Wednesday, August 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab to pay salary through banks
Employees oppose order
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
All employees of the Punjab Government will be paid salary through banks from September 1. At present only senior officers were given salary through banks.

An order to disburse the salary through banks, which has been kept in abeyance for the past 12 years, was implemented today by the state Finance Department. In fact, the salary for August will be deposited in banks, it is learnt.

Sources said all banks, including private ones, had been included in the order for disbursement of the salary. When terrorism was at its peak in 1991, the then government issued a letter to pay salary to the employees through banks. However, only nationalised banks were chosen at that time to perform this duty. However, the order was not implemented then, except in the case of senior officers, because almost all sections of employees protested.

Raising eyebrows over the fresh order, various employees organisations said it had been done to benefit private banks.

Mr K.K. Jindal, a spokesman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Union, said his organisation along with several other employees unions, would make the Finance Department withdraw this order.

He said banking facilities were not available at most places in the rural areas where a considerable number of employees were posted as teachers, pharmacists, para medical workers etc. Such employees would face difficulties in getting their salary cheques encashed. First, they would have to open accounts in banks. Secondly, every month they would have to go to nearby banks to get their salary cheques encashed.

In most cases the disbursement of salary would be delayed because it would be deposited by the government on the first working day of every month in main bank branches. It would take at least three days for information in this regard to reach small branches in towns and cities. Such information would take even longer to reach the bank branches in rural areas.


CM assures of positive action
Move to tax CSD items in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
Senior Army officers from the Western Command, Chandi Mandir, as well as officials of the Department of Sainik Welfare, Punjab, have held several meetings with top Punjab Government functionaries to persuade them to reconsider the decision to impose sales tax on some items sold through CSD canteens.

At least three such rounds of discussions were held over the past few days, which included meetings with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. “The views of ex-servicemen have been projected to the Chief Minister by the Secretary, Defence Welfare and the former has assured that he would take positive action,” Brig J.S. Jaswal (retd), Director, Sainik Welfare, said today.

The Punjab Government had decided to levy sales tax on select luxury items being sold through CSD canteens. The sales tax would vary between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of what civilians are paying on the same items.

Automobiles, air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, electrical and electronic gadgets as well as liquor sold through CSD canteens located in Punjab are being proposed to be taxed. CSD liquor, according to officers, is already costing about 20 per cent more in Punjab as compared to the neighbouring states.

Members of various ex-servicemen’s organisations said the core issue was not the increase in prices but the setting of a precedent for levelling additional taxes and casting aspersions on servicemen that they resold items bought from canteens to civilians. They feel that if one state levies sales tax, others may follow suit. They also pointed that the sale of items on which sales tax was proposed to be levied was restricted and permitted only after a specified period and their re-sale to civilians was, therefore, not feasible.

Officers recall that the Chandigarh Administration had tried a similar exercise a few years ago but was forced to backtrack after exservicemen moved court over the issue.


Case against Bhattal
Governor moved on choice of prosecutor
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, President, District Amature Boxing Association, Bathinda, on whose complaint a corruption case has been registered against Rural Development Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, yesterday urged the Punjab Governor, not to give sanction to the state government to appoint Mr R.K. Anand as special public prosecutor for the case.

In a letter to the Governor, Mr Dhillon pointed out that news reports indicated that Ms Bhattal had created ‘troubles’ for the Chief Minister to get the advocate of her liking appointed as special public prosecutor for the case pending against her in the special judge’s court in Chandigarh.

He added that as per information, the Chief Minister had decided to appoint Mr Anand, Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, as special public prosecutor to help Ms Bhattal go scotfree.

A case under Section 409 of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against Ms Bhattal by the Vigilance Bureau at the Ferozepore police station on the directions of the special judge, Bathinda, on the basis of the complaint of Mr Dhillon in May, 2001.

Mr Dhillon had alleged that Ms Bhattal had embezzled Rs 20 lakh after withdrawing the amount from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in 1996, when she was the Chief Minister.


Punjab seeks rejection of Bhattal’s plea
Kiran Deep

  • The Supreme Court on August 18 declined to stay the trial proceeding against Ms Bhattal.

  • The Special Public Prosecutor, Punjab, sought the rejection of application moved by Ms Bhattal for the production of documents in the case.
  • The Special Public Prosecutor, Punjab claimed that the relevant documents for which Ms Bhattal had moved an application in a local court, were already in her possession.

Chandigarh, August 19
Stating that the application moved by the Punjab Agriculture Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for the production of documents in a case pertaining to alleged corruption and embezzlement of Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s relief fund were already in her possession, Punjab today pleaded for the rejection of her application.

Appearing on behalf of Punjab, the Special Public Prosecutor in his reply filed in a local court stated that Ms Bhattal had moved an application to delay the matter. She is in possession of all documents which is being requested to be produced in the court.

The Supreme Court on August 18 declined to stay the trial proceeding against Ms Bhattal. The FIR in this case was registered against Ms Bhattal on May 22, last year at bureau’s police in Ferozepore Range on the complaint of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon.

Meanwhile, the Special Public Prosecutor stated in his reply that some relevant documents were attached with the reply in order to avoid delay in the proceeding. While submitting documents, he pleaded that the documents produced by Punjab in pursuance of the application submitted by Ms Bhattal may not be considered at the time of framing of the charges against the accused.

Giving details the special public prosecutor stated that Ms Bhattal had moved an application for dropping the proceeding against her in the court of the Special Judge Bathinda, the Special Judge, Chandigarh, and also moved a special leave petition( SLP) before the Supreme Court relying upon the documents she sought in the present application.

