P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



House endorses Captain’s resolution on river waters
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Amend drainage Act

Mr Jeetmohinder Singh, an Independent MLA from Talwandi Saboo, today put a new proposal in the Punjab Assembly.

Speaking in the House, he said that an amendment should be made in the Northern India Canal and Drainage Act of 1873 to pre-empt the construction of the SYL canal. He said that a new Section 55A should be added in the 1873 Act to prohibit the construction of new canal, water channel etc to take water beyond the boundaries of the state.

He said that as river waters were a state subject as per the Constitution the state government concerned had every right to frame laws in this connection. Mr Jeetmohinder Singh said that the entire Malwa belt would become barren in case river waters were given to Haryana. He said that Punjab should not expect much from tribunals etc and should be prepared for a political fight on the issue.

Chandigarh, June 15
“Rise above politics and unite cutting across the political lines to protect the river water rights of Punjab” was the theme of the political speeches delivered by Treasury and Opposition members in the Punjab Assembly here today. The House unanimously endorsed the June 12 all-party resolution on the river waters.

Through resolution moved by Capt Amarinder Singh, the House decided to send an all-party delegation to meet the Prime Minister and the President, under the leadership of Chief Minister to suitably convey them the sentiments of the House on river waters and to request them for a fair solution to the problem.

Speaking amid the ambience of cordiality and tranquility, the leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, reiterated that his party would extend full support to Capt Amarinder Singh to take all possible legal and administrative measures to protect the interests of Punjab regarding river waters.

But at the same time, he said that he could tell from his political experience of past 50 years that Punjab should not hope for justice from any political, legal or other forum in the Centre on the waters issue. “ We are prepared to wait for sometime as the Chief Minister has assured that steps to be taken by him will win the waters battle for the state”, said Mr Badal.

Mr Badal, who occasionally made attacks in gentle but satirical tone, on the Congress leader for compromising in the past on the river waters issue, said that in his opinion the path of agitation was only alternative left with Punjab to get justice on river waters. Addressing respectfully to Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said that “ now we have accepted what you say, but in case of failure of the legal and administrative measures to get justice for Punjab, you would have to follow what we will be doing in this connection”. Mr Badal repeatedly emphasised to annual all 
the previous river waters agreements, which he described as unjust, illegal and discriminatory in nature.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who had first moved the resolution in the House and later got up to wind up the discussion on the issue, assured the House that he would be regularly taking the leaders of all parties in confidence in future on the river waters issue and would be keeping them abreast of the latest developments in this regard.

Showing due regard to Mr Badal, Capt Amarinder Singh, suggested the Leader of Opposition (Mr Badal) that it was not time to resort to blame game. “Who did what in the past on river waters was immaterial now. History could not be overturned. It is time to look ahead to protect Punjab’s right over river waters”, said Capt Amarinder Singh Standing by every word of the article he had written on river waters in June 1987 in The Tribune, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that he was prepared to say even now that great injustice had been done with Punjab on river waters and all agreements in this connection were forced upon the state illegally.

Echoing Mr Badal’s refrain, Capt Amarinder Singh, perhaps, is the first Congress Chief Minister to admit that all past agreements and awards were forced upon Punjab by the Congress governments in the Centre. In fact, no previous Congress Chief Minister had dared to cross the path of the Congress high command on the river waters issue.

He said that top legal experts had backed his opinion to seek the setting up of a new Tribunal to take into consideration issue that had risen since the announcement regarding this SYL canal. He said that most discriminatory thing about river waters was that while Haryana and Rajasthan, which were not part of river basin of Punjab rivers, had been given water from these rivers, while Punjab had been denied water from the Yamuna.

Mr Tikshan Sud, BJP, said that his party would fully cooperate with Capt Amarinder Singh on the river waters issue and would make any sacrifice in this connection. He suggested to plan a dharna in front of the office of Prime Minister to convey Punjab’s sentiments on the issue.

The Deputy Speaker and Congress MLA from Kharar, Mr Birdevinder Singh, supported Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s line on river waters that there was no alternative except to resort to agitation.


Punjab urged to honour SC verdict
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
The Secretary-General of the Indian National Lok Dal, Mr Ajay Singh Chautala, has urged political leaders of Punjab, including Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and other intellectuals to honour the verdict of the Supreme Court on the SYL canal and make their significant contribution in its early completion.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Chautala, a former MP from Bhiwani, said precious water was flowing waste to Pakistan and it had been proved by senior Army officers. Therefore, instead of making statements in the Press, political leaders of Punjab should get the canal completed by showing their gesture of goodwill towards younger brother Haryana.


BKU to set up force on SYL issue
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 15
In order to oppose the construction of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the Bharati Kisan Union (BKU) has decided to set up a “Volunteer Force”.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Maheshwari, general secretary, BKU (Punjab), told mediapersons that farmers would be inducted into the force. He said at present there was 325 MF water in the Sutlej, the Ravi and the Beas, which was hardly sufficient to meet state’s requirements.

Mr Maheswari said currently around 105 lakh acre was under agriculture in Punjab. He said due to maximum use of tubewells the groundwater level had declined.

He said there was no question of sharing water with any state. He said if the government did not initiate steps to prevent the construction of the SYL canal, the Volunteer Force would take up the cudgels to protect the interests of the farmers. Among others present on the occasion were Mr Baldev Singh Barkandi, Mr Gurmeet Singh Golewala, and Mr Baldev Singh Gumtala.


