P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab seeks Rs 2 crore from Haryana for plugging breaches
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
While, Mr D.P. Jindal, assumed the charge of the new Chief Engineer (drainage), Irrigation Department, Punjab, today replacing, Mr M.S. Sobti, who is said to be on leave, the Punjab Government has asked the Haryana Government to provide Rs 2 crore as tentative amount to prepare for starting the work to plug the breaches of the Narwana branch of the Bhakra mainline canal.

In fact Mr Jindal today visited various flood-affected areas and also inspected the damage caused by floods to various bandhs and other drainage system. Mr Sobti has been replaced because he was unable to take up his official duty for certain reasons.

Meanwhile, official sources told The Tribune that a Central Water Commission (CWC) team, accompanied by a Chief Engineer and other officers from Haryana, today visited breaches on the Narwana branch near Lachharu village. Senior officers of the Punjab Irrigation (canals) Department were also present at the breach sites, it is learnt.

The CWC team, which made no comment regarding breaches but was expected to submit a report to the Central Government in this connection, was of the view that exact assessment of the damage caused to the canal because of breaches would only be possible after the receding of water in the canal to the surface level. Sources said that even at this stage, the quantity of water in the canal was substantial and it was not possible to make the proper assessment of the damage to the canal.

Though it has not been officially confirmed but sources said that the Union Government had instructed the CWC to visit the breach sites and submit the report in this connection. The Central Government had been approached by the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, who had alleged the canal was deliberately breached to flood some parts of Haryana.

In fact at a meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in Delhi yesterday, Mr Chautala had blamed the Capt Amarinder Singh government for the breaches in the canal. The CWC team may give a clear picture to the Central Government that whether breaches were caused deliberately or gushing flood waters were responsible for these breaches. The Punjab Government has already denied that the breaches were caused deliberately. It has stated that natural calamities should not be politicised. Meanwhile, sources said that the Haryana Government had been asked for the money to mobilise material to take up the repair work on the canal. The Haryana Government, which had 88 per cent share in the canal, was supposed to provide that much share of money for carrying out the repairs. Sources said that the Haryana Government had requested to send an other team after two days for carrying out the joint inspection and have a proper assessment of the damage caused by breaches.


Breaches in flood protection system
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
What has gone wrong with the flood protection system that even failed to withstand the first heavy rain in Punjab early this week? Were funds not allocated this year to take and strengthen flood- protection measures before the beginning of the rainy season? These are the questions that required to be answered by the authorities concerned.

Breaches in the Ghaggar, the SYL canal, the Narwana branch of the Bhakra mainline canal and the overflowing of certain rivulets caused heavy damage in certain parts, especially in Patiala district in the past four days. Flood- protecting system collapsed, thus leading to the submerging or marooning of nearly 300 villages in the Patiala- Sangrur belt . About 700 cattle heads were washed away and several human lives were also lost. Besides, paddy and other kharif crops, rail and road network suffered heavy damage because of the floods.

Sources said that for the past few years the respective state governments had been obviously ignoring the import of the flood- protection measures required to be put in place well before the rainy season. There had been opposition on the part of the authorities concerned to release funds in time for taking adequate measures to prevent floods.

Punjab, especially Patiala and Ropar region, being close to the Shivalik Hills, from where several rivulets emerge and enter the state, is highly prone to flash floods. The Ghaggar, along with Tangri and Markanda rivulets, has been devastating large parts of Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa districts and also some parts of Haryana almost every alternative year. Politicians have been promising to tame it but that the promise still remains unfulfilled.

In fact the Ghaggar has remained in the centre of various electoral battles in the Patiala-Sangrur region. The SYL canal, that remains dry except during the rainy season, and the Narwana branch, have been further adding to the problem of floods in the Patiala area.

In fact when Patiala city was submerged and hundreds of lives were lost in 1994, then experts had discussed in the detail the faults in the design of the SYL canal, which was considered then a major cause behind the flooding of the royal city. However, matters ended then and there. No efforts were made to remove the faults in the design. And consequently, people of Patiala continue to suffer floods year after year. There is a need to construct high- capacity siphons under the SYL canal and the Narwana branch to give a smooth passage to rain waters flowing from the Shivalik Hills towards Patiala region. Existing siphons were not enough to drain the rain waters.

Talking about allocation of funds, sources said that all the Deputy Commissioners, who are officially considered chief managers of the flood control measures to be taken in their respective areas, had sought Rs 37.83 crore this year from the state for taking the required steps with regard to protection from floods. However, the authorities concerned told them to be " realistic" while asking for allocation. Deputy Commissioners submitted the revised proposal reducing the demand for funds to 28.34 crore. However, this amount was also not released.

A meeting of the Deputy Commissioners and others concerned was held here in the third week of June. At that meeting the Deputy Commissioners were told to further slash the demand for funds. Ultimately, it was brought down to Rs 13.70 crore and the Government authorities concerned agreed to release the funds. But, according to sources, this amount was also not released. Moreover, by the third week of the June, the authorities concerned should have completed all works related to prevention of floods in the light of the fact that the monsoon arrives in this region by the end of June.

However, the authorities concerned are not ready to say anything in this connection. When contacted, a senior government functionary said that " it was not in his notice that funds were not released". However, after the flooding of Patiala region now, the government has asked the officials concerned that they would be given enough funds but they should set the things right immediately.

There were about 1,800 km long kutcha bandhs along the various rivulets, seasonal choes, rivers such as Sutlej and Beas etc which required to be taken care of before the rainy season. Besides it, there are 8000 km long drains etc in the state.


Centre siding with Haryana: Gurdev Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Institute of Sikh Studies, a body of eminent Sikhs, said today that the Centre was discriminating with Punjab by clearly supporting Haryana on the river waters issue.

Speaking to the media here today, Mr Gurdev Singh, former IAS officer and president of the institute, said that the Centre should have played a neutral parental role and should not have gone for the Presidential Reference against the Termination of Agreements Act passed by the Punjab Assembly on July 12. He said that if Haryana, Rajasthan and other states had been affected by the passing of the Act, then these states should have gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the Act.

Mr Gurdev Singh, who has also written a book entitled "Scramble for Punjab Waters", said that the other proof of the Centre's clear support to Haryana on this issue was that it ( Centre) did not refer the section 78,79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, which was the root- cause of all problems between Punjab and Haryana, to the Supreme Court. He said that the Centre should send another reference asking the Supreme Court that whether section 78,79 and 80 of the Reorganisation Act were valid or unconstitutional.

He said that the Centre had been earlier playing " mischief" on the river waters issue with Punjab by forcing it in various " illegal" agreements to give its waters to non-riparian states such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi etc. Giving another instance of what he described as discrimination, he said that Punjab was only among the original states which was without its own capital and the High Court in the country . River waters dispute was a legal and economic issue but it was being politicised by vested interests. The dispute was not among Punjabis, Haryanvis and Rajasthanis, he asserted.

It was not the first time that the December 31, 1981, agreement regarding river waters had been rejected by the Punjab Assembly. Earlier, vide its resolution dated November 5, 1985, that was moved by the then Chief Minister, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, the state Assembly had rejected the 1981 agreement and also the reference in this regard incorporated in the White Paper issued by the Central Government. The only difference was that now 1981 agreement had been terminated by passing an Act by the state Assembly, Mr Gurdev Singh said.

He said that the Central Government should do away all unconstitutional provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act,1966, and should treat people of Punjab on a par with other citizens of the country and let them enjoy the rights which they were entitled under the Constitution. The Punjab Assembly had done nothing wrong by passing the Termination Act and all people and political parties of the state should unite to defend this action of the state Assembly. The people of the state should maintain peace and calm and should not be provoked by" hot" statements and comments being made by anti-Punjab politicians and "so-called experts" on various issues.


Brar wants border farmers compensated
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 6
A Congress leader and former MP, Jagmeet Brar, today visited villages along the Indo-Pakistan border which have been badly affected by the abrupt rise in the level of the Sutlej waters.

Mr Brar said the state government should order special girdwaris and poor peasants, whose standing crops had been destroyed, should be given adequate compensation.

Talking to mediapersons on the SYL issue and hardships being faced by farmers in the state, Mr Brar said Punjab was passing through a critical phase as tempers were running high in all corners of the state, especially due to the contentious water distribution issue.

He said as an MP, he had strongly advocated the riparian rights of Punjab in Parliament and had raised concern about the farmers’ plight many times.

Mr Brar said previous NDA government had failed to watch the interests of farmers.

He said the Congress-led UPA Government had come out with several schemes in the interests of farmers.

He said the Johl Committee report regarding restructuring of the agriculture process in the state should be implemented.

He said he would meet the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister along with a delegation of representatives from border areas in the last week of August to apprise the Central Government of the demands of the people of this area.


Four trains cancelled
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 6
Four mail trains on the Bathinda-Ambala rail line have been cancelled up to tomorrow due to damage to the track between Patiala and Ambala.

The cancelled trains on the Bathinda- Ambala line include 4731-4732 Inter-City Bathinda- New Delhi, 4711-4712 Sriganganagar-Hardwar, 4521-4522 Bathinda-New Delhi Express Train and 4887-4888 Jodhpur- Kalka train. Some passenger trains on this rail line are, however, operating up to Patiala. The Jammu, Amritsar express trains bound for New Delhi and other destinations have been diverted via Dhuri and Jakhal.


30 villages still marooned in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
Breaches in the Ghaggar river in Samana subdivision have resulted in flood waters entering some villages even as around 30 villages in the district remained marooned even today. The Army carried out relief operations for the third day with food packets being dropped from helicopters and also being distributed through motor boats.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh disclosed that breaches had occurred in the Ghaggar river in Badshahpur, Rasauli and Shutrana in Samana subdivisions. He said following the breach floodwaters had entered some villages of Badshahpur and Shutrana areas. Agricultural land in a dozen villages has also been inundated. The Seventh Mechanised Regiment has been put into service in the area and had been distributing food and fodder to the villagers.

Meanwhile, around 30 villages continue to remain marooned in Patiala subdivision in the Dudhan Sadan and Ram Nagar areas along the Patiala-Pehowa and Patiala-Kaithal roads. The connection with Pehowa town has been cut off due to damaged Patiala-Pehowa road between the Tangri bridge and Ropar jagir village. Relief material was air dropped in this area today besides being distributed through motorboats by Army personnel. As some villages have been totally cut off, Sub Divisional Magistrate T.P.S. Phoolka visited these villages with a team from the Haryana side through Gulla-Cheka. Power remained cut off in the area as the Ropar Jagir grid is submerged. As the grid is nonfunctional for the past three days, the district administration today transported generators to some villages to make tubewells installed for providing water supply functional.

Mr Tejveer Singh said plugging of breaches on the Nirwana branch at the Sarala crossing of the Ghaggar river had also been commenced by he Irrigation Department. He said the major breach on the SYL canal at Alampur village had been plugged and that work had started on plugging some breaches on the Ghaggar upstream in the Dera Bassi and Rajpura subdivisions. He said the 13 Armoured Regiment which had been undertaking flood relief measures in the Ghanaur area had been de iducted from the area.

Meanwhile, the district administration has called for more veterinary and medical teams from other districts to assist in flood-relief work in areas where the water has receded, like Rajpura and Ghanaur belt. Ten mobile teams of doctors and veterinary surgeons will be pressed into service in these areas.


