P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Farmers disrupt rail traffic
Demand more electricity, higher MSP
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, August 2
Hundreds of farmers under the joint banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) and Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (BKUE) blocked the Amritsar-Jalandhar rail line at Vallah for four hours here today against not fulfilling the promises made by the state government. The blockade left thousands of passengers stranded as no train could pass from 1 pm to 4 pm.

They also demanded adequate power supply to save crops from imminent drought. Mr Kanwal Preet Singh Pannu, convener of the KSC, presented a memorandum to the ADC to be forwarded to the state government.

In the memorandum, they demanded to stop the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), appropriate minimum support price in view of increasing cost, waiving of loans, release the remaining amount of sugarcane crop, Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the families of farmers who committed suicide and check the alleged loot of farmers by the employees of the Excise Department, the PSEB and other government departments.

It was the second such protest after the Manawala railway blockade in which one farmer, Angrej Singh, was killed in the police firing. A number of policemen were present during today’s blockade but they did not ask the farmers to lift their protest and the blockade concluded as per the scheduled time.

The farmers laid on the track and raised anti-government slogans, while their leaders criticised the state and Central government for their failure to address the issues concerning farmers. Mr Pannu said several of their leaders and members had been picked by the police. He said some tractor-trailers full of farmers were stopped by the police. He said if their demands were not fulfilled, they would start indefinite protest.

A protester, Gurnam Singh of Duggalwala village under Tarn Taran tehsil, said his remaining amount of Rs 5,000 of sugarcane had not been paid. He said to save their paddy crop from being perished due to the monsoon failure, they should be given at least eight hours of electricity. He rued that at this moment only four hours of power was being supplied.

Thousands of passengers of Shatabdi, Shan-e-Punjab and Amrapali Express left stranded. Amrapali Express was stopped at Tangra at 1 pm, Shatabdi reached Manawala, around 10 km away from here at 1 pm.

Sangrur: Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ugrahan (Ekta) staged a dharna and blocked rail traffic for four hours at Chhajli village, near Sunam. They were protesting the non-implementation of an agreement between Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and farmers’ organisations signed on April 28, relating to the demands of the farmers, and poor power supply to their tubewells.

The farmers’ “rail roko” programme affected the rail traffic on the Ludhiana-Jakhal route, due to which the railway authorities stopped the 4 LJH Ludhiana-Hisar train at Sunam railway station as a precautionary measure.

The farmers’ leaders termed the policies of the state and Central governments as “anti-farmers”. They said the state government had also not fulfilled the promises made with the farmers during the last Assembly elections by the Congress leadership.

Malerkotla: Dadar Express was stopped at the Malerkotla railway station by the railway authorities for precaution as the call to stop the train was given by the farmers in support of their demands. The train was stopped from 12.51 to 16.20. Special arrangements were made by the railway authorities for the passengers.

Bathinda: Hundreds of activists of the BKU (Ekta) and Kisan Sangharsh Committee jammed the traffic on the Bathinda-Ambala rail section by staging a dharna on the rail track near Rampura town from 12 noon to 4 pm.

The members of the committee were lodging their protest against the failure of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to fulfil those demands of the farmers, which were accepted by him at the meeting of farmers organisation held with him in April, 2004.

Gidderbaha: The railway authorities decided to cancel two trains following dharna by the (BKU) Ekta on railway line near the Gidderbaha railway station in support of their demands. The railway authorities decided to cancel the Bathinda-Gidderbaha passenger train which was to leave the Bathinda railway station at 2.50 pm and to reach at 3.30 at Gidderbaha. Similarly, the authorities decided to culminate the Abohar-Gidderbaha train at Malout due to the protest.


Punjab seeks funds for irrigation projects
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The Punjab Government has urged the Centre to provide additional funds to complete irrigation projects pending for years in the states.

The state government has claimed that since Punjab had played a major role in Green Revolution and had to undergo the turmoil of militancy for over a decade, the Centre should provide funds under the proposed restructured Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) to complete these projects.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Jaspal Singh, Special Secretary, Department of Irrigation, Punjab, said: “We have submitted to the Ministry of Water Resources to increase its share in the minor and medium irrigation projects up to 90 per cent.”

He was in the Capital today to participate in two-day meeting of state chief secretaries and principal secretaries called by the Ministry of Water Resources. He said four pending irrigation projects including Shahpur Kandi ( Rs 324 crore), Kandi Canal Stage II (Rs 147.18 crore), Irrigation facilities HP area below Talwara (Rs 143.32 crore) and Remodelling Upper Badi Doab Canal System (Rs 178 crore) has been pending for the past over many years. 


News Analysis
Punjab agriculture must survive in nation’s interest
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, August 2
The farmers who had gathered together at Kisan Bhavan in Chandigarh on a wet Sunday were not on an outing. They were not a captive audience brought in hired transport for any political rally. They had assembled voluntarily. They had also brought along ‘langar’. They were genuinely concerned about their future and had responded spontaneously to the call of their leaders, who manage the Bharti Kisan Union—an ‘’economic organisation’’.

The invitation to three vice-chancellors, experts and bureaucrats was neither symbolic nor orchestered to sing paean to Capt. Amarinder Singh, who was present. The purpose was to ‘’educate’’ farmers and make them ‘’aware’’ of the problems that beset agriculture and how to prepare for the future.

The Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, was at hand to tell farmers, ‘’Why the water problem’’? He blamed paddy. ‘’I am not against wheat but paddy. Punjab and paddy are not made for each other. Rice is a water-guzzling crop, which you (farmers) have accepted and adopted because of remunerative returns, thanks to the ever-spiralling upward minimum support price (MSP)’’. The result?

There has been a fall in the ground water table. The cost of pumping the same quantity of water has gone up. You have been forced to switch from centrifugal to submersible pumps. If the trend continued, ‘’mining of water’’ would be more arduous. Paddy was, thus, a drain on electricity. The state’s 8.50 lakh tubewells consumed 35 per cent of the total power.

Take an increase in the paddy. It was 159 per cent from 1990-91to 2001-02, against an increase of 189 per cent in wheat during the same period. If the MSP of wheat went up by 47 per cent in five years, 1997-98 to 2001-02, paddy price rose by 26 per cent (fine) and 28 per cent (common) varieties. ‘’This competitive price war allured you to sow more paddy. It is not your fault. You may have solved the food problem of the country but in return you have added to your future problems’’, he added.

