and they would resort to a similar game with anybody else tomorrow. Criminal cases should be registered against them, she demanded.


SAD invites Akali factions to join
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said here today that with the unity between the SAD and the SHSAD, a formidable challenge could be posed to the Congress government in the state. He said all other Akali factions, which agreed with the policies of the SAD, were welcome to join the party. 


Give 7-day notice to Markfed chief before arrest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Taking up a petition filed by Markfed Chairman Jagdish Singh Walia seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the issuance of seven-day notice in case the petitioner was sought to be arrested by the police.

In his petition, Mr Walia had earlier stated that directions should be issued to the arresting officer for releasing him on anticipatory bail in the event of his arrest in a first information report pertaining to the disproportionate assets case.

Expressing apprehensions, Mr Walia’s counsel had argued that he (Mr Walia) might be implicated in a false case registered under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act due to political reasons.


Two Wimpy employees freed on bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 22
Two employees of Wimpy’s International, Harjinder Singh and Rajinder Singh, were released on bail today by special judge S.K. Goel.

The bail applications of three other Wimpy employees — Yash Dhawan, R.K. Gupta and Suresh Kulshreshtha — were rejected.


Ferozepore is nobody’s baby
Anirudh Gupta

FEROZEPORE: Ferozepore, which was perhaps the biggest district of the erstwhile composite Punjab after Kangra, has always been at the receiving end of the step-motherly treatment meted out to it by the successive state governments. This district, which was bifurcated thrice as two other districts, Muktsar and Moga were carved of it, and later, the Dharamkot area along with hundreds of villages was transferred to Moga, today depicts a story of apathy and neglect.

Regrettably, even after the division, as others baby districts made tremendous progress, Ferozepore never caught the attention of any state government ever. Now, the demand to assign the status of district to Fazilka, if met, would be proverbial last straw and would prove catastrophic for the prospects of this border district.

Today, districts like Moga and Muktsar boast of much more progress may be in terms of industry, infrastructure, education or sports, but the development continues to evade this border district.

An interaction with the cross section of residents reveals that one of the major factors responsible for the poor condition and backwardness of the town has been lack of vigour on the part of the politicians hailing from this border district sharing over 100-km-long boundary with Pakistan.

Even, the vital issue like that of the opening of the Hussainiwala border, which is the lifeline of the local traders before its clousure in the aftermath of the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict remained ignored.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, claims that he has taken up the matter of opening of Hussainiwala for trade and transit in Parliament umpteen times but to no avail.

Senior Congress leader Balram Jakhar, who belongs to this district, remained Speaker of the Lok Sabha for two consecutive terms and then became Union Agriculture Minister, but his interest remained limited to the Abohar region. Every time a project was to be assigned to Ferozepore, influential lobbies in the cotton rich belt of Abohar and Fazilka. The first electronic telephone exchange was set up in Abohar rather than in Ferozepore despite the fact that circle SSA office is situated here. The first sewerage system was also laid in Abohar and sugar mills were established in the Zira and Fazilka areas.

Mr Chander Mohan, secretary, PPCC, lamented that Ferozepore was the only district of the erstwhile Ferozepore division where there is no DAC complex. Even, the work on the construction of a circuit house, which began six years ago is stranded reportedly due to lack of funds. Ironically, at the same time, crores of rupees were sanctioned for the administrative complex in Moga, which is ready for inauguration.

Veteran columnist and freedom fighter, Mr Satya Pal Baghi averred that most of time in the past, outsiders were imposed for the only Lok Sabha seat here, who never took interest in the development of the town. Mr Gurdial Singh Dhillon, Mr Santokh Singh, Mr Jagmeet Brar, were all outsiders and those belonging to this district like Mr Balram Jakhar, Mr Mohan Singh Phalianwala, Mr Mohinder Singh Saiyanwala rather than focusing on the development of this district pursued their own political agenda, rues Mr Baghi.

Even in the present government, out of the six Congress MLAs, none has been given the ministerial berth, though three MLAs have been made Parliamentary Secretaries but without any important department. Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, MLA, Ferozepore, has been given department of NRIs, Mr Mohinder Rinwa, MLA, Fazilka, has been allotted Department of Horticulture where as Mr Hans Raj Jossan, MLA, Jalalabad, has been assigned Civil Aviation portfolio.

