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Farmers plough paddy crop for want of rain
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Lalton (Ludhiana), July 14
Sick of insufficient and erratic power supply and the elusive monsoon, farmers of the district have started taking the extreme step of ploughing their paddy crop, wilting due to the lack of proper irrigation.

Not only paddy but also the fodder crop has wilted in the countryside and cattle are facing a shortage of fodder. Farmers said they had diverted water from fodder to paddy to save their cash crop but the situation was worsening by the day.

Left with little hope from weather gods and the Punjab State Electricity Board, the disillusioned farmers of this village alone have ploughed at least 10 acres of paddy fields. The villagers’ move is all set to be followed by several other farmers in the district, as parched land and dried crop is what can be seen in rural areas.

Things have come to such a pass that the lush green cover that one witnesses in the countryside this time of the year is fast turning yellow, as the crops wilt for want of water. This is the scene in scores of villages in this belt, where a number of dejected farmers have already ploughed several acres of land or are thinking of initiating the process.

Mr Baljit Singh, who had cultivated 35 acres of paddy, ploughed crop on six acres today. He said that irreparable damage was done to the crop and it would not have helped him in any manner. He said he had suffered a loss of Rs 1.25 lakh and the prevailing conditions were not showing any hope for him.

“We are already facing losses. If we persist with the crop, the loss will only increase. The crop will not survive and even if it does, the yield will fall drastically. We have no option but to plough the fields,” says Mr Gurmeet Singh, a farmer while summing up the entire problem.

Mr Gurmeet Singh said he had ploughed one acre under paddy after his crops suffered severe damages due to the shortage of irrigation water. “This crop would not have yielded anything. The water level has fallen to a considerable low and many tubewells have become non-functional. We are left with no other alternative but to plough our crop.” He said, adding that the input of the crop had increased manifold as they had burnt litres of diesel to run their generators to keep the crop standing.

Mr Bhavandeep Singh, farmer of Lalton village, had ploughed his crop on 3 acres. Another farmer of Pakhowal village said he had sown paddy on 25 acres. The condition of his crop has become so bad that he is also thinking of ploughing his crop. “I will wait for two more days. If there are rains then its okay, otherwise I will sow some other crop.”

Not only paddy but green fodder for the livestock is also facing acute threat of drying in the heat wave. Many fodder fields have already dried up. “We had diverted all water to paddy crop and did not care about the fodder. There are some fields where farmers are still trying to save the fodder crop and they are desperately waiting for rain.”

“We fear that if the rains don’t come soon, the cattle will starve as there won’t be any fodder,” said Mr Gurmeet Singh, showing a large stretch of land wearing a parched look.

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Man suspected of killing daughter, held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
She was kicked in the abdomen allegedly by her husband when she was around seven months pregnant. This led to the delivery of a premature baby girl, who was allegedly killed by her father as he suspected her of being born out of his wife’s illicit relationship.

This is the tale of Rajinder Kaur (27), who not only lost her two-day-old daughter yesterday but was allegedly beaten up repeatedly by her husband Harbhajan Singh of Dehlon and his aunt at her parents’ house in Parbhat Nagar area late last evening. During the fight he threw the baby on the floor and she died.

The body was first taken to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination, but the doctors there sent her to a Patiala hospital as they claimed that they did not have the equipment in this regard.

Rajinder was taken home by her mother on Sunday evening. Talking to a Tribune team at her house today, Rajinder’s mother Harbans Kaur stated that when she went to her daughter’s house on Sunday she found that she was being beaten up by her husband and his relative.

“I took her in a taxi and brought her to a local charitable hospital at around 9 p.m. on Sunday. Doctors tried to give her injections and retain her foetus as it was just seven months old but she delivered a baby girl at 11:05 p.m. that day,” she added.

She was discharged from the hospital yesterday and her husband had come to meet her. “They were sitting in a room when I heard the cries. I saw Harbhajan pushing her out of the house from her hair while she was crying for help. Neighbours tried to save her but he kept on beating her and accusing her of having illicit relationships. After allegedly committing the crime he fled from the spot,” she added.

The family complained to the division No. 6 police and a case of culpable homicide under Section 304, IPC, was registered against Harbhajan. Police sources said he had been arrested and questioned.

Daughter of a security guard at the local Parbhat Nagar, Rajinder got married to Harbhajan in November last year. For two months everything was going well but suddenly she started having problems in her marriage, said Ms Harbans Kaur.

