P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC pass ‘gurmata’ in favour of Ram Singh
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 1
The last ditch efforts of Damdami Taksal to ensure presence of SGPC, Sikh Clergy to attend the “Dashera” (antim ardas) of Baba Thakur Singh at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash, Chowk Mehta, failed today when Bibi Jagir Kaur, President Shiromani Committee told Bhai Mohkam Singh, Chief Spokesman for the Taksal who visited Begowal to seek her support, that the decision to give recognition to breakaway group, headed by Baba Ram Singh could not be altered at this juncture.

Bibi Jagir Kaur told Bhai Mohkam Singh that the ‘Gurmata’ had been passed in the presence of Sikh clergy by seeking consent of various Sikh organisations. Talking to TNS, here today, Bibi Jagir Kaur said that she had told the Taksal spokesman that the SGPC would definitely bring rapprochement between both the groups after the ‘Antim Ardas’. The SGPC chief urged that Baba Ram Singh, head of the breakaway group and Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, acting Jathedar of the Taksal, should sink their differences.

In a significant development, the SGPC has also got the support from Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, to recognise Baba Ram Singh as the 15th Jathedar of Damdami Taksal. Bibi Jagir Kaur said that Mr Badal had stated that he would endorse any decision taken by the Sikh clergy and the SGPC.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said that the recognition to Baba Ram Singh was being given on the basis of the fax received by Akal Takht on June 17 last year bearing signature of Baba Thakur Singh. As per the fax, Baba Thakur Singh had been appointed Jathedar of the Taksal. She said any recognition given to acting Jathedar Baba Harnam Singh Dhunna would amount to violation of the decision of the SGPC and Akal Takht which had declared Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale as ‘martyr’ in presence of his (Sant Bhinderanwale’s family). Baba Dhumma must declare that Sant Bhinderanwale had passed on.

Meanwhile, representatives of various Sikh organisations met Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, to bring rapprochement between the warring groups.

The parallel ‘dashera’ (Antim Ardas) of Baba Thakur Singh at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash and Gurdwara Gurshabad Parkash, Sangrai (Batala), would be virtually a show of strength between both the factions of Taksal. While the SAD (Badal) would attend the ‘Antim Ardas’ at Sangrai (Batala), the rival Akali factions, including Panthic Morcha and SAD (Amritsar) are likely to give recognition to Baba Harnam Singh, Acting Jathedar of Damdami Taksal, Mehta Chowk.

The split in the Damdami Taksal has come up after a gap of 35 years. After the death of Baba Gurbachan Singh Bhinderanwale, the SGPC had given recognition to Sant Mohan Singh Bhinderan while Sant Kartar Singh became a mainstream Taksal head though he had shifted his headquarters to Chowk Mehta after the death of Sant Gurbachan Singh Khalsa.


30 lakh visit Shahidi Jor Mela
Maryada in, gambling stalls out
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 1
Though the tercentenary commemoration of Shahidi Jor Mela has ended officially, but still thousands of devotees are coming to Fatehgarh Sahib to pay obeisance to the younger Sahibzadas.

Braving inclement weather and intensive cold wave more than 30 lakh pilgrims visited the “Shahidi Jor Mela”. Kudos to the district administration for restoring maryada and sanctity of the ‘Jor Mela’ and making it as a real ‘Shahidi Jor Mela’.

It was after a gap of 25 years that the district administration led by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, took steps to commemorate the Shahidi Jor Mela in a purely religious manner. It was for the first time that the district administration made elaborate arrangements for the comfortable stay of pilgrims, free parking for vehicles, free transport for senior citizens, ladies and physically challenged persons from the entry nakas to Gurdwara Sahib.

The road from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup was kept free from shops, stalls, conferences and community kitchens for the convenience of the public and to hold the Nagar Kirtan. Commercialisation of the mela was ended with the administration banning swings, circus, skill games, amusement games, gambling stalls and sale of intoxicants. Only Gurbani was relayed from Gurdwara Sahib.