Now, the demand for the creation of another district out of Ferozepore has fuelled apprehensions amongst the residents who insist that instead of creating a new district, efforts should be made for the overall development of the district.


55 cr okayed for galliara project
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
The galliara project, which had been hanging fire for the past few years, will be completed within 18 months. This information was given by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, today. He said the Union Home Ministry had cleared Rs 55 crore in principle to complete the fourth and fifth phase of the project.

He said Rs 30 crore had been earmarked for aquiring properties. He said a flyover connecting the GT road with the outer periphery of the Golden Temple at the cost of Rs 22 crore had been planned. He announced that Bharat Petroleum Corporation had, drawn up a Rs 6-lakh project for the beautification and landscaping of 1.5-km road from the Wagah checkpost to the ditch-cum-bundh.


US team impressed by community policing
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 22
A two-member US team comprising Miss Chitra Bhanu, a coordinator from Vers Institute of Justice in New York, and Miss Shusmita Dasgupta, Head of a non-government organisation ‘Manvi’ in the USA, yesterday visited the Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) here.

Jalandhar range DIG Dinkar Gupta and SSP R.N. Dhoke briefed them on the functioning of the CPRC. They were told the centre dealt with cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse desertion by NRI husbands, passport verifications, police clearance certificates and marital disputes.

Ms Bhanu and Ms Dasgupta told reporters that they were impressed by the centre’s functioning.

On the exploitation of Indian brides by NRI grooms, they said it was the problem of the Indians and the USA had to do nothing about it.

The team was told that the cases of more than 11,000 persons were dealt with in the past three months.

DIG Gupta said 10 CPRCs were functioning in the state and seven police officers had visited the USA in October last year to study the community policing. The US team is here to study the community policing project initiated by the Punjab police.


Kids may be deprived of  another playground
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
Children of the city, who were deprived of a play ground in the Sheranwala Gate area in the city in 1992 with the State Languages Department being built on it, are likely to be deprived of the only large play ground on the Rajpura road with the government firm on establishing a modern bus-stand on the play ground of the Atma Ram Sabha Society.

Ever since the announcement of the State government that the bus-stand in the city would be shifted from its present position opposite the railway station to the Rajpura road, there has been resistance from the members of the society who claim that children who use the ground for playing would be affected by the move. The society members had made a plea in this regard to the Deputy Commissioner also.

The society members made a similar plea to the Chief Minister also yesterday at a meeting held to listen to the grievances of the people. Capt Amarinder after listening to the deputation said the society should also think of the need for development of the city. He said the ground of the school which lay along the Rajpura road was the only ideal empty space available.

The Chief Minister said as modern bus-stands were also coming up in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, he felt that Patiala should get a modern bus stand. He said besides this, establishment of the bus-stand at the spot would remove the present traffic congestion at the entry of the city. He asked Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh to ensure a suitable land was given to the society in lieu of the land which was slated to be acquired fom it for establishment of the bus stand.

Land for the bus-stand may be important, but so is the playing ground for the children, said Manmeet Singh, a resident of Lal Bagh. He said according to his information, the ground was popular among the city children with many of them flocking to it on holidays. “I see several cricket matches going on in a single field and taking away of the field from the children would be cruel”, he added. He said earlier also almost all the open areas in the city had been usurped by successive governments resulting in no fields for children. Speaking about the construction of the Languages Department in the open space at Sheranwala Gate, he said. “You can see the usefullness of the department for the city yourself”, adding a playing field there would have been much more useful.

Other citizens while speaking on the occasion said if the government was to earmark another site for a playing field after acquiring the present one on the Rajpura road, it must either give land which could be easily accessible to children on develop another field for children as the society had a large chunk of land on the Rajpura road. Some people said some special sporting facilities could be provided to the Society to compensate for the area being taken from them.



Rs 9.87 cr for development, welfare
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 22
A sum of Rs 9.87 crore was released for development projects and welfare schemes in the district by the District Planning and Development Board, presided over by Mr Avtar Henry, Food and Supply Minister, Punjab-cum-Chairman, of the board, here yesterday. The state government has allocated Rs 21.99 crore for the district for development and welfare schemes in the current year.

