P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



2 Punjabi varsity employees caught with women
Placed under suspension

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Two employees of Punjabi University were caught red-handed while indulging in an immoral act during “overtime” in its Examination Branch two days back.

The university authorities made them sign a confession and handed them over along with two women, whom they had brought from outside of the campus, to the Bahadurgarh police chowki with a request that an FIR be registered against them.

The police has registered a case under Section 109 (trying to hide presence to commit cognizable offence) against the two employees.

According to sources, the two employees — Manjit Singh, who works in the office of Dean, Academic Affairs, and Jasbir Singh, who works in the Conduct Branch, were on overtime duty when the incident occurred on August 14.

The sources said according to the confession made by the two employees to the university, Jasbir Singh enquired from his head and other officials about their presence at work on Saturday. On being told that none of the staff were on duty, Jasbir asked Manjit to get the two women, residents of Mathura Colony and Bishen Nagar, to the Examination Branch.

Following this, according to University Chief Security Officer Col Alamjit Singh (retd), Jasbir locked Manjit and one of the women in the room of a steno in the office. After some time Manjit did the same for Jasbir and the other woman.

The Security Officer said suspicion arose when another employee saw Manjit knock at a locked room. The employee told this to a security guard on duty and they went to the rear of the room to check on it.

The two became suspicious and on seeing them Jasbir jumped from the first floor and tried to escape to the nearby Gol Market, where he was apprehended by the security staff. Though Jasbir first denied his presence in the room, he relented when one of the women was “recovered” from the locked room after it was forced open.

The university authorities handed over all the four to the Bahadurgarh police chowki with a request that an FIR be registered.

University spokesperson, Dr B.S. Sandhu, when contacted said though the employees had been suspended, further action was expected against them.

Meanwhile, SSP A.S. Rai said both employees had been arrested and charged under Section 109, IPC. He said they had been presented before a Magistrate and granted bail.

Mr Rai said the police had written to the university authorities asking them to take strict disciplinary action against the employees.


Top militant led a life of comfort, anonymity
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
Dreaded militant Harnek Singh, alias Bhap, of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), who was arrested by the Fatehgarh Sahib police two days back, had been leading a life of comfort in anonymity in the Urban Estate here for the past two years. Bhap was living alone in a 150 square yard house, 2564 in Phase II of the Urban Estate. He owned a Bullet motor cycle and a silver Santro car. His hobbies included frequenting a nearby gym and visiting the Punjabi University campus nearby.

Bhap’s neighbours, while talking to The Tribune, said the militant used to generally keep to himself. He was courteous with his neighbours, who had a good opinion of him, with many of them thinking that he had come to the city to establish some business. None of the neighbours suspected any of his activities or took him for a criminal.

They said he seemed to be fun-loving but respectful towards elders and nearby residents. Harnek was a regular at the New Power House Gym in the same phase, which he sometimes used to frequent in the morning and the evening.

The people said though he had befriended a few persons at the gym, it was only on a casual basis and he did not enjoy any close companionship with anyone.

Sources said Harnek used to frequent the Punjabi University campus. It was not clear as to why he used to go there. His acquaintances at the gym said they did not know whether he used to go there to meet anyone or just for a casual drive.

Harnek lived all by himself at the house, which the neighbours said might be owned by him as they did not hear or see any landlord coming to the house. He was apparently getting money from somewhere because he did not have any source to earn his livelihood. The house, neighbours said, was reasonably well maintained, for a bachelor. The house is presently locked, with no one coming forward to claim it after the arrest of Harnek.

The sources said the militant was questioned for more than an-hour-and-a-half hours by SP (Detective) Pritpal Singh Sidhu at Fatehgarh Sahib today. They said though no case had been registered against Harnek in Patiala district, the police had started investigating untraced militancy related cases in the district to recheck whether Harnek could be involved in any of them. Harnek might be brought to Patiala for investigations at a later stage.


3 Babbar Khalsa men charged with murder
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 16
The police has nabbed three Babbar Khalsa activists. They have also been accused of killing local Akal dera head Baba Jagtar Singh, who was shot along with his follower Manjit Singh on April 15, here by two unidentified persons.

The murder accused have been identified as Jagtar Singh of Bharowal village and Baljinder Singh, alias Nihang, of Preet Nagar village under the Lopoke police station. Connected to the Sikh militant outfit Babbar Khalsa, they were working under the guidance of Harjant Singh, alias DC, the police claimed. The accused were in jail and were brought here on production warrants.


Ropar cop shielding travel agent?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Is a senior police officer of the Ropar police shielding a travel agent, who is alleged to have defrauded a Morinda resident of Rs 1 lakh? The answer seems to be yes if a rejoinder of the SSP, Ropar, to a notice issued by the Punjab State Human Right Commission (PSHRC) is any indicator.

The rejoinder, sent to the PSHRC through the Punjab IG (Litigation), takes cognizance of a complaint of Ms Kulwant Kaur, a resident of Morinda, regarding corruption charges against the official and his Reader in not registering a case against the travel agent, Paramjit Singh, alias Pammi.

Narrating the sequence of events to Chandigarh Tribune here today, Mr Bant Singh, husband of Ms Kulwant Kaur, said he emigrated to Lebanon in 1997 to earn his livelihood. While he worked there, his wife suffered a heart attack in 2002 and he decided to return to India.

