P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Cong appoints ‘tainted’ man as trust chief
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Raikot, January 8
The claims of the Congress government in the state about its clean image have been daunted with the appointment of Wing Commander (retd) Paramjit Singh Sibia as Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Ludhiana. He is facing criminal charges in two FIRs lodged against him at the Raikot police station under the Jagraon police district.

The FIRs were registered last year at Raikot on the complaint of Gurjant Singh of Bopa Rai Khurd and Mehar Singh of Bassian village. The investigation in both cases is pending with the SP-(Detective), Jagraon, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhanoa. Mr Dhanoa and other police officials in the case have declined to comment.

Sibia, who is commission agent, said the cases were false. He said he and several other commission agents were part of a conspiracy hatched by farmers and some a self-styled kisan union leaders who conspired to take loans and then refused to pay.

He said he was former Air Force officer and not a criminal as claimed by the complainants. Sibia had lost the Assembly elections from Jagraon in 2002. The FIRs state that Sibia and his supporters had “forcibly” taken away vehicles and got ownership of a piece of land.

In the first FIR, the complainant Gurjant Singh has alleged that he had taken some loan from Sibia and had returned it. However, Sibia allegedly kept harassing him by saying that some amount was pending. He allegedly took away a tractor belonging to him, besides manhandling him.

The Raikot police recovered the tractor and a case was registered against him and his supporters. Sibia said Gurjant Singh was the driver of a farmer who owed him Rs 12 lakh. He said the farmer did not pay him money and got a false case registered against him.

In the second FIR, Mehar Singh of Bassian had alleged that Sibia and his supporters had forcibly got their signatures on the transfer of a piece of land. The complainant had a dispute with Sibia over the repayment of a loan and had furnished documents to the police claiming that he had cleared all dues. Sibia has denied the allegations.


SGPC: no separate management for Haryana gurdwaras
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 8
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) today strongly criticised Mr Ranbir Surjewala, working president, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee for his statement that the Congress party would ensure formation of separate committee to manage gurdwaras in Haryana after coming to power in the state.

Mr Harinderpal Singh, an SGPC member (New Delhi) said the amendment in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, was not possible without taking Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh into confidence.

He said under the Rajiv-Longowal Accord , the then Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, had promised to enact All-India Gurdwara Act to bring all the historical Sikh shrines under the umbrella of the SGPC . However, the statement of Mr Surjewala was misleading and 'dangerous'.

The seven SGPC members from Haryana had been demanding a separate gurdwara committee for Haryana as they alleged that the collections made by the SGPC from the Sikh shrines in Haryana were not being spent in the state.

Mr Harinderpal Singh, however, urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, to help in redressing the grievances of Haryana Sikhs.

He said the SGPC had already announced that sufficient funds would be spent in Haryana as demanded by the Sikhs there.


Tribune Impact
11 doctors shifted to Amritsar college
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, January 8
The state government reshuffled 20 doctors in state medical colleges yesterday. Out of the 20 doctors, 11 were transferred back to local Government Medical College (GMC) to save it from de-recognition.

The state government had transferred 23 doctors from Amritsar to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, on October 22 due to the proposed inspection by the Medical Council of India (MCI). However, this inspection was, later on, postponed.

This large-scale transfers from local GMC to Faridkot rendered many departments headless, leading to a steep fall of faculty in the college. The college was likely to be de-recognised in case of any inspection by the MCI.

A news regarding the de-recognition of GMC was published in the columns of The Tribune on January 6.

Some units of the college which stood headless included cardiothoracic surgery, two units each of surgery and medicine, while two out of three units of gynaecology. The worst hit departments were anaesthesia, without which no surgery could be imagined. The posts of three professors of anaesthesia department were vacant, while all four posts of associate professors were lying vacant.

Only five assistant professors of this unit were running the department. Interestingly, while the department of cardiothoracic was facing closure, Dr Kuldip Singh Sidhu, head of the department, was shifted to Patiala’s Medical College where the department did not exist.

The doctors, who were transferred back to local GMC, include Dr Niti Rajan Singh, professor surgery, Dr N.S. Neki, associate professor, medicine, Dr Partap Singh, assistant professor, orthopaedics, Dr S.B. Nayyar, professor, medicine, Dr Mridula Mahajan, additional professor, biochemistry, Dr Kuldip Singh, professor cardiothoracic, Dr Jatinder Singh, associate professor, pharmacology, Dr Asha Gupta, associate professor anesthesia, Dr Balbir Malhotra, associate professor, chest and TB and Dr Surinder Kapoor, associate professor, medicine.

However, Dr Harvinder Singh, assistant professor, orthopaedics and Dr R