Tuesday, August 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Patna Sahib Jathedar to skip meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 4
Jathedar Takht Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh, is unlikely to attend the crucial meeting of the Sikh clergy scheduled to be held at Akal Takht secretariat here tomorrow. His absence from the meeting is likely to strain the relations between Jathedar Iqbal Singh and Sikh high priests of Punjab.

Though Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, had assured Giani Iqbal Singh that the case of Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, sacked president of the gurdwara management committee of Patna Sahib, would not be discussed at the meeting, Giani Iqbal Singh has reportedly decided to abstain himself from the meeting.

Mr Romana was removed as president of the committee despite clear directions issued by Akal Takht. Jathedar Vedanti had asked the management of Patna Sahib not to remove Mr Romana as its chief as his case was pending before Akal Takht. Jathedar Vedanti had also described the decision of Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib to declare Mr Romana as ‘tankhaiya’ (guilty of religious misconduct) as null and void.

Sikh intellectuals have suggested to the Sikh clergy to take stern action against members of the gurdwara management and the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib for violating the directives of Akal Takht. Jathedar Vedanti has claimed that Akal Takht had the sole right to declare any Sikh ‘tankhaiya’.


Amarinder’s stand on refinery draws flak
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 4
The Bathinda refinery project was Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “commitment” to the people of Punjab. The refinery was crucial for Punjab and the Congress government pursuing the case with the Centre.

This was the crux of the statement made by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on January 28, 2003, in New Delhi while talking to mediapersons.

Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, Bathinda, and Chairman, High Powered Committee of Fiscal Reformers, Punjab, repeatedly claimed during the last Assembly elections that the refinery was gift to Punjab by the then Congress Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narsimha Rao. He even charged the previous SAD-BJP government with going little and pandering to vested interests from 1997 to 2002.

However, the recent volte-face by Capt Amarinder Singh when he said setting up the refinery would lead to annual revenue loss of Rs 600 to Rs 700 crore in state taxes.

Supporting the reasoning given by Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Singla said here last evening that at present the state had been earning Rs 750 crore per annum in the shape of sales tax on petroleum products and Rs 600 crore would be eaten up by the sales tax exemption being demanded by the HPCL as a pre-requisite for setting up the refinery.

“Does Capt Amarinder Singh still deserve to rule the state when he has shown his anti-Punjab interests by not favouring the refinery project”, asked Mr Amrit Pal Singh Brar, general secretary, National Congress Party, Punjab unit.

A senior BJP leader, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, said the project was being scuttled by the Congress government under the “influence” of a big industrial house.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, MP, Rajya Sabha, remarked that the state government had repeatedly been showing its anti-Punjab attitude. He said Akalis would hold a rally in Punjab to make the people aware of the fact that Punjab’s future under the Congress rule was not safe.

Mr Kattar Singh Jeeda, Director, Puncofed, Punjab, and president, North India Cotton Growers Association, said Capt Amarinder Singh should tell the people that why the project was being scuttled and was it being scuttled under the “diktats” of a business house.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a number of panchayats of this district had started contemplating to work out the strategy to put pressure on the government not to scuttle the project. Some of the panchayats had been thinking of passing resolutions in this regard.

The foundation stone of the refinery was laid at Phulo Khatri village in this district in 1998 by Mr Vajpayee. More than Rs 300 crore were spent on the project for acquiring about 2000 acres belonging to four villages.


SAD legislators to court arrest on Sept 5
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
All 41 Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislators in the Punjab Assembly, including former Chief Minister and party President Parkash Singh Badal, will court arrest here on September 5 in protest against the “murder of democracy and the collapse of law and order” during the Amarinder Government’s regime in the state.

The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the SAD, which met here today before a separate meeting of the party MLAs, reviewed the political situation in the state. Mr Parkash Singh Badal presided.

The dal also decided to launch a counter-offensive against the Congress Government by exposing the “economic frauds” allegedly committed by certain senior members of the ruling party, including ministers.

Talking to newsmen after the meetings, Mr Badal said Captain Amarinder Singh had started a dangerous trend by unleashing political vendetta against his opponents. There was a complete collapse of the rule of law.

The meetings, the first after two Akali stalwarts — Mr Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC chief G.S. Tohra united — was also attended by several Tohra loyalists, including Mr Hira Singh Gabaria, Mr Manjeet Singh Calcutta, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Mr Harmel Singh Tohra. Mr G.S. Tohra, who had recently undergone a surgery, was conspicuous by his absence.

“Such is the state of law and order in the state that a top police official had to seek police protection from court here after he received threatening calls for adopting stringent measures against some ruling Congress cadres”, Mr Badal alleged.

Mr Badal also demanded a judicial probe into the Punjab Government’s disfavouring of the Bathinda oil refinery and the Chief Minister’s role in the disinvestment of profit-making Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL).

Mr Badal criticised the Punjab Chief Minister for the latter’s statement that the state government would suffer a huge revenue loss if the Bathinda oil refinery was commissioned. “The Chief Minister’s role in backing out from the refinery project and the way the shares of profit-making Punjab Tractors Limited were sold out at throwaway prices need to be probed,” Mr Badal said.

The SAD alleged in the resolution that the “costly shares” of PTL were sold at a throwaway price of Rs 153 each, amounting to Rs 218.13 crore, to a UK-based company. Mr Badal maintained that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had assured Parliament that the Bathinda oil refinery would be completed and that the Centre had no plans to withdraw this ambitious venture. He maintained that the refinery project was worth Rs 16,000 crore and all investment would be initiated by the Union Government.

The dal also rejected the minimum support price for paddy and demanded that it should be linked to the price index. It also urged the Punjab Government to complete all arrangements in time for paddy procurement. It also asked the state government to give a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal.