If the intended purpose of the ‘’river waters’’ seminar was to highlight the present practical difficulties agriculture faced or farmers would face in the future and to forecast, forewarn and forearm them, it was served. The seminar had the same impact on farmers as did the kisan melas PAU organised to inform them of new technological developments, new seeds and warning them of consequences if they did not follow the recommended package of farm practices.

Farmers are known to adopt technologies and recommendations, when they actually see them or are convinced about them when told explicitly to their face by experts. And, the occasion provided farmers and experts an opportunity to interact and understand the problems.

The presence of other two Vice-Chancellors, Mr S.S. Boparai of Punjabi University and S.P. Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, was aimed at conveying to the farmers that their problems were of wider ‘’academic’’ interest, as agriculture was the main anchor of state’s economic prosperity.

Though the two Vice-Chancellors eulogised Capt Amarinder Singh for the steps he had taken to protect river water rights within the framework of the Constitution, the intended message of the seminar was clear: survival of Punjab agriculture is in the interest of Nation. Punjab Act should not be misconstrued.

Punjab with 3 per cent of India’s net sown area and 1.5 per cent of its farming population, produced about 10 per cent of country’s rice and 20 per cent wheat and made a net contribution of about 45 per cent of both to national food basket.

Thus, while the Constitution Bench set up by the Supreme Court mulls over four points arising out of Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, referred to it by the President, it is time to ponder over deepening crises in agriculture in Punjab. The state tops the country in over-exploitation of its underground water resources, Of the total irrigated area, 42.4 lakh hectare, 75 per cent is irrigated by tubewells.

The canal network depends upon the availability of river water ponded in three hydro-electric projects ever at the mercy of monsoon and snow-melt. In Punjab, total available water resources are about 31.3 lakh hectare meter, surface canals provide 14.5 lakh hectare meter and ground water recharge (rain and canal seepage) 16.8 lakh hectare meter of water. Punjab meets its excess demand of 12.4 lakh hectare metre through over-exploitation of underground resources. And rain fluctuations make all the difference, as much to the crops, as tubewells and canals and, of course, on electricity.


Caught between the devil and the deep sea
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Morinda, August 2
Apprehensive eyes scan your visage for signs of compassion before Harvinder Singh — lying on a cot outside his house in Makrona village — grabs your arm, firmly. Looking deep into your eyes, he questions, “Will the Kuwati company send Sukhdev Singh back to India after he is released by the captors?”

His question leaves you baffled. As you stare at him still uncertain about his query, he says, “I hope they will keep Sukhdev Singh in Kuwait and allow him to continue with the job”.

Harvinder Singh’s statement amazes you further. In the light of an electric bulb dazzling at a distance, you try to study his face for signs of exhaustion — physical as well as emotional. As he shifts uneasily, you wonder about the person’s statement. The captors have still not released his brother and he is talking about Sukhdev Singh’s job.

Sensing your discomfort, he says, “You do not understand. The travel agent was demanding Rs 1 lakh for sending Sukhdev Singh abroad. For meeting his requirement, we were forced to sell a chunk of land where cattle used to graze. What will we do if he comes back to India?”

His cracking voice shatters the serenity of the night. As he narrates the grim reality, you realise that its your turn to shift uneasily. As you turn around, he continues to mutter, “Sukhdev Singh was earning Rs 20,000 a month ever since he left India in April. He was yet to send back the money. If he comes back now, we will not only lose Rs 1 lakh but also his salary”.

As you look past him at Harvinder Singh’s average single-storey house without even a boundary wall, you realise that his concerns are not at all out of place. Economic compulsions are sometimes greater than emotional pangs — the hard reality takes you in its grip.

“We want him back, but not at the cost of his job,” he says. “We have heard companies abroad allow people to visit their native lands at their own expenses before calling them back. If they do so, we will be grateful. Otherwise, Sukhdev Singh himself will not come back. He knows 
the financial status 
of the house”.

In an attempt to clarify his stand, he adds, “We are not selfish. Please do not misunderstand us. Contrary to the common belief, lust for money is not the reason behind ones decision to part with the soil. There are hardly any jobs here. That is why so many of us are willing to sweat it out in foreign lands to earn bread after paying travel agents through our noses”. As you get up to leave, there is just one wish on your mind. You hope from the depths of your heart that greener pastures do not turn into graveyards.


Sukhdev’s kin remain on tenterhooks
Tribune News Service

Morinda, August 2
Even as the negotiations to ensure the release of three Indians along with others being held captive in Iraq resumed today, the family members of Sukhdev Singh remained on tenterhooks in Makrona Kala village, 20 km from Ropar. This, in spite of the fact that one of their relatives from Basra in Iraq and also the Ministry of External Affairs today called them up and gave positive indications of the release of Sukhdev Singh along with six others truck driver who had been made hostages by Black Flag militants.

As the hostage crisis in Iraq entered the 12th day, the family members of Sukhdev turned depressed and disheartened. The condition of Sukhdev’s mother Gurpal Kaur and father Sher Singh worsened to the extent that they have been taking sleeping pills to pass the anxious moments waiting for their son. Now Sukhdev’s parents even stopped watching television as the conflicting reports about the hostage crisis have been appearing in the media since yesterday. 


SAD men accused of murder, rape
Roam free due to ‘police patronage’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
Even as about two and half years have passed since the SAD-BJP alliance has been ousted out of power from Punjab, a section of SAD members of this district, has allegedly been indulging in some heinous crimes.

In the past two weeks, a section of SAD leaders, who claimed themselves to be close confidants of a former Akali minister of this area, had committed crimes like an attempt to rape, causing grievous and minor injuries after entering into the premises of a complainant.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that those who had allegedly committed these crimes included former minister, Sikander Singh Malooka, his son Gurpreet Singh Malooka, Hakam Singh, member, Block Samiti and Gurmit Singh, alias Pappi, former Chairman of Market Committee, Bhagta Bhai Ka. Both Hakam Singh and Gurmit Singh are senior leaders of SAD.

Another SAD leader namely Pritam Singh Nirmale of Adampur village falling in the Dyalpura police station area, was arrested and subsequently bailed out by the Raikot police recently for his alleged involvement in facilitating the abortion of an unidentified girl. He later allegedly dumped the foetus in a garbage dump with the help of a nurse identified as Harwinder Kaur of Jalaldiwal village of Jagraon police district.

