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PM, Sonia not to attend Punjabi Conference, festival
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have expressed their inability to attend any of the programmes of the Punjabi Conference and the sports festival, which are to be held at Patiala from December 1 to 11.

Both the high profile events are being organised by the Punjab Government. Hundreds of writers, scholars and sports persons from East Punjab and West Punjab will take part in these.

Instead of the Prime Minister, the Union Human Resources Development Minister, Mr Arjun Singh, will inaugurate the Punjabi Conference. The Union Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the Sports Festival on December 11. Earlier, the Punjab Government had invited the Prime Minister to inaugurate the Punjabi Conference and Mrs Gandhi was invited to preside over the closing ceremony of the sports festival.

However, Mrs Sonia Gandhi is expected to visit Punjab in the third week of December to pay tributes to the Sahibzadas at Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district. The state government is organising a big function to pay tributes to the Sahibzadas on the tercentenary of their martyrdom from December 19 to 21. She may come either on December 20 or 21, official sources said, adding that the Prime Minster is expected to come in the last week of December at Fatehgarh Sahib where such a function would be held from December 24 to 26 by the state government.

Besides Capt Amarinder Singh, the SGPC has also requested the Prime Minister to visit Fatehgarh Sahib, where the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked alive 300 years ago.

Meanwhile, official sources said that there would be no signing of any memorandum between the Chief Ministers of East and West Punjabs. Reports published in media in this connection have no basis, said a senior officer. The Chief Minister of any state cannot sign any memorandum without the permission of the Union Government.

In fact the state government is seeking permission as well as security clearance from the Union Government for all functions and other related events to be held at Patiala or elsewhere with regard to the Punjabi conference and sports festival. “We have been sending all details of events, including formal functions to be held in the state in this connection to the Union Government”, said the official.

Mr Parvez Ellahi, Chief Minister of West Punjab, accompanied by his Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary and other 18 senior officers of his government will arrive at Patiala on December 2. He would be presented with a 85- horse power tractor at the agro-tech festival, which would be inaugurated by him along with the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, and Capt Amarinder Singh on December 3 here at Parade Ground.

His visit to Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and Simla have been cancelled. He will return to Lahore on December 6 after visiting Agra and Ajmer. On December 3 he would present shiromani awards, which were recently announced by the Punjab Languages Department, to eminent journalists and writers of Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit at Patiala on the concluding function of the Punjabi Conference. He is to address two formal press conferences, one at Chandigarh on December 3 and the other at Patiala on December 5. His visit to the Press Club, Chandigarh, has not been confirmed yet.


Shiromani award presentation at Punjabi Conference: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said yesterday the Shiromani awards would be presented during the World Punjabi Conference being held in Punjabi University from December 1 to 3.

Talking to newsmen after making a round of Punjabi University where she saw the arrangements being made for the Punjabi Conference, along with Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai, Mrs Bhattal said the final date for the grant of the awards was, however, still to be finalised.

She also disclosed that no award would be given in the Dhadhi category after it was revealed that the recipient Saudagar Singh was no more.

Mrs Bhattal also met a delegation of student leaders against whom cases have been registered at the behest of the university authorities before meeting the Vice-Chancellor. Student leaders said the Vice-Chancellor had unleashed a reign of terror on the campus under which no student was allowed to voice even his genuine grievance.

They said arbitrary actions had been taken against a number of students who had voiced the grievances of students.

Mrs Bhattal assured the student leaders that she would talk to Mr Boparai on the issue. Punjabi University Students Confederation leader Gurpal Dhaliwal later claimed that the Deputy Chief Minister had assured them that all their issues would be resolved through the mutual dialogue. Mr Dhaliwal said Mrs Bhattal said she would work to resolve all pending issues on November 28.


Arjun Singh to open Punjabi Conference
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh will inaugurate the World Punjabi Conference being held in Punjabi University here from December 1 to 3 even as it has been decided to present the Shiromani awards to eminent writers on the last day of the conference.

These decisions were taken at a meeting presided over by Higher Education Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal at the Punjabi University campus which was attended by Vice Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai and other officials here yesterday.

Other highlights of the function include laying of the foundation stone of a World Punjabi Centre by the Chief Ministers of both India and Pakistan Punjabs — Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parvez Ellahi on December 3.

Notable speakers at the conference will include eminent writer Kuldip Nayyar. Sources said though Nayyar was already scheduled to preside over one of the technical sessions, he will also preside over a section in which journalists from Pakistan and India will interact with each other. The meeting also decided to give a cash award of Rs 1 lakh to octegenarian Punjabi singer Surinder Kaur.

The question in which language Planning Commission member Montek Singh Ahluwalia will speak also came up for discussion at the meeting.

The university authorities disclosed that though Mr Ahluwalia had confirmed his participation he had stated that he was more confident speaking in Punjabi.

Though the university authorities said this request should be acceded, Mrs Bhattal said it would be better if Mr Ahluwalia tried his hand in Punjabi.

Many of the delegates will be put up at houses of teachers on the university campus. Earlier the university had written letters to teachers asking them whether they would like to host the delegates.

University Registrar Dr Param Bakshish Singh said the university had made this request to its teachers after the Pakistan delegates informed them that they would be more comfortable staying with teachers.

As many as 50 teachers have committed to the university that they would keep two delegates each.

Meanwhile, it was also decided at the meeting that invitation cards for the conference would be given to all legislators and MPs of the state besides prominent Punjabis settled outside.


Little being done to promote Punjabi, lament writers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
Punjabi writers feel no one can learn one’s mother tongue properly if he is not given a chance to do so. They advocate a drastic change in the present system of education if Punjabi is to be truly propagated in the state.

In a global spectrum, they also want synchronisation of the Punjabi keyboard and a single universal font for the language so that it can be used on the Net and be accessible to millions of Punjabis abroad as well as others who want to learn the language.

Surprisingly, nothing is being done on both fronts, say the scholars, adding that talk of punishment for those who do not use Punjabi in official functioning is the only popular boast of government officials and politicians at functions where they have to speak for “safeguarding” the interests of the language. The aim to take action against “babus” not using Punjabi in official communications also remains on paper alone.

Noted writer B.S. Bir, whose book “Roshni Da Pyramid” bagged the Gurmukh Singh Musafir Award at the inaugural function held at the State Language Department today, while talking to TNS, said the situation at present had become such that schoolchildren did not have proficiency in any language.

He said children should be taught only their mother tongue till Class IV and only then should they be introduced to other languages. “If this is done, the children will learn other languages better,” he added.

Writer Amarjit Kaonka also feels children should not be burdened with three languages at a tender age. He said this system was playing havoc in schools in rural areas where English had been introduced from Class I. He said rural children were not able to cope with the extra burden as they did not have the adequate learning support base at home.

He said besides school education, the government was itself not clear as to how Punjabi should be propagated. He said the situation was such that at present even grants given for the purpose of propagating the language had lapsed.

A former Shiromani awardee and former Dean of Punjabi University, Dr Kuldeep Singh Dhir, says the government is doing precious little to take Punjabi to the international stage.

He called for synchronising the Punjabi keyboard so that scholars could have one standard keyboard.

He said a number of different fonts had become popular and there was a need from the government to recognise a single font to make Internet accessibility of Punjabi easier.

Dr Dhir also called for imparting teaching in colleges and universities in Punjabi so that students did not find themselves without a language of choice when they went in for higher studies.

Among other issues is the need to keep the language simplified. Surjit Marjara, while talking to TNS, said many educationists were resorting to use of difficult words, which was taking the language away from the people.

Manmohan Singh Daud said propagation of Punjabi was the only way to ensure the survival of the state’s unique culture and traditions, adding that Chandigarh should also recognise the contribution of Punjabis to its growth.

“It is surprising that even signboards in Punjabi cannot be found in the Union Territory,” he added.


Heritage fest no draw with locals
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
Despite a schedule laced with celebrity performances, the second Amritsar Heritage festival failed to find much favour with local residents.

Right from the start, the spirit of the event that took off on November 18 was marred by voices of dissent from local artistes who complained of neglect on the part of organizers. Coupled with a low level of participation at the local level was the factor of meagre publicity which locals blame for lukewarm response to the show.

The District Administration for its part spent Rs 1.5 lakh on publicity by way of advertisements, banners and hoardings. The general observation is that the banners would have made more sense had they also been put out in languages other than Punjabi, which few tourists understand.

Though well conceived by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and which got artistes like Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, Girija Devi and Abida Parveen to perform for locals, the latter were largely sore. In fact, the house was fuller for the fashion show than for Girija Devi’s vocal recital. Explains a local resident Rakesh Kumar, who attended all the recitals this year: “The effort to bring Amritsar on the heritage map of India is laudable. But the organizers need to reorient the festival to suit local sensibilities. INTACH has offered the best it could in classical arts but better publicity and preparation can ensure better visitation to classical music recitals as fine as we witnessed this year. The administration should concentrate on local talent.”

DC Raminder Singh admitted that though the inaugural session of the festival was reserved for display of local talent, it would have been better to accommodate more Punjabi artistes who can add local flavour. “We are happy with the response but we admit that locals need to be considered more seriously,” he said.

Full responsibility of participation in the heritage festivals in Punjab lies with INTACH. Of the total festival budget of Rs 50 lakh for the event, about 70 per cent goes to INTACH that takes care of artistes and their payments. The administration gets the rest from which it must provide infrastructural support and publicity. Sources in the administration told The Tribune that sponsorship to the festival fell drastically this year. Also, the administration’s budget was curtailed this time, officers said.

Whatever the reasons, the splendid effort in the shape of a heritage festival kept looking for recognition that may only be few steps away. Said a district administration official: “One way to solve the problem is empanelment of local artistes by INTACH which decides the festival schedule. Also more ads can be given in local papers and the publicity material can be readied much in advance so that it can be posted outside Amritsar to attract domestic tourists.”

Another area for improvement is the old walled city, which is the site for the heritage walk. This year’s walk failed to attract residents who felt disgusted with municipal authorities for turning a blind eye to basic hygiene, let alone heritage conservation. As far as schools go, 17 participated in the painting contest organised for children this year.


In pursuit of realistic cinema
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
Of the famous models who walked the ramp during the fashion show at Khalsa College last night, Nethra Raghuraman was the most striking. The former Femina Miss India looked every bit suave and stylish as she, along with Jyoti Brahmin, Fleur Xavier, Sampada, Srishti, Jas Arora and others, lent a face to the fabrics of designers Sumeet Verma, Rana Gill and Anju Modi. Harmeet Bajaj produced the show for the Amritsar Heritage Festival.

Modelling surely is Nethra’s forte as it arms her with spontaneity that then comes handy for the big screen. The dusky Bangalore girl insists she is not a model-turned-actress. “I am a model and also an actress, the latter being a very recent role,” she says as we get some more insight into her short but successful film career. Unlike most models that go hunting for scripts, Nethra was fortunate as scripts came hunting for her.

A Govind Nihalani find, she now feels connected to the medium of cinema especially as it helps her unwind and rejuvenate. “You enact sorrows on the screen and they are out of your system. It’s all so simple. For me roles are more important than reels. I value themes and realism in cinema fascinates me most,” she says, confirming her profile which is full of realistic flicks, including Govind Nihalani’s “Thakshak” and Mahesh Mathai’s “Bhopal Express” in which she got the best taste of acting.

“That project almost had me addicted to cinema,” she says, “but I kept guarding against accepting bulk offers. I did Mohan Sharma’s sociopolitical drama “Avgat”. More recently I did “Inteqam” in which I play a psychopath killer. At hand is “Kafan” being directed by Rishi Jena.”

Based on the story of Munshi Premchand, “Kafan” will offer a wider canvas to Nethra, who is looking for meaty roles. In the future she wishes to direct few comedies and produce few serious films. Acting will continue so will modelling which helps her look and act fresh. As far as acting goes, the model has full confidence in her ability to detach herself from characters in a split second… just like changing costumes for the ramp!


Aman Mela leaves residents high and dry
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, November 23
The ongoing joint cultural programmes and peace fair to further strengthen Indo-Pak friendship here have proved to be a bitter experience for residents. While several city-based schools had been told to announce holidays for days together for making arrangements of board and lodging for Pakistan delegates, more than 100 buses have been “forcibly” used by the authorities concerned for transportation of delegates from one place to another.

With a major chunk of private buses virtually going off the roads since morning, passengers faced a lot of inconvenience at the local bus stand since they had to wait for hours together to board a bus.

After the two-day controversial Punjabi cultural show — Sanjh Dillan Di — organised by Punja Panian Di Virasat, now it was the turn of Sarab Bhart Rachnatmak Samaj, headed by Nirmala Deshpande, a member of the Rajya Sabha, to organise the three-day Aman Mela at Guru Gobind Singh Stadium here from today.

The district transport authorities here have “forcibly” used more than 100 buses. As a result, passengers faced hardships as the frequency of private buses plying on the Jalandhar-Jandiala, Jalandhar-Nakodar via Shankar, Jalandhar-Lambra and Jalandhar-Uggi Chitti routes came down drastically.

“I have been waiting for a bus for the past more than two hours to reach Jandiala. It is horrible to stand for hours together. I am tense,” was the prompt reply of Ms Gurjit Kaur, a middle-aged woman, who maintained that bus for Jandiala on other days was available after every 15 minutes.

According to reports, an Additional District Transport Officer (ADTO) reportedly stopped four buses on the Jalandhar-Mansoorpur route and asked the passengers to leave as he declared that buses were needed for special duty. Mr Balbir Singh, ADTO, reportedly moved around every nook and corner of the city in search of private buses. Interestingly, bus owners were told to ensure that buses should be full of fuel. The authorities concerned threatened drivers, who unsuccessfully attempted to disobey the orders, that their vehicles would be challaned if they did not toe the official line.

Interestingly, when The Tribune team visited a place on the Ladowali road where buses were forcibly kept and their drivers were being given marching orders for different routes by the staff of the transport office, the ADTO, Mr Balbir Singh, fled from the scene. As The Tribune lensman started clicking the pictures, the staff of the transport office spared no moment to flee.

The agitating drivers and conductors, later, told this correspondent that they were forcibly asked to join the “official” duty evey as they had no option but to even pay for fuel.

They alleged that the buses from adjoining towns, including Phagwara, Adampur, Kartarpur, Goraya, Phillour, Nakodar and Bhogpur, were also used forcibly.

The General Manager of the Punjab Roadways, Jalandhar-I depot, Mr Parneet Singh, was reportedly assign the job at the local railway station to ensure that the delegates safely reach their destination on these buses while Mr Hardev Singh, General Manager, Jalandhar-II depot, too, was busy for the purpose.

The principals of about 10 government and private schools had already announced holidays in their schools for the stay of participants.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, was not available for comment even as the District Transport Officer, Mr Jasbir Singh, simply said, “We have not taken any bus forcibly for Aman Mela.”


Bajwa feels slighted
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Feeling slighted over the manner he was sidelined at a cultural function organised on Sunday night at Jalandhar, senior Minister Partap Singh Bajwa, has made up his mind to take up the issue with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, say informed sources.

Mr Bajwa, who as a Cultural Affairs Minister, had played a pivotal role in organising the two-day cultural carnival in which a large number of leading Pakistani folk singers and other artistes also participated, was totally ignored at the time of honouring of eminent Punjabis at the function.

Instead of Mr Bajwa, Jalandhar-based Local Bodies Minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh was given prominence and requested to perform the ceremony to honour eminent Punjabis with mementos and traditional phulkaris. In all about seven eminent Punjabis, including Mrs Surinder Kaur, a leading folk singer, and Mr Kartar Singh Duggal, a famed Punjabi writer were honoured at the function held under the banner “ Sanjh Dilan De”. While Mr Bajwa kept sitting in the front row in the audience, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, who obviously was in the limelight on the stage, left the place after performing the ceremony.