The dal PAC also demanded immediate restoration of the non-practising allowance (NPA) to all government doctors of Punjab. Earlier, the government had announced a hike in the college and university fees which it had to withdraw under pressure from students and their parents.


3 Independents may join Akali Dal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) looks all set to garner more support as three Independent MLAs have been reportedly showing their willingness to be identified with the main opposition party.

The SAD leadership has refused to comment on the developments during the past few days. These Independents are believed to have met senior leaders of the SAD, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The chances of these legislators making their decision public on or before August 20, when the SAD organises a public rally to mark the death anniversary of Harcharan Singh Longowal at Longowal in Sangrur district, cannot be ruled out.

These developments are contrary to the expectations of the Congress, which wants Mr Badal to be isolated in Sikh politics. The Vigilance Bureau has been going all out to rope in the former Chief Minister in various cases. So far, these cases have failed to achieve the desired results.


Sikh forum files plea against Tohra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
The Punjab Sikh Forum today filed a petition against the SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission alleging that he had misused his position to offer seats to his favourites in the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences and Medical College here.

The beneficiaries included wards of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr P.S. Grewal and Dr Gurdial Singh Grewal.

The petitioner stated that there was no provision to nominate a great grand child on an ex-SGPC member and added that the entire exercise was done to accommodate Gurnimrat Kaur Grewal, Hiteshinder Singh Grewal and Charanpreet Singh Grewal. He stated that certain others had also not paid donation to secure admission.

The petitioner demanded the removal of Mr Tohra and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta from the SGPC board and restrain Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal from holding any post in the SGPC-aided office.


PRTC suspends General Manager
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has suspended its General Manager (Enforcement), Mr Harbans Singh Bhatti, and two other officials besides suspending a Service Engineer on a charge of dereliction of duty.

Mr Bhatti is the second General Manager who has been suspended in the past fortnight. The corporation had earlier suspended its Bathinda General Manager on corruption charges after receiving a report from the state Vigilance Department.

Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, Chairman of the PRTC, said action had been taken against Mr Bhatti after receiving affidavits from bus owners who ran buses under the kilometre scheme of the corporation. He said the bus owners had alleged that Mr Bhatti had demanded money through a corporation Inspector promising to give them some benefits. He said Mr Bhatti had also been accused of showing undue favour to some shopkeepers who had taken shops on contract from the PRTC at its Faridkot depot.

He said the corporation had to suffer losses of several crores of rupees because Mr Bhatti did not include a clause in the agreement making payment of electricity bills the responsibility of the shop contractors. He said this was a serious lapse. Besides, the officer was also accused of embezzling Rs 12 lakh and an inquiry was also going on against him. He said besides Mr Bhatti, two other employees, Accounts Officer Mohan Lal Ahuja and Section Officer Prem Lal, had also been suspended. Action would also be taken against the Inspector who had been charged with demanding money from the kilometre scheme operators.

The corporation has, meanwhile, also suspended a Service Engineer, Mr Tirath Singh Malhi on account of “misconduct” and “dereliction of duty”.


Ex-servicemen join hands
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Several ex-servicemen’s associations in the city today joined hands with the Indian Ex-Services League (IESL) to oppose the Punjab Government’s recent decision to impose sales tax on items sold through CSD Canteens.

At a news conference organised here today, Lieut-Col J.S. Mand (retd), President of the Punjab and Chandigarh Chapter of the league, said over seven lakh ex-servicemen residing in Punjab were feeling agitated over the government’s “wrongful” move, and have pledged to launch a struggle.

As a consequence of imposing sales tax, serving as well as retired armed forces personnel in Punjab would have to shell out more for the same items than their counterparts in other parts of the country.

The Chairman of the Ex-Servicemen’s Sangathan, Northern Zone, Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd), President, All-India Defence Brotherhood, Brig Harwant Singh (retd), President, Rashtriya Raksha Dal, Col Harsharan Singh (retd), Chairman, Presidum RRD, Air Vice Marshal G.S. Punia (retd), former Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Brig K.S. Kahlon (retd), President, Air Force Association (North Zone) Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd), and President, Cable Operators Association, SAS Nagar, Col S.S. Chahal (retd) attended the meet.

Colonel Mand said they had tried several times to meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh regarding the issue, but they have not been given an appointment.

Stating that the imposition of sales tax on CSD items is another severe blow to the ex-servicemen as well as serving soldiers, he added that it was a retrogressive step by the government which had once been seriously concerned for the welfare of ex-servicemen. Besides harming the serving and retired soldiers in Punjab, it would also set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country.

Colonel Mand said the decision seemed to have been taken in a hurry and the Chief Minister, who was himself an ex-serviceman, appeared to have been ill-advised by some vested interest.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Rashtriya Raksha Dal, a political organisation, has announced that it will hold protest rallies in all district towns from August 5 till the decision is withdrawn. Appealing to the Punjab Government to reconsider its decision, it stated that defence personnel would be left with no option but to fight against this “injustice”.


Promise of raising memorial to pilot not fulfilled
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
In a desperate bid to remind the authorities concerned about the unfulfilled promise of raising a memorial to a MiG crash victim pilot at Birdhano village in Patiala district, the Hyderabad-based parents of the pilot have furnished proof in the form of video CDs of the promises made by politicians and bureaucrats to President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Punjab Government, the village sarpanch and the Air Force authorities at Halwara here.

Mr M.S. Prakasa Rao and Ms Lakshmi Sulochna have only one dream to live for. They are awaiting the construction of the memorial at Birdhano village. Their only son Squadron Leader M. Raj Kumar died in a MiG-23 crash at the village on April 25, 2000.