During the five-year rule of SAD-BJP in Punjab, a number of SAD leaders, including MLAs, ministers, the then President of SGPC, chairmen of different organisations and other party workers of this region, had allegedly faced charges including murder, rape, dowry death, abetment to suicide, fraud and dowry demand. Though the criminal cases were registered against them in almost all these instances, but a large number of them were never arrested.

A section of residents of the Rampura Assembly segment alleged that though more than two cases were registered against Sikander Malooka and his kin in different police stations of Bathinda and Faridkot district, he was never arrested as he wielded considerable influence in the state police set-up.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, when contacted, said that investigation into the criminal case registered against Sikander Malooka and others on July 11 in Dyalpura police station was going on and further action would be taken as per the investigation report. He added that for the police, the party affiliation did not matter as far as commission of an offence by any body was concerned.

Meanwhile, the victim, who had been allegedly raped by her stepfather Hakam Singh, while talking to The Tribune, alleged that though she was raped by her stepfather but the police had registered a case pertaining to an attempt to rape against someone else. A large number of residents of Dyalpura Bhai Ka village, including Panchayat members, today met the SSP with the complaint that the police had not recorded the statement of the victim properly and hence had tried to favour the accused Hakam Singh.

Mr Devinder Singh, SHO, police station, Dyalpura Bhai Ka, while denying the allegations levelled by the victim, said that police had recorded the same what she stated. He added that Gurmit Singh, alias Pappi, who was involved in causing grievous hurt to Mr Harpal Singh of Salabatpura village, had got a stay against his arrest till August 5, 2004 from the relevant court and hence he could not be arrested.


Jathedars on the warpath
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 2
Giani Iqbal Singh and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedars of Patna Sahib and Akal Takht, respectively, are on the warpath again even as the former has threatened to boycott meetings of the Sikh clergy if he is not consulted on important religious issues before the pronouncement of ‘hukmnamas” (edicts).

Talking to TNS on telephone today, Giani Iqbal Singh alleged that the Jathedars from outside Punjab, including those of Hazoor Sahib and Patna Sahib, were being used as “rubber stamp” by Jathedar Vedanti . He alleged that Giani Rattan Singh, Deputy Jathedar of Takht Hazoor Sahib, had already stopped attending the meetings at Akal Takht as the directives/edicts were not being pronounced by taking all Jathedars into confidence as per the ‘panch pardhani’ traditions.

Giani Iqbal Singh said the Jathedars of all Takhts should be treated on a par as they enjoyed equal status . He alleged that during the meetings, the Akal Takht secretariat remain crowded with “unauthorised” persons and hence the high priests were not given exclusive time to discuss the Panthic issues.

He said he would convene a meeting of the high priests of Patna Sahib to chalk out further course of programme so that the prestige of the Sikh institution could be maintained. He alleged that certain decisions were taken by the Jathedar of Akal Takht in an arbitrary manner and the dissenting notes were not recorded in the proceedings of the meetings.

Meanwhile, Jathedar Iqbal Singh expressed concern about the notice served on behalf of Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, an SGPC member who had filed a defamation case against the five high priests of Patna Sahib.

Jathedar Patna Sahib said “Come what may, he won’t appear in court’. However, he said the rest of the four Sikh high priests had received the summons.

Jathedar Iqbal Singh said: it was the duty of Jathedar Vedanti to get the case withdrawn as per his promise given to the clergy of Patna Sahib. He said though he had spoken to Jathedar Vedanti many times regarding the withdrawal of the case, he had failed to give a satisfactory reply so far.

He, however, said Takht Patna Sahib and Takht Hazoor Sahib had decided to celebrate the 400th centenary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib from September as per the traditional Bikrami calendar while the SGPC would celebrate the occasion on September 1 as per the Nanakshahi calendar. He said both Takhts were unable to implement the Nanakshahi calendar as approved by Akal Takht as Jathedar Vedanti had not yet visited Patna Sahib to convince the local Sikh sangat and Panthic organisations.


Students with minus marks get into Thapar
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
Students scoring minus marks, with the lowest being minus 50 in the 675-mark All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) have been given admission to the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) here under the sports quota.

The Thapar authorities claim that this situation came because the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the AIEEE, did not specify any qualifying standard for admitting students under various reserved categories in various engineering courses. Parents, however, claimed that the premier institution had committed a blunder by admitting students who did not even qualify the examination even though the institute’s prospectus claimed admission would be given to only those who “qualified” the AIEEE.

“Going by the Thapar standards a candidate seeking admission under the sports quota only needs to appear for the AIEEE. Even if he leaves his answer sheets blank he will get a definite merit which will allow him to get admission in the institute in case his sports merit is up to the mark”, said a parent while talking to The Tribune. Other parents, all of whom wanted to remain anonymous claiming their wards may be at the receiving end if they revealed, their identity, said the institute should either fix its own cut-off marks for admission in the sports category or follow that of other central universities.

According to information available with The Tribune, two students who had a score of less than zero (minus marks) in the All India examination, had been admitted by the Thapar institute under the sports quota. They are Sukhleen Kaur, who got a score of minus 50 in the examination and Jaspreet Kaur who scored minus 5 marks in the test. While Sukhleen’s name on the merit list was at 3.3 lakh, place, that of Jaspreet was 3.11 lakh. The institute had also admitted other students under the sports quota who were ranked at 2.5 lakh and 55,000 on the merit list following the All India test.

Despite protestations in this regard, the institute today registered the students to complete the admission formalities. A few days back, in a letter to the Dean, Academics and also the Joint Secretary (AIEEE unit), Central Board of Secondary Education, a student had requested to know as to what was the cut-off point for a person to be declared “qualified” in the AIEEE. He had also asked whether a student with minus marks could be declared qualified and given admission to the bachelor of engineering (BE) course. The letter also asked whether it would have been in the fitness of things for TIET to fix a cut off percentage for general and reserved categories.

The Thapar, Dean, Academics Dr D S Bawa, who is in charge of the entire admission process, when questioned, admitted that students with negative marks in AIEEE had been admitted to the institute. He said the institute was forced to do so because the Central Board of Secondary Education had not fixed any qualifying criterion for the examination. “We thought they would fix a qualifying mark on the basis of which we would make admissions but since this has not been done we are helpless”. He also claimed that the central board had not given any guidelines to various engineering colleges as to what was to be done in such a situation.

Dr Bawa said since the Board had issued a ranking to the students, the institute had considered them for admission. He said in such a situation the institute had relied on the sports merit of the students which was decided by the Punjab Sports department while making admissions.