Villagers prepare for jawan’s homecoming
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Kot Bhai (Muktsar), August 6
The kutcha house of Lance Naik Jagsir Singh in this village has been humming with activities and residents have started making preparations to celebrate his likely return on August 9 after about five years, which he spent in a jail in Pakistan after he was taken into custody by Pakistan Rangers during the Kargil conflict.

The house is being given a fresh coat of mud-dung mixture and the residents have chalked out programmes for celebrating the occasion. The villagers have decided to hold an “akhara” (cultural programme by Punjabi singers at a common place) and light up the village with earthen lamps, besides holding a religious function. Jagsir Singh was declared as deserter by the Army when he disappeared under mysterious circumstances during the Kargil conflict in 1999.

“We have come to know that Jagsir Singh is returning on August 9 from a mediaperson who visited our village about three days ago. We have neither received any communication from the Army authorities nor any army personnel has come to our village to confirm his return,” the family of Jagsir Singh said.

Mr B. R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, said the district authorities had not received any official communication in this regard. He said the district administration would give him a heroic welcome, adding that the village would be given a facelift the moment an official communication was received.

N. Jagsir Singh would also be honoured, he said.

Ever since Jagsir Singh went missing, his family had been facing hardships as his wife Jaswinder Kaur left his house when she came to know that her husband had been declared a deserter. His father Gurdev Singh, who had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, in this regard, died before he could get any information.

The family members also faced harassment at the hands of Army personnel. The Army authorities realised its mistake when it came to know that he was in captivity of the Pakistani authorities. The army authorities later released some benefits to his family.

In June 2004, his family got a letter written by Jagsir Singh from Rawalpindi Central Jail in which he had asked his family to contact the Indian Government to facilitate his release. His mother Chottu Kaur said an Army official from Pune had also visited their house a few months ago and assured them that their son would return soon.


Kalam to attend Guru Granth Sahib celebrations
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 6
The President of India, Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, will be among the VVIPs who will participate in the 400th anniversary celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib, beginning on September 1 per the Nanakshahi calendar.

A jatha of Sindhis from Pakistan will also grace the occasion. The Central Government is being urged for arranging celebrations at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan too.

This was disclosed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, while interacting with mediapersons after a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the party and a meeting pertaining to the centenary celebrations. Mr Badal said he had spoken to Mr Kalam, who confirmed his participation in the celebrations. He said an invitation would also be extended to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

However, Mr Badal said the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib might not be celebrated on the scale of the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth due to resource crunch. He said during the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth in 1999, the SAD –BJP alliance was in power in Punjab and the then NDA government at the Centre had earmarked Rs 300 crore for the purpose. He said his party would welcome any step taken by the state or the Central government to contribute to the celebrations.

To a question, Mr Badal squarely blamed the state government for the havoc wreaked by flash floods in many parts of the state. He alleged that the state government had failed to take preventive measures, which resulted in many villages being marooned. He said no relief had been given to flood victims so far. He said the state government should follow in the foot steps of the Maharashtra Government and restore free power to farmers .

Criticising the state government for making tall claims, Mr Badal said the Deputy Commissioner and the district police chief had failed to attend the meeting on the centenary celebrations. Instead, they had deputed their juniors to attend the meeting.


Inside Babudom
Lal, Gupta promoted DGPs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Additional Directors-General of Police (ADGPs) P. Lal and R.K. Gupta were today promoted as Directors-General of Police (DGPs) by the Punjab Government.

Two Inspectors-General of Police (IGPs) J.P. Birdi and Jyoti Trehan were also promoted as ADGPs. Meanwhile, ADGP Shashi Kant — in charge of operations — has been posted as ADGP (Security) in place of Mr Gupta.

An order issued by the Department of Home Affairs and Justice said ADGP Gupta, in charge of security, has been elevated as DGP (Homeguards). Mr Lal, posted as ADGP (Homeguards), has been promoted as DGP (Lokpal).

Earlier posted as IGP (Border) at Amritsar, Mr Birdi will join as ADGP (Prisons). Mr Trehan, posted as IGP (Operations), will take over as ADGP (Operations and Economic Offences).

IGP P M. Das — earlier posted at Patiala — has been made IGP Ferozepore with headquarter at Faridkot. Another order added that IGP Patiala Zone would supervise the work of Patiala and Ludhiana ranges, while IGP Jalandhar Zone will supervise the work of Jalandhar and border ranges. The order added that IGP Ferozepore zone with headquarters at Faridkot would supervise the work of Faridkot and Ferozepur ranges. This, the order added, was being done in “view of re-allocation of territorial jurisdictions” due to “administrative convenience”.

Mr Lal had earlier served as SSP Kapurthala and Gurdaspur during the days of terrorism. He was IG (Commandoes) for two years from 1992, besides IG (Headquarters and Provisioning). He was awarded police medal for meritorious service on Republic Day in 1987. Mr Lal was also decorated with President’s Medal for distinguished service on Independence Day in 1993.

A 1969-batch IPS officer, Mr Gupta was associated with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for a substantial period. He is known to have handled several sensitive cases.

ADGP Shashi Kant, in charge of the Election Cell set up by the Punjab Police during the Lok Sabha polls, had hit the headlines for “peaceful” conduct of the elections.

A 1977-batch IPS officer, Mr Birdi is a highly decorated officer. He was awarded Padam Shree award in 1987, besides President Police medals for gallantry service and meritorious service. He was also Police Adviser to the Republic of Seychelles between 1990 and 1992. Mr Trehan was posted with the CBI and the Interpol.


SAD (A) demands facilities for state
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann today demanded that Punjab should be given the same facilities which had been extended to those states which were also being ruled by the Congress governments.

