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Amritsar fire staff ill-equipped
Quadricentennial celebrations
Rashmi Talwar

A pandal being prepared for the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at Amritsar. President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are expected to participate in the celebrations on September 1.
A pandal being prepared for the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at Amritsar. President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are expected to participate in the celebrations on September 1. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, August 22
Even as preparations for quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib are in full swing, the city’s fire services seem ill-equipped to deal in the eventuality of a major fire breakout.

An estimated 25 lakh pilgrims are expected here for the three-day celebrations starting August 30. The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will be visiting the city on September 1.

In spite of a requirement of at least 13 fire engines, only nine are available with the Fire Department out of which one is non-functional.

Even though water points have been set up at all tubewells, numbering around 50, these are of no use in case there is a power failure. None of these has been equipped with generators.

There are four fire stations in the city at Town Hall, Gillwali Gate, Civil Lines and near Beri Gate. Only the Gillawali Gate station has a reservoir that had a capacity of 20,000 litres of water. However, this too needs repair.

A demand was made following a survey in 2001, for four such reservoirs but only one was installed. Another demand for two water vousers (large tankers) of 50,000 litres capacity, that could be used to provide water to fire engines at the spot, has not been fulfilled despite reminders, said a fire officer.

Fire personnel of the Town Hall fire station complain of a dilapidated building with broken approach roads due to overflowing sewage and broken flooring which have not been repaired for the past five years.

Mr S.S. Sharma, a social activist, pointed out that the devastating fire that broke out on November 6,1999, at shops selling Diwali fireworks at IDH Market should have been lesson for the Municipal Corporation. The fire had caused two casualties and a massive damage. Following the fire, a massive overhauling was advised, but nothing had been done so far.

Fire personnel here also complain that there was a shortage of fire uniforms and alternative fire extinguishers for dousing various types of fires.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, SFO, said more water points were being laid at new Amritsar and the Vallah fruit and vegetable market in view of the celebrations.

However, even the fire staff is inadequate to meet any exigency. Out of the sanctioned staff of 121, only 71 are on the rolls. The two top positions — Assistant Divisional Fire Officer (ADFO, in-charge) and Fire Station Officer’s (FSO) — have not been filled.

Out of the approved staff of nine Sub-Fire Officers (SFO), only eight are there while one is performing dual duties of the ADFO as well. Of the sanctioned posts of 15 leading fire men, only 10 are there. There are only 12 drivers as against the requisite strength of 17.

Moreover, only 42 indispensable firemen have been appointed as against a requisite strength of 78.

 

SGPC’s appeal to Amritsar residents
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
The SGPC has appealed to all residents of the holy city to spare one room each for pilgrims visiting the city in connection with the quadri-centennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib.

In a message, the SGPC stated that it was a historic ‘gurpurb’ and all must lend a helping hand to those who were to come from far and wide. The committee stated that the SGPC alone could not make such arrangements. Earlier, residents of Khadoor Sahib and nearby villages had made a similar gesture of sparing a room each for pilgrims during the week-long celebrations to mark the fifth centenary of the second guru, Guru Angad Dev, from April 11 to 18 at Khadoor Sahib.

Meanwhile, the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society (AIPCS) has decided to provide accommodation to devotees visiting the holy city during the celebrations of 400th year of installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr Inderjit Kaur, president, AIPCS, said it was decided at a meeting held here yesterday that the society would provide devotees with ‘langar’ (community kitchen), first aid and ambulances. She said the society would extend a warm welcome to devotees.

 

Capt to propose health zone for Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
At national committee meeting on celebrating the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib being held in New Delhi tomorrow, Punjab will seek projects for alleviating the socio-economic condition of people.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is likely to propose a special health economic zone at Amritsar, to be named after Baba Budha (1506-1631 AD), the first granthi of the temple.

This health zone will have facilities for medical care and production of medicines. A CII study says that the country has a health tourism potential of $ 5 billion annually.

Likewise, Punjab will also seek a national institute of bio-technology and an institute for Guru Granth Sahib studies. The state will also seek Rs 55 crore from the Centre for the beautification of the Golden Temple corridor. In addition, the state wants a sum of Rs 75 crore from the Centre for the preservation of Amritsar’s heritage.

Bhai Gurdas is credited with having penned and compiled the first copy of Adi-Granth. There is a proposal to raise a 400-ft tower at Amritsar in his memory. It would have glimpses from the Sikh history, an observatory and an amusement set-up.

Guru Granth Sahib contains writings of 36 spiritually-inspired persons from across the Indian subcontinent. Therefore, Punjab is also suggesting a Kabir auditorium and Ravi Das library at Varanasi and a Namdev hall of scriptures in Maharashtra.

 

Revert orders of Pakokhe, says Panjoli
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 22
Panthic Morcha SGPC member Karnail Singh Panjoli has taken serious note of the activities of Mr Arvinder Pal Singh Pakokhe who had been taking decisions and implementing policies in the capacity of acting president of the SGPC.

Mr Panjoli in a press note here today said a person who was not even an ordinary member of the SGPC could not act as the acting president and enjoy the powers of the president.

He alleged that Mr Arvinder Pal had been ordering transfers, promotions and demotions of employees regularly and had been making recruitment in the SGPC in violation of rules.

