P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder may succumb to pressure: Badal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 31
The Sikh high priests may find themselves in a quandary even as Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president Shiromani Akali Dal yesterday said that his party felt that Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok, president Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee (DGMC) had hurt the sentiments of Sikh masses by honouring Mr Jagdish Tytler, a Union Minister with a Siropa (robe of honour).

Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former president, SGPC, said that her party was of the view that the DGMC president should have skipped the function in New Delhi where Mr Tytler was honoured. She alleged that many organizations had indicted Mr Tytler for allegedly engineering anti-Sikh riots after assassination of the then Prime Minister Ms Indira Gandhi .

However, both Mr Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur said they won’t comment on the decision of Sikh clergy for absolving Mr Chandok of the charges.

Without mincing words, Mr Badal said: ‘Honour is honour. It may be given in a gurdwara or a club’. Mr Badal, however, said that his party would investigate the allegations whether any leader of Badal Akali Dal had ever honoured Mr Tytler? Suitable action would be taken against the SAD leaders if found guilty of honouring Mr Tytler.

It is pertinent to mention here that the SAD had inserted advertisements in newspapers depicting Mr Chandok while presenting Siropa to Mr Tytler. The Jathedar Akal Takht and Jathedar Patna Sahib had received flak for meeting Mr Chandok in New Delhi, few days before he was formally absolved from the charges of honoring Mr Tytler .

In yet another significant statement, Mr Badal said that his party could not stop Rashtriya Sikh Sangat from holding parallel functions to celebrate Sikh centenaries. However, when his attention was drawn about the statement of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht who had made fervent appeal to Sikh masses not to cooperate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat for organizing parallel functions, Mr Badal quipped “words of Jathedar Akal Takht should be considered final”.

However, Mr Badal said that SAD and the SGPC would celebrate the Sikh centenaries in the most befitting manner. Special attention would be given to connect proposed functions with the ‘bhagatas’ whose ‘bani’ (holy hymns) were enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. The descendants of ‘bhagatas’ would be honoured at the main function proposed to be held at Dewan Hall here to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

On the activities of controversial godman, Ashutosh Maharaj, Mr Badal said that such issues were related to the SGPC or Akal Takht which were competent to take any decision in this regard .

Mr Badal alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, might succumb to the pressure of Congress high command and may try to make volte face on Punjab Termination of Agreements on river waters, 2004.


CM denies being under pressure

Mr Amarinder Singh today ruled out his resignation and dismissed as rumours that he was under pressure from the Congress high command to step down.

“There is no question of my resigning nor has the high command asked for it,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function here in his first public appearance this week. — PTI


SYL issue: CM to fight it out in court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today that even though the party’s central leadership was “cross” with him for having got the Punjab Water Agreements Termination Bill passed by the Vidhan Sabha without its approval, he would mount a vigorous defence in its favour in the Supreme Court.

Talking to newspersons after presiding over a state-level Vanmahotsava function here, the Chief Minister said the Act was aimed at protecting the interests of the state. “I do not want to talk much on the issue as it is sub judice now but my government is determined to take appropriate measures in the Supreme Court to defend its case”, he added.

The Chief Minister, when questioned, said there was no question of his putting in papers on the issue.” I have only read reports in this regard in the Press”, he said. When questioned about Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to the state, the Chief Minister said he had himself invited the senior leader to Punjab.

When questioned about Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala’s statement that Haryana could stop the supply of gas through a pipleline which crosses its territory, he said Mr Chautala should know the difference between national and state property.

Answering a question on the Maninderpal Singh Kohli case, the Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that the state police had publicised his confession. He said this was objected to by the United Kingdom.

Earlier, Forest Minister Hasraj Josan said the department planned to plant 1.64 crore trees in the state in the current financial year.

Others who spoke on the occasion were Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, Finance Commissioner, Forests, J.R. Kundal and PUDA Chief Administrator A.S. Chhatwal, besides Mayor Vishnu Sharma.


CM’s decision embarrassed Cong leaders, says MP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 31
Admitting that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s step to ensure passage of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act-2004 on the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal, had embarrassed the Congress leadership, Mr Ashwini Kumar, a Rajya Sabha member, said today that the Chief Minister should have consulted the central leadership before taking such a step.

“There is no doubt that the action of the state government has embarrassed the central Congress leadership including Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi, who had the responsibility to protect interests of all the states,” Mr Kumar told reporters here after participating in a function at Kanya Maha Vidyalaya here.


Uneasy silence in captive Sukhdev’s village
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Sukhdev Singh’s family is hopeful. After receiving a call from the Ministry of External Affairs this afternoon informing them that negotiations were on, they are “waiting for results”. “We know it is going to take some time, but are sure that everything will be alright. The family has complete trust in God. He will not let us down”.

Morinda, July 31
No blockages. No angry men trying to stop vehicles from plying on a strip cutting across the lush green fields. Not even wailing women. Even politicians and their supporters are not there for gaining mileage after driving down to Makrona — Sukhdev Singh’s native village.

In fact, there is nothing to suggest that you have almost reached the place where Sukhdev Singh had spent the initial years of his youth before leaving for Kuwait from where his journey to captivity started.

Only men in khaki — posted at the intersections on the route — are there to suggest that all is not well. But the situation takes a dramatic turn as you cut along the curve to leave the road for travelling on a street of cobbled stone. Even before you spot the single-storeyed house, an eerie silence disturbs you.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot escape restlessness as you see scores of villagers sitting on chairs placed under the shade of a dense tree. It takes you seconds to realise that no one is talking. For a change, even the children can be seen sitting silently trying to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

Trying hard to control the growing feeling of uneasiness, you cautiously approach the villagers to find out if all is well, hoping that the threat of eliminating Sukhdev Singh and others has not been carried out.

Even before you can shoot your question, someone from the crowd stands up to remark, “You must be from the Press. Of course, you cannot be anyone else. You see government officials do not come here. Not even to console the relatives”.

Another opens the car’s back door before sitting on the rear seat. “Let me help you in parking the car,” he says. Forcing a smile, he adds, “Sukhdev Singh was extremely gregarious. That is why he has so many well-wishers”.

As you stand in the patio, looking at the gathering, one thing strikes you — the apprehension of a tragedy has brought the entire village together to share a common grief with different intensity. As if agreeing with you, someone says: “Only he knows whose son is facing difficulties. Others can only share their grief.”

Suddenly someone raises the television’s volume. The newscaster’s voice sounds grossly out of place. But you stop listening. Mustering courage, you then walk towards the sound coming from inside only to find a semi-conscious figure lying on the bed with arms covering the eyes.

“This is Sukhdev’s mother Gurpal Kaur,” says a relative. The woman tries to focus her eyes, but turns them away after a second. “She is too weak even to whisper,” says husband Sher Singh. “One eats even during grief, but still remains feeble,” he remarks before volunteering, “Sukhdev was always worried about the house. Even when he last called us up, Sukhdev requested us to get the water pump rectified without caring about the cost. He went to Kuwait for earning bread. Little did we know that one day swallowing it would be so hard”.

His brother Hardev Singh adds: “Restlessness is there as long as there is uncertainty. We want the drama to end soon so that Sukhdev can return. Once back, we will never let him go”.


Decline in milk supply to plants
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
While the Central team that visited various drought-hit areas of Punjab and Haryana to assess the loss caused to crops on Thursday returned to Delhi, there has been a substantial decline in milk supply from the countryside to various milk plants in Punjab.

After touring various parts of Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur etc, members of the Central team headed by Dr Joginder Singh, Additional Agriculture Commissioner of India, were convinced that drought had deva- stated a large part of the crops in Sangrur and Mansa and Ludhiana belt. Paddy crop has been hit hard in Sangrur district and cotton crop has been facing rough weather in the Mansa-Sirsa area. There has been a stunted growth of various kharif crops and in certain parts the crop has withered.

In fact, cotton crop is at a flowering stage now. However, as most of the crop is under stress, there are little signs of its flowering.

Informed sources said that the Central team would submit the report to the Union Agriculture Secretary tomorrow. The report would be further discussed with the Union Cabinet Secretary before taking any decision on it.

Dr Ajmer Singh, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, who accompanied the team to Mansa and Sangrur and Ludhiana areas, said today that “ we have shown prevailing ground realities in the countryside. Drought has affected all sections of society. The in-put cost to save crops has gone too high to be bearable for farmers and it is becoming difficult for them to arrange cash to buy fuel to run tubewells”.

The team has reached the conclusion that it was difficult to assess the extent of damage to crops at this stage. If the prevailing dry spell continued for some more days, the situation can further deteriorate and the damage to crops can increase further, especially in the Malwa belt.

Meanwhile, the daily average collection of milk from mill societies in rural Punjab has come down to 4.50 lakh liters. Last year, the collection figure during the corresponding period was 4.75 lakh liters. The drought has affected the milk yield of milch cattle. Moreover, shortage of green fodder has also affected the milk yield.

However, the Punjab Milkfed authorities say that they have maintained the supply of milk to various cities without any break. A senior officer of Milkfed said that all milk plants in the cooperative sector were operational. Milkfed was also fulfilling its contractual commitments with regard to supply of milk to Mother Dairy in Delhi also.


PUDA urges DGP to book colonisers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has approached the Director-General of Police, Dr A.A. Siddiqui, to get 300 cases registered against illegal colonisers in the state.

Disclosing this here on Thursday, the Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr A.S. Chhatwal, said though the organisation had been successful in getting cases registered against illegal colonisers all over the state, there were a number of cases where FIRs had not been registered.

Mr Chhatwal said PUDA was also proposing to increase the penalty for developing of illegal colonies. He said presently the Act stated that illegal colonisers could be awarded a two-year term or a penalty of Rs 10,000.

The Chief Administrator, who was here as part of a state-level drive to listen to complaints of people and societies, said there had been a demand from people of the Urban Estate for creation of more facilities which had been accepted. He said a sewerage project would be established at a cost of Rs 5 crore. Mr Chhatwal said it had also been decided to expand the present Community Centre in the Urban Estate. He said a swimming pool, a tennis court and an indoor stadium would be constructed at the site.

He announced a number of schemes for Nabha town.

He said PUDA was developing a residential enclave at Nabha by the name of Hira Enclave for which a draw of lots would be held around Divali. He said a tehsil administrative complex was being built at Nabha at a cost of Rs 1.75 crore.

Speaking about the schemes for Patiala city, he said PUDA would develop a habitat centre in the Mahendra Kothi complex. Mr Chhatwal said PUDA was holding talks with HUDCO and could develop the habitat centre as a joint venture.


Selfless service to Panth yet no reward
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Freedom fighter Dewan Singh displays his ‘tamra patra’ along with grandson Mehnga Singh who displays the ‘praman patras’ given by the SGPC to their family members.
Freedom fighter Dewan Singh displays his ‘tamra patra’ along with grandson Mehnga Singh who displays the ‘praman patras’ given by the SGPC to their family members. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar.

SALEEM SHEIKHAN (PATIALA): Freedom fighter and octogenarian Dewan Singh devoted his whole life for the Panth. So did his father, Jathedar Sharam Singh, who was responsible for breaking the blockade during the “Guru ka bagh” morcha in 1922 to ensure that food reached the devout during the anti-Mahant movement. Dewan Singh also participated in the Quit India Movement and afterwards served his religion by building Shaheedgunj Gurdwara, near here, besides contributing to the building of other shrines.

Now Dewan Singh, who claims he is 109, is reduced to begging the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to recognise his contribution to the faith by employing his family members in the SGPC. Dewan Singh’s pleas have gone unheeded so far.

Talking to TNS, the freedom fighter said he felt humiliated asking the SGPC for help, but had reached out to the body keeping in view the fact that he and his father had devoted their entire life to the faith.

“When I came here in 1948 our family received 28 acres of land. However, even here as earlier in Lyallpur we were struck by ill-luck as we continuously had to face cases due to our devotion to the various Sikh movements”.

The octogenarian said the family land holding was now only eight acres.

This is the second time Dewan Singh is feeling let down by the SGPC. “Earlier, we had to petition the committee for more than a decade before it agreed to put a portrait of my father Jathedar Sharam Singh in its museum”. He said a similar request made to the SGPC to honour the former Jathedar by putting up his portrait in the museum at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in Patiala, which is nearer to their home, was still to be accepted.

Giving details of his life, the freedom fighter said his family used to earlier live in Lyalpur in Pakistan. He said he was 25 when he participated with his father in the Guru ka bagh morcha. “Those were the heady days when the SGPC was in its infancy and Mahants controlled all the important gurdwaras”. He said an attempt made by the devout to gain control over Guru ka Bagh Gurdwara seemed set to boomerang on them with the local police blockading the gurdwara and not allowing any ration to go through to the protesters.

Dewan Singh said his father asked sturdy men to follow him with bags of foods on their heads. “He single handedly wounded the beat incharge after killing the latter’s horse following which the blockade was lifted”. He said he had participated in the Nankana Sahib morcha with his father, besides the Quit India Movement. “I, my father and two of my relatives Hakam Singh and Bhagat Singh received certificates from former SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra in 1974 for these deeds”, he says.


NASA winners get warm welcome
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
The city today saluted its “NASA winners” at various felicitation ceremonies which saw the children astride an open jeep with scores of city children standing on the road at various points to meet and congratulate them for emerging victorious in a gruelling space design competition
organised in Florida from July 16 to 19.

Banners and buntings were erected at various places in the city, with the Chief Minister also catching the infectious spirit. Capt Amarinder Singh, who visited the Baradari Gardens, to preside over a state-level Van Mahautsav function, also congratulated the winners.

Eight of the NASA winners besides their adviser, Dr Maneek Kumar, who teaches at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, were felicitated on the occasion. The students belonging to Thapar Institute and Budha Dal School were profusely garlanded at the Railway Station and honoured by the Patiala Social Welfare Association and Dedicated Brothers Group.

From here the students were taken in an open jeep to Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib where they paid obeisance. After this the mood got upbeat with ‘dholis’ accompanying them to predetermined spots in the city where school children congratulated them on their victory. The State Bank of Patiala, Rotary Club and the ICICI Bank also held functions at three other places in the city to honour the children. Patiala Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) honoured the children at a function organised by ICICI Bank.

The children then reached Budha Dal School where a number of them are studying. Here the school management committee head Uday Singh and Principal, Dr Amrit Aujla, honoured the children. A cultural programme was also held on the occasion with the NASA competition team members also breaking into an impromptu ‘bhangra’ on the occasion.