In a press note issued today, Mr Varinder Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), Bathinda district, said that a resolution in this connection was passed by the party at a meeting held here. He said that as the Congress governments in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra had extended the facility of free electricity for agriculture use, the same facility should be extended to the farmers of Punjab. He added that as the Andhra Pradesh Government had started a dialogue and entered into ceasefire with the Naxalite groups, the Punjab Government should make arrangements for release of those Sikhs, who had been languishing in various jails.

He said the party also condemned the attitude of the ruling Congress and the SAD for allowing Haryana and other states to get the share of river water.


Govt can fish out revenue from lake
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 6
The state government is losing revenue of about Rs 1 crore per annum to poachers or illegal fish contractors by not allowing fishing in the Ranjit Sagar lake. Though the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, has banned fishing in the lake, sources said it was difficult to stop fishing or boating in the lake.

There are hundreds of villages in the surrounding areas of the Ranjit Sagar Dam. Villagers have lost most of their land to the dam. After the filling of the lake, boats have become an easier mode of transport and fishing. If they travel by road to reach urban areas in their vicinity, they have to cover at least 70 km. Travelling by road is more time consuming and costly for poor villagers. So, they prefer boats. Certain influential private contractors have taken advantage of the situation. They are motivating locals to fish illegally in the lake. They buy the catch at peanuts from the locals and sell it at the market prices, making lakhs. The sources said certain dam officials were also hand in glove with the fish contractors.

The Department of Fisheries, Gurdaspur, had sent a proposal to the government to allow it to give contract for fishing in the Ranjit Sagar lake. Officials of the Fisheries Department are of the view that legalising fishing in the lake would not only earn revenue for the government but would also save the locals from exploitation at the hands of the illegal fish contractors.

As in the Gobind Sagar lake at Bhakra, a barrage of logs could be erected to stop the plying of boats within a specific safe distance from the dam structure. In the rest of the lake, the locals could be allowed to ply boats and fish after getting licence.

The sources said fishing in the Ranjit Sagar lake had been banned on the directions of security agencies. The security agencies, after intercepting certain messages of militants, had directed that the lake area be declared as a no-man zone.

However, some people are of the view that if fishing is allowed in a controlled manner in the lake, it will be more safer vis-a-vis leaving it unmanned. The locals, who will be given licence to ply boats or fish in the lake will, in fact, act as deterrents for militants.

Besides, the controlled plying of boats with all security measures in place will make the daily journey safer for the locals.


Kumar is lying, say Dogra, Gujral
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests A.S. Dogra and Chief Conservator of Forests H.S. Gujral have strongly denied allegations levelled by their colleague, Conservator of Forests Harsh Kumar.

Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Harsh Kumar, who is currently posted as Conservator of Forests, Hoshiarpur, in a letter addressed to the Financial Commissioner (Forest and Wildlife) had levelled serious charges against Mr Dogra and Mr Gujral.

The tiff between these officers dates back to many years and there have been numerous occasions when Mr Kumar has levelled serious charges against his superiors, including these two officers.

However, while the charges were found unfounded, Mr Kumar was reprimanded.

Mr Dogra and Mr Gujral have termed the latest allegations as baseless and motivated. They have stated that despite being castigated for his earlier offensive against senior officers, Mr Kumar has continued to make unsubstantiated allegations against other officers.

Incidentally, on August 3, the members of the IFS and PFS Association held a meeting and passed resolutions condemning some officers, including Mr Kumar, for “vicious and sustained vilification campaigning against the department”.

The members also criticised former Financial Commissioner (Forest and Wildlife) P. Ram for actively encouraging and patronising the officers working against the interests of the department.

Meanwhile, former Punjab Minister of State for Forest Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who is facing an inquiry by Additional Director General of Police R.K. Gupta, has also denied the charge that at his direction Mr Dogra and Mr Gujral collected money for election expense in the recently held Lok Sabha election.


Kidnapped man’s wife moves PSHRC
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 6
In a representation sent to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) two days ago, Ms Avtar Kaur, a resident of Saron village, near here, urged its Chairman to initiate proceedings for getting a case registered against five policemen of the police station of Balianwali village in Bathinda district for “abducting” her husband, Santokh Singh, on July 4, 1991, from his clinic at Mandi Kalan village in Bathinda district. Santokh Singh is still untraceable.

Mr Avtar Kaur had mentioned that five policemen came to his clinic in a Maruti van (without number plate) and forcibly picked him on the pretext of getting a patient checked. She further stated that as he entered the van to check the patient, they started the van and “abducted” him.

Ms Avtar Kaur has also mentioned that on July 5, 1991, an FIR had been lodged with the Ballianwali police against them but the police had not taken any action. Besides, no efforts had been made by the police to trace her husband so far.

She prayed to the PSHRC to start an inquiry into the matter immediately.

Meanwhile, Mr Parshotam Singh Phaguwala, a leader of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Convener or the Panthic Vichar Manch, Punjab, has asked the state government to register a case against former Punjab police chief K.P.S. Gill for “murdering” Sikh youths in “false” encounters.


Head constable in soup over missing file
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 6
The police has booked a head constable, Lakhwinder Singh, posted at Kalanaur police station, for allegedly stealing a file pertaining to him.

The accused had wrongly verified the character of a person in his capacity of a munshi of the police station. Later, the person got recruited in the Punjab police on the basis of that certificate.

An inquiry was ordered into the incident by the higher police authorities. The head constable was called to the Gurdaspur police headquarters for questioning, after which the file related to him went missing.

Though the police booked the head constable for stealing the file, he has feigned ignorance about the incident.

