Friday, August 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Police to crack down on human trafficking: DGP
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Punjab police will conduct a thorough enquiry to assess the quantum of human trafficking in general and women in particular besides identifying organised gangs involved in this illegitimate activity.

Talking to The Tribune here this afternoon, the Director-General of Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, said instructions had been issued to all district police chiefs to find out if there were any cases of human trafficking.

“All such cases will be dealt with sternly,” he said holding that any human trafficking, especially of women, would not be permitted at any cost.

“There have been some stray cases in which organised gangs were involved in bringing tribal women from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and other States by luring them with jobs and good lifestyle in northern states like Punjab and Haryana. Later these girls and women are sold,” he said revealing that sometime back some cases were reported from Mansa area.

“But in my opinion, it is more of a social problem. Female foeticide is responsible for a disturbing imbalance in the sex ratio. As such the weaker sections of society suffer the most. It is this section which has to depend upon women from other states, especially tribal belts, for getting married. This is why it is more of a social problem than a policing problem,” the Director-General of Police said.

“Our role comes only when girls or women are cheated and sold to their prospective buyers and forced into the flesh trade or other illegal activities. In such cases, we show no leniency and take action according to the law,” Mr Siddiqui added.

He asked the Additional Director-General of Police (Administration), Mr Mohammad Izhar Alam, to get the enquiry conducted in all districts.

Sources in the police reveal that though the problem of imbalance in sex ratio in Punjab was very old, there have been numerous instances when small and marginal farmers and even farm workers were forced to “buy brides” from other states.

According to sources, the problem was more severe in the border districts and the Malwa belt. In some areas, the women so “bought” were happily married and have grandchildren.

“The more serious aspect of the problem has been forcing these girls and women into menial jobs or forcing them into flesh trade. Such cases are far and few and reported from the Doaba belt in Punjab,” the sources added.


Massive hike in area under pulses
Punjab agriculture takes right direction, say experts
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Has Punjab agriculture started taking a turn in the right direction ? Yes, say experts and progressive farmers.

Despite the vigorous monsoon, the area under paddy in Punjab has come down. However, the area under basmati, one of the most sought after varieties of rice in the market, has gone up.

Experts, who have been persuading farmers to reduce the area under paddy, had apprehended that the area under paddy might go up this year because of the good monsoon and power supply.

The area under paddy, including basmati, has come down from 25.30 lakh hectares to 24 lakh hectares this year. The area under basmati increased from 1.53 lakh hectares to 2 lakh hectares this year.

A massive increase in the area under pulses from 28000 hectares to about 72,000 hectares has surprised experts. There is also an increase in the area under oilseeds from 23,000 hectares to 25,000 hectares.

Cotton seems to have staged a comeback this season in the Malwa cotton belt. The area under cotton has gone up to 5.22 lakh hectares from 4.49 lakh hectares this year. There is a target to produce 15 lakh cotton bales this year as against around 11 lakh bales last year. Even the area under maize has increased from 1.52 lakh hectares to 1.80 lakh hectares.

Sugarcane seems to be facing a bleak future in Punjab as the area under it has come down to 1.45 lakh hectares this year from 1.54 lakh hectares last year.

“What has happened on the agricultural front this kharif season is to the liking of the state Agricultural Department”, said Dr Ajmer Singh, Director.

“It seems farmers have now started turning to alternative crops wherever it was possible,” a senior scientist of Punjab Agricultural University said.

Asked about the reason for a massive increase in the area under pulses, Dr Ajmer Singh said the PAU had introduced a new variety “668” of moong, which proved very successful last year. Farmers had gone for it in a big way this year, he claimed.


Foreign builders to invest in Punjab
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 7
The future of urban housing in Punjab is set for upswing. Come Monday and the first team of leading foreign developers will be in Punjab to promote integrated township projects in the state in collaboration with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

To begin with, five cities Mohali, Patiala, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar have been identified for the first set of investments by companies based in Singapore, Malaysia and the UAE. The minimum investment expected of these companies is Rs 25 crore per project on a joint venture basis and at least Rs 50 crore on a complete ownership basis.

According to members of a high powered team of PUDA which recently returned from an 11-day tour of these three countries, at least three deals with regards to Mohali, Ludhiana and Jalandhar are in last stages of finalisation and by December this year, MoUs will be in place for all five cities following counter-visits by representatives from these countries.

The first visit by a team from IJM, Malaysia, is scheduled for Monday to Mohali where two sectors, 88 and 89 spread over 500 acres, have been demarcated for development, marketing and implementation of a highend residential-cum-commercial township with an up front equity requirement of $ 17.7 million.

At Patiala, PUDA has offered 175 acres for marketing and implementation of a modern urban township designed to accommodate large transient or migrant population. At Amritsar, 150 acres are offered for a residential and commercial township.

Sources in PUDA informed that its team made presentations before leading urban developers of these countries and the response has been overwhelming.


