Saturday, September 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM dares Badal to bring no-trust motion
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 5
In a dramatic turn of events in the state politics, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today challenged the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to bring a no-confidence motion against his government and face the consequences on the floor of the House.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was here to attend Raja Day function at second battalion of Sikh Regiment, said the SAD (Badal) was free to bring a no-confidence motion against his government during the forthcoming Assembly session. “The Akali Dal has no work other than to criticise the functioning of my government even as it had failed miserably to do anything worthwhile for the people of the state during its regime. We are ready to face the motion with full might, in case the Opposition shows the courage to bring one, he said, adding that his government would complete its full term and there was no threat to it.

Commenting upon the recent reports that some Akali MLAs might join the Congress, the Chief Minister said though several Akali MLAs were in constant touch with the Congress, but he was not interested in engineering defections in the Opposition ranks. “I would like to make it clear that if Mr Badal makes any attempt to lure even two Congress MLAs, I have the capacity to bring 10 Akali MLAs into the Congress fold.”

Regarding the prospects of the Congress in the coming general election, Capt Amarinder Singh said they would win all the 13 parliamentary seats in the state with huge margins as Badal and company had already been exposed before the people of the state for their “corrupt” practices during their five years of rule.

Terming the BJP-led Central Government as anti-Punjab, he alleged that repeated discrimination meted out to Punjab was evident from the fact that though the Central Government had sanctioned a grant of Rs 80 crore to Haryana towards a special sugarcane package, a loan of Rs 30 crore only was sanctioned for the private sugarcane mills of Punjab, which was highly deplorable.

He went a step further by accusing the NDA government of using public money to lure UP farmers by sanctioning a whopping sum of Rs 480 crore to the sugarcane growers in the wake of the coming Lok Sabha elections while Punjab was being meted out a step-motherly treatment in every aspect.

“You can just imagine the gravity of the situation that I had to appeal to the President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to intervene into the matter during his recent visit to Ludhiana. I am sure that Dr Kalam will surely take up the issues facing the Punjab farmers with the Prime Minister,” he said.

While declaring that the row between the students and the Punjabi University authorities was over, he said the state government had decided to sanction Rs 1.25 crore to the university to compensate its loss against rollback in fee hike.


3 die as house collapses after catching fire
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
Three persons of a family, including a five-year-old girl, died when a two storied house located at a congested street in the Katra Baggian area inside the walled city collapsed after a fire broke out in the mid-night. The deceased have been identified as Brij Mohan, alias Babbi (40), his wife, Kiran Bala (35), and their daughter, Nancy. However, Sheela Devi (70), mother of Brij Mohan, was rescued by the fire fighters and neighbours.

However, the relatives of Brij Mohan and neighbours alleged that Kiran Bala and her daughter could have been saved, had any doctor been on emergency duty at the Jallianwala Bagh Civil Hospital in the midnight. They alleged that no doctor was available when they brought the injured to the hospital. Residents claimed that the two died due to the suffocation.

When contacted the Senior Medical Officer, Dr Jagjit Kaur, said a two-member committee comprising Dr Ashwani Sodhi and Dr Jaswinder Kaur has been formed which would submit its report within a week.

According to senior officials of the fire brigade they received an information at 3.55 am and rushed to the place. He said six fire tenders of the department and one of the seva samiti were pressed into service.

The fire reportedly started from a lamp kept at a place of worship in the house. A small cylinder also exploded and the fire engulfed the house made largely of the wood.


Foreign builders descend on Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today signed a MoU with a Malaysian firm, IJM, for development of an integrated township in sectors 88 and 89 of Mohali, taking advantage of the Centre’s policy soliciting entry of foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 100 per cent in such ventures.

That Punjab can emerge as a destination for real estate development dawned only when a state delegation received an overwhelming response from builders and infrastructure companies during a visit to Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai from July 19 to 30.

PUDA Chief Administrator Suresh Kumar, who formed part of the delegation, told TNS today that five sites were marketed for FDI in the presentations made abroad. Each one gave a thumb-nail sketch of the site, including details of the development concept, theme and preliminary financial indicators, including internal rate of return (IRR).

The following are the brief profiles of the five chosen sites in Mohali, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar that were marketed abroad and involve an estimated investment of 53.30 million American dollars:

MOHALI: Area to be developed is 500 acres in sectors 88,89 in six-and-a-half years for apartments, villas, town houses besides developing residential and commercial plots; and providing the usual socio-economic amenities, involving up-front equity of US $ 17.70 million with IRR of 34.65 per cent. This town logged over 40 per cent urban decadal growth (1991-2001). Its population exceeds 1.2 million. It has an annual demand for about 10,000 dwelling units.