He further added that it was clear from the application itself that she had reproduced the contents of those documents. Hence the application moved by Ms Bhattal should be dismissed.

Ms Bhattal’s counsel had moved the application on August 11 for the supply of documents, including — documents relating to questions raised by Mr Hardev Arshi (MLA) in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha the reply filed by the former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, giving clean chit to her from corruption charges, civil writ petition filed by Mr Satya Pal Dang and reports of investigating officers in the case.


20 lakh unemployed youth in Punjab
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
“There are over 20 lakh unemployed youth in Punjab. The new industrial policy and diversification of agriculture aim at generating employment opportunities, but due to long gestation period of industrial projects and new fruit varieties yet to succeed in the state, we would require certain time period to create adequate job opportunities. Perhaps, the small projects promoted by the Khadi and Village Industries Board with small gestation period may offer some respite to the youth,’’ said Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, while presiding over a function here today.

The occasion was to distribute cheques to the tune of Rs 1 crore as loan-cum-grant to the unemployed youth to set up their small ventures under the Margin Money Scheme of the Khadi and Village Industries Board. Interestingly, most of the candidates were from his home town itself. A large number of selected youth, out of 52 selected candidates, belonged to Patiala district alone, the home town of the Chief Minister. Seven of them were just from Dakala — a small town in the Patiala constituency.

The Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, wondered how could the government generate new job opportunities when it had to arrange Rs 30 crore per day for paying salaries and pensions to its employees (Rs 17 crore), establishment expenses (Rs 3 crore) and interest payments (Rs 20 crore) against an average daily revenue collection of Rs 22 crore. He hoped that the government’s fiscal measures would help it raise loans worth Rs 5000 crore from the World Bank and other funding agencies to start development work in the state.

The Chief Minister, though concerned about the alarming unemployment situation in the state, seemed doubtful whether the government agencies or the NGOs would be able to ‘do miracles’ on the employment front. He admitted that the unemployment had reached alarming proportions. When asked about the relevance of ‘subsidy based schemes’ of the khadi board when the state government was disinvesting its share in all the major state owned units, he said,‘‘ We are disinvesting from big units like PTL, PCL and Punjab Alkalies. But the khadi board is the legacy of the Congress and is doing good social work.’’

Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, newly appointed chairman of the board, urged the Chief Minister, to sanction at least Rs 25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh for the board, as it was finding it difficult to ‘‘bear the allowance and other expenses of 11 appointed members.’’ The board had paid salaries, he said, of about 100 employees after a gap of six months.

The board has helped over 10,000 youth to set up their ventures by raising Rs 32 crore from the banks. The target for this year is to generate 12,000 jobs by offering Rs 35 crore loans through banks. However, the candidates admitted that in the given market scenario, the selling of products like soaps, detergents, electric instruments and handicrafts was very difficult. Some of them said they were unable to earn even Rs 50 per day through these low-technology ventures.

Despite the declining importance of state employment exchanges, the number of unemployed youth with matriculation or higher education, registered with them has increased from about 4.5 lakh in 1980 to over 5.50 lakh. There are over 40,000 unemployed youth with engineering qualification alone. But the Chief Minister shrugged his responsibility by saying that ‘‘the role of the government has changed. We would launch six mobile healthcare units tomorrow on the anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.”


Bending ASI rules for Ranjit Singh panorama
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 19
In gross violation of the declaration by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for the preservation of historic towns, cities and areas on November 11, 1997, digging for the Rs 5 crore panorama in Ram Bagh, built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been going on, on a war footing, by getting the protected area de-notified.

Though the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had laid the foundation stone on November 18, 2001, at ‘new Amritsar’ to mark the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh where Improvement Trust had earmarked 3 acres for the purpose, yet the proposed site was shifted to the ‘protected area’.

The proposed panorama would be spread over 20 kanals in Ram Bagh. It would be 40 feet high while the area of the project would be around 400 feet. The diaroma (100 ft) would feature 200 characters depicting scenes from the darbar of the maharaja on festivals like Dashera etc. The pictures are being recreated after consulting historians. The National Council of Science and Museum (NCSM) has already submitted the plan for the construction of the panorama.

The ASI declaration reads, “The heritage zone is an area of special historical and cultural interest, the character and appearance of which is necessary to be preserved... the heritage zone is under threat for many reasons, including the construction of modern buildings... in most of the cases the town and country planners ignore the cultural significance of the historic areas while preparing the development plans... insertion of modern building not befitting the overall architectural style further damages the character of historic areas”.

It may be mentioned here that the state government had denotified 20 kanals and the protected areas had been rendered ‘unprotected’ in Ram Bagh. Earlier, under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monument and Archaeological Sites and Ramains Act, 1964 (Section 4), Sub Section 3 the entire Ram Bagh was declared a protected area (728 kanal, three marlas) in 1997.

Opposing the construction of the panorama, Mr Charnjit Singh Gumtala, president, Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), said the move of the state government would damage the heritage site. He said the apex court on a petition had directed all state governments to maintain all national monuments and ensure that all were properly maintained so that the cultural and historical heritage of India was preserved.

The AVM said the proposed panorama, being a modern building would not synchronise with the old heritage building and hence it should be constructed either in ‘new Amritsar’ or in the Guru Nanak Dev University complex. Mr Gumtala said as per the ancient monuments, Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, no construction was allowed within a radius of 100 metres from the parameters of the protected sites while, construction within a zone of 200 metres was to be regulated.