As per the then news-reports quoting villagers and the Air Force authorities, the pilot could have bailed out for safety had he not thought about the safety of the villagers. He remained in the aircraft till he ensured the aircraft would not fall in Birdhano and Bhumsi villages and kill several persons. Touched by the pilot’s move, the villagers had organised a large function at the crash site and promised to build a memorial.

Mr Rao has now sent video-CDs and photographs of the function in which the promises were made in order to prove the betrayal.

Two video-CDs cover the Akhand Path function on May 18, 2000. Those who committed to raising the memorial and naming a road after the pilot were Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, ex-minister, Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, then MLA Amloh (Shiromani Akali Dal), Mr Ramesh Single, ex-minister, and general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Surinder Singh, Sarpanch, Birdhano village, and Mr Lal Singh Ranjitgarh, vice-president of the Punjab SC and ST Union.

He said he understood that those who had made the promise were not in power now, but does that mean that the present government is not committed to do something for the crash victims?

Mr Surinder Singh, Sarpanch of the village, had, in an interview with The Tribune at the crash site during the visit of the victim’s parents last month, said a dispute over the land of the memorial and lack of any help from the state government had obstructed the memorial plan. The crash debris had spilled over in Birdhano (Patiala district) and Bhumsi (Sangrur district) and parts of Fatehgarh district. The crash took place on the border of these three districts.

Not only the memorial, but the promise of naming a road after the late Squadron Leader is yet to be fulfilled.


Debate sought on poll promises
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 4
Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, former Punjab Minister and senior BJP leader, has urged Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to initiate a national debate to make provision in the constitution for initiating steps against those political parties which make false promises during elections but do not fulfil these after coming into power.

Talking to mediapersons here last evening, Mr Tandon accused the present government in Punjab of not fulfilling the promises made by the Congress in its manifesto during the previous Assembly elections. It had, on the contrary, worked against the promises made in the manifesto, he added. He said the Amarinder government had reimposed octroi though it had promised that octroi would not be imposed. Likewise, it had withdrawn free power supply for tubewells though it had promised that the same would be continued.

Mr Tandon also lashed out at the Amarinder government for abolishing the shagun scheme, stoppage of old-age and widow pensions and non-implementation of time-bound promotional scale after service of four, nine and 14 years for the employees of the state government.


Rs 101 cr for rural uplift
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 4
The anti-corruption drive of the Congress government in Punjab has restored people’s confidence in the government. This was stated by Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLA, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, Punjab, after the inauguration of an industrial unit here today.

Rana said that after putting the economy on rails, the Congress government had envisaged rural development under which the villages would be provided with basic amenities and infrastructure for which Rs 101 crore had been earmarked.

Rana told that Rs 79.89 lakh would be distributed to 49 panchayats in the Guru Harsahai Assembly constituency for developmental works in these villages. He asserted that after the anti-corruption drive, the Congress government had been able to bring days of communal harmony, tranquility and prosperity back in Punjab.

He said, besides making efforts to give thrust to industrial growth three areas — Infrastructure development, food processing and power have been chosen to attract foreign investment.

He lamented that the Akalis had broken the backbone of the Punjab economy due to wasteful expenditure. He said that in this era of global market, industrialisation was the key to the economic stability. Rana said there was dire need for diversification of crops on which the government was laying emphasis.

Answering to a query, Rana Sodhi asserted that the Congress government would fulfil all promises made in its election manifesto. He said that Capt Amarinder Singh was determined to provide a stable, clean and honest government. He said the decision of the Punjab Government to provide more rights to panchayats was another step towards providing efficient and responsive governance and implement the policies.


Rs 2.76 crore released for development
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 4
Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Higher Education and Language Department, Punjab, released a grant of Rs 2.76 crore from total budget of Rs 6.8 crore earmarked for this district for development and welfare schemes at a District Planning Board meeting here today.

Presiding over the meeting Mr Johar, who is also chairman of the board, directed the officers to perform duty sincerely and honestly.

Later addressing the District Grievances Meeting Mr Johar took a serious view of poor medical facilities at the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital and directed Deputy Commissioner Faridkot Hussan Lal to take steps to improve the state of affairs at the institute.

He promised to also take up the matter with the state government in this connection. Mr Johar appealed to representatives of political parties to help the district administration for resolving problems of people.


Leaf from history
Patiala was Ala’s patti (land)
Jangveer Singh

Ala Singh, the founder of the Phulkian dynasty
Ala Singh, the founder of the Phulkian dynasty. — Photo Subhash Patialvi

THOUGH historians have tried to trace the origin of the name Patiala in Rig Vedic literature, the city as it is known today was founded in the year 1757 and got its name from its founder Ala Singh (Patti Ala meaning Ala’s land) who had the guile enough to plunder Ahmad Shah Durrani as well as succeed in getting the title of “Raja” from him.

Ala Singh, who had inherited only three and a half villages from his father which yielded little due to the topography of the land, had the foresight to take advantage of the weakening hold of the Mughal aristocracy and its nobles over their territories. He targeted Mughal territories even as he steered clear of the territories of the various Sikh chiefs and even joined the Dal Khalsa in attacking Sirhind in 1764.

Ala Singh started acquisitions of small bits of land from Barnala which was already in his possession. Nima (1731), Sunam (1748), Dhodiae (1749) and Bhawanigarh (1749), all of which were “parganas” in the province of Sirhind were occupied by him. His son and military chiefs overran the whole of the area and finally his military chief Gurbaksh Singh Kaleka annexed Sanour (in whose area Patiala town was established) in 1753.

