P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Reliance keen to invest in Doraha gas plant
PPS Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
While praying for rains, Punjab is pursuing several proposals to increase generation of power from its own sources. One of the proposals is setting up of 1,000 MW gas-based power generation plant at Doraha. This Rs 4,000-crore project is expected to be set up in the private sector.

In this connection, the Punjab State Electricity Board Chairman, Mr Y S Ratra, is scheduled to have a meeting with the Gas Authority of India Limited on August 6. Talking to TNS today, he said Tata Consultancy was already entrusted with the job of conducting the feasibility and socio-economic-technical studies. ''In fact, during my recent visit to New Delhi, the Ministry of Power had asked us to increase our own power generation capacity to meet our critical needs''.

In that context, when the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, had met the Union Minister for Power, Mr P M Sayeed, on July 26, he informed him that Punjab was, indeed, moving ahead with its proposals on increasing power generation, including exploring a gas-based power project at Doraha. Mr Sayeed was also informed that work had already begun on the Rs 1,700 crore, 500 MW extension of Lehra Mohabat Thermal Plant, where two units of 250 MW each would be set up. BHEL has been engaged for executing the project.

Meanwhile, it is reliably learnt that Mr Mukesh Ambani of the Reliance Group of Industries met the Capt. Amarinder Singh at Patiala today. Reliance is keen to invest in the gas-based plant at Doraha. If all goes well, the capacity of Doraha gas-based project could then go upto 3,000 MW and its cost shoot upto over Rs 15,000 crore.

For quite some time India and private industrial houses have been exploring possibilities of getting gas from Gulf countries either over land or sea. Another suggestion was to set up power and fertiliser plants in the Gulf and import these directly bypassing Pakistan. More than 80 per cent gas in the country was used for producing power and fertilisers.

The UPA Government is keen on a dialogue with Pakistan on laying pipelines carrying natural gas from Gulf and Turkmenistan.

The meeting between Capt. Amarinder Singh and Mr Ambani, sources say, has come about in the wake of the stand taken by the former by enacting the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act-2004—in the interest of the state.

The manner in which Capt. Amarinder Singh defended the Act had convinced all those with whom he had interacted and they had not found any legal or constitutional breach in what the state legislature had done on July 12. This politically ''bold'' decision had also sent correct signals to industrial and business houses that they could trust Punjab when it comes to investment. Mr Ambani's meeting is seen in this context. The Chief Secretary, Mr J S Gill, today is believed to have discussed the UBDC stage-III project. It was decided to constitute a committee of engineers to report back on ''hydrological'' aspects of the project, which on completion, was expected to generate 75 MW power.

Unlike other states, in Punjab over 90 per cent area is irrigated, mostly by tubewells, and the rest through canal net-work. With less canal water due to truant monsoon, the kharif-2004 prospects, particularly of paddy, is dependent upon tubewells that largely run on power, which is in short supply. Since demand over shoots supply between June and September-end, Punjab has to invariably empty its coffers to buy power from wherever it was available. Says Mr Ratra, ''We have already spent over Rs 2,300 crore on purchase of power so far''.


Peacock poaching case: ex-SDM’s bail cancelled
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Lacuna in case

A serious lacuna has surfaced in the poaching case against Goyal. In his arguments, Puneet Goyal’s counsel brought to light that the gun as well as the birds, allegedly recovered by the Wildlife Department, Hoshiarpur, from the custody of Goyal on February 29 were not presented to the court before being sent for examination.

The norm is to send the recovered material for tests after obtaining a seal from the court. However, in this case, the Wildlife Department did not acquire the court’s seal before sending the “kill” for a post-mortem examination and the gun for forensic test.

Meanwhile, Wildlife Department officials maintain that they were under pressure to send the recovered materials for examination lest Goyal, being influential, tampered with the evidence.

Chandigarh, July 29
The poaching case involving former Pathankot SDM Puneet Goyal took a significant turn today with the Sessions Court, Hoshiarpur, cancelling his bail. The order comes exactly five months after the case came up on February 29.

It may be recalled that Mr Goyal, despite being charged with the non-bailable offence of poaching of the national bird, had obtained bail on the day he was caught for the crime. The case was reported on February 29 by Honorary Wildlife Wardens of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur Mr S.S. Bajwa and Mr Gunraj Singh, respectively.

Allowing the applications filed for the cancellation of Goyal’s bail by the two wardens today, Additional Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, Mr Balbir Singh, also directed the trial court to issue non bailable warrants against the accused and take him into custody. The court also ordered cancellation of bail of two other accused in the same case, including Mahinder Pal alias Bhola, SDM’s accomplice and Mahkan Singh, SDM’s driver. The said applications were moved by the wardens after the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted them the liberty to file the same before the concerned court of law.

Arguing the bail cancellation applications, Mr B.S. Ohri and Mr H.S. Saini, counsel for the Wildlife Department, said the bail was granted to the then SDM against the settled law of the land. They said while granting bail to the accused, Mr K.C. Gupta, Duty Magistrate, did not give the public prosecutor enough time to reply. It was added that even the public prosecutor strangely did not object to the grant of bail to the SDM, accused in a non-bailable offence.

Counsel also brought up the fact that both the wildlife wardens ran risk of lives as they had been regularly receiving life threats over telephones. Following their requests, the High Court had even directed the SSPs of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur to spruce up their security. Mr Goyal’s counsel, meanwhile, said the wardens were not eye witnesses in the case.

It may, however, be mentioned here that both the wardens have been taken as eye witnesses by the Forest Department which is preparing a chargesheet against the accused.


Meira announces opening of 10 old-age
homes in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Unveiling a "mini" social welfare package for Punjab, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ms Meira Kumar, announced the opening of 10 old age homes which would be run by non-government organisations. The homes, sanctioned in addition to the already existing 19 homes in the state, would get a financial assistance of 90 per cent from the Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment.

Addressing a press conference at the Punjab Bhavan, here today, Ms Meira Kumar, also stated that two of the 17 scholarships being awarded by the ministry, offering full reimbursement for overseas study in engineering, science and technology to SC students, would be given to Punjab. In addition, two slots of the commercial pilot licences courses, costing nearly Rs 20 lakh each, would also be made available.

Following the success of child helplines in 55 cities of the country, Ms Kumar said that similar helplines would be opened in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Ludhiana and Patiala. "The Punjab Government would be required to send us a proposal for the same. Also, we will await their proposal for five hostels for SC (boys and girls). We will give them all assistance in this regard," she said.

One camp each would be organised in each of the 17 districts of Punjab to distribute aids and appliances worth Rs 1 crore for the hearing disabled. "The ministry is willing to extend help to the tune of 90 per cent to the Red Cross Societies of the state for imparting vocational training to the disabled. The backward classes and minorities would also be given funds for income- generating activities," she disclosed.

She said that the ministry was involving NGOs in a big way in all their schemes since most of them were doing a good job.

"However, there are a few who try to take advantage of the funds being made available to them for social welfare and mint money, instead of performing for a better society.

Of the 2800 NGOs we have, 72 have been blacklisted for non-performance. The ministry carries out surprise inspections to keep tab on the activities of the NGOs through its officers or state governments," she replied in response to a question on the increasing participation of NGOs in governmental schemes.


New York museum to have Sikh gallery
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
After the successful inauguration of the Sikh exhibition at Smithsonian Museum in Washington, the Sikh community in New York will soon go for a similar Sikh gallery in the National Museum of New York.