PATIALA: PUDA is for developing an “affordable” urban estate spread over 175 acres in six years, involving an investment of US $ 7.20 million with an IRR of 20.50 per cent. The project is part of a 300-acre development project that would include non-polluting high-end industry. The emphasis is on built-up houses and developed plots. The city recorded 38 per cent urban decadal growth from 1991 to 2001. It has been identified as “counter magnet” to the National Capital Region of Delhi.

LUDHIANA: Given the existing chaotic situation, the idea is to provide planned development for orderly living and good environment over an area of 300 acres in six years. Investment bench-mark estimate is US $ 13.70 million and IRR 23.84 per cent. The present population of Ludhiana is 1.4 million. It recorded an urban decadal growth of 34 per cent (1991 and 2001). It is not just the most urbanised district but boasts of India’s largest concentration of high net-worth individuals and immense market potential.

JALANDHAR: In this city, area to be developed is 200 acres in five years at an estimated cost of US $ 7.20 million and IRR of 26.66 per cent. The place is known for its health, fitness and well-being besides having preference for top-quality healthy living. The project is primarily for development of an urban residential-cum-commercial enclave. The city is home to the largest concentration of Non-Resident Indians and is nursery of sports goods industry. It recorded an urban decadal growth of 38 per cent between 1991 and 2001. People here are in high income bracket.

AMRITSAR: This holy city is also known for its chaotic and disorderly living, particularly the ‘walled city’. Since clean environment is its crying need, the project is to develop 150 acres in five-and-a-half years at a cost of US $ 7.50 million with an IRR of 26.66 per cent. Pre-built housing and developed plots is priority.

As a traditional centre of trade, commerce and industry, Amritsar has a million-plus population. The city recorded 44 per cent urban growth from 1991 to 2001.

PUDA and the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board are jointly pursuing promotion of real estate, as a new economic activity in Punjab, which has, so far, been shy of projecting and marketing itself abroad. Attracting FDI, as an alternative to cover up its own financial constraints, is one of the themes of this venture.

The real focus is to attract “quality, investments and technology” with PUDA acting as “one stop agency” to “facilitate” the execution of projects by the companies as well as giving an impetus to the local colonisers and developers, says Mr Suresh Kumar.

PUDA’s presentation gives an in-depth analysis of the market-driven requirements to motivate the foreign companies to invest in Punjab. A presentation to a consortium of 50 builders from Singapore is scheduled in New Delhi on September 8.

PUDA has also brought out an eight-page “Urban vision Punjab-2021” paper, profiling the present Punjab, its future needs and how the state can be made more livable.


PUDA signs MoU with Malaysian Co
Our Correspondent

Foreign guests and others faced harassment and PUDA some embarrassment as the MoU, which was to be signed at 2 pm at Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s residence in Chandigarh, was inked ultimately at the PCA stadium in SAS Nagar late in the evening. There was confusion throughout the day. Even the advertisement given in papers by PUDA did not mention the venue and the time of the function. The press note on the MoU was released in the afternoon.

SAS Nagar, September 5
An MoU was signed between the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) and the IJM, Malaysia, for the country’s largest foreign direct investment (FDI)-led integrated township development project.

According to a press note released here today by PUDA the MoU was signed in the presence of Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Punjab, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, and Mr Goh Chye Koon, Deputy Group Managing Director, IJM Corporation, Malaysia.

Mr Suresh Kumar, Chief Administrator, PUDA, signed the MoU on behalf of PUDA while Mr Ng Chin Meng, Executive Director (IJM), signed it on behalf of the IJM (India) Infrastructure Ltd.

The housing minister said that the state government was keenly looking forward to operationalise these projects which would open up an era of cooperation between Malaysia and Punjab in infrastructure projects.

Mr Puri said that we had received extremely positive reactions to the projects from these countries and the visit from the IJM Corporation, Malaysia, and CESMA International, Singapore, within a fortnight of our marketing campaign in these countries underscored the level of interest that had been generated in the projects. The signing of MoU with the IJM was just the beginning of a new era and PUDA expected several other developers to visit Chandigarh for discussions during the coming months.

He said these projects did not envisage any form of subsidisation, concessions whether regulatory or financial, guarantees, etc either from PUDA or from the Government of Punjab.

All transactions would be based upon well-defined and transparent commercial considerations and the projects would be required to adhere to all development regulations of the state government. The projects, apart from bringing in the latest design, construction and management practices in tune with the global trends, would provide a benchmark for quality township development in the state.

Mr G.S. Sandhu, Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, who led the team to Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai last month to market these projects to the prospective international investors and developers of repute, said PUDA’s objective from this initiative was not so much to attract foreign investment per se, but rather to secure the development of high quality urban infrastructure.

In the process we also saw a role transformation for PUDA — from a developer to primarily a regulator and facilitator of quality urban infrastructure and housing. As part of this role transformation PUDA would perform activities such as establishment of development standards and their enforcement, land acquisition and provision of critical external infrastructure linkages.