He urged the secretary of the SGPC not to implement the orders issued by Mr Pakhoke as all these orders were illegal. He warned that if these orders were implemented, he would file a case with the Sikh Judicial Commission. He also demanded a ban on the sanctions to advertisement being published in newspapers under the name of Mr Pakhoke for celebrating the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. He said if the SGPC had to give any advertisement or print pamphlets in this regard, it must be published under the name of the secretary.

Lashing out at Mr Badal, he said by taking the celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in his own hands, Mr Badal had destroyed the independent existence of the SGPC. He said in such religious celebrations neither the government nor any political organisation should intervene.

He urged the Jathedar of Akal Takht to ensure that the celebrations were not politicised.

 

SAD to hold anti-repression rally at Dera Baba Nanak
Tribune News Service

Dhariwal, August 22
The SAD will organise an anti-repression rally in the Dera Baba Nanak area of Gurdaspur to protest against the police atrocities on its workers.

Mr Prakash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, stated this while talking to The Tribune here today. He was here to mobilise SAD workers for the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

He alleged that the police had ‘aided’ bogus voting during the SGPC elections in Dera Baba Nanak. When the SAD workers had tried to stop the bogus voters from casting votes, many of them, including the former minister, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, were booked in an attempt to murder case.

When asked about selection of the new SGPC president, Mr Badal said the decision regarding it would taken after the Gurdwara Election Commission notified the election of new SGPC members and fixed the date for the election of the president. The leaders of all parties, irrespective of their caste or religion, have been invited by the SGPC for the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

About the recent claim of the Chief Minister regarding Punjab’s right over Chandigarh, Mr Badal said that it was just rhetoric. It was the Congress government that initially denied Punjab the right over Chandigarh. The later Congress governments had decided to arbitrarily given Punjab waters to other states. The successive Congrress governments at the Centre had ignored development of the state, he added.

The rally was also addressed by former SAD ministers Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Natha Singh Dalam and the Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal.

 

Govt to issue show-cause notice to medical college
Refusal to admit 21 students on fee issue
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
The Medical Education and Research Department has decided to get tough with Shri Guru Ram Das Medical College, Amritsar, and to issue it a show-cause notice threatening de-recognition for refusing admission to 21 students yesterday. The students were refused admission by the college in spite of the fact that they had deposited Rs 75,000 each as fee as per the requirements mentioned in the PMET prospectus with Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences.

Baba Farid University authorities had given provisional admission to the 21 students during counselling held at Faridkot recently and had accepted Rs 75,000 as fee from them. This fee has been stipulated in the PMET prospectus and is a provisional fee till a final decision on fixing of fee for private medical colleges is taken by the Fee Committee constituted under the chairmanship of a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The students were, however, refused admission by authorities of Guru Ram Das Medical College yesterday. The college authorities have printed their own prospectus according to which it has fixed a fee of Rs 3.45 lakh for open seats. The students, after being refused admission, submitted a complaint in this regard with Baba Farid University Registrar, Dr A.S. Sekhon. The Registrar has brought the matter to the notice of the Government.

Mr Satish Chandra, Secretary, Research and Medical Education, said today it had been decided to issue a show-cause notice to the authorities of the college asking them why action, including de-recognition, should not be taken against the college. Mr Chandra said the college would also be asked to submit details of its infrastructure as well as income and expenditure being incurred by it on the education of students admitted the college.

Mr Chandra said the state government had recently constituted two committees — Fee Approval Committee and Admissions Committee — headed by Mr Justice G.R. Majithia, a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He said the two committees were competent to pass directions with regarding fees, mode and procedure of admissions under management (minority) quota and the percentage of government and management quota in private colleges including minority institutions. He said the college authorities could not defy the government on this issue and added that all other private colleges, including Dayanand Medical College and Christian Medical College, both in Ludhiana, were abiding by this directive. He said the Majithia Committee would submit its final recommendation by September 15 on the fee issue.

Meanwhile, the PMET prospectus issued by Baba Farid University says the present fee of Rs 75,000 being charged by the university was provisional in nature and was subject to finalisation by the Majithia Committee. The prospectus says if the private colleges do not admit students on account of a dispute regarding fees, the university will be competent to make the admissions after the receipt of the provisional fee.

Though Baba Farid University has exercised this prerogative and taken provisional fee from the students, the students are not being given admission in the college even though they had been allotted this college after due counselling. 

 

Cultural programmes to cement Indo-Pak ties
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
The Hind-Pak Dosti Manch along with the Folklore Research Academy and International Punjabi Culture Society Shamchurasi have decided to organise a number of cultural programmes and seminars in India and to participate in such programmes in Pakistan this year so that the movement of friendship between the two countries could be intensified.

Revealing this the organisations said this would be done in view of the 10th anniversary of the candlelight vigil programme organised jointly at Wagah joint check post by these organisations.

Mr Satnam Singh Manak, general secretary, Hind-Pak Dosti Manch said the organisations had decided to call at least five top Pakistani artists to perform in next candlelight vigil programme. He said the manch, in collaboration with South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), had invited a delegation of writers, journalists, politicians, industrialists, traders, education and agriculture experts from west Punjab (Pakistan) in October this year. The experts from these fields from India would go to Pakistan in December.

