Thursday, July 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



IOC fails to get case registered
Multi-crore scam at village terminal
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 23
Even as the multi-crore scam involving a senior official has rocked the Indian Oil Corporation’s Suchi village terminal near here, what has raised many an eyebrow is the IOC’s silence over the matter and its alleged failure to get a case registered against the accused, who was allegedly supplying petrol to a chosen few petrol pump owners instead of diesel by fudging the computerised oil dispensing system of the terminal.

Though the IOC authorities have placed its Safety Officer under suspension and a probe by the corporation’s vigilance wing has been instituted, nothing has allegedly been done to register a criminal case against the official who is said to be a relative of a senior BJP leader.

The Safety Officer, who was also in charge of the computerised oil dispensation unit at the terminal, had allegedly devised a novel way to cause huge benefit, said to be into crores of rupees, to a few selected few petrol dealers by fudging computer, which resulted in supply of petrol to tankers in place of diesel. Though the IOC authorities were tight-lipped about the amount involved in the scam, sources revealed that an amount between Rs 2 to 4 crore was siphoned off. They also revealed that the computerised system was fudged in such a manner that though the command appeared to be given for the supply of diesel, the system supplied petrol to tankers meant for the supply of the product to a few selected dealers, most of whom belonged to Ludhiana district.

The practice, which was said to be going on for long, led to huge losses to the IOC. The scam was detected last week but surprisingly the IOC authorities did not approach the police for the registration of a criminal case despite the seriousness of the matter.

When contacted, Mr Anoop Aggrawal, IOC’s Terminal Manager, admitted that embezzlement had taken place and that the official has been suspended. However, he refused to divulge the details pertaining to the amount of loss caused to the IOC. He also admitted that an internal probe had been instituted and that the IOC had not approached the police for the registration of a case. He, however, said that strict action would be taken against anyone found guilty and that the balance amount would be recovered from the dealers to whom petrol was supplied in place of diesel. But he did not divulge as to how the IOC would determine the beneficiaries of the scam.


SGPC urged to restore 'maryada’ at gurdwara
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 23
The Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has asked the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC to ensure restoration of maryada at Gurdwara Ghumiara in Kartarpur by installing Guru Granth Sahib.

The president of the SAD (Democratic), Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, while distributing copies of the letter written by the Akal Takht Jathedar to the SGPC at a press conference here today, said the district police had forcibly removed Guru Granth Sahib from the Gurdwara on November 1, 2002, at the instance of some influential persons, who were interested in setting up a mandir there.

Jathedar Vedanti, in his letter, said Mr Baldev Singh, supervisor of the Committee had conducted an on- the-spot inquiry and found that there was a gurdwara at Ghumiara village, where all Sikh traditions were being observed for the past two decades.

He said some persons, with the help of the local police, had removed the holy book from the gurdwara even as a local court had given a stay in the favour of the gurdwara managing committee.

Mr Wadala urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to intervene into the matter.


Increments for Badungar’s favourites
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 23
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee has given two back-dated increments to eight favourities of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar.

Though the date of the orders for the increments promotions has been mentioned as July 11, the formal orders were issued today.

The beneficiaries include Mr Parmjit Singh, media advisor, Mr Nirmal Singh Nimma, driver of Mr Badungar, and six others.


CM making mockery of law, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday said the Punjab Chief Minister was making a mockery of the rule of the law by pronouncing judgements on sensitive cases and issuing clean chits to his ministers involved in rampant corruption and loot of the public exchequer.

“Capt Amarinder Singh is clearly out to subvert even the Constitution to provide a protective shield to his corrupt coterie here. What is even more alarming is that defending the corrupt has become a political necessity for him as his own face is getting disfigured with sleaze and corruption,” Mr Badal said in a statement here.

The former Chief Minister was reacting to Capt Amarinder Singh giving clean chits to his colleagues Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar and Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma.

“He must also explain what were his compulsions behind rushing to the press with hasty clean chits every time anyone in the ruling elite was exposed?” the SAD leader asked.


