Monday, September 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal responsible for ills of Punjabi varsity, says VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 14
Punjabi University Vice- Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai today claimed that former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was responsible for the current position on the campus adding the Akali- BJP government had reduced government grant to the varsity and had also poorly chosen the top management of the varsity.

Reacting to a statement made by the former Chief Minister in this regard, the Vice-Chancellor said the “policy of loot” of the Akali-BJP government was responsible for impoverishing the State and emptying the coffers of the government. He said due to this “irresponsibility and insincerity of the leaders” the common man had to pay more for his daily need and the education had also become more costly.

Mr Boparai said Mr Badal was also directly responsible for the poor financial condition of the varsity. He said earlier the government grant formed 76 per cent of the varsity budget. He said during Mr Badal’s tenure a reduction in the government grant had taken place and that the government grant came down to 42 per cent of the total budget of the varsity. He said the government might have many sources of income but the varsity could get money only from the government or from fee from students. He said due to this the University had to increase fee.

The Vice-Chancellor pointed out that deterioration had also taken place in the varsity due to Mr Badal’s “poor choice” of the top management of the University. Apparently referring to the appointment of Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia as VC by Mr Badal, he said this had resulted in turmoil and brought down the level of discipline in all areas of the varsity.

He said the present agitation was against a mere 15 per cent hike in fee. He said the government had come to the rescue of the University by promising an additional grant of Rs 1.25 crore which had brought down the fee hike to seven per cent. He said the fee had earlier been raised in March and that it had not had any effect on the enrolment of students whose strength had increased from 1900 last year to 2700 this year.

Accusing the former Chief Minister of being “an old crafty exploiter of the youth of Punjab”, the Vice- Chancellor said the University would not let him do this as long as he was at the helm in the varsity. He said the question presently was of discipline and an atmosphere in which students and varsity authorities could express themselves freely. He said against this were some student leaders who wanted to use strong arm tactics. He said those using such tactics would have to pay the price and that the varsity would not allow the interest of serious students to suffer at the hands of a few non- serious students.


Punjab seventh in urbanisation
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Punjab ranks seventh among all states in urbanisation. Of its total population of 2.42 crore, 82 lakh live in 157 urban settlements.

The average population of a town in Punjab is 52,920 at present. Urbanisation is fastest in the central zone, as compared to the northern and southern segments.

If Ludhiana is the most urbanised district, Amritsar has caught up with it. The two together were named ‘metropolitan centres’ in 2001. The country has 35 metropolitan centres. Jalandhar is now poised to get this status by 2011. Every sixth urbanite lives in Ludhiana and every ninth in Amritsar city. Together these house 28.75 per cent of the state’s urban population. At least 40.92 per cent of the state’s urban population is concentrated in Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

Though these urban centres are expected to generate employment and wealth and sustain the level of infrastructure and services, Punjab is woefully low in providing these basic amenities and facilities. This has caused chaos, congestion and scarcity of civic amenities, leading to slums.

In the state’s 27 cities and towns, each with a population of above 50,000, the slum dwellers’ population was 1,151,864 as indicated in the census-1991.

If Ludhiana is the most urbanised district it also has the distinction of housing the maximum slum population — 314,759 out of a total population of 1, 395053.

From this snapshot in the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Agency’s ‘’ Vision-2021’’, it emerges that if the present urbanisation trend continues, the state would have 23 cities by 2011. The towns headed towards ‘city-status’ are Mansa, Ferozepur, Muktsar, Kotkapura, Faridkot, Sangrur, Barnala, Rajpura and Kapurthala.

What is intriguing is that the state is unprepared for such a challenge. There is no net-working among the government departments and agencies concerned either to ensure planned development and growth of the towns and cities or to stop new slum settlements striking roots and sapping the existing urban civic amenities or to develop villages to checkmate migration. 


Talhan goes for a facelift
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Talhan (Jalandhar), September 14
Ravaged by caste divide for over six months, this village has virtually set itself on the path of development and is all set to become one of the most developed villages now, with the management committee of the Gurdwara Shahid Baba Nihal Singh going in for construction and repair of village roads and undertaking other development projects like setting up a modern health club for the benefit of the residents.

Mr Amarjit Singh, one of the two Dalit members of the committee, was, however, disturbed over little heed being paid to his suggestions during weekly committee meetings and alleged failure on the part of the committee to ensure equal development in areas inhabited by the Dalits and the Jats, respectively.

A round of the village by The Tribune team revealed that village residents were witnessing a pleasant change as two existing roads within the village, leading to Thansinghwala and Salempur, were being relaid at some places, replacing long old patches full with slush-filled pot-holes. Repair of streets leading to the gurdwara was being undertaken and a health club was coming up near the gurdwara —all at the expense of the management committee. Besides this, the construction of another new 1.5-km road linking the village with Salempur village was in the offing.

“We have already discussed the matter with the contractor and the work on the new 12-foot-wide road is likely to take off within a fortnight,” said Mr Niranjan Singh, president of the committee, adding that an amount of Rs 12 lakh was likely to be spent on the project. The committee was also planning to set up an inn for visiting devotees, he added.

A number of members of the Dalit community, particularly, women, maintained that unlike in the past they were not being prevented by the Jats from passing through their fields.

On the other hand, Mr Amarjit Singh, one of the two Dalit members who were inducted into the committee as regular members last month, said though he was attending the weekly meetings on a regular basis, he was upset over the “indifferent” attitude of the members towards suggestions put forth by him, particularly, the ones relating to development works in the Dalit-dominated areas. “For instance, I had requested them to arrange for the repair of some faulty streetlights in a Dalit area and the removal of garbage from near the village pond, but this was not done. Similarly, I had suggested that some work should be given to the young son of a Dalit, who was supplying vegetables at the gurdwara and had died recently of heart attack,” said Mr Amarjit Singh.

“Sometimes, I even feel like leaving the committee. But after consulting many I have decided to continue with the hope that things will change for better,” said Mr Amarjit Singh.

Mr Niranjan Singh, president of the committee, however, denied that the committee had adopted a discriminatory approach towards the Dalit-dominated areas. “We were not informed about the streetlight problem. Lifting of garbage will be done after the completion of the ongoing work,” he said.

Meanwhile, a number of the common residents, particularly the Jats, demanded the removal of “outsiders” from the committee as its members, as they thought that it were the “outsiders” (people who were members of the committee but not residents of the village) who were responsible for a number of a problems. “We will raise the issue during the annual elections held near Maaghi time. There should be no outsiders in the committee,” observed Mr Karam Singh, a 65-year-old farmer of the village.

Mr Sewa Singh, another farmer and resident of the village, said no one who was not a resident of the village should be allowed to be a member of the committee as it was an “internal” matter of the village.

Mr Buta Singh, a member of the committee, said the affairs of the committee should be run by members hailing from the village. “Outsiders could be inducted in the committee only in times of trouble and that too if the villagers desired,” he clarified.


Quit WTO, Centre urged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The Punjab unit of the Forum Against Imperialist Globalisation today called upon New Delhi to quit the WTO.

Several organisations endorsing the Forum stand against the WTO participated in the convention at Musaffir Bhavan, where speakers explained why the WTO regime was anti-poor and anti-developing countries. It was a ‘’tool’’ in the hands of the imperialist powers against the ‘’toiling’’ masses and not an ‘’instrument’’ of global development, equity and justice, as was being propagated.

The Forum convener, Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, said in reality the WTO was meant for ‘’re-colonisation, retardation, de-industrialisation and ruination’’. It had also triggered unemployment and job insecurities, worldwide.

The forum charged the present BJP-led NDA Government and all previous ones with betraying the people and showing weakness by not pulling out of the WTO. It also criticised the current ministerial conference in Cancun where the USA and the EU were arm-twisting the poor countries.

Among the speakers were Mr Sardara Singh Mahal, Mr Balkar Singh, Mr Balbir Singh Randhawa, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Poohla, Mr Raj Singh and Mr Avtar Singh Rasulpur.

The Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and several kisan organisations have decided to oppose the WTO agreement. The CPI will launch from tomorrow a fortnight-long mass contact campaign against the new economic policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation by the Centre and the state governments ‘’under the dictate of the WTO, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)’’.

The Punjab CPI secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, said the three major sectors of the country’s economy — agriculture, industry and trade and commerce — were being hit hard by these policies, which were leading to a significant increase in unemployment and poverty.

Dr Dayal said the mass campaign would also build a consensus against communalism, demanding immediate arrest of Dr Praveen Togadia of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), ban on the VHP and RSS and agitation against the alleged failures of the Amarinder Singh government in Punjab.


She wants to fight dark forces
16-yr-old to fulfil papa’s dreams
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
Barely 16 days after writing an emotional letter to his new-born daughter, Baldev Singh Mann, an editor of ‘Hirawal Dasta’ a mouthpiece of the naxalite movement (CP-ML), was gunned down by Khalistani militants on September 26, 1986, in his native village Channa Bagha near Pakistan border, a few kilometres from here.

Mann’s daughter, Soni, was born in Uttar Pradesh and his letter was delivered through a special messenger there.

The letter sought help from the new-born baby to accomplish the ‘unfulfilled task’ by continuing the fight against ‘dark forces’ in case he was killed. Mann’s words proved prophetic when he killed 2 weeks later.

Soni, who celebrated her 17th birthday recently, pledged to fulfil the task which had remained unaccomplished after her father’s death.

The letter reads, “My daughter, your father is waging a fight against those dark and ugly forces. Supreme sacrifice is and martyrdom is called for in this struggle. I cannot say for certain that I will survive the wrath of those dark forces; that I will be killed, that whatever may happen, my child, you will always have the pride that your father fought against the forces of death and destruction.... If I fail to win this struggle in my life time, then, my daughter, endeavour hard to join the ranks of our fighting people for truth and justice. I do not want you to be a Sikh, a Hindu or a Musalman. Try first and foremost to be an ‘insaan’. Let not these divisions divide your human qualities your human virtues”.

“My dear daughter, you are born at a time when the great land of Punjab is totally divided on communal lines. Some are being killed because they are clean shaven. Others have been burnt alive because they had long hair and beard. In the name of religion, humanity is being crushed and destroyed. In this land today blood of brothers is being spilled and communal carnage instigated even as the miscreants and satans laugh and make merry”.

Parmjit Kaur, widow of Mann, said that her daughter had decided to serve humanity in a way her father wished. She said Soni was brought up in a manner so that she should understand the problems of the suffering humanity. It was after a few days of the Operation Blue Star that Mann got married with Parmjit Kaur. Though he was killed only after two years of the marriage yet Parmjit never got remarried as she wanted to bring up Soni as per the wishes of her husband.

Soni, a student of class X in the Holy Heart Presidency School, said that her mother and principal of the school had been continuous source of inspiration for her for doing social work.


Kisan leader becomes BJP district unit chief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 14
Mr Satwant Singh Gurdaspura, president of Kisan Morcha of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was today elected president of the Sangrur district unit of the BJP at a meeting of the district BJP unit here. 

Election was held under the supervision of Mr Sukhwant Singh Dhanaula, vice-president of Punjab unit of the BJP. Mr Satwant Singh replaces Thakur Jagdish Rai.


CPI’s protest against govt policies from today
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 14
To oppose anti-people policies of the Punjab Government and to protest against new economic policies of the Central Government and communalism, the Communist Party of India (CPI) will launch mass contact programme from September 15 to October 15. This was stated by Mr Hardev Arshi, former Budhlada MLA and member of state secretariat of the CPI here today.

He said on November 27, party workers will geherao the offices of the Deputy Commissioners in the state and court arrests. He said that the new economic policies of the Central Government were monitored by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the WTO through remote control creating serious economic crises in the country. He said the industries were closing down and public sector units are being sold for a song by the government. Unemployment was on the increase and avenues for jobs have been closed, Mr Arshi added. He added that due to these policies, the agriculture sector was dying and the farmers were forced to commit suicides.

Mr Arshi said that under the patronage of “Sangh Parivar” communal forces were getting bolder and posing a threat to secular ethos of the country.

He expressed regret that Punjab Government had failed to honour its election promises. The people of the state had lost faith in its 18 months of rule, added Mr Arshi.


Jakhar to meet CM on law and order situation
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 14
Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA and whip of the Congress Legislative Party in the Assembly, will meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to apprise him about the deteriorating law and order situation in the town.

Both branches of the Bharat Vikas Parishad held a joint meeting here which was presided over by Mr Subhash Baghla, state vice-president of the parishad. Others present included chairman Parveen Chawla, state secretary Sandeep Watts and office-bearers of the co-ordination committee.

The meeting expressed concern over the increasing incidents of chain-snatching, thefts and burglaries. The members feared that the residents were loosing faith in the police. If the situation was allowed to prevail, women and girl students would have to confine themselves to their homes. The parishad urged the local MLA, Mr Sunil Jakhar, to get accountability of police officers fixed .


Sikh Students Federation factions to work for unity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
On the 59th anniversary of the AISSF its splinter groups yesterday wanted to forge an unity for the sake of ‘panth’.

While the AISSF (Bhoma-Aulakh) performed ‘ardas’ at Akal Takht for forging unity, another faction led by Mr Harminder Singh Gill authorised the Akali leaders, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra for this purpose. In a written statement issued here today Mr Gill said he did not organise any function on the occasion of AISSF’s anniversary as such a step would give a signal of division. He said while Mr Badal and Mr Tohra had already joined hands for the sake of ‘panth’ it was needed that all factions of the federation too should come on a same platform.

Meanwhile, Mr Ujjal Didar Singh Aulakh and Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma said Akal Takht being the supreme body of the Sikhs could play a role in forging an unity between the splinter groups of the Sikh students federations. Both leaders made fervent appeals to senior leaders of the federations to come forward for bringing all factions of the federation on a single platform.

While the Bhoma-Aulakh faction of the federation announced that the proposed unity should be forged under the patronage of Akal Takht, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, leader of another group of the federation, said first of all Akali leaders should make efforts in this direction. Mr Gill said Akal Takht should be involved only if Akali leadership failed to bring unity. He said when different factions of the federations belonged to one or the other group of the Akalis, they (the Akali leadership) could be able to bring unity.


SGPC lambasts RSS over Gurus’ pictures
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 14
The SGPC today criticised the RSS for undermining the dignity of Sikhism by publishing photographs of Sikh Gurus alongwith its leaders in journal.

Talking to reporters here today, the Chief Secretary of the SGPC, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, alleged that the RSS was trying to compare Sikh Gurus with some Hindu leaders by publishing photographs of Sikh Gurus alongwith its leaders. Replying to allegations regarding the violation of SGPC norms while appointing him as the Chief Secretary of the SGPC, Mr Calcutta refuted the same, saying that he was not an employee of the committee.

“As I do not accept any remuneration for my services to the committee, my appointment does not come under the purview of SGPC bylaws. Moreover, the SGPC executive committee has the power to relax the bylaws in certain conditions,” he said. Commenting upon the recent statement of Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa that the SGPC members were not happy with the recent decision of sacking SGPC employees, who had attained the age of superannuation and mooted the idea of installing a coordination committee to supervise the work, Mr Calcutta said: “We have no objection to the proposal and SGPC president G.S. Tohra has conveyed his consent to Mr Dhindsa’s suggestions in this regard.”

He refuted reports of rift between the supporters of Mr Badal and Mr Tohra. Regarding holding of the SGPC poll, Mr Calcutta said the committee had already written to the authorities concerned to initiate the process for the same, but it was being delayed as some amendments were needed to be incorporated in the SGPC Act.


Slain Cong leader’s father not to carry out suicide threat
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 14
The district civil and police authorities have heaved a sigh of relief after Mr Gian Singh, father of slain Congress MLA Baldev Singh Pakka Kalan, agreed not to commit suicide in front of the residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Gian Singh, a freedom figher, had threatened to commit suicide in front of the house of Ms Gandhi today if a state-level function in connection with the death anniversary of his son, who was killed along with former Chief Minister Beant Singh in a blast in 1995, was not held. Baldev Singh had succumbed to his injuries in the PGI on September 14.

Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, who became the Chief Minister after the death of Beant Singh, attended the bhog ceremony of Baldev Singh. After that no function was organised by the PPCC in connection with his death anniversary.

A meeting was held at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, which was attended by some Congressmen and the SSP, besides Mr Sewa Singh, brother of Baldev Singh. An assurance was given by the Congress leadership and the administration that every year a state-level function would be organised in connection with the death anniversary of Baldev Singh and a statue would also be installed.

Some senior officials and Congressmen went to the house of Mr Gian Singh last night to persuade him not to leave for new Delhi.

Mr Sewa Singh said if the Congress failed to fulfil its promise, his father might commit suicide. A state-level function would be held after PPCC president H.S. Hanspal returned to Punjab, he said.


Row over restructuring of police jurisdiction
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 14
The Punjab government’s proposal to merge villages in the Kalanaur police station with police subdivision of Gurdaspur has created controversy. The administration according to official sources was asked more than six months ago to try to merge the said area with Gurdaspur police sub division.

Mr KAP Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, made an effort in this direction when the Senior Superintendent of Police, Batala police district came to know of the move of the Deputy Commissioner. He asked police officials of the area to get consent of the panchayats in the jurisdiction of Kalanaur police in the negative. The panchayats along with their representatives in the Punjab Legislative Assembly got resolutions passed by the panchayats that they wished to be part of Batala police district.

The area falls in the jurisdiction of Gurdaspur Sub Division for administrative work. The Department of Home Punjab wants that the area should fall in Gurdaspur police sub division. Previously Kalanaur was a part of Gurdaspur subdivision both for administrative and police purposes before the creation of Batala police district in early 90s. Mr Sinha has deputed sub divisional magistrate Batala Parneet Bhardwaj to ascertain the views of the panchayats. A letter in this regard was issued on Wednesday.


UNDP project on aquatic minds
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
In order to create public awareness on environmental issues, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has sanctioned a Rs 14-lakh project to the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The project, sanctioned for the first time in India for sensitising issues relating to the wetlands, will undertake action-based programmes.

The GEF Small Grants Programme was launched in 1992 to assist the developing countries to fulfil their commitment towards the protection of global environment.

“Our aim is to help the public understand the role of wetlands in sustainability of environment and its support to biodiversity in general and agriculture in particular,” says Mr N.S. Tiwana, executive director of the council.

For this, the council will develop resource material comprising training manual and multi-lingual multimedia CDs for use by students, farmers, NGOs, government officials, teachers, panchayats and the public.

“The project will focus at delivering practical training about ecosystem behaviour, functions and values, biodiversity, food chain and food webs,” says Mr Tiwana.

Of course, the success of the programme will depend upon the involvement of the state government since the responsibility of organising training programmes and distribution of resource material lie with it. The government will also organise seminars, discussions, awareness camps and rallies in villages located on the periphery of the wetlands.

Even the NGOs can act as facilitators for launching the campaign. These can provide the requisite inputs for the functioning of the programme in the form of resource personnel, material, training, etc.

Master trainers from schools, who will be trained under the programme, will also organise short-duration courses in schools selected under the National Green Corps Programme.

“If local people are involved at every stage of the project, including planning and implementation, then the problems can be addressed adequately,” feels Dr Satnam Singh Ladhar of the council.

Even the resource material prepared by the council can be translated into other languages which can be used by other states also.

He says wetlands, which occupy just 6 per cent of the total global land surface, are facing severe stress from degradation. Studies undertaken by the council reveal that these are facing severe problems of siltation, excessive overgrowth of hyacinth, increasing pollution levels, deforestation in catchment areas, excessive grazing, soil erosion, etc. The outside interference with resident and migratory birds, illegal fishing and poaching of wildlife are putting many species in danger.

Besides three wetlands of international importance, Harike, Ropar and Kanjli, the other important wetlands are Keshopur Miani and Chhawrian Banghar Chhamb (both wetlands in Gurdaspur district), Jastarwal Jheel (Amritsar district), Mand Bharthala (Nawanshahr), Dholbaha reservoir (Hoshiarpur), Hussainiwala (Ferozepore) and the Nangal lake.



Seminar on Guru Angad Dev

Chandigarh, September 14
Top Sikh scholars will participate in a seminar on Guru Angad Dev to be held at Khadoor Sahib in Amritsar on October 4 and 5, says Baba Daljit Singh, founder of the Guru Nanak Mission.

Baba Daljit Singh said the seminar was a part of the year-long 500th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Angad Dev. — TNS


Stage set to mark Baba Farid’s ‘agman purb’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 14
The stage has been set to celebrate the nine-day festival related with the “agman purb” of Sufi Saint Baba Sheikh Farid by the District Red Cross Society, Baba Farid Memorial Society, Gurdwara Godri Sahib Society and the district administration here from tomorrow.

Various cultural programmes like “hasya-ras kavi darbar” and folk dances by teams from Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab will be presented on the occasion. Dramas will also be staged. Lightening of candles at the Hussianiwala border in Feorzepore district on September 19 by members of various NGOs to send the message of peace and communal harmony acorss the border will be another salient feature of the celebration.