Following this the catalyst for setting up a new city was provided by a number of reasons. First and foremost the Sanour area was much more fertile than all the other areas acquired by Ala Singh in the Malwa belt. The Ghaggar river irrigated much of the river. Besides this, Ala was now 70, old which was considered a very ripe age even then and needed to establish a permanent headquarter from where he could administer his territories.

The gaddi of Ala Singh, the founder of Patiala
The gaddi of Ala Singh, the founder of Patiala. A Granth Sahib in the Ala Singh photograph has been placed at the niche behind the gaddi.
Photo Subhash Patialvi

The fall of Sirhind and the Grand Trunk road ensured the new city could be built and even prosper. The Dal Khalsa razed Sirhind in 1764 and such was the hatred for the city which is still known as “Gurumari” (accused by the Guru) that bricks from the ruins of the city were taken and dropped in nearby rivers. Sirhind was transferred to the possession of Ala Singh for an amount of Rs 25,000 by Bhai Budhha Singh, descendent of Bhai Bhagtu.

The new ruler did not rebuild the city, feeling it was vulnerable to attacks and instead persuaded the people of the town to shift to Patiala. Ala Singh was also benefited by the plunder of Sirhind as well as the start of collection of octroi from checkpoints on the Grand Trunk Road, which provided the money for the erection of the new fort (Quila Mubarak) and the ‘bazars’ of the new city.

Earlier in 1757, Ala Singh laid the foundation of a mud fortress in a locality which is presently called “Ghair Sodhian” as the area was surrounded by jungles from all sides. This was the first area which was brought under habitation in the new city. The area got this name as it was inhabited by the Sodhis of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib who were facing hardships at the hands of the “Faujdar of Sirhind”. Before this Ala Singh had after the conquest of Sanour made a station at the same spot which only had a few houses of “mujaras’ or tenants besides the retinue of Ala Singh. The station got a fillip with the Sodhis flocking to it following which the fall of Sirhind led people into the town from Sirhind and also nearby areas of Barnala and Samana.

Ala Singh finally entrenched himself and his future generations in the city one month after the fall of Sirhind in 1764 by laying the foundations of the fortified fort of Patiala known as Quila Mubarak. It was this fort which was developed by future generations of Ala Singh, which formed the nucleus of the dynasty established by Ala known as the Phulkian dynasty.


India to hold talks only on PoK, says Vinod Khanna
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 4
Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, said that Pakistan is not serious to settle its bilateral issues with India inspite of the fact that Indian Prime Minister invited Pakistan to the negotiation table.

Talking to mediapersons here yesterday he said during negotiations, whenever these are held Pakistan occupied Kashmir would be discussed in the first instance. Kashmir was an integral part of the country and there was no dispute about it, he added.

Mr Khanna said it had been endeavour of the Prime Minister even in the past to settle bilateral issues with Pakistan. The Lahore Declaration and Agra Summit were pointers in this direction.

Mr Khanna exhorted Pakistan to create a congenial atmosphere for negotiations. He warned that aiding and abetting terrorism on the Indian soil was still being encouraged by the Pak Government.

On China’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh, Mr Khanna said the claim had not been raised at senior officials or ministerial level by China. However, China had been pressing its claim on part of the Indian territory in a subdued manner even earlier. He made it clear that Arunachal was an integral part of India and the country under the leadership of Mr Vajpayee would not compromise on its territorial integrity.

Regarding the inauguration of a bridge over rivulet Beas near Naushehra he said, the construction of the bridge would be completed for inauguration in September.

Regarding his priorities for development, in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Khanna said his stress was on provision of better education, healthcare and portable water.


State brick-kilns wear cleaner look
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Punjab has become the first state in the country to introduce “cleaner production” technology in over 2,000 brick-kilns out of total 2,500 kilns in the state. The project has been implemented by the Punjab State Council For Science and Technology in collaboration with the Punjab State Pollution Control Board and Asia Development Bank. It has enabled the brick-kiln owners to save up to Rs 3 lakh worth of coal every year, apart from reducing the pollution level as per the specifications of the Central Pollution Control Board.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr N.S. Tiwana, Executive Director, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, disclosed that of the 55,000 brick kilns in India, the bull’s trench kilns (BTK) constituted a major proportion. Such brick-kilns cause heavy pollution in the range of 187-369 mg/Nm³ and wastage of energy. He was talking on the sidelines of a seminar organised to promote cleaner production technologies.

He said till recently most of the brick-kilns in Punjab were using age-old technology to manufacture bricks. It resulted in 40 to 50 per cent of costs going into the purchase of coal only in each unit. It would also result in emission of pollutants to the tune of 2400 tones in just one day. However, now the pollution levels had been drastically reduced. The other states had also shown interest in the project, he added.

Mr Tiwana said about three years ago the Central Pollution Control Board and the Ministry of Environment issued directions to the brick- kilns to take steps to reduce the pollution level.

The Delhi government, he said, had even decided to close down 300 brick-kilns in the Capital region. Consequently, a project was conceived in collaboration with the Brick-Kiln Association of Punjab to introduce cleaner production technology.

The council took up the consultancy work for Rs 2 crore. It recommended introduction of new operating, feeding and firing practices. It included crushing of coal to 3/4” level, small sized spoons for fuel feeding, slow firing and to set up insulated feed hole covers and properly insulated kiln walls and fuel system. The scientists of the council also asked the kiln owners to use coal with ash content not more than 30 to 35 per cent apart from regular monitoring. The hight of chimneys was increased to 120 ft to increase air handling capacity by spending about Rs 1 lakh at each kiln.