What made Irrigation Adviser quit
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Was it indictment by the Chief Engineer (Vigilance) of an Executive Engineer for getting works worth Rs 1.2 crore executed in just 12 days that led to a rift between Punjab Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar and Irrigation Adviser to the Chief Minister, Bhagat Singh Sandhu before the latter was forced to quit ?

The minister not only "brushed aside the findings of the Chief Engineer (Vigilance) but also recommended promotion of the Executive Engineer, saying that he accepts the explanation given by the indicted engineer."

Investigations reveal that Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu had asked the Chief Engineer (Vigilance) to hold an inquiry into various allegations of corruption and mala fide intentions levelled by the Punjab Services Anti-Corruption Council against Mr P.S. Sahota, an Executive Engineer, considered close to the Irrigation Minister.

Mr Sahota was posted as an Executive Engineer in Upper Bari Doab Division on March 19, soon after the Congress Government assumed office in the state. Sixteen projects of varying amounts and totalling Rs 1.2 crore were got executed by the Executive Engineer within a span of 12 days through private parties.

The inquiry report held that certain works in Verka Drainage were executed in just three days which was impossible. The enquiry officer further held that the explanation given by Mr Sahota that any delay in the execution of these works would have raised the cost of works was not acceptable. Only in emergency cases, permission can be given to execute works without calling tenders. But in the present case, March is neither the time for any floods nor was there any emergency. All these works, the enquiry report said, were in violation of the PWD code.

The enquiry officer held both Superintending Engineer S.S. Ghuman and Executive Engineer P.S. Sahota guilty of violation of the rules. The inquiry also held that no Line of Credit (LOC) was available for these works worth Rs 1.2 crore and the money released for the payment of court cases and land acquisition was utilised for the purpose.

The inquiry also held Mr Sahota guilty of making certain class III and IV recruitments during his posting in Muktsar as Executive Engineer (Lining) and held that this caused to the state exchequer a loss of Rs 22 lakh.

Investigations reveal that when the case of Mr Sahota came up for discussion with the Chief Minister on December 11 last year, the Irrigation Minister took a stand to debunk the inquiry report.

Mr Sandhu had in his preliminary report recommended that an honest officer should be posted as Superintending Engineer, UBDC. It was held that no action could be taken against Mr sahota as he was a confidant of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar.

Mr Sandhu, investigations reveal, had objected to certain other irregularities, including the use of EC (earth containing) bags in the UBDC which were purchased at exorbitant rates and were not covered under the design. There was no technical necessity of these bags in the canal and it caused the state a loss of Rs 25.35 cr, the report said.

The Bhagat Singh Sandhu Committee report found that a loss of Rs 34 crores had been caused to the state in the UBDC scam. In fact, one of the engineers indicted by the Bhagat Singh Committee, had been a witness in the murder cases of Akali workers in which the name of the minister figured in the FIR. One of the Executive Engineers had been a witness in support of the minister in the case.

These inquiry reports led to differences between the minister and the Adviser, making the latter go finally.


Special girdawri to assess damage of crops
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 23
Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, today ordered special girdawri to assess the loss caused to paddy, cotton and other crops in about eight villages of the district by the heavy rains, which lashed the area few days ago.

Ms Sharma said that she had ordered a special girdawri on her own after she visited the affected areas today despite the fact that nobody from the affected village had approached the district administration to tell about the loss suffered by them due to the rains.

The heavy rains, which lashed this region about four days ago, left a trail of destruction, as hundreds of houses collapsed and cotton, paddy and other crops, including vegetables, in thousands of acres were badly affected in Fatta Kera, Bhullarawala, Kandu Khera, Bhitiwala and other villages of the district.

The Deputy Commissioner, after making the tour, in a press statement, said that cotton crop in about 2500 acres in Midhu Khera, Fatta Kera, Hakuwala, Bhullarawala, Kahkawali, Adhnia, Bhitiwala and Kandu Khera villages had been damaged. April from it, a number of permanent and Kutcha houses had also been damaged due to the rains.

She said that various teams had been constituted under the SDM, Malout, Mr Baldev Singh, and these had been directed to submit their reports in connection with the loss suffered by farmers and other residents of the villages within a week. She said that the Irrigation and Drainage Department along with the Building and Roads Department had been asked to make arrangements for draining out the rainy water, which had been stagnating near Khudian Gulab village, situated on national highway.

