P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSEB asks GRIDCO for power
CM, Ratra to review situation today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 14
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today moved an application to get 100 mega watt of power from Gridco in Orissa even as the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is scheduled to review the power position in the wake of massive power cuts with board Chairman Y S Ratra in Chandigarh tomorrow.

Board member (Generation) H.C. Sood said the board had moved an application with GRIDCO so that it could get an additional 100 mw of power from it. He said this power was likely to start flowing into the state by the end of the month. He said talks were being held with other Central utilities also to help tide over the huge gap between demand and supply in the state.

The board, already reeling under a power crisis, today received another jolt with the coal stock at its Bathinda thermal plant dipping to five days of consumption only. The position was only slightly better at Lehra Mohabbat which had seven days of stock even though Ropar is comfortably placed with 11 days stock.

Board member (Generation) H.M. Jain had discussed the issue with the BCCL company. Sources said the supply of coal had reduced somewhat due to a labour problem. The board was hopeful that the stock position would improve in the coming days.

Meanwhile, power cuts were the bane in both urban and rural areas in the state. Important cities were facing a power cut of four hours, urban industrial cities of five hours, towns between six to eight hours and rural areas between 14 to 16 hours.

Meanwhile, the Patiala Industries Association today urged the PSEB not to impose daily power cuts if it was to enforce two consecutive off days every week. Industry Association president Naresh Gupta said at present the industrial sector was not even getting three-hour regular power supply with power cuts being in effect from 11 am to 1 pm, 3 pm to 5 pm. He said after this peak load restrictions came into effect from 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm.

Mr Gupta said the PSEB also needed to change the definition of small, medium and large supply consumers, saying at present many small industrialists had to keep their consumption within 100 kw as any further increase forced them to install their own transformers. He said the PSEB was also giving poor quality power with the voltage fluctuations being very high at 370 to 460 volts instead of the normal 400 to 420 volts.


Power-producing city faces power crisis
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 14
The city, which was declared as the first power cut-free city of Punjab by the previous SAD-BJP combine government, has been facing unscheduled and unannounced power cuts for the past one week.

The residents of the city have been forced to cope up with scheduled and unscheduled power cuts on the one hand and on the other they have been exposed to various types of ailments due to emission of fly ash from the four chimneys of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP).

What has further worsened the lives of the residents of the town and the rural areas of the district is the fact that the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have started imposing power cuts for longer durations and that too at odd hours.

The power cuts have also affected the functioning of various government and non-government offices. Even Civil Hospital and other dispensaries are not spared from power cuts.

Power cuts have led to increased noise and air pollution in the city as most of the shops, offices and houses use generators during power cuts. The main market has become the noisiest place of the city due to the increased number of power generators.


Leaders express concern over power cuts
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 14
A section of leaders of various political parties yesterday expressed concern over the problem of fly-ash being generated by Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) as it had become a major source of health hazards and had been causing various diseases to the citizens.

The leaders also expressed concern over power cuts and deteriorating law and order situation here at a meeting of all major political parties held here today.

The meeting was attended by Mr Joginder Bhasin, Senior CPI leader, Mr Bhupinder Bhullar, SAD leader, Mr Ashok Bharti, BJP leader, Mr Gurbachan Bhullar, CPM leader, and Mr Harpal Singh Mithu, Akali Dal (Longowal) leader.

They demanded immediate steps to ensure uninterrupted power supply and to check the pollution being caused by four chimneys of GNDTP. They said the police should make necessary arrangements to check deteriorating law and order in the district.


24 panchayats have not paid power bills
PSEB threatens disconnection
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 14
More than 24 panchayats of the Dhar Kalan area near here are facing a funds’ crunch due to which they have not paid the bills for the tubewell connection for the last eight months. The PSEB has issued them final notices to make the payments or face action.

Sarpanches held a meeting last week to discuss the issue and gave memoranda to local politicians. With drinking water scarcity increasing day by day in Kandi area, the PSEB threat to disconnect tubewell connections in the event of non payment of bills, has jolted the farmers and other persons.

Thakur Sawaran Singh, a kisan union leader of the area, says while the residents of the villages are already reeling under drinking water shortage, they would have to walk miles for getting a pitcher of water, but in case the tubewell connections are disconnected the situation would worsen.

Pathankot SDM Amarjit Pal feigned ignorance about this problem.

The SDM said since he had recently joined here, he was not aware of any drinking water scarcity being faced by the villages in Dhar Kalan. He, however, said that the administration would help panchayats in such a situation.

Sarpanches said while no succour had reached the Kandi area, Congress promises of providing drinking water remained on paper, exorbitant power bills for the last eight months had left the panchayats worried as they did not have enough income to pay the bills.

Local MLA Ashok Sharma conceded that excessive bills had been issued to Panchayats. This issue had to be solved at the Chief Minister level.

Mr Raman Bhalla, Administrative Member of the PSEB, said, the PSEB could not waive the bills and the decision would be taken by the government.


RBI comes to Punjab’s rescue
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
On the intervention of the Prime Minister, steps are on the anvil to help Punjab square up its food account.

A sum of nearly Rs 4,500 crore, given by Reserve Bank of India for food grain procurement between 1993-94 and 2002-03, is believed to have been diverted towards committed expenditure—salaries, pensions and repayment of interest.

As a first step, the Union Finance Secretary is likely to attempt financial

intermediation on September 16, when he meets the state Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill and the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakahnpal, in New Delhi, it is learnt.

Even as the modalities for this to happen are framed, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sanctioned a sum of Rs 6,700 crore for procurement of upcoming paddy, . The first installment of Rs 1,891 crore has been received. In fact, smitten by huge diversion of food account funds by successive governments for purposes other than it was intended for had landed Punjab in a soup. Therefore, it was decided to segregate food account from the state Budget and treasury to prevent a repeat.

Mr Lakhanpal told TNS today that need for high-level financial intermediation was necessitated because Punjab could not simply write a cheque of Rs 4,500, as there was no money. Second, it was imperative to protect the state’s liquidity in view of the financial crunch. Since RBI plays a regulatory role, its authority could not be undermined.

Hence the September 16 meeting. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had raised this issue with Dr Manmohan Singh, recently, when he took up key issues pending with the Centre.

The September 16 meeting has come at a time when the state is struggling to improve its financial house-keeping, given not only the high revenue and fiscal deficits but also of the worst quality, as well. Also, the salaries, pensions and interest repayments consumed nearly 100 per cent of the total revenue receipts. No doubt, this figure is down from 128 per cent in 1998.

Mr Lakhanpal said steps were underway to regulate excess expenditure on timely basis. The unauthorised diversion of funds, including Rs 4,500 crore on food account, had dented the state’s image.

Independent enquiries by TNS have revealed that risk of unauthorised diversion was even more at the level of autonomous bodies like the local government, where accounting records still need proper maintenance.

The World Bank Punjab Development Report has expressed concern over Punjab’s fiscal problems, which it records were far more severe than what the Budget numbers revealed.

Punjab was also burdened by ‘’hidden’’ liabilities in arrears, delayed payments, unpaid and unfunded funded liabilities and contingent liabilities that were not fully accounted for in the Budgets. These hidden liabilities were around Rs 15,467 crore or Rs 6,141 for every citizen of Punjab!