CPI accuses CM of creating fear psychosis
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
CPI leader Hardev Arshi today alleged that Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh had been creating fear psychosis among the people of the state by making a statement that if the SYL canal was completed, terrorism would resurface.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh had also failed to check the deterioration in the law and order situation in Punjab.

“Any person having connections and money, is free to commit any crime without the fear of the registration of a case,” he alleged.

He said he had urged the state CPI leadership to take up the matter with the party high command in Delhi so that talks with Congress leaders could be held on this issue.

He said it was unfortunate that the Chief Minister of the party that had been claiming that it had fought terrorism tooth and nail, had been trying to create a fear psychosis.

“Is Capt Amarinder Singh not speaking the same language, which is being used by those who have been patronising terrorism in Punjab? Does Capt Amarinder Singh not know that about 25,000 persons, including Congress and CPI leaders, were killed during the dark days in Punjab?” he asked.


Faridkot sugar mill on the verge of closure
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 2
The Cooperative Sugar Mill is on the verge of closure here. The mill, which has been running in losses for the past many years, is to pay over Rs 10 crore to the farmers.

Owing to delay in getting their dues this year, the farmers have decreased the area under the sugarcane crop. Consequently, instead of usual 150 days this time the mill would probably run for only 24 days, which is the lowest in the past 13 seasons. There were chances that the mill could not even meet the expenses required to start it and its losses would cross Rs 50 crore. The mill had already taken a bank loan on which it was paying Rs 30 lakh as annual interest.

Sources said that two years back the Punjab Government had fixed the cane price at Rs 100 per quintal, but due to a financial crunch it had asked the cooperative sugar mills to pay them Rs 70 per quintal and making the rest of the payment later. The local sugar mill then paid the farmers as directed and the remaining payment of over Rs 10 crore has been due for the past two years. This reduced the farmers’ interest in sugarcane farming and the area under the crop has decreased drastically. Though the sugarcane crop was considered beneficial, delay in payment had forced them to grow paddy, wheat and other crops.

Farmers said that the interest on their dues for the past two years is in lakhs, but leave alone the interest, the mill is yet to pay their dues. This made them change their mind and they decided in favour of other crops. Due to decrease in the area under cane crop the mill may possibly receive only six lakh quintals of sugarcane this season, whereas in 2000-01 the mill got 36 lakh quintals. Delay in payment to farmers led to the mill getting only 19 lakh quintals of sugarcane last year, which resulted in huge losses to it. The situation is worse this year. This year the mill could run for 24 days only, while as per the Sugarfed norms each cooperative mill should run for 150 days under normal circumstances in a season.

The mill also has to pay Rs 4 crore in salaries to its employees annually. At the start of the season the mill had to spend about Rs 1 crore on repairing works and buying chemicals etc. Last year the mill suffered a loss of Rs 7 crore. In the prevailing scenario the mill can hardly run for long and it has reached the verge of closure.

The mill staff, including surveyors, cane development officers and field employees, are sitting idle these days.

When contacted, the Managing Director of the mill, Mr B.S. Tiwana, admitted reduction in cane procurement this year and said that this would increase the mill’s losses.


12 pc area of state to be brought under forest cover
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 2
Mr Hans Raj Josan, Punjab minister for forests, was felicitated at a function here on Sunday by Kanwal Dhuria, former sarpanch of Mamu Jahia village. Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, MLA, Fazilka, Mr Ashok Aneja, president, Municipal Council, Jalalabad, the Rice Millers Association, Ferozepore District and the Pukka Arhtiya Association.

Mr Josan said 12 per cent of Punjab area would be brought under forest cover in the next three years. Presently 7 per cent of the area was under forests. The minister revealed 60 lakh saplings had been distributed among social organisations this year under intensified Vana Mahotsav a programme of the government. The farmers taking care of saplings planted along village link roads would be given 100 per cent royalty on maintained trees after 10 years.

Mr Josan said Rs 500 crore forestation programme was being run in Punjab with help from Japan and Rs 238 crore spent so far on the project. Ten cases of alleged misuse of funds of the project are being probed by the Vigilance. Role of senior officers in this regard is also being probed, he said.

Mr Josan said there was no case of involvement of Mr Surig Kumar Jyani, former forest minister in the misappropriation in the Rs 500 crore project.

On theft of wood by officers and officials of the Forest Department he said that the department would set up special teams to check the theft. He said that 40 young Indian Forest Services (IFS) officers would be deployed for this. He has also held a meeting with officials of the Forest Department.

Mr Josan clarified that the decision of the former government to set up a herbal nursery and Forest Department rest house at Fazilka had not been shelved and would be implemented.


Defacement of public property continues
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
There may be a ban on the pasting of posters on government buildings and putting up of hoardings and banners, but this does not seem to have any effect in this city where government buildings are being defaced with impunity. Hoardings and banners have also been put up along the major roads and also in markets with regularity. No attempt has been made to take action against anyone on this issue.

The start of the new academic session has resulted in the main gates and boundary walls of the major educational institutions being used for advertisement purposes. These include mainly offers of coaching by various coaching centers and also offers to place students in various jobs. Even signboards giving directions close to educational institutions have not been spared.

As far as the main markets are concerned, one can see offers for sales put up by various shops besides tempting offers of how one can carry home a television or a refrigerator after putting up a small amount of money upfront and then paying the rest in installments.

This is not all. Banners on the main roads always promptly tell the residents of the city as to which VIP is coming for an important inauguration. Same is the case with regard to visits by spiritual gurus or preachers. These banners continue hanging from the lamp posts months after the event and come down only when another is to be hung on the same spot.

Sources said most of the posters were pasted during the night. Same is the case with banners. Night watchmen at various places said they were not in a position to stop such activity as usually a group of men did this. They said police personnel who patrolled the city regularly at night should be stopping this activity.

A few months back the district administration had made it mandatory for all printing presses to mention their name and address on all posters printed by them so that responsibility could be fixed on those ordering the posters in case public property was defaced in the process. However, none of the printing press managements seem to have chosen to obey this directive.

The sources said recently the district administration had written to the Municipal Corporation to take steps to prevent defacement of government buildings. The corporation has also been asked to take action against those responsible for the act. It has also decided to ask the Senior Superintendent of Police to act against the violators.