Son-in-law step closer to Tohra’s chair
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
From an Assistant (Grade One) in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to a first-time legislator and minister in the last SAD-BJP government, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra now stands poised to become the heir apparant of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, who is the son-in-law of the veteran Akali leader, had never taken active interest in politics until he was given the party ticket from Dakala in 1997, made Cabinet minister and entrusted with the Public Works Department. He has now become one of the youngest members of the all-powerful Parliamentary Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal after formal distribution of party offices to Tohra loyalists yesterday.

The SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, had signified through a series of steps during the last few months that it was Mr Harmail Tohra whom he trusted most. The son-in-law had been in the forefront looking after important guests coming to see Tohra when he had been convalescing here following a heart problem. When the veteran leader recovered, he shifted to the house of his son-in-law in Hira Bagh here and even now prefers to live there instead of his village house in Tohra, 30 km from here.

By ensuring the appointment of Mr Harmail Singh Tohra as member of the PAC of the SAD, the SGPC chief has put his son-in-law on equal footing with other SAD leaders of Patiala district, including former minister Capt Kanwaljit, Singh, who is also a member of the PAC. While others, including Capt Kanwaljit, had a long political career, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra is only six-year-old in politics.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra has also ensured his son-in-law’s seniority in the party over Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, who was till recently perceived to be the heir apparent of the veteran leader. This was because Chandumajra loyalists were occupying important posts in the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal formed by Mr Tohra after parting ways with the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Besides, Mr Chandumajra has emerged as a senior leader in his own right after being a minister in the state government and elected to the Lok Sabha twice.

Due to these reasons, Akali leaders are surprised that Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, who is much senior to Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, has been appointed general secretary of the SAD. Equally surprising is that two other Tohra loyalists — Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal — who had played a key role in getting Mr Badal and Mr Tohra together, have been amply rewarded. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta has been made a member of the PAC, while Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, also a relatively new entrant to politics, has been made general secretary of the party.

Meanwhile a reorganisation of the district unit of the SAD may throw up more surprises. This is because Mr Rajinder Singh Tohra, who was the district president of the Shiromani Akali Dal before its breaking and even the SHSAD, may not get his old position.


Ayurvedic college president booked
Lecturer removed on fake papers
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 19
A criminal case has been registered against Dr Amarjeet Singh Pasricha and Dr Naresh Pruthi, president and general secretary, respectively, of the local Mai Bhago Ayurvedic College for their alleged involvement in the removal of a lecturer of the college by preparing fake documents.

In a press note here today, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SSP, said Mr Vagish Sharma, a lecturer of the college, had lodged a complaint to him, alleging that he had been removed by the management by way of fake documents. Mr Gurmeet Singh, DSP, conducted an inquiry into the matter.

It was found that the accused had fabricated a letter of Panjab University, Chandigarh, in 1998 and Mr Sharma was removed in 1999. The accused had also got prepared another letter, which they claimed had been issued by the then Deputy Registrar of Panjab University, Mr S.K. Pandhi in 1999.

On verification it was found that Mr Pandhi never issued the letter and his signature had been forged. It was also found that the college management had charged Rs 6,000 from each student by cheating them on the basis of a fake certificate of the university in 1995-96.

He said on the basis of the inquiry, a case under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B, IPC, had been registered.

In another case, the police arrested Pawan Kumar for allegedly possessing fake currency notes. Nineteen notes of 500 denomination each were seized from his possession. A case has been registered.

In yet another case, some fake CDs had been seized from a man. A case has been registered.


Heavy security for Longowal’s death anniversary
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 19
The police has made elaborate security arrangements for two functions, being organised by the state government and the SAD, in connection with the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal village tomorrow.

The state-level function by the Amarinder government is being organised at the Grain Market in Longowal though during the past 17 years the SAD had organised its function at this. This year, the SAD, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is organising its function at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) at Longowal. According to reports, Capt Amarinder Singh, will be the main speaker at the state-level function, while the SAD function will be addressed among others by Mr Lal Krishan Advani, Deputy Prime Minister; Mr Arun Jaitley, Union Minister; Ms Uma Bharti, former Union Minister; Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Sangrur, said the district police had invited police force from Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Barnala police district, and Fatehgarh Sahib, for both functions. He said about 1,000 police personnel would be deployed for the state-level function.


Admn lines up vehicles for political function
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 19
The district administrative complex here was packed with buses and trucks today. These vehicles had been impounded from the offices of various truck and bus operators’ unions in the district for handing these over to BDPOs for taking people to a state-level function being held to commemorate the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi at Patiala tomorrow.

Some of the vehicles have also been given to both MLAs from the district and to the president of the District Congress Committee. Officials of the Rural Development Department of the district, including the ADC(D), the DDPO, the Secretary of the Zila Parishad and BDPOs, have reportedly been making strenuous efforts for the past three days to mobilise people to attend the function. These officials had been going to every nook and corner of the district and sparing no effort to ensure a gathering of at least 20,000 from the district for the function.

Besides government officials, both MLAs and the DCC president have also been making efforts to moblise people.

Mr Sadhu Singh, MLA, Amloh, said he had convened two meetings of party workers, sarpanches and panches at Amloh and Chanarthal. He said though BDPOs and other officials were also moblising people, but he was not depending upon them and was working hard at his end. He said if he had depended on the government machinery, there would not have been so much enthusiasm. He said he would take 60 trucks carrying people to the function. He said 40 trucks would start from Anaj Mandi, Amloh, and 20 from Anaj Mandi, Chanarthal. He admitted that the trucks had been provided by the administration.

