P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Lokpal in Punjab soon: Ambika Soni
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 1
Ms Ambika Soni, General Secretary, AICC, said the Congress-NCP alliance would definitely come back to power in Maharashtra after the Assembly elections. She said she could not predict the exact number of seats to be won by the Congress in the elections but was sure about the success of the alliance.

She said the Congress would definitely get a two-third majority in Arunachal Pradesh also. She was talking to mediapersons at Jandoli village, 18 kms from here today.

Ambika Soni strongly supported the appointment of Lokpal and said to make the transparency in the working of public servants, bureaucrats and politicians, etc, all of their offices, including Prime Minister, should be brought under the purview of Lokpals.

When it was brought to her notice that there was no Lok Pal in Punjab since the death of Justice D.V. Sehgal (retd.). She said she was not aware about this fact.

However, she would talk to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, in this regard. There might be some technical reason for the reappointment of Lokpal in the state. She would ensure the early appointment of Lokpal to deal with the pending cases lying in its office since long.

Referring to the dissolution of all 19 consultative committees by the Planning Commission of India in a bid to end the controversy over the presence of foreign experts, she said this decision was taken with the consent of all constituents the UPA. This decision was not taken under pressure of the Left.

Replying to a question she said despite its stronghold in Hoshiarpur Parliamentary Constituency, the Congress had left it for the CPM in the last Lok Sabha election on the request of Harkishen Singh Surjit.

Mr H. S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, and many other PPCC and DCC leaders addressed the meeting. They said all Congress leaders were united now and were campaigning unitedly for the success of Mr Luv Kumar Goldy.


Defacement of property on despite ban
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 1
With the campaigning for Kapurthala byelection starting gaining momentum, the defacement of public property has also become rampant in the district, thanks to the authorities concerned who have turn a blind eye towards the violation of the code of conduct.

Posters, banners, flags and plastic buntings have become omnipresent, be it government schools, government dispensaries in villages, offices of block samities, Civil Hospital, office of the Improvement Trust or even parking lots of markets. The political parties have not spared even trees and electric poles as these too have been used for hanging party flags and pasting posters.

All political parties, including the Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and Panthic Morcha, have seemingly violated the election code of conduct by “misusing” the public property for canvassing purposes.

Most of the posters that have been pasted by the parties on the walls can be seen in torn conditions, that have further spoiled the facade of the buildings. But surprisingly, not a single complaint in this regard from various government departments of the district has reached the administration or the Returning Officer till date.

It is learnt that the Deputy Commissioner had even called up senior officers from various departments for a meeting at the time when campaigning had just begun. The officers were told to come up with complaints in case they found any kind of defacement in their office complexes.

Despite the fact that such posters have been pasted on the walls, no department be it health, forest education, Punjab State Electricity Board, or Improvement Trust has reported about the same to the Deputy Commissioner or the Returning Officer.

Mr Jaipal Singh, SDM-cum-Returning Officer, confirmed that no such complaint had reached him. He said he was planning to hold another meeting with officers of various departments asking them to be spontaneous with their complaints so that timely action could be taken against the erring parties.

The Returning Officer said he was surprised at the way the trees lining the roads and pavements had been used by political parties for such purposes. He said if that goes on and on, he would complain about the same to the Election Commission.

Even the walls of houses and shops have been used to put up posters, flags and banners without taking prior permission from the owners. Banners have also been wrapped around water tanks, atop buildings for campaigning.

Ms Satvinder Kaur, resident of Dhaliwal Dona village on Jalandhar Road said, “When I got up in the morning, I saw flags and banners of some political parties atop my house. This clearly indicated that some worker of some political party, without our permission, must have entered our gate and gone up the roof from the staircase in our front verandah.”

Speaking on the matter, Mr Jaipal said most of the persons who have been assigned the duty of putting up flags and banners by political parties were ignorant of the violation of the poll code of conduct. But he added that not a single complaint from the residents had come to him.


Stand-off between govt, SGPC institutes ends
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 1
The stand-off between the SGPC-run medical and dental institutes of Amritsar and the Punjab Government has ended with the admission of students to the two institutes selected through the PMET conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences. There was a dispute between the management of the two institutes, namely Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Sciences over the distribution of quota seats and the fixation of tuition fee to be charged from students.

The two institutes had filled 50 per cent seats under the Sikh minority institute — 25 including four NRI seats in the medical institute and 30 students in the dental institute. The remaining 50 per cent seats were to be filled through the PMET conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences under the government quota. The management had refused to admit the students on the plea that the government should first fix the tuition fee and the provisional fee fixed by the state government was not acceptable to them as the same did not meet their cost of education.

The students selected through counselling of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court which directed the management of the two institutes to admit them before September 30. The high court also asked the state fee fixation committee to fix the tuition fee before October 11. The two Judge bench comprising Justice Swatantar Kumar and Justice Surya Kant in their order stated: “It is equally true that a college is entitled to know what they can charge from students as they have to carry out the professional course which presupposes adequate infrastructure, teaching faculty, as well as proper means to ensure that education of the students was not adversely affected for lack of funds. It will always be in the interest of all concerned that proper fee is declared at the beginning of the academic session so as to put at rest all such controversies which are likely to arise in future.

The students should also know what amount they are supposed to pay on account of fee and should not be put to any inconvenience or uncertainty during their professional course. The high court has directed the management of the college: “We further direct the college to appear through its representative and produce all relevant records and the account in terms of the previous directions of the committee on October 4 and the hearing shall go on day-to-day basis and the final order will be passed by the committee fixing the final fee payable in regard to the college/institution in question by October 11.

The order further said, “We make it clear that no further time would be allowed to any of the parties of IIS as well as the committee to comply with the direction of this court”.

Dr Ujjagar Singh Dhaliwal, Principal, Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences, told the The Tribune today that they had admitted 21 students under the general category of the state government quote and four under the NRI quota in the medical institute while 26 students had been admitted in the dental institute and four under the NRI quota. The medical institute admits 50 students while dental institute admits 60 students respectively.


India’s expertise, West’s knowhow can curb terrorism: Sarabjit
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The expertise India has gained in combating terrorism, pooled with advanced technologies and facilities of the western world, should be enough to keep the world free from wanton violence, says Mr Sarabjit Singh, a former Director-General of Bureau of Police Research and Development.

Mr Sarabjit Singh, who headed Punjab Police for three years, has just returned after presenting a paper on "Funding of Terror" at the 22nd international symposium on ''Economic Crime'' held at Jesus College of Cambridge University this month. Incidentally, Mr Sarabjit Singh was the only police officer from India asked to speak at the conference for the third consecutive year.

In the earlier conferences he had spoken on "The Financial War on Organised Terror" and "Terrorist Activity in the Financial Sector, Direct and Indirect Links." Mr Sarabjit Singh had been closely associated with the war on terrorism in Punjab for more than two decades in various capacities, including district police chief, Range Deputy Inspector-General and as Inspector-General of Police.

The Cambridge conference brings together not only police officers from all over the world but also jurists, diplomats, intelligence experts, social scientists, bankers, financial wizards and experts on conflicts.

While tracing history of terrorism in Punjab, Mr Sarabjit Singh said that a "charismatic rabble-rouse used religion to preach sedition and advocated violence for achieving a separate state in Punjab".

"Funding of terrorism in Punjab evolved in stages as did the terrorist activities them

selves and gradually acquired sophistication," he said, holding that a bank of neighbouring hostile country was used for transfer of funds from overseas. The bank charged a hefty commission.

Talking about growth of terrorism in India, he traced it back to the North-East where Nagas, an ethnic group in the North, with ties with the "Karens" and "Kachins" of Myanamar, launched a secessionist war even when India was a part of the British Empire.

He feels that the expertise Punjab Police has gained combined with technological aids and sophistication of the western world should be pooled together in fighting terrorism.


Danish exposes Principal
Says Dhillon told him to kill some striking students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 1
Finally, Danish Vir appeared before the media here today to disclose about the details of sting operation codenamed “Principal Tehelka.com”. He disclosed the alleged conversation between Khalsa College Principal J.S. Dhillon and himself. The principal had allegedly contacted him to eliminate some students to end college strike.

It may be mentioned here that the Sikh Student Federation had released a CD recorded the conversation of Danish and the principal in a press conference on September 28.

Danish, a former world powerlifting champion and student of Khalsa College, who had been with the college bhangra team for the past 14 years, said he was contacted by the principal (from his mobile number 9815252520) on his mobile set (number 9872682562) and the conversation record could be obtained from Airtel first on September 24 and then September 26.

The principal had asked him to bring the strike to an end even if it meant eliminating the students responsible for the strike. He said he was approached by the principal through some professors.

Refuting the claims of Mr Dhillon of mimicking his voice, he said a man could do mimicry for two or three minutes not for 68 minutes. Moreover, he said the recorded conversation also included the voices of his (principal’s) wife, servant and watchman.

When mediapersons asked him that why the principal chose him for this task, he said he had a record that he had never allowed any strike in the college during his stint as student leader.

He said he had sentimental relations with this college and that’s why he chose to expose the principal. He expressed his fear that had the principal contacted another person the results would have been disastrous.

Danish said he had now been getting life threats by some unidentified persons on his mobile set to change the statement. He alleged that the principal created divisions in teachers’ staff and harassed a lady teacher, who had given a written complaint in this regard to the management. He alleged the principal had also recruited some “goondas” in the college.

Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Shishpal Singh, state senior vice-president and state general secretary of the Sikh Student Federation (Mehta), along with other leaders, said they would approach the management within a few days.

They said the strike would continue till some action was taken in this regard. They said if the management failed to take any action within the stipulated period, they would announce their further course of action after discussing with the students.


35,000 bogus old-age pensioners detected
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 1
A fact-finding report, compiled by high-powered committee on behalf of Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, has detected more than 35,000 ‘ineligible beneficiaries’ who have been getting old-age, widow and handicapped pensions in this border district. The report was compiled by seven Subdivisional Magistrates from other districts .

The report is a follow-up of Rs 23 crore scam, unearthed by the then Public Grievances Officer (PGO), Dr Rishipal Singh .

Giving details of the report, Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the names of the bogus beneficiaries had been deleted from the list of beneficiaries. He, however, said Rs 4.78 crore had been distributed to eligible pensioners in the district.

Earlier, the 87-page report prepared by the then PGO revealed that the Rs 23 crore old-age pension scam, unearthed in Amritsar city was just a tip of the iceberg.

Though the state government had ruled out the involvement of higher officials at Chandigarh, the inquiry officer mentioned the name of the concerned Deputy Director who was allegedly involved in the scam in the Social Security Department.

The report reveals that a well-oiled network of agents had siphoned off a huge amount in connivance with the government and bank officials. A large number of ineligible/underage and well-off persons succeeded in getting pensions while some genuine and deserving old persons had been running from pillar to post to get a pension.

According to the previous report, more than 5,000 persons, including ineligible ones got their pensions released after giving a hefty amount.

In yet another startling information, the report states that the facts forwarded by the Additional Director-General (Vigilance) that about 40 per cent beneficiaries of the scheme are under aged, is correct. The modus operandi was that most of the bank employees, including managers, would ask the beneficiaries to bring agents, so that dues could be paid to them in their presence. The agents would charge their commission at the time of disbursement.


70 more gastro cases in Rajpura
All under control, claims admn
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 1
The scare of gastroenteritis that gripped the residents of Rajpura yesterday, when 180 cases were reported, continued today with 70 more “mild to moderate” cases being reported since last night.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, when contacted, confirmed that moderate cases had “trickled in” since last night which, however, “were not a cause for concern” and the patients had been discharged after being given first aid. He said the administration was “completely in control” of the situation and added that a first-aid camp had been set up at the grain market, which was among the worst-hit areas.

The Deputy Director (Communicable Diseases), Dr Deepak Bhatia, and the District Health Officer-cum-Officiating Civil Surgeon, Dr V.S. Mohi, when contacted at Rajpura, confirmed what the Deputy Commissioner said and claimed that “all cases that were reported today were of a very mild nature” and added that the overall situation was well under control.

As many as 50,000 chlorine tablets were distributed in the grain market area this morning among Bihari migrants, who are camping there in view the work related to paddy.

On instructions of the Punjab Health Services Directorate, a team led by the Director, Dr G.L. Goyal, has been camping at the site to keep a check on the spread of the disease. The team is being helped by doctors from Rajpura Civil Hospital and those of the rapid reaction team.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Mr P. Bharti, also visited the grain market complex. In a swift early morning action, all rehris and carts selling cut fruit and other eatables were banished from the grain market complex to contain the disease. Mr Bharti also visited the government A.P. Jain Hospital and announced that all medicines would be given free to the affected labourers.

A chlorination plant is being set up on the Mandi Board water tank in the grain market, from where the labourers had been drinking contaminated water, leading to the outbreak of gastroenteritis. Late last evening, five water tankers were brought from Patiala, Samana and Nabha to the grain market.

Meanwhile, Mr R.K. Garg, Tehsildar, Rajpura, and Mr Anil Shahi, president of the Rajpura chapter of the Rotary Club, distributed fruit at the grain market.

CHANDIGARH: Following the outbreak of gastroenteritis in Rajpura, a human rights organisation today moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) for ordering a high-level probe into the working of water treatment plants in the state.

In their application, Mr Arvind Thakur and Mr Neelam Singh of the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) alleged that a large number of gastroenteritis cases had been reported from Rajpura on account of unhygienic drinking water.

Water treatment plants in the state were not equipped to provide clean drinking water. This was despite the tall claims of the Punjab Government to provide safe drinking water. Terming it as a human rights violation, the application said panic had gripped the residents of Rajpura on account of the gastroenteritis cases.


Water, roads poll issues in Garhshankar
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Garhshankar, October 1
Scarcity of drinking water in the Bet area and poor road network could be the major poll issues in this Assembly constituency, which will be going to the polls on October 13 along with Kapurthala.

The Bet area constitutes about 33 per cent of the Garhshankar Assembly constituency and the mood of the voters of the area could have a considerable bearing on the poll outcome.

A quick survey conducted by The Tribune revealed that the drinking water was considered to be a prized possession by residents of about 35 villages and non-existent roads in most parts of the area are a sore point.

For Harmesh Lal, a resident of Jandauli village, the bad condition of roads was the biggest concern. “Though these leaders have been coming for votes, nobody has cared to get the 10-km-long approach road to our village repaired for the past about 10 years. It is difficult for us to even come to our village on tractors during the rains,” he said.

Maru, a resident of Golpur village, said though he did not know even the symbols of political parties, he would ask workers of any party coming for votes, what they had done for the development of the area.

Tarsem, a retired PWD official and a resident of Handowal village, said nothing much had been done by any government for the development of the Kandi area. “I wonder why the distribution of the state resources has not been done on an even basis,” he said.

Dev Raj, another resident of Handowal, said though Dalits and homeless were given houses in the village, but “partiality” marked the allotment. “I did not have a home, but nobody bothered to give me one. I still live in my kulli”, he said, adding that houses were given to most of those who already had houses.

Mohan Dass of Chanthu Brahmana was concerned about the state of the roads. “We have been asking politicians to do something about it but in vain,” he said.

Rohit, a resident of Garhshankar, said the condition of the Garhshankar-Banga road was pitiable “What they do is just do patchwork on it which goes away during the monsoon, he said.


Residents protest against road closure
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 1
Residents of various colonies near the local grain market today protested in open against the construction of a wall on a route to their area by the railway authorities and forced them to stop the construction work that started yesterday.

Sources said a railway track passed through that area before these colonies came into being, but the Railways didn't make any arrangement to man the crossing.

After the development of these localities, their residents started crossing the railway track to take a shorter route to their destinations.

The sources said apart from a large number of cyclists, schoolchildren also take the same road.

Taking serious notice of the matter, although quite late, the Railway authorities decided to close the road.

Residents of Deep Nagar, Balraj Nagar, and other nearby localities today protested against the Railways' decision to close the road and demanded that the pit dug up for constructing the wall be filled up to facilitate their easy movement.

They said little children were facing problems to cross the pit.

They said it took less time to reach most of the government offices, schools and markets, through this route and closing it would create a major problem for them.


Unsafe building: secy to conduct probe
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 1
In connection with a news report “Education staff working in unsafe building” published in The Tribune on July 17, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), on a complaint filed by Mr V.K. Goyal of Dhuri (Sangrur), has fixed October 5 as the next date of hearing.

Sources in the Education Department told TNS here today that the complainant had written to the PSHRC that from the news report, it was found that more than 70 persons were working in the building (having offices of District Education Officer-Secondary — and District Education Officer-Elementary — at Sangrur) which had been declared unsafe by the PWD authorities since long.

The complainant also urged the PSHRC to take up the matter in the interest of the employees so that these could be saved from the clutches of tragedy which could occur any time. He also prayed to the PSHRC to ask the Punjab government to arrange safe building.

The PSHRC directed the Secretary Education, Punjab, to initiate an inquiry into the matter and submit report in this regard before the next date of hearing, the sources said.


Residents serve ultimatum to shift liquor shop
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 1
Residents of the Madhopuri mohalla (Ward No 1) of Dhuri, 15 km from here, have served an ultimatum on the administration to shift a liquor shop from the area within 48 hours or they will stage a dharna from October 3.

This ultimatum was given by the residents through a letter, sent to the SDM, Dhuri.

In the letter, the residents have alleged that the liquor vend was opened in August by a contractor. The vend is situated in the middle of the mohalla and near a school. To get this vend shifted, the residents made requests to the then SDM who on August 5 wrote a letter to the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Sangrur, to shift the liquor vend, but to no avail.

When contacted, Mr Daljit Singh, SDM, Dhuri, admitted that he had got the letter from the residents of the Madhopuri mohalla regarding the ultimatum to shift the liquor vend.

The SDM said he had asked the AETC, Sangrur, to initiate necessary action in this regard before October 3 and submit a report.

He said he would also hold discussion with the representatives of the residents of the Madhopuri mohalla to settle the issue.


SHO’s slap damages youth’s eardrum
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 1
A case of alleged police excess came to the fore today with a youth accusing an SHO of slapping him hard that led to severe damage to his left eardrum.

Talking to The Tribune at the Civil Hospital here, Rupinder Singh, a resident of Chakramsinghwala, said he was returning from his village Bugra, where he had gone to attend his cousin’s “bhog” on September 28, when a Gypsy driver stopped him on the road.

He stated that SHO of Rampura, Davinder Singh Atri, got down from the vehicle and asked him to show his motor cycle’s documents. “I had all documents with me at that time, but the SHO demanded Rs 400 from me,” Rupinder alleged. He had only Rs 200 in his pocket at that time and he handed over the amount to the SHO, he added.

“When he didn’t get the money he sought the SHO slapped me hard on my face and I fell on the road,” he alleged. He said he then asked the policemen to take him to the police station where he was kept for about one-and-a-half-hours.

He was let off with the warning of not narrating this incident to anyone.

Rupinder said he returned home and kept mum for a couple of days until his auntie asked him as to why he seemed frightened.

“I told her about the incident and also that I have developed some hearing problem after that day,” he added.

She immediately took him to the Civil Hospital in Bathinda where they came to know that his left eardrum had been damaged. Rupinder said he was yet to lodge a complaint against the SHO.

He alleged that the SHO called up his father’s friends and asked him to persuade him to be silent. He said a police official from the Rampura police station today came to him to record his statement.

SHO Atri denied the charge of slapping him and said the police had received a complaint of eve-teasing against him. He said Rupinder Singh was deliberately doing these things and there was no truth in his allegations. The SSP Kapil Dev said the police would probe into the matter. 


Panel on high security prisons
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Punjab Government has constituted a five-member committee to finalise the modalities for constructing ultra modern high security prisons in the state to ensure safe custody of jail inmates.

It will be headed by Prisons Adviser A.P. Bhatnagar. The other members of the committee are Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons) J.P. Virdi, Inspector-General (Prisons) Mr S.K. Dutta, along with Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority’s manager (Projects) S.S. Gill, besides Secretary (Home). The report will be submitted by October 22.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting held here under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. The committee would also look into aspects of the welfare of the convicts and undertrials. It would give suggestions to upgrade the existing infrastructure in the prisons, besides recommending the construction of the new prisons on modern lines. The committee would also propose the location of the prisons and stipulate the terms and conditions along with of construction parameters.


Man dies of snakebite
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 1
Twenty-six-year-old Sanjiv Kumar Pandey of the Santokhpura mohalla was bitten by a snake yesterday, leading to his death.

Eyewitness said today that a snake had entered a house in the mohalla last night. On hearing about it, Sanjiv went to the house and caught the huge snake from its hood in the presence of a large number of residents. He took the snake to an open area to release it but as he bent and his grip slackened, the snake bit him.

He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Phagwara, from where he was referred to a Ludhiana hospital. However, he died on the way to Ludhiana.

Sanjiv had taken Rs 150 for catching the snake. He is survived by his wife and three children.


Blood Donation Day observed
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, October 1
The Health and Family Welfare Department and the 12th Punjab NCC battalion organised a seminar and blood donation camp at Khalsa College, Garhdiwala, about 32 kms from here, on the occasion of National Voluntary Blood Donation Day.

In his address, Group Commandant Col A. K. Sharma said to provide safe and healthy blood, members of the NCC should definitely come forward.

Later a blood donation camp was organised by a team of the Civil Hospital under the supervision of Dr Gurdev Singh.

A blood donation camp was also organised at Pt. J.R. Govt Polytechnic in association with Bhai Ghanayia Ji Charitable Blood Bank.

SANGRUR: More than 100 NSS volunteers and other children donated blood at a camp at the local Youth Hostel.

Mr Gurtej Singh, SDM, presided over the function, organised in connection with Blood Donation Day.


High Court
Ajnala seat byelection case
Our High Court Correspondent

THE High Court Bench that was hearing the petition filed by Dr Amarpal Singh, son of former MLA and current MP Rattan Singh Ajnala, seeking directions to the Election Commission to hold byelections for the Ajnala seat in Amritsar along with that of the two other seats in Punjab, today referred the matter to another Bench.

The judgment in the case had been reserved, but since one of the two Judges listening the case has been transferred, the case was ordered to be listed before another Bench.

The Bench had also heard the counsel for Mr Harpartap Singh, who lost the Assembly election from Ajnala, seeking to be impleaded as party in the matter. Mr Harpartap Singh had filed an application in this regard.

In his application, Mr Harpartap Singh has sought the permission of the court to oppose the contentions of Dr Amarpal Singh.

In his petition, Dr Amarpal Singh and others have said it was the duty of the EC to fill the seat within six months of its getting vacant.

However, since an election petition is pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the elections of Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala to the Vidhan Sabha from the seat, the election is not being held.


Decline in cotton price hits farmers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 1
Sudden decline in the price of cotton coupled with the reports of Indian cotton mills striking deals to import cotton from Pakistan has hit the farmers of this cotton belt hard.

Sources said about 5,000 bales of cotton had been arriving daily in the cotton markets of Punjab for the last about one and a half week, whereas the same number of bales reached these markets in October end last year.

Cotton farmers of the region were on cloud nine following a bumper crop, but the fall in prices has blown away all their expectations of getting a good return. On September 17, the price of cotton was Rs 2,550, but now it has decreased by about Rs 500.

According to information the cotton today was sold at the price of Rs 1,950-2,050. The government agencies are yet to make their entry into the cotton markets. As per an estimate, cotton yield of about two crore bales is expected in the country, whereas last time the cotton production was 1.75 crore bales.

Last year about 15 lakh cotton bales were imported from various countries, while this time Ahmedabad traders have struck deals to import 2,000 cotton bales from Pakistan. Traders may also import cotton from America and Australia.

The OSD of cotton in Markfed, Mr M.S. Brar, said this year almost all states had bumper cotton crop that caused a slump in the market and prices went down. He said the imported cotton would also reach the country by October end.

Sources said about 10,000 cotton bales were arriving daily in the markets of North India.

The Agricultural Department of Punjab is expecting a production of 15 lakh bales in the state. The scene in Haryana is not good this time owing to which the state's farmers are bringing their produce to the cotton markets of Punjab in border areas like Abohar, Mansa and Budhlada, which is causing loss to Punjab farmers. Some well-off farmers have started storing cotton instead of selling it now.

Harchand Singh, farmer from Kotsamir, said to repay his debt he had to sell off his yield at low prices. He said if the prices had been good the farmers would have at least paid all their debts.

Baltej Singh, arhtia at Goneana Mandi, said low prices would also affect their recovery. Cotton farmers said the prices were going down by Rs 50 daily.

On the other hand, Markfed has not entered the cotton markets till now. The Cotton Corporation of India has bought just 300 bales as of now. This agency has started procurement in Bhucho Mandi, Rampura Phool, Rama and Bathinda, besides Rajasthan.


Stray cattle menace in grain market
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 1
Stray cattle are giving sleepless nights to farmers who have dumped their paddy stock in the local grain market. They also lament the lack of proper drinking water arrangements and toilets.

Speaking to The Tribune here today, sarpanch of Mehma Bhagwana village Gurbinder Singh said that they had to be vigilant round the clock to save their paddy from stray cattle that could be spotted roaming around heaps of paddy lying in the grain market.

He said even dozing off for a few minutes at night could prove costly, as they “attack” in a group and devour several kilograms paddy at one go.

Another farmer, Labh Singh of Kotshamir village, said due to old age he could not remain awake for long and he had to seek help of other farmers from his neighbouring villages in keeping a watch over stray cattle.

He said they could not even think of leaving their paddy stock to have a cup of tea or lunch in some hotel.

A group of farmers, playing cards under a shed, said the number of stray cattle was on the rise as the market didn’t have any gate and the authorities were hardly taking any steps to check them.

Sources said about one and a half years back there were a large number of pigs around the grain market, but surprisingly now they were nowhere to be seen.

Throwing light on their other problems, Inder Singh, a farmer from Jassi village, said the market committee had made no arrangements for drinking water and they had to fetch the same from shops and houses surrounding the market.

Farmers complained that though toilets were constructed near the market, but they were locked most of the time. They rued that even if they were open cleanliness was not maintained there.

Dharampal of Bibiwala village said a group of women from slum areas continued to make rounds of the market along with their children looking for an opportunity to steal paddy.

“They hardly take a minute or two to lift 1-2 kg paddy and slip it in some bag or their sarees,” he added.

When contacted, the secretary of the Market Committee, Mr Preetam Singh, said the city had a large number of stray cattle, but still the committee had deployed a watchman at the grain market to check them. He said that though the committee had made drinking water arrangements, but still if farmers had any complaint they would look into it.

The secretary said he had inspected the market yesterday and toilets were open. 


Use of black plastic bags banned
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 1
Use of recycled black coloured plastic carry bags in the entire Sub-Division here has been banned and anyone caught using these will be dealt with sternly.

According to Mr Zora Singh Thind, SDM Barnala, this ban comes into force with effect from October, 1.

SDM while giving this information disclosed that this ban had been imposed in light of the Union Government’s Environment And Forest Department’s Enforcement of Plastic Manufacture, Sale And Use Rule , 1999.

Mr Thind has banned the use of recycled black plastic carry bags by the rehriwalas and shopkeepers for the sale of eatable and drinking goods here.

SDM further made it clear that the pollution menace was affecting the region adversely as these bags were harmful for eatables and drinking goods.

SDM appealed to the residents here not to throw away plastic bags on roads as these choked sewer pipes.

Mr Thind disclosed a supervisory committee headed by him was set up for the purpose. 


Ratna is board chairperson
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Social worker-cum-former chairperson of the Amritsar Improvement Trust, Ms Ratna, has assumed the charge of Punjab State Social Welfare Advisory Board’s chairperson. She was appointed by the Punjab Government in consultation with Central Social Welfare Board.

The government also granted the rank of “Minister of State” to the chairperson of the Punjab State Board of Technical Education, Ms Susheel Mahajan. The orders were issued by the Punjab’s Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training.


11 stone crusher owners booked
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 1
In the crack down against the illegal miners in the Chaki river, the police has registered cases under Section 188 of the CrPC against 11 stone crusher owners. The police has also rounded up labourers involved in illegal mining and impounded 5 JCB machines used for the purpose. The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Narinder Bhargav said the raids were continuing.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Industries, Mr K.P.S. Rana, when contacted said instructions had been issued to all Deputy Commissioners and SSP’s to check illegal mining. The illegal mining was damaging the ecology of the state, he added.

The chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, said a team headed by Executive Engineer was being sent to check violation of pollution norms set by the department.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the stone crusher owners met the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP. They maintained that the ban on digging near river was for brick kilns and not for them.

However, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Harjit Singh, refuted the claim that the stone crusher owners had been allowed to dig in or near the chaki river bed.


Three killed in accidents
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 1
Three persons, including two women, died in two hit-and-run cases.In the first incident, Naseeb Kaur (70), of nearby Palahi village and Charno, (40), of Nangal village were run over by a vehicle when they were crossing the Phagwara-Mehli by pass, it was learnt today. Both died on the spot.

In the second incident, Dhyan Singh (70), was run over by a vehicle while he was crossing the GT Road near Khajurala village.

The bodies have been sent to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.


Two killed, 3 hurt in road accidents
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 1
Two persons have been killed and three injured in three accidents around the town since last night.

In an accident near Daon, two persons, Rajesh Kumar and Sanjiv Kaushal, got killed. Both of them were residents of Kharar and were going on a scooter from Chandigarh when their vehicle collided with a truck. While one of them died on the spot, the other died on the way to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304 A of the IPC against the driver of the truck, Balwinder Singh, who fled from the accident site.

In another accident two persons were injured near Sahora village when their scooter collided with a rehri. Both the injured, Mr Varinder Kumar and Mr Chota Singh, were admitted to the local Civil Hospital by the police. Later, they were referred to the GMCH, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

An eight-year-old boy, Himmat Singh, was injured in an accident near Mundi Kharar when an unidentified vehicle hit him. He was admitted to the Civil Hospital here.


Indian, Pak currency seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 1
The Customs sleuths seized Rs 7.60 lakh of Indian currency and Rs 1,100 of Pakistan currency from Aftab Anwar, a resident of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir coming from Pakistan through Samjhauta Express at Attari railway station, about 25 km from here.

Mr M.S. Negi, Commissioner, Customs, in a press release issued here today revealed that the movement and expressions of Anwar appeared suspicious due to which the officials checked him during which a false cavity around the wall of the box was detected.


K.S. Aulakh nominated to 2 ICAR bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor K.S. Aulakh has been nominated to the two prestigious bodies of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research — ICAR Society as also its governing body.

The nomination, effective from September 16, has been made by the Union Minister for Agriculture, Mr Sharad Pawar, who is also the president of ICAR Society.

Dr Aulakh told TNS today that it was an ‘honour’ to the institution that had ushered in the Green Revolution in the mid-60s and is credited with transforming the socio-economic texture of rural Punjab. The nomination has put additional responsibilities on PAU to change track in tune with the changing world order in agriculture and allied fields and in sync with the WTO.

PAU was now focusing more on requirements of the small and medium farmers, who form the backbone of state’s agricultural economy. It will also pay greater attention to devise ways to reduce the cost of cultivation, enhance returns, check degradation of soil, check depletion of sub-soil water, work to improve environment and ecology and work to keep migration from rural to urban areas under control by introducing village-oriented self-employment programmes. For this purpose, ICAR has also given to PAU a special project, first of its kind in the country.

The meetings of ICAR Society and the governing body are scheduled to be held in New Delhi on October 18 and 19, where new strategies to re-orient agricultural education, research and extension would be discussed.


ETT youths released
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 1
The district police released nearly 150 members of the Unemployed ETT Union who had been arrested on Tuesday for trying to interrupt the Chief Minister’s rally.

This was stated by Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, state president of the union, here today. He said that the union had been demanding a meeting with the Chief Minister tomorrow when he would make a tour to the constituency in support of the Congress candidate, Ms Sukhjinder Rana.

The members said that they had been trying to meet the CM on Tuesday but their request was turned down.


Students protest against ban on spending fund
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 1
The Medical Students Association today flayed the statewide ban on spending students' welfare fund and charging double fee from the final year MBBS students by Guru Gobind Singh Medical College.

Addressing a meeting here, the student representatives said that the state government, continuing with its anti-students policies, had imposed a ban on spending students' welfare fund to which students contributed themselves.

They alleged that the government wanted to usurp their money.

They warned that if this decision was not withdrawn then they would stop contributing to the fund and launch an agitation on the issue.


Hardeep adjudged best TIET student
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 1
Hardeep Singh Brar, a student of mechanical engineering of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology has been adjudged the best student for 2003-04 here today.

He has been recommended by the Senate of the institute for the President’s medal for securing highest marks and for Ranbir Singh Medal for his best all-round performance. He secured 9.92 CGPA on a 10 point scale. He has also won an HMT medal and institute medal in mechanical Engineering discipline.

Other students who have been recommended for institute’s medal for ranking first in BE degree are Amit Gupta (Civil Engineering) Jaspreet Kaur Oberoi (Computer Engg), Megha Dhaliwal (Chemical Engg), Tushar Amba (Electrical Engg), Ankush Gupta ( Electronic & Communication ) Monika Goyal (Electronic-Instrumentation and Control) and Garish Kumar ( Industrial Engg).

In addition, Gurpreet Singh Bakshi (MCA), Sapna Rajpal Sharma (ME-CAD/CAM & Robotics), Amit Gupta (MSC Biotechnology) Kirak Khurana (ME Software Engg), Meenakshi Gupta (ME-Electronic and Communication) and Sandeep Singla (M.Tech- Environmental Science and Technology) have also qualified for the medal in their respective disciplines.

The medal will be awarded to them the by Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Ballarpur Industries Ltd Gautam Thapar at the 18th Convocation of the Institute on October 8.


Ramanjit wins declamation contest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 1
Ramanjit Singh of the local DAV Public School, Tegrabab Singh of Guru Nanak Foundation Senior Secondary School and Komal Aneja of Arya Girls Senior Secondary School have won the first, second and third position, respectively, at a science declamation contest organised by the Punjab Academy of Sciences here today.

Eleven schools of the city participated in the contest. Dr Dinesh Goyal, Professor of Biotechnology, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, was the chief guest. The Principal of DAV Public School, Mr S.M Devgun, spoke on the relativity of spirituality and science.

The Coordinator, Punjab Science Congress, Prof Baldev Kumar, gave away the prizes to the winners.

Meanwhile, the team of the local Aman Public School, Sai Model High School and Guru Nanak Public School won the first, second and third position, respectively, at a general knowledge quiz contest organised by SOS Children’s Village of India.


Warm welcome to Singapore Airlines passengers
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi, October 1
A tumultuous and traditional welcome was accorded to passengers arriving on the first ever direct Singapore-Amritsar flight which landed here this evening with 255 passengers on board, including a business delegation, to usher in new era of prosperity for this border district.

The impending world heritage site status being bestowed on the Golden Temple by UNESCO will give tremendous impetus to rush of pilgrims from South-East countries where Sikhs constitutes a large chunk of population and the direct flights will bring in a number of Sikh devotees to visit the holy city.

Leading the welcome party was the Tourism Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, and a galaxy of VIPs were present at the tarmac to receive the flight which touched down without any glitches at 7.20 pm at the recently upgraded international airport.

The bhangra and the gidha parties were present to add glitter.

The first passenger to alight was Tan Chik Quee, senior vice-president, West Asia and Africa, Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines will operate three flights weekly to Amritsar every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Operating the Boeing 777-200, configured for 30 business and 293 economy seats.

This world-leading carrier is offering 1000 seats per week with an introductory offer of Rs 19,000 return fare from Amritsar to Singapore and back. Commander of the first flight is interestingly Capt Gurmit Singh of SIA.


PSEB reduces cut on industrial sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
As the situation has eased on the power front, the Punjab State Electricity Board today reduced the power cut on the industrial sector. The Chairman of the PSEB, Mr Y.S. Ratra, in a statement said that there would be mandatory one day weekly off instead of two days off henceforth. There was a considerable fall in power load as harvesting of paddy had started.

The three-phase power to tubewells would be given for 6 hours as there was less requirement of water for irrigation now. However, for Basmati paddy and potato crop, 8-hour power supply will continue. Power cut in rural and urban areas would be reduced.

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