In a habeas carpus petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the sister of the accused, Ms Bhupinder Kaur, alleged that her brother was kept in an illegal confinement by the local police. She alleged that her brother was produced in the court only after he secured an anticipatory bail from the District and Sessions Judge.

Later, the police picked the father of the head constable to pressurise him to sign some blank papers. She had pleaded that her father should be released from the illegal custody and a warrant officer be appointed for the purpose.

The High Court appointed a warrant officer who raided the city police station, Gurdaspur, on Wednesday. He, however, failed to find the father of the accused there.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Narinder Bhargav, said the allegations of the sister of the accused were a ploy to divert attention from the real issue. He said that the report of the warrant officer proved that none of the kin of the accused was kept in an illegal custody.


Villagers pitch in to lay water pipe
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Budh Singhwala (Moga), August 6
Despite losing wages they are working so that their families get safe drinking water. Outbreak of diarrhoea in neighbouring Mari Mustafa village has prompted residents of Dalit locality on the Rajeana Road here to themselves lay pipeline to waterworks to provide drinking water to 250 houses.

The villagers, after getting no response from the Public Health Department, took up this task. The village already had a water pipeline, but water pressure was low in this locality. A few weeks back residents of the Channuwala nearby village stopped drawing water from waterworks as they had an alternative arrangement. The villagers then requested the Public Health Department to lay a pipeline to their village, but the department kept delaying the matter. Village sarpanch Major Singh alleged that when they thought of doing the work themselves a department official threatened them with a case against them.

A couple of weeks back eight/10 residents of the locality fell ill and complained of nausea and loose motions. When they came to know of diarrhoea in Mari Mustafa they were in panic and decided to take up the work on their own.

Villagers, most of whom are farm labourers, are engaged in this work for the past four days.

It may take another four days. A farm labourer earns Rs 100 a day, they are digging out for the pipeline in scorching heat to provide clean drinking water to their families. Malkit Singh and Nachhatar Singh, said that they had not earned anything for past three days.

The sarpanch said that eight to 10 persons of the locality fell sick in past 15 days, of which three were admitted to Faridkot. Another villager Lal Singh said most of the residents had dug out holes at the points near where the pipeline passes and fill water from the pipes, which was muddy in most of the cases. Satnam Singh said that there was no arrangement for the disposal of sewage in the locality and they had dug up earth to dispose it.

Meanwhile, in Mari Mustafa, nine cases of diarrhoea were reported yesterday. Residents of the affected locality, Sehna Patti, now use water from tubewells in fields. They have to fetch potable water from one to two km distance.

Baghapurana SDM, Harcharan Singh Sandhu said that under the Swajal Dhara Scheme the waterworks had been handed over to village panchayats and they were to maintain it.

He said that if villagers were doing this job it should be appreciated. SDO, Public Health Department, could not be contacted for comments.


Cow pens’ safety discussed
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 6
Following the August 3 roof collapse tragedy in Sanghera cow pen which resulted in the death of 82 cows and a buffalo calf, the Barnala civil administration has now woken up from its slumber holding parleys over devising ways and means to avert such mishaps in future.

Mr Zora Singh Thind, SDM, informed this correspondent here yesterday that he had a meeting with managements/ presidents of 13 cow pens in Barnala region and discussed the strategy to be adopted in future to prevent recurrence of such mishaps. He said the Executive Engineer, PWD (B&R), Barnala, also attended the meeting and gave technical advice.

Mr Thind disclosed that it was decided that cow pen structures be studied and reviewed afresh on the spot in Barnala region and weak structures, if any, be detected at the earliest. Then alteration/amendments be suggested to ensure the safety and strength of these structures.

The SDM said a week-long schedule had been drawn up to ensure that no cow pen had a weak structure. The Executive Engineer would visit these cow pen to make on the spot study and submit his report.


First doctor couple to get B.C. Roy award
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
Dr Radha Rani Mittal and Dr R.L. Mittal, both senior doctors, who have held senior positions in the local Government Medical College and also in the Research and Medical Education Department, have got the unique distinction of being the first couple in the region to be awarded the Medical Council of India’s Dr BC Roy National Award.

The award, which is one of the most prestigious in the medical field, is presented by the President. Dr Radha Rani Mittal, former Professor and Head of the Department of Skin and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) at the local medical college, received the award from the President, Mr A.P.J. Abul Kalam on August 3 in Delhi. Her husband Dr R.L. Mittal, a former Principal of the local Government Medical College and State Director, Research and Medical Education, had received the same award in 1994. “We are both followers of Swami Vivekananda and are closely associated with the Ram Krishna Mission”, says the couple. “Giving our utmost to our profession and also to the Government Medical College and Hospital where we have worked for most of our lives has been uppermost in our minds”, says Dr R.L. Mittal. Both believe in low cost medication and improvisation of technology to suit the needs of the people of the country.

Dr Radha Rani Mittal has on her part achieved another first by becoming the first lady doctor in Punjab to bag this award. She was associated with the National Leprosy Eradication Programme and was awarded a WHO fellowship in 1977-1978 for further training in seven countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. She has also worked for the National STD Control and AIDS Control programmes by teaching and generating interest in post graduate students and field doctors about these programmes. She has also worked on rare skin disorders, drug trials and combi laser therapy for various skin ailments.

She says she believes in handing over the knowledge and experience acquired by her to the future generations. She said her books “A Pictorial Overview of Dermatological Disorders” and “Palmopanter Keratodermas — A Coloured Atlas” contained more than 1,500 exhaustive photographs. She said she had prepared CDs of both these books and had distributed them free of cost to all medical colleges in the country for post graduate teaching under the aegis of the Indian Association of Dermatologists Vanereologists and Leprologists.

Dr R.L. Mittal is also known for his inventions in his field of speciality - Orthopaedics. He is credited with inventing the Patiala Biopsy needle which has been adopted by the Indian Orthopaedics Association and is being used all over the country for the past 15 years. He has also improvised tropometers for measuring tibial torsion and scoliometers for school screening of scolioces. “I believe in low cost technology and also perform operations for congenital club feet without making use of an image intensifier”, says Dr Mittal.


Under attack for talking straight
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
A former Secretary, Forests, Mr P. Ram, was under persistent attack at the meeting of the Punjab Council of Ministers here on Thursday, it is learnt.

Demanding strict disciplinary action, including his suspension, the ministers were almost unanimous that bureaucrats like him could not be allowed to go scott free for taking on ministers.

Earlier, they said in a chorus, that the same officer had targeted their colleague, Dr Harbans Lal, who was dropped and is now Chief Parliamentary Secretary. Later, the same bureaucrat had tried to malign former minister, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who was Minister of State.

The Chief Minister, who listened to his colleagues for a while, reportedly remarked that on getting a note from the officer concerned, an enquiry was ordered, which was being conducted by Additional Director-General of Police, R.K. Gupta. Let that be over and then we would see, he said.

Mr P. Ram, who is considered to be no-nonsense officer, is known for his simple habits and straight talk.


SGPC urged to take over gurdwaras under Phoola
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 6
Col G.S. Sandhu, Chairman, Majha Ex-Servicemen Human Rights Front, and president, Poohla Eviction Committee, today urged the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to take over the historic and other gurdwaras which are in illegal possession of Ajit Singh Poohla, self-styled Nihang chief of the Taruna Dal here.

He appealed to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, to order an enquiry by the Vigilance Department or some other independent and appropriate agency against the Nihang chief who had allegedly amassed a large illegal property at various places in Punjab by grabbing land and other illegal means.

He alleged that at many gurdwaras under his illegal occupation he had built airconditioned mansions and was openly stealing electricity by kundi connections.

Col Sandhu said five fresh cases of abduction and murders had come to light and his committee was collecting concrete evidence in this regard. He said the committee would soon make efforts to get FIRs registered against Poohla, who is in judicial remand.


Meeting of new SGPC members on August 12
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Government of India has convened a meeting of newly elected members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), its ex-officio members, head minister (Head Granthi) of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, head ministers of Akal Takhat Sahib, Amritsar, Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Takht Patna Sahib, Patna, Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded and Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda in the Teja Singh Samundari Hall, SGPC complex, Amritsar, on August 12 at 11 a.m.

While stating this here today, a spokesman of Gurdwara Election Commission, Haryana, said that the meeting had been convened for Co-opting 15 members, out of whom not more than five would be residents of Punjab.


Make arrangements for pensions: Majdoor Sabha
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
The Punjab Khet Majdoor Sabha, Bathinda district, today urged the state government to make arrangements for giving pensions to elderly, to restart the “shagun” scheme and payment of unemployment allowance.

Mr Surjit Singh Sardargarh, press secretary, Punjab Khet Majdoor Sabha, in a press note issued here, said that the sabha had also demanded that the state government put a check on the caste divide being witnessed in a number of villages, police atrocities and social discrimination.

He said that the sabha would organise a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on August 9 in which a large number of its members would participate to press the authorities concerned to accept its demands.


Pak delegation arrives for polio summit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 6
A 35-member Pakistan delegation of the Rotary Club arrived here via the joint check post (JCP) at Wagah today.

The delegation is part of a 210-member contingent which would be arriving in India for the two-day international rotary polio summit to be held at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi, from August 7. The summit would be inaugurated by the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The delegation is led by Mr Faizal Faq Quereshi. Pakistan club members had arrived from Multan, Lahore and Karachi and would be visiting Jaipur and Agra, besides Delhi.


Martyr cremated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 6
Subhash Kumar, CRPF jawan, who lost his life combating Pakistan-backed intruders in Srinagar, was consigned to the flames at his native village, Tharial, in Pathankot subdivision today.

Subash’s body was brought in a coffin to the village by the Army authorities and was consigned to the flames with full military honours in the presence of a large number of villagers, civil, military and police officials, including Mr Harminder Singh, SDM, Pathankot. Subhash is survived by his wife, two sons and one daughter.


SMO reinstated
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 6
The suspension of the Jaito Civil Hospital SMO, Mr Ajitpal Singh, has been revoked. He was suspended due to his alleged negligence in dealing with diarrhoea cases in the area. Dr Ajitpal Singh has been posted as SMO at the Nathana PHC in Bathinda district. The president of the PCMCA, Mr Hardip Singh, has termed his reinstatement as victory of the association and other democratic bodies. About 1,500 people suffered from diarrhoea in Jaito in May.


Beant Singh’s son seeks Z category security
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 6
Mr Tej Prakash Singh, former Punjab Transport Minister and son of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who was assassinated some years ago, has filed an application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking Z category security in the light of the escape of three main accused in the assassination case from the high security Burail Jail.

In his application, filed in an ongoing case regarding the jailbreak and prison reforms, Mr Taj Praksh Singh has said that despite repeated requests from the family, the Government has failed to provide adequate security to them. Saying that his father’s death anniversary will be observed on August 31, Mr Tej Prakash Singh has said that a bullet proof car and escort car should be provided to ensure that the escaped militants don’t harm them.

He has also said that he had written to the Punjab Director General of Police seeking upgraded security but so far nothing has been done. Incidentally, Mr Tej Prakash Singh had also filed a writ earlier in the High Court with a similar prayer. The court had then ordered that all family members of the late Chief Minister and other connected with the case be provided adequate security.

He has also pointed out that so far the police have not been able to trace the three escapees.

The application is likely to be taken up on Monday.