In Lebanon, he met Pammi, who promised to send him to India on the payment of $1,200. He deposited $200 and his passport with Pammi after taking a loan from his brother-in-law. The rest of the amount — $1,000 — was to be paid to Pammi after Bant Singh landed at the Delhi Airport.

However, Bant Singh was handed over to certain unidentified persons on the Lebanon-Syria border by Pammi, which was to be the beginning of his nightmarish experience. “For days together, I was brutally beaten up in Syria and forced to telephone my brother-in-law in Lebanon saying that I have reached Delhi and he should pay $1,000 to Pammi,” alleged Bant Singh.

Also, $900 on his person were taken away by the men and he was handed over to the Syrian police, he alleged adding that he ultimately landed in a Syrian jail. After completing his one-month term in the jail there, he was again pushed back to Lebanon.

As Pammi came to know that he had returned to Lebanon, he fled to India. After spending a few months in a Lebanese jail, Mr Bant Singh returned to India on June 4, 2003.

Mr Bant Singh said after he approached the Punjab Chief Minister, a compromise was effected by the Ropar police and Pammi was asked to pay him Rs 1 lakh. In fact, Rs 15,000 was paid to Mr Bant Singh by the agent.

After that, Pammi started dilly-dallying on the payment of the rest of money claiming that the official and his Reader were on his side, as he had greased their palm. However, in the rejoinder, the Ropar police claimed that corruption charges had not been proven.

Meanwhile, the PSHRC has asked the police officer to appear in person before it on September 6.


Tug-of-war continues over Virk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
The tug-of-war between the Centre and the Punjab Government — over the issue of allowing IPS officer S.S. Virk to stay in the state — continues. Though the Punjab Government has written to the Centre asking them to allow Mr Virk to continue till March 31 next year, the Union Home Ministry has reportedly sought an explanation from the officer.

The officer has reportedly been asked to explain why disciplinary proceedings against him should not be initiated for "wilfully disobeying the orders" directing him to return to his parent cadre by April 30 this year.

Just over four months ago, the Union Home Ministry had terminated the inter-cadre deputation of the 1970-batch officer. The battle between the Centre and the state over the issue of his deputation had taken a "curious turn" after the ministry had written directly to Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Virk.

In their order sent through speed post to Mr Virk, the authorities had asked him to report back for duty to the Government of Maharashtra without delay. The sources had claimed that a Joint Secretary had asked ADGP Virk to join the duty in his parent cadre of Maharashtra not later than April 30 failing which the ministry would initiate action against him under All India Service (D&A) Rules of 1969. It was added that the officer would be deemed to have been released by the Punjab Government.

The order had further added that the state government in November, 2001, had assured the ministry about ADGP Virk's release immediately after the completion of election process in the state, but nothing was done in this regard.

The Punjab Government, on the other hand, had shot a letter to the ministry for extending the deputation. Even the state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had written a letter in this regard.

The move was considered significant as the officer — posted as Intelligence Chief in state police — was likely to succeed Mr A.A. Siddiqqui as Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP).

Meanwhile, going into the background of the matter, the sources reveal that ADGP Virk's inter-cadre transfer to state of Punjab for a year was approved of by the Union Government on February 27, 1996.

He reported for duty in Punjab on April 2, 1996. His deputation was extended till April 1, 1998, on Punjab Government's request. Subsequently, the Punjab Government continued to request the Union Government for extending the deputation till the Home Ministry refused to agree.


They have broken shackles of exploitation and poverty
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
They know nothing about Marx, Lenin or Mao's thought. They also have nothing to do with the CPI, the CPM and other Left groups which have been promising for long to change the fortune of workers and landless labourers through an imagined revolution. Decades-old " garibi hatao" mission of the ruling Congress and other political groups has not percolated to their level yet.

But by churning their own thought process, they have sprouted the seeds of " revolution" in the womb of their villages to break themselves free from the age-old scourge of poverty and wretchedness. Their lives are changing steadily. And they themselves are surprised over the metamorphosis in their existence.

Before these words start sounding unrealistic and incredible, it will be appropriate to unfold their story which is regarding a good number of landless labourers, Dalits, poverty-stricken women and even under-debt small farmers belonging to the Jat-Sikh community of famed Doomcheri, Kajuali, Ballan, Sangatpura and Tajpura villages located near Morinda, 40 km from here.

The beginning was made in the Doomcheri village where self-help groups were formed by landless labourers and other poor sections of society. Most of these labourers and workers used to take loans to meet their instant needs from village landlords on interest rates varying from 36 to 60 per cent. That practice had almost reduced them to the level of bonded labourers.

But the posting of Mr Resham Singh, manager in the Regional Rural Bank (RRB), an off-shoot of the nationalised Punjab National Bank, changed their fortunes. Having a strong desire to free Dalits, workers and poor farmers from the clutches of poverty, Mr Resham Singh started the process of schooling to change the mindset of those affected by poverty and debt. In due course, as many 30 self-help groups, mostly of women, were formed.

These groups pooled small amounts from their daily wages to secure loans from the Doomcheri branch of the RRB. Mr Resham Singh, with the help of his senior officers such as Dr Phool Singh, and NABARD helped them to manage loans.

With those loans these groups, working on a cooperative basis by electing their own office-bearers, started self-employment ventures to break free from exploitation. Now most of the groups have generated dependable sources of income.

They are not only returning bank loans but also maintaining their own accounts. Dairy farming is popular among these farmers. Hence, most of the members of self-help groups have purchased milch cattle to generate income. Besides, women have got training in tailoring and youths in the repair of electrical gadgets.

Two groups stand out. First is the Dr Ambedkar group which consists of 10 landless labourers of Kajuali village. As many as 10 landless labourers have taken 8 acres of land of the panchayat on rent for a year. They have transplanted paddy in six-and-a-half acres, and the remaining is being used for green fodder. Crop is in good health. They have already started dreaming good returns. The bank had given a loan of Rs 60,000 to get the land on rent and the remaining Rs 17,000 have been contributed by them. Sarpanch Mohan, who is a member of the group, says:" It is a wonderful experience for our families who have been working for several years in the fields of landlords for petty amounts.''

The second is the Sahibzada Zorawar Singh group of Doomcheri village. Mr Gurmail Singh, sarpanch of the village, is the main force behind this group. The group has bought a tractor-trailor and a reaper. During rabi harvesting season, the group saved Rs 26,000 by harvesting crops and doing other related works.

Harnek Singh, driver of the tractor, says that his entire life was spent by working as a labourer." Now I get Rs 2,400 as salary for driving the tractor and also help in unloading the trailor used for transportation of various materials. For those work I get extra money. My life has been completely changed", he adds.


World Sikh Council says no to White House invitation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
The World Sikh Council — American region — invited to White House on August 18 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib has declined to attend the ceremonies over the issue of wearing of ''kirpan'' by the participants.

The secretary-general, Dr Tarunjit Singh, in a fax message to The Tribune today has said that the council ''appreciates'' the sentiments of the White House executive branch to recognise such a historic event in the Sikh faith but would rather not attend the function as it involved ''compromising'' the principles of the very faith that the Sikhs professed.

The message states that in a conversation over the telephone, a White House staffer had said that due to ''security risk'' no Sikh wearing the ''kirpan'' would be allowed entry and he has to remove the same. The council, on its part, explained to the staffer the significance of the ''kirpan'' and that asking a Sikh to remove it was not only ''offensive'' but was to deny him ''legitimate right'' to practice his faith.

''Kirpan'' is one of the five symbols, articles of faith, required to be worn by all formally ''initiated Sikhs''. The fax message also said that the White House staffer was duly concerned and explained that Dr Rajwant Singh, as organiser of the event, would be calling the invited guests—the Sikhs—that they wear a ''medallion'' with a small ''kirpan'' image in it instead of their usual ''kirpan''.

The council, however, reiterated its objection to the staffer and asked if there was any other option, to which she said it was not possible due to the short time-frame. However, she suggested that the issue be discussed and resolved to avoid such a situation in future.

The World Sikh Council is a representative body of 28 gurdwaras and eight Sikh institutions across the nation there.


Tandon calls Badal’s demand ‘illogical’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Former Minister and BJP leader Balramji Das Tandon today ''attacked'' SAD president Parkash Singh Badal for his demand to scrap sub-clause 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, which allows river waters to flow into Haryana and Rajasthan.

In a signed statement, Mr Tandon described this statement of Mr Badal as ''illogical and unfortunate,'' saying that this would start a fresh debate on the controversial Act and also that the people of Punjab do not subscribe to such demands'', he added.

Asked if such a stand meant that the political alliance between SAD and BJP was on the rocks and may not last in future, Mr Tandon was quick to recount the best of times the two parties had had and said it was not necessary that the views of the two should be identical and converge on every issue. SAD was a regional party while ''BJP is a national party and difference of opinion can always be there''.

At the same time, Mr Tandon said digging or repairing SYL canal was uncalled for, as Punjab had no surplus water and any efforts on this exercise without a fresh survey would be opposed by Punjab BJP.


Preservation work of Golden Temple pillars begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
A comprehensive project to preserve and prolong the life of marble pillars in the Golden Temple complex started today under the supervision of a former Joint Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Mr B.N. Tandon.

Mr Tandon is a member of the team which will prepare the groundwork for conserving the Golden Temple. Talking to The Tribune, he said over the years emissions from vehicles got deposited on the marble causing corrosion and discolouring of the 350 pillars in the parikarama. He said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) would have to put a ban on vehicles from coming near the complex.

He said the team working inside the Golden Temple had already taken various samples for analysis in laboratories in New Delhi to find out the exact cause of damage to the marble pillars and the flooring. The team was expecting to get comprehensive reports by the end of this month. The scientific work on preservation would begin thereafter.

Experts on the pollution control here have already prepared a report on the effects of vehicular emission on the marble as well as on the gold plating. According to a rough estimate, more than 4,000 vehicles come daily near the periphery of the temple. But the final analysis of vehicular emissions will only be known after Laboratory reports are received.

Mr Tandon said a special material had been produced using surface detergents, liquid soaps and some chemicals to clean the marble pillars. The SGPC authorities were providing the manpower for completing the job within the next few days in view of the 400th celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said the SGPC must prepare a comprehensive plan covering all aspects for preserving the temple as time was running out. He suggested that battery operated vehicles or rickshaws only should be allowed to bring pilgrims and the vehicles should be parked at least 2 km away as had been done at the Taj Mahal.