The function will start with a blood donation camp at Government Brijindra College. A four-day state-level painting workshop will be organised on the opening day. Intellectuals will read their papers on the life and teachings of Sheikh Farid during a seminar.

According to Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, a state-level rural mela presided by the state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, will be held at Nehru Stadium on September 22. The Chief Minister will also lay the foundation stone of a multipurpose institute for challenged children to be built at a cost of Rs 1 crore on the same day. Hockey, football, basketball, cricket and volleyball tournaments will also be played from four to five days from September 19.

On the last day of the function, a nagar kirtan procession will be taken out through the main streets of the town.


Stone crushers violate guidelines
Our Correspondent

Ropar September 14
Stone crushers located along the Bharatgarh belt are reportedly violating the guidelines of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). As per guidelines notified by the board on its website, no new stone crusher can be set up 500 metres from the national or state highway and 250 metres in the sub-mountainous areas. The guidelines are applicable to the stone crushers that have come into existence after 1998.

However, new stone crushers have come up along the Bharatgarh belt on the Chandigarh-Manali national highway. Sources said these crushers did not have no-objection certificates from the board.

The guidelines also state that the stone crushers will be set up in a cluster with only one approach from the main road. However, most of the crushers have their own approach roads opening on the highways.

All approach roads and ramps leading to the crusher sites should be metalled and a green belt consisting of three rows of trees should be provided along the periphery of the units as per the guidelines. The process waste should not be dumped along the road and water should be sprayed regularly to reduce dust emission.

In violation of the rules, the stones are being crushed on the roadsides and the green belt is non-existent.

The boards have been displayed outside stone crushers on which the dust emissions levels have to be regularly notified by officials of the PPCB. However, most of the boards are blank, indicating that the officials seldom check the dust emission levels of the crushers.


Forest development agencies on cards
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 14
The Punjab Government plans to set up forest development agencies in all district headquarters to promote sapling plantation for pollution-free atmosphere in the state. To make the programme a success, more nurseries in collaboration with NGOs and village panchayats will be set up in both rural and urban areas for an adequate supply of saplings, said Mr P. Ram, Principal Secretary, Forest Department, Punjab, while addressing a meeting of the district officials and members of various voluntary organisations here yesterday.

Expressing concern over 8 per cent land area under forest cover at present, against the requirement of 33 per cent, he appealed to the people to grow more and more plants.

In a press note issued here today, he said the farmers planted trees on government land adjoining canals, drains and link roads would be given due share in the income after its sale. 


Anand Nagar residents seek amenities
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 14
Residents of the Anand Nagar-B colony here are sore over the poor maintenance of the locality, which they say has not been developed for the past 20 years.

Mr Bharpur Singh, a resident of the area said that since the past five years the area had been under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation but till now proper facilities had not been provided to them.

The residents alleged that the municipal corporation was not bothered about ensuring proper facilities despite requests. They said the issue had been brought to the notice of the authorities concerned, several times.

Water supply connection to the area had not been provided although it has been under municipal corporation for the past five years. The residents said despite several requests, the corporation had made no attempt to lay down a pipeline.

Even roads and streetlights are in a poor shape. Adding to their woes is the wild growth of the Congress grass. Sewerage was laid in the area only a few days back.

Mr Dilpreet Singh, another resident of the area, said the Mayor of the municipal corporation, Mr Vishnu Sharma, had also visited the area four months back and had assured the residents that the area would be developed but nothing concrete had come out of his promise.



Book trust to hold exhibitions
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 14
Mr Ram Sarup Ankhi, a well-known Punjabi author, will inaugurate a four-day-long National Book Trust of India book exhibition in Barnala tomorrow.

Giving this information here today, Mr Avtar Singh, Marketing Executive, National Book Trust of India, disclosed that the exhibition would start on September 15 and would conclude on September 18.

He revealed that after Barnala the trust would organise two more book exhibitions in the Malwa belt. He informed that the trust would hold a book exhibition at Sangrur from September 22 to 25. Then another exhibition would be organised at Teachers’ Home near Old Bus Stand, Bathinda, from September 27 to 30.