Mr Ramesh Yadav, president of the Folklore Research Academy, said a delegation of the academy along with members of the Association of Asian People would participate in Baba Bulle Shah Conference to be held in Kasoor district in Pakistan. Mr Gurmeet Singh Khanpuri, chairman of the International Punjabi Culture Society Shamchurasi said the society would organise a three-day 12th Salamat Ali-Nazakat Ali cultural fair on November 4 and renowned artists from Pak Punjab would be invited to perform.

The organisation also discussed issues of mismanagement and hooliganism during candlelight vigil programme which had forced policmen to resort to a mild lathi charge.

 

He retrieved 3 bodies despite threat to life
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 22
He worked diligently for over 72 hours to retrieve the bodies of the labourers who were buried alive while digging a bore at Dhudike village, near here, recently. He continued the rescue work despite heat, foul smell and gases emanating from the 80-foot deep pit. The hero, Harbans Singh, is a simple man who believes in doing good to others without caring for himself.

Harbans Singh was surprised when The Tribune contacted him after the district administration felicitated him on Independence Day for the exemplary courage he displayed in the rescue operation.

The first question posed to him was the most obvious — what kept him going in the adverse conditions? “I have been working on borewells for long and am quite familiar with the job,” explained Harbans Singh, who is a brother-in-law of one of the victims, Gurmail Singh, He had reached the spot within an hour of the tragedy. Despite his endeavour, he could not achieve what he wanted to “I would have been happy if I had been able to save their lives,” he said.

He was all praise for residents of nearby villages who put in a lot of effort, time and money in the rescue operation. He said administration officials and the people who had gathered at the accident site had warned him not to go any deeper in search of the bodies as mud had started falling again in the pit, but he was determined to go on. Gases coming out of the pit posed a serious problem in the rescue work and he barely managed to remain all through the operation.

Harbans Singh revealed that he was a daily-wager and was engaged in constructing borewells and operating harvesting machines. His poor financial condition could be gauged from the fact that he asked this reporter whether the felicitation certificate he got from the administration would benefit him in any way in future. Though the administration recognised his effort, a small amount of money given would have made a world of difference to this poor man. When told that the certificate was just a token of honour, he smiled and started walking to catch a bus to his home town Haanskalan in Ludhiana. 

 

Unauthorised jeeps challenge Punjab Roadways’ monopoly
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, August 21
The Punjab Roadways has a virtual monopoly on the Ferozepore-Fazilka route as no private operator has been given permit to ply vehicles on this route. But for the part two years a number of unauthorised jeeps and mini buses can be seen on this route.

In fact no new buses have been introduced by the Punjab Roadways on this route since 1998 and the once 181-bus strong fleet of Punjab Roadways. Ferozepore Depot, has now been reduced to less than 100 buses. The condition of the remaining buses is also not good. The transport mafia has fully exploited this situation and the number of unauthorised vehicles taking passengers on this route has increased in the past few year.

These unauthorised vehicles are operating parallel to Punjab Roadways service and even pick up passengers from the approved bus stops. These vehicles, however, are often overloaded thus endangering the safety of passengers. More than eight persons have lost their lives in the district due to these overspeeding jeeps during the past six months but the authorities concerned have failed to check this menace.

Sources revealed that most of the jeeps belonged to the roadways employees and that was the reason why the otherwise strong roadways union had not done anything to raise this issue.

Mr Jasbir Singh, an officer of Punjab Roadways Ferozepore, admitted that certain unauthorised jeeps were plying on the route but stated that the Punjab Roadways had no authority to check this illegal activity, he added that it was the duty of the Regional Transport Authority to check this illegal practice.

 

Mobile vans to check power failure
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 22
After having a nightmarish experience this summer with frequent power breakdown, sleepless nights and "no reply" on complaint numbers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), there is now some good news for the residents of this city. The board office here has introduced a novel concept of mobile vans to ensure prompt restoration of power supply, that too round the clock and even on holidays.

Flagging off the first mobile van, Mr H.C. Sood, member, distribution wing of the board, said that the vans were equipped with a distribution transformer, a 20-feet long adjustable ladder and other required tools.

He said that the call of any consumer, who registered a complaint regarding breakdown at the complaint centre, special room or with any senior officer, would be diverted to a mobile squad under the control of a Junior Engineer on mobile or WLL circuit.

After receiving the call, the mobile van would attend the complaint, said the PSEB official. He said that with the introduction of the van, normal time taken for drawing transformer and material from the store and moving to the site with ladder would be considerably reduced, especially when breakdowns occurred on holidays and after office hours.

Mr O.P. Sharma, Chief Engineer, said that the cost of the trolley on which distribution transformers were loaded along with the adjustable ladder was nearly Rs 45,000. The cost was was nominal keeping in view the improvement of services to the consumers, he added.

Mr U.C. Saroa, Deputy Chief Engineer, said that the concept of mobile vans was being introduced for the first time in Punjab. He said that the board was trying to assess its workability from Jalandhar before introducing it in other important towns of Punjab.

 

Probe sought against DSP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 22
A meeting of the PSEB Engineers Association, Sangrur, was held at the PSEB circle office here under the presidentship of Mr Rai Singh, regional secretary of the association, today. It demanded an inquiry against the DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Sangrur, for his alleged role in ‘falsely implicating’ the SDO, Sub-Urban, PSEB, Malerkotla, Mr Balwinder Kumar Singla, in a corruption case. The DSP and his staff also misbehaved with the family of the SDO while arresting him in Malerkotla yesterday, the association alleged.

Mr Rai Singh said Mr Singla had been falsely implicated in the case as the factory of the complainants did not fall in the jurisdiction of the SDO, so question of demanding bribe from the complainants did not arise.

Mr Singla has been arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on the charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from the owners of a factory at Malerkotla.

 

Illegal fishing continues unabated in Taakhi area
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Large-scale illegal fishing has been detected in various tracts along the Taakhi village area in Gurdaspur. Several cases of poaching have been reported from this area despite the blanket ban on fishing till the end of August when the breeding season ends.

Not only are the poachers flouting the laws by fishing during the breeding season, they are also targeting fish less than 30 cm in size. As per the law, fish less than 10 inches cannot be netted.

The most severely hit spots include the confluence of Chakki river, the Ravi-Beas link canal and the Beas river, which was recently in the news for mass poisoning of fish by poachers.

The population of fish in Gurdaspur has been on a rapid decline over the past. Such is the scenario that the Fisheries Department is now facing problems in auctioning fishing rights of this area, with the contractors quoting a much lesser price than the last year. Sources inform The Tribune that where the contract for the last year was awarded for about Rs 6 lakh, this year the quotation has not exceeded Rs 4 lakh. Contractors, say officials, are complaining of declining population of fish and its deteriorating quality.

Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Gurdaspur, intercepted many poachers in the Chakki area on August 14. He said, "The extent of poaching in this region is unbelievable. You can conveniently find five to six boats in the rivers daily. Poachers are generally active in early mornings and late evenings when the fish becomes more aggressive as it goes about looking for its feed."

Mr Bajwa detected large-scale poaching while patrolling on the boundary of reserve forest area near Taakhi village. He adds, "We noticed two fishermen along with two other men releasing their nets in the river. When asked, they said they had been asked to fish by the contractor. But by that time no contract had been awarded in Gurdaspur."

It has been found that fishermen from Bihar and West Bengal have been hired by some contractors to indulge in illegal fishing in the breeding season. Otherwise fishing during breeding season is punishable under Fisheries Act, 1914, and the Fisheries Department has the power to arrest the culprits without warrants and hand them over to the police for further investigation.

However, the extent of conviction in such cases is negligible due to the cumbersome procedural hassles involved. Says a Wildlife Department official,

"There have been several cases of illegal fishing, but it is difficult to nab the culprits who sell their catch in the nearby villages. However, the Fisheries Department is now increasingly concerned with the problem because fish population in the area is already decreasing due to high pollution levels in rivers. Poaching of fish in the breeding season can prove to be very alarming."

Poaching of fish is also done on a large scale near the confluence of Mukerian Hydel Canal and the Beas river, and fishing boats are a common site here.

 

Sarpanches lose punch, cry foul
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 22
Even as the Punjab Government continues to advocate empowerment of panchayats, powers of elected women and Schedule caste sarpanches are being withdrawn on flimsy grounds in this district. Administrators are being appointed in place of elected sarpanches to retain the supremacy of the bureaucracy and politicians.

Powers of Ms Anita Thakur, sarpanch of Kanuwan, one of the biggest villages of the district, were withdrawn on July 15 and the entire financial powers were given to a gram sewak.

Ms Thakur told The Tribune that she came to know about the withdrawal of her powers only a few days ago when she went to the local bank to encash a cheque as she needed money to contest a panchayat case. The bank authorities told her that her financial powers have been withdrawn and an administrator appointed in her place.

Ms Thakur who is a graduate and was elected with a margin of over thousand votes to a seat reserved for women, cited politics to be the reason behind the withdrawal of her powers. She alleged that her powers were withdrawn because she had supported Mr Vinod Khanna in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

She said being the sarpanch of the village, she was supposed to be the chairman of the village-level committee for implementing the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan. However, she had not even been informed about the implementation of the programme.

Similarly the powers of a Schedule Caste sarpanch of Bhakhatpur village in Kalanaur block were also withdrawn recently and an administrator was appointed in his place. His powers were allegedly curtailed to help a few persons who had encroached on the village land. Cases were filed by the panchayat against them. Now the power to contest those cases had been given to the administrator, he added.

In this month alone, the power of at least four elected sarpanches have been withdrawn on one pretext or another.

The sources here told that the lack of quorum with the popularly elected sarpanches was the general basis used for the withdrawal of their powers.

Legal experts, however, were of the view that the lack of quorum cannot be a basis for appointing an administrator and diluting the powers of a popularly elected sarpanch. The powers could only be withdrawn on solid grounds and after giving him or her a proper hearing. The withdrawal of the powers of an elected sarpanch was in gross violation of the Panchayati Raj Act.

The DDPO, Gurdaspur, Mr Sucha Singh Nagra, admitted that in many panchayats administrators had been appointed in place of the popularly elected panchayats. He cited the lack of quorum as the basic reason for the appointment of the administrators.

 

Insecticides bring diseases in Harike
Tribune News Service

Harike (Amritsar), August 22
As many as 101 childless couples, 128 cases of polio and many cancer and T.B. patients have been found in the 30 villages which dot the Harike wetland. More than 90 per cent residents of these villages are suffering from various water-borne diseases.

The wetland was formed after the construction of a barrage in 1953 near the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej. The land was acquired by the government. Displaced persons were given land in Rajasthan. A few years later they returned to Harike and started cultivation in the wetland.