The Smithsonian Gallery has come up with the efforts of Sikh medical practitioners and technocrats and is the first of its kind in the USA. About 100 pieces of art works and artifacts have been displayed in this gallery. These include a scale model of the Golden Temple made by a city artiste, Devinder Singh.

The decision to set up the New York gallery was taken at a meeting of eminent NRIs in general and Sikhs in particular convened by Mr Shamsher Singh, president of the Hemkunt Foundation early this week.

Mr. Tarlochan Singh, M.P. and Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, who returned yesterday after inaugurating the Smithsonian Sikh Art Gallery and exhibition, said that the NRIs were enthusiastic to set up a major exhibition of the Sikh history and heritage in New York. They decided to seek contributions and also assistance of Dr N.S. Kapany, Dr A.S. Chatha and Mr I.S. Bindra, who had played a pioneer role in setting up the Smithsonian exhibition.

The Hemkunt Foundation, which looks after the historic Sikh shrine at Hemkunt Sahib in Uttaranchal, also felicitated Mr Tarlochan Singh in the meeting in recognition of his distinguished work for the Hemkunt pilgrims and his support to upgrade the facilities on the pilgrimage route. This meeting was also addressed by Mr. D. S. Jaspal, Secretary, Tourism, Culture and Public Relations, Punjab.

Mr. Tarlochan Singh said that the Sikhs, because of their distinct physical identity, needed more such galleries to project their identity. Many in America were still not able to distinguish between Sikhs and Arabs . He further said that the perception of Sikhism is also to be told to the American population. Mr. Jaspal assured the support from the Punjab Government in this venture.

Mr. I.S. Bindra, whose family has already opened a Sikh Chair in the University of New York, offered handsome contribution for the proposed gallery in New York. It was further decided to approach Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany and Dr. A. S. Chatha, who were the main architects of the Sikh Gallery in Washington.


23 immigrants arrive from Teheran today
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
The first batch of 23 of 106 Indian youths, who had taken shelter at Teheran Gurdwara after their attempt to sneak into Europe was foiled by the Turkish authorities, will arrive in New Delhi tomorrow by Mahan Air.

Most of these youths, who had been duped by travel agents in India, entered Iran after they were prevented from entering Greece through Turkey. Most of them, broke financially and mentally, were provided not only new sets of clothes, board and lodging by the Teheran gurdwara and Sikh sangat of Iran but also given medical aid and attention.

A spokesman of the Teheran gurdwara told The Tribune that the management and sangat were following the local law and assisting the authorities in looking after these "battered victims" who had already suffered a lot and were complete wrecks. Whenever illegal immigrants enter the gurdwara without any travel documents, they are immediately sent to the Embassy of India.

Embassy officials provide them letters for the local Police Department . The gurdwara management and Sikh community by intervening on behalf of these aliens look after them till their repatriation to India. Otherwise the local police is supposed to arrest them and keep them in their custody. No Illegal immigrants can stay at the gurdwara without the clearance of the police, he said, holding that both the Sikh community and the Indian Embassy were facilitating in getting the document work about their repatriation expedited. The gurdwara provides them board, lodging, health care and also in getting good clothes and other necessities.

The gurdwara authorities maintain that by providing them shelter in a legal way, the sanctity of the holy place was not being violated. Since the entire record about the arrival and stay of these aliens is with the police, there was no question of any police or other raid on the gurdwara premises.

"We are doing only humanitarian service," the spokesman said, holding that the cost of maintaining these "stranded and misguided youth" was between five and eight US dollars per person per day. Some of the youths of the present batch had been in the gurdwara from the last week of May. On an average, the gurdwara gets about 1,000 such youths every year.

The gurdwara does not and cannot provide air fare or tickets to these youths. Normally they are flown to India by Iran's official airline, Mahan, which gets prepaid ticket advice from other sources, including friends and family members of these unfortunate youths. The Sikh community of Iran, however, helps in getting them reservations besides extending financial support to deserving and needy ones.

The Sikhs of Iran maintain that Teheran gurdwara is perhaps the only gurdwara in Islamic world whose sanctity has never been violated . "We are law-abiding citizens and no one from our community in Iran is ever involved in any illegal activity, what to talk of human smuggling . The community only helps victims of the mafia engaged in human smuggling after all legalities had been gone through," he added.

"We will continue to look after the suffering humanity and people in distress with whatever we have," remarked a member of the gurdwara management.


Prime forest land ‘usurped’ by dhaba owners
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Khajurla (Kapurthala), July 29
While prime forest land, worth crores of rupees on the outskirts of Jalandhar city along the Jalandhar-Ludhiana highway, has allegedly been usurped by “well-connected” owners of two popular dhabas, the Punjab Forest Department is all set to get its land “freed” with the help of the police.

Even as the precious and once green land has allegedly been encroached upon by those running dhabas and other establishments for getting way to their outlets, owners of “Haveli” and “Rangla Punjab” dhabas have allegedly gone a step ahead and have constructed a roughly about 100 metre-long concrete pavement in front of the two dhabas to provide parking facility to hundreds of their customers.

A large number of trees on this costly strip of the Forest Department land have allegedly vanished, even as Mr. Satish Jain, owner of the two dhabas, has denied that any tree has been felled in front of his dhabas where a huge concrete parking lot has replaced the once green area.

Despite the alleged open encroachment on its precious land, the market value of which was said to be several crores, the Forest Department failed to take any effective step, except for giving notices to owners of dhabas, to reclaim the land, allegedly due to the powerful clout enjoyed by the dhaba owners.

Denying that he had received any letter from the Forest Department for seeking police protection or any communication from the district administration for providing security, the Kapurthala SSP, Mr S.K. Asthana, said he had received a letter from the Forest Department which had informed the police about the alleged illegal occupation of forest land by “owners of Haveli dhaba.”

“I have marked the letter to the SHO of the Sadar police station for necessary action,” said Mr Asthana.

Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Verma asserted that no encroachment on government land would be tolerated and that the district administration would take a stern action against such violators.

When contacted, Mr Vipul Chander Chaudhary, Divisional Forest Officer, Jalandhar, who is stationed at Phillaur, admitted that the Forest Department land had been encroached upon by the owners of “Haveli” and “Rangla Punjab” and all pleas of his department to them had failed to yield any result so far.

“It would be very difficult to remove the concrete structure built by dhaba owners without bulldozers and without police protection. Without police protection, they would not allow us to remove concrete pavement,” said Mr Chaudhary, adding that proceedings against the owners of dhabas have already been initiated by the Forest Department under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

“I have to dig out details about trees, but I have heard that they have removed trees also,” said Mr Chaudhary, adding that some owners of dhabas had already deposited money with the department for legalising their possession of land. “Anyway, we are in the process and we have resolved to remove the encroachment on our land. This, I assure, would be done within a week’s time,” asserted Mr Chaudhary.

Mr Satish Jain, owner of the two dhabas, however, maintained, “The problem was there long back. Moreover, owners of other dhabas along the GT Road have also been using Forest Department land,”.


Herb Dhaliwal bereaved
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 29
Amrit Dhaliwal, wife of former federal minister of Canada Herb Dhaliwal (Harbans Singh Dhaliwal) died in Canada today. She was in her late forties. She was suffering from cancer for the past two and half years. Amrit was born in Berma. She married Mr Harbans Dhaliwal in 1980. She left behind three children Andrea, Jessica and Justin. Mr Dhaliwal who had been a Member of Parliament for three terms from Vancouver South -Burnaby, BC, and federal cabinet minister twice, holding the portfolios of fisheries and oceans. He did not contest the June 28 elections in Canada due to his wife’s ailment.


Cong divided over case against former MLA
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 29
The ruling Congress is divided over the issue of registration of an FIR against a former Gidderbaha MLA, Mr Raghubir Singh, his son and councillor Dinesh Kumar, Gidderbaha Municipal Council president Kulwant Singh and another councillor, Mr Baldev Singh.

The FIR was registered on July 22 at Gidderbaha police station under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act on the complaint of a Scheduled Caste councillor, Ms Reshma Devi, who had left the Congress to join the SAD just before the last Lok Sabha elections.

While District Congress president Mahesh Inder Singh Dhillon, a cousin of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, termed the FIR as politically motivated, demanded its cancellation and removal of Muktsar SSP R.S. Khatra, general secretary of the Punjab Congress SC/ST cell Parkash Doshi hailed the decision of the Muktsar police for registering the FIR against former MLA and others for allegedly using abusing language and derogatory remarks against Dalits.

Further, Mr Doshi alleged that former MLA Raghubir Singh and some office-bearers of Muktsar District Congress had been trying to get the case cancelled and managed to get the marking of the inquiry of the case to Moga SP (Detective) Mr. Harjeet Singh Pannu in this regard.

So much so, Mr Doshi went to Chandigarh a day before yesterday to meet Punjab Congress President H.S. Hanspal to bring this to his notice that some Congressmen had been trying to get the case hushed up. In Mr Hanspal’s absence, he handed over a memorandum in the name of the Punjab Congress President to senior leader Upendra Sharma in which he had demanded a free and fair inquiry into the case.

While talking to The Tribune, local SAD leader and SGPC member Gurpal Singh Gora and Mr Doshi alleged that Mr Raghubir Singh had used derogatory remarks against Ms Rehsma Devi and her caste and several other women who had gone to the MC office to lodge their protest against an acute water shortage.

However, council president Kulwant Singh, one of the accused, denied the allegations of using derogatory remarks against Dalits. He said that Muktsar Deputy Commissioner B.R. Banga on July 13 directed all the councils to identify and disconnect illegal water connections as they might cause water-born diseases.

Mr Kulwant Singh further said that the council employees identified as much as 31 illegal water connections in Ward 15 of SAD councillor Sham Lal. The council asked the persons concerned either to get the connections regularised or they would be disconnected, he said, adding following which some of these connections were disconnected.

The council president further alleged that some women of Ward 15 came to the council office against disconnected illegal connections on July 20 and pelted stones on the building in which some of the windowpanes were broken.

Surprisingly, some of the women of Ward 15 submitted a complaint to Gidderbaha police station against Mr Raghubir Singh on July 21, he said, adding, however, the FIR was lodged on July 22 on the complaint of the councillor of Ward 14, Ms Reshma Devi, and another councillor, Mr Suresh Kumar Bittu, named as a witness in the FIR.

Mr Kulwant Singh alleged that neither Ms Reshma Devi nor Bittu was present at the time of protest by some women of Ward 15 and the FIR was politically motivated as both of them had left the Congress and joined the SAD just before the last Lok Sabha elections.

However, Mr Doshi denied these charges and said that both Ms Resham Devi and Bittu were present there.


Separated by floods, united by destiny
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 29
Two-and-a-half-year-old Milkha Singh of Abdulapur village in the district, who was washed away in the Beas floods in 1988, got reunited with his parents recently after 16 years.

About 80 villagers including Milkha Singh, were washed away during the heavy floods in September, 1988. The parents of Milkha had took him for dead.

Mr Inder Singh, father of Milkha, told mediapersons that during the floods his wife was saved by the people but other members of his family could not be saved.

Milkha was sitting on the roof of a jhuggi which managed to reach Ferozepore.

A migrant labourer rescued the boy and handed over him to Mohinder Singh who took Milkha to Uttar Pradesh and renamed him as Raju Bhaya.

Mohinder Singh along with Milkha came to Miani in this district and started farming there.

A few days ago he took some residents of Miani village to the Radha Soami dera, Beas, in his tractor-trailer. Milkha and his mother Satto were also in the same trailer.

While travelling they conversed with each other and Satto was able to identify Raju Bhaya as his lost son Milkha. She told her husband about this.

Milkha’s parents approached the panchayat in this connection. Members of the panchayat told them to specify some identification marks on the body of Milkha. They told the members that there was a big mark on the right leg of Milkha due to a cycle accident in his childhood.

While examining the body the mark was found on Milkha’s right leg. All panchayat members were convinced and Milkha was handed over to his parents.


Recovery of 6 cr from telecom units: MLA for VB probe
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, July 29
The five-member panel of councillors constituted by the Municipal Corporation here seven months back to probe Rs 6 crore road cutting scam is yet to start probe, but Congress MLA Raj Kumar Gupta has urged Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to hand over the case to the Vigilance Bureau.

Taking serious note of the issue pertaining to MC officials, allegedly colluding with two telecom companies to cause loss of revenue of Rs 6 crore, the MC house, at its meeting on December 29 last year, constituted a five-member panel of councillors to probe the allegations.

Mayor Surinder Mahey had assured the members of the house those found guilty would not be spared, but he never asked the panel to submit its report, scheduled to be presented in the house on March 31, putting a question mark on the exercise. The panel comprising Mr Kuljeet Singh Babbi (Chairman), Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Tarsem Bhardwaj (Deputy Mayor), Ms Sushma Gautam and Mr Kishan Dev Bhandari (leader of opposition in the MC house) never held any meeting in the past seven months. There was no mention also either of interim or final report of the scam in the agenda circulated among councillors for the next meeting scheduled for July 30.

The scam came into light when Congress MLA Raj Kumar Gupta and more than six Congress councillors raised the matter on the floor of the House at a meeting on December 29 last year and sought a reply from the Mayor. They alleged that the MC officials had allowed the telecom companies to lay cables by cutting roads in the city without paying mandatory Rs 80 per square feet.

The Congress Councillors alleged that these companies were allowed to pay a bank guarantee at the rate of Rs 25 per metre as charges to cause a huge loss of about Rs 6 crore to the civic body. These telecom companies had deposited bank guarantees on the pretext that they would repair the roads after the laying of cables, a claim which was never fulfilled in according to Mr Gupta. Besides, the MC officials had allegedly failed to measure the exact length of the roads, cut for the purpose. Mr Mahey was evasive and said that the panel would soon conduct a probe. He was not even aware that the committee was scheduled to submit its report along with action recommended against telecom companies and erring officials on March 31. Besides, there was no serious attempt on the part of the MC authorities to recover dues from these companies.


Tandon for another tribunal on water-sharing
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 29
Mr Balrami Dass Tandon, a senior Punjab Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and member of BJP’s National Council, today asked the Union Government to constitute a tribunal to settle the inter-state (Punjab-Haryana) waters issues. He said this tribunal should be in place of the Eradi Tribunal, which had become “defunct” in the present scenario.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Tandon said the new tribunal should be free to survey whether Punjab had surplus water. He said the BJP was of the view that Punjab had first right on its waters to irrigate fields. In case Punjab had surplus water, then giving it to Haryana or Rajasthan on compassionate grounds could be considered, he added.

Mr Tandon said water table in Punjab had depleted to a great extent in the past two decades, and Punjab now had no water to give to other states.

Mr Tandon announced in case the Shiromani Akali Dal launched morcha on the waters of SYL canal issue, the BJP would support the SAD.

On the passage of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act-2004 by the Punjab Assembly on July 12, Mr Tandon said though the Bill had been passed in urgency for the welfare of the state, but it should be avoided. He said despite this, Punjab BJP even today supported this Act.

