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Guru Granth Sahib gifted to Pak devotees
400th anniversary celebrations
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

A Sikh youth performs martial arts during a religious procession held on the eve of quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Amritsar on Saturday.
A Sikh youth performs martial arts during a religious procession held on the eve of quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Amritsar on Saturday. — Reuters photo

Amritsar, August 28
Pakistani Sikhs, especially Sindhis, who are devout Sehajdhari Sikhs today got a much awaited quadricentennial gift when they got the news that Guru Granth Sahib has been transliterated in ‘Shahmukhi’ and ‘Farid Lipi’ (both Persian scripts) and are available on website.

This news was broken by Bhai Harbans Lal, president, Guru Granth Academy, USA, and former President, Sikh Students Federation, during his meeting with members of 1,000 Pakistani Sikhs who arrived here to participate in the quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib. The sentence by sentence transliteration in Persian and Roman scripts along with Gurmukhi script in which Guru Granth Sahib was originally edited would help thousands of Guru Nanak followers in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq and other Muslim countries to read Gurbani. Bhai Harbans Lal said the transliteration in ‘Shahmukhi’ was result of arduous labour put up by Mr Kirpal Singh Pannu of Toronto. Mr Pannu had to coin number of fonts as many characters, especially vowels of ‘Gurmukhi’ were not available in Persian script. The Pakistani Sikhs told Bhai Harbans Lal that the CDs of Guru Granth Sahib in ‘Shahmukhi’ would be sent to Afghanistan and other countries. Bhai Harbans Lal told TNS that he himself and Dr Kulbir Singh Thind of California had carefully done the proof reading of the transliterated version of Guru Granth Sahib.

Earlier, Bibi Jaspal Kaur of Thailand had completed the gigantic work of transliterations of Guru Granth Sahib in Thai language. The first ‘hukmnama’ (order of the day) would be recited at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Bangkok, tomorrow.

Bhai Harbans Lal, a Sehajdhari Sikh, said the transliteration of Guru Granth Sahib and Gurbani in many languages of the world, including French and German, had been completed. Bhai Lachman Chela Ram had also completed the transliteration of ‘Gurbani’ in Sindhi, Bengali, Gujarati and about 10 other Indian languages.

However, the SGPC had failed to invite all Sikh scholars who had completed the arduous task of transliterating Guru Granth Sahib in foreign languages during its quadricentennial celebrations. All of these scholars had completed the work without SGPC’s help.

The ‘Japuji Sahib’ was already transliterated in Brazil, Hebrew, Spanish and other languages of the world.

 

Uncertainty over PM’s project proposals
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
There is uncertainty whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would announce certain projects on the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, when he visits Amritsar on September 1.

Punjab had proposed a string of proposals to celebrate the occasion at the meeting of the national committee in New Delhi on August 23. As a follow-up of that a programme committee was constituted, headed by Minister for Cultural Affairs Jaipal Reddy.

This committee held a meeting in New Delhi on Friday where Punjab had presented the project profiles. One of the questions that came up during the discussion was if the Prime Minister could make an announcement about any of the projects since the code of conduct was in vogue. The Election Commission of India had announced Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh and Maharashtra on August 24. These elections are scheduled for October 7 and October 13, respectively.

Along with these, there are to be Assembly by-elections to 40 state legislative Assemblies, including Punjab, where byelections are due in Garhshankar in Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala. Due to a court case, the byelection in Ajnala in Amritsar has been deferred. Sitting MLAs from these three Assembly constituencies had successfully contested elections to Parliament earlier this year.

Punjab, sources said, had argued that celebrations had been planned much in advance and these had generated interest, globally, and these were aimed at disseminating the ''message'' contained in Guru Granth Sahib for the entire humanity and ''universal brotherhood'', a point emphasised by Dr Manmohan Singh at the August 23 meeting.

A reference, it is learnt, is likely to be made to the Election Commission whether announcement of certain projects connected with the fourth centenary celebrations of the compilation and installation of Guru Granth Sahib would constitute any violation of the election code of conduct.

Among the projects that found favour was an economic zone and an institute of biotechnology to be named after certain personalities like Bhai Gurdas, who had compiled the Holy Book and was also appointed the first granthi at the Golden Temple. The other proposals were setting up of an institution of Guru Granth Sahib studies, beautification of surroundings of the Golden Temple complex, preservation of the heritage in the Amritsar ''walled city'' and construction of Kabir auditorium and Ravi Das library at Varanasi and Namdev hall of scriptures in Maharashtra. Completion of Khalsa Heritage Complex at Anandpur Sahib was also included.

The idea behind such projects, sources said, was to recognise and perpetuate the contributions and memory of Hindu saints, Muslim sufis and bards, whose hymns find a place in Guru Granth Sahib. The Holy Book contains contributions of at least 36 divinely inspired personalities from all over the country.

 

Sikh head priests to take up turban ban issue with PM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
The Sikh head priests are likely to advise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to personally take up the issue of ban on turban and religious symbols with the French government and the UNO during the Prime Minister’s visit to Amritsar on September 1 to take part in the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Harmandir Sahib.

Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president of the Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO), claimed that the organisation had been able to convince the Sikh head priests about the urgency of the situation as public schools in France were going to re-open from September 4.

Dr Randhawa said the head priests of Takht Sri Patna Sahib — Bhai Iqbal Singh; Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib — Bhai Kulwant Singh; Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib — Bhai Tarlochan Singh and Takht Damdama Sahib — Bhai Balwant Singh, had assured the SNO to take up the turban issue with Dr Manmohan Singh during his Amritsar visit.

Earlier, the SNO had submitted a joint petition at Sri Akal Takht which is scheduled to be put up before the head priests on August 31, said Dr Randhawa. He said the petition had maintained that parents of schoolgoing children in France were under tremendous strain and were eagerly awaiting guidelines from Akal Takht in this regard.

The SNO leader also said Sikh children should defy the controversial French law and continue to wear turbans.