In fact while eminent Punjabis were being honoured, Mr Bajwa’s name was not mentioned even once from the stage. It were the Indian Punjabi folk singers who gave the credit to Mr Bajwa for organising such an important cultural function.

They repeatedly mentioned his name from the stage while there was no word from the officials concerned. Even Pakistani artistes were unhappy over the way Mr Bajwa was treated at the function, sources added. Mr Bajwa has decided not to be present at any function where Choudhary Jagjit Singh would be invited, sources close to Mr Bajwa added.

It has been alleged that certain senior officers “ conspired” to belittle Mr Bajwa at the function. In fact it was Mr Bajwa who visited Pakistan to invite Mr Akram Rahi, Ms Nasibo, Mr Iqbal Bahu, Ms Farida Khanum and other eminent Punjabi folk artistes to participate in the function. However, when the time to take credit for this came, Mr Bajwa was nowhere in the picture and was cornered in a planned manner.

Sources said that Mr Bajwa had conveyed his displeasure to the Commissioner of Jalandhar Division, Mr Swaran Singh, who was overall in charge of the cultural function and had also gone with Mr Bajwa to Pakistan to invite the artistes.

It is the second time in the past one week that bad blood has been created between Punjab ministers. Earlier, a “fight” had broken out between the Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar and Finance Minister Surinder Singla.


Justice Sekhon sends reminder to govt
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Even after the conclusion of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) polls, Punjab Government continues to lend little support to the Gurdwara Election Commission.

The failure of the state government authorities to notify constituencies for local gurdwara committees soon after the completion of the SGPC's general house polls is a testimony to this effect.

The sources in the Election Commission reveal that the relevant rules make it mandatory for the authorities to notify the constituencies as early as possible. In any case, the government should have notified the constituencies by October, the sources claim.

But so far the Election Commission has not heard anything from the government even though the matter was "brought to the notice of the authorities" well in time. The sources add that Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections Justice J.S. Sekhon has now shot off a reminder to the state government in this regard.

Giving details, the sources say that gurdwara committees are required to be formed for gurdwaras having income of over Rs 1 lakh. They add that each committee comprises five members. One member is nominated by the SGPC, while others are elected. That is why the constituencies have to be notified.

The sources claim that this is not the first time that the commission has received little cooperation from the Congress governments — both at the Centre and in the state.

Though commission had written to the Centre for deployment of paramilitary forces, no response was received. This was not all. The commission had sought strict action against the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Amritsar and Gurdaspur. But the Punjab Government simply divested them of the charge to conduct the elections.

The authorities went ahead and designated Additional Deputy Commissioners (ADCs) as DCs for the purpose of conducting the elections, resulting in resentment among members of opposition parties.

Reacting to the government's attitude, Shiromani Akali Dal's secretary Dr D.S. Cheema says that Congress has been interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikh community unnecessarily.

He adds that the authorities have all along been indulging in delaying tactics. Initially they tried to postpone the SGPC polls on one pretext or the other. They, subsequently, indulged in malpractices during the SGPC elections. Now, they want the gurdwara committee elections to be deferred because the results will "establish Akali Dal's supremacy over other parties in the state".


Sikhs may establish school in France
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, November 23
A delegation of French Sikhs here to mobilise support against the turban ban by the French government in schools, has decided to establish a Sikh school, should the ban continue. Talking to the Press here yesterday, the delegation stated that Sikhs were perturbed over the ban.

Mr Gurdial Singh of Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO), and Mr Iqbal Bhatti and Mr Prem Singh, in charge and president of Le Cornor French Gurdwara, respectively, said that they were pained to see their wards with ponytails and plaited hair going to schools.

Mr Kudrat Singh, legal adviser, said with the ban the only choice left for Sikh boys was to undertake correspondence and distance education courses. Satisfied over talks with Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, who promised to send a delegation to France, the French Sikhs said a misinformation campaign was launched by vested interests in India that the issue of ban had been resolved and only three Sikhs were involved and that the ban was only in government schools of France, which was not the case, they added.

Perturbed over the neutral stance of the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, towards the ban, the delegation said as Jathedar he should have stood up to oppose the ban. The delegation also met the President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, and president of the Congress party, Ms Sonia Gandhi, during its visit.

Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president, SNO, said various Sikh organisations would stage a dharna outside Parliament House on the opening day of the winter session to press the government to take up the issue with France.


Punjab farmers go on fast in Amritsar jail
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Resentful of government apathy towards their long-standing genuine demands, five farmers today started fast unto death inside Central Jail, Amritsar, as the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU-Ekta) and the Kisan Sangarsh Committee decided to intensify their ongoing agitation.

Those who started indefinite hunger strike in Amritsar jail are Mr Gurcharan Singh of Mannakdeke, Mr Jagir Singh of Jallewal, Jathedar Mohinder Singh of Vainpuin, Mr Tasbir Singh of Verowal and Mr Prem Singh of Pheloke.

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri, secretary, BKU (Ekta), and Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, said that continued apathy of the government towards farmers and their demands 
was forcing the two organisations not only to intensify their agitation but also into direct confrontation.

"The government shall be responsible for the consequences of any such confrontation," they warned, holding that farmers languishing in various jails since the November 3 rail roko agitation were not being produced in courts.

Farmers, they maintained, have started holding rallies, dharnas and demonstrations inside jails. In Amritsar and Bathinda jails, they have been continuing with their chain hunger strikes. In Amritsar, 19th batch of 51 arrested farmers started chain hunger strike on Tuesday morning.

After yesterday's agitation where police detained hundreds of farmers all over the state, only 40 were taken in custody in Amritsar and 16 in Sangrur while at all other places, they were released in the evening.

The police, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri said, continued to arrest office-bearers and prominent leaders of the BKU (Ekta) as well as Kisan Sangarsh Committee. Immediate after yesterday's dharnas, press secretary of BKU (Ekta) Surjit Singh Gill Kalan and Mr Bukan Singh Sadowal were arrested.

Mr Sukhdev Singh and Mr Pannu claimed that as many as 800 farmers were still inside various jails in the state and there was no indication of government either implementing the April agreement or conceding the remaining and subsequent demands of farmers.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Kisan Sabha has assailed the ‘repressive measures’ taken by the Punjab Government in crushing the ‘peaceful agitation’ of the farmers of the state.

Mr Bhupinder Sambhar, general secretary of the sabha, said that police repression and arrest of hundreds of farmers and their family members was highly condemnable. The government must learn a lesson from its past experiences as it had never succeeded in crushing any peaceful agitation of farmers.

Reminding the government of promises it had made in its last Budget, Mr Sambhar said that it had failed to get farmers remunerative prices for their wheat, paddy, cotton and other crops. The government also went back on its promise of free power and water. It also did not pay the promised bonus on paddy crop of 2001, besides clearing sugarcane dues.

Mr Sambhar said that sabha at its meeting in Ludhiana would take stock of the situation arising out of the current agitation of the farmers.


Finance Dept projects a frightening scenario
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
On a normal working day, Punjab spends approximately Rs 28 crore on pay and salaries and about Rs 5 crore on office expenses — stationery, entertainment, electricity, telephone, petrol, diesel and lubricants, rent on hired accommodation etc.

For whose benefit is this expenditure incurred, and for who do babus and bureaucrats attend office, when there is poor delivery of social and economic services — education and health, stagnation in agriculture and unsatisfactory performance of major sectors of the economy? This is due to low public investment because of resource crunch, leading to poor Plan performance. Even private investment is low, and also, there are no attractive policies. There is lack of efforts to woo private investment.

This expenditure is there when the farmers are agitated over erratic availability of DAP fertilisers. They are apprehensive of availability of urea later and worried over diminishing returns.

The industry is struggling for survival and the electricity board is faced with a dark future due to failed monsoon. This has resulted in less water in reservoirs and lesser power generation. There is widespread disaffection in the state. There are 28,000 vacancies of teacher in schools. Courts are full of litigation involving the government and loss-making boards and corporations having Cabinet-rank chairpersons.

There is a battery of lawyers in the Advocate-General’s office, and now chairpersons, 100-odd, of market committees are being appointed, even as allowances of MLAs have been enhanced several times over, while all development has come to a halt.

This was the bitter truth recently told by the Finance Department to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Fiscal Management, where a dozen-odd ministers were present.

This frightening scenario was also projected at the mid-term review of the 10th Five Year Plan held by the Planning Commission on November 20.

During the past two-and-a-half years, if the government failed to generate the desired revenue, it also failed to curtail unproductive spending or implement reforms and measures it had evolved to improve fiscal health.

Also, in the first two years of the 10th Five Year Plan (2002-07), it had failed to achieve the targeted 40 per cent expenditure, out of the outlay of Rs 18,657 crore. Its performance was 19.43 per cent or Rs 3,624.44 crore.

This low Plan performance is attributed to less spending on agriculture and allied activities, special area programmes, irrigation, energy, transport and social services, since only meagre funds were released under the state Plan and Centrally-funded schemes.

As money was not released and departments could not submit utilisation certificates, this blocked further flow of funds.

Even the performance of the externally aided and Nabard projects was unsatisfactory because of non-release of requisite funds.

Money was also held back for the schemes for which the Centre had provided additional financial assistance.

However, recently, barring a small amount, a sum of Rs 500 crore was released out of Rs 650 crore under the Centrally-sponsored schemes. And the entire sum of Rs 150 crore under Nabard schemes was also released, barring a small part.

Same is true of Rs 125 crore each, released for power and irrigation under the accelerated irrigation benefit programme. ‘’Since the blockage has been cleared, funds are expected to flow’’.

The state wants more money. At the November 20 meeting, it had sought an ‘’economic package’’ of Rs 13,000 crore, on the pattern of the one the Prime Minister had announced for the ‘’reconstruction’’ of J and K.

The package is to include Rs 5,000 crore agriculture stabilisation fund, debt relief of Rs 4,400 crore during the 10th Plan period and additional central assistance of Rs 3,600 crore.

This money is being sought from the Centre to restructure agriculture in the wake of challenges posed by WTO, increase access to potable drinking water, provide better social infrastructure, give uninterrupted power to all consumers, ensure quality life in urban and rural areas, generate employment opportunities through public-private partnership and investment, and uplift economically weaker sections.

Punjab economy is on a slow growth rate path. It needs to re-identify its priorities, re-set growth targets, focus on education, health, social security, welfare of Scheduled Castes, urban and rural development and infrastructure, drinking water, irrigation, power etc.


Punjab wasting resources: CPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Punjab unit of the CPI yesterday said that the bureaucracy was eating Punjab like a termite and the state was being ruled in the shabbiest manner. After the meeting the state executive of the party, the CPI said that administration and political leadership was wasting the limited financial resources in a “ royal style”.

While important infrastructural projects have been put in the cold storage, there was all emphasis to enhance the number of political bosses, civil and police officials. The state’s debt had increased to Rs 73,000 crore.

While the state was facing a frightening unemployment problem, the Government was re-employing retired police and civil officials instead of offering jobs to unemployed youth, said Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the CPI.

He said that while Punjab was sinking, political parties had failed to play any role to save the state from such a grave situation. Talking about agriculture, industrial and social services sector, Dr Dayal said that all these sectors were in bad shape.

He said that certain influential business houses were dictating financial and other policies to the state and it was the biggest threat Punjab was facing at the moment. He said that there was a leading industrial house behind the stalling of the Bathinda oil refinery project.


Residents block traffic over dumping site
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 23
Numerous residents of Khanpur and Manwal villages, irate over the dumping of waste near the Civil Hospital here, blocked traffic for more than an hour in front of the office of the local municipal council. Holding placards they raised slogans against the municipal council authorities and local administration.

The protestors alleged that the waste dumping site was adjoining the Civil Hospital, a school and residential habitations. The stench emerging from the site had made their lives miserable

The residents later blocked traffic on the Dalhouise road in front of the office of the Superintendent of Police. The traffic in the heart of the town remained paralysed for about one hour.

A police party led a local SHO tried to wee away the protesting residents in an attempt to remove the blockade. The tehsildar and other administrative officers also tried in vain to pacify the agitating residents.

However, the protesters continued the dharna demanding that the SDM should visit the dumping site for immediate solution.

The blockade was lifted only after the arrival of SDM Amarjit Paul, who made an announcement after visiting the site that the municipal council would not be allowed to dump waste near the hospital.


Rs 9.32 lakh looted from bank
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 23
In a daylight robbery, four armed men looted over Rs 9 lakh from the Punjab National Bank branch situated at Buttar village, near here, today. They also shot at a bank guard injuring him. Sources said the bank located on the main road was abuzz with activity as usual when at around 12.15 pm four armed men alighted from a Tata Indica (PB 11N 7938) and headed towards the bank. When the guard deployed on the gate, Bhagwan Singh, resisted their bid to gain entry into the bank, they shot at him and also broke his rifle.

There was another guard, Nachhatar Singh, inside the bank, but he could do nothing, as he was not armed. There were about 20 customers in the bank at the time of the robbery.

The robbers started hurling abuses at the bank staff and took all customers to the strongroom and locked them there after snatching their mobile phones so that nobody could call up the police. They asked the Bank Manager, Mr B.K. Leekha, and the employee at the cash counter, Mr Amarjit Singh, to hand them over the cash.

They collected the money deposited at the cash counter and locked the staff members too in the strongroom before fleeing. They took away Rs 9.32 lakh and a dozen mobile phones along with them.

Interestingly, the robbers had not covered their faces and they were through with their mission in 10 minutes. The other guard, Nachhatar Singh, said of the four robbers, two were Sikhs.

The sources said panic gripped residents of nearby houses and they locked themselves in. They came out only when they were sure that the robbers had fled away. They opened the door of the strongroom to free the bank staff and customers. A police team led by the DSP (D), Mr Bhulla Singh, and the DSP, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, reached the bank and the statements of bank employees were recorded.

The injured guard, Bhagwan Singh, was rushed to the Moga Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the DMC, Ludhiana. His condition is reported to be out of danger.

This bank had become the target of robbers in the past too. On September 5, 2001, armed robbers had looted Rs 9,04,027 from this branch of the PNB, while a couple of attempts had been foiled with the aid of a hooter. A case has been registered. The SSP, Mr M.S. Chhina, said check-posts had been set up in the area to nab the robbers.


360 Cong men to be adjusted in market panels
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
As many as 360 congress leaders and activists are expected to be accommodated in the market committees, the process to constitute which has almost been completed.

Informed sources said that the government had decided to constitute 36 market committees. Each committee would be having one chairperson, a vice chairperson and 8 to 10 members such as representatives of farmers, commission agents and labour etc. The notification regarding the constitution of the committees will be either issued tonight or on November 25.

The committees will be constituted by way of nominations of party activists by the ruling party, said official sources. There are over 100 market committees in the state. However, the names for 36 committees have been finalised yet. The process to shortlist names for the remaining committees is also on, it is learnt.

The issue of constituting the committees remain pending because of the differences among senior ministers over the nominations of their supporters in such committees. The final list of names is cleared by the Chief Minister. However, names for constituting such committees are recommended by the party MLAs, ministers and other senior leaders of the town or city concerned.


CPM severs links with ex-MLA Chopra
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 23
Mr Chand Singh Chopra, a three-time former CPM MLA from Sherpur, has no links with the CPM, as he has been found indulging in “anti-party” activities.

This was stated by Mr Bant Singh Namol, district secretary of the CPM, here this evening.

Mr Chand Singh Chopra had earlier left the CPM on September 11, 2003 on the plea that the CPM under the leadership of Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet had abandoned its “revolutionary” path and then joined the CPM (Pasla). Some months, later he left the CPM (Pasla) to join the CPM.

Mr Namol said after the return of Mr Chopra he had started “anti-party” activities, misleading workers to create groupism. Despite a written warning in this regard, he had not restrained himself.

Mr Namol said the party had directed all its units and members not to have any link with Mr Chopra.


Step to trifurcate PSEB dangerous, says union
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 23
The Technical Services Union (TSU) of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yesterday termed the attempts of the state government to trifurcate the PSEB as a dangerous move, which would result in unprecedented hike in tariff rates even as the consumers interests would surely be taking a back seat in the proposed privately managed undertaking.

Addressing the participants during the first day of the 35th delegate session of the TSU, senior leader B.S. Meel said the new model of power sector to trifurcate state electricity boards throughout the country as designed under the Electricity Act-2003 had failed to prove people friendly in several states, including Delhi, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. The power tariff had witnessed steep hike in these states, thus, resulting in disillusionment among the people, he said, adding that private sector had not made heavy investments in the power sector to augment generation so far.

The president of the TSU, Mr Amarjit Sodhi said as the Central Government had announced to review the Electricity Act-2003 in the recent past, the move of the Punjab Government to disband the state electricity board was unwarranted. “According to the Act, the present structure of the board can be upheld up to June 9, 2005,” he said.

The union announced to hold dharnas in front of Deputy Commissioner offices in all districts of the state on November 30 to register its protest against they moves of the state government.


Deteriorating law and order causes panic
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, November 23
The deteriorating law and order situation in this industrial capital of Punjab has caused panic among residents here. There has been spurt in robberies and burglaries in the town in the past one week. Incidents of snatchings have also taken place as a result of which there is demoralisation among the people of the town.

Nearly a dozen burglaries and thefts have been reported in the outer colonies of the city during the past one week. The incidents have taken place in the areas of Kabir Colony, tibba Road, Aman Nagar and in the area of Basti Jodhewal. The total loss runs into several lakhs. The burglars have taken away cash, jewellery and other valuables. In one incident cash worth Rs 1.60 lakh was stolen.

In Simranjit Nagar, the robbers who were armed with pistols and guns decamped with cash and gold ornaments worth Rs 2 lakh. This incident took place on Sunday night and three persons were injured. The robbers shot at the son of the owner of the house. In the latest incident on Monday the robbers fled with a huge amount of cash from a money changer in Ghumar Mandi, one of the busiest business centres of the town, in daylight. This incident has sent shock waves among shopkeepers of the business centre. It may be mentioned here that Ghmar Mandi has emerged as the biggest business centre of the town now. Earlier, Chaura Bazar was the central hub of the town. The robbers shot at the money changer who was injured and admitted to hospital.

The rise in the incidence of robberies and thefts has a reflection on the functioning of the local police which claims to have solved some of the cases. Senior officers were not available for comment when this reporter tried to contact them. The SSP was busy in his office which the SP (Detective) was holding a meeting with the CIA staff.

The residents favour night patrolling by the police.


MC told to expedite sewerage work
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 23
With the Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, directing the local municipal council to expedite the work on laying sewerage lines, the city residents may now look forward to have clean surroundings.

Chairing the District Grievances Committee meeting here yesterday, the minister asked the council and the Executive Engineer of the Sewerage Board to complete the project at the earliest and assured all help from his side in this regard.

Sources said Hudco had sanctioned a loan of Rs 16 crore for the sewerage project during the Akali regime. Under the project 16 km main sewerage and 40 km branch sewerage lines were to be laid.

According to the sources, contrary to the technicalities of the project, branch sewerage lines were laid first and later the project became the victim of reported political rivalry.

A complaint regarding de-silting of a 4-km drain at Daulatpura Neewa village was taken up. The official concerned said it required Rs 5.63 crore and the work could not be carried out due to lack of funds.

Mr Henry called up the Principal Secretary, finance and Irrigation, and managed to get the required amount sanctioned for the de-silting of drain.

Taking note of the villagers' demand, the minister asked the Deputy Commissioner to take up the matter of naming Mahesari village school and road linking the village to GT Road after the freedom fighter, Baba Nidhan Singh.

Mr Henry directed the District Education Officer to form the Parent Teacher Association in government schools and report to him in the next meeting. The association, which has to be formed every year, has not been constituted for the last 6-7 years.

The minister also asked the municipal council to install 30 water taps in the city within a week.


ABVP plans dharna over road condition
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 23
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Saturday decided to hold a demonstration and stage a dharna in front of the municipal council office here on November 25 to express its resentment over the bad condition of the college road.

The ABVP had earlier given an ultimatum to the council on the issue hundreds of students daily use the road, which had many potholes.

Three colleges and many public schools are located near the college road renamed as Mahrishi Dayanand Marg. But the municipal council had asserted that the road was a part of the Abohar-Hanumangarh state highway, so it was the duty of the state highway division of the Public Works Department to maintain it.

The PWD, however, argued that it was the duty of the council to get the road repaired because the road fell within the municipal limits.

There have been scores of accidents in the past three years because of the bad condition of the road.


SGPC chief’s appeal to ‘sangat’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur today made an appeal to Sikh masses residing near Fatehgarh Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib to accommodate visiting devotees during the tercentenary of the martyrdom of four sons and mother of Guru Gobind Singh in December this year.

In press note issued here today, she stated that due to limited accommodation in sarais in both these towns, the SGPC was finding it difficult to make arrangements for stay of devotees. She urged the Sikh ‘sangat’ to approach managers of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib and coordinate with them regarding the arrangements.


284 divan members reinstated
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today reinstated all 284 expelled members of the Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD), thereby bringing the much - awaited truce in the oldest institution of the Sikhs, here today .

Mr Charanjit Singh Chadha has been nominated as the new president while Mr Bhag Singh Anakhi has been appointed secretary . Due representation has been given to both the warring factions of the CKD. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former Chief Secretary of the SGPC, is the patron of the CKD.

Jathedar Vedanti warned that any member of the warring groups who dared to violate the decision of Akal Takht would be declared a deserter. He said he had brought about the rapprochement with the consent of both groups .

However, Akal Takht would annually review the progress of the CKD. Jathedar Vedanti directed the new team to work with a missionary zeal to spread Sikhism .

The split in the CKD was caused when the ruling group while invoking clause 12 of its constitution terminated the membership of 284 members (about 60 per cent of the total members ) on November 12 last year thereby debarring them from casting their votes in the proposed elections. To a question, Jathedar Vedanti said the expulsion of 284 members of the CKD was a blunder. To check any embezzlement or mismanagement in the CKD, Jathedar Vedanti said no family member or relative of any office-bearer should take contract of the body in future. The other office-bearers of the CKD are Dr Santokh Singh (vice-president) and Mr Harminder Singh (resident President.) 


PSEB erects 45 grid substations
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has erected 45 grid substations of 434 mega ampere capacity till now this year as compared to 26 substations of 467 mega ampere which were erected during the same period last year.

Disclosing this here today, PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra said the exercise was undertaken to reduce system losses in the state to improve system stability and provide better quality of power supply.

He said due to the emphasis on the strengthening of the transmission and distribution system during the current year, 145 circuit kilometres of transmission lines had been erected till October this year as against 94 circuit kilometres of transmission lines undertaken last year.

Mr Ratra, said the installation of capacitors had been lagging last year with only 13, 610 mega watt ampere reactive capacitors being installed last year.

He said this year, however, the board installed 65 capacitors of 328 mega watt ampere reactive up to October 30. He said the board expected to add 200 more capacitors within this year itself to reduce losses.


Villagers protest against plying of tractor-trailers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 23
Residents of Sundran village, located on the Mubarkpur-Neembuan link road, about 10 km from here, today protested against the plying of tractor-trailers and trucks on the internal road and the phirni (ring road) of the village.

The irate residents complained that the plying of vehicles on these roads for the last over six months had been causing problems for the villagers, especially the children. The vehicles carrying soil, gravel and sand from the bed of a nearby rivulet use the phirni and the village internal road thus causing inconvenience to the villagers. Plying of vehicles not only creates air and sound pollution but also disturbs the normal life of the villagers.