Meanwhile, the administration has decided to serve a notice on printing press owners reminding them of the necessity of printing their address on all posters printed on their premises. If they continue to violate this directive even after the serving of the notice, action will be taken against them.


Johl agrees to continue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
After a one-to-one meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh today, Dr S.S. Johl has agreed to continue as the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Planning Board.

He had earlier on July 8 submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister since he felt his services were no longer required in the present system of governance. There was some communication gap between the two on vital issues concerning the state, it is learnt.

While the Chief Minister had given indications of Mr Johl’s continuing in his present post after attending the seminar on “River Waters” here yesterday, Dr Johl had reserved his comments. Dr Johl had during the meeting offered to work in a private capacity and not be involved in major decisions pertaining to the state. But the Chief Minister turned down this offer by saying “I need people like you to continue.”

The aspects pertaining to the implementation of his Planned Resource Committee report for the betterment of agriculture and allied activities was also discussed.


Celebrations for Chetak AWWA day begin
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
If a lady is aware about health, the entire family will be healthy. So, the wives of Army personnel should be aware about all aspects of health. This was stated by president of Chetak AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association) Kiran Nandrajog, while addressing the wives of Army personnel during an inauguration programme in context with the 38th raising day of Chetak AWWA.

The raising day of Chetak AWWA falls on August 23, for which three-week long celebrations were planned at Bathinda Military Station from August 2 to 23 with a variety of entertainment programmes for all families at the station.

Ms Kiran Nandrajog inaugurated the celebrations by lighting a lamp at the local military hospital. As many as 300 wives of Army personnel of all ranks participated in the function which included lectures on health education by a gynaecologist and dentist. The gynaecologist threw light on menopause, possible problems related to menopause and their remedies in detail.

A documentary about the achievements of AWWA was also shown on the occasion. An exhibition on health awareness like AIDS, obesity and immunisation was also organised.

Ms Nandrajog said the celebrations would not only cover health awareness programmes but special attention would also be given to make the Army wives aware about their social responsibilities, house keeping aspects and entertainment for children and families.

Established on August 23, 1966, the aim of the Chetak AWWA is to support and enhance official welfare efforts within the Army, focusing especially on the welfare of families, children and widows of all ranks and retired personnel of the Army.


Classical recitation of Gurbani stressed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 2
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti today lamented that ‘shabad kirtan’ was not taking place in the classical style even in the Harmandar Sahib, adding that efforts should be taken to propagate the purity of the ‘ragas’.

Mr Vedanti was speaking at an inauguration ceremony of a MA course in Gurmat Sangeet being started at Punjabi University here today. Inaugurating the first academic session of the course Mr Vedanti emphasised that the phonetically correct recitation of Gurbani was the need of the hour. He appealed to the students of the course and kirtankars to follow the guidelines for the right pronunciation and recitation of the Gurbani.

Speaking on the occasion, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University Swarn Singh Boparai said that proper training imparted in the Gurmat Sangeet had the potential to open up new possibilities in practising and dissemination of universal message of the Gurbani, which is common for all irrespective of culture, caste and creed.

The Vice-Chancellor appealed to the SGPC and the DGPC to offer employment to academically trained students in the Gurmat Sangeet. Mr Boparai further added that the inclusion of Guru Nanak Dev as a philosopher in MA (philosophy), translation of ‘Mahan Kosh’ by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha in English and establishing a centre for technical development of Punjabi were some of the pioneer projects initiated by the university in commemoration of 400 years of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr S.P.S. Virdi, Dean, Academic Affairs, while proposing a vote of thanks, said that the Gurmat Sangeet Chair established by Punjabi University would carry out academic and research activity with the object of propagating and furthering advanced knowledge about Guru Granth Sahib.

Earlier Dr Gurnam Singh, Professor and Head, Gurmat Sangeet Chair, while welcoming the guests, said that the main objective of the chair was to acquaint and apprise the Punjabi youth with their rich cultural heritage and religious values by way of describing the divine message contained in Guru Granth Sahib. 


Preparations for 400th ‘Parkash Utsav’ begin
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 2
The general secretary of SAD Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that the SGPC had started preparations for celebrating the 400th “Parkash Utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib and a big function would be organised on September 1 at Amritsar.

Addressing a gathering after honouring the SGPC members of the district at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib here today, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that this year is of great importance not only for the Sikhs around the world but for the whole mankind. He said the process of formation of committees for the function had been almost been completed. He added that the nagar kirtan from birth places of various saints would culminate at Amritsar.

Capt Kanwaljit further stated that people had given the mandate to manage the SGPC to SAD, although efforts were made by the Congress, to capture it indirectly by pitching the Panthic Morcha against SAD. Criticising the Congress for maintaining “anti-Punjab” stand, he said that SAD had given support to Capt Amarinder Singh on the river water issue but it is likely that Congress high command would pressurise the CM.

Others who were present included former minister Harmail Singh Tohra, Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Joginder Singh Panjrath, Surjit Singh Garhi, Savinder Singh Sabharwal, Parmjit Kaur Bajaj, Balwant Singh Ramgarh, Jasmer Singh Lachru and Gurkirat Singh Thoohi.


Dalits to boycott ex-MLA
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha (Muktsar), August 2
Dalits have decided to boycott Mr Raghubir Singh, former Gidderbaha MLA, allegedly for using derogatory remarks against Scheduled Caste (SC) women. Dalits at a rally here under the aegis of the Dalit Samaj Action Committee, recently led by Mr Parkash Doshi, general secretary of the Punjab Congress SC/ST cell resolved this.

Dalits gathered at Dhanak Dharamshala today morning were addressed by Mr Doshi and SAD leader Gurpal Singh Gora.

Muktsar district Congress president was condemned by the dalits for his partisan role.

Later, they went to Gidderbaha DSP’s in procession and demanded release of the accused.

A case was registered against former Gidderbaha MLA Raghubir Singh, his son and Councillor Dinesh Kumar, Gidderbaha Municipal Council president Kulwant Singh and another councillor Baldev Singh on July 22 at Gidderbaha police station on the complaint of Scheduled Caste Councillor Ms Reshma Devi allegedly for using objectionable remarks against her.


Cultural function turns chaotic
Our Correspondent

Nabha, August 2
Chaos prevailed at a cultural function, Main Hoon Na, organised by the local Fire Dance Academy at the college ground on Saturday night.

The police had to resort to a mild lathi charge to disperse the mob.