The SNO has also appealed to all Sikhs to wear saffron ‘dastars’ at Panthic Jor Melas, gurpurbs and on every Thursday to ensure an effective worldwide protest against the ban on turban and also to generate a sense of unity and security by focussing on the distinct identity of Sikhs.

Meanwhile, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti’s Secretary Pritpal Singh said the entire issue of ban on the use of turbans in schools would be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the five Sikh head priests. He said following this the issue would be discussed with the Prime Minister.

Giani Tarlochan Singh of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, when contacted on the issue, said the Sikh head priests would also take up the issue of ban on the carrying of the ‘sri sahib’ (long kirpan) by the US embassy with the Prime Minister, besides the turban issue. He said despite repeated requests, the US embassy was not allowing entry to anyone carrying the ‘sri sahib’ and also did not let anyone travel with the ‘sri sahib’.

 

Scholars attend seminar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 28
Sikhs scholars and political leaders were of the view that Guru Granth Sahib is an invaluable treasure transcending all type of human barriers. They expressed their views at a seminar organised by the SGPC on the occasion of quadricentennial celebrations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, here today.

Surprisingly, the permission to organise the seminar in Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) was withdrawn at the last moment. Though Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GNDU, was scheduled to deliver the welcome address as per the original programme yet he was conspicuous by his absence. The withdrawal of the permission at the eleventh hour to hold seminar in GND varsity at behest of the state government had created lot of inconvenience for the participants who did not get timely information about the change of the venue.

Dr Jagbir Singh said Guru Granth Sahib covers the period from 12th to 17th century B.C. He said this medieval period was also referred as new awakening in the cultural history of Punjab.

Dr Jagbir Singh, Mr Himadri Banerjee, writer of famous book ‘Other Sikhs’, and Dr N. Muthu Mohan, Head, Department of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Chair, Madurai University, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, spoke on the occasion.

Mr Badal released commemorative gold and silver coins to mark the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. He presented their coins to Giani Mohan Singh, Additional Head Granthi, Golden Temple. Mr Badal also released two books ‘Gurbani Sangit Darpan’ and ‘History of the Sikhs’.

 

Stage set for Gurmat Chetna March
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, August 28
Even as devotees from far off places have started descending on this historical town, the Takht Damdama Sahib management alongwith the district administration have made all arrangements for the Gurmat Chetna March, which will start from here at 9.15 am tomorrow.

Thousands of people belonging to different their religious and political groups have started reaching here to participate in the march which is being taken out to mark the beginning of celebrations connected with the 400th installation of Adi Guru Grant Sahib at Golden Temple by Guru Arjan Dev.

This town, which houses the fifth takht of Sikhs — Takht Damdama Sahib — has been given a massive facelift. Its surroundings have been made dust free. Welcome gates have been set up and roundabouts of this and other towns have been decorated with coloured flags.

“As many as 15,000 to 20,000 persons are expected to arrive here by tonight to participate in the march. Devotees have been coming from Punjab, Haryana and other places of the country. Residents of the town and the gurdwara management have made elaborate arrangements for the stay of these people in this town,” pointed out Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib and added that “Nihangs’ of all factions had reached the complex.

The Gurmat Chetna March would be led by elephants and would be followed by 400 “Nihangs” riding on the horses, then 400 youths on scooter and motorcycles, a Punjab Police band, 400 ex-servicemen in white dress with medals on their chests, a team of Nihangs playing ‘gatka’, nagara team, five persons carrying the palki of Guru Granth Sahib, the team of ragi Singhs and VIPs belonging to different political parties.

As per information supplied by Takht Damdama Sahib management, the Gurmat Chetna March would begin after “Ardas” at Takht Damdama Sahib Gurdwara at 9.15 am tomorrow. The march would reach Bathinda town and by the evening it would reach Gurdwara Tuti Gandi Sahib in Muktsar town.

On the other hand, the district police and civil authorities have also made elaborate security arrangements. Senior civil and police officials had a series of meetings with the takht management.

 

Kalam to preside over seminar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 28
The President, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, will preside over the international seminar on ‘Relevance of Guru Granth Sahib in New Millennium’ to be held on August 31 at Dasmesh auditorium of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) here.

The seminar is being organised by the university. According to a press note issued here it was the fourth seminar on Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

According to the press note said the President would lay the foundation stone of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan. The multi-storeyed bhawan will be constructed at the cost of Rs 1 crore and will have 40 pillars on which Guru Nanak’s bani Japuji Sahib, Mool Mantra, 38 pauris and Saloka’, would be engraved in four languages — Punjabi, Hindi, English and Urdu.

The bhawan would house Guru Granth Sahib chair and Guru Nanak Studies Department, which would impart instructions in MA (Religious Studies) and MA (Philosophy). There would also be a provision for art gallery, museum, conference hall, class and seminar rooms.

Dr Kalam will also release one dozen books on Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh religion published by the university on the occasion.

 

Holiday in Punjab on Sept 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab Government today declared September 1 as holiday under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, in view of the 400th ‘parkash utsav’ of Guru Granth Sahib at Amritsar.

A government spokesman said the second half of August 31 would be a holiday in the offices of the state government, boards and corporations and educational institutions in Amritsar.

 

Rs 100-cr package sought for Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 28
Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, yesterday demanded a Rs 100 crore package from the Prime Minister for development and beautification of the holy city on the occasion of quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib.

He made this demand through a letter written to the Prime Minister. He said the Sikh Gurus and later Maharaja Ranjit Singh brought skilled artisans from various parts of the country and encouraged business here.

However, Partition and wars with Pakistan besides militancy shattered its economy. He said efforts must be made to revive it.

 

Hanspal asks all Punjabis to attend celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The president of Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has appealed to all MPs, MLAs, ministers, presidents of district Congress committees and party office-bearers to attend the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib next month.

According to a statement issued here today, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh will be attending the celebrations, besides the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Hanspal has also appealed to all Punjabis to attend the function.