Appreciating the project, Mr S.P. Bansal, President, All India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation, said, ‘‘Initially we were apprehensive about the results of the project. But, we were surprised when the recommendations resulted in a saving of around 10 per cent on coal (about Rs 2.10 lakh per kiln in just one season) besides increasing output by 10 to 15 per cent (about Rs 1.25 lakh for an average capacity kiln)”. He added that the recommendations would be implemented by other kilns in the state soon.


Miller defrauds FCI of lakhs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 4
A scam pertaining to the payment of lakhs of rupees to a rice mill owner of this district by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has come to light. He was paid in lieu of rice delivered after milling paddy on the basis of fake receipts (weighment sheets) allegedly prepared by the mill owner in connivance with certain officials of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC).

The FCI and PSWC authorities are tight-lipped about this scam. An official of the PSWC of the Bhucho Mandi depot, who is suspected to be involved in this scam, has been transferred from Bhucho Mandi. Another official has been appointed in his place to take stock of the rice lying in the godown.

Official sources said a rice mill owner of this district prepared two fake receipts with the help of some PSWC officials to establish the fact that he had deposited two wagons of rice comprising 1,000 bags worth lakhs of rupees in the godown of the PSWC at Bhucho Mandi to be delivered to the FCI. Rice mill owners have been depositing rice bags to the godowns owned and run by various state agencies on behalf of the FCI.

Sources added that the modus operandi of the rice mill owner was to first get blank weighment sheets from the FCI office. Then he would get the signature of a PSWC official posted at Bhucho Mandi on it. After that he would forge the signature of a senior official of the PSWC on the weighment sheet. After that, he got signatures of FCI officials on it and took the payment from the FCI in lieu of two wagons of rice, which were never deposited in the godown of the PSWC.

When the matter came to the notice of the official whose signature was forged on the weighment sheets, he had allegedly been transferred from Bhucho under political pressure to hush up the matter.


100 cops sent to parent department
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
At least 100 cops of the Punjab police posted in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on deputation have been sent back to their parent department by the Board’s vigilance department.

This decision was taken after the Board’s Additional Director-General of Police Lalit Bhatia, who is in charge of its vigilance wing, took up the matter with the state Director-General of Police.

According to the Board rules, the police personnel can be deputed to the Board for security duty for a period of three years, which could be extended in rare cases to five.

However, sources said there were at least 100 personnel who had been posted in the Board for a period of more than 10 years, with some even for periods of 12 or 15 years.

The sources disclosed that the Board had taken 100 new men on its rolls after the shifting of the personnel, who had overstayed their posting. They said while the PSEB posting was considered an “easy one” as it did not involve a strenuous duty nor continuous movement, the vigilance department pointed out that overstaying of posting could lead to problems for the service personnel also. They said as the PSEB was supposed to give retirement benefits for the period of stay in the Board of the personnel, it could deny them benefits accruing after five years of stay.

The sources said the Board now did not have any police personnel on deputation with it having more than five years of service. They said a policy was also being framed whereby police personnel completing their deputation period would automatically be sent back to their parent department.


Move to set up SDM complex: MLA
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 4
The buildings housing the offices of the SDM, the Tehsildar and the Government Treasury here will be demolished and new SDM complex having all kinds of facilities will be constructed here soon. This will be a model complex and it will have enough space for all government offices of the subdivision.

This was announced by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, local MLA and Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha here today after attending a meeting of senior officers about this plan.

The meeting was attended among others by Mr Surinder Singh, Chief Engineer, PWD, Ms Archana Chaudhary from Punjab Architecture Department, Mr K.S. Bhinder, Xen, PWD, Mr Rakesh Vij, Xen, Public Health, Mr S.S. Gill, the local SDM, Mr Rupinder Singh, the local DSP, Kharar etc.

He said the new complex would house office of all government departments and the people won’t have to rush from one place to other.

He said an amount of Rs 2 crore would be spent on the purpose and out of this about Rs 50 lakh would be spent on Bar Room and parking in the complex. Chambers for the advocates would be constructed with an estimated cost of Rs 60 lakh.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh also inaugurated a cleanliness drive in the tehsil complex here and said that the three-acre pond in the tehsil complex would be filled up through kar seva with active participation of the people.


Retirees to suffer financial losses
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
As the Punjab Government has enforced a new formula for the commutation of pension with effect from July 31, the financial losses to the employees concerned will range from Rs 50,000 to over Rs 2 lakh.

Those who retire with the basic salary of Rs 5,000, on attaining the age of 58 years, will suffer a loss of Rs 47,760. Under the new rule, their pension is be commuted by applying the 6.21 per cent formula. The loss to those retire with the basic pay of Rs 6,000 will be Rs 61,200. Under the new formula, their commutation of pension will be Rs 8,94,24.

In case of those retiring at the age of 60 years, pension will be calculated by applying the formula of 5.83 per cent. The number of those who retire at 60 years is small. Those who retire with the basic salary of Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000, will suffer a loss of Rs 71,400 and Rs 81,600, respectively. The loss to those who retire with the basic pay of Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000, will be Rs 1,02,000 and Rs 1,22,400, respectively.

For those in the basic pay scale of Rs 25,000, the loss will be Rs 2.55 lakh. Those drawing the basic salary of Rs 21,450 at the close of their service will be getting Rs 2,18,500 less. Those having the pay scale of Rs 18,600 will take Rs 2,07,968 less. On an average, about 5,000 employees retire every year. Annual savings of the Punjab Government will be Rs 50 crore from the commutation of pension.


Dalits besiege DC’s office
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 4
Hundreds of Dalits and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers today besieged the Deputy Commissioner’s office here to protest against the move of Poandara village panchayat in Phillaur to construct a water reservoir at the common land presently being used by Dalits for storing farm waste.

Agitating Dalits led by senior BSP leader M.P. Singh Goraya raised anti-government slogans for indifferent attitude of the district administration to redress their grievance in this regard. Mr Goraya, addressing the gathering, alleged that a Congress Minister was behind the move to force out the Dalits, who were using the common land for dumping agriculture wastes for the past three decades.

He added that according to revenue records, a piece of four kanals of land under khasra no 225 was earmarked for the purpose while the village panchayat was the owner of the land.

The protesters alleged that though they had met the SDM concerned several times in the past one month, but nothing was done to resolve the issue. “We are not against construction of water reservoir.

We are just favouring shifting of the site for the purpose,” he said.

Later, they handed over a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, who assured to look into the matter.


Sikh bodies to abide by Akal Takht verdict
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 4
The 21-member Joint Action Committee of Sikh religious and political organisations today announced to abide by the final verdict of the Akal Takht over the status of the disputed Sati Mata Asthan at Ghumiara village in Kartarpur.

The Ghumiara village panchayat, which was opposing the moves of JAC to allegedly convert mandir into gurdwara at Sati Mata Asthan, had made a similar announcement here on Sunday.

Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, president of the SAD (Democratic) and chief spokesman of JAC, while addressing a press conference here said they were in favour of an amicable solution of the dispute over the status of the religious shrine.


SGPC may withdraw title from Gurtej
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 4
The SGPC is likely to withdraw the title of ‘Prof of Sikhism given to Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS officer, for supporting the Canada-based cop-turned-Sikh scholar, Mr Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth.

While excommunicating Mr Kala Afghan from the Sikh Panth, the Sikh clergy had warned of taking stern action against him (Mr Kala Afghan’s) supporters. A meeting of the Sikh clergy, scheduled for tomorrow, may also touch this issue.

Mr Kala Afghana was honoured with a gold medal in the Roseville gurdwara for his contribution to promoting the message of Guru Granth Sahib.


NTAS organises Haas Raag Rang
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 4
In the first Sunday monthly Punjabi Haas Raag Rang, programme organised by the National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, in collaboration with Hotel Flyover Classic, Patiala, Prof I.C. Nanda’s Punjabi Play ‘Ehe Doomne’ got immense response from the public here.

The play, written in 1915 and directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal, was an attempt to remind people of their duty towards the downtrodden and the helpless to let them live with dignity. The performances of Manpreet Singh Bedi, Dharminder Singh, Nimmi, Jaspreet Kaur, Davinder Singh Mann, Santosh Kumar, Harpal Singh, Gursahran Gill and Naveen Bhatt were much appreciated. The music by Akhilesh Happy, make-up by Sandeep Kailey and background effects by Parveen and Sham Thapa contributed to the success of the play.

Other items of the programme included ‘Patangbaz’, the impressive Sammi group dance by Jagdish Kumar, Jagtar Singh, Amandeep Kumar, Amandeep Kaur, Meenakshi Bala, Bavita and others. Mr Shyam Lal Gupta Navyug, chairman and MD of the Hotel Flyover Classic, Patiala, dedicated the programme to the memory of Johnny Walker, the great comedian and gave away prizes to the artistes.


Hillock razing threat to ecology
Lalit Mohan

ROPAR: The trend of levelling small hillocks in the district is threatening the ecology of the area. Some colonisers allegedly in connivance with the authorities concerned are razing hillocks, especially those located on the roadside for commercial interests.

Most of the hillocks in the district are a part of the ecologically sensitive Shivalik range of the Himalayas. They form a part of the forest area of the Shivalik range protected by the government under Sections 4 and 5 of the Forest Act. In the areas protected under the said Acts, the owners of the land have to seek permission from the Forest Department before even cutting a tree. However, ignoring or manipulating the rules and regulations in many areas, the hillocks are being levelled to prepare the land for either agriculture or colonisation purposes.

Sources told this correspondent that though preparing the land for agriculture by razing a hillock was a costly process, many influential people were using black money for the purpose.

Certain IAS officers and politicians have purchased vast tracts of land in the form of hillocks near the Sirsa-Nangal area of the district at comparatively high prices. They are now allegedly using their black money to pull down the hillocks and convert them into agricultural land. In the process they would convert black money into white through agriculture produce.

Religious organisations and Babas are also among those involved in reducing hillocks to plains. Since followers of the Radha Swami sect recently pulled down a hillock on the main road in Bharatgarh. This has increased erosion in the surrounding areas, including along adjoining the national highway.

The garb of religion allegedly gives such defaulters immunity from the administrative authorities.

Environment lovers have expressed concern over the increasing trend of razing hillocks in the area. If it is not stopped, it would increase soil erosion in this ecologically sensitive area and create an environment catastrophe.


2 cyclists from Nepal on peace mission

Jalandhar, August 4
With the message of peace, good will and harmony, for which whole world has shown concerns, two cyclists from Nepal were on the roads of India and has arrived in the city here today on way to Pakistan.

“We have been cycling all around the world since March 4 this year with a mission of spreading peace, good will and harmony as well as to spread public awareness for the development of every deprived and destitute woman and children especially for those who are not fortunate to get education, shelter and bread” the cyclists Arun Sharma Bhattaria and Prem Prasad, both Nepalese, told PTI here today.

Arjun was separated from his parents at the tender age of eight, when he went to see a fare in Nepal and after losing parents, which gave him best possible education and it was result of those values that he has begun a five-year-long expedition on bicycle to raise funds for orphans.

“We started our journey from Thailand and had been to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Hong Kong and China and now in Jalandhar after being in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi and will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar tomorrow to pray for every deprived and destitute women and children all around the world,” the boys said.

Asked about the financial aid collected from India for their noble cause, they said only Rs 1,000 could have been collected from the country but they got good support from Philippines, where a gurdwara management committee gave them Rs 25,000 for the cause. “We are on this expedition to behalf of the Eastern Nepal Social Development Centre,” they said.

Regarding their visit to Pakistan, boys were hopeful that they would get success in conveying the message of peace to the people of Pakistan. — PTI


NFL workers stop Himachal Express
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 4
Members of the NFL Bachao Samiti led by the president of the officers association of the NFL, Dr K.R. Arya, yesterday stopped the Himachal Express at Naya Nangal station in protest against the privatisation of the company.

Around 100 members of the samiti blocked the railway track and raised slogans against the Central Government. Dr Arya, while speaking, alleged that the NDA government was bent upon selling the profit-making NFL units at the behest of corporates. He alleged that handing over of fertilizer sector to private companies would adversely affect the economy of the state.

Dr Arya said activists of the samiti would intensify their agitation if the government went ahead with disinvestment in the NFL.


Coin removed from stomach without surgery

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 4
A team of doctors led by Dr Sandeep Dhawan of Mahesh Hospital, Sirhind, today non surgically removed a coin from the stomach of a 6-year-old boy by adopting a rare procedure. Dr Dhawan told Chandigarh Tribune that Balram accidentally swallowed a one rupee coin a month ago and developed pain.

The parents of the boy took him to a quack, but to no respite. They finally brought him to the hospital, where the coin was removed through endoscopy in less than five minutes. The director of the hospital said the boy was normal and would be discharged from the hospital in a day. OC


Shifting of ammo depot sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 4
Fearing demolition of hundreds of houses, constructed within a 700-metre radius of an ammunition dump here, residents of several local colonies, including Haripura village yesterday constituted a “dump hatao action committee” under the convenership of Mr Rattan Singh Mehal.

The residents of these colonies are of the view that military dump was set up near Haripura village about three decades ago while the village had been there for more than 75 years. They also said that they had constructed their houses after getting the plans and drawings of their houses passed from the municipal authorities.

The residents demanded that the government should shift the ammunition dump.


DSP dies in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Samrala, August 4
The DSP Vigilance, Mr Sarup Singh, was killed in an accident today near Hedon village on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road.

Mr Sarup Singh was driving from Chandigarh towards Ludhiana in his Zen car when his car collided with a tempo. Two persons, including Ms Ranjeet Kaur of Kotala, were injured.


New SDM for Dera Baba Nanak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The following postings and transfers were ordered in Punjab today:

Mr Gurkiran Kirpal Singh has been appointed SDM, Dera Baba Nanak, against a vacant post.

Mr Mohinder Pal Arora is now ADC, Fatehgarh Sahib, vice Mr V.K. Ohri.

Mr Ashok Kumar Sikka, Estate Officer, PUDA, Patiala, will also hold additional charges, as the Administrator-cum-Additional Controller, Government Press, Patiala.


Court direction to police on former minister’s plea
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 4
A court here today directed Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, former Punjab Minister and Akali leader to approach the S.P. Vigilance Amritsar to comply with the orders passed by Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan the then Judicial Magistrate here on December 18, 2002 regarding the release of weapons which were taken from the house of the applicant at Amritsar at the time of search of his house.

These orders were passed on an application moved by Mr Kahlon for taking action against the official concerned of Vigilance Bureau Punjab for disobeying the orders dated December 18, 2002 passed by Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan. He has written that he was falsely implicated in the case registered on May 16, 2002 at SAS Nagar under Section 420/467/120 of IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

He moved an application for returning the articles and the court ordered that the articles be handed over to the applicant against proper receipt and identification.


Hearing in corruption case on September 9
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 4
Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Sardulgarh MLA, today appeared in the court of Special Judge Mansa G.K. Rai in connection with a corruption case registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. The court fixed September 9 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Officials of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had presented a chargesheet in the court on June 6 in the case, in which Mr Bhunder was booked under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 at the Ferozepore Vigilance Bureau in September 2002.

He was granted anticipatory bail in the above case on September 26, 2002, by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Bhunder was accused of accepting kickbacks for releasing grants sanctioned for development works during his tenure as Member of the Rajya Sabha during the Akali regime.


High Court
Provisional permission

Chandigarh, August 4
If allegations in a petition filed before the high court are to be believed, a student’s claim for admission to B.Ed course was rejected as her father’s name, instead of husband’s name, was mentioned in the residence certificate.

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench of the high court, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, permitted the petitioner — Priya Rana of Jalandhar — to appear for counselling.

Issuing the directions, the Judges ruled that the permission was provisional “subject to the decision of the writ petition”. In her petition, Ms Rana had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab, the co-ordinator of Joint Entrance Test and Guru Nanak Dev University, besides other respondents, to consider her claim for admission.


Arora is new ADC (G)
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 4
Mr Mohinder Pal Arora has been posted as new ADC (G) of Fatehgarh Sahib, according to an order issued by the Chief Secretary today.

He replaces Mr V.K. Ohri, who has not been given any posting. 


Wife's paramour beaten to death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 4
Three persons have been booked by the city police under Sections 302 and 34 for beating Dharmender Singh (24) to death of Saturday.

Sources said Dharmender Singh, son of Teja Singh, had come here from Silvali village in Tibbi subdivision of Rajasthan to run a shop with an investment of Rs 10,000 but he failed in the business. Dharmender then got a job as truck driver and developed friendship with Subhash Chander, a contract farmer of Deep Singh Nagar.

But for the past few months, Subhash suspecting that Dharmender was having illicit relations with his wife. On finding them an a compromising position recently, he allegedly conspired to teach Dharmender a lesson.

The police said Dharmender was taken to the fields near the bypass by Subhas Chander and his friends Darshan Singh of Tibba Panjpeer and Mahender Kumar of Jain Nagar on Saturday and allegedly beaten till he fell unconscious. He was then taken to Subhash's residence.

Subhash's wife took Dharmender to the Civil Hospital. She told the attendants in the hospital that the patient was a stranger and that some persons had left him after beating. Dharmender died within 15 minutes of admission to the hospital and the woman quietly left the ward.

The police was informed of the incident by the hospital authorities. The woman broke down during police questioning and reportedly confessed that the victim was her paramour.

The police has registered a case on a complaint lodged by Mr Balwinder Singh, brother of the victim. The body was given to the parents after a post-mortem at the hospital.


Keepa acquitted in murder case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
Terrorist Kuldeep Singh Keepa has been acquitted in the last case pending against him by a designated TADA court holding proceedings in the maximum security Nabha jail, 20 km from here.

According to the case, Keepa and two others — Dilbagh Singh Bagha and Bakshish Singh — had been accused of murdering Manjit Singh and seriously injuring a newly wed couple in September, 1992.

Sampuran Singh of Khanawal village in Patran, while registering the FIR in the case in the Patran police station the next day, first identified one terrorist as Mewa Singh and the two others as Tehal Singh and Kulwant Singh Kanta. A case of murder and another under the Arms Act was registered against all three alleged assailants.

However, in 1994, Sampuran Singh registered a supplementary FIR claiming that the three persons who had attacked his son were Kuldeep Singh Keepa, Dilbagh Singh Bagha and Bakshish Singh. Following this, a trial against Keepa and the other two started. The complainant, Sampuran Singh, and his son Baljit Singh also identified the three as having been responsible for the death of Manjit Singh.

It was during the final argument on Saturday that the advocate of the accused claimed that the complainant had charged Keepa and the other two persons of being responsible for the crime as an afterthought. He also claimed that the police had acted with an ulterior motive in the case. He said while the police claimed that Mewa Singh had been killed, it had not been able to prove the whereabouts of the two other persons who were first accused of being responsible for the killing.


Police remand in fake currency racket

Moga, August 4
The six persons, who were arrested by the police yesterday for manufacturing fake currency notes, were today remanded in police custody by the Chief Judicial Magistrate here till August 11.

The police had yesterday busted a nine-member gang involved in manufacturing fake currency notes. Three accused are still absconding.

The gang had been operating in Ludhiana and Moga districts for the past two years.

The accused who were arrested were identified as Devinder Singh, Harjinder Singh, Jagmohan Singh, Avtar Singh, Jadesh Lal and Sukhchain Singh. The police had also confiscated all counterfeit currency notes worth Rs 9,200 in Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500 denominations, a computer, a printing machine and a cutter. All the accused were booked under Sections 489-A, 489-B, 489-C and 489-D of the IPC. — UNI


Woman accuses son of theft
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
A woman today lodged a complaint of theft with the police against her son claiming that he had stolen Rs 1 lakh and gold ornaments from her house.

According to the FIR registered in the Civil Lines police station, Ms Mala Mittal, a resident of New Lal Bagh Colony, claimed that her son Girish had started living with his paternal aunt in Barnala after her husband’s death. She said Girish had been adopted by the couple but used to visit her frequently.

She said the boy had come to stay at her house to take BA first year examinations.

On July 1, she said, Girish fled with Rs 1 lakh in cash, four gold bangles and one gold pendant from her house.


SBI honours toppers
Tribune News Service

Nakodar, August 4
At an impressive function held at KRM DAV College here yesterday, the State Bank of India (SBI) honoured students who had topped in the Guru Nanak Dev University in BA-I, BSc-I and BSc-II examinations and in the Punjab School Education Board exams.

Mr Samir Kant Saran, Deputy General Manager, SBI honoured Ms Nitin Batra, Ms Arti and Ms Manu Priya of KRM DAV College who had topped in GND University’s BA-I, BSc-I and BSc-II examination respectively. Besides, he honoured more than 25 students of the college who had been placed in the merit list of GND University and Punjab School Education Board. The students were presented mementoes and books.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr Saran said under SBI Education Loan Scheme, the bank was offering loans to students on attractive terms for pursuing higher studies. Mr Dhani Ram, Principal of the college, thanked the SBI for honouring the students.


President to visit farm varsity

Moga, August 4
President Dr Abdul Kalam will visit Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana on September 4 to inaugurate Kisan Mela.

The President would also inaugurate the building of Punjab Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute. The building has been built with funds provided under the National Agricultural Technology Project. Dr Aulakh said Dr Kalam had admired the work of PAU scientists at the Vice-Chancellors’ meeting in New Delhi recently. — UNI


Civil service papers to be printed on day of test
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
The Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) has decided to get the papers for the (PCS) re-examination scheduled to begin from September 20 printed on the day of the various papers are scheduled to be held.

Sources said that only compulsory papers would be held in the morning session and that all optional papers in the evening sessions.

The Commission is scheduled to organise examination in 34 subjects with every candidate scheduled to give three compulsory papers and four optional papers.


Protest by wards of defence personnel
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
Wards of Defence and paramilitary forces held protest outside the main gate of the university campus here today demanding transparency in the Punjab B.Ed counselling.

Meanwhile, coordinator of B.Ed entrance test-2003, Dr Gurnam Singh stated in a university press release today that an official of the Police Department incited the wards of Defence personnel to protest .

He pointed out that the candidates belonging to Defence background of Punjab had been invited on August 9. He said to make the admission process transparent the university had switched over to the multi media process in the counselling hall.

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