These steps were appreciated by the public in general and the SGPC and the government in particular. Many religious and social institutions, including the SGPC, presented siropa (robe of honour) to the Deputy Commissioner.

It was also for the first time that political conference of the Congress attracted more crowd than the Akalis. Though the SGPC had also put up an attractive pandal yet the exhibition of the Guru’s weapon displayed by Capt Amarinder Singh’s family at the entrance of the Congress pandal attracted the maximum crowd.

A considerable chunk of the peasantry and rural folk turned up to listen to the Chief Minister as he took a firm stand on the sharing of river waters and kept the promise of constructing four memorial gates at Fatehgarh Sahib as well as sanctioned Rs 6 crore for the development of the area.

The announcement by the Chief Minister to set up a super speciality hospital for children at Fatehgarh Sahib is a big tribute to the younger Sahibzadas. The hospital will be equipped with the latest equipment, qualified and experienced physicians, surgeons and consultants.

The other main attraction of the event was the display of “Ganga Sagar” by Rai Azizullah Khan, member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, and a direct descendant of the Nawab of Raikot Kalan III, whom Guru Gobind Singh had gifted Ganga Sagar. He brought Ganga Sagar to Fatehgarh Sahib on the eve of the tercentenary commemoration of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas.

All who came to pay obeisance also had a glimpse of the sacred urn “Ganga Sagar” of Guru Gobind Singh which was placed on a rotating pedestal on a specially-designed wagon, in front of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. Sound was missing from the light and sound programme “Sirhind ki Dastan” organised by the Public Relations Department, which disappointed the large number of devotees.


Wildlife issues continue to hang fire
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
As the Punjab Government continues to dilly-dally on setting up a new state wildlife board, several issues regarding wildlife continue to hang fire.

The first big issue needed to be addressed is the holding of census of wild animals. We have not even rough estimates of population of animals in the state. Besides a decision is to be taken to issue permits for eliminating limited number of blue bulls and other wild animals posing a problem to farmers in the Kandi belt and the Mansa-Bathinda area.

Under the amended Wildlife Protection Act, it is mandatory for all state governments to set up boards under the chairmanship of respective Chief Ministers. Informed sources said the Punjab Government was to be set up the board by April last year.

By amending the Act, the Union Government has almost done away with the discretion of the state governments as far as selecting members of boards is concerned. Earlier, state governments would induct “yes men” in such boards and these members would endorse all decisions of the state governments concerned, with scant concern for conservation of wildlife.

Under the amended Act, it is a must for the state governments to include a serving Brigadier-level officer of the Army in the board. Besides, three members of NGOs, three MLAs, two members of the Scheduled Tribes, a representative of the Geological Survey of India, one of the Botanical Survey of India and representatives of the Wildlife Institute and the Wildlife Department of the Union Government are to be taken on the board. The Director, Fisheries, and the Director, Tourism, and representatives of panchayats are also to be taken as members.

Though the board set up earlier is in place in Punjab, it has been rendered defunct with the passing of the amendment. Till the new Board is set up, no policy decision can be taken with regard to wildlife.

With regard to holding the population count of wild animals is concerned, experts have given training to Punjab’s Forest Officers. A workshop was held at Ludhiana in this connection by Dr Y.V. Jhala of the Wildlife Institute, Dehra Dun recently.

Punjab is faced with a two-pronged problem. While the growing use of pesticides has almost wiped out several species of birds, their natural habitats in rural areas have been destroyed by farmers to bring more land under agriculture.

Second, a number of certain species of wild animals such as blue bulls and wild boars has gone up. They have become a major problem for the farming community. There is a need to take steps to stop damage to crops without going for elimination of such animals.

All these issues will continue to hang fire till the setting up of the new board.


Illegal mining in Chakki river
threatens water schemes

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur January 1
Illegal mining in the Chakki riverbed is threatening the drinking water supply schemes of the Public Health Department. The discharge from almost all water supply schemes located in the Chakki river has reduced considerably.