 

GND varsity suspends teaching

Guru Nanak Dev University suspended teaching from August 30 to September 2 in view of the quadricentennial celebrations. This was stated in a press note here today. However, administrative offices and other non-teaching departments would function normally.

 

Confusion over PPSC interview call to doctors
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
The Punjab Public Service Commission’s (PPSC) decision to call all Scheduled Caste candidates, who had applied for the post of medical officer in the PCMS cadre in 1997, for a fresh interview starting from September 1 has resulted in confusion.

About 161 doctors of the 1998 batch who had appeared for the 1997 interview earlier, are also being issued interview letters.

The PPSC issued interview letters to all SC candidates who had applied for the post of medical officers in 1997 following a decision of the Supreme Court asking the PPSC to recruit all SC candidates who had been denied appointment in 1997.

The SC candidates who had missed being selected in 1997, were later selected as medical officers in 1998. With the PPSC issuing fresh call letters, they are confused about their position.

The doctors said most of the SC candidates, who could not be selected in 1997, were selected subsequently in 1998. They said the intent of the Supreme Court order was not to ask the PPSC to interview the candidates who were already in service but to give a fair chance to those who could not be selected in 1997.

They said there was no need to call doctors who were already working as it could result in depriving the deserving students once again. They also expressed apprehension as to whether they would be given seniority from 1997, if they were selected now. The Punjab Government rules say seniority could be given only from the date of joining.

The doctors, many of whom have represented en bloc to the PPSC on the issue, said the commission did not care to reply to any of their queries. They said in a recent communique, the PPSC asked them to put their questions to the state government.

Sources said as many as 73 unfilled posts of the 1997 batch were carried forward to 1998 and candidates selected for the same post in 1998. Doctors feel the 73 posts could be reverted putting their future in the dark when they had already completed five years of service in the PCMS.

Meanwhile, while the commission Chairman, Lt-Gen T.S. Shergill could not be contacted, an officer on special duty disclosed that the commission had sent interview letters to all reserved candidates who had applied for the PCMS job in 1997 keeping in view the Supreme Court order on the issue.

The officer said as far as the 161 students of the 1998 batch were concerned, it was their discretion whether they wanted to appear in the interview or not. However, he could not tell about the number of vacancies on whether the PPSC would recommend seniority for the selected students of the 1998 batch.

 

Escaped militant: cops likely to be dismissed
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Historical mistake

Once considered a dreaded militant, Gursewak Singh had allegedly managed to break free from police custody twice earlier also. Now, the police is going through documents about his previous escapes. Though senior officers are not giving the details, the sources claim that Gursewak Singh had taken refuge in Delhi and in Rajasthan. This time, the cops are also seeking the help of authorities in the two states to locate the "militant".

Chandigarh, August 28
Preliminary inquiry into the escape of "militant" Gursewak Singh from the custody of the Punjab Police in Delhi has revealed "gross negligence" on the part of officials escorting him. Senior police officers are now contemplating their dismissal from service.

The police has also registered a first information report (FIR) against one Kulwant Kaur. She was allegedly close to the "militant" and was providing financial assistance to him during his stay in the prison. Gursewak Singh was lodged at Nabha jail before he managed to break free on the pretext of easing himself.

The sources in the Punjab Police headquarters claim that accused Kulwant Kaur had also handed over some money to Gursewak Singh after meeting him in the jail a day prior to his escape from the national capital. Further investigations into the matter are on, the sources assert.

They say that an inquiry report into circumstances leading to the escape has already been handed over to Patiala's Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai by Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk. The officer was recently sent to Delhi for following all possible leads.

The sources claim that a perusal of the report submitted by him has revealed that criminal action and placing all seven cops — on escort duty — under suspension was just not enough. They were required to be dismissed from service.

The cops accompanying the "militant" at the time of escape were placed under suspension soon after the incident. A case regarding the escape was also registered under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Sabzi Mandi police station in Delhi.

 

Policemen set their house in order, literally
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
Can police morale be judged from the Police Lines of a city? Yes, if we are talking of Patiala. A complete overhaul of the Police Lines has resulted in personnel and their families taking pride in their houses in the lines and the facilities created for them.

The revolution took place after police personnel were asked as to how the place should be developed. After this, their participation was requested in specific tasks. Only then did the work on transforming the lines begin.

The entire project took eight months, says Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) L. K. Yadav, who first came up with the idea of taking up the improvement of the lines to instil a sense of pride in its residents.

Today the area boasts of a fishpond, an orchard, a horse riding club, an enclosed park, kennel and rifle clubs, a Community Police Training Hall and a new barrack for women personnel visiting the lines with toilets and newspaper facilities. Residents now also have the convenience of cooking gas being home delivered and efforts are on to even ensure minor repairs of houses in the lines.

How did all this come about? Through contributory work by personnel themselves, donations from social organisations and grants from the Police Welfare Fund. Mr Balbir Singh, an Assistant Sub-Inspector, who is responsible for the landscaping undertaken in the lines, says the most filthy area in the lines was taken up the first to make the residents realise that things can be improved if they give their assistance to the project. Where there was a huge dumping ground close to the houses a fishpond has been created.

The ASI says fruit trees have been planted by personnel in a small area near the pond. Plates bearing the names of those who planted the tress have been fixed alongside the respective plants so that they would have a sense of responsibility for the plants and nurture them. Similarly, children of personnel living in the lines have been drafted for maintaining the newly developed park inside the premises.

Though the entire Police Lines now present a cared-for look, with even the entry gates being renovated, efforts are on to ensure that it does not end up as a ceremonial effort only, says Mr Yadav. He says residents of the city, particularly those living in the vicinity of the Police Lines, are now awakening to the facilities created in the complex.

“Our Horse Riding Club has 48 members, most of whom are civilians,” he says, adding that a number of children joined the club during the summer vacations to avail of the coaching from national-level riders. Similarly, he says the Police Lines, particularly the park in the complex, are now a favourite haunt of residents of nearby areas who are fond of walking.

