P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC terminates services of Calcutta, Bhanwer
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 14
Acting on the directives of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, working president Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) today terminated the services of its 27 employees including Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary, Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwer, media adviser and two legal advisers — who were close confidents of late Jathedar Gurcharn Singh Tohra.

The orders came a day after the visit of Mr Parkash Singh Badal who was re-elected as SAD president.

Those whose services have been terminated include Mr Khajan Singh Dhillon and Mr M.S. Gill — both legal advisers and two raagi jathas (Bhai Jaswant Singh and Bhai Banta Singh). These jathas were one of the oldest jathas of Golden Temple and were employed on contract basis.

However, Mr Calcutta had challenged the authority of the SGJC for directing the SGPC to terminate the services of those who had attained the services of 60 years.

He said the SGPC’s executive had all powers to employ the persons with vast experience and hence the SGJC could not challenge its authority. Mr Calcutta claimed that he had neither applied for the post nor he was getting any salary for the job and hence he could not be described as employee. He said the executive committee had passed a resolution for amending rules for giving him assignment as secretary.

Mr Pakhoke had reportedly ignored the verbal orders of Mr Badal for accommodating Mr Calcutta by sending Mr Raghbir Singh on long leave. Earlier, Mr Calcutta had stopped attending the office in protest against the appointment of Mr Raghbir Singh as P.A to the SGPC chief.

The termination of services of 27 employees could be challenged as the step was taken during the process of the SGPC elections.


Panthic Morcha, SAD gear up for SGPC poll
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 14
With the formation of the Panthic Morcha, battlelines have been drawn for the elections to the general house of the SGPC scheduled to take place on July 11. The Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has announced the candidates for all 170 seats while the Panthic Morcha has also put up candidates for almost for the same number of seats.

The Panthic Morcha consists of various Akali factions, namely the Akali Dal (Amritsar) Akali Dal led by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and rebel leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal like Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Baldev Singh Mann and Mr Inderjit Singh Zira. Mr Baldev Singh Mann was expelled from the SAD for his anti-party activities and Mr Chandumajra was also suspended from the party for the same reason.

Mr Zira had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Ferozepore as a rebel candidate. The Panthic Morcha has succeeded in securing the support of Gurmat Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj led by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi and Bhai Ranjit Singh former Jathedar of Akal Takht. The leaders of the Panthic Morcha are also busy in persuading leaders of the radical Sikh organisations to join hands to defeat Mr Badal.

The radicals have formed a new Akali Dal with an eye on the SGPC poll. The Shiromani Khalsa Dal has been established by Daljit Singh Bittu who headed the Sikh Students Federation during the period of militancy in Punjab and associated with the Panthic Committee (Dr Sohan Singh). Daljit Bittu is currently lodged in the high security jail at Nabha. Besides, the Dal Khalsa, another radical Sikh organisation, has also decided to contest the SGPC elections. The third organisation is Khalsa Panchayat headed by Mr Rajinder Singh.

Interestingly, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who is heading the Akali Dal (Amritsar) is not seeking election to the SGPC general house this time.

Mr Mann was elected to the SGPC in 1996 and he had a group of five members.

The Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal is in upbeat mood following an unprecedented victory of its candidates in the Lok Sabha poll. Following this victory, Mr Badal was keen that the elections to the general house of the SGPC should also be held at the earliest and this was a major reason that he opposed all attempts by the Punjab Chief Minister to get the elections postponed.

Elections to the general house should have been conducted during the tenure of Mr Badal as Chief Minister but he did not evince any interest in the same. Rather he kept sitting on files moved by the Union Home Ministry and the Chief Commissioner for Gurdwara Elections.

The general house of the SGPC had sought lowering of voting age to 18 from 21 as was the case for Lok Sabha elections. It had also demanded that Sehajdharis should be barred from casting their votes. The matter was taken up only when the Congress Government came into power in Punjab and the state government opposed the move of the SGPC and Akali Dal. But the Akali Dal being a partner in the NDA Government managed to get the Sehajdharis debarred. Thus the Akali dal killed two birds with one stone. While the Akali Dal was in power, the RSS had also taken interest in enrolment of Sehajdhari voters and nearly 10 lakh Sehajadharis were registered as voters. The petition filed by Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu in the high court is still pending which seeks right to vote for Sehajdharis.

As the Shiromani Akali Dal has distributed the party tickets for the SGPC poll the faction of the late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra has been left in the lurch. According to sources, only about two dozen men could get the party ticket and there is strong resentment among Tohra’s followers. Jathedar Tohra had the backing of more than 50 members in the general house of the SGPC who stood by him through thick and thin with him.

The Panthic Morcha leadership maintains that loyalty should be to the Guru and not the political individual as the SGPC elections are purely a religious affair. The Panthic Morcha leaders plan to give a one-to-one fight to the candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal in a bid to snatch control of the SGPC.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi has been made chief patron of the Panthic Morcha along with Bhai Ranjit Singh to give a religious face to the same. Baba Bedi claims that the aim of the Panthic Morcha is to purge the SGPC of wrong elements and also restore the lost glory of the Akal Takht. He alleges that the Akal Takht has been used for personal glorification in the past.


Notice to Pakhoke on SGPC trust money
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 14
The Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer for the SGPC general election has issued a notice to the SGPC’s working president, Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, to submit his reply on the petition filed by Mr Dalbir Singh of Tarn Taran by June 17 that the former (Mr Pakhoke) was a defaulter as he owed Rs 35 lakh to the SGPC Education Trust and hence could not contest the election from Tarn Taran.

Mr Pakhoke owes about Rs 35 lakh to the SGPC’s education trust on account of fee, outstanding against his ward who had got admission in the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Medical College under the NRI quota. Though Mr Pakhoke was suppose to deposit $ 75,000, however, he had paid an initial installment of Rs 1.25 lakh only. The case had been pending in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission in this regard.

Similar cases have reportedly been filed against Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan who also owe Rs 35 lakh each to the SGPC-run educational trust. They have also failed to deposit the amount with the SGPC, despite the fact that the SGPC’s various committees had directed them to do so.

In case the Returning Office declared Mr Pakhoke or others as defaulters, they could not contest the forthcoming SGPC elections.


Badal wants previous river water pacts annulled
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
The SAD leadership said here today that all previous agreements on the distribution of waters among Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana should be annulled immediately as these have been forced upon Punjab violating all constitutional provisions.

SAD President Parkash Singh Badal said the distribution of waters should be as per the riparian principles being followed in the rest of the country. In the case of Punjab, the Centre had been using a different yardstick as far as the distribution of river waters was concerned. Mr Badal said different parameters were being used in Punjab to deny it the right over its river waters.

He said his party would move a non-official resolution in the state Assembly during its current Budget session requesting all parties to unanimously “ nullify “ all previous river water agreements. He said he would make a personal request to the Treasury Benches to extend their support to the resolution as it would be in the interest of the state.

Among the agreements Mr Badal wanted to be annulled included the one on giving river waters to Rajasthan in 1955. On January 29, 1955, Rajasthan was given 8 m.a.f. of water from Punjab rivers. On March 29, 1976, Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, gave 3.5 m.a.f. of water to Haryana and 0.2 m.a.f. of water to Delhi. Again on December 31, 1981, Mrs Indira Gandhi reallocated water among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and later laid the foundation stone of the SYL canal in April next year.

Then, under the Rajiv- Longowal accord, a decision was taken to complete the SYL canal and the Eradi Commission was set up to reallocate river waters. On January 30, 1987, the Eradi Commission increased the share of Punjab and Haryana (3.5 m.a.f.) by “inventing fresh data” regarding river waters. “The data was just a jugglery of figures to mislead Punjab,” he claimed.

Mr Badal said: “As Haryana and Rajasthan were not covered under riparian principles, no water should be given to these states from Punjab rivers”.

Badal leads dharna

SAD MLAs and other senior leaders led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, held a dharna at the local Matka Chowk asking the Amarinder Singh Government to restore free power and canal water to farmers in Punjab. Mr Badal also sought the resumption of the shagun scheme for poor girls and pension scheme for the old aged and other needy persons. Octroi should be abolished and all promises made in the manifesto by the ruling party fulfilled.


Badal ridicules Army suggestion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today described the Army suggestion that the Sutlej water flowing to Pakistan should be diverted within India as “completely illogical and divorced from elementary awareness of river waters reality’’.

In a statement issued here today Mr Badal said : ‘’Not a single drop of usable and utilisable water from any of the eastern (Punjab) rivers of the Indus system has gone to Pakistan since the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan came into effect in April, 1960. Records will show that the only water that goes to Pakistan is the water that India allows to flow during periods of floods, and this is (done) purposely to save the Indian side of Punjab from inundation and disaster.’’

Mr Badal said it was absurd to argue that the flow of water can or should be stopped during floods, asking as to where and how excess water was to be used or preserved when the entire region would be reeling under the fury of floods.

Citing the case of worst floods in Punjab in September 1988, the Akali leader said it had then become vital to release water to Pakistan in order to save the state from being totally submerged in water. “It is only during floods such as these when water is allowed to go down to Pakistan. And even during these periods, since the floods last only a few days, the flow of water is restricted to the length of floods. Even the Army report quoted in the news item clearly states that water had been allowed to go to Pakistan only during the monsoon and that it did not apply to other periods,’’ he added.

Mr Badal also dubbed ‘’ utterly and impossibly ridiculous ‘’ the suggestion that the water flowing in the plains of Punjab should be preserved with the help of dams. “Anyone who made this suggestion needs elementary lessons in geography, topography and water management. The complete average slope between Ropar and Ferozepore, the points of two headworks, and between Madhopur and the Pakistan border is nine inches per mile. In other words, we require a square mile of an area to preserve nine inches of water. Therefore, the territory required to make a reservoir of even 20 feet high would be a staggering 25 miles long. The height of the Bhakra dam, incidentally is 700 feet. The whole idea is fantastic and totally impracticable’’.


Water flows to Pak only in monsoon, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 14
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said Sutlej water flowed into Pakistan only during the monsoon when farmers in the state did not need it.

Talking to newspersons after flagging off a fleet of 10 buses of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), the Chief Minister said the Army had only given general recommendations on how waters of various rivers in the state could be utilised and it should not be construed that it was supporting the construction of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

The Chief Minister said he had also been briefed on this issue by the Army authorities last year. The issue was not of whether water flowed into Pakistan, but if it was available to the Punjab farmers when they needed it. “We are utilising all available water for irrigation”, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh, speaking at a ceremony organised at the PRTC head office here, said while PRTC would add 200 buses to its existing fleet, the Punjab Roadways would add 600. He also commended PRTC Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta for showing an increase in the receipts during 2002-03 besides registering an operational profit of Rs 2.65 crore for the first time in 15 years. Speaking of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), he said the board, which had posted a loss of Rs 1,700 crore recently, had now shown a profit of Rs 72 crore.

Finance Minister Lal Singh, speaking on the occasion, said the addition of buses in the PRTC fleet would improve its prospects and should also dispel fears in the minds of its employees about disinvestment in the corporation.

Transport Minister Tej Parkash Singh said the government was determined to bring PRTC and the Punjab Roadways out of the red. He said both the government was seized of the problems of the PRTC and would work to solve them at the earliest.

PRTC Chairman Gupta said the corporation was going in for all-round computerisation besides building two new bus stands at Phagwara and Patiala.

The Chief Minister honoured Mr Sadhu Singh and and Manjit Singh, both drivers of the Bathinda depot and Mr Mahinder Singh of the Patiala depot for their “exemplary” work and conduct. Mayor Vishnu Sharma was also present on the occasion.


Punjab Cong endorses all-party meeting resolution
Sarabjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
Punjab Congress MLAs, MPs and ministers, besides members of the executive committee of the State unit of the party, today endorsed the resolution adopted at the all-party meeting held on the issue of river waters and the SYL canal on June 12.

Today’s meeting of MLAs, MPs and others was convened by PPCC President H.S. Hanspal, at the Congress Bhavan here. Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh was unable to attend the meeting as he was busy elsewhere, it is learnt.

A resolution was passed at the meeting thanking all political parties. The Congress made an appeal to opposition parties in the state that “ in order to show their sincerity about stopping the construction of the SYL Canal, these should, for the time being abandon their agitational approach for other local issues in order to allow the state government to concentrate fully in its struggle for a bigger common cause of the people of Punjab”.

Mr Hanspal was authorised at the meeting to set up a committee in consultation with Capt Amarinder Singh and other senior party leaders.


426 MW of additional power for Punjab
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 14
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman Y. S. Ratra today said following the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office an additional 426 mega watt of power would start flowing into the state from mid-night today to offset the gap of 800 mega watts which had arisen between the demand and supply.

Addressing a press conference here, the Chairman said the Prime Minister’s Office had asked the Secretary, Power, to coordinate with other states for the supply of power to Punjab following an appeal by the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

He said reduced availability of power from the Bhakra, Nathpa Jhakri, Chamera, Biara Suil and Salal projects had resulted in a gap of 800 mega watts every day. He said out of this 300 mw were being saved by giving alternative day supply to high-end consumers operating induction and arc furnaces leaving a gap of 500 mw between the demand and supply.

Mr Ratra said additional power was being acquired from the Eastern sector which was releasing 40 mw besides 66 mw from the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant, 120 mw from unallocated central sectors projects and 200 mw from Andhra Pradesh. He said besides this the state’s thermal plants were producing an additional 45 lakh units per day.

The Board Chairman said there was no room for apprehension that the PSEB would not be able to manage reliable supply during the current paddy season. He said the board was not facing any major problem due to the reduction in the supply from the Bhakra dam and other hydel projects. He said the board would, however, float a big financial bill for the power being bought by it at rates varying from Rs 4 to Rs 6 per unit.

The board is giving eight hours regular power supply to the agricultural sector and has also registered applications of more than 60,000 farmers for the release of temporary tubewell connections.

Mr Ratra said water level in the Bhakra had touched 1465 feet against 1577 feet at the same time last year. He said the availability of power from the Bhakra dam was 50 lakh units against a supply of 104 lakh units last year. He said besides the Bhakra dam which was operating at 50 per cent of its capacity, the Nathpa Jhakri project was producing 1000 mega watts of power against a capacity of 1500 mega watts.


Punjab Budget session starts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
The Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha commenced here today with obituary references to eight persons.

Homage was paid to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, MP, Master Jagir Singh, Mr Lakha Singh, Mr Baldev Singh Loomba, Chaudhary Baloo Ram (all ex-MLAs and freedom fighters), Mr Mangal Singh, Mr Rattan Singh and Mr Arjan Singh.

There was a two-minute silence after the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, paid homage to the departed persons.

Thereafter, the House was adjourned till 10 a.m. tomorrow when discussion would begin on the Governor’s Address.


Death penalty for spurious drug makers sought
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
If recommendations of the Punjab's State Drugs Advisory Committee are accepted, then different companies manufacturing drugs based on the same salt will have to sell medicines at uniform rates. For instance, paracetamol-based analgesics will have to be sold at the same price regardless of the brand name.

The committee has also sought death penalty for manufacturers and sellers of spurious and adulterated drugs. A decision to encourage local pharmaceutical companies has also been taken by the committee.

The sources in the Punjab’s Health Department confirm that the committee, at its first meeting held on Saturday, has decided to get in touch with the Price Controlling Authority of India in an attempt to ensure uniform rates of medicines using same salts, but selling under different brand names. The meeting was chaired by Punjab’s Director Health Services, Dr D.P.S Sandhu.

The decision is significant because of “vast variation” in the prices of drugs prepared out of the same salt. Giving an example, a senior doctor in the Health Department asserts that one company is selling a strip of Nemuslide tablets for Rs 5. Another company is offering the medicine using the same salt for Rs 25.

Though the effect is the same, so many patients end up paying more for the same drug following their doctors’ decision to prescribe expensive medicine, instead of low-priced alternatives, the sources add.

In an attempt to prevent the patient from paying more, the Haryana Government had recently directed the doctors to prescribe generic, instead of brand, names. But the policy had failed to prove successful.

“Flouting the directions issued by the government, a substantial number of doctors in the state are still using the brand names while prescribing the medicines to the ignorant patients,” the sources claim. “Or else, some of the chemists are handing over costly medicines to the patients as choice is now in their hands in the absence of brand names”.

The sources add that the committee has also decided to request the authorities in other states not to launch prosecution against local pharmaceuticals without holding an inquiry into the matter. The approval of the State Drug Controller should also be taken, it was further resolved at the meeting.

They add that Punjab’s Pharmacy Council, along with the state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Chemists Association, will also make medical professionals and general public sensitive about the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act. A committee has also been constituted to prevent the use of allopathic drugs by the unregistered medical practitioners.


Armymen’s kin to share award money
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
In two significant decisions concerning benefits to gallantry award winners, the Punjab Government has decided to divide the grant given to posthumous awardees among family members and substantially hike the grant to military personnel "Mentioned-in-Despatches" for gallantry.

The decisions were taken by the Cabinet during its meetings held earlier this month. The notifications in this regard would be issued soon.

According to sources, the award money paid to kin of armed forces personnel decorated posthumously would now be divided between the widow, parents and children. The widow and parents would get 35 per cent each of the award money, while the deceased's children would be entittled to get the remaining 30 per cent. In case the deceased did not have children, the grant would be divided equally between the widow and parents. Earlier, only the widow was entittled to receive the award money.

The decision to divide the award money is being done on the same pattern as was done earlier for ex gratia allowance and other benefits paid to the family of armed forces personnel killed in action. The move to divide ex-gratia allowance between family members was initiated after the authorities received complaints from parents of some of the soldiers killed in action that they were left high and dry after their son's demise.

The state government has also decided to increase the award money for mentions-in-despatches to a one time grant of Rs 2.5 lakh. Earlier those mentioned-in-despatches were paid Rs 12,000 and were also entittled to a monthly allowance of Rs 100. Mentioned-in-Despatches is placed the lowest among gallantry awardees and, unlike other awards, there is no medal for it.

The state government had earlier also revised the award money paid to winners of gallantry awardees. Under revised regulations issued by the present state government, Param Vir Chakra (PVC), the nation's highest gallantry award, warrants a one time grant of Rs 25 lakh. Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra are paid Rs 20 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively. This includes money paid in lieu of land.

These rates are applicable only for fresh awardees. Last time Param Vir Chakra series awards were announced was during the 1999 Kargil conflict. Earlier, the state government used to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to a PVC winner along with another grant of Rs 22,000 and a monthly allowance of Rs 2,000.


3 sisters’ bodies found
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 14
The bodies of three of the four daughters of Harnek Singh, a granthi in Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, who along with his wife, four daughters and a son had jumped in the Bhakra Main Canal, were recovered today.

The bodies were identified as those of Jagdeep Kaur (22), Amandeep Kaur (20) and Sukhbir Kaur (14).

The bodies of Harnek Singh and fourth daughter Hardeep Kaur are yet to be recovered.

Police sources said one more body was seen floating in the canal which may be identified by tomorrow.

The bodies were brought to the Civil Hospital, where the post-mortem was conducted and handed over to the relatives in the evening.

The granthi had jumped into the canal along with his entire family but his wife Rajinder Kaur and son Paramjit Singh (11) were saved by a villager, Jaswinder Singh, by jumping into the canal. Harnek Singh and his four daughters had died.


BSP expels Satnam Singh Kainth
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 14
The BSP today expelled the convener of its Punjab unit, Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, from the party for disobeying orders of the high command.

Mr Narinder Kashyap, national general secretary, stated here today that Mr Kainth, who had joined the party just before the general election, was expelled for not accepting the responsibility to rejuvenate party rank and file in Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Kashyap said the party had asked Mr Kainth to join as in charge of party affairs of Himachal in place of Mr Mann Singh Manhera, vice-president of the Punjab unit.

Mr Manhera was asked to look after the party affairs in Kapurthala, Muktsar, Faridkot, Bathinda, Mansa, Amritsar, Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts.

“Mr Kainth simply refused to toe the line of the high command, which is not acceptable to us. Indiscipline by any leader, irrespective of his or her status would not be tolerated,” he said.

Mr Kainth had earlier left the BSP in 1998 and formed the Bahujan Samaj Morcha.

He contested the elections from the Phillaur constituency with the help of the SAD-BJP combine.

When contacted, Mr Kainth, who was shocked over the sudden development, said he had always given due respect to the orders of the high command and there was not any question of resorting to indiscipline.

“In fact, I had only raised my voice against the expulsion of Mr Devi Dass Nahar, a BSP nominee from the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat, within the party on the pretext that it would give wrong impression among the voters. Perhaps, my views on the issue led to my ouster from the party. Regarding the decision to appoint me as in charge of the Himachal affairs, it has never been conveyed to me,” Mr Kainth added.

The BSP had earlier expelled two senior leaders namely Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra, a former MLA from the Garhshankar, and Mr Nahar, who had merged his party, the BSP (Ambedkar), with the BSP.


Party to protest against Kanshi’s ‘detention’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar June 14
The Samta Samaj Party today announced to hold a protest march against the BSP supremo Ms Mayawati at Delhi on June 23 for the alleged detaining of the founder of the BSP, Mr Kanshi Ram, at Batra Hospital “under the garb of treatment”.

The state president of the Samta Samaj Party, Mr Darshan Lal Jethumajara, in a press note issued here today, alleged that Ms Mayawati was acting like a dictator by keeping Mr Kanshi Ram at Batra hospital while not allowing them to meet Mr Kanshi Ram.

He said that though the BSP had the funds to ensure better treatment of Mr Kanshi Ram overseas, he was being allowed to die for want of treatment. So much so that the family members of Mr Kanshi Ram were allowed to meet him only after the intervention of the court.

Mr Jethumajara asked why Mr Kanshi Ram was not being shifted abroad for treatment for the past more than one year and why his loyalists were being denied entry into the hospital. He threatened to launch an agitation to rescue Mr Kanshi Ram from the “clutches” of Ms Mayawati.

The Dalit leader alleged that the BSP had deviated from its mission, as its present leadership had been indulging in acts of omission and commission, which was evident from the fact that serious allegations of charging lakhs of rupees for the allotment of party tickets in Punjab were levelled by senior leaders after the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha poll.


I want to quit as Deputy Speaker, says Bir Devinder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 14
“I want to quit from the post of Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha as I am unable to raise issues related to my constituency in the House.”

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Kharar MLA, at a press conference here today. He said he was only waiting for permission from the “high command” in this regard. He said he would also be meeting the Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha in this regard today.

He said there were certain parliamentary practices and procedures which did not allow the Deputy Speaker to raise any question in connection with the problems of his constituency in the House. As such he felt suppressed.

He said the government was becoming unaccountable and there was no control of any authority on it. Moreover, interference from officials of the Vigilance Bureau in the conduct of administrative work was causing problems. Employees who were performing their duties in a dedicated way were being harassed while those who had links at higher levels were taking their work for granted. There was a need to bring about big administrative reforms.

Giving examples, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said he had visited government allopathic dispensary in Jhanjeri village about four days back and found that there was no doctor, no pharmacist and no patient. The class IV employee on duty was snoring and had to be woken up. Then he visited the veterinary dispensary and found the building locked at 1 p.m. No sight of the doctor, the compounder or the class IV employee.

He said he had visited the veterinary dispensary at Bhagomajra a year and half ago and found that the doors and windows of the building were broken and it did not have power and water connections. All this had been brought to the notice of the Director concerned but no action had been taken in this regard even till today.

He said there were 12 veterinary hospitals in Kharar constituency and four out of them were without water and power connections. Similarly, out of 15 veterinary dispensaries only four of them had regular power connections. He said the Director concerned had not written to the PSEB authorities to provide power connections. He said he had earlier visited government ayurvedic dispensaries on Kumbra village and in phase III B1, Mohali, on getting complaints from patients. Doctors at both places were found absent from duty. The hospital record which had many wrong entries was seized and handed over the department concerned. He regretted that no action had been taken against the doctors because they had connections at higher levels. Instead, a pharmacist working in the Kumbra dispensary, Mr Rulda Singh, who was dedicated to his work was twice transferred to Hoshiarpur.


Bids invited for Kanjli resort
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kanjli (Kapurthala), June 14
Inability of the Central Government to provide funds for maintaining the Kanjli wetland resort has forced the district administration to hand over its reins to a private company.

The district administration recently invited applications from private companies which could spend nearly Rs 45 lakh on developmental projects on the site in lieu of its lease for five years. The administration expects the successful bidder to undertake landscaping, water sports and construction of resting places, besides ensuring cleanliness and maintenance of the site.

Even though the resort is associated with at least four departments — Wild Life and Forestry, Wetlands, Fisheries and Horticulture — it has been starving for funds for the past several years. Even the resort staff have not been paid salaries for over a year.

The only means of income at the resort is the charges realised for boating. But owing to ill-maintenance of the resort, the number of visitors has come down with the passage of time, thereby lowering the monthly income to just Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000.

Once a major attraction for people, the resort now houses broken swings, benches and empty cages. There is no good cafeteria in the vicinity. Various animals have been shifted from the resort to Chhatbir Zoo. Migratory Siberian birds coming to Kali Bein on the banks of which the resort has been built no longer finds way to the rivulet. Only a lucky few manage to catch a glimpse of the fish that seldom swim past the resort.

The only help to the resort has come in the form of voluntary efforts made by Baba Balbir Singh Sichewal and his followers who managed to construct cemented steps on the banks of the rivulet, building a 167-km passage along its banks, persuading industrialists of the region not to discharge their waste into the rivulet and uprooting water hyacinth all along the holy Bein. Unfortunately, the Bein again is full of weeds as it demands regular cleaning.

Mr Rakesh Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, said he had not yet received a good proposal. Private companies, he said, were demanding a lengthier lease period, which was not feasible.

Mr Verma said till a good proposal came his way, he planned to approach the Centre for Promotion of Employment among Youth linked with the Department of Youth Affairs. The youth associated with the centre would be paid for rendering services at the resort.


Probe ordered against Punjab Parliamentary Secy
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 14
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, marked an inquiry to Dr Devinder Singh Jassal, Executive Engineer (Canal), here today to probe the matter against Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, and also MLA from the Ferozepore cantonment, for allegedly stealing irrigation water from the Sappanwali minor by fixing plastic pipes in it to irrigate his fields in Ratta Khera village.

The Deputy Commissioner has taken this action following a written complaint lodged by many farmers of various villages, who handed it over it to the ADC, Faridkot, in the absence of Deputy Commissioner here yesterday. The farmers said that Mr Sandhu was causing great harassment to the farmers whose fields were located at the tailend of the minor in Faridkot district. Fields in many villages, including Sadhanwala, Ghoniwala, Jhariwala, Ghulamiwala, Mumara and Jhugewala are fed by the minor.


Batala residents fear spread of dengue
Balraj Mahajan

Batala: Heaps of garbage are lying outside Khajuri Gate, Haathi Gate, and on the side of Hansli Bridge in the heart of Batala town.

At present there are 33 wards in the Municipal Council. The council has given the contract for Rs 2.65 lakh to the contractor for lifting garbage in the town.

Interestingly, the council has no place for garbage dump. Even sweepers do not sweep areas daily.

The sewerage chokes in the area of Haathi Gate, near Gurdwara Kandh Sahib.

Due to the garbage, dengue fever broke out in Batala in June and July last year, affected about 100 persons. Some patients had to go to Escorts Hospital, Amritsar, and the Christian Medical College and Hospital and the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, for treatment.

The fear of dengue fever striking the town this year too has gripped the residents.

The heaps of garbage outside Khajuri Gate are about four feet high from the road level and the ones at Haathi Gate are about 10 feet high.

Mr A.K. Punj, Executive Officer, could not be contacted as he was on leave, but Mrs Bimla Bhatia, a Superintendent in the Municipal Council, confirmed that the council did not have a waste management dump of its own.

Batala is a Class A town of Punjab with a population of about 1.5 lakh people. But what to talk of cleanliness even the other civic amenities like the sewerage and regular power supply in some localities are not provided to the residents.

With such prevailing conditions, it would be no wonder that with the onset of monsoon, dengue may resurface in the form of an epidemic.

However, Mr Harjit Singh, District Magistrate, Gurdaspur, said that he was going to hold a meeting of all the Executive Officers of the district to discuss the situation.


MC chief appeases temple management
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr K.S. Kang, visited Durgiana Temple today. But the visit is not being seen as just that. His first visit to the shrine after taking over the reins of the MC, it is being considered a virtual “truce” between him and the Durgiana management working head, Mr Surinder Arjun.

Presenting a water cooler to the temple management, the Commissioner announced that work on the sewer problem being faced by the Shivpuri cremation ground, under the temple management, had been started.

The drain had been cleared and a slope would be created to facilitate easy flow of sewage from the cremation site.

The ground had been facing a problem of stagnant water since more than a year. It was being seen as disrespect to the dead.

The two officials had locked horns over the sewer issue. The Durgiana head had accused the Commissioner of being “communal” and not paying attention to the problem.

The two had fallen out when the Commissioner had taken a tough stand on the alleged encroachment by the temple management in constructing shops on land leased to it by the MC to build a school for poor children. The Commissioner also agreed to provide more staff to keep the area around the temple clean, claimed the Durgiana official.


Rs 1.66 cr to be spent on Dhussi bundh repair
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 14
The district administration has decided to spend Rs 1.66 crore on completion and repair of Dhussi bundh along the Sutlej.

This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, after conducting an inspection along the banks of the Sutlej near here yesterday.

Mr Gupta maintained that while Rs 10 lakh would be spent to further strengthen the bundh on the Lasara complex, Rs 22.5 lakh would be spent to set up new studs and cleaning of the Qadian drain at Jahndi Pir complex.

Later, he listened to the grievances of Sanghowal village and announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for making necessary arrangements for draining out sullage water from the village.

He announced that the district administration had accorded sanction to open an anganwari centre at Dhangara village.


Mann is junior vice-chief of Gymkhana Club
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 14
Dr H.S. Mann today won the election to the post of junior vice-president of the Gymkhana Club here by defeating his nearest rival and renowned film distributor Yash Pal Mittal by a margin of 299 votes. The elections were held yesterday.

Mr S.S. Bains, Returning Officer-cum-Additional Deputy Commissioner, said Dr Mann was polled 1,114 votes.

However, the Mittal group won the remaining three posts of office-bearers by defeating the candidates supported by the Mann group. The post of honorary secretary went to Mr Satish Thakur, who get 964 votes, as against 953 secured by Dr Pawan Gupta. Similarly, Mr Harminder Singh Kaka defeated Mr Narinder Shergill by a margin of 85 votes for the post of joint secretary.

The post of treasurer was won by Mr Parveen Gupta, who got 1,057 votes. He defeated Mr Sandeep Behl, who got 148 votes.

Mr Rajiv Gupta, Dr Hardeep Oberoi, Mr Mohanjeet Saini, Mr Gulshan Sharma, Mr Surinder Khullar, Mr M.G. Singh Ruby, Dr Mandeep Sethi, Dr Jaswant Singh, Mr Kamal Sharma and Mr Ashok Bamba were elected executive members.


Resentment over impanelling of mechanical engineers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
Civil engineers are sore over the impanelling of mechanical engineers as valuers for land and buildings by certain nationalised banks.

Mr Ranjeev Goyal, secretary, Association of Practising Civil Engineers, said the association had information about certain nationalised banks having deputed mechanical engineers as valuers for land and buildings which was against the bye-laws of the Institution of Valuers, the only body entrusted to impart licences to valuers for practice.

The association in a letter to Mr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, said the Institution of Valuers has clearly entrusted civil engineers in category I to carry out valuation of immovable property against which various banks issue loans, while mechanical and electrical engineers in category VII carry on valuation of plant and machinery, Mr Goyal added.

He said as per the institute rules, one person could be registered only in one category.


Enjoying power by proxy!
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 14
“These MCHs really create trouble in the councils”, said a high ranking official in the district administration. Elaborating that the abbreviation stood for Municipal Councillors’ Husbands (MCH), the official said husbands of these elected women were enjoying the power in proxy.

In certain cases, their husbands are referred to as ‘Councillor Sahib’ or ‘Sarpanch Sahib’. They utilise the power conferred on their wives and deny them access to the general public, she added.

To check this problem the Nangal Municipal Council has directed the MCHs not to interfere in the working of the council. Mr Amrit Lal Bansal, executive officer of the council, said some of the MCHs regularly came to the council and interfered in the working.


DD documentary on Preet Nagar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
The secular Utopian village Preet Nagar — a hub of Punjabi writers, poets and intellectuals on the Indo-Pak border conceived and built by renowned Punjabi writer Gurbax Singh Preetlari during the pre-Partition era, will come alive on the TV screen soon, as Doordarshan has already completed the work on a documentary to be telecast in September this year.

Ms Indu Bala Singh, senior professor of English at Chandigarh, conceptualised the project to produce the documentary based on the life and works of Gurbax Singh, who had created a small township near Lopoke village, equidistant from Amritsar and Lahore, in 1938.

Ms Indu Bala Singh said she was deeply influenced by the book “Remembering Preet Nagar”, written by Urmila Anand, daughter of Gurbax Singh.

Fantasising the romanticism of the select few idealists who believed in dreaming an alternative world away from the mundane was what Gurbax Singh created in Preet Nagar, which will now be shown in five episodes of 25 minutes each on Doordarshan channels, she added.


Police arranges 1.6 lakh for dead migrant’s family
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 14
The Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) today helped a handicapped Bihari migrant, Bijal Dass, whose son Bhupinder Dass (20), a labourer, was electrocuted while working on a house here a month ago, by arranging Rs 1.6 lakh for the family.

SSP S.K. Asthana today presented the draft to Bijal Dass and Shanti Devi, wife of the deceased, in the presence of mediapersons. The police resource centre had motivated a local developer Avtar Singh Batra, labourer contractor Manjit Singh, under whom the deceased was working, and house owner Amarjit Singh to donate the money.

Railway tickets would also be provided for five members of the migrant family, who had come from Laxmipur Bhagwati in Bihar, to enable them to return.

Bijal Dass, who has only one arm, told mediapersons that he had approached the CPRC for help as his son was the only breadwinner of the family.


Police destroys narcotics
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
The Majitha police today destroyed a large quantity of narcotics which were seized by the police during the past few years.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG border range, while talking to mediapersons at the Majitha police lines, said that under his chairmanship, a team was formed for assessing the case properties of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act lying in the police malkhana for the past many years.

He said that after completing all formalities and on orders of court, these narcotics pertaining to 31 various cases of the NDPS Act were destroyed.

The narcotics destroyed include 1 kg of heroin, 83.450 gm of smack, 613 kg of poppy husk, 1.40 gm of charas, 78 injections and 3941 intoxicant capsules. The DIG said that more orders were being taken for destroying the remaining old case properties under the NDPS Act.


175 doctors attend counter-pulsation programme
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 14
A programme on enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP) was organised by Amar Hospital while the EECP was launched in the state here today.

As many as 175 doctors from the city and nearby places attended the programme. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sanjay Mittal, senior consultant cardiologist, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre said the EECP was a US-FDA approved treatment for patients suffering from stable and unstable angina pectoris, cardiogenic shock, acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.

Dr S. Ramasamy, clinical associate professor, of University of Portchestor, New York, added that the EECP was a therapeutic produce for the patients who did not achieve optimal symptomatic relief with medications.

Prof Manmohan Singh, chief cardiologist, Amar Hospital, said the treatment aimed at opening up dormant coronary vessels and improve blood flow to the heart muscle.


Water supply poor, says Deputy Director
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 14
The Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana, has pointed out that sanitation was in a state of neglect in many parts of the town and the supply of water was also not satisfactory.

Mrs Sarojini Gautam Sharda, who visited various parts of the town here today, under a special campaign launched by the Department of Local Government, Punjab, said she had visited various areas like Mundi Kharar, Dusehra Ground, KTM Colony and found that the condition of sanitation was unsatisfactory.

A report in this regard was being sent to the government to take action against officials responsible for such a condition.

She directed the Executive Officer, Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi, to form teams of sanitation employees in connection with a special sanitation campaign that was being started on June 15.

She said a daily progress report in this regard should be sent to the council president, Mr Charanjit Singh.


Summer camp to conclude
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 14
A 15-day summer camp being organised here by the Army Wives’ Welfare Association (AWWA) for children of Armymen at Bathinda Military Station will conclude tomorrow.

The camp was formally inaugurated by the President of Chetak AWWA, Ms Kiran Nandrajog. At least 300 children of service personnel are attending the camp. The fitness and fun activities include gymnastics, yoga, teakwondo, aerobics and para-sailing.


Garg is chief of arhtiya association
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 14
Mr Darshan Garg was re-elected president of the Kacha Arhtiya Association, Mukt-sar, here yesterday. He defeated his rival, Mr Rajesh Kumar Babba, by a margin of 39 votes.

As many as 279 of 281 arhtiyas exercised their right to franchise. While Mr Garg got 159 votes, Mr Babba was polled 120 votes. Mr Jagdev Brar was the returning officer for the election.


Protesters block traffic

Jalandhar, June 14
Residents of Arjun Nagar today blocked traffic on the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road for about an hour in protest against the failure of the local Municipal Corporation to clear the choked sewer system for the past about one month.

The president of the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee of the area alleged that though the local MLA and the Mayor were told about the problem, no action was taken. — OC



7-year jail term for terrorist
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 14
A fast track court today sentenced a terrorist to imprisonment for seven years while imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 on him. Former terrorist, Dhyan Singh, who was arrested by the district police in 1998 from the local Guru Nanak Mission Chowk, was presented before the presiding officer of the fast track court, Mr Naresh Joshi. Explosive material was seized from his possession.

The presiding officer, in his order, sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on him. Dhyan Singh, a resident of Sangrawan village of Kapurthala district, was booked under Section 25 of the Arms Act and Sections 4 and 5 of the Explosive Act by the district police.


Nine get life imprisonment for murders
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 14
The local court today sentenced nine persons to life imprisonment and 21 others to three years of imprisonment each for murdering two persons and injuring three others of Chuharpur village by a group of 31 persons. One of the accused was acquitted by the court.

According to information, five persons — Ranjit Singh, Amrik Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Vikramjit Singh and Shawinder Singh were attacked while they were trying to harvest their crops early morning around 4.30 am on May 3, 2001. Amrik Singh and Vikramjit Singh died on the spot while the other three were seriously injured.

Meanwhile, Mohindra Singh, the main accused, also registered an FIR at the local police station stating that they were assaulted with sharp-edged weapons and rifles. Following the complaint the court sentenced Ramandeep Singh, Shawinder Singh and Zora Singh to three years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000 each. Ranjit Singh was acquitted by the court.


3 escape from juvenile home;1 re-arrested

Faridkot, June 14
Three inmates of a juvenile home here escaped after scaling its wall last night. Though one of them, Paramjit Singh, who is accused of killing four members of a family, was later overpowered by residents of Bazigar Basti with the help of the police, the remaining two are still absconding.

According to the SP (Headquarters), Mr Vijay Kumar Sharma, the trio are accused in three different murder cases. The threesome called the guard on duty, Dharampal, and asked him to open the door of their cell on the pretext of throwing out garbage. As soon as the guard opened the door, they pounced on him, locked him and the constable on duty, Santokh Singh, inside the cell and fled after scaling a wall.

According to the police, it has launched a hunt to arrest the remaining two accused, who have been identified as Jaswant Singh and Baljit Singh. A case of dereliction of duty has been registered against the constable and the guard. — UNI

Our Correspondent adds: Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, today visited the jail to review the situation and marked an inquiry to Mr Mohan Lal, SDM, to probe into the matter. He also met 28 inmates and listened to their problems. Many of them demanded shifting of detainees with criminal background and those who are above the age of 18 to other jails.

Meanwhile, Mr Harpal Singh, District Social Security Officer, who took the additional charge of the Observation Jail today, said he had informed the higher authorities in Chandigarh regarding the incident and shortcomings prevailing in the jail.


Financier’s murder: job agency owner rounded up
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 14
Acting on prima facie information, the police has taken in custody Chander Mani Bhandari of Delhi, who had been running an employment agency and had got Ramesh employed as servent with Kulwant Mehta, a leading financier of Sirhind who was allegedly murdered by him.

The police has also deployed a police party at the Nepal border. Police sources said Chander had admitted that he had got Ramesh employed with the daughter of Mehta in Delhi without verifying his identity. He told the police during investigation that he got a call from Ramesh to get him employed some where and he gave him the address of the daughter of Mehta residing in Delhi as they have also asked for some servent.

The sources said the police had also raided some employment agencies offices in Delhi but due to lack of information nothing could be achieved.

The district police has sent Chander with the police party to the Nepal border to identify Ramesh.

Meanwhile, Mrs Kusam Mehta wife of Kulwant Mehta is still unconscious at the PGI and has not been able to give any statement to the police.


No takers for humanities courses
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 14
Guru Nanak Dev University is planning to extend the dates for the submission of forms for various courses. Several departments, especially the Punjab School of Studies, have not received the required admission forms till the last date, which was today.

The other departments that have not received the required number of forms are history, law, psychology and sociology.

Senior professors of the university, on the condition of anonymity, alleged that giving postgraduate courses to academies and various private colleges had led to the decrease in applicants. The introduction of distance education in some of the “educational shops” was cited as another reason.

However, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, claimed that most of the students were not showing much interest for the “traditional courses” due to the globalisation of education.

According to sources, only 34 candidates applied for MA, Punjabi, against 40 seats. A few years ago there was a great rush of candidates for this course and the department used to conduct an entrance test. Faculty members of the department said the students studying in institutes other than university would not get quality education.


Hans Raj college girls secure top positions
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 14
Students of Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya here have once again proved their mettle by securing top positions in the bachelor of commerce (B.Com) examinations conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University.

Talking to reporters here yesterday, the Principal of the college, Ms P.P. Sharma, said Nidhi Grover had topped the B.Com part-I exam while Nandini Sharma and Shelly stood first in B.Com part-II and part-III, respectively.

She further said that in B.Com Heena Tank stood first in the university. In SSC-II (science and commerce) examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board, Anamika scored 99 per cent marks in physics and chemistry, while Annie Arora got 98 per cent in these subjects and Abha Sodhi got 99 per cent marks in physics, Ms Sharma added.

No change in status of Punjabi
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 14
There will be no change in the status of Punjabi and English as subjects being taught at graduation level. The total number of marks as well as syllabi would also remain same for the coming academic session.

This was stated in an official release here today. The release further said Punjabi University was committed to its basic objective which was to promote Punjabi language.


Aided-school staff in Patiala to get HRA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
The Patiala district unit of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union, in a statement issued here today, claimed that the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, had cleared the file regarding sanctioning 15 per cent house rent allowance to employees of aided schools of Patiala city.

Mr Upjit Singh Brar, president of the union, said the demand was hanging fire for the past several months. He said a deputation of the union had met Mr Lal Singh here today.

There were about 300 employees in 13 aided schools in Patiala city, he added.

VC to get one-year extension
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 14
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, whose three-year term ends on July 23, will get an extension of one year.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has cleared the file of Dr S.P. Singh for giving one-year extension. The file is now with the Governor, who is likely to issue the necessary orders tomorrow.


Malwa Gramin Bank branches honoured
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 14
Mr C. Suman Roy, General Manager (Planning and Development), State Bank of Patiala, here today honoured 18 branches of the Malwa Gramin Bank (MGB) for their outstanding performance in different fields during 2003-04.

These branches were honoured at a function organised to honour the best performing branches of the MGB, spread over three districts, Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib, with 41 branches. On the occasion Mr G.S. Multani, and Mr T.K. Gupta, Chairman and General Manager, of the Malwa Gramin Bank, were also present.

The representatives of the best performing branches, who received mementos on behalf of their respective branches, included Mr R.P. Singh, Bhankher branch in Patiala district; Mr Rakesh Gupta, Kurar branch in Sangrur; Mr B.S. Rathore, Nial branch in Patiala; Mr K.S. Gill, Balian branch in Sangrur; Mr Pali Ram Bansal, Sangrur branch; Mr Tara Singh, Bhamarasi Buland in Fatehgarh Sahib; and Ms Sudha Rani, Gowara branch in Sangrur.

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