P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Global cooperation key to combating crime,
says Blunkett
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, February 1
“International cooperation in policing is the key to combating cross-border crime in our increasingly mobile world”, Mr David Blunkett, secretary of State for Home, UK, said here today.

Mr Blunkett, who delivered the convocation address at the Punjab Police Academy which enjoys support and training from the UK police across a range of issues from forensics and crime scene management to underwater searches, became the first Home Minister of any other country to visit the academy and address the fresh graduates.

‘‘The UK police service is amongst the best in the world and we have very strong working relationships with international police colleagues, including here in India. We are providing support and training but also learning from our Indian police partners and have received support and training in how best to deal with crimes such as forced marriage and ‘honour killings,” he said.

Mr Blunkett said that the South Yorkshire Police, the Merseyside Police, the Surrey Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, and the Strathclyde Police had been involved in joint working and training with the police in India.

Mr Blunkett also appreciated cooperation among the British Council, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and the Punjab Police over the issues of child abuse and rights of children.

Earlier, Dr G.S. Aujla, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Director, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Training Academy, in his address of welcome traced the history of the academy and said that eversince affiliation of the academy with Guru Nanak Dev University, three officers had got their doctorates, eight M.Phils and 79 Masters in Police Administration from here.

Once the academy gets the deemed university status, it would attract police officers from other countries also, he added.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, presided, while the British High Commissioner to India, Mr Michael Arthur, and the Director-General of Bureau of Police Research and Training, Mr Sarabjit Singh, were among those who attended the convocation.

Dr A.A. Siddiqui, Director-General of Police while proposing a vote of thanks expressed the hope that further strengthening of cooperation between the Punjab Police and the British police would help in tackling transnational crime, including terrorism, human smuggling and sexual exploitation of women and children.

Dr Siddiqui was awarded doctorate, while Mr Chandersekhar, Inspector-General of Police, got his M.Phil degrees. Those who got their MA degrees included Mr Rajinder Kumar Sharma (Secretary, Punjab Law Commission), Mr Ram Singh, Ms Balwant Kaur, Mr Gursewak Singh, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Hardeep Singh Hundal, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Talwinder Singh and Mr Rajinder Singh.

Students of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy School presented devotional songs.


British Home Secy’s plea to Punjabis

Later interacting with top brass of the Punjab Police, the visiting Home Secretary thanked them for their support in attempting to locate the prime suspect in the murder and rape of 17-year-old Southampton student Hannah Foster in March 2003. Urging anyone with information about Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, believed to be hiding in Punjab, to come forward, Mr Blunkett said: “The Hampshire police has been working closely with the Punjab Police to track down and arrest this man.

I appeal to the men and women of the Punjab to assist their police service in achieving his capture, not only in the interests of justice but because he is wanted for questioning for the most heinous of crimes.’’

A reward of Rs 50 lakh (£ 70,000) will be offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of Kohli.


Blunkett to discuss Sikh identity issue
with French Government

Our Correspondent

British Secretary of State for Home Affairs David Blunkett pays obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
British Secretary of State for Home Affairs David Blunkett (right) pays obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Sunday.Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, February 1
The British Home Secretary, Mr David Blunkett, here today said that he would take up the Sikh identity issue with the French Government.

Mr Blunkett, who paid obeisance at the Golden Temple, was requested by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, to prevail upon the French Government to withdraw the proposed legislation banning the Sikh turban and other religious symbols in French schools and at workplace. Mr Calcutta said that the Pope had already given his support to the Sikh community on the issue.

The British Home Secretary said that they were in favour of greater cooperation with India on issues of policing, terrorism and immigration. He said that he had also taken up the matter of release of Peter Bleach, a British national accused in the Purulia arms dropping case.

Appreciating the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan, Mr Blunkett said the opportunity and initiative were superb and must continue in the interests of peaceful conditions and meeting the challenges posed by global terrorism. He, however, said that the view point that “Pakistan was hub of terrorism” was Indian and not British.