The problem arose when the organisers failed to give the promised amount to the performers, who refused to perform. People started shouting slogans against the organisers. Things started to get out of hand when a gunman of the SHO, Kotwali, Mrs Bindu Bala, slapped one of the main organisers. Mrs Bindu Bala tried to pacify the agitators but she was attacked too.

People alleged that the situation turned hostile due to inadequate arrangements by the police. The DSP, Nabha, Mr S.S. Boparai, when contacted, said he had no knowledge of the matter as he was on leave.


Statement not justified, says Grewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , August 2
Mr H.S. Grewal, Conservator of Forests, in a written statement said yesterday that the statement given by the Punjab Forest Officers Association was without any basis as it wanted to protect certain officers against whom he had complained to the government.

Mr Grewal said that Mr Karamjeet Singh, DFO, Patiala, had threatened him with dire consequences for pursuing those cases. Mr Grewal held that he lodged a complaint with the Patiala Police about the threats given by Mr Karamjeet Singh and the investigations were in progress.

Mr Grewal further alleged that certain officers of the department were trying to harass him at the instance of senior functionaries of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Maintaining that he was a law-abiding man, Mr Grewal said that he expected the Vigilance Bureau and other agencies to accord full respect to the law and should have the same set of rules for all complaints made to them.

Unfortunately, the Vigilance Bureau had different sets of rules for different people, he added.


Kirtan darbar organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 2
The District Cultural Society last night organised a kirtan darbar at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Amloh. It was dedicated to the 300th year of the martyrdom of younger “Sahibzadas” of Guru Gobind Singh. Prof Jagjeet Singh Sirhindwale along with Ragi Jatha, recited bhajans and Gurbani. Thousands of people from various walks of life participated in the kirtan darbar.

Addressing the gathering, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy

Commissioner-cum-Chairman District Cultural Society, said that the District administration had been making preparations for the commemoration of the 300th year of the martyrdom of younger Sahibzadas as well as the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. He said that the District Cultural Society had been organising kirtan darbars on the first day of every month in different sub-divisions of the district to prepare people for the celebration of the tri-centenaries falling this year. He said that during the coming Shaheedi Jor Mela, parties would be requested not to hold any political conferences.

Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha and Mr Arvinder Pal Singh member SGPC also spoke on the occasion.


3 die as jeep overturns

Amritsar, August 2
Three persons were killed when the jeep in which they were travelling overturned after hitting a roadside tree near Chohan village in the district this morning.

A police spokesman said the victims were returning home here from Gurgaon when the mishap occurred. The deceased were identified as Ms Swadesh Kumari(50), her daughter Radhika(23) and their relative Vikas(22).

The injured driver was admitted to a hospital, the spokesman added. — UNI


BJYM to help Bihar flood victims
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 2
A meeting of the Punjab state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) was held here yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr Vivek Sharma, vice-president, BJYM, Punjab.

Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general-secretary, BJYM, Punjab, addressed a press conference where he said the priority of the BJP at the moment was to help the flood victims of Bihar. An amount of Rs 2 lakh would be donated by the BJYM, Punjab, for the flood victims, he said.


Two water samples fail test
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 2
Two water samples taken from Karar Khan Mohalla here failed test conducted by the health authorities here today.

Stating this, Dr Kiranjeet Kumar, Civil Surgeon, said that he had sent the information in this regard to the Municipal Corporation. He said that the water testing had been done after some residents of the area came out with gastroenteritis cases.


Patiala areas flooded

Patiala, August 2
Residents of the city heaved a sigh of relief as it rained heavily here today. The downpour started at around 8.40 am and lasted for several hours. The drizzling continued till evening.

The low lane areas of the city, including New Bishan Nagar, Leela Bhavan, Ajit Nagar, Model Town, Books Market, were flooded with the rain water. PSEB officials said the downpour would also ease the power supply position. — OC


High Court
Lab report submitted on letter's authenticity
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 2
The Punjab Government today submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court a report sent by the Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory.

The report pertains to the authenticity of a letter purported to have been written by a Hoshiarpur lawyer highlighting the alleged violations in the construction of Forest Hill Resort in village Karoran, Ropar.

In the report, it has been stated that the handwriting of the sender of the letter does not match with that of the alleged complainant.

After receiving the letter, the Punjab Forests Department had ordered an inquiry into the lapses in the construction of the resort. Two inquiry reports were later submitted by Indian Forest Service officer Harsh Kumar.

The management of the resort had also levelled serious charges, including those of demanding bribe, against Mr Kumar.

However, during the pendency of inquiry, the complainant, advocate SK Bhatti denied having written the letter. He also submitted an affidavit in this regard.

In view of the discrepancy, Mr H.S. Gujral, Chief Conservator of Forests (Hills), sent the letter to the forensic laboratory.

After matching the handwriting of Mr Bhatti with the letter, the laboratory gave its report that the writing did not match. Today, the Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice BK Roy adjourned the case to August 5 for further arguments.

Affidavit filed

The Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur, Mr Harjit Singh, on Friday filed an affidavit in the High Court, saying therein that his decision not to allow Akali leaders Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sucha Singh Langah to contest the SGPC elections was taken on the legal advice of Punjab Advocate-General.

Tendering an unconditional apology in the case, his bona fide order was construed as having shown disrespect to the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, the officer has said that he had also brought the legal opinion to the notice of the Chief Commissioner.

B.Ed course

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice J.S. Narang has issued notice for October 7 on petition seeking directions to Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, to admit the petitioner in B.Ed. course.

In her petition, Ms Jasbir Kaur of Bathinda has claimed that she was wrongly denied admission to the B.Ed. course despite having cleared the entrance test.

Saying that while the prospectus issued by the university made her eligible to seek admission under the science group, the petitioner added that later she was told that she could not considered by a B.Ed. seat under this group.


CMC case hearing on Aug 9
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 2
The Supreme Court today adjourned the hearing in the petition filed by the management of the Christian Medical College 
and Dental College to August 9.

The management of the Christian Medical and Dental Colleges has challenged the verdict of the justice Majithia committee which has allowed the management to hold its entrance test for filling 50 seats under the Christian minority quota in both the institutions.

The plea of the management of the two institutes is that they should be allowed to fill all the seats after conducting its own entrance test as it had been doing in the past.

The Majithia committee has asked the CMC management to fill the remaining 50 per cent seats through the PMET conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences on August 1.

Dr Mohan Verghese, Principal, Christian Medical College, told the Tribune this evening that they would declare the results of the entrance test after August 9 after the Supreme Court verdict.

The entrance test was conducted by the CMC management on July 25 for both the medical and dental


Govt fails to sanction grants for jails
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 2
While commenting upon the deploring condition of jails in the state, Mr M.S. Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary and In charge, Jails said today that the department had written a number of times to the state government for sanctioning matching grant so that the annual grants issued by the central government for jails could be utilised.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr Birmi said the annual grants worth Rs 34 crore issued by the Central Government in the past three years could not be used as the state government had failed to sanction necessary matching grant due to financial crunch in the state.

He urged the Chief Minister to do the needful in this regard so that the deplorable condition of jails all over the state could be improved. He said if the department had this grant, the security of jails, eatables for prisoners, medical and other health facilities could be provided.

Mr Birmi expressing deep concern over the frequent escapes of prisoners from Amritsar Central Jail, said the government had been urged to provide permanent jail guards for taking the prisoners and undertrials for hearing to court. He alleged that due to laxity of the policemen appointed for the purpose, the prisoner or undertrials succeeding to dodge them (policemen) and escape.

He said the department had also written to the government for increasing the staff of jails.

He said he had also urged the state government for appointing doctors in jails on contract basis. He said it had come to the light that prisoners after influencing doctors managed to get admission in government hospitals where they enjoyed freedom and some times ran away from there.

Earlier, addressing a “chetna rally” at a function of the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Trade Union, he urged the Chief Minister to implement 27 per cent reservations for other Backward Classes in the various government institutions. He said Punjab had 46 per cent OBC. However, they did not have enough representations at various government departments.


25 lakh birth certificates to be issued by Sept-end
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 2
Under the national campaign of issuing birth certificates to children born between 1989 and 2004, about 25 lakh birth certificates will be issued in Punjab by September-end. In the first phase, more than 24.43 lakh birth certificates had been issued.

This was stated by Mr Inderjit Singh, Director, Census Operations, Punjab, at a meeting held here today under the presidentship of Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner.

The meeting was attended by SDMs, and executive officers, among others.

The Director, Census Operations, said panchayat secretaries had been designated as local registrars in the rural areas while in the urban areas, the executive officers have been deputed.


2 tourist complex employees suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
Punjab Animal Husbandry and Tourism Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang has ordered the suspension of Mr Paramjit Singh, manager of the Blue Bell Tourist Complex at Phagwara, for dereliction on duty. Mr Vinod Kumar, a clerk at the complex, has also been suspended.

The hygienic and other conditions were deplorable when the minister visited the complex. 


SHO caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 2
Mr Satnam Singh, SHO Begowal, was today caught red-handed by the vigilance Bureau, while accepting bribe of Rs 3000 while sitting in his office. Cash amount of Rs 3.5 lakh, documents of property worth Rs 15 lakh and two cars were also recovered from his official residence.

The SHO was arrested by the bureau officials, deputed by Mr Dilbagh Singh, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Amritsar, on the basis of a complaint lodged by Mr George Masih, a resident of Begowal. Masih had alleged that the SHO was demanding a bribe of Rs 5000 from him for a verification needed for issuance of a passport to him.

Interestingly, the bureau officials led by DSP Kashmir Singh, caught the SHO red handed as he was accepting Rs 3000 from complainant as bribe in the police station itself, revealed a senior bureau officer. The subsequent search of official residence of the SHO by the bureau officials led to recovery of cash worth Rs 3.5 lakh, documents of a plot in Jalandhar’s posh Urban Estate area, two cars — one Zen and another Accent, and 21 bottles of imported and Indian liquor. The Accent was suspected to be a stolen car as the SHO could not furnish any details about it and its owner.

A case was registered at Zonal office of the Vigilance Bureau at Jalandhar and further probe has been initiated.


Youth kills father

Sangrur, August 2
Angered by continual nagging, a youth killed his father in a farmhouse in Bhaini Gandooa village under Sunam Subdivision in this district today.

According to information, Machhatar Singh, a resident of Bhaini Gandooa village, was attacked by his son Ballam Singh with a sharpedged weapon early in the morning when he was sleeping in his farmhouse.

Nachhatar Singh died on the spot.

Surjit Kaur, wife of the deceased, alleged in her police complaint that Ballam Singh took this fatal step as the father used to ask him to start some work since Ballam Singh would shirk work and he did not like the “repeated pestering” by his father.

The police has registered a case. — UNI


Contractor selling govt cement arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
Kulwant Rai, a civil works contractor and supplier, who had been executing various works of the Railways, was arrested by the police for his alleged involvement in the sale of cement bags supplied to him by the government agency for executing a civil work.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, in a press note issued here today said that 60 bags of cement, which were supplied to the accused by the government agency, were seized from him while he was selling the same.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the accused had been saving the cement by using its less quantity than the prescribed while executing the civil works. Then the accused had been selling the saved cement bags to private persons at much lower rates.

A case in this connection has been registered under Section 406 of the IPC.


Women held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 2
The police has arrested two women for duping a person of Rs 5 lakh under the pretext of sending him abroad.

The complainant, Sandeep Singh of Baghapurana, said that his friend, Ashok Kumar, wanted to go abroad. In 2001, Pyara Singh promised him that he would get his friend married in Canada, paving the way for his settlement there, but he would have to spend Rs 5 lakh for the same.

He said that the amount was given to the sisters of Pyara Singh, Mahinder Kaur and Paramjeet Kaur.

Sandeep said that the accused neither sent his friend abroad nor returned his money.

Sub Inspector of the anti-fraud cell Mohan Lal arrested both the women after raiding their houses today.

The police has registered a case against them under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC. Pyara Singh has absconded. 


Youth commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 2
A youth has committed suicide by consuming some poisonous drug at Takhtupura village, near here. The deceased, Moti Ram, was a resident of Uttar Pradesh. He was working as a farm labourer at Ransinh village. An empty bottle of drug has been recovered near his body. The body was handed over to the victim’s family member after a post-mortem examination at the local Civil Hospital.


Thapar institute honours NASA winners
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
Today it was the turn of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) to honour the winners of the NASA Space Settlement Design competition held in Florida, the USA, last month.

Half of the team, including team adviser Maneek Kumar and leader Abhishek Aggarwal, belong to the institute while the rest are from the Budha Dal School.