Dr Harbans Lal, MLA from Sirhind, who had been dismissed from the Ministry, said he had also convened meetings of the people and would take 100 trucks carrying people to the function. He said he had given the vehicles to his workers and they were making all efforts to ensure maximum gathering.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president of the DCC, said he had assisted both MLAs in convening meetings and moblising people to attend the function. He said he had also arranged a district-level function at Sirhind. After that function, he would attend the function at Patiala.

Though the Deputy Commissioner was not available for comments, Mr B.S. Shergill, ADC(D), denied that they were exercising official pressure to moblise people. He, however, did not comment on who was making the transportation arrangements.


Police clueless in fraud case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 19
Even after 72 hours of registration of a case against an NRI woman and her accomplices for allegedly duping customers of crores of rupees on the pretext of issuing special discount cards to avail discounts on bills from commercial establishments and hotels situated across the country, the police is still clueless.

According to information, Soi Mehmi, a UK citizen, floated a company, “Eyezonex”, and enrolled hundreds of people as its members at a fee of Rs 50,000 each. She promised to issue them special discount cards.

The accused had held several promotional conferences at a local hotel to carry out a membership campaign during the past several months. According to the police, an estimated 500 members were enrolled. The scam came to light when a resident of Phagwara presented the discount card to a local hotel last week, but was told it was not valid. Subsequently, he lodged a complaint with the police.

The SP, maintained that efforts were being made to arrest them. Meanwhile, the police has arrested three persons and recovered stolen goods worth about Rs 50,000 from their possession.


30 bodies seek action against cinema owners
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
The controversy over cancellation of licences of two cinema houses by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, on the charge of screening porn films took a new turn today when nearly 30 social, commercial, industrial, religious and labour organisations threatened to launch an agitation if the district administration showed leniency to the cinema house owners in this case.

The organisations, in a representation to Mr Aggarwal today, extended support to the administration’s “crusade” against unscrupulous cinema house owners. They demanded a probe into the screening of porn films and pasting of objectionable posters on the city walls.

After it had appeared in a section of the Press on August 11 that Mr Aggarwal had cancelled the licenses of two cinema houses after being denied tickets to the show, the DC had said he had never expected the press to protect these cinema owners so ardently.

Representatives of 11 social and voluntary organisations had met the Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, on August 15 and sought action against those who screened porn films. They alleged there was a nexus between flesh-trade operators and certain newsmen.

A section of the Press had asked Mr Aggarwal to apologise publicly, while Mr Aggarwal had said he had never come across such irresponsible, malicious and defamatory journalism. Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP, Faridkot, had supported the section of the Press opposing the DC.

Representatives of the social and voluntary organisations that submitted a memorandum to Mr Samra on August 15 later claimed newsmen had been misled about the memorandum. They said the memorandum had not been drafted after consulting the Deputy Commissioner.

The 30 organisations who told Mr Aggarwal that persons supporting the cinema-house owners were trying to sidetrack the issue, also said they feared that the FIR against the cinema-house operators might be quashed. They said they would move court against any such action.


Violations on forest land dot Ambala-Shimla highway
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Punjab Forest Department has come under fire for ignoring violations on forest land along the Ambala-Shimla National Highway in the Patiala district. Taking a serious view of the violations by well-connected persons, the Centre has asked the Secretary Forests, Punjab, to enquire into the whole matter.

Certain violations along the Chandigarh -Patiala highway has also been pointed out by the Centre. After the prime land, classified as Protected Forests under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, came within the jurisdiction of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, the change of land use increased manifold. The Forest Department and the officers of the Nagar Panchayat failed to check the violations, said an officer of the State Forest Department.

“Influential people have used the forest land for construction of marriage places, roadside dhabas, roads and other temporary structures”, said the officer. For change of land use on forest land along the national highway, permission of the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment is mandatory, said the officer.

In case of change of land use of forest land is permitted by the Centre, as has been done in case of widening of the Chandigarh-Kharar section of the highway and for construction of the Railway overbridge at Bhankharpur, the state government has to pay certain charges to the Environment Ministry and to grow plantation in an area.

The Conservator of Forests, Northern Region, Mr Dinesh Kumar Sharma, said the no proposal for change of land use along the national highways passing through Patiala district had been sought from the Centre. He said the ministry was aware of the violation and a report had been sought from the State Forest Department. Action has been sought against the violators and officers concerned for ignoring the violations, said the Conservator of Forests.

Acting on the directives of the Environment Ministry, the State Forest Department has started issuing notices to the violators. “A strict action has been initiated against the violators and some cases are at the stage of prosecution”, said the DFO, Patiala, Mr Karamjit Singh. He said a drive had been launched to remove hoarding on forest land along the Ambala-Shimla National Highway.


Japan bank complains of fund misappropriation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 19
Corruption in the Forest Department of Punjab has attracted the attention of the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), which has written a strongly worded letter to the Financial Commissioner, Forests, Punjab, Mr P. Ram, regarding the alleged misappropriation of funds provided by the bank by former minister Harbans Lal and senior functionaries of the department.

In the letter, JBIC functionaries have stated that it is their third communication to the Punjab Government in the last eight months regarding the alleged misappropriation of funds.

If the Punjab Government fails to hold a thorough inquiry into the allegations, the bank will take up the matter with the Union Ministry of Finance, it has added.