The public health authorities have been raising concern regarding the matter since 2000. They have written letters to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), departments of Industries and Mining and the local district administration. In the letters the Public Health Department has alleged that discharge in many of their wells located in the Chakki riverbed has reduced from 8,000 gallon per hour to just 2,000 gallon per hour.

More than 60 per cent decline in discharge from wells is an indication that if the mining continues at the same pace most of the drinking water schemes will go dry in the next few years much against their designed capacities. This will deprive the people of the kandi areas of the district of drinking water, the department authorities have warned.

The letters of the Public Health Department have evoked an interesting response from the departments concerned. These departments with mining are just passing the buck on each other rather than taking any concrete action in the matter.

As per the documents available with The Tribune, the Department of Mining in its reply to the public health authorities has stated that stopping illegal mining is the responsibility of the Department of Industries. The Director Industries has further referred the matter to the Joint Director of the Geology Department. He has requested the Department of Agriculture to conduct a study to find out the causes of the ground water depletion in the water schemes in the Chaki riverbed despite the fact that the public health authorities have clearly stated that the depletion was being caused due to illegal mining.

The sources in the Public Health Department said that illegal miners, who are mostly the stone crusher owners, were picking up topsoil retaining water from the Chakki riverbed. Due to it the underground water in the area was going down rapidly. The Public Health Department had proposed that no stone crusher should be located within 2 km radius of the drinking water supply schemes. However, the growing number of stone crushers around the water supplying schemes had been causing increasing damage to the water supply schemes.

Interestingly, the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, has banned mining in the Chakki riverbed under Section 144 of the Cr.PC. The police recently, acting on media reports, had booked stone crusher owners and confiscated machinery being used for illegal mining. However, this has not deterred the illegal miners, who are continuing mining in the area.


Cops in trouble over signed blank paper
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 1
A signed blank paper has landed the police officials posted at Division No 2, Pathankot, in soup. The district and Session Judge, Gurdaspur, Mr Jora Singh, has ordered the registration of a case under Sections 420, 467 and 463 of the IPC against them.

The sources said a stricture against the guilty police official was passed by the Sessions Judge after he noticed a signed blank paper produced before him during proceedings of a case by the police. The case before the judge was registered by the police officials of the Pathankot Division No. 2 against a person under Section 420 of the IPC.

The judge took the paper as an effort of the police officials to manipulate the facts in case. He ordered the SSP, Gurdaspur, to register the case against the officials guilty of misconduct.

The police sources said the blank paper found by the Sessions Judge in the case papers was actually not signed by the accused in the case. It was result a routine exercise of police officials to carry out the modalities laid down by the Supreme Court before arresting any accused.

As per the Supreme Court directions, the police has to arrest any accused in the presence of his neighbours or known people. The neighbours have to be made witness to the arrest. In this case, the police officials of Division No. 1 police station got the signatures of neighbours of the accused while arresting him on a blank paper to complete the formality later.

However, the paper somehow got attached to the case papers produced in the court invoking stricture from the District and Sessions Judge.

The SP, Pathankot, Mr Manminder Singh, said an inquiry into the case was being carried out and action would be taken against the guilty.


Rajpura Sqn Leader’s body found in Nicobar
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 1
Squadron Leader Nirmal Singh had no hope for rescue. All he could do was huddle together with his family in their first floor Air Force residence in Car Nicobar when the tsunami struck them.

Missing since then, his body was found yesterday after his brother had given up hope and come back to his hometown here.

Today the news of the recovery of his body and the subsequent cremation at the Nicobar islands was received with despondency by his family and friends.

“I came back yesterday after a sustained effort could not yield his (Squadron Leader’s) body’’, says his brother Wing Commander Kamaljit Singh. The family, which is already grieving over the loss of the officer’s daughter Kirandeep whose body was found a few days back, received news of the death of the officer yesterday evening.

“Nirmal’s body was identified by his colleague keeping in view his height, beard and a gold ‘kara’ which he was wearing on his right wrist”, said Kamaljit.