The project coordinator and Director of Cultural Resource and Conservation Initiatives, Ms Gurmeet Rai, who has been entrusted with the task of preparing the groundwork for the preservation of the Golden Temple, has already enlisted world-renowned conservationists Jayath Weersinghe from Sri Lanka and James Simpson from Scotland.


Villagers meet Preneet to stall move on urban estate
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, August 16
A delegation of 50 villagers of Singhpura, Ramgarh Bhudda and Nagla visited the Punjab Chief Minister’s House in Chandigarh and held a meeting with Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, Patiala, today. They are opposing the PUDA’s move to acquire their agricultural land for the development of an urban estate.

Mr Lal Singh, Village Development Minister, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary, Housing and Urban Development and senior officials of Punjab Urban Development Authorities (PUDA), including Mr A.S. Chatwal, Chief Administrator, were also present at the meeting.

Headed by Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, a former Additional Advocate-General Punjab, the delegation gave a representation listing their grievances over the PUDA’s move to acquire their agriculture land for the development of the urban estate.

Leaders asked PUDA officials to consider the grievances of the villagers and chalk out solution to their problems.

Farmers of these villages are up in arms against the PUDA’s move and have threatened to start an indefinite agitation.

They say it meant uprooting of over 1000 families for the sake of development as a majority of villagers own small landholdings and agriculture was the main sources of their livelihood.

Mr Ranjit Singh, a former sarpanch of Singhpura village, said farmers would be rendered landless and homeless.

The delegation, however, claimed that they had approached the Local Government of Punjab to include their villages within the limits of Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat.


2 anniversaries on Aug 20
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Come August 20, Punjab will observe the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi at a state-level function at Ludhiana to be organised by the Congress and the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at his native village in Sangrur, where SAD is making preparations.

The two had inked the Punjab Accord, which remains un-implemented since 1985 and later fell victim to terrorist violence. If a human bomb killed Rajiv Gandhi, Sant Longowal was shot dead.

SAD secretary Daljit Singh Cheema, in a statement today, said that Mr George Fernandes, Ms Uma Bharti, Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Omar Abdullah were expected to attend the function at Longowal, where a public meeting would be held.

On the other hand, PPCC general secretary Rajpal Singh has said that the state-level function to mark the 60th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi would be held at Ludhiana as ‘’Urja Diwas’’, where party president, H.S. Hanspal would preside and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh would address the meeting.


Dry taps force villagers to trek for drinking water
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaito (Faridkot), August 16
A number of villages covered under the waterworks of Chaina village are facing an acute drinking water shortage these days. With no water supply from the waterworks for weeks, the villagers here are being forced to consume ground water, which is contaminated in most of the areas.

The sarpanch of Karirwali village, Mr Mehar Singh, said the ground water below the level of 100 feet was drinkable, but nobody could afford to install such a deep pump in the village. The villagers were left with no option, but to bring water from a distance of 2 km, he said. The residents of Kothe Lal Singhwala village said the taps of the waterworks were dry for days and there was no fixed time for water supply. They said due to contaminated ground water, their cattle were falling prey to diseases.

Some Bharatiya Kisan Union activists from Bhagtuana village said they were not getting adequate water supply. They said water was supplied to the village last Monday after 20 days and that water was black and stinking. The residents of Chaina and Kothe Sampuran Singh villages also made similar complaints.

The water tank of the waterworks at Chaina village, which was installed about 25 years back, was leaking at various points. The walls of water stores had also collapsed. The roof of the main room housing the pump had no cement and it was bent inwards. The pump operator at the waterworks, Mr Resham Singh, said the water supply to the waterworks depended on canal water. He said that due to stoppage of canal water from July 11 to August 8, there was no water supply from the waterworks. He said there were illegal connections in Bhagtuana village, which also affected the water supply.

Public Health Department sources said the capacity of the waterworks was 30,000 gallons, with which about 200 connections could be catered to properly. On the other hand, five villages that received water from the waterworks had 225 legal connections, besides a number of illegal ones.


Punjab has been foolishly generous: Boparai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Swarn Singh Boparai today welcomed the statement of the Prime Minister on the need for a ‘’national and holistic’’ view of management of water resources of the country.

Responding to the statement made by Dr Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day message from the Red Fort, the Vice-Chancellor said the present national water policy was ‘’flip flop’’, as no riparian state shared its waters with non-riparian states, except Punjab, which ‘’foolishly’’ showed its generosity by parting with 60 per cent of its water.

In a signed statement Mr Boparai said the current water policy was a ‘’tasteless recipe’’ for the riparian states and it was time some ‘’economics’’ was injected into it, making it ‘’edible’’ for riparian states. As the present national water policy took a one-sided view, that of beneficiary states, it was, therefore, partisan and pressureistic.

A look at history would show that Rajasthan, Patiala and other princely states availed of water from the riparian Punjab on payment of royalty to the donor and there never was a controversy.

The statement said that since Independence Punjab had been labelled “rebellious,” even after it gave much water than all other states put together, while the donor states had become ‘’arrogant, over-bearing and greedy’’.