Takht Patna Sahib to take up Romana issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 7
The management committee of Takht Patna Sahib would convene a meeting of a three-member sub-committee, headed by its general secretary, Mr M.S. Dhillon, next week to remove Mr Mohinder Singh Romana from primary membership for allegedly using “derogatory” language against Jathedar Iqbal Singh and Dasam Granth.

Talking to TNS Takht Patna Sahib, Mr Dhillon, however, said the management committee would not revoke the removal of Mr Romana as president as it had been done on the directions of the Sikh clergy of Takht Patna Sahib.

Jathedar Iqbal Singh said he would not attend any meeting of Sikh clergy at Akal Takht secretariat, which would discuss the case of Mr Romana. He said Takht Patna Sahib had already declared Mr Romana as ‘tankhaiya’ and there was no point of discussing the matter at Akal Takht. He, however, said there was a need to bring the jathedars of all takhts on a single platform to discuss Panthic issues and he would attend such meetings.

Replying a question, Jathedar Iqbal Singh said he would not mind if the management committee of Takht Patna Sahib revoked the removal of Mr Romana as president as he did not have any personal enmity against him. He, said the management committee did not have any right to remove him as jathedar as there was no such precedent in the past. He said Jathedar Mann Singh remained jathedar till his death in 2000.


Return of all Sikh books sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, directions were sought for the return of “all manuscripts, religious books, and other articles” allegedly removed during “Operation Bluestar” from the Sikh Reference Library at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Claiming to be a “religious person”, the petitioner — Satnam Singh of Tarn Taran — had earlier claimed that the articles, about 16,000 in number, were removed by the CBI before being taken to Delhi.

He had added that the articles, as per Defence Minister George Fernandes said once, were in CBI’s custody. Quoting newspaper reports, the petitioner had asserted that two CBI officers, part of a team involved in the alleged removal of the articles, had confirmed the action. Arguing on the petitioner’s behalf, Mr Ranjan Lakhanpal had submitted that several Punjab leaders, including Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, had also demanded the return of the articles.

Taking up the case, a Division Bench of the high court, headed by the Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy fixed August 21 as the next date of hearing after counsel for the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) sought time for being impleaded as a petitioner.


Discharge of soft-drink bottling plants to be checked
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 7
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to check the discharge from the bottling plants of the soft drink majors in the State following reports that tests conducted on various brands produced by the multinationals revealed traces of pesticides.

PPCB Chairman Rana K.P. Singh said the recent report on soft drinks manufactured by multinational companies Coke and Pepsi containing traces of pesticides was a serious matter and efforts would be made to ensure that soft drinks produced in Punjab were free from harmful materials.

He was answering a question when his attention was brought to checks conducted by the Kerala State Pollution Board on waste material of a Coke plant in Palakkad district in the course of which cadmium level in the waste was found to be much higher than the permissible limits. The Chairman said all bottling plants would have to conform to international standards.

Meanwhile the Pollution Board Chairman said steps had been taken by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation for disposing of medical waste despite reminders. He said similarly the Municipal Corporations had not installed facilities to treat the waste being produced in their areas. He said notices would be sent to both parties asking them to conform to the pollution control norms.

He said the Board had also decided to set up a Committee to ascertain whether low quality coal could be used by the rolling mills of Gobindgarh. He said though a representation in this regard had been received from the sted mills of the town, the Board could not take a decision in this matter as it could involve violation of pollution norms. He said the units might not be able to install the chimneys required in case these were to use coal or coal dust as fuel. He said moreover the case was in court and no immediate decision could be taken.


Divorcee’s plea on reservation rejected
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
It is for the government to consider whether the case of a divorcee could be equated with that of a widow — a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled in a significant judgment.

In a ruling, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, held that it was out of the court’s domain to issue any direction equating the two for the purpose of reservation in admission to professional courses. The ruling was issued in an open court on a petition filed by a divorcee medical officer on deputation with the Chandigarh Administration and practicing with the Sector 16 General Hospital here.

In her petition, the doctor had sought directions to the state of Punjab, the Director of Technical Education and Industrial Training, besides Punjab Technical University (PTU) and other respondents to include a divorcee in the category where reservation was made for the children of widows working with the Punjab Government.

Giving details, the petitioner had asserted that her son had taken the Common Entrance Tests (CET) conducted by PTU at Jalandhar for admission to Bachelor of Engineering course.

Claiming that her case was similar to that of a widow “from all practical angles of life”, the petitioner had contended that the circumstances in which both lived were also identical.

After going through the documents and hearing the arguments in the case, the Judges ruled: “The petitioner seeks writ of mandamus for directions to the respondents to include a divorcee woman in the category.... We find that it would not be within the domain of the court to issue any such writ of mandamus. The petition is dismissed.”


Verification reports of 16 youths in Pak jails sent
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 7
The External Affairs Ministry has dispatched the verification reports of 16 Punjabi youths lodged in various jails in Pakistan to the Indian High Commission there for their early release and repatriation.