Mr Tandon said Mr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, had set a “wrong precedent” by inducting several “tainted” minister in his Council of Ministers. He said this step of the Prime Minister had blackened” the face of the country in the world. He gave the example of Shibu Soren, who resigned recently after the issuance of non-bailable warrants by a court against him.

Mr Tandon also asked the Punjab Government to re-schedule the closing time of shops in the state. He said closing of shops at 6 p.m. daily had hit traders.


Water-table in Sangrur falls to 26 metres
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 29
Subsoil water table in the past 10 years in this district touched alarming level this year. Underground water now is available minimum at 10 metres and at 26 metres at the maximum. Ten years ago in 1994 minimum water-level was six metres and maximum at 15 metres.

Water-depth level in the Sherpur block of the district is between 21 metres and 26 metres, while water-depth level in remaining 11 blocks of the district in June this year is given here: Malerkotla from 15 metres to 20 metres, Ahmedgarh from 22 metres to 24 metres, Barnala from 12 metres to 26 metres, Mahal Kalan from 11 metres to 18 metres, Dhuri from 16 metres to 21 metres, Sehna block from 11 metres to 18 metres, Bhawanigarh from 16 metres to 22 metres, Lehra Gaga from 10 metres to 14 metres, Andana from 10 metres to 17 metres, Sunam from 11 metres to 21 metres, and Sangrur from 13 metres to 22 metres.

Agriculture Department sources attributed the depletion of underground water in the district to the cultivation of paddy, less rain, poor recharging of ground water, and increase in the number of tubewells.

They disclosed that in Sangrur district there were 1.30 lakh tubewells to lift the ground water, especially in paddy sowing season. Supply of canal water to fields was poor.

Sources added that no bank in the district gave loan to farmers for the installation of new tubewells as the Punjab Government had declared all 12 blocks of the district as dark areas following depletion of underground water.

This district is known in the country for topping in paddy production for past several years. Paddy crops needs huge quantity of water.

This year, paddy has cultivated in 3.55 lakh hectares in the district with target of 15.27 lakh metric tonnes (MTs). But sources claimed, this year the district would not be able to achieve the target due to shortage of power and water to paddy.


Punjab to promote religious tourism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 29
With a view to attracting international and national tourists to religious and heritage sites in the state, the Punjab Government has decided to take concrete steps to provide proper infrastructure in this regard. This was announced by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Tourism, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Punjab, while addressing a state-level meeting of the officers of Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) held here today.

Mr Kang said despite a great potential for religious and heritage tourism in the state, the same was being neglected both at national and state level.

Stressing upon the need to exploit the available potential to optimum level, the minister asked the officers of the department to strive hard to extend excellent services in all tourist complexes in the state. Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Department of Information and Public Relations, Transport and Tourism, Punjab, while addressing the meeting said the functioning of the present tourism complexes would be further improved by providing more infrastructural facilities.

Mr Jagjit Puri, Managing Director, PTDC, gave the detailed account on all tourism complexes in the state.

Mr Ashok Sharma, Chairman, PTDC, also addressed the meeting.


Land scam: ADGP in Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 29
The role of a former Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board came under a scanner yet again even as Mr Lalit Bhatia, Additional Director-General of Police, (PSEB), today visited Amritsar to conduct a high-level probe into the ‘undue haste’ shown by him to get a certain prime land worth crores of rupees vacated to favour a senior local politician.

Earlier also, the former Chairman had been arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on corruption charges.

The inquiry was ordered by Capt Amarinder Singh a few months after he took over as the Chief Minister. However, the inquiry is taking time as the Vigilance Bureau has to study the law under as half of the land in question has been transferred and secondly the documents concerned are missing.

The ADGP (Vigilance) has reportedly asked the Chief Engineer (Operation), Mr R.C. Jaiswal to fix responsibility for the missing documents so that strict departmental action could be taken against the erring officials.

Interestingly, the then Chairman of the PSEB, had been ordered to vacate the office of SE (Operation) located at the prime location on the Maqbool road the same day when he had received the petition by a local senior politician through his officer on duty.

The Vigilance Bureau of the PSEB has expressed surprise over the manner in which the arbitrary orders were passed by the then Chairman to get the office of SE (Operation) vacated without specifically quoting the rules or authority.


Police traces missing man
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 29
The district police has traced Mr Varinder Kumar, who had disappeared from the custody of the Bassi Pathana police last week. He was presented before reporters, councillors of Bassi Pathana and prominent citizens by the SSP. Mr Varinder Kumar narrated in detail how he escaped from police custody. He was handed over to his wife and other relatives in the presence of all.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said it was unfortunate that certain political leaders of the area without verifying the facts organised a dharna and disrupted traffic last week at Bassi Pathana alleging that Mr Varinder Kumar had died in police custody and it was only after assurance of the Deputy Commissioner that Mr Varinder Kumar was alive and had not died and that he would be traced soon, that the dharna was lifted. He said Upasna, minor daughter of Mr Varinder Kumar, had disappeared from her house along with Rana and on the complaint of Mr Varinder Kumar both the boy and girl were recovered. He said Upasana in her statement recorded in the court levelled serious allegations against her father that he had been raping her. He said the police had called Mr Varinder Kumar for investigation but he gave a slip to the police and fled early in the morning from police custody. He said family members and relatives of Mr Varinder Kumar alleged that he had died in police custody and in protest they blocked the traffic and political leaders also joined them. He said the police had been looking for him since July 22 and it was on the information of certain relatives that he was arrested from Singh Bheora village near Ropar. He said he had been handed over to his wife and other relatives in the presence of citizens.

Mr Varinder Kumar said he had fled from the police custody as he had been beaten up. He said after disappearing from the police station he took a bicycle and went towards the Bhakra canal near Dhunda village to commit suicide as he came to know that his daughter had levelled allegations against him.

He said he went to Badali Ala Singh to meet his relative and then went to Chat Bir near Banur and stayed there for the night with his brother-in-law. He then went to rural areas of Ropar and spent nights in the fields.

He also went to Ludhiana and brought certain cycle parts and started selling these to mechanics. He said he was arrested at Singh Bheora on a tip-off of his relatives. He denied allegations levelled against him by his daughter and termed that such allegations had been made under police pressure.


Two die of ‘food poisoning’
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 29
Two persons, including a 10-year-old girl died of suspected food poisoning at Mari Mustafa village here yesterday, and more than 100 were admitted to the hospital when they complained of nausea and lose motions. All were residents of Dalit locality. Sehna Patti. They had consumed ‘prasad’ at a ‘bhandara’ organised to please rain God.

Deputy Commissioner, Mandeep Singh, was on a visit of the area and the Red Cross Society had organised a medical camp in the nearby Samalsar village. The DC sent two teams of doctors to the village and the government hospital at Baghapurana where these patients were admitted.

The dead were identified as Reena, daughter of Gurtej Singh, and Nachhatar Singh (65) of the same family. Sources said that patients started coming to doctor’s clinic in the village on Tuesday night. These doctors failed to handle the situation and they referred the patients to Baghapurana. Over 100 patients were then admitted to the government hospital and private hospitals in Baghapurana. Due to lack of wards and beds at the government hospital the patients were treated in the open. About 80 were discharged after primary treatment. Sources said that new cases were being reported from the affected locality.

Sources said that a couple of days back residents of neighbouring Bouriasikh basti consumed ‘prasad’ at a ‘Jagran’ in the nearby Veroke village. These people also participated in the ‘bhandara’ at Mari Mustafa, but no such case was reported from Veroke. Residents of Mari Mustafa village said that many of them who had consumed the same ‘prasad’ were okay, and added that it may be an infection caused by water.

