Friday, August 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Profligacy despite financial crisis
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Everyday Punjab needs Rs 15 crore to pay salaries, Rs 10 crore to repay interest and Rs 5 crore to meet petrol and other government office expenses.

Against this daily expenditure of Rs 30 crore, the revenue collected is Rs 22 crore. This mismatch between revenue and expenditure means an annual shortfall of nearly Rs 2,900 crore, which is met by borrowings.

This is the picture the Finance Department often presents to the Council of Ministers. While politicians admit in private that unless ‘’institutional misgovernance’’ is corrected, the situation could precipitate. The bureaucrats’ new mantra is ‘’lie low, go slow’’. Yet, to keep his political flock together and counter the charge of being inaccessible Capt Amarinder Singh is contemplating giving the MLA a “constituency fund’’ of Rs 25 lakh each on the pattern of the local area development fund of Rs 2 crore admissible to every MP. If this proposal comes through, the state will have to find Rs 40 crore more.

In April, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed six Bills, enhancing the salaries and perquisites of all its members, putting an additional annual burden of Rs 8.50 crore on the exchequer. A few weeks earlier, each MLA was given a Qualis vehicle.

The state has been slow on several reforms it had initiated, except for right-sizing. Efforts are under way to identify the ‘’surplus’’ staff and to create a ‘’pool’’. All surplus employees will be trained and redeployed elsewhere or offered voluntary retirement benefits.

At a Reserve Bank of India meeting in Mumbai earlier this month, the state Finance Secretaries had sought financial help from the Centre for VRS. One of the proposals was that the Center and states may share the VRS cost on a 60:40 ratio. Out of the Centre’s 60 per cent share, 36 per cent will be as a grant and 24 per cent as a loan.

In Punjab it is presumed that with about 3 per cent employees retiring every year and with the abolition of all such posts, there will be a 25 per cent reduction in its staff in its the next five years and an annual saving of Rs 1,200 crore by 2007-08.

For the first time, Punjab has counted its employees. They number 321,811. Out of these, at least 50,000 have no work. This alone costs Rs 1,000 crore per annum.

Ironically, the day the Cabinet reviewed the financial situation in mid-July, it also decided to ban all recruitments, except with the approval of the Cabinet. Yet, a 10-member Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board was constituted. There is also a move to amend the Act and increase the number of members of the Punjab Public Service Commission.

Recently, nearly 80 Congress men, were appointed to the Board of Directors of 30-odd loss-making boards, corporations and Improvements Trusts. These public sector undertakings included even those recommended for disinvestment, privatisation, merger, restructuring, closure etc.

While Punjab is facing a financial crisis, only half-hearted steps like the one-time settlement scheme have been taken to recover the dues totalling several hundred crores from defaulters a majority of whom have either political or bureaucratic clout. The money belongs to the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation or the Punjab Financial Corporation.

Another case of government profligacy is the office of the Advocate-General. There are about 112 law officers. Each costs the exchequer on an average about Rs 20,000 per month.

Only recently the state had hiked the fee and fund structure of the colleges but was forced to roll back the same under political pressure. Now it is under pressure to roll back its decision on non-practising allowance to doctors. This, say observers, only showed that the government does not do its home work properly.


Police told to inquire into sale of girls
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, August 14
Taking serious note of the sale of girls in some parts of Punjab, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Senior Superintendents of Police, Hoshiarpur, and Nawanshahr, to probe the matter and send the report to it. The PSHRC has directed the SSPs to complete the inquiry at the earliest, preferably within a month.

The PSHRC has taken cognizance on a complaint filed by the coordinator of an NGO, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Ms Veena Kumar, and a number of reports appeared in the media on the sale of tribal girls.

The HRLN has complained that the Nawanshahr police had conducted unsuccessful raids to arrest the alleged main agents involved in the human trafficking racket at their dera at Bhin village. The police party led by the Nawanshahr SHO raided the dera of an agent on August 6 who, along with his son, allegedly used to sell tribal girls from Jharkhand in the Doaba area.

A son of the main agent had allegedly raped a 14-year-old tribal girl. Mr Tarlochan Singh, a farmer had rescued and given shelter to the girl.

But later he was pressurised by the local political leaders to dissuade him from accompanying the girl to the local civil hospital where her medical examination was to be conducted.

The examination was delayed due to non-availability of culture tubes and as the victim, who was allegedly sold for Rs 2,000, was not accompanied by any woman constables. She was examined later in the evening.

The two “agents” had been booked by the police on the charges of kidnapping and rape. The police had subsequently raided the dera but had found no one there.


Recruitment of cops by ex-DGP being reviewed
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
The Punjab police has started reviewing recruitments made by former Director-General of Police M.S. Bhullar.

According to official sources, Mr Bhullar had ordered direct recruitment of several constables in violation of the ban on recruitments in Punjab.

This upset some special police officers (SPOs), who were waiting for their absorption in the Punjab police as constables. They allege that their juniors were taken as constables, ignoring their claims.

Mr Major Singh, an SPO from Amritsar, has in a complaint alleged that in spite of the ban on recruitment constables were appointed. They were appointed on recommendations and other extraneous considerations, he alleged.