PUDA jointly with the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) conceptualised and designed the projects to solicit the FDI to provide significant boost to the real estate sector in Punjab. The task of project development was assigned to Delhi-based consultants for structuring projects across major cities in Punjab, including SAS Nagar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala. Each of the projects had been structured on a different theme and vision keeping in view the local market and comprised core real estate products like pre-built villas, town houses, spacious apartments, residential plots, commercial space and retail use.

Among those present on the occasion were Mr J.S. Gill, Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Finance, Ms Vini Mahajan, MD, PIDB, and Mr S.K. Mahindru, Chief Town Planner, Punjab.


PUDA dithers over uprooting dried-up trees
Kulwinder Sangha

SAS Nagar, September 5
Dried up trees are posing a threat to life and property here with the Department of Forests failing to assess their cost to enable PUDA to put them to auction. A three-member committee comprising an executive engineer and two subdivisional engineers set up by PUDA had recommended in January that the dried up trees should be uprooted and new plantation done in their place as these trees not only posed a threat to life and property but also adversely affected the beauty of the town.

There are about 125 dried up trees in different parts of the town, according to a survey conducted by the horticulture wing of PUDA. The maximum number of such trees (31) are in Sector 61, including a 30-year-old mango tree located near Amb Wala Chowk. There are 24 dried up trees in Sector 60, 18 in Sector 54, 16 in Sector 59, 12 in Sector 55, 10 in Sector 71, five in Sector 56 and three each in Sectors 53, 63 and 64.

After identifying the dried up trees in different parts of the town PUDA officials had asked forest officers to measure the girth of such trees as the cost had to be assessed on the basis of that.

According to sources the horticulture wing of PUDA had written a letter to Forest Range Officer at Kharar on July 27 requesting him to get the cost of the dried up trees assessed at the earliest. A copy of the letter was sent to the Divisional Forest Officer, Ropar, to issue the necessary directions in this regard. The letters were delivered personally by PUDA employees.

It is learnt that PUDA wanted to carry out plantation after uprooting the dried up trees during the monsoon and as such wanted an early assessment of the cost. But much to the dismay of PUDA officials they received no information from officials of the Forest Department.

Sources say that after waiting for a month PUDA officials had sent a reminder to the Forest Range Officer at Kharar in which it was stated that PUDA could not go ahead with the auction of dried up trees in the town as the cost had so far not been assessed by the officials concerned. The letter also said complaints had been received from residents of the town that dried up trees were posing a threat to the life and property of residents. Copies of the letter were sent to the Divisional Forest Officer at Ropar and the Estate Officer, PUDA.

A futile wait for response from officials of the Forest Department compelled PUDA authorities to send a second reminder on September 2 requesting the former to assess the cost of dried up trees.

Mr S.S. Bhatti, Divisional Forest Officer, Ropar, told Chandigarh Tribune on the telephone today that he would look into the matter and get the work done at the earliest.


Conference delegates return from Pak
Pawan Kumar

Wagah (Amritsar), September 5
The South Asian Labour for Peace conference which was held in Pakistan has urged the governments of both India and Pakistan to cut short their expenses on military and instead, spend on the development of the countries.

The delegation of the Indian Trade Union, which returned here today after participating in the two-day conference. A member, Mr John, said they had come up with a ‘Karachi Declaration’ in which the members from both sides unanimously asked their respective governments to cut short expenses on military and used this money for development purposes.

The Centre for Education and Communication, New Delhi, was the co-organiser of the conference along with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research.

He said the declaration resolved to constitute South Asian Labour Commission consisting of judges from the South Asian region which would observe the implementation of labour laws. It also declared to form a South Asian labour forum incorporating more trade and other unions.

The delegations comprised 17 trade unions, including the Hind Majdoor Sabha (HMS), Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS), All-India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAMU), All-India Central Counsel Trade Union (AICCTU), INTU, AITUC, CITU etc from 15 states.

Mr Surinder Mohan, in charge of the delegation, said various representatives of organisations went as part of peace-building measures between two neighbouring countries besides participating in the conference. He said the people of Pakistan wanted peace and friendship.


Farmers to hold rally on September 10
Accuse govt of going back on promises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Farmers owing allegiance to six organisations today charged the Amarinder Singh government with going back on its promises made in March and announced their decision to organise a state-level rally here on September 10. Farmers from various districts of the state will participate in this rally to protest against the policies of the Punjab Government.

Talking to mediapersons at Kisan Bhavan today, the president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta), Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, said the government had promised to give farmers of the state a bonus of Rs 30 on paddy in three instalments but it had only been released at some places and that, too, only Rs 5 or Rs 10. In most other places, it was yet to be released.

These organisations have also sought Rs 180 per quintal as bonus on paddy from the state government to compensate the farmers for the lower MSP (minimum support price) fixed by the Central Government.

Taking the plea that the Central Government had fixed the price at Rs 580 per quintal, they said with the bonus from the state government, farmers would fetch a good price of Rs 760 per quintal.

Mr Sidhupur said the farmers would protest against the withdrawal of all kinds of subsidies to the farming sector, sharp increase in the prices of agricultural inputs like seeds, fertilisers and machinery, and the failure to waive farm loans, which have brought farmers under heavy debts.

He also pointed out that if Section 67-A of the Punjab Cooperative Act has been withdrawn, then why were farmers who were loan defaulters still being arrested. This should also be done away with, he added. The pending electricity connections for installing tubewells should also be released, he said.

Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the All-India Kirti Kisan Union, said the government was charging Rs 80 per acre as “abiana” (charge on canal water for irrigation) and notices had been served on all farmers, including those who were not even using canal water for irrigation. He has sought that all these notices should be taken back and no such charges should be levied as was the case in the previous SAD-BJP regime. The loans to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore, which have been given to farmers, should also be waived to check the increasing rate of suicides in the state, he said.

The general secretary of the Punjab Kisan Sabha, Mr Bhupinder Sambhar, accused the Central Government for not affecting an increase in the MSP of paddy. He also demanded parity in the interest rate on cooperative loans and loans being offered by cooperative banks.

Later, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, sought clearance of pending dues to sugarcane growers, which were to be paid within 14 days. He said the price of sugarcane should be fixed at Rs 130 per quintal.

Taking up the case of farmers in border areas of the state, representatives of various other organisations demanded that a security cover of Rs 11,500 be paid to them as they could not grow crops, adding that their loans should also be waived.


Protests mark Teachers' Day
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, September 5
Teachers of private colleges here observed black day on the occasion of Teachers’ Day today. They wore black badges and took out a rally in front of DAV College, demanding the restoration of 95 per cent grant for private colleges and the implementation of pension and gratuity schemes.

Meanwhile, at a state-level function to mark the occasion, Mr Khushal Behl, Minister for Higher Education, awarded 14 teachers. The Principal Secretary, Education, Ms Tajinder Kaur, said 700 Principals would be appointed to fill vacancies. Guru Nanak Dev University also celebrated the occasion.

The teachers honoured by the Punjab Government are Mr Roop Lal, Principal, Government Secondary School, Pandori Nijran (Jalandhar); Ms Kusum Lata, science mistress, Government Secondary School, PAU, Ludhiana, Ms Varsha Shukla, Principal, Government Secondary School (Girls), Khanna, Dr Ashok Choudhri, Principal, MDSD Secondary School, the Mall, Kapurthala; Mr Sukhdev Singh Kahlon, Principal, Government Secondary School (Girls), Fatehgarh Churian (Gurdaspur); Mr Raghubir Chand Sharma, lecturer, Government Senior Secondary School, Maltania (Bathinda); Ms Naresh Kumari, Headmistress, Government Senior Secondary School, Palla Megha (Ferozepore); Mr Tarlochan Singh Dogra, lecturer, Government Senior Secondary School, Khamano (Fatehgarh Sahib); Mr Gulwinder Singh, mathematics master, Government Elementary School, Rasulpur (Tarn Taran); Mr Sukhdev Kumar, centre head teacher, Government Elementary School, Paddi Khalsa, Goraya (Jalandhar), Ms Rani Devi, head teacher, Government Elementary School, Khojepur (Gurdaspur); Mr Avtar Singh, JBT, Government Elementary School Chandeli, Block Mahilpur-1 (Hoshiarpur); Mr Sham Lal Sharma, head teacher, Government Elementary School, Doda Wali (Muktsar); and Mr Amrik Singh Bath, JBT, Government Elementary School, Amrala, Khamano block (Fatehgarh Sahib).

ABOHAR: A function to mark Teachers’ Day was held at Government Senior Secondary Model School here on Friday. The need to strengthen Indian culture and heritage and to develop civic sense among the youth were emphasised.

BARNALA: Private college teachers in Sangrur district observed Teachers' Day as black day on Friday. They gathered at the courts complex here, wearing black badges.

BATALA: The Retired Government Masters Union celebrated Teachers' Day on Friday. It passed a resolution and urged the Punjab Government to immediately accept the demands of unemployed teachers.

BATHINDA: Lecturers working in private aided and unaided colleges of Bathinda district, who are members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), observed Teachers’ Day as black day, here on Friday.

FARIDKOT: A Teachers Day function was held at the local St Mary Convent School on Friday. Students of the institution also presented a cultural programme.

JALANDHAR: Punjab local Bodies Minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh formally opened St Soldier College of Education at Bidhipur village, near here, on Friday. A function to mark Teachers Day was later organised.

NAWANSHAHR: Students of Government Senior Secondary School, WL Arya Girls Senior Secondary School and Shivalik Public School organised functions to mark Teachers Day on Friday. Lectures were organised on the occasion.

PHAGWARA: Members of the All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) observed Teachers’ Day as black day here on Friday, wearing black badges.


Jobless teachers beg for alms in protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
Making a departure from the traditional modes of expressing resentment, hundreds of members of the B.Ed Unemployed Teachers Front (Punjab) today begged alms from beggars, rickshaw-pullers, labourers, sweepers and shopkeepers to lodge their protest against the policies of the Punjab government.

The members roamed from one bazar to another and begged alms from the people to invite their attention towards their problem. The members also took out a protest march and later staged a dharna in front of the office of District Education Officer (DEO).

In a press note issued here today, Mr Yadwinder Singh, member of the state committee of the front, alleged that though a number of government-run schools had been closing down in Punjab, the government had not been making any efforts to fill 60,000 posts which were lying vacant.

He added that while the state Education Minister and Chief Minister had been making statements for improving the quality of education, but had not been taking any concrete action in that connection.

He said the front would intensify its agitation if the government did not change its attitude.


Award for Wadali brothers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
In keeping with its tradition of honouring talent in the various areas of performing art and theatre, the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi has announced its annual Akademi awards.

Joining the coveted league of performers of the order of Raj Babbar, Hans Raj Hans, Gurdas Mann and Manohar Deepak will be three more figures from the land of Punjab.

This year’s award in the category of music has been conferred upon the outstanding Wadali brothers, who have placed Punjab on the music map of the world by virtually reviving the Sufi musical traditions of the region.

In the category of theatre, the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi award has been given to renowned writer Dr Ajmer Singh Aulakh. In dance, the third category of awards, this year’s honour will go to Balbir Singh Sekhon whose contribution to the folk dances of Punjab is matchless.

The awardees have been selected after screening over 100 nominations invited from the Vice-Chancellors of three Universities of Punjab, including Punjabi University, Patiala, GND Varsity, Amritsar and Panjab University, Chandigarh. Nominations are also sought from senior journalists and editors.

Significantly this year’s award ceremony, scheduled for September 10, is much behind schedule. Normally the time of presentation of awards is March or April. The award carries Rs 31,000, a citation and a shawl.

Sources further informed that the Punjab Government had recently approved a grant of Rs 12 lakh for the Punjab Arts Council.


Harried villagers block Ambuja, ACC trucks
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 5
Villagers of areas surrounding Ambuja and ACC cement plants, near here, today blocked traffic on the Malikpur-Doburji link road for over seven hours. They sat in a dharna near the Chandpur Dakala crossing and prevented trucks of the two companies from moving on the road from 10 am to 5 pm.

The blockade also affected traffic on the national highway, as the stranded trucks formed long queues on the road. The traffic on the national highway was normalised after the intervention of the police.

Villagers hailing from Lodhi Majra, Malikpur, Chandpur, Dhakala, Nuhuan, Lohgarh, Doburji and Rial Majra villages were protesting against the poor condition of the 5-km Malikpur-Doburji link road connecting various villages of the area with the national highway.

They alleged that the link road was in poor state due to the passing of overloaded trucks of the two companies. The trucks of the cement companies transport around 25 tonnes of material daily, due to which the condition of the road has deteriorated.

The villagers face extreme hardship commuting on it especially during monsoon. Huge potholes on the road filled with water have led to accidents in the past. Besides, the trucks have become a constant source of pollution. These trucks carry fly ash from the factories to Himachal Pradesh.

The fly ash gets suspended in the air and deposits on the houses, villagers allege.

The traffic on the road was restored only after the intervention of the district administration. A delegation of village panchayats met the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, who assured the villagers of taking up the issue of repair of the disputed road with the government soon. Besides, the cement companies would not be allowed to ply trucks carrying material weighing more than 9 tonnes.

Mr Sunil Duggal, general manager of Ambuja cement, when contacted said the company had deposited Rs 28 lakh with the PWD for the construction of the road. Now it was for the department to construct the road, he added.


Rail traffic resumes on Sirhind-Una section
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The rail traffic on the Sirhind-Una section which was disrupted yesterday when 17 wagons of a goods train derailed near Mianpur (Ropar) today resumed after 36 hours. The damaged rail section was opened to traffic after carrying out the safety drills, said a senior officer of Northern Railway.

According to the information, the drivers of the trains passing over the repaired rail section have been asked to restrict the speed of the hauling locomotives. A senior officer said a train had to negotiate a curve at the particular point where the derailment took place yesterday.

To probe the matter thoroughly, the Divisional Railways Manager (DRM), Ambala Division, Mr Keshav Chander, today constituted a three-member inquiry committee headed by a Junior Administrative Officer. The committee has been asked to submit its report with the next 10 days.

Initially, railway officers had suggested that the driver of the goods train which was being hauled by a Swiss-made electric locomotive had exceeded the speed limit of 65 kmph, prescribed on the rail section. Sources in the Ambala Division of the Northern Railway, revealed that officers of the Mechanical Division from the Gumo Shed (Gaziabad) — to which the locomotive belongs — had reached the spot to analyse whether the cause of derailment lay in the hauling locomotive. They said the concrete sleepers on the rail section between Sirhind and Una had been replaced a few months ago as the engineers were testing a new system to guide the rail traffic.


Abandoned baby girl gets parents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
It was a happy day for a issueless couple of this city. An abandoned baby girl, who was found in Gurdwara Qila Mubarak about six days ago by a devotee, adopted her today.

The couple said they have been blessed with a daughter by “Waheguru” even as the abandoned girl has got a name and parents.

Dr Mohinder Singh, who adopted the girl after completing the legal formalities, and his wife Kiran went to the houses of their relatives and friends to distribute sweets to celebrate the occasion. The couple first went to the gurdwara from where the girl was found before making rounds of various offices to complete the formalities to adopt her.

“I feel that I have been blessed with a daughter, as if my wife has give birth to her. My desire to get an issue has been fulfilled today after about 12 years of marriage. Now my family is complete”, exclaimed Dr Mohinder Singh with moist eyes.

“I have been praying to Waheguru for a child. I even went to a number of saints for their blessings. Today Waheguru has blessed me with a daughter”, said the mother. She added that she had named the daughter as Sakhshi as she considered the girl as a witness of the blessings of Waheguru to her.

The baby girl, about one-day old, was found in the gurdwara of Qila Mubarak about six days ago by a devotee. When the police authorities came to know, they started legal proceedings in this connection and handed over the girl to Sahara Jan Seva, a social organisation, for her care. A number of families approached the organisation and the district administration for adopting the child when they came to know about the incident.

Mrs Jaswinder Kaur, sister of Dr Mohinder Singh, said, “My brother and bhabhi (sister-in-law) are lucky to have got the abandoned girl as there were a number of couples interested in adopting her. God has answered our prayers”.

Dr Mohinder Singh said that he would celebrate the “birth” of Sakhshi in a big way.


Ghaggar in spate at Khanauri
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
Water in the Ghaggar river has crossed the danger mark at Khanauri and has threatened to spill over at Chicherwal and Rasauli villages where sandbags were placed today.

Drainage Department Executive Engineer Amarjit Singh Dullat disclosed that the Ghaggar, which was flowing at 749 feet yesterday, was today flowing at 751.9 feet. He said the danger mark of the river was 750 feet. Officers had been directed to keep night vigil along the banks sandbags placed on the river bundh near Chicherwal and Rasuali villages where the water threatened to create a breach.

He said a breach occurred slightly ahead near Hamirgarh on the other side of the river in Sangrur district due to which water had entered Mandvi village.

He said the water level might recede as there were no reports of rain in its catchment area.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said the villages adjoining Khanauro had been alerted last evening and villagers were maintaining a round- the-clock vigil. He said the position in both the Tangri and Markanda rivers was also stabilising.

Meanwhile, the district administration has rushed sandbags to sensitive spots to deal with any eventuality. It is also coordinating with the authorities in Haryana with regard to discharges from the Bibipur lake. The Kaithal drain and Patiala Nadi, whose water also goes into the Ghaggar near Khanauri were not in spate and the situation was in control.


Report on Lalaji’s memorial sought
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 5
Mr A.K. Dubey Principal Secretary Local Government Punjab has sought a report from officials here regarding neglect shown to the memorial of Lala Lajpatrai. The action follows within three days of a complaint to Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill by the Democratic Citizens Forum.

The Forum had said that the Municipal Council during Emergency had abandoned Lala Lajpatrai Park here and statue of the martyr was shifted to a small piece of land near the Ladies Club. The Club had been allotted land for a song by the council. The place where Lalaji’s statue was reinstalled was marked as Children Park. The Club later diverted disposal of sullage by constructing a manhole inside the small park.

For months the statue remained surrounded by sewage. The residence of the Executive Officer of the council is located near the boundary wall of the park.

Mr Subhash Kanwer Bedi president of the Forum said that sewage around the statue was a matter of national shame. Lalaji had been visiting Abohar on way to Karachi and Delhi before the creation of Pakistan and had addressed gathering near the Imperial Bank complex also. The Council failed to develop the park for children in memory of Lala Lajpatrai. The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board was also guilty of poor sewerage.


Child’s body exhumed for DNA testing
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
A police team headed by Mr Dharam Singh, SP (Headquarters), Majitha, Dr Kanwaljit Singh, Civil Surgeon, Amritsar, today took a sample of bone of the body of a child whose mother was allegedly raped for months by a constable and later booked for concealing the body, after exhuming the body for DNA testing.

The sample will be sent to genetic laboratory, Hyderabad for DNA testing, a senior official said.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission had directed the Director, Health Services, Punjab, to get the body of the child exhumed for DNA testing.

The complaint was filed by Veena Sharma, co-ordinator, Human Rights Legal Network and Member, Punjab Human Rights Organisation. The report of the examination would come within 21 days.

The commission had also directed the SSP, Majitha, to investigate the matter and book the faltering police personnel, if found guilty.


Police denies opening fire at Khanna's rally
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 5
The Gurdaspur police today described the allegations of opening fire at the BJP rally organised by Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, at Naushehra Pattan on August 20 as baseless and misleading.

To substantiate the version, the police produced Mr Gurdev Singh, who was reportedly injured with a bullet at the time of the rally. Mr Gurdev Singh turned hostile and claimed that he was injured with a stone pelted by the mob when he was on way to his village. He said he was shocked to learn that the BJP had misrepresented the facts before the media.


Rainwater harvesting stressed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The three-day training programme on rainwater harvesting, organised by the Central Ground Water Board, North-Western Region, Chandigarh, concluded yesterday.

The programme was attended by 30 officials of the Railways, the CPWD, the Public Health Department of Punjab and Chandigarh and the MES.

The training included lectures on need for rainwater harvesting, various artificial recharge structures feasible, project formulation, estimation and field visit to artificial recharge structures in Chandigarh.

Dr M.D. Nautiyal, Regional Director of the board, emphasised the need of rainwater harvesting in Punjab and Chandigarh and discussed the scenario of groundwater declining trends.

More such training programmes would be organised in the future.


Drive to spread Sikhism
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 5
The Dharam Prachar Committee (DPC) of the Akali Dal recently formed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, will launch a special drive to spread Sikh culture and tradition and the philosophy of the Sikh gurus from Bholath village from September 6.

Special educational and training camps would be organised in both rural and urban areas in this connection, said Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, head of the DPC and former Jathedar of Akal Takht while talking to mediapersons at Hariewala village, near here. He said libraries with books on Sikhism would be set up in each village to involve people and make the programme a success.


Truck carrying acid overturns
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
A truck carrying plastic and glass containers filled with hydrochloric acid overturned near the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) on the Bathinda- Malout national highway here this evening, resulting in injuries to one of its occupants.

Timely action by the fire staff of the GNDTP saved the situation. Some containers caught fire after falling on the ground and the fire-fighting personnel controlled the flames immediately.

The truck was proceeding towards Malout after loading from a local acid factory. Mr Raj Kumar, who suffered minor injuries, and two others were travelling in the truck. It overturned when its driver lost control while avoiding a speeding truck.


Lok Darbar on September 8
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 5
A Lok Darbar will be held on September 8 in Akalia village of the district where the Deputy Commissioner and other officials will redress the grievances of the public.


Punjab MLA granted bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Granting bail to Punjab MLA Sohan Singh Thandal in a corruption case, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed him against giving comments or opinion on the merits of the case for publicity.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Gupta also directed him to desist from euphoric demonstrations after being bailed out in the case. In his detailed order, Mr Justice Gupta further directed him against directly or indirectly threatening the witnesses and to submit two sureties of Rs 3 lakh each, along with personal bonds of equal amounts.

The Judge added: “Keeping in view the fact that the petitioner has been in jail for the past seven months and the trial will take sufficiently long time, I think that his further detention is not necessary.... He should be admitted to bail to the satisfaction of Ropar’s Chief Judicial Magistrate.”

The MLA was booked under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides under Sections 420, 467 and 471 of Indian Penal Code. According to the prosecution, he had amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Security cover

Taking up a case seeking security cover filed by Gurvinder Singh Samra — complainant in a bribery case registered against two judicial officers, the High Court today directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to get assessed the threat perception to his life from a competent authority.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice Virender Singh added that after doing the same, the CBI should move the Union Ministry of Home Affairs or Punjab’s Department of Home Affairs for providing security as per the assessment.


Sidhu discharged in excise case
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, September 5
In a major setback to the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, the former Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman, Ravi Sidhu, was today discharged by a local court in a case registered against him under the Excise Act. Sidhu was booked after recovery of foreign liquor bottles from his residence in Sector 39.

The court of UT Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Mr Sanjay Sandhir, discharged Sidhu after the Chandigarh Excise Department gave clean chit to him stating that Sidhu had been issued a life-time licence for possessing Indian-made foreign liquor, beer and wine by it in 1998.

Earlier Sidhu had moved an appeal in the court pleading that he had been falsely implicated in the case and the vigilance department officials had illegally taken away documents, including a valid permit to kept the liquor, from his residence after the raid.