Giving an example, Mr Boparai said that in post-Independence India, coal and crude oil, two other natural resources, played a vital role in development of the country and resource-rich states happily shared their bounty because of the royalty they received. The coal-rich states got an annual royalty of Rs 500 crore to Rs 700 crore. The same was true of crude oil.


Illegal colonies galore in Pathankot
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot August 16
A large number of illegal colonies have mushroomed here in violation of rules, allegedly in connivance with officials of the Town Planning Department. This has not only caused losses to the government in terms of local taxes, but has deprived residents of basic amenities.

These colonies are mainly located at Abrol Nagar, near Radha Swami Ashram, A.B. College road, Mission Road, Ram Sharnam Colony, Pangoli Chowk area, Defence Road and Khanpur Road. The colonisers have carved out Shah Colony from a development scheme.

Mr B.S. Behal, a local resident, says in a majority of cases, the colonisers have not constructed roads or public parks and have not provided proper water facilities to the residents.

Mr A.R. Pundir, an ex-serviceman, says except one or two colonisers, none of them have obtained a licence for carving out the 

Sources said an influential coloniser had sold a nullah belonging to the Local Bodies Department and a doctor at APK road had constructed a hospital by encroaching upon a nullah. PUDA Additional Chief Administrator Balwinder Singh Multani said the department had recently identified certain unauthorised colonies in Pathankot and recommended the registration of criminal cases against the violators.

He said a letter in this connection had been written to the SSP concerned. Officials of the Town Planning Department feigned ignorance about the matter.


Bhattal takes up cause of freedom fighters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has taken exception to the “ill-treatment” meted out to freedom fighters and nothing tangible being done to mitigate their hardships and suffering. “In fact, with each passing day, while their problems piled up, their identities, too, were getting obliterated”.

These views have been expressed by her in a letter to all the Deputy Commissioners with copies to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary. Her missive comes at a time when the controversy as to why no ministers went to Bathinda and Faridkot to unfurl the National Flag on the Independence Day refuses to die down. Based on the first-hand experience Ms Bhattal had at Sangrur on Sunday, where she was the chief guest at the Independence day function, in her letter she has desired that at the two national functions, Republic Day and Independence Day, the freedom fighters should be seated in the VIP enclosure and during the routine review meetings the Deputy Commissioners be asked to attend to the grievances faced by them.


New conditions on old-age pensioners
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
The fresh conditions imposed on old-age pensioners have left hundreds of prospective senior citizens in the lurch throughout the state.

The new conditions exclude any senior citizen, men (65 years and above) and women (60 years and above), whose children are either doctors, advocates, chartered accountants, income tax/finance/administrative consultants, dental surgeons, engineers, architects, contractors or persons working in similar professions, from becoming eligible for pension by the state. Another condition, imposed in the present financial year, excludes those who are employed privately or are drawing Rs 4,000 per month as salary. Hundreds of senior citizens, who have become eligible for old-age pension and till now were taking help and shelter from social and non-government organisations, have been rendered hopeless.

In another decision, the government has given the sanctioning power in the rural areas to panchayats and zila parishads for prospective beneficiaries.


3 new lines to improve power transmission
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has commissioned three new lines in the last three months to strengthen the transmission and distribution system and reduce system losses in the state.

Board chairman Y.S. Ratra said here today that three new 220 KV lines had been taken up to improve voltage.

Mr Ratra said 104 circuit km of lines had been completed in the last three months to improve quality and reliability of power being supplied to consumers. Mr H.M. Jain, member, Generation, said five 66 KV transmission lines had been completed.

Mr Jain said six 66 KV and one 33 KV new grid substations had been commissioned. He added that the capacity of 15 power transformers had been augmented and three additional transformers had been installed.


Slogan war at retreat drill
Anirudh Gupta

Hussainiwala, August 16
BSF personnel and Pakistani Rangers exchanged gifts and pleasantries during the retreat drill to celebrate Independence Day here last evening. They took belligerent postures during the retreat ceremony, performed in presence of at least 5,000 persons.

Crowds on both sides were locked in a slogan war. BSF personnel had a tough time handling the crowd. BSF sentries on horseback were deputed all along the road leading to the zero line. The Public Relations Department organised a cultural function near the zero line. A dance troupe from Noorpur Sethan village performed bhangra and Malwai giddha.

At the end of the retreat ceremony, BSF personnel presented a firecracker display.


Salary not paid for 10 months
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
Employees of Amritsar International Hotel, a unit of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation, alleged that they had not been paid salary for the past 10 months.

Mr Mangal Singh Hundal, President, Punjab Tourism Employees Union (PTEU) said that 50 employees of the hotel had not been given dues. He stated that according to records last month hotel earned Rs 6.95 lakh, in June Rs 8.68 lakh and in May Rs 9.19 lakh, however their salary was stalled despite communications to Minister for Tourism and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He urged the government to release pay at the earliest as the employees had taken loan. He said even the employees who had taken voluntary retirement had not been relieved.


SC/BC/ST employees confederation office-bearers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 16
Mr Harmesh Lal Ghera, District President, All-India Confederation of SC/BC/ST Employees Organisations, Kapurthala, today appointed the following office- bearers of the district:

Senior Vice-President — Mr Siboo Ram Balalon; Vice-Presidents — Mr Surinder Singh Basra; Mr Satish Kumar, Mr Amar Nath Mehmi, Mr Gian Chand, Mr Darshan Singh; General Secretary — Mr Satwant Singh Toora; Secretaries — Mr Prem Singh Badhan, Mr Joginder Singh Sultanpur; Joint Secretary — Mr Lakhwinder Singh Bholath; Cashier — Mr Gian Chand Wahid; Joint Cashier — Mr Joginder Pal, Press Secretary — Mr Paramjit Kumar; Publicity Secretary — Mr Ramji Das Virdi; Organising Secretary —Mr Dalbir Saroa.


Man falls into well, dies

Moga, August 16
A man died after he fell into a well at Ajitwal, near here, yesterday.

Sources said the deceased had gone to the field of Kartar Singh to repair his tuble well. The incident took place when the deceased, Hardeep Singh, was standing on the brink of the bore.

He was taken out from the well, but he died. His body was handed over to his family after the post-mortem examination. — TNS


Heavy rain lashes Moga
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 16
Normal life was thrown out of gear when heavy rain lashed the town today. This ended a long dry spell and gave respite from the sweltering heat.

It was the heaviest shower in the town during this monsoon. All main roads were inundated and commuters had a tough time reaching their destinations.


Non-bailable warrants against ex-Punwire MD
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
The Special CBI Magistrate today issued non-bailable warrants against former Punwire Managing Director Gurpal Singh.

The warrants were issued against the former Managing Director when CBI counsel said that Mr Gurpal Singh might have fled the country. Last month the CBI filed a chargesheet against Mr Gurpal Singh and others in what is called the Punwire scam.

The court granted bail to two more accused in the case.


State award for Anmol
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
The President of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, has been honoured by the Punjab Government with Punjab Sarkar Parman Patra. The award was given by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a state level function in Hoshiarpur on the occasion of Independence Day.


Cotton crop under attack of American bollworm
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 16
The state Agriculture Department authorities have sounded a general alert for the farmers after it started receiving reports from the fields that the cotton crop has come under attack from the American bollworm.

Though the attack of the American bollworm on the cotton crop was so far below the economic threshold level (ETL), the authorities apprehend that the attack may become more severe as humidity conditions have been prevailing in the cotton belt of the state.

Official sources said first the cotton crop was under attack by the sucking pest. The farmers, however, managed to save their crops considerably by making timely sprays of insecticides on the cotton plants.

Mr Rajiv Gupta, Agriculture Development Officer (ADO), Cotton Section, Agriculture Department, Chandigarh, said constant monitoring was being done in the cotton fields by the field staff of the department. He added that surveillance teams had been despatched to the cotton belt of Punjab comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Sangrur districts.

Mr Gupta pointed out that the attack of the American bollworm was more on the traditional cotton varieties as compared to the attack on the hybrid varieties. He added that the attack was more severe in Bathinda, Muktsar, Moga and Ferozepore districts as compared to the other areas falling in the cotton belt.

He said the cotton crop was passing through a crucial phase now as it was undergoing the transition stage from flowering to fruition. If the humidity conditions continued and increased, the bollworm attack would increase and if the weather became dry, it would boost the growth of the cotton plants. The farmers had already been told to use only the recommended brands of insecticides for sprays on the cotton plants, which had been attacked by the American bollworm.

Official sources said the Punjab Government had been expecting a production of about 17.5 lakh bales against its target of 15.5 lakh bales from an area of 5.49 lakh hectares, which was brought under the cotton crop this year. So far the field reports were encouraging and if the American bollworm did some damage, the state would witness enough production of cotton even then to meet the production target.

The sources said a section of farmers, who had sown BT cotton in their fields after getting fed up with the repeated attacks of American bollworm on the traditional varieties of cotton, had been finding that most of the BT cotton plants were less resistant to drought-like conditions and even these plants witnessed growth where the fields were under a thick cover of water.

In Ganga, Gidder, Dehlwan and Phuli villages of Nathana block of this district, a large quantity of BT cotton plants dried up after the fields came under a deep cover of water.

Meanwhile, agriculture experts have pointed out that if the cotton belts continued to get rain, the American bollworm attack on the cotton plants would become more severe and unpreventable.


ICAR to develop centres of excellence in farm varsities
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has decided to develop centres of excellence in the state agricultural universities of the country. The emphasis will be on research and education in agriculture and allied sciences.

Disclosing this in an exclusive interview, Dr JC Katyal, Deputy Director-General (Education), ICAR, told The Tribune that the Government of India had provided a sum of Rs 100 crore for this purpose and more funds would be made available to ICAR by the government.

Dr Katyal, who held the first meeting with the Vice-Chancellors of the six agricultural universities of the north at the PAU campus for two days, said that Punjab Agricultural University would be given two centres of excellence in the soil and water management and Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics and Biotechnology. Each centre would require a sum of Rs 5 crore.

According to Dr Katyal, during the meeting of the Vice-Chancellors of the state agricultural universities held in the month of February last, it was emphasised that there was need to build niche areas of excellence in agriculture on the pattern of IITs.

Dr Katyal said that certain state agricultural universities had done commendable work in the areas of education and research and there was need to sustain the same.

He said that Punjab Agricultural University had done excellent work in the field of soil management and plant breeding and biotechnology, and it was felt that the same should be upgraded further.

The emerging issues of water exploitation, crop resistance and low efficiency of fertilisers required better attention now, he emphasised. Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, while welcoming the participating Vice-Chancellors, said that till the eighties, the national agricultural research and education system was the supply driver, and placement of graduates and postgraduates from various state agriculture universities was not a problem owing to the huge demand for trained manpower in the country.

But all avenues of employment were saturated and there was cut-throat competition in getting employment. This situation, along with the post-WTO scenario and globalisation of Indian economy, necessitates radical changes in agriculture education in team research.

Dr Aulakh also presented the project reports of the two Departments of Plant Breeding and Genetics and Biotechnology and Soils and Water Management.

Dr HU Khan, Vice-Chancellor, Shere-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu, Dr SS Negi, Vice-Chancellor, YSPUH, Solan, Dr MK Miglani, Vice-Chancellor, Chaudhry Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, and Dr Nagendra Sharma, Director, NDRI, Karnal, also participated in the two-day meeting.

Dr Darshan Singh, Dean, Postgraduate Studies, and Dr GS Nanda, Director, Research, Punjab Agricultural University, also attended the meeting along with other senior experts of the university.


Livestock second most economic activity: study
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Livestock has emerged as the second most important economic activity after agriculture for generation of income and employment in rural Punjab. Further, dairy farming is the most important occupation.

These are the findings of a pilot survey conducted by a three-member research team consisting of Prof. B.S. Ghuman, Principal Investigator, Dr (Mrs) Dhian Kaur, Chairperson, Department of Geography, and Dr (Mrs) Ramanjit Kaur Johal of the Department of Public Administration, Panjab University.

The team presented its findings during a visit to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Canada, recently as part of an Indo-Canadian international project titled, “Livestock and Environment Sustainability: Experience of the Indian Punjab”.

The project is funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The report said that the major objective of both producers and livestock policy-makers in Punjab, however, was to maximise economic benefits from livestock. Environmental sustainability of livestock activity was neither the concern of dairy farmers, nor that of policy-makers. “Since livestock certainly affects environment, positively and negatively, not paying adequate attention to the environmental sustainability dimension of livestock activity in the state, undermines the long- term and sustainable benefits of livestock,” Prof. Ghuman said.

“The findings suggest that the most important positive impact of livestock on environment is the use of cow dung as manure for the crops. It is a source of fuel for farm family and substitutes liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and, thus, helps in conservation of natural gas. Second, the slurry is used as manure, which helps in improving fertility of soil,” Prof Ghuman added.

The negative impact of livestock on the health of the owner, family members, particularly workers, and people living in the neighbourhood are in the form of bad odour from animal waste, breeding of houseflies, mosquitoes, other harmful insects in and around animal sheds, and emission of greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide.

The team observed that the dairy farmers excessively use injections, antibiotics and other medicines without realising their negative impacts on the health of animals, human beings and other partners of the ecosystem.


Late fee for registering birth goes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 16
Implementing the second phase of the national campaign to issue birth certificates, the state government has given an exemption for payment of the fee prescribed under Rule 10 of the Punjab registration of births and death rules, 2004 for late entry of the name in the birth registers, according to an official press note issued here today. In the first phase launched during November last year more than 2 million birth certificates were issued to the children upto the age of 10. During the second phase, the Directorate of Census Operations proposes to distribute two million certificates.

By September, nearly 4.5 to 5 million birth certificates would be issued in Punjab. The important part of the campaign is to issue birth certificates to all schoolchildren. The Department of Education had issued instructions making it necessary to submit a copy of the birth certificate within 45 days of seeking admission to schools.


Samra’s car had fake number
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 16
The Mercedes car belonging to Dr Gurvinder Singh Samra, has become the centre of controversy with the police finding that the registration on number of the car was fake and the number HR-09-A-7160, which the car was carrying, was allotted to a Mahindra jeep by the registration authority at Guhla Cheeka.

Meanwhile, the Jalandhar police produced Dr Samra in the court of Mr Jagnahar Singh, who remanded him to police custody till August 19 after hearing the plea of the police that it needed more time to investigate as to how. Dr Samra had got the registration number of his vehicle when another vehicle was already bearing the same number.

The Jalandhar police, which had arrested Dr Samra on the basis of the complaint filed by Mr Varinder Kumar (AIG), had re-arrested Dr Samra on August 13 on the basis of a complaint filed by the ICICI bank manager Raj Kumar Rai in October last year, which had alleged that Dr Samra had taken a loan of Rs 18 lakh, but, had stopped payment of installments after paying 17 installments, each of which was of Rs 65,300.

A case had been registered against Dr Samra under Section 406, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC.


Woman tries to commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
A woman, Balwinder Kaur, of East Gobind Nagar, reportedly tried to commit suicide by jumping before a train here last evening. She was saved by Gurwant Singh, state president of the Anti-Crime and Corruption Bureau of India.

She alleged today that she was defrauded by her husband Guljar Singh, a government schoolteacher, who married her in 1996, starting that he was a divorcee.

However, later, it was found that he was not a divorcee and his wife and children were living separately, she added.

She said he had filed a divorce case, which was later cancelled.

Mr Dalbir Singh Calcutta, general secretary and spokesman of the bureau, alleged that the accused used her and later started torturing her.

He said the accused had turned her out of his house and did not return her dowry.

A case under Sections 494, 420, 406 and 506 of the IPC was registered June 4, but the police failed to take any action, he added.


12 detained for boy’s murder
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 16
The police today detained 12 persons, mostly migrant labourers for the murder case of a six-year-old boy.

Laloo Prasad, the victim, was abducted when he was playing outside his house in Basti Gujjar last evening. In the evening, his body was found in Shachungi village.

The boy is the son of Ramji, a labourer. He said that his son was last seen by the residents of the colony talking to an unidentified, bespectacled, bald cyclist. He said that he suspected that the cyclist had abducted and murdered his son.


Man killed over land dispute

Moga, August 16
Joginder Singh was murdered at Daroli Kheda village near here over a land dispute. Sources said the deceased, Joginder Singh, had taken 5 acres of panchayati land on contract. The same plot of land was in possession of Nishan Singh earlier and he was reportedly not vacating the land.

Joginder Singh and his son Shingara Singh wanted to get the land vacated, which led to the dispute between the two parties. Later, they had a fight over the issue in which Joginder Singh was killed with sharp-edged weapons. — TNS


Engineer caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 16
An Executive Engineer of the Public Health Department (rural water supply division), Mr Jaswant Singh Cheema, was caught while taking a bribe of Rs 4,000 by the Vigilance Bureau.

Sources said that the Executive Engineer had demanded Rs 5,000 for preparing documents regarding the retirement of the SDO, Mr Surjeet Singh Kalsi, and sending them to higher officials. Mr Kalsi struck a deal with him for Rs 4,000 and informed the Vigilance Bureau. A trap was laid and Mr Cheema was caught taking Rs 4,000 as bribe.

The vigilance team also recovered another Rs 7,000 from his pocket. A case has been registered against him under Sections 7, 13 (2), and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Woman booked for forgery
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 16
A case has been registered against Veerpal Kaur of Malooka village in the district for her alleged involvement in making a passport on the basis of fake documents to go abroad. The accused had managed to get a passport prepared in the name of Amarjit Kaur, wife of Resham Singh her alleged paramour, by affixing her photograph on the application form.

After Amarjit Kaur came to know about this, she approached the ADGP (Intelligence) for facilitating the cancellation of the passport of Veerpal Kaur. On an inquiry it was found that Veerpal Kaur had made the passport on the basis of fake documents. A case in this connection was registered against Veerpal Kaur and her father Makhan Singh under Sections 419, 420, 468,471 and 120-B of the IPC.


MC chief’s goods stolen

Moga, August 16
Goods belonging to the Municipal Council president, Mr Joginder Pal Jain, were stolen from his servant’s quarter. According to the statement of the servant Chamkaur Singh, Mr Jain and his family were not in the city and had kept their belongings at his house. An FIR has been registered in this connection. — TNS


Aspirants for MBBS protest against admission rules
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 16
Nearly 300 aspirants accompanied by their parents held a demonstration and raised anti-government slogans in protest against the “indifferent” attitude of the Punjab Government being followed in the admission to the MBBS course. For the general category, the three-day counselling is being conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, at the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College from today.

The protesters also stalled the counselling for over three hours to register their resentment in this connection. They criticised the Government for allocating undue share of 40 per cent quota against 350 seats in the three state medical colleges at Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala to the reserve category. The protesters alleged that the state government had never mentioned such conditions before the test or in the prospectus issued by the University. They said the government was playing with the career of the deserving candidates. With the implementation of the new formula only 128 students of the general category against 161would be able to avail the opportunity, thus it would deprive 33 candidates of their constitutional rights which was unjustified. Demanding the abolition of the NRI quota in all three state medical institutions as per the decision of the Supreme Court two years back, they also stressed for enforcing the fee structure equally in all government and private institutions to check the menace of the commercialisation of the professional courses in the state.

They demanded the allocation of 193 seats to the general category quota as per last year. Later, all the protesters held an emergency meeting under the leadership of Jeewanjot Kaur president Nursing Association Punjab and decided to approach the Punjab and the Haryana High Court to seek justice if the government failed to change its terms.

When contacted Dr Surinder Singh, Principal of the Government Rajindra Medical College, Patiala and Chairman of the four-member selection committee said that counselling was being conducted as per the norms fixed by the state government.


Nehru Science Exhibition begins
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 16
The regional-level Jawaharlal Nehru Science Exhibition got off to a start at the Kendriya Vidyalaya (Number Two) here today with students from various schools in Chandigarh exhibiting models and projects on the theme “Recent trends in science and technology”.

Principal P.H. Bhondekar said the exhibition had been divided into sub-themes including “Agriculture”, “Energy and its conservation”, “Industrial development and environment”, “Educational technology and mathematical modelling” and “Technology for health”.

Mr D.A. Anand, senior executive, Diesel Locomotives Modernisation Workshop, was the chief guest. “There is no dearth of talent among our youngsters”, Mr Anand said.

Mrs Santosh Mirdha, Education Officer, K.V. Sanghathan, Chandigarh Region, was the distinguished guest on the occasion. She applauded the participants for efficacy, scientific attitude and volitional approach, adding the exhibition would serve to develop scientific temper among youngsters.

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