The Dean, Students Welfare, Dr N.K. Verma, briefed the audience about the competition and adverse conditions that prevail on Moon. He said the team designed its space colony in the light of these facts. He said the proposed colony must be a closed one with internally generated gravity and even bricks being appropriately chained to stand the high stresses on the Moon’s surface.

Director of the institute Dr S.C. Saxena, while congratulating the students said the institute was proud of them for having put it on the global map. The Principal of Budha Dal School, Dr Amrit Aujla, also spoke.


Model school only in name
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Khamba (Moga), August 2
It is a Government Model Senior Secondary School but the state of neglect it is in, raises doubts over its status. The school was one of the nine announced by the Badal Government in 1978 with much fanfare but after spending lakhs of rupees the construction work was stopped due to “paucity” of funds.

The school, having classes from nursery to plus two, finally started functioning in July, 2000, with just three rooms. During militancy, construction material of the school was stolen. Interestingly, the foundation plaque of the school which was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was also stolen.

The school has often been ignored in the grant of sanctions. In 1998-99, the state government announced a grant of Rs 1.5 crore for these nine schools, but this school didn’t get its share.

It got the same treatment when a grant of Rs 50 lakh was sanctioned in 1999-2000 on the pretext that it already had a building. In December, 2000, the then Chief Minister at a meeting with Education Department officials, announced an annual grant of Rs 11 lakh each for these schools and also issued a letter in this regard, but the school in the village again got nothing. At that time the school didn’t even have benches which were later arranged by the villagers.

In the past four years there has been some development, but still the school lacks basic amenities. Principal Kitty Anand said they got Rs 5 lakh grant from the Deputy Commissioner in 2001. The grant was utilised building five more rooms. Later, the villagers helped the school build some more rooms in which flooring was yet to be done. She said that tenders had been invited recently for the construction of two halls.

The school, having 320 students, has five permanent teachers while there are nine teachers on a contract basis. The school, which caters to nearly 12 nearby villages, does not have a boundary wall, toilets, and proper drinking water arrangement despite having the waterworks at a distance of 200 metres. There is no laboratory for science students and the school staff have temporarily divided a big room into various parts to serve as the office and the staff room. As if this is not enough, the villagers have fixed a spot behind the school to throw carcasses, owing to which dogs flock to the place making it difficult for children to cross the road.

Sources said the school was suffering due to political reasons. They said that rivalry between two Akali leaders had led to this condition and the model school at Jawaharsinghwala village was developed at the cost of this school. The school, which was supposed to be constructed on 30 acres has been constructed on a 24-acre piece.

When contacted, the District Education Officer, Mr Ashok Sachdeva said more teachers would soon be appointed. He said under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, they were constructing sanitation blocks, boundary walls and one room per class in government schools and this one would also be covered under the plan.


Govt asked to refund hiked fee of students
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
Tikshan Sud, leader of the BJP in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, condemned the Punjab Government for not refunding the enhanced amount in their fees that had charged from students during their admission in the last academic session.

In a press statement here today, Mr Sud said the state government made heavy increase in student fees before the start of the last session. The annual tuition fee was increased from Rs. 144 to Rs 4,200. The increased fees were charged from the students at the time of their admission. But on account of strong opposition and launching of agitation by the students, their parents and the BJP, the state 
government was compelled to withdraw the increase 
in fees.

At the time of withdrawing it had announced that the excessive amount charged from the students as enhanced fees would be returned to them. He said the students and their parents were now running from pillar to post to get back their money but it was not refunded to them so far.

The principle of the colleges only assured that the excessive amount charged from them would be adjusted in the new academic session.


Over 23,000 teachers have
not been paid for 2 months
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 2
As many as 23,742 teachers and other staff members in nearly 13,000 primary schools of Punjab and 1,404 middle, high and senior secondary schools upgraded in May, 2001, have not been paid salaries for June and July.

The reason behind non-payment of salaries was that the Finance Department was yet to sanction these posts. Of the affected teachers, 20,831 were from the primary wing whose post had been sanctioned under the non-plan (temporary) scheme. In many middle, high and senior secondary schools, 2,901 teachers whose post had been sanctioned under the planned scheme, had also not got their salaries.

The affected staff had got salaries for March, April and May after obtaining temporary budgetary sanction from the District Education Officers (Secondary and Elementary) for one quarter. Five months had elapsed since the commencement of the new financial year, yet due to the alleged indifference of the Finance Department, a regular budgetary sanction for these posts, against which the staff have been working for many years, had not been granted.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson, Government Teachers Union, Punjab, has criticised this policy of the state government. He has urged the Chief Minister and Education Minister to intervene into the matter immediately.


Panchayat closes school
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
Residents and panchayat members of Sivian village in this district today locked the gate of Government Senior Secondary School to lodge their protest against the falling standard of education.

The residents and panchayat members alleged that a senior teacher had vitiated the academic atmosphere of the school instead of creating discipline. They alleged that the standard of education being imparted in the school was going down.

Though the District Education Officer (DEO), Mrs Surinder Kataria, held talks with the residents and panchayat members to work out some solution of the problem, the matter could not be solved. The students did not enter the classrooms and kept sitting in the ground during the school time.


First session of law courses opened
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 2
Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, today inaugurated the first session of the three-year and five-year degree courses of law at the local Baba Farid Law College.

Earlier welcoming the chief guest and other dignitaries, Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, Chairman of the Management Committee, assured that all efforts would be made to promote education in a true spirit by following into the footsteps of Sufi Saint Baba Sheikh Farid.

He said the management had decided to provide textbooks free of cost to all students and a concession of more than Rs 21,500 in the fee structure against the prescription of Rs 50,000 by Punjabi University, Patiala. A plan was also under consideration to give more concessions to the poor and other deserving students.

Earlier, the Deputy Commissioner, accompanied by several guests, Mr Sekhon and the Principal of the institution, offered flowers at the statue of the Goddess of Law erected on the college campus.


Teachers threaten ‘black day’ on Aug 15
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 2
The B.Ed Unemployed Teachers Union threatened to hold “black day” on August 15 as a mark of protest for not filling vacant posts.

In a press release here today, the union threatened to intensify the agitation over the non-implementation of the assurances by the government.

At a meeting headed by former union president Sanjeev Kalia, members alleged that the government was playing with their sentiments and giving them false assurances about filling hundreds of vacant posts. He stated that if the vacancies were not filled by August 15, the union would be forced to follow the path of agitation and would hold a black badge rally on Independence Day.

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