Monday, September 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ram Temple at any cost, says Giriraj Kishore
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Acharya Giriraj Kishore, International Senior Vice-President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), today reiterated that a Ram Temple would be built at any cost and the people were agitated over the delay in its construction. On his part, he said he was willing to make every sacrifice and was prepared to go to the gallows for it.

The acharya, against whom charges were being framed by the Rae Bareli court in the Babri Masjid demolition case, along with others, stressed that he had not committed a crime by pulling down the disputed structure. If this act was a crime in the eyes of the law, he was willing to accept any punishment.

He was in the city today to address party members for the forthcoming programmes of the outfit and was closeted with senior leaders and workers of the VHP.

Commenting on the discharge of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani in the case, he said it was the discretion of the court to do so, but if Mr Advani chose to resign on this issue, the VHP would welcome it. It would be a befitting tribute to the determination of Ram sevaks to built a temple at the disputed site, he pointed out.

The VHP had hailed the decision of Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to tender his resignation after being charged in the case. The minister should stick to his stand and not take back his resignation under pressure from any quarter, he opined.

Elaborating on the construction plans for a temple, he said this issue had been hanging fire for the past 54 years. After the report of the Archaeological Survey of India to the court, all confusion in the minds of the people about the existence of a temple there had been cleared. Given the slow pace of trial in the case, it seemed highly unlikely that a final decision was possible in the next four or five years, he said.

There was always the possibility of some party or certain vested interests challenging the verdict in the higher courts, dragging the case further for many years, he added.

Adopting a tough posture, he claimed that the Hindu community was prepared to make any sacrifice for getting a temple constructed and were agitated over the inordinate delay. The need of the hour was to convene a special session of Parliament on the issue. Citing a precedent, he said the then government had convened a special session after the Shah Bano verdict.

Refuting the charge that a tough posture on the construction of a temple would result in a civil war and disintegration of the country, Acharya Kishore said on the contrary, it would bind the nation together. There was no danger to the integrity of the country as temple had no significance if the country disintegrated. He refused to comment on the details of the construction.

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, the first US President, he said the great statesman had preferred civil war to the break-up of the country. He announced that 50,000 kar sevaks would converge on Parliament or the Prime Minister’s residence on October 15 and participate in a peaceful march across Delhi. On October 17, at least 2,50,000 activists of the VHP would march from Lucknow to Ayodhya to undertake a ‘parikrama’ of the Ram temple.

He appealed to the Muslim community to give up its claim on Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura so that the people could forget, once and for all, the acrimony and bad blood created at the time of Partition. This gesture would be greatly appreciated by everyone, he added.


ST holiday for refinery not possible, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, said today the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had written to the Centre, saying that it was not possible to give sales tax holiday to the proposed oil refinery at Bathinda.

Mr S.C. Aggarwal Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, confirmed that a letter had been written by the Chief Minister to the Centre, quoting a recent study that the project would be viable even without the committed sales tax concession given by the previous government. ‘’He has expressed a desire to discuss the issue a fresh with the minister concerned and work on an alternative package so that the state benefits from the refinery’’.

The foundation stone of the Guru Gobind Singh refinery project was laid by the Prime Minister. Ever since there have been apprehensions if the project would come through. In fact, Capt Amarinder Singh had taken up the matter with the Prime Minister and impressed upon him to ‘’save the project in the interest of the people and the state’’.

The Minister for Disinvestment, Mr Arun Shourie, had also written to Capt Amarinder Singh in February, assuring him of the Centre’s commitment that the project would continue irrespective of the disinvestment process for HPCL, which is to set up the refinery.

Under the SAD BJP Government commitment, the sales tax concession was to be 3 times of the fixed capital investment for 15 years. Taking the original cost of the refinery at Rs 15,000 crore, it would have meant a sales tax concession of Rs 45,000 crore over 15 years.

Mr Dhindsa disfavoured disinvestment in the profit-making NFL units at Panipat, Bathinda and Nangal. Now the matter would finally be decided by the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment on return of the Prime Minister from his foreign visit.

Mr Dhindsa said the Akali Dal was confident of winning the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee elections, due on September 24.

About the corruption cases against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and others, Mr Dhindsa said it was a ‘’one-sided affair pursued with malice and prejudice’’.