Mr Blunkett who would be holding a meeting in Lahore with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri tomorrow, said the increasing inter-connection between countries through tourism had given rise to the need for a closer cooperation on home affairs.


UK against political asylum-seekers
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, February 1
“We are dead against people seeking political asylum in Great Britain. There is no reason for anyone from India to seek political asylum,” says Mr David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Home Affairs in United Kingdom, holding that new immigration and asylum law clearly defines legal, economic, balanced migration rules to regulate immigration.

The highest number of new immigrants from anywhere in the world to Great Britain last year were from India. In fact, 20 per cent of the total new migrants came from India, reveals Mr Blunkett during an interview with The Tribune here this afternoon, holding that agreement he had signed with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, in New Delhi two days ago is to improve cooperation between the two countries on illegal immigration.

“Those trying for illegal immigration or political asylum will now be quickly moved and returned to India,” he said. “Only those who are open, legal and for economic reasons will be able to immigrate to Great Britain now.”

“We will continue to welcome Indians travelling legitimately to the UK as visitors, students or on business but we will take swift action to remove those who break immigration rules,” he said.

Elected to Parliament in 1987, Mr Blunkett was the Secretary of State for Education and Employment before his appointment as Home Secretary in 2001. Born in 1947, he was educated at the Sheffield School for the Blind, the Royal Normal College for the Blind, the University of Sheffield and the Huddersfield College of Education.

Appreciating the Islamabad declaration and declaration made by Pakistan against terrorism, Mr Blunkett said that both India and the UK could rise to the challenge of transnational crime, including terrorism, human smuggling and exploitation of women and children, and find new ways to guarantee the safety and freedom of people with cooperation on tough law enforcement.

Great Britain had some new pieces of legislation to check human smuggling. “We have just two pieces of legislation. Besides the new Immigration and Asylum Act, we also have new sex offences legislation to check organised criminality in sexual exploitation. “We have very good cooperation and coordination between police forces of our two nations.”

Mr Blunkett also sought help and cooperation of the Jammu and Kashmir police in tracing a boy who was allegedly kidnapped from his constituency of Sheffield in Great Britain last year. 


Claim of 210 acres discussed with Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
The district administration has taken up the issue of 210 acres on the international border with Pakistan.

Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh, who had gone with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to participate in the World Punjabi Conference in Lahore, told The Tribune after his return today that he had taken up the matter with the Nizam of western Punjab (in Pakistan), Mian Mir Mahmood.

Mr Raminder Singh said the Nizam had pointed out that they were totally ignorant about this land, which falls in Daoke village under Atari sub-tehsil on the international border. He said the piece of land stretches over the border in Mojoki in Pakistan, while the land in Daoke village was surrounded by Manahala and Bhaini Jattan villages in Pakistan. The entire records, including maps claiming the possession of land, were handed over to Mr Mahmood, who had assured to take up the matter with the Chief Secretary, Western Punjab, at the earliest.

The Deputy Commissioner pointed out that Mr Mahmood would take up the issue after verifying entire revenue records and expressed the hope that the matter would be sorted out at the earliest.

Mr Mahmood, however, promised to offer compensation or even write off their claim on the piece of land of the Indian side, which was in possession of Pakistan.


Nitish lays stone for Fazilka-Abohar rail link
Our Correspondents

Fazilka, February 1
Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar laid the foundation stone of the 42-km Fazilka-Abohar rail track, on which Rs 86.44 crore would be spent. He also inaugurated the computerised reservation system at Fazilka railway station this afternoon. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, and Mr Zora Singh Mann, Ferozepore MP, were present.

Mr Nitish Kumar, while addressing the gathering, said the laying of the track was important for security reasons and had sentimental significance for the residents of the border area. He added that the process of acquiring land for the purpose had been commenced and the Railways had deposited the first instalment of Rs 2 crore for the land.

Mr Nitish Kumar was the first Union Railway Minister to visit Fazilka since Independence. He said there would be five railway stations, at Burz Mohar, Ghallu, Churiwala, Khuikhera and Jandwala on the route.