The district administration had also made arrangements for tarpaulin covers for the houses which had been damaged due to the heavy rains. Meanwhile, residents and farmers of the affected villages pointed out that they had been finding it difficult to drain out rain water from their fields, as there was no space for the purpose.


Govt employees go without pay
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Hundreds of government employees in Punjab have been denied salary for June and even in some cases, for May because of the non-fulfilment of technical formalities.

Sources said today that employees recruited against particular plan and no-plan schemes in education, youth services and other departments not been given salary. There was a lot of confusion among the officers concerned in this regard.

An official of the state government treasury said a large number of government employees had been recruited under the plan schemes and a large number of non-regular employees were working in various departments under the non-plan schemes. The treasury officers concerned had the powers to release salary to such employees upto May 31 every year.

For the continuation of payment of salary for the next part of the financial year to them, concurrence from the Finance Department and the Planning Department had to be taken regarding the continuation of services of such employees.

A senior officer of the Finance Department said no Administrative Secretary concerned had brought the non-payment of salary to his notice. State treasury authorities said no salary bill of any department was pending with them. Finance Department officers said if employees of any department did not get salary, it was a fault of their department heads, who had failed to get the necessary formalities completed on time.

On the other hand, officials of various departments concerned blamed the Finance Department for delaying the permission to release salary. They said cases for approval to the Finance Department were submitted in time, but permission was delayed. Finance Department officials said no case of approval was pending with them.


Dean asks pro Vice-Chancellor to apologise
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
The Punjabi University Dean, Academics, Prof U.C. Singh, has accused the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal, of resorting to “mischief and guile” in forwarding an order issued by a former Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Ahluwalia against him to the present Vice-Chancellor. The Professor has asked the Pro Vice-Chancellor to issue a pubic apology in this regard or face a defamation suit.

Dr Pal had a few days ago sent a set of documents to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, which contained an order passed by Dr Ahluwalia reverting Prof U.C. Singh to the status of Reader besides ordering an inquiry into an alleged case of plagiarism committed by another teacher Dr Robinder Powar.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor while sending the documents tot he Vice-Chancellor had claimed that he had received them from an anonymous source. Dr Pal had claimed in a letter written to the Vice-Chancellor while sending the documents that he was forwarding them because “the seemed genuine” as the writing on some of the papers appeared to be that of Dr Ahluwalia. The Pro Vice-Chancellor is currently in the docks as far the as university management is concerned with the Vice-Chancellor withdrawing all powers from him. Both Prof U.C. Singh and Dr Powar’s husband Dr H.S. Bhatti have been given important positions by the Vice-Chancellor.

Sources said Prof U.C. Singh in a confidential letter to the Pro Vice-Chancellor had openly accused him of sending documents which had no meaning to the Vice-Chancellor and them mischievously releasing the same to the press to damage his reputation. He has claimed that such an act did not behave a person of the status of the Pro Vice-Chancellor and has asked him to apologise or be ready to face a court case on the issue.

The letter states that the Pro Vice-Chancellor knew that he had led the Joint Action Committee consisting of representatives of teacher and employees which had campaigned for the ouster of Dr Ahluwalia and succeeded in doing so. It said the Pro Vice-Chancellor was then in the university and also knew Prof U.C. Singh since the last few decades. It said in this light the Pro Vice-Chancellor must know that false allegations had been levelled against Prof U.C. Singh in order to stop him from speaking out against the then Vice-Chancellor.

The letter said after the ouster of Dr Ahluwalia from the post of the Vice-Chancellor, all decisions taken by him during the past few months of his tenure were reviewed and that the decision of reverting Prof U.C. Singh to the post of Reader was also reviewed and cancelled. The letter said Prof U.C. Singh was held not guilty of all charges levelled against him and was appointed the Dean, Academics, being the seniormost Professor in the university.