This was stated by Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society. He said the Indian High Commission would submit the verification reports to the Pakistani Government, which will then inform the Indian High Commission about the date and the time of the release of the Punjabi youths.

Mr Bhullar said the verification report of the Jagjit Singh, son of Mr Darshan Singh a resident of Kapurthala, who is at present lodged in the Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, could not be sent due to certain reasons. He said he has appealed to both the Indian and the Pakistani governments that Mr Jagjit Singh should also released along with the 16 other Punjabi youths.

Mr Bhullar said around 295 Indian prisoners are still lodged in various Pakistani jails. He said 25 Indian prisoners had gone insane as brutal treatment was meted out to them by Pakistani officials. He said all those travel agents who were responsible for the plight of these innocent youths should be punished and put behind the bars.


Doctors hold rallies, block traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Doctors today held public rallies and blocked road traffic at a number of places in Punjab during a state-wide protest against the decision of the Punjab Government to abolish the non-practising allowance (NPA).

Dr M.S Randhawa, patron of the PCMS Association, claimed that patients also joined the doctors as they marched out of various hospitals and health centres, raising slogans against the government move to privatise health services.

The agitating doctors all over the state will observe a pen-down strike for two hours from 10 am to 12 noon tomorrow and hold rallies to build support for the restoration of NPA. However, no patient will be sent back without medical aid.

In a joint statement, Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Surinder Singla, president and general secretary, respectively, of the association stated that the pen-down strike and the rallies were aimed at making the public aware about the irreversible effects on the state’s health services.

They also appealed to all social and political organisations to join the public awareness rallies so as to defeat the health services sector in the interest of the common man.

They also asked the Punjab ministers, MPs and MLAs to urge the Chief Minister to roll back the decision on NPA.

They also reiterated Kharar MLA and former Deputy Speaker, Bir Devinder’s stand that if salary cuts had to be imposed, as was being done in the case of doctors by withdrawing NPA, it should be done at all levels in the government.

Dr Kuldeep Singh, president of the Indian Medical Association, Punjab, has in an open letter to the Chief Minister criticised him for the abolition of NPA.


Docs protest against privatisation of health services
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
On a call given by the PCMS Association, Punjab, patients and doctors jointly held a protest demonstration and blocked the traffic near the Lahori Gate here today. They were protesting against the state government’s move to privatise the health services and allow private practice by in-service doctors by withdrawing the non-practicing allowance (NPA).

Dr M.S. Randhawa and Dr. D.S. Gill, patron and president of the association, respectively, while addressing the gathering urged the doctors not to resort to any such agitation which might weaken their mass base. The association added that it was very clear in its mind that their struggle would be won on public strength. The president, Lahori Gate Market, Mr Madan Lal, the vice-president, Mr Satpal Singh, and the secretary, Patiala Beopar Mandal, Mr Prem Chaudhary also addressed the gathering and urged the government to withdraw its move to privatise the health services.


Voters’ ID-card drive evokes mute response
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 7
Two voters identification drives have failed to evoke much response from voters in the city, even as the district administration is banking on music blaring rickshaws to advertise about the drive as well as persuading the municipal corporators to take interest in the programme.

While the rickshaws are doing their bit in the city bylanes, there is resentment among corporators for not being “properly” involved in the exercise by the administration earlier. In a meeting presided over by Mayor Vishnu Sharma in the corporation office here, the corporators when asked to fan out in their respective wards to make the drive a success listed the “mistakes” made by the administration in conducting the drive.

The corporators claimed that they were discouraged by the manner in which the voter lists were prepared. They said each list had the names of persons of three wards instead of having an individual list for each ward. This, they said, made it difficult for a corporator to personally get the voters of his area registered.

Besides this, the number of booths had been increased and voters did not know about the booth in which they should get themselves registered. The corporators also claimed that those who had got themselves registered had not been handed over their cards and were again flocking to the booths causing confusion. They also claimed that thousands of voter identity cards had not be distributed after the completion of the procedure.

Meanwhile, sources said there was a muted response from the people to the voter identity cards. Some persons were discouraged when they could not find their names in the list while some others are objecting to the names of persons who do not live in the ward but are listed so. A large majority of the 1.4 lakh voters of the city remain unregistered.

Sub Divisional Magistrate T P S Phulka said people had now started coming themselves to collect their voter cards from the SDM office. He said out of the 8,000 cards which were lying prepared with the office, only 2,000 cards remained now. He said there was probably some misunderstanding earlier because the lists had not been displayed boothwise. He said now the administration had made an arrangement with the corporation to put up a list of each person whose voter identity card had been made under the drive.

Earlier two drives were conducted to prepare cards of voters in 23 wards of the city which fall in the Samana Assembly constituency. While the first drive on July 28 was a complete failure, the second one held yesterday has also left a large number of people still uncovered. Voter identity cards for the Patiala constituency will be made for three days starting from tomorrow. The administration while appealing to the people to get themselves registered under the drive, has asked them to approach the office of the SDM in case of any difficulty.


