P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal blames Cong for SAD’s incomplete tasks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Is there a single demand or an issue for which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has been “struggling” for decades and can claim to have accomplished it to its satisfaction, beginning with the re-organisation of states in 1966?

TNS asked the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, this question today, when the 20th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple is at the doorstep.

The patriarch of Sikh politics paused and pondered for several moments. Then he said, “As I look back, I am convinced that the Congress is to be blamed if all our demands have remained unfulfilled or contentious issues unresolved. It is ingrained in the Sikh psyche that in all these matters, the Congress is to be blamed. It has always played a spoilsport, over the decades”.

He then went on to give specific instances beginning with the latest, the Supreme Court order on the SYL canal. “It was late Indira Gandhi, who became an arbitrator to decide on sharing of river waters. She had even forced her Chief Minister Darbara Singh to withdraw the writ the Akali government had filed in the Supreme Court. I do not want to enter into any blame-game. Facts are too well known to be retold. The Congress itself has usurped the legal, constitutional and riparian laws to sting Punjab”.

TNS interrupted him to list some of the long-pending demands and issues over which the SAD had played with the sentiments of the people for too long. These included the enactment of an all-India Sikh Gurdwara Act, deletion of Article 25 from the Constitution, transfer of Chandigarh and territory left out of Punjab in 1966, implementation of the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, sharing of river waters, controversial SYL canal, punishment to those guilty of anti-Sikh riots after Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple in 1984, relief and rehabilitation of Army deserters and those affected in the riots, release of all detainees etc.

He was also asked what had the SAD had achieved after all these decades of agitations, morchas, dharm yudh, jail-bharo, rasta roko and other “struggles” in which thousands of people had lost their lives and many homes ruined? Do you plan to introspect on these long-drawn unfulfilled emotive demands and issues and chart a new course for the future? What was the SAD’s net gain, so far?

Mr Badal, calm and composed, still persisted in respect of each of these issues. He replied, ‘’It is the Congress that must be apportioned the blame. It’s beyond any one’s comprehension as to why the Congress is steadfastly anti-Sikhs. On all these issues, the SAD has been struggling and fighting against all odds. The Congress has been in power at the Centre and in Punjab for so long a period that it has successfully and deliberately complicated all these demands and issues and obfuscating all matters.

“In fact, what has really cheesed off the Congress or why it is peeved at the SAD is because it were us, the SAD and Sikhs, who launched a morcha against the Emergency in 1975 and opposed the Congress’ anti-Punjab policies ”.

Mr Badal said even regarding the judgment the Supreme Court gave on the SYL canal on Friday, it was for the Congress to legally fight it out, as there was the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre and also in Punjab. “But, how can the Congress be expected to take any steps in the interests of Punjab, when its own leaders, Indira Gandhi and others had complicated the matters. She had laid the foundation of the SYL canal at Kapuri? Can the Congress go against its own doings”?

He added, that water was the life-line for Punjab, which depends upon agriculture for its economic sustenance. “We have no water to spare and share. How can one construct a canal when it is not known if any divisible water is available at all?” he asked.

To a specific question what will be the SAD’s next move, despite the fact it had failed to accomplish any conceivable gains at the end of all its “peaceful, democratic struggles” with a curious mix of religion and politics, Mr Badal said, “Let the Political Affairs Committee meet. We will discuss what options we have on the SYL Canal and other issues. It can only be a political struggle, which we will continue and expect the Congress will sincerely pursue Punjab’s case on all matters raised over the decades by the SAD and protect Punjab’s riparian interests, legally”.

It was obvious, that the old grand man of Akali politics remains incorrigibly optimistic and indefatigable at the end of all vacuous struggles that he has either led or participated in, despite the SAD’s frequent infighting, factionalism and fragmentation.


Vedanti issues SGPC poll code
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
In a belated move, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today enforced a religious code of conduct for selecting candidates for the SGPC elections. The code becomes irrelevant as the Shiromani Akali Dal has already released a list of 75 candidates.

This is for the first time that the Jathedar has issued a religious code for the SGPC elections.

The releasing of the list has sent a clear signal about the significance being given to the directives of Akal Takht by the SAD. The party knew it beforehand that the Jathedar would enforce some code for selecting candidates.

Mr Badal had announced that loyalty towards the party would be the main criterion for the ticket.

The one-page code enforced by Jathedar Vedanti reads that the candidate and all his family members have to be baptised. However, going through the list of 75 candidates, it is clear that the religious code of conduct issued by the Jathedar could not be enforced in toto. The SAD could be in the dock as it had not ascertained whether all family members of the candidates were baptised. Many cases have been pending against the candidates in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission for allegedly violating Sikh “rehat maryada” and the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. Some of the members whose names appeared in the list today are facing charges of embezzlement.

The religious code of conduct issued today says the candidates for the SGPC elections ought to be devoted to the Sikh Panth only as per “rehat maryada”. The candidates should not be associated with any anti-Sikh organisation or party. The Jathedar added that the candidate should not be an alcoholic or a drug addict.

Interestingly, the Akal Takht has already received many complaints of violation of Sikh “maryada” by certain SGPC members who were allotted the ticket today.

With the religious code of conduct issued by Jathedar Vedanti becoming redundant in the wake of the announcement the SAD list of candidates, the role of Sikh clergy could become a major issue in the elections.


Follow SGPC poll code, says Pakhoke
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) working president Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke directed the SGPC authorities and staff to follow the code of conduct during the gurdwara elections.

Addressing a joint meeting of SGPC officials and managers of all gurdwaras registered under Section 85 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, drawn from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, he stated that with the issuance of notification of SGPC general elections on June 1 the code of conduct had become effective.

He added that gurdwara funds, premises and vehicles should not be used by any candidate or the party for campaigning.


Badal lists 75 SGPC candidates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today released the first list of 75 candidates for the forthcoming elections to the General House of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).

The last date for the filing of nominations is June 8 and the election is scheduled for July 11.

In today’s list, 11 districts have been covered besides Haryana, except for two seats in Kurukshetra — one general, one reserved for woman — and one in Ambala. At least 39 sitting SGPC members find place in the list.

Among prominent new candidates are Mr Vardev Singh Mann, son of Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP from Ferozepore, who will contest from Jalalabad. Others include former ministers, Mr Sucha Singh Langah from Dhariwal in Gurdaspur and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan from Gurdaspur, Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, son of former minister, Mr Randhir Singh Cheema from Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Kabul Singh, former SGPC member from Garhshankar in Hoshiarpur and Ms Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former MP from Ropar.

Mr Badal said for Patiala he had asked Mr Harmel Singh, son-in-law of late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, to select suitable candidates.

When asked how he viewed the reported grouping of several factions of the Akali Dal to challenge SAD candidates as much as his leadership, Mr Badal said they were of no consequence in the present scenario, as repeatedly proved by their rejection in various elections. ‘’All I can say is that they are Congress-friendly insects, which can hardly cause any harm to the SAD’’.

He even named several Akali leaders, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann and the likes of them to stress his point and termed them as ‘’protégés’’ of the Congress out to please their masters and sabotage the mainstream Panthic party, SAD.

Mr Badal apprehended largescale rigging of the SGPC elections given the way ‘’wholesale registration’’ of bogus voters was being done in all districts by Deputy Commissioners at the instance of the Congress. “SGPC elections are purely a religious affair of the Sikhs. The government should stay aloof and not interfere in its functions”.

He also spoke to the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, Justice J.S. Sekhon (retd), today and lodged a protest at the blatant manner in which new voters were being enrolled. In a helpless tone he said, ‘’The commission has no wherewithal of its own. It has to depend upon the state machinery to conduct the elections’’.


SGPC poll: Zaffarwal files papers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 5
Former Khalistan Commando Force chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal filed his nomination papers as an Independent from the Dhariwal SGPC constituency today, putting at rest the speculations that he would not contest against his kin, former PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah. With both Langah and Sucha Singh Chhotepur having decided to contest the SGPC poll, it is likely to be a triangular contest in the Dhariwal constituency. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders are happy with their candidates getting ticket for seven constituencies in Gurdaspur district. Now the Mann and Tohra groups have negligible presence in this border district .

While Congress leaders here said the party would not field its candidates for poll, it is likely that the party may support Independents and other candidates of splinter groups of the Akali Dal.


Book on Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The second book by journalist, Dalbir Singh titled, “Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwalian Picho Dhandookare Choen Chanan Di Khoj’’ was released here today by Kanwar Singh Dhami and Gian Singh.

The release of the book in Punjabi, running into 400 pages, coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984.

Speaking on the occasion, Dalbir Singh, explained that the book was an attempt to introspect on what had happened and why and what radical changes had taken place in the post-Operation Bluestar and anti-Sikh riots period. It was also an effort to find a forlorn ray of light in the fog that had enveloped Punjab and the Sikhs since those events. He hoped the book may enable the Sikhs and other intellectuals and thinkers to ponder as to why the Sikhs had been targeted repeatedly to scuttle them politically, socially, economically and religiously by playing with their sentiments’’.

He outlined the contours of a well thought out frame-work designed by the “imperialist’’ thinking Congress leaders to spite the Sikhs as a community and spike their aspirations and expectations. “Today, Sikh sidhant (tenets) is a prisoner of the blind, culture ruled by goonda elements and government is run by looters’’, he added.

He also struck a personal note as to how he had been struggling in the Punjab State Human Rights Commission for the past four years and had not yet got any justice or how labeling the Sikhs as “criminal’’ or “bad characters’’ without any cases against them had become order of the day.

A large number of journalists and activists of the human rights organisations and movement against state repression attended the book release function.


Shoddy recreation of Akal Takht frescos
Ashok Sethi and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, June 5
The frescos and paintings depicting the composite Indian culture and Sikh art on the walls of Akal Takht, which suffered damage during Operation Bluestar, have been redone restored in a manner not consistent with the original art form.

Prof Balvinder Singh, a leading conservator and Reader in the Guru Ram Dass School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, says Maharaja Ranjit Singh had promoted this unique art by getting top artists of the time to create masterpieces, blending the traditional Hindu and Sikh forms of art. These works reflect the secular outlook of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Quoting a British heritage expert who visited Akal Takht recently, he says the garish acrylic paints used rather than natural pigments to restore or replicate the frescos are an eyesore. He feels the SGPC should have engaged experts to do the works using natural colours to restore the glory of Akal Takht.

Expressing concern over the destruction of this art form, a well-known researcher and Assistant Librarian at Guru Nanak Dev University, Mr Santokh Singh Shaharyar, says he is disappointed at the lack of interest shown by the SGPC in preserving the ancient paintings and frescos. He says it was at his intervention that some of the finest paintings and pieces of art at Baba Atal Gurdwara in the Golden Temple complex were saved from being destroyed. He blames kar seva conducted by laymen without any knowledge of art restoration for the situation. The SGPC must engage experts with the knowledge of preserving ancient and historic gurdwaras and the paintings and frescos that adorn the inner walls, he demands.

Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Satpal Danish, sons of famous “naqqashi” artist Gian Singh have offered their services to restore the glorious medieval art, of which only traces are now available. They say their family is willing to help the SGPC train artists for the purpose. They claim the family has several research papers and a book left by their father, which can be used to recreate the frescos and paintings inside Akal Takht, the Golden Temple and Gurdwara Baba Atal Rai Sahib. Mr Surinder Singh feels naqqashi is a dead art, but it can still be revived, provided the SGPC takes up the issue.

Quoting from the reference books, Mr Surinder Singh says Maharaja Ranjit Singh had patronised naqqashi work which was used by Guru Hargobind Singh who laid the foundation stone of Akal Takht. This form of art was practised by various Muslim artists from Chinot (now in Pakistan). Mr Surinder Singh said they have managed a frame-by-frame record of all frescos and paintings of the Golden Temple complex, including the ones destroyed in Akal Takht.


Gastroenteritis toll rises to eight

Ferozepore, June 5
The death toll due to suspected gastroenteritis has risen to eight in this area even as more and more people were today rushed to various hospitals.

One more victim, who died last night, has been identified as Gurpreet Kaur (5), a resident of Bajitpur village.

Meanwhile, Punjab Family Welfare Director G.L. Goyal today visited Civil Hospital and many private hospitals to review the situation arising out of the outbreak of the disease. He also had a detailed meeting with Health Department officials and issued necessary instructions to intensify preventive measures to check the disease and ensure proper flow of medicines to the patients.

However, the Health Department on the directions of Mr Goyal has immediately arranged additional 20 folding beds to accommodate the patients pouring in hospitals.

Gastroenteritis has claimed several lives in districts of Bathinda, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.

Abohar: Though a feedback of three deaths due to diarrhoea during the last 24 hours has come in from registered medical practitioners officials of the Health Department have not ruled out the possibility of more deaths.

A private nursing home located in Jain Nagar confirmed that a family from Dharam Nagri, had lost one of its member due to diarrhoea. Another victim, identified as Kalu Ram, a resident of Street Number 2 also belonged to the same locality. The third death was of a woman, Soma Rani, of Basant Nagar, again a locality on the outskirts of the sub division.

Several senior physicians have confirmed that hundreds of patients were under their treatment for diarrhoea and gastroenteritis for the past one week.

A team of newspersons men who visited slum areas were told by the affected families that they had to approach the RMPs because most of the doctors of Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital were not found in their seats even by 10 am though the work starts at 8 am. The hospital wears deserted look by 1 pm though the doctors were required to be present till 2 pm. Moreover, they said government doctors generally recommend costly allopathic medicines to please the chemists.

Slum areas and localities developed on the outskirts of the town depend upon ground water that contain a lot of fluoride contents considered harmful for health. Though the PWSSB was now taking care to ensure better quality of drinking water but there was no arrangement for the disposal of the sewage water in some posh colonies. — UNI, OC


Private developers hijack trust’s colony project
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
The defence colony project of the Ropar Improvement Trust has been jeopardised with private developers taking control of over 23 acre of land, which was under the process of acquisition by the improvement trust.

The local improvement trust last year planned a defence colony on 46 acre land in Railo Khurd and Paprala villages which are within the municipal limits of Ropar. A land acquisition notice under Section 38 of the Punjab Land Acquisition Act was issued in December 2003. Another notice under Section 36 of the Act was issued later. A committee comprising of the Chairman and other trustees of the improvement trust listened to the objections of the land owners in April this year.

The process was going on smoothly till the private developers developed interest in the land. While the improvement trust authorities were completing the formalities of final acquisition of the land, the private developers, Gillco valleys, surprisingly managed to secure the approval to develop the colony on the same land from PUDA.

As per rules, PUDA should have called for a no-objection certificate from the Ropar Improvement Trust before giving the approval to any private developer within the municipal limits. However, it was strange that no-objection certificate was sought from the improvement trust before giving the approval to private developers.

As a result now the entire defence colony project of the trust has been jeopardised. The private developers have acquired and taken control over the land despite all objections from the improvement trust authorities. They have even allegedly uprooted and removed the board of the improvement declaring the land under their acquisition.

They have taken the control of over entire 23 acre of vacant land while the remaining 23 acre that has pucca constructions has been left for the improvement trust. When this correspondent visited the spot, the developers were levelling the newly acquired land.

According to sources in the improvement trust, certain bureaucrats and ministers of the ruling party were supporting the private developers. Whenever trust officials raise any query to PUDA regarding the approval given by them, the private developers manage to secure an answer to the query by hand the very next day. In normal course the queries to PUDA are not answered for months, they alleged.

The sources also informed that the Department of Local Governments has issued a notice to PUDA seeking explanation as to how the approval has been given for the colony without consulting the Ropar Improvement Trust. However, despite that the private developers have not stopped their work over the disputed land.

The Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Mr Ram Prakash Bali, when asked to comment on issue said the report regarding the take over of the land under acquisition land of the trust by the private developers has been sent to the authorities concerned. Now it was for the government to taken action in the matter.

He, however, added that the improvement trust had planned a colony on the disputed land exclusively for the defence personal. The houses could have been provided to defence personal at no-profit no-loss basis at an estimated rate of about Rs 700 to Rs 800 per square yard.


20 pc water samples fail
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Some uncontaminated facts about water supply in Punjab — Over 20 per cent of the samples collected from different parts of the state after recent spurt in diarrhoea cases have already failed the test of purity. The percentage is likely to increase drastically as results of large number of samples are still awaited.

Though the authorities in Punjab Health Department refused to divulge district wise details "in an attempt to avoid panic among the residents", they asserted that a total of 1905 samples were collected, out of which 397 failed the test. They added that the results of another 404 samples were awaited.