Prof U.C. Singh in his letter claimed that he had always discharged his duties with sincerity. It said the Pro Vice-Chancellor had deliberately tried to malign his reputation by releasing the letter written by him along with the order of the previous Vice-Chancellor to the press.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor when contacted on the issue, said he had not received the letter. He refused to elaborate further on the topic.


Left parties to intensify stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Four Left parties have decided to intensify their agitation to oppose the privatisation of health, education and other social sector services in Punjab.

The parties include a breakaway group of the CPM led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, the Marxist Communist Party of India, the CPI (ML-liberation) and the forward bloc.

Speaking on behalf of these parties, Mr Pasla, Secretary of the CPM, said these organisations would hold dharnas in front of the sub-divisional offices till July 30. 


Ex-Principal, five others convicted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 23
Mr G.K. Rai, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mansa, has convicted six persons, including Maghar Singh, retired Principal of Bhikhi and Talwandi colleges and now president of the management committee of the local Khalsa High School and Jagraj Singh, secretary of the above management committee, under Sections 427/447 and 149 of the IPC and has sentenced them all to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months under Section 427 read with Section 149 of the IPC and further RI for three months under Section 447 read with Section 149 of the IPC.

According to the copy of the judgement received here yesterday, the charge against the above accused was that they forcibly and illegally entered the fields which were in the possession of Siri Ram, a mali along with two tractors on May 28, 1998, despite a stay order of a civil court here and destroyed vegetables grown in the fields.

They also set ablaze a hut in which domestic items were destroyed. The court, however, acquitted them of charge under Section 436 of the IPC.


Narottam’s remand extended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 23
Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Narottam Singh Dhillon, a close relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, in police custody till July 24.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, while pleading for police remand moved an application in the court on behalf of the Vigilance Bureau said that the accused used to receive huge bribe money on behalf of the Badal family for getting transfers and promotions. He used to convert black money into white by giving amounts to the Badal family through various bank entries.

The Vigilance Bureau has written in its application that a sum of over Rs 12.17 crore was deposited in different accounts of the accused, though earlier, the account of the accused was nil. It has written that the accused gave a loan of Rs 78,50000 to the Badal family after taking loan against various FDR’s in two banks in Chandigarh, and this loan was repaid to the banks within months. It was mentioned that the accused had only 28 acres in Badal village and the income from this was certified by the halqa Patwari to be only Rs 2,80000 per year.

While pleading for police remand, the public prosecutor said that information was yet to be ascertained from the accused about the entries of crores of rupees in his bank accounts and about the passport issued in the USA to the accused.

The defence counsel contended that the vigilance Bureau was unnecessarily harassing the accused, as he was not a government employee or public servant and as such he was not within the ambit of the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The judge, in her order, has written that during the two days of police remand of the accused, a heavy sum of Rs 12.17 crore had been unearthed, and as such the accused is remanded in police remand for one more day.


Notice issued in Sidhu case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Taking up a petition filed by Ravi Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, challenging the holding of two trials out of the same first information report, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the issuance of notice to other accused regarding their stand. The case would now come up for hearing on July 30.

Arguing before a three-Judge Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi, his counsel had earlier contended that the holding of two trials, when there was just one FIR, was impermissible, besides being in violation of Article 20 of the Constitution. He had also handed over a number of Supreme Court judgements to substantiate his contentions.


Councillors want civic chief to quit
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 23
Ten out of 14 municipal councillors of the Congress against the total strength of 21 in the local Nagar Council have demanded the resignation of Mr Gurcharan Singh, president of the council, following the arrest of his son Sarbpal Singh, alias Babbu, allegedly involved in various cases of robbery and looting.

They said if the president failed to tender his resignation it would not only damage the image of the party but also send wrong signals in the general public. The members include Mr Baljit Singh Gora, Mr Tulsi Ram, Mr Mohinder Singh Bhandari, Mr Ranjit Singh Khera, Mr Joban Singh, Mrs Amritbir Kaur, Vice-Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Bansal, Mrs Uma Grover, Mrs Sukhdeep Kaur and Mrs Jasbir Kaur. Making this demand unanimously at a meeting held here yesterday the members alleged that the president had already caused great harm to the interests of the party with his alleged connivance with contractors in preparing tenders through mutual understanding which were invited for various development works in the town against a grant of Rs 57 lakh given by the Punjab Government last month. The matter came to the light during the opening of the tenders on June 20 and later after immense pressure by the members, the president cancelled the tenders.