Nirmal’s father Mahinder Singh, who is himself a former airman, is distraught at the loss of his son. “He left for Nicobar islands on December 19 after spending a week here to attend an ‘akhand path’ held in memory of his late mother”, he said. The former airman says he does not have the heart to listen about the fate of Nirmal’s wife and their son Harmanpreet who are still missing. Each time he breaks down his family members and others remind him that he is a ‘fauji’ and he tries to regain his composure. But it is difficult.

Family members told TNS that the body of Nirmal was cremated at Nicobar islands today. They said the body had been found 100 metres from the seashore at Kakana beach. The family is still to receive any news about Nirmal’s wife Jasmine or their son Harmanpreet.


They outran tsunami
Tribune News Service

Kurali, January 1
“We were running against all hope. Nearly 25 metre high waves chasing us in Nicobar Island, I was not worried about my self but my wife and two and half year son who could not run as fast as we. It is just a miracle happened a two-wheeler rider gave lift to my wife and son to reach a safer place. Despite the disaster we survived with the grace of God” said Lance Naik Mohan Singh, who along with wife and a son survived in tsunami disaster. He, his wife Parminder Kaur and a son Harsimran Preet returned to his native Rakauli village in Kurali town yesterday late night.

It is just coincidence that after spending 45 days holidays in Rakauli village, Mohan Singh who is serving in M.E.S., along with his wife and a son went back to Nicobar on December 25 a day before the tsunami disaster.

“It was 6.20 am on December 26, I was having tea with my wife. All of a sudden earthquake shock us. All of us move out of the house to save us. But I was stunned to see waves from sea are just 100 metres away from us. About 70 persons includes military personnel and their family members all left with no option but to run as much as they can,” said Mohan Singh narrating the incident.

“While waves just approachable distance from us, my wife took Harsimran in her lap and found it difficult to move fast. We have left with no option but to pray to God for help. All of a sudden I saw a scooterist who was also running for a safer place. He took my wife and a son to 1.5 Km away. I just managed to run fast as much as I can to save myself,” he added.

“But the horror was not ended here. The tidal waves continued to chase us. Finally we found safer place over fire tenders on the Air Force runway”. On December 26, finally a military helicopter came for our rescue. First children and wives of the military personnel were rescued and taken to Tambaran in Madras. Thereafter all serving military men to same place on December 27.

“It is our new birth. God saved us. Now it is difficult to believe that we reached to safety as I have seen the massive destruction. Within a few minutes of the quake, military personnel colony was engulfed by tidal waves “ said sobbing Parminder Kaur.


Pingalwara sends aid
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 1
The All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, today sent a consignment of 1,000 blankets, 1,000 sheets and a large quantity of used cloths for the victims of tsunami tragedy in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Dr Inderjit Kaur, mukh sevadar, in a press note issued today expressed her gratitude for the Indian Air Force for the early airlift of the aid material.

She said the second consignment, which will include eatables, will be despatched to Tamil Nadu on January 5.


Punjab seeks more nari niketans to
house victims of drug-related violence
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The freshly released National Commission for Women's report on "Situational Analysis of Women in Punjab" indicates grave trends in more areas than one.

While the problem of low sex ratio still persists, cutting across the rural-urban divide, there has also been an alarming increase in the reported cases of crimes against women in Punjab. Not just that, more and more women are now falling victims to drug-addiction and alcoholism related violence which is miring Punjab, especially its rural areas, like never before.

This and much more forms the backdrop in which the Punjab Government has resolved to have more Nari Niketans for the state which currently has just three. While two of these Nari Niketans are in Jalandhar, one is in Amritsar. Ludhiana has none despite a recurring demand. Admitting that alcoholism and drug addiction had emerged as major social problems in the region, sources in the state government informed The Tribune that there was a need to create at least four more short stay homes to house women who are either battered or turned out of their houses by their addict husbands.

Recently the Institute for Development Communication (IDC) was commissioned to research various dimensions of this problem and release a comprehensive report on its extent and consequence. Official sources admit the problem has attained graver proportions, and women are increasingly finding themselves defenceless in the process. They are beaten up, emotionally tortured, and often asked to leave the house, sometimes at odd hours. In view of the increasing vulnerability of women, the Department of Women and Child Development has now proposed to create more short stay homes for them. Vocational training will also be imparted at these homes.

