P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vote-on-account passed
Opposition stages walkout

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today passed a vote-on-account, amounting to Rs 6,83,67,04,000 for three months, April to June, after a brief debate.

Before the vote-on-account was presented to the House, the Opposition lodged its protest over not being allowed to raise any public-interest issues. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, raised this point during “zero hour” and sought that the two-day session be extended to enable the members to air the grievances of their constituents.

Speaker Kewal Krishan, however, did not allow Mr Badal to continue as the latter wanted to raise the issue of selection of DSPs and PCS officers and the recent liquor vend auctions.

The speaker ruled that since these issues were pending in the court and the matter was sub judice, he could not permit any discussion in the House.

Deputy Speaker intervenes

As the House witnessed some commotion, it was left to Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh to air the sentiments of the Opposition. The Deputy Speaker said he had seen each sitting of the House getting shrunk to just a one or two-day affair. He went on to say that no member could speak anything. “That way the right of the members — whether on the Treasury or Opposition benches — stood forfeited as they have lost an opportunity to express themselves on behalf of the people, who have elected them.”

He sought an assurance from the Chair and the Chief Minister that the House would meet for more days in future and all members allowed to air their viewpoints.

Mr Badal again stood up to say that even though the only theme that interested the Chief Minister was “corruption”, the House was unwilling to discuss it. Thereupon, he led a noisy walkout by the entire Opposition, the BJP, even as Capt Amarinder Singh stood up to reply.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Lal Singh, listed the reasons why a regular budget was not being presented. He said the Centre, too, had presented only an interim Budget, 2004, to Parliament.

Even the Election Commission of India had advised the states to seek a vote-on-account for the first quarter of the fiscal year and present the regular budgets after the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Lal Singh went on to state the financial situation as inherited from the previous Akali-BJP Government and how the state had been burdened with a huge debt of Rs 36,853 crore at the end of March, 2003. He listed the steps taken by the Congress Government to improve the financial position.

Opposing the vote-on-account, former Akali Minister of Finance Kanwaljit Singh spoke of the “non-performance and utter failure” of the government which had not lived up to its promises made to the people in the February, 2002, Assembly elections. By not presenting a regular budget the government had even failed to discharge its constitutional obligation. He also referred to the Congress infighting which drew protests from the Treasury Benches.

He contested the government claims on reforms, pointing out infirmities and faults in its policies.

In his concluding remarks Mr Lal Singh rebutted the criticism made by his predecessor and charged that the Akalis were pastmasters in twisting facts. The House later passed the vote-on-account with voice vote.

After a brief debate, the House passed 10 Bills tabled by the ministers concerned.

Several administrative reports were also tabled.


Speaker pulls up ministers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Punjab Speaker Kewal Krishan today expressed displeasure over the casual manner in which ministers replied to questions and even snubbed the Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, and the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, asking them not to interrupt and let opposition members speak.

This intervention came during question hour when despite several supplementary questions from the Opposition and the Treasury Benches no satisfactory replies were given as to what ‘’technicalities’’ had forced the government not to implement the 85th Constitutional Amendment in respect of promotions of the reserved categories.

The question was asked by Mr Sadhu Singh and Mr Tarlochan Singh, who wanted to know if the amendment had been implemented or not.

The only answer Mr Mann gave was that the government was ‘’actively considering its implementation’’.

Since members were not satisfied, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh intervened to say that the amendment was discussed by the Cabinet, some time back and that he was authorised to implement it after obtaining clarifications one or two technical points. It were these technical points the members from both sides wanted to know to which neither the Chief Minister nor the minister replied.

The Chief Minister later said the matter had been referred to a five-member Bench of the Supreme Court. All Congress-ruled states had approved of the amendment and once the court decision was known, it would be implemented.

Several questions related to financial matters. To most such questions Finance Minister Lal Singh replied that all promises made by the government before and after the Assembly elections would be implemented once the fiscal situation improved.

At this, a member from the Treasury Benches, Mr Tarlochan Singh, said they had been hearing the same tune for the past two years.

To a question by Mr Ashok Sharma on the number of road accidents the Chief Minister said 3,825 accidents took place in 2003, killing 2,567 persons.


PCS selections clean, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said it was wrong to suggest that same persons who were declared “tainted” had again been appointed on selection by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

Addressing a press conference, he said the PPSC had only made recommendations in respect of the PCS and other selections and no formal letter of appointment had been issued to anyone, so far. He also said appropriate action for offering appointments would be taken by the government only after getting their cases legally examined. Police verification was also under way of the selected candidates and police reports in respect of 50 out of 90-odd had been received.

Capt Amarinder Singh spoke on the issue following media reports and criticism of the commission by the Opposition in the recent weeks. “It was absolutely incorrect to say that the government had recently appointed any officers to the PCS (executive branch) and the same candidates had been reappointed, who were declared ‘tainted’ in 2002,” he said.

The fact, however, was that the government had dispensed with the service of 46 PCS officers, 28 direct recruits and 18 through nomination, who were selected and appointed during the tenure of Ravi Sidhu, as these were found to be “manipulated, tainted, unfair and lacking in fair assessment”, he added.

These candidates went to the court and the government gave an undertaking that a fresh examination and interview for the PCS would be conducted and that all candidates, including these persons who had appeared in the earlier selection process in 1998 and 1999, would be provided one, and only one, opportunity to appear for the same. As per that undertaking, the PPSC had re-conducted the selection through exam and interview for adjudging the suitability of candidates on merit, as per its own criteria.

The PPSC, Capt Amarinder Singh said, had recommended 28 — 20 fresh and 8 reselected — candidates against direct recruitment. Out of eight reselected, only two candidates had figured in the FIR of September, 2002.

Similarly, the PPSC had recommended nine candidates, five fresh and four reselected, against Register A-1 (district revenue officers, tehsildars). Out of four, at least two figured in FIR of the same date.

The commission, while forwarding these names, had clearly stipulated that the state must take “conscious decision” at its own level in respect of candidates against whom departmental inquires or criminal cases were pending. “Therefore, one should have no doubts over appointments to be made by the state,” he added.


Capt threatens to defy Centre on sugar sale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today threatened to defy the Centre “if it did not help the state government in selling sugar”.

Punjab has over 40 lakh quintals of sugar in its stores for the past four years. The estimated cost of this stock is Rs 535.97 crore.

The Centre has placed several restrictions on sugar sale, as it alone determined how much was to be allowed to be sold in the market under the free sale quota and how much under the levy quota. The levy and free sale quota is 60:40. In fact, even 40 per cent free sugar is not exactly free, as releases are allowed on a monthly basis.

These releases are of two types, one for domestic consumption and the other for export. Though the Punjab sugar is not of export quality, the Centre allowed the state more releases under export quota than under the domestic quota. Consequently, the state has a huge stock, whereas, states like Maharashtra were able to sell sugar in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. “If this policy continues, the existing sugar stock would become unfit” for consumption said the Chief Minister.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he had written several times to the Centre regarding the matter but to no avail. “Now I propose to write again and even defy the Centre, if the sugar stocks are not allowed to be sold in the market.” He alleged that due to this stand of the Centre, the cooperative banks and cooperative sugar mills were incurring heavy losses. The immediate effect of this sugar stock and parked money was that payments due to the sugarcane growers were held up, the Chief Minister said. Punjab has to pay a sum of Rs 80.23 crore for 2002-03, against a total of Rs 348.73 crore. “The balance of Rs 268.50 crore could be paid only when the stocks were permitted to be cleared,” he added.

Payment at the rate of Rs 70 per quintal was released with a Central assistance of Rs 12 crore in 2002-03. For 2003-04, Punjab has to pay the sugarcane farmers Rs 192.84 crore but has so far been able to clear only Rs 124.55 crore. The balance of Rs 68.29 crore is still to be paid.


UGC warns private varsities against unspecified degrees
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 16
A private university shall be liable to be penalised under Section 24 of the UGC Act for awarding unspecified degrees or diplomas.

The gazette notification, UGC establishment and maintenance of standards in private universities regulations, issued by the Central Government, has made a provision for periodic inspections for evolving an effective regulatory mechanism to maintain standards of teaching, research, examinations and extension services in the private universities.

The UGC New Bulletin says that each private university shall be established by a separate state Act and shall conform to the relevant provisions of the UGC Act, 1956, as amended from time to time. A private university, having adequate facilities for teaching and research, shall operate ordinarily within the boundary of the state concerned. However, after the establishment of the main campus, in exceptional circumstances, the university may be permitted to open campuses outside the state and study centres after five years on certain conditions laid down by the UGC.

The overall performance of these campus centres or study centres shall be monitored annually by the UGC for management, academic development and improvement. If the functioning of such centres remains unsatisfactory, the private university shall be instructed by the UGC to close them down. The decision of the UGC would be binding on private universities. In such a situation, the interests of the students, already enrolled, shall be protected.

A private university shall fulfil the minimum criteria in terms of programmes, faculty, infrastructure, financial viability, etc as laid down from time to time by the UGC and other statutory bodies concerned such as the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the Bar Council of India, the Distance Education Council and the Indian Nursing Council, etc.

The admission procedure and fixation of fee shall be in accordance with the norms and guidelines prescribed by the UGC and other statutory bodies concerned.


Tohra, M.S. Gill file papers for RS poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
While SGPC chief, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today filed the nomination papers as an SAD candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections, former Chief Election Commissioner, M.S. Gill, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee’s President, H.S. Hanspal, Chairman of the Congress Vichar Vibhag, Ashwani Kumar and former minister, Dharmpal Sabharwal filed their nomination as Congress candidates Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, another SAD candidate, filed the nomination papers yesterday.

Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held tomorrow and the withdrawals the day after. Polling if necessary will be held on March 26.

There are five Rajya Sabha vacancies to be filled from Punjab.

For these five seats, the Congress has fielded three official candidates and the SAD two. With the existing strength of the two parties, all five candidates are certain to be elected provided their nomination papers are in order.

Mr Hanspal has filed the nomination papers as a covering candidate for Mr Gill. Mr Jarnail Singh is the covering candidate for Mr Bajwa SAD.


Badal opposes Gill’s nomination to Rajya Sabha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal said today that those holding constitutional posts such as of the Chief Election Commissioner should not be nominated by political parties to contest elections.

Commenting on the nomination of Mr M.S.Gill, former Chief Election Commissioner, for the Rajya Sabha by the Congress, Mr Badal said it was a wrong precedent being set up by some political parties. He said in fact there should be a law to prevent such nominations.

Without naming Mr Gill, Mr Badal said that in case such a trend was carried forward by other political parties also then officers holding important constitutional posts would start extending support to political parties of their liking to seek nomination to the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha elections later.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal, said both Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Baldev Singh Mann would campaign for the party in Patiala and Sangrur constituencies, respectively. He said he had met both and they had given an assurance in this regard.

Later in the evening, Mr Badal and Mr Chandumajra held a joint press conference. Mr Chandumajra said he was with the SAD and would support the candidates put up by the party. He added that it was true that he was unhappy over the denying of party ticket to him from Patiala but it was past now. “Mr Badal has assured me that in future my political interest would be protected by the party leadership”, he said.

When asked about the floating of Longowal Dal by certain leaders like Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, Mr Badal said that Mr Zira and Mr Ravi Inder Singh were working for the victory of the Congress in the state. He said the entire Barnala family was with the SAD and would support its candidates.

The SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who was also present, confirmed this.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal said his party today walked out of the Punjab Assembly because it was not allowed to speak on many important issues.


Jubilation at M.S. Gill’s village

Aladinpur (Tarn Taran), March 16
Residents of this village, native village of Mr Manohar Singh Gill, former Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) have welcomed the candidature of Mr Gill as the Congress candidate for the Rajya Sabha. They have expressed the hope that Mr Gill’s image would also help the Congress candidate in the coming Lok Sabha election from this seat.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, an employee of the SGPC and Sarpanch of the village, said if Mr Gill came out openly in support of the Congress candidate from this seat in the Lok Sabha elections, the party would gain immensely. OC


Cong meddling in gurdwara affairs: Tohra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said today that the ruling Congress in Punjab and in Maharashtra was interfering in the management of gurdwaras.

He said the Punjab Government was extending full support to Nihang chief Ajit Singh Poohla to have illegal control over certain gurdwaras which were to be managed by the SGPC under the provisions of the Gurdwara Act. He said the SGPC had tried its best to wrest control of these gurdwaras in the Majha area from Mr Poohla, but had been unable to do so as the Nihang chief was backed by the government.

He said it was because of the approval of the state government that Mr Poohla, wanted in a number of murder and other criminal cases, was released on bail by the police. He said he had sent a task force to free certain gurdwaras from Mr Poohla’s control, but the police did not extend any support to the SGPC in this connection.

He said Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib was being controlled by the Maharashtra Government. All directors of the Hazoor Sahib Board had been elected, but the government there was not holding the election of chairman and secretary of the board to be elected by the directors. Mr Tohra said instead, a senior IAS officer had been appointed as Administrator of the Takht by the Maharashtra Government and his salary and other expenditure to the tune of Rs 50,000 was being paid from the offerings at the Takht. Another officer had been appointed secretary of the Takht and his salary to the tune of Rs 35,000 was also being paid in a similar manner, Mr Tohra added.

Meanwhile, he has urged the Amarinder Singh government to get all roads leading to Khadoor Sahib repaired before the centenary celebrations on April 18.


He didn’t survive the wait for salary
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 16
Manohar Lal, a senior clerk in the District Institute of Educational Training (DIET), the sole bread-winner of his family, waited for his salary till his last breath. Manohar, who was ailing for the past four-five months, died at the trauma ward of the Civil Hospital here yesterday. Meanwhile, the employees of the DIET, while mourning the death of their colleague, lamented that poor financial condition had led to his death as he could not afford proper medical treatment in the absence of adequate funds. Information revealed that the employees of DIET had not received their salaries since October last, due to which they were facing financial hardship.

The employees said they had approached the higher authorities several times in this regard but nothing had been done till now.

Mr Niranjan Singh, Principal, DIET, who is also officiating as Deputy DEO (Secondary), admitted that the employees had not received their salaries for the past six months. He, however, refused to admit that Manohar had died due to lack of financial help or adequate medical treatment. He said Manohar was offered all possible help by the authorities in terms of medical assistance and financial help and he had raised a sum of Rs 30,000 for Manohar’s treatment through help from some social organisations and generous persons.

Dr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, Director, SCERT, said the delay in the disbursement of salary was due to the non-availability of necessary funds as the project was a 100 per cent Centre-sponsored scheme. He said the grant had been received now and the salary would be disbursed in the next couple of days.


Villagers’ ‘unfair’ demand puts school board in predicament
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
The Class X Punjabi paper was held under the police protection at the Bibipur Centre of the Punjab School Education Board here today following insistence by some villagers that their wards be allowed to cheat in the examination.

Earlier, District Education Officer (Secondary) Pritpal Kaur Sidhu had requested for the police protection for the staff conducting examination at the Maur village centre in the district. The last paper at the centre was conducted under the supervision of the SHO of the Julkan police station.

The trend of villagers putting pressure on the staff responsible for conducting the state board examinations came to light recently. At the Bibipur centre today, Ms Sidhu remained present for more than an hour to ensure there was no disruption in the examination process. She said the superintendent of the centre had requested for shifting it from the village. She said as this could not be done, she had asked for the police protection for the staff. She said the students taking examination at this centre would have to report at Government Girls School, Samana, for the next examination.

Earlier, the department had faced interference from villagers at Maru. Thereafter, the superintendent had refused to go to the village unless he was provided security. Department sources said large-scale cheating was taking place at centres where a large number of private students were appearing for the examination.

Department sources said copying was being done using slips and by taking help from outsiders. The more “professional” cheaters relied on the second method, they said. Senior students, or sometimes even teachers, were stationed near the centre. The question paper was leaked out to them by the water boy or other staff following which answers were prepared and sent in the examination hall. The class IV staff helped these students in disposing of slips whenever a flying squad visited the school.

The District Flying Squad has registered a number of unfair means cases (UMCs). In the Nabha block, two girls were caught cheating in the government school centre yesterday. During the mathematics paper on March 10, seven students were caught copying at the Tondhpur centre. Similarly, seven students were caught copying at the Lalru centre, three at the National School Centre, Zirakpur, and three at the Haidsar village centre.


Phillaur Lok Sabha Seat
‘Lightan wali bibi’ in the fray again
by Amarjit Thind

A former chairperson of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Ms Santosh Chowdhary, has again been chosen by the Congress to represent this reserved constituency for the third time in view of her creditable performance in the previous terms.

Politics is in her blood. She is a daughter of late Congress stalwart Roshan Lal and is married to Mr Ram Lubhaya, a son of the late Chaudhary Sunder Singh, who represented the Phillaur constituency in the seventh and eight Houses of Parliament and was a Cabinet Minister in Punjab for 15 years. Mr Ram Lubhaya is currently the MLA from Sham Chaurasi and also the chairman of the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC).

A member of the Congress Central Election Committee, she says that she has been chosen as her detractors allege that she is pro-poor. “In view of my grooming and family background, I have been taught to believe that no state can move on the path of progress when its poor are being discriminated. We talk of big things but not of helping the poor man in a remote village,” she says.

Educated at Sanawar and a postgraduate from Punjab University, Ms Chowdhary says she has toiled hard to realise the aspirations and demands of her electorate. “People are free to come and discuss their problems with me. I do not believe in assuring any voter for the sake of it and this frankness has been a plus point. No one likes to be lied to,” she points out.

Commenting on her achievements, she says. She is the lone MP from this seat who not only utilised Rs 10 crore under the MPLAD Scheme but also spent over Rs 2 crore which had not been used by her predecessor. “If I am convinced that any project will benefit the voters, I go all out for it.”

Citing an example to show love of the people for her, she says regular power does not reach many of the interior villages and when she provided solar lights in scores of villages at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore, they started calling her “lightan wali bibi”.

That is the reason which made her sit in the well of the Lok Sabha to get funds sanctioned for the Satnampura railway overbridge. This had been one of the major demands of the people of the area. The work was stopped during the Akali regime, but things were moving ahead now, she added.

“I took up the long-standing issue of stoppage of trains at Phagwara. As a result, the Barauni Express, the Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi, the Sachkhand Express and the Amritsar Express stop at Phagwara,” she revealed.

Besides, a blood bank at Phagwara and a refrigerated mortuary at Nawanshahr were set up. Similarly, Rs 8 crore was spent on constructing dharamshalas and adding more rooms in primary schools.

Finishing of old projects will be her priority if she is elected. “I have been swamped by the problem of potable water in the villages. In many areas, the watertable has gone down alarmingly, while at other places the ground water is unit for human consumption. I will start more waterworks”.

In addition, more medical facilities and educational infrastructure would be created at the village level.


Education, healthcare my priority areas

THE Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has once again fielded former Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal from the Phillaur (reserved) seat after allotting this seat to its alliance partners in the past. His candidature has come as no surprise since he is considered to be an intellectual face in the party and has rich experience as a legislator and parliamentarian. Phillaur is the only seat which has not witnessed any dissidence within the party over the selection of the candidate.

A party loyalist to the core, he contested from here in 1989 — the only time the SAD contested independently — but lost to Mr Harbhajan Lakha of the BSP-SAD alliance by a narrow margin. He was the lone candidate who gave a fight, while the security deposit of all the party stalwarts was forfeited.

Being an old hand, he is not new to the area comprising nine assembly segments, of which only two were win by the SAD. Not to be daunted by odds, he has got down to the basics and started campaigning in the right earnest. His task has been made easier by the rapport he enjoys among the masses, especially Hindus and Dalits, who are a deciding factor in Phillaur. Since, NRIs constitute a large vote bank in this belt, his acceptability too is another plus point.

Commenting on the reasons behind the party going it alone this time, Mr Atwal said there was a general feeling that the party had not done enough to consolidate the party’s hold in the Doaba belt which is generally viewed as a Congress bastion. This has been a cause for resentment among the party cadres who have always been urging the high command to field its own candidate in Phillaur. The same was true of the Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar constituencies, he pointed out.

Listing his priorities, he said he had much unfinished business in the entire constituency especially, the Bet belt which was one of the most backward and neglected areas in the state. There was no infrastructure and there could be no development without good roads. There was virtually no connectivity as the roads were in bad shape, the primary healthcare was in a shambles, power was erratic, the condition of primary education was seen to be believed and the industry was non-existent, he added.

Since education and primary healthcare were his core areas, he would work hard to get more roads constructed and ensure that the vacancies of the teacher were filled as soon as possible. A monitoring mechanism had to be in place for the staff of schools and PHCs since it had been noticed that they preferred to stay away due to the harsh conditions in the interiors, particularly the Mand areas along the Sutlej and the Beas, he said.

The only Indian former vice-chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, he said he got the Rahon-Machhiwara bridge on the Sutlej constructed, initiated setting up of the Canadian Consulate and British Library in Chandigarh, passport collection under the aegis of the British Embassy in Jalandhar, got the bill passed to protect the properties of NRIs in Punjab, besides initiating the setting up of an international airport in Amritsar.

The Phillaur (reserved) seat comprises the assembly constituencies of Phillaur, Banga, Nawanshahr, Sri Hargobindpur, Banga, Noormahal, Phagwara, Sham Chaurasi and Adampur.


Lead SAD (Longowal), Barnala urged
Our Correspondent

Makerkotla, March 16
Rebel Akali leader and former Health Minister Inderjit Singh Zira today urged Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Andhra Pradesh, to lead the SAD (Sant Harchand Singh Longowal).

Addressing mediapersons in the local rest house, he urged Mr Barnala to resign from the post of Governor to become the president of the SAD (Longowal).

Mr Zira said he was not interested in the post of president. He said the election to the post of the president would be held on March 30 at Longowal.

He said the SAD Chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, wanted to finish all top leaders of the SAD to pave the way for his son’s promotion as the top rank leader.


SAD (A) seeks transfer of Judge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today submitted a memorandum to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking transfer of Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, whose wife is contesting the Lok Sabha election from the Bathinda (reserved) seat as a SAD candidate.

In the memorandum, Mr Brinder Singh Mann, president of the district unit of the SAD (Amritsar), and Mr Joga Singh-vice-president, have pointed out that as all police stations and lower courts of the state were under the jurisdiction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court where Mr Justice Nirmal Singh was posted, his wife, Mrs Paramjit Kaur, could influence people in the election to her advantage.

They said for conducting free and fair election to the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, it was necessary to transfer Mr Justice Nirmal Singh from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It would also stop interference in the election process by any individual, they added.

He said the Additional Sessions Judge refused to receive a copy of the memorandum when a delegation of the party workers went to submit it to the Chief Justice through him. He added that later a copy of the memorandum was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner.


Bad roads the bane of Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 16
With almost all major roads of the city in a pitiable condition, residents of the city have started feeling that they have been taken for a ride by the authorities concerned and the elected representatives alike.

Already facing the menace of coal ash rain from four chimneys of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, residents have now started feeling that they are not destined for a dignified life as dusty and pot-holed roads have made their lives miserable.

Over the past few years, the bad condition of roads have led to an unprecedented rise in the number of accidents.

A stretch of the Bathinda-Goniana-Faridkot national highway passing through the city needs repair.

The Bhatti road which was re-carpeted recently at the cost of lakhs of rupees by the municipal corporation have also developed big pot-holes, making driving unsafe.

The Bibi Wala road and the 100-feet Sector Road, which also carry maximum traffic have become “out of bound” for the commuters as these have been digged up. The condition of most of the interior roads is pathetic.

Mr J.S. Brar, president, Punjab Contractors’ Association, said politicians had made several promises to develop this city as the ‘future city’ and ‘textile city of the state but they had failed to provide motorable roads.


Hand over Pak gurdwaras to Sikhs, says Bhaur
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 16
The management of the 174 gurdwaras in Pakistan should be handed over only to Sikhs and in international-level Gurdwara Managing Committee should be formed in Pakistan. The committee should have representatives of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Delhi Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Jathedars of five Takhts, five Sikh scholars and representatives of Sikhs from other countries as members.

This was stated by the SGPC general secretary, Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, here today. While talking to mediapersons he said a high-level delegation of SGPC headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra would visit Pakistan soon and met Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf and persons concerned to discuss the issue.

Mr Bhaur also opposed the appointment of Zavid Nasir as president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and said when a non-Muslim can not be made in charge of a Masjid, a non-Hindu could not be in charge of a temple, then how can a Muslim be made in charge of the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, when more than 12,000 Sikh were living in Pakistan?


Punjabi kavi darbar on March 21
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 16
The “Panj Panian Di Virasat”, a new society formed with an aim to preserve rich Punjabi culture and heritage in a more practical manner, has decided to hold its first Punjabi kavi darbar at Kapurthala’s Sainik School on March 21.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr Swarn Singh, president of the society and the commissioner of the Jalandhar Division, said the idea to hold a kavi darbar was also based on the objective of the society — to make younger generation realise the importance of its rich culture and heritage. “We have observed that our young generation is mindlessly following the Western style on the one hand and is shunning its culture and heritage on the other. It is so painful to note that most of youngsters don’t even know that it was their motherland where the Indus Valley Civilisation had developed and where Mahabharta had been written”, he said.

Apart from organising such programmes, the society would also try to preserve different shades of Punjabi culture. “Our aim is not to exhibit just a few items to people, but to make them understand their culture and heritage from different angles.”


Pollution checks mark traffic week
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 16
The traffic education week observed by the police in districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, and Nawanshahr, concluded today. Free medical campus seminars and pollution check camps were organised to mark the day.

Addressing the concluding function, at the local Police Lines here today, Mr S.K. Sharma, the IG, Jalandhar zone, said on an average one person died in road accidents in Jalandhar on every second day.

Mr Gurpreet Bhullar, SSP here said during this period, the police challaned 3,181 persons for different traffic violations, while 2205 drivers were examined medically. He said 3291 vehicles were checked for pollution and certificates were given to owners without changing of any fee from them.

Others who attended the function included SSPs of all four districts and a number of other senior police officials.


Security beefed up for PM’s visit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
Unprecedented security arrangements are being made for the Prime Minister’s visit to the city to address a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rally to be held on March 18 in favour of its candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh. More than 2,000 security personnel are being posted at the Polo Ground and special routes earmarked for Akali-BJP supporters coming to attend the rally.

A team of the Special Protection Group (SPG) came to the city yesterday to oversee the security arrangements.

A 20-foot stage has been constructed at the Polo Ground which will have a bulletproof screen. According to Akali sources, only top notch Akali leaders will be allowed on the stage. These will include SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Punjab BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna and Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and nominee from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat-Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Only two cars will be allowed to the airport in which senior Akali leaders and the state BJP president will receive Mr Vajpayee. Mr Badal is expected to accompany the Prime Minister to the rally site.

Meanwhile, hectic preparations are on to make the rally a success with Capt Kanwaljit Singh announcing that the SAD-BJP combine will ensure the presence of one lakh persons at the rally. The combine has planned to construct 12 gates in the honour of martyrs including Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai and Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, besides others.

Meanwhile, the district administration held a meeting to chalk out the routes to be taken by the people coming to attend the rally. The meeting, which was presided over by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, decided to divert the vehicles coming from Rajpura from the Badi Nadi bridge on the Sanaur road and then to the CIA, Mohindra College and eventually to the Thandi Khuhi where their vehicles will be parked.

Mr Tejveer Singh said vehicles coming from Sangrur, Samana, Lehra and Sunam would be diverted to the Passiana bridge to Dhamo Majra to Phatak Number 23, to Badungar, to Jagdish Ashram Marg to Thikriwala Chowk and finally the Lower Mall. Those coming from Nabha would be diverted from the PRTC workshop to Railway Crossing Number 24 to the Khalsa College Ground for parking. Those coming from Sirhind will be diverted to the Rajbaha road to Circuit House to Barandari Gardens and finally the Sheranwala Gate for parking.


Complaint against Broadcasting Ministry
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 16
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, former President of the Janata Dal Punjab yesterday filed a complaint against the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of India to the Chief Election Commission for Broadcasting and telecasting false and biased news under the caption of Bharat Uday and India Shining. In his complaint he alleged that Mr Venkaiah Naidu, Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr Parmod Mahajan, all BJP leaders, were being given more time on Doodarshan and AIR.


‘Ismat Apa...’ to be staged in Jalandhar, Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Durga Das Foundation in partnering with Spice Telecom and The Tribune group of publications will present celebrated playwright, dramatist and novelist Ismat Chughtai’s life story seen through the eyes of Naseeruddin Shah, his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and daughter Heeba in the play ‘Ismat Apa ke Naam’ to be staged in Jalandhar and Amritsar on March 20 and 21, respectively.

The second in the series, after Lillets Dubey’s ‘Dance Like a Man’, ‘Ismat Appa ke Naam’ has won Naseer the accolades of both critics and the masses for whom the production has given an apt insight into the life and times of the rebellious genius.


Raksha Dal’s first list out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Rashtriya Raksha Dal (RRD) — a political party sponsored by ex-servicemen — today announced its first list of candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Col Dharam Singh (retd) will contest the elections from Gurdaspur, while Col Harcharanjit Singh (retd) was being fielded from Faridkot. Col Balwinder Singh Guraya (retd) will contest from Patiala, while Col Jagjit Singh Bal will file his nomination from Amritsar.


PWD men stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
The coordination committee of all cadres of Punjab PWD (B and R) today held a dharna in protest against the arrest of Mr Gurdev Singh, Sub-divisional Engineer, PWD, by the Vigilance Bureau. He was arrested yesterday on charges of demanding a bribe of Rs 1,000 from a contractor.


Insurance firm told to pay Rs 10,000 relief
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 16
The District Consumer Redressel Forum has granted a compensation of nearly Rs 10,000 to a local citizen who had lodged a case against New India Assurance Company, claiming the company had wrongly disallowed his medical claim.

The forum, in its order passed this month, a copy of which has been received now, ordered the company to pay Rs 9,765 with compensation in the form of interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum from two months after the submission of the surveyor report till payment. Besides, the forum ordered the company to pay Rs 500 to Mr Sukhminderjit Singh as the cost of the complaint within a period of one month from the receipt of the copy of the order.

Mr Sukhminderjit informed that he had purchased a medical claim policy from the above mentioned company covering the period from July 2002 to July 2003. He was diagnosed to be suffering from fistula, for which he had to undergo a surgery in April last year. The complainant submitted a claim about the expenses incurred by him. However, the claim was rejected by the opposite party on the grounds that fistula was not covered under the policy.

Meanwhile, Sukhminderjit Singh filed a complaint for unjustified repudiation of his claim under the policy. The opposite party repudiated the claim on the basis of the policy condition, according to which fistula was not payable under the policy.

However, he claimed that the condition was not applicable in his case as the terms and conditions were not known to him prior to when he received the policy copy.

He added that even the opposite party had not brought any evidence to show if the policy scheduled was supplied to him before giving him the copy of the policy.


Farmers should reap benefits of diversification, says Shourie
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 16
The Union Disinvestment and Information Minister, Mr Arun Shourie, has said India’s economic health had improved to such an extent due to the relevant economic policies of the NDA government that it had become one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the third largest economy in Asia.

Addressing a conference of lawyers, industrialists, businessmen, educationists and economists at the Bar Complex here today, Mr Shourie said the revolution witnessed in the field of information technology in the country had not only ushered in an era of economic growth and connectivity but had also raised the standard of education.

He said the government had planned to achieve the target of eight per cent GDP which would be possible with the growing export in the information technology sector.

Mr Shourie said India had earned a profit of Rs 60,000 crore in the information sector and added that the NDA government had established 39 information technology parks.

Mr Shourie said the people should become self-reliant instead of depending upon public sector enterprises for employment opportunities. Praising the hardworking Punjabi farmers, he urged them to bring diversification in their farming business and improve their financial condition.

In reply to a question on the setting up of heavy industry in this border town, Mr Shourie said the terrorism-affected states had to suffer a lot economically and businesswise. He said he would raise the matter of giving a tax holiday to industry in Punjab.

The Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Vinod Khanna, and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president of Punjab unit of the BJP, also spoke on the occasion.


All set for a turkey treat
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 16
For those who relish non-vegetarian food, there is another variety coming your way. Turkey. In a unique project, the Punjab Government has introduced turkey farming in the state to encourage poultry farmers to diversify and provide an alternative to the chicken-consuming population.

A brainchild of the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, Mr Jagmohan Kang, the pilot project has been undertaken in Patiala and Ropar where 20 farmers have been identified and given turkey chicks to rear. “The scheme has been launched as a ‘backyard venture’ wherein 10 birds each will be kept by small households. The birds will thrive on kitchen surplus and green fodder like barseem. Once fully grown, the birds will be ready for sale. Turkey farming is also commercially more rewarding than conventional poultry”, said Mr D.S. Bains, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development.

The farmers involved in this backyard turkey farming project are hoping that the venture will bring good returns. Mr Jagdeep Singh, a farmer at Dera village in Dera Bassi, Patiala, bought 10 chicks from the department out of which one has died and another one, the family preferred to eat. “It is delicious. In fact, much more tasty than chicken. Once Punjabis develop a taste for it, I think the local market will pick up,” said Mr Jagdeep Singh, adding that his turkeys were healthy.

“We are feeding them nothing special. Poultry feed is suitable for them. They also eat grass,” he said.

Mr Sital Singh, Poultry Inspector, Dera Bassi, said that although a different formulation of poultry feed is required for turkeys, for the time being, poultry feed is good enough. “Turkey birds are healthier to consume than chicken and meat. The protein content is higher and the fat content low,” he said.

Initially the 200 turkey birds being reared as part of this project will be bought by Chatha Farms. “Depending on the profit margin that each farmer gets, we will enlarge the scope of the project and start a hatchery. We had to get the 200 chicks from Izzatpur in UP to sell to these farmers. Once the project is on track, we will breed turkey birds and provide chicks for rearing and sale,” said Mr Dr P.K. Bansal, Senior Veterinary Doctor, Dera Bassi.


Asst Town Planner suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
An Assistant Town Planner and a building inspector of the local municipal corporation were suspended today on the charge of allowing a building owner to build a new structure without sanction. The latter had obtained sanction only for “roof replacement”.

The building is located near the Golden Temple galiara project (the corridor project). Mr A.K. Dubey, Local Government Secretary, ordered the suspensor of both officials.

Assistant Town Planner Suresh Raj and building inspector Surjit Singh were alleged to have connived with the owner to get the building reconstructed despite getting sanction only for “roof replacement”. The Municipal Town Planner, Mr Hemant Batra, confirmed the suspensions.


No new pensioners enrolled, says sarpanch
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
Sarpanch of Bir Bahadurgarh village Inderjit Singh and Social Welfare Department officials, who have been accused of distributing cash among old pensioners and enrolling new ones, said today that only six pensions received last month were distributed on March 13.

The Sarpanch said pensions which had been distributed among villagers had been received for the period from April 10, 2003 to June 30, 2003. He said Rs 600 each were distributed recently because of a death in his family which led to the delay in the distribution of pensions.

Inderjit Singh said Veeru Ram, who was shown to have received his pension on March 13, had been receiving old age pension since 1999. He said the pensioner was asked to show Rs 600 as proof by some persons who had come to the village yesterday posing as officials of the Social Welfare Department. The Sarpanch said the pensioner was told that he had received only Rs 500 whereas Rs 100 had been pocketed by some persons following which the pensioner got a photograph of himself clicked with six currency notes. The Samspur Panchayat also denied enrolling anyone under the old age pension scheme.

Meanwhile, a team of the Social Welfare Department led by its Deputy Director Pushpinder Singh Grewal visited the Bir Bahadurgarh and Samaspur villages. The officer said sarpanches of both villages had disclosed that they had only distributed pensions received by them last month. The officer said under the new system being followed by the Social Welfare Department, all pensions were being distributed by the panchayat.

Mr Grewal said an inquiry had revealed that no forms had been filled for enrolling more persons under the old age pension scheme. He said in fact no new case had been enrolled in both the villages for the past six months and no new case had also been sanctioned in this period.


2 hurt in bid to escape police
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 16
Two persons, who were trying to escape the police yesterday, were injured in a road accident and hospitalised here but were later referred to Dayanand Medical College (DMC) Ludhiana amidst security.

Two pistols, five cartridges, on (sharp-edged weapon), fake beards for disguise and other things were recovered from 
their Indica car by the police.

It was learnt yesterday that the police of Jalandhar Range was put on alert following a tip-off that two persons were planning a robbery in Hoshiarpur. A police party noticed a white Indica car with two youths in it. The police started chased the car.

The youths increased the speed and banged into a truck coming from opposite direction near Khurampur village on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road and were seriously injured.

Preliminary questioning of the youths revealed that both belonged to a gang of robbers active in districts of the Range.


Man strangles wife
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 16
A man allegedly throttled his newly wedded wife to death in the wee hours today in a thickly populated Anandpur locality here.

According to an FIR lodged with the city police by Mr Phuman Singh, a resident of the same locality, he (Phuman Singh) heard some noise in the house of his neighbour, Mr Rattan Singh, around 4 am today. He went to Mr Rattan Singh’s house and saw him throttling his wife, Suman (22). By the time he reached the scene, Suman had died.

It is learnt that there was some dispute between Mr Rattan Singh and Suman ever since they got married about six months ago. Suman, a resident of Jalalabad, was the second wife of Mr Rattan Singh.

The city police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, on the statement of Mr Phuman Singh. The parents of Suman had not yet recorded their statement.


Woman held for murdering husband

Barnala, March 16
Ms Harjit Kaur, widow and a resident of Draaka village, about 20 km from here along with her paramour, Binder Singh, has been allegedly found guilty for the murder of her husband Mr Baldev Singh.

Mr Gurmail Singh Sidhu, SP ( Detective), today said the CIA Staff achieved success in solving this blind murder case. He said Harjit Kaur had lodged a false complaint against two persons — Bikkar Singh and Major Singh Malhi, a former Sarpanch — for murdering her husband. He said it was learnt by the CIA investigation team that Binder had illicit relations with Harjit Kaur. On July 2, 2003, they made Baldev drink too much liquor and when he became unconscious he was thrown into a well. Baldev had a land dispute with Bikkar and Major. So she implicated Bikkar and Major in a false case. — OC


2 murdered out of enmity
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 16
In two separate incidents relating to personal enmity, two persons were done to death at different places in the district in the past two days.

Uttam Singh of Nawan Gaon village falling under the Talwandi Sabo police station area, was done to death by Bhola Singh of the same village. Bhola Singh allegedly murdered Uttam Singh while the latter was sleeping in his house. In another case, Kairo Ram of Sema village, done to death by a group of people of same village, led by Manjit Ram. Kairo Ram, who suffered many injuries when he and some of his relatives were attacked by Manjit Ram and his accomplices yesterday, died today.


Students remember Bhagat Singh
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 16
Students of Shaheed Bhagat Singh hostel of Punjabi University organised a function to commemorate the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh here today. The Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, was the chief guest.

While remembering the sacrifices of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, Mr Boparai said these martyrs wanted to establish a value-based society. He called upon the youth to come forward and contribute in building such a society.

Prof Jagmohan Singh from PAU, Ludhiana, appreciated the efforts of Punjabi University, in imparting engineering education to the educationally-backward rural youth of Bathinda district. Dr Dharmveer Gandhi, cardiologist, also spoke.


Brick-kiln owners’ strike from April 30
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 16
Members of the District Brick-kiln Owners Association, Hoshiarpur, will join the proposed indefinite strike on April 30 to protest against the attitude of Punjab Government towards them. This was stated by Mr Krishan Kumar Vasal, president and Mr Rakesh Mohan Puri, general secretary of the association, at a press conference held here last night. They said during the period of the strike there would be no production of bricks and sale.

They criticised the state government for compelling kiln owners to use fly ash of thermal plants for manufacturing bricks. They said it was impossible to utilise the fly ash of thermal plants for this purpose.

The kilns had also been brought under the factory Act and raids and challans were also being carried out. Besides there was a great shortage of coal. There had been a heavy increase in its freight. Out of a total of 135 kilns in the district one third had been closed down due to these reasons.

They urged the state government to take back its decisions in the interest of lakhs of kiln labourers failing which the owners would be forced to close their kilns which would further increase unemployment in the state.


BSNL offices shifted

Nangal, March 16
The BSNL has bought a new building at a cost of Rs 50 lakh in the hub of the town to provide all services under one roof.

The general manager of the Ropar telecom circle, Mr R.P. Singhal, told mediapersons here today that most of the offices of the BSNL in the Nangal area dealing with the collection of bills, complaints and the sale of Excel and Cellone connections had already been shifted to the new building.

He said the WLL service in the Ropar circle would begin on April 1. As many as 7,000 WLL connections would be released. — OC

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