The minister said special attention was being taken to check accidents and a railway safety scheme had been initiated, on which Rs 17,000 crore would be spent. He added that in five years, 16,500 km of old rail tracks were to be replaced, out of which about 8,000 km had been replaced in the past two years.

He said employees of the same state would be appointed in Sampark Kranti trains. These would link the state capitals with Delhi for the convenience of the passengers, he said.

Mr Dhindsa, said at one stage, the viability of the Fazilka-Abohar rail track had been questioned, but Mr Nitish Kumar had got it approved. Criticising the Congress regime, Mr Dhindsa said the state government had stopped all welfare schemes initiated by the Badal government. He lauded Mr Nitish Kumar for giving a record number of overbridges to Punjab.

He highlighted the achievements of the Vajpayee government and said there was no shortage of cooking gas, petroleum products and other daily-use articles and no waiting list for telephone connections. He said the Vajpayee government had improved India’s relations with Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. He expressed the hope that improving relations between India and Pakistan would result in maximum benefits

Mr Badal described the stone laying as historic. He demanded the early completion of the Beas-Goindwal track and doubling of the Jalandhar-Pathankot rail track at a cost of Rs 480 crore. He said the NDA government had established an International airport in Punjab. He criticised the Punjab Government for trying to shelve the Rs 16,000 crore Bathinda refinery project.

Mr Mann, demanded that a computerised reservation facility be set up at Jalalabad railway station. An inter-city train should be introduced between Fazilka and Delhi, he added. The Haryana Express between Delhi and Sirsa should be extended till Fazilka, he further said. He also demanded the construction of overbridge and laying of a rail track between Ferozepore and Amritsar via Khemkaran.


Sikh scholars form Panthic parliamentary board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
A section of Sikh scholars have decided to open a third front in the state by announcing the formation of a Panthic parliamentary board, which will shortlist candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. A committee has also been constituted to formulate a programme and manifesto for this board. These decisions were taken at a Sikh conclave held here today. Six resolutions were also passed.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, co-ordinator of the conference, said members of the board were president of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( A) Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Akali Dal.

Ravinder Singh, Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, Giani Harinder Singh, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, MLA Sucha Singh Chottepur, Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan, Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, Mr Talib Singh Sandhu. Mr Jaswant Singh Mann is the member-secretary of the board.

Principal Bharpur Singh said modern-day Sikh leaders did not think about the community at large but only about their group and families. The five-year regime of SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal exemplified this policy. Unless the rights of the Sikhs were protected in the Constitution, it was futile to contest elections in the democratic setup, he added.

Principal Bharpur Singh, a close associate of SGPC chief, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, favoured an alliance of the Akalis with the Congress as the Congress was a better bet than the BJP. If the aim is to come to power only, the Congress Governments will keep coming to power in Punjab as Sikhs aligned more with the Congress than the BJP.

Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan alleged the Akalis had become a puppet into the hands of the BJP and hence the need to form a separate party.

Dr Darshan Singh, Dr Harnam Singh Shan, Mr Amar Singh Chahal, Mr Ranjit Singh Chajalwadi and Mr Rajinder Singh also spoke.


Shortfall in power output likely
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 1
Power generation at the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here is expected to fall short of its target by over 25 per cent this financial year because of faulty boilers, it is learnt.

Sources at the plant revealed that there had been serious leaks in two of the boilers over the past few months, which had adversely affected generation.

“The low generation is evident from the low incentives paid to the staff,” an official at the plant disclosed. “The months of April, May, July, October and December have been particularly bad,” he added.

The generation in January was somewhat better, with the plant being able to meet the target of 67 lakh units per day on 18 days. “There have been instances where generation touched rock bottom on some days,” a source said. “During some months, the plant was able to meet targets on just two or three days,” he added.

The situation this year was in sharp contrast to the preceding years. While generation was surplus during 2001-02, the plant was able to meet its target during 2002-03.

The output was likely to be affected, with the plant’s number 2 boiler scheduled to be shut down for major renovation and maintenance, which would take about eight months if things went on schedule.

The task was scheduled to commence on February 24,

but officials revealed that it had now been deferred for about two months as the design and other modalities were still to be finalised.

It would involve refitting a new boiler and instrumentations, though the turbines and major auxiliaries would not be changed. The total cost of renovating two units was pegged at Rs 190 crore. The plant’s number 1 unit, which had outlived its stipulated lifespan was also to be renovated.

The Central Power Research Institute at Bangalore recently carried out residual life assessment of the plant’s number 3 and number 4 units. These units too were at the end of their stipulated lifespan. The number 3 unit was presently shut down for annual maintenance.


‘Suspect couple’ disclose identity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
A senior journalist, Mr Mohinder Singh, today came forward to end speculation about the identity of the ‘suspect couple’ whose name figured in a section of the press in connection with sensational jailbreak case.

Mr Mohinder Singh said that he, along with his wife, had visited Burail Jail on January 16, five days before the jailbreak along with an advocate, Mr Arunjiv Walia, one of the counsel for the accused. He said his wife had accompanied him to Chandigarh in connection with her pension case which was on record. However, it was a chance visit to the jail as he wanted to report about the accused lodged in connection with the assassination of Beant Singh case and the trial.

But the court was not held on that day and he alongwith others were not allowed to even enter the courtroom of the jail. Mr Mohinder Singh said that he had disclosed his identity to the Deputy Superintendent of Jail when asked.


Tohra should take up turban issue with PM: Badungar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 1
Senior Akali leader and former SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar said yesterday that the SGPC should take up the issue of denying Sikhs the right to wear turbans with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Talking to TNS here, Mr Badungar said as the SGPC was the representative body of the Sikhs, the responsibility of raising its voice against the injustice being meted to them in France rested with it. When asked whether he would appeal to SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra in this regard, he said it was up to the SGPC chief to take appropriate steps in this regard.

On being asked whether he appreciated Shiromani Akali Dal (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann’s going to France he said Mr Mann had gone to France in his individual capacity. “He could have taken up the matter with the SGPC,” he added.

Speaking on the issue of poor upkeep of gurdwaras in Pakistan and how the matter could be resolved, he said an international-level committee could be formed in this regard.


News Analysis
Legal hurdles to Panchayat Secys’ reinstatement
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, February 1
Will 909 sacked Panchayat Secretaries be reinstated? Legally speaking, no.

However, this question haunts the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, more than anyone else.

When these Panchayat Secretaries marched to her official residence on Thursday last, demanding their reinstatement, the Deputy Chief Minister raved and ranted at the bureaucracy for not listening to her and issuing job letters, as per the government commitment.

What is the commitment? The issue of reinstatement of these Panchayat Secretaries was informally discussed at a meeting of the Council of Ministers on January 20. The opinion was to make some “stop-gap” arrangement in the face of pressure from the Congress high command. However, the meeting was informed by the bureaucrats concerned that there had to be justifiable ‘’relaxation’’ in the existing policy to do this. The relaxation had to come from the Department of Personnel. Moreover, nothing could be done contrary to what had been submitted by way of affidavits in the court.

In the light of the discussions the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats sent the file to the Department of Personnel, seeking relaxation in the policy. There was no commitment as was made out by Ms Bhattal while addressing the sacked Panchayat Secretaries at her residence on Thursday, said sources.

They were sacked in December, 2002, following an inquiry by the then Administrative Secretary, Mr P. Ram, on the orders of the High Court. The legal opinion of the Additional Advocate-General, Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, on this issue is clear. She has said that the issue is pending in the High Court, which has received two interim reports from the CBI to whom it had entrusted the “vitiated” selection of 909 Panchayat Secretaries. Only after pursuing the contents of the two interim reports of the CBI, the court had rejected the stay application of the sacked Panchayat Secretaries, who had challenged their termination. It is, thus, legal aspects that were coming in the way of issuing the job letters, as demanded and desired by the Deputy Chief Minister Bhattal.

Why cannot the political executive tell the Panchayat Secretaries to wait till the court decided their case?

Ms Nirmaljit Kaur has recorded her opinion on four basic questions the government had posted to her. Whether reinstatement would tantamount to interference in the administration of justice in the matter which is directly between the court and the CBI? Whether such an action by the government invite contempt of court? Whether it will be a case of over-stepping to reinstate the sacked Secretaries when the original record was with the CBI and the same could not be scrutinised to pick up genuine candidates and whether such an action will be legally justified? Will their reinstatement affect the CBI inquiry?

She has recorded that “Although it may not strictly amount to contempt of court, reinstatement in the manner stated above would be highly improper and blatantly wrong. It would amount to condoning the very irregularities on the basis of which the termination order was passed.”

It may be recalled that there were over one lakh applications for posts of Panchayat Secretary when Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon was the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats. There was a written test in which about 4,000 candidates had qualified. The selection of 909 Panchayat Secretaries was based on a written test in 1997-98.

Only when some candidates went to the court and several discrepancies were found that the lid was blown after the High Court ordered an inquiry. Consequently, an FIR was lodged against the minister and 12 officials, including some IAS officers. Mr P. Ram had dubbed the selection of 909 Panchayat Secretaries as “vitiated”.


Power engineers’ plea to CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 1
A meeting of the executive committee of the PSEB S/C Power Engineers’ and Officers Association, Punjab, was held at Goraya in protest against the ‘delaying tactics’ being adopted by the Punjab Government in implementing the 85th Constitutional Amendment.

Speaking on the occasion the general secretary of the association, Mr R.S. Bangar, said the amendment provided consequential seniority in promotions to employees in the reserve category. The Supreme Court have given clear directions to implement the 85th Constitutional Amendment, even if additional posts had been created in a particular cadre so that the general category employees already promoted were not reverted.

The members of association have appealed to the Chief Minister to fulfil their long-pending demand.


Amarinder sends Id greetings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today extended warm greetings to all Punjabis, especially the Muslim brethren, on the eve of Id-ul-Zuha (Bakr Id).

In a message issued here today, the Chief Minister has appealed to the people to celebrate the festival collectively and to rise above the petty considerations of caste, colour, creed and religion.


First European flight lands at Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
The first-ever European tourist flight with 150 passengers on board landed at Rajasansi International Airport here today.

A spokesman of the national carrier of Slovak told newsmen that at present they were going to operate a weekly flight and had received overwhelming response from NRIs settled in England and Europe.

The inaugural flight today brought famous Punjabi pop singer Malkit Singh who expressed happiness over opening of the direct tourist route to the holy city. He said that his would bring in hordes of foreigners to visit the Golden Temple.


Illicit liquor claims 2 lives
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 1
Two persons died and a large number fell ill after consuming illicit liquor during a function at Chandbhan village in Faridkot district last night. The decease have been identified as 40-year-old Major Singh and 28-year-old Bawa Singh, who was handicapped.

The police put the number of persons falling ill at 40. About a dozen have been admitted to hospitals in Kotkapura, Jaito and Goniana, while the rest are recuperating at home.

They had gone to attend the engagement ceremony of Harinder Singh, son of a retired patwari. There the guests were consuming locally brewed liquor, when suddenly some of them felt giddy and started vomitting. The two died on the spot.

The Faridkot Deputy Commissioner, Mr H. Lal, visited the spot and announced relief of Rs 15,000 to the family of Major Singh and Rs 5,000 to the family of Bawa Singh.


State Sena chief puts in papers

Phillaur, February 1
The Shiv Sena Punjab unit president Swami Pushpender Swaroop has resigned from his post, citing poor health as the reason. Shiv Sena North India in charge Lieut-Gen P.N. Hoon (retd) has formed a six-member high-level working committee to run the organisation.

Party vice-president Surinder Dogra has been appointed chairman of the Shiv Sena Punjab unit. — OC


Complainants file petition against Daler’s bail order
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 1
Complainants in the human trafficking case have filed an application in the court of the Sessions Judge demanding revision of the order whereby pop star Daler Mehndi was given bail in the case.

The petition, which will come up for hearing on February 3, claims that an application for grant of regular bail was moved by Daler on December 30 in the court of a Judicial Magistrate. It says that a notice was issued to the state on January 2 and it was recorded on the first page of the bail application by the Judicial Magistrate. It claimed that this page was ‘torn’ by the Judicial Magistrate and the page was ‘replaced’ by a fresh page. It said the court released Daler on bail by its order dated December 30 without furnishing any surety despite objections from the Public Prosecutor and counsel for the complainants.

The petition, filed by Gurpreet Singh on behalf of the complainants, also claims that the entire Special Investigation Team (SIT) which was investigating the case against Daler was shifted out in order to scuttle and stall the investigation. It said after the transfer of the officers no attempt was made to arrest the pop singer with the new District Police Chief, Mr A.S. Rai, stating in a press conference that the case was now being seen from the different perspective.

The revision petition said the new SSP was brought in from Sangrur, pointing out that an effort was made earlier to transfer the case to Sangrur. It said when this could not be done, the SSP, Sangrur, was brought to Patiala for investigating the case. By doing so an effort was being made to scuttle and stall the investigation of the case so that Daler could go scot free and justice was denied to the petitioners who had been duped of lakhs of rupees, it alleged.

The complainants claimed that justice demanded that appropriate action be taken against Daler and that the criminal case registered against him be taken to its logical conclusions. They claimed that there was sufficient material on record to support the case of the petitioners which had neither been overlooked nor taken into consideration by the Judicial Magistrate. It also alleged that the magistrate had failed to appreciate the evidence brought on record of the case by the petitioners.


Supplementary challan contested by Badals
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 1
The defence counsel in the disproportionate assets and corruption case against Badals yesterday moved an application challenging the supplementary challan presented by the Vigilance Bureau against four accused in the case. The bureau had presented a supplementary challan against Gurpinder Singh Grewal, Nirabjit Singh, Darshan Singh and Pavittar Singh in the court of Special Judge, Ropar, on January 13.

The defence counsel maintained that the supplementary challan presented by the Vigilance Bureau was illegal. The original challan in the case was presented on November 21, 2003. If the bureau wanted further investigation in the case, it should have sought the permission of the court, the counsel said. The bureau had presented the challan without taking permission from the court, hence it was illegal, they maintained.

The Special Judge, Ropar, directed the prosecution to file a reply on February 21, the next date for hearing.

An application of Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, seeking exemption from personal appearance, on health grounds, also came up for hearing. The prosecution contested the plea saying the charges against Ms Badal were grave, so she should not be granted exemption from personal appearance. The judge reserved the judgement on the issue for February 21.

In another application, the defence alleged that the prosecution had not supplied it all relevant documents in the case. The judge directed the prosecution to supply documents sought by the defence in the case.

Only Mr Sukhbir Badal was present in the court for hearing today. Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Ms Surinder Kaur Badal had sought exemption from personal appearance on health grounds.


‘Mission White’ brings boom in cotton production

Bathinda, February 1
A small village with 121 families has brought Bathinda district on the world cotton map. Nava Pind has achieved the distinction of producing 800 kg cotton per hectare against the national average of 300 kg per hectare.

Thanks to the Vardhman Group’s “Mission White”, the highest individual production in the village is 1300 kg per hectare now and the average of 800 kg is better than the US output of 750 kg per hectare.

Amid repeated crop failures and low cotton yield, the Vardhman Group, which is the largest producer of cotton yarn in India, adopted Nava Pind to turn the village into an ideal cotton producer.

Vardhman deputed a young team of scientists and entomologists in Nava Pind to guide the farming community and it led to turnaround in cotton production, Vardhman Chairman and Managing Director S.P. Oswal said.

Not only did the production increase, the project also brought down the average expenditure from Rs 7595 per acre last year to Rs 7112 per acre owing to reduction in sprays and water expenses. The yield is of improved quality and is fetching better returns. The average selling rate has shot up from Rs 2175 per quintal last year to Rs 2500 per quintal this year.

The names of marginal farmer Kulwinder Singh and Gurpartap Singh have also been recommended by the PAU Ludhiana for the “CII Award for best cotton growers’’ of the state. Out of 10, two prizes have been bagged by the farmers of Nava Pind. Farmers of this village include two postgraduates, 30 graduates and undergraduates.

“We lacked technical knowledge and the solution was provided by scientists from Delhi and from the agricultural university through the Vardhman Group,’’ said the village sarpanch, Mr Manpreet Singh.

“Many of the farmers in our village have freed themselved from all bank and private debts,’’ he added.

Mission in charge and Vardhman Corporate General Manager I.J. Dhuria said, “We aim to set up a ‘Cotton Growers Foundation’ supported by textile owners of north. The interest of the textile owner will be to increase the cotton yield.’’

“We studied the reason for the low produce and adopted five steps — opening Farmers Field School, assuring genuine fertilisers and pesticides, training farmers at research stations in Bathinda and Faridkot and timely monitoring of the crop to achieve more than the desired results. We also targeted at changing the mindset of farmers,’’ he said.

Encouraged by the success of the project, the Vardhman Group has decided to adopt 10 more villages under “Mission White’’. — UNI


9 members of gang held on murder charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 1
Nine gangsters were arrested by the police for allegedly killing a member of their gang over differences about sharing money looted in a dacoity they carried out at Madrasa village in Muktsar district in September last.

The nine-member gang, headed by Bhagwant Singh, was remanded in police custody by a local court. A case of murder and dacoity was registered against them at the Sadar police station in Bathinda.

The gang had carried out a dacoity in Muktsar on September 6 and then fought amongst themselves over the sharing of the loot money. One of the gang members, Raja Singh, alias Bawa, a resident of Lambi village, was killed by his associates and his body was recovered from a canal near Jhumba.


Students protest against govt policies
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 1
The Medical Students Association organised a meeting to protest against the “anti-doctor” policies of the state government here today.

The meeting was presided over by vice-president of the association Puneet Singh.

Puneet Singh alleged that since 1998 no government jobs had been offered to doctors by the Punjab Government. He further added that in past there had been reduction in MD, MS seats. MD and MS courses were also being derecognised due to lack of senior doctors and proper facilities, he added.

General secretary of the association Rakesh Sandhu said in Chandigarh and Delhi house surgeons got Rs 14,800 and Rs 16,000, respectively, per month but in Punjab it was mere Rs 4,800.

The members of the association have appealed to the state government to upgrade medical colleges in the state.


BHEL likely to get PSEB project
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 1
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) may give Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) the proposed Rs 1,700 crore Lehra Mohabbat Stage Two project on a turnkey basis.

BHEL has been asked to submit its proposal by February 10, following which negotiations will start and the project will be sent for government approval. Sources said the board management had recently decided to give the project to BHEL on a turnkey basis due to shortage of engineers to execute on its own.

Board Member, Generation, H.S. Sahai, when contacted, said earlier there was a proposal to get only boilers, turbines and generators from BHEL, but the decision was changed due to shortage of junior engineers.

The board has also approved two micro hydel projects recently. Two 850 KW projects are being set up at the Ropar thermal plant, where waste water from the thermal plant will be utilised for generating power. This water, which will flow into the Sutlej through a special channel, will be utilised at two falls. The board has placed the order for the machinery for the projects with HP Energy, Delhi. The PSEB has also given the order for civil works for the Mukerian Stage Two project.

The board’s plan to establish a 500 MW project at Chhatisgarh has been dropped with the change of government in the state and the inability of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to become a partner in the project.

Mr Sahai said the board had appointed Tata Consultancy to assess the proposal of the Gas Authority of India to establish gas-based plants in Punjab at Doraha and Bathinda.

The board was taking this proposal seriously as the freight charges for coal had become more than the cost of coal itself. 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |