P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



World-class memorial to Sahibzadas
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, September 29
The Punjab Government today approved a sum of Rs 18 crore for the completion of various schemes and projects in connection with the celebrations of the 300th year of martyrdom of the Sahibzadas at Chamkaur Sahib.

Capt Amarinder Singh announced this while reviewing the arrangements for the celebrations here. These projects include power arrangements, streetlighting, temporary toilets, health services, night shelters, parking lots and renovation of stadium and development works at Chamkaur Sahib.

Besides, he also announced a sum of Rs 1 crore for the upgradation of infrastructure and the execution of development works at Chamkaur Sahib.

He directed the Finance Department to immediately release funds to enable the district administration to accomplish the ongoing developmental activities by December 10.

Later, at a meeting with the executive committee of the Advisory Committee on Centenary Celebrations this afternoon, it was decided to erect a world-class memorial to great warriors Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jhujhar Singh, elder Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

The memorial will be built on the pattern of internationally acclaimed museums of Waterloo in France and Trafalgar Square in London so that future generations can seek inspiration from this unparalleled and unprecedented saga Sikh history.

The Chief Minister said light and sound programmes on “Chamkaur Di Garhi” and “Sirhind Di Dastan” should be organised on this occasion and it should be telecast line on national and international channels.

He said a siren should go off at the exact time of the martyrdom of the Sahibizadas when they were bricked alive to enable the people to observe a two-minute silence in memory of the great warriors as a real tribute.

Capt Amarinder Singh also sanctioned Rs 10 lakh for the renovation and beautification of Aam Khas Bagh at Sirhind.

It was decided that the names of all martyrs who laid down their lives in the battle of Chamkaur Sahib would be inscribed on the memorial as a humble tribute on this mega event. Four prestigious gates — Baba Moti Mehra Gate between Rauza Sarif and Talania village; Baba Banda Bahadur Gate on the Chandigarh road; Diwan Todar Mal Gate between the GT Road and ROB at Sirhind; and Nawab Sher Mohmad Khan Gate (Madhopur rural link road from Patiala) — would be completed by November 30.

The committee urged the Chief Minister to extend an invitation to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

It asked Capt Amarinder Singh to request Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav to upgrade and renovate the railway stations at Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib on this occasion.

Prominent among those present at the meeting were Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandry Minister, Rana K.P. Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Bir Devinder, MLA, Kharar, Mr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman, State Planning Board, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, former MP from Ropar, and the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain.


CPI rejects CM’s appeal for help
To support CPM in Garhshankar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The CPI today extended its support to the CPM candidate, Mr Mahan Singh Rori, in the Garhshankar Assembly constituency where polling will be held on October 13.

While talking to The Tribune, the Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, said today that though a formal decision to extend the support to the CPM would be taken by the State Secretariat which would meet on October 5, but “I am declaring support to the CPM after talking to all concerned in the party”.

Rejecting the appeal of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for support to the Congress candidate in Garhshankar, Dr Dayal said that the CPI would oppose the Congress candidate.

Having a dig at the Congress leadership in Punjab, Dr Dayal said that the Congress was making false statements to make people believe that it (Congress) was holding talks with the CPI for securing its help in the byelections in Punjab.

“We are not holding any talks with the Congress at any level in this regard”, said Dr Dayal, showing his unhappiness over the statements made by Congress leaders.

“Even my party would not support the Congress candidate in the Kapurthala byelection”, said Dr Dayal. “Of course, the CPI and other Left parties are supporting the Congress Government in the Centre but here in Punjab we are opposing the Congress because we have serious differences with this party at the state level”, said Dr Dayal.

In Kapurthala, the CPI most probably, would extend support to the BSP candidate as the CPM has not put up a candidate there. Both the main Left parties are not in the fray at Kapurthala.

“The Congress is responsible for breaking the ranks of the secular parties in Punjab. Let it now face the music”, said Dr Dayal.

It may be recalled that for the past several years there had been complete understanding between the Left parties and the Congress in Punjab as far as contesting Assembly and Lok Sabha elections was concerned. But it is no more true.

Blaming the Congress leadership for creating such a situation, Dr Dayal said the CPI was not extending support to the Congress because it betrayed the cause of secular unity in the state just for one Assembly seat.

In the Assembly elections held in 2002, the Congress had allocated the Garhshankar seat to the CPI, he added.


Withdraw nominee from Garhshankar, CPM advises CM
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 29
Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the state unit of the CPM, talking to mediapersons here today, reacted to the statement of the Capt Amarinder Singh in which he had asked the CPM to withdraw its candidate from the Garhshankar Assembly segment to ensure the victory of secular forces.

He asked him to first go through the record of the Congress from the Assembly segment before asking the CPM to withdraw from the electoral battle.

Prof Balwant Singh reminded him the Congress had not won the seat since 1985.

The CPM leader said though the Chief Minister was right in saying it would not affect the UPA government at the Centre as the Congress had an alliance with the CPM but he should keep in mind that the fissures caused by him in the Congress-CPM alliance here might widen to any extent as he had weakened the fight against communal forces.

He advised him to correct his “mistake” by withdrawing the Congress nominee in favour of the CPM nominee.


25 polling stations in Garhshankar sensitive
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 29
Out of 94 polling stations, 25 have been identified as sensitive in the Garhshankar segment in the district for which the byelection will be held on October 13.

This was disclosed by Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, talking to mediapersons here today. He said eight security guards had been deputed at each sensitive polling station to ensure fair and free election. Five security guards each had been deployed at non-sensitive polling stations in the segment.

He said that the entire segment had been divided into four zones, Maili, Tuto Mazara, Garhshankar and Binewal, where intensive patrolling had been started round the clock to check the undesirable elements.

SP (Detective) assisted by three DSPs had been deputed as the security in charge of the segment. A control room, having telephone No. 282084 and fax No. 282171, had also been set up to monitor the security cover. He said 70 per cent of the district police force would be deployed

A meeting of state police officers would be held at Chandigarh on October 30, to review the security arrangements, he added.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Hoshiarpur, said there were 117 polling booths in the Garhshankar segment out of which 107 were in the rural and 10 were in urban areas. More than 500 government employees, had been assigned for the polling process in the segment.


Punjab keen to implement 85th Amendment
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 29
Punjab Government has decided to implement the 85th Constitutional Amendment subject to the final decision of the apex court and the formal orders would be issued shortly.

This was stated by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh while interacting with mediapersons here today.

He said the decision would help the reserved category persons in the state to get promotion benefits. The Council of Ministers had already empowered him to take a decision.

The amendment decision has already been implemented in all Congress-ruling states, barring Punjab. “The Congress Government took the decision to uplift the poor section of society which was ignored by the Akali Dal,” he said.

Describing the attack on Gurudwara Nanakana Sahib in Pakistan as unfortunate, he said: “I have discussed the matter with the Chief Minister (western Punjab), Mr Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, and with the Ministry of External affairs.

Mr Elahi has expressed deep regret over the incident and assured me about the safety of Sikhs there.”

He gave clean chit to the SDM, Kapurthala, Mr Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia, who had been transferred by the Election Commission two days ago following a controversy over bogus votes.

Capt Amarinder Singh said: “The SDM has not done anything wrong. There were 8,000 votes in question, out of which 4,000 had been rejected, 3,000 placed for scrutiny and about 700 voter documents found correct.”

Talking about the issue of the appointment of ETT teachers, he said the appointments could only be made on a contractual basis.

He was here to lay foundation stone of the up-gradation of the Chamkaur Sahib-Ropar road, the Chamkaur Sahib-Bela-Ropar road.


Implementation of amendment opposed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara September 29
The General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, today alleged that the Amarinder Singh government had sacrificed merit to the quota system by implementing the 85th Constitutional Amendment.

Mr Shyam Lal Sharma, Mr Prabhjit Singh and Mr Nirmal Singh, federation president, senior vice- president and general secretary, respectively, said in a statement, that Chief Minister had violated the model code of conduct by this implementation on the eve of the byelections of Kapurthala and Garhshankar.

He was also guilty of contempt of Supreme Court as the case was pending in the apex court, they said.


Privatisation of PSEB under consideration: Gill
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, September 29
Giving a twist to the ongoing controversy over the privatisation move of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, today ruled out immediate privatisation of the board. He said that the government was still considering the pros and cons of such a decision.

Mr Gill’s statement assumes significance as the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, had recently gone on record saying that it was imperative on the part of the state government to privatise the board if it was to made it financially viable. Mr Gill’s statement also runs contrary to the statement of the Chairman of the PSEB, Mr Y.S. Ratra, who had on numerous occasions reiterated that “the government was left with no other option except to hasten the privatisation process if the PSEB was to be made financially viable.”

However, Mr Y.S. Ratra was unavailable for comments on Mr Gill’s statement. While senior officials of the board preferred to remain tightlipped on the issue. Mr Singla was away to Garhshanker for canvassing in the byelection.

Mr Gill was on a visit to the Punjabi University, where he inaugurated two newly-constructed hostels — one for boys named Bhagat Puran Singh hall and the other for girls named Amrita Sher Gill hall. These hostels had been constructed in a record period of 20 months and 45 per cent of the funds were provided by the Ministry of Human Resources while the

university chipped in with the rest of amount.

Mr Gill, while addressing an impromptu press conference after meeting the Punjabi University top brass on the campus, said that although the Punjab Government had lifted the ban on fresh recruitments, yet implementing the decision was a long drawn process. It would take some time before the recruitment process could actually start, he added. He said that the government was in the process of writing to various departments asking for their comments on number of vacancies and recruitments to be made.

Meanwhile, Mr Gill, while addressing university officials in the senate hall of the university, said that missions, specific functions and roles of higher education should be linked to the needs of national development. He stressed that universities should develop programmes to help people meet challenges posed by the fast-changing social and economic order. Mr Gill admitted that though a major chunk of the governments Budget was spent on disbursement of salaries and pensions, yet the government was committed to support the education sector, particularly the higher education sector to make it more dynamic and quality-oriented.


Chief Engineer caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 29
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau swooped on the residence of a Chief Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board today and nabbed him on the charge of taking bribe from a private contractor.

The Vigilance team, led by Mr Balkar Singh Sidhu, SP, and Jaipal Singh, DSP, raided the Power Colony residence of Chief Engineer Parshottam Dass Dua at around 9 am and caught him red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000 from a private contractor engaged in manufacturing electricity cables.

Mr Dua, who was slated to retire after two months, was working as Chief Engineer (technical inspection and auditing) with the board. He had demanded a bribe of Rs 50,000 from Mr Harsimran Singh, a partner in the Patiala-based Continental Wires and Cables.

Initially Mr Dua had demanded Rs 50,000 for getting the firms’ material cleared by his department but later he settled for Rs 25,000. However, Mr Harsimran Singh complained to the Vigilance authorities at the Patiala office, who immediately swung into action and nabbed the engineer.

Mr Dua is the first senior employee of the board to get trapped by the Vigilance Bureau.


Chief Secretary asked to probe charges of chopper misuse by CM
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Punjab Chief Secretary was today asked to look into the allegations of chopper misuse by the Chief Minister for electioneering purposes.

Another inquiry regarding the violation of poll code by Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar was also referred to Hoshiarpur's Deputy Commissioner.

In another related development, Punjab's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on Wednesday constituted a three-member committee for looking into the contents of advertisements issued on television and cable networks by political parties and organisations.

The committee was constituted in compliance with an order issued by the Supreme Court of India in the surrogate advertisements matter.

The members were Punjab's Additional CEO Babu Lal, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority's Additional Chief Administrator Raji Srivastava and Press Information Bureau's Information Officer Chaman Lal.

Giving details of the inquiries initiated on ECI's directions, the sources in the CEO's office said the Chief Secretary was asked to submit his report into the allegations levelled by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members.

They had alleged that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was using state helicopter for poll campaigning by clubbing official tour with election campaign.

Referring to an incident, Akali Dal's Secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema had asserted that the Chief Minister had landed in Jalandhar for official work on September 22. But had left for neighbouring district of Kapurthala by road soon after to attend Congress candidate's function.

Taking note of the allegations, the ECI had on Tuesday asked the CEO to look into the allegations.

As far as allegations against the Education Minister were concerned, the sources added that the Deputy Commissioner was asked to find out if a school premises had indeed been inaugurated by him in Garhshankar assembly constituency.

The directions were issued on the basis of media reports claiming that Mr Johar had reached Kaharpur village in his official car with a red light atop.

He was scheduled to inaugurate a school in the village. But did not enter the premises after "getting the whiff of the violation at the last moment".

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister today expressed "unhappiness" over ECI's directions to place Kapurthala Sub Divisional Magistrate-cum-Returning Officer for the assembly by-election Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia under suspension due to his "controversial role" in the election.

Talking to reporters at Chamkaur Sahib, he said that "it was not a good thing on ECI's part to order the SDM's suspension as he had not done anything wrong to invite such an action."


SAD writes to EC against govt officials
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, September 29
Demanding action against two government officers who attended the Congress workers’ meeting yesterday, members of the Shiromani Akali Dal sent a written complaint to the Election Commission here today.

In the complaint filed by Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, secretary, SAD, it has been demanded that suitable action be taken against Mr I.S. Dhami, Assistant Director, Youth Services, Jalandhar, and an Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board, who attended the meeting presided over by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The SAD was reacting to a news item that appeared in The Tribune today. The SAD secretary said day after day more and more government officers were joining the Congress poll campaign in order to please the Chief Minister.

The SAD had complained to the Election Commission regarding the involvement of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma, the SSP, Mr S.K. Asthana and the SDM-cum-Returning Officer, Mr Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia, of Kapurthala in the “bogus vote scandal”, demanding their transfer.

The Election Commission had then ordered the transfer and suspension of the returning officer yesterday.


Illegal stone mining a threat to ecology
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 29
Illegal mining by stone crushers in this district was continuing blatantly, endangering ecology.

There are hundreds of stone crushers in the district along the Punjab and Himachal borders near Pathankot. Most of these are located near or in the Beas and Chaki river beds. According to the mining rules, the stone crushers can only mine stones slying on the river beds.

However, most crusher owners are digging the river beds with the help of JCB machines.

Due to illegal mining right along the Beas in Mirthal, land in the areas is being eroded. The river was changing course due to mining along its banks that would ultimately threaten the national highway along the Mukerian-Pathankot road that was just 200 metres from the Beas banks near Mirthal.

Farmers of the area claimed that they have been regularly complaining to the authorities concerned against illegal mining, leading to erosion of their land but no action has been taken.

According to the Environment Protection Act, 1986, no stone crusher could be set up within 250 metres of an environmentally sensitive area which includes the natural river banks. However, certain stone crushers are operating right on the river banks or even in the river beds in the case of the Chaki river.

Huge trenches have been dug up along the Chaki river banks by the stone crusher owners along the road leading to the new airport of Pathankot, the military hospital and the Air Force station. There remains an earth wall of 10 to 15 feet between the Chaki river and the said installations.

If the Chaki river gets flooded, its waters would flood the said installations and other areas of Pathankot.

Norms set by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) state that no road leading to the stone crushers shall pass through village. All dust-emitting points of the stone crushers shall be covered properly. Regular water spray should be carried out at the dust-emitting and transfer points.

All approach roads leading to the clusters of stone crushers should be metalled and a green belt of at least three rows of trees should be provided in the periphery of the stone crushers. However, hardly any of these norms were being observed by the stone crusher owners.


Raids conducted on illegal private clinics
Raj Sadosh

Abohar: Responding to complaints from various quarters, officials of the Health Department, Punjab, have initiated checking of clinics run by individuals in the rural areas.The inspection started from Balluana village, 7 km from here.The village had developed like a mini township and a large numbers of private clinics were functioning there reportedly for the last many years.

According to information, Dr S. K. Juneja, Senior Medical Officer, Community Health Centre,Seeto Gunno,was accompanied by Mr Anil Kumar, Block Extension Officer, and other employees of the Health Department. As the team started checking a private clinic at Balluana, owners of most of the other such medical shops were seen hurriedly putting up the shutters of their shops.The quacks\practitioners were reportedly seen escaping on their two-wheelers.Messages were flashed to adjoining villages and it caused some panic.

Witnesses said some practitioners had not displayed their name-plates or the names of their clinics outside the shops, some of which were being run under highly unhygienic conditions.There was no proper arrangement for sterilisation of the equipment used for giving injections.Such practitioners were required to display their framed registration certificates properly inside the clinic but many of them had not displayed these, the patients said. Some of the medical shops were housed in rooms that lacked the basic infrastructure. There had been complaints that malaria and viral fever were fast gripping Abohar and Fazilka subdivisions, and scores of patients said they had been having low fever on alternate days. Such medical shops were flourishing in urban areas also. Some of them had allegedly fallen prey to persons indulging in blackmailing by managing audio and video recording of the shops and their owners,sources said.Some such elements claimed to be scribes also.There had been numerous complaints against some medicine shops both in rural and urban areas.

Though the officials of the Health Department were not inclined to give details, they confirmed having referred one case to the Sadar Police Station here as one such practitioner had failed to produce any certificate of his registration as a medical practitioner.Allopathic medicines and injections were reportedly found in large numbers at his clinic, sources indicated.


Acute flaccid paralysis case in Dhuri
Children given polio drops
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 29
Following the detection of a case of an acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in Subhash Nagar at Dhuri, about 15 kilometres from here, the health authorities, as a precautionary measure, administered anti-polio drops today and yesterday to 500 children in Subhash Nagar and adjoining colonies.

Talking to TNS here today, Dr M.K. Bhalla, District Immunisation Officer, said an AFP case might be a polio case. He said the stool test in every case of AFP-affected child determined whether it was a case of polio or not.

Dr Vijay Kumar Jindal, nodal officer for the Pulse-Polio Programme at the Dhuri Civil Hospital, told TNS on the telephone “The name of the AFP-affected child is Shavita, daughter of Mr Ramesh Kumar, resident of Subhash Nagar, Dhuri. She was only seven-years old.”

Dr Jindal further said Shavita’s family had approached him on the telephone on September 19 and told him about the ill-health of Shavita by saying she had been suffering from fever and had weakness in her both legs.

Later, the family took her to a private hospital at Ludhiana which informed the state health authorities that it was a case of AFP.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said she had ordered a survey of the area in Dhuri after the detection of the AFP case. She said as a precautionary measure, anti-polio drops, had been administered to about 500 children there in two days.


Rights panel orders probe against cops
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 29
Taking serious notice of allegations levelled against the police by the brother of a murdered man, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has asked the Moga SSP to probe into the matter and submit his report within eight weeks.

The case is related to the murder of Babbal Singh, alias Bubby, a resident of Langeana Khurd, whose body was found in a canal at Langeana Nawa village on June 8 this year.

In his complaint to the human rights commission, Bubby’s elder brother, Gurcharan Singh, alleged that the police was not conducting investigation into the case in the right direction.

According to him, Bubby started working as a farm labourer at Lakhweer Singh’s agricultural land about a couple of years ago and he had taken an advance of about Rs 5,000 from him.

He stated that his brother developed some differences with Lakhweer that led to his murder.

The complainant alleged that the police neither visited the spot where his brother was killed nor the site from where his body was found. He alleged that villagers themselves took the body to the police station.

He stated that hundreds of Dalits belonging to the area had to gherao the Baghapurana police station to get a case registered against the suspects following which Lakhweer Singh and Swaran Singh were booked under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC on June 9.

Gurcharan Singh alleged that the police was trying to cover up the matter at the behest of a Congress leader and in connivance with a village Sarpanch.

He alleged that the police also made a bid to perform Bubby’s last rites hurriedly, but Nachhatar Singh, chief of an action committee formed by villagers in the case, foiled their plan.

He said they approached the SSP, requesting him to conduct an impartial probe into the matter. The SSP, asked SP (D) H.S. Pannu to investigate, following which the DSP, Mr Bhulla Singh, called them on July 19 and recorded the complainant’s statement.

He stated that they were not satisfied with the police probe and they had no hope of getting justice.

He alleged that the suspects also threatened the victim’s family with dire consequences and they informed the police about the same, but no action was taken against them.

He also demanded that the probe be handed over to a higher police official of some other district so that no one could affect the investigations into the case.

The human rights commission has also asked the SSP to probe the allegations levelled against the police and submit his report.


Plots for poor auctioned to rich
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 29
The Pathankot Improvement Trust (PIT) has come under a cloud for flouting the norms for allotment of plots meant for the poor in a surreptitious manner by auctioning these to influential persons of the town.

According to sources PIT had issued a notice for conducting an auction of commercial and residential plots on January 19, 2004.

The auction notice allegedly concealed the factor that the plots were meant for the allotment to the weaker section of the society and other eligible candidates, who had already applied under rules.

These were, in fact, meant for allotment on easy instalments on free-hold basis in respect of “Development Scheme” of Anandpur here. The notice of conducting the sale was allegedly issued in a clandestine manner.

The trust auctioned the plots by violating the rules for earning profits.

The allotees are all local residents and influential persons who had managed to get eight plots in the auction.

Trust officials admitted the auction but said it had not committed any irregularities.


Dutch project yet to take off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
Notwithstanding the spade work on the project to set up a solid waste management plant here by the team of experts under the Netherlands Management Co-operation Programme (NMCP) team, the local Municipal Corporation, nodal authority to execute the project, has failed to do any groundwork till date.

A team of Dutch solid management consultant, Mr W. de Feijter and Mr L.J.M. Hogendoorn, which had visited the city to know about the execution of the project, was dismayed at the lock of progress on the project.

The coordinator of project, Mr K.R. Jain, talking to the press said that the corporation had taken some small steps to implement the project to handle large amount of garbage, which the city generated.

He said that the corporation was yet to undertake the proper handling of the waste and garbage from residential, commercial and hospital areas.

The dutch experts had recommended to the civic authorities to improve the existing dumping system and for handling sewerage water, which could contaminate the sub-soil water. The panelists had also recommended the recycling of waste as non-plastic and plastic etc. But no action had been taken for setting up waste recycling plant.

Mr Jain added that the corporation had identified three suitable sites to set up the plant on the outskirts of city but was waiting for approval by the state government and the pollution control board.


A sarpanch shares his experience
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Having retired as Commandant from the Border Security Force, (BSF) in 1987, Apar Singh Ghuman had engaged himself on his farm and spending time with his grandchildren in his village, Khera-Kotli, Dasuya, in Hoshiarpur.

Then, as if by providence, suddenly responsibility was thrust upon him in July 2003, when he was unanimously elected Sarpanch of Khera-Kotli, a spec of a village on the fringe of Ghardiwala and Dasuya assembly constituencies.

No sooner did he take up the cudgels to first improve the housekeeping, troubles knocked at the panchayat door. He discovered, while, the panchayat income was meagre, irregularities in accounts were many. Over 20 acres were under “illegal” occupation.

The village needed paved streets and lights, a place for a dharmshala, proper cremation ground, an approach road to the basti of Gujjars and one to the historic gurdwara at Garna Sahib.

The “fauji” in him made Mr Apar Singh move ahead to get at least five acres freed from the clutches of illegal occupants. It helped to fetch some income for the panchayat. The remaining land was still not available though it was for community projects.

And soon the Sarpanch found himself faced against indifferent politicians. His bitter experience with the former MP, Mr Charanjit Channi and later with the Minister, Mr R.C. Dogra disappointed him. Despite resolutions for funds and grants, the panchayat did not receive any money.

His experience was no better with the Block Development and Panchayat Office or Panchayat secretary at Dasuya. The panchayat split. Khera-Kotli was placed under an Administrator.

Meanwhile, Mr Apar Singh had read about the findings a team of the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development that had worked in villages in five districts in Malwa for over two months and had concluded that “Panchayats in Punjab are not only toothless but also have bleak future”.

Talking to The Tribune Mr Apar Singh today shared his first-hand experiences, as Sarpanch. He listed several “weaknesses” of the panchayati raj institutions (PRI). “These may appear simple and ordinary but are pertinent”.

He was convinced that policy-makers, who talked of empowerment or dissolution of funds, functions and functionaries to the PRIs were as divorced from the ground realities as was the political populism and competitive politics.

On paper, the government has passed to the PRIs six departments without, however, providing either proper administrative infrastructure or educating, training the elected members.

So far, BDPOs were only giving verbal instructions through the panchayat secretaries, who were seldom available. Why not place fewer villages under them say just two and make them accountable to panchayats? he suggested. There was no system or support structure with the panchayats to take on additional burden. There was no “office” for panchayats to perform its duties and responsibilities.

Also, politically-oriented grants to the panchayats were work-specific. Often the money was required to be returned if projects were not completed.


GSP holds rally for refinery project
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 29
Hundreds of activists of the General Samaj Party (GSP) along with residents of various villages today held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here to protest against the move of the Punjab Government to scuttle the oil refinery project being set up by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) at Phulo Khari village in the district.

The activists warned that if the Punjab and Central governments did not implement the oil refinery project worth about Rs 10,000 crore, the party would approach the high court against it through public interest litigation (PIL). Apart from it, the party would hold a demonstration in front of Parliament in the next Budget session.

Addressing the rally, Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the GSP, alleged that the oil refinery project on which hundreds of crores of rupees had been spent so far was being scuttled under a deep-rooted conspiracy.

He added that if the project was not implemented, the area would not witness any development and the state government would fail to tackle the unemployment problem. He said the refinery project was supposed to generate 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Mr Suresh Goyal, president of the GSP, alleged that when the Punjab Government had been extending tax concession worth crores of rupees to selective industrial houses of the state then why it had been running away from giving tax concession to HPCL, which had been implementing the oil refinery project.

He added that apart from the Punjab Government, the Central Government was also not inclined to bring development in the backward area of Punjab by setting up the refinery project.


22-yr-old women run over by train
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 29
Priya Kalani (22), daughter of local businessman Ravi Kalani, was crushed to death this afternoon by a passenger train. Sources said she was run over by the Sriganganagar-Bathinda passenger train. Her mobile phone and purse lay near the body on the track.

A pall of gloom descended on the old walled city dominated by the Aggarwal community. The railway police handed over the body to the inconsolable parents after a post-mortem at the Civil Hospital. In another incident, a youth was run over by the Abohar-Bikaner passenger train this evening.


Bharti Mobile told to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 29
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Faridkot, has directed Bharti Mobile Limited, Industrial Area, Mohali, to pay a compensation of Rs 4,000 alongwith Rs 1,000 as litigation charges to a lady doctor of Kotkapura, in rendering deficient mobile service to her.

The forum also made it clear that if it failed to pay the amounts within a stipulated period of one month, after the receipt of the orders, the complainant will be entitled to get an interest of 9 per cent on the compensation amount till its realisation.

Delivering a six-page judgement in this connection, the three-member panel, headed by Mr B.C. Gupta, the president of the forum, said Dr Archna Gupta, wife of Dr Manvir Gupta, who is running a heart centre in Satta Bazar, Kotkapura, filed a complaint in the court against Bharti Mobile Limited and Garg Goyal Airtel, Kotkapura, for disconnecting her mobile phone consecutively for 12 days on October 20, last year due to the non-payment of the bill which was due on November 7, same year.

In the complaint, filed by the complainant, which was instituted by the court on April 21, last, she also alleged that when she brought the matter to the notice of both the parties, one of their representatives from Bathinda, later visited her centre who not only failed to resolve the issue amicably, but also misbehaved with her for not paying the bill in the presence of her clients.

She demanded a compensation of 4 lakh as damages charges including the interest.


High Court
PIL hearing
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 29
The High Court on Wednesday adjourned to October 4 the hearing in a PIL filed by World Human Rights Protection Council seeking an independent probe into the recent incident of alleged sodomy of an under-trial by jail staff of Central Security Jail, Amritsar.

Citing media reports, Advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal, president of the World Human Rights Protection Council, has also sought action against the jail staff involved in the incident.

The alleged incident, which took place on September 21, under-trial Sandeep was first allegedly sodomised by jail staff and later the name S.P. Singh was carved on his back.

Despite the incident being brought to the notice of a lower court, no action was taken against the accused.


A Bench of the High Court headed by Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar today directed listing of a petition filed by Lavika Kumar and 19 other students of Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences, Faridkot, along with other petitions related to admissions in private and governments collages for BDS/MBBS/BAMS courses in Punjab.

The petitions will come up for hearing tomorrow.

The petitioners have sought quashing of directions issued by the Punjab Government for holding of fresh counselling for admission to Bachelor of Dental Sciences (BDS) course in Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences.

A similar petition filed by some of students who have got admission in this institute is already listed for hearing.

In their petition Lavika Kumar and other students have challenged the notification dated September 19, 2004, issued by the Punjab Government, which directs holding of fresh counselling.

The petitioners have said that as the admission process to BDS course in the institute already been finalised in accordance with rules under the supervision of University and the government and all the petitioners have already been admitted to the BDS courses, the notification is illegal.


Contract farming is good, says expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Mr S.S.Virdi, a member of the Agriculture Reform Panel of Confederation of Indian Industry, Punjab, today sought to counter the opposition being expressed in certain quarters to the idea of introducing large-scale contract farming in Punjab.

In a talk with TNS,Mr Virdi, who is also a senior of Panjab University and a former Chairman, Institute of Engineers (India), said that contract farming was a new idea floated recently with the objective of bringing the farmer in direct contact with industry.

This had the potential of not only changing his thought process but also ensure a better return for his produce.

However, the success of the move would depend on how it was implemented.

In this connection, Mr Virdi cited the example of the co-operative movement in Gujarat where it was a great success and where every woman had entered into a contract for selling milk to a co-operative society.

This had ensured a better return and led an allround rise in the standard of living. To some extent, this movement of contract milk selling was prevailing in Punjab too and the farmers who were operating on contract basis were making good money.

An industrialist should not always be looked down upon as an exploiter because of the farmer did not sell his produce to him, it would not fetch a good price elsewhere.

Similarly, industry too would not buy something which did not translate itself into a profit. Thus, profit-sharing had to be both ways.

The contract farming, being a new idea, needed time, help, guidance and encouragement from the state government, Punjab Agricultural University and other biotech laboratories in and around the state.

The industry too needed to propel genetic changes in the livestock keeping in view the climatic conditions, soil etc. This was a continuous process involving a lot of money.

"There is general saying i.e. Chatti, Hatti & Khatti (first year loss, second year break even and third year profit).

It was a known fact that no venture would normally yield a profit in the very first year.

"It take years before it starts making money and this is true in the case of contract farming too".


Farmers urged to shun wheat-rice cycle
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 29
The traditional crop cycle of paddy and wheat has given rise to various problems so now farmers should look for alternatives crops like pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables, said the Joint Director of Agricultural Department, Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, at a farmers’ training camp here today.

Addressing the farmers, the joint director said that since the wheat production had increased in other states the demand of wheat from Punjab was declining. He asked the farmers to decrease the area under wheat cultivation.

In his address, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, said that the administration would ensure proper supply of healthy seeds and pesticides to the farmers.

Earlier, interacting with the mediapersons, Dr Bhatti said that the Punjab Agricultural University had recommended sowing of Bt Cotton and farmers were also interested in it. He said that the Punjab Government had forwarded a proposal in this regard to the Central Government seeking its permission for the same.

He said that this year the wheat crop was spread over 32.50 lakh hectare area in the state and 147.88 lakh metric tonne wheat production was expected.

He said that the seed testing laboratories at Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Faridkot had tested 17,219 samples out of which 356 failed.

Dr Bhatti told that the pesticide testing labs at Bathinda, Amritsar and Ludhiana had tested 1,967 samples of pesticides of which 67 failed. He said that strict action would be taken against the firms whose samples had failed test. He told that under the oilseeds production programme in the state 10,000 mini-kits of each variety of oilseeds would be given to farmers.


Rain, strong winds flatten paddy
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 29
The standing paddy crop in certain pockets of this and some other parts of Bathinda district, which was ready for harvesting, has been flattened after the area was hit by rain accompanied with strong winds this morning.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that rain accompanied with strong winds had caused loss to the paddy crop in many villages of Muktsar district. The loss to the crop was also witnessed in certain villages of Nathana area.

There were also reports that the cotton crop in certain areas had also suffered loss. The rain lashed the Joga area of Mansa district but no loss was reported from there.

The rain also hampered the harvesting and picking operations of paddy and cotton crops. Rainwater has flooded low-lying fields and delayed the harvesting of paddy.

Mr Jarnail Singh Dhaliwal, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Bathinda, when contacted, said that in Bathinda district no loss to any crops had been reported so far. He added that 3 mm of rainfall was recorded in the district till 9 a.m.


Vigilance bureau to computerise headquarters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau will computerise its headquarters, besides all field offices, in the state.

They would be inter-connected through wide area network (WAN) and local area network (LAN).

As much as Rs 20 lakh have so far been sanctioned for the purchase of computers and other related accessories.

Giving details of the project, Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau-cum-Additional Director-General of Police A.P. Pandey said the “Empowered Committee on Computerisation”, under the chairmanship of the Punjab Chief Secretary had sanctioned the amount.

The development was significant as the computerisation of all offices and the headquarters was expected to increase the efficiency of the Vigilance Bureau.

The Chief Director added that the software for the bureau had been developed by Punjab Infotech Limited. It would facilitate in maintaining “all sorts of official records”, besides connecting all offices in the state.

Mr Pandey disclosed that the bureau had also designed a website which would be operative shortly. The website would contain entire information about the bureau and its functioning.

The website would also provide easy access to “common people” enabling them to get the required information.


2 Punjabi youths shot in Manila
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 29
Two youths of Phillaur subdivision were killed in Manila, capital of Philipines, according to reports received here last night.

Kewal (30) of Boparai village, near Goraya, was shot dead by some assailants in Manila.

Mr Mahinder Paul, father of the deceased, told this correspondent that his son had been residing in Manila since 11 years and running a finance company business successfully.

The body of the deceased would be brought to the village soon for cremation.

In another incident, Lovely of Nurmahal was reportedly kidnapped by some persons who later shot him dead in Manila on Monday night.

According to reports kidnappers first demanded an amount of Rs 1 crore, then Rs 50 lakh for the release of Lovely. When his family expressed helpness to pay such a huge amount, kidnappers shot him dead.


Financier’s son booked
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 29
Financier and proclaimed offender in a murder case — Nirdosh Dhand’s son-Kakku Dhand has been booked by city police along with his accomplices Ballu, Moti, Billa and more than seven unknown persons on the charge of committing theft and causing injuries to the sons of a senior Congress leader and Former Chairman of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Legal Cell, Mr Parshotam Dass Sharma.

An FIR was registered against them under Section 382( theft, after preparation having been made for causing death or hurt) 324, 148,149 of the IPC and 25 of the Arms Act at Division No: 8 police station following the statement of Ashwin Sharma, who is running a readymade garments showroom at Bindraban Road Ludhiana.

The complainant has stated to the police that on last night at 9 pm, when he was counting money at his shop, Kakku Dhand armed with knife along with others forcibly entered into their shop and forcibly snatched Rs 33,750 /-. When I tried to resist, Kakku attacked with knife and caused injury above my eye.

My brother Rahul, who was also present in the shop tried to intervene but he also suffered injuries at the hands of assailants. We raised the alarm and people gathered there but the accused ran away. However, the knife of Kakku fell down there and was handed over to police, said Ashwin Sharma.

None of the accused was arrested so far but the police claims that they were trying to nab the accused.


Wife commits suicide, man booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 29
Ranjit Kaur (25) of Khara village committed suicide allegedly due to mental and physical harassment by her husband. She strangulated herself with a fan last night.

The Sarhali police has registered a case under Section 304B against Ranjit Singh, her husband.

Sukha Singh, the brother of the accused, in his complaint to the police, alleged that Ranjit Kaur came to her parents at Basarke Gillan village only one day ago and demanded money to make her husband satisfy.

She was harassed by her husband on her return from her parents and she committed suicide.

The body was sent for post-mortem at the local Civil Hospital today.

The accused is said to be absconding.


Three held on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 29
The Khuyiansarwer police yesterday arrested three persons, including Baaj Singh, a son of the sarpanch of Jhurarkhera village, in connection with the murder of Amrik Singh, a farmer.

SHO Gurbhej Singh, investigating the case, said Jagjit Singh, son of the victim, had in the FIR alleged that two undertrials, who had been lodged in the District Jail at Ferozepore, hatched the conspiracy to kill his father.

Both of them had reportedly been released on bail a day before the killing. Amrik Singh was shot dead at 9.30 pm outside his house on September 13.

The family had seen at least three persons running after the murder.

Investigation led to the arrests of Baaj Singh, Phool Chand and Vickey. Phool Chand and Vickey had allegedly been hired for the contract killing, sources said.

The suspects were remanded in police custody for three days by the judicial court.


Ten injured in truckers’ clash
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 29
About ten persons were injured seriously in a clash between the truck unions here and Kup Kalan, at Matoi village, near here today. The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital, where the conditions of some were said to be critical.

The injured belong to both groups they include Sukhwinder Singh, Chand Singh, Dalbir Singh, Atma Singh, Maghar Singh, Hari Singh, Jugla Singh, Dilsad Singh,Mohammad Arshad and Mohammad Sabar.

When the truck operators of the Kup Kalan truck union were lifting the paddy from the grain market at Matoi village near here, the truck operators from here opposed them by saying the area fell within their zone. This led to an altercation between both the groups.

The truck operators of both the sides allegedly attacked one another with sticks and other weapons. Ten persons were injured and about 6 trucks and other vehicles were damaged in the incident. Malerkotla police has registered a case in this regard.


JE arrested on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 29
The Punjab Vigilance sleuths today reportedly arrested a junior engineer posted at east division of the PSEB, here while accepting Rs 1,500 from complainant Jasbir Singh, shopkeeper of Kothe-Manwal village, for getting stray wire transferred from near his shop to some other place.

According to the police, Dharm Pal, JE, who was approached by the complainant to get the wire shifted, which was creating hindrance in his business. The JE allegedly demanded Rs 1,500.

The complainant reported the matter to the Vigilance Bureau. The bureau officials formed a team and caught the JE red-handed.

A case under Section 7(13) (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against the accused.


Mobile handsets worth 8 lakh stolen
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
Burglars last night broke open an LG cellphone showroom in the Hall Bazar market and took away 131 handsets worth over Rs 8 lakh.

The properietor of V.K. Telelinks Mr Nakul, said that the thieves also took away some cash.

According to the police, some persons working in the shop have been rounded up for questioning.


One booked for molestation bid
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 29
Lakhbir Singh, a resident of Chhichhrewal village falling under the Chabal police station has been booked under Section 354 IPC for attempting to molest a woman of the village.

Police sources told this correspondent here today that Lakhbir Singh went to the house of the woman at night and no sounding alarm he ran away.


Students decide to take bus operators head-on
Tribune News Service

Mansa, September 29
Hundreds of students belonging to different organisations today took out a march and held a rally in the district court complex, despite hurdles created by the police, to lodge their protest against the denial of facility of free travel up to 25 km to them and application of concessional travel passes on all the buses.

The students, who have been agitating against the alleged high-handedness of a section of private bus operators under the banner of students’ common front, were not stopped anywhere in the town despite the fact that it was converted virtually into a police cantonment.

Leaders of different student organisations while addressing the rally alleged that instead of taking action against the erring bus operators, the district administration had been protecting them.

They added that with the active patronage of the district administration, a section of the private bus operators had been indulging in goondaism with them.

They alleged that first the Punjab Government made an unprecedented hike in the tuition fee so that the students belonging to the middle income group could

Now the Punjab Government had been supporting the guilty transporters who had been denying the facility of concessional travel to them so that they could not reach their respective educational institutions.

They said that now they had decided to take the guilty private bus operators head on as the authorities concerned had failed to take action against them despite the fact that they had repeatedly been harassing the students. They added that a list of those private bus operators had been prepared.

The students pointed out that if they could acquire the facility of concessional bus travel by making lot of sacrifices, they could protect the same by making sacrifices in future.

Later, they submitted a memorandum to the district administration.


Panels to verify degrees
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Suspecting that a large number of candidates have secured jobs in the government schools in master cadre on the basis of “fake degrees”, the Punjab Government has ordered a probe.

Informed sources said today that the State Government had set up two committees to verify “suspected fake degrees”.

One committee will be headed by Mr Ajmer Singh, Deputy Director, and the other has been set under the command of Mr Baldev Raj, who is also in the same rank.

The State Education Department has been receiving complaints from various sources that a large number of candidates got job of master to teach in elementary and secondary schools on the basis of “fake degrees” secured from institutions having “dubious” reputation.

Sources said that the number of degrees suspected to be fake was in hundreds.

Both committees, sources said, had been told to visit certain so-called universities in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states to personally verify all the degrees on the basis of which candidates have got jobs.

Most of these candidates were recruited during the SAD-BJP Government, it is learnt. The committees have been asked to submit their reports in two weeks.

This is the second time that such a probe has been ordered. Earlier, on the basis of a scandal of fake degrees uncovered by The Tribune, the state government had been directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to conduct probe into the reported scandal of fake degrees. That was regarding recruitment made in the primary schools in 2001.

At that time certain B.Ed teachers were recruited in primary schools as ETT teachers were not available. On verification by officers of the Education Department, a large number of “ degrees” were found to be fake.

A senior officer of the Education Department told The Tribune today that “effort would be made to verify all degrees. But suspected ones would be given top priority.”

Certain institutions operating as universities in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are known for of issuing fake degrees. Such institutions have well established network in states like Punjab.


Students stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 29
Activists of the Punjab Students Union (PSU), the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) and the Students Federation of India (SFI) today staged a dharna against the non-acceptance of their demands by the authorities.

Their demands include implementation of concessional student bus-pass in all buses, control over the alleged “goondagardi” by employees of private bus operators and refunding of hiked fee, which was rolled back by the government last year, to the students.

The students staged the dharna in the district administrative complex here which was addressed by students.

They criticised the administration for not getting the concessional student bus-pass facility implemented in the private as well as in the buses plying under the kilometre scheme.

The dharna was addressed by Mr Sukhwinder Singh (PRSU), Mr Harpal Singh (SFI), and Mr Harjinder Singh (PSU).


VC inaugurates academic block
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, said today that India still had a long way to go before catching up with some of the advanced countries of the world.

Talking to mediapersons at Abhipur, he said the ratio of engineers in India was still quite low as compared to the USA, China and Japan. Earlier, he inaugurated the academic block of the Indo Global College of Engineering, housing various laboratories of mechanical engineering and civil engineering departments.

The block also houses lecture halls, tutorial rooms and drawing halls. He was accompanied by Mr K.S. Klair, Dean, R&D, PTU.

The Vice-Chancellor was earlier received by Mr Sukhdev Kumar Singla, Mr H.S. Cheema, the chairman and the secretary, respectively, of the Indo Global Education Foundation.

Dr Salwan visited various laboratories in the college and interacted with the faculty and students.


ETT members lay siege to administrative complex
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, September 29
Demanding release of nearly 150 members of the Unemployed ETT Union, as many as 400 unionists blocked both gates of the administrative complex for more than two hours this afternoon.

The incident occurred when the members, who had been arrested by the police yesterday, were produced before the court of the Judicial Magistrate.

No official of the administration or the public was allowed to enter or come out of the complex.

After the intervention of the police and the officials, a compromise was reached and the unionists were assured that their arrested members would be released by tomorrow.


Freshers’ bash at GCG hostel
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 29
A fresher’s party and a cultural programme was organised by hostelers of Government College for Girls on the college campus here today.

The Principal, Dr G.K. Jaggi, was the chief guest while hostel warden Prof S.K. Sandhawalia presented a report in which the activities of the hostels were highlighted.

The two-hour-long programme included humorous skits, dances and the giddha.

The chief guest gave away prizes to the winners who took part in various events like writing flair, cleanliness and cultural competitions. On the occasion Dr Jaggi also planted a Rudraksh sapling on the campus.

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