CBI probe sought

The affidavit filed by Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) D.R. Bhatti, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the irregularities in the purchase of wireless sets by Punjab Police, came up before a Division Bench of the High Court on Friday.

In his affidavit, Mr Bhatti, who along with Superintendent of Police (SP) Malwinder Singh Sidhu, was recently charge-sheeted by the Punjab Government in the case, has stated that he was willing to face the consequences if the CBI came to the conclusion that there was any misconduct on their part. He has stated that recommendations were made after examining the final report by ADGP R.K. Gupta.

Mr Bhatti has also asked the High Court not to permit the Punjab Government to make him and Mr Sidhu scapegoats. The ADGP has refuted the allegations that they were responsible for any loss to the government.

It may be recalled that a public interest litigation is pending in the High Court on the issue. Filed by two advocates — Mr Ashok Chaudhary and Mr R.K. Kwatra — the PIL seeks a comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crore.

Today, the Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy asked the counsel for the petitioners to tell the court if the court should hand over the investigations in the matter to the CBI as sought by Mr Bhatti.

The case was later adjourned to August 10.

Dismissal challenged

Sepoy Satish Kumar, who was dismissed from the Army on September 18, 2002, has challenged his dismissal in the High Court. He has sought his re-instatement with all benefits.

In his petition, the former armyman has said that summary court martial proceedings were initiated against him in 2001 on the orders of the Army authorities and he was dismissed from service thereafter.

The petitioner was dismissed for his alleged involvement in the injury caused to a civilian in J&K on August 24, 2001. While returning from his post, the petitioner saw two civilians moving around in suspicious circumstances. While talking to them, his sten machine carbine fell down from his shoulder as a result of which shot went off. One of the civilians was injured.

While a local court in J&K discharged him of any wrongdoing, the Army authorities initiated court martial proceedings and finally found him guilty under the Army Act.

In his petition, he has stated that he was not given any opportunity to defend himself during the trial neither was he given any documents in this regard.

After hearing his counsel, Mr Justice Jasbir Singh issued notice for October 14.

Notice issued

A Bench of the High Court headed by Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar on Friday issued notice for September 9 on a petition filed by teachers of privately managed recognised aided schools of Punjab.

In their petition, the teachers have challenged the decision of the Punjab Government to stop the pension scheme meant for them. They have stated that the Government has refused to accept pension documents after May 31.

Saying that as per an earlier court ruling, pension was made effective from February 5, 1987, the petitioners have stated that serving private school teachers were asked to opt for the scheme, while new teachers, who joined service after the order were automatically said to have been enrolled for the same.


Farmers prefer Bt cotton
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
After having faced repeated failures of cotton crops during the past decade except last year despite sowing the recommended varieties by the state Agriculture Department, a large section of the farmers of the cotton belt of Punjab have taken to other varieties with the hope that their fields would bloom with white gold.

Though the Agriculture Department recommended some traditional and hybrid varieties of cotton for sowing in the current crop season and made arrangements for supplying seeds to farmers to a large extent, a large section of the cotton growers preferred to sow Bt cotton and other hybrid cotton seeds which were not recommended by the authorities concerned.

“Surprisingly, the results of cotton crop growth so far are encouraging despite the fact that farmers of the cotton belt have opted to sow recommended varieties in 45 per cent of the area and rest of the area has been sown with other hybrid seeds,” pointed out Mr Mangal Singh Sandhu, Joint Director, Agriculture (Cotton), Punjab.

He added, that for the first time, it was hoped that production of cotton in Punjab would cross significantly the target of 17.5 lakh bales fixed for this year, if all went well. So far there was no report of any attack of pest or insect on the cotton crop in the cotton belt of Punjab comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Sangrur, Faridkot, Moga and Ferozepore districts. The growth of cotton plants, which was retarded due to drought-like conditions, had started again.

He said that the area under cotton in the current season had gone up to 5.49 lakh hectares from 4.52 lakh hectares in which the cotton was sown last year. Last year, the production of cotton was about 13.5 lakh bales.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that a large section of farmers arranged seeds of cotton and hybrid cotton varieties from Gujarat where the cultivation of BT cotton had been going on for the past many years. As the Agriculture Department had no powers to prevent the farmers from sowing Bt cotton, this factor encouraged them and a large section of them had sown this variety cotton in their farms. The farmers had also spent a huge money on the purchasing of Bt cotton seeds.

Agriculture Department officials pointed out that though the Punjab Government was yet to give its consent for carrying out cultivation of Bt cotton in the state, a large section of farmers had started doing the same from this crop season after coming to know about the fact that trials of Bt cotton conducted by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in previous years produced positive and encouraging results.

Mr Sandhu pointed out that the Agriculture Department had been educating the farmers to carry out spray of only those insecticides or pesticides on the cotton plants which were being recommended by the department so that farmers could get better yield at less cost of inputs.


Farmers stage dharna, seek relief
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 6
The Kirti Kisan Union staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today, demanding compensation for drought-hit farmers and free power and water supply to them.

A large number of farmers raised slogans against the Punjab Government, terming it as “anti-farmer”. They demanded that officials be sent immediately to take stock of the drought situation in the region.

They said that they would continue with their agitation until Chief Minister Amarinder Singh paid heed to their demands.

The state president of the union, Mr Hardev Singh, said due to the wrong policies of the ruling party, the farmers were desolate. He said the union had launched a state-level agitation today.

Mr Nirbhay Singh Dhudike, a union leader, said the paddy had been affected due to low water levels and the stoppage of canal water by the government had added to their woes.

The protesters demanded that the government should pay Rs 15,000 per acre as compensation for the crop destroyed due to drought.


One held in murder case
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 6
The district police has claimed to have solved the case of murder of Suman Rani of Shastri Nagar, Mandi Gobindgarh, with the arrest of Raj Kumar, neighbour of Suman Rani, whereas the two contract killers engaged by Raj Kumar are at large. The police has registered a case under Section 460 of the IPC and presented Raj Kumar in the court of Mr S.S. Panesar at Amloh, who has remanded him in police custody for one day.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said on August 3 unidentified persons killed Suman Rani in broad daylight, but did not take away any cash or jewellery from the house. He said after visiting the spot, he had found that the murder was committed by professionals whose motive was not looting. He said the police started working on various theories and deputed personnel in plain clothes.

He said after getting information from various quarters, he decided to call Raj Kumar for interrogation. He said during interrogation, he admitted that he got Suman Rani murdered by contract killers as he had personal enmity with her. He said 15 years ago, Suman Rani and her family members had accused her brother’s wife of stealing gold jewellery worth Rs 50,000 from their house. He said his family members had assured them that she had not stolen the jewellery and they were ready to pay the amount, but the family continued to declare her a thief.

He said due to this blame, her brother’s wife became a psychiatric patient and ultimately died. He said at that time, he had taken a pledge to take revenge.

The SSP said Raj Kumar had contacted Suraj (22) and Yogesh Yadav (25) of Sujanpur in Uttar Pradesh and struck a deal with them for Rs 4 lakh. The SSP said on August 3, Raj Kumar, along with the two contract killers, climbed the roof of the house at about 2.30 am and the killers hid under a double bed. He said the contract killers stayed under the bed till 11 am, when as per the plan, Raj Kumar signalled to them from the top of his roof to execute the plan. He said at that time, the husband of Suman Rani and the maidservant had left the house. He said the contract killers entered the bedroom of Suman Rani stabbed her with knives and searched for money, but could not locate it, following which they fled. He said around 2 pm, her children came back from school and knocked at the door. They took the help of neighbours and she was found lying in a pool of blood.

The SSP said the contract killers had fled and they would try to contact Raj Kumar for getting the amount promised. He hoped that the police would arrest them soon.


One held for printing fake currency
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 6
The police arrested a person who was allegedly involved in printing of fake currency here today.

The police seized fake notes worth Rs 1.87 lakh from Gurdhiyan Singh, of Urban Estate here. A photostat machine, paper-cutter machine, golden wire and a fake identity card of ASI were also seized from his residence.

The police also recovered a Qualis vehicle which he had allegedly stolen from Gurgaon few months also. A case has been registered against the accused under Sections 379, 411, 420 and 489 (A,B,C,D and E) of the IPC.


Rs 2.50 lakh looted

Sangrur, August 6
Two persons allegedly looted Rs 2.50 lakh from Mr Rakesh Kumar at pistol point yesterday Mr Kumar is an employee of a milk factory at Khanna, near Bathan village.

Mr Rakesh Kumar was going on a scooter from Khanna to Dhuri for making payments. On reaching Bathan village, two persons stopped him and looted Rs 2.50 lakh from him. A case has been registered. — TNS


ETT teachers spit fire over contract jobs
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 6
Enraged over the appointment of teachers on contract by the Punjab Government, the ETT Teachers Union today blocked traffic and burnt the effigy of the state government here.

The union announced that, on August 8 and 9, a fast would be organised at the residence of the state ministers and the district Congress chiefs.

The union also warned the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to withdraw the “false” cases registered against the union leaders, failing which the union would announce a big action plan.

The traffic blockage, led to the vehicles getting stranded on Moga-Ludhiana, Moga-Amritsar and Moga-Ferozepur road. The agitation continued despite the police intervention.

Earlier, the union members took out a protest rally through the main markets of the city. The state president of the union, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu and general secretary of the Diet Students Welfare Association, Mr Buta Singh, said the government had to pay the price of lathicharge on the jobless teachers in Jalandhar. They said the appointment of teachers on contract basis was a pointer to the commercialisation of the education.


Patiala boy second in PMET
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 6
Hemkiran Singh, a local boy, has made the city proud by securing the second rank in the Punjab PMET examination conducted earlier this year.

A student of the local Mohindra College, Hemkiran secured 688 marks out of 800 in his first attempt. His father Mr Avtar Singh is a doctor and is working in Government Medical College, Amritsar, while his mother, Ms Gurkirtan Kaur, is a housewife.

He has also cleared the AFMC and the CBSE examination but is planning to join the MBBS course at the local Government Medical College, added Dr Avtar Singh.


Unemployed teachers hold protest rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 6
A large number of members of the district unit of the unemployed Elementary Teachers Union (UETU) along with activists of the district unit of DIET Students Welfare Association, today took out a protest march and burnt the effigy of the Punjab Government at the traffic chowk in protest against the contractual appointment of teachers by the government. They also demanded the withdrawal of false cases registered against student leaders at Jalandhar.

The protesters also raised slogans against the Punjab Education Minister. They demanded regular appointment of teachers and stopping the hiring of teachers on contract.

Addressing the rally, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, district president of the UETU, announced that if their demands were not met within 24 hours, they would stage a dharna in front of the residence of the Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.


Graduate classes allowed
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 6
Punjabi University, Patiala, has fulfilled the long-standing demand of the people of this region by giving approval to the local Nehru Memorial Government College to start graduate classes in medical and non-medical streams from the current academic session.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jagtar Singh, Principal of the college, said that the Punjabi University authorities had also allowed admissions to these classes of eligible students till August 7 without charging any late fee.


Admission date extended

Amritsar, August 6
The last date of admission to the MA (Sanskrit) first semester and M. Phil (Sanskrit) courses being run by Guru Nanak Dev University has been extended till August 31 without late fee. This was informed in a university press note here today. — OC

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