Inquiries revealed that of the 11 cases cited by Mr Major Singh, four were recruited as SPOs while one was adjusted on compassionate grounds since his father, also a police personnel, had done a commendable job in the fight again terrorism.

The sources said a state- level recruitment board was constituted in 2001 for the appointment of SPOs as constables.

The board found 4,365 of the 7,500 SPOs, fit for absorption. Subsequently, a merit list of all eligible candidates was prepared.

Before the ban came into effect on November 2, 2002, 90 per cent of the constables were selected on the basis of this merit list and the remaining 10 per cent were direct recruits.

As many as 1,100 SPOs were promoted as constables before the ban came into effect. Since the Home Department has no record of these direct recruitments made by the former DGP, the district police chiefs have been asked to submit complete service records of such candidates.


Badal asks CM to quit following indictment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
The Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to step down on moral grounds after a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court virtually indicted him and his government in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) case.

Reacting to the order passed by Mr Justice Swatantar Kumar and Mr Justice Viney Mittal, Mr Badal said even the court had upheld that the Punjab Government’s direct interference in the affairs of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission was an exercise of power which offended the settled principles of law.

Today’s verdict was of tremendous political significance as the Shiromani Akali Dal, the main opposition party, also controlled gurdwara politics. For the Congress government in the state, after the SGPC election debacle in November last year, it was the second major setback.

“Our stand is vindicated. All observations made by the court prove that the Congress government unnecessarily tried to interfere in Sikh religious affairs. The government did its best to put its chosen men in the control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and used its utmost force in November last year,” said Mr Badal.

Mr Badal said the court had reiterated that the SGPC was an elected body which contributed to and played a role in the constitution of its different bodies. The judicial commission was one of the wings of the institution. The institutions thus constituted were expected to function fairly and freely.

Mr Badal said the verdict had exposed the Congress government, which had lost the moral right to continue in office. As such, it should quit and accept moral responsibility for its proven interference in the administration of a constitutional religious body.


Principal charges MP with issuing threat
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 14
The local Government Physical Education College Principal has complained to the state Principal Secretary, Department of Higher Education, that Tarn Taran Lok Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh Toor has threatened her with dire consequences in case she does not issue a character certificate of his son, who recently passed out of the college.

In a fax message sent yesterday to the Principal Secretary as well as the Director, Public Instructions (DPI), the Principal, Dr Indu Sarwal, alleged that the Akali MP threatened her with dire consequences during a visit to her office here yesterday. She said earlier the MP had requested her for an appointment regarding the character certificate of his son, Harbhajan Singh, who did a postgraduate course from the college.

She said the MP visited her yesterday as she had complained to the police against his son. She said Harbhajan came to her office on August 11 and demanded that she issue a character certificate to him immediately. She said she asked Harbhajan to collect the certificate the next day as she was busy in official work. She said Harbhajan was apparently infuriated with this and started abusing her, besides threatening to instigate an agitation against her.

The Principal said she rang up the Civil Lines police station, which deputed a team in the college. She said the student, however, escaped on his motor cycle before the team reached the college. She submitted a written complaint to the police on which action was yet to the taken, she said.

Dr Sarwal said she informed the MP today about the activities of his son, including politicisation of the college campus, leading agitations and anti-social activities.

The Principal said she did not want to spoil the career of the student and was willing to issue a character certificate in case the student gave a written apology. She said the MP did not take to this kindly saying there was no need for an apology. She said the MP started threatening her with dire consequences and also called his son inside the office who also used “disgraceful” language against her.

However, the Akali MP said his son was made to wait outside the office of the Principal for four hours on August 11 when he went to the college to get his character certificate. He said his son had been selected for an ad hoc appointment in a Navodaya Vidyalaya and had pleaded with the Principal to sign his character certificate, but in vain. He said when he came to know of the incident, he rang up Dr Sarwal, who requested him to visit her following which he called upon her yesterday.

Mr Tarlochan Singh Toor said during the meeting he even made his son apologise to the Principal despite the fact that he had not said anything objectionable to the Principal during his visit on August 11. He said despite this when the Principal again started demanding a written apology, he lost his cool and told her that he would complain against her to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Privilege Committee of the Lok Sabha.

Mr Toor claimed that the Principal was behaving in a similar manner with other students also because she wanted to hit back at students who had organised a strike in the college in protest against a sexual harassment case during the course of which they had also demanded the removal of the Principal.

He said no complaint had been lodged against his son during the period of his M.P.Ed course in the college which could disqualify him from getting a satisfactory character certificate.


22-member police team for Liverpool conference
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
A record number of 22 officers, including the Director-General, three Additional Director-Generals (ADGPs) and seven district chiefs, from Punjab will form a part of a 40-odd-member contingent of Indian police officers for the Indo-UK police conference at Liverpool (England) from August 30 to September 6. Never before has such a big contingent from any state gone abroad for such a meeting.

Four officers, including Director-General M.S. Malik, Additional Director-General K. Koshy and two Inspector-Generals — Mr Alok Joshi and Mr Vipin Kumar — will represent Haryana Officers from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) and other police organisations will also participate in the conference.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has cleared the names of 40-odd officers for the conference being organised jointly by 29 police counties of England.