The JBIC authorities have attached the complaint of Mr Harbhagwan Singh of Patiala, exposing corruption in the project sponsored by the bank.

In the complaint, it has been alleged that the forest cover in the state remains a dismal 6 per cent despite crores having been given for the project.

The former minister has acquired three vehicles and six air-conditioners, renovated his house with an investment of Rs 10 lakh and acquired a cash balance of Rs 50 lakh in his one year stint as minister, says the complaint. Many forest guards have acquired wealth worth crores, it adds.

Huge misappropriation has been alleged in the purchase of 3,500 tonnes of barbed wire, machinery and other equipment. The complaint has alleged that only 30 per cent of the funds have been utilised white the rest have been misappropriated.

Mr P. Ram, when contacted, said many complaints had been lodged by the JBC and the department had replied to most of these satisfactorily.

No action could be taken on the basis of anonymous complaints and the Punjab vigilance Bureau was inquiring into the alleged misappropriation of funds, he added.


Salute to a super cop
Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon

The death of Bhagwan Singh Danewalia, former chief of the Punjab Police, on August 15 has removed from the scene a multi-faceted personality, highly respected in official and social circles. He was a super cop in the true sense. Danewalia played the game of life with full zest and vigour. He often told his friends: “At the age of 70, I can doze off on a sofa”. True to his words, he dozed off on a sofa and passed into eternity at the age of 78. His friends and admirers were stunned by his unexpected departure while playing at the Golf Club.

Bhagwan Singh Danewalia graduated from Forman Christian College, Lahore, where he did his masters in economics. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1950 and served the Punjab Police for three decades till he became the chief of the force in 1977. He had the unique experience of studying the police system and the governments in the USA, the UK and other Western countries. A man of great conviction and courage, Danewalia had the guts to expose the police-politics nexus.

His tenure as police chief witnessed the launching of criminal prosecution against ministers and bureaucrats on an hitherto unknown scale in the country. As the likes of Danewalia are rare, he had to fight the campaign against corruption and criminal prosecution almost single-handedly. It was unfortunate that his tenure as Inspector-General of Punjab Police had to come to an abrupt and premature end — three years and a half before the statutory age of superannuation. He sought premature retirement. He could not fulfil his mission. But nevertheless he set a grand precedent which will be remembered with a sense of pride in the annals of the Punjab Police.

Not a mere spectator of the sordid game of politicians. Danewalia was a man of action. In pursuit of his dreams of a well-ordered society sans injustice, he founded the Punjabi Party and gave a clarion call to all lovers of Punjab to be wide awake and reject ruthlessly the exploitation by leaders and rejuvenate their politics. But in a dark milieu where politics had become synonymous with mammon, the man with meagre resources could not become the tower of light which Punjab so badly needed.

Though not a professional historian, he spent his twilight years in academic pursuits. Danewalia will be remembered for his two insightful books: “Police and Politics in 20th Century Punjab” (1997) and “Turning Points of the Sikh History: A New Testament on the Punjab” (2001).

People at the helm of affairs in Punjab, both in politics and the police, as also the future historians, can draw very useful lessons from the study of these two books.


CM to launch public health scheme
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 19
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will formally launch the Rs 500 crore Rajiv Gandhi village public health welfare scheme at Patiala on Wednesday.

The government was planning to construct free latrines at the residences of 10 lakh identified families belonging to the Dalit and other weaker sections of society under the scheme.

This was stated by Punjab Medical Education and Research Minister Choudhary Santokh Singh while speaking at a function to honour bright students of the local Hans Raj Mahavidyalaya on the college premises here yesterday.

Mr P.P. Sharma, Principal of the college, said of a total of 4000 students who appeared in various examinations during the last academic session, 2050 had secured the first division while 14 students topped the GNDU examinations held in April, 2003.

Later, the minister gave away the prizes to outstanding students.


Follow Lord Krishna’s teachings: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today greeted the people on the occasion of Janmashtami.

Mr Amarinder Singh said Lord Krishna was an apostle of peace and human brotherhood and his inspiring message was relevant even today.

He exhorted the people to follow the teachings of Lord Krishna so as to attain eternal peace, prosperity and happiness in life.


Rajiv Gandhi remembered
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 19
The state unit of the women’s cell of the Congress organised a function to celebrate the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi here today. A large number of people, besides party workers attended it.

Party leaders underlined the need for the implementation of the schemes mooted by the late Prime Minister.

They also sought the cooperation of women for the eradication of social evils like illiteracy, drug addiction and dowry. They urged the people to be wary of communal forces.

The participants later took a pledge to maintain unity.


Vigilance not to take up ex-VC’s case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
Punjabi University’s request to get a Vigilance inquiry conducted into the manner in which its former Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia gave permission to information technology institutions to operate on the varsity campus here and its Regional Centre at Damdama Sahib has come to naught with the Vigilance Department maintaining that a case had already been registered in this regard by the Patiala police.

The Chief Director (Vigilance) has in a communication to the Secretary (Vigilance) said that a case has already been registered against Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia and others at the Patiala Sadar police station with regard to alleged irregularities in establishing the Maharaja Ranjit Singh IT Institute on the varsity campus here and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of IT at Damdama Sahib.

The communication, further states that two writs pertaining to the same case had been also admitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “In the light of these facts, the proposed special inquiry into the case is being closed,” it said.

The note also states that copies of the letter were being forwarded to the SP, Vigilance, Patiala and the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai.