Speaking to The Tribune, Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Department of Social Justice, Women and Child Development said permission of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had been asked for creation of four Nari Niketans in the state.

"We are already aiding 19 NGOs through the Government of India. Not just that, over Rs 1 crore is going as grant for counseling in the areas of alcoholism and drug addiction. The problem in the state is however, still grave as women are being increasingly victimized. There are many who are stressed out, ostracized or beaten up due to alcohol or drugs. We need more space to accommodate them."

For now, there is a proposal to have three new short stay homes for neglected women at Mohali, Hoshiarpur and Faridkot. In the long run, however, it would be necessary to have at least one such home in every district, say officials, adding that the focus of the department would be more in rural areas where the problem is getting out of hand with drug related violence increasing drastically.

Apart from increased drug related violence, Punjab has also seen more cases of crimes against women, as per the NCW report on the status of its women. There has been an alarming increase in the number of reported cases of rape. As against 271 rape cases in 2002 and 381 cases in 2003, there have been 283 rape cases till October, 2004. Figures for kidnapping are equally disturbing: 394 in 2002; 326 in 2003 and 203 till October, 2004. Molestation cases reported till October 2004 are 216.


Shopping complex project sparks row
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 1
The much publicised proposed ultra-modern Municipal Corporation shopping complex in the heart of the posh Model Town market has led to a controversy as a number of residents have described the park as a martyr memorial. They are opposing the shopping complex project tooth and nail. This project has also brought the infighting within the ruling Congress out in the open.

A large number of shopkeepers and residents have been opposing the construction of the shopping complex as it would replace a five-decade old park, which was not only the lone green patch in the thickly populated area, but was also said to have been dedicated to the memory of the 1971 war martyr, Lieut Kuldip Singh Parhar.

Residents and shopkeepers feel that besides being on issue of conversion of a green area into a shopping complex the MC project was an insult to the martyr who had laid down his life for the country. The shopkeepers and residents, led by a group of eight Congress councillors owing allegiance to Punjab Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee, greeted Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh with black flags when he came to the Model Town market to inaugurate the proposed shopping complex on Thursday.

Because of this protest by shopkeepers, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh had to change his route and the Jalandhar SSP, Mr S.K. Asthana, chose to monitor the security arrangements at the venue himself.

On the other hand, while Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Mr Surinder Mahey, the Mayor, have been claiming that the project was aimed at the development of the city, Mr Kaypee and his confidant Mr Manoj Arora, president of the Model Town Market Association, termed the decision of the MC to convert the park into a shopping complex as “unfortunate”.

Mr Kapyee went a step further and alleged that the stone, with the name of the martyr had been removed by the MC authorities much earlier.

“We feel that it is an insult to the memory of a martyr. Moreover, a park is considered to be a lung of the area and it was properly planned when the market came into being in the 50s, but now the MC is hell bent on destroying that lung. We feel that a park should remain a park and nothing else. Practically, the MC cannot retain the park even if it constructs an underground market as congestion in the proposed market in itself would destroy the green patch. Since the market his already so congested and lacks proper parking facility, the complex would deteriorate the situation. In my view it would also be an environment hazard. So we are deadly against it,” said Mr Kaypee.

When contacted Mr Satwant Singh Johal, Commissioner of the MC, asserted that despite the construction of the complex, the status of the park would not be changed. “Had it been so, I would not have given a nod to the project. One of the two basements would be utilised for parking of vehicles while the upper surface would remain the same. And we have already sent a report to the Chief Minister’s office regarding this,” said Mr Johal. 


FCI employees gherao police station
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 1
A large number of activists of the FCI Workers Union today gheraoed the City I police station here seeking strict action against those who had reportedly abducted the son of a former Congress MP and the state president of the FCI Workers Union, Mr Kewal Singh, on December 30. The police had already arrested the persons involved in the case.