The honking of horns, early in the morning and late in the evening, too has become a nuisance for the villagers, complained Mr Bhajan Singh, an elderly villager. He said over 300 tractor-trailers pass through the village every day and this had damaged the village phirni and the internal road.

Plying of vehicles in and around the village has made the roads accident prone, complained Mr Kamal Raj, a panch of the village.

They claimed that in spite of repeated representations to the administration in this regard, their problems had not been solved so far.

The villagers revealed that earlier the owners of the vehicles, used to ply their loaded vehicles on a link road connecting the river with Kakrali village but this year they were using the roads after ‘pleasing’ the village sarpanch and two panches.

Mr Ram Rattan while speaking on behalf of his wife Ms Urmila Bansal, village Sarpanch, said the phirni and the village internal road were being used by the vehicles carrying sand and gravel since long. He, however, denied other allegations levelled against his wife.


Telegrams by post!
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 23
Believe it or not, in this hi-tech age, telegrams here are being sent by post these days ! This is because the sophisticated telegram machine installed at the Head Post Office has been out of order for last several weeks.

This shocking state of affairs came to light today when an elderly social activist, Mr Prabhu Sharan Walia, went to the Head Post Office to book a telegram to his Allahabad-based relative. Mr Walia told this correspondent that the clerk asked him to get the telegram booked from Jalandhar in case he wanted it to be sent through the computerised system. In case the customer was to get it booked from Phagwara, then the telegram would be sent by post as the computerised system at Phagwara was out of order, the clerk told Mr Walia.

However, the aged Mr Walia chose to get it booked from Phagwara rather than going to Jalandhar.

Interestingly, the computerised receipt No A-913 of the telegram had a message for the customer —"Have a nice day”!


Ways to check female foeticide discussed
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 23
A meeting of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test (PNDT) committee was held under the chairmanship of the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at the local Civil Hospital here today.

The members of the committee exchanged views as to how cases of female foeticide could be reduced. The SMO in charge of the Civil Hospital, Dr Maninder Jeet Singh, told the gathering that during the past seven months, 70 per cent of the mothers who came to the Civil Hospital for delivery had male children, which proved that cases of female foeticide were still going on even when the government had imposed stringent measures to check such cases.

The SMO said that it was a matter of concern and if female foeticide was not stopped, boys would not be able to find girls for marriage in the next about 20 years. The committee members were informed about the efforts being made by the government in this regard.

He authorised the nodal officer of the committee, Dr Amrit Chahal, to conduct raids at centres that did ultra sound scans, along with other committee members, which included Mr Subash Agarwal and Mr Preet Kanwal Singh. It was decided that heads of schools and social workers would be asked to participate in the next meeting.


Conference on ultrasound held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 23
More than 300 doctors of the district and surrounding areas attended a conference on ultrasound organised by the Malwa Sonologists Association here. The main aim of the conference was to educate people about the latest development in ultrasound and colour doppler applications and stop sex determination. The doctors were provided with comprehensive and practical update on ultrasound with review of fundamentals and practical approach to examination techniques.

The conference began with a symposium on trans-vaginal sonography, followed by a seminar on clinical applications of colour doppler. The third session was about breast, trans-cranial, musculo-skeletal and neck and thyroid ultrasounds. The last session was on the PNDT act and its legal implications. Dr Manmohan Singh, president of the Punjab Medical Council, was the chief guest.


Cultural exchange programme ends
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 23
On the concluding day of the week-long Inter-State Cultural Group Exchange Camp organised by the District Cultural Society to commemorate tercentenary of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas, more than 300 students from different states presented a cultural programme at Baba Zorawar Singh Baba Fateh Singh Senior Secondary School here this evening. The students attending the camp were taught about the Sikh history, religion, Punjabi culture and traditions.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while talking to The Tribune said the students were taken to Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib to acquaint them with the Sikh history.

He said on the concluding day a test was conducted and the winners were honoured. All participants were given literature and CDs on the Sikh history.

Earlier, the students along with students of local schools took out a nagar kirtan from Fatehgarh Sahib to Sirhind.

Navedeta Lehiri, group leader of West Bengal, said she and her group members were feeling proud for coming to Punjab.

She said the programme helped them to understand the cultural values.


Power cuts back in Kharar
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, November 23
Unannounced power cuts in the town have adversely affected the life of residents here. The situation has become particularly bad since the past four days, when the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) started imposing long cuts in the town.

Residents and others today complained that work came to a standstill many times during the day owing to unscheduled power cuts of long durations. Even the Civil Hospital here had to face power cuts and patients had to wait for hours in certain cases.

Ms Adarsh Kaur Bedi, who lives in a colony near Dasehra ground, said her household work was affected by the cuts which began early in the morning. It was a problem to provide warm water for bath to her children.

She said power was cut three times in the day and each time it was for not less than two hours.

The Senior Medical Officer in charge of the Civil Hospital, Dr Maninder Jeet Singh, said the hospital was facing problems due to the power cuts. The hospital had a generator set, but it could not be kept running for long hours due to the high cost of diesel. The X-ray machine could also not be run with the generator and patients had to wait for hours. There was no power when the OPD opened at 9 am today. Patients who had to get X-rays done had to wait till about 10.45 am, when the power was restored. He said the problem had been going on for the past seven days.

Mr Hardeep Singh, president of the local unit of the All-Department Pensioners Association, said there was no power for about three hours in the morning and then a cut was also imposed in the evening. He said last evening Desumajra and Balongi villages had power while Kharar was dark.

Mr N.S. Rangi, SDO, PSEB, said he was helpless in the matter as power cuts in the town were being imposed on the directions of the power controller based in Patiala. 


Vacant posts of doctor to be filled
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 23
Mr Darbara Singh Guru, Secretary, Health, Punjab, said here yesterday that all vacant posts in the Health Department would be filled shortly.

Talking to mediapersons, he said the Cabinet Committee had recommended filling 1,374 posts of doctor lying vacant in various hospitals.

Mr Guru made it clear that these posts did not include the paramedical staff. He admitted that the newly upgraded hospitals in the state were facing staff shortage.

He said serious efforts would be made to provide medical facilities to urban as well as rural areas.

Mr Guru said to make up for the deficiency of radiologists and skin specialists in Civil Hospital here, arrangements for visiting doctors would be made.

Mr Guru directed the Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, to conduct raids on shops selling milk products.

Earlier, he visited the Civil Hospital and checked the special rooms constructed with donations from local citizens.


Pound to check cattle menace
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 23
Mr K. A. P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the construction of a cattle pound at a local gaushala. He said funds would be arranged by the municipal corporation and the cattle would be looked after by the gaushala management.

The gaushala has been constructing a cattle shed to curb the menace of stray cattle, which has become a major source of road accidents and insanitation.

The Punjab Government had sent a cheque for Rs 22.47 lakh for the completion of the cattle pound.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, MC Commissioner, said arrangements for 500 cattle heads would be made at the pound.

Mr Sinha also laid the foundation stone of Shri Gopal Manokamana Poorti Mandir being set up at the gaushala. He said Mr Tara Chand, Mr Prem Chand and Mr Pawan Kumar, architects from Jaipur, had specially come to attend the function.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former minister, also attended the function.

Students of 14 schools presented a cultural function.


Honour for two disabled kids
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 23
Two children of the local Mahant Gurbanta Dass School for Deaf and Dumb were honoured yesterday by Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, for their performance at a cultural function in Ludhiana on Children’s Day.

Mr Sinha said Mr Dilip Kumar Sinha and Mr Kaushal Kishore, both teachers of the school, had been chosen for training at Japan where they would be taught about the new technologies for helping disabled children.

He said the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had arranged for this training.


Elahi’s ‘gift’ gets clearance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Sultan, a thoroughbred Arabian horse, that was gifted by the Chief Minister of West Punjab, Mr Parvez Elahi to his counterpart, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of East Punjab, can land in India on any day. All formalities required to bring " Sultan" to India have been completed, said a state government officer. It has taken a long time to complete such formalities.


Mothers’ committee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Mothers will be given training to keep their kids mentally and physically healthy. The Punjab Government would constitute a mothers’ committees where special training would be imparted to them in this regard.

Disclosing this here today, Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Security, said that anganwari centers all over the state would be strengthened and departments of Health and Education would be involved to launch a campaign to educate not only children but also their mothers so that a healthy society could be created.


Nagar kirtan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
On the occasion of martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, a ‘nagar kirtan’ was taken out from Akal Takht which passed through various bazars of the holy city. The procession started in the noon and passed through Guru Ram Das Sarai, Chowk Paragdas, Chowk Baba Sahib, Chowk Crori, and Baba Deep Singh Colony.


No re-auction of liquor vends in Ludhiana
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
Liquor baron Ponty Chadha today got a major breather from the Punjab and Haryana High Court as it recalled its earlier order setting aside auction of liquor vends of Ludhiana district.

The order effectively means that there will be no fresh auction of vends in Ludhiana I, II and III as had been ordered earlier by the court. Re-auction of vends had been fixed for November 25.

The Bench recalled the order after petitioner Mann Singh Garcha withdrew his petition.

The case, which had seen many twists and turns, today saw Mr Garcha refusing to accept that the Rs 83.45 crore bid offered by him be considered proportionately per group. Ludhiana has 24 groups.

During hearing, advocate Arun Palli, appearing for the Punjab Government, told the court that the petitioner had given an assurance to the court that he would stand guarantee in case the bid in re-auction was less than what was received last time.

However, despite the insistence of Mr Garcha's counsel, the court refused to order auction of all groups as one, and Garcha was asked to make up his mind or withdraw the petition.

It may be recalled that during hearing of his petition, Mr Garcha had offered a bid of Rs 83.45 crore for the entire Ludhiana district for the remaining period of four months. While ordering re-auction, the Bench of Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta had ordered that in case the highest bid in the re-auction did not go beyond Mr Garcha's bid, his bid should be accepted as final.

But, an application moved by the Punjab Government, which requested the High Court to ask Mr Garcha to deposit some more security, apart from Rs 5.20 crore deposited earlier, gave a new twist to the case.

Citing the instance of re-auction of vends of Jalandhar-I, Jalandhar-II, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur, where the State incurred losses to the tune of Rs. 17.79 crore, the government said that extra security should be taken from the petitioner to ensure that no further loss is suffered by the exchequer. The government had sought direction to Mr Garcha to deposit extra security amount of Rs 34 crore before re-auction.

Meanwhile, an official spokesman said that in view of the High Court decision to recall its order, no auction would be held in Ludhiana on November 25. He also said that the department was seeking legal opinion on the loss suffered by the government in re-auctions of vends of Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur.


HC closed, Punjab dist courts open today
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 23
While the Punjab Government offices as also the Punjab and Haryana High Court will be on holiday tomorrow to observe the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, all courts in the districts of Punjab will remain open.

While High Court officials were not reachable for their comment on the faux pas, sources said that the calendar of holidays of district courts was prepared at the start of the year and tomorrow, by some strange logic, litigants and lawyers would have to go to courts in the districts.


Sangrur tops in paddy procurement
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 23
The procurement of paddy during this season is almost over. Sangrur district seems to have topped having procured 25,88,473 tonnes of paddy till November 21, while Ludhiana with 17,72,492 tonnes and Patiala district with 15,16,652 tonnes are number two and three, respectively.

As per information gathered by TNS from the Food and Supply Department, the district has topped in paddy procurement the previous year too by procuring 24,23,832 tonnes of paddy. Thus, the district has surpassed its previous year's record.

The procurement in the remaining districts is: Ferozepore 12.90 lakh tonnes, Moga 10.58 lakh tonnes, Amritsar 6.87 lakh tonnes, Jalandhar 6.86 lakh tonnes, Bathinda 6.59 lakh tonnes, Kapurthala 5.40 lakh tonnes, Mansa 5.10 lakh tonnes, Muktsar 5.00 lakh tonnes, Gurdaspur 4.98 lakh tonnes, Fatehgarh Sahib 4.81 lakh tonnes, Faridkot 3.98 lakh tonnes, Nawanshahr 2.41 lakh tonnes, Ropar 2.34 lakh tonnes and Hoshiarpur 2.23 lakh tonnes.


Plea to waive loans of farmers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
The district unit of the Punjab Kisan Sabha has demanded that all government loans due towards the farmers should be waived off and those of the moneylenders should be converted into institutional loans.

Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, state vice-president of the sabha, in a press note here yesterday said the condition of conversion of such loans should be raised to 17 acres from the present condition of 2 hectares.

He said a law should be enacted so that the house, landed property and agriculture equipment, including the animals of farmers, were not auctioned in the cases of loan defaults.

The sabha demanded that the minimum support price of cotton should be raised to Rs 3,500 and all imports of the crop should be banned. The sabha demanded the release of Rs 62 crore due towards the government on account of sugarcane payments.


Fast unto death by farmers
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 23
Agitating farmers lodged in Central Jail, Amritsar, have started a fast unto death against police repression and to press for their unconditional release.

The farmers under the banner of Joint Kisan Manch comprising Kisan Sangarsh Committee and Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) are agitating for the past seven months.

Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharsh committee (KSC) told this correspondent today that the fast commenced today.


Farmers protest against ‘police torture’
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 23
Protesting against the "police torture" of farmers putting forth their demands in a peaceful manner, Kirti Kisan Union activists today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here.

Addressing the protesters, the state general secretary of the union, Mr Nirbhay Singh Dhudike, said the tenure of Capt Amarinder Singh as Punjab Chief Minister had proved to be "anti-farmer".

He said on the one hand the Chief Minister was making rounds of New Delhi for higher rates for crops, on the other the police was suppressing the agitation of farmers demanding higher prices for their crops.

The union leaders demanded immediate release of the farmers arrested during the agitation. They also demanded that the "false cases" registered against them be withdrawn and the raids on farmers' houses be stopped.


12 chemists may lose licences
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
The three state-level teams constituted by the Director, Health Services and State Drug Controller, Punjab, have recommended the suspension and cancellation of licences of 12 chemist shops after their owners were found violating the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Not only this, three teams, which were sent to this district where drug addiction has been prevailing since the past many decades, also managed to seize habit-forming drugs in large quantity from shops located in Rampura Phul, Maur Mandi, Raman Mandi, Nathana and Bhagta Bhai Ka areas.

The inspection report of these three teams has been sent to the higher authorities with the recommendation that action should be taken against the erring chemists.

Mr R. Yash Pal Singla, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, in a press note issued here today, said the chemist shop owners from where the drugs were seized failed to show the purchase record of the drugs. He added that when the shops were raided, the pharmacists or other qualified persons, who were supposed to run the same, were found absent.

Dr Singla said apart from three state level teams, three other teams headed by Senior Medical Officers (SMOs) were also constituted by him, which almost covered the entire district by conducting raids on the premises of chemist shops and quacks.

He said the campaign against those who had been selling intoxicants and indulging in malpractices, would continue.


Lineman held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
Ashok Kumar, assistant lineman, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Bathinda subdivision, was caught by a Vigilance Bureau team, led by DSP, Ashutosh Kaushal, while accepting a bribe of Rs 1,000 from Ms Jaswinder Kaur in lieu of not checking the theft of electricity in her house.

Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, in a press note issued here today, said on receiving a complaint in this connection, a trap was laid by a team led by DSP Kaushal. The accused Ashok Kumar was arrested in the presence of two government witnesses and one shadow witness. The bribe money of Rs 1,000 was recovered from the accused.


Driver goes berserk, kills 2 students
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, November 23
Two students of Adesh Polytechnic College at Marhmallu village in the district were killed and one was severely injured when the driver of a bus owned by a political family of Punjab deliberably hit the bus against tree branches on the Ferozepore-Abohar road late last night. Following this incident, the college has been closed for an indefinite period.

The police has managed to arrest the driver, Jagjit Singh, who had fled the scene after causing the accident.

The victims have been identified as Deepak Sharma and Gurpreet Singh. Both were first-year students of electronic engineering. Deepak was a resident of Bathinda. The marriage of his elder brother was to be solemnised after a few days. The bodies of both students have been handed over to their kin after post-mortem. A case in this connection has been registered against jagjit Singh under Sections 279, 337, 336 and 304-A of the IPC at the Sadar police station, Muktsar.

Yesterday, the students, who were standing outside their college, signalled the driver of the private bus to stop. When the driver did not stop at the gate of the polytechnic, around 20 students rushed after it and managed to climb on to its roof. This agitated the driver, who accelerated the bus and then deliberately hit it against roadside tree branches. Three students, who were sitting on the roof, fell after threes branches hit them.


Senate ratifies D-Litt for Sonia
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
The Punjabi University Senate today ratified its decision of awarding Congress President Sonia Gandhi the degree of Doctor of Literature (Honaris Causa) in recognition of her role in strengthening the moral fibre of Indian society.

The university Senate also unanimously elected Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla, former Vice-Chancellor Dr G.S. Kalkat and Akal Degree College for Women, Sangrur, Principal Harjit Kaur to the Senate. Patiala MP Preneet Kaur has been nominated to the Finance Committee of the Senate.

Presiding over the Senate meeting, Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai said the university had decided to award a D-Litt (Honaris Causa) degree to Ms Sonia Gandhi after careful thought of the sacrifice made by her to strengthen Indian polity and also national character.

He spoke on the steps taken by the university to provide technical education to poor students at its Engineering College at Talwandi Sabo and software being created on the campus to make Punjabi available to a global audience.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Sant Ram Singla supported the grant of the D-Litt degree to Ms Gandhi. He said the Congress President’s resolve not to accept the past of Prime Minister had set high standards in public life and earned her and the country worldwide acclaim.

The Senate also passed the audit of the expenditure.


GND varsity’s founder’s day today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
Mr Buta Singh, Governor of Bihar, will preside over the 35th founder’s day celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev University to be held tomorrow on university campus here.

Prof Akhtarul Wasi from Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, Dr Inderpal Singh, former Pro Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University and Dr S.S.Joshi, former Professor of Linguistics of Punjabi University, Patiala will speak on “Life and teachings of Guru Nanak and higher education.”

Mr Buta Singh will release the Punjabi version of Guru Nanak Dev University calendar and “bibliography of Guru Nanak Dev in print and CD form”.

The university for the first time has published the university calendar in Punjabi, translated by Prof Paramjit Singh Sidhu of School of Punjabi Studies.

Dr H.S. Chopra, in charge of Bhai Gurdas Library, prepared the bibliography of English, Punjabi and Hindi books written on Guru Nanak Dev and has also produced a CD of these books.

The University will hold exhibition depicting Punjabi culture in which various colleges affiliated to the university will display artifacts, old utensils, Punjabi dresses, ornaments, weapons, etc. An inter-college photography and painting competitions will be held.

The university has also decided to grant 50 per cent discount on all university publications for which a sale counter will be put up near the Bhai Gurdas Library, according to a press note here today .


Education system to be restructured
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 23
Reiterating that education was in bad shape in government schools of the state, Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla, today said the state government was worried over the issue.

Talking to mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House before presiding over a meeting of the District Planning and Development Board here, the Finance Minister said, the Punjab Government was in the process of restructuring the education system. In view of this, a committee had been constituted under the presidentship of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, which would suggest ways and means to impart quality education. He said education was the most sensitive issue.

Mr Singla also stated that though Punjab had already released funds totalling Rs 460 crore during this year to different departments, a sum of Rs 33 crore was yet to be released to the Education Department.

In reply to a question regarding waiving of loan granted to Punjab during the militancy period, he said not only Punjab but other states like Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, had also approached the Centre to get their loans waived, but the matter was still pending with the Union Government. He said Punjab was paying Rs 3500 crore per annum as interest on the loans taken by it. The Central Government should slash interest rates from 13 per cent to 9 per cent, he said.

Regarding unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Singla said Punjab was bound to do it as this provision had been made under the Central Electricity Act-2003. However, he added that no employee would be retrenched after the division of PSEB into companies. He also said that the interests of the employees would be protected.


A school surrounded by dung and garbage

Barnala, November 23
Thanks to the indifferent attitude of the municipal committee, as many as 1000-odd students and its faculty of the only Government Girls Senior Secondary School here are facing threat to their mental and physical well being. Their surroundings are being spoiled not only by area residents throwing garbage and answering nature's call but also by the municipal committee by dumping its solid waste in routine.

The stink raised by the littered garbage and waste is so strong that it seems impossible to stay in the premises. The situation becomes worse, particularly in the rainy season. It is anybody’s guess that how congenial atmosphere it would be to stay and concentrate on studies with almost two sides of the school covered with municipal waste.

As a result, students and teachers are more concerned about their health than academic matter. During rainy season some students develop serious medical problems due to the alleged apathy of the authorities concerned.

But as most of the students come from the lower strata who can ill afford the fee structure of the private school, they have no other option but to bear it.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that the site earlier had a big pond. However, the land was later allotted to a girls school, which was still housed in a building declared unsafe by the PWD. After the construction of the new building, the school began to function here in 1995.

The school in charge Ms Uma Kumari, lamented that the school authorities had raised the issue with various officials concerned but to no avail. Heaps of garbage are easily visible from five rooms since their height has come up to the window level. Area residents are now using some encroached land of the school for their cattle who provide odd look to school.

Earlier, reacting on the complaints of the school authorities, SDM Jora Singh Thind had written a letter to executive officer of the municipal committee, Barnala, to clear the municipal dump at the school site and vacate the encroached land, but the sorry state of affairs is that even after the 3 months the situation stands as it.

Executive Officer K.S. Brar, when contacted, assured that the necessary action to clear the garbage dump would be taken at the earliest.


Teachers not paid salary for a year
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 23
Teachers of Guru Gobind Singh College, Sanghera, have not been paid salaries for the past one year but even then they have been teaching classes wearing black badges in protest for the past one month.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Prof Darshan Kumar and Prof Harbans Singh, president and secretary, respectively, of the PCCTU, Sanghera unit, said there seemed to be continuous misappropriation of college funds.

They said the college unit of the union had given a memorandum to Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, urging him to initiate measures to ensure smooth management of the college.

The Deputy Commissioner had ordered a probe into the monetary affairs and other issues of the college asking the SDM, Barnala, to look into the matter.

They said the union also sought the help of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter.


8 students hurt in attack
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 23
Eight students of the local SBS Engineering College were injured, three of them seriously, when a mob of around 40 to 50 students allegedly attacked them in front of the college campus this afternoon.

According to information, Kunal Chandra, Rajneesh Bharti and Mukul Khosla received serious injuries and were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. While Saurav Grover, Sandeep Katoch, Gurdeep Virdi, Naresh Kumar and Narinder Luthra escaped with minor injuries. Kunal said though they were having some differences with seniors and some local students, they never anticipated such aggression. He said he and his friends were sitting at the Verka booth in front of the college when suddenly a group of 40 to 50 boys, including some outsiders, attacked them with knives, iron rods and hockey sticks.


Teachers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
The district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) led by Prof H.S. Walia, state vice-president and the district president, Prof R.K. Kaushal, today organised a rally-cum-protest march at DAV college here.

The protest march was organised in support of long pending demands of non-government aided college teachers.

The rally was addressed by PCCTU president, Prof S.S. Hundal and vice-president PCCTU Prof Walia besides district president R.K. Kaushal.


Lecture on creative writing
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 23
The Punjabi department of the local Multani Mal Modi College today organised a lecture on “Creative writing process” Fiction writer and Sahitya Academy Award winner Prem Parkash was the chief speaker.

He said in the 50s it was considered that human relations and human behaviour, by and large depended on the economic conditions of society and the characters in fiction represented their economic classes.

Prem Parkash said he himself felt that there were different layers of contradictions in the subcultures and human behaviour of the common man. “Everybody is unique by nature”. The author also presents the reality of men-women relations in modern life.

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