Mr Henry said of the Rs 9.87 crore released, more than Rs 5.81 crore would be spent on an old-age pension scheme and other such welfare schemes, while Rs 3.43 crore would be spent on schemes of the Rural Development Department.

The remaining amount would be spent on nutrition scheme and schemes of the welfare department. Mr Henry also directed the shopkeepers to display price lists in shops in 15 days.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said that of the total 70,000 pension cases, during scrutiny it had been found that about 29,000 ineligible persons had been getting old-age pension and other pensions, given by the Social Security Department. He said pensions up to March 31 would be paid to all eligible pensioners in a fortnight.


Foot-and-mouth disease breaks out
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 22
An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, a viral infection, has been reported in Boore Nangal, Jalian and Aadwali villages.

According to the Deputy Director, Animal Husbandary, more than 12 animals had died due to the disease.

In a press note issued here today, he said only those animals were affected whose owners did not get their flock vaccinated during a vaccination campaign by the department in the beginning of the summer.

The Deputy Director said three teams, comprising a veterinary doctor, two pharmacists and two Class IV employees, had been constituted to vaccinate animals in these villages.

He said the department was providing treatment, including vaccination to the animals, free of cost. He added that the Deputy Commissioner had also extended financial assistance to the department to control the disease.

The Deputy Director said there were several animals in these villages which were suffering from lameness, anorexis and high fever. He appealed to villagers to make sure that their animals were vaccinated.


Rally against police ‘discrimination’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 22
Residents of the town and workers of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, participated in a protest rally and staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today to protest against the “discriminatory” approach of the district police while dealing with two cases pertaining to Gakhlan and Bhiku Nangal villages.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Tarsem Peter, state secretary of the union, alleged that the police was working under pressure from a senior Punjab minister and to appease the latter, it had implicated Mr Surinder Kumar, sarpanch, and some other Christian residents of Gaklan village. The police had also falsely implicated the sarpanch of Bhiku Nangal village, he added.

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, the protesters alleged that the police had implicated some Christians by registering a fresh FIR into the Gakhlan graveyard case. They demanded that the FIRs against the sarpanches and the Christians should be withdrawn immediately.


Doctors oppose privatisation move

Patiala, July 22
The PCMS Association has decided to launch an agitation against the state government move to privatise the health services by leasing out 150 government hospitals to the private sector and by forcing private practice on government doctors by withdrawing the non-practising allowance (NPA).

Dr M.S. Randhawa, Dr D.S. Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary, respectively of the association, in a joint statement have demanded a CBI probe into the alleged scandal of leasing out public property worth thousands of crores belonging to government hospitals, most of which are situated at prime locations and were recently renovated and equipped at the cost of Rs 450 crore by taking loans from the World Bank under the pretext of improving facilities to patients in government hospitals. The association also appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to look into the matter. OC



Govt decried for taxing CSD items

Jalandhar, July 22
The ex-servicemen cell of the Punjab BJP yesterday criticised the state government for deciding to impose tax on items sold through CSD canteens.

At a meeting of the state executive committee of the cell here, Brig M.S. Dhillon (retd), president, alleged that though Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh himself was an ex-serviceman, but his decision to end concessions available to the retired defence personnel and their wards was deplorable.

He said the state government had increased perks of the ministers and MLAs manifold and appointed scores of politicians chairmen of various boards and corporations to lessen the discontentment in the ruling party, and to compensate the loss, the government chose to burden the ex-servicemen community. — PTI


Road mishap toll rises to nine
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 22
Amarnath pilgrim Sharda of Delhi, who was injured in the road mishap involving a jeep and a bus near Emma Mangat yesterday, succumbed to her injuries at the DMCH Ludhiana last night. 

With her death, the death toll has increased to nine in this accident. The bodies of the three deceased which were not identified yesterday have been identified. 


DC seeks report on water scheme
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 22
The Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr KAP Sinha, has directed the Executive Engineer, Punjab Public Health Department, to give a detailed report on the alleged failure of a Rs 60 lakh Nabard-funded water scheme put in operation at Doong village of Dhar Kalan block.