Quota on in PCS exam, says HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today clarified that the policy of reservation is applicable to the Punjab Civil Service (Judicial Branch) examination to be conducted by the High Court from tomorrow.

Describing a news-item captioned “HC deprives SC candidates of statutory benefit”, published in these columns on September 5, as “misleading”, the Registrar-General of the High Court, Mr Pritam Pal, said here today that the examination was only for those candidates who had appeared in such examinations held by the Punjab Public Service Commission in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, the results of which were nullified by the High Court.

He said the policy of reservation was clear and was applicable to the aforementioned examinations and obviously to the ensuing examination also. He said nowhere the advertisement, which was published in The Tribune, mentioned that the policy of reservation had been altered by the High Court, either judicially or administratively, and that it would not be adhered to.


Defaulter, kin fire into air
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
In a significant development which could have a far-reaching effect on the recovery of loans from defaulters, three farmers, a man and his two sons, today fired four shots in the air when officials of the local district cooperative society went to their home for recovering the payment of a loan advanced to them by the Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB).

While Bhagwan Singh and his son, Sukhminder Singh, a factory owner of Talwandi Sabo town, 30 km from here, were arrested today after they fired shots in the air to frighten the members of the recovery team of the district cooperative society, the main accused, Jagsir Singh, second son of Bhagwan Singh, is missing.

Police sources said a team of officials of the district cooperative society, including Mr Balbir Singh, inspector, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Senior Manager, Mr Gurjeet Singh, Branch Manager, and three others, went to the house of Jagsir Singh for recovering an instalment of loan advanced to him. The team was also carrying an arrest warrant of Jagsir Singh, which was to be executed as he had been regularly defaulting on the payment of the instalments of loan.

When the members of the recovery team asked Jagsir Singh to pay the instalments of the loan advanced to him, he along with his brother Sukhminder Singh fired shots from a double-barrel gun and a revolver to frighten them. Their father, Bhagwan Singh, also joined them. They threatened the team of dire consequences if it did not return.

On finding the circumstances against them, the team members returned from Jagsir Singh’s house without executing the arrest warrant. The matter was then reported to the police.

Mr Ashutosh, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, said a case had been registered against Jagsir Singh, Sukhminder Singh and Bhagwan Singh under Sections 336, 353, 186, 506 and 34 of IPC and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act. He added that police parties had been sent to arrest the main accused, Jagsir Singh.


Teacher commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
Kasturan, a young teacher of Guru Ki Nagri, today allegedly committed suicide after consuming poison while another youth, identified as Kanhiya Lal, a resident of Police Colony, is battling for life in the Civil Hospital after consuming poison.

Police sources said Kasturan was brought to the local Civil Hospital in a critical condition this afternoon. She expired 25 minutes later.

The police is investigating the cases.


Four new vocational courses likely in Punjab schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab Government is likely to introduce four more vocational courses in schools from the next academic session.

Sources in the Education Department said the courses which stood approved in principle included bakery and confectionery, beauty culture and healthcare, general insurance, marketing and salesmanship.

The proposal has been sent to the Finance Department for concurrence.

Besides these, three other courses — x-ray technicians, stenography (English) and plumbing and pump operators — were being considered.

The department also proposes to phase out certain courses like agri-business, commercial art and textile designing, which do not promise many jobs.


Early sale of milk powder costs Milkfed dear
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
While the Union Government will import skimmed milk powder from the international market at a price varying from Rs 76 to Rs 85 per kg, Milkfed sold milk powder to private parties at a cheaper rate a few months ago, suffering a loss of about Rs 15 crore.

With a view to meeting milk scarcity in the national Capital and certain states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, the National Dairy Development Board has placed an order for importing 6,000 tonnes of milk power from the international market. The prevailing rate of milk power in the international market varies from $ 1700 to $ 1900 per tonne. The retail price of milk powder in the Indian market is around Rs 100-110 per kg.

However, Milkfed sold about 4000 tonnes of milk powder at Rs 57 per kg in January-February official sources said it was scandalous to sell milk powder in January-February, when milk products are stocked. These are then sold in June, a lean period, when milk products fetch high prices.

The sources said it was almost clear in January that there would be a shortage of dry milk powder in the country. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) at that time had been asked by certain states to import milk powder. Punjab should not have sold milk powder at that time in any case, say those engaged in milk products business.

A senior officer posted in the marketing division of Milkfed has already been placed under suspension and charge-sheeted for the sale of milk powder in the beginning of the year.

The state government charge-sheeted Milkfed’s Managing Director on May 31, which was his day of service. But the charges levelled against him pertained to his assets and allotment of certain milk-distributing agencies.

When asked to comment on the sale of milk powder, Mrs Raji P. Shrivastava, who recently took over as the Managing Director of Milkfed, said “It is not proper to comment on a decision taken before I joined Milkfed.”

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