P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



House passes Budget
Oppn abstains from last sitting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today set a new record when it ''unanimously'' passed over Rs 30,000- crore budget, finished the business listed for the day and adjourned sine die, all within just 23 minutes.

Even question hour was over within minutes of starting of the House at 10 am because all questions submitted by the Opposition had to be dropped as not a single member had turned up on the last day of the Budget session which commenced on June 14.

Despite Speaker Kewal Krishan repeatedly asking if any member from the Treasury Benches would like to speak on the Appropriation Bill or on any of the specific demands for grants, there was no response.

During question hour, Congress MLA, Tarlochan Singh prefixed his supplementary question, saying that since all ministers had resigned, as reported in the Press today, will the assurance given by the Finance Minister in the House in reply to his question be honoured?

Amidst laughter, the Speaker interjected, ''Till resignations are accepted they are all Ministers''. At this, Mr Lal Singh stood up and remarked, ''When I am not sure if I will remain a Minister, I am not competent to give any assurance''.

The reason why SAD-BJP members, stayed away from the House today was that since Thursday they had been disrupted the proceedings of the House in protest against interference of the government in the upcoming SGPC elections. As a result, the afternoon sitting of the House was adjourned prematurely yesterday, besides a short adjournment in the morning session. On this issue, the Akalis have gone to meet the Prime Minister in New Delhi.

The House passed the Appropriation Bill for Rs 30, 348,06,82,000 authorising the state government to spend out of the Consolidated Fund, during 2004-05. It also passed the East Punjab Minister's Salaries (Amendment) Bill, 2004, and the Salaries and Allowances of Deputy Ministers, Punjab (Amendment) Bill, 2004, to reimburse Rs 1.20 lakh per annum instead of Rs 10,000 per month, for payment of bills of their private telephones installed either in their constituencies or at Chandigarh.


CM meets Sonia next week
Formation of new Punjab Ministry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will meet the party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, next week on the formation of a new Council of Ministers in conformity with the 91st Constitutional Amendment.

Since the final word rests with Ms Gandhi, the swearing-in ceremony would take place immediately as “I cannot keep the government in a limbo for long’’.

The resignation letters of all Cabinet Ministers, including that of the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Ministers of State, Parliamentary Secretaries and MLAs holding public offices were procured at a dinner hosted by the Chief Minister at his residence yesterday. Among others who have resigned are some political appointees as Officers on Special Duty.

Talking to reporters in the Vidhan Sabha Press lounge after the House was adjourned sine die, Capt Amarinder Singh denied any design in procuring the resignation letters at the dinner. He clarified that during the day some of the ministers had approached him “voluntarily’’ to submit their resignations as the date for re-constituting the Council of Ministers to downsize it to15 per cent of the total strength of the House was near. The deadline is July 6 midnight.

Capt Amarinder Singh thanked all his colleagues for the team work and said that it would not be a reflection in any way on those who could not find a berth in the new Ministry. “Efforts are on to find suitable slots to accommodate those who will be dropped. For instance, there is no limit on the number of Parliamentary Secretaries one could have’’.

Asked whether there will be a Deputy Chief Minister in the new Ministry, he said: “This decision is up to the high command.’’ How was his experience with his Deputy Chief Minister? “I had no problems with her,’’ the Chief Minister said.

About the factors that would decide the retention or dropping of a minister, the Chief Minister said performance during the Lok Sabha elections was certainly one criterion. About making the Chief Minister’s Office slim and trim, Capt Amarinder Singh said: “I do not know about that. But, certainly it will one that is efficient.’’

Regarding the formation of a central panel on the SYL canal, he said “we will name our representatives once the terms and conditions were known. Our main demand is the constitution of a new tribunal under the Inter-state Water Disputes Act’’.


Sangat darshan funds: CAG indicts Badal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
The use of the sangat darshan programme from June, 2000, to December next year by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, as a mode of disbursement of funds was not only unauthorised but it was also “an act of excess as it vitiated the settled norms of public accountability”.

These comments were made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report which was today tabled in the Punjab Assembly by the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh.

An amount of Rs 308.09 crore was disbursed in the state during the programme. A major chunk of the funds was given to Amritsar (33.54 crore), Ferozepore (22.52 crore), Gurdaspur (38.51 crore), Jalandhar (27.50 crore), Ludhiana (22.05 crore), Muktsar (31.13 crore) and Patiala (27.90 crore).

The funds were disbursed without any guidelines. Further, money from various development funds was disbursed mainly for other purposes thus violating the guidelines under which developmental funds were to be spent. Contrary to the rules governing the funds in the Rural Developmental Fund (RDF) and the Punjab Infrastructure Fund (PIF), all administrative and financial powers were entrusted to the Chief Minister, says the CAG report.