Maintain streetlights, industrialists told
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, August 7
After years of enduring bad roads, choked sewerage and poor lighting, the industrialists at the local Focal Point have now been asked to take over the maintenance of civic amenities of the area or face their disconnection.

The Focal Point Industries Association has received a notice by the Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) to give consent for taking over the maintenance of the streetlighting system from the municipal corporation or pay consumption charges, besides providing the lighting fixtures within a fortnight, failing which the electrical load will be disconnected and the fixtures removed.

The local Focal Point was developed by the PSIEC in 1995. As per the sanctioned project estimate, a provision for maintenance by the PSIEC for an initial period of five years was made an integral part of the development scheme. Thereafter Focal Point was required to be transferred to the local municipal corporation for maintenance which has not taken over the area yet.

As the financial position of the PSIEC does not permit it to continue with the maintenance of Focal Point, the association has been asked to fend for itself with regards to its streetlighting system.

Industrialists at Focal Point lament that the area has been left in the lurch by both the PSIEC and municipal corporation as none is ready to take over its maintenance. They said this was being done despite the fact that the industrialists had paid development charges to the PSIEC and were paying both octroi and house tax to the corporation. Mr Paramjeet Singh, president of the association, stated that the tussle over the control of Focal Point was costing the industrialists dear with both agencies spurning the area.

The Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, when contacted said since Focal Point fell under the municipal limits, the industrialists were liable to pay both the house tax and octroi . He stated that unless the PSIEC handed over the whole area to the corporation, it was not feasible for the latter to maintain the area. The PSIEC, however, wanted to hand over only about 200 constructed sites to the corporation while retaining the selling rights of about 400 vacant plots in the area.

As the stalemate over the possession of Focal Point continues, the difficulties being faced by the industrialists keep on compounding. Hitherto, they had to contend with only broken roads and large potholes, now with the advent of monsoon, the sewerage is almost choked and the streetlights have ceased to function almost months ago.

The vice-president of the Focal Point Industries Association, Mr Jaswant Singh, states that with the ongoing recession and general decline in business, bearing the cost of maintenance besides paying house tax and octroi to the corporation would be too much to bear for industrialists. Now to add to their woes, the PSIEC has threatened them with the disconnection of streetlights and removal of lighting fixtures.

Mr Paramjeet Singh says that the industrialists are ready to maintain the area provided they are exempted from taxes by the municipal corporation as a special case.


Residents want ambulance service restored
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dappar (Lalru), August 7
Residents of the area and members of the Dera Bassi Industrial Association have expressed deep concern over the closure of the police first-aid post and discontinuation of the ambulance service for the last over a year. The village is located on the busy Kalka-Ambala highway.

Though the residents of the area criticised the Punjab Government and especially the Police Department for winding up of the post, they were reluctant to disclose their names, fearing high-handedness of the police.

The villagers complained that the panchayat had provided 1.5 bighas of land to the Punjab police for setting up a ‘police assistance and first-aid post along the highway considering it a noble cause.

Expressing their resentment, the residents of the locality also said that the police officials, at the inaugural function of the post, had announced to educate the villagers and school students about traffic rules by holding a seven-day camp but nothing had been done in this regard. They complained of being betrayed by the Police Department.

In the absence of any ambulance with the Lalru police station and police posts under its jurisdiction, the accident victims on this 25-km-long stretch of highway could not get timely medical attention. Neither the hospital not any social organisation in this part of the district has any vehicle that could be used for carrying accident victims to the nearest medical centres and hospitals in Chandigarh, Ambala and Rajpura.


Residents sore about  poor amenities
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
Most of the residents of Urban Estate were attracted towards this locality due to its modern and well-developed amenities but they are now dismayed at the manner in which these are being maintained. Residents of Ekta Welfare Society are sore about lack of proper sewerage facility in the locality. Most of the sewer lines remain chocked throughout the year, resulting in various health hazards. Despite various complaints lodged by residents nothing has been done so far.

Even the roads and street lights are in a poor shape. Then there is problem of wild growth of congress grass as it has not been uprooted since the last year.

Besides this, the storm water drain in the locality is also inadequate and needs repair.

Cops beat up driver
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 7
Tejinder Singh, an autorickshaw driver, was allegedly beaten up by two police constables at the General Bus Stand today when he failed to show the documents of his vehicle today.

Tejinder Singh, who was treated at the Civil Hospital today, alleged when he was leaving passengers at the bus stand, the two police constables asked him to show documents. When he told them that the documents were with the traffic authorities as his vehicle was already challaned, they started abusing and beating him with their canes in the presence of onlookers.

The autorickshaw union maintained that when it tried to intervene, the policemen also threatened them.


DC holds open darbar
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 7
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, held open darbars in six villages — Kotla Bajwara, Mandofal, Manupur, Ramgarh Sania, Balahra, Khera and Hansali — of Khera block in the district yesterday.