According to sources, the incident occurred when Mr Kewal Singh, his son, Gurpreet Singh, his gunman and driver were having dinner at a dhaba on Kotkapura bypass. Six persons alighted from Indica and Zen cars and asked the gunman to reveal his identity. When he told them that he was Kewal Singh’s gunman, they abused the former MP in a caste-indicative manner.

They reportedly misbehaved with the gunman and snatched his AK-47 from him. They also abducted Gurpreet Singh and took him to an unknown place where he was beaten up. They also fired about a dozen gunshots and released him after about three hours. However, the police claimed to have got him released.

The police had arrested all six persons involved in the case. The accused also include a BSF sub-inspector, Amarjeet Singh, posted at Jalandhar.

Other accused have been identified as Sukhjeewan Singh, Ravi Singh, Sandeep Singh, Harpreet Singh, and Amarjit Singh. The police had also seized an AK-47, a pistol, and two vehicles from the accused. A case has been registered against them under the relevant sections of the IPC.


Acid attacks due to personality disorder,
says doctor

Balraj Mahajan

Batala, January 1
In 2004 two cases of acid throwing were registered in the district. The accused have been arrested.

People who throw acid on others suffer from personality problems or poor impulse control, Dr Nitesh Mohan Sharma, a psychiatrist, here said.

Dr Sharma said that mass hysteria was the main problem affecting some people. Those who threw acid were not ordinary criminals. They could be of any age, but a majority of them were youths. Because of our changing ethical and moral values and the growing menace of drug addiction, youths were predisposed to this kind of deviant behaviour.

To check this problem, he suggested that stress levels on youths should be reduced. Normally, negative traits of personality disappeared with maturity and ageing, he added.


Quiet welcome to New Year
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 1
Staying away from New Year celebrations, people of the district took part in prayers organised by religious bodies for those who died in Sunday’s tsunami disaster and also pledged contribution towards the relief fund, here today.

The effect of tsunami disaster was evident here with people staying away from celebrations and ushering in the New Year quietly.

Even regular visitors to nearby cities like Chandigarh and Shimla during this part of the year stayed home. Hotels in various towns of the district, including Ropar city, Morinda, Anandpur Sahib and Nangal, witnessed a very few visitors last night.

Also, fog, which has been engulfing the district for the past four days, and drizzle played a role in cutting down the celebrations here.

While people largely preferred to remain indoors watching television or holding private gatherings, a few youngster came out on motor bikes and cars to welcome the New Year in their own way.

Rash and negligent driving claimed one life when a cyclist who was on his way from Ropar to a village was hit by a Tata Sumo. The victim died on the spot, while the driver managed to escape.

Meanwhile, NGOs, schoolchildren and social organisation remained busy collecting funds during the day for relief.

In a unique gesture, a group of 20 schoolchildren from Giani Zail Singh School here decided to utilise their holidays by pledging to collect a sum of Rs 20,000 for the relief fund. They have already collected a sum of Rs 1,000 through door-to-door collection in the past two days.

Various religious organisations, including the Harekirshan Sankirtan Mandal, the Gayatri Parivar, the S.S. Jain Sabha, Radha Swami, the Sant Nirankari Mandal, organised prayers at various places and appealed their followers to contribute towards the fund.

Mr Surjit Singh Saini, manager of the government-run Pincassia Hotel here, said: “Only a few visitors showed up for celebrations at the hotel last night. The disaster has made people stay away from celebrations.”

“The district administration also decided not to organise a New Year’s function and appealed people to donate generously for the victims,” said the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain.


Poor given blankets
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 1
Blankets were distributed among poor persons in various localities, slum areas, railway stations at Sirhind and Bassi Pathanan towns at night by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner with workers of social organisations. Blankets were given to those, who were sleeping in the open.

The distribution of blankets started at 10 pm and continued up to mid night yesterday. He said that if the blankets were given through the Red Cross society they did reach the needy.