The Punjab squad will be led by Director-General of Police A.A. Siddiqui and will comprise three ADGPs, Dr G.S. Aujla, Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam and Mr Anil Kaushik, Inspector-General Mr Sanjiv Gupta and DIG Mr Rohit Chaudhary. Seven district police chiefs, including Ms Gurpreet Kaur Deo, Mr Rajendra Namdeo Dhoke, Ms Neerja Voruvuru, Ms Vidhu Raj and Mr Gurinder Pal Singh Dhillon will also be a part of the Punjab delegation.

Only three officers from Punjab — Dr G.S. Aujla, Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam and Mr Rohit Chaudhary — and one from Haryana — Mr M.S. Malik — will present papers at the conference.

While Dr G.S. Aujla will speak on police training, Mr Mohammad Izhar Alam’s subject will be counter-terrorism. Mr Rohit Chaudhary will talk about international marriages.

Mr M.S. Malik (Haryana) will present a paper on community policing.


Call for probe against Punjab Recorders MD
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 14
The MLA, Kharar, and Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today recommended a vigilance probe into the allegations of administrative and financial irregularities by Mr Virinder Singh, MD, Punjab Recorders, here.

The recommendation followed presentation of a memorandum by members of the Punjab Recorders Workers Union to the MLA alleging various irregularities by the MD. The MLA visited the unit in the Industrial Area here to bring to end the 20-day chain fast by six workers. The workers had been fasting since July 23 in protest against the non-payment of salaries for the past eight months.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh assured workers that their salaries should be released within a week. “Although what I have gathered from the secretary is that the liabilities of the unit are as high as Rs 8 crore and the government has no money to pay the salaries, we have asked Punjab Infotech to intervene and make arrangements to pay the workers their salaries,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker also said workers should not blame just the management for everything that was wrong with public-sector units facing closure.

Workers had not been paid bonus for the past three years and overtime for the past eight months, said Mr Rajinder Kumar, general secretary of the Union. He also alleged that the management had not deposited the employees provident fund or the ESI amounts.

The PSU established in 1977 is now up for disinvestment. All 84 permanent employees have applied for the VRS offered in March, but the workers say that none of them has been told when the scheme will be implemented.


Dal (Amritsar) men protest against Kangar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 14
A large number of activists of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) today held a demonstration in the lanes and bylanes of Kangar, native village of the Independent MLA of Rampura Phul, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, to protest against the "betrayal" by Mr Kangar of the people of his Assembly segment by joining the Shiromani Akali Dal recently.

The activists of SAD (Amritsar), who held a march holding black flags in their hands, also held a rally in front of the house of Mr Kangar. The activists decided to launch a campaign against the "betrayal" by Mr Kangar in every village of the Rampura Phul Assembly segment.

The policemen, who were present in considerable numbers in the village, saved the situation from turning ugly as supporters of Mr Kangar, who were present in a local gurdwara, allegedly prevented the SAD (Amritsar) activists from entering into the gurdwara and then raised slogans against them. On this, the SAD (Amritsar) activists started raising slogans in favour of the Party President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

Mr Binder Singh Mann, president of the district unit of the SAD (Amritsar), said various leaders of the party alleged during the rally that Mr Kangar had betrayed about 42,000 persons of his Assembly segment by joining the SAD. He added that Mr Kangar had got their votes as an Independent candidate by promising them that he (Mr Kangar) would never join the SAD.

He added that Mr Kangar managed to get the support of even the SAD (Amritsar) by assuring its leadership that he would remain an Independent candidate and would never join the SAD.

Mr Binder Mann pointed out that the SAD (Amritsar) activists asked Mr Kangar to resign from the Vidhan Sabha and contest the election again as a SAD candidate so that he could realise how agitated the people were over his joining the SAD.

He said the party activists also invited Mr Kangar to have an open debate with them over his joining the SAD, but Mr Kangar, who was present in his house, did not come out. Mr Kangar could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. 


Minister hits back at Amloh MLA
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 14
The tussle between the Congress MLA from Amloh, Mr Sadhu Singh, and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health and Panchayats further deepened as the minister in a press release issued today, has alleged that the MLA under a well planned deep-rooted conspiracy tried to sabotage the inaugural function of the new BDPO building held yesterday at Amloh. He said he had brought the matter in the notice of the Chief Minister today.

He alleged that Mr Sadhu Singh tried to persuade district officials and even threatened the sarpanches and panches not to attend that function, but in spite of that more than 5,000 people from the area including MC president and other prominent persons of the area attended the function.

Giving details about organising the function, the minister said that the new building of the Block Development and Panchayat Office was constructed by the Government at the cost of Rs 6.5 lakh and the inauguration function of the building was fixed by the district administration after consulting the local MLA. He said that being a minister of the department, he was invited and even he himself talked to the MLA on phone.


CPM to hold protest march against govt policies
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 14
The state unit of the CPM has decided to hold a march from Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar to Chandigarh in protest against the economic and foreign policies of the NDA government. At a press conference here yesterday the state secretary of the CPM, Mr Raghunath, said that march would start from Jallianwala Bagh on August 16 and end at Chandigarh on August 31.