After holding each darbar, the Deputy Commissioner took the round of that village to inspect the sanitation condition, encroachments, development works undertaken by the previous Sarpanch and to know the immediate requirements of the villagers. Earlier, prior to the visit of the Deputy Commissioner, a JCB machine had been pushed into service in these villages to remove the heaps of garbage from the roadsides and encroachments from the panchayat lands. Some officials of the subdivision led by the SDM had been camping in these villages to sort out problems of the villages.

Mr. B.S Shergill ADC (D), Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr J.P.S. Cheema, DDPO, and Mr J.S. Tung, Secretary Zila Parishad, accompanied the Deputy Commissioner.


Rs 3.5 cr sanctioned for bridge, road
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 7
Mr Tikshan Sud, local BJP MLA, has got Rs 3.48 crore sanctioned from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for the construction of a bridge on a nullah at Chohal village and for the strengthening of the Hoshiarpur-Dharamsala road up to the boundary of Himachal Pradesh.

The construction of the bridge and work on the road will be started soon.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sud stated that the Hoshiarpur-Dharamsala road was an important road which joins Punjab with important religious places such as Chintpurni, Jawalamukhi, Kangra, Chamunda Devi, Dera Gur Bud Bagh Singh, etc. and towns of Himachal Pradesh.

The bridge on the nullah at Chohal village, which is located on this road, was washed away during the monsoon of 2001. Since then, a temporary diversion in place of the bridge does not suit the high-intensity traffic and causes inconvenience to the public.

The condition of the road up to the boundary of Himachal Pradesh is also not up to the mark. The road has developed cracks and potholes in the hilly area from Chohal to Pambra villages causing frequent accidents. Mr Sud said he raised the issue in the state Assembly.

The minister concerned said an estimate of the cost of re-construction of the bridge and strengthening of the road had been made and submitted to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for according administrative approval.

After the reply of the minister, he took up the matter with Mr B.C. Khanduri, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, and the sanction was accorded.


Security beefed up around Thein Dam
Our Correspondent

Ranjit Sagar Dam (Pathankot), August 7
The security in and around the Ranjit Sagar dam has been beefed up following interception by security agencies of some messages of militants to blow up the dam.

The security officials and other officials concerned are holding regular meetings to review the security arrangements at the multipurpose RSD project, popularly known as Thein Dam. The Chief Engineer of the RSD along with senior police officials of Gurdaspur district met Mr P.L. Gupta, Inspector-General of Police, Jammu Range, at Jammu yesterday and discussed a comprehensive plan to prevent any militant attack on the project situated on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Himachal Pradesh, one of the share holders in the project, has already sounded a red alert in the Kangra valley.


Rs 4 crore for border villages
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 4 crore for development projects in border villages of the district. Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh, made this announcement while presiding over a sangat darshan programme at Gharinda here yesterday.

He said farmers in the border areas had been given compensation to the tune of Rs 10 crore for using their fields to lay mines in December 2001 when major mobilisation of the army had been ordered. He said the administration had received Rs 4 crore as a relief for the farmers who were unable to sow rabi crop this year. Later, he along with the SSP, Mr Kultar Singh, listened to the grievances of the people.


Ex-communication of Kala Afghana contested
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 7
In a letter to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief, Mr Hardev Singh Shergill, Editor of Sikh bulletin and secretary-general of the Singh Sabha International (USA) and supporter of Mr Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana today claimed that ‘ex-communication’ of anybody by the Sikh clergy was not according to ‘maryada’ (Sikh tradition).

He said the practice of ‘ex-communication’ was against the tenets of Sikhism and it did not have any mention in the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925. He appealed to the SGPC chief to get the ‘ex-communication’ of Mr Kala Afghana revoked.


Cleanliness drive launched
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 7
Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Mr P.K. Sinha, SSP, Ferozepore, inaugurated a cleanliness drive and a sapling plantation campaign at Community Centre in Jalalabad, 32 km from here, on Wednesday. The campaign is being initiated by Mr Ashok Aneja, president, Municipal Council.


Four remanded in Khamano graft case
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 7
Mr G. S. Dhillon, CJM, today remanded all four accused —Tarsem Lal, Executive Officer, now posted at the MC, Morinda, Harbans Raj, Sectional Officer, Dharmpal, former president, and Rajinder Kumar, contractor, of Khamano Nagar Panchayat, — in the police custody for two days.

They were arrested by the District Vigilance Department yesterday in a corruption case.

The Vigilance Department had received a complaint against them alleging that substandard and below-specification material is being used in the various ongoing developmental projects in Khamano.

After conducting an enquiry, the charges were found to be true and the District Vigilance Department had registered a case under Sections 409, 467, 468, 477A, 120B and 13(1)D of the IPC.

Police remand for 7 chemists

The district police presented all seven chemists arrested for selling illegal drugs in the courts of Mr G.S. Dhillon, CJM, and Ms Neelam Arora, Senior Sub-Judge here today. All chemists were remanded in police custody for one day.

Meanwhile, the representatives of various social organisations today thronged the offices of the Deputy Commissioner and SSP to congratulate the officers for taking a bold step in curbing the menace of drug abuse in the district.

The chemists in the district opened their shops and worked normally.


FCI vacating godowns to create space for paddy
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
To overcome the problem pertaining to the shortage of covered space, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) authorities have pressed its field staff in Punjab into service to vacate its godowns by the end of September by despatching the foodgrain items lying there speedily so that rice of the current kharif season can be stored there.

As the FCI regional authorities of Punjab have decided to procure 30 per cent of the paddy in the state, efforts have been initiated that procurement, milling and storage of rice operations should be smooth and hassle-free.

Mr K. Siva Parsad, Senior Regional Manager (SRM), FCI, Punjab region, while talking to TNS here today, pointed out that he had been making a tour to big depots of the FCI dotting the state to get first-hand information in connection with the stocks of foodgrain items lying there. He added that the FCI authorities had decided to create enough storage capacity to store the rice.

He pointed out that as the monsoon in Punjab was good this time, it had raised hopes that the state would witness a bumper crop of paddy this year. He added that enough space was being created to make it sure that paddy milling operations came to halt in the stipulated time period.

He said as per the present trends, it was certain that most of the godowns of the FCI would be vacated by the end of September 2003.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the Central Government had stopped the supply of rice to exporters from all states except Punjab as the rice stock had started falling below the buffer norm of 100 lakh tonne. This situation would also help the FCI to empty its godowns at the earliest.

Mr Parsad, who inspected FCI depots in Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda districts today and yesterday, pointed out that the procurement of paddy would be done as per the specifications, which would be laid down by the Centre.

The FCI authorities of the Punjab region had taken full delivery of rice in lieu of paddy given to rice mill owners for milling last year. No rice mill owner had defaulted in making the delivery of rice to the FCI, he added.


Probe ordered into non-payment of bills
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 7
The Punjab government has ordered an inquiry against the District Treasury Officer, here for failure to clear contingency bills of government grants given to various departments in this district in the past financial year.

Mr Hussan Lal Deputy Commissioner, has told to hold the probe in the matter. The Deputy Commissioner said here today that the issue came to the light at the District Planning Board meeting here on August 4. Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Higher Education and Language Department, presided over the meeting. Senior officials of the Education and agriculture departments, including Mr S.K. Gupta a member of the board and Chairman, Improvement Trust here expressed concern over the District Treasury Officer, refusing to clear the bills worth Rs 14 lakh meant for the distribution of scholarships of different categories to the SC and BC students and for other purposes despite the amount having been deposited in time in the district treasury office.

In addition to this the bills amounting Rs 1.14 lakh for the payment of the salary of 19 teachers for promoting elementary education were also not cleared.


Kalha appointed Governor’s Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Punjab Government today posted Mr D.S. Kalha as Secretary to the Governor, replacing Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, according to an official press note. The posting orders of an officer as Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, will be issued shortly.


Fake currency gang members remanded

Moga, August 7
The Chief Judicial Magistrate here yesterday remanded three members of a gang allegedly involved in fake currency racket in police custody till August 11. They were arrested yesterday. Earlier, the police arrested six members of the nine-member gang on August 3.

The SSP, Ms Anita, said the three accused, Avtar Singh, Sarwan Singh and Jugraj Singh, were arrested from a place near the Baghapurana chowk. The police seized fake currency notes worth Rs 1,200 from their possession. — UNI


Two patwaris held for graft
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 7
The Vigilance Department, Patiala, last evening raided the local Patwar Khana office and arrested two patwaris, Juglal Singh and Raj Kumar, on the charge of taking a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a person of Imam Garh village, near here, for the intake of his land.

The person had approached the Vigilance Department and eight officials with their witnesses raided the Patwar Khana and arrested the patwaris red-handed.


Head Constable kills colleague
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 7
A Head Constable of the Border Security Force killed a constable and injured another during duty hours near a border observation post at Kesari Singh Pur, about 40 km from here, last night.

According to information, head constable S.D. Seera and constables P.D. Varghese and Rameshwar Singh were on a naka duty to check infiltration from Pakistan near the post of Kesari Singh Pur. They had an altercation over some issue, following which the head constable fired at his colleagues.

Constable Verghese died on the spot and constable Rameshwar received injuries on different parts of his body. The Head Constable reportedly escaped, along with the weapon.


Firm owner booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
A New Delhi-based private company has allegedly duped more than 100 persons worth over several lakhs of rupees. The local police registered a cheating case against Harpreet Kaur, Manoj Kumar, Nirmala Devi and Shelly, all local residents, and Amit Bhatia, proprietor of Natraj Trading Company, New Delhi, under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC today. The police conducted raids to arrest the culprits but failed.

According to the police, the accused had released advertisements in regional newspapers inviting entrepreneurs to invest Rs 30,000 and in return get monthly income of Rs 10,000 by supplying tube chokes after getting free training from them at their branch office near Jallianwala Bagh. A few entrepreneurs invested Rs 30,000 on buying machinery and Rs 25,000 for raw material, which was supplied by the accused. But the actual cost of the machinery and the raw material was found to be far below the cost quoted by the company.


Robbers loot cash, ornaments
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 7
A group of robbers today struck at a house in Moolewal Khehra village Shahkot, about 40 km from here. The robbers looted gold ornaments and cash from the house of a farmer after beating the family members.

According to the police, a group of about 10 robbers barged into the house of Baba Dhani Ram and beat up the family members with blunt weapons and later locked them in a room.

The robbers decamped with gold ornaments worth Rs 35,000, two cameras, five watches and Rs 4,000 cash. A case has been registered and efforts are being made to arrest the accused.


Students’ funds not deposited with varsity
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Call it a fraud against Punjabi University, Patiala, or students of the local Rajindra Government College. The management of the college, which has collected lakhs of rupees from the students on account of examination fee for their respective classes in the past few years, neither deposited the money with the Punjabi University authorities nor returned the same to the students, who left their courses mid-session. The examination forms of the students were also not sent to the university.

Official sources said the management of Rajindra College had collected about Rs 10 lakh in the shape of examination fee of Punjabi University, Patiala, in the past few years from those students whose examination forms were never sent to the university. Instead of returning that amount to the students or depositing the same with the university authorities, the college management had been spending the same to meet its routine expenses.

The method adopted by the college management to collect such funds was that it used to take examination fee from the students at the beginning of the academic session along with the tuition fee and other charges despite the fact that as per the university rules, the examination fee should be charged only at the time when their examination forms were sent to it.

The sources said the college management continued to follow this illegal practice despite the fact that a section of the students and members of the teaching faculty raised objections against it time and again.

Interestingly, the college management has been using the amount collected in this manner for purchasing various items for the college, depositing electricity bills, telephone bills and meeting other fiscal liabilities. The management has also been loaning a part of this amount for meeting expenditures of the college under other heads.

Mr P.C. Garg, Acting Principal of the college, said he had stopped charging examination fee at the time of admission at the beginning of the session from the current academic year and added that now the examination fee would be charged from only those students whose examination forms would be sent to the university by the college authorities.

He added that so far the college authorities had collected about Rs 6 lakh by charging examination fee from those students whose examination forms were never sent to the university authorities. He added that this amount was lying in the university fund account.

He pointed out that there was no need of sending this amount to the university authorities, as it did not belong to it.

When asked why the college management had not returned the amount to the students concerned, he added that all those students who sought the refund of their examination fee were given the same and those students who did not seek the refund of their examination fee could not be given the same without their application to the college authorities in the connection.

Meanwhile, Mr Narinder Mittal, former president, BJP, Bathinda Mandal, and Mr Mohit Gupta, member, national unit of the Bharatiya Yuva Janata Morcha, while urging the authorities concerned to institute a high-level probe into the matter, demanded that the students, whose funds were lying in the college, should be given back their respective amount with the current rate of interest.


Students demand return of enhanced fee,
block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
A large number of students of the local Rajindra Government College today blocked traffic for about one hour in front of the college on the Bathinda-Mansa road here to press the authorities concerned to return them the amount which had been charged from them after the tuition fee was hiked by the Punjab Government. The decision to hike the fee was withdrawn subsequently.

Students of various colleges have been holding rallies and staging dharnas on the Rajindra Government College premises for the past two days to lodge their protest against the apathetic attitude of authorities concerned about their problems.

The traffic was diverted through various roads of the Civil Lines and the district court areas by traffic police personnel.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, a leader of the Rajindra College Students Union, alleged that though the state government had withdrawn the hike made in the tuition fee, the excess amount was not being returned to them by the college authorities despite the fact that students had been making rounds of the college.

He said the students would intensify their stir if the authorities failed to implement the decision of state government on withdrawal of fee hike.

He alleged that though the college authorities had charged hiked fee from students, they had failed to make arrangements for rooms for holding classes. He added that a number of posts of lecturer were lying vacant in the college, adversely affecting the studies.

Meanwhile, Mr P. C. Garg, Acting Principal, of Rajindra Government College, pointed out that so far the higher education authorities had not sent any written instructions to the college authorities regarding withdrawal of fee hike made by the Punjab Government. He added that the college authorities had asked the students to wait till August 7 as it was hoped that by then written instructions for returning the balance amount to the students would be received by the college authorities.

He further pointed out that the college authorities had also been making arrangements for admitting those students in the courses of their choice, who had failed to take admission earlier due to the enhanced fee structure. He added that about 100 students would be admitted to the arts faculty alone.


Students demand second counselling
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Students, who appeared in the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) conducted this year, have urged the CBSE to conduct second counselling for admission to various National Institutes of Technology (NIT).

In a press note here on Tuesday, the students pointed out that a large number of seats were lying vacant in Punjab and other states; so these should be filled from those students who could not get admission so far despite the fact that they had also passed the AIEEE test.


Second day of students’ stir
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
The agitation started by students of the Computer Science and Engineering Department of Punjabi University entered the second day today with students from departments following the semester system also joining it.

Students said criterion of reappear examination practiced by the university was an unjust, biased and oppressive as it conducts the quarterly examination in the departments that follow the annual system.

But the university had decided to conduct the reappear examination on yearly basis in departments like computer sciences, law and pharmacy.

Leaders of the various students’ organisations addressed the students and condemned the university authorities and censured the Controller of Examination, Mr Baldev Singh for framing such tyrannical policies president PRSU Gurnam Singh, president SFI Gurpreet Dhaliwal, secretary ABVP Rajat Bansal, secretary ISWA Ripanjeet Singh and president APUS Kulwinder Singh were among those who addressed the students.

PRSU president Gurnam Singh told the students that the agitation would continue till their demands were met by the administration. ABVP secretary Rajat Bansal urged the students of B.Tech Department to come up in a large number and continue their agitation peacefully.


Govt schools told to fix minimum targets
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 7
Worried over poor results of government schools, particularly those in the rural areas, the district administration has directed all school heads to fix minimum targets before August 1.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, has also directed the heads of the government schools to fill vacancies, if any, from the PTA fund and inform the administration about any infrastructural needs, which, he said, would be fulfilled by the administration and with the involvement of NRIs, industrialist, and social workers.

The heads have been told that apart from fixing minimum targets for attaining a result of 50 per cent, they should also identify and short list students in various categories according to their potential so that efforts could be made for the improvement of weak students.

There are 121 senior secondary and 139 high schools in the district and about 800 posts of lecturers and teachers are lying vacant.

Mr Gupta, during an interaction with heads of the government schools today, said they should keep half the day reserved on Saturdays for maintenance and cleanliness. “They have also been told to plant more trees he added.

He said, he, along with the Additional Deputy Commissioner, would conduct surprise checks after the schools had submitted their respective targets on August 31.

The heads have also been told to get whatever they require for giving good results. If they do not have money in the PTA fund, it will be allocated by the administration. The head of any government school, giving below 50 per cent results, would have to face the music. The schools showing improvement would be given grants up to Rs 1 lakh and their heads and teachers honoured at Independence and Republic Day functions,” said Mr Gupta.


Panel to sort out medical college woes
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 7
The Punjab Government has constituted a five-member district-level committee headed by Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot, to improve the working conditions in the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital. The other members of the committee are Dr J.S. Dalal and Dr Subhash Chander Agnihotri, Principal and Medical Superintendent of the institution, respectively, Mr S.K. Gupta, Chairman of the local Improvement Trust, and Mr Pawan Preet, General Secretary district unit.

The Deputy Commissioner said, here today that a cleanliness drive in collaboration with the Sahara Service Society had been started in the hospital to provide better and healthy environment to the patients and their dependents. Moreover, the District Red Cross Society which was providing medicines amounting to Rs 50,000 every month to the needy patients, would render more services in this connection.

Regarding the shortage of staff, he said he had discussed the matter with the Secretary, Medical Research and Education, Mr Satish Chandra who had assured to send a gynaecology expert to the institution soon.


NCC girls to scale Everest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
An expedition of NCC girls is scheduled to scale Mount Everest in 2005. As many as 100 probables are undergoing training in Uttaranchal.

NCC Additional Director General, Major-Gen S.V. Thapliyal said expedition would be the first of its kind for which 16 girls would be selected from both junior and senior wings from across the country.

General Thapliyal said he yesterday met the Punjab Governor and discussed various difficulties being faced by the NCC wing, which included the non-availability of funds needed to hold training camps for cadets in Punjab. He pointed out the NCC was receiving only 30 per cent of the sanctioned money amounting to Rs 12 crore for infrastructural and other requirements for NCC training camps.

General Thapliyal said that UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were providing about 80 per cent of the money sanctioned for the purpose.


Teachers allege violation of rules
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
The GZS College of Engineering and Technology Teachers Association has alleged that the college authorities have been violating bylaws in the matter of appointment of heads and coordinators of different departments.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Lalit Mohan, general secretary of the association, alleged that though according to the bylaws, heads and coordinators were to be replaced every three years, some teachers had been heading departments for six or seven years despite protests against the same.

He pointed out that the Punjab Government had issued instructions to the Principal of the college, Dr Gurdeep Singh, to obey the bylaws in this connection on July 29.


Schools, colleges caution students on soft drinks
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
Various schools and colleges in the district have pasted notices in their respective canteens to spread awareness among students about the harm of consuming soft drinks after the startling revelations made by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The CSE, in its report published in various newspapers, had revealed the presence of pesticides and insecticides in Coca Cola, Pepsi and other popular brands of aerated drinks.

Meanwhile, questioning the role of the Central and state Health Departments and alleging connivance on behalf of the bureaucracy, the Consumer Rights Protection Forum has demanded that the Central Government should immediately order a high-level inquiry in which members of consumer organisations should be included. Mr Buta Ram, president of the forum, also sought a ban on these soft drinks.

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