Funds were released to such agencies which were not authorised to execute the works. In its conclusion, the CAG, indicting the Badal government, has stated that “evidently, public money was unauthorisedly drawn and disbursed” by the government without sticking to the established norms and procedures. Already, the CAG has referred its findings to the state government which has not responded so far. No criteria was laid down for the disbursement of funds during the programme. There were instances of unequal distribution of funds and favour to particular areas, the report added.

At certain places, funds were distributed without any survey and identification of beneficiaries and without assessing the requirements. Consequently, the work on 731 projects for which Rs 6.17 crore were released during 2000-2002, was not started, thus resulting into the non-utilisation of funds.


Amarinder denies interference in SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today denied any interference by his government in the upcoming SGPC elections and charged the Akalis with being in the habit of crying foul in the name of religion to keep their flock together.

''Why should I be concerned with just three candidates out of 170-odd in the fray? If I were to interfere, I would do so for 100-odd. I have been in the Akali Dal for 14 years and I am familiar with their tactics'', the Chief Minister said.

Talking to mediapersons in the Press lounge after the Vidhan Sabha was adjourned sine die, he defended the Deputy Commissioners, saying that they were only performing their duty as per the law. He was equally candid on the role of the State Gurdwara Election Commission in asking the government to shift the two Deputy Commissioners, and SDMs of Amritsar and Gurdaspur. ''It is I who has to see how to run my government. it is not the commission. It cannot interfere in the administration''.

Capt Amarinder Singh read the relevant Rule 19, Sub-Rule (5) of the Sikh Gurdwara Board Election Rules, 1959. This envisages that the Deputy Commissioner has the revisional power against the order of the returning officer and orders so passed were final under Sub-Rule 5 and concluded: ''The order is, however, subject to the powers of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Also, the power of superintendence under Section 47 (a) of the Act could not override mandatory and express provisions of the law''.

He also criticised the Gurdwara Election Commission for changing the dates and time-table given in the notification, when the process of holding the SGPC elections on July 11, had been initiated.

In fact, trouble in the Vidhan Sabha was triggered on Thursday when Mr Parkash Singh Badal raised the issue of interference by the government in religious affairs of the Sikhs and the denial of election ''symbols'' to some candidates by the SDMs, albeit at the instance of the Deputy Commissioners under orders from the government.


Default in payment to be poll issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 25
The non-payment of huge amounts outstanding against wards of Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, working President of the SGPC, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, former Akali Minister, who had got admission to the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Medical College under NRI quota, has become a major election issue.

If the Shiromani Akali Dal wins the legal battle, it will have to face the Sikh masses during electioneering. The SAD cannot justify the non-payment of the amounts, which could not be cleared by the SGPC members and other defaulters despite reminders. The legal adviser of the SGPC had mentioned that since the amounts belonged to the ‘Guru Ghar’ these had to be cleared by all means. In such a situation, the SAD would not be able to justify non-payment by the SGPC members, who are trustees of the Shiromani Committee.

Candidates of the Panthic Morcha have decided to take the matter to the Sikh Sangat. A former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, while coming down heavily on the chief of the Gurdwara Election Commission, said the commission had been playing a partisan role while disposing of the petitions pertaining to Mr Pakhoke, Mr Langah and Mr Sekhwan. He alleged that he was favouring SAD candidates due to his association with the party.


Beehlewala residents to boycott Romana in SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 25
Residents of Beehlewala village have decided en masse not to vote for the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidate from Faridkot, Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, in the forthcoming Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

Romana was vigorously campaigning in rural areas these days but he reportedly got information about the villagers’ decision and avoided the tour of that village. But when SAD workers led by its district president, Mr Lakhbir Singh Araiyawla, reached the village they had to face the villagers’ wrath. The villagers snatched the mike from a SAD speaker, announced their decision to oppose Romana en masse from the SAD’s stage, and also raised slogans against him.

Sources said during the Akali regime, Parkash Singh Badal had announced grant for water supply in the village, which was reportedly opposed by Romana. Since then the villagers were angry with him.


23 left in fray for SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 25
Out of the total 53 candidates, 23 candidates were left in the fray for nine SGPC seats in the district after the last date of withdrawal of nominations here. Following are the main candidates in the fray: Moga — Harbans Singh of SAD and Gurpritam Singh Cheema of Panthic Morcha; Dharamkot — Sukhjeet Singh Kaka of SAD and Kuldeep Singh Dhos of Panthic Morcha; Dharamkot (women)— Simarjeet Kaur and Gurdev Kaur; Nihalsinghwala— Gurmail Singh Sangatpura of SAD and Buta Singh Ransingh of Panthic Morcha; Nihalsinghwala (reserve)—Tek Singh Manuke of SAD and Swaran Singh Panjgirain of Panthic Morcha.


Pbi varsity turns entrance tests into profit venture: assn
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 25
Panjabi University has been accused of turning the holding of tests for admissions to professional courses, including the five-year BA-LLB course, into a profit-making venture by charging Rs 5,500 for the test and the counselling procedure.

Sample this. The university is charging Rs 500 for the prospectus, Rs 1,000 as fee for the conduct of the entrance test, Rs 2,500 for the first counselling and Rs 1,500 for the second counselling. Similar is the case of combined state-level tests organised by the university for admissions into the MBA and the MCA courses.

The Democratic Rights Association, Sangrur, has protested against this practice, alleging that the university was turning education into a business which was against the Supreme Court orders forbidding turning education into a business venture. The president of the association, Mr Ashok Mahajan, said it was unjustified to charge Rs 500 for the prospectus which should not cost more than Rs 50.

Mr Mahajan said counselling did not cost the university anything as it already had all the facilities needed for counselling in place. He said, similarly, holding of the entrance test could not cost the university more than Rs 100 per student.

The association claimed that the prospectus provided to the students did not contain any information regarding the fee structure to be charged for the law course. Mr Mahajan said similarly students applying for admission were in the dark regarding the subjects, availability of lecturers, details of hostels, criteria for promotion to a higher class and other facilities available in the institutions for which the test was being conducted. The association claimed that it was necessary for the students and their parents to have access to this information. Had this information been listed, the students would know what to expect from the institutions in which they got admission, the association added.

The association also claimed that the university had not mentioned the fee and the annual charges which were to be charged from the students in the prospectus. It said this had put the students at the mercy of the institutions in which they would get admission. It urged the government to take up the matter with the university and ensure that the excess charges collected from students were refunded.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the university, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, said the university was generating its own resources due to lack of requisite financial support from the state government. He said this was needed to maintain the present infrastructure and ensure quality higher education services for the students of the institution.


Punwire put on sale
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 25
Punjab Wireless Limited (Punwire), once a blue chip company worth Rs 500 crore, was today put on sale for Rs 38 crore. Lying closed for the past five years, the company owes over Rs 600 crore to its various creditors. Going by what the official liquidator has demanded as the reserve price of the company, majority of Punwire’s creditors may not even get a penny.

In continuation of the liquidation proceedings, the Punjab and Haryana High Court through its liquidator, held out Punwire’s assets for sale through an advertisement that appeared in various prominent dailies today. According to the advertisement, the complete assets of the company, are now for open sale at a minimum cost of Rs 37.84 crore.

The advertisement lists the various moveable and immovable assets of the company in Mohali and Mumbai along with their reserve price. If sold at the reserve price, the first charge holders of the company that includes some banks, financial institutions and the employees are likely to get close to 20 per cent of what the company owed them.

The rest, all unsecured creditors, are not likely to get anything and will have to give up their credit. These creditors include banks and some other companies who had invested in the company like UTI, J&K Bank, IDBI, IFCI, PSIDC etc.

On April 12, this year, a 10-year revival plan was mooted by a core group formed by the government for the purpose. According to the proposed revival plan an immediate investment of at least Rs 25 crore would be required to make the company operational while employing most of its former staff.

It was decided that the government would move the court to stay the liquidation proceedings of the company but the appearance of the advertisement pointed that the government had not bothered to follow up the revival plan. Under the revival plan the first charge holders are expected to recover more than 100 per cent of their dues against 20 per cent under liquidation and unsecured creditors may also recover upto 60 per cent of their dues, by way of repayment and market capitalization.

Mr B.S.Baidwan, past president, Mohali Industries Association and CEO, Ajay Electrical Industries Limited who had framed Punwire revival plan has pointed this out in a letter written today to Mr Lal Singh, former Finance Minister, Punjab. The publication of sale notice may in fact prove a blessing in disguise. Also, a large block of creditors whom the company owed Rs 450 crore will come forward and support the revival plan because they do not get a penny under liquidation,’ he wrote.

Following the floating of the revival plan, members of the Punwire Employees Union were made to end their relay fast that had entered its 992nd day. The operations of the company came to a halt in 1999 following the unearthing of a major fraud worth Rs 500 crore by the company’s management. It was locked for liquidation in July 2000 and the final winding up orders were passed in February 2001 by the Punjab and Haryana high Court. A profit-making company for over 20 years since its establishment in 1975, the company with its expertise in wireless communication technology, had shot into limelight for the establishment of the prestigious communication link between Dakshin Gangotri (Antarctica) and New Delhi.


Writer-poet in hospital; admn apathetic
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 25
Punjabi writer and poet of the 1960s, Deepak Jaitoyi is struggling for life at the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here.

A resident of Jaito town in the district, 82-year-old Jaitoyi was admitted to the hospital in a serious condition on June 20. When Deputy Commissioner, Hussan Lal came to know about Jaitoyi’s condition he directed Red Cross secretary, Gurdayal Singh to enquire about the well-being of the poet. He announced that all expenses for treatment of the poet would be borne by the Red Cross Society.

However, when this correspondent visited the poet at the hospital, the apathetic attitude of the administration was exposed. Mr Satwaran Deep, son of Jaitoyi, said they only got medicines worth Rs 300 from the Red Cross and today, when he asked for syringes worth Rs 10, he was told to fill in a form, get it signed by the Red Cross secretary, then by the doctor concerned, and again by the Red Cross secretary. He said his father was not being given the treatment he deserved.

Recipient of various state awards, including Shiromani Sahityakar and Shiromani Kavi by the Language Department, Punjab, Jaitoyi had penned songs like ‘Ah le maye samb kunjiya, dhiya kar chaliya sardari’ and ‘Gal soch ke kari jaildara, asa nahi kanaud jhelni’, which were sung by Narinder Beeba and became hits.

Asked if any government representative had visited him, Jaitoyi said they were busy in important works and they did not have time to visit poets. Asked as to how he was feeling, he quoted a couplet, ‘Unke aane se jo aati hai muh par raunak, woh samajhte hain beemar ka haal achha hai’.

Dr Baljeet Kaur said the poet was suffering from infection due to excessive drinking and he had shown some improvement in the past couple of days. When contacted, a Red Cross official could not tell whether the poet was undergoing treatment or was discharged. The Deputy Commissioner was not available for comments.


Patients’ lives in peril for lack of oxygen supply
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 25
Ms Samista Mehta (40) was brought from Talwara in severe pain for a gall bladder surgery after she suffered two painful pancreatic attacks. Despite being in a critical condition and needing immediate surgery, she had to put up with a delay of nearly one and a half day before she was operated upon today, the reason being that the oxygen supply in Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here did not arrive till this afternoon.

The erratic supply of oxygen has been continuing for the past many days. Many patients, therefore, have to wait before they can get treatment.

As many as four or five accident cases as also cases of stabbing and gunshot wounds are attended to in this hospital daily. More than 500 surgeries are done here every month out of which at least half are of a critical nature. Surgeries are performed here in 10 wards. The only emergency ward and the eight-bedded ICU in the hospital also suffer from shortage of oxygen supply.

Oxygen supply remains irregular even as patients with problems like perforation, obstruction in vital organs and other cases like heart, lungs, paediatric and other surgeries have to wait sometimes for more than a day to be admitted for operation despite needing urgent surgery.

The supply of the oxygen is through pipelines from the ground floor. Much of the gas remains suspended in the pipeline before reaching the surgery wards. No alarm system exists to warn of any leakage from the supply cylinders, the supply line or the end system. After the supply of oxygen from Faridabad was stopped a few years ago, the oxygen is stored in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital which is at least 3 km away from this hospital.

Only about three or four oxygen cylinders are put to use daily in GTB Hospital while at least 14-15 cylinders are needed  daily in Guru Nanak Hospital.

It is learnt that much pilferation goes on in the GTB Hospital store which caters to some private hospitals. Dr A.S. Padda, officiating Medical Superintendent, GND Hospital, admitted that the hospital was facing this problem for the past few days as the plant of the supplier was under repairs. He said alternate arrangements had also been made for ensuring uninterrupted supply of oxygen. However, doctors say the payments of the hospital have been so irregular that private suppliers hesitate to be associated with it.


Ex-Supdt of post office among six killed in mishaps
Tribune News Service

Beas/Tarn Taran, June 25
While four car-borne persons, including S.K. Mohinderu, a retired Superintendent of a post office, were killed when their vehicle collided with a Delhi-bound tourist bus at Beas, two persons were crushed by a tuck at Tarn Taran today. While three persons travelling by the car died on the spot, the fourth succumbed to his injuries on his way to hospital.

The other deceased persons have been identified as Vinay Mohinderu, wife of S.K. Mohinderu, Mr D.P. Mahajan and Sahil Sharma, alias Vickey, driver of the ill-fated car. All were residents of Amritsar.

The driver of the bus, Kanwajit Singh, has been arrested by the Beas police. A case under Sections 304 A, 337, 338, 279 and 427 of the IPC has been registered against the driver. The bus has been impounded.

According to police sources, the deceased were coming in a Maruti Zen from Jalandhar.

Eyewitnesses say the accident occurred when the driver of the car tried to overtake a vehicle. However, the bus driver, tried to save the car, but it collided with the bus.

In yet another road accident, two persons were crushed to death near Noordi Adda in Tarn Taran by a truck. The police has registered a case under Sections 304 A and 279 of the IPC against the truck driver who is missing.


SAD (A) opposes Panthic Morcha candidate from Malout
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 25
The SAD (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, will not support the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Jaswant Singh Ramnagar, from the Malout seat. This was stated by a prominent SAD (A) leader of the area, Mr Gurnam Singh Dhanewalia, while talking to TNS yesterday.

Accusing Mr Ramnagar of being a “Congress agent,” Mr Dhanewalia said he opposed him and supported the Congress candidate from the Faridkot seat in the recently concluded parliamentary elections. Mr Dhanewalia was the SAD (A) candidate from the Faridkot seat.

