P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Refinery contract to cause Rs 15,000-cr loss, says CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
The state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said Punjab would stand to lose Rs 15,000 crore in the next 15 years in case the refinery was established under the present terms and conditions.

Talking to newsmen here, the Chief Minister said the state had been denied income from the refinery by way of taxes and royalty for a period of 15 years. He said besides this the future of the refinery itself was not certain as the HPCL, which was promoting it, was itself facing disinvestment. “In case the HPCL is disinvested who will buy the refinery”?, he added.

Answering the question himself, he said Reliance may not go for the refinery as it had already invested Rs 50,000 crore in Jam Nagar. Capt Amarinder said the Bathinda refinery could end up as a sub-centre for a bigger unit. He said in such a scenario we would like to know the compensation which will be paid to us in case the tax moratorium on the refinery is to stay and also what will be the fate of the unit after the disinvestment of the HPCL.

The Chief Minister also repudiated the claim of the Prime Minister that he had not approached the Centre to elicit help for the state. “I met the Prime Minister more than six times. I can give the record to substantiate this fact. I have also met the Union Agriculture and the Union Food Minister and the Planning Commission to take up various issues”. Speaking on the dharna organised by the Punjab Congress in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, he said this was a last resort as the Central Government had failed to declare whether it was dismantling the system whereby procurement prices were issued for various crops.

He also called for the opening up of the Wagah border saying that at present wheat was being exported to Pakistan through Dubai. “Pakistan is getting the wheat for Rs 1870 per quintal when they can easily get it for Rs 850 through the Wagah border which will also benefit our farmers”, he said.

Speaking on the issue of his Pakistan visit, Capt Amarinder said he had written thrice to the Prime Minister requesting him to give permission to him to visit Pakistan. The Prime Minister wrote back just saying “I have received your letter”. When the Prime Minister of the Pakistan asked me when I was coming in view of the media reports on the issue I felt foolish. I could neither say yes or no. It was then that I met the Prime Minister and told him I would be only assisting the peace process by going to Pakistan and the case was cleared”.

The Chief Minister while answering Mr Vajpayee’s comments on the issue of arrest and subsequent short incarceration of SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, said: “If the Prime Minister feel we should allow corruption to flourish, it his decision”. He said as far as the Punjab Government was concerned, it would continue to pursue vigorously the cases against Mr Badal.

Today’s press conference also saw the return of the Chief Minister’s Adviser Bharatinder Singh Chahal to the centrestage. Who was present at the press conference. He claimed he had taken a clarification in this regard from the State Election Commission.


PCS (Executive) selections challenged
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Taking up yet another petition challenging the appointments to the PCS (Executive) posts of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) this year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a notice of motion to the Punjab state as well as the PPSC for May 14.

Filed by District Revenue Officer, Ropar, Ms Arina Duggal, the civil writ petition challenges the said selections, alleging that the process of selection was tainted, unlawful, arbitrary, unconstitutional and violative of the recruitment rules. It may be recalled that a PIL on the same issue was earlier filed by a Municipal Councillor from Chandigarh. A notice of motion on the PIL was also issued for April 5.

Meanwhile, the civil writ petition filed yesterday in the High Court states that the selection criteria was neither notified nor published or displayed on the notice board before the commencement of the interview. The petitioner has also sought a direction from the High Court to restrain the issuance of appointment letters to the selected candidates during the pendency of the trial.

The petition that came up for hearing before the Division Bench consisting of Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, also challenges the action of the PPSC in clubbing the vacancies for the process year of 1996 and 2001 and holding one interview for the same. It was further argued that after holding the interview, the respondent commission, all of a sudden, decided to hold a competitive written test for 10 marks. It was argued that holding of a test after the interview is unheard of.

Apart from making a mention of three allegedly “tainted” officers who have been selected to PCS (Executive) this year, the petitioner has also alleged that one of the selected candidates did not have the requisite 10 years service, which is the primary eligibility to be recommended. The petition states that for the reasons best known to the commission, the said candidate had been nominated and then selected.

Pointing the finger at some other candidates with a dubious service record, the petitioner has stated that their recommendation and selection was in violation of the norms and rules of recruitment as laid down for the PPSC. Yet another issue raised in the writ petition concerns the delay in the announcement of results to PCS (Executive) post.

It has been stated in the petition that though the interviews for PCS (Executive) selections were held on February 19 and 20, the results were declared after about a week.


Visa hunters chase Pakistan officials
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
Many cricket fans who were left high and dry after the abrupt wrapping up of the make-shift visa office here at 3 p.m. today chased the officials of Pakistan High Commission up to New Delhi with a hope to get visa for the one-day cricket match scheduled to be played at Lahore on March 24.

The visa centre was closed two hours after on-the-spot inspection conducted by Mr Aziz Ahmad, Pakistan’s High Commissioner.

Some of the cricket fans had to purchase ticket for Shatabdi Express to accompany officials of Pakistan Embassy who left for New Delhi after winding up the visa office. The train was to leave for New Delhi at 5 pm the visa office was closed at 3 pm. Mr Pradip Sabharwal, SDM, claimed that visa office was closed half an hour after the scheduled working hours. The cricket fans who had been waiting in queue since morning were, however, not satisfied. Mr B.M. Vinayak Vice-Chairman of Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana High Court and his cousin Mr Ram Parkash Vinayak alleged that the SDM had left the visa office without intimating the cricket fans who had come from far flung places about the closing time. The police had a tough time when some visa-seekers tried to ‘gherao’ the official car of Mr Mohammad Khalid Jamali, second Secretary (Political) and Mr Syed Mohammad Refique Ahmad, Counsellor Political-II in High commission for Pakistan. Mr Vinayak claimed that the police had to escort the officials of Pakistan Embassy to the railway station. However, both Mr Sabharwal and Mr Refique denied that anybody attempted to gherao car of the Pak officials.

It was the police department which was accused of spoiling the show. Police officials, including both the DSPs, seemed to have been assigned the special task of facilitating the entry of VIPs from the backdoor which caused a lot of resentment among the visa-seekers.

Even as 1162 visas had been issued in two-days, many cricket fans had to return disappointed. Mr Jaspal Singh, a resident of Chandigarh, who boarded the Shatabdi train with Pak-officials said many of his friends were keen to visit Lahore in connection with the ODI to be played on March 24.

An unsavoury situation arose when some cricket fans, including Mr Ajay Gupta, Mr Sardari Lal, Mr Vikas Mehra and Mr Himmat Aggarwal protested in front of Pak officials when they were denied visas. On this, the officials of the embassy lodged a mild protest.


Pakistan envoy for daily bus service to Lahore
Ashok Sethi

Wagah, March 20
The Pakistan High Commissioner, Mr Aziz Ahmad, has advocated the running of a daily shuttle bus service between Amritsar and Lahore to increase travel facilities for people of both countries.

Talking to “The Tribune” before crossing over to Pakistan Mr Ahmad said travellers from India and Pakistan had to face inconvenience as they had to go to Delhi to travel to Lahore and felt that India must initiate steps for providing better travel facilities to enable people to commute between Amritsar and Lahore comfortably.

Answering questions about the US offer to designate Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally, the High Commissioner pointed out that India’s fears were totally baseless. Clarifying Pakistan’s position Mr Ahmad said the move was meant to strengthen defence cooperation and to lift restrictions on weapon sale. He said USA had banned the sale of military hardware for last number of years and had realised that Pakistan was its true ally and needed preferential treatment in the areas of foreign aid and military supplies.

Commenting on the resumption of trade and economic ties the High Commissioner felt that it would depend on the strong commitment of both the countries for finding early solutions to the vexed problems which had bogged down the previous talks. He said the SAFTA agreement for starting a full scale business would also help to normalise relations and added that SAFTA provides a much bigger scope for business and much more than the most favoured nation status can provide.

Mr Ahmad felt that there was need to raise the staff strength in both the missions in New Delhi and Islamabad as the request for visas from both the countries had increased manifold. Islamabad had already sent a request for increasing the staff strength and it was upto India to reciprocate.

Expressing happiness over the good response to the current Indo-Pak Cricket Series, Mr Aziz said it had provided a great opportunity to Indians to visit Pakistan in large numbers. He said the Pakistan High Commission would consider the request of cricket fans from this region to open a make-shift visa office here to offer visas for the forthcoming test series.


Envoy to take up corridor issue with Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
The Indian High Commissioner, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, would take up the issue of corridor for Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib with the Pakistan Government on a priority basis.

This assurance was given by the High Commissioner to the SGPC Secretary, Mr Dilmegh Singh Khatra, after this issue was raised during his visit to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple here today.

The SGPC took up the matter of the gurdwara located on banks of River Ravi on the Indo-Pak border connected with second Sikh guru, Guru Angad Dev whose 500th birth anniversary celebrations were scheduled to start on April 14.

The SGPC Secretary said it was the desire of thousands of Sikh devotees to commence the sacred occasion with nagar kirtan and ardas from the said gurdwara.

The High Commissioner was presented a model of the Golden Temple and a set of religious publications by the SGPC.


Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day in Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
For the first time after 57 years of Independence, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh would be observed in Pakistan on March 23. The function would be organised at a place near Kasur township where all three martyrs — Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev — were hanged on March 23, 1931. Mr Kiranjot Singh Sidhu, nephew of Bhagat Singh, Mr Ram Mohan Rai, secretary association of peoples of Asia and Ms Krishna Kanti, a social activist, are likely to take part in the function.


75 pc prisoners are undertrials, says Kalha
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is keen on bringing down the population of under trials who are 75 per cent of the total prisoners in the country, says Mr Ranjit Singh Kalha, a member of the commission, revealing that the prisons are overcrowded by 31 per cent.

“The chairman of the commission, Justice A.S. Anand, has written to all the state governments and the Chief Justices of all high courts, suggesting various methods of bringing down the number of undertrials languishing in jails. They are not only a burden on the state exchequer but are also overcrowding the prisons. Against a capacity of 2.32 lakh, the prisons in the country were keeping 3,05 lakh persons.

“Holding of special courts in prisons, monthly review of cases and release of undertrials on personal bonds are some of the suggestions made by Justice Anand in his letter,” says Mr Kalha, who was here to participate in a workshop on human rights and prison administration organised by the Central Institute of Correctional Administration.

The mandate given to the NHRC, he says, is to facilitate good governance by suggesting ways to rectify faults in the system. The intentions of the commission are not to play any antagonistic role but to make recommendations in the interest of everyone, including the public, judiciary and civil services.

The recommendations are generally carried out by the states and other agencies concerned. “This is why more and more people have been writing to us, sending us their complaints, which are generally about police atrocities, bonded labour, exploitation, dowry and land disputes”.

Mr Kalha was appointed a member of the NHRC in September last year after he retired as Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. A product of the Sector 11 Government College and Panjab University campus here, Mr Kalha belonged to the 1965 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and served in Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, London, Jakarta, and Baghdad. His father, Mr Ajit Singh Kalha, was a well known engineer who was associated with some major projects, including the Bhakra Dam.

Should the NHRC be given some more teeth in the discharge of its functions, Mr Kalha said the role of the commission was of a facilitator. However, the NHRC has written to the government suggesting that the Human Rights Protection Act needs to be looked into afresh as there has been growing awareness among the people. “There is a need to look into our criminal justice system so as to ensure that how it can be speeded up. The other area of concern has been custodial deaths. The NHRC is of the view that there should be a magisterial inquiry in all cases of police or judicial custody deaths,” Mr Kalha said.

Talking about the memorandum submitted by members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Legislature Party against the Congress government in Punjab, Mr Kalha said that since the SAD had filed a case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the NHRC did not take cognizance of matters which are subjudice. “But as far as human rights violations are concerned, we have written to the Punjab Government and asked for a report,” he said.

About uniformity in the actions of the commissions, Mr Kalha said that recently the NHRC called a meeting of all state human rights commissions to develop proper linkages so as to avoid any ambiguity.


PUDA chief divested of powers to issue licences
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 20
The Punjab Government has divested the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), of his powers to issue licences to real estate promoters to colonise.

While the government justified the decision on the ground that these powers have been given to another officer to ‘reduce the CA’s workload and increase efficiency’, sources in PUDA said that differences of opinion on vital policy matters between the CA, Mr Sanjay Kumar, and the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, had led to the move.

The decision, pronounced by the Punjab Governor on February 27, stated that the Additional Chief Administrator (Technical), PUDA, Mrs R.K. Arora, will now be the ‘competent authority’ to issue licences to promoters for colonisation in Punjab. This decision superceded an earlier decision taken by the government in 1997 that had vested these powers in the CA.

While Mr Sanjay Kumar, when contacted, declined to comment on the development, the Secretary, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, who had signed the orders, stated that the change had been brought about for administrative reasons. ‘‘This has been done to reduce the workload of the CA who is the administrative head of PUDA. Moreover, the efficiency of the system will improve if someone is doing this work full time,” he said, adding that the Punjab Governor had also upheld this decision in his Address to the Vidhan Sabha members on March 15. “He announced that day that his government had introduced a single window scheme to private colonisers, by appointing a full time competent authority under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act 1995 to deal with the licences of the private promoters throughout the state,” quoted Mr Sidhu from the speech.

On the other hand, highly placed sources in PUDA state that differences between the CA and the PUDA minister over certain policy matters that had wide financial ramifications for the authority had led to the decision. Giving details, sources pointed out that the CA and the minister did not see eye to eye on two main issues regarding granting of licences to promoters.

While the CA had been insisting that PUDA issue licences to only those promoters who have the complete ownership of the land they intend to colonise, the government wanted the CA to follow the traditional method of issuing licenses on the basis of letters of consent from the land owners to the promoters. Sources pointed that the CA had in an official communication to the Secretary, written, ‘the present practice of issuing licences on the basis of consent letters given by the land owners has no legal backing. In fact, a consent given by anybody can be very sweetly withdrawn the next day. The present practice does not put any legal binding on the land owners vis a vis PUDA as PUDA only has a relationship with the licensee.’

Secondly, sources informed that the CA had been objecting to a proposed adjustment of pending payments on account of external development charges levied by PUDA, in favour of a syndicate of promoters. These promoters, sources added, had not paid PUDA a cumulative sum of Rs 90 crore as EDC and were trying to extract settlements and undue discounts from the government using various kinds of pressures and influences.

Negating these theories, however, Mr Sidhu said that the decision of shifting the powers of issuing licences from the CA to the ACA had nothing to do with these two issues. “Both these issues are ongoing and a final decision has not been taken on either one of them. While the EDC file is pending with the Chief Minister, the matter regarding the letter of consent will be solved shortly. But these are not related to the February 27 decision.” he said.


Politics not for me, says Naseer
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 20
Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah has said that theatre has a future.

Refusing to comment upon the “new-found love” of most of Bollywood artistes in politics, Naseeruddin, who was here to stage his “Ismat Apa Ke Naam,” said since politics was not his cup of tea, he would not try his hands on it.

Maintaining that since the theatre’s basic objective was to ensure entertainment of people, it had a future — forever. “Look, theatre’s importance and integrity has remained intact despite a threat posed by contemporary mediums like the TV and cinema. What is more important about theatre is its unparallel contribution to the film industry in form of a number of actors like Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Utpal Dutt etc. Theatre is here to stay. And it has developed over the years. Serious theatre suffered a set-back only due over to expectations of people, who, thought that it was nothing short of a revolution and that serious theatre can surpass all limits,” said Naseeruddin Shah, adding that he had no plans to do TV.

“Actually, TV is more time consuming, because of which I have been focusing on theatre. We have regularly been doing plays like Prem Chand’s, ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi,’ Bade Bhai Sahib,’ and this, ‘Ismat Apa Ke Naam,’ in Mumbai,” said Naseeruddin Shah, who was accompanied by co-star and wife Ratna and Mr Atul Khanna, the director of the Durga Dass Foundation. The foundation has sponsored the event along with The Tribune group of newspapers and the Spice Telecom.

Naseeruddin Shah said his focus and priority were plays in Hindustani and not in English, even though he had been doing English plays till about 12 years back. “I feel that one can express feelings better in one’s own language. Moreover, it is very difficult to enact the translated version of English plays. Even if you try your best, you, cannot make it look a natural script. Another reason for doing plays in Hindi and Hindustani is the presence of little number of plays in this field,” maintained Naseeruddin Shah.

Revealing that though he had received some Hollywood offers, but, his preference would always be Indian films and theatre, Naseeruddin Shah said he had never felt isolated for his being a Muslim. “I see myself as an Indian, who has his roots here. And I have never even felt that I am isolated on the basis of religion, “said Naseeruddin Shah, adding that there was no interference of mafia in theatre and his works.


YC seeks Bathinda seat for its nominee
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
Mr Raminder Singh Awla, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, today said that it had demanded from the Congress High Command party ticket for its nominee, Mr Jagtar Singh Dhanaula, president of the Sangrur district Youth Congress, for Bathinda (reserve) Lok Sabha seat in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Awla said the All-India Youth Congress had sought 25 per cent Lok Sabha seats from the Congress High Command, but the Punjab unit was staking its claim just on one seat in Punjab for the time being. He said the Youth Congress would support all Congress candidates.

Mr Awla was here along with his supporters, as part of Youth Congress’s Jagran Jyoti Yatra which passed through this town today.

Mr Awla in reply to a question said those district Youth Congress presidents might be changed who were found “weak” presidents.

About allegations levelled on him by his own party colleagues that he was involved in a Rs 70-crore scam of the Food Corporation of India, Mr Awala said there was no truth in these allegations.

Meanwhile, a section of the district youth Congress workers and some supporters of Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, a senior Congress leader of the district and an aspirant of party ticket from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, here today held a press conference with regard to levelling allegations about financial matters on Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, another aspirant for the Congress ticket from the Sangrur seat. They also opposed the party’s reported move to allot party ticket to Mr Dhillon from the Sangrur seat.

Those who were present included Mr Rajinder Pal Singh Bhallu, a close confidant of Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia; Mr Rachhpal Singh, Mr Nirantar Singh and Mr Achhra Singh, all leaders of Youth Congress.

But Mr Dhillon termed these allegations as “baseless”.


Mann decries Vajpayee on linking of rivers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a candidate from Sangrur parliamentary constituency, yesterday criticised Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for his statement on linking of rivers of the country, at Patiala.

Talking to newsmen here Mr Mann said Article 240 of the Constitution was very clear on rivers and waters which stated rivers and waters were the property of the state concerned. He also said as river waters’ issue fell in the State List, so the Prime Minister could not make a statement on this issue.

Mr Mann also asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC chief, in whose presence Mr Vajpayee talked about the linking of rivers at a rally in Patiala the other day, what were they doing when Mr Vajpayee was making such a statement. He said on the waters’ issue, these leaders had organised the Kapoori Morcha and ‘Dharamyudh’ morcha in Punjab. Why were they now playing the role of a mere spectator over the Prime Minister’s statement, Mr Mann questioned.


Death in mishap: police shielding accused,
says victim’s father
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Even after two weeks the Majitha police has failed to arrest three youths who were allegedly involved in an accident in which seven-year-old girl Bikramjit Kaur died on March 7.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, of Sohain Kalan village and father of the deceased alleged that the police was shielding the accused under political pressure. He said he was under pressure for a compromise.

The incident occurred on the Dabourji-Sohain Kalan road when, the girl was returning home after paying obeisance at Baba Janda Sahib gurdwara in Dabourji village. The motor cycle driven by three youths hit the girl due to which she died on the spot. The accused fled the spot leaving the motor cycle behind.

Mr Gurcharan Singh alleged that after the incident the “baba” of a gurdwara here helped the accused to flee and asked his family neither to send the body for a post mortem examination nor to register a case. He alleged local MLA also went to police station to favour of the accused and tried to hush up the case. Even motor cycle number was recorded in the FIR. The police till now could not find the names of the accused.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SSP Majitha, expressed ignorance about the case. Mr Jagjit Singh, SHO Majitha police station, denied political pressure. He said investigation of the case were on and action would be taken. When asked that why the police could not find the names of the accused, the SHO said the number of the motor cycle was temporary.


Closure notice to 300 industries producing
hazardous waste
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Closure notices have been served on the owners of about 300 industrial units which were defying the directive of the Punjab Pollution Control Board with regard to the disposal of hazardous waste in the state.

Informed sources said today that there were 300 units which had been producing hazardous waste, but dodging the board regarding the stacking and disposal of the waste. These units have been violating with impunity the instructions on the hazardous waste disposal.

There are about 1,400 industrial units which produce harmful industrial byproduct. Of these 1,100 have already complied with the orders. These units have set up store houses for the stacking of the harmful waste. A number of units have also constructed “bunkers” for this purpose.

However, the managements of most of the 300 units have been putting political pressure on the board authorities to avoid implementation of the instructions regarding the waste. About 1,700 tonnes of harmful waste is produced by various industries in the state. Among these units are pesticide industries, electro-plating units, dying industries, besides other chemical-based industries. These waste pose a big danger to the environment as well as human health.

The board says that such industries were defying the Supreme Court which had issued instructions to all the pollution control boards in the country to implement its directions with regard to the hazardous waste management on October 14 last year.

The Supreme Court through the Ministry of Environment had circulated the instructions that those units which had been operating without proper authorisation and producing harmful wastes should be identified and closure notices served on them. The hazardous waste processing units should be directed to display the relevant information with regard to their harmful byproduct outside their units. Public should be informed in this regard through print and electronic media etc.

The apex court had also directed that inventories with regard to waste dumping sites in the respective states should be completed within three months. Samples of groundwater in the vicinity of the dump sites may be taken and contamination, if any, should be checked. The court had also directed the state governments to provide the required infrastructure and staff to the boards for this task.

However, there is no proper common dumping pit for such waste in Punjab till date. A site spread over 60 acres has been selected at Nibua village, near Dera Bassi. For constructing the dumping pit there, a company of big industrialists has been formed. There has been some resistance on the part of villagers against the setting up of the pit in their area.

However, panches and sarpanches were assured that the dumping of the waste would be in a scientific manner and it would not cause any harm to them. Some panches and sarpanches of the area were also taken on a tour to show such pits constructed in other states. But sources said that it would take about one and half years to construct the pit. In the absence of the dumping pit, most of the industries stack the waste on their premises. And it has been accumulating there.

Sources said that on quarterly basis, Punjab has submitted a report on the management of the waste to the Supreme Court through the Union Environment Ministry. “We have been working on day-to-day basis to implement the instructions regarding waste”, said a senior officer of the board. “We have also submitted a detail report to the Punjab Chief Minister on the industries defying the board’s directive,” he added. “It is natural that there will be a lot of hue and cry against the closure notices at the political level. Hence the report to the Chief Minister,” he added.


Bank staff oppose waiving of loans taken fraudulently
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 20
Employees of Ropar Central Cooperative Bank have opposed the decision of the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, to waive a sum of Rs 43 lakh fraudulently taken as loans from the two societies of the Nurpurbedi area by a secretary.

In a press note issued here today, the president of the Ropar Central Cooperative Bank Employees Union, Mr Amarjit Singh, alleged that a secretary of the cooperative society of Kalma in Nurpurbedi, Juggal Kishore, fraudulently took loans worth about Rs 23 lakh from the local branch of the cooperative bank.

However, instead of taking a disciplinary action against him, he was posted as the Secretary of another cooperative society at Kanpur Khuhi village in Nurpurbedi block. Here also he allegedly committed a fraud of about Rs 20 lakh. The modus operandi of scam was that the secretary used to swindle the loan repayments by the members or raise loans in names of fictitious persons. In both the cases, the scam couldn’t have took place without the connivance of officials of the Cooperative Department.

The Secretary later died leaving an amount of Rs 43 lakh to be recovered from him and guilty members of the cooperative societies.

The secretaries of the cooperative societies are appointed on the recommendation of the respective societies after taking securities and guarantees of responsible people. If they commit fraud, the amount is to be recovered from them or their guarantors.

However, in present case, the department of Cooperative Societies did not take care to recover the amount. Instead the Department moved resolutions to get the loans waived.


Installation of tower on roofs dangerous, says SDM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
The installation of a tower by the Hutch company in the Kot Atma Ram and Sultanwind areas, has raised a controversy.

The Subdivisional Magistrate I in his report has said the installation of tower on the roofs of certain houses along with generator in the area could prove dangerous to life and property. He said corporation officials were directed to stop the work without any delay.

The inquiry was conducted after a complaint by Kartar Singh, a resident of Kot Atma Ram to the Deputy Commissioner who appointed the SDM as the inquiry officer. Mr Kartar Singh, in his complaint had said, the houses, where the tower was proposed to be installed, had common walls and weak foundations. He said the generator would cause air as well as noise pollution.

The SDM said the company officials concerned could not produce no-objection certificate which was necessary for such installation.

Mr Kulbeer Singh Kang, Commissioner, municipal corporation, admitted that the corporation had also received similar complaints from residents of other areas. He said work had been stopped in those areas where objections were raised. Mr Kang said representatives of the telecom company will visit the areas within a few days to inspect the site.


Boy’s ‘selling’: SDM orders probe
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 20
Taking suo motu notice of the media reports on alleged sale of four-year-old boy Gobinda for Rs 4,000 to a milkman by his father a poor rickshaw-puller Teja Ram of Bhagwanpura locality here, SDM Yash Raj Bhatti has asked the Naib Tehsildar (Executive Magistrate) Virender Garg to probe the matter.

However, wife of the milkman today claimed that her family had legally adopted Gobinda last week as she was unable to conceive after repeated medical efforts. She claimed the adoption deed was produced before the Executive Magistrate Mr Garg.

Mr Garg said that he had signed the deed but was told later that Gobinda’s mother Saroj Rani had died whereas latest report said she was alive and had eloped with another married resident of the same locality. The statement by all parties to the deed was reportedly verified by a Dalit councillor of the locality. As per law the consent of the mother was essential for agreement of adoption. The facts were concealed in this case, sources said. Teja Ram was quoted today in a media report saying that he had willingly handed over his son to the milkman but he also said that he had accepted some money as a loan from the milkman.


Mill owner fined Rs 1.9 lakh
Tribune News Service

Kot Kapura, March 20
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have imposed a penalty of Rs 1.9 lakhs on a rice mill located in this area.

Official sources said that the owner of the mill, was stealing power by getting direct supply from the transmission lines and was by passing the electricity meter installed on the premises. The theft came to light when a team of flying squad of the enforcement wing of the PSEB carried out a checking in the premises of that rice mill about two days ago.

Sources added that distribution wing of the PSEB was yet to recover the penalty from the rice mill owners.


Truckers form association
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Truck Operators Welfare Association was set up today in Punjab to protect operators from exploitation by various agencies and also to solve their other problems. Mr Kamaljit Singh Fauji has been appointed president of the association. Mr Rajinder Singh Gandhi, a spokesman of the association, said that Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, president of the Rampuraphul Truck Union, would be the convener. He said that private transport business was facing a bad time in the state. Those truckers having small fleets had been ruined in the past few years.

He said that there were about 75,000 trucks in the state and this industry had provided livelihood to about three lakh people.


8-yr-old run over by Canter, dies
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 20
An eight-year-old girl died after being run over by a Canter near Balongi barrier this evening.

According to the police, Seema, a resident of Guru Nanak Colony, Mohali, died on the spot. The vehicle was coming from the Mohali side. The driver of the vehicle fled from the scene. A case has been registered under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC.


Plea of undue favour to firm dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed by a Ludhiana-based firm claiming that the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation was showing undue favour to another firm while allotting work for the construction of an indoor stadium.

Pronouncing orders on a petition filed by Sherpur Engineering and Contractors, a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, ruled: “The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation passed a resolution on December 10 last year noticing that at its meeting held on March 27, 1999, a resolution was passed to construct an indoor stadium complex on some land situated on Pakhowal Road in Ludhiana”.

The Judges further ruled: “The location of the stadium was changed as the corporation approved the allotment of four acres under the city centre scheme. This approval was sent to the government, but was declined on May 26, 2003. The project, therefore, had to be shifted back to land measuring 2.38 acres in Pakhowal village. Instead of inviting fresh tenders, it was decided to allot the work on the basis of tenders already received”.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Nijjar added: “Counsel for the petitioner has vehemently argued that the tender was initially granted to them, but the same had now been allotted in favour of the other firm without even conducting the measurements of the work already done by the petitioner. According to counsel, this unusual procedure was adopted to show undue favour to the other firm”.

The Judge added: “We are of the considered opinion that the petitioner has failed to make out any case for interference under Articles 226 / 227 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner is seeking remedy by way of a civil suit in the court of a civil judge. The tender allotted to the petitioner was with regard to the outdoor stadium. The firm has no connection whatsoever with the tender relating to the indoor stadium complex which has been allotted to the other firm. We find no merit in the writ petition and the same is hereby dismissed”.


Only one man turns up for free legal aid
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 20
Only one person has turned up for free legal aid in two subdivisions, Rajpura and Dera Bassi, of Patiala district till date. This was stated by Mr Rakesh Soni, Assistant District Attorney, Punjab, at a free legal awareness camp organised here yesterday.

He appealed to the public to approach Lok Adalats for immediate solution of legal cases instead of knocking at the doors of the courts.

Mr Praveen Kumar, Naib Tehsildar, also asked the public to get forms from the subdivision for lodging complaints with the local adalats.

Besides residents, members of the Dera Bassi Bar Association were also present at the camp.


Professor selected for senior fellowship
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Prof Deepak Manmohan Singh, a former Dean of Panjab University, has been selected by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, for a senior fellowship in the field of literature (Punjabi) for two years. He will get Rs 12,000 per month as fellowship. He has been allotted the topic “Globalisation, Indian sensibility and poetry by Punjabi Diaspora,” as a research project to work on by the ministry.


20-yr-old girl strangled
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 20
Some unidentified persons killed Navjot Kaur (20), daughter of Kuldip Singh by strangling her with her dupatta today. The young girl was killed around 11 am at her home in ward No. 6 of Mahilpur town, 24 kms from here.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhatti, SP (Detective), who reached the spot soon after getting information about the incident told this correspondent that Pradeep Kumar, a student of Class VI and a resident of the same locality, had gone to the house of Navjot Kaur after his exam to tell her about his paper at 12 noon. There he found Navjot Kaur lying unconscious on the floor of the room and her neck was tied with a dupatta. He informed the neighbours.

He said the parents of the girl were not present in the house at the time of the crime. Navjot’s father is a bank employee at Chandigarh and her mother is a teacher in a government school. Her younger brother had also gone to school.

The household articles had been thrown around and it was presumed that the killers had searched the house and had taken away some valuable articles, after strangulating the girl.


Bid to take over building, 7 booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
Even as a criminal case has been registered against seven persons for their alleged turning to illegally take over a building owned by a local trader, the Deputy Inspector-General (DIG), Punjab Police, Faridkot Range, placed Mr Gulzar Singh, in charge, police chowki, Civil Lines, under suspension not taking proper action in this regard.

Police sources said a criminal case was registered against Rajwinder Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Charanjit Singh and others when they forcible tried to occupy the building located in Guru Arjan Dev Nagar in the city, despite the fact that the same was owned by Mr Dev Raj, a trader.

The suspects who were armed, loaded the bags of oil cakes owned by Mr Dev Raj into a vehicle and sent the same to an unknown destination. Mr Dev Raj’s resistance led to a scuffle.

A police party reached there and brought the situation under control and arrested same, but the exact number could not be known.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Rajwinder Singh, the main suspect, had sold the building to Mr Dev Raj last year. Mr Dev Raj had constructed a few rooms in the building after taking a loan from a bank. Mr Major Singh, SHO, city police station, said a case had been registered.


Labourer commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
Maghar Singh, an agricultural labourer and a resident of Pakka Kalan village of this district, today committed suicide by jumping before a running train on Bathinda-Dabwali rail section.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of a social organisation, said the deceased was suffering from psychological disorders.

In another case, an unidentified person was found dead on the platform of local railway station by the volunteers of the organisation today morning.

In both cases, the police authorities had handed over the bodies to the volunteers of the organisation for cremation after completing legal formalities.


2 kg heroin seized
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 20
The Jalandhar police has seized two kilograms of heroin worth about Rs 2 crore in the international market, from two persons, who were arrested at a naka near here today. According to the police, the two belonged to an inter-state gang of narcotics peddlers.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, said the two were roaming around in suspicious manner at Johal Bolina village T-point on their two-wheeler. They have been identified as Rajinder Singh, a resident of Dhogri village and Gafoor Hussain, a resident of Majotala in Udhampur in J&K.


Controversy over law entrance test
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The conducting of the entrance test for Panjab University’s Law College, Muktsar, has stirred up a controversy. While PU has been holding the test since the college came up in 1999, this year the Punjab Government has expressed its desire to conduct the test through Punjabi University, Patiala.

Sources said a letter to this effect from the Education Department, Punjab, was received by Panjab University this week. It mentioned that the Punjabi University would conduct the entrance tests and interviews for all law colleges in Punjab irrespective of their affiliation.

Interestingly, while the letter especially mentions the law college at Muktsar, no reference has been made to the other law college at Ludhiana. Also, Panjab University would be given the charge of admitting students after the selection process is complete.

Being seen as impingement upon the jurisdiction of the university, the authorities have, in turn, shot back a letter to the Punjab Government saying the demand is “unacceptable” especially since Muktsar college is an extension centre of the university.

Terming the move of the Punjab Government as unfair, Syndic, Prof P.P. Arya, says, “Muktsar college is a constituent college of our university and the faculty is chosen by us. This means it falls in our jurisdiction and Punjabi University has no role to play. We are meeting all financial needs. This is a highly unreasonable demand made by the government.”

He says while the demand to organise entrance tests for law courses available with the three universities in rotation can be considered, exercising such authority when the Punjab Government has not even paid the sum promised for the maintenance of the college, would be opposed.

Claiming that against a one-time payment of Rs 20 crore to the university, the Punjab Government was paying only Rs 50 lakh. The government was also supposed to meet the other expenses of the college after it was established which it failed to do since 1999 when the centre began functioning.

Till now, Panjab University has been conducting the entrance test for the college as well as the Law Department on the campus and the college at Ludhiana.

One entrance test paper is prepared for all three centres and the university, subsequently, hold interviews. From this year onwards, the university will also hold the entrance test for the five-year integrated law course though the date for the test is yet to be announced.


Copying case: Dang for action against parents,
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
A senior communist party leader and former MLA, Mr Satya Pal Dang today sought serious action against those VVIPs, who were involved in forcing the invigilators to help their wards in copying appearing at one of the examination centres set up in local SSD Senior Secondary School for the plus two board exams.

In a letter written to Punjab Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behl, copy of which was available with The Tribune, Mr Dang said that wards of senior civil servants, revenue officials and a former judicial official were allegedly being helped in copying in that examination centre and hence the Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Mr Behl should take action against these officials.

He also said those invigilators should also be punished who were allegedly involved in the stripping of a student in that examination centre when he (the student) refused to help in copying from his answer sheet. He said, the student, who had refused to help in copying should be honoured.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashok Gupta, father of the student, who was stripped, has refused to cooperate in the magisterial probe being conducted by the SDM, Mr S.K. Singla into this incident.

Mr Gupta in a letter written to Mr Singla said that he had no faith in the magisterial probe being conducted by him and it should be handed over to an IAS officer.

Mr Singla, when contacted, said that he would intimate the District Magistrate, Mr K. A. P. Sinha, about the letter of Mr Gupta. He said that he had recorded statements of some of the persons.


Govt decision on paper leak probe hailed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 20
Members of the Punjab School Education Board Employees Association today welcomed the decision of the Punjab Government to hold its own inquiry into the leak of question papers of the board.

The general secretary of the association, Mr B.S. Bedi said today at a press conference that a written communication had been sent to the Punjab Chief Minister, demanding the removal of the Controller of Examinations, Mrs Narinder Kaur. A copy of the communication has also been sent to the Secretary, School Education, and the Chairman of the board.

Stating that the Controller could hamper the inquiry, Mr Bedi said the board employees who had been suspended were not involved in the leak.


Punjab history conference ends
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 20
Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon, Head of the Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, said the history of Sikh culture began with Guru Nanak.

Mr Dhillon was speaking on the topic `Guru Granth Sahib-Textual Studies and Methodology’ while delivering the keynote address on the concluding day of the Punjab history conference held at the Punjabi university complex here today.

Mr Dhillon reiterated that from the first revelation of Guru Nanak to the first canonisation of Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs of various hues produced a number of manuscripts primarily to preserve and transmit the Bani in their own way.

Dr Dhillon emphasised critics must note that what was of particular significance for a gurbani manuscript was that its antiquity, authority and authenticity should be properly established. He added that while doing textual studies of the Adi Granth each source or even its smallest part should be properly examined in an analytical manner.

During the valedictory session of the conference, Dr Harish Sharma, president of Modern section, disclosed that 29 papers were presented while a total of 30 papers were delivered in the Punjabi section.

The delegates at the conference decided to approach the Punjab government to house records of the Punjab State Archives at one place so as to enable Sikh scholars easy access to them.

Dr Sukhdial Singh, Head of the Punjab Historical Studies Department, also spoke on the occasion.


Language skills must for effective communication,
say experts
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 20
A national seminar on “Importance of communication skills” yesterday was organised at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College, Fatehgarh Sahib.  Dr A. Kalanidhi former-Vice Chancellor of Annamalai University, Chennai, presided.

Eminent educationists from Jammu, Haryana, and Punjab, presented papers on the importance of communication skills. 

Dr Hira, eminent educationalist and the college principal welcomed the participants on behalf of the college.

Dr DS Hira said in this era of global competition, teachers and students from all over the globe interacted with one another on different issues. He said one must have good command over the language so that interaction could be made more fruitful. 

Mrs  Nancy Handa from the NIT, Jammu in her paper on ‘ Successful Oral presentation’ emphasised the need for good communication for technical teacher. Mr  Atul Goswami of Marudhar Engineering College, Bikaner (Rajasthan) presented a paper on “Role of acting listening in communication.”

Dr Mohhamda Rufi of Government College, Malerkotla, talked of teachers’ communication skill.  Prof. Jasmine Kaur, coordinator of the seminar said such seminars helped teachers adopting better teaching methods

Mr Surjit Kumar Gandhi and Mr Sarabjot Sandhu from the AIET, Fardikot, Mr Nilam Aggarwal, Mrs  Damanpreet Kaur from the LLIET, Moga, Mr Mangeep Mangat of Chitkara Institute of Engineering and Technology, Rajpura, Mr  JS Grewal of GNE, College, Ludhiana, Mr Amritbir Singh, Miss  Gurneet Kaur Tiwana, Mr  KS Dhindsa of BBSBE College, Fatehgarh Sahib,  also presented papers on different topics.


Registration in govt school starts
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 20
The registration of students of Government Model Senior Secondary School started here today. As many as 45 students were registered on the occasion.

It is the first Government Senior Secondary School in Kharar. The classes for the school, which will be housed in the building of the Punjab State Institute for Health and Family Welfare, will start from April 1. So far, the town had only government primary schools. The building for the school will be constructed in the next two years on five-acres given free of cost by the Municipal Council.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, met the authorities of the Kharar administration and the Education Department today. He said Ms Balwinder Kaur had been appointed Principal of the school.

He said the school would function from its present location for two years and an agreement with the authorities concerned had been signed in this regard. By then its own building would be constructed. The school would have arts, science and commerce streams and well-equipped laboratories.


289 get degrees at convocation
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 20
Justice O.P. Verma, Governor of Punjab, today said that India would not be able to achieve its goal of becoming a developed country by 2020 without ensuring complete women literacy.

Addressing the 19th annual convocation of the local Hindu Kanya College today Justice Verma said women had been given more respect in our society. He gave away degrees to 289 girl students on the occasion.

He stressed the need for women education for the overall development of society and nation.

Mr P.D. Seth read out the welcome address. Mr Gulshan Yadav, Principal of the college, read out the annual report.


1,000 B.Tech students appear for test
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 20
The placement cell of Punjab Technical University organised placement test for 1,000 B.Tech students at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib. Students from the 14 engineering colleges affiliated to the university sat in the test.

The Assistant Officer of the university, Mr Sukhbir Singh Walia, said the test was conducted to recruit 100 students in a Chennai-based Sterling Telecom and Net System Limited. He said final year students of B.Tech were allowed to appear in the test with the condition that from every college only top 15 students of each discipline were eligible to appear.

The college Principal. Dr D.S. Hira, who supervised the conduct of the test, appreciated the role of the university in organising this placement test. Prof Jasbir Singh, Training and Placement Officer, Prof Karan Pal Kandhari, also supervised the test.


Trust recommends cancellation of
allotment of 7 shops
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, march 20
The sub-committee appointed by the Pathankot Improvement Trust House has recommended the cancellation of allotment of seven shops in Dr Shayama Prasad Mukherjee Market (DSPMM) here. The shops had allegedly been allotted by flouting rules and using unfair means.

According to an unpublished report. prepared today and recommended by the members of the sub-committee. There were irregularities in the allotment of shops in the market. The Tribune had highlighted the scam in its columns.

On August 30, 2001, with prior approval of the government 28 shops were allotted in a meeting chaired by Mr Parshotam Arora. But interestingly only 18 kiosks had been shown to be in possession in the list prepared by the authorities in the 1993.

The Executive Officer of the Improvement Trust had submitted a report on September 10, 2003 to the ADC, Gurdaspur, regarding the irregularities committed in the allotment and had written, “there are so many cases in which fraud can be inducted.” This report had alleged that the trust allotted these shops on a reserve price of Rs 5,25,000 where as the market price of a single shop was over Rs 25 lakh.

Another report inquiries conducted by Mr Gurkirat Singh Assistant Commissioner Grievances, Gurdaspur had mentioned that many irregularities had been committed in the allocation of certain shops. According to the recommendations the entire allotment procedure was to be reviewed and he also recommended the registration of criminal case against the guilty officials.

Sources revealed that the report was still lying with the Secretary, Local Bodies in Chandigarh but no action had been taken due to the lack of follow up action, due to the alleged political patronage enjoyed by guilty officials.

Meanwhile, the victims of the allotment scam have met Mr Vinod Khanna, External Affairs Minister, in this regard.

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