She further said the boy had told them that he had a computer business but later it was found out that he was without a job.

Then he started demanding a scooter and Rs 1.5 lakh to set up a business, she alleged. “But my daughter told him that her father couldn’t afford to pay this much as he had two more daughters. Finally he started accusing her of having illicit relations,” she added.

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Dowry claims another life
Our correspondent

Doraha, July 14
A married woman of Koohli Kalan village, Payal, was allegedly poisoned to death late last night.

Sampooran Singh, a resident of Bhethi village in Fatehgarh district and father of the deceased, told the police that his daughter, Amarjit Kaur, was married to Jagjit Singh of Koohli Kalan village two years ago. Immediately after her marriage, her father-in-law Kesar Singh, mother-in-law Harbans Kaur and Jagjit Singh started harassing her for dowry.

On refusing to act in the said manner, she was physically and mentally tortured by the three. Amarjit Kaur had no child.

Sampooran Singh said while Jagjit Singh demanded money for establishing his work, her father-in-law demanded money for opening a shop.

She was allegedly threatened with dire consequences if she did not bring money.

He said Jagjit Singh came to him last evening and demanded money from him. He refused to pay money. Jagjit Singh got up in anger and asked him to be ready to face consequences.

He said, “Last night, Jagdish Singh, sarpanch of Koohli Kalan village, rang me up and told about the illness of my daughter. When I asked if her in-laws have taken her to doctor for treatment or not, he replied in the negative.”

“Taking along three of my relatives, I went to Koohli Kalan village. I reached there at 2 O’clock in the morning. Amarjit Kaur had already breathed her last when we reached there,” he said.

The cause of her death cannot be ascertained. The Payal police has registered a case against Jagjit Singh, Harbans Kaur and Kesar Singh on the complaint of the father of the deceased. They have been absconding after the incident.

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SSP orders probe into custodial death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
The Jagraon police today ordered an inquiry into the case of alleged custodial death of a truck driver in the Chowkimann police station on July 4.

The inquiry was ordered following a complaint by the truck driver’s wife yesterday.

The police, however, maintained that a preliminary inquiry showed that the allegation was wrong.

Ms Satwant Kaur, a resident of Ajitwal village in Moga district, had in a complaint to Jagraon SSP Rajiv Ahir alleged that her husband Balbir Singh was beaten to death by policemen at the behest of his brother, Manna. She said her family members were fear-stricken all these days and could not muster courage to lodge a complaint.

Mr Rajiv Ahir said he had ordered an inquiry, but a preliminary investigation showed that the victim died in a hospital and not in the police station. He said the man and his brother, Manna, were called to the police station in connection with a complaint filed by the latter. The alleged victim reached there first, but fell unconscious because of some illness.

The police took him to the hospital, where he died. The SSP said the police had informed the family members and handed over the body to them, which they cremated.

The women has a different tale to tell. She said her husband’s brother was a close friend of some policemen posted at the local police station. He was picked up by the police and tortured in the police station. He suffered injuries all over his body and died in the police station itself.

She said the police then destroyed the evidence by hurriedly cremating the body. She also charged her brother-in-law, Manna, and other relatives with hobnobbing with the accused policemen.

Mr Ahir said he had directed SP (Detective) Jaspal Singh Dhanoa to investigate into the allegation at the earliest. He said stringent action would be taken if any policemen was found guilty in the case.

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Vigilance inquiry indicts DSP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
The local Vigilance Bureau has recommended registration of a case against DSP, Industrial Area, R.K. Bakshi for his alleged involvement in a local land scam after an inquiry indicted the official on various counts.

Mr Bakshi, however, has denied the charges. He said he had already got some relief from a local court in the case. Bureau officials said they had made the recommendation after studying all legal pros and cons.

Mr Naunihal Singh, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, declined to comment much on the case but at persistent queries only agreed to confirm the recommendation against the DSP.

Earlier, Mr Naunihal Singh had conducted an inquiry into the alleged land scam when he was posted as SP-II in the city. On his recommendation, a case was registered against the persons occupying the plot.

However, later Mr R.K. Bakshi had cancelled the case while serving as the DSP, Sarabha Nagar.

This is a fresh inquiry conducted by Mr Naunihal Singh into the matter in which it has been found that some forged documents were presented in the court by the local police.

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Man, sons get life imprisonment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 14
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr J.S.Bhatia, today sentenced a 71-year-old man and his two sons to rigorous life imprisonment in a murder case. The convicts had clubbed to death Dalbir Singh, alias Goldy, of Barewal here in October, 2001.

The Judge turned down the plea of leniency raised by the convicts — Charan Singh (71), his sons Shalinder Singh (28) and Naginder Singh of Sarabha Nagar, Ludhiana.

They were booked on October 24, 2001, on a statement of Suresh Kumar of Sarabha Nagar, under Sections 323, 341, 308, 302 and 34 of the IPC.

The complainant had told the police that Dalbir had come to meet his friend Jaswinder Singh, who resided in his neighbourhood. Jaswinder Singh was taking meals when Dalbir came out in the street. At that time, Naginder Singh called Dalbir by signalling him. He also went along with him.

The convicts blocked the way of Dalbir and told him that he came to their street daily, so he would be taught a lesson.

Thereafter, the father and his sons, armed with baseball bat, gandasa and hockey, attacked Dalbir and injured him. When I tried to intervene, they also inflicted injuries on me, added the complainant.

An injured Dalbir was admitted to Satluj Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on head.

The complainant, Suresh Kumar, turned hostile during the trial. But another eyewitness, Jaswinder Singh, supported the prosecution version and identified the attackers.

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Youth goes missing; family suspects foul play
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, July 14
Paramjit Singh (20), a resident of Dashmesh Colony here, has been missing since July 11. His family smells a foul play in his disappearance.

A delegation of area residents and members of Paramjit’s family met Parliamentary Secretary Sadhu Singh Dharamsot here yesterday and apprised him of the case. They said Paramjit Singh was the only son of Mohinder Singh. He had been employed at Sandeep Gas Plant for the past 6 years.

On July 11, he went to the factory, but did return in the night. Around 9 pm, the family was informed on telephone that Paramjit Singh had gone missing. The family went to Dera Meer Meeran village and met Aman, who had informed the family on the phone, but he expressed ignorance about the whereabouts on Paramjit. Aman works as car driver of the factory owner.

On July 12, Aman said he and Paramjit had gone to the Bhakhra Canal at 5pm for bathing, but Paramjit drowned in the canal. Mr Mohinder Singh, father of Paramjit, is not ready to accept the version. He said his son went to the factory, changed his clothes and started working in the factory dress. Why would he go to the canal for bathing in the factory dress?, he said

He alleged the factory owner had been pressing him for a compromise. He feared his son might have been killed in some accident in the factory and his body might have been thrown into the canal.

Mr Dharamsot assured the delegation that persons found guilty in the case would not be spared. He asked Mr Daljit Singh Rana, DSP, Amloh, to investigate into the matter. When contacted, Mr Hans Raj, SHO, said a case had been registered.

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Hutch says hi to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
Hutch today launched its service in Punjab from Ludhiana, becoming the fourth cellular operator after Spice, Airtel and BSNL to provide service in the state. The company is offering the latest range of multimedia mobile services, including GRPS-based services like push2talk, mobile gaming, click and print MMS, and statewide customer service support. This was stated at the launch ceremony by Mr Rajiv Sawhney, Executive Director, Hutchison Essar, here.

Mr Sawhney said, “Punjab has the highest mobile penetration among the Indian states and therefore the company is committed to an investment of Rs 460 crore for the Punjab circle. Multimedia applications such as push2walk, click and print MMS and MS outlook on mobile phones are some of the unique services available only to Hutch users.”

He added that “we have led the development and adoption of GRPS-based multimedia services in India. There are over 2 lakh GRPS users in the country. Despite the high mobile penetration, mobile users in Punjab have yet to experience many of these services. I am confident that our multimedia service offerings will hold special appeal for the trend-setting people of Punjab.”

Mr Arun Kapoor, chief operating officer, Hutch, Punjab, said, “People in Punjab travel extensively within the state. Keeping this in mind, we have focused on seamless connectivity across the state and national highways, railway routes and commercial centres. The Hutch network is already present across 64 towns and cities.”

Hutchison Essar has licences for 13 circles in India — Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, UP (E)and (W), Punjab, West Bengal and Sikkim.

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PSEB body against implementing Electricity Act
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
The PSEB Engineers Association has questioned the motives behind the haste with which the implementation of the Electricity Act, 2003, is being pushed through a section of the bureaucracy even though the Centre has agreed to review the Act and deferred a final decision in this regard for one year.

Making an appeal to the state government, Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of the association, said that in line with the decision of the government, the exercise to implement this Act should be discontinued immediately.

He said the association had taken an exception to the role of certain bureaucrats who had not changed their line of action and appear to be in a great hurry to unbundle the Board. A special meeting had been called this week to consider the restructuring of the Board on the basis of a report submitted by its consultants — Earnest and Young Consortium.

Mr Bajwa alleged that the entire structure of the proposed companies had been changed by bureaucrats to suit their own interests by increasing the number of posts to be filled from their fraternity and reducing the number of technical members in the new entities. Despite our persistent follow-up, the Board management has not discussed the report with us or any other group of employees, he pointed out.

The bureaucrats, working on the report of the consortium, are totally unaware of the complexity and importance of the power sector and their entire approach is focussed on unbundling the PSEB at the earliest to serve their vested interests. It has been committed by management time and again that the matter of restructuring would be discussed in detail with power engineers, but it is a matter of great concern that the engineers’ association and other trade unions were being kept in the dark, but the process of restructuring was being carried out secretly, he added.

Realising the shortcomings and deficiencies of the Electricity Act, 2003, the Centre has agreed to review the Act. At the same time, the experience in several states like Orissa, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh has been extremely disappointing, as the financial burden on the state exchequer has increased several times despite increase in tariff in various categories.

Citing an example, he said the total losses in Orissa and Delhi are still at the previous level of 45 per cent, whereas the current losses are only 25 per cent. Despite the total failure of this experiment in all states, no bureaucrats, who were rooting for privatisation, were held responsible. The lesson to be learnt here is that bureaucrats, in a decision-making role, are least bothered about the far-reaching repercussions and effect on consumer service.

Despite all this, it is hard to understand why Punjab bureaucrats are in a tearing hurry to repeat the failures of Orissa and Delhi. In these states, even the public sector assets like land were handed over to private companies at no extra cost. The concept of unbundling of SEBs has proved to be a fatal mistake, as such a step was contrary to the principles of business management and was bound to hamper the optimum system operation, economy of scales and poses a serious problem of coordination, he stressed.

The need of the hour was to initiate massive internal reforms at the micro-level to address various problems faced by consumers and adding adequate capacity generation in inter-state hydro projects with Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal to tide over the present crisis.

The association has warned the bureaucracy against taking any hasty decision in the power sector, as the entire economy of the state will be shaken. There is need of total transparency in this highly sensitive sector, he added.

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At the Crossroads
“Ludhiana Bolda Hai”

NO one is in a mood to listen while the city is crying hoarse. Not that there is so much rush, it is because the mind of its inhabitants is elsewhere. There is no space to stretch one’s limbs and the time has been reduced to a roundabout at the clock tower. A grand race is taking place with no destination in sight. This marathon race is an end in itself. The promised joyride is in fact turning to be a pain in the neck. Still the show must go on, else the house of cards will come tumbling down. Amidst all this flurry of activities, there are literary discussions, cultural seminars, photograph and painting exhibitions, song and dance concerts, flower and baby shows, games and sports, stag parties and girlie outpourings, convocations and annual functions, declamations and debates, besides the get-togethers of senior citizens.

Still the city is bubbling with enthusiasm and wants to be heard, even in snatches. Dr. Atam Hamrahi has come up with a 416-page directory ‘Ludhiana Bolda Hai’ in which the past and the present have been well-balanced. It is in fact a historical, industrial and cultural monologue of Ludhiana. The city is heaving a sigh of relief that it has retained its identity since the times of Sultan Sikander Khan Lodhi. His Generals, Usuf Khan and Nihang Khan, laid its foundation in 1481 near Meer Hota village as an army cantonment. Later Meer Hota was renamed as Lodhiana. In 1785 the Sutlej changed its course and the bet area of the width of 9 km and the length of 90 km was added to the territorial range of Ludhiana. Thus, the outlines of a big city were demarcated. It was Jalal Khan, the grandson of General Nihang Khan, who built the Ludhiana Fort.