A senior officer in the health department added on the condition of anonymity that some of the samples were collected from schools and other educational institutes, making the situation alarming.

The results are significant as diarrhoea and gastroenteritis are primarily caused due to contaminated water. The doctors at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research here revealed that besides consumption of contaminated water, washing of utensils could also lead to complications. At least six people have lost their lives in Ferozepore alone due to suspected gastroenteritis even though the authorities deny it.

Meanwhile, Punjab's Deputy Director S.K. Bansal claimed that the sample collection drive had been stepped up in sensitive areas following increase in the inflow of patients suffering from diarrhoea. He added that system of daily monitoring had been introduced in the state and the reports were being received from civil surgeons about the situation in the state.

Another officer added that the civil surgeons had been directed by Secretary in the Department of Health and Family Welfare D.S. Guru to ensure the constitution of Rapid Response Teams for rushing to the affected areas without wastage of time. He added that instructions had also been issued to ensure against the functioning of ice factories and sale of ice candies without getting the water tested.

A government spokesman added that Directions were issued by the Director of Local Government to all Municipal Corporation Commissioners and Executive Officers to make sure proper chlorination of drinking water in the affected areas. During a high-level meeting, it was also decided to impose a ban on the installation of electric pumps to pull water directly from water supply lines. The pump, according to authorities, was sucking in mud and other contaminated stuff while pulling the water from the supply lines.


Disability could not stand in the way of marriage
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Reena Rani had never expected her destiny to surprise her so pleasantly. Until two years ago this 20-year-old village girl from Patiala was a hapless polio victim, who could not even walk a yard.

Miserable as her case was, she could at best crawl in the name of movement. Never had she thought she would again walk one day…that too with a man who has taken her as her wedded wife.

Reena is still in the world of her dreams and she has all the reasons to be. After all, she is one among a thousand disabled girls who are fortunate enough to get married, that too with an able-bodied man. For Reena this fairy tale romance will last forever and she does keep her fingers crossed when she introduces us to Vikas Verma, her knight in the shining armour who rescued her from the jaws of misfortune.

A store manager in a Hyundai showroom in Patiala, Vikas makes a conscious conversation lest he should hurt Reena in any way. Humble about his choice of marrying a disabled girl, he concentrates on her strengths rather than infirmities.

"She is so talented. She is also a wonderful homemaker. Not just that, she is also financially empowered. She knows the basics of computer operations. She has done her beautician's course. In every way, she is my equal. In fact, I feel she is much more pleasant looking than I am. Why should I not be proud of her? What if she walks with crutches? That does not make her any less charming," reasons the man who has unconsciously set an example for others.

Vikas did not have to work very hard on convincing his parents. They accepted the bride readily and the marriage was solemnized like any other marriage. Reena will never forget May 2, the day her dream of wedding was realised. She recalls, "I used to cry over my disability until "Roshni" came into my life. With the help of voluntary workers from this Rajpura-based agency, I got medical attention for the first time."

Reena underwent 12 operations at Rampura Phool. After corrective surgery the deformity in Reena's lower limbs was cured a little. Her's was a case of severe polio attack that had immobilised her completely. It was timely medical intervention which enabled Reena to stand on her feet, not only physically but also financially.

She says, "I was pursuing studies even while I was ailing. But after my multiple deformities were corrected, I was able to move around a little. That was when I did my computer and beautician's course. Now I am in BA Part I. Roshni is bearing my expenses, while the Rotary Club, Rajpura, is providing money for my treatment. "

Had it not been for the surgery, Reena's life would not have changed for better. Soon after she began walking with the help of crutches, she received the news that a certain family from Samana was interested in marrying their son to her. She later discovered that Vikas had seen her earlier and that he had been impressed with her courage to fight deformity. "I never thought I would get married one day. This was my most recurring dream. Now I know there is God," says Reena.


BSP expels five leaders
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 5
The BSP yesterday expelled Mr Devi Das Nahar, who was the BSP’s State Vice-President and party candidate from Jalandhar parliamentary seat, Mr Jia Lal Nahar, a general secretary, Mr Pritam Chand, a general secretary, Mr Balwant Singh Sultanpur, President of the Kapurthala unit of the BSP, Mr Nirmal Singh, also the general secretary of the state unit today. The BSP top leadership expelled former party MLA from Garshankar on Wednesday.

The decision to expel five leaders was taken at the instance of the BSP acting president Ms Mayawati, following a “large number of complaints” against Mr Nahar and others, it was learnt.

Mr Nahar, and others have been held “responsible” for conspiring to weaken the party in the state during recent Parliamentary polls, even as Mr Nahar denied the allegations against him and termed the action against him as, “uncalled for and unjustified”.

Highly placed party sources maintained Mr Nahar and four other leaders have been expelled for allegedly not campaigning properly in Kapurthala constituency, the home constituency of Rana Gurjit Singh, who had won the Jalandhar parliamentary seat.


Mann flays Natwar N-doctrine

Sangrur, June 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) yesterday denounced the statement of Mr Natwar Singh, Union Minister for External Affairs, in which he had allegedly tried to “spoil Indo-Pak relations”. — TNS


World Environment Day celebrated
Tribune Reporters

Kapurthala, June 5
Pledging to participate in the ongoing desilting campaign of the Kali Bein and tree-plantation drives in the district, the Eco-Club of Guru Hargobind Senior Secondary Public School, Nadala, in association with the Academy of Folklore, celebrated World Environment Day at Kanjli Picnic Spot today.

On the occasion, Mr Tarlochan Singh, SDM, Sultanpur Lodhi, expressed concern over the harmful effects of effluent discharge in the rivulet. He called upon the students from the adjoining towns to launch an awareness campaign against water pollution.

Sant Balbir Singh Sichewal, the man behind the recently started drive to clean the Kali Bein, was the chief guest on the occasion. He, too, urged the residents to support the cause and participate in the ongoing drive.

Painting and slogan-writing competitions were organised for the students. Students presented a choreography depicting the aftermaths of deforestation, poaching and water pollution. A book titled “Wah Ni Dharat Suhavi” was also released during the function.

AMRITSAR: On the occasion of World Environment Day, members of the Kheti Virasat Study Circle pledged to make Guru Nanak Dev University premises an eco-friendly place.

Mr Chander Prakash, the convener of the circle, formed today under the aegis of an NGO, Kheti Virasat, Punjab, and Dr Bhajan Singh Lark, a senior professor, said it was a matter of grave concern that Amritsar had zero per cent forest cover and water table was falling day by day.

Meanwhile, the Amritsar Vikas Manch, in collaboration with the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, held a seminar at Khalsa College Public School.

A seminar “Threats to Natural Heritage” was organised by INTACH (Amritsar chapter), at the School of Punjabi Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University. Mr P.D. Singh Randhawa of Government Polytechnic and Prof Satinder Kaur of Applied Chemical Sciences Department of the university presented papers on the occasion.

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab addressed a state-level function organised by the Punjab Pollution Control Board in connection with World Environment Day here today. He said air, water and noise pollution were causing serious damage to the people’s health, flora and fauna.


MC chief accused of misappropriation bid
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 5
The president of the local Municipal Council, Mr Krishan Kumar Teria, allegedly tried to misappropriate council funds in the name of Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh’s proposed visit on February 18 this year.

Even though the minister’s visit was cancelled, the council chief reportedly presented a resolution in the agenda of council’s meeting held last month to get Rs 50,000 for the visit. However, due to the opposition of the BJP Municipal Councillor and leader of the Opposition in the house, Mr Satpal Pathela, he could not succeed in his alleged attempt.

Mr Pathela told TNS that Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was scheduled to visit the town to lay down the foundation stone for some development work. The council permitted the president to spend Rs 50,000 for the expenditure during the minister’s visit.

However, the minister did not come to the city. Even then, Mr Teria reportedly presented a resolution in the agenda at a meeting of the House held on May 5 to get the said amount.

At this, the president said money had been spent on the publishing of invitation cards about the minister’s proposed visit, Mr Pathela said adding that he asked him to produce the bill. He claimed that Mr Teria could produce 2 bills of Rs 2,750 only.

At a council meeting held here yesterday, Mr Pathela demanded the council chief’s resignation. He also alleged misappropriation of council funds in the ongoing construction work on the Tibbi Sahib road. He alleged that over 300 trolleys of debris had been sold secretly during the construction of the 850 feet long road.

However, Mr Teria has denied the allegations. He claimed that he had presented a resolution to get only Rs 2,750 spent on cards and not Rs 50,000.

Regarding the construction work on the Tibba Sahib road, he said a three-member committee would be constituted to look into the matter and at least one council member would be included in the committee.

Meanwhile, a former president of the council, Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, has also levelled the same allegations against Mr Teria and demanded his resignation.


Malaria mosquito resistant to insecticides: SMO
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 5
The type of mosquito that spreads malaria has become resistant to DDT and other insecticides over the past more than five years. Though the number of malaria cases had drastically come down, it was important to remain alert to bring the disease under control.

This was stated by Dr S.P. Singla, SMO in charge of the Civil Hospital, at a meeting held at the office of the SDM here yesterday with officials of the Municipal Council and representatives of NGOs. The meeting was Chaired by Mr Sukhwinder Singh Gill, SDM.

Dr Singla said that a message had to be spread at various levels to control malaria. Literature in this regard would be distributed in schools to make students aware of the disease and how it could be controlled. He said that water should not be allowed to stagnate to check the breeding of mosquitoes. Moreover, proper clothing and application of some repellant should be done to avoid mosquito bites.

Dr Singla urged Municipal Council officials to pour some oil in water that stagnated in ponds around the town so that mosquito breeding could be checked. Patients suffering from malaria should take proper medication.

He said that to keep water-borne diseases at bay one should drink water that had been boiled for at least 15 minutes. In case of any epidemics, the health authorities should be informed immediately.


IMA for uniformity in prices of drugs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 5
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) yesterday urged Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals, Ram Vilas Paswan, to fix prices of drugs, bringing uniformity in prices.

Dr Surinder Singla, an office-bearer of the IMA said here yesterday recent statement of Mr Paswan, on uniformity in the prices of drugs could not be implemented.

Dr Singla wanted strong and effective steps in this regard.

Dr Singla said there was huge difference in the prices of some similar drugs, manufactured or marketed by different companies. He said some drug companies were allowing profit to the retailers from 100 per cent to 1,000 per cent just by printing prices on drug packets.

Citing big differences in prices, Dr Singla gave examples of some commonly used drugs, like Ciprofloxacin from Rs 30 per 10 tablets to Rs 1.00 per 10 tablets, Ofloxacin from Rs 40 for 10 tablets to Rs 170 for 10 tablets and Cetrizine’s price from Rs 2 for 10 tablets to Rs 10 for 10 tablets.


Celebrations on SYL verdict condemned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Punjab Ministers Lal Singh, Partap Singh Bajwa, Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Santokh Singh and Sardool Singh, in a joint statement have condemned celebrations in Haryana on the SYL verdict, as reported in the Press today.

The Ministers have expressed their anguish and have stated that Haryana should not be looking for prosperity at the cost of the farming community of Punjab. “The state does not have surplus water and in case any attempt is made to divert Punjab water to the neighbouring states, nine lakh hectares of Punjab land will go dry,” the statement added.

the ministers said that the state government would explore all administrative, legal and political possibilities to ensure that no damage is done to the farmers of the state.


BKU to oppose construction of SYL Canal

Moga, June 5
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) today threatened to start an agitation and not allow construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in Punjab, as directed by the Supreme Court, saying the state had no surplus water for Haryana. “Farmers in Punjab are ready to launch an agitation and would never allow construction of SYL at any cost”, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, President and Secretary-General respectively of the BKU (Lakhowal) said here.

The BKU president said an emergent meeting of the state executive committee had been convened in Ludhiana on June 10 to take stock of the situation after the Apex Court’s verdict and also decide future course of action. — PTI


Chandumajra for all-party meeting on SYL

Mansa, June 5
Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, a former MP and senior Akali leader, today said the Supreme Court’s decision in connection with the construction and completion of the SYL canal was unfortunate. He urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to call an all-party meeting to work out a strategy to deal with the situation. — TNS


Beauty queen’s tribute to heroes
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 5
Femina Miss India World Sayali Bhagat yesterday visited the National Martyrs Memorial of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to pay tributes to heroes of the Indian freedom struggle. She also visited the Indo-Pakistan Joint check post at Hussainiwala and interacted with BSF personnel.

Miss Bhagat paid obeisance at Saragarhi gurdwara here yesterday. Miss Bhagat presiding over a function organised by NIFD addressed the students, after formally launching Degree/Diploma programmes to be offered by Annamalai university in technical collaboration with NIFD, here on Thursday evening.


Police accused of inaction
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 5
Two persons, who were allegedly beaten up by a group here on May 21, have complained to the Chief Minister and the DGP that the local police has failed to take proper action against the culprits.

The victims, Manjeet Singh and Sukhwinder Singh, said in their complaint that they were beaten up by about 25 persons and remained in hospital for nine days.

They said the police had not taken proper action against the alleged attackers and pressure was being put on them to take the case back. They had been threatened that a false case would be registered against them if the complaint was not withdrawn.


Jawan found dead
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 5
An Army jawan was found dead in the cantonment yesterday. The deceased, identified as Amrik Singh (25), is suspected to have been electrocuted. The police of the cantonment has registered a case according to which the jawan had gone to the toilet at 2.30 am. He did not return to his room. It was at 7 am other jawans of his regiment fond the body there. The body has been sent to Civil Hospital for past-mortem examination.


Ministers nominated to NRI Sabha
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 5
Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, has nominated Mr Avtar Henry, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, and Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation, as vice-patrons of the NRI Sabha, Punjab.

This has been stated by Mr D.S. Longia, Joint Secretary, NRI Affairs. Mr Pritam Singh Naurangpur, the president of the sabha, and Mr K.K. Sharma, Managing Director, Have congratulated the ministers.


Tension over payment of wages

Bathinda, June 5
Tension prevails between landowners and labourers of Kotbhara village of this district over the payment of minimum wages. Deputy Commissioner K. A. P. Sinha has ordered a probe into the matter.

Sources said tension started when the labourers were refused a minimum wage of Rs 88 per day. The landowners allegedly made an announcement that anyone, giving a wage of more than Rs 50 per day to labourers, would be fined Rs 1,000.

A section of labourers met Mr Sinha and SSP Kapil Dev demanding minimum wages. — TNS


PSEB told to pay compensation
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
The District Consumer Forum has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to pay Rs 20,000 to a complainant for deficiency in service.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh, a resident of Pir Sohana village in Kharar tehsil of the district, had alleged that he got a 3-BHP tubewell connection installed on his agricultural land. Under the voluntary disclosure scheme of the PSEB, he got his tubewell connected with 10 BHP load. In an effort to underload the 63 KVR transformer from which the tubewell connection was given, he deposited Rs 18,900 with the PSEB. Another amount of Rs 17,990 demanded by the PSEB for a similar purpose was also deposited.

However, despite receiving the amount, the PSEB failed to underload the transformer. Due to this, his tubewell got irregular power supply that caused loss to his crops. The complainant had demanded Rs 50,000 as compensation for deficiency in service on the part of the PSEB.

The PSEB authorities in their reply filed before the forum, admitted that the facts submitted by the complainant were true. They, however, maintained that the complaint was not maintainable in its current form.

The forum, comprising the president, Mr J.P. Gupta, and a member, Mr S.K. Bhatia, found the PSEB guilty of deficiency in service. Besides the compensation, the forum also awarded the cost of litigation, quantified at Rs 1,500, to the complainant. The amount is to be paid within 30 days of the receipt of a copy of judgment, failing which it would carry an interest of 9 per cent per annum.


Football coach’s bail plea rejected
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 5
The interim bail application of a former football coach of Punjabi University, who was declared a proclaimed offender (PO) and made dramatic surrender in a local court on May 29, was rejected by a Nabha court today.

The court has fixed June 12 as the next date of hearing and on the same day the police will file a challan.

Dalbir Singh, along with four others, Gurbir Singh, Jaspal Singh, Sukhdev, alias Doctor, and Jaspal Singh (jr), was accused in the murder of Excise and Taxation Commissioner A.K. Mishra, who was gunnned downed on May 6, 1992, near the Railway crossing No. 21 here.

An FIR was registered by the Civil Lines police, which made out criminal cases against all accused under Sections 302, 307, 120-B of the Arms Act and TADA. Although at the time of the murder no names were included in the FIR, later, on a statement of Mr Pyare Lal, an employee of Government Physical College, the police included the names of the accused.

Two of the accused, Gurbir Singh and Jaspal Singh, were acquitted by the TADA Designated Judge due to lack of evidence, while the other three, including Dalbir Singh, were declared proclaimed offenders.


3 sentenced to 11 years for rape

Faridkot, June 5
A Fast-Track Court here has sentenced three persons to 11 years of rigorous imprisonment for raping a Scheduled Caste woman.

According to the prosecution the three accused Gurjant Singh, Mander Singh and Bhola Singh all residents of Thrajwala village in Muktsar district along with three others Rajwant Singh, Gurdev Singh and Resham Singh on May 23, 2000, entered a house and raped rape the girl. — PTI


PSEB assures 8-hour supply for paddy
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has assured eight-hour regular power supply to farmers for paddy sowing.

This was stated by Board Chairman Y.S. Ratra at a high-level meeting at the Board’s premises. Mr Ratra added that arrangements had been made to purchase additional power from various sources. He said that the urban customers will not be affected due to the Board’s decision and six-hour power to cotton and sunflower growers will be maintained.

The Member (operations), Mr H.C. Sood, disclosed that surplus staff from Patiala and Jalandhar was being shifted to the field and Executive Engineer rank officers had been asked to go to villages to get first-hand information.


Punjab may rationalise MC employees
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
Most of the municipal councils of the state are reeling under a financial crisis due to over staffing. As per the norms, the councils should not spend more than 35 per cent of their earning on paying salaries to employees. However, in many councils about 90 per cent of the earning is going into paying salaries.

The state government is considering a proposal of rationalising employees in different councils of the state through reshuffle. The move will help the council reeling under a financial crisis to save some funds for development.

The Director of the Local Government, Mr R.L. Kalsia, gave this information while talking to The Tribune at Nangal today. He was here to preside over the management committee meeting of the Shivalik College of Pharmacy.

Patiala, the Chief Minister’s hometown, is going to get largesse with the Department of Local Bodies planning to spend Rs 60 crore to improve its amenities.

Mr Kalsia said Rs 60 crore would be spent in Patiala city under the National Regional Development Programme. Under the programme 70 per cent of the grant was being provided by the Government of India, while rest 30 per cent would be contributed by the local council and the state government.

For Bathinda also a special project of Rs 15 crore for improving water and sewerage facilities was being implemented.

A proposal worth Rs 1640 crore had also been prepared for carrying out special development projects in 22 other towns of the state. A proposals worth Rs 900 crore was being submitted to the Government of India this year. The state government expected to get the grants within the current financial year.

While responding to a query Mr Kalsia said the state owed a huge amount to the local councils in the form of their share in the excise collected from their respective areas. He, however, refused to give the exact amount owed by the state to the councils.

About the inquiry into the chlorination scam in various councils of the state, he said the data regarding that rates at which different councils purchased chlorination plants was being collected. The officers concerned would be held liable after comparing the rates.

The state government had spent Rs 390 crore on development works in the local government in the last financial year. This year the amount to be spent on development had been budgeted at Rs 450 crore.

A special grant of Rs 5 crore had been planned for weaker councils. Eight councils, including the Shri Hargobindpur, Morr and Sangat councils, had been identified as the weakest councils in the state.

He also said the management committee of the Shivalik College of Pharmacy had passed the proposal of recruiting six lecturers and a regular Principal of the college. The proposal would be sent to the government for clearance, he added.


Panel formed on land acquisition by PUDA
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 5
A six-member committee has been formed by the Punjab Government to look into the problem of the villagers protesting against the acquisition of their land by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here.

The committee, chaired by the Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, will include Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, State Minister, Mrs Lakhvinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Chief Minister, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, and the Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr A.S. Chattwal. The first joint meeting of the committee with six representatives of the villagers will be held on June 9.

Meanwhile, the former Finance Minister, Punjab, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today visited the site of protest by the villagers and assured them of his complete support. But the villagers, who were in no mood to listen to him, shrugged off his words of support alleging that the former Finance Minister had, in fact, rejected PUDA’s pooling-in scheme for landowners during his tenure as the Finance Minister, Punjab.

The protesters have decided to burn effigies of Capt Kanwaljit Singh and the local MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, to express their anguish over their slack attitude towards the cause of the villagers.

Giving this information, Mr D.P. Singh, general secretary of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee, stated that they would be performing the ceremonial ‘‘last rites’’ of these two political leaders. He added that PUDA had earlier introduced the pooling-in scheme for landowners, according to which a landowner would get a developed piece of land from PUDA in lieu of the land acquired by it. However, this scheme was shot down by Capt Kanwaljit Singh when he was the Finance Minister. ‘‘Capt Kanwaljit Singh tried to convince us that he had no role to play in the rejection of the scheme, but when we showed him newspaper clippings, he had no reply,’’ said Mr D.P. Singh.

‘‘Mr Bir Devinder Singh, despite being the local MLA, has not supported our cause. Except for some random statements in the newspapers, he has not even offered to take up our issue at the level of the government,’’ he said, adding that the effigies would be burnt on June 8.

On May 17, the protesting landlords had started a chain fast which entered its 19th day today. The protesters are demanding the cancellation of the notification issued by the government dated January 19, 2004, in connection with the acquisition of approximately 690 acres of land in five villages. According to the PUDA notification, over 170 acres of land will be acquired in Sohana village, another 209 acres will be acquired in Lakhnaur village 21 acres in Landran, 124 acres in Bermpur and 162 acres in Manak Majra village.


Health officers to undergo training
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
As many as 356 district health officers from the six different states including Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chandigarh and Rajasthan would undergo training at the Department of Community Medicine at the PGI here under the immunisation strengthening project.

The six-day long project would begin on June 7 and has been launched by the Government of India to boost the declining trend in the immunisation coverage witnessed in most states in the country.

The Department of Community Medicine headed by Professor Rajesh Kumar has been recognised as the regional training centre for the district-level medical officers of the entire North India.


Dr B.S. Sidhu is Director, Fisheries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Dr Baljit Singh Sidhu assumed charge as Director and Warden of Fisheries, Punjab yesterday. He started his career as a Veterinary Officer at Nestle in Moga and worked as Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry from 1990 to 2000. Later, he was promoted as Joint Director, Animal Husbandry and posted at Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL), Jalandhar.


Eunuch accused of castrating boys
Chander Parkash & Dharminder Joshi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
A teenaged boy of Sangria Mandi of Rajasthan was allegedly castrated at Mandi Dabwali in a dera being run by eunuch after making him unconscious a few days ago. Now he has started begging.

Another boy, who suffered a similar fate, has been earning through begging for the dera.

However, Sukhwinder Singh, a local resident, turned out to be lucky. He managed to escape from the dera when the eunuch who runs it tried it castrate him.

These are not isolated incidents. A number of boys are being lured to the dera and then turned into eunuchs by the dera head, alleges Sukhwinder Singh.

In a complaint lodged with the district police and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, disclosing the illegal activities going on in the dera at Dabwali, Sukhwinder Singh has demanded stern action against the dera and security for himself as he apprehends threat to his life from the henchmen of the dera head.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, has ordered raids on the dera. He also asked Mr Ajay Maluja, SP (D), to conduct an inquiry.

Sukhwinder Singh has alleged that Sheera Singh, a resident of Teona village in this district, who impersonated as a eunuch, took him to the dera at Dabwali. At the dera, he saw a number of boys from different parts of the country being castrated.

He alleges that Sheera Singh takes away the money collected through begging by the boys made eunuchs. He is being threatened by Sheera Singh and his associates after he exposed their acts, Sukhwinder Singh adds.


Gang of robbers busted, 7 held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 5
The local police claims to have busted a gang of robbers who were allegedly involved in a series of dacoities in various villages of the district during the past one month.

Addressing a press conference, the SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, disclosed that the police had constituted a team under SP (Detective), Mr P.S. Virk. The police was able to arrest seven members of the gang yesterday. The SSP added that the gang members belonged to Muslim Kaladar tribe that had its base in Shahjahanpur and Farukhabad districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Rai said the police came to know that the gang members had certain characteristics and one was that the members were related to each other and committing dacoities was their main source of livelihood.

The head of the gang, Gora, who is still to be arrested had set up a base in Badungar township of the city nearly a decade ago.

Investigations revealed that there were at least 10 such gangs operating in semi-urban and rural areas of Punjab and each gang had a code name like Soldier, Gora, Fatia, Naksha and Kalia gangs.

A 12 bore rifle, a dozen cartridges, a revolver, two country made pistols and several rods were seized from the gangsters.


Medical girls hostel to have foolproof security
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 5
Taking a serious view of the matter arising following two intrusion incidents by unidentified persons in the different premises of the local government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital last month, the Punjab government has decided to make adequate and foolproof security arrangements in the girls hostel of the institution to avoid any untoward incident. Under the decision a new inner wall will be constructed within the compound of the hostel and its boundary wall will be raised by 4 to 6 feet. In addition to it, the single-door entry will also be restricted by making various changes at the entry point. Floodlights will be fixed at all corners of the building.

The entire plan has been prepared and a copy of it has already been handed over to the PWD and BR Department authorities here. They assured in turn that work will start by June 7 positively. To speed up the work the government has released a special grant of Rs 8.10 lakh in this regard. Moreover, the state government has also approached a private agency Pasco to provide six security personnel round the clock in the hostel premises. The matter is likely to materialised within a week or so.

In the meantime, two male and female guards will be deputed round the clock from tomorrow. A visitors register will also be preserved to maintain the entry of each visitor to the hostel premises. A police post set up in the hostel compound is also being shifted to the outer side of the boundary wall. This was stated by Dr J.S. Dalal, Principal of the college, while talking to mediapersons here today.

The Principal, who had discussed the matter in detail with senior officers of the Medical Education and Research on June 3 and 4 at Chandigarh, said Mr Satish Chandra, secretary of the department, also assured more funds to ensure foolproof security for the girls hostel.

Denying any entry of a stranger in the hostel on June 3 at about 9 pm, Dr Dalal described it as a psyche of fear of the students following the ringing of an emergency bell due to short-circuit somewhere in the power line. 


UGC to launch TV channel

Phagwara, June 5
The Centre and the University Grants Commission (UGC) have finalised a plan to launch a satellite channel for distance education and other courses. Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, had sent its consent for it, according to Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university.

The Vice-Chancellor said here today that the proposed channel would be named, educate channel and would be used only for the purpose of education and community service. “We have agreed to pay the amount, running into lakhs, for this ambitious project”, said Dr S.P. Singh.

A meeting will be convened in the third week of this month by the Chairman of the project, Dr H.P. Dixit, Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU at New Delhi. Vice-Chancellors of various universities would take part in the meeting. — OC


Distance education admissions

Amritsar, June 5
Guru Nanak Dev University announced admission schedule for academic year 2004-05 for arts and social science colleges affiliated to its centre for distance education.

Admission in these collages will be till July 31 while admission could be sought with the permission of principal concerned with late fee of Rs 50. — OC

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