The children, who were overwhelmed by the reception, also could not stop talking about the “experience of a lifetime” they had in Florida. Ikhwinder Singh Chadha and Manpreet Billing said they would always be grateful for the help provided to them by Pieree Jean Harrison, the husband of Kalpana Chawla, at the NASA facility during the competition.

“We were made to feel at home,” said Ayush Rai and Abhishek Baraja adding they were also served Indian food. Dr Maneek Kumar, Assistant Professor at Thapar Institute, said the team designed a space settlement project for 16,500 people in space or moon which is projected to be built in 2029. He said the students were engaged in a 43-hour competition and that they would also be participating in a final round of the project next year. “We hope to win again,” he said.


Shaheed Udham Singh foundation formed
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur), July 31
Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh today announced the formation of the Shaheed Udham Singh Foundation and named Mr Lal Singh, Irrigation and Power Minister, Punjab, its president.

The Chief Minister announced this while paying rich tributes to Shaheed Udham Singh at a state-level function, organised on the 65th martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh at the New Grain Market here today.

The Chief Minister also remembered the freedom fighters, whose names are still in existence on a stone at the Cellular jail in Andaman.

The Chief Minister also placed a wreath on the memorial of Shaheed Udham Singh in the local stadium. He paid floral tributes to the portrait of the Shaheed at the site of the function. Mr Lal Singh, Irrigation and Power Minister, Punjab, Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the PPCC, and Ms Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala and wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, also paid tributes to the martyr.

Capt Amarinder Singh also honoured Mr Khushi Anand, Mr Bachan Singh, Mr Inder Singh, all nephews of Shaheed Udham Singh, and Ms Inder Kaur, a niece of the martyr, by presenting them with a shawl each. He also released a book on the life of Pt Som Dutt, former Punjab Minister and senior Congress leader from Barnala. Addressing the gathering, Capt Amarinder Singh said about the renaming of the town as “Sunam Shaheed Udham Singh Wala” he had already taken up the matter with the Central Government.

Capt Amarinder Singh expressed concern on deteriorating condition of power in the state. He said the state government was already purchasing power of Rs 14 crore daily due to delay of the monsoon and depletion of underground water table in the state, besides decrease in the water level of the Bhakra Dam and Pong Dam.


Tributes paid to Shaheed Udham Singh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 31
All those who sacrificed their lives for the nation are always remembered and become immortal. They are a source of inspiration for the coming generations. The communities that forget and don’t respect their martyrs cannot make progress, said Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, while paying tributes to Shaheed Udham Singh during the commemoration of his 65th martyrdom day at his memorial at Rauza Sharif here today. He said the nation could not repay the debt it owed such martyrs and it was due to their sacrifices that “we all are enjoying independence today.”

He said the martyrs did not belong to any particular party, caste or creed; rather they belonged to the entire nation.

He said the memorial of Shaheed Udham Singh here would be renovated and a concrete shed over it would be constructed by next year. He said besides Udham Singh, the photographs of other martyrs particularly the Kargil martyrs, belonging to district would also be displayed here. He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the memorial.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner said Shaheed Udham Singh sacrificed his life not for a religion or caste, but to take revenge of the Jallianwala massacre, which made every Indian proud of his act. He said it became our moral responsibility to strengthen the unity and integrity of the country. He urged the youth to take inspiration from the great martyrs and dedicate themselves selflessly to the cause of society and the nation.

He said we all were enjoying independence due to the sacrifices of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation.

The district administration is committed to provide help and assistance to the martyrs’ families. He said the district administration would make all-out efforts to beautify the memorial.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president, DCC, Mr Harinder Singh Sidhu, district president, BJP, and Mr Natha Singh of the CPI also paid tributes to Shaheed Udham Singh.


One-time cash grant for awardees
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Government under the leadership of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has announced a one-time cash grant for the future awardees of ` Mention-in-Despatches of Rs 2.50 lakh with effect from May 27, 2004.

Stating this here yesterday, Brig J.S Jaswal, Director, Sainik Welfare, said the amount would be applicable only to the future winners of this award and the previous cases would not be reopened. The amount shall be given in lumpsum to the future awardees only once and they will not be entitled for any other benefit.

To ensure equitable distribution of award money to the beneficiaries, the state government has taken special interest to ensure that the parents of the awardees are also adequately covered so that they not only get a share of the award money but also a token of appreciation of the state and society for the supreme sacrifices made by their sons.

As per the new distribution pattern of money to future gallantry awardees such as PVC, AC, MVC, KC, Vr C, SM ( G) and M -in-D, widows will get 35 per cent, children 35 per cent and the remaining 30 per cent to the parents. In case the parents are not alive, 30 per cent share of parents will be equally divided between widows and children. And in case there is no child, the award money will be divided between parents and widow in the ratio of 50: 50. For minor children, the amount shall be payable only to the child upon his/her gaining maturity. The interest earned on the FDR shall not be withdrawn in favour of the minor child, except with the prior approval of the DC of the district concerned, who shall ensure that the amount is spent exclusively for the benefit of the minor.

If the posthumous gallantry awardee is single, 100 per cent share of the award money will be given to the parents. And if the parents have expired, it will be distributed equally among the unmarried sisters and brothers.


Nursing home water supply found contaminated
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 31
In a startling revelation, the water being consumed by the staff, patients and their attendants in a private hospital located in the town was found contaminated with insects and suspended particles when a team of doctors of the local Civil Hospital conducted a surprise check this morning.

The Civil Hospital authorities said the water was being supplied from the water cooler installed in the local Thukral Nursing Home.

“The water, which has turned muddy, contains insects, worms and other suspended particles,” said Dr A.S. Sekhon, District Health Officer, who took samples and sent them to a laboratory for chemical examination. He added that there was absence of cleanliness in the operating theatre of the nursing home.

Besides, the team also found an instrument of Unicef, which was meant for only government-run hospitals, from the nursing home.

The team also visited two other private clinics in the town and found water cooler without a filter at the clinics. The clinics also did not fulfil the formalities required under the PNDT Act.

Dr Sekhon added that wheat and wheat flour samples had been taken from 16 flourmills of the district. Out of those, 12 had been taken from flourmills located in the town and four from flourmills located in Bhucho Mandi town. He said the samples would be sent to a Chandigarh laboratory to verify the quality of wheat used.


Forest officers support DFO
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 31
The Punjab State Forest Officers’ Association have condemned the behaviour of Mr H.S. Grewal, Conservator of Forests, Working Plan Circle, who allegedly had threatened Patiala District Forest Officer Karamjeet Singh and his staff for providing official record to the Vigilance Department.

Members of the association said that as per directions of the Vigilance Bureau, Mr Karamjeet Singh, DFO, provided the record pertaining to the embezzlement that established Mr Grewal’s alleged irregularities in the case. The records pertained to illegal felling of over 90,000 trees in the Nurpur Bedi Range of Ropar division in April 2003, which led the suspension of Mr Grewal and the registration of an FIR against him by the Vigilance Department.

Mr R.R. Kakkar, President of the association, Mr Aseem Sharma, finance secretary, Mr Paramveer Singh, publicity secretary, and Mr Tejinder Singh, joint secretary said that the association denounced Mr Grewal’s attempt to threaten the DFO. They demanded action against him as several vigilance enquiries that were pending against him which included misappropriation of Rs 3.25 crore under the Japanese-Aided Project and embezzlement of funds under compensatory afforestation projects and cooking cash book to white wash the embezzlement.


Heavy rain submerges Muktsar, Malout areas
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 31
An hour’s rain in this district today, brought some relief to farmers and residents here, but due to bad disposal system Muktsar and Malout cities turned into lake as several low-lying areas were submerged.

The worst affected areas in Muktsar were Gandhi Nagar, Khaddian Wali Gali, Jodhu Colony, Baba Sant Singh Street, Bhai Himmat Singh Road, Kaccha Uday Karan Road, Kotkapura Road and Mohan Lal Street In Malout main bazaar, Tehsil Road, Gur Bazar and Birla Road were affected.

BJP Municipal Councillor and leader of the Opposition in Muktsar Municipal Council, Satpal Pathela, alleged that indifferent attitude of the Public Health Department and Municipal Council was the main reason of accumulation of rainy water in several areas of the city. He said despite repeated request no desiltation of manholes had been done in the city by the Public Health Department.

He further alleged a big amount of Rs 95,000, sanctioned by the local Bodies Department for desiltation of drains, had been misappropriated.


Union seeks action against Forest Conservator
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 31
The Punjab State Forest Officers Association has expressed shock and outrage over Mr H.S. Grewal, Conservator of Forests, working plan circle, for threatening the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Patiala and his staff with dire consequences for providing the official record to the Vigilance Department as demanded by the latter. As per the directions of the Vigilance Bureau, Mr Karamjeet Singh, DFO, Patiala, had provided the record relating to the embezzlement of department funds.

Mr Karamjeet Singh was the member of the team which had checked and reported the illegal felling of over 90,000 trees in Nurpur Bedi range of Ropar division in April, 2003. This had led to Mr Grewal’s suspension and registration of another FIR against him by the Vigilance. Mr Grewal has also been chargesheeted for imposing a major penalty in the case.

In a joint press statement here yesterday the association criticised the intimidation of Mr Karamjeet Singh, DFO, Patiala, and his staff by Mr Grewal. They have demanded action against Mr Grewal.


Trash stops power generation
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 31
Reeling from power crisis the PSEB suffered anther setback when the UBDC powerhouse had to stop generation due to excess trash in the canal.

Sources here said that due to rain in the upper hills a lot of trash flowed into kutcha unlined UBDC canal that led to the choking of the powerhouse.

The sources told that had the generation not been stopped at the powerhouses the trash coming in the canal could have damaged the turbines.

Chief engineer hydel PSEB Narinder Mohan visited the powerhouses today to take stock of the situation.

As much as 91.35 MW power was being generated at three power houses are situated on the 21 km long UBDC canal that has a capacity to carry 9564 cusecs of water.


Dalit Samaj to move SC, ST commission
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 31
The Dalit Samaj Action Committee, led by Mr Parkash Doshi, general secretary of the Punjab Congress SC/ST cell, today decided to approach the National SC/ST Commission demanding justice in the case related to the former Congress MLA, Mr Raghubir Singh, who had allegedly used derogatory remarks against some Dalit women.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Doshi, further alleged that Punjab police had been trying to hush up the case. An inquiry had been ordered into the case after councillor Reshma Devi lodged an FIR against Raghubir Singh, his son and councillor Dinesh Kumar, Gidderbaha Municipal Council president Kulwant Singh and another councillor Baldev Singh on July 22 under relevant sections of prevention of atrocities against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act.

Mr Doshi said Ms Reshma Devi was being issued threats by the accused.

The Dalit leader further said the action committee had decided to hold a district level rally at Dhanak Dharamshala in Gidderbaha on Monday to protest against the Punjab police for trying to hush up the case.


SGJC Chairman hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 31
Chairman of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), Manmohan Singh, was injured in an road accident here yesterday evening. He was on way to Kotkapura from Faridkot. The accident took place when a scooter came in front of his car and to save the scooter rider the car rammed into a jeep coming from the opposite direction.

A friend of Mr Manmohan Singh who was accompanying him and three occupants of the jeep were also injured. He and his friend were admitted in Guru Gobind Medical College and Hospital.


DC inaugurates plantation drive
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 31
To make this district green, sapling plantation drive under the “Plant tree, save Fatehgarh Sahib” scheme has been launched.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today inaugurated the plantation drive initiated by the Lions Club, Sirhind, at Dera Mir Miran village, Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Sirhind, BZSFS School, JLN Girls College, Mandi Gobindgarh, and BDPO offices.

Addressing the function at Dera Mir Miran village, he said large-scale felling of tree had created ecological imbalance. He highlighted the benefits of the trees and urged villagers to join this campaign.

He said the Forest Department in the district had achieved the target of planting 1.25 lakh of saplings. Mr Ramesh Kumar, president, Lions Club, Mr Ashwani Kaura, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Charanjiv Channa, president, Municipal Council, Sirhind, Mr Bhupinder Singh of the Lok Sewak planted 200 saplings in the village.


Diarrhoea claims one more life
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 31
Diarrhoea has claimed one more life in Mari Mustafa village here with the death of one Chhinder Kaur, resident of one of the affected localities, Bouria Sikh Basti.

Meanwhile, 22 fresh cases of diarrhoea were reported from the village, of which 6 had been referred to Baghapurana hospital.

Sources said the deceased, who was already ill, had been to a “dera” at Indragarh near Dharamkot. There her condition deteriorated.


Football coach acquitted in TADA case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
The court of Additional Judge Designate TADA today acquitted the football coach of the Punjabi University’s Physical Education department who had been listed as an accused in the killing of former Excise and Taxation Commissioner A.K. Mishra.

The court of S.P. Bangarh, which held its hearing in the maximum security jail at Nabha near here, absolved coach Dalbir Singh of the charges levelled against him in the FIR registered under Sections 302, 307, 120 (b) IPC in 1992.

Dalbir Singh had been recently suspended from the University when the case was brought to the notice of the authorities and it was contended that he was still serving in the institution despite having been declared a proclaimed offender in the case. Dalbir Singh’s surrender had been effected two months back by his lawyer and human rights activist Brijinder Singh Sodhi.

According to the FIR, a chowkidar alleged that the conspiracy to murder the Excise and Taxation Commissioner had taken place in room number 19 of the college and that Dalbir Singh, who was then a student there, was part of the conspiracy. It was alleged that the accused had hidden their weapons in the college after committing the crime before taking them away.

The case, however, fell flat on its face today when during cross examination by lawyer BIS Sodhi, the witnesses failed to implicate Sodhi in the case. Witness Chajja Singh, who was the driver of the Commissioner and had also been injured in the attack, said Dalbir Singh was not present during the attack. The chowkidar, Mr Piara Lal, also denied the presence of Dalbir Singh in any conspiracy to kill the Excise Commissioner.


Advisory councils reconstituted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Government yesterday reconstituted three of its advisory councils dealing with Kandi, border and bet areas. The Chief Minister would be the chairman of all the three, says a press release.

Besides ministers and official members, these advisory councils have MPs and MLAs as non-official members. The aim was to involve all political parties in the process of development.


MLA’s wife booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura (Faridkot), July 31
The wife of an Akali Dal MLA from Kotkapura, Mrs Amandeep Kaur, has been booked on the charge of getting a government job by producing a fake gradation certificate. A case under Section 420 of the IPC has been registered against her on the orders of the Director, Sports. She was appointed under the sports quota.

Sources said Mukhtiar Singh, a resident of Sadik, in a complaint to the DPI, Punjab, had alleged that the gradation certificate produced by Mrs Amandeep Kaur, who was working in Government Elementary School, Jalaleana, was fake. The DPI had directed the District Education Officer (Primary) to probe into the matter. The DEO had sent the gradation certificate to the Sports Director for verification. After investigations the DEO was told that the department had not issued any such certificate to the accused. When the investigating officer asked the accused to produce the real certificate she had no satisfactory reply.

The sources said the District Education Officer, Faridkot, had submitted a report to the DPI after conducting a probe into the matter. The Director, Sports, wrote to the SSP to register a case against the accused. When the DEO (Primary) was asked as to what action the department had taken against her, he said they were corresponding with the Director, Education Department, in this regard.


2 more govt officials held for corruption
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau yesterday caught red-handed two more government officials — an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police (ASI) and an accountant with a municipal council — while demanding and accepting bribe. The ASI has also been booked under the provisions of the Excise Act after 50 bottles of liquor were allegedly recovered from his residence.

Their arrest is a part of a concerted drive launched by the Vigilance Bureau against corrupt practices in the state.

Already over nine public servants, including gazetted officers, have been arrested in just over a fortnight.

The sources in the Vigilance Bureau here revealed that ASI Balwant Singh — posted at Ganaur police station in Patiala district — was apprehended after a trap was laid to nab him.

The cop had allegedly demanded Rs 20,000 from one Jarnail Singh of Dhansi village for settling a property matter.

Finally, the deal was struck at Rs 2,000. Instead of making the payment, the complainant reportedly approached the Vigilance Bureau, after which the sleuths swung into action and caught the accused in the act.

Both the operations were carried out under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Vigilance) N. S. Dhillon. Though he was not available for comments, sources in his department revealed that both the accused had been arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In the other trap case, accountant Pawan Kumar working with the municipal council in Bathinda district was caught while accepting Rs 5,000 from a contractor for releasing his payment.

In his complaint before the bureau, contractor Baldev Singh had earlier alleged that the accountant had initially demanded Rs 10,000 for doing the job, but the deal was finally struck at Rs 5,000.

The bureau had earlier apprehended Punjab Mandi Board's General Manager (Marketing) on the allegations of indulging in corruption.

He was allegedly caught red handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000 from an employee for letting him off.

A senior Vigilance Bureau officer said almost all the trap cases laid by them had been a success. He added that the bureau was doing its best to eradicate corruption among public servants in the state. In this direction, Vigilance Bureau officials were not only registering first information reports but were also following up all the cases under trial before different courts.


Councillor arrested
Our Correspondent

Samana, July 31
Sudarshan Kumar Mittal, Municipal Councillor, Samana has been arrested as an FIR under Sections 385, 386, 387, 389, 506 and 34 of the IPC is registered against him on the complaint of Mr Yash Pal Singla, President of the Nagar Council. He was produced in the court today that sent him in police remand for five days.

In fact, the accused and Satish Kumar, sales tax advocate whose wife Nishi Bala is also a councillor, demanded money from the President in the shape of commission on the development work but he did not pay any commission.

Then they demanded Rs 5 lakh on the protext that they had spent a huge amount during election and if this amount was not paid they would write defamatory language against the family of Mr Yash Pal. Satish Kumar has already obtained arrest stay order from the Sessions Court, Patiala.


Concern over increase in universities
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
Prof Arun Nigavakar, Chairman University Grants Commission, New Delhi yesterday expressed his deep concern over the mushrooming of a number of universities which promises higher education without having infrastructure.

His specific reference was Chhattisgarh where 97 universities had been established under state Act without proper infrastructure and qualified faculty. Prof Nigavakar was interacting with the senior faculty members of the Guru Nanak Dev University in university premises here.

He said the UGC in the recent past had inspected 47 universities in Chhatisgarh and found only four universities actually operating. He said most of these universities had given addresses in Chhatisgarh but operating from Delhi. Stressing upon the computerisation of higher education, the UGC chairman said that UGC was establishing five educational multimedia centres in the country, which would be useful to the teachers and students for updating their knowledge.

Prof Nigavaker emphasised that new techniques to be implemented in teaching of higher education. Online and offline learning of BPOs in the universities and colleges were the need of day, so that young graduates could get employment in this sector. He stressed upon the need to start BPOs in small towns in addition to the metropolitan cities.

Stressing upon the general education, he said that more than 90 per cent students were getting education in this stream and hence it needed more attention. He said the UGC was committed to increasing the resources in this regard.

He said knowledge was another important aspect on which the UGC was working hard. He also gave the concept of ‘knowledge factory’ which is being given practical shape in the institutions of higher learning in Bangalore. He said higher education system in the country was big and complex but it did not have equitable academic as well as physical infrastructure throughout country.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, who presided over honored Prof Nigavakar by presenting him a set of university publications and phulkari.


5 observers appointed for PMET
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 31
The Punjab Government has appointed five observers at its Amritsar, Faridkot, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala centres to ensure fair and free PMET being conducted by the Baba Farid University of Medical and Health Sciences, Faridkot, on August 1. The observers include, Dr Amarjit Singh Gill, Principal Government Dental College Amritsar, Dr. J.S. Dalal, Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, Dr Surinder Singh, Principal, Government Medical College, Patiala, Dr R.L. Jain, Principal, Government Dental College, Patiala, and Dr H.S. Kajal, head of the Medicine Department, Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot. Two supervisors from different medical colleges will also help in the entire test process. In addition to this Dr A.S. Thind, Joint Director, Medical Education Research, will remain on duty during the collection of the answersheets, their evaluation and publication of the result.

As per official sources more than 8,100 candidates have been appearing in the PMET to get admission to MBBS courses for over 520 seats.

Meanwhile, the delay in the holding of the PMET by the university has caused concern among a large number of parents of candidates, following the norms of the MCI that no university or institution can make admissions after July 31.


Master’s in Dental Sciences at Muktsar dental college
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Desh Bhagat group of institutes is starting a Master’s in Dental Sciences (MDS) at Dental College, Muktsar, and scholarships for the PMT and MET toppers. The group runs various professional and medical colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh.

Stating this here today, Dr Zora Singh, Chairman of the group, said MDS would be started in the area of oral surgery, orthodontics, prosthodontics, and periodontics and conservation dentistry. The seats in the first year of BDS would be increased from 60 to 100.

Under the scholarship programme, free education in dental colleges would be provided to the toppers in the PMT and the MET. Mr Zora Singh stated that the group was the first in Punjab to start MDS. It was also going to start five new colleges from this session (physiotherapy, nursing, engineering, and BEd colleges). Of these four colleges would be in Mandi Gobindgarh and one nursing college would be started in Moga.

He said the BEd college of Education at Mandi Gobindgarh had got affiliation from Punjabi University, Patiala.


PTU counselling schedule
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 31
Counselling for admission to engineering colleges in the state, has been re-scheduled for the outside state by Punjab Technical University.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, said that the counselling of the candidates would now be conducted in three phases. In the first phase from August 1 to August 4. Counselling would be done on the basis of AIEEE merit. In the second phase, counselling for CET-2004 under 15 per cent quota would be conducted on August 9. This would be programmed up to rank 8000 in the morning and beyond 8000 in the afternoon. The third phase would be for Plus Two qualified candidates who did not take AIEEE or CET Punjab.


School attendants to continue stir
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 31
The Punjab Government Vocational School Attendant Union has decided to continue its dharnas in Chandigarh unless the government issued letters pertaining to summer-winter vacations for vocational attendants and appointment letters to the dependants of deceased employees and implemented a written pact regarding vocational teachers in letter and spirit.

Stating this today Mr Charanjit Singh, general secretary of the union, regretted that in spite of Punjab School Education Minister’s instructions to Punjab School Education Secretary to issue letters pertaining to vacations of workshop attendants and implement written agreement regarding vocational teachers in wake of agreement reached on April 5, 1995, nothing had been done.


Shopkeepers sore over changed timings
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 31
Shopkeepers of the city here are sore over the state government’s decision of restricting shop timings from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. of commercial and business establishments except hotels, restaurants and other eating outlets.

Shopkeepers say that the decision was adversely effecting their business as in the present hot weather conditions, the business usually picks up after 6 p.m. They added that if the state government could not provide adequate power supply to the people of the state they have no right to force the closure of business establishments before routine timings.

Mr Gulshan Narula, a cloth merchant in Sher-e-Punjab market, said the government should adopt other alternatives. He said the decision would definitely bring a slump in the entire market.

Gurcharan Malhotra, a shopkeeper in Anardana Chowk, says that he is facing heavy loss due to this ‘unjustified’ decision of the Punjab Government. He added that the government should not restrict timing of shops, instead it should impose power cuts.

Mr Rimpreet Singh, a shopkeeper in A.C market, alleged that despite government orders, the air-conditioners were being used in various government offices of the city. The government should take stern action against these officials only than it has the right to impose their decision on the public, he added.

However, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials say that the decision has been imposed on commercial and business establishments to save the economy of Punjab as due to crop failure, the economy of state could face a irreparable loss.

The official further justified the decision saying that the board was itself facing a revenue loss of Rs 50 crore daily as it was diverting the commercial power supply of Rs 4.50 per unit to the agriculture sector at the cost of 0.57 paise. The authorities further said that as soon as the power supply position improves, the decision would be revoked immediately.

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