1 killed, 3 injured in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 14
Pardeep Kumar of Fathebad district in Haryana died on the spot while his three associates were seriously injured when the canter in which they were coming from Bhagta Bhai Ka township of this district rammed into a tree near Goniana village on the Bathinda-Kotkapura road today.

Police sources said the canter hit the tree after its driver lost control over the vehicle. All four occupants were injured and they were taken out from the badly damaged canter and shifted to the Civil Hospital, Goniana.

The sources added that after giving first-aid to the injured, the doctors attending on them referred them to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda. The body of Pardeep Kumar was also sent to the Bathinda hospital for a post-mortem examination.

The condition of all three injured — identified as Mukesh Kumar, Ramesh Kumar and Joginder Singh — was stated to be serious.

A case in this connection has been registered.


Minister concedes demands of rice millers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib,  September 14
A delegation of the State Rice Millers Association led by Mr Tarsem Saini, State President met Mr Avtar Henry, Minister for Food and Civil Supply and presented him a memorandum of charter of demands and apprised him of the problems being faced by the rice millers. The minister has conceded the three main demands of the rice millers and has assured to consider the other genuine demands sympathetically.

According to Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu and Mr Nakesh Jindal, District President and Secretary of Rice Millers Association, the minister has also assured the delegation to arrange a meeting of the rice millers representatives with the Chief Minister at the earliest for the acceptance of the other pending demands of the millers.

They said that regarding the major demand of the millers of the state to reconsider the rates of the gunny bags being charged by the procurement agencies of the state, the minister assured to take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

The delegation also urged the minister to raise the issue of increase in the rate of custom milling of “Shella Rice” and “Rice” with the Central Government so that the industry could get some relief and may survive.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bhupinder Singh, Deputy Director Food and Civil Supply assured the rice millers that as per the new policy of the State Government and instructions of the minister the allotment of paddy would be done in transparent manner strictly as per the new policy of the government.


Child Development Office sealed
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad (Ferozepore), September 14
Mr Sanjay Popli, Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM), here has sealed the office of the Child Development Programme Officer (CDPO) following the detection of a scam on September 12.

It was found that kits given to the office for distribution among poor children under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), were found lying in the office but had been shown distributed to the employees concerned in record.

On verification more than 100 kits, worth rupees one lakh, acquired by the CDPO for children. But these were lying in the office of CDPO while in the records it had been shown distributed. He added it was being verified whether the kits had been sold in the market or not.

He said that a magisterial inquiry would be conducted into the case. He added that he had also taken some documents, which established that kits had been given to the employees concerned for distribution among children in possession.

Also more than 300 books, sent to the block primary education office by the Punjab Government for distribution among people under the Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan, were also lying there. He added that record of block primary education office was also being checked.

He said during the surprise checking of the office the Market Committee, Food and Supply Department, government hospital and Block Development Panchayat Office (BDPO), several officials were found absent, cycle and scooters were parked in the rooms, and toilets and bathrooms were found in bad shape. He added that he would write to the heads of these departments for action in the matter.


Reversion process of ORP promotees on

Hoshiarpur, September 14
Punjab Police Director-General A.A. Siddiqui today said the process of reverting Own Rank Promoted (ORP) police officers had been started and they would be reverted to their original ranks.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Siddiqui said formal orders to revert various officers in the Police Department had already been issued.

Mr Siddiqui said he had directed all SSPs of Punjab to send detail report of their districts in this regard so that action could be taken accordingly.

Referring to transfers in the Police Department, he said these would be done after the state Assembly session.

He said he had directed all senior police officers in the state to take necessary steps to make relations between the police and the public cordial.

The DGP said he was touring the districts in the state to review the law and order situation. — UNI


Five youths booked on rape charge
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 14
The illegal custody of five youths of Malerkotla took a new turn when the police registered a case of rape against all these youths and secured their police remand from a court. The police has shown the rape to have taken place on July 26, 2003 but registration of the case was done on September 10, 2003.

According to information here today the police on the complaint of a girl of Dhuri registered an FIR. The girl in her complaint alleged that eight youths kidnapped her on the night of July 26 from bus stand and took her to Binjoki village near Malerkotla and raped her.

The police on her complaint on September 10, 2003 registered a case of rape against the boys. An inquiry into their hand in dacoity is pending. One of them named Aslam was recovered by warrant officer S.C. Malik of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on August 30, 2003 reportedly from the local police station.