Gastro, diarrhoea claimed 4 lives, admits minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
The Punjab Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, today confirmed only four deaths due to gastroenteritis and diarrhoea in the state, saying that the other five deaths were “suspect’’.

Replying to a call attention motion by four MLAs, Mr Amarjit Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Harwant Singh, the minister detailed the steps taken jointly by the Health and Local Government Departments to contain the two diseases. The steps included chlorination of water, supply of medicines and creating public awareness.

It all started from Jaito (Faridkot) in mid-May. Soon reports of outbreak of gastroenteritis and diarrhoea started pouring in from several other districts. In all 112 patients were still admitted to various government hospitals.

It was apparent that the two departments Health and Local Government — had not done their homework well as at many places drinking and sewer water had mixed, insanitation and unhygienic conditions were all pervasive and there was no check on sale of cut fruits and vegetables despite a ban.

Earlier, the House began discussion on the Governor’s Address with Congress MLA, Mr Sunil Jhakhar, initiating it. From the Opposition benches, it was Akali MLA Manpreet Singh Badal, who spoke on the Address. The third speaker was Congress MLA Randeep Singh Nabha.

Opposing the Address Mr Manpreet Singh Badal regretted that it had failed to list failures of the government. Between the delivery of the Governor’s Address on March 15 and today, people have shown the government its true colours by defeating the Congress in 11 of the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Punjab had lost opportunities to rejuvenate itself or its economy and instead was witness to Congress-brand of politics where abusive language was reserved for the opponents. In the past over two-and-a-half years, Punjab had achieved many ‘’negative firsts’’. These ‘’firsts’’ were in respect of the police that had gone berserk indulging in custodial deaths with impunity the police was not only politicised but also criminalised.

Mr Manpreet Singh concluded on a positive note assuring the government of constructive issue-based support in the larger interest of the state and sought special focus on ‘’education, health, housing, employment, poverty alleviation, women empowerment etc”.


Greed for shamlat land ruins two families
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 15
The greed for shamlat land had made Jaspal Kaur a widow three years ago. She received justice yesterday when a local court sentenced 30 members of an extended family to varying degrees of sentences for hacking her husband and son to death. Justice was however tinged with the fact that three male members of her family too, including her only surviving son, have also been awarded jail terms.

The fate of former village sarpanch Amarjit Kaur and her extended family who took on Jaspal’s family is worse. Amarjit’s husband, Makhan Singh, has been awarded life sentence and is among 30 persons of an extended family which has been awarded varying sentences. Amarjit’s family, which has only two bighas of land, was earning its livelihood by plying two trucks, at present does not have any means to earn its livelihood.

Both women, who are bereft of their husbands and loved ones, are now contemplating life in the aftermath of the court judgement. They and their families were bent on fighting till the death for the possession of the shamlat land in the village. The Tribune team, which visited the village today, had to coax people into talking over the issue. Most of the residents were of the view that the greed of both families to control shamlat land was responsible for the incident in which the father-son duo were killed.

“The dispute arose over 22 bighas of shamlat land in the village”, says Sunita Rani. She said the land was earlier being ploughed by Amrik Singh, who was murdered along with his son Bikramjit, by the accused. She said nearly an year before the double murder, the village sarpanch had auctioned the land to the family of Mahinder Singh. She said Mahinder Singh took over the possession of the land and had started cultivation.

Mahinder Singh was able to do this as Amrik was in jail in connection.

However, Amrik Singh on coming out of jail tried to harvest the crop at night. Mahinder and others rushed to the spot following which Amrik and his son Bikramjit were hacked to death.

Both women are shocked at the judgement. Amarjit says “I knew some people would be awarded sentence but I never imagined that her entire family would be sentenced”. Nine members of her family including her husband Makhan Singh, Mahinder Singh, his wife Harbans Kaur, Gurdial Singh, Binder Singh, Balwinder Singh, Amrik Singh, Jaswinder Singh and Rajinder have been sentenced to life while 21 others have been sentenced to a three-year term.

On the other side Jaspal Kaur while showing the photograph of her son Bikramjit says all 31 persons who had attacked her husband and son on the fateful day should have been awarded life sentences. Speaking on the sentences given to members of her family, including her son Ramandeep, she says the sentence was very harsh. “If my son Ramandeep and two others including his cousin and uncle had fired at the mob would they have just hit one persons leg and grazed another’s arm”, she says. While Ramandeep has been awarded a seven-year sentence, Jaspal’s brother-in-law Zora Singh has been awarded a three-year term and Jaspal’s nephew, Shivinderjit, a seven-year term.

But there seems to be no end to the land dispute. Families of both Mahinder Singh who had been given the land by the panchayat and Jaspal Kaur still lay claim to it. Fight is far from over.


Chandumajra is chief of SAD (Longowal)
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, June 15
Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, who was recently suspended from the SAD for “anti-party” activities, was today elected president of the newly formed SAD (Longowal).

The election was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha here. Another dissident SAD leader Baldev Singh Mann, who was expelled from the party, proposed his name, while former minister Inderjit Singh Zira, who has also been show the door by the SAD, seconded it along with Mr Jasmer Singh Bala.