4 hurt in mishap

Kharar, January 1
Jaswant Singh, Dayal Singh, Harjinder Singh and Gurmel Singh, were injured when a bus and a Swaraj Mazda canter collided near Mamupur village here today. OC


Plan to modernise elite bull semen banks
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Dr Baljit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, January 1
Computerisation of the Animal Husbandry Department is not the only thing on his mind. Director Dr Baljit Singh Sidhu plans to upgrade and modernise "banks with semen deposits of elite bulls" in the state for achieving ISO certification.

Talking to The Tribune soon after taking over as the Director, Dr Sidhu explains, "The semen of such bulls is used for artificial insemination to produce high-yielding cows and buffaloes".

He adds, "The upgradation and modernisation of the semen banks will provide good quality germ plasm to dairy farmers of not only Punjab, but also of other states".

His assertion assumes significance as the state is producing 30 lakh doses of semen straws per annum for cross-breeding purposes. Currently, there are four semen banks in the state at Nabha, Patiala, Ropar and Kapurthala.

Currently, Punjab has "reached a stage where it can help other states also in hiking milk production by providing semen to produce high-yielding cows and buffaloes".

Dr Sidhu adds that efforts are on to further boost milk production from 3,000 liters per lactation to 5,000 liters per lactation by cross-breeding the inter-bred varieties of cows and buffalos.

Indigenous bred cows and buffalos produce just about 800 liters per lactation. The lactation period is spread over 305 days. Compared to the cross-bred variety, such animals not only yield less milk, but are also less resistant to diseases.

Dr Sidhu asserts that even now Punjab has the highest per capita availability of milk in the country. The state is producing maximum with minimum. The livestock population in the state is just 85 lakh, including sheep and other animals. Yet the state is contributing 11 per cent to the country's total milk production. Even Amul Co-operative has demanded milk from Punjab.

Giving details of his other plans, Dr Sidhu says, "Modalities are being worked out for the computerisation of the entire department. As part of the programme, district-level offices will be connected with the headquarters through the internet. Department's website will also be created soon".

This is not all. Dr Sidhu — in service since 1975 — plans to set up department's extension wings.

"The move will go a long way in disseminating information, policies and the programmes of the department among the farmers".


Tour programme of MLAs okayed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 1
The Finance Department, Punjab, has approved the tour programme of legislators for undertaking study tour of different countries. The Vidhan Sabha Secretariat has sought additional Rs 68 lakh for this purpose which has been cleared according to Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab.

Mr Singla told The Tribune today that the legislators were not going on foreign tour for the first time. Such study tours were being undertaken from time to time to enable the legislators to study the functioning of different countries in the world.

As many as 40 MLAs had gone on foreign tours during the SAD-BJP regime.

Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, said he had not yet received the clearance from the Finance Department for the tour of the legislators to different foreign countries.

Dr Kewal Krishan said nearly eight legislators would be going on tour to various European countries and each group would comprise 20 legislators. They would be on tour for a period of about 10 days.

He said the purpose was to study the functioning of the local administration, law and order and democratic system of the various countries of the world.

Enquires made by The Tribune show that Opposition legislators were more keen on going on foreign tours and almost all party legislators would be part of the tour.


PUDA acquiring land for urban estates
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 1
As many as 3,400 acres was being acquired by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) in the state for developing new urban and extending the existing ones.

This was stated by Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Punjab, at his residence in Chandigarh while talking to mediapersons today.

He said that new urban estates would be in Zirakpur, Nawanshahr, Sujanpur, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Nabha, Khanna and Pathankot. The estimated cost of acquiring the land was Rs 800 crore.

The minister said the necessary budget provisions for the year 2005-06 were being made. Houses of different categories for the general public would be constructed in the new urban estates.

Mr Puri released a diary and a calendar of the PUDA Diploma Engineers Association.

Mr Balwant Singh, general secretary of the association, talked about the long-pending demands of PUDA employees relating to house rent allowance, travel allowance, medical allowance, conveyance allowance and pension benefits.

The minister said the demands would be considered sympathetically.