The march would be marked by dharnas and protest against corruption and economic policies of the Union Government. The aim of the march would be to make people aware of the adverse effects of the economic policies of the NDA government on the poor and middle classes.


27 chosen for awards
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 14
The district administration has selected 27 persons and government officials for conferring honour on the Independence Day celebration tomorrow for their distinguished service.

Sant Avtar Singh has been chosen for preparing the neglected sports ground of the Ropar college, Dr N. K. Singla for carrying campaigns for blind and disabled, Dr Dharam Singh, H. S. Bhullar DEO (Primary) for excellent work in Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan, Mr Gagandeep Dass for promoting fisheries, Inspector Gurmail Singh, SHO Balwant Singh and Sub-Inspector Iqbal Singh for anti-crime drive, sub-inspector Jagjivan Singh for saving a person from drowning, Harbhajan Singh, stenographer, for excellent work in Prime Minister Rozgar Yojna, Mr Ravinder Kumar for saving persons from drowning in Sutlej, Mr Harjeet Singh for scout activities, Ms Jaswinder Kaur for achievement in sports, Gurmail Singh, junior engineer for saving life of people trapped in flash flood, Hani Saini for achievement in sports, Onkarjeet Singh, Tajinder Singh, Deepika Jindal, Sulekha Sharma, Seema Jain, Paramjit Singh, Navjot Kaur, Jatinder Chauhan for achievement in studies, cadets Sanjeev Kumar and Aditya Nanda for good performance in Republic Day parade in Delhi, Shivani Sharma for excellence in sports and Ajit Singh band master.


PSGPC chief expected at border
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 14
Mr Sham Singh, co-chairman, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), and Ms J. Tresler, adviser to the Minority Commission, Pakistan are expected to arrive at the Hussainiwala border (on the Pakistan side) on Friday. This is to reciprocate the gesture of Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society and the Lok Bhalai Manch, which will organise a mela on the Indian side of the border tomorrow to mark India’s Independence Day.

This was stated by Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, while talking to TNS on telephone on Thursday. He added that Mr Zora Singh Mann, a Member of Parliament of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, Rajya Sabha MP of the BJP, and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president, Lok Bhalai Party, were also expected to reach Hussainiwala.


Bhattal to unfurl Tricolour

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 14
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, will unfurl the national flag at Mata Gujri College grounds here on the occasion of Independence Day, said Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner.

He said on this occasion, those who had made some notable contribution in their field would be honoured. He said sewing machines and tricycles will be presented to widows and physically challenged persons, respectively, by the minister. OC


A deer park only panthers can save
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, August 14
The fate of the local Deer Park hangs in balance with the Punjab government neither shifting it outside the Moti Bagh wildlife sanctuary as envisaged by it nor upgrading it to the status of a mini zoo as decided earlier.

Almost three years have elapsed since the then SAD-BJP government decided to convert the park into a mini zoo. However, while earlier this could not be done due to a lack of infrastructure, now the Wildlife Department is not doing anything to upgrade the park because the government now wants to shift it out of the Moti Bagh sanctuary.

According to the Zoo Authority of India norms, a deer park can be converted into a mini zoo only after the inclusion of three carnivorous animals. At present, the Deer Park here already has a number of jackals and even a crocodile, and the inclusion of a panther pair can fetch it a status of mini zoo. Upgradation to a Mini Zoo would mean more funds and further impetus to get more carnivorous animals to attract more visitors.

The present government had earlier decided to shift the park to Sheesh Mahal, but dropped the idea due to a lack of space. The authorities say that they have still not finalised the new location for Deer Park as it is looking for a suitable forest land in the city.

The foundation stone for the panthers enclosure was laid by the then Wildlife Minister, Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani, in November, 2000. First, there was some delay in getting the panthers to Deer Park as their “homes” behind the enclosures could not be constructed for some time. Now when the concrete rooms have been constructed, these are being used to house jackals and monkeys by dividing the enclosure in two. Sources said the park might need additional space and infrastructure to get panthers to the park.

An employee said, so far, due to improper housing facilities and lack of funds, nothing had been done to upgrade the park. “The state government’s decision to shift Deer Park, which many believe may not be implemented, has further delayed the process of converting the park into a mini zoo,” he said.


Community police centre starts
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, August 14
The Bathinda police has started a community police resource centre as per the guidelines issued by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Director-General of Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said in first phase, such centres would be introduced in eight districts. A single window clearance system would be started in district administrative complexes.

He said a separate counter would also be opened to redress the complaints of NRIs. He said information regarding FIRs and other cases would be provided on telephone to persons concerned.

Mr Ishwar Singh said the police and schoolteachers would work jointly to eradicate social evils such as dowry, drugs and corruption from the society. Under this, a teacher from each school would work as a community police officer and provide cooperation to anti-drug club, youth club, eco-club and sports club, which would be opened by students.

Faridkot: The district police has set up a Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) at the mini secretariat here. It’s aim is to ensure people’s participation in projects by the police like organisation of deaddiction camps, seminars on traffic awareness, environment protection and gender issues, besides other activities. The centre will serve to bridge the gap between the public and the police.

Stating this here, the SSP, Faridkot, said the centre would also have a library. To mobilise the functioning of the centre a 30-member committee, comprising eight senior police officials and 21 non-government members headed by the district police chief had been constituted.


Poor maintenance of streetlights irks residents
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 14
Residents of various localities here are sore over the poor maintenance of streetlights in their areas. They allege that the Municipal Corporation is not bothered about ensuring the proper functioning of streetlights in the city.

It is not only the people living in outer colonies and in the old city areas who are suffering, those living in the so-called prestigious colonies are also facing a similar hardship.

Even the road in front of Yadavindra Public School (YPS), which leads to the Officers Colony and the cantonment, is not lit up at night.

Residents living in outer colonies of the city are a worried lot. The corporation does not have a foolproof system for the maintenance of streetlights and the complaints made at listed numbers are usually not attended to in time, they allege.

Lack of coordination between the corporation and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is said to be the reason behind the poor maintenance of streetlights. While the corporation is responsible for providing necessary material, the maintenance is the responsibility of the electricity board. Due to this reasons, generally there is a delay in attending complaints. The shortage of material also sometimes hampers the maintenance work.

“They expect us to put up tubelight rods on MC electricity poles by spending from our own pockets,” said Rattan Singh of Gurbaksh Colony. “On many occasions residents do so as the MC authorities do not attend to their complaints,” he added.

The number of theft incidents have also reportedly gone up due to the non-functioning of streetlights. There had been 14 thefts in the past about 10 days.

Narinder Singh of Katcha Patiala said non-functional streetlights were also an invitation for hooligans in the old city. “Lanes are narrow and women and girls could not venture out after dusk in some areas,” he said.

Residents, who are disillusioned with the present working, said the only answer lay in privatisation of maintenance services.

They said this would result in accountability in the entire operation.

Meanwhile, the MC Commissioner, Mr K.S. Kang, could not be contacted for comments on the subject despite repeated efforts. He was stated to be “busy”.


Ministerial staff union plans stir
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 14
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union has chalked-out an agitation in protest against the “anti-employee” policies of the state government and non-implementation of the already accepted demands of the ministerial staff by the state government.

Talking to TNS on phone today, Mr Raj Kumar Arora and Mr K.K. Jindle, chairman and general secretary, respectively, of the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union, said the first phase of the agitation would start with the wearing of black badges from August 25 to August 29.

The union leaders further said in the second phase of the agitation district-level rallies would be held at all district headquarters on September 11 while a regional-level rally would be organised on September 18 in Jalandhar in the third phase. They added that during the fourth-fold state-level rally would be held in Patiala on September 24.

The leaders demanded the withdrawal of the 35 per cent cut in the commutation of pension and abolition of all conditions for giving a job to the kin of a deceased employee. They also demanded a permanent transfer policy for government and semi-government employees.


Pepsu corporation asks govt to hike bus fare
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 14
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has urged the Punjab Government to hike its fare by 6 paise keeping in view the introduction of the special road tax and the earlier hike in diesel rates.

The corporation has also claimed in its representation to the government that it was also incurring losses due to the annual increase in the salary bill and the increasing cost of accessories used in its buses due to wear and tear. It has claimed that a hike in the fare is long overdue and that the 1 paisa hike affected last year was not commensurate with the cost of the inputs of the corporation.

Corporation Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta said the PRTC would be benefited by Rs 3 crore in case the government accepted its demand. He said presently the corporation was facing losses or Rs 8.50 crore and that the increase in the fares would enable it to wipe out part of the loss. He said efforts were being made to wipe out the losses by March next year. He said to make this possible various steps were being taken foremost of which was the constitution of flying squads to check malpractices in the corporation.


Unpaid health workers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 14
The employees for enforcing the Family Welfare and Revamping Schemes of the Health Department, who have been working without salaries for the past nine months, today held a demonstration in front of the office of the Civil Surgeon to demand the immediate release of their pays.

The agitated employees — doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and Class IV employees of the Health Department — who also protested in front of the District Treasury, said they were finding it difficult to make both ends meet with the government not releasing their salaries.

Agitating doctors said they had brought this issue to the notice of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, also during a public interface recently, but no action had been taken in the matter. They said they were in constant touch with the CM’s office, but unable to get their salaries released. The doctors want the government to take action against officials due to whose fault they had not been paid for so long.

The staff of Mata Kaushalya Hospital, who are also working without salary for the past two weeks, joined the protest by employees of the Health Department. Nearly 200 employees of the hospital have not got the salary for this month. Speakers at the rally said even routine matters were getting delayed at the state headquarters where, apparently, there was no accountability.

The employees have urged the Chief Minister, to take action to release their salaries soon.


Sainiks protest against illegal liquor kiosks
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 14
Shiv Sena activists took out a rally here today against the illegal liquor kiosks operating in the city. The Sena activists marched through the city bazars and raised slogans against the wine contractors demanding immediate closure of unlicensed and authorised kiosks which were functioning allegedly with the help of officials of the Excise & Taxation Department.

Meanwhile, a wine contractor, Mr G.S. Sethi and an Excise Inspector, Mr H.S. Randhawa, here refuted the charges of the Sena leaders at a hurriedly convened press conference. They asserted that the new kiosks opened in the city had been given proper sanction by the department.

Mr Hardial Singh Sandhu, Excise & Taxation Officer, said that kiosks in the city had been functioning in accordance with the norms and rules of the Excise and Taxation.


SGPC announces Sankrant tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 14
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has announced that Sankrant will be observed on August 16, according to the Nanakshahi calendar.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, chief honorary secretary of the SGPC, said Masaya would be observed on August 27 and Puranmashi on September 10. He appealed to the sangat to hold all customary celebrations accordingly.

This was stated in a press note issued by the Public Relations Department of the SGPC.


Rs 20 stood between him and Rs 1.5 cr
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 14
Luck had knocked on his door but it was just Rs 20 which stood between him and the Rs 1.5 crore lottery prize. The lottery agent had almost sold the prize-winning Punjab State Rakhi Bumper Lottery ticket to another shopkeeper.

A goldsmith had returned the ticket because the agent had refused to give him a discount of Rs 20 on the price of the ticket. The same ticket was later sold to the reluctant buyer, Jaspal Singh Bittu, who became the lucky winner.


Residents go without water
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 14
Residents of Mohalla Onkar Nagar, Adarsh Nagar, Sangalpura road, and the area behind the Police Lines have not received water for the past three days.

According to official sources, electric motors operating tubewells in the area suddenly broke down, resulting in the stoppage of water supply to these localities.

Mr Raman Bahl, president of the local municipal committee, said a meeting had been convened to discuss the matter. He said the electric motors would either be replaced or the fault rectified.


Undertrial dies in custody

Sangrur, August 14
An undertrial in the District Jail here died while he was being brought from Mansa after attending a trial court, the police said today.

Nek Singh is suspected to have died of heart attack, the police said.

He was facing trial under the NDPS Act at Mansa after he was apprehended with a consignment of poppy husk.

Nek Singh was in custody when he reached the Barnala crossing here last night and complained of severe chest pain. The police took him to the Civil Hospital here adjoining the Barnala crossing.

Doctors attending on him, declared him dead at about 7:30 pm. — PTI


Procession by ABVP activists
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 14
Hundreds of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists today participated in torch light procession here to celebrate August 14 as akhand Bharat divas. The procession started from Nehru Gardens and moved through Jyoti Chowk, Patel Chowk, Kapurthala Chowk, Nakodar Chowk before concluding at Guru Nanak Mission Chowk.


Insurance company, bank to pay for
deficiency in service
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 14
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Gurdaspur, has directed National Insurance Company Limited and Punjab National Bank, here, to make the payment of Rs 19,500 along with interest and costs incurred by the complainant, Ms Rajesh Kumari, a local resident, on the account of deficiency in service.

According to a seven-page order passed by a Bench comprising Mr G.S. Sandhu, president, and Mrs Manisha Verma, member, the complainant had purchased a photostat machine in 1995 and insured it for Rs 95,000.

The complainant alleged that the machine had remained insured for the same amount and the last insurance was from October 22, 2001,to October 21, 2002.

On April 20, 2002, a fire broke out in her shop and the machine, along with other items, was damaged. The order said that when the claim was lodged, she was paid Rs 29,000 through Punjab National Bank. The complainant pleaded that she was entitled to Rs 1 lakh as compensation for the damage caused to the machine.

The claim of the petitioner was contested by the insurance company. While pronouncing the orders, the forum said the insurance company had been accepting full premium throughout the years and had not reduced it taking into consideration the depreciation value of the machine and partly allowed the claim.


Bail in kidney transplant case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Dr P.K. Sareen, an accused in the alleged kidney transplant conspiracy case, was granted bail by Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the Punjab and Haryana High Court here today.

Claiming to be innocent, Dr Sareen, in his petition, had earlier submitted that he had not been implicated in a false case. It may be recalled that Dr Sareen has already been granted bail in another case. He has already been directed to deposit his passport and not to leave the country without the court's prior permission. He has also been directed to be present before the authorities concerned every Wednesday.

Petitions dismissed

Two petitions filed by cinema halls in Bathinda, claiming that action was taken against them after Deputy Commissioner Anurag Aggarwal could not be made comfortable, was today dismissed as withdrawn by a Division Bench of the High Court headed by Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi.

In one such petition against the state of Punjab, the Home Secretary, besides other respondents, staff of Ajaib Palace cinema claimed that the Deputy Commissioner visited Urang Palace owned by the family, for watching a film. Following their failure to make adequate arrangements due to a heavy rush, the Deputy Commissioner got annoyed. Subsequently orders for cancellation of the licence were issued by the Deputy Commissioner, counsel alleged.


Declare Bhamra PO, Vigilance asks court
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 14
The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab has moved an application in the court of Mrs Baljinder Kaur Bhatia with a request to declare Mr Hardeep Singh Bhamra, OSD to the former Chief Minister of Punjab, as proclaimed offender. The court has fixed August 16 as date of hearing to decide about this.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, pleaded in the court that as the accused was evading arrest, he should be declared as proclaimed offender.

The court has also fixed August 16 as date of hearing about an other application moved by the Vigilance requesting that arrest warrants be issued for five accused in the case registered against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and others under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The accused about whom request for issuing arrest warrants has been made are Hardeep Singh Bhamra (OSD to Mr Badal), Mr Kanwaljit Singh Sidhu (Vimpi International), Ms Pinki Grover (New Delhi and Mr Krishan Kumar (PA to Mr Sukhbir Badal).


3 Wimpy employees released on bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 14
Three Wimpy employees Yash Dhawan, R.K. Gupta and Suresh Kulshreshtha were released on bail today by the Special Judge here against a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh and a surety of Rs 1 lakh each due to the failure of the Vigilance to produce the challan within the stipulated time.

The said employees of the Wimpy’s International were booked and arrested by the Punjab Vigilance on the charges of helping Hardeep Singh, former OSD of the Prakash Singh Badal, in converting his black money into white. With this all Wimpy employees have been released on bail.


MLA Nakai denied bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 14
The Special Judge, Ropar, today rejected the bail application of Mr Jagdeep Nakai, MLA, Joga, in Bathinda and former Chairman of Milkfed. The judge, while rejecting the bail application of Mr Nakai held that it was premature to release him on bail as co-accused in the case had still not been arrested. The judicial remand of Mr Nakai has also been extended till August 28.


Release tubewell connections, power board told

Moga, August 14
The District Consumer Redressal Forum, on a complaint filed by farmers of Manuke and Dagru has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board to release tubewell connections to them within three months. It has also directed the PSEB to pay interest on their deposits, besides a compensation of Rs 500 each to every petitioner.

The farmers pleaded that they had applied to the board for tubewell connections from 1984 to 88, and in April, 2001, the board directed them to deposit a security deposit of Rs 15,000 for the tubewell connections and accordingly all farmers deposited the required money.

When the board authorities failed to release the connections to them, they moved the forum, which gave them relief on Monday. The farmers belonged to the Manuke, Dagru and Baghapurana areas of this district. — PTI


Surprise checks  by DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 14
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner during a surprise checking of the district Administrative Complex last night found chowkidar Gurdial Singh of the Deputy Commissioner office in a drunken state.

The Deputy Commissioner took him in his car and to the hospital for medical examination. After a positive report, he was dismissed from service. Another chowkidar of the District Administrative Complex was found absent from duty and the orders have been issued for disciplinary action against him.

During the surprise checking of Civil Hospital, Bassi Pathana, today Dr Bindu Dhillon, Dr Jaspal Singh, Mrs Anjana Kumari, pharmacist, Mr Ram Murti, laboratory technician, Mr Sham Lal and Mr Tarlok Chand, ward attendant, Mrs Gurpreet Kaur midwife and Mrs Raj Rani, ward attendant, all were found absent.


Escaped undertrials arrested in Malout
Tribune News Service

Malout (Muktsar), August 14
Two undertrials from the Ferozepore Central Jail, who escaped on the intervening night of August 9 and August 10, have been arrested by the local police while they were going to Rajasthan on a car stolen by them from Ferozepore city.

The undertrials, Heera and Rajesh Kumar, who escaped from the jail, were arrested on August 12 at a naka laid by the police on the Bathinda-Malout road. When asked about the documents of vehicle, on which they were travelling, they confessed that they had stolen the car from Ferozepore city.

However, they tried to hoodwink the police personnel when they were asked about their identity. Heera told his name as Sukhdev Singh while Rajesh Kumar told his name as Kulbir Singh.

But during interrogation, they told the truth and confessed to the police that they had escaped from the Central Jail, Ferozepore and were proceeding towards Rajasthan when they were caught.

The escape of these two undertrials from the Central Jail, had resulted in the suspension of 21 employees, including two Assistant Jail Superintendents of the Central Jail by Punjab Government. The parents of Heera, one of the accused, had also alleged before the mediapersons yesterday that the jail authorities had killed their son.

Sources said that the Punjab Government had decided to shift some other functionaries of the Central Jail, Ferozepore as it was holding them responsible for the escape of two undertrials.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SSP, Muktsar, said that undertrials Heera and Rajesh Kumar had confessed that they had first opened the lock of their cell in the jail with a nail.

After opening the cell, they had scaled the wall of jail with the help of a pipe lying there. They then stole a Maruti car from the Basti Tankawali area of Ferozepore city and escaped on it.

He added that both Rajesh Kumar and Heera were facing criminal cases in various police stations of Ferozepore district. A case for stealing the car was also registered against them at the local police station under Section 379 of the IPC.

FEROZEPORE: Taking a serious notice of the escape of two undertrials from the Central Jail here in the wee hours of August 10, the Punjab Government has suspended two more officials — Jail Superintendent Bhajan Lal and Deputy Superintendent Sadhu Ram Jindal — after a preliminary inquiry into the escape of Hira Lal and Rajesh Kumar.

Earlier, the government had suspended 21 jail officials. Mr Gursharan Singh Sidhu, who is under probe by the Vigilance Bureau in the alleged diet scandal in Ludhiana and Jalandhar Central Jails, today took charge of the office of Superintendent of Ferozepore Central Jail from Bhajan Singh, jail sources said, Mr Sidhu had got an interim stay against his arrest from a court till September 9, the sources added. — UNI


2,250 kg of poppy husk seized

Jalandhar, August 14
The Punjab Police today seized 2,250 kg of poppy husk from a truck on the G.T. Road near Goraya.