Ironically, former Tohra loyalist Gurdev Singh Sidhu, who had joined the Badal group during the rift between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra but had recently joined the Congress, was also present on the occasion. Mr Sidhu, when asked about his presence at the spot, said he was a Congressman. He, however, said he would support the candidature of Panthic Morcha candidates during elections to the two SGPC seats in the Samana constituency.

Mr Chandumajra said he would work to free the SAD from the shackles of family rule. He said the SAD had become a completely family-oriented party where the interests of sons and sons-in-laws of family members were paramount and the ordinary worker was ignored. He said the SAD (Longowal) would work towards solving the problems of Punjab.

Mr Chandumajra claimed that the SAD (Longowal) would extend its support to Panthic Morcha candidates so that a united front could be formed against the SAD.

He said understanding with the Panthic Morcha was, however, limited to the SGPC elections only and that the party would soon announce its policies and programmes.


RPO nabs woman trying to cheat
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 15
A 30-year-old woman was arrested by the district police today after she was caught by the Regional Passport Officer (RPO) here while trying to submit an application for a passport on an assumed name.

Mr Amarjit Singh, Regional Passport Officer, said he saw this woman standing in a queue at one of the passport office counters and recognised her as one against whom a case was registered earlier on his recommendations for submitting wrong particulars for the issuance of a fresh passport.

She had applied for a passport in the name of Satnam Kaur in December 2003. The particulars were found to be fake during an inquiry following a complaint that her real name was Parminder Kaur.

Today when the RPO confronted her to know what she was doing in the office, she panicked and said she was there for “nothing”. A boy standing next to her, who was later identified as Jaspal Singh of Kurali village, near here, was also questioned. He was holding a file that contained an application for passport in the name of Jaswinder Kaur of Jalandhar, while the photograph was that of Parminder Kaur.

The two were detained by the security staff and handed over to the police. Mr Rajpal Singh Sandhu, SP, said a case under Sections 420, 465, 467 and 468, IPC, had been registered. The police suspected the involvement of fake travel agents in the case.

The RPO advised the applicants not to use “wrong” means to get passports. The computerised system at the office could detect such cases, he said.


Water-logging leaves farmers a hapless lot
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Channu (Lambi), June 15
Gurlal Singh of this village is worried a lot. He does not know how his daughter will get married. His father, Gurtej Singh, also had the same worry. Ultimately, he died about three months back after remaining bed-ridden for a couple of weeks.

Actually, Gurlal and his family members have a cause of worry. They have not got a single crop in their 18 acres for the past three years as the land has become waterlogged.

The family was dependent on this land for its livelihood. Now it finds difficult to make both ends meet. As a result, no one wants to get his son married with Gurlal’s daughter.

“It has become very difficult for us to get her married,” says Gurlal’s younger brother, Shivraj Singh. “You know around Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh is needed to arrange a girl’s marriage in some good family.”

Shivraj says that the entire land has become almost barren, no one is ready even to buy it if they think so. They used to earn over Rs 5 lakh per year from their fields, he said, adding it had now become impossible for them to pay even interest on the loan of about Rs 2.5 lakh taken from a bank.

Actually, theirs is not an isolated case. More than 10 farmers of Channu village, falling under the Lambi constituency of former Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, have been facing the same problem.

Another affected farmer, Jarnail Singh, is also unable to arrange the marriage of his daughter and son. Both of them had to leave their studies because of bad financial condition of the family, Jarnail Singh rued.

Nearly 300 acres of land in the village had come under water-logging till now, said another sufferer, Gagandeep Singh, adding that if concrete steps were not taken in time to get rid of the water-logging problem, much more land of this and adjacent villages would get affected.

Shivraj Singh told Tribune News Service that he and other farmers had met Mr Badal during his visit to nearby Killianwali village about a fortnight ago. However, nothing has been done so far despite assurances by Mr Badal, he added. They also met Deputy Commissioner Buta Ram Banga in this regard but to no avail.

Meanwhile, Charanjit Singh and other affected farmers said that the problem of water-logging from the village can easily be solved if the Rajasthan feeder toe drain, which carries water of some other villages, is extended to Thrajwala village.

They said that the bone of contention was a box-type mini flyover which had to be built on the Malout-Dabwali national highway for extending the drain to Thrajwala. Both Drainage and B and R (National Highways) Departments have been claiming that it came under their jurisdiction to build the flyover, the farmers added.

When contacted, the Executive Engineer (Drainage), Malout, Mr Jagpal Singh, said that a plan for extending the Rajasthan feeder toe drain to Thrajwala had already been sent to the state government for approval. The Secretaries of Irrigation and Expenditure would study the site by June-end.

The water-logging problem could be solved by pumping out the water from the fields of these villages, he said, adding it was being done in Abul Khurana, Jeonwala, Tapakhera and adjacent villages where water was pumped into the Abul Khurana drain.

In the meantime, the affected farmers demanded adequate compensation for not getting crops for the past three years due to the government’s apathy.


Inside Babudom
Move to appoint state cadre officers to IPS
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
The Punjab Government has initiated the process of getting state cadre police officers appointed to the Indian Police Services (IPS). As many as 12 officers, belonging to the Punjab Police Services, will be able to make it to the prestigious IPS after the process is completed.

The authorities, after circulating a fresh seniority list, have issued notices to officers concerned calling for objections. The same are to be submitted by the officers within a week.

The process of filing the vacancies by promotion is being carried out in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The rules make it mandatory for the authorities to fill 33 per cent vacancies by promotion.

The sources in the government reveal that out of 12 vacant posts, eight belong to 2002. Two belong to the next year. Another two belong to 2004. Senior officers in the Home Department were not available for comments.

The sources, meanwhile, assert that the process of filling the vacancies was delayed for quite some time due to dispute over the seniority list. They add that fresh seniority list has now been prepared and the vacancies are being filled in accordance with the relevant rules amended in July, 2000.

Giving details, the sources say that the vacancies, following the amendment in the rules, are not being clubbed and seniority list of each year is being prepared separately. Before the amendment, the vacancies were clubbed automatically.

The process of filling the vacancies is likely to take some time as the names contained in the panel of officers will be reviewed by a selection committee, comprising two UPSC members, the state Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Director-General of Police and the seniormost Inspector-General of Police.

The members, after going through the service record, including annual confidential reports, will forward the minutes of the meeting, along with the names, to the state government and the Ministry of Home Affairs. After their concurrence, a formal gazette notification will be issued by the ministry.


BSP workers resent leaders’ expulsion
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 15
Mr Narinder Kashayap and Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, national general secretary and president of the Punjab unit of the BSP, respectively, here today had to face the ire of party workers over the issue of expulsion of the BSP leaders, Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, Mr Devi Dass Nahar and Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra.

The angry workers asked them to explain the ‘undemocratic’ expulsion of the senior BSP leaders without issuing any showcause notice to them. Besides, the workers sought explanation from Mr Kashayap, why disciplinary action was not initiated against Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state BSP president, and Mr Pawan Tinu, BSP nominee from the Phillaur parliamentary seat, against whom Mr Mangat Rai Bansal and Mr Devi Dass Nahar, BSP nominees from Sangrur and the Jalandhar parliamentary constituencies respectively, had levelled serious allegations.

Mr Kashayap said the decision to expel these leaders was taken by the national president of the BSP, Ms Mayawati. Mr Karimpuri, said he had just also obeyed the orders of Ms Mayawati.


AISAD names five for SGPC elections
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 15
All-India Shiromani Akali Dal today declared five candidates for the forthcoming SGPC elections . four of the candidates were for Amritsar and one for Gurdaspur constituencies.

In a press conference here today the AISAD president Mr Jaswant Singh Mann announced the names of candidates. Prof Nirmal Singh Guru ki Wadali from Amritsar (west) , Mr Balwant Singh from Amritsar (central) , Mr Parmajit Singh (north ) Mr ajit Singh Modey (Chabbal) and Mr Manjit Singh Qaddian from Batala.

Mr Mann said the AISAD would support candidates with a clean Panthic background in all other constituencies in the SGPC polls.

Lashing out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal President SAD he said, Mr Badal had destroyed all norms of the Panthic maryada, the legality of institutions, and sanctity, sacredness and had no right to continue as the custodian of Sikh interests.

He said Mr Badal had brought dishonor to the Sikh panth by amassing huge wealth and property.


Gurdwara panel tells SGPC not to sack staff
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
Even as the Chief Gurdwara Election Commissioner has directed the SGPC not to retrench or employ anybody while the model code of conduct is inforce (till July 11), the Shiromani committee has decided not to reverse its decision of terminating the services of 27 employees, including Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwer .

The stand-off is likely to adversely affect the functioning of the SGPC at a crucial time when the general elections of the committee are round the corner.

The SGPC is contemplating a reply to the Gurdwara Commission that it had to terminate the services of 27 employees above the age of 60 years as per the directions of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.

Earlier, Mr Dilmeg Singh, secretary, SGPC, had sent a fax from the Gurdwara Commission to Mr Pakhoke to implement its directives in toto .

Meanwhile, the Chief Gurdwara Commission has sought a report from the SGPC regarding the violation of the code of conduct during the re-election of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as SAD President on Sunday, on the basis of a news item published in The Tribune.

The offices of the SGPC remained open, despite it being a holiday, to conduct the re-election of Mr Badal.


Plea for rejection of Bibi Jagir Kaur’s papers

Kapurthala, June 15
Mr Mohan Singh Bal, a resident of Butala village under the Bholath seat of the SGPC, today filed a petition before the Deputy Commissioner, seeking the rejection of nomination papers of Bibi Jagir Kaur from the Bholath constituency.

Bibi Jagir Kaur is the sitting member of the SGPC from Bholath and seeking re-election from Bholath for the second term as a nominee of the Akali Dal (Badal).

Mr Mohan Singh Bal has also filed his nomination papers from Bholath against Bibi Jagir Kaur.

In the petition, Mr Bal alleged that the nomination papers of Bibi Jagir Kaur be rejected, as she was not eligible to fight the elections to become a member of the SGPC.

He alleged that her nomination papers had been wrongly accepted by Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Bholath. — OC


Level of Bhakra Dam up by 3 feet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15
The looming crisis over falling water levels in the Bhakra Dam has got a minor reprieve. Thanks to rain and increased snow-melt in the past 24 hours the level of water in the reservoir has risen by 3 feet. The level at 6 am today was 1467 elevation feet. This is 3 feet more than yesterday’s level of 1464 elevation feet.

The dead storage level of the dam is 1462 elevation feet and at this level the turbines generating power would have automatically stopped. However, the flow of water coming in the Sutlej river would continue to pass downstream even at the dead storage level.

The fast depleting reservoir had created a scare as it caused reduced outflow of water for irrigation. On the drinking water front several cities like Chandigarh are dependent on water from the Bhakra.

The discharge of water from the dam was reduced from 20,500 cusecs to 15,000 cusecs yesterday to tide over the crisis. The outflows will remain at now decided levels till the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), which manages the dam, decides otherwise.

The Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, assured “ Practically the reservoir cannot dry up totally as inflows into the reservoir from the Sutlej will remain at least at 15,000 cusecs.” The Sutlej river does not dry up in the summer being a perennial source and the river will continue to flow, Mr Nath added.

Had such a situation arisen in the peak of summer in May it would have been alarming.

With the monsoon less than two weeks away there was nothing to worry, Mr Nath said while adding “we are waiting for the monsoon to fill up the reservoir.” BBMB authorities say lack of snow last winter had reduced the amount of water coming in from snowmelt in summers.


Fire at thermal plant hits power supply
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 15
The supply of power to Malout subdivision was hit when a fire broke out at a substation in the Bathinda Thermal Plant this evening.

Sources at the plant confirmed the fire incident. The fire broke out around 4.40 p.m. at the thermal substation from where power is supplied to Malout.

The GM of the plant, Mr P.S. Luthra, and the Executive Engineer, Mr S.L. Kumar, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.


Across the rivers and in oblivion
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

KAJLE (Indo-Pak border): About a hundred families of seven villages in Lassian Enclave across the rivers Ravi and Ujh seem to be living in the medieval period for they are still without electricity, water connections or other basic amenities.

An approach road to the villages, forsaken by God and men alike, is unthinkable due to the two meandering rivers that have their confluence at Lassian Enclave here, a cause of suffering for residents of the area, especially during heavy rains.

Anybody who wishes to visit this desolate area near the international border has to use one of the big Army boats that ferry even tractors, carts and two-wheelers across the rivers. In case of any medical emergency, the villagers can only look to God for help as no timely help is possible in these villages. Army men keep strict vigil on all visitors to Lassian Enclave due to security reasons.

Mr Narain Singh (75), oldest resident of Kajle village, describes the cluster of villages across the two rivers as "Kala Pani". Mr Mukhtiyar Singh, a panch of the village, says owing to the changing course of the rivers, many houses have been demolished in the past and villagers had to move to safer places.

The condition of Asmailpur, Shahpur, Jainpur Kucher and Rajpur Jattan in this enclave is no different. The school-going children of the area cannot think of higher education. Only one government employee, Mr Ajay Mahajan, a Junior Engineer of the Drainage Department, could be seen in the area during a visit by a Tribune team. Villagers allege that government officials hardly ever visit the area.

One resident, Mr Mohinder Singh, complains there is no dispensary in any of the villages and many villagers have died on their way to hospital.

Given the situation, it is not surprising that most of the residents are poor. They are not in a position to shift to other places.

The villagers face constant danger to their lives. Flash floods during the rainy season can cause serious damage to life and property without warning. Another danger is from Pakistan, which has been waging a "proxy war" by diverting the course of the rivers that zig zag across the border. The worst damage suffered by the residents in recent times was during the floods of 1988, when at least seven residents of the area were washed away.

Though the state and Central governments have been making efforts by constructing studs and protection bundhs, these do not match the protection bundhs made by Pakistan due to lack of funds. Because of the sensitive and strategic nature of the area, the Army and the Drainage Department have made a number of requests to both the state and Central governments, but no funds have been released in the past three years.


Dang writes to CM on pension
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has decried the indifferent attitude of the Social Securities Department application forms for old age pensioners were not being entertained by officials, he said.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and to the Director Social Securities, today, Mr Dang alleged that pension applications were not being accepted as the department had not received any instructions from the local Government Department of the state. He alleged that the notification issued by government on this count was vague.

Mr Dang stated that “this means that the decision announced by the government nearly a year ago had still not been implemented. He said it seemed that the government had closed the pension schemes for old age, widow and disabled.

The CPI leader has also sent a list of 450 pensioners who had not been paid under the pension scheme from six to 36 months .

He urged the Chief Minister and the Director to ensure that such hurdles were cleared at the earliest.


Camp to train panches, sarpanches
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 15
To educate panches and sarpanches of the district about their rights and duties, various Acts of new Panchayati Raj System as well as the management of the six departments given to them recently, the district administration, in collaboration with the Society for Social Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA), organised a month-long training camp. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the camp, while Mr P.H. Vaishnav, former Chief Secretary and Chairman of SOSVA, presided over the inauguration function.

Addressing the function, Mr Ahluwalia called upon the Panches and Sarpanches to give their full attention to the development projects initiated by village panchayats in their respective villages by rising above petty party politics. He said it was unfortunate that whenever the panchayat started a development work, the opposing group started complaining and filing litigations to stall the works, which resulted in delay and the funds were, embezzled in connivance with officials concerned.

He advised the villagers to keep a close watch on the development work initiated by a government agency and ensure that proper material was used. If they found any irregularity they must inform him. The administration would ensure that all panches and sarpanches were given due respect in the government offices and their works were done on a priority basis.

Panches and sarpanches demanded that the panchayats should be given more powers as they had to seek permission from the BDPO office even for minor works and the officers concerned and their staff harassed them. They demanded that the panchayats should be given right to initiate development projects on their own which would reduce cost of construction and corrupt practices.

Mr P.H. Vaishnav, Chairman of SOSVA, said social organisations should come forward in serving society.


Land for PPHC project within MC limits: report
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 15
The entire piece of land that is being acquired by the government for a Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) project falls within the jurisdiction of the local Municipal Council.

This was pointed out in a report submitted by the Tehsildar to the SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, here today in connection with the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NOC) for acquiring over 215 acres in Kharar and Khoonimajra village. The PPHC has planned to develop a housing colony for serving and retired government servants, including police personnel, on the land.

It was stated in the report that some part of the land in Kharar village was owned by the Wakf Board though there was no such area falling in Khoonimajra village. The land owned by the Wakf Board was categorised as “gair marusi kabaj” in the records. There was no grave in the area and nor was it being used by the Muslim community. There was also no mandir, gurdwara, etc, on the land. So under the rules the necessary proceedings in this regard could be initiated.

A part of land owned by Khalsa High School also fell in the area that was being acquired. There were between 30 and 35 residential houses in the area as well. All land owners in the area that was to be acquired had holdings less than 5 standard acres.

Of the 215 acres to be acquired for the housing project, 73 acres, 7 kanals and 19 marlas fall in Khoonimajra village while 139 acres, 3 kanal and 1 marla fall in Kharar.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner had asked for an NOC from various government departments in connection with the acquisition of land for the PPHC. The NOC was to be issued after a thorough check of the area, including the existence of religious structures and a cremation ground and various other aspects.


Sanitation campaign starts at Kharar
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 15
A special campaign to improve sanitation in the town was started by officials of the local municipal council here today.

A team comprising 50 employees of the council was assigned the task of cleaning the Mundi Kharar area, which fell in the municipal ward II. As many as 17 employees were put on the job of cleaning the area falling under Kharar Textile Mill (KTM) Colony.

Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi and Mr Mukesh Kumar, Executive Officer, and Assistant Municipal Engineer, respectively, of the civic body inspected the overhead water tanks and submersible pumps and found that proper chlorination of water being done. Mr Sahi said the staff on duty had been directed to increase the quantity of chlorine in the water that was being supplied for drinking purposes.

Both the council officials even met the General Manager and the Labour Officer of the KTM, who assured them that cleanliness would be taken care of in KTM Colony and even chlorine tablets would be distributed among workers to avoid the spread of water-borne diseases. Residents were advised to boil water that was to be used for drinking.

Mr Sahi said two tractor-trailors and a JCB machine had been hired in connection with the sanitation campaign. The JCB was being used to lift cow dung from certain points and also to clear blockage from nullahs.

He said a tubewell, near the bus stand, which had developed a snag had become functional. He said pump operators of various tubewells had been directed to chlorinate water, failing which strict action would be taken against them.


Police helps father, son reunite after 9 years
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 15
The Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) has helped son reunite with his father after a gap of nine years. This was stated in a press note issued by Bathinda SSP Kapil Dev here today.

Under the stranger verification campaign for outsiders, the Bathinda police had sent information regarding Fateh Singh to the UP police for verification.

In fact, Fateh had not visited his hometown of Bulandpur in nine years and had not met his son, Binani Singh, during this period.

When the Bulandpur police was at Binani’s house to verify the credentials of Fateh, Binani got the address of his father from the police. With the help of the address, he reached here yesterday.

The police personnel took him to the CPRC, where its in charge, ASI Amritpal Singh, got the whereabouts of his father ascertained.

The police succeeded in finding Fateh Singh, and the father and son reunited after a gap of nine years.


Body of Harnek’s fourth daughter found

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 15
The body of the fourth daughter of Harnek Singh who had jumped into Bhakra Canal near Sondha village on June 10, was recovered today.

Harnek Singh (48), a gurdwara granthi (priest) living near Jyoti Swarup, Fatehgarh Sahib, his 45-year-old wife Rajinder Kaur, four young daughters and a son jumped into the canal on June 10 morning with the intention of ending their lives but his wife and son was saved by villagers.

The bodies of Jagdeep Kaur, Sukhbir Kaur and Amandeep Kaur were recovered yesterday near Patiala while Hardeep Kaur was recovered today at the same place.

The body of Harnek Singh is still not traceable.

Meanwhile, the Sirhind police also recovered an unidentified body near Khanpur village, which was later identified as Balbir Singh resident of Harbans Pura village. The body was identified by Prabhjot Singh, the son of the deceased. — UNI


Protests against PSEB authorities
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 15
Activists of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, today staged dharnas in front of offices of the Punjab State Electricity Board at Mehatpur, Kartarpur and Noormahal. The dharnas were held in protest against the failure of the authorities to restore proper power supply to villages.

Addressing a gathering at Mehatpur, the state secretary of the union, Mr Tarsem Peter, alleged that though several village panchayats, including Para Pind, Khusropur, Bikhunanagal, Fateeh and Tali Sahib, had deposited requisite amount with the PSEB for the 24-hour power supply, nothing was done in this regard during the past one year.

Mr Peter alleged that though the state government had announced to provide 24-hour supply without any mandatory charges to those villages which have more than 40 per cent Dalit population, the scheme failed due to red tape.

The district president of the union, Mr Hans Raj Pabwan, alleged that the state government was pursuing “anti-people” policies under the garb of liberalisation.


Malout faces acute water shortage

Malout (Muktsar), June 15
While farmers of Malout subdivision in Muktsar district are already facing an acute shortage of irrigation water, the problem of drinking water has arisen in Malout city.

Munadis have been done by the Water Supply Department of Malout to make the people aware of the shortage. These have been done since yesterday evening. The residents were warned against wasting water and the connection of those caught would be disconnected immediately.

The city has been divided into eight zones to provide water to its about 75,000 residents. Drinking water will be supplied to each zone on alternate day.

When contacted, the Bathinda Water Supply Department Executive Engineer M.L. Bansal, under whose jurisdiction Malout falls, told TNS that the shortage arose as water had not been supplied through the Sirhind Feeder due to low level at the Pong Dam. JE Rakesh Mohan Makkar said potable water had been stored for 15 days. As water has not been supplied for several days from the Sirhind Feeder, the stored water would also end soon. — TNS


Probe police role in custodial death case, says Chawla
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 15
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, vice-president of the BJP state unit, yesterday urged the state government to depute a team of high-level officials to investigate that how commission agents tried to grab properties of Jagtar Singh who was killed in police custody at Khalra in Tarn Taran police district on June 10.

In a press statement issued here today, Ms Chawla alleged that the police played a negative role by helping the accused which was a cause of concern. She said no MP or MLA raised their voice over the issue.


Filth overflows on road
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 15
Shopkeepers of the Top Khana crossing had a harrowing time today when filth from the drain running alongside their shops overflowed on the road.

They said following a leak in a water pipe the filth started overflowing. Pawan Kumar, who runs a shop in the area, said their business had been hit as people kept away from the market.


Forging SC orders: bail plea declined
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 15
A local CBI Special Magistrate today declined the interim bail application of Arun Madaan who is accused of forging orders of Supreme Court rulings.

Special Magistrate Harinder Kaur Sidhu declined the bail application of Madaan who had asked for bail on medical grounds. Madaan had claimed in his bail application that he was blind in one eye and that his second eye had also got infected. He had also asked for B class facilities in the Central Jail where he is lodged.

While ruling on the second issue, the court asked the jail authorities to deal with the request according to the jail manual. Madaan is facing 10 FIRs and is accused of forging the Supreme Court orders. One and a half years back he had run away from Government Rajindra Hospital where he had been admitted on health grounds. He was rearrested from New Delhi shortly afterwards.


Consumer forum chief’s post lying vacant
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 15
Contrary to the claims of the state government of protecting rights of consumers, it has failed to appoint the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum president in the districts. The post fell vacant here in February.

While the president of the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Justice H.S. Brar, refused to say anything in this regard on phone, sources in the commission confirmed that a three-member committee headed by him had already recommended names of several persons to the state Food and Supplies Department for this posts.

They added that the Food and Supplies Department had to clear the names, following which the state government would issue a notification and the vacant post would be filled.

It may be noted that the posts of president of district consumer forums in Mansa, Jalandhar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Gurdaspur are lying vacant for the past many months.


Bar body observes no-work day
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 15
Flaying the government for its failure to supply stamp papers, court fee stamps and judicial stamps in adequate numbers, the District Bar Association (DBA), Jalandhar, observed no-work day today.

Members of the Bar said owing to irregular supply of the required material, they were facing difficulties in handling day-to-day matters. They said despite repeated demands by Bar members, the supply had been erratic for quite some time.

Mr Gurnam Singh Petia, President, DBA, said people were forced to buy stamp papers on premium from the vendors sitting outside the court complex. Mr Guramil Singh Lidhar, Secretary, demanded that government must regulate the supply of the stamp papers so as to overcome the problem.


Sandhu’s plea to go abroad rejected

Ropar, June 15
Special Judge S.K. Goel today declined to grant permission to former Chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu to visit Canada.

Sandhu, who is an accused in a corruption case, had filed an application a few days ago in which he had requested the court to grant him permission to visit Vancouver (Canada) from July 15 to August 30 to attend the marriage of a close relative, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh’s daughter Mandeep Kaur. — PTI


35 officers, employees found absent
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 15
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, along with the ADC, the GA to the Deputy Commissioner and SDM, Bassi Pathana, today conducted a surprise check of offices of the Municipal Council, Sirhind, Bassi Pathana, the Horticulture Department, the District Welfare Office, the DTP Office, the AETC Office, DFSC office, the Chief Agriculture Office, the PWD, the Audit Office, DR Cooperative Society’s office. Nearly 35 employees and officials were found absent.

The Deputy Commissioner ordered that explanation be sought from these officers and employees.


Mela without permission
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 15
A mela put up on Sant Ashram School premises here by ARK Amusement Association is running without the required permission from the Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner, depriving the government of revenue in the form of entertainment tax.

While the organisers of the mela, which is on since May 30, claim they have valid permission of the “authorities concerned”, Deputy Commissioner harjit Singh told this correspondent that no valid permission had been obtained by the company.

“They had come to me once or twice for permission and I sent the application to the SSP, Gurdaspur, for a no-objection certificate (NOC). Since the NOC has not come from the district police chief so far, how can they claim they have permission?” Mr Harjit Singh added.


SP inspects wheat godowns
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 15
Mr Harjinder Singh, SP (Detective), Sangrur, visited Barnala today in connection with the alleged wheat scandal in Punsup here. Mr Harjinder Singh, who is the inquiry officer had come here earlier twice but could not go ahead with the inquiry because Punsup officials, allegedly involved in the scandal, were not available to him.

Mr Harjinder Singh recorded the statements of officials in the office and went to check the stocks of wheat bags stored there.


Missing SDO charged with kidnapping housewife, son
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 15
A 55-year-old Subdivisional Officer in the Irrigation Department who resides in the city and has presently “disappeared” has now been accused of kidnapping a 33-year-old housewife and her son on May 31.

Sources disclosed that the police today included the name of SDO Satpal Jindal who is posted in the Irrigation Department in Sangrur district. This was done following allegations in this regard by Arvinder Singh Mauji, the husband of Maninder Kaur, who is missing alongwith her 11-year-old son Gurpreet.

According to the police, Maninder last went to a beauty parlour on May 31 alongwith her son. According to the beauty parlour owner, she said she was going to the Tripuri township subsequently to do some shopping. But she was not seen after that. The car which Maninder was driving was found near the Bhakra canal which seemed to give the impression that Maninder had committed suicide.

However, Maninder’s husband Arvinder has been claiming since the beginning that the car was deliberately parked at the Bhakra canal to mislead the police. He said he started suspecting that SDO Jindal may be responsible for the disappearance of his wife when he could not contact the SDO who is a family acquaintance. Mr Arvinder Singh said when he learnt that the SDO had also disappeared he had approached the police and filed a complaint against him.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that SDO Satpal Jindal is also accused of embezzlement prior to his disappearance. The SDO’s wife Pramod Jindal when contacted said she did not know about her husband’s whereabouts and was herself worried for him. Mrs Jindal said her husband had last told her that he was going to attend a meeting at 3.30 p.m. on May 31.

Meanwhile, the case has got more murkier with revealations that the accused SDO was in possession of the passports of the entire Mauji family. Mr Arvinder said he had showed the passports to the SDO to plan a foreign trip following which they had been “misplaced”. He said the passports may be in possession of the SDO.


PSEB employees robbed
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 15
Two unidentified armed robbers looted a cash of Rs 2.7 lakh and cheques for Rs 1.45 lakh from a PSEB cashier, Des Raj, and a PSEB employee, Jagdish Lal, near the PSEB office, Goraya last evening.

According to reports received here this morning, the PSEB employees were going to deposit the cash in the State Bank of Patiala, when the armed robbers, snatched the cash at gunpoint and sped away. The police has registered a case.


SGPC-run colleges: 2,000 Sikh candidates to appear for admission
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 15
Around 2,000 candidates across the country belong to the Sikh community for admission against the 50 per cent reserved seats in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee-run Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College, Fatehgarh Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, and Guru Nanak Dev Polytechnic, Ludhiana. The candidates would appear in the test on June 16. Stating this to mediapersons, the Principal of BBSBE College, Dr D.S. Hira, who is also the coordinator of the test this time, said under the minority category, the Sikh students, who appeared in the CET-2004, conducted by Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, or the JET-2004, conducted by the Punjab State Board of Technical Education, Chandigarh, may get admission in the above-mentioned colleges run by the SGPC.

He said it was the first time that the test would be conducted at three centres, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Science and Research, Amritsar, Guru Nanak College, Muktsar, and BBSBE College, Fatehgarh Sahib. Earlier, the test was conducted in Amritsar only.

He said a candidate would be eligible for admission if he or she secured minimum 36 per cent marks in the religious test.

Dr Hira said results would be announced on the college website, bbsbec.org, on June 17. He said Prof R.S. Uppal would be the superintendent at the Amritsar centre and Prof Gurpal Singh at the Muktsar centre.


GND varsity VC gets extension

Amritsar, June 15
The Governor of Punjab, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), today cleared a one-year extension of Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, as recommended by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Dr S.P. Singh’s three-year term was to end on July 23. — TNS


Medical college Principal shifted
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 15
The Punjab Government has transferred Dr J.S. Dalal, Principal of the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital to Chandigarh as the Joint Director, Medical Education, and Research, Punjab.

According to reports Dr Rajesh Rani Gupta, Professor and head, skin and V.D. and Vice-Principal of the college will work as the Acting Principal of the college till further order.

Dr Dalal was in controversy last month following the incident of an intruder trying to kill a girl student at girls hostel on May 21. 


Duggal tops GND varsity JET
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 15
Ms Aakshi Duggal topped the list of successful candidates by obtaining 111 marks out of 150 in JET (undergraduate) Sciences-2004 conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University. Mr Maninder Singh and Bhavneet Kaur stood second and third, respectively.

Dr A.K. Thukral, coordinator, JET (UG) Sciences, in a press release issued here today, said that the test was conducted to admit 142 candidates for admission to B.Pharmacy and B. Sc (Honours School) in physics, chemistry, botany, human genetics and B.Sc in industrial microbiology. Over 1100 candidates appeared in this test.


Free computer course for underprivileged
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 15
The Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), in collaboration with the Helping Hands Society, an NGO, has started a free certified computer course for underprivileged students, who have been adopted by the society.

Besides, the TIET will also provide free certified vocational training in different trades, including refrigeration, welding, carpentry, the trade of a blacksmith, repairing electrical and machine tools to the unemployed youth without any discrimination.

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