Govt loses Rs 7,500 cr in IT fraud, says rights panel
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (1997) has caused a loss of Rs 7,500 crore in taxes to the government due to a nexus among the Income Tax Department, valuers, declarants, banks, proprietors of fake firms, lawyers and CAs. This has been the findings of the investigation conducted into the scheme by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO). The investigation report, which has been sent by the PHRO Chairman, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, to the President of India, reveals that if the scheme had been honestly implemented, at least Rs 15,000 crore could have been collected as tax, whereas the actual tax collected was just Rs 7,500 crore.

The report also states that the aforementioned loss notwithstanding, if suggestions given by the investigating team are followed to catch the guilty, there is a possibility of recovering Rs 10,000 crore. This, however, can only happen if the Income Tax Department of the Department of Revenue Intelligence takes follow-up action.

The report states that the total income and assets disclosed under the scheme should have been at least Rs 50,000 crore, whereas income totalling only Rs 25,000 crore was shown. This means that taxes on undisclosed income of Rs 25,000 crore, which work out to be Rs 7,500 crore were not paid.

“Big corporate houses, politicians, bureaucrats and the rich took advantage of the loopholes and wealth was declared in the form of non-existing, fictitious articles like gold beds, gold statues, gold sofa, gold door, gold guineas and diamond belts. Their age was declared as 10 to 50 years and they were evaluated about 100 times lower than their market value,” the report states. “Since tax is to be paid on their evaluation, the tax collected was not even one per cent of their present worth and therefore, they paid negligible tax,” it further states.

The investigations were launched after a telephonic tip-off by an Amritsar resident, Rishi Grover, who reported that his employer had opened a bank account in his name and has shown a transfer of crores of rupees.

The report lists 71 bank accounts in New Delhi and Punjab, which were used to facilitate the fraud. About 30 accounts are in New Delhi’s Vigyam Vihar branch of Vijaya Bank, with other accounts being in various branches of the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and HDFC. All “fictitious” accounts were opened by government approved valuers in collusion with or guidance of income tax practitioners on a commission basis and were thereafter closed, the report reveals.

“These banks played a very crucial role in facilitating the functioning of the entire racket. They closed their eyes to the laid out norms and instructions of the RBI, and allowed accounts to be opened without doing the needful verification,” the report states, adding that a part of the income tax evaded was also paid to the bankers so that they do not raise objections or inform the authorities. The report states that the investigators found that 90 per cent of the declared income was in terms of jewellery, out of which 75 per cent turned out to be non-existent. The purchase of non-existent jewellery is by cheque whereas sale is through cash.


Dal Khalsa backs Sarna faction
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 21
Extending moral support to Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna for refusing to toe Badal’s line, the Dal Khalsa made a blistering attack on Akali leaders for overlooking Sikh interests in their “run-of-the-mill” politics.

Addressing a press conference here today, the working president of the Dal Khalsa, Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, said the Dal Khalsa appreciated Mr Sarna’s firm stand in not bowing to the pulls and pressures of the Badal-Tohra politics to appease the BJP.

Blaming Jathedar Tohra for “sacrificing” Mr Sarna in lieu of his SGPC presidency, he said the latter stood by Jathedar Tohra in his hour of crisis. Terming this move of Jathedar Tohra as immoral, the Dal Khalsa made a fervent appeal to members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to vote for the faction led by Mr Sarna. “We make an appeal to a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, to join hands with Mr Sarna to teach both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra a lesson for their misdeeds.”

He said Sikh in Delhi opted, for an independent Akali Dal because the Shiromani Akali Dal failed to live up to the expectations of Sikhs living in and outside Punjab.

Hailing the formation of the Sikh federation by British Sikhs, he said the move was aimed at reinforcing Sikh identity abroad.

Emphasising the need to call a world Sikh meeting at Akal Takht on Bandi Chhor Divas, the Dal Khalsa expressed concern over the silence of the SGPC on the issue. Referring to his party communication to Jathedar Tohra, he clarified that his organisation did not approve of the writings of Kala Afghana and nor did it have any intention of challenging the authority of the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

The Dal Khalsa condemned Kala Afghana for not appearing before Akal Takht.

Alleging that Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi was guilty of engineering a Muslim genocide, he said Mr Modi should be brought to book.

Others who addressed the press conference were Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, Mr Sarbjit Singh Ghuman, Mr Shinder Pal Singh (all executive members of (the Dal Khalsa) and Dr Manjinder Singh.


Canal scam probe makes no headway
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 21
Inquiry against more than 30 officials of the canal department for irregularities with execution of 176 crore project for the remodelling of Upper Bari Doab Canal (U.B.D.C.) and its subsidiaries in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts has made little progress.