Parents of the youths, taken into custody by the police alleged that their wards were being implicated by the police to save itself from illegal steps.

The police has framed the youths in rape case contrary to the orders of the Punjab State Human Right Commission given on the appeal of Aslam that he should not be harassed.

Earlier, on August, 30 night on the complaint of Mr Mohd Sharif father of Aslam, high court warrant officer S.C. Malik raided the local police station and reportedly recovered Aslam from there in a critical condition and thereafter was got him admitted to the local civil hospital. These youths including Mohd Aslam are facing a rape case under Sections 366, 376, 120B of the IPC.


2 cops held for illegal confinement
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 14
The district police has arrested two Punjab police personnel including an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), for keeping two brothers in illegal confinement at Nangal Shama police post for five days. The brothers were later released after charging bribe from their family members.

A press note issued here today said Joginder Singh of Nauli village had alleged that ASI Harinder Singh and Head Constable Gurnam Singh whisked away his sons Paramjit Singh and Gurmeet Singh from the Rama Mandi chowk on September 8 while they were on way to home.

The complainant said his sons were kept in illegal captivity at Nangal Shama police post. When he approached the police officials, they demanded money for their release.

He had to pay a sum of Rs 2,300 to secure release of his sons on September 12.

Later, the complainant approached senior police officials on Saturday, who ordered the registration of a case under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 343 of the IPC against the erring police officials. Both police personnel have been arrested.


Man, son held for duping farmer
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 14
The Sultanpur Lodhi police has arrested Kabul Singh and his son Sukhwant Singh, both residents of village Suchetgarh village, in Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision on the charge of duping Darshan Singh, a resident of Khara village of Rs 1.90 lakh on the pretext of selling government land showing himself the owner of the land.

In a press note, the police said Darshan Singh in a complaint to the police alleged that Kabul Singh son of Sajan Singh entered into an agreement to sell about 17 acres of land posing himself as the owner of the land and received Rs 1.90 lakh as earnest money. He alleged that Kabul Singh and Sukhwant Singh showed him the revenue papers showing Kabul Singh as owner of the land and fixed May 26, 2003 a date for the execution of the sale deed.

Darshan Singh alleged that on the fixed date he went to the office of the Tehsildar with the remaining sale consideration and expenses to get the sale deed of land executed in his favour but Kabul Singh and his son Sukhwant Singh did not turn up.

Darshan Singh alleged that on inquiry from halqa patwari and on perusal of revenue records it was found that Kabul Singh did not own the land. Mr Yadav has ordered the registration of a case.


Drug peddler arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 14
The police has arrested Kunal allegedly while selling smack on the Galliara premises here late last evening. The police has also nabbed nine persons who were buying narcotics from him.

It was found that the accused had been selling smack for the past over a year. The police seized more than 60 paper wrappers containing smack from him. He used to purchase narcotics on whole sale from Jalandhar or Kapurthala. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.


3 booked in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 14
The Sarhali police has booked Harjinder Singh, the husband of Rajwinder Kaur along with two more members of the in-laws family under Sections 304B, 34 of the IPC for forcing her to commit suicide.

Police sources said here yesterday that Rajwinder Kaur was married to Harjinder Singh of Garkha village three years ago who used to harass her to bring more dowry. The village panchayat tried to intervene in the matter but to no avail.


4 held with duplicate CDs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 14
The police arrested four members of a gang manufacturing duplicate compact discs of latest films and X-rated films here yesterday. The leader of the gang, Kuldip Singh, Satish Kumar, Roshan Singh and Pawan Kumar were arrested red-handed, claimed the police.


Rs 50 cr for improving medical colleges
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 14
Punjab Medical Education Minister Chaudhary Santokh Singh today said much more needed to be done to improve the condition of government medical colleges in the state. He told newsmen after addressing gatherings in various villages of Phillaur subdivision that a comprehensive plan had been drawn for improving these colleges. Rs 50 crore would be spent on improving the infrastructure. A state-level purchase committee was reviewing the condition and requirements of these colleges. Regarding the staff shortage in these colleges, the minister said teachers would soon be recruited on contract basis to meet the requirement.

The medical college at Jalandhar would be ready next year with modern facilities. In reply to a question, the minister said the state government would ensure complete transparency in conducting various tests for entrance to various medical courses.

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