P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




SGPC recognises Damdami Taksal group
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 31
In a significant development, the Sikh high priests and the SGPC have decided to accord recognition to breakaway group of Damdami Taksal, headed by Baba Ram Singh, who believed that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale was killed during Operation Bluestar in June, 1984.

Decision to attend the function, being organised by the breakaway group, scheduled to be held at Gurdwara Gurshabad Parkash near Batala on January 2, was taken at an emergency meeting held here today. But both the SGPC and Sikh high priests would stay away from the ‘antim ardas’ (Dusehra), being organised at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash, Mehta Chowk, by Baba Harnam Singh Dhunna , who was nominated as acting Jathedar of the Taksal following death of Baba Thakur Singh .

Talking to The Tribune, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, said the Akal Takht secretariat had received a fax from Gurdwara Tresy (USA) on June 17 last year in which Baba Thakur Singh had appointed Baba Ram Singh as 15th Jathedar of the Damdami Taksal. Moreover, Baba Ram Singh had accepted the line of the SGPC and Akal Takht which had declared that Sant Bhinderanwale was ‘martyred’ during the Operation Bluestar.

Jathedar Vedanti claimed that Jathedar Iqbal Singh, high priest of Patna Sahib, Giani Balwant Singh and Giani Tarlochan Singh, both Jathedars of Damdama Sahib and Kesgarh Sahib, respectively, had given their acceptance that they would attend the ‘antim ardas’ being arranged at Gurdwara Gurshabad Parkash (Batala) instead of the one being arranged by Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash (Mehta Chowk) on January 2. Jathedar Vedanti, however, appealed to both the warring groups to sink their differences as Damdami Taksal had done a great job to propagate Sikhism all over the world.

Jathedar Vedanti said it was unfortunate that Damdami Taksal had appointed Baba Dhunna as acting Jathedar thereby giving clear signals that they still believe that Sant Bhinderanwala was alive and would come back to take over as regular head of the Taksal.

Meanwhile, the warring groups of Bhinderanwale traded serious charges by holding parallel press conferences here. Bhai Mohkam Singh, Chief spokesman of Damdami Taksal, has alleged that Baba Ram Singh and his supporters had forged signatures of Baba Thakur Singh to claim that he (Baba Ram Singh) had been appointed him the 15th Jathedar of the Taksal.

He played a video film to substantiate his charges. The film showed that Baba Thakur Singh was avoiding signing the letterhead at Gurdwara Tresy (USA) to nominate Baba Thakur Singh as the next head.

Bhai Mohkam Singh claimed that a letter , bearing signatures of Baba Thakur Singh, issued to Baba Ram Singh on June 17 last year, was withdrawn two days later. He called upon Baba Ram Singh and Bhai Manjit Singh, senior president, Shiromani Akali Dal, not to hold parallel ‘Dusehra’ of Baba Thakur Singh. Instead, they should participate in the ‘antim ardas’ being arranged at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash, Mehta Chowk. He claimed that Baba Harnam Singh Dhunna was nominated successor of Baba Thakur Singh by evolving consensus at the Taksal.

On the other hand, Bhai Manjit Singh and his supporters claimed that the video film shown by Bhai Mohkam Singh was doctored.


GND varsity professor couple resigns
Controversy over working abroad while on leave
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 31
The two senior Professors of Guru Nanak Dev University, who had gone to New Zealand on ‘extraordinary leave’ reportedly resigned today following a complaint that they had been working in an educational institute in New Zealand without permission of the university authorities.

The Financial Development Officer (FDO) had written to the Vice-Chancellor to seek an explanation from them.

The university sources said both Dr Gurvinder Singh Shergil and his wife Dr Harpreet Kaur Gill, professors in Business Management and Physical Education departments, respectively, had re-joined the university after a long gap here.

Mr Varinder Kumar, FDO of the university, in his official noting wrote to the Vice-Chancellor to seek an explanation from the couple in this regard.

He has also recommended that Dr Shergil should clarify how much salary he and his wife had got from the educational institute abroad. The FDO had also written that the university should write to New Zealand’s educational institute for further information.

When contacted Mr Varinder Kumar confirmed that he had sent a file in this regard four days ago.

It is learnt that Dr Shergil had gone to New Zealand about five years ago on ‘extra-ordinary leave’. After the completion of the three-year ‘extra-ordinary leave’, Dr Shergil had applied for medical leave on the basis of medical certificates sent from abroad and he was granted an extension.


Ludhiana sitting on powderkeg
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 31
Ludhiana, the industrial capital of Punjab, continues to sit on the powderkeg as more than 10,000 explosives, including high-powered bombs (both live and dead) and shells are still lying on the premises of the container freight station (CFS-dry port) depot of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation in the Focal Point here.

More than two months have passed when these explosives were segregated by the personnel of the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), Jalandhar, following blasts in Ghaziabad, Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and many parts of the country.

These blasts were caused as the bombs had been found from the imported scrap from Arab countries or war-affected areas.

Ten persons were killed in Ghaziabad. Even after the segregation of these explosives many incidents have taken place at Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh. Ludhiana witnessed a blast in a steel furnace unit in Focal Point only two days ago. Although it has not been established as yet whether the blast was caused by an explosion of the imported scrap, but the same has caused a scare among the local industrialists and the residents of Ludhiana.

The recovery of more than 10,000 explosives — nearly 50 tonnes in weight, poses a serious threat to the town as a small mishandling can be disasterous.

The district administration has been in touch with the Army authorities since the recovery of the explosives and has been requesting them to dispose of the recovered explosives. They also held meetings with the Army experts and they visited the site and inspected the explosives. But so far the Army authorities have not started the disposal operations.

The higher authorities of the Army have not yet given clearance to go ahead with the disposal job.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, today told The Tribune that he had written to the state Home Department also to take up the matter with the Army authorities. It will take many months to dispose of the explosives, say experts.

The Army authorities were given a few sites for disposing of the explosives and they have also visited the sites.

The Army authorities are understood have asked the district authorities to provide certain facilities like removing the explosive to the site for taking up the disposal work and some manpower. The district authorities have arranged for the same.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner has asked the Director of Factories to have inspection of the factory where the blast took place two days ago.


Declare Rajasansi port for export, Punjab to Centre
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
With the Punjab government writing to the Union Government to declare Amritsar’s Rajasansi International Airport, a port for export, it will give a boost to exports from the region by facilitating cargo movements from here.

Official sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has written letters to the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, and the Aviation Minister, Mr Praful Patel, to notify the port as a port for export and to have a cold chain infrastructure in place for storing perishable cargo. The notification would ensure quick transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables to other parts of the world.

Talking to TNS, Ms Ravneet Kaur, MD, PSIDC, said that in the absence of the desired notification and lack of trained manpower and proper equipment for handling cargo, exporters hesitate to come forward. Their produce is not only subjected to lot of inspections at the local level, but they also do not have many incentives.

With international flights like Singapore Airlines starting operations from here, cargo facilities need to be in place to encourage exports from here and have a matching input of imports. Infact, these flights can only be sustained if the state and the Central governments work together to enhance cargo traffic by bringing in cargo planes, having a separate terminal for the same, she added.

Mr V.S Mulekar, Director, Airport Authority of India ( AAI), Amritsar, said the cargo terminal was ready and action on having a cargo bay had also been initiated . However, the Union government should also ensure provision of adequate security and custodianship of the AAI cargo terminal here, he added. Presently, two cargo complexes are not functioning for want of trained manpower and proper equipment.

Meanwhile, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation MD, Mr Himmat Singh, said with cargo facilities are in place. Fresh vegetables like lettuce, brochilli, purple cabbage, tomatoes, french beans can be exported from here to the tropical countries, besides other agro-based products to Europe, North America and Australia. The wide-body jets being used by International airliners like the Singapore Airlines have the temperature control system and are ideal even for quick transporting perishable citrus fruits, peaches, mangoes, bhindi and Okra, he added.

The coming of cold chain infrastructure at the airport will increase export potential of these agro products from the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

The Director of ITFT, Dr Gulshan Sharma, the notification from the Central government will spell indirect benefits for the state government in terms of employment generation, increase in sales of industrial products, besides an increase in the GDP of the state. It will also increase traffic as well as non-traffic revenue for the airport, he added.


66 gazetted officers booked for corruption
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
If you thought Punjab Public Service Commission scam was a deterrent, you are in for a surprise. In 2004, as many 66 gazetted officers and 165 non-gazetted officers were booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on the allegations of being involved in corruption.

In all, 122 criminal cases were registered by the bureau in 2004 in its “on-going campaign against corruption”. Giving details, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau A.P Pandey said 234 traps were laid. At least 47 gazetted officers and 112 non-gazetted officers were “caught red-handed” while accepting bribe from complainants.

Giving details, the Vigilance Chief said senior officers nabbed included 13 doctors, a District Revenue Officer, along with a Drug Inspector. A Chief Engineer, five Executive Engineers, besides as many Sub Divisional Officers, were also caught.

This was not all. Three Excise and Taxation Officers and as many school Principals were also arrested, along with two Executive Officers belonging to Municipal Committees.

Four Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs), along with two District Education Officers and same number of general managers, were caught, along with a District Transport Officer, two district managers of the Mandi-Board, besides a Sub Divisional Engineer and a DSP.

As many as 37 cases of disproportionate assets were registered against 21 officers. Out of them, 16 were non-gazetted and five were gazetted officers. The gazetted officers included a Deputy Chief Engineer working with Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), a Deputy Director of Mandi Board, a retired DSP, an Assistant Executive Engineer and a Senior Manager of Markfed.

Mr Pandey said 252 vigilance inquiries were initiated in the year. Out of these, 18 were investigated and filed. Suitable action was initiated against 20. As many as 214 inquiries were underway involving 103 gazetted officers and 161 non-gazetted officers. The officers against whom inquiries were initiated include an IAS, two PCS officers, three chief engineers and 16 doctors.

He disclosed that a systematic pilferage of wood worth lakhs of rupees was detected after four depots of the State Forest Corporation were raided. The action was initiated after reports regarding pilferage of quality wood from the depots were received.

State level checking of nursing institutions was carried out by the bureau after reports of gross violation of prescribed rules were received. In fact, administrative and criminal action against erring nursing institutions was recommended in a detailed report submitted by the bureau to the Punjab Government. Criminal cases against defaulting institutions were also registered, he added.

As many as 219 vigilance cases were decided by trial courts. At least 14 gazetted officers including a BDPO, five doctors, an Agriculture Development Officer, a Bank Manager were convicted. At least 91 non-government officers were also convicted by special courts.


PSEB officials charge-sheeted for embezzlement
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 31
The PSEB has issued a charge sheet to three senior Gurdaspur-based officials for allegedly misappropriating an amount of about Rs 60 lakh. The officers who have been issued charge sheet include the former SE operations, Gurdaspur circle, Mr T.S. Randhawa, who has now retired, Mr K.S. Khullar, senior executive engineer, sub urban region, Pathankot, and Mr J.S. Pathania, AAE (operation) Dinanagar subdivision.

Besides the said officials, the charge sheet has also been issued to 12 junior level officers posted in the Gurdaspur circle.

Sources told The Tribune that amount was misappropriated without any authority in period extending from 1997 to 1999. The scam was detected during the stint of Mr Sohal, former chairman of the PSEB.

However, at that time the PSEB authorities had decided to do away the matter by just issuing letters of warning to the accused officers. However, the present ADGP (Vigilance), Mr Lalit Bhatia, once again probed into the matter and recommended major penalty and registration of criminal cases against the accused officers. In his investigation, Mr Bhatia has stated that PSEB officials carried out unplanned civil construction works at five sub-stations in Gurdaspur during the said period.

The unplanned civil construction was allegedly carried out at Donear, Dhar, Pathankot, Dinanagar and Mamoon substations. The modus operandi of the scam was that the accused officer split the civil construction works worth Rs 90 lakh to favour a few contractors. The construction work were divided into small works of Rs 50,000 or less so that the mandatory condition of advertising tenders could be evaded.

By doing so the said officers gave the works to their chosen contractors causing loss to the public exchequer. Moreover, the said civil construction works were carried out without any proper authorisation from the competent authority.

Acting on the report of the ADGP (Vigilance), the PSEB has issued the charge sheet to the accused officers in the case. The ADGP in addition to the charge sheet has recommended to the PSEB that a criminal case under Section 409 of the IPC should also be registered against the guilty officials.

The sources said after the detection of the scam in the civil construction works, the PSEB (Vigilance) has also initiated a probe into the similar works carried out on the sub-stations at Batala and Dhariwal during the same period.


Quake rumour spreads panic
People spend night in the open
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 31
Rumours of a possible earthquake threw normal life out of gear and people in Moga, Baghapurana, and a number of nearby villages spent last night in the open.

According to sources in Baghapurana, it all started a little after midnight when an earthquake warning was sounded from a temple. It led to people leaving their beds and sitting outside braving chilly weather. Soon the gurdwaras in nearby villages followed suit and made similar announcements. There was so much panic that some mediapersons from Baghapurana also called up police control room so as to find out whether there was any official information regarding earthquake.

Sources said when confronted people making such announcements simply said that they sounded the warning, as they were hearing it from all quarters. The scenario was no different in some areas of Moga where again the warning came from gurdwara’s loudspeaker. Children bore the maximum brunt of these rumours as they had to spend the night out in the coldest spell of the season. Similar reports have also been received from Kotkapura in Faridkot where villagers spent last night in their fields.

Sources in the district administration said that there was no official information in this regard and it was only a rumour.


Governor seeks help for tsunami-hit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Gen (Retd) S.F. Rodrigues, while extending his good wishes to the people of Punjab and Chandigarh for the year 2005, has exhorted them to renew their resolve for a dedicated contribution to the process of dynamic change, and the peace, progress and prosperity of the country.

General Rodrigues said: We are stepping into the New Year after the grave tragedy that struck various states of our country, leaving millions of our brethren in distress and despair. The whole nation needs to stand by them in this hour of crisis and embark on the enormous task of their rehabilitation.

This major challenge also requires our participation and assistance. The people of Punjab and Chandigarh have always set an example in such situations in the past and I am confident that they will continue with this tradition, he added.


Govt staff to donate day’s salary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Punjab Government employees will donate a day’s salary toward relief fund for tsunami victims. The government departments have been asked to deposit the salary amount toward the Chief Minister Relief Fund.

Punjab Mandi Board staff and market committees have already donated their day’s salary towards the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla said a cheque for Rs 15 lakh was being presented to the Chief Minister

Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal has also donated his month’s salary for the victims. Expressing shock and grief, Mr Atwal appealed to the masses to come forward and help the victims by donating generously to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, and the staff has also decided to contribute a day’s salary to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund

Mourning the death of victims, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has also decided that its chairperson and the members would donate Rs 5, 000 each. The employees would also donate a day’s pay in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.


Relief pours in for tsunami victims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
There has been an overwhelming response to the appeal by various voluntary organisations collecting aid for the tsunami victims. A number of relief camps have been set up by various voluntary organisations for collecting relief material for the tsunami victims.

The Pradesh Youth Congress set up a camp in collaboration with the Ghumar Mandi Shopkeepers’ Association here today. The senior vice-president of the Youth Congress, Mr Pawan Dewan, disclosed that the response had been overwhelming. It had been a unique experience, Mr Dewan said adding that the volunteers at the camp did not have to ask people for donations. “People came on their own”, he said.

Hundreds of people were moved by a cart puller’s gesture, who made a donation of his day’s earning. He said he wished to contribute more but could not earn much today. The contributions came generously from schoolchildren, housewives, labourers and students

Taking the lead, the Ludhiana Club announced Rs 1 lakh for the victims. According to the president of the club, Mr Kewal Chhabra, and the secretary, Mr Vinod Dewan, club members unanimously decided to donate Rs 1 lakh to the Prime Minister’s Calamity Relief Fund. A cheque has been handed over to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, for the purpose. Club also cancelled the New Year’s Eve celebrations.


DC appeals people to donate

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 31
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today appealed to people and to the social, religious, political and other organisations to help the grieving people of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, rehabilitation process could be started immediately.

He said there was no better way of celebrating the New Year than contributing for this cause of mankind. Mr Ahluwalia as president of the District Cultural Society donated Rs 51000 from District Cultural Society to PM’s Relief Fund. A delegation of Panchayats from the district met Deputy Commissioner and assured him a donation of Rs 5 lakh. OC


VB not taking action in DTO records case, alleges judge
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, December 31
Mr D.S. Malwai, Additional Sessions Judge today accused the Vigilance Bureau of purposely not taking interest in the investigation of a case registered by it against the local District Transport Office (DTO) for alleged bungling in its official records pertaining to driving licences and registration certificates of vehicles.

Mr Malwai not only accused the Vigilance Bureau of purposely not taking action in this connection, but also sought the help of SSPs of Mansa and Faridkot districts to investigate various complaints connected with the bunglings made in the official records of the district transport offices falling in their respective jurisdiction. He also instructed them to register criminal cases if they found any bunglings in official records during investigation.

A criminal case registered under Sections 467, 468, 471, 420 and 120-B of the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act in the local Vigilance Bureau police station on December 16, 2004 against the local District Transport Office (DTO) on the instruction of Mr Malwai when he came to know about certain bunglings made in the official records in the local DTO office while hearing a case pertaining to the motor accident.

Though Mr Malwai gave instructions on November 29, the case in this connection was registered after more than two weeks. The case was registered by the Vigilance Bureau only when Mr Malwai took personal interest and wrote another letter seeking the registration of the case.

Mr Malwai also alleged that though a news report had appeared in an English daily projecting the fact that officials of the transport office had been handling the record on a holiday and that too after he gave instructions to SSP (Vigilance Bureau) for registering a case, no separate case was registered by him in this connection against those officials

Mr Malwai, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, instructed the bureau to register a case and subsequently launch investigations while dealing with four accident cases he came to know that the register of the District Transport Office was not being maintained properly and some of the entries made in the register were doubtful.

In a letter written to the SSP, Vigilance Bureau, he asked him to make investigations and find out whether the entries in the register were being made on the basis of any genuine record or file after necessary fee was deposited or were being manipulated by the office of the DTO to the help certain persons claim compensation.

Verification certificates had also been issued against some entries and that aspect should also be investigated to find out the fact that whether those verifications had been given in accident claim cases or not. If the verification certificate had been given and the licence was found to be fake, then a criminal case should also be registered against these persons responsible for it.

Mr Malwai also found that the register did not contain complete entries. Some of the entries were without the signatures of the District Transport Officer (DTO). There was also a possibility that some of the photographs pasted in the register were not of the persons to whom the driving licences had been issued.

“During the trial of four motor accident claim cases, an official from District Transport Office, Mr Vivek Rattan was examined. From his statement it was revealed that he had not written about claim cases in the register and had just brought it for production purpose only. The register did not have the signatures of the DTO.

He added that entry number 6829 had been made in the name of Mr Sadhu Singh, a resident of Goniana Khurd. Later on, the same entry had been made in favour of Mr Ujjagar Singh of NFL Colony, Bathinda. Entries number 7109 and 7110 too were incomplete leaving the scope to enter any number of old licence. The entries number 7111, 7113 and 7114 were also found to be incomplete.

Against entry number 7166, first the name of Mr Om Parkash, a resident of Power House Road, was mentioned and subsequently it was replaced with the name of Mr Jasvir Singh, a resident of Killi Nihal Singh Wala.

Mr A. S. Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, while claiming that all things were going on as per norms in this case, said he did not want to comment on Mr Malwi’s allegations levelled against the Vigilance Bureau as he had not received any such letter from him.


DRM orders probe into allegation of overcharging
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 31
The Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepore Division on Northern Railways, Mr Dharam Singh, today ordered a probe into the allegations of overcharging from migrant workers of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh at Phagwara railway station by unscrupulous elements as well as the selective briefing by the local Station Superintendent, Mr R.K. Suman, of a section of media about the future departmental plans related to the development of the local railway station.

The Station Superintendent was not authorised to brief mediapersons abut the internal working of the department and it would be checked forthwith, declared the DRM. However, general briefing could be done under exceptional circumstances, he said. it may be mentioned here that Mr Suman had yesterday briefed some mediapersons about the proposal sent to the Railways authorities to introduce a computerised unreserved ticket-issuing facility at the local railway station for the benefit of commuters and other plans.

When told that some unscrupulous railway employees in connivance with railway police were overcharging and fleecing migrants, Mr Dharam Singh declared that it would be probed and in anybody found guilty would not be spared. Stern departmental action would be taken against the erring persons, he said.

Mr Dharam Singh disclosed that a special checking campaign had been launched at all railway stations of the division in wake of the recent Mukerian trains accident. Safety and security of the travellers and the trains were being given the topmost priority, he asserted. During the ongoing campaign, the possibility of technical or human errors were being checked and plugged, he said. Passenger safety was an article of faith with the railways and there cold be no compromise on it, he asserted.


Ring Main Unit inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 31
Mr H.C. Sood, Director (Distribution), PSEB, inaugurated a Ring Main Unit at its headquarters here today. The unit has been set up on experimental basis. The unit automatically switches over to the second supply source in case of failure of first supply source.

Mr Sood said camps were being organised in rural areas to provide an opportunity to farmers to voluntarily disclose their tubewell loads and get these regularised at reduced rates i.e. from Rs 3,000 to Rs 1,000 per BHP.

He added that the aim of the PSEB was to update the transformers and distribution system in the state after regulation of agriculture loads without paying any penalty under Voluntary Disclosure Schemes (VDS) launched by the board, which will remain effective till January 31.

Mr A.S. Gulati, Chief Engineer (Operations), said the number of farmers who wanted to regularise their loads had increased with the holding of such awareness camps of at Devigarh and would result in improved power supply and minimised the risk of burning of transformers due to overloading.


SGPC employees arrange bhog of Tohra
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 31
After the SGPC having failed to arrange akhand path in the memory of former SGPC chief Gurcharn Singh Tohra in its complex so far, its employees today came forward to arrange the same at Dewan Hall, Manji Sahib, here today.

The employees collected Rs 60,000, which would be deposited in a bank and the interest accrued on it would be used to arrange akhand path in the memory of Jathedar Tohra every year.

The SGPC secretary, Mr Dalmegh Singh, set the ball rolling and eulogised the services rendered by late Jathedar Tohra in the field of Sikhism.


Stamp duty rates to be notified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Government has clarified that the rates of stamp duty and the date of enhancement would be duly notified to the general public. A spokesman of the Revenue Department also contradicted news in a section of the press claiming that stamp duty would be enhance by the government.

All transactions of sale would continue to attract 6 per cent stamp duty, he added. Any speculations should be disregarded by the public, he urged.


CM greets people
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Capt Amarinder Singh today greeted Punjab residents on New Year’s eve. He also solicited the cooperation and support of Punjabis to realise the vision of modern and progressive state.

The Chief Minister also expressed hope that Punjab would soon emerge as front runner state in the country with the concerted, dedicated and sincere efforts of the residents.


Eminent Punjabi writer dead
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 31
Renowned Punjabi writer and short story writer, Dalbir Chetan, who wrote many stories on Punjab tragedy, died here today after prolonged illness. He was 60.

Chetan who served in the Air Force and later in the Department of Excise and Taxation had authored four books on short stories: ‘Rishtian De Ar Par’, ‘Rat Barate’, ‘Khara Badal’ and ‘Mehndi Bazar’. His daughter Sarghi recently compiled a book ‘Khilre Varke’ on the basis of letters written to his father by renowned personalities.

He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.


Farmers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 31
On a call given by five farmers’ organisations, a large number of farmers yesterday staged a dharna in protest against the pollution created by sugar mills.

They blocked traffic in front of the cooperative sugar mill, Bhala Pind, for three hours and raised slogans against the government. They submitted memorandums to the authorities concerned to be forwarded to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa, state secretary, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, and Dr Satnam Singh, while addressing the gathering, said the sugar mills were polluting air and water. They were also demanding release of payments pending with the cooperatives and privately-managed sugar mills.

Meanwhile, farmers also staged a dharna in front of the cooperative sugar mill at Sheron village falling under Tarn Taran subdivision. Their leaders condemned the Centre and the state government for not protecting their rights.


PRTC to induct 100 buses
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 31
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) is set to add another 100 buses to its fleet next year after successfully commissioning 92 buses in the current year.

Disclosing this at a press conference here today, PRTC Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta said the corporation had been able to put 92 buses on the road in a six-month period this year. He said these buses had been made by the corporation’s Body Fabrication Cell and the funds for the same had been arranged through the State Bank of Patiala at a competitive 7 per cent rate of interest.

Mr Gupta said, simultaneously, under the replacement scheme, the corporation had condemned 71 buses this year. He said the strength of the PRTC fleet presently was 1,017 buses which was seven buses less than the last year’s strength. “In spite of this we have increased the efficiency of the corporation to generate Rs 3 crore more by way of route receipts this year”. He said this had come about due to surprise checking and improvement in the work culture amongst the employees of the corporation.

The corporation Chairman, who was accompanied by its Assistant Managing Director M.S. Narang, also made out a case for increasing bus fare in the state. He said that this had been pending since three years and that in case the fare was hiked the corporation loses would increase. He said with tight financial controlling the Corporation had reduced its overall loss to Rs 7 crore and had even recorded an operational profit of Rs 3 crore. “All this will change in case the fare is not hiked”, he said, adding that the corporation was bound to release the dearness allowance installment and take other welfare measures, which would further increase its liabilities in the current financial year.

Mr Gupta said the corporation had also introduced computerisation in the PRTC. He said to streamline the entire system the computerisation wing had been established in the PRTC which was headed by a General Manager. Mr Gupta said activities like gate control, security and cleanliness of buses had already been outsourced. “Now work of collection of adda fee at certain bus stands has been assigned to the highest bidders through open auction resulting in a saving of Rs 24 lakh annually to the corporation. He said the corporation was also establishing a new bus stand at Phagwara which, would come up at a cost of Rs 2 crore and would yield a revenue of Rs 1 crore annually.


4,484 complaints received, says ADGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is looking into complaints against a former Managing Director of Milkfed, besides the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority’s Chief Engineer.

Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau A.P Pandey said the Bureau was also probing into complaints against Director Health, besides Assistant Director of Local Audit Finance and Account. Inquiries have also been initiated against two Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) and a Superintendent of Police, he added.

The Chief claimed that a total of 4484 fresh complaints (FCs) were received in 2004. Out of these 3570 were disposed of after being verified. Over 910 fresh complaints were still under investigation.


Protesters booked for blocking traffic
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 31
Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh has ordered that strong action be taken against the accused responsible for blocking National Highway No 1 here yesterday and the violence triggered during the blockade by Dalits led by the Ambedkar Sena.

Consequently, three cases have been registered by the police. When contacted today, the SHO, Sub-Inspector Gurwinder Singh, confirmed registration of the cases.

Those responsible for blocking vehicular traffic have been booked under Section 283 of the IPC, a cross case has been registered against some Dalit activists and a tractor-trailer driver and his companion under Sections 323, 341, 427, 148, 149, 324, 34 of the IPC.

The Dalits had blocked traffic to demand the arrest of Mr Nirmal Singh, a school teacher, for using a caste-specific language against a girl student, Satnam Kaur.

The cane growers had separately blocked traffic to demand remunerative price for sugarcane and in support of other issues on a call given by the CPM-led Punjab Kisan Sabha.


2 killed in road accident
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, December 31
In a head-on collision between two trucks at Sadak today, drivers of both the trucks were killed.

According to sources, a truck of Sadik Truck Union (HYN 3497) was on its way from Sadik to Muktsar, collided with another truck (RJ13 G 7280) coming from the opposite direction.

The impact of the collision was so much that both the drivers died on the spot.

The deceased have been identified as Gurbinder Singh of Bhangewala village and Gurcharan Singh of Araiwala village.

The police has handed over the victims' bodies to their family members after the post-mortem examination.


Granthi found murdered

Amritsar, December 31
Dilbagh, a granthi of a Baba Bakala gurdwara, was found murdered in mysterious circumstances.

He was stabbed to death and his body was found in Dhianpur canal here yesterday.

A case under Section 302, IPC, was registered at Beas police station in Majitha police district.

According to information the deceased had been missing for the past couple of days. — OC

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