The SP (Vigilance), Mr Balkar Singh Sidhu, said he had earlier informed superiors that a case relating to alleged irregularities in the founding of these institute already stood registered in a police station in Patiala. He said since two FIRs could not be registered for the same crime, the Vigilance Department had been informed of the issue.


Commission for fresh probe into suicide case

Moga, August 19
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has directed DIG Police, Ferozepore Range, Mr Hardish Singh, to hold a fresh inquiry into the suicide case of Akali leader and former sarpanch of Baghapurana, Gurdyal Singh.

The case was registered against five persons on the basis of the suicide note, which had mentioned that he was committing suicide due to the harassment of his wife, two sons, son-in-law and daughter-in-law.

The sarpanch committed suicide on July 6 with his licensed revolver and a case was registered the next day.

On August 2, a son of the sarpanch, Mr Navtej Singh, in a petition to the commission, appealed for a direction for the cancellation of the FIR against him and his brother and a fresh inquiry be entrusted to some senior officer.

The Commission directed the DIG yesterday to conduct a fresh inquiry, which must be completed by September 2.

The DIG was also asked to shift Mukhtiar Singh, SHO, Moga, out of the district so that he could not influence the inquiry. The SHO was transferred. — PTI


Traffic blocked against NFL disinvestment
Our Correspondent

Nangal, August 19
Continuing their protest against the disinvestment of National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), residents of Nangal blocked traffic on Nangal Dam bridge last night. About 200 activists of the NFL Bachao Samiti sat on a dharna on the bridge at about 8 pm disrupting traffic on the Una-Chandigarh highway for about 15 minutes.

The protesters raised slogans against the Union Government and the disinvestment Minister, Mr Arun Shourie. Later holding candles they held a protest march in the Naya Nangal colony of NFL.

Dr K.R. Ayra the convener and president of the Officers Association of the NFL, Mr Raj Singh and Mr Pratap Saini, municipal councillors were among those leading the protest march.

Talking to newsmen Dr Arya condemned the local politicians for failing to join the protest by Nangal residents. Leaders of all political parties had during their election campaigns, promised that no PSU of the area would be privatised. Even the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh publicly announced in Nangal that he would revive the closed PNFC unit and not allow any disinvestment in any other unit. However, now when one of the biggest PSU of the Nangal area was being privatised none of the leaders has cared to raise his voice against it. The MP of the area Mr Charanjit Singh Chani had not raised his voice regarding this in Parliament.


Trade unions back Tamil Nadu staff
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
Trade unions of industrial workers, bank, telecom, railway and postal employees as well as the Punjab State Electricity Board, the Municipal Corporation, public and private transport, and the FCI have expressed solidarity with government employees of Tamil Nadu on the question of strikes.

The meeting held under the aegis of the District Trade Unions Council yesterday expressed grave concern over the recent Supreme Court judgement according to which government employees had no constitutional, legal or moral right to go on strike. The judgement was delivered in connection with the recent strike of Tamil Nadu government employees. The meeting strongly condemned the summary dismissal of nearly two lakh government employees without any chargesheet or inquiry by the Tamil Nadu government. The meeting urged the government to bring legislation on the question of strikes during the Parliament session. A copy of the resolution was sent to the President and the Union Labour Minister, informed Mr Darshan Dard, general secretary of the council in a press note.


Security for rice milling raised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Punjab Government will not allot paddy for custom milling to defaulter rice millers, Food, Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Avtar Henry said here today. Giving details about the rice milling policy for 2003-2004, Mr Henry said the norms for per tonne storage of paddy had been revised. The security for custom milling of rice had been raised from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh with Rs 75,000 as security for every additional tonne as against Rs 50,000 earlier.

The process for allotment of rice mills would be completed by September 1 this year as against October 15 last year.


Panel’s plea on ammunition dump
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 19
Led by Mr Rattan Singh Mehal, convener of the Ammunition Dump Hatao Sangharsh Committee, a deputation met Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Andhra Pradesh, here yesterday to apprise him of the apprehensions of thousands of residents living in the 700- metre radius of the military ammunition dump here about the demolition of hundreds of houses.

The deputation also submitted a memorandum to Mr Barnala to be forwarded to Mr George Fernandes, Union Defence Minister, with a favourable recommendation with regard to the shifting of the dump.

The deputation, comprising Mr Nazar Singh Badrukhan, Mr Lalit Kumar, advocate, Mr Avinash Sharma, Mr Amar Singh Khalsa, co-conveners of the committee and others also urged Mr Barnala to initiate steps in this regard so that thousands of residents of several colonies could be saved from certain ruin.


Four shops burnt
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 19
Four shops outside the Khoobsurat Marriage Palace near railway crossing number 22 were burnt here today.

The fire was caused due to a short circuit at around 5 a.m.

Morningwalker discovered the fire and informed the fire brigade office. Two fire tenders took one and half hours to douse the flames.


2 more granted bail in EPF scam
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 19
Two more officers of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), Ropar, accused in the EPF scam, R.K. Jindal, Chief Accounts Officer and the financial adviser were granted interim bail till August 21 by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr Karamjit Singh, today.


Bhakra water to flow in Patiala taps
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
Repeated boring of more tubewells in the city which are still failing to take care of its water needs is likely to end soon, with the Municipal Corporation deciding to make use of water from the Bhakra Canal flowing nearby to meet this demand.

The corporation has already formulated a proposal in this regard which is slated to be put for approval before its general house at its next meeting. The proposal is likely to have an easy sail with Patiala MP Preneet Kaur also supporting such a move.

The local body has decided to make use of Bhakra water to meet its drinking water needs because it is under intense pressure during the summer months to meet the drinking water requirements of the city. The corporation tried to solve this problem somewhat by installing 22 more tubewells this year taking the total number of tubewells in the city to 74. Though this has eased the water supply position in the city, there are still many areas, specially emerging colonies, where the corporation is still to lay water pipes, what of supplying them water immediately.

It is these colonies which are expected to be targeted during the first phase of the project, according the Mayor Vishnu Sharma. He said a detailed survey had revealed that the only way to ensure adequate water supply to the town was by going in for a canal-based water supply system. He said this would also guard the city against any water shortage in the summer months when depletion in the ground water supply resulted in less water being pumped out by the corporation pumps.

Mr Vishnu Sharma said the survey had also revealed that the water being pumped out by various tubewells in the city was also registering a decline constantly. He said this meant digging of deeper tubewells. The Mayor said with this in mind, the corporation was proposing a canal-based water supply system in the city under which five overhead tanks would come up besides storage and purification tanks.

Initially the corporation is going to go in for water storage overhead tanks on the Nabha and Bhadson roads to cater to colonies emerging on the outskirts of the city which were not being supplied with piped water by the corporation. The Mayor said once this experiment was successful it would be expanded to other parts of the city also. He said each tank would cost more than Rs 1 crore which he said would prove to be a cost-effective investment keeping in view the long term gains.

Meanwhile, the corporation is also in the process of taking steps to preserve ground water and even augment it. The corporation has decided to change its rules and henceforth any person wanting to get his building plan passed would have to get a recharging well installed in his premises. The recharging well planned for each house would cost around Rs 2,500 only, according to corporation sources and would, besides helping in conserving ground water, also result in less excess water flowing into streets and damaging them.

The corporation proposes to make each house coming up on more than 1,000 square feet of land to go in for the recharging wells. Besides this more recharging wells are likely to be dug up in public places or low-lying areas to ensure augmentation of the ground water supply.


DC stays award of council contracts
Our Correspondent

Nangal, August 19
The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, has stayed the award of contracts of the Nangal Municipal Council for cutting congress grass. The contracts worth about Rs 5.40 lakh were to be opened and allotted today. However, the Deputy Commissioner stayed the proceedings.

She said the council had not specified the quantum and the areas from which the grass was to be removed. It had been directed to produce the records regarding the contract, she said.

Sources said the council had the infrastructure, including tractors and labourers, for carrying out the operation. However, the council authorities had floated tenders worth Rs 5.40 lakh for removing congress grass in just 2 sq km area.

The Department of the Local Government has failed to initiate action in various corruption cases of the council reported in the media. Even the Vigilance raid in which the Executive Engineer of the council was caught while accepting a bribe failed to draw the attention of the local government.


PUDA to target unauthorised colonies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
In a development which will target sellers as well as buyers of plots in unauthorised colonies in the city, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has moved complaints for the registration of cases against two colonisers as well as people who had purchased plots in the respective colonies.

Disclosing this here today, PUDA Additional Chief Administration Ajoy Sharma said PUDA had also simultaneously moved suits stopping colonisers from selling plots in the two colonies and plot holders from raising further constructions.

He said the Civil Judge, Patiala, Mr Satpal through an order pronounced today granted stay on the further sale and construction in respect of a colony being developed by Mr Sadhu Singh in the revenue estate of Jassowal village on the Bhadson road and another colony being developed by Inderjit Singh Gill and others in the name of Gill Enclave in the revenue estate of Badungar village on the Cantonment road near Railway Crossing Number 22.

Mr Ajoy Sharma said PUDA had already submitted complaints to the SSP, Patiala, for the registration of cases against these colonisers so that they could be persecuted under the provisions of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995. He said since plot owners were also purchasing plots knowingly in connivance with the colonisers so they would also be booked for criminal conspiracy under Section 120 (b). He said under this there was same punishment as for the colonisers which was a fine of Rs 10,000 or three years’ imprisonment or both.

The PUDA Additional Chief Administrator said his office had already written to the SSP, Patiala, for booking the plot holders of Gill Enclave under Section 120 (b) IPC and was also in the process of recommending similar action against plot owners of the colony being developed by Mr Sadhu Singh.

Mr Sharma disclosed that PUDA would also move the court against all the remaining colonies of the city for the stay of sale of plots and construction activities. He said PUDA would also initiate these actions against the unauthorised colonies being developed in the Patiala zone including Rajpura, Nabha, Samana, Sangrur, Barnala, Dhuri, Malerkotla and Fatehgarh Sahib.


Cash, jewellery worth Rs 40,000 looted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 19
At least 16 armed robbers struck at the house of two farmers at Jaitewall and Badlana villages, and decamped with cash and jewellery worth about Rs 40,000 in the wee hours today.

The robbers, who were armed with iron roads, sickles and sticks, first struck at the house of Mr Ram Murti, at Jaitewall village and decamped with Rs 20,000 and some household items.

The robbers, who had covered their faces later struck at the farmhouse of Mr Kundan Singh at Badiana village, beat him up and members of his family and forced them to part away with Rs 18,000 and some jewellery.


Gang of criminals busted, 3 held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
The police has busted a gang of criminals with the arrest of three of its members. They were planning to facilitate the escape of one of their accomplices from police custody.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note said the three identified as Malkit Singh, Ranjit Singh and Major Singh were arrested today. Three pistols of different make along with live cartridges were seized.

