P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Chandumajra paying for disobeying whip, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Ghanaur (Patiala), February 25
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said senior leader Prem Singh Chandumajra had been denied party ticket from Patiala because he had disobeyed the party whip and abstained from voting against the no-confidence motion moved against the 13-day-old National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 1998.

In an interaction here after participating in a massive rally organised to informally launch the election campaign of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the SAD President said Mr Chandumajra would have to bear responsibility for such an act. He even went on to say that the Akali leader had been a non-performer in Parliament.

Mr Badal said the party was determined not to effect any change in the tickets announced by it adding that it would not be “blackmailed”. When questioned about the recent rally organised by Mr Chandumajra, he said, “We are waiting for some time and if the protesting leaders do not see light we will take disciplinary action against them”.

The president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, while speaking at the rally, appealed to all leaders who were unhappy at the ticket selection to rally to the party. The SGPC chief, while talking about the Patiala ticket, said he had recommended the names of both Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Chandumajra to the party president.

Mr Tohra said the final decision had been left to the SAD President and everybody had agreed to abide by the latter’s decision. Speaking about Mr Chandumajra, he said the leader should have regard for the party which had nominated him four times from Patiala adding that he should realise that the people were with the party and not any individual.

While both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra tampered their speeches while speaking about Mr Chandumajra, the SGPC President’s son-in-law Harmail Singh Tohra had no such reservation. He made a oblique derogatory reference to Mr Chandumajra and went on to say that the latter had always benefitted from Mr Tohra and should not start thinking that he alone was responsible for Akali victories in the constituency.

Former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, while speaking, said the likely contest with Mrs Preneet Kaur of the Congress would be a fight between the “palace” and a “worker”. The contest will decide whether the old feudal system would prevail or the rule of the people, he added. The Akali leader also announced that the party would support agitating farmers who were presently camped on the Mall Road in Patiala.

Both SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and Capt Kanwaljit Singh claimed that the selection of Bikram Inderjeet Singh Chahal, son of Capt Amarinder’s aide B I S Chahal was untenable in the eyes of the law. They alleged that the state government had broken all established rules in making the selections adding that it was strange that jobs were being doled out in this manner when there were no jobs for the common man.


Tur to revolt against SAD decision on seat
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 25
Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, sitting member of the Lok Sabha from the local constituency, has decided to raise the banner of revolt against the decision of the SAD to make Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala the party candidate from the seat.

Mr Tur addressed a meeting of party workers here today at the residence of Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, former MLA and member of PAC of the SAD. Besides others who addressed the meeting included Mr Major Singh Ubboke, former MP, Mr Sampooran Singh Bakipur, former Zila Parishad member, Mr Sawinder Singh Balwa, Mr Avtar Singh Deol, general secretary, AISSF (Gill), Mr Sakandar Singh Muradpur, Mr Manmohan Singh Sathiala, former MLA and leader of the Akali Dal led by Mr Ravi Inder Singh.

The leaders condemned the leadership of the SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SGPC, was condemned by certain leaders for not protecting the interests of old and deserving candidates.

Mr Tur, who has represented the constituency for three times, declared that he was in no mood to accept an “outsider” candidate in the constituency.

Some of the speakers advised the leaders presented on the occasion not to revolt against the party decision but they should fight against the party decision by remaining in the party.

Mr Manmohan Singh Sathiala criticised Mr Badal and Mr Tohra and declared that the Akali Dal led by Mr Ravi Inder Singh would like to make sure that the candidates of the Akali Dal led by Mr Badal were defeated.

Mr Tur told this correspondent that he was holding meetings of his “loyalists” in all nine Vidhan Sabha constituencies falling under this Lok Sabha constituency and after that he would hold a big conference here on March 9 and then announce his future course of action.


Punjab BJP told to help SAD
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
The BJP candidates for the three seats in Punjab would be announced in the second week of March. This was revealed by leaders of the Sangh Parivar that held a meeting here today with state BJP leaders. The state leaders were directed not to interfere in the choice of candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The Sangh Parivar meeting held under the leadership of Mr Madan Dass Devi and Mr Dinesh Kumar told the state leaders that the BJP would announce its candidates for the three seats of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur in Punjab in the second week of March in Delhi.

Mr Sanjay Joshi, BJP general secretary, is believed to have hinted that the party is keen to offer the Gurdaspur seat to the sitting party MP, Mr Vinod Khanna. It is learnt that the party is keen to field former Punjab Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal from Hoshiarpur and is working on breaking away a Congress legislator for Amritsar.

Those present at the meeting included state BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna and three state general secretaries Harjit Singh Grewal, Rajinder Bhandari and Vijay Sapla and four former state party presidents Daya Singh Sodhi, Mr. Madan Mohan Mittal, B.L Rinwa and B.D Tandon.

The meeting was of the view that only those candidates who had a clear possibility of winning should be fielded as every result could make a difference in the formation of the government at the Centre. In this context, the leadership directed the state leaders to whole-heartedly support the SAD nominees.

State BJP leaders said that even though the party did not consider Punjab to be a state that could alter the results at the Centre, the party was making allout efforts for a decisive victory.

The BJP leadership advocated the use of audio-visual equipment to replicate the Rajasthan experiment in Punjab.


Notice to Punjab CM on advts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
Objecting to the alleged misuse of advertisements carrying “full size photographs” of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other leaders, SGPC’s former Presidents Kirpal Singh Badungar and Bibi Jagir Kaur, besides MLAs Gurdev Singh Badal and Balwinder Singh Bhundar have issued a legal notice to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Describing the same as “illegal”, their counsel asserted that the advertisements issued by the Punjab Government were on the face of it intended to influence the electorate in favour of the Congress in the forthcoming elections.

He added that Ms Sonia Gandhi was not holding any “governmental position” in Punjab. As such, she was not connected with the schemes of the government. “Moreover, with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, she has also lost her status as the Leader of Opposition”.

He further added that “any effort to use government funds to promote the electoral fortunes of a political party in power by carrying out propaganda for it was unconstitutional”.

Counsel also asked the Chief Minister to “forthwith stop the issuance of the advertisements .”


PSEB may withdraw tariff revision plea
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is set to withdraw its tariff revision petition to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) following a directive from the state government to do so.

The issue, according to sources, was discussed at a meeting of members of the board. A request was expected to be forwarded to the commission in this connection soon.

The PSEB has proposed to mop up an additional revenue of about Rs 1,000 crore to meet its annual revenue requirements.

However, Mr L.S. Deol, a member of the commission, said the board could not withdraw the petition at this stage when the commission had already started processing it.

The commission had already written to the PSEB to publish its annual revenue requirement (ARR) and the proposed increase in various tariff slabs in important newspapers to invite objections. One month is given for filing objections.

While political circles said the state government had asked the PSEB to withdraw the petition in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections, the PSEB authorities deny it, linking the move to financial restructuring as well as proposed unbundling of the board.

PSEB Chairman, Y.S. Ratra, told The Tribune that financial consultants had advised the state government as well as the board that the revenue requirements of the board were bound to alter once its financial restructuring started. The board’s financial liabilities would also change. Hence, the decision to withdraw the existing petition and file a fresh one, taking into account all aspects.

The board has proposed no increase in tariff for those consuming up to 50 units. However, for the 50 to 100 units slab, the board has proposed to increase the tariff from Rs 2.06 to Rs 2.75 per unit. For 101 to 300 units, the proposed increase from Rs 3.44 per unit to Rs 3.75. Above 300 units, it is proposed to be increased from Rs 3.64 to Rs 4 per unit. For small-scale units, the proposed tariff is Rs 3.50 against Rs 3.15 at present.

For medium-scale units, the proposed rate is Rs 3.75 against Rs 3.57 now. However, there is a proposal to reduce the tariff for large units from Rs 3.66 to Rs 3.25 per unit. For those having up to 11 KV power loads in the non-domestic sector, the board has proposed the tariff rate of Rs 4.25 against Rs 4.17 at present.


Badal lambasts controversial selections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, has condemned the appointment of wards of two favourites of the Chief Minister as Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) by the Punjab Government setting aside the claims of renowned international sportspersons like Ramandeep Singh, Sukhvir Gill and Devinder Kumar.

Mr Badal asked the Chief Minister to make public reservations expressed on these appointments by DGP A.A Siddiqui and Sports Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang.

Mr Badal said jobs were available under Capt Amarinder Singh’s regime only on “cash or contact” and that the act of ignoring Punjab’s outstanding international sportspersons to accommodate the wards of his blue-eyed boys was “shocking beyond words”.

Mr Badal recalled that during his tenure eminent sportspersons like cricketer Harbhajan Singh were given such posts. “In comparison, who in Punjab has heard of the great deeds of the two appointed by Amarinder?’’ he wanted to know.

Mr Badal was commenting on media reports about the controversial selection of Mr Bikram Inderjit Singh Chahal, son of Chief Minister’s Media Adviser, B.I.S. Chahal, and Mr Gulzar Inder Singh, son of Ferozepore SSP Harinder Singh Chahal, by exceeding the brief of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Appointment of DSPs’ illegal: CPI
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 25
A former deputy leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and senior Communist leader, Mr Hardev Arshi, today alleged that the appointment of certain sportspersons as deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) by the state government was unconstitutional and would demoralise meritorious unemployed youth in Punjab.

He alleged that by appointing certain sportspersons as DSPs in violation of norms of recruitment for the post, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had equated himself with a former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau for his alleged involvement in the job-for-cash scam and remained behind bars for a long time.

“On the one hand, the Amarinder Singh government had been harming the interests of sportspersons, who have achieved distinction in international events while on the other hand his government has been appointing sportspersons with little distinction as DSPs,” he pointed out, adding that Capt Amarinder Singh, who claimed that the functioning of his government would be transparent, should tell people about the circumstances which compelled him to take this unconstitutional step.

He said during the chief ministership of the late Beant Singh, certain undeserving youths were appointed to various plum posts directly and the appointments were later quashed on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

To a question, he said the CPI was a principled party and would oppose such appointments tooth and nail at all forums.


DSPs appointed on merit: Siddiqui
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 25
Director-General of Punjab Police A. A. Siddiqui has said that the recent appointment of 11 deputy superintendents of police was done under the sports quota on merit by a three-member board on which besides him were Mr S. K. Sinah, Home Secretary, and Mr D. S. Bains, Secretary of Sports. All appointments were done strictly according to rules, he stressed.

Mr Siddiqui was talking to mediapersons at the Community Policing Resource Centre here.

On efforts to nab the alleged assassins of Beant Singh, the Director-General said the Punjab Police had constituted two teams that were assisting the Chandigarh Police in this connection. He said they were probably still in the country.

Mr Siddiqui said community policing resource centres were successfully functioning in all districts in the state. Fifteen of these had been housed in buildings at district headquarters while the rest were functioning without buildings.

The Punjab Police chief said 18 temporary police stations that were set up in the state, including four in this district, during the militancy period, would be made permanent.

He said one more list of transfers of police officials would be released soon.

JALANDHAR (PTI): Justifying the selection of sons of former Adviser to Chief Minister B.I.S. Chahal and Ferozepur SSP Harinder Singh Chahal as DSP under the sports quota, Director-General of Police A. A. Siddiqui on Wednesday claimed that all prescribed norms were followed in the selection

Mr Siddiqui, speaking to reporters here, rejected the protest lodged by some of the sportspersons against the selection of the two DSPs.

Regarding the death of Bagicha Singh, a key witness in the multi-crore kidney scam and whose body was found under mysterious circumstances from roadside in the Nakodar area on February 13, the DGP said proper investigation in the case had been ordered.

The DSP termed the recent Amritsar blast as “negligence and carelessness” of the staff concerned and ruled out the hand of any anti-social elements. However, he did not rule out the involvement of hard-core criminals behind the blast on the railway track recently near Goraya. — PTI


Docs to take up N-issue with Pak
Tribune News Service

Wagah (Amritsar), February 25
An 11-member delegation of doctors under the banner of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) today crossed over to Pakistan to take up vital issue of nuclear deterrence in south Asian region with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and the Chairman of Pakistan Senate. The delegation, comprising representatives from the USA, Malaysia, Sweden, Russia and Nepal, would seek an audience with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zaffarula Khan Jamali.

The IPPNW, a recipient of Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, today stressed on the role of the global civil society to exert itself to bring change in ‘ethical agenda’ of the world. Pointing at the US war in Iraq, the IPPNW asserted that the war being used as continuation of politics, albeit by other means.

Decrying the US action, Dr Ronald McCoy (Malaysia), president of the IPPNW and member of the Canberra commission on elimination of nuclear weapons, warned that the “war on terrorism” as conceived by the USA was doomed if not followed by political or cooperative solutions for future deterrence.

He said the USA was following a pro-active policy in the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy and described the subcontinent as one of the most dangerous flashpoints on earth. Dr Ronald stated that the USA was “poised to abandon its national nuclear policy retaliation, after the twin tower attack.”

Earlier the delegation addressed a seminar on “war violence and health” organised by the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development affiliated to the IPPNW and Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, headed by Dr A.S. Padda and others like Dr Tejbir Singh and Dr S.S. Deepti.

While talking to The Tribune, the IPPNW president said the delegation hoped to persuade political leadership and policy makers of both countries (India and Pakistan) to sign nuclear Non-Proliferation-Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This would serve as a tremendous confidence-building measure to move on to the vital issues of Kashmir. Transparency in terms of security between both countries was crucial to create trust and build mutual understanding.

The delegation would take up this issue with Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha after its meetings in Pakistan.

Dr Mahesh Maskey (Nepal), vice-president of the IPPNW, described his country as surrounded by nuclear weapons club and whose funds for development were being diverted from the areas of health and education. “Not only does war cause death and destruction, but also its manifestations are manifold in the degradation of environment, human health, fauna and flora,” he added.

Dr John Loritz from USA programme director IPPNW, said the IPPNW was totally opposed to the American action in Iraq and arguments to that effect by the George Bush administration did not justify the means adopted. He said the American public was angry and aggrieved over sufferings caused to not only Iraqis but also to thousands of US soldiers in the war against terrorism.

Dr Hans Leavander (Sweden) praised the issue of peace and interdependence of Europe that integrated 16 nations to make a powerful global front for future progress and prosperity. The same pattern could be adopted in the South Asian countries negating reasons for war and consequent nuclear pile-up.

Others in delegation include Mr Martin Tondel (Sweden), Mrs Nilli Jonasson (Russia), Dr Geeta McGohey (USA), Dr Gunnar Wistberg (Sweden), Dr Mahesh Maskey (Nepal), Dr Sharad Onta (Nepal), Dr Khagendra Vikram Dahal (Nepal) and Dr Somnath Aryal (Nepal).


Stationary vehicles guzzle fuel worth 7 cr
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
The sensational “fuel scam” detected in the local municipal corporation a few days ago has turned out to be one of the biggest scandals in the Local Bodies Department. Latest findings indicate that 50 per cent of the diesel, worth Rs 7 crore, purchased over the past five years, was never filled in the tanks of the MC vehicles.

Public money amounting to Rs 7 crore was embezzled by the perpetrators of the scandal, six of whom have been booked by the Vigilance while the role of certain executive engineers and several top officials of the MC is under investigation. The suspects sold off the fuel with the connivance of a few petrol station owners in the city. These are the findings of the investigation into the records contained in 60 registers pertaining only to the past five years and one clerk and one petrol station.

The extent of the scam is reflected in the fact that the records of three other clerks and as many petrol stations are yet to be verified. The period beyond the past five years is yet to be looked into. The modus operandi was to show the usage of vehicles on paper while the vehicles did not move an inch.

One of the main accused, Kishan Lal, a diesel-petrol attendant, is said to have amassed property worth Rs 1.25 crore in just six years of service. He was arrested two days ago under the Prevention of Corruption Act and was booked today under the Disproportionate Assets Act by the Vigilance Bureau.

Not only road-worthy vehicles were shown to have covered several kilometres per day in aid of maintaining good sanitation, even condemned vehicles were shown doing the rounds. Two road-sweeping machines with flat tyres and jammed engines for the past two months were shown consuming 75 litres of diesel in just half a day! Out of every Rs 2 spent on these vehicles, Re 1 was going into the pockets of the accused, it is calculated.

It is suspected that there was a well-organised racket in which senior officials were also paid off.

Vigilance Bureau, SSP Naunihal Singh told The Tribune that apart from Kishan Lal, the other accused were Chief Sanitary Inspector Ashwani Sahota, Health Department in-charge G.S. Grewal, inspector Deepak, helper Somnath and driver Shiv Kumar. The role of staff and owners of Highway Service Station on the Jalandhar by-pass road is under investigation.

“We are going to question even top officials of the MC in this regard,” said Mr Naunihal Singh.

Meanwhile, the unearthing of the scandal has created chaos in the MC with several persons associated with sanitation going in hiding or proceeding on leave. Heaps of garbage can be seen on the roads.

Meanwhile, a district court today granted interim bail till March 1 to three persons in the case.

The Special Judge granted bail to Mr Gurcharan Singh and Ms Paramjit Kaur, partners in Highway Petrol Pump, and an Executive Engineer of the MC, Mr Prem Lal Sharma.


40 lakh additional income tax surrendered
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 25
In the recent survey, operations concluded by the Income Tax Development under the Administrative Supervision of Mr L.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, Bathinda, more than 40 lakh of additional income tax had been surrendered. While disclosing this, Mr B.K. Karkara, Additional Commissioner, said the overall amount of the additional income surrendered was likely to go up substantially after the appraisal of account books of some traders of Talwandi Bhai and Faridkot was completed, which were currently under scrutiny.

Mr Karkara further revealed that the survey operations were still being carried on at few places in which nine teams comprising more than 35 ITO’s and other officials drawn from Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar, Abohar and Ferozepore were involved. Earlier, during the week, the department had conducted raids at the premises of nine assesses, including doctors, owner of hardware stores, commission agents and rice mill owners of the region.

The department today carried out survey on the premises of a firm manufacturing agricultural equipments and combines.


Rs 4.60 crore released for pension schemes
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 25
The Punjab Government has released a grant of Rs 4.60 crore for the Ropar district under the old-age, widow and handicapped pension schemes. The pensions would now be given in cash to beneficiaries through panchayats.

The Minister for Animal Husbandry, Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, gave this information while speaking at a function in Kurali today. The function was held to redress problems of people. He said disbursing pensions through panchayats was the first step of the Punjab Government towards empowering them. On the occasion, Mr Kang also presented a cheque of Rs 31.31 lakh to the chairman of the Morinda Block Samiti.

Mr Kang also directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, to ensure the presence of officers for some days in a week to redress grievances of people. The Deputy Commissioner assured to take appropriate action in the matter. On the occasion, Mr Kang issued a grant of Rs 35,000 for sewerage in the Kurali Municipal Council area. He said the repair of all link roads in the district would be completed by March 31.


Cyber Suvidha — a boon for helpless
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 25
Seventy-year-old Jagat Singh of Nijamiwala village under Samana Police Station in the district had no-one to turn to when his two sons sold his house and the land that was his only source of income. That is until he found Cyber Suvidha. The scheme saved him from becoming homeless by putting moral pressure on his sons to give him a part of the property so that he could live with dignity in the twilight of his life.

Jagat Singh had earlier transferred his land and house in the name of his two sons. His sons sold the land without informing him. When the person who bought Jagat Singh’s house came to occupy, the old man had nowhere to go.

This is when he turned to the recently launched Cyber Suvidha scheme. After receiving the complaint police officers coordinated with his sons, the village panchayat and even those who had purchased the property to ensure that one third of the land remained with Jagat Singh. One of his sons has taken the responsibility of keeping Jagat Singh till a new house was built on his part of the land.

This is not the only success story of the scheme that was launched last month by the district police. Though techno savvy schemes have been launched earlier also, this is the first scheme in which data is retrievable so that one comes to know about its progress. Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) L. K. Yadav told TNS that around 280 calls had been received at the Community Police Resource Centre (CRPC) in Baradari Gardens in the city. As many as 18 complaints had been disposed of, 147 passport verifications, 76 police clearances, 62 arms cases and 289 service verifications had been cleared during this period, he added.

Mr Yadav said the spirit behind the scheme was to encourage people to lodge their complainants on the telephone or through e-mail. He said the staff at the centre had been trained to guide people on how to lodge their complaint through e- mail. The compliments could also check the status of their complaints and lodge their grievances in case they felt that they were not getting justice at the hands of the police department.

Disclosing the work done through Cyber Suvidha, he said a 15-year-old girl had been reunited with her mother after a period of eight months, only three days after a complaint in this regard was received at the facility. He said the girl, who was stated to have eloped with a youth, could not be traced by her mother and brother for months. “This despite the fact that the family spent more than Rs 70,000 on petrol to visit several places with the police during this time”, the police officer said. He said after the complaint was received at the Cyber Suvidha and the relevant police station was briefed about the case, the girl was recovered from Nahan recently and was now living with her mother in Mubarakpur village near here.

The scheme, which revolves around community policing, has also detected false cases. Mr Yadav said on February 16 a woman from the city had rung up the facility at 4 in the morning and alleged that her husband wanted to burn her and was planning to douse her with kerosene oil. He said a patrol party which was sent to the neighbourhood did not find anything suspicious. The police officer said following this the woman came to his office smelling of kerosene oil and accused the Cyber Suvidha staff of not paying heed to her complaint. “By that time we had found out from her neighbours that she had levelled the allegation because her husband has sided with his brother in a family quarrel. “All parties were brought together and a compromise affected”, he added.


Fighting a long battle to cleanse Buddha Nullah
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA: Human rights activist Charanjit Bakshi of Chandigarh has been fighting the battle for getting Buddha Nullah, Ludhiana’s “drain of sorrow” cleaned for the past two years. Talk to him about the issue and he shows almirahs full of files about the cases he is fighting for improving the highly deteriorated environmental conditions in Ludhiana, courtesy the nullah.

These files reveal that the departments concerned — the Pollution Control Board, the Water and Sewerage Board and MC officials — seem to be dithering over finding an early solution to the problem the city residents have learnt to live with.

It was a news item in The Tribune dated April 16, 2002, which attracted him to this problem. Besides Ludhiana residents, those inhabiting 40 villages in the district situated near the confluence point of the drain with the Sutlej were suffering from a number of diseases because of all kinds of polluting elements, germs and bacteria flowing in the nullah. The picture of the confluence point published in The Tribune clearly showed black water of the nullah flowing into the Sutlej.

Mr Bakshi took up the matter with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC). Despite boastful affidavits filed by the authorities concerned about solving the problem, Mr Bakshi has taken the departments concerned to court, keeping up the pressure.

After reading news reports quoting residents of 40 villages down the drain and those in Ludhiana, Mr Bakshi has undertaken several surveys of the affected areas. He had to do so as the Punjab Pollution Control Board, the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, the Water and Sewerage Supply Board and the state government on the whole presented such a rosy picture about the problem to the PSHRC that the case would have been closed at the initial stages.

Another news report in The Tribune based on field surveys done by this correspondent and Mr Bakshi throws light on the false claims made by the authorities before the commission. The authorities have filed counter-claims with the commission which is seized of the matter.

“Buddha Nullah is not the bane of Ludhiana alone. It is polluting the Sutlej and underground water, besides spreading contagious diseases. The Sutlej water eventually goes to Rajasthan, which is also under threat.”

“It would rest only after I take the matter to its logical conclusion. As many departments are involved one is confused as to which is actually responsible for tackling the problem.”

“The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has tackled this issue with sensitivity and passed orders from time to time which served as a mirror to the district administration so that something could be done in this matter. It is frustrating to see hundreds of people die of renal failure, cancer, jaundice, water-borne diseases etc on account of Buddha Nullah. I wonder if residents of the villages near Buddha Nullah will ever have their basic right of clean drinking water,” Mr Bakshi said.


Punjab pensioners hold protest
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
A protest rally was staged here today by members of the Punjab State Pensioners Confederation against the Punjab Government’s failure to settle their long-pending demands. The Punjab pensioners were joined by Central Government, Railway Board Pensioners, PSEB, Municipal Corporation and ex-servicemen and Himachal Pradesh Pensioners Kalyan Sangh representatives.

The protest was organised on a call given by the confederation and after service of one month’s ultimatum upon the Punjab Government.

About 1,000 pensioners participated in the dharna/rally. They lambasted the state government for its apathy and callous attitude towards their just demands based on the Punjab Fourth Pay Commission’s recommendations made in Part-III of its report.

The rallyists handed over a charter of demands to the Deputy Commissioner for transmission to the authorities concerned. The memorandum includes merger of existing 50 per cent of dearness relief into basic pension; rescinding of instructions on Pension Commutation calculations with regard to retirees of July 31, 2003 and thereafter; Constitution of Pensioners State Advisory Committee, as per the Punjab government notification of January 7, 2000, and implementation of poll-eve promises contained in the manifesto and acceptance of the recommendations of the Punjab Fourth Pay Commission.


Experts discuss noise, emission control of engines
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 25
A workshop on “Noise and emission control of engines”, organised by the Sri Sukhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dera Bassi, was attended by students of four engineering colleges here today.

Besides technical experts, students from Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana, Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, the Ryat Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Sri Sukhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dera Bassi, attended the workshop.

Organised in collaboration with the Students Chapter of Society of Automotive Engineers, the Chandigarh branch of the Aeronautical Society of India was the co-sponsor of the workshop in which various noise and emission aspects of automobile and aircraft engines were discussed.

Mr R. P. Sehgal, Executive Director of Punjab Tractors Limited, who was the chief guest on the occasion, stressed on the need of environment friendly automobile engines. He also disclosed steps being taken to control these aspects by the automobile industry.

Gp Capt A. Gautam, Chief of Planning, 3 BRD Air Force, Chandigarh, elaborated specialities of military engines while Mr Lakhinder Singh, AGM (R and D), Swaraj Mazda limited, spoke on emissions: euro I, II and III.

Wg Cdr D. P. Sabharwal, Director of Euro Academy, threw light on quieter jet engines.

Earlier chairman of the host college, Mr Avtar Singh, highlighted college achievements and welcomed the speakers.


Real film drama at Kharar
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 25
Reel drama turned out to be a real life drama when a clash took place between members of a film shooting unit and local shopkeepers in the main bazar here today.

As many as nine persons sustained minor injuries in the clash. Two persons lost their gold chains in the melee and four of them lost their mobile phones. Half of the lost items belonged to the film unit members. The shooting work remained suspended for about an hour-and-a-half. The work on the film could start again only after certain members, who were accused of misbehaviour, tendered a public apology.

The producer of the film, Manjit Mann, who kept admitting that her boys were at fault, managed to pacify the angry shopkeepers and a compromise was effected with the help of prominent persons in the area. A written compromise was signed by members of both the groups. It is learnt that Ms Mann even purchased two mobile phones for the shopkeepers that were got lost. The gold chian belonging to Aman Kansal, that too had got lost, was recovered and handed over to the owner.

The shooting for the film “Des Hoya Pardes” started in the main bazar around 8 a.m. peacefully. Trouble arose when repeated shots of a scene were being taken for which certain shopkeepers had been asked to put down their shutters. One of the shopkeepers lifted the shutter when the shot was being taken. This annoyed certain members of the film unit. The shopkeeper said that after he lifted the shutter he was abused and manhandled by the film unit members, though a similar allegation had also been levelled by film unit members. In no time other shopkeepers gathered resulting in heated arguments and manhandling.

It is learnt that the police then took away Darshan Aulakh, production manager of the film and Sandeep Sandhu from the bazar, to bring the situation under control, who were brought back after sometime.

Two of the injured persons, Darshan Aulakh and Sandeep Sandhu, belonged to the film unit. Others who had been injured are Mr Aman Kansal, Mr Ajay Sharma, Mr Hemant, Mr Avinash Bansal, Mr Robin, Mr Shiv Kumar and Mr Amit Sahni. Some of the injured persons had sustained head injuries, while other had minor bruises on their faces.

As the location for the scene had been selected yesterday, a number of people had gathered in the bazar in the morning to see the shooting. An SHO was to be shot dead in broad-daylight by terrorists while he was making some purchases from the market for the wedding of his daughter. The role of the SHO was to be played by Gurkirtan Singh.

Some scene of the film were shot at the Civil Hospital here yesterday.


Pak to observe 400th martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 25
The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and World Sikh-Muslim Federation (WSMF) have decided to observe the 400th martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev at a national-level in 2006.

This was disclosed by Mr Manmohan Singh, Chairman of the WSMF, while talking to The Tribune from England here today. He said the Government of Pakistan might hand over the prime stadium and adjoining Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, to the Sikhs as a mark of respect to the fifth Sikh Guru who had made supreme sacrifice for the sake of humanity.

Mr Manmohan Singh said Mr Izhar-ul-Hassan, Additional Secretary, Pakistan, evacuee property trust board, had informed him that the PSGPC would invite the representatives of various Sikh bodies from all over the world to make the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev.

The WSMF leader said Mr Parvez Ilahi, Chief Minister of West Punjab (Pakistan) had announced the release of postal stamp to mark 400th anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev.


BKU activists block entry to bus stand
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 25
On the fourth day of the agitation, activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) and Kisan Sangharsh Committee blocked the entry to the bus stand for nearly tow hours from 12 noon to protest against the decision to privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board (BSEB), here today.

The farmers also blocked the Rajpura road and the traffic had to be diverted to the alternative routes.

Addressing the rally, the president of the BKU (Ekta), Mr Joginder Singh, demanded that the state government should release the balance payment of sugarcane to the farmers immediately. He added the government should stick to its poll promises of providing free electricity and water to the farmers.

The farmers further said that the state government decision to privatise the PSEB was against the interests of the farming community, employees and the masses.

The general secretary of the union, Mr Sukhdev Singh, demanded 50 per cent subsidy on diesel for agriculture, besides payment of a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal of paddy to the farmers.

They threatened to intensify the struggle if the state government failed to resolve the issue. Those who addressed the rally, among others, were Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Mr Amarjeet Singh, Mr Balraj Singh, Mr Jagbir Singh and Mr Harbans Singh.


Panchayats decry harassment by excise staff
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 25
A large number of panchayats and other organisations have decried the alleged harassment of innocent people by the excise staff.

Mr Shawani Kumar Kukku, President of the local unit of the Shiv Sena, Mr Kulwinder Singh, sarpanch of Gorkha village, Ms Gurmeet Kaur, Mr Mukhtar Singh, sarpanch of Mughal Chack Pannuan village. Ms Jaswant Kaur of Manochahal Kalan village and some other sarpanches condemned their alleged harassment by “armed members” of the excise staff.

The sarpanches said “wine contractors” had formed their own security and they raided houses in villages without search warrants.


Freedom fighter Amar Nath dead

Phagwara, February 25
Veteran freedom fighter Pt Amar Nath Gautam died here after brief illness in the wee hours today. Popularly known as Pandit Ji, he actively participated in the freedom struggle.

He was 83 and survived by his widow, four sons and daughter Ms Sarojini Sharda who is Commissioner of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation. According to family sources Gautam who slept last night peacefully was found dead when his son G.R. Gautam went to wake him early morning today. His funeral will be held here tomorrow. — UNI


Hepatitis-A grips Goniana
Tribune News Service

Goniana (Bathinda), February 25
Hepatitis-A has gripped this town, 15 km from Bathinda, as residents reportedly had to consume contaminated water due to apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that so far 46 cases of hepatitis-A have been detected. A majority of those affected are getting treatment at private hospitals.

Dr Avtar Singh Sidhu, Senior Medical Officer at the local Civil Hospital, said water from open drains had entered water pipes at three places due to leakages, resulting in the contamination.


Farm labourers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 25
A large number of farm labourers staged a dharna here in protest against the failure of the Central Government to formulate a comprehensive policy to protect their interests.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Gulzar Goria, state general secretary of the Khet Mazdoor Sabha, criticised the BJP led NDA government for harping on the feel-good factor.


High Court
Decision on application within a month
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 25
Acting on a petition filed by Jalandhar-based Bharat Para Medical Sciences Educational and Development Welfare Society, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed that the petitioner’s application for permission to run Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery and General Nursing Midwifery courses shall be decided within a month by passing a speaking order.

Disposing of the petition, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, further ruled: “If the authority concerned comes to the conclusion that there was defect or deficiency in the petitioner’s application, then seven days may be allowed for removing the same...”

The petitioners had earlier contended that their main aim was to promote para-medical sciences and “to assist the medical profession in different ways”.

Notice issued

A Division Bench of the high court has issued notice of contempt to municipal authorities in a case regarding sanction of certain sites for use as nursing homes in Patiala.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, also directed the filing of an affidavit to indicate the circumstances under which residential land was allowed to be used for commercial purposes.

The judges held that the functionaries of the Punjab Government and Municipal Corporation were prima facies guilty of violating the directions by the court in the matter.

Poll petition

The high court on Wednesday fixed March 3 as the next date of hearing, on a petition challenging Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Captain Amarinder Singh’s election from the Patiala Assembly constituency.

Petitioner Harkirat Singh had earlier alleged that Captain had used the services of Class I gazetted officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal. The documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond doubt.

Arguing on the issue of maintainability of the petition, counsel for the Chief Minister had claimed that the same was vague. Counsel had contended that the petitioner had failed to specify how the services Mr Chahal were used to help Captain in his elections.


Woman, son get 10-year RI for dowry death

Moga, February 25
Additional Sessions Judge Jagmohan Singh Chawla yesterday sentenced a woman and her son, residents of Saidoke in Nihal Singh Wala subdivision of this district, to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment (RI) on a charge of poisoning to death her daughter-in-law on October 24, 2001.

While Pritam Kaur and Hansa Singh have been sentenced to undergo a 10-year RI, the latter’s brother Deepa, being a minor, was referred by the judge to be tried by the juvenile court at Faridkot.

According to prosecution Sarbjit Kaur was married to Hansa Singh about two years before the incident and ever since her in-laws were allegedly harassing her for dowry. Before being poisoned, the victim was also given a severe beating.

Makhan Singh, father of the deceased, had lodged a complaint at Nihal Singh Wala police station. — PTI


DC’s warning to officials on ‘khula darbar’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 25
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, has taken a serious view of many senior officials of various district departments failing to attend the ‘khula darbar’ being organised here every alternate Wednesday to redress the grievances of the people. While presiding over a ‘khula darbar’ here today, he said in some cases, officials had made it a practice to send their juniors to attend the darbars who failed to resolve the emergent problems which not only caused harassment to those visiting from far off places but also violated the object of conducting the darbar.

Issuing a warning to some erring officials of the Revenue Department to ensure their presence, he also asked others to follow the same.


VB arrests senior Punjab Agro official
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 25
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested Mr Jaswant Singh Ghumman, Divisional Manager of Punjab Agro Food Corporation, along with storekeeper Ranjit Singh while accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000 from transporter Ravinderbir of Dharambad village in the Dera Baba Nanak area.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Dilbagh Singh Gill, SP, Vigilance, stated that Mr Ravinderbir had complained that Mr Ghumman was harassing him to clear his bills of Rs 9.65 lakh and demanding a bribe of Rs 50,000, which was later reduced to Rs 25,000 to clear part payment of Rs 5.90 lakh.

The bureau recovered Rs 25,000 in cash and the cheque issued by Punjab Agro.

A case has been registered under Section 7, 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The accused were sent in police remand.


Reader caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Mansa, February 25
A team of the Vigilance Bureau, led by the DSP, Mr Vinod Kumar, today caught Gurdarshan Singh, a Reader of the Tehsildar, Budhlada, while taking a bribe of Rs 10,000 from Baldev Singh.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau (Bathinda), said a case in this connection had been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Smuggled liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 25
Liquor, being smuggled from Chandigarh to Punjab, was seized by the police from three different persons.

According to the police, Kewal Singh, a resident of Dhakoran Kalan, was today arrested from Behlolpur village on the charge of smuggling nine bottles of rum from Chandigarh.

In another incident, 6480 ml of liquor was seized from Som Nath at Sohara village last night. As many as 100 pouches of Hero Whisky were seized from Balwinder Singh from Palheri village yesterday.

A case under the Excise Act has been registered in this regard.

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