In reply to a question, he said his party never favoured Mr Ramnagar’s candidature as the Panthic Morcha candidate from the Malout seat. He did not know how Mr Ramnagar became the Panthic Morcha candidate, he added.

At the same time, he said the SAD (A) was extending support to two other candidates of the Panthic Morcha in Muktsar district. They were Gurdev Singh Lubanowalia and Mahan Singh Karaiwala from Muktsar (general) and Gidderbaha seats, respectively.


PSEB to be dismantled by Dec 9: Ratra
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 25
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman Y.S. Ratra today said there was no question of going back on the state government’s proposal to dismantle the board into separate independent companies.

Disclosing this here today at a press conference, Mr Ratra said the board had already made a blue print of the entire process and that the blue print would be shortly presented for the approval of the state Cabinet. He said the entire dismantling exercise would be completed by December 9.

Mr Ratra also announced the lifting of the 50 per cent power cut imposed on steel induction and arc furnaces in the state even as it lifted cuts on rural domestic consumers. He said induction furnaces were being given power on alternate days since June 9 so that the board could meet the requirement of nine lakh tubewell owners who had been provided eight-hour supply despite scarcity. He claimed the board had suffered a loss of Rs 50 crore due to this.

Mr Ratra said the shortfall between demand and supply presently was 800 mw. He said the board had negotiated to purchase 100 mw with GRIDCO in Orissa, 100 mw from West Bengal through Power Trading Corporation, 200 mw from western region through NVVNL, 100 mw from Uttaranchal, 50 mw from Goa, 100 mw from Rajasthan and 150 mw through unscheduled interchange.

The board will, however, face an additional liability of Rs 177 crore due to the power purchases being made by it currently. Mr Ratra said power purchase was up by 25 per cent till now this year as compared to first year. He said the power consumption in the state was up by 8 per cent this year as compared to last year adding that the in house hydro generation had also falled from 33 per cent of the total power availability to 23 per cent of the total availability this year.


PSEB to use iron boxes to check meter tampering
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 25
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to enclose the 45 lakh electronic meters for commercial and domestic consumers with iron boxes following the discovery that the new electronic meters are being manipulated with the help of magnets.

The board had, during a raid in Sunam recently, detected that strong magnets were being used to jam the electronic meters. The magnets had been purchased from Delhi. A subsequent raid in Lehra had revealed that magnets were being used to make the new electronic meters ineffective.

The load move is registered on a metallic motorised drive. This drive was being targeted with the use of magnets. Though specifications stipulate that all electronic meters should have a 0.2 tesla magnetic shield, but this protection was insufficient in the case of new powerful magnets.

“The magnets recovered during recent raids have a strength of above 0.45 tesla, due to which these can easily jam the new meters”, PSEB member for distribution H. C. Sood. He said the PSEB had now decided to change the specifications so that the meters had a more powerful magnetic shield, besides asking manufacturers to produce solid state meters which did not have any iron component. This would mean more costly meters.

The PSEB had decided to use iron boxes to enclose the electronic meters with consumers. While most commercial consumers had been covered, domestic consumers were being supplied with electronic meters. Mr Sood said these consumers would be asked to enclose their electronic meters in sealed iron boxes. He said tests conducted by the board had shown that powerful magnets were ineffective if the electronic meter was enclosed in an iron box.

The consumer would bear the brunt of this decision. The PSEB would charge between Rs 200 and Rs 250 from consumers for installation of iron boxes. The drive is slated to start in a phased manner, with commercial connections being focused upon first.


Ex-DGP aims to link jails with courts
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 25
Some cops never retire. They simply stop investigating cases after attaining the age of superannuation. And divert their attention to things more serious like the welfare of jail inmates and security of prisons. In fact, this is exactly what Punjab’s former Director-General of Police (DGP) A.P. Bhatnagar is doing. The ex-cop is all set to work out the modalities for introducing video-conferencing facility. The aim: To link jails with courts.

His intention is worthy of applause. Once the facility is introduced, the under-trials will not have to be taken to the courts for appearances. This will go a long way in solving a number of problems like overcrowding of jails — Mr Bhatnagar claims soon after his appointment by the Punjab government as Advisor Prison Reforms.

Giving details, the former ADGP asserts, “So many times cops are not available for escorting under-trials to the courts. The result is there for all to see. The Judicial Officers are forced to adjourn the hearing. In the process, the inmates continue to rot in the jail resulting in overcrowding.”

His assertion assumes significance as substantial number of inmates in 26 jails all over the state are undertrials. Speedy disposal of cases will mean lesser number of prisoners in the jails.

The ex-cop also plans to lay emphasis on human resource development and structural improvements — all this and much more after he receives a formal copy of the order, along with terms and references.

Punjab, he asserts, is a border state. As such the first priority for any cop dealing with the jails is to check the smuggling of drugs and contraband in the prison premises. “For the purpose, the search procedures have to be improved,” he says.

This is not all. Mr Bhatnagar is also interested in “proper screening” of the visitors to ensure that only those who go in come out. “With so many people inside, at times it becomes difficult to identify each and every prisoner. You never know whether the person coming out is the same who went in. The possibility of inmate coming out in place of the visitor cannot be ruled out. As such physical security needs to be improved with the help of advanced equipment”.

Also, the inmates should be provided with better health and hygiene facilities. “There are newer ways and means of cooking available in the market for the jail inmates. Their introduction would assure maintenance of proper hygiene,” he concludes.


CPI (ML) to oppose SYL construction
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 25
A statewide convention was organised by the CPI (ML) at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Hall to oppose the renewed construction of the SYL.

Addressing the convention, the CPI leaders stated that without ascertaining the exact quantum of flow of water in a scientific manner and rational division of share among the states concerned, the exercise to construct the canal would be meaningless and Punjab was not in a position to share any more water with other states as any further cut in supply of water to Punjab would affect its economy badly.

Mr Ajmer Singh, state Committee Member of the CPI (ML), said at the time of the reorganisation of Punjab, unilateral decision of the Central Government was imposed on Punjab, which was nothing but a grave injustice with the state. Criticising the Congress government’s exercises to hold all party meeting, seeking Central assistance, filing of a review petition, Mr Ajmer Singh said it was a bid by the Congress to cover up its earlier role.

Mr Gurmit Singh, another state committee member, and Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, president of the Kirti Kisan Union, maintained that like that of the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal’s threat that it would launch a people’s movement against the construction of the canal, was purely a political stunt as it was Mr Parkash Singh Badal who had received money from the then Haryana Chief Minister late Devi Lal, for acquiring land for the construction of the canal. They maintained that the Akalis had accepted the Eradi Tribunal and during the SAD’s five-year rule, Mr Badal never tried to take up the river water issue with his alliance partners and the NDA government at the Centre.

Other speakers including Mr. Daljit Singh Advocate and Mr. Balwinder Singh Bajwa, demanded that the control of headworks should be handed over to Punjab.


Chautala for equal share in river waters
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 25
Haryana should get a share equal to that of Punjab, if not more, in the river waters, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Haryana Chief Minister, said here today.

He was talking to newspersons at Silver Oaks hospital in Phase IX where he was recuperating after an operation. He referring to the SYL Canal issue, he said “Younger brother should get a larger share as compared to the elder one”. He said about 3.5 lakh hectare of cultivable land in Haryana could not be irrigated due to shortage of water. On the other hand, water from Punjab rivers was going to Pakistan.

Mr Chautala, was discharged from the hospital today. He said the SYL canal was the “life line” of Haryana and the Government of Punjab should have no objection if the river water was shared by a “younger brother”.

He said there was a difference in his way of thinking and that of a “Raja”. He said the “Raja” should change his “princely way of thinking”. He was hinting at Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab.


Covering ‘beri’ tree may disturb birds’ habitat
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 25
The over-enthusiasm of the SGPC to cover the five-century old “Ber Baba Budha” tree with fibre glass to keep “parikarma” of the Golden Temple free from shedding leaves could disturb the natural habitat of birds, especially sparrows.

The existence of the ancient tree is under threat as the SGPC has put up a steel frame around it without consulting experts. A marble frame has already been constructed around lower portion of the tree to preserve the memory of Baba Budha, the first Head Granthi of Darbar Sahib who used to supervise the construction of the Sikh shrine. The iron frame is also obstructing the view of the Golden Temple.

This is being done at a time when the SGPC has been making allout efforts to get the Golden Temple declared as world heritage site by UNESCO.

Mr Major Singh, manager, Darbar Sahib, however, claimed that experts were consulted before making efforts to preserve the tree. He said the existence of the tree was under threat and experts from Punjab Agricultural University had started visiting the Golden Temple for organic treatment against insects. He said the fibre glass was being put up to save “parikarma” from droppings of the birds.

However, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, former SGPC secretary, said that in his capacity as Coordinator, NSS, Guru Nanak Dev University, had made the first-ever attempt to save the ancient three “beri trees” in the Golden Temple complex about two decades ago. He said he had sought the services of Dr Khem Singh Gill, the then Vice-Chancellor, PAU, who had deputed a high-level team for preserving the tree. He, however, said that loading the tree with tonnes of iron frame and fibre glass would definitely disturb the natural habitat of sparrows. He said Sikhism was compatible to the environment and ecology and hence many Sikh shrines were named after trees.

Dr Suresh Chauhan, nature expert, said that the efforts of the SGPC to cover the lower portion of the tree with fibre glass would adversely affect the air pressure too. He said there was need to lessen the weight rather. Dr Chauhan said that engulfing of tree with iron and electric tubes would adversely affect its health.

Dr Bachan said that in 1986 he had persuaded the radical Sikhs, who were in full control of Darbar Sahib, to prune some branches of the tree with a view to lessening its weight. The experts had also helped in sprouting “beri” at the root level.


Residents block traffic over police inaction
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 25
Irked over the alleged failure of the district police to arrest the accused in a case relating the death of a youth, hundreds of residents sat on a dharna and blocked traffic on the Jalandhar-Pathankot road near Lamba pind chowk for over three hours.

The dharna by residents of Jaimal Nagar and Kishanpura areas, who also put the victim’s body in the middle of the chowk as a mark of protest, was lifted at around 5.30 p.m. when the police assured them that the accused would be arrested within two days.

The residents were protesting over the failure of the police to arrest the alleged killers of a young Jaimal Nagar-based shopkeeper Dharmendra, who was allegedly beaten to death by some youngsters at his shop after the victim urged them to pay for a sachet of a shampoo, which was picked up by them from his shop. Dharmendra was beaten up so mercilessly that he slipped into coma and later died at DMC hospital, Ludhiana, last night. The police had registered a case against 10 persons, but no arrests was made.

People started converging at the deceased’s house at around 1.30 p.m. when the latter’s body reached his house and it was subsequently shifted to Kishanpura chowk and later on was placed at Lamba Pind chowk.


Civil Hospital doctor ‘refuses’ to treat child
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 25
Ms Surinderpal Kaur Randhawa, a former employee of the state Health Department, today alleged that her grandson, who had fever was not treated by the paediatrician of the local Civil Hospital, Dr Avtar Singh Dhillon, when she went to him on June 23.

In stead of treating him, Dr Dhillon insisted that her grandson should be admitted to his private hospital by making an excuse that there were no arrangements in the Civil Hospital, she alleged.

In a complaint to the Chief Minister, Director, Vigilance Bureau Secretary, Health, and the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, Ms Randhawa alleged that Dr Dhillon did not start the treatment of her grandson despite the fact that she managed to get him admitted in the Civil Hospital and got prepared the documents required for starting the treatment of any patient.

She added that Dr Dhillon kept on saying to other patients while she was sitting in his room that there was no facility of treatment at the Civil Hospital and by saying so he also referred a number of patients to his own private hospital.

She added that she repeatedly pleaded with Dr Dhillon about her poor economic condition but my all efforts failed to move him and he refused to treat the child in the hospital. When Dr Dhillon refused to help she took her grandson to another private hospital.

Dr Dhillon while dubbing these allegations as baseless said the child was duly admitted and given proper treatment. While treating grandson of Ms Randhawa, he went to examine another child on the call of Dr V.K. Kaushal, District Immunization Officer (DIO). By the time he came back, Ms Randhawa had left the hospital along with her grandson.

No senior official of the Civil Hospital could be contacted for the comments.


Woman adopts abandoned infant
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 25
On the intervention of local SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, a newly born male child, who was found abandoned yesterday, was adopted by another woman who already has three children.

The child was found abandoned in the bushes near the culvert alongside the road between Bhabiana and Domeli villages. He was wrapped in a towel.

A postman of Bhabiana Ram Lubhaya, who went out to answer the call of nature in the morning, heard the sound of stifled cries from behind the bushes. When he went there, he found the child alive and informed the Sarpanch. The postman's wife, Ms Asha Rani, offered in the presence of the panchayat to adopt and bring up the child to which the panchayat gave its consent.

However, when a childless person, Paramjit of the same village, insisted on adopting the child, he became a bone of contention. The matter was taken up with the police and a medical examination of the child was done. The police said the local SDM would settle the issue. The SDM directed that the child would remain with Ms Asha Rani till his real mother was found.


Bridge removal causes panic
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 25
Though the district administration has claimed to have taken adequate measures for flood control, persons residing in more than 12 villages surrounding the Ujh are leading a miserable life as the pontoon bridge fitted by the PWD has been removed. This has exposed the villagers to the wrath of nature.

Villages that may be affected include, Kulian Chibal, Dhimbal Sakoh, Jawahar Kotli, Tinda, Plah 1, Plah 2, Gate 1, Gate 2, Kot Pattan, Khojki-Chak, Balotar, Sarota, Dospur and Danwan. The villagers fear that next downpour will isolate them from the world for the next three months.

The sole boat kept by the PWD for emergency is in a state of disrepair, say villagers. Mr D.K. Mehta, of the Bamial area says the villagers are marooned, when the Ujh over-flows and they are encircled by the Tarnah. Mr Karan Singh says Chibbal Sakol, Sarota, Bamyl and Sarmala, on the bank of the Ujh, are the worst hit and more than 1200 acres gets affected during monsoon.

Mr Ravi Mahajan of the Bamyl area says the pontoon bridge had served the area well and the administration should plan something for the monsoon. These villages are the only villages in Punjab that are isolated from the country during the monsoon.

The district administration had recently decided at a meeting that 12 boats, 9 OBM engines, 128 life jackets and 60 oars had been arranged to shift people to safer places in case of floods. He said sub-division-level flood control rooms had been set up, which would be functional round-the-clock from July 1 to September 30.


Charges to be levied for cellphone towers
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 25
The municipal council will soon levy charges on house owners who have allowed the installation of mobile phone companies’ towers on their roof tops. MC president Joginder Pal Jain said this while talking to The Tribune yesterday. Mr Jain said a resolution to this effect would be passed at the next MC meeting.

The engineering department of the MC charged a levy of Rs 60,000 on Hutch for the installation of five towers. Asked about the companies that had installed their towers here, Mr Jain said the assistant municipal engineer, had been directed to conduct a survey in this regard and submit his report within a fortnight.

Mr Jain said charges would be levied on other mobile phone companies for the installation of towers. He said action would also taken against Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for digging up roads without seeking permission from the municipal council.


5 villages to get sewerage
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 25
Five villages of Ropar district would be provided with the sewerage system. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, Rs 50 lakh has been released by the 11th Finance Commission to lay sewerage in Daudpur and Manjitpura villages of Chamkaur Sahib block. Adhrera of Majri, Baldev Nagar of Morinda and Ghanauli of Ropar blocks of the district.

Under this scheme, sewerage lines are being laid and manholes are being constructed in each household of the said villages. The sewerage water collected would be treated before being released.


Nine injured in group clash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 25
In another group clash in this district today, nine persons were injured, including two women, when they clashed over possession of two acres of land at Deewanwala village near here. Earlier yesterday one person had suffered a grievous injury when he was hit by a bullet following a group clash at Khadadpura village in Samana subdivision over a piece of Shamlat land.

The land which belonged to Jarnail Singh had been sold by him to Chetan Singh. However, due to some problem Chetan Singh could not take over possession of the land. Sources said Chetan Singh recently sold the land to Avtar Singh who belongs to Kaanaheri village.

The sources said the clash took place today morning when the new buyer of the land came to the village. They said Jarnail Singh was planting paddy on the piece of land which was objected to by Avtar Singh who said the land should be left to him as he had bought it. Following this there was a quarell and rival groups which had collected at the spot set upon each other with sharp edged weapons including “kirpans” and “gandasas”.

While four persons, including two women, were injured from persons belonging to Jarnail Singh’s group, five persons were injured from the opposite side. The injured from the Jarnail’s group have been identified as Karnail Singh, Ran Singh, Kamla and Labh Kaur. Injured members from the rival group included Avtar Singh, Khinder, Mahinder Singh, Mahinder Singh and Piara Singh.

A case has been registered against them under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and the Arms Act in the city’s Sadar Police Station.


Kidnapping complaint against contractor
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 25
The Contract Labour Union of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant here in a complaint lodged with the Ropar police today alleged that many labourers of the plant have been kidnapped by the contractor.

In the complaint the president of the labour union, Mr Tiwari, has alleged that the proprietors of the M/s Prince and Company have kidnapped the contract labourers for fear of loosing a contract at the thermal plant. The company had been allotted the work of stone picking in the coal handling unit of the thermal plant.

The PSEB on the directions of the Supreme Court had, however, decided to abolish the contract labour system in the plant. Due to it the management gave offer to labourers of the contractor to come on rolls of the PSEB. The contractor fearing that he might lose the contract if his labourers were absorbed as PSEB employees, thrashed and forced his old employees to leave the plant. He then brought new labourers.

The management again offered permanent job to the 24 new labourers of the contractor. The latter again forced them to flee the plant.

After the efforts of the contract labour union in this regard 24 men of the contractor were today returning in train from Tarnabeli in Tamil Nadu to Ropar. The henchmen of the contractor allegedly attacked the labourers at the Indore railway station. A few of the labourers who managed to escape informed the union on telephone that some of them had been taken to an undisclosed destination by the henchmen of contractor, Mr Tiwari alleged.

The union today met the SSP and the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, and demanded the registration of criminal case in this regard.


1 held for bid to get second passport
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 25
In a second incident of its kind in a weeks, the Regional Passport Officer today nabbed a person, who made an unsuccessful bid to get a second passport on a fake name.

The person has been identified as Harpal Singh, a resident of Bal village of Gurdaspur district, who had acquired his first passport in his original name on March 22, 1999. This time, he was allegedly trying to get a fresh passport in name of Kulbir Singh after making some changes in his ration card and the name of his sister Kulbir Kaur.

“We got suspicious after going through the documents and when we went for a detailed examination, we found that some changes were made in the ration card and the name of Kulbir Kaur was made to appear as Kulbir Singh, said the RPO.

Later, Harpal Singh was handed over to the police.


4 booked

Hoshiarpur, June 25
A case of rape of a 20-year-old by four persons at Baghiari village on June 21 has been reported at the Tanda police station. A case has been registered against Ashoka, Joharji, Jinder and Santu of the same village. — OC

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