Sources said that Sehna Patti residents use hand pump water for drinking. The district Health Department recently disclosed that water samples of various hand pumps in rural areas had failed. Baghapurana SDM Harcharan Singh Sandhu has ordered a probe into the matter.


2 more gastro cases

Phagwara, July 29
After hitting the Santokhpura mohalla, gastroenteritis has started spreading in other areas here as well. Two fresh cases of suspected gastroenteritis are reported from the Khalwaragate and Mehligate mohallas. Mrs Neelam of Mehligate and Mr Sukhjinder Singh of Khalwaragate were admitted to Civil Hospital today after they were afflicted with severe bouts of loose motions and vomitings.

But the SMO, Dr Subhash Sharma, asserted that it had yet to be confirmed as to whether they were suffering from gastro or diarrhoea.

Both patients were now stable, he claimed. — OC


Police-public meetings soon
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 29
In its efforts to give a public hearing to various issues pertaining to crime in the district, the Kapurthala police has decided to launch a new programme under which regular general meetings will be held with the masses.

Under the programme titled “Samparak”, the SSP, along with his team comprising SPs, DSPs and SHOs, will discuss various crime-related matters with the public. The programme will be held once a week in each of the four subdivisions, including Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Phagwara and Bhulath.

Days will be fixed for each subdivision and exact venue will also be decided before the programme is finally launched by August-end. The public meetings will be held for two hours in the morning to be followed by two hours of interaction with police officials in the concerned areas.

Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, said it was being felt that the residents of the areas falling in Sultanpur Lodhi, Bhulath and Phagwara found it difficult to tread to the police headquarters to get solution to their crime-related issues. He said the programme would be beneficial especially for the elderly and women who usually avoid the police.

The SSP said through "Samparak, he would also be able to get an in-depth information about the various intricacies of different social problems in different subdivisions. 


Christians demand restoration of quota
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 29
Demanding the restoration of minority quota for admissions to various Christian colleges in Punjab, the Christian community held a protest rally here today. The members of the United Christian Institute raised slogans against the Punjab Government and burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. They submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner demanding his intervention in the issue.

The members of the institute, led by the Principals, staff and students of United Christian Boys Senior Secondary School, United Christian Girls’ Senior Secondary School, St Thomas Senior Secondary School, Industrial Training Centre and United Christians Primary School, participated in the rally.

In the memorandum, they wrote the Christian Medical College and Hospital Society had been deprived of the right to admit Christians for acquiring training for discharging their duties in various mission hospitals. They said the rights be restored back so that the maximum Christians be allowed to get admissions in courses being offered in the Christian Medical College, Christian Dental College and the College of Nursing.


Eluding monsoon halts afforestation drive
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 29
The monsoon, which has been eluding Punjab so far and has affected kharif crops, has brought the afforestation drive in the state to a halt.

The field staff of state Forest Department are finding it difficult to save the saplings planted by them during the period when the pre-monsoon rains hit Punjab and hence they have stopped the drive.

Official sources said so far about 30 lakhs saplings have been planted by the department against the target of 68 lakhs saplings under the Japan Bank of International Cooperation. The field staff have started providing shade to the saplings to protect them.

The field staff is also facing odds in saving those saplings that were planted last year.

“By this time the field staff used to plant about 80 per cent of the saplings. But this season, hardly 50 per cent of the saplings have been planted,” said Mr A. S. Dogra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab.

“The ground situation prevailing in Punjab and the obstacles problems being faced in the drive will be brought to the notice of the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment when a meeting of forest ministers of all states will be held in Delhi on August 5 and 6,” he added.

Mr Dogra pointed out that during the current year the Department of Forests was supposed to carry out plantation of 1.77 crore saplings under different schemes.

He added that he had toured various districts, including Bathinda, Mansa, Patiala, Sangrur and Gurdaspur, where the situation was worst.

He further said, though the eluding monsoon had upset the plantation drive, the state had increased the area under forest.

As per the latest report of the Forest Survey of India in 2003, the area under forests in Punjab had increased to 2,432 sq km from 1,412 sq km in 1999.

Meanwhile, it is officially learnt that the field staff has also been facing shortage of funds in this regard.


Christians protest against interference in CMC working
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 29
Members of the Christian community and others blocked vehicular traffic on the main highway here today in protest against the interference of the Punjab Government in the working of the Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana.

The protesters, including teachers of three local schools, later staged a dharna in front of the office of the SDM and also raised slogans against the government. A memorandum was presented to the SDM by members belonging to the Christian community.

The three schools — Henderson Jubilee Senior Secondary School, Henderson Memorial Girls School and Christian High School — running under the aegis of Chandigarh Church of North India, were closed today as a mark of protest.

The protesters said the government was giving no financial aid to the hospital which was serving the people of this region on its own and as such the interference of the government was totally unjustified. The protesters said if the decision of the government was not rolled back by August 1, they would be compelled to intensify the agitation.


Sikh organisations demand action against SHO
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 29
Sikh organisations of the town have taken serious note of threatening the witnesses of a case related to a preacher of the DJJS (Noormehalias), Swami Shardanand, against whom a case is pending in the local court, by the SHO of the local city police station.

The Khalra Mission Committee, Ashutosh Virodhi Morcha, Gurmat Parchar Sabha, Sikh Jagriti Morcha and Sri Guru Granth Sewa Society and other organisations organised a joint meeting today here under the presidentship of Bhai Joginder Singh Fauji. The organisations warned they would gherao the office of the local SSP in case action was not taken against the concerned SHO immediately. The organisations told the matter had been taken into the notice of the PSHRC, DGP, Chief Minister and other authorities.


PRTC workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 29
The PRTC Worker Union today staged a dharna in front of the head office of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) here in protest against the “anti-employees” policies of the state government.

While addressing the gathering, its general secretary, Mr Nirmail Singh Dhaliwal, demanded that the state government should reject the transport policy of 1997. He further demanded nullification of disinvestment commission constituted by the previous government.

The members of the union alleged that the corporation was facing a loss of Rs 100 crore per annum due to without permit plying of private buses in the state. They said despite several requests the state government was not filling the posts.


Demonstration by shopkeepers
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 29
Shopkeepers of Hoshiarpur led by Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA, staged a dharna and demonstration at Clock Tower Chowk for two hours here today in protest against the new timings of opening and closing of shops from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shopkeepers condemned the Punjab Government and said that it had badly failed in making regular supply of electricity. The PSEB was charging bills on the basis of sanctioned load of power.


Cops, villagers uproot marijuana plants
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 29
The district police authorities with the help of residents of Jassi Baghwali village has uprooted marijuana and other plants grown in an area near Jassi Baghwali village of the district, which were being used by a section of villagers and others for intoxication.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said the fact that marijuana and other intoxicating plants had been grown in about 4 sq km near Jassi Baghwali village came to his notice during a meeting of the Drug Abuse Advisory Committee held on July 14.

He stated that a section of senior police officials, including the DSP and the SHO, police station, Sangat Mandi, were put on job to get all these plants uprooted. The SSP added that an appreciation certificate had been given to the SHO, police station, Sangat Mandi, in this regard.


Rider run over by horse cart, hurt seriously
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 29
Mr Dev Singh, a resident of Mubarikpur village, sustained severe injuries after a horse cart he was riding ran over him at the railway overbridge on the busy Kalka-Ambala highway in Bhankharpur village, near here, yesterday.