MC to acquire land for water tanks
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 1
The Municipal Council has decided to acquire 27-acre land near the new waterworks on the Hanumangarh road for construction of additional Water storage and purification tanks. The council approved the plan, on Thursday. The council resolved to spend Rs 2.5 lakh on providing sewerage in Ram Dev Nagari and replacing damaged sewerage in Nai Abadi at a cost of Rs 2 lakh. A proposal of sanction site for raising a statue of Maharaja Aroot Ji, founder of Arora community, outside the Arorvansh Dharamshala here was also passed. The council also decided to contribute Rs 1 lakh for the Prime Minister Relief Fund.


Revellers clash, one dead
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, January 1
A youth was reportedly killed in a group clash on the New Year’s Eve here. However, as per the police version, the youth was killed in a road accident.

The deceased, Rabul Bhangu, was celebrating the New Year’s Eve with his friends at Mehfil Restaurant here when they had an altercation with another group of youths over some issue. They manhandled each other and came out of the restaurant. Later, Bhangu and his friends moved to another restaurant at the new bus stand, while the other group headed towards the industrial area after challenging them. Bhangu and his friends also followed them and this led to a clash between the two groups, sources said.

The sources said that Bhangu received injuries in his left ear. Getting nervous at the sudden turn of events, the other group members ran away. Bhangu then drove his car towards the city despite being asked by his friends to let them drive it. His car went out of control near the Partap Nagar road and hit a milestone on the roadside. Bhangu was injured again and he died on way to hospital.

The sources said that though the accident took place around midnight, neither a case was registered against anyone till 2 pm today nor his body was sent for postmortem. They attributed this delay to contradictory reports regarding the case. On one hand, the police was terming it as an accident, while on the other hand speculations were rife that Bhangu died of the injury he received during the clash.

The police today rounded up five youths - Amarjit Singh, Rajinder Singh, Angrej Singh, Yadvinder Singh, and Amandip Singh-for interrogation. Later, the police decided to register a case under Section 174 of the IPC, but the local MLA, Mr Mantar Singh Brar, and some lawyers met the SSP and urged him to order a high-level probe into the matter. The SSP has asked the SP (D) to investigate the case and submit a report to him.

Rabul Bhangu was the only son of his parents. He had done a diploma in food technology and his family was preparing to send him abroad.


Seven hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 1
Seven persons were injured in a clash between two groups here last night. While four of them admitted to the local Civil Hospital, three sustained minor injuries.

The clash took place when Manjeet Singh and Sukhwinder Singh went to a dharna on the Landran road to buy something. It is learnt that some boys were already sitting in the dhaba and they allegedly started abusing Manjeet Singh and Sukhwinder Singh. When tempers started running high, hot cooking oil was allegedly thrown on Manjeet Singh who received burns injuries. Fingers of one hand of Sukhwinder Singh were injured with a sharp-edged weapon.

It is learnt that owner of the dhaba, Arun Kumar, and his employee, Ranjeet Singh, who also got involved in the clash, received injuries.

Another clash between the two groups took place at the hospital. The doctor on duty had to call the police as the situation took an ugly turn. Three persons received minor injuries when the police resorted a mild lathi charge to bring the situation under control.


ETTs plead for jobs with their blood
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 1
With nearly 28,000 posts lying vacant in government schools of Punjab, the members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers’ Union wrote a memorandum to the Chief Minister, the Prime Minister and the President with their blood here today demanding immediate employment.

The members of the union wrote that during the recent Kapurthala by-election, the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhathal, had assured them that from October 18, 2004, onwards as many as 6,000 ETT youth would be given regular appointment in various government schools. But till date nothing has been done in this regard. The members also wrote that they had held protest rallies in various districts in the last two months but to no avail.

The union president, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, said he was informed that Ms Bhattal was planning to hold a meeting with the District Education Officers, Circle Education Officers, and Block Primary Education Officers on January 5 in this regard.

Mr Sidhu said in case no favourable decision is taken in the meeting, they would intensify their struggle. He said final decision of the union would come out after the January 5 meeting.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |