P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ex-minister Kahlon booked for violence
Lalit Mohan and Balraj Mahajan
Tribune News Service

A policeman tries to pacify agitating Akali workers in Amritsar
A policeman tries to pacify agitating Akali workers in Amritsar on Sunday. —
Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Vila Teja (Gurdaspur), July 11
The Batala police today booked former Panchayats and Rural Development Minister Nirmaljit Singh Kahlon and his supporters for allegedly resorting to violence in Vila Teja village in Fatehgarh Churain area of the district. They have been booked under Sections 307, 382, 353, 332, 186 of the IPC, 139/49 of the Arms Act and 158 and 511 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act.

Four persons, including two policemen and two SAD workers, were reportedly injured in a clash outside the polling booth in Vila Teja village.

The trouble started when former SAD minister Nirmaljit Singh Kahlon arrived at the village along with his supporters. The supporters of Kahlon tried to move towards the polling booth on their vehicles. They, however, were stopped by the police from entering the prohibited area around the polling booth on vehicles. This infuriated the supporters of Mr Kahlon who started pelting stones on the policemen. Kashmir Singh, a village resident, said the vehicles of Mr Kahlon’s supporters were already filled with stones, lathis and sharp-edged weapons.

The SHO of Fatehgarh Churian was injured after assault by a sharp-edged weapon, while the ASI Darshan Singh was hit in stone pelting. Mob of SAD workers was dispersed only when the police resorted to firing in the air.

A lady helps a visually impaired voter cast his vote at a polling booth in Amritsar
A lady helps a visually impaired voter cast his vote at a polling booth in Amritsar on Sunday.
— photo by Rajiv Sharma

Meanwhile, Mr Ravi Kahlon, son of the former minister, alleged that the police had resorted to booth capturing at the village. Two SAD workers, Mr Harvinder Singh and Goldee, were injured in the police firing. Both received bullet injuries and have been admitted to an Amritsar hospital.

The polling remained disrupted from 10 am to 11 am due to violence.

The SSP, Batala, Mr Ram Singh, said the police has videographed the incident and SAD workers could be seen attacking the police personal on duty. The SSP denied any information about the injuries caused to SAD workers in police firing.

The election observer for the district, Ms Dhira Khandewal, and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Harjit Singh, also visited the affected polling booths in the village.

The polling elsewhere in the district remained peaceful barring a few incidents of heated exchanges between supporters of contesting candidates due to confusion regarding the last-minute orders of the Gurdwara Election Commission.


Confusion over voting right to Sehajdharis

Muktsar, July 11
Confusion prevailed among the polling staff over voting right to Sehajdharis for the SGPC elections held today.

During a visit to several polling booths of Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts, The Tribune team observed that most of the polling staff were not clear whether Sehajdharis would be allowed to vote or not.

The District Returning Officers (DROs) received a fax message from Sikh Gurdwara Election Commission today in which polling staff was asked not to disallow any person, irrespective of Keshdhari or Sehajdhari, from exercising his or her right to vote if he their name was on the voters’ list. The DROs-cum-DCs of Bathinda and Mansa confirmed receiving of the message from the commission in this regard.

However, the message could not be conveyed to most of the presiding officers as they had already reached at different polling booths. The presiding officer at polling booth No 95 at Government Elementary School, Rukhala of in Muktsar district, Mr. Ranjit Singh, said he had not been told about the latest decision. — TNS


Panthic Morcha set to win both Kharar seats
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 11
Mr Bhajan Singh Shergill and Mr Harnek Singh, both belonging to the Panthic Morcha, are set to be declared elected to the SGPC from the Kharar (General) and Kharar (Reserved) seats, respectively. Polling for the SGPC seats was held today.

Although the results will be declared officially tomorrow, it was learnt that Mr Shergill had won the Kharar (general) seat by a razor thin margin of 145 votes while Mr Harnek Singh had secured around 950 votes more his immediate rival.

When the results were being prepared, supporters of the SAD candidate, Mr Ujjagar Singh Badali, raised slogans against the state government and the local administration. They alleged that Mr Badali had been deliberately deflated on the directions of the government. They announced that they would resort to a “chakka jam” stir tomorrow in protest.

The SDM-cum-Returning Officer, Mr Sukhvinder Singh.