A case was registered on July 4 in Sadar police station Pathankot, following the findings of Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, Irrigation Adviser to the Chief Minister.

According to official sources, Rs 120 crore was spent during the SAD-BJP rule and the remaining Rs 56 crore was spent during the Congress regime. As many as 194 works out of 913 total works were completed in 22 months against the stipulated period of 48 months.

One Chief Engineer, one SE, three executive engineers and two subdivisional engineers were suspended. All these officials went abroad with valid visas and leave from the department.

Most of these officials have since retired and are not likely to return in near future thus impending completion of the inquiry.

The charges included unnecessary expenditure, execution of certain works without sanction, works done in haste and payment made for works which have not been completed so far.

Official sources said that a special investigation team headed by SSP, Gurdaspur was formed. This team started collecting addresses of defaulting officers.

Meanwhile Mr Jagdish Singh, Superintending Engineer, Canals was deputed as technical adviser with the team. He has been suspended giving no replacement to the investigation team for technicalities involved in the allegations.

According to sources, the said officer was suspended a month ago but no replacement has been made despite request by the SSP Gurdaspur to the Chief Engineer (Canals) Amritsar for new technical adviser for the completion of the inquiry.


Kin of missing youths low on hope
Our Correspondent

Mahal (Amritsar), September 21
Even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court has summoned the DGP and a DSP of Jammu and Kashmir regarding the custodial death of Mohan Lal (26) and the disappearing of six youths from this village, the families of the victims are facing a tough time.

The youths were picked up by the police on June 21 on the pretext that they were members of the Kale Kachhewale gang that had struck at a village in Jammu. The claim was refuted by the families who said they had gone to the Vaishno Devi shrine.

Mohan Lal’s mother said her son was the only bread earner of the family. Anguished over the indifferent attitude of the district administration, Babita, wife of the deceased, said they had got nothing but assurances from the government. She said residents of the village contributed for their monthly ration.

Bachan Singh whose two sons were picked by the police said even after over two months had passed, the J&K police had not even registered a case against the youths who were reportedly still under illegal detention.


Cabin man averts rail mishap
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
The alert cabin man Balbir Singh today averted a major disaster as a diesel engine (NWR 16276) went berserk at the local railway station in the wee hours of the morning. According to information gathered by this correspondent, at about 4.45 am an engine which was being prepared for hauling a train suddenly picked up the speed, a shunting man suddenly noticed that the engine was surging ahead towards platform No. 1 at a great speed on the track where the Shatabdi Express was stationed and was awaiting departure to Delhi at 5.15 a.m. He immediately changed the track and averted the major accident.

The engine then rammed into the stationery crane and damaged three bogies of a relief train and a railway electrification project engine stationed at parcel siding on the platform No. 12 at the rear of the track No. 1. The engine later got derailed sending shock waves among the railway authorities and passengers standing on the station. The cause of the engine going berserk could not be ascertained.

Railway employees on the condition of anonymity said the engine with the driver after fueling suddenly accelerated and went berserk. The station Superintend, Mr Vimal Kumar, who refused to give details, however added that only an inquiry could establish the cause of the accident. He said since it was a technical matter he could not give his opinion.

The electrification project engine and the crane were severely damaged. This may delay the electrification underway at the local railway station. The quantum of damage to the railway property would be evaluated by the survey team of the Northern Railway. Meanwhile, the staff from the carriage and locomotive workshop were working hard to restore the rail traffic.

According to sources, senior officers from Ferozepore division are arriving here to assess the damage and fix up responsibility against the erring officers involved in the incident. Inquiry has been ordered by the authorities and several heads are likely to roll.

Eyewitnesses, however, claim that the driver was taken aback by the sudden acceleration and was unable to control the engine.


Sri Adi Granth on Barcelona agenda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago (USA) has included the 400th anniversary, in 2004, of the compilation and installation (first prakash) of Sri Adi Granth, in the agenda of its next international conclave to be held at Barcelona (Spain) in June, 2004.

This was conveyed today by the organisers in an e-mailed communication received by Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, president of the foundation and former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala. Sri Adi Granth was compiled and installed at Sri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar, by Guru Arjun Dev Ji, the first Prophet of Sikhism, and later canonized by Guru Gobind Singh as Guru Granth Sahib.