A World Bank team was likely to visit Punjab towards September-end for discussions on agriculture, rural and urban sector requirements.


Is Punjab’s policy on ST exemption to units fair?
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The Punjab Government continues to maintain a dual face on the issue of sales tax exemption and allowing other fiscal benefits to various industries in the state.

On the one hand, the government strongly opposes sales tax and other exemptions to one of the most prestigious Bathinda oil refinery project, on the other hand it has been extending incentives to the tune of several crores to some of the industrial giants in the state. This has not only led to a loss to the tune of Rs 400 crore to the state exchequer but has also led to heart-burning among various sections of industrialists.

Sources in the Excise and Taxation Department reveal that despite opposition from the departments concerned, the government has adopted a selective approach to sanction fiscal incentives worth several crores to mega projects, including two Ludhiana-based big industrial units.

While the government has during the past nine months granted tax exemption to the extent of Rs 100 crore, excluding the additional fiscal benefit in the form of octroi and electricity duty waiver for the next five years to the Trident Group of Industries, the Nahar Industries Enterprises Limited has also been sanctioned similar fiscal relief. Sources alleged that political influence was playing a big role in the grant of such incentives.

Even as the national policy is against the grant of any such exemptions and concessions, these have been allowed by an empowered committee headed by Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, it is learnt.

The other important members of this committee are the Finance Minister, Industries Minister and the Excise and Taxation Minister. Overlooking departmental objections, the committee granted these exemptions after making required amendments in rules under the Punjab General sales Tax Act ( Deferment and Exemption rules, 1991), thereby watching the interests of the private business houses.

It may be recalled that the government had earlier adopted a tough stance on the issue of granting similar benefits to the Bathinda refinery project.

The authorities had refused to extend any such waiver, besides denying to sign a “Deed of Assurance”, that eventually led to the virtual shelving of the project. It has even ignored the directives of the BJP-led NDA Government in this regard, sources add.

The oil refinery project, the biggest ever to be sanctioned in the Central sector to Punjab, has been projected as a beginning of a new era, as far as installation of big industries in the state goes. The project was brought to the state by the then SAD-BJP Government in 1997.

The former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has alleged that big private industrial houses have influenced the present Congress-led government to stall it.

However, bowing to pressure, the government is being selective in offering these incentives. For instance, Abhishek Industries Limited, Barnala, a group of Trident Group of Industries, has been granted relief from paying purchase tax for the next 60 months, starting from November 18, 2003.

The 250-cr project was also granted octroi and power duty exemption to help meet economic disadvantages and to become globally competitive.

Similar exemptions to Nahar Industries Enterprises limited, granted recently will only spell heavy losses to the state exchequer, it is learnt.

A senior official of the Excise and Taxation Department, when contacted clarified that as per the pact with the Centre, sales tax incentive could not be given to any unit other than the ones in the pipeline and can amount to violation.


Funds’ paucity hits mini-sectt projects
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 14
The Mini-Secretariat projects for the Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts are being delayed due to paucity of funds and non-availability of land.

In Gurdaspur district the administration had affected the mutation of the land at which the offices of the Deputy Commissioner, SSP and the judicial court were at present located in the name of PUDA.

The basic idea was that the PUDA would sell the land at which the offices were located. With the funds generated it would construct the mini secretariat in the four-acre animal husbandry department land marked for the purpose.

However, the PUDA authorities had not been able to start the work on the mini secretariat project due to the paucity of funds.

The Additional Chief Administrator PUDA, Mr Vikas Garg, while talking to The Tribune, today admitted that paucity of funds had delayed the mini secretariat project for Gurdaspur.

However, now the Gurdaspur district administration had been asked to submit its requirement for the mini-secretariat. After the requirement became known the planning of the secretariat would move ahead.

Though the land had been transferred in the name of PUDA, it had not got the actual possession of the land. Due to this funds for the construction of mini secretariat couldn't be generated by first selling the land, Mr Garg said.

In case of Amritsar district Mr Garg said no land was available for the construction of the mini secretariat. If some land was made available to the PUDA then it was ready to develop mini secretariat at Amritsar also.

The Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur, Mr Harjit Singh, say they could leave the possession of the present offices till some alternative arrangement was made by PUDA.

“We have suggested to PUDA to carry out the construction of the mini secretariat in a phased manner so that the offices can be shifted to the new building and concurrent the land can be sold for generation of funds”, he said.

The mini secretariat was a long-standing demand of the people of area as the government offices here were scattered due to lack of proper infrastructure. Moreover, the building in which the office of the Deputy Commissioner here was located at present was unsafe.

The sources, however, said that it would not be easy for the PUDA to sell the land as the offices and judicial courts were located at it at present. The large chunk of the land had already been encroached by the lawyers who have raised their pucca or kucha chambers on it.

Mr Vikas Garg was here today to hear the objections for the PUDA colony being planned in Gurdaspur. He said that the colony had been planned on about 320-acre land.

Today 170 objections of landowners were registered during the hearing. Most of the objections were minor regarding the price of land or the status of the pucca houses already constructed.

He said as per the PUDA rules any farmer whose more than half-acre land or pucca house was acquired, would be compensated with a plot in the newly developed colony.


Police seeks amendment to notification on red lights
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
A day after an order was passed by the Security Wing of the Punjab Police asking all Additional Directors-General of Police (ADGPs) to remove red blinkers from atop their vehicles on the basis of a Punjab Government notification, senior Punjab Police officials today reportedly recommended amendments in the notification.

The recommendations have reportedly been forwarded to Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui. The sources in his office said a decision on the suggestions was likely to be taken within a day or so.

Though senior police officers were entitled to beacon lights, the notification had “somehow missed mentioning the category of ADGPs” in it, the sources in the Punjab Police headquarters claimed.

They added that a meeting was held between ADGP (Administration) Mohammad Izhar Alam and other senior police officers earlier during the day. The decision to suggest changes in the notification was taken during it, the sources insisted.

ADGP Alam, when contacted, refused to give details of the meeting. “I have examined the issue thoroughly. The file pertaining to the matter has now been forwarded to the DGP,” he said. The DGP added that the issue was not a “big one” and necessary steps would be taken after going through the file.

Meanwhile, going into the background of the matter, the sources said ADGP Shashi Kant, in charge of security in the state, had on Monday directed not only the ADGPs to remove red lights from atop their vehicles, government officers — except for Additional Secretaries and Principal Secretaries — were also asked to follow suit. Rough estimate had put the number of affected bureaucrats and top cops to 150.

The directions were being considered significant as the police had issued permission stickers to more people than it could possible manage. The sources added that even Chairmen of boards and corporations had been allowed to use the lights.

The orders were passed just two days before the traffic regulation and pollution control case was to come up for hearing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The sources added that the Home Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh were asked on the last date of hearing to be present in the court on Wednesday.

They added that 6,000 drivers have so far been challaned for using the lights, besides other offences, including the use of black films and riding without helmets.