The kennel and rifle clubs have also become operational, though the kennel club’s facility of professional trainers is yet to be opened to the public. “We will do that soon,” says the SP, adding that civilians are already honing their shooting skills at the rifle club.

 

Mother seeks arrest of her son’s killers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab Police, which exhibited unprecedented zeal to arrest Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, the accused in the case of murder of a British girl, has not shown the same enthusiasm to solve another of murder of Amandeep Singh, a Non-Resident Indian( NRI) from Ludhiana.

His mother's cry for justice has not been heard yet by the police authorities concerned. Originally from Sekhewal village in Ludhiana, Amandeep Singh, the only son of his parents, was an American citizen. The family owns property worth crores in Ludhiana city.

Along with his mother, wife and kids, Amandeep came to India in 2002. His mother returned to the USA and he stayed back with his wife and kids. He was allegedly killed on October 15 in Ludhiana.

A complaint in this regard was got registered in the police station, Jodhewal Basti, at Ludhiana.

Certain people were detained in connection with the murder but they were later let off, according to Mrs Tejinder Kaur, mother of the deceased.

She says that her son was poisoned to death. It has been proved from the analysis of his viscera. ''The intention of the murder was to grab property worth crores,'' asserts Mrs Tejinder Kaur." We have been knocking the doors of the police authorities concerned since the murder of my son but no one is paying heed to our pleas", she adds.

Mrs Tejinder Kaur visits India twice to pursue the case of her son. " We only want that justice should be done in our case.

Those who killed my son should be identified and arrested. They should be brought to book'', she says.

She has sent representations to the Chief Minister, the Punjab Police chief and others concerned. " But so far nothing has come out of my representations", she said, appearing dejected. She has again requested the Ludhiana and state police authorities concerned to find the killers of her son by setting a special police teams.

 

PAU plans new strategies
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
In view of the serious concerns emerging about the future of agriculture in the state, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has reprioritised its teaching, research and extension services for sustainable foodgrain production.

What has given impetus to the new strategies is the slowdown of agriculture output — 2.6 per cent per annum — in 1990s against all-India average of 3.2 per cent. Consequently, despite acute financial crunch, the university has, of late, focused on in-house improvements — amalgamation of departments, new courses, cut on unproductive expenses etc.

PAU Vice-Chancellor K.S. Aulakh yesterday said the new strategies would revolve around ‘’globally competitive, cost-effective and eco-friendly production technologies and new farm machinery’’. PAU would also be developing hybrids and transgenic varieties of cotton and rice, gene pyramiding for in-built resistance to diseases and resource conservation technologies, like zero or minimum tillage. In future, stress would be on subsidiary agro-business and agro-occupations, say bee-keeping, mushroom cultivation, fisheries etc. Besides post-harvest processing, technologies and value addition to outsourcing farm graduates to become ‘’self-employed’’ were on the anvil. A new postgraduate programme in agri-business management would start from 2004-05 academic session.

In 2001-04, PAU had evolved 500 varieties and hybrids of different crops, including 40 of wheat, 25 of rice, 26 of maize etc, besides 5 varieties and hybrids of field, vegetable and horticulture crops. Farm economists have estimated that non-availability of profitable substitute crops to rice, on account of its wide acceptability and adaptability, was the villain of the piece! Rice has usurped large tracts earlier sown under cotton, maize and groundnut, while, gram, lentil, barley, rapeseed and mustard have yielded to wheat, as the two fetched better returns.

Dr Aulakh said scientific storage and quick disposal of foodgrains and proper infrastructure within and in the neighbouring countries was imperative. So was development of agro-based industry. Most of the problems in agriculture could also be solved by ensuring strict crop selection as per the identified crop-zones.

These zones are, (sub-montane): Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nawanshahr and Patiala, occupying 4.6 lakh hectares; central plains — Amritsar, parts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nawanshahr, Patiala, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Moga and Sangrur with 31.6 lakh hectares; and south-west — Ferozepore, Bathinda, Mansa, parts of Sangrur, Faridkot, Muktsar and Patiala with 141 lakh hectares.

Dr Aulakh said the proposed ‘’module’’ study had the support of ICAR. Since Punjab’s main concern today was growing ‘’social tensions’’, PAU has tried to weave this aspect into its future strategies and suggest ways how to check spiralling frustration in rural youth due to unemployment. The other aspects were how to improve educational standards in village schools, minimise dependence on migratory labour and make PAU graduates become job-givers, not job-seekers.

Therefore, PAU was convinced that if crops were sown as per their suitability to specific agro-climatic or agro-ecological zones, things could improve.

Technologies were in vogue aimed at saving sub-soil water. ‘’Bed planting’’ of wheat, for instance, had resulted in saving of at least 25 per cent irrigation water. This may provide a breather to declining sub-soil water table.

 

Siddiqui rules out revival of insurgency
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 28
The Director General of Police, Punjab, Mr A.A. Siddiqui while admitting that Pakistani based intelligence agency ISI was still active in Punjab, today ruled out any chances of the revival of insurgency in this border state. Mr Siddiqui said the kind of ideology, funding and mass support, needed for the resurgence of subversive activities, had no takers in Punjab now.

Mr Siddiqui was here to inaugurate the newly constructed Community Police Resource Centre and the Gazetted Officers Police Mess in Police Lines Ferozepore. He also inaugurated the Gymnasium Hall and a departmental store on the premises of the local police lines.

The DGP was accompanied by the Inspector General (Zonal), Mr P.M. Dass, the DIG Ferozepore Range, Mr Hardish Randhawa and the SSP Ferozepore, Mr H.S. Chahal.

Mr Siddiqui asserted that the expenditure of the police, which had shot-off tremendously during the long decade of turbulence in Punjab, had to be shelved down. He said in due course of time, it would be ensured that 10 per cent of the total police force should comprise women.

About the recent proposal to change the uniform of the police force from traditional khakhi to blue, Mr Siddiqui asserted that this was being done primarily to remove the fear psychosis of the general masses.

Answering to a query about the mounting political interference in the police, Mr Siddiqui said politicians had their own role to play at various levels but no direct intervention would be appreciated in the police functioning.

Mr Siddiqui also revealed that Tourist Police Force had been set up in the state, which will be allocated duties near tourism and industrial centres. He said to start with a 50 men Tourist Police Force had been deployed in Amritsar.

Earlier, the DGP inaugurated the Highway Police Control Cell at Lakho ke Behram village on the Ferozepore-Fazilka Road. He interacted with the villagers and listened to their problems.

About the increasing number of cases pertaining to immoral trafficking, Mr Siddiqui said. He, however, expressed concern over the reduction in budget allocation to the police. He said the budget of the Punjab police which was around a Rs 1035 crore, was not adequate to meet the expenditure.

Mr Siddiqui said a variety of schemes regarding modernisation of the police force had been mooted and the proposals had been sent to the state as well as Union Government. He said during the last few years the state government had failed to provide the 50 per cent matching grant for its modernisation plan due to which the Union Government had also withdrawn the allocation of grant to the Punjab police. But this year, the state government had promised to provide the requisite 40 per cent grant, which amounted to Rs 28 crore and only then the Union Government would release its share of Rs 34 crore for the modernisation of the Punjab police, he added.

He said the new Punjab police Act had already been drafted and send to the government.

Mr Siddiqui said there was need to set up more women police stations in Punjab to control certain evils, the society had a vital role to play.

Meanwhile, more than 8000 security personnel from other districts have been sent to Amritsar in order to ensure foolproof security arrangements for the 400th anniversary celebrations of the Prakash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib.

While disclosing this, Mr Siddiqui, DGP, Punjab, said a team of the Punjab police headed by an officer of the rank of ADGP had been constituted to supervise the security arrangements. He said two IG’s and four DIGs had been deputed around the venue of the celebrations in which scores of VVIPs, including the President, Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, were likely to participate.

 
 

Badal wasted 400 cr on ‘Sangat Darshan’, says Singla
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 28
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, said the state government would take necessary steps to recover the funds, wasted by the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by organising “Sangat Darshan” programmes.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Singla said the state government had contemplated this step after it received a special audit report in which it was mentioned that about Rs 400 crore had been wasted by Mr Badal in the Sangat Darshan programmes to appease his favourites. He said Mr Badal did not take permission for spending the funds in the Sangat Darshan programmes from the Vidhan Sabha.

He alleged that it had become clear the previous SAD-BJP combine government of Punjab had been trying to destroy Punjab economically by using illegal and undemocratic means.

Mr Singla, who made a round of the local civil hospital and inaugurated the single window system in the office of the local municipal corporation, disclosed that the state government had been trying to run the local civil hospital with a private business house under its public-private partnership scheme.

Under this scheme, the local civil hospital would be provided with modern equipments and private doctors for giving the best treatment to the all including the poor at cheaper rates. The overall control of the hospital would be with the state government.

He pointed out that talks with Fortis, Apollo and other private hospitals, were on in this connection and once the talks were concluded the local civil hospital would witness a change in its functioning.

He said the Punjab government had been making a scheme for making the standard of education better in the schools run by it.

 

Dissent among Phagwara councillors
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 28
A piquant situation arose yesterday at the monthly meeting of the local Nagar Council when Congress councillor and organising secretary of the PPCC Kusam Sharma criticised the functioning of the council controlled by none other than the ruling Congress. She was supported by nine opposition councillors.

These councillors, led by Ms Sharma, faxed representations to the Punjab Local Bodies Minister and others demanding that the proceedings of the meeting be stayed as the agenda was allegedly “bulldozed” by council’s president and his supporters. They have also alleged that development works in city were lopsided.

The item No, 8 in the agenda, which lists works in various wards, actually has only three or four wards represented by those who are in the good books of the president, according to the representation. Since the Deputy Director himself stayed the clearance of earlier estimates of projects worth Rs 3 or 4 crore, the today’s estimates of Rs 1.5 crore may likewise be stayed as the council is in the red and is not taking up the need-based works only, alleged Ms Sharma.

 
 

BJP seeks release of Indian prisoners in Pak jails
Our Correspondent

Balbeer Kaur shows the picture of her son who has been languishing in Queta Jail in Pakistan for the past one year during a protest rally organised by the BJP and the Punjab Yuva Morcha at the Wagah border for the release of Indian youths languishing in Pakistan jail.
Balbeer Kaur shows the picture of her son who has been languishing in Queta Jail in Pakistan for the past one year during a protest rally organised by the BJP and the Punjab Yuva Morcha at the Wagah border for the release of Indian youths languishing in Pakistan jail. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, August 28
Hundreds of activists of the BJP and the Punjab Yuva Morcha (PYM), led by the state president of BJP and Member Parliament Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, today organised a protest rally on the Indo-Pak joint post. They were seeking the release of Indian prisoners, including POWs, languishing in Pakistan jails.

They were accompanied by families of eight Punjabi youths who are in Pakistan jails. Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, former minister, Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president, and Mr Ashwani Sharma, president of the PYU, were also present on the occasion.

Mr Khanna criticised the Central Government for delaying the repatriation of Indian youths. He said the government had failed to take adequate steps for the release of Indian youths who had gone abroad in search of greener pastures due to increased unemployment in the country. He said their party had received about 79 letters from the families of such youths and they would take up the matter with the Centre. The families of the Punjabi youths urged state and Central Government to take adequate steps for early release of the youths.

Prof Chawla criticised Pakistan for the alleged torture of Indian youths. She said after 1971 war, the then Indian Prime Minister Ms Indira Gandhi, had released one lakh Pakistani POWs but the Pakistan Government had failed to reciprocate and Indian POWs who were still languishing in different jails in Pakistan.

 

Govt decides to reduce law officers’ number
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab Government has decided in principle to reduce the number of law officers to handle its legal cases. However, the decision has still to receive the nod of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

According to sources, a committee headed by Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill had sometime back decided that the government would have only have 55 law officers in Chandigarh and seven in Delhi, taking the total to 62. The present team of law officers working under Advocate-General Harbhagwan Singh numbers a whopping 122.

Incidentally, last year also, the government had considered bringing down the number. But, buckling under pressure, the government kept on revising the final list, with the final tally creating a record of sorts.

Sources also said that a new team of law officers would be decided at a meeting to be held either tomorrow or on Monday. The Chief Secretary is likely to chair the meeting. The extended contract of the present team of law officers ends on August 31. "A lot of present law officers will not be given a new term," said a government officer connected with the process.

Sources said that the Chief Secretary as well as the Advocate-General (AG) has been taking the line that the State Government cannot continue to have so many law officers. It is a known fact that many of the law officers don't even bother coming to the court or the AG office. There have also been reports saying that kin of influential persons have been employed as law officers.

 

Loss due to floods: progress of survey reviewed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 28
To review progress of special Girdawari undertaken in the district to assess damage to crops and property due to floods last month. A meeting of revenue officers was held under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner here yesterday.

Addressing the gathering Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh underlined the need to carry out the work with transparency to ensure that not even a single eligible person effected due to floods was left out during assessment. He further directed that assessments of damaged tube-wells would also be done during girdawari in collaboration with PSEB and Public Health officials.

All circle revenue officers were directed to undertake 100 per cent and SDMs 50 per cent physical verification of Girdawari done by the lower staff. He added that complaints with regard to Girdawari can be made within five days of the completion of girdawari in Dera Bassi and Rajpura sub-divisions and September 6 to September 10 in Patiala and Samana Sub-Divisions.

ADC Shiv Dhullar Singh Dhillon, SDMs, District Revenue Officer, Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars, Chief Agriculture Officer, representatives of the PSEB and the Public Health Department attended the meeting.

 

Bhai Kanhaiya’s statue tied with ropes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 28
Unmindful of his status in the Sikh religion and his service to the injured, a section of those who are undertaking the decoration work of the route from where the Gurmat Chetna March will pass, have tied the statue of Bhai Kanhaiya with coloured ropes.

The statue is situated at the intersection point of the Bathinda-Malout road and the Bathinda-Goniana road in this city. The statue was set up by a social and religious organisation of this region few years ago.

The persons who have decorated the roundabout have tied one end of all the coloured ropes with its head while the other end of the ropes at different points of the roundabout, which covered the status with ropes and made it virtually invisible.

Bhai Kanhaiya has a special place in the Sikh history as he was the one who started the Sewa Panthi mission after he rendered a selfless service to the wounded in the battles fought by Guru Gobind Singh with Mughals.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that tercentenary of Bhai Kanhaiya fell next month. At present there are more than 40 deras of the Sewa Panthis in the country.

 

Govt not giving funds for completing bus stand: MLA
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 28
Residents, shopkeepers and transporters of Model Town, Bassi Khawaju, Roshan Road and the Kamalpur areas of Hoshiarpur at a meeting here yesterday strongly condemned the Punjab Government for not providing requisite funds for the completion of the general bus stand.

While talking to mediapersons at his residence today, Mr Tikshan Sud, local MLA, said the work to provide better facilities to passengers at general bus stand was started during the SAD regime. The total cost of this project was estimated at Rs 4 crore and the work was entrusted to the Punjab State Industrial and Export Corporation. A sum of Rs 1.29 crore was given by the then government and preliminary works were completed. However, the present Congress government had failed to give money for the completion of this project.

The MLA said a bus stand construction committee had been formed and Mr Anil Garg nominated as its convener. The committee would hold a conference of all affected persons on September 11 at bus stand site and chalk-out a strategy pressurise the state government to provide requisite funds for its completion.

 

Pranab, Ambika may attend Payal function
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 28
“It is a state-level function and it is the duty of the Chief Minister to send invitations for the death anniversary function of Mr Beant Singh at Payal on August 31. We are not supposed to send any invitation to him”. This observation was made by Mr Tej Prakash Singh, son of Mr Beant Singh and former minister.

Mr Tej Prakash Singh was asked to comment on reports that he (Tej Prakash) had not sent any invitation to the Chief Minister for the death anniversary function at Payal on August 31.

Mr Tej Prakash Singh confirmed that the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, had appealed to the family members of the late Beant Singh not to organise a separate function and participate in the state-level function at Payal on August 31.

Mr Tej Prakash Singh said Mr Hanspal had visited them at their residence and requested them not to organise a parallel function. It may be mentioned here that resentment prevails among family members of Mr Tej Prakash Singh on his ouster from the Punjab Cabinet by the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, while downsizing the ministry. Captain Amarinder Singh inducted Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, sister of Mr Tej Prakash, as Minister of State after dropping him from the Cabinet.

Congress workers of the Payal Vidhan Sabha segment and people of the area are not happy over the ouster of Mr Tej Prakash Singh from the Cabinet and it was in view of the resentment that they had decided to organise a separate function at Payal.

Mr Tej Prakash Singh and his son, Mr Gurkirat Singh, had visited Delhi and met the AICC leaders and invited them to participate in the death anniversary function at Payal on August 31.

According to sources close to the family, Mrs Ambika Soni general secretary AICC, and Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister, may participate in the function at Payal. The family members have also conveyed their resentment to the Congress High Command over the dropping of Mr Tej Prakash Singh from the Punjab Cabinet.

Meanwhile the Chief Minister may skip the function at Payal and he has now a better excuse as the President is visiting Amritsar on August 31 to participate in the functions in connection with the celebrations of 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib. The Chief Minister was reluctant to participate in the function at Payal.

The state government has strengthened the security of Mr Tej Prakash Singh following directions from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He has not been provided with a bullet proof car so far but has got a gypsy for escort. The strength of the policemen has also been raised. The state government has also named the road from Doraha to Payal as Shaheed Beant Singh Marg. Announcement in this regard was made by Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, the then Chief Minister, at the bhog ceremony of Mr Beant Singh. However, the name of Kotli village has not been changed to Beant Singh Nagar so far as announced by Mr Brar.

 

Substandard solar lights installed
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 28
Kuther, Gram Panchayat near here, has come under the cloud for installing substandard solar lights, which stopped functioning after one week of installation.

The panchayat had reportedly spent lakhs of rupees for its fittings.

According to villagers, 25 solar lights were installed and the project was inaugurated on August 21 without obtaining any technical sanction from the competent authority.

At present only two solar lights are functioning. Even those two are not giving proper lights.

When contacted officials of the Block Development Office feigned ignorance in the matter.

Mr Harjit Singh Deputy Commissioner said the Pathankot SDM had been ordered to probe into the matter. 

 

PSEB moots plan to recruit engineers on contract
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 28
The PSEB has mooted a proposal to recruit engineers on contract to fill about 400 vacant posts of sub-divisional officers (SDO’s) in the board. Mr Ram Bhalla, administrative member of the board, gave this information while talking to The Tribune here today.

Mr Bhalla said the proposal was being sent to the government and likely to be cleared soon. The PSEB was facing an acute shortage of the technical staff, specially engineers. If they were not recruited immediately, it could create cadre crises in the PSEB, he added.

 

Two juvenile home inmates freed

Faridkot, August 28
Two inmates of the local Juvenile Home have been freed with the effort of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar. Both of them belonged to Ferozepore and were arrested by the railway police on August 18.

Sources said that these children broke down in front of the DC when he recently visited the Juvenile Home to inaugurate the EGS centre. When the DC spoke to them, these children told him that they were simply roaming around the railway line, but the railway police arrested them on the charge of stealing iron.

The DC had assured them of all help from his side. He then sought the file of these children and asked their parents to apply for bail. Both the inmates, 12-year-old Bajrangi and 10-year-old Ram Bhavan, were handed over to their parents following their bail orders. — TNS

 

Bhattal releases book
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
If officers start working with dedication and in a transparent manner, half of the public-related problems of the government will be automatically solved, but it is unfortunate that certain officers have vested interests, said Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, while talking to mediapersons after releasing a book on Punjabi literature written by Dr Manju Walia of Patiala.

She asked officers to prepare estimates of development works keeping in view the financial condition of the state. She urged them to spend minimum government money and get maximum results. She said the government had decided to give minority status to SGPC-run institutions.

 

171 units of blood donated
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 28
As many as 171 units of blood was donated at a camp organised by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Blood Donors Society at GGS College of Modern Technology here.

According to Mr Preet Kanwal Singh, general secretary, the camp was inaugurated by Mr Ajaib Singh Tur, a social worker. The chief guest on the occasion was Mr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab. He announced a grant of Rs 20,000 for the society.

As many as 80 students and staff members were among the donors. The society honoured persons who had donated blood more than 20 times.

 
CRIME
 

Fake currency seized from Cong leader’s house
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
A police team from Hanumangarh town of Rajasthan has seized fake currency worth about Rs 9.5 lakh from the house of a Congress leader and former sarpanch of Chotian Kalan village, Mr Ashwani Kumar. A computer, scanner, printer and other equipment used in printing fake currency were also seized.

Sources said the Hanumangarh police had recently arrested Harpal Singh of Buianwala village at a check post and seized fake currency worth about Rs 25,000 and six grams of smack from his possession. He was remanded to the police custody for interrogation.

The police conducted a raid at Ashwani Kumar’s house on a tip-off.

The Hanumangarh police has reportedly arrested the Congress leader who was out on bail in a murder case. The local police was only aware about the seizure of fake currency and they didn’t have much detail about the case.

 

Bus owner booked for duping financier
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
A bus owner, Jagtar Singh, resident of Rajgarh has been booked for duping a financier by taking a loan by producing fake documents.

Sources said the accused, who is also a partner in Malwa Bus Transport had taken a loan of Rs 3.35 lakh from Rajinder Singh of Moga-based Deep Finance Company on September 30, 2002 against his bus. He had reportedly produced fake documents for taking the loan.

When he stopped paying the installments, the finance company started probing the matter only to find that the accused had earlier taken a loan from a Jagraon-based finance firm for the same vehicle.

The police has registered a case.

 

Minor raped
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
A seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped by an unidentified man at Jhandeana village here yesterday.

The girl was returning from school when the rapist took her to a secluded spot and raped her. She was found unconscious in an isolated building in the village.

She was immediately rushed to the civil hospital. No arrest has been made so far.

 

Minor girl raped
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 28
A five-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a youth who turned out to be a friend of the victim’s father.

The accused, 25 year old Raju, a resident of Nabha gate, had befriended the victim’s father, Ramu, a waiter, who lived in a quarter located in the New Officer’s Colony.

Late yesterday evening Raju paid a visit to the victims house and finding her all alone raped here. The accused ran away when the girl’s mother, who had gone to the nearby market to make some purchases, returned. The police has registered a case at the Civil Lines police station and the medical examination of the minor was being done at the time of filing this report.

 
EDUCATION

Villagers lock school gate against teacher’s posting
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 28
Residents of Bakshiwala village locked the main gate of the Government Middle School in protest against the posting of a woman teacher.

Residents and the village panchayat, led by Sarpanch Mrs Kuldeep Kaur, locked the school for the third successive day today as 100 students had to sit out side school complex under the shade of trees.

Sarpanch, Ms Kuldeep Kaur has more or less justified the locking of the school by claiming that a lady teacher Ms Swatanter Kapoor, who has been working at the school as a sports teacher for the last nearly 25 years before she was transferred recently, was vitiating the atmosphere which was proving to be detrimental to the interests of both the staff and the students.

Mrs Swatanter Kapoor, has claimed that the incharge of the school Mr Rachpal Chand was hand in glove with the panchayat and it was under his influence that she was transferred despite the fact that she had been working in the same school for nearly 25 years. Mrs Kapoor claimed that apart from being the incharge of the school Rachpal Chand had interests as a property dealer and this led to his prolonged absence from the school duty hours. She added that when she pointed this out to the authorities concerned, Rachpal Chand and the village Panchayat put political influence to get her transferred.

Ms Veena Behal, Principal of Government Senior Secondary school, Lachkani, under whose jurisdiction the Bakshiwala school falls, visited the premises and she is expected to submit her report to the District Education Officer (DEO) shortly. Both Mrs Veena Behal and the DEO, Mrs Prithpal Kaur Sidhu, were unavailable for comments. Mrs Swatanter Kapoor, claimed that on Thursday when she got her transferred order revoked from the Punjab and Haryana High court, Mr Rachpal Chand, refused to accept them. She added that she was left with no alternative except to submit her orders to the DEO which she will be doing on Monday.

 

Students protest against pvt bus operators, police
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 28
Activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) today held a gate rally at Government Ranbir College here to protest against the alleged “high handedness” of the police and the private bus operators and their employees against students in Mansa, yesterday. Some students were injured in yesterday’s clash between students and bus operators.

Addressing the rally, Mr Gursewak Singh, president of Ranbir College unit of the PRSU, said armed “goondas” of private bus operators, had travelled in buses and jeeps to “teach a lesson” to students having bus passes.

The protesters also raised slogans against the police and private bus operators and demanded the registration of cases against them and withdrawal of “false” cases registered against the students.

The local unit of the Students Federation of India (SFI) has also condemned yesterday’s incident and the drive of private bus operators against students having bus passes. Mr Harpal Singh, District Secretary of the SFI, said the SFI had decided to observe black day on August 31 in educational institutions in the state to protest against the alleged “goonda gardi” of the private bus operators.

 

Appoint teachers or we’ll lock school: villagers
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 28
The panchayat of Dod village has written to the District Education Officer demanding immediate recruitment of teachers at the government school in the village. The villagers have warned that if the vacant posts of teacher were not filled soon, they would lock the school and if any administration official visited the village he would be welcomed with black flags.

The village sarpanch, Charanjeet Kaur, stated that there were only two teachers for about 200 students of the school. Out of these one takes classes of the middle school, while the other is engaged in primary school.

The panchayat members alleged that they had met officials in this connection many times, but nothing concrete had been done till now.

The village has a population of about 2,500 and children from nearby villages also attend the school. The villagers said that they could not wait anymore for the administration’s response and they were ready to resort to agitation in favour of their demands.

 

Engg college to remain closed for 3 days
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College will remain closed from August 30 to September 1, to enable staff and students to take part in the quardricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Principal Dilbagh Singh Hira, talking to mediapersons, said the college had made elaborate arrangement for participation in religious functions of the SGPC and the district administration.

He said as part of the celebrations on August 29, representatives of the SGPC would receive the nagar kirtan from Varanasi at the Shambhoo check-post. He said the college bus with students and the staff would leave for Shambhoo to receive the nagar kirtan.

Dr Hira requested those staying on the campus to illuminate their houses as desired by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

The college unit of Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Study Circle had also chalked out week-long celebrations.

The students would participate in seminars, debates and discussions on Gurbani, apart from daily kirtan darbar from September 30.

Prof Gurmeet Kaur, president of the college unit of Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Study Circle, said the unit would also participate in the nagar kirtan of the District Cultural Society on August 31.

 

Panel to look into problems of students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab Government has constituted a committee to look into the problems and demands of students of Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Computer Application, who had submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, here today.

Among other members of the committee, headed by Ms Bhattal, are the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Principal Secretary, Technical Education, Vice-Chancellor, Technical University.

 
BUSINESS
 

Auction of fishing rights fails to materialise at Gurdaspur
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Although the Punjab Fisheries Department has gained 22 % more revenue from the auctioning of fishing rights in the state this year, its auction again failed to materialise at Gurdaspur yesterday. The improvement of 22 % this year is over and above the revenue generated by the department during the last three years.

Amritsar and Kapurthala combined emerged the highest revenue generators for the Fisheries Department this year by fetching a hefty sum of Rs 32 lakh. This is a marked improvement over the last year when the two districts had together contributed Rs 27 lakh to the fisheries revenue.

Of the 10 districts where the Fisheries Department holds auctioning of fishing rights, only Gurdaspur and Ropar remain to be covered. Among other districts which have proved gainful for the department are Ludhiana and Ferozepore. Significantly, major revenue earning districts are the ones where poaching is under control.

While the rest of the Punjab's districts are improving insofar as revenue from fishing is concerned, Gurdaspur continues to pose a challenge to the Fisheries Department, which has launched a major crackdown on poachers active in this area. Reeling under the threat of poachers who virtually keep ransacking the notified waters in Beas River for fish, Gurdaspur failed to provide the department the revenue it was expecting today.

Whereas Punjab Fisheries had managed about Rs 7 lakh from the auctioning of fish in Gurdaspur last year, the maximum they could generate yesterday was Rs 5.50 lakh. As per rules of auctioning, the department cannot award a contract at a price lower than the one quoted in the past season. Speaking to The Tribune from Gurdaspur, Mr Baljit Singh Sidhu, Director and Warden, Fisheries, Punjab, admitted the auction had to be called off because of lack of competition in Gurdaspur.

"The contractors are trying to prevail upon us but we will now allow that. The contract will not be awarded unless we improve upon the prices quoted last year. I am expecting around Rs 8 lakh from this area. Technically speaking there is not much of a problem here. The only thing is that the contractors are trying to pin down the department. They feel they can have their way by consistently quoting low prices," he said.

Meanwhile, Concerned with the cases of fish poisoning and poaching along the Beas, Mr B.S. Sidhu surveyed the Gurdaspur area yesterday. He toured the entire Kanowal area where thousands of fish had been poisoned by poachers recently. An FIR has been registered in this case highlighted by The Tribune on July 20. Mr Sidhu has also instructed his field staff to tighten the noose on poachers.

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