Janab Noor Ludhianvi, a Muslim chronicler, published in 1938on behalf of the hosiery units, an illustrated Directory of Ludhiana in Urdu. In it, besides other things, the origin and development of the city had been traced. Incidentally Dr. Atam Hamrahi stumbled upon this rare publication and the idea to produce a historic document, that tells its own story, took roots in his mind. In 1994, exactly a decade ago, he started doing work on this project that expanded its scope with the passage of time. At crucial times, Mr Arun Goel, the then D.C. of Ludhiana and Mr S.K. Sandhu, provided the much needed financial help. It was his computerised brain that helped him add chapter after chapter to the book, bringing within its orbit all the details of variegated activities in the city.

Born 1936, he started his career in 1957 as a JBT school teacher. During service, he did M.A. in Punjabi and later earned Ph.D. degree. In 1976, he was transferred to Government College for Boys, Ludhiana, where he taught Punjabi for 18 years. On his retirement in 1994, he busied himself in providing guidance to the researchers for Ph.D. degrees. Nothing seemed to be beyond his ken and the sky was the limit for his literary flights. “Ludhiana Bolda Hai” took much of his time but he was happy to have finished his task. The other day this book was formally released while he was lying in his sick bed.

Dr. Atam Hamrahi is a name to reckon with. He received State Award in 1976, Punjabi Sahit Academy Dhaliwal Award in 1993 and Shiromani Sahitkar Award in 1999. He is the Fellow of Punjabi University, Patiala. Nothing deters him in the pursuit of knowledge, nor does his rest on his oars even after writing 35 books. He has many poetic collections, pen-portrait collections, research works and edited journals to his credit. His mind is a plethora of new ideas and he follows them with dogged determination. This overabundant fund of information, stored in his mind, has made him restless and impatient. With his failing health, he is now in a hurry to achieve the unattainable.

As ill-buck would have it, he had a paralytic stroke in February, 1999 but he refused to be cowed downs by the assault of this ailment. Then his left leg was amputated below the knee in February 2001 as gangrene had set in. Unluckily his right leg was also amputated in February 2004 for the same reason. He had been in the doldrums for quite some time, when Dr. Gurcharan Singh Sek, his disciple and friend, came to his rescue. He edited this monolithic work in a competent manner and made this classic Directory, Ludhiana Bolda Hai (Punjabi version) available to the citizens.

— N.S. Tasneem


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Bollywood stars more popular than cricketers: study
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana July 14
Bollywood stars are more popular as brand ambassadors than cricket stars, according to a study conducted in the city by a management student.

Explaining the study conducted by Jaspreet Singh, an MBA Final year student of the Punjab College of Technical Education, under the guidance of Mr Sandhir Sharma, faculty members, a spokesperson for the institute said a majority of people on whom the study was conducted recalled 15 brands being endorsed by Bollywood stars whereas they could recall only 12 brands being endorsed by cricketers as brand ambassadors.

A majority of respondents (56 out of 100) recalled Airtel as the most popular brand endorsed by a Bollywood star followed by Asian Paints, Pepsi, Cock, Thumps Up, Hajmola, Dabur, Lays , Lux soap, Lux undergarments ICICI Bank, Sahara City Homes, Glucone D and Pulse Polis campaign. In case of brands endorsed by cricketers, a majority of respondents could recall Pepsi at one go followed by MRF , Airtel , Reliance, Coke, Samsung, TVS Victor, Hero Cycles, Boost, Visa, Chawanprash and Britannia.

“The last decade has ushered in a tremendous change for the industry in India. It has seen as boom in the industrial and consumer products resulting in a flourishing advertisement sector,” said Dr K.N.S. Kang, PCTE Director.

A majority of respondents ( 83 per cent) were found to be fond of watching television on an average 8 to 10 hours per week, out of which a majority of the respondents were fond of watching cricket matches other than Bollywood movies. As per the study, 80 out of 100 respondents confirmed that their purchase decisions were never ever influenced by advertisements figuring brand ambassadors particularly while others said they were directly depended upon the need or desire of a particular product and finance available.

Out of these, 81 respondents said that the most important reason for not getting influenced from the advertisements was lack of persuasiveness in the advertisements followed by another perception that the product which was advertised was generally costly. The study found only 19 respondents who had ever taken the decision of purchasing anything from the market after getting influenced or inspired from advertisements.

The study also found that brand ambassador might be popular among the viewers but influenced marginally the purchasing decision of the people.

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Dharamsot to work for Amloh development
Our Correspondent

Amloh, July 14
Residents of Amloh town thanked the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, for providing representation to the district by appointing Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, as Parliamentary Secretary. Mr Dharamsot was given a warm welcome by the residents of the town on Tuesday.

On his first visit after taking oath of office as Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Dharamsot said he would try to solve the long-standing demand of disposal of sullage of the town on a priority basis. He said he would organise a meeting of industrialists of Mandi Gobindgarh with the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh at the earliest so that the problems of industry could be solved.

Among others Dr Swatantar Karkara, state secretary Punjab Pardesh Congress, Mr Shingara Singh Salana, president, Block Congress, Amloh, Mr Pakhar Singh Salana, Chairman Zila Parishad, Mr Jiwan Kumar Puri, president Arhtiya Association, Amloh also addressed the gathering.

Earlier, a welcome function was organised on the municipal premises at Mandi Gobindgarh by the council chief, Mr Joginder Pal Singla, vice-president, Jagmeet Singh Bawa.

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IHRO hails termination of water pacts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
Hailing the passing of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Bill, 2004, yesterday International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) today termed the move as a ‘‘historical one’’.

The Chairman of IHRO, Mr D.S. Gill said that the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, had created a history of sorts and had won over the hearts of the people of Punjab by annulling the Ravi-Beas pacts.

Stating that the Chief Minister had valued the feelings of the people of the state, Mr Gill said he had kept his promise and with the passing of the Bill, all the pacts prior to the 1981 had been turned void-ab-initio. He added that it was a great step of the Chief Minister who had left the agreements of late Prime Ministers, Rajiv and Indira Gandhi null and void.

He said his organisation had been demanding the rescinding of all ‘‘illegal’’ agreements on river waters and he had written letters to both Chief Minister and Prime Minister on this account. He demanded that the state government should levy a water cess from the governments of Haryana and Rajasthan. He demanded that the state government should issue notices to both the states and stops sharing waters with them.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of Bharti Kisan Union has also welcomed the passing of the Bill. He, however, said that the Bill was incomplete as it was silent on the agreements reached prior to 1981. He said that the government should discontinue the sharing of water with Rajasthan from the next crop season.

He said the BKU would continue to recruit more volunteers to stop the work on the SYL canal.

Mr D.S. Dhillon, an expert on irrigation water and a former Chief Engineer has also praised the Chief Minister for his ‘‘bold’’ step. He said that it was for the first time that something was done for the people of the state.

Tracing the history of the accord, Mr Dhillon said the decision to provide 8 maf water to Rajasthan was taken in an inter-state conference in 1955 at Delhi but surprisingly no minutes were not recorded in the conference.

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Woman alleges molestation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 14
Ms Suman Rani, who lives near Baba Deep Singh gurdwara in Gopal Nagar on the Tibba Road , has alleged that Jasbir Singh of the gurdwara came to her house and molested her. A case under Sections 452 and 354 of the IPC has been registered against Jasber Singh.

Man beaten up

On a statement of Mr Satish Kumar of Sarpanch Colony, Jamal Pur, the police registered a case under Sections 452,323,506 and 34 of the IPC against Baldev Singh and Gagandeep Singh, both residents of Jhabewal village.

The complainant, a property dealer based at Jhabewal village said the accused came to his shop in the morning and beat him up because of a dispute over a plot.

Motor cycle stolen

The police registered a theft case under Section 379 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Gagandeep Singh of Model Gram. He had stated that his Hero Honda motor cycle was stolen from in front of his house on June 28 last.

Computer stolen

On a statement of Mr Islam Kora of Urban Estate at Dugri, the police registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC against Deepak Thapa and his accomplice for allegedly stealing a computer, some computer parts and a rickshaw from his factory at Bhai Himmat Singh Nagar.

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PNB signs MoU with BSNL, MTNL
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 14
Punjab National Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BSNL and MTNL. With the signing of this MoU, PNB would get “preferred customer” status. Both BSNL and MTNL would provide a gamut of all telecom services, including basic, mobile, broadband, Internet services, leased line etc.

MTNL and BSNL, the leading public sector enterprises and pioneers in providing the data and voice services across India would provide the bank preferred customer service, uniform volume discounts across the country, countrywide GSM phones facility, countrywide bandwidth through leased lines with suitable back up, seamless connectivity through MPLS-VPN network, single window concept, VSAT services, ISDN services, Internet bandwidth. Reliable connectivity with committed uptime would be one of the prime requirements for performance of network.