On questioning, Malkit Singh one of the accused confessed that his brother Lohar Singh, alias Bachi, was lodged in local Central Jail. They had planned to get him released from the police custody by using firearms and car in which they were travelling. They had also planned to rob some people.

He said Lohar Singh, alias Bachi, had been facing nine criminal cases, including the smuggling of narcotics, possessing firearms and indulging in violence. Three separate cases were registered against they accused at Nathana police station.


Cop stabbed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
Intervention by two constables in the settlement of a dispute between a rickshaw-puller and his passenger, led to the stabbing of a constable by the passenger.

Constable Kulwant Singh has been admitted to the Civil Hospital and the accused has been arrested.

According to information, Sachin, a resident of the Gawalmandi area, refused to give the fare to the rickshaw-puller.

Kulwant Singh along with Head Constable Harbans Singh intervened in the matter. When they asked him to give the money, he stabbed Kulwant Singh.

A case has been registered under Section 307, IPC.


Spurious soft drink units raided, three booked
Tribune News Service

Malout, August 19
Markets of towns and villages in the region have been flooded with spurious soft drinks for the past many years though the authorities have been raiding the premises where these are being manufactured.

A team of the district health authorities and the police raided seven soft drink factories today. No soft drinks were found in four factories while spurious soft drinks were being filled in the bottles of branded soft drinks in the other three factories.

A case was registered against Aman, Vijay Kumar and Suresh Kumar. It could not be confirmed whether anybody had been arrested.


3 killed as bus hits motor cycle
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
Three persons were killed when a private bus hit the motor cycle they were riding near Lahiri village, 40 km from here, this morning.

The persons, identified as constable Surjeet Singh, his father Gurdev Singh and Bhola Singh, were going towards the police station at Jaurkian village when a speeding private bus hit the motor cycle as the driver had lost control.

The driver of the bus fled from the scene. A case had been registered.


Minor raped by RPF jawan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
A minor girl was allegedly raped by a jawan of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) at Bhucho Mandi railway station late last night.

Police sources said the girl was sleeping on the platform along with other members of her family when the accused took her away and raped her. She reported the matter to her kin and the matter was reported to police chowki, at Bhucho Mandi.


4 more held in assault case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 19
Four more persons were arrested today in connection with the assault on the Congress Councillor, Mr Sanjiv Bugga, here on August 12. The SP, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, said the arrested here Mr Kavit Ahuja alias Tinu, Rahul Singh alias Sherry, Jaswinder Singh alias Saba and Rajiv Chahal alias Raju. Earlier, two persons, Mr Sunny Walia and Mr Bunty Walia, had been arrested.

The four had named Ginny as their accomplice, who would be arrested soon, the SP said. Mr Bugga had given names of 13 assailants, including his political adversaries. He is in a Ludhiana hospital with multiple injuries.


3 held for theft, fraudulent sale of vehicles
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
Acting on a tip-off, the police has arrested three persons for stealing and selling vehicles after making fake registration papers. Two revolvers, one pistol and 10 rounds have been seized from the possession of the accused.

Those arrested are Rakesh Kumar of Batala and local residents Sonu Kumar and Francis. The police has also recovered 40 fake stamps, nine registration papers and two blank registration papers.


Casino raided
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 19
The police raided the casino on Sahitya Sadar Road here today. Fifteen children in the age group of 10 to 17 years were caught red-handed, but later released after a warning.

The police seized casino machines and brass coins used for gambling. Two persons, Mahender Bhati of Bikaner and Ramesh Kumar of Sangria, were booked.


Body of African national found
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
The body of an African national was found in the fields of Dhodiwind village near Atari village about 25 km from here yesterday. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 201 (for disposing of the body) of the IPC at Gharinda police station on a statement of Gurdhir Singh, a resident of Dhodiwind village.


Chemist shop sealed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 19
The campaign against the illegal sale of drugs got further boost today when the district drug inspector during inspection of Jagdamba Medical Hall at Chuni Khurd village in the district found 10 types of prohibited drugs being sold by the chemist. The shop has been sealed.

In a press note issued here, the drug inspector said neither the owner of the medical hall produced form No.16 nor the sale-purchase record. He said there was no qualified pharmacist on the shop. He said this was in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.


Protest march by students
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
Hundreds of students of the local Government Rajindra College, ITI, Regional Centre, Government Poly- technic College and other educational institutions today took out a protest march here against the “anti-student” policies of the Punjab Government.

In a press note issued today, Manpreet Singh, leader of the Punjab Student Union (Randhawa group), said the students were agitating against the privatisation of educational institutions and commercialisation of education by the government.

He said in a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Anurag Aggarwal it had been stated that the state government had decided to hand over about 94 ITIs and 18 polytechnic colleges to private hands. A huge hike had been effected in tuition fee of technical colleges, thereby depriving students from getting admissions in the courses of their choice.

He said though the government had announced the withdrawal of the hike in tuition fee of various courses in general colleges, it had not issued a notification in this regard. The government had also withdrawn the facility of concessional travel fare to the students.

Later, the students held a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner.


Region’s first private law college
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 19
Lovely Institute of Law, region’s first private law college, was formally opened here today.

According to Mr Ashok Mittal, director of the institute, it is affiliated with Guru Nanak Dev University with an intake of 80 students each for LLB five-year integrated course after class XII and LLB three-year degree course after graduation.

The last date for submitting forms for entrance exams to the conducted by Punjabi University would be August 25, Mr Mittal said. He said this was the first private law college in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and even Delhi.

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