Eyewitnesses said the man was riding the horse cart, loaded with empty in drums, towards Zirakpur when the horse suddenly got frightened and started jumping. In the process the man fell down on the road and was run over.

Certain shopkeepers in the Bhankharpur village market noticed the horse cart running without its rider. Afterwards, a passerby informed them that a person was lying unconscious on the overbridge. He was then taken to the local Civil Hospital. He was later referred to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

The horse along with the cart also fell into a ditch adjacent to a gurdwara along the highway and was critically injured.


Girl crushed to death under train
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 29
A 15-year-old girl was crushed to death under a train while she was crossing the railway track near Phatak Number 23 here today.

The deceased has been identified as Mandeep Kaur, a student of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Model Town. She was living here with her relative in the Khalsa College Colony of the city.


Arrest warrants against ex-SDM
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 29
Mr Balbir Singh, additional Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, has cancelled the bails of Puneet Goyal, former Sub-divisional Magistrate, Pathankot, his driver Makhan Singh and Mohinder Pal and has issued their arrest warrants today.

Mr Gurmej Singh Saini, Forest Warden, Hoshiarpur and Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, Forest Warden, Gurdaspur, on the permission of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had moved an application before the District and Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, for the cancellation of bails of the three persons in a case registered against them under Sections 9, 39, 40, 41, 48A, 50 and 51 of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, by the Wild Life Protection Department, Hoshiarpur, on February 29, 2004, for poaching of wild animals in the Naroor Forest area of Hoshiarpur Forest Division.


High Court
Judgment reserved in poll papers' rejection case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 29
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved its judgement on the petition filed by three senior Akali leaders challenging the decision of the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Gurdaspur to reject their nominations for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

Today, counsel for the complainant, on whose complaint the Akali leaders had been debarred from contesting the elections, said that the DCs had not acted in haste and their order was correct.

He said that the decision of the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, was without jurisdiction and hence void.

Contempt plea

The High Court on Thursday issued notice for contempt to the Ropar Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain, Ropar Senior Superintendent of Police Surinder Pal Singh, DDPO Janak Raj Ghai and another officer.

The notice was issued on the contempt petition of one Roshan Ali of village Singh Bhagwantpur in Ropar. The petitioner has stated that despite the High Court order of January 15, 2004, asking the respondents to remove all kinds of encroachments from the graveyard in the village within four weeks, no action has been initiated in the matter.


Dowry death: 7-year jail for husband, in-laws
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 29
Mr Iqbal Singh Bajwa, Additional Sessions-cum-District Judge, in charge, Fast Track Court, Gurdaspur, has sentenced three persons, including the husband of the victim Shublata, to 7 years’ imprisonment, besides a fine of Rs 2000 each. In case of the non-payment of the fine, the sentence would be extended by six months.

Ms Vinod Kumari, the mother of Shublata, had alleged in a complaint that her daughter was poisoned to death by her in-laws, including her husband. The in-laws were demanding dowry from her daughter. Due to her inability to fulfil the dowry demands her daughter was beaten up several times. Finally, the in-laws, including the husband Jaipal Singh, father-in-law Dalip Singh and mother-in-law Raj Kumari killed her daughter by giving her poison, she alleged.

She had lodged an FIR with the police on July 6, 2000. The police had registered a case against the accused under Sections 304-B, 34 of the IPC.


Judicial custody for SMO
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 29
Muktsar SMO Meena Jagga was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a city court, following which she was sent to women cell of Ferozepore Central Jail.

Ms Jagga was produced in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, who sent her in 14-day judicial custody. The CJM rejected the plea of the Vigilance Bureau for giving at least three-day police remand of the accused. Posted at Muktsar Civil Hospital, Ms Jagga was nabbed red-handed by the Vigilance Bureau while taking bribe from a patient. Vigilance Bureau DSP Surjit Singh Khosa arrested her while taking Rs 300 as bribe from Ms Veerpal Kaur of Kot Bhai village.

Ms Veerpal Kaur’s husband, Mr Iqbal Singh had approached the Vigilance Bureau with a complaint against the doctor that she had been demanding money from his wife for his treatment.


Farmers tending to only half the paddy crop
Central team visits villages
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, July 29
For farmers of this subdivision, water has always been a problem. They either have too much of it or not at all, says Amar Singh of Mirzapur. At present the subdivision is seeing the worst-ever water shortage with around 30 per cent of the standing paddy crop having being affected.

The Central team, which has been touring Punjab, today examined the situation in Alampur village in the subdivision. The three-member team went around the fields and also interacted with villagers. Farmers said they told the team that nearly half of the paddy planted in the village had been destroyed due to lack of water.

“What has survived is at a tremendous cost,” said villager Sukhdev Singh. He and others said nearly all farmers were trying to save half of their paddy crop and ignoring the rest. “This is being done with the help of diesel, which is a very costly proposition,” they said. They complained that water was not available in the area even for domestic purposes as all shallow tubewells had become dry.

Farmers said the area adjoining Banur and Rajura had also been affected. The area used to depend on a ganda nullah for irrigation of the paddy crop. “However, as there is no water in the nullah now, we did not even consider planting paddy,” they said. Even those who have planted paddy, feel they should have waited for the rain before doing so.

This is because the water level in the area has gone down tremendously in the past few years. It is 200-250 feet and only submersible tubewells with powerful motors are able to draw the water out. Only rich landlords can go in for this and others have to simply do without sowing paddy.

The situation has led to farmers forming a committee to agitate for allowing water to flow in the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. Jaswant Singh of Mirzapur says the water level in the region would rise if the canal started flowing.

At Alampur village, the three-member team comprising Mr Joginder Singh, Additional Commissioner, Mr Rajbir Singh, Assistant Commissioner, and Mr B. K. Choudhary, Joint Director, all of the Union Agriculture Ministry, took suggestions from villagers as to what could be done to help them. Besides demanding immediate compensation, some villagers said they should be provided hybrid seeds for crops which could be sown with less water to ensure their six-month crop was not a total failure.

Meanwhile, Chief Agricultural Officer Kesar Singh disclosed that paddy had been sown in 33,000 lakh hectares less than last year in the district. The area under maize cultivation had also gone down by 3,000 hectares.


PUDA orders recovery of 11 lakh from engineers
Use of substandard material for MIG flats

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 29
For the more than 100 allottees of MIG flats in the Urban Estate, who had been claiming that they had been given a raw deal by the Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority (PUDA), justice had been done, with PUDA ordering the recovery of Rs 11.15 lakh from its engineers.

The residents, who were allotted the flats in 1996, were elated at the decision. “We are happy that PUDA has at last admitted what we had been claiming for so long”, said Mr Manmohan Arora, who had bought a MIG flat, but had surrendered it later. He said the step was long overdue as the flats were in a poor condition because of the substandard material used by the engineers of the department.

The Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr A.S. Chhatwal, had recently ordered the recovery of Rs 11.15 lakh from the PUDA engineers. This included eight engineers of the civil wing and four of the public health wing. Seven of the engineers of the civil wing are Executive Engineer J.J. Kumar, retired Executive Engineer K.B. Passi, then SDO and now Executive Engineer Nirmal Singh Kahlon, SDO B.P. Singh, then Junior Engineer and now SDO Jaspal Singh, JE Surjit Singh and JE Chhote Lal. The engineers of the public health wing against whom recoveries have been ordered are Executive Engineer Latif Akhtar, SDO then Junior Engineer and now SDO Jagdish Chander Sharma, Amritpal Singh and JE Charanjit Singh.