Mr S.S. Kohli, CMD, PNB said the bank had already achieved 100 per cent branch computerisation. All branches were using financle and BancMate software in which the bank had contributed much in getting the software developed as well as customised. The PNB was the first public sector bank to implement centralised banking solution with more than 600 branches in CBS and is set to network 1200 branches by March, 2005. With this, the status of the customer changes to ‘Customer of the Bank’ instead of ‘Customer of the Branch’, he said.

Mr Kohli further said that the PNB had installed over 450 ATMs. Besides, the bank has entered into an agreement with four banks for ATM sharing. Under the arrangement named ‘MITR’, the customers of all five banks could access 2050 ATMs nationwide. The bank has a successfully implemented video conferencing at more than 30 locations across the country. PNB is the first bank in India to implement the ‘image-based cheque clearing system’ in India for providing clearance of Intra-Bank Inter-City cheque within 48 hours after it is presented.

PNB’s other technology initiatives include government business computerisation, implementation of payment system including RTGs, PDO-NDS, SFMS, SEFT etc. implementation of digital certificates and digital signatures.

Mr V.P. Sinha, CMD, BSNL and Mr R.S.P. Sinha, CMD, MTNL were also present at the function.

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Transporters resent service tax
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
The Ludhiana Goods Transport Association has flayed the decision of the government to impose a 10 per cent service tax and 2 per cent surcharge on their business.

Mr Charan Singh Lohara and Mr Kishan Sood, chairman and president of the association, respectively, said the extra burden would sound the death knell of the transport sector which had been reeling under heavy losses for the past many years. This was nothing but a veiled attempt to shore up the declining freight revenues of the Railways, he added.

They said the government had been misleading them by assurances that the sector would not be taxed. Now the government had reneged on its promises and gone ahead with a 12 per cent tax on road and air freight. The transporters are already a harassed lot since the tyre companies have allegedly formed a cartel and jacked up their prices manifold. Similarly, the prices of diesel, lubricants and other products were at an all time high. The truck chassis prices too have registered an 150 per cent rise in the previous years, they added.

Mr Lohara said a meeting had been called for tomorrow to chalk out the future course of action.

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Maruti launches new model of Esteem
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) yesterday launched its new Esteem. Claimed to be a compact sedan trusted for its performance and unmatched fuel efficiency, the new Esteem has come with a brand new look as well.

Speaking on the occasion Mr RS Kalsi, General Manager, MUL, said the company had upgraded the new Esteem. He said, it comes in a refreshing new front styling, with a new bonnet, multi reflector clear headlamps, new bumper and new chrome grille. The rear had been redesigned with multi-reflector clear tail lamps and new boot garnish.

He said, besides, its plush new upholstery, silver finished dashboard garnish and controls, a sportline, speedometer, chrome-tipped parking lever and metal finished gear lever, make for refined interiors The new Esteem also comes with tubeless tyres. He added that the new Esteem would be offered in new metallic colours, fawn mist, and would continue to be available in silky water, pearl silver, aqua blue, midnight black and superior white.

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Punjab state lottery draw held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
The third draw of Punjab state monthly lottery for this month was held at Bachat Bhavan, Mini Secretariat, here this evening.

The winning ticket was picked out in the presence of chief guest Rakhi Bhandari, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, and SDM Prem Chand. The number of the winning ticket is 333926, which was sold by Bhatia Agencies, Amritsar.

Besides the first prize, winners for the second, third, fourth and other prizes were also declared. The 10 winners for the second and third prize each are from ticket number 52894 and ticket number 10509 onwards, respectively.

The draw was conducted using a manual machine which was operated by one of members of the audience. The tickets for the next monthly lottery draw i.e. Punjab State Monthly Lottery July were also released.

Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, Director, Punjab State Lotteries, said on demand of the public as well as lottery sellers, amount of first prize had been increased from Rs 11 lakhs to Rs 21 lakh to make the monthly lottery schemes more attractive.

He told the winners of the prizes up to Rs 5000 could get their prize amount without any deduction from the local lottery sellers/agents and for the prizes above Rs 5000, they have to furnish their claim with the department on requisite proforma accompanied by the prize winning tickets in original.

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