Denying his links with his son, Mr Gurcharan Singh said if his son had committed any crime he should be punished. He clarified that he was a sincere and loyal worker of the Congress and devoted his entire energy to mobilise its policies and programmes effectively. When contacted Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Faridkot said the police has arrested a four member gang, including Sarbpal Singh last week.

During investigation he confessed to having snatched Rs 5000 from a salesman of a petrol station located on the Faridkot-Ferozepore road here and later robbing of a shopkeeper on the Faridkot-Sadiq road of Rs 21,000 after throwing chilli powder into his eyes. They have been arrested under Section 382 of the IPC and are in police remand for further interrogation.


Private nursing homes bleeding donors
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 23
Giving startling facts about the on-going blood scam, the report submitted by Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Amritsar, to the Project Director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society, has revealed that most of the private nursing homes have been bleeding donors in their premises without obtaining a licence from the Drug Controller, Government of India. There are about 173 nursing homes in the city.

Many nursing homes have appointed public relations officer, who offer hefty commissions and arrange blood from professional donors in league with middlemen. It may be mentioned that the Amritsar police had arrested four professional donors, who were being bled in a public place.

The report reads that in case the private nursing homes fail to get sufficient blood by bleeding the donors illegally in their premises, they approach the government run blood bank for a replacement. The report reads, “Nearly 170 private nursing homes have been conducting surgeries for which blood is needed and hence many of them make their own arrangements to fulfil the huge demand by bleeding donors in their premises”.

Meanwhile, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Kanwaljit Singh, has written to the private nursing homes to a report on the bleeding of donors in their premises against the guidelines issued by the Central Government. The report of the Civil Surgeon has directed the nursing homes to send monthly reports about the record of blood transfusions to patients on prescribed proforma.

Giving details of malpractices in the past, the report reads,” After transfusion of HIV positive blood to a patient in the year 1999, the then Deputy Commissioner constituted a team to raid certain private blood bank to collect samples and get them analysed for HIV seropositivity at the government-run blood bank. After scrutiny of the inquiry report, Taneja and Anand blood banks had to close down. The report alleged that most of the private nursing homes were using rapid kits for testing instead of ELISA, against the recommendations of the Federal Drug Authority of America.


Contractual appointments not govt policy: DGP
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 23
The appointment of some retired police officials on contract has not been adopted as a policy by the Punjab Government. The recent one-year contract appointments of five DSPs and two SPs were an exceptional case and they have been given the contract keeping in mind their exceptional services.

Mr M.S. Bhullar, DGP, gave this information while talking to media- persons at Anandpur Sahib today. He was here to attend a function, organised in his honour.

Admitting that the concern expressed by the PPS Officers Association over the contractual appointments was genuine, Mr Bhullar said some more names were sent to the government, which were rejected, proving that the contractual appointments were not a part of the government policy.

About allegations levelled by BJP leaders against the DIG, Ludhiana range, that he had helped establish settlements of a particular community in the border area, Mr Bhullar said the intelligence wing had conducted an inquiry into the matter and the charges against the officer were found baseless.

Mr Bhullar, whose term is finishing on July 31, said officers of the Punjab police should seek more cooperation from the general public.


Pen-down strike by govt staff
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 23
Members of the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union (PSMSU) today observed a two-hour pen-down strike in protest against the apathetic attitude of the state government towards the implementation of their demands.

Mr Baldev Singh Mahil, its state press secretary, and Mr Gurjant Singh Grewal, its district president, stated in a press note here today that if the government failed to implement their demands the union would launch an agitation.

They added that their demands, which were accepted by the state government, included the change of designation of clerks and stenos, removal of pay scale anomalies, opening of promotional channel from the clerk to the rank of Additional Director, recruitment of employees and payment of General Provident Fund at the level of Drawing and Disbursing Officer.