During a routine naka a police party saw a truck coming from Phillaur. But on seeing the police the driver of the vehicle applied brakes and the four occupants of the truck fled under the cover of darkness, police sources said, adding that the search of the vehicle led to the recovery of 75 bags containing the contraband.

However, two of the occupants were identified as Paramjit Singh and Tari of Rasulpur village and Rurka Kalan, respectively.

A case has been registered. — PTI


Two hurt in clash over parking fee
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 14
Two persons were seriously hurt following a dispute over parking fee outside Civil Hospital here this afternoon. Two persons — Mr Jasmat Singh and Mr Ajit Singh — who were allegedly attacked by swords have been admitted to the hospital. A car number parked outside the hospital was badly damaged in the clash.

Mr Jasmat Singh who was admitted to the hospital said he along with Mr Ajit Singh was in the car which was parked outside the gate of the Civil Hospital.

An employee of the parking contractor asked them to get the parking fee chit. They said that as the car was parked outside the hospital why should they pay for the parking.

He alleged that they were attacked by them and swords were used. Both Mr Jasmat Singh and Mr Ajit Singh were injured.


Fee of two M.Sc courses reduced
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 14
Punjabi University today announced reduction in the fee structure of M.Sc. courses in biotechnology and microbial food technology courses even as it said the recently enhanced fee of other professional courses would not be reduced.

An official press note issued here said the decision was taken following a meeting with student bodies, including the Sikh Students Federation and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. However, other student organisations on the campus said they would continue to struggle to get the entire fee hike rolled back.

According to the university, the students accepted the 15 per cent increase in the fee structure in courses other than professional ones in case the varsity took steps to increase the student aid being given to poor patients by 15 per cent. It said the varsity had agreed to enhance the aid.

The varsity claimed that it had also accepted the demand of the students about the structure of internal assessment. It has been decided that students who attend 75 to 80 per cent lectures would be given three marks, those having an attendance between 80 to 85 per cent will be given four marks and those with an 85 per cent attendance record will be given five marks.

The university claimed that it had already formed a uniform policy for all semester courses following an agitation demanding more chances to clear papers in semester system. It said besides this the varsity had created a placement cell for the professional courses students.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi University Students Confederation comprising of most of the student bodies on the campus including the SFI, the PRSU, the PSU, the AIDSO, the PUSH and the PSU (Randhawa) said the decisions taken by the university were unacceptable to the student community. The confederation leaders led a march to the office of the Vice-Chancellor to highlight their demands. Later the student bodies in a joint press note said if the fee hike on the varsity campus was not rolled back, they would jointly intensify their struggle on the campus.


Institutes abroad to get affiliation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 14
The Punjab School Education Board has decided to give affiliation to educational institutions abroad for diploma and certificate courses in the fields of yoga, martial art (gatka), Gurmat Sangeet, history and culture. “In principle, the board has agreed to give affiliation to educational institutions abroad for specialised fields like yoga, martial art (gatka), Gurmat Sangeet, history and culture to promote Punjabi culture in particular and Indian culture in general and invited applications for the same. One institute from the USA has already approached us for starting such a course,’’ Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman of the board, told reporters here today.

Under the system, educational institutes abroad will prepare their own syllabi and will send these to the board for approval, he revealed. Regarding the status of the board as compared to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), he admitted that the state board was far behind the CBSE but held people’s mindset and the medium of instruction responsible for it. He hoped that the situation will improve soon as the state board had also introduced English medium in its schools.


Attack on Principal flayed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 14
Fourteen members of the DAV College Managing Committee here have condemned the attack on Dr Janmit Singh, Principal, DAV College, allegedly by Mr Kamal Chaudhry, a former MP and former president of the managing committee of the college along with his supporters on the college premises on August 12.

In a press note issued here today, they said the suspension order against Dr Janmit Singh issued by Mr Kamal Chaudhry was unlawful as the term of the president and other office-bearers had expired on March 25. No agenda has been fixed by the former president to hold elections for new office-bearers.

Meanwhile, the teaching staff of the college wore black badges in protest against the attack on Dr Janmit Singh.

Dr Janmit Singh, who was admitted to the local Civil Hospital after the incident, joined duty today.


Students break Coke, Pepsi bottles

Ropar, August 13
Students of Netaji Model School here led by Mr V.P. Saini, general secretary, All-India Forward Bloc, today held a procession against Coke and Pepsi companies.

The march started from Netaji Model School and ended at Bela Chowk. The students with placards broke bottles Coke and Pepsi.

Mr Saini alleged that it was unfortunate that while the MPs had banned soft drinks in Parliament, the general public had been left to the nature’s mercy. The All-India Forward Bloc would file a public interest litigation in court seeking ban of pesticide-laced soft drinks. OC


Revised admission schedule

Patiala, August 14
On demand of students, Punjabi University, Patiala, has revised the admission schedule of Bachelors of Arts (BA) and PGDCA. As per the new schedule, admission for the said courses in affiliated colleges with a late fee of Rs 1500 and approval of the Academic Council has been revised till August 23. OC

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