Move to scuttle oil refinery project?
Material being sent back from site
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Phulo Khari (Bathinda), September 14
Material, including steel sheets, is being sent back to Visakhapatnam and Jodhpur districts from the site of the Punjab oil refinery project here.

Activists of the General Samaj Party (GSP), Punjab, today held a demonstration and raised slogans against the Punjab Government in protest against its move to scuttle the project.

They also did not allow trucks loaded with steel sheets to leave the refinery project premises. A number of residents of the surrounding areas also joined the agitation.

The steel sheets, a main component of the refinery project, which were transported to the project site from different parts of the country in the past two to three years, is being sent to Visakhapatnam and Jodhpur districts by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), which was supposed to set up the oil refinery within four years after the foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

So far about 100 trucks of steel sheets have been sent to Visakhapatnam and Jodhpur. In the past two to three years, about 1,500 trucks of steel sheets were unloaded at the project site to construct oil tanks.

The HPCL already has a refinery at Visakhapatnam and another refinery at Jodhpur has been proposed by it.

Though officials of the HPCL deployed at the project site are tightlipped, sources told TNS that this mega project worth Rs 10,000 crore had been scuttled “unofficially” after the Congress government in Punjab refused to give the HPCL various tax concessions, promised to it by the previous SAD-BJP government.

The sources said civil work at the project site went on without any hindrance for about four years after its foundation stone was laid on November 13, 1998.

In the past four years, a boundary wall, roads, streetlights, site grading and drinking water facilities had been provided at the site at the cost of Rs 300 crore.

After the Congress came to power in Punjab, the work on the refinery slowed down and after coming to know about the “intentions” of the present ruling set-up, the HPCL authorities stopped making heavy investment in the project named as Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery, Punjab.

The HPCL authorities shifted three of its five officials deployed here for executing the project to other projects.

To reduce the project cost, the HPCL authorities reduced the capacity of the refinery from 9 million tonnes per annum to 6 million tonnes per annum. The denial of various tax concessions to the HPCL by the Punjab Government has reportedly made the implementation of the project virtually “impossible”.

About 2000 acres were acquired by the HPCL for setting up the refinery project about 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary, GSP, said the party would hold a protest rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on September 29.


ISI agent held in Ferozepore
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, September 14
Mohhamed Ruhal, alias Ameen, a resident of Munshiganj District in Bangladesh, was nabbed while sending an e-mail message to his contact in Pakistan.

According to preliminary reports, the arrested Bangladeshi citizen was an ISI agent who had come here on a specific mission to gather information about the Army formations in the cantonment areas of Ferozepore and Bathinda.

Sources in the Police Department disclosed that the police had seized details of the 18 e-mail messages he had sent to his contacts in Pakistan. These e-mail messages were sent to two persons, Lala Pathan and Raju Bhaiya Pathan had also helped Ameen in procuring a passport. Police officials said the e-mail messages were being decoded as these were in the Roman Punjabi language.

The police had also seized the Indian currency worth Rs 2590, a Rs10 Bangladeshi note and some important documents with addresses of some people in Dubai, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Ameen revealed that he had entered India through the Bangladesh border on August 19 and then came to Ferozepore via Kolkata, Patna and New Delhi. He stayed in the Jama Masjid area in Delhi for two days where he met some agents before coming to Ferozepore on August 29. In Ferozepore Ameen stayed at some local hotels and then took a house belonging to Banta Singh on rent in the Kumhar Mandi locality in the cantonment area.

Ameen used to frequently visit a cyber café located in front of the local Central jail from where he used to send e-mail messages to his contacts in Pakistan.

Ameen also wanted to get in touch with some persons lodged in the Central jail. Ameen had told the owner of the cyber café that he wanted to start some business here.

The police has registered a case in the Cantonment police station against Ameen.


War veteran fights for disability pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Twentytwo years after he was bundled out of service on medical grounds, Havildar Gurdev Singh, a war veteran now residing in Mattaur village near Mohali, continues to fight for his disability pension.

Having had his claim for disability pension rejected twice by the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA), Allahabad, and getting no relief from Army Headquarters, he has now moved the Defence Ministry for grant of disability pension.

“The case is now being taken up with the Pension Grievance Cell in the Ministry of Defence,” Lieut-Col S. S. Sohi (retd), president of the Ex-Servicemen’s Grievance Cell, said.

“We wrote to them today, stressing that his disability is attributable to military service and that he be granted the requisite disability pension.

The authorities cannot wash their hands off the case by repeatedly sending stereotype replies to deny him the pension without fully examining the matter,” he added.

Gurdev Singh had joined the Corps of Signals in February, 1963, as a radio operator (class-I). During his 19-year career, he saw active service during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars as well as in various counter-insurgency operations.

Due to long duty hours and nature of work, as well as constant exposure to radio equipment, his hands started trembling and he lost nerve control in his hands. He also underwent treatment for the disorder and was subsequently placed in low medical category.

A few years later, he was discharged on medical grounds in May, 1982. A release medical board attributed his disorder, Occupational Neurosis, to military service and awarded him 40 per cent disability. The disorder is also commonly referred to as writer’s cramps.

His first claim for disability pension was rejected by the CDA within a few months of his leaving service.

He filed an appeal in 1983, and three years later received a communique from the CDA that his appeal had also been turned down. With post-retirement rehabilitation difficult on account of his disability, he has since been making both ends meet by running a small flour mill along with his son.

The CDA rejected his disability pension on the grounds that occupational neurosis is an internal disease and hence not attributal to military service. The opinion of the medical board, however, was different.


DMCH staff-management row a routine affair
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 14
The row between the employees and the management of the Hero-DMC Heart Centre and the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) has become an annual feature. Strike by employees for the third consecutive year has eroded the institutions’ image and the healthcare standards.

The sorry state of affairs here can best be attributed to the lackadaisical attitude of the hospital management and the “agitation-for-agitation-sake” approach of the splintered employee unions. As in the past, this time too the 10-day-old ongoing agitation has paralysed the functioning of the Hero-DMC Heart Centre and considerably affected the working of the DMCH.

The district administration’s role of appointing a committee to bring about rapprochement between the management and the agitating employees notwithstanding, a solution is far from sight. Big locks on the gates of Hero-DMC Heart Institute, rallies and anti-management slogans seeking abolition of the contract system have become a routine matter.

This premier healthcare institution with “No Horn” signs shows semblance of a battlefield, with allegations and counter-allegations by the two employee factions and the management heads having little time to spare.

Due to the “law-unto-themselves” attitude of the striking employees in the past, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has had to issue directions to the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police to ensure that directions issued by a civil court for dealing with the strike were complied with. This happened in July, 2002, after the employees failed to turn up for work, even a month after they started the agitation.

The petitioners had then told the court that the patients, even the ones admitted in the intensive care unit, were at the mercy of the striking employees.

In December, 2003, the drivers at the DMCH had gone on strike merely after someone spread rumours that the funds meant for new vehicles had been siphoned off for some other use. The lack of trust between the management and the employee unions has reached such a sorry state that the unions — three at present — let go off no opportunity to strike work.