Talking to this correspondent today, the Deputy Commissioner said the Executive Engineer had been told to give reasons of the failure of the project. He said action would be taken against erring officials on the receipt of the report.

The Tribune had highlighted in its columns the alleged irregularities committed in commissioning of the project, which, according to reports, has caused a huge loss to the state exchequer.


Vigilance sends questionnaire to Harbans Lal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has sent a questionnaire to Mr Harbans Lal, who was recently removed from the Council of Ministers by Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Sources said a bureau team visited the official residence of Mr Harbans Lal in Sector-39 here this morning to hand over the questionnaire regarding the Mirzapur forest scandal that led to his sacking.

The bureau reportedly asked the former minister that under what circumstances had extension for tree felling been given to a forest contractor.


Pollution control board guidelines on Internet
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 22
Mr K.P.S. Rana, Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), said here today that efforts would be made to improve the image of the board. Due to poor public relations of officers and the ignorance of the people regarding the board guidelines, he said, the image of the organisation had been adversely affected.

He said the board would identify officials with clean images who would be given important assignments. Besides this, the board guidelines would be available on the Internet.

The anti-corruption drive of the government would also be extended to the officials of the board.


Some doctors may get NPA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
Government doctors teaching basic subjects having no scope of using the knowledge for private practice might be given non-practising allowance (NPA) by the state government.

While the Chief Minister was curt with the Association of the Punjab Medical and Civil Supplies which represented the case of government doctors before him, he later told newsmen that the case of those who were not in a position to practice could be reviewed.

Earlier, when representatives of the PCMS Association met him during the “khula darbar” organised at the Municipal Corporation here, the Chief Minister said many government doctors had opened up private nursing homes.

Capt Amarinder Singh told the doctors that they could not both take the non-practising allowance and do private practice.

Meanwhile, a deputation of the PCMSA led by Dr D.C. Sharma and Dr D.S. Bhullar which had met the Chief Minister yesterday, claimed that the Chief Minister assured them that he would get the issue re-examined.

Another deputation consisting of Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Y.S. Banga claimed that if NPA was abolished, every doctor would lose Rs 4,000 to Rs 8,000 per month. They claimed that NPA was for all intents and purposes a part of the salary of the doctors and that it was paid to doctors in the armed forces and central health services also.


Teej function on August 1
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 22
A state-level function to mark the Teej festival will be organised at Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind on August 1. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said Mrs Sobha Verma, the wife of the Punjab Governor, would preside over the function. He said the function would start at 11 a.m. and continue up to 6.30 p.m.

Mr Ahluwalia said at this function, various cultural activities and competitions related to the Punjabi culture would be organised. Besides, Miss Teej, Teej Baby, Teej Queen and Teej Bebe, would also be selected.


Two schoolboys drowned in pond
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 22
Two schoolboys were drowned in a pond, Kaulanwala Talab, this afternoon. They have been identified as Mohit of Central Town and Naresh of the Bhagatpura mohalla. Both were students of Class VIII in Arya High School. Their bodies were fished out and taken to the Civil Hospital by the police.

According to reports, the two boys, along with their classmate Ramesh, had gone for a swim in the pond and were jumping from the stairs leading to the pond when the mishap took place. Ramesh raised a hue and cry and tried to get help, but the two boys could not be saved. A pall of gloom descended in the town and hundreds of people gathered at the site of mishap.


Cylinder explodes, one injured
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 22
There was panic in the Taraksheel chowk area here today following a refrigerator gas cylinder explosion. One person was injured in the blast.

Eyewitness Bhola said a person, who was carrying three cylinders, kept them on the ground. One of the cylinders slipped and exploded. The man sustained serious injuries.


Computer parts stolen from Army Cantt
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 22
Some computer parts have been allegedly stolen from the Q Branch of the Eleventh Corps of the Army here.

Though no senior official of the Army or police could be contacted, police sources maintained that some computer parts were stolen from the Q Branch headquarters on Sunday and an FIR was registered by the Army authorities with the Jalandhar Cantonment police station on Monday.

The SSP cold not be contacted. However, Mr Ram Singh, SHO, Cantonment police station, said “Something had happened but details could be had from the police control room only as he had been directed not to disclose anything.

Brig V.K. Singh (General Staff) said nothing serious had occurred and it was just a theft case involving two officials in the barracks. Mr Naresh Vig, Army PRO, denied that any such incident had taken place. 


Marriage palace owner booked
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
The local police today registered a case against the owner of Khoobsurat Marriage Palace, Rakesh Tandon, and others on the basis of a complaint submitted to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by a 40-year-old woman at a function held here yesterday.

Though the woman beseeched to the Chief Minister yesterday that she had been raped by several persons, she claimed that she had been kidnapped along with her son, beaten up and molested.

The woman, however, backtracked from having said that she had been raped while appearing before the Chief Minister. When contacted at Lehal Colony today, she said she had only said that an attempt had been made to rape her.

A property dispute seems to be the cause of friction between the woman and the marriage palace owner. Though she claimed that she was the owner of a plot in Aman Colony, near the marriage palace, on which a concrete structure had also been constructed, she does not have papers of the plot.

The woman claimed that a case was already going on between her and the marriage palace owner and she was forcibly vacated from the premises on July 16 when armed men allegedly kidnapped her, took her to the marriage palace, beat her up and even attempted to rape her.

The SSP, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, said the woman had tried to misled the Chief Minister. He said six months back the woman had complained against the marriage palace owner and an FIR had been registered against Tandon. Regarding the July 16 incident, the SSP claimed that she had not reported the matter to the police.


Robbers’ gang busted

Moga, July 22
The Punjab police today busted a gang of robbers, allegedly responsible for a number of robberies, including looting of petrol stations, by arresting three of its members.

The police seized a pistol, a sword and other lethal weapons from the arrested persons.

The gang was operating in the districts of Punjab and Rajasthan, the police said.

The police, on a secret information yesterday, raided the cremation ground near the drain bridge on the Faridkot-Ferozepore road, where the accused were planning a strike in the town. — PTI


Poppy husk worth 6 lakh seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
Two parties of the district police have seized poppy husk worth about Rs 6 lakh and arrested five persons allegedly involved in the smuggling of the same in two cases.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, in a press note issued here today, said that 35 bags of poppy husk were seized by a police party near Kalyan Malki village in the Nathana police station area while these were being transported in a tractor-trailer. Three bags of poppy husk were seized near Phulo Khari village in Raman Mandi police station from a tractor-trailer. Cases under the NDPS Act were registered.


2 forest guards held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 22
The Vigilance Bureau arrested forest guards Lekh Raj and Rajiv Kumar of the Garhshanker forest range today in connection with a Rs 32-lakh scam in the forest range. They would be produced in court tomorrow.


Training school staff go without salaries
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
A section of employees of Multi-Purpose Health Worker (female) Training School, here, are facing financial crisis as the state government has not paid them salaries since February.

Fed up with the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned, the employees have demanded their salaries at the earliest. They said they were finding it difficult to pay enhanced tuition fees of their wards and make both ends meet.

The employees, in a press note issued here today, said they had given a representation in this regard to the authorities, but failed to get a positive response.

When contacted, Dr S. K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said the training school scheme was being funded by the Central Government and was handed over to the state government in the last financial year. The problem of payment of salaries arose in the last financial year when the authorities could not make arrangements for funds.


College students lathicharged
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 22
The police today lathicharged students of the local Government College who were protesting against the sharp hike in the college fee. Six students were also arrested on the charge of locking the college gate and manhandling four teachers of the college.

A large police force was deployed outside the college, where the students were staging the protest. When college teachers tried to persuade the students not to indulge in such activities, a confrontation ensued, in which four teachers — Mr Manjoor Hassan, Mr Mohd Irfan, Mr Avtar Singh Bhullar and Mr Tanveer Ali Khan — were injured.

The injured teachers were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The Principal of the college, Mr S.K. Vasisht, lodged a complaint with the police, following which six student leaders were arrested.

The Principal alleged that most of the agitating persons did not belong to his college.

Meanwhile, DSP Rachpal Singh denied the lathicharge but confirmed the arrest of the students.

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