According to the order, Rs 1.14 lakh would be recovered from the engineers of the civil wing and Rs 9.99 lakh from those of the public health wing. All would have to pay a like amount for using substandard material during the construction of the flats. The public health engineers were being penalised more severely because of faulty water fittings, which had resulted in dampness in the flats.

In another relief to those staying in these flats, PUDA today decided to constitute a committee to look into the demand of the residents that PUDA repair their houses. Mr Chhatwal said a case was being made to ensure minimal repair of the houses by PUDA and a decision in this regard would be taken soon.

Meanwhile, a number of persons owning flats in MID Enclave met Mr Chhatwal during his visit in Patiala. The residents said they felt cheated by PUDA, which had done nothing even as their houses were crumbling. They demanded that repairs be conducted immediately. The residents said PUDA, while selling the flats, had promised to deliver completely furnished flats in the brochure, but had given flats with one incomplete bathroom. They said the residents had to spend more than Rs 25,000 each to instal fittings in the bathroom.

Persons who had surrendered their flats earlier, also met Mr Chhatwal and demanded that the interest they had incurred on loans taken by them to buy the flats be paid to them. They said PUDA had returned the interest charged by it from buyers who had financed their houses from it, but later surrendered the flats.


30 pc posts of doctor, teacher vacant
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur July 29
Nearly 30 per cent of total posts in the education and the health departments here are vacant in the district. In the Education Department, (primary section) 1040 out of the 3838 sanctioned posts are vacant.

Besides posts of teachers 862 posts of the head teacher 181 posts centre of the center head teacher and 22 posts of the block education officer (BEO) were also vacant. The post of the DEO district education officer (primary) has also been vacant. The charge of the DEO’s office was with the deputy DEO.

Acting DEO (primary) said that many primary schools in the district were without teachers. Teaching in these schools was being done with the help of volunteers recruited under the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan scheme. These volunteers have 10+2 as basic qualification.

Condition of the secondary schools was no different. In middle schools 239 posts, in high schools 124 posts and in senior secondary schools 119 posts of the teacher were vacant. Also hundreds of posts of principal are also vacant in secondary schools. This was the condition of the education department. Former Education Minister Khushal Behal belonged to Gurdaspur.

In the Health Department more than 33 per cent of sanctioned posts have been vacant. Out of 290 sanctioned posts of doctor in the district 103 were vacant. Due to shortage of doctors many rural dispensaries in the district are without doctors. Pharmacists or the lower health staff manage the work in said dispensaries. Many hospitals in rural areas are without services of specialist doctors.

Sources said that none of the doctors wants to be posted in remote areas of the district. Whenever a doctor is posted in the remote area he fails to join duty and seeks transfer or quits job. The government has not recruited doctors since long for posting them in the district. The post of SDM in the Dhar subdivision one of the most backward areas of the district has been vacant for more than two years. People of the area have to travel 40 km to Pathankot for routine official work. The SDM Pathankot has been given the charge of the Dhar subdivision also.

Post of the executive officer of the Pathankot Improvement Trust is also vacant. Executive officer of the Pathankot Municipal Council holds the charge of the Improvement Trust also.

In the PSEB also 16 posts of SDOs have been vacant in the district besides hundreds of other technical posts.

This is despite 11 MLA’s from the district representing the area in the Punjab Assembly.


12 government officials found absent
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 29
The Commissioner, Ferozepore division , Mr B. Sarkar, paid a surprise visit to various government offices and found 12 officials absent from duty today.

Last week also, he found 14 officials absent from duty during a surprise visit to various government offices.

He visited the tehsil office, the municipal committee office, the transport office, the office of the District Food and Civil Supplies Controller and the Civil Hospital, Ferozepore.

At the tehsil office, he found six officials absent from their duty. These were: Deepak Kumar (reader), Balwant Singh (kanungo), Deepak Kumar and Ishwar Chander, (registry clerks), Rajinder Kaur (clerk) and Chander Kanta (helper).

One official each was found absent at the District Food and Civil Supplies Controller’s office and the municipal committee office.

Three doctors were found absent during a surprise check at the Civil Hospital, Ferozepore. Mr Sarkar also visited various wards of the hospital and expressed displeasure over the poor hygienic conditions there.

He instructed the SMO, Dr Pritam Singh Sauna, to ensure proper cleanliness in the hospital and take action against the erring hospital staff.

At the transport office, he found Davinder Singh (clerk) absent from the office.

Mr Sarkar said stringent action would be taken against the erring officials. 


4 MC employees report late for duty
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 29
Four employees of the local Municipal Council were found reporting late for duty during a surprise check conducted by the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the Department of Local Government, Punjab, here today.

Mr A.K. Kansal, CVO, told The Tribune that four employees — two clerks and two sewadars — reached the office at 8.35 a.m. when the office was functioning at 8 a.m. since the past few days.

He said that the Secretary and the Director of the Local Government had asked officials to check offices of the civic bodies in Punjab in order to maintain discipline after the office working hours had been changed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Punjab.

When asked what action would be taken against the employees who reported late for duty. Mr Kansal said that would be decided by the higher authorities.


Police stations raided
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 29
A Warrant Officer, Mr Beant Singh, appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, raided the city and sadar police station, Phagwara, police posts of Rawalpindi and Satnampura last night.

The raid was conducted following a complaint to the court by Ms Kulwinder Kaur of Mohalla Gobindpura, who had alleged in her petition to the court that her husband Sukhdev Singh and children were detained illegally by the police.


Revised edition of records manual
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
The Punjab Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, today released a revised edition of Punjab Land Records Manual. This third edition of the manual has been compiled after incorporating all the corrections and amendments by the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Mrs Gurbinder Kaur Chahal, after a gap of more that 30 years . The first manual was printed in 1935 and second in 1973.

On this occasion, according to a press statement Mr Samra also released a booklet containing translation of Urdu and Persian words of revenue terminology in Punjabi.


Son held for mother’s murder
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 29
The police has solved the murder case of Darshan Kaur of Jamitgarh village and arrested three persons, including her son Gurvinder Singh, alias Garry, for plotting the murder of his mother by hiring contract killers — Harvinder Singh, alias Sabi and Parminder Kumar, alias Pamma, both residents of Kukkeran village. Two others involved in the ‘contract killing’ — Sukhwinder Singh, alias Bagga, and Vicky, driver of the Sumo used in the crime have absconded.

The police has also recovered the swords used in the killing.

The SSP, Mr M.R. Farooqui, said here yesterday that the ‘contract killing’ of Darshan Kaur was executed on Saturday night. The police got the clue that a dispute between the deceased and her son had been going on. It interrogated him and he confessed to having hired ‘contract killers’ to kill his mother.

The accused were known to Harvinder as he had worked with them in a factory in Ludhiana. In his confession, Gurvinder Singh admitted that he had paid them advance money to kill his mother. They purchased swords to execute the killing and an amount of Rs 20,000 was given to them from the almirah of his mother to make it look like a case of burglary.


Petrol being sold illegally
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 29
More than 100 shops are illegally selling petrol in and around the town without permission from the authorities in connivance with the Food and Civil Supplies Department.

The owners of these outlets are not only charging exorbitant rates but also posing threats to safety of people.

A visit to most of the shops located in the rural areas revealed that plastic containers, filled with petrol, were kept outside the shops for sale.

Mr Som Lal, a resident of Azij Pur village here, disclosed that under compulsion he purchased one litre petrol from a shop of his area for Rs 48. Similarly Mr Karan Singh of Dinanagar said the engine of his scooter was seized , when he got the petrol tank of his scooter filled from an unauthorised dealer of the area.

These illegal outlets are mainly operated from Shahpur Kandi, Sujanpur, Dinanagar, Taragarh, and its adjoining areas.

Mr Amit Gupta, Assistant Manager of the Indian Oil Corporation here (IOC) said, only about 15 petrol pumps had been authorised to sell petroleum products. No dealer had been permitted to sell petroleum in the open market.

Mr Manminder Singh, SP said, the police had not received any complaint in this connection but assured that on receipt of complaint legal action would be taken against the culprits.

Mr Surinder Mohan Sharma, District Food and Supply Officer (DFSO) feigned ignorance and said, the department had directed the subordinate staff to keep regular check on the unauthorised petrol shops.

On the condition of anonymity, a retired senior functionary of the Food and Supplies Department said this practice had been going on for the past about five years and due to political interference the department was helpless.


Junk dealer held for Pathankot explosion
Tribune News Service

Pathankot July 29
The local police has arrested the junk dealer, Masudan, in whose compound an explosive device went off yesterday, killing four rag pickers. A case under Section 304-A of the IPC has been registered against the junk dealer.

Besides the junk dealer, the police has also booked the owner of the plot, Vijay Katoch, where the dealer was running his business for not informing the police about his tenants. The plot owner was, however, released on bail.

Sources here said that after the incident the police had decided to check all the godowns of junk dealers in the town with the help of sniffer dogs. The step is being taken to check the likelihood of explosive devices in other junkyards also. Most of the junk dealers in the Rara Colony area, in which explosion took place yesterday, have fled.

Army and air force bases surrounded Pathankot town. The Rara Colony area has about 25 junkyards. They all are located in the residential areas. 


No case registered in group clash
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 29
No case has been registered in the group clash behind Khalsa College here in which three students of Ajnala college were injured last evening. The opposite group had reportedly opened fire in the air. However, the police denied this. It alleged that the families of both groups were pursuing their children for reaching a compromise and were not lodging complaints in this regard.

Three students, Harpreet Singh, Kuldip Singh and another Harpreet Singh, all belonging to Ajnala college were injured in the clash when a number of unidentified students attacked them with sharpedged weapons due to an old rivalry between them.

The condition of one of the students was stated to be serious. They have been admitted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Civil hospital here.


Three of family arrested in dowry case
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 29
Three members of a family of Guri Sangar village in Gidderbaha of Muktsar district, were arrested by the city police after a complaint by one Ms Jagjit Kaur, daughter of Mr Gurcharan Singh of Ferozepore.

According to the FIR lodged at Muktsar city police station, the complainant alleged that her mother-in-law Baljeet Kaur, father-in-law Shinderpal Singh, brother-in-law Parminder Singh and husband Sukhwinder Singh had been demanding dowry from her since their marriage about seven years ago.

The police booked the accused under Sections 498 A, 406 and 420 of the IPC and arrested all except the husband of the complainant.

His whereabouts for past couple of years have not been known.


Woman ‘killed’ by in-laws
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 29
A married woman was allegedly killed by her in-laws at Bhoipur village here yesterday. In his complaint, victim’s father Mora Singh said that his daughter, Swaran Kaur, was married to Jagjit Singh of the village about one and a half years back. He alleged that her in-laws used to torture her for bringing more dowry.

On the basis of his statement the police has registered a case against Jagjit Singh, Dileep Singh and Chhinder Kaur under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC.


Migratory labourer murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 29
Mohan Yadav, a migratory agricultural labourer, was murdered by unidentified persons while he was sleeping in the farms of Mr Gurdev Singh of Bhagta Bhai Ka town in this district on the night of July 27.

In another case, Ranjit Singh, a resident of this town, was killed when a speeding vehicle hit him on the Bathinda-Barnala road last evening. In another instance, a criminal case was registered against Jassa Singh of Rampura Phul Mandi for his alleged involvement in stealing a truck loaded with 400 bags of cement.


100 medical college students stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 29
More than 100 final year students of post graduate classes of various disciplines in Government Medical Colleges Amritsar and Faridkot staged a dharna in front of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences complex here today in protest against the indifferent attitude of the management of the varsity. The management had not allowed them to appear in the final test to be held next year due to non-submitting of their plan thesis and other related documents on time to the university.

They also raised slogans against management and the government. While describing them innocent in his regard, the agitators told mediapersons that it was the fault of the administration of the colleges which generally made delay in providing supervisors or guides to the students to prepare the thesis plan within six months after the admission of each student in the institution.

Even on many occasions either the thesis and the ethical committees were not constituted or the topics were not allocated to the students which further delayed the process, thus violating the norms of the Medical Council of India.

Expressing concern over the prevailing conditions the agitators also accused the management of the colleges for not providing latest medical journals in the libraries for getting reference to prepare the plan. During the past about 20 years no state medical college had purchased any journal, alleged the protesters.

They also said the administration of the colleges had failed to deposit the documents of nearly 100 students who submitted the plans to the authorities of the institution in time.

Expressing concern over the attitude of the management of the university for making changes in the rules and regulations frequently, the students said since the inception of the post graduate classes in the colleges such problem never occurred.

They made it clear that if the university failed to change its attitude it would waste at least one year of 250 to 300 students who had got admission in 2002 and 2003 in the three state medical colleges at Patiala and Amritsar.

Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice- Chancellor, said keeping in view the future of the students a decision had been taken to condone the rules and all students would be allowed to appear in the final test.

However, the management might take up the matter with the authorities concerned of the colleges.


Amritsar boy attends ‘world leader summit’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 29
Sahiljit Singh Sandhu, a student of Spring Dale Senior School, returned home after participating in the 2004 Future World Leader Summit held in Washington.

He was the only student from Punjab, who was selected for the 2004 Future World Leader Summit, by the Presidential Classroom Inc. South Asia Representative Nugegoda, Sri Lanka. This summit was introduced in 1996 for international students.

In all 31 students from India took part in the summit.


Students beat up bus conductor
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 29
Students of Sir Chand Government College allegedly beat up the conductor of a private bus, Mr Labh Singh, in front of the college at Sardargarh village on the Bathinda-Gidderbaha road today on the issue of boarding the bus.

Injured conductor and driver Gurjant Singh said that when they were coming to Bathinda from Abohar, some students got the bus stopped in front of the college. The conductor said that he requested the students to go to the roof of the bus instead of sitting inside the bus. At this, the students started beating him, he added.

The conductor was admitted to Bathinda Civil Hospital. Meanwhile, the owner of the bus company, Mr Dilbagh Singh Dhillon, said that a formal complaint had been lodged with the police in this regard.

Some of the students said that the authorities should direct the bus operators to stop the buses outside the college and allow the students to board them.


Punjabi University sets up Gurmat
Sangeet Chair
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 29
Punjabi University has established the Gurmat Sangeet Chair for the expansion and promotion of Gurmat sangeet. The Chair has been attached to the Faculty of Art and Culture.

The university has started an M.A. course in Gurmat sangeet gayan at the Department of Music from this academic session. Keeping in view the interest of students, the university administration has 20 seats for the postgraduate course. The Department of Correspondence Courses has started a gurmat sangeet parveshika course from this session.

Dr Gurnam Singh, professor and head, Gurmat Sangeet Chair, said the Gurmat Sangeet Gayan MA course comprises theoretical and practical teaching about the ragas, singing style and Sikh kirtan tradition as ordained in Guru Granth Sahib.


School timings
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 29
The District Magistrate, Sangrur, Mr Husan Lal, today ordered all government, non-government and private schools in the district to remain open till 12.00 noon daily till further orders. The closing time of the schools has been changed in view of the hot weather.

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