The president of one of the employees union, Mr Chander Mohan Kalia, says that demands of the employees include an end to the contract system, seeking employment for the kin of those who died while on duty, extending retirement age to 60 years, accepting the Hero-DMC Heart Centre as the cardiac wing of the DMCH, limit work to five days a week and seeking free indoor and outdoor medical facilities to all the employees working at both the institutions, post-retirement medical benefits, implement the agreement reached between the union and the management in 2001-2002, including amicable settlement of cases of employees in the courts.

Mr Brij Mohan Munjal and Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, president and vice-president of the institutes’ management can hardly spare time due to their pre-occupation with the work of the Hero group and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), while none other in the management has either the authority or the capability to take drastic decisions.

The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, which started the DMCH, today has a token representation on the managing body.

The DMC was started by Dr Banarsi Das Soni as a medical school for training doctors and providing medical care in a rented building in 1934.

The school admitted 20 students in the first batch. The school was shifted to its own building in 1937 and christened Dayanand Medical College in 1964. Much of the credit for the sustained growth of the DMC goes to the late Hans Raj Dhanda, who became the founder-president of the DMC Managing Society. Slowly the control of the management has been taken over by industrialists, who have little time to manage the affairs of these institutions.

While the management says it does not know which employees’ union to negotiate with, the union headed by Mr Kalia says that their rival faction, the Hero DMC Employees Welfare Association represented by Ms Rajwant Kaur Randhawa and Mr Harsh Prabhakar, are backed by the management, and their members create trouble at the instance of the management — a charge the Rajwant faction strongly denies.

The DMC is an 1,100-bed hospital. The heart institute has 150 beds. There are nearly 2,000 employees and 200 faculty members.

The Hero-Heart Centre is reeling under a heavy debt due to the Rs 24 crore loans raised to set up it. With the ongoing strike, the financial health of the institutions has suffered a serious setback and with no amicable solution in sight in the near future, the situation is only bound to become grimmer.


BJP seeks action against Hanspal, Kewal Krishan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The Punjab unit of the BJP here today submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), seeking action against the president of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Mr H.S. Hanspal, Speaker of the state Assembly, Dr Kewal Krishan, secretary of the AICC, Mr Manish Tiwari, and other leaders for showing disrespect to the National Flag at a function in Ludhiana in the last week of August.

The BJP leaders were led by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president of the Punjab unit. Others who accompanied him to the Raj Bhavan here were senior leaders of the BJP such as Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, Chowdhary Swarna Ram, Mr Anil Sareen and Mr Vaneet Joshi.

Mr Khanna said that the Congress had organised a function in memory of the late Rajiv Gandhi at Guru Nanak Bhavan at Ludhiana on August 23. Several senior Congress leaders were present at this function. At the function, the Congress leaders used the National Flag as a banner hanging it on a wall. Even the name of a freedom fighters association was also written on the Flag violating the national code of conduct and protocol regarding the Flag.

Mr Khanna said that this was a clear case of disrespect to the National Flag shown by the Congress. He said that a case under relevant provisions of law should be registered against the Congress leaders concerned.

The BJP had already submitted relevant documents and proof in this connection to the police authorities concerned. But no action had been taken against Congress leaders yet.

Under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, as well as the Emblems and Nationals (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, action could be taken against Congress leaders, he added.


Christians rally behind Father Robby
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 14
Activists of the Catholic action committee of the district today organised a march to protest against the alleged defamation of Father Robby Priest, in charge of Fatehgarh Churain church.

Hundreds of activists, who held a march through Gurdaspur, also presented a memorandum of their demands to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Harjit Singh. In the memorandum, a copy of which was provided to newsmen, it has been alleged that some anti-Christian forces were trying to lower the credibility of missionary priests who have been working for the welfare of people in the area.

The memorandum urged the local administration to clear the name of Father Robby from the allegedly false molestation complaint filed against him by a former teacher of Little Flower Convent School, Mrs Rani Yohanan, after a speedy inquiry.

The president of the Catholic church action committee, Mr Rakesh William, while talking to newsmen said that Father Robby had been working as a missionary in the area for the past 20 years. He enjoyed very good reputation as a Christian missionary and social worker.

However, some vested interests were trying to damage his reputation by making frivolous complaints. The entire Christian community was behind Father Robby.

The school administration had, however, rallied behind Father Robby and said the complaint of Mrs Rani Yohanan as false. Today also the school remained closed and some teachers participated in the protest march.

The Deputy Commissioner has marked an inquiry into the incident to the SDM.


Promoted SGPC office-bearers may face reversion
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
The promotion of certain SGPC employees may run into rough weather even as Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, has said that the directives of Justice J.S. Sekhon, Chief Gurdwara Judicial Commission (CGC), should be implemented in toto.

In a communication to the SGPC secretary, Justice Sekhon had stated that after issuance of the notification by the Union Home Ministry regarding cooption of members, the present SGPC board had rendered defunct.

Hence the “defunct board” had no right to take any policy decision including promotions, transfers and appointments.

It may be mentioned here that acting SGPC chief Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke had made a number of appointments, promotions and transfers during his tenure, which had raised many eyebrows.

Talking to The Tribune at Tarn Taran, about 26 km from here today, Mr Badal said that the CGC had statutory powers and should not be challenged.

He said the SAD had been nursing a grouse against the state government for not implementing the orders of the CGC during the recently held SGPC elections and hence the SAD could never challenge its authority.

However, Mr Badal criticised the Central Government for not fixing the date for elections of office-bearers of the SGPC.


Sant Samaj’s move on celebrations draws flak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
The Sant Samaj, headed by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, has announced to hold ‘parallel’ quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the SGPC complex tomorrow in violation of Nanakshahi Jantri, approved by Akal Takht .

The Sant Samaj and two Takhts — Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib — had already announced to hold the quadricentennial celebrations as per old Bikrami calendar, which was considered direct challenge to the authority of Akal Takht.

However, nobody in the SGPC was ready to take the responsibility of giving permission to the Sant Samaj for organising a function in violation of the Nanakshahi Jantri.

Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, who initially feigned ignorance about the proposed ‘parallel function’ by the Sant Samaj, said that it was a matter of concern that certain vested interests wanted to create division in the Sikh Panth.

During a meeting with Jathedar Vedanti, representatives of Dal Khalsa and Sikh League, including Mr Kanwarpal Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh Grewal, respectively, said that the move of the Sant Samaj to celebrate the 400 years of installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib had drawn flak from all over the world.

Taking exception to the Sant Samaj’s opposition to Nanakshahi calendar, they blamed its leadership for sowing the seeds of discontent amongst the Sikhs. First they had divided the Sikhs on maryada issue by practising different maryadas in their respective deras, now they had opposed Nanakshahi calendar, a true manifestation of distinct religio-political identity of the Sikhs, said Mr Kanwarpal Singh. Emphasising the need for urgent measures to check further divisions amongst Sikhs they said the Jathedar should play a vital role in this regard.


Jathedar warns England-based organisation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
The Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today warned an England-based Sikh organisation against inviting the Editor of an English monthly who was excommunicated from the Panth, at to a function being held on September 19 in connection with quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib in Great Britain . Interestingly, Jathedar Vedanti has also been invited to the function.

The Akal Takht secretariat today threatened that action could be initiated against the organisers as per Sikh “maryada” if any excommunicated Sikh was allowed to attend the function. Jathedar Vedanti had also threatened to boycott the function in case any “Tankhaiya Sikh” was invited.

However, the Akal Takht secretariat received a message from England that no excommunicated Sikh had been invited to attend the function.


Assassins’ counsel moves NHRC in Beant case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
A counsel for the alleged assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who had been lodged in Burail Jail, has moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleging discrimination with his clients by the jail staff.

In his application, Mr Arvind Thakur alleged that the undertrials were being denied the basic facilities as per the Punjab Jail Manual. Terming the denial of certain facilities as human rights violations, the application demanded the setting up of an independent committee comprising human rights activists, jurists and mediapersons to probe the matter.

The application alleged that the jail authorities were lodging inmates on caste and religion basis. Besides, the sitting arrangement for the relatives and counsel, with a view to seek interviews with the inmates, had been withdrawn without any justification.

The application regretted that the Chandigarh Administration had failed to take any action on an earlier order of the commission in this regard.


PCMSA seeks arrest of medical representative
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 14
The local unit of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) at its meeting held under the presidentship of Dr Karamjit Singh, president of the unit, today sought the arrest of a medical representative of Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited for allegedly “misbehaving” with Dr H.S. Bali, ENT specialist, at the local Civil Hospital yesterday.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Surjit Singh, secretary of the local unit of the PCMSA, said the meeting also termed this act of the medical representative as “goondagardi”, and demanded from the Union Government to cancel the licence of this pharmaceutical company.

Dr Surjit Singh said the meeting also decided unanimously to boycott this company forever and urged the authorities to initiate adequate legal action against the medical representative for allegedly “misbehaving” with Dr Bali.

The PCMSA’s local unit secretary said the medical representative allegedly “misbehaved” with Dr Bali when Dr Bali refused to meet him by saying that the PCMSA had already decided to boycott his company.

On this, the medical representative allegedly used “indecent” words against Dr Bali and “misbehaved” with him, he added.

The meeting expressed anguish over some incidents regarding allegations on doctors after the death of patients in hospitals by their kith and kin. The meeting appealed to the doctors to perform their duties with dedication and honesty.

After the meeting, a deputation of the PCMSA unit met Dr Anup Kad, SMO, Civil Hospital, who assured them that no injustice would be allowed to be done to doctors.

However, the medical representative could not be contacted for comments.


Rotary invites nominations for award
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The Rotary Awards for Service to Humanity (India) Trust, New Delhi, has invited nominations from corporates, NGOs and individual social activists for the 13th Rotary India Award, 2004. The theme is “Enhancing employment opportunities in rural areas.” The award will be given in recognition of result-oriented performance and achievements in rural development through innovation leading to enhancement of employment opportunities in villages.

The annual award, instituted by the trust, is the highest recognition given by the Rotary in India for excellence in humanitarian service and carries a cash component of Rs 2 lakh 
and a citation.

The nomination must reach the trust office by October 15.

Earlier awards were focused on literacy, family planning, environment, pollution control, child welfare and development, education: the girl child, public health and sanitation, elimination of child labour, population stabilisation and development, women’s empowerment, water management and caring for the mentally challenged.


Youth Cong to fight social evils
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 14
Activists of the Youth Congress, Punjab, have decided to fight against social evils, including drug addiction, female foeticide, dowry and corruption by holding rallies in the state.

Disclosing this at a press conference here on Sunday, the president of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC), Mr Ravinder Awala, said the first such rally was organised at Rampura town in this district yesterday. He said Youth Congress activists would also help promote literacy, tree plantation and blood donation.

Mr Awala, who was accompanied by Mr Paramjit Singh Kotfatta, PYC, Bathinda district, said the PYC was aiming at a drug-free society by bringing back drug addicts into the mainstream.

To a question, he said the termination agreements on the water-sharing Bill passed in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha at the instance of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was a bold and historic step.

He said if water from Punjab was diverted to other states, the fertile land of the state would turn barren and the economy of farmers would be shattered irrevocably.

Mr Awala came down heavily on a former Chief Minister and President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, alleging that Mr Badal had ignored the interests of Punjab during his three stints as Chief Minister.


MC wants to reconsider budget
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 14
The authorities of the Pathankot Municipal Council have written to the Director, Local Government, for reconsideration of the MC budget. Sources said in March, the MC had passed an inflated budget of about Rs 19 crore.

The budget was a 90 per cent increase over the Rs 10 crore income of the council in the financial year 2003-2004. However, now the council authorities are finding it hard to meet the targets of the Rs 19 crore budget.

The sources said the council passed the 90 per cent budget increase on two false assumptions. The council had planned to sell its property worth Rs 6 crore. However, the high court has banned the sale of the properties.

It also hoped to generate Rs 1.5 crore from excise. In the financial year 2003-2004, the council earned only Rs 10 lakh from excise.

In the revised estimate, the budget is being put at Rs 11 - Rs 12 crore.

The revision of the budget after about half of the financial year has passed illustrates the state of the development works in the Pathankot council area. In the current financial year, not a single meeting of the council has been organised to pass the agenda of development works.

The council has also not been able to clear its payments since long.


Child goes missing, found later
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 14
The district police declared a red alert today after the news of a child going missing spread in the city.

It was in the afternoon when Arjun, a four-year-old student of primary wing of Devi Sahai S.D. Senior Secondary School, Kishanpura Chowk, went missing.

The parents of the child, Mr Vipin Kumar and Ms Sunita, went to the school to get him back after it had closed. The parents could not find the child in the school and reported the matter to Police Station No. 3.

The SHO, Mr Satinder Kumar, and his team sealed various entry points in the area. The parents finally heaved a sigh of relief when the police found the child from Sant Nagar level crossing where he was roaming after he had lost his way.


Week-long yoga camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 14
A week-long yoga camp organised by Swami Ramdev was concluded here today.

Around 15,000 persons turned up on the last day of the camp. They were mostly from neighbouring states and districts of Punjab. They were here to get relief from diseases like asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, paralysis, heart problems etc.

“Yoga has provided permanent relief from various diseases to many people where allopathic treatment failed to provide”, said Swami Ramdev in the concluding session of the camp.

Swami Ramdev also answered the queries of people related to health in an open session.


Ludhiana couple killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 14
A couple was killed in a car accident this afternoon near Kharora village on the Sirhind-Patiala road. Their Zen car (PB10 AP 8257) collided with a bus of the Regional Institute of Management, Mandi Gobindgarh.

The car coming from the Ludhiana side hit the bus from behind and both occupants of the car died on the spot.

The victims have been identified as Jaswant Singh and Daljit Kaur, both residents of Guru Nanak Nagar, Ludhiana.


Mahants get stay in temple case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar September 14
In a major setback to the district administration, Mr Surinder Singh Sahni, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, Ajnala, today confirmed the stay in a case relating to a disputed area in the ancient Ram Tirath temple.

In the case — Mahant Mangal Dass and others versus state of Punjab and others — an interim stay was granted to the mahants who claim to be the descendants of the caretakers of the ancient temple for the last 500 years.

Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, who is also secretary of the Ram Tirath Development Board, formed by the state government and headed by Mr Sardool Singh Bhandala, Minister for Excise and Taxation , said the district administration would make an appeal in the higher court against the stay .

Meanwhile the stay has put all funds on hold for the time being, including Rs 1 crore released by the state government for the development of the temple complex.


Appeals admitted in murder case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 14
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Virender Singh today admitted the appeals filed by Gagan Kanojia and Rajinder Kumar Alias Kuka.

Both of them have been awarded death penalty by the Jalandhar Sessions Judge.

The two had been found guilty by the judge of having killed two minor children — Heena and Abhishek — after abducting them. Now, both have appealed against the order of the Sessions Judge in the High Court.

In their appeals filed through advocates R.S. Bajaj, Mr Mandeep Singh Sachdev and Mr Rajinder Narula, the two have claimed that they were falsely implicated in the case.

They have said that prosecution evidence was based only on circumstantial evidence without any corroborating evidence on record.

Even the motive for the alleged crime was not proved.

The duo was convicted on the evidence provided by a minor witness.

They have prayed that their conviction be set aside.


SMO remanded in police custody
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 14
Dr S.P. Gupta, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Civil Hospital, Barnala, was today remanded in police custody for one day in a corruption case by the Chief Judicial Magistrate here.

Mr Rachhpal Singh, DSP, Vigilance, told The Tribune today that investigation into the properties of the Barnala SMO was still in progress.

Dr Gupta was caught by the Vigilance Bureau while he was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 from Dr Bhalinder Singh at Barnala yesterday. Dr Bhalinder Singh had alleged that Dr Gupta had demanded Rs 3,000 from him for the release of his last pay certificate.


De-worming campaign for milch animals
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 14
With a view to increasing milk production and enhancing earnings of milk producers, the Sangrur Milk Plant, has planned to launch a de-worming campaign for the milch animals in its milkshed area in the Sangrur district.

Under the campaign, about 25,000 milch animals will be covered in three phases.

The local milk plant of the Milkfed, Punjab, will launch the first phase of the de-worming campaign from September 17, which will end on October 16.

In the first phase, out of the total 320 functional Milk Producers Cooperative Societies of the district, 120 will be covered in different parts of the district. While in the second and third phases 120 and 80 societies, respectively, will be covered.

During the campaign, an interaction will be held by a veterinary team, headed by Dr Sushil Soni of the milk plant, with milk producers to educate them about the benefits of animals health, like more productivity in terms of milk, regular conception, calving with minimum failure or health hassles to animals.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr R.K. Sharma, General Manager, Sangrur Milk Plant, said in the first phase about Rs 1.50 lakh would be spent on the de-worming of animals in 120 villages.

He said bolus, containing fenbendazole salt, would be administered to the animals for de-worming. He said the salt was even safe during the pregnancy of animals.

Mr Sharma said there was a lot of green fodder available in the district, but the worms, belonging to the nematodes class, present in the stomach of the milch animals, negated the benefits of green fodder by consuming 33 per cent of the nutrients in the fodder feed.

He said the presence of these worms in a large number not only affected the metabolism and milk-producing capacity of the milch animals, but also affected adversely their sexual desire and capacity to conceive.

In the first phase, about 6,000 milch animals, owned by about 3,000 milk producers, will be covered. The second dose will be administered after four months of the first dose.


Paddy begins to arrive in mandis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 14
The Reserve Bank of India has sanctioned a cash credit limit of Rs 6,700 crores to the Punjab Government for the purchase of paddy. The first installment of Rs 1,871 crores has been released by the RBI to different agencies for the official purchase of paddy, according to official sources.

Meanwhile, the border district of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore have started receiving paddy as the harvesting operations start early in these districts.

The mandis in Punjab have received 1.50 lakh tonnes of paddy so far, and the minimum support price is Rs 590 per quintal.

The official agencies buying the paddy are geared to cope with the arrivals which will peak next week.

The mandis of Punjab are expected to receive about 1.25 lakh tonnes of paddy this year.

Despite the drought and shortage of power supply the paddy crop has been good this year. The farmers had to spend heavy amount of money on the purchase of diesel to run the tubewells, as a result of which the cost of production has been high.

Mr Anil Sood, a rice miller of Machhiwara said the traders were expected to make more purchase of paddy this year, compared to last year.

The official sources of the Punjab Government revealed that the state procuring agencies owed Rs 3,000 crores to the government as arrears. These agencies will realise the payment from the Central Government and then reimburse the same to the state government’s account.


Funds for Chowksi Bhavan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The Punjab Government has agreed to release Rs 1.80 crore for purchasing land to raise “Chowksi Bhavan” at Mohali.

The development is significant as the Vigilance Bureau does not have its own building. It is currently operating from three rented buildings.

Chief Director-cum-Additional Director-General of Police (Vigilance Bureau) A.P. Pandey said the Chief Secretary had assured to release the amount for purchasing a two-acre plot for the bhavan.

He added that recently a meeting was held with Vigilance Bureau officers and the problems being faced by them were discussed.


MLA finds officials away from office
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 14
Many local administrative officials were not present in their offices during a surprise check conducted by the local MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, here today.

The MLA visited the offices of the BDPO, the PSEB, the Food and Supply, the Civil Hospital and found that a majority of the officials were not available in their offices. He even tried to contact the SDM and the Tehsildar on the telephone who, too, were not in their offices. It is learnt Mr Bir Devinder Singh asked the Ropar Deputy Commissioner to take action in this regard as people were being harassed by this irresponsible attitude of the officials.

The SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, had gone to Ropar to attend the monthly meeting at the office of the Deputy Commissioner while the Tehsildar had gone on a long leave. The Executive Engineer of the PSEB was not present in his office.

The MLA visited the Civil Hospital around 1.55 pm and found that the SMO in charge of the hospital was on leave. He found some patients waiting as the doctors concerned were busy in the operating theatre.

Later, he went to the BDPO office and found that the Block Development and Panchayat Officer and the Junior Engineer were not present in the office. He met Mr Labh Singh, Sarpanch of Rurka village and Mr Sucha Singh, Sarpanch of Siau village, who were waiting for the officials. They had come to get the estimates of streets and drains cleared. They told the MLA that they had been waiting since morning. Later, they tried to contact the JE on the telephone who told them to meet him at his house in Panchkula. Two women, who had come to get birth certificates of their children, were also found waiting. While the officials concerned were busy in a meeting.

He also visited the Food and Supply office and found officials absent from duty.


Additional AG refuses to join office
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 14
Mr Salil Sagar, who was recently re-appointed Additional Advocate- General by the Punjab Government, has refused to join accept the downgraded post.

He becomes the second Additional Advocate-General to put in his papers. Some days back, Additional Advocate-General DV Sharma had also resigned.

In his resignation letter addressed to the Principal Secretary (Home), Punjab, Mr Sagar has said that he was not ready to continue working as a law officer in view of the sharp cut in salary effected by the Punjab Government while making fresh appointments of law officers for the current one-year term. 


PPHC to build residential colony
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 14
The Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) will be utilising the services of the best town planners and consultants of north India for constructing a residential colony on nearly 200 acres near the town.

This was stated by Mr Anil Kaushik, MD, PPHC, at a press conference here today. He said the colony, which would be slightly smaller than the one in Chandigarh, would have facilities like a rainwater harvesting system and solar streetlighting.


Farmer shot dead
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 14
Amrik Singh (50), a farmer, who was shot at last night near his house at Jhorarkhera village, succumbed to his injury at Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here today.

According to a statement given to the police, by Jagjit Singh, a son of the victim, Amrik Singh had gone to contact some farm workers for his fields. As he was returning at 9.30 last night, some persons reportedly chased him. He shouted for help before entering the house. Meanwhile, two persons shot at him and ran away.

Amrik Singh was rushed to hospital here, but his statement could not be recorded, it is learnt.

The body was given to the family after post-mortem this evening. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 102-B of the IPC.


One booked for sodomising boy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 14
An eight-year-old boy was allegedly sodomised by a butcher in his meat shop near Dholewal chowk late last night. The child is under treatment in a city hospital. The accused was arrested by the Division No. 6 place today evening.

Police sources said the accused, Raunak Singh, had lured the minor boy into his shop late last night by offering him a ‘toffee’.

However, he sodomised him inside the shop and then threatened to cut him into pieces with a knife. The fear-struck child did not dare to tell his parents anything till the morning.

His father, a rehri-owner took him to a hospital and also complained to the police. 


School Principal, staff booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 14
The Principal and four other staff members of Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Bassi Pathana, have been booked for alleged misappropriation of government funds to the tune of lakhs of rupees. The police has arrested the Principal, a teacher and the SLA, while the accountant is at large.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said that on the complaint of the Deputy Commissioner, Bassi Pathana, the police registered a case under Sections 409, 468, 471 and 120B against Mr Jeet Singh Principal, Mr Darshan Singh, lecturer, Mr Arvind Kumar, accountant and Mr Tejinderpal Singh, SLA. He said that the three accused had been arrested, while the accountant was at large.

Mr Shiv Kumar said that the accused had been booked on the enquiry report of Mr Darshan Singh, Tehsildar, who detected embezzlement of government funds.

It is worth mentioning that during a surprise checking of schools, the Deputy Commissioner visited Government Senior Secondary School for Boys and inquired about the attendance register and the cashbook. Finding overwriting in the cashbook, the Deputy Commissioner got suspicious and directed the Tehsildar to conduct an enquiry. The Tehsildar detected embezzlement of more than Rs 30 Lakh of government funds. The Deputy Commissioner forwarded the Tehsildar’s report to the SSP for the registration of case.

The Deputy Commissioner said that more people and teachers were coming forward with complaints of fraud in schools. He said he would get every complaint enquired.


MC clerk held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 14
Pappu Raj, a clerk in the local Municipal Corporation, was caught red-handed by a team of the Vigilance Bureau while he was taking bribe from Mr Jaspreet Singh, a streetlight contractor, yesterday.

Mr Ashutosh Kaushal, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, who led the team, said that ACME Refrigeration Company, owned by Mr Jaspreet Singh, had a contract for the maintenance of streetlights of the city.

He said Mr Jaspreet Singh lodged a complaint with the Vigilance Bureau that Pappu Raj was demanding a bribe of Rs 5,000 from him for forwarding his services bills to the higher authorities for sanction.

On the complaint of Mr Jaspreet Singh, a trap was laid by the Vigilance team and Pappu Raj was arrested for taking a bribe of Rs 5,000 from the complainant. He said the bribe money was recovered from Pappu Raj.

A case has been registered.


20 poachers arrested
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
As many as 20 poachers were arrested red-handed while hunting in the prohibited area of bird sanctuary Harike in gross violation of the Wildlife Protection Act by Harike Division, about 60 km from here. However, many of their companions fled during the surprise raid.

This is the biggest-ever gang of poachers arrested by the Wildlife Department from the Harike sanctuary.

They were produced in the court of Mr Pushpinder Singh, Subdivisional Magistrate, Patti, who remanded them till September 14 in the judicial custody .

As per information received by The Tribune today, a raiding party of the department, headed by Inspector Rupinder Singh of the department arrested the accused on a tip-off.

As per the challan produced in the court by Mr Rupinder Singh, the arrested persons have been identified as Joginder Singh, Kuldip Singh, Jaswant Singh, Sucha Singh, Gurmit Singh, Karnail Singh, Ajit Singh, Mehla Singh, Santokh Singh, Sucha Singh, Kashmir Singh, Lakha Singh, Satnam Singh, Kashmir Singh, Kulwant Singh, Prem Singh, Lakhbir Singh, Jassa Singh (all residents of Burj village, Ajnala tehsil) and Sadhu Singh, Gurdip Singh both from Nain, Ajanala .

A truck, five nets and sticks were seized from the accused.


Workshop on paper-setting for DAV teachers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 14
Teachers and Principals from nearly 70 DAV Schools of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi held discussions at a two-day workshop on syllabus and question paper preparation for social sciences and science subjects for Classes VIII and IX.

The workshop-cum-seminar had been organised by the All India DAV Education Board (DAVEB) at LRS DAV Senior Secondary School, here yesterday.

Welcoming the delegates, Mr Dev Mitter Ahuja, chairman of the Local Advisory Committee, said the workshop would help in giving new dimensions to syllabus and paper-setting system.

Dr Manju Mehta, Controller, Examinations of the DAVEB, said educating the schoolchildren was more difficult than to the college students as the school teachers had the responsibility to shape mind of young children. The question paper setters’ aim should be not to defeat the students in talent test but adopt a positive attitude to ascertain their real hidden intellect. There should not be a single complaint that the question paper was out of syllabus, she added.

Claiming that the board was trying to bring change in the examination system Ms Mehta said by advancing the result declaration schedule from May to end of March the board had increased 20 teaching days this year. Books up to Class VII had been published and the students of Class VIII would be supplied books by the DAVEB by the next academic session.

As the DAV management was running Hindi medium schools in rural and tribal areas it had been decided that the students should be given the option of having NCERT books in this medium. A uniform examination pattern had been introduced for the DAV schools all over India. The enrolment would be fully computerised to avoid mistakes.

Dr R.P. Asija, a member of the Panjab University Senate, regretted that in the existing education system science was being taught like history. This was creating confusion among the students. The educationists must understand that curriculum and evaluation process could not be separated.

The examination system had been defective, hence it needed changes. The curriculum would have to be made more effective and utility based. The need of the hour was to train the students as how to learn, he added.

Mrs Sudesh Gandhar, Principal, DAV Public School, Sonepat urged the delegates to acquaint themselves with new technologies in education to make it job oriented.

Mrs Kusum Khunger Principal of the host school and Mrs Manju Doda welcomed the delegates. Ms Anuja Bhardwaj (DAV Public School, Ambala City) interacted with the participants at length on various topics.


Make NCC compulsory, says General Varinder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 14
A former Director-General, NCC, Maj-Gen Varinder Singh (retd), is in favour of making NCC compulsory in schools and colleges.

Talking to TNS here today after presiding over a ceremony to honour NCC cadets at the BBK DAV College for Women here, the 88-year-old General said after the war with China, the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had asked him to rebuild this organisation as a reservoir for inducting trained men into the armed forces. He said during the sixties, it was a small group of dedicated cadets from schools and colleges, which had now grown into a force of over 1.3 million.

Gen Varinder Singh said the NCC should be introduced at the plus one level, which was discontinued after the new format. He suggested that the strength of this force, which has a large number of girl cadets, should be increased to at least two million and every school and college must be encouraged to become a part of this movement.

The former Director-General urged the state governments to provide sufficient funds to encourage youth to be part of the NCC, which, he said, inculcated qualities of leadership and discipline, a prerequisite for the growth of any nation.

Earlier, the General presented cash awards offered by Sahara India Group to 15 top NCC cadets from the Amritsar group NCC directorate. The group Commander, Col G.S. Ghuman, exhorted students to take the NCC as a mission. Mrs J. Kackaria, Principal of the college, presented a shawl to the General.


Ex-Principal gets UGC project
Tribune News Service

Amrit Kaur Raina
Amrit Kaur Raina

Chandigarh, September 14
The University Grants Commission has sanctioned a Rs 5.77 lakh research project on ''Comparative Study of Various Religions on the Basis of Guru Granth Sahib'' to Dr (Ms) Amrit Kaur Raina, a former Principal of S D College, Mansa.

This is the second time that in recognition of her meritorious academic

performance, Dr Raina has received UGC project. The earlier project given to her was ''Guru Granth Sahib as Vehicle of Mass Education''. This project is now being published by Punjabi University, Patiala, as part of the celebrations of the installation of the Holy Book at the Golden Temple.

Dr Raina has written 13 books. She was awarded Sarvottam Pustak Puruskar-2003 for her books, ''Sikh Guruon ki Vidyak Den'' and ''Mere Papa Kahan Hain'' by the Punjab Languages Department.


14 coop sugar mills on verge of closure
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 14
Fourteen of the seventeen cooperative sugar mills in the state were on the verge of closure with the acreage under sugarcane being reduced to half in only one year. The situation was such that three sugar mills might not even mill any cane this year.

Ironically this situation came about due to the excellent procurement of paddy in the state during the past two years as well as the inability of the cooperative mills to pay the farmers for the cane procured from them. The mills had not paid dues to the farmers since two years. At present the mills owe them around Rs 80 crore.

Sources said that the acreage under sugarcane had reduced drastically this year. If this trend continued for even one more year, all cooperative sugar mills would have to close shop, they added.

While last year 70,629 hectares were under sugarcane plantation, this year this figure had gone down to only 37,254 hectares. In some of the cooperative mills the reduction had been drastic. For instance in the Ajnala mill the area under cane cultivation had been reduced from 4,439 hectares to only 1,931 hectares. In the Budhawal mill the area under cane had come down to 1,101 hectares from 3,096 hectares last year. In Faridkot the drop had been down to 1,210 hectares from 5,617 hectares. In Jagraon the cane area was only 266 hectares this year from 1,899 hectares last year.

Many of the mills functioned at a fraction of their capacity last year. Even though the mills were supposed to work for four to five months, the Patiala mill worked for only 30 days, Jagraon for 36 days, Zira for 48, Ajnala for 64 and Bhogpur for 72 days.

The Nawanshahr mill functioned for the longest period at 135 days.

The further reduction in the acreage this year had resulted in at least three mills at Patiala, Zira and Jagraon, on way to taking a decision not to mill any cane this year. Though the staff of the mills had resigned themselves to their fate, the decision was yet to be formally announced to the farmers.

Farmers when contacted on the issue, said the excellent manner in which the paddy and wheat crops had been procured in the state was partly responsible for their turning away from sugarcane. Besides efficient procurement, farmers had had bumper crops during the last two seasons. They had also seen an increase in the minimum support price of both paddy and wheat. In comparison the support price of cane had been consistent at Rs 100 per quintal since the past four years.

Sources said the mills were suffering for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they had no control over the sugar in their stock. The sugar stocks of last two years had been piling up in the mills.

That was because the release of these stocks was controlled by the Centre. Besides this they were subject to cane cess and also had to repay loans taken on interest from cooperative banks.

On the other side administration was a big problem with there not being any uniform recruitment policy. Politicised recruitments had resulted in most of the mills having an excess of staff and most of the revenue earned by them in meeting salaries.


Delayed lifting of sugar stocks blessing in disguise
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The delayed lifting of the sugar stocks by the Centre has proved to be a blessing in disguise for various cooperative sugar mills in Punjab. Price of sugar is shooting up for the past few weeks. Punjab mills holding huge stocks are making hay while the sun shines for them on the sugar front.

Some months ago, Capt Amarinder Singh had hit hard against the Centre for not lifting the sugar stocks from Punjab and for preferring other states in this connection.

He had written several letters to the Central Government, besides taking up the issue with the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There was a reason for it.

Various mills were unable to pay dues to those farmers who had supplied cane to them. Consequently, farmers had raised a banner of agitation against the Punjab Government.

At that time the rate of sugar was only Rs 1250 per quintal, even below its production cost that varies around Rs 1350 per quintal. But recently, the price of sugar in the national market has soared to Rs 1650 per quintal. “Rise in the price is giving dividends to us now”, said a senior officer of a sugar mill.

At the beginning of this year, Punjab had a stock of 37 lakh quintals of sugar in cooperative mills. Now it has come down to 23 lakh quintals. Because of the rise in the price, Cooperative Sugarmills have been able to clear Rs 77 crore as part of dues.

Besides, Rs 24 crore for dues clearance was released from the Rs 71 crore, the provision of which has been made in the Budget by the state government for this purpose. In all about Rs 101 crore has been cleared of farmers by cooperative mills, says Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Managing Director of the Punjab Sugarfed.

The balance that remains to be cleared is around Rs 41 crore, besides interest. Some private mills also have dues to be cleared. Still Rs 103 crore is to be paid as a part of dues to farmers by both private and cooperative mills, it is learnt.

Mr Sidhu said that both the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, and Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been regularly getting in touch with officers concerned at the Centre for getting the off take of sugar increased from Punjab mills. The off-take almost doubled in recent months, he added.

However, on the sugar production front this year, there is disappointment in Punjab. Cane crushing in various mills is expected to start on November 15 in the state. Most of the 22 sugarmills (15 in the cooperative sector and 7 in the private sector) such as Dhuri, Rakhra, Zira, Jagraon and Patran will get cane supply to run their operation only for one month.

Normally, cane crushing period continues up to March-end. However, in most parts of Punjab it would end by mid January.

The reason for it is a steep fall in the area under sugarcane this year. It has come down to 83,000 hectares whereas last year it was around 1.5 lakh hectares. Mills would get only 30 lakh tonnes of sugarcane for crushing out of 50 lakh tonnes total production of cane this year.

However, as most mills had suffered huge losses and the entire sugar industry has been facing a financial crisis in Punjab, the holding of stocks and rise in prices of sugar have certainly provided a bit of relief to them as well as to cane-growing farmers.

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