The Barcelona Conclave will also take up the Declaration on Ecology and Spirituality which was presented by Dr Ahluwalia, and adopted by the World Congress of Faiths (UK) at its special conference hosted by the university on January 29 and 30, 2002. The declaration, in the context of the deepening ecological crisis, due to the Western captialism’s ruthless exploitation of nature, stresses integral bond between man and nature as envisioned by Guru Nanak Recalling this message of Guru Granth Sahib, common to all religions, the World Congress of Faiths (UK) at its Patiala conclave had called upon the Parliament of the World’s Religions to commemorate 2004 as the Year of Ecology and Spirituality.

Dr Ahluwalia said he had also been invited to participate in the Barcelona meeting, and he would present a paper on Sri Guru Granth Sahib as a unique interfaith scripture.


CARE to take care of family disputes
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore: One of the most baffling challenges that the police has to face today is that of proper handling of marital disputes, domestic violence and child abuse. The traditional concept of joint family has undergone a metamorphosis and is, in fact, placed in a paradoxical situation. At the physical and structural levels, the concept of common hearth and home has given way to nuclear family units, but the linkage of the family at the emotional level still remains the same. This fact juxtaposed with growing assertiveness of the Indian women has put the interpersonal relations within the joint family in a quandary, which has led to abnormal rise in the number of cases pertaining to domestic violence and atrocities against women.

In the year 2002-03, out of a total of 84 cases of murder reported in Ferozepore Range, 28 murders purportedly took place due to either illicit relations or domestic quarrel. The above gamut of social inter-linkage pitches a series of intricate situations for the law-enforcing agencies with no readymade solutions in their hands. As a matter of fact, the present laws available for handling problems arising out of matrimonial disputes, domestic violence and wife battering are inadequate and more often than not are found to be insensitive for the victim of the crime.

Furthermore, due to the fear and awe of the police, certain atrocities and other cases of sexual abuse against women go unreported as they do not feel comfortable in walking up to the police station and explaining the matter. Inordinate delays, apathetic attitude of police officers, nepotism and lack of information on procedural details are some other reasons which have created a negative image of the police and fear psychosis amongst the victim, especially the women. According to Mr Praveen Sinha, SSP, in order to deal with such cases, women police stations were created in many districts of Punjab which, however, over a period of time have failed to fulfil their mandate and thus, the need for a more broad-based institution which could act as an interface between the law-enforcing agencies and the client. Thus, was born the idea of setting up multi-agency counselling groups to stem the tide of increased incidences of domestic disputes, marital discords, child abuse and atrocities against the women. Experts felt that the cases of child abuse, especially when it is taking place at a subdued and emotional level, should also be dealt by the counselling groups rather than the men in uniform.

Keeping in view the large number of cases pertaining to marital disputes, family discords, illicit relations, the Ferozepore police has now embarked on a programme to settle cases pertaining to marital disputes and other crimes related to physical, emotional or mental abuse of the women through counselling sessions. An attempt has been made to bring the people from diverse backgrounds, coming from different walks of life having loaded baggage of experience with them on to one platform to handle these cases and settle the disputes harmoniously, revealed Mr Sinha.

In all, six counselling groups have been formed consisting of advocates, doctors, eminent citizens, representatives of various NGOs, businessmen and teachers who meet twice a week to discuss the cases, which are referred to them. In the last two months since the establishment of CARE (Counselling and Rehabilitation for Empowerment of Women), out of 106 cases received till date, 78 have been amicably resolved, 22 such cases have been forwarded for registration to the police and five are still pending. In this way, not only the workload on the police has decreased but also a lot of individuals and the families have been saved from ordeal and nightmare.


Town all set to welcome CM
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 21
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh will visit Faridkot tomorrow to lay the foundation stone of a school for the mentally challenged, blind and deaf and dumb being constructed by the District Red Cross Society at a cost of over Rs 1 crore.

The Chief Minister, who will visit the town the first time after taking over the reins of the state, will also preside over a state-level rural mela being organised by the District Cultural Society at the local Nehru Stadium on the eve of “Aagman Purab” celebrations of Sufi saint Sheikh Farid.

He will inaugurate a District Red Cross fair and exhibition at Government Balbir Senior Secondary School here and later address a press conference.

The town has been decorated with bunting, gates and arches to welcome the Chief Minister.


Take to medicinal plants, NGOs urged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
Financial Commissioner of Forest and Wildlife P. Ram has said that Punjab has undertaken a major project for the cultivation of herbal and medicinal plants.