Gill, said that polling in the Kharar SGPC constituency remained peaceful. The overall poll percentage was lower in Kharar and Kurali towns (35 to 40) as compared to the villages (about 55).

Earlier in the day, the turnout of voters remained low in the first two or three hours but increased as the day progressed. At a polling booth set up in Government Elementary School at Mundi Kharar not a single voter had turned up till about 8 a.m. Only nine votes had been cast till about 9 a.m. About 6 per cent of the votes had been polled at various booths till around 11 a.m.

There was tension following reports of an attack at a booth in Sakrulapur village. However, it turned out to be a false alarm. A polling officer, Mr Jaswinder Singh, had suffered a heart attack. He was replaced by a PUDA official, Mr Pavitar Singh.


Result of Dera Baba Nanak withheld
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 11
The Gurdwara Election Commission has withheld the result of the Dera Baba Nanak SGPC constituency of the district. The two booths in the constituency, near Fatehgarh Churian, witnessed violence today morning. The Batala police has booked a former minister, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, and his 25 supporters in this regard.

The Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer, Mr Harjit Singh, when contacted admitted that the result of the constituency had been withheld. Four candidates are in the fray in the constituency.

The counting for the rest of the constituencies was in progress till the filing of this report. The Deputy Commissioner said the results were expected late in the night.


45 per cent polling in Fatehgarh Sahib
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 11
The polling for the four SGPC seats in the district ended peacefully today with 40 to 45 per cent voters turned up for exercising their right to vote.

By 11 am, around 25 votes were polled at majority of the polling booths. In the afternoon, activists of both the groups pressed vehicles into service to bring voters to polling booths and the polling improved to some extent.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune various Sikh voters, who did not cast vote, said these elections were worst than the political elections. They said that no one was worried about the management of gurdwaras, but worried for their selfish interests.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said they had visited more than 50 polling booths and the polling process completed peacefully.


Khanna village boycotts poll

Khanna, July 11
Residents of Bhaurla village in the Samrala constituency today boycotted the SGPC poll to protest against alleged deletion of names of over 250 voters from the voters’ list.

There were around 679 eligible votes in this village, officials said here.

The villagers alleged that around 278 names were deleted from the voters’ list and some bogus votes were included, an allegation which the officials denied. — PTI


I am not an RSS agent: Badal
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), July 11
Former Chief Minister of Punjab and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal has denied the accusation of the Panthic Morcha that he is an RSS (Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh) agent.

Talking to The Tribune after casting his vote at Government Senior Secondary School of Badal village in Muktsar district at 8.15 this morning, Mr Badal replied “How can I be an RSS agent? It has no hold in Punjab.”

He said it was not the RSS, that was interfering in Sikh affairs, but the Amarinder-led Congress government.

Panthic Morcha leaders Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Simranjeet Singh Mann and Bhai Ranjit Singh during campaigning for the SGPC poll alleged that Mr Badal was an RSS agent. This was the main issue raised by them during the electioneering.

Mr Badal reiterated his allegations against Panthic Morcha leaders that they were Congress agents. He said that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wanted to take control of the SGPC through the Panthic Morhca but he would not succeed in his plan, as the Sikh community would not tolerate any type of interference in Sikh affairs.

He said the Chief Minister’s interference in Sikh affairs was evident from the fact that District Returning Officers concerned had at his behest, rejected the candidatures of three prominent SAD leaders.

Mr Badal further alleged that the Congress government had also deleted names of hundreds of SAD supporters from the voting list.

The SAD chief also criticised Manmohan Singh-led Central government’s Budget. He said it had ignored Punjab in General Budget and Railway Budget.

SAD MPs would raise their voice over the issue in the Lok Sabha, he added.


Accepting Dy Speaker’s post was a mistake:
Bir Devinder

Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 11
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, whose resignation from the post of Punjab Deputy Speaker was accepted yesterday, said here today that he made a big mistake by accepting the post, but emphasised he was not a Congress dissident.

The Congress leader and Kharar MLA said he had been elected to express “the voice of the people” and by accepting the post, his voice had got muffled. If such a thing happened, irrespective of the reasons, the cause of the people got defeated.

He was talking to newspersons after the inauguration of Smart Kids Kindergarten School in Phase X here. He said the protocol and decorum linked to the post of Deputy Speaker had curbed his freedom to take up problems and grievances of voters in his constituency. He could not address public meetings in favour of the Congress during the Lok Sabha poll despite being a good orator. He had been raising various issues relating to the people in the state Assembly, but after he became the Deputy Speaker he could not do that.

He said the voting figures in the Lok Sabha poll in his constituency and the defeat of the Congress candidate in the poll had made him realise that even though he had been doing all he could to serve the people, he needed to do much more. He had been intending to quit the post of Deputy Speaker for a long time.

When asked for his reaction to the changes in Punjab Ministry, he declined to comment. He expressed support for the actions of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in that regard. He stressed the point that he was not a party dissident and was a Congressman first.

When told that reports indicated that he also wanted to become a minister, Mr Bir Devinder said he had only proposed to the party leadership that his services should also be used for good governance.

He said there was need to organise Congressmen. Some more leaders should leave the government and work for the party. He felt leaders were drifting away from the common man. People were finding it difficult to approach high-profile leaders to get their grievances redressed.

The school inaugurated today is run under the aegis of the Smartkids Educational Society.


Ultra-modern Sikh museum in Washington
Inauguration by Tarlochan Singh on July 24
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 11
“Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab”, a new high-tech museum, is all set for inauguration at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington, later this month. Mr Tarlochan Singh, MP and Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, will inaugurate it on July 24 in Washington DC.

The museum presents more than 100 pieces of Sikh artwork and artefacts produced from the 18th century to the present, including miniature paintings, arms and armor, traditional textiles and dress, coins, musical instruments, jewellery, sacred texts, and modern works of art.

It also includes a scale model of Sri Darbar Sahib — the Golden Temple. Many of these objects are on loan from private collections and will be on public display for the first time.

The museum highlights the culture and history of the Sikhs, as the people originally from the Punjab region whose religious, cultural, and artistic traditions have expanded with Sikh migrations around the world. There are approximately 2,50,000 Sikh Americans and their community roots date back to well over a century. Sikhism was founded about 500 years ago and today has 22 million followers worldwide.

“This Smithsonian initiative to help preserve and celebrate Sikh heritage comes at a crucial time,” says Mr Paul Michael Taylor, Director of the Museum’s Sikh Heritage Project and curator of Asian, European and Middle Eastern Ethology at the Smithsonian. “Many Sikhs describe their religion as one that draws from both Islam and Hinduism, and they feel that their presence in these neighbouring countries contributes to peace between them.”

As a part of the inaugural programme Mr Taylor will address the themes of the exhibition in a lecture on “Sikh Legacy of the Punjab,” during the museum’s regular “Friday at noon” series on July 23 at Baird Auditorium.

The fourth annual Sikh Heritage Lecture, focusing on Sikh cultural history, will be held on July 24. The 2004 lecturers will emphasise “Sikh Representations Today,” and will include presentations by modern Sikh artists whose works appear in the exhibition, and a live performance of Sikh music by Dya Singh World Music Group.

“Sikh Legacy of the Punjab” is organised by the museum’s Sikh Heritage Project, a research and outreach component of the Asian Cultural History Programme in the Department of Anthropology. The Smithsonian’s Sikh Heritage Project, launched in 2000, was established “to support acquisition, conservation/restoration, and exhibition of Sikh collections, to support research on the heritage of the Sikhs, and to support other Sikh cultural activities at the Smithsonian Institution.” The Sikh Heritage Project’s first lectures were held at the National Museum of National History in August 2001.

The project has been mainly supported by the Sikh diaspora of North America with Dr N.S. Kapany and Dr A.S. Chatha playing a pioneer role. Some of the exhibits, including the replica of the Golden Temple complex made by a Chandigarh artist Devinder Singh, went from here.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History located in Washington DC was visited by more than 5.5 million people in 2003, making it the most visited natural history museum in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artefacts. It also fosters critical scientific research as well as educational programme and exhibitions that present the work of its scientists and curators to the public.

Mr Tarlochan Singh told The Tribune that the Sikh Museum as a part of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History would help in projecting correct image of Sikhs in proper historic perspective. The Sikhs , who had been targeted in hate crime after September 11 bombing of the World Trade Towers, would now be able to tell people, especially in the United States, about their rich heritage. The use of ultra-modern techniques for displaying their artefacts as well as displaying their heritage was required long time back. The community should focus on this aspect for its rightful projection in the Western world, he added.


Bureaucrats blamed for derailing power sector reforms
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
PSEB technocrats on Thursday blamed bureaucrats for ills plaguing the board besides holding them responsible for derailing the power sector reforms time and again.

Mr M S Bajwa and Mr P S Dhaliwal, president and general secretary, respectively, of the association, said the bureaucrats had failed in clearing important projects like Lehra Mohabbat Stage-II which would have been completed by the board as funds were committed by the PFC in 2002. At the same time, the bureaucracy performed badly in having not secured a share in the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Power Project in Himachal Pradesh.

Similarly, the state made no efforts to stake a claim to projects at Dulhasti (390 MW), Baglipur (450 MW), Tehri (1000 MW), and Coal Dam (800 MW). "We have been pleading to have gas linkage from Panipat to Punjab for a gas plant but the proposal had been shot down. Such a plant could be commissioned in agreement with the Gas Authority of India as the gestation period was less."

He said the association was of the opinion that the bureaucracy was serving certain vested interests. It said, to cite an example, the Centre had decided to review the Electricity Act, 2003, and had deferred its implementation for one year in most of the states, including Punjab, but our bureaucrats were working day and night to unbundle the PSEB.

After the retirement of Mr S K Anand, Technical Member, who was the convener of the Power Sector Reforms, the bureaucracy is working in great haste. The Secretary and Additional Secretary, Power, and the Secretary, PSEB, are spearheading this process of unbundling the board. So much so that the role of Technical Members has been completely marginalised.

Mr Bajwa said it was a matter of record that performance of the PSEB in generation and transmission was outstanding. Earlier, the board could not manage its finances well due to excessive interference by bureaucrats. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission was constituted in 2001 and it has given only two tariff orders and the financial health of the PSEB has improved.

The board has generated Rs 165 crore as profit in 2003-04 and is the only state electricity board in the country to do so. The State electricity Regulatory Commission had two technical members, one of whom has already retired and the post has been lying vacant for the past several months.

He said it had come to their notice that this post was being kept vacant to fill it at an appropriate time by appointing an IAS officer. Similarly the post of Member (Transmission) has been kept vacant deliberately. The vacant posts of member in the State Electricity Regulatory Commission and member (transmission) in the PSEB should be filled from the cadre of serving Chief Engineers of the board.

Quality of service has deteriorated in all the states where corporatization and privatization has taken place, he stressed.

Although, the PSEB Engineers' Association was strongly in favour of reforms, it favours transparent approach through meaningful debate with various sections, particularly industry, agriculture, and general consumers.

Services rendered by engineers and employees in the distribution sector are utmost essential and it needs proper staffing headed by sub-divisional officer but more than 200 posts of sub-divisional officer in the rural area and substation have been lying vacant.

The association has requested the state government and the PSEB management to follow a scientific methodology in respect of internal reforms and structural requirements in a transparent manner. Restructuring plan is irreversible but the high risk proposition and the performance of any unbundled state power board can be compared with the PSEB to have proper perception of the issue, he said.


Farmer who produces chemical-free vegetables
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Samipur (Jalandhar): A progressive young farmer of this village has not only managed to convert his menthol oil extraction plant waste into farm manure successfully but has also grown pesticide and fertiliser- free organic vegetables with it, which he plans to sell to health- conscious residents of Jalandhar city within the next two weeks.

Like about 70 menthol plant growers of the state, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a young farmer of this village, was a worried a man and was bogged down with the problem of proper disposal of about 80-100 tonnes of menthol waste, produced every year by his menthol oil extraction plant during the menthol season, falling in the months of June and July.

Though, like many of other farmers, he used almost half of the raw waste as fuel for running his plant, but he did not know what to do with the rest of it till he was struck by the idea that the waste could possibly be converted into effective farm manure after certain modifications. The idea not only led him to convert the waste into farm manure with help of cowdung but also inspired him to grow pesticide and fertiliser- free vegetables, which he was planning to market in Jalandhar within a period of about two weeks.

“It was really a big problem as to how to deal with such a large quantity of menthol waste, and the unrest generated by this problem took me to UP where I saw some menthol growers making compost out of waste. But their formula was a big failure as I tried it here. Later on I developed my own technique by mixing menthol waste with cowdung and making compost out of it. The whole process of making farm manure takes about 40 days and it is very cost effective also,” said Mr. Sandhu, who claimed that he was the first menthol grower of Punjab to have developed the technique to convert menthol waste into manure.

“ Seasonal vegetables like ‘ghia,’ ‘bhindi,’ ‘kheera’, ‘brinjals,’ ‘ palak’, which I have grown with the help of manure prepared by me, are ready to be marketed within next the two weeks. I have already taken a shop in the local Model Town market area on rent for this purpose. Within two weeks residents of the city would have an option to get pesticide and fertiliser-free vegetables, just at a slightly high prices,” said Mr. Kulwant Singh.

He maintained that the vegetables grown by him with the help of manure prepared by him were without any pesticide spray or chemical- based fertilisers. “I started my experiment of growing vegetables with the crop of cauliflower and the results were so amazing that I was forced to produce chemical- free vegetables for people. The difference is so much that you can easily tell after tasting raw cauliflower that it was free from deadly and harmful pesticides,” said Mr. Kulwant Singh.


Serving society is aim of Pingalwara children
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 11
Serving society is their main ambition after the completion of studies. To achieve this goal, they want to serve in a branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society or adopt professions like medicine and education.

These are the views of some children from the Sangrur branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, based in Amritsar, who are studying in local schools in different classes.

Many of these students do not know about their parents as they were found abandoned by the Pingalwara authorities. Under the leadership of Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the society, they were adopted and sent to schools.

At present, eight such students are studying in local schools, while one student is at Government Polytechnic in Bathinda. Charanpreet Kaur (pre-nursery), Preetjot Singh (Class 1) and Sukhwinder Kaur (Class VIII) are studying in the local Springdales Public School. Maninder Kaur, Manmeet Mona and Manjit Kaur, all from Class X, and Ramanpreet Kaur, a students of Class VII, are studying in the local Khalsa Girls High School. Paramjit Kaur is a student of Plus two in Government Girls Senior Secondary School. Pooja is studying architecture in Bathinda.

Charanpreet Kaur was three months old when she found by the Amritsar police in May 2000. She was admitted to the Pingalwara in Amritsar from where she was shifted to Sangrur in 2003. Preetjot Singh was found at the Baba Wadbhag Singh mela in Una district, Himachal Pradesh, in September 1997 when he was just two years old. He had perhaps got separated from his parents at the mela.

Maninder Kaur was left at the Amritsar Pingalwara by her grandparents when she was three years old. She was shifted to Sangrur in 2001. She wants to become a nurse and serve society. Manmeet Mona wants to become a social worker and serve in the Pingalwara like Dr Inderjit Kaur.

Manjit Kaur, who is physically challenged, was left abandoned at the main gate of Pingalwara in Amritsar when she was just three years old. She also wants to become a music teacher and serve the Pingalwara.

Sukhwinder Kaur wants to become a teacher and educate poor children. Paramjit Kaur, who was separated from her parents at a mela in Amritsar at the age of four, also wants to become a teacher and adopt a child from the Pingalwara. Ramanpreet Kaur wants to become a doctor and serve the Pingalwara.


Preneet forms panel to look into hospital episode
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 11
Patiala MP Preneet Kaur today formed a four-member committee to inquire into the case of death of a Municipal Corporation (MC) employee leader in the Government Rajindra Hospital three days ago. MC employees have launched an agitation demanding that a murder case be registered against doctors who attended on the union president.

The employees said they were against the setting up of any such committee that did not have any of their representatives. They would go ahead with a rally scheduled for tomorrow, they added.

The committee was formed following a meeting presided over by Ms Preneet Kaur. Hospital Principal Dr Kiranjit Kaur, Medical Superintendent Dr Kulbir Kaur, Punjab Medical Teachers Association president Dr Janak Raj, Anaesthesia Department head Dr Jasbir Kaur attended the meeting besides Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh and Municipal Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu. However, neither the MC employees nor the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, attended the meeting.

Doctors told the MP that the union leader had succumbed to his injuries despite the best efforts of the hospital staff. He was admitted to the hospital following an acid attack. They said a team of doctors attended on the patient and he was given all medical care that was available in the hospital. They said immediately after the death of the union leader, MC employees came to the ICU, broke a ventilator and indulged in goondaism.

The MC employees threw garbage outside the residence of doctor couple G.B. Singh and Jasbir Kaur and Dr S.K. Verma yesterday. All attempt to get the garbage lifted failed, they added.

Sources said Ms Preneet Kaur reportedly assured the doctors that the garbage would be lifted immediately.

Following the meeting, the Punjab Medical Teachers Association announced it was cancelling the protest scheduled for tomorrow in front of the hospital OPD.

Meanwhile, union leader Pushpinder Pathak said the employees would not accept any committee that did not have any representative from among the employees. “There has to be someone who knows the factual position”, he said. “Such committee could not give justice to the employees and would only serve to clear the doctors who had resorted to massive negligence”, he added.

He said the employees would hold a rally in front of the city Kotwali Station tomorrow.

Meanwhile the garbage dumped in front of the houses of Dr G.B. Singh and Dr Jasbir Kaur besides Dr S.K. Verma was not lifted till late evening.


Accident victims’ families get aid
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, July 11
Political leaders, cutting across the party lines, converged on the Grain Market, Jalalabad, to attend the bhog ceremony of the 22 persons killed in a road accident, near Behak Puchharria village on the Zira-Makhu road last Sunday, while they were going to Dera Radhasoami Beas.

Thousands of people gathered at the venue to pay their respects to the departed souls. The arrangement was managed by volunteers of the Radhasoami dera. Mr Hans Raj Jossan, Minister of State for Forests, and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, who came from New Delhi in a chopper to attend the bhog as emissaries of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, distributed cheques on behalf of the state government to the families of those who had died or had been injured in the accident.

In all, 15 men and seven women had lost their lives in accident.

The families of those who died in the accident were given an ex gratia amount of Rs 1 lakh whereas the injured were given cheques for Rs 25,000 each.

Earlier, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ranjit Singh, had given Rs 10,000 each to the bereaved families and Rs 2500 to the injured from the District Red Cross Society.

Mr Gursewak Singh Sekhon, who was representing the dera, announced that the bereaved families would also get financial and other assistance from the dera.

Mr Zora Singh Mann MP, Mr Jagmeet Brar and Dr Mohan Singh Phalianwala both former MPs, Mr Sher Singh, former MLA, Mr Ravi Sharma general secretary, DCC, and hundreds of other leaders representing various political parties attended the bhog.

Mr Sodhi said the state government would try to provide jobs to one person from families who had lost their only earning hand in the accident.

Mr Jossan announced that out of the affected families, those belonging to the weaker sections of the society would be provided all necessary help for the construction of their houses and educational needs of their children.


Project to make Hoshiarpur clean and green
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 11
To improve the environment and make the city pollution free, the Art of Living in association with the Forest Department, Municipal Council, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce and Industry, today started the “Clean and Green Hoshiarpur” project. Budh Ram Colony is the first one to have been adopted under this project.

A function was organised at the colony presided over by Mr A.S. Dogra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Punjab, at the launch of the project. Members of the participating organisations, representatives of various NGOs and inhabitants of the colony attended the function.

Mr Dogra said in Punjab, 83 per cent of the area was under farming. According to the national policy, 33 per cent area should be under forest growth for the environment to be pollution free and to maintain ecological balance. He said tree plantation was not a difficult task. To protect and nourish saplings before their growth was important.

He suggested that at least 1 per cent of the budget of municipal corporations and councils should be utilised for tree plantation. He emphasised the need to cover the Kandi area under the forest cover. A project in this connection with the financial help of Japan was under progress in the area.

To stop the illegal felling of trees and cattle grazing by the inhabitants of the area, the Forest Department has taken up various schemes. About 300 villages of the area had been selected for providing Rs 1 lakh each for community development works. Arrangements have also been done to impart training to women in various trades.

Mr Ajay Mohan Chaudhry, president of the Municipal Council, appeal to the citizens not to throw waste in front of the houses.

Mr Deepak Mittal, chairman of the Art of Living, said after Budh Ram Colony, Vasant Vihar and Civil Lines would be adopted to implement this project. He said more NGOs would be involved in this project.

Mr Naresh Thakur, former minister of Punjab, stressed on the need for the plantation of medicinal plants. These would not only make the environment pollution free but also generate an income for the inhabitants of the respective areas.

Mr Tiskhan Sud, MLA, said Hoshiarpur was leading in forest cover in Punjab.

Brig Surjeet Singh (retd), in charge of this project, and Col V.K. Dadwal (retd), president of Budh Ram Colony, also addressed the gathering.

Saplings of various trees were planted in the area.

Later, talking to mediapersons, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said the department would plant 1.40 crore saplings on 20,000 acres of department land in the state during this monsoon season. Besides, 50 to 60 lakh saplings would be planted in the gaps of areas where plantation had already been done. He said that 40 lakh saplings of various trees would be provided to the farmers for plantation adjacent to their tubewells.

The first phase of the Japan-aided project had been completed and the second phase was under progress, he informed. As much as Rs 240 crore had been spent on the first phase and Rs 250 crore was being spent on second one, he added.


Illegal water, sewerage connections to
invite action
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 11
The state Local Bodies Department has directed all five Municipal Corporations and all 97 Municipal Committees of the state to file FIRs under Sections 269 and 277 and other relevant Sections of the IPC against those who had installed illegal water or sewerage connections.

According to sources, Additional Secretary Local Bodies Department G R Bansal sent a letter on June 22 in this regard to all regional deputy directors of the Local Bodies Department, the commissioners of all five Municipal Corporations at Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Bathinda and all executive officers of 97 Municipal Committees of the state.

The letter says that the Punjab Government observed that lack of punishment to the violators of water-supply and sewerage-related provisions of the Punjab Municipal Committee Act 1976 and by-laws was the main cause behind illegal connections.

The urban local bodies are advised that apart from disconnecting the connection under the provisions of the Act, complaint under Sections 269 and 277 and other related provisions of the IPC may be lodged with the Police against those having unauthorised water and sewerage connections.

According to Sections 222 and 223 of the Punjab Municipal Committee Act 1976, only licensed plumber can give connection with water supply and sewerage from the main pipe. However, it has been observed that unauthorised plumbers, the (unqualified and ‘unskilled’) sometimes grant illegal connection damaging and injuring main water supply and sewerage pipes which can result into leakages making potable water contaminated, the letter added.

The letter further says that such illegal connections apart from affecting revenue of the Local Bodies Department also posed serious danger of outbreak of infection and water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.

Section 269 of the IPC deals with spread of infection of any disease dangerous to life whereas Sections 277 deals with defiling of water of a public spring or reservoir. Imprisonment up to six months or fine or both may be imposed on those found guilty under the above Section of the IPC.


Move to shift bus stand draws flak
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 11
The state unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has announced that the move of the government to shift the main bus stand of the city to the Atma Ram Kumar Sabha grounds on the Patiala- Rajpura road will invite agitation.

The district president of the party, Mr Ramnish Ghai, said the proposal would effect the business of shopkeepers of the area. He said they had already bear losses when an overbridge was constructed near the bus stand a few years ago.

The Principal Secretary, Transport Department, had informed at a recent meeting of the Patiala Development Authority that the land on which the present bus stand was located belonged to the Irrigation Department. He added that the proposed location for the new bus stand should be registered in the name of the Punjab Road Transport Corporation.


Loopholes in Budget highlighted
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 11
The Central Government was using a wrong word “exemption” instead of rebate being given to people whose income was less than Rs 1 lakh. This was stated by Mr Girish Ahuja, a noted author of books on direct taxes and expert in taxation matters, at a seminar held on “Analysis of the Union Budget — 2004,” here today.

While highlighting various loopholes in the Budget, Mr Girish said the basic objective of organising the seminar was to highlight the practical problems which the common man would face one’s the Budget was passed by Parliament. He added that the definition of “deemed gift” given in the Budget also needed some clarification. He condemned the clause in the Budget that the government employees who were entitled to pension under the contributory scheme, the tax would be deducted from the pension amount.

The Commissioner of Income Tax, Patiala, Mr Daya Shankar, was the chief guest. The newly elected chairman of the Northern India Regional Council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Mr Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, and other office-bearers were honoured at the function.


Union condemns privatisation of PSEB projects
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 11
The state committee of the Technical Services Union (Vigyanik Kender), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), which met today under the chairmanship of Mr Dev Raj, state convener strongly condemned the move of the PSEB management for entrusting the construction of four micro hydro projects to private companies when the board had experienced engineers and workers on its rolls.

In a press note issued here, Mr Satish Chander, state co-convenor, Technical Services Union, Punjab, said the committee had taken strong notice of a statement issued by the PSEB Chairman, as it was contrary to the common minimum programme (CMP) of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.

The committee appealed to people of Punjab and Parliamentarians, especially of Left parties, to take up the issue.


Electronic goods burnt in fire

Dera Bassi, July 11
Readymade garments and electronic goods worth lakhs were destroyed in a fire that broke out in a garment shop located in the local market here this afternoon. Owned by Mr Lakhwinder Singh, son of Mr Prem Singh, president of the city Congress, the shop that was closed for the last couple of days caught fire due to a short circuit. OC


Sabharwal felicitated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 11
The Dr B.R. Ambedkar Youth Federation Club, Punjab, has expressed gratitude to the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, for selecting Mr Dharam Pal Sabharwal from the Valmiki Samaj for the Rajya Sabha.


Owners of medical store get bail
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 11
The police drive against the illegal trade of intoxicating drugs received a jolt on Saturday when a local court granted the owners of Goyal Medical Stores anticipatory bail. Additional District and Sessions Judge Harjinder Pal Singh also granted bail to the shopowners’ employees. The court has asked them to deposit a bond for Rs 25,000 each.

The police had last month raided Goyal Medical Stores and its branches and seized a large quantity of intoxicating drugs, besides unearthing an illegal drug manufacturing unit.


Woman killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, July 11
A woman was killed and two persons were injured when the car in which they were travelling rammed into a truck from behind on the Jagraon-Ludhiana GT road, about 5 km from here.

Inderjit Singh, owner of Fauji Tent House, Jagraon, along with his wife Harpreet Kaur, 48, and daughter Rani, was coming from Ludhiana in the car when the accident took place. Harpreet Kaur was killed on the spot. The police has brought the body of the deceased for a post-mortem examination to the local Civil Hospital whereas both the injured are under treatment in some private nursing home. The truck driver has absconded.


Pvt institutes must focus on quality education:
Bipin Bhardwaj

Banur, July 11
Private institutions providing technical educations should rise above self-interest and provide quality education. This was stated by Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, after inaugurating the academic wing of Swami Vivekananda Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ramnagar, near here, today.

Dr Salwan is a founder member of the Integrated Guided Missile Programme of Defence research under the leadership of Dr A.P.J. Kalam, President of India.

He also said owners of self-financed engineering and other private colleges should not be profit-oriented but should focus on quality.

The country require 30 lakh technically skilled persons in the next five years. This meant that seven engineers per 1,000 persons. While comparing the technically skilled persons Dr Salwan said China and Japan had 21 and 100 engineers per 1000 persons.

He also said government agencies monitoring these institutions should ensure that quality education was being provided.

Earlier, Mr M.S. Grewal, PTU Registrar, said with the increasing demand of the public, the number of private institutes providing technical education had gone to 34 in the state. A majority of these institutes were well-equipped and were imparting practical and quality education.

Dr C.S. Rao, Director-cum-Principal of the institute, welcomed guests while Mr Manmohan Singh, CEO of the trust managing the institute, paid a vote of thanks.


Members levelling baseless charges, says chairman
Tribune News Service

Malout, July 11
The chairman of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Educational Trust, Dr Pritpal Singh, told The Tribune that some of the trust members wanted to become chairman and that was why they were levelling baseless charges against him.

The chairman alleged that one of trustees, Mr Maan Singh Makkar, was levelling allegations against him as one of his relatives, whose result was still not declared, was denied by the expert committee to appear in the interview. The purchase committee comprising the trust and staff members made all the purchases for the institute.

The chairman denied having any partnership in the two hostels purchased by the institute. He said the cheques were returned to the representatives of Baba Tirath Singh by hostel owners and not by him. He admitted that he was present there but just as Chairman. 


College faculty to stage dharna
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 11
Faculty of the local Government Rajindra College has decided to stage a dharna to protest against the alleged unbecoming behaviour of its Principal, Ms Gurmeet Kaur Bhattal.

Prof H.S. Maur, president of the Government College Teachers Association, college unit, said this decision had been taken after Ms Bhattal denied permission to a section of faculty members to attend the cremation of the husband of a faculty member Prof Neelam Rani on July 6.

A lecturer alleged that she was humiliated by Ms Bhattal when she went to her with her casual leave application.

The faculty urged Ms Bhattal not to block the granting of leave to faculty members and other staff members.

Ms Bhattal refuted the allegations. A section of students pointed out that the authorities should take a serious note of the incidents.

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