The villagers around the wetland face drinking water problems. Mr Chander Parkash, convener, Water management division, Kheti Virasat, an NGO which conducted the study, says that the upper ground water has high amount of nitrates and phosphates. Residents who use this water suffer from teeth, gum and intestinal problems. Mr Umindera Dutt, Director, Kheti Virasat, says diseases have spread in the wetland because farmers are indiscriminate in the use of pesticides and insecticides.

The most affected villages, besides Harike, include Maujgah, Churian, Sudhian, Bhooti Wala, Changian, Kot Keim Khen and Mararh.

The interim report of Kheti Virasat, recommends that the sanctuary area should be declared as a ‘no pesticide zone.’

On Mr Umendra Dutt, suggestion farmers of four villages have shifted to organic farming.

 

Union threatens to gherao treasury office
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
The district unit of the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union today threatened to gherao the local treasury office to lodge their protest against the non-clearance of bills pertaining to the payment of salaries, provident funds of the employees, payment of electricity and water charges, for the past 15 days.

In a press note issued here, Mr Gurjant Singh Grewal, district president of the union, said the non-payment of post retirement benefits to the retired employees and of the provident funds to the serving employees, a section of employees who had been getting medical treatment and who had fixed the marriages of their wards had to suffer.

He said during the last 15 days the authorities concerned had made no efforts to make arrangements for making the payments to the employees. He added that the local treasury office had not been clearing any bills as the computer installed on its premises had developed a fault about two weeks ago.

Mr K. A. P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, said he had directed the officials concerned to make the payments soon and the computer would start functioning normally from tomorrow. 

 

Darbhanga-bound train cancelled

Jalandhar, August 22
The Railway authorities today cancelled Darbhanga-bound 4650 Amritsar-Darbhanga Flying Mail to regularise its schedule.

A Railway spokesman said here that the train which was scheduled to leave for Darbhanga from Jalandhar at 1 p.m. yesterday had been running over 18 hours late till last evening. The train got further delayed and in a bid to regularise the schedule the officials cancelled its departure.

Now the train would leave for Darbhanga from Amritsar via Jalandhar and Ludhiana tomorrow as per its normal schedule, the spokesman added. — UNI

 

Row over computer centre resolved
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
The computer centre which was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, in his native village of Mehraj in this district about a year ago was locked by panchayat on Friday to lodge their protest against the non-payment of salaries to its watchman.

Ms Angrej Kaur, Sarpanch, Panchayat Saul Patti, Mehraj village, has alleged that panchayat was left with no other option than to lock the centre as the contractor, who was running it, had not paid salaries to the watchman appointed by the panchayat for the past three months. The contractor had also not paid rent of the accommodation housing the centre.

She said the centre was locked when the contractor did not pay any attention to the request of her son regarding the payment of salaries to the watchman. However, it was opened yesterday by an official of the Block Development and Panchayat Office, Rampura, following a request from a senior government official on the telephone.

Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, ADC (Development), said that matter had been solved and the centre would function normally now on. He said the contractor had engaged a watchman who was offered a salary of Rs 500 per month, but the panchayat on its own engaged another watchman on a salary of Rs 1,800 per month. This led to dispute between the contractor and the panchayat, he added.

 

Concern over quacks running eye hospitals

Bathinda, August 22
The Punjab Ophthalmologic Society has expressed its concern over the running of eye hospitals by certain unqualified persons. A resolution to this effect was passed at a meeting of the society held here today. Around 50 eye surgeons of Punjab participated in the meeting.

Dr Amrit Sethi, secretary, Bathinda Ophthalmologic Society, said members of the society condemned the registration of criminal cases against a section of doctors in the recent past. He said the Bathinda Ophthalmologic Society was given the trophy for being the best district branch for the third consecutive year. — TNS

 

Attempt to sell sub-standard milk powder alleged
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Members of the Guru Nanak Milk Plant Employees Union, Bathinda, today alleged that they had frustrated an attempt of the state Milkfed authorities to sell sub-standard whole milk powder (WMP) through its local office.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the union, in a press note issued here today, alleged that the state Milkfed authorities ordered the Milk Plant, Amritsar, to despatch a truck carrying the sub-standard WMP to the Bathinda milk plant for disposing of the same in the market. He added that the authorities did so despite the fact that the Milk Plant, Bathinda, was having enough WMP stock.

Mr Kulwant Singh said that when the union came to know about this incident, it lodged its protest and forced the management not to dispose it of in the market.

Mr Narinder Singh, General Manager, Milk Plant, Bathinda, claimed that the WMP supplied to the local milk plant by the milk plant, Amritsar, was of fine quality as found out from tests in the laboratory. He added that the union leaders were levelling the allegation without allowing the WMP to be supplied by the Amritsar milk plant to the laboratory.

He said that when the party, from whom the WMP was taken from the milk plant, Amritsar, insisted on taking the WMP being manufactured in the Bathinda-based milk plant only then the WMP sent by the Amritsar milk plant was returned to it.

 

Slum-dwellers made aware of free legal aid
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 22
A camp was jointly organised by the District Legal Services Authority, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Regional Office, Ludhiana, at Government High School, Brahmin Majra. The camp was organised for slum dewellers of the village in which they were educated about the free legal service provided by the government and also about various diseases and about social evils.

The Assistant District Attorney (ADA), Legal Aid, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Rakesh Kumar Soni, told people about the free legal help which the government provided to the people. He said that in 1987 Central Government had made the Legal Service Authority Act with a view to providing legal service to poor people. Later the Punjab Government in 1996 made Punjab legal services rules. People belonging to the Schedule Cast, Schedule Tribe, woman, children, mentally-challenged persons, riot-affected people, people affected by floods and poor people having annual income less than Rs 30,000 were eligible for the free legal help, he said.

Prof R.S. Uppal of BBSB Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, gave a lecture on the female foeticide and urged the people to cooperate with the administration to curb this evil practice.

Mr J.S. Sidhu, advocate, Tarkhan Majra, gave information about the free legal cell and also quoted the cases of the poor people which were solved with the help of the cell. Mr Hakim Singh, Field Publicity Officer, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, spoke about iodine-deficiency diseases.

 

IMA backs nurses’ demand
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 22
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association and the state unit of the In-service wing of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today extended their support to the ongoing agitation of the local unit of the nursing association of the government Rajindra hospital here.

The nurses have been protesting since the past one week demanding the filling of posts of staff nurses lying vacant in the hospital. The president of the association, Ms Asha Pace, said the state government had been ignoring their genuine demands since long.

She said the long-pending demands of the association, including pay revision and promotion on the basis of seniority had also not been accepted till date.

She further alleged that there were nearly 86 posts which were lying vacant since several years. As many as 35 nurses were on routine leave and 50 nurses had been absent from duty for several years, she added.

 

Tributes paid to Lieut Kanavdeep Singh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
Tributes were paid to Lieut Kanavdeep Singh of the 10th Sikh Regiment on the occasion of his first death anniversary here today. Bhog of the “akhand path” organised on the occasion was held today.

Lieutenant Kanavdeep had laid down his life while fighting terrorists in Garaz Sector in Jammu and Kashmir. He was honoured with Kirti Chakra, posthumously.

Mr Bikramjit Singh, Assistant Commissioner (General), Mr Major Singh Uboke, former MP, Subedar Avtar Singh of Sainik Welfare Department and jawans of the regiment paid tributes to the martyr.

 

2 boys drowned in Chohal dam
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 22
Two boys, who were taking a bath in the Chohal dam area, about 12 km from here, on Hoshiarpur-Dharamsala road, drowned there last evening. Anmol Rattan (14), son of Kamal Kumar of Ajjowal village, and Manjit (12), son of Sarwan of Chohal village, had gone to Chohal dam for taking a bath alongwith their friends. 

There Anmol slipped into the water and Manjit jumped into the water to save him. But both were drowned. Their friends informed the security men of Apollo Fibre industry situated near the dam, who informed the fire brigade and the police in this connection.

On getting information about the mishap Mr Gopal Krishan Sabharwal, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vijay Sharma, Tehsildar, Mr Kuldip Singh, DSP (R), alongwith four divers reached the spot and after struggling for hours they took out the bodies from the water. The bodies were brought to Civil Hospital for post-mortem examination.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 5,000 each for the families of both the boys from the District Red Cross Society.

 

Student’s body recovered
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 22
The dead body of Narinder Singal of Delhi, one of the two students of the Institute of Management, Gurdaspur, who drowned in Ravi yesterday, was recovered today. The sources available here said the police patrol party spotted the dead body entangled in the bridge on Madhopur-Beas-Link canal near Chottepur village. 

The dead body would be handed over to the kin after post-mortem examination at the Pathankot civil Hospital.

 

Hit-and-run victim dies
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 22
A college student, Surjit Singh, who was injured when his scooter was hit by a vehicle on the GT Road, near Kanshi Nagar, succumbed to his injuries at a Ludhiana hospital today. 

The student was returning home from his college when the accident took place.

 

Farm worker falls unconscious
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 22
A migrant farm worker, Surjit Mundey, fell unconscious when he was spraying a pesticide in the fields of a nearby village today. He was hospitalised here.

Evidently, the pungent smell of the pesticide led to the fainting of Monday.

 
 

Wrong person produced in court
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 22
The Ferozepore Central Jail staff surprised a local judge yesterday when they produced a jail inmate instead of a person in police remand with a similar names. Ironically, the names of both the persons’ fathers were also similar.

Judge R.L. Chauhan had asked the Jail Superintendent, Mr Swaran Singh, on August 11 to produce Bhajan Singh, son of Jarnail Singh and a resident of Lande village in Moga, in the court. He was in the police custody in a robbery case. The jail staff instead produced Bhajan Singh, son of Jarnail Singh and a resident of Himmatpura village in Moga, who was undergoing six-month imprisonment in a case registered under Sections 323 and 324 of the IPC. Additional Sessions Judge H.P. Singh had sentenced him to six month’s jail on July 9.

Jarnail Singh made a lot of noise when the jail staff was taking him to Moga court. He pleaded that he was not involved in any robbery case, but all his pleas fell on deaf ears and the jail staff produced him in court. Finally, he narrated his tale to the judge, which made the jail staff realise their mistake.

 

71 cases settled in Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 22
A quarterly Lok Adalat was organised under the guidance of the Executive Chairman of the Punjab Legal Services Authority, Justice H.S. Bedi, at the Civil Courts complex here yesterday.

As many as 75 cases were taken up, of which 71 were disposed of and an amount of Rs 6.60 lakh was awarded to parties. Two Benches were constituted, which were presided over by the Additional Civil Judge, (Senior Division), Nabha, and the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Nabha.

A special Lok Adalat will be organised for disposing of traffic challans on September 4 at the Civil Courts complex, Nabha.

 
 

Chandumajra to meet PM on MSP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 22
A deputation of Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), led by Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, president of the party, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week to put pressure on the Central Government to hike the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to the tune of Rs 50 per quintal, in place of the announced hike of Rs 10 per quintal, for the ensuing paddy procurement season.

The deputation will also impress upon the Prime Minister to release Rs 10,000 crore for the permanent solution of floods in Punjab. A demand to this effect had already been submitted to the 12th Finance Commission by SAD (Longowal) when it visited Punjab about a month ago. Punjab needs this amount for constructing check-dams in the state, taming of Ghaggar, and to dig the ponds in villages.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Prof Chandumajra also demanded Rs 10,000 per acre as compensation for the farmers whose standing crops was damaged recently during floods in the state. 

 

Illegal sale of fertilisers alleged
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 22
Mr Bharat Shastri, state president of the youth wing of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), in a complaint submitted to the Director Agriculture, Punjab, on his visit here, has alleged that some persons with doubtful credentials are selling fertilisers and insecticides without a proper licence in connivance with officials of the department concerned here. A copy of the complaint was today faxed to the ADGP, Vigilance Department, Punjab, also.

Giving specific instances, Mr Shastri said that some persons had opened a sale outlet in a shop measuring 570 sq ft at Gumjal village on the Punjab-Rajasthan border to lure farmers of both states. The shop exhibited two sign boards of different firms, whereas another firm had also reportedly quoted the same premises in its licence. As per rules only one licence could be issued for a building.

He said the firms at Gumjal village had reportedly done business running in millions in the recent past. The area comes under the jurisdiction of the Khuyiansarwer block of Abohar subdivision. People doubt such firms were carrying on business with a proper licence as they hesitated in producing a copy of the rent deed to the appropriate forum. One of the partners of the said firm had confirmed in his affidavit, a copy of which was given to the Director Agriculture, that he had a shop at Gumjal village.

The licensing system of the department had come under fire due to such alleged acts of omissions and commissions, Mr Shastri added. He demanded a high level inquiry and proceedings under the Essential Commodities Act, and the Fertilizer and Insecticides Licensing Act against the guilty in this case.

Meanwhile, panic prevailed among cotton growers in this belt as the Agriculture Department confirmed that samples of some largest selling insecticides were found sub-standard in the lab tests. The officials inspected some shops to seize the stocks of these insecticides but the dealers had reportedly shifted the stocks to unknown destinations. The lab report had caused worries as the experts were expecting a bumper cotton crop this year. Some manufacturers had concentrated on this region to boost the sales of specific brands by entertaining the shopkeepers at parties. Some officials of the Agriculture Department too allegedly enjoyed “hospitality” on such occasions, the sources said.

 

Punjab to fill 2282 posts
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 22
The Punjab Government has decided to fill on a contract basis 2282 posts lying vacant in the Animal Husbandry Department. Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister of Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Tourism, said on Friday the Chief Minister had constituted a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to lay down the guidelines for recruitment of 552 veterinary doctors, 813 pharmacists, 884 class IV employees and 33 specialists in various fields.

Mr Kang was here to review development works. The government had earlier banned recruitment as there was surplus staff in various departments.

About the various decisions taken at the meeting, Mr Kang said in order to check the flight of people from Punjab to Chandigarh, the government had decided to build multi-storeyed buildings, shopping complexes on 24 acres of government land at Kurali and Morinda.

The government had also directed the authorities concerned to provide clean water to Mohali, Kharar, Morinda and Kurali from the Kajauli water project.

 
 

Eight booked in gangrape case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 22
The police today booked eight youths in a gangrape case under Sections 363, 506, 376 of the IPC for kidnapping, criminal intimidation and rape of a woman. It was learnt today that six of the accused had been identified as Sonu, Lucky, Sabi, Pinder, Rinku and Jodhi while others remain to be identified. Raids were being conducted to nab the culprits, the police said.

It may be recalled here that a young married woman of Khurampur village had lodged a complaint with the DSP about her alleged kidnapping, gangrape and blackmailing. The DSP had marked an enquiry to the SHO and on completion of the probe, the case was registered today.

The complainant belonged to Phagwara but was married in Khurampur village. Her husband had gone abroad. She was waiting for a bus for going back to her village when these youths of the same village bundled her into their vehicle and took her to a secluded place and allegedly gangraped her.

Then they started blackmailing her saying that they had taken her photographs through a cellphone camera in a compromising posture and if she declined to oblige them they would make these photographs public.

One of them misled her and took her to Jammu where she was kept for over a fortnight. She managed to wriggle out of his captivity, reached her parental house in Phagwara and immediately lodged a complaint.

 

Murder mystery solved
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 22
The police has solved a murder that took place about seven months ago. An unidentified body was found in Lohara village here on January 3. The victim was later identified as Darshan Singh of Dugga village in Sangrur district.

The police recently received information from the Sangrur police about the disappearance of Darshan Singh of Dugga village. The police cracked the case after interrogating family members of Darshan’s wife.

Sources said the victim’s wife had allegedly got him killed with the help of her family members. The deceased was a habitual drunkard and he had forced his wife into the flesh trade to meet his own expenses, they added.

 

8 held for theft at MC chief’s house
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 22
The police today claimed to have cracked a theft case in which valuable belongings of Municipal Council chief Joginder Pal Jain were stolen from his servant’s quarter a few days ago. Eight persons have been arrested in this connection.

The police has also recovered 847 grams of gold and Rs 50,000, but the speculations are rife that the recovery shown is just the tip of the iceberg. Surprisingly, Mr Jain had stated after the theft that he had lost all his life’s earnings and according to the FIR, the goods stolen were kept in three suitcases. Now, the talk of the town is whether this is what Mr Jain termed his whole life’s earning.

Those arrested have been identified as Lakshman Singh, alias Chidi, Gurmail Singh, alias Gela, Radhe Sham, Suraj Bhan, Buta Singh, Rani, Naseeb Kaur and Paramjeet Kaur. The police also seized a pistol from Buta Singh and 400 grams of opium from Gurmail Singh. According to the police, the process to recovering goods and interrogating the accused is on.

 
 

College fund row deepens
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
A controversy over the alleged ‘mismanagement’ of funds of Hindu College by its Principal deepened today with 23 lecturers and others demanding a ‘special audit’ of the funds. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is an alumnus of the college.

The president of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, Prof S.S. Hundal, in a written communication to the Secretary, Higher Education, the DPI, Colleges, the Dean, College Development, Guru Nanak Dev University, urged for the audit and sought the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner to expedite an inquiry conducted by the SDM in this connection. This was stated by Mr D.K. Kalia, college president, PCCTU, Dr Sanjeev Sharma, vice-president, and Dr Rakesh Joshi, secretary.

 

Need to focus on health, primary education
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 22
Primary education in the state needs much more attention from the government. A recent study conducted by an NGO deputed by the government to assess the progress of primary education in the state has presented a dismal picture.

According to the report of the NGO the budget for the primary education in Punjab had increased by 458 per cent in the period extending from 1991 to 2001. However, in contrast to that the number students in the government primary school had decreased by 26 per cent during the same period.

Mr Ashwani Kumar, member Rajya Sabha, from Gurdaspur stated this while talking to The Tribune here today.

He also said about 2000 posts of veterinary and hundreds of posts of doctors were lying vacant in the state. “I have written to the Chief Minister regarding the poor state of the health and primary education in the state,” he said.

He said industry in Punjab, especially in the border districts of Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Amritsar was being hit due to the certain economic policies.

 

Seminar on women empowerment
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 22
R.R. Bawa D.A.V. College for Girls, Batala, organised a two-day U.G.C. sponsored national seminar on the theme of “Woman Empowerment”. The seminar was inaugurated yesterday in the traditional way with the lighting of lamp. Principal Ms Veena Watni welcomed the guests, resource persons and the participants. Delivering the keynote address, Dr D.J. Singh said woman centred programmes had shown positive results but there was an urgent need to strike hard at the roots of gender discrimination in the society.

Mr R.S. Sharma highlighted the role of the DAV institutions in woman empowerment. He gave a note of warning that in the pursuit of empowerment the basic role of woman as an individual, mother and daughter, should not be downsized.

The legal rights on the theme of woman empowerment was taken up by Dr Sukesh Dubey and Ms B.K. Kanuja and Ms Sunita Singh. While Dr Dubey and Ms Kanuja spoke on the legal rights of women and lack of awareness among the masses.

Ms Sunita Singh touched the sensitive issue like rape and sexual harassment and the role of the Supreme Court and the constitution in it.

The literacy aspects on the theme of woman empowerment were presented by Ms Poonam Preetlari, Ms Nivedita Sen, Ms Neelam Sethi, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, and Dr S.K. Sood. Mr Ajay Sharma and Miss Rajwant Kaur spoke on the role of women as entrepreneur. Dr Swami Nath Gupta presented his research paper on various aspects of empowerment” and the role of woman.

The Fine Arts Department of the college had organised an exhibition on the same topic during the seminar. Paintings and posters depicted evils like dowry, domestic violence illiteracy and also portrayal of woman as a mother and an individual.

Eminent speakers during the two days seminar were Ms Neelam Sethi from the Kamla Nehru College for Women Phagwara, Ms Swaminath Gupta from D.A.V. College Ajamgarh U.P., Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla Ex-MLA and noted social worker, Dr Sukesh Dubey, Dean Faculity of Home Science Ms B.K. Kanuja, head, Library and Information science from Sarojini Naidu Govt Girls Post Graduate College, Bhopal, Mr Ajay Sharma from GGSD College, Chandigarh, Ms Poonam Preetlari, editor Preetlari, Ms Sunita Singh, advocate Civil Courts, Batala, Dr S.K. Sood, Principal A.B. College, Pathankot and Ms Rajwant Kaur from D.A.V. College, Jalandhar.

 

Lecture on application of worldwide web
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 22
The local Government Mohindra College organised an extension lecture-cum-demonstration on "Concept and application of worldwide web" in the college Sabha Bhavan here today. The Head of Computer Centre, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dr R.K Sharma, delivered the lecture.

Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Principal of the college presided over the function. Dr Sharma said the college would expand the Internet facility available to students and faculty so that a large number of students were able to access information available on the Internet in their respective fields.

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