Pen-down strike by ministerial staff
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 23
Members of the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union working in various government offices, boards and corporations today organised a protest rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here.

The members also observed a two-hour pen-down strike from 9 a.m., protesting the “anti-employees” policies of the state government and the non-implementation of the already accepted demands of the staff by the government.

Addressing the rally, Mr Raj Kumar Arora, state chairman of the union, urged the government to implement the demands of the ministerial staff as promised by the Congress in its manifesto during the previous Assembly elections.


Workers go on relay fast
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 23
Members of the Punjab Recorders Workers Union went on a relay fast here today, alleging that they were facing starvation as they had not been paid their salaries for over five months.

Stating that they had also been not paid their bonus for the past three years, nor had they been paid overtime for the past four months, Mr Ramesh Chand, president of the union, alleged that the management had not deposited the employees provident fund or their ESI amounts.

He further said that it was becoming very difficult for the employees to attend to their works since they had not been paid.

The company, a PSU, established in 1977, is now up for disinvestment by the Punjab Government.

Most of the employees have applied for VRS offered by the company in March this year but, according to the workers, none of them has been told as to when the scheme will be implemented.


Hospital staff stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Criticising the move on privatisation of the Civil Hospital built in the memory of Jallianwala Bagh martyrs, a dharna was staged by hospital doctors, employees and activists of various political parties on the hospital premises today.

An all-party meeting convened by the CPI at Putlighar criticised the Civil Surgeon, Dr Kawaljit Singh. The SAD district president, Mr Sardual Singh Sham, a former BJP MLA, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Mr Pawan Kundra (BJP), Mr Amarjit Asal, Mr Jaikarn Pathania, both of the CPI, and Mr Jagtar Singh (CPM) were present among others.

At the dharna, the Paramedical Employees Union chief, Mr Baljinder Singh, and the PCMS Doctors Union chief, Dr Mandeep Singh, said the proposal lacked direction and was anti-poor.


Donated property misused by temple body
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Close on the heels of reports on the misuse of donated properties, another case has come to light of a donated property, aimed at providing shelter to pilgrims, being misused as a cycle stand by the Durgiana Temple Management Committee here.

The donated piece of land to be used as a “dharamshala” with drinking water facilities has been given to a cycle stand contractor on a yearly rental basis. Mr Surinder Arjun, officiating head of the Durgiana Committee, said the previous management had handed over this donated property to a cycle stand owner, who was a relative of a RSS leader.


Schoolboys cremated
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 23
Arya Senior Secondary School and Arya High School remained closed today as mark of respect to two schoolboys, Mohit, 13, and Naresh, 16, who were drowned in Kaulanuda Talab yesterday. Teachers, staff, students, relatives and several others attended the cremation.

Both were students of Class VIII and had gone to the pond for a swim.


Afghan family denied entry into India
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
An Afghan family has reportedly been sent back by the immigration authorities at the Wagah joint check post on the plea that Afghan nationals were not allowed to cross over to India from Pakistan through land route. According to sources at immigration office, although Raj Mohammad possessed US passport but his wife, Suhaila Wadan and sister-in-law, Hamira Wadan, possessed Afghani passport.

The immigration authorities allowed Mr Mohammad to cross over India but declined his request to allow his wife and sister-in-law to accompany him.


Revised peak load hours

Patiala, July 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board has decided to change the evening peak load hours restrictions applicable to the large supply consumers from August 1. The revised evening peak load hours restrictions for the consumers falling under all operation zones except the central zone shall be 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and for consumers falling under the central zone shall be from 7.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. OC


Fatehgarh Sahib to be model district, says DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
Rising above petty politics and irrespective of party affiliation, the newly elected sarpanches and panches should take keen interest in the development of their respective villages, so that the developmental projects in their villages could be completed successfully, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing gatherings at Majra Mana Singhwala, Khanian, Raipur, Ramgarh, Chaihlan and Dharmgarh villages of Amloh subdivision in the district. Under a rural people contact programme, the Deputy Commissioner tours at six villages on every Wednesday and takes stock of cleanliness, illegal encroachments, developmental projects and solves some problems of the people on the spot.

Addressing the gatherings, he said the district administration would go to every village to know the problems of the people and to solve these. He called upon the youths to help eradicate social evils. He said the major problems of the villages like shortage of teachers in schools, shortage of drinking water, disposal of sewage, irregular supply of electricity and illegal encroachments, would be solved on a priority basis. He said Fatehgarh Sahib would be made a model district. He adding that the campaign against encroachments and the cleanliness drive had yielded good results and now the people had started removing the encroachments on their own. The Deputy Commissioner urged the people to report to him personally if any official or employee demanded bribe from them. He also cautioned the rural people about the increasing trend of intoxicants among the youths. He called upon the social organisations, youth clubs and other religious organisations to come forward and help the district administration in sapling plantation campaign. He announced that the various types of pensions, which had been stopped due to some reasons, would be restarted after verification.

On this occasion, Mr Ahluwalia announced a grant of Rs 5100 for the youth clubs of Manna Singh Wala and urged both clubs-to shun their differences and work unitedly. The Deputy Commissioner also announced grants for developmental works at these villages.


Chahal appointed DGP (Lokpal)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The following transfers postings were ordered in Punjab today. Mr Jarnail Singh Chahal becomes Director-General of police (Lokpal).

Mr P.Lal is now ADGP-cum-Chairman, Punjab Police Housing Corporation, while Mr Anil Kaushik is ADGP-cum-MD, Punjab Police Housing Corporation, according to an official press note.


One shot dead
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
The unidentified persons shot dead Sonu, a resident of Rayya, about 35 km from here, late last evening.

Sonu was reportedly alighting from his car when the accused, who was standing a few metres away, shot him and fled from the spot on motor cycle. Sonu was immediately rushed to a private hospital in Jalandhar, where he succumbed to injuries.

The police have registered a case under Section 307 of the IPC at the Beas police station on the complaint of Navdeep Kumar, an eyewitness to the incident. However, no arrest has been made so far.


Prisoner escapes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
A prisoner escaped from the police custody from Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, here this morning. The prisoner, Ravinder Singh, was admitted to the hospital as he complained of severe pain in the lower part of the body.

Ravinder was facing trial in a case of abduction and rape.


College gets nod for M.Tech course
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 23
The local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) has got the approval from the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) to start the masters degree course in construction management in the civil engineering trade.

After getting the approval from the AICTE to start the course, the college has become the first government-run institute in the state, to get this facility.

Dr Gurdeep Singh, Principal of the college, said the college was equipped with infrastructure to run this course. Process had also been initiated to grant academic autonomy to the college. It was likely to get academic autonomy within a month or so as the task force of Punjab Technical University (PTU) had recommended the same for it to the Board of Governors headed by Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

The college would become the first state government-run institute in Punjab, which will have academic autonomy after a formal approval for the same is given by the Board of Governors whenever its meeting is held.

Meanwhile, the PTU has converted the local college into a regional centre and has allowed the college authorities to start masters degree courses in civil engineering, power engineering, mechanical engineering and electronics engineering from the current academic session. The PTU has also allowed the college authorities to register students for doctorate degree in civil engineering and electrical engineering courses for the current academic session.


Examinee writes to VC on re-evaluation
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
Mr Ram Singh, working at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College here has challenged the evaluation of his MA (English) Part-1 paper conducted in April, 2003, by Punjabi University, Patiala.

As per a new rule, if a candidate is not satisfied with the evaluation of his answer sheets, he or she can get the photocopy of his evaluated answersheet to check the marking of the evaluator after paying some fixed charges. This system was introduced to bring in transparency in the evaluation system after the controversy over the evaluation system of the Punjab Public Selection Commission.

Ram Singh has written to the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University that his answersheets were not properly evaluated.

He said here today that he was a student in the Department of Correspondence Courses, Punjabi University, Patiala and had appeared in the April 2003 examinations. He was stunned to see many “discrepancies”.


PCCTU stages campus dharnas
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 23
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union today staged campus dharnas in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the government. Dr V.K. Tewari, its general secretary, said here today that two teachers in each college proceeded on casual leave to stage the dharna and others joined them during free periods.

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