Addressing a gathering of NGOs, government officers and principals of schools and colleges for reviewing the plantation drive in the district, Mr Ram said all societies must take to planting medicinal plants.

The Financial Commissioner said his department had set up a 370-acre herbal park near Balachaur in collaboration with Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.

He said PAU would identify plants to be grown in the park and prepare a project to make it economically viable. He felt these medicinal plants could cure a number of diseases at a reasonable cost.

Mr Ram exhorted brick-kiln owners to adopt villages near their workplace and develop these into model villages by maintaining its environs through planting fruit-bearing and medicinal plants.

He said the Brick-kiln Association here had offered to upgrade technology so that minimum damage could be caused to environment.

The Financial Commissioner urged the principals of education institutes to set up nurseries for which the Forest Department would provide the necessary expertise and help.

Asked to comment on the forest scandal which had rocked the state recently resulting in the sacking of a Cabinet Minister and few senior officers, Mr Ram said anyone found guilty would face action.


New bus stand in two years
Tribune New Service

Sangrur, September 21
Following steps of the Improvement Trust (IT) here, the town will have a new bus stand in a couple of years. It will cost Rs 5 crore.

At present, the bus stand is congested and populated area near the Dhuri Gate here, traffic jams occur and mishaps take place. The area is also low lying and gets flooded during rain, creating problems for bus passengers. Lease period of the bus stand’s land is also expiring in less than two years.

Mr Amandeep Singh Mansahia, Chairman of the Sangrur Improvement Trust, said yesterday that land for the bus stand was being identified. He said the land would be selected either on the Sangrur-Patiala road or on the Sangrur-Jind road and not the Dhuri road or the Barnala road as both had railway-level crossings near the town.

The trust has also taken steps to shift Truck Union outside the Sunami Gate here, to get colonies, Sewa Singh Thikriwala Nagar(12 acres scheme) and Capt Karam Singh Nagar (23 acres scheme), developed.


Row over doctors’ appointment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
A controversy has arisen over the appointment of four doctors by the Reproductive Child Health Society ( RCH) as consultants under the RCH programme of the Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department in violation of the laid out norms.

Sources in the Health and Family Welfare Department disclosed that Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Health, who was not even informed about these appointments, has sought a report on these appointments along with their case files. Dr S.S. Gill Special Secretary (Health), wrote to the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, last week saying that “The Principal Secretary has asked me to look into these appointments. So the files pertaining to these cases may be sent immediately.”

The sources reveal the selections were made by a committee under the chairmanship of the Director, Health and Family Welfare, even though the Principal Secretary is supposed to be the Chairman of the said selection committee.

Appointments were made to two posts each of consultant (medical) and consultant (management). The orders were also signed by the committee members and not the Principal Secretary (Health).

Inquiries revealed that interviews for these vacant posts, including consultants in gynaecology and paediatrics were held in April and the orders were issued in June. It is alleged that even as a candidate with MD (paediatrics) was available for the post of consultant manager in paediatrics, the post was filled from among fresh graduates in violation of the rules. The candidates with better qualifications were rejected to accommodate others who wielded some influence.

Mr D.S. Jaspal admitted that he had sought a report to verify if the appointments had been made in violation of the rules. While the appointment letters had been issued, these had neither been signed by the competent authority nor approved by the Chairman of the committee. The decision would be taken only after the report was submitted.


Nitish launches fire-proof train coach

Kapurthala, September 21
Three months after the fire tragedy in a train coach which killed 38 persons near Ludhiana, Railway Minister Nitish Kumar tonight inaugurated India’s first fire-proof coach manufactured by the Rail Coach Factory here.

Addressing a function after the inauguration, Mr Nitish Kumar congratulated the workers and engineers for developing the fire-proof coach in such a short span.

He said the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai was also developing a similar coach which would be ready by October and added that after studying the features of both the coaches, these would be incorporated in production of regular coaches.

In his final report submitted recently, the Railway Safety Commissioner had submitted that the accident occurred when combustible material lying on an upper berth of the coach caught fire, Mr Kumar said. He said the Railways was in the process of framing a new policy to adopt state of art technology to avoid rail accidents, derailments and fire incidents. — PTI


Release of three teenagers sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
The International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society has sought the release of three Indian teenaged boys who had taken shelter at Dera Sahib Gurdwara Lahore in Pakistan.

In a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Mr Zafarullah Khan Jamali the society has requested him to take steps to send back three boys — Avtar Singh, Jaswinder Singh and Balbir Chand. The society also sought the release of Jagjit Singh and Sukhdev Singh detained in Pakistan’s jails since they had undergone their jail terms.

The president of the society Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, in a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and chairman National Minorities Commission has praised their efforts for agreeing to get released eight Pakistani boys lodged in Faridkot juvenile home and for allowing 355 blacklisted Sikhs to return home.


Govt committed to abolishing octroi: minister
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
Minister for Local Bodies Choudhry Jagjit Singh said yesterday that the government had entrusted the task of preparing a comprehensive report on the Local Area Development Scheme in view of the abolition of octroi in the state to a private consultant company. He said the government was committed to withdrawing octroi at the earliest.

The minister made these remarks here while discussing the problems of local trade and industry with representatives of textile and other associations to give relief to the industries in the border areas. He said the government was aware to the problems faced by the industry in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. The meeting was held at the initiative of Ms Ratna, Chairperson, Amritsar Improvement Trust.

Choudhry Jagjit Singh said the Chief Minister had already taken up the issue of the grant of a special economic package with the Prime Minister.


Protesting man hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 21
The police last night picked up Mr Kuldeep Singh, a member of the Unemployed Lineman Union, who was sitting on a chain fast, and admitted him to the Rajindra Hospital here.

Members of the union are organising demonstration against the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) as they claim that the board has made no recruitment for the said post since 1997. They say more than 5,000 aspirants to the post are suffering due to the wrong policy of the board.


Effigies of Rights panel burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
The effigies of the National Commission for Minorities and the National Human Rights Commission were burnt at the busy Hall Gate area today by the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti.

The rallyists were protesting against the “anti-Hindu” stand of these organisations. Mr Harish Sharma, president, alleged their stance smacked of partiality and expressed a lack of faith in the judicial bodies of the country”. A rally was taken out from Durgiana Mandir that culminated at Hall Bazaar.


Dang pleads for transplant victim
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
Mr Satya Pal Dang, senior CPI leader has demanded investigation into case of kidney transplant victim Mr Rattan Chand of the Verka area.

In a letter to Mr A.A. Siddiqui Punjab Police chief Mr Dang has requested that the case might be got probed from the SP city (I), in which the old man who has been in extreme pain after his transplant was allegedly subjected to malpractices by authorities of New Ruby Kidney Hospital, Jalandhar.


Katra-Baramula rail link by 2007
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 21
Mr V.K. Kaul, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Northern Railway, told reporters here yesterday that Rs 2,700 crore would be spent on the Katra-Kazikund-Baramula railway track which would be completed by 2007 to provide a rail link throughout Jammu and Kashmir.

Accompanied by Mr Anurag Sharma, Chief Engineer (Construction), Northern Railway, Mr Kaul said the project included a 2.25-km-long and a 120 metre high bridge over the Chenab.

The 205-km Jalandhar-Pathankot-Jammu railway track will be doubled at a cost of Rs 410 crore by 2005-06, said Mr Kaul.


SGPC member Joga dead

Amritsar, September 21
Jathedar Joginder Singh Joga, a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), who died in a hospital at Ferozepore after a brief illness yesterday, will be cremated tomorrow.

SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra has expressed grief over the death. Jathedar Joginder Singh, who became as SGPC member in 1978 and remained the member of its interim and “dharam parchar” committees for a long time, was admitted to the hospital on September 16. The cremation will take place at his native village Chak Sadike in Ferozepore district tomorrow. — UNI


Concern over looting incidents
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 21
A meeting of the Executive Committee of Block Congress (Urban) Phagwara with Mr Manmohan Sharma in chair, has expressed serious concern over the incidents of lootings in and around Phagwara especially the assaults on Councillor Sanjeev Bugga and Youth Congress leader Gurjit Walia.


USA meddling in Nepal, says student leader
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 21
The All-India Nepalese Students’ Association has criticised the USA, for interfering in the democratic movement in Nepal.

Addressing a gathering at Lions Club here today, the president of the association, Mr Saraswati Mohara, alleged that capitalist forces were trying to hamper the ongoing democratic struggle in Nepal.

“The USA is imposing itself on the people of the world using force. There is need to control the activities of US secret agencies,” he said.


Govt to reduce area under wheat
Tribune New Service

Jalandhar, September 21
The Punjab Government plans to reduce the area under wheat cultivation by two lakh acres this year.

Stating this at a farmers camp organised by the Punjab Agriculture Department at Janadiala village, near here, yesterday state Revenue Minister Amarjit Samra said last year, wheat was sown in 33.75 lakh acres, but, the area would be reduced to 31.75 lakh acres this year and the cultivation of cash crops like pluses and oilseeds would be encouraged on the two lakh acres. He said as part of the state government endeavour to diversify the crop pattern, duram variety of wheat would be sown on 75,000 acres in Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana districts.

Assuring farmers that the state government would be able to purchase the entire paddy crop and that they would not face any problem on this account, Mr Samra said farmers should strive hard to reduce their input cost and to enhance the quality of crops.

Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, said organic farming was an alternative to ensure more profits by incurring less input costs. He said the department was trying to popularise it so that farmers could from it benefits as soon as possible. Dr Gurdev Singh Gill, Joint Director, Agriculture, said the consumption of DAP and urea fertilisers had increased this year from 4.15 lakh tonnes to 5.31 lakh tonnes and from 11.00 lakh tonnes to 11.81 lakh tonnes, respectively this year. He said the Punjab Government had earmarked Rs 1.20 crore for the purchase of biofertilisers.

Dr Baldev Singh Kahlon, Chief Agriculture Officer, said under the ongoing diversification process, farmers in the district had sown basmati on 60,50 acres in the district maize on and 4,000 acres. He said a special drive had been launched to detect and prevent the marketing of fake pesticides in the district, under which the licences of a number of pesticide dealers had been cancelled.


Farmers suffer as paddy stocks pile up
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 21
Even as paddy stocks have started piling up in grain markets in the district, the procurement process is yet to begin, forcing farmers to sell their produce to private parties at cheaper rates.

Reports say farmers are selling paddy between Rs 530 and Rs 565 per quintal, where as the MSP of paddy is fixed at Rs 580. Rice millers say the quality of paddy is not up to the mark and that is why they are purchasing it below the MSP.

Gurmeet Singh, a farmer, who brought his produce to the local grain market, said farmers were bringing their produce to mandis before the start of government procurement out of fear of American worm attack, which may spoil their crop. He said commission agents were taking undue advantage of their insecurity.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vikas Pratap, has said no distress sale would be allowed. He said he had instructed procurement officials that they should keep track of any private purchase going on in the grain markets and ensure that the same paddy was not sold to government agencies again at the MSP when the procurement process begins.

He instructed the officials that gunny bags should not be provided to commission agents before the onset of the government procurement. He said if any such case come to his notice, stringent action would be taken against the District Manager of the agency concerned.

He claimed that the administration had made the necessary arrangements for the purchase of paddy. He said all procurement officials in the district had been directed to create awareness among farmers not to sell their produce at cheaper rates before the commencement of the government purchase.


1,485 centres set up to procure paddy
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 21
The Punjab Government has set up 1,485 purchasing centres and 150 grain markets to ensure the smooth procurement of paddy crop from next month in the state. Keeping in view the arrival of heavy stock of the produce, directions have been issued to all District Mandi Officers to make adequate arrangements of water, electricity and paving of yards in the mandis by September 25 so that the farmers may not face any problems, said Mr Sant Ram Singla, Chairman Punjab Mandi Board, here yesterday. He was here to preside over a seminar on the life and teachings of Sufi Saint Baba Sheikh Farid organised by All-India Baba Farid Memorial Society.

He further said the purchase would start from October 1 so that the expected arrival of 125 lakh mt tonnes of the produce be procured timely.

He said a plan had been mooted out to construct 5,137 km link roads at the cost of Rs 228 crore before the end of next year in the state. In addition to it an amount of Rs 65 crore would be utilised for the repair and patchwork of the roads. Over 60 per cent work had already been completed, claimed Mr Singla.

To bring transparency in the functioning of Mandi Board steps were being taken to weed out the corruption, he added. In this regard Mr Aulakh, a Deputy General Manager, allegedly involved in various malpractices who had been reinstated by the previous SAD-BJP government, had been removed from the service. A decision had also been taken to allocate plots to those licensee graindealers in the grain markets on reserve price who would fulfil the conditions and other norms of the Mandi Board, he added.

Mr Singla said a special vegetable market equipped with all modern facilities would be established at Amritsar and Ludhiana at a cost of Rs 60 crore.


Dengue: Civil Surgeons told to be vigilant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
With a view to checking the spread of dengue in Punjab, Civil Surgeons and Deputy Medical Commissioners were directed to keep a strict vigil in their respective areas. They were asked to make adequate arrangements to deal with any kind of situation, besides improving health services in their districts.

These directions were passed at a high-level meeting held yesterday under the chairmanship of Col C.D. Singh Kamboj, Chairman of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

The meeting, attended by the Civil Surgeons and Deputy Medical Commissioners of all 17 districts, besides senior functionaries of the Health Department, reviewed the performance of government health institutions in Punjab.


Books worth Rs 1 cr still undistributed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 21
Glaring discrepancies have been alleged in case of the order placed by the District Education Officer (Elementary Education), Amritsar, for books for schoolgirls under the Sarav Sikhya Abhiyan Scheme.

Sources said though half the year had passed, a large number of books were still lying at the sales centre-cum-sub office of the Punjab School Education Board at Amritsar. They said the DEO had ordered more books than required and failed to give a concrete information on the number of girl students in the district. This staff had also failed to tell the board, to whom the books had been given.

Mr Baldev Singh, Superintendent at the DEOs office, said the DEO had gone out to meet some minister. Even the Deputy DEO could not be available for comment. The clerk of the branch concerned said she had no information on this.

The PSEB sources said the DEO had placed a much higher order for the books which were now lying unused. The price of these books is said to be more than Rs 1 crore. They said there were apprehensions that these books would be sold in the open market.


4 polytechnics to be upgraded
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 21
The Government Polytechnics of Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Khuni Majara and Lehra Gaga will be upgraded to their old status of engineering colleges from the next academic session. Permission is being taken from the All-India Council of Technical Education in this regard. Rs 6 crore will be spent on creating infrastructure in the upgraded colleges.

Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Minister for Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, told this to newsmen at the PWD Rest House here. In reply to a question, Mr Kaypee said on the request of employees of the ITIs in Punjab, privatisation of 12 ITIs had been postponed. Buildings of these ITIs had not been opened yet.

In reply to another question, he said that there was a 40 per cent shortage of the teaching staff in the ITIs so recruitments would be done on contract basis shortly. The Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) would soon meet to promote the senior staff so as to fill all vacant posts of the Principal.

To modernise the ITIs, a project for Rs 108 crore had been submitted to the World Bank. As soon as the money came, computer education would be introduced in all ITIs of the state. A Syllabus Revision Committee led by Mr Sukhdev Singh had been constituted to introduce new trades in the ITIs and 27 old trades like book binding and letter-press printing etc. would no longer be taught.

Later, the minister inaugurated the new academic session of Pandit J.R. Government Polytechnic Institute.


Students hand over demands’ charter to Sinha
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 21
The Punjabi University Students Confederation, which is spearheading student agitation, today rescheduled the “chakka jam” call given by it earlier for September 26 to October 1, even as it delivered a charter of its demands to Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister.

Confederation spokesman Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal said the ‘chakka jam’ call had been put off till October 1 because September 26 was a gazetted holiday. He said the confederation would observe September 24 as an “anti-repression” day. Gate rallies and demonstrations would be organised on that day to drum up support for the student movement. He said a protest would also be organised in the university campus.

The confederation claimed that no formal dialogue had been initiated with the government. He said the confederation had, however, handed over a charter of demands to Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the State Chief Minister, yesterday.


School Principal alleges intimidation
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 21
The issue of beating up of two students of Class VIII of Government High School at nearby Desumajra village on September 19 by the Principal of the school hot up today.

The two students — Sukhmantar Singh and Hartejbir Singh — were allegedly beaten up by the Principal when they were caught bursting crackers. They were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

While the parents alleged that they were bursting crackers outside the school, the Principal maintained that they were caught bursting crackers in the classroom. The matter was reported to the local police, which has sent the case to the District Education Officer, Ropar.

Mrs Dya Wanti, Principal of the school, in a press note issued here today, alleged that some bad elements had tried to spoil the atmosphere of the school.

She said she had called the parents of the students and informed them about the act. The parents had assured her that the students would not repeat the mischief again. But some persons brought the parents back to the school in the afternoon and intimidated her, besides creating nuisance.

Meanwhile, the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa Youth Club, Desumajra village in a press note has also alleged that some bad elements were giving a political colour to the incidence. They asserted that some outsiders had tried to spoil the atmosphere of the school.

Similarly, the Government Teachers Union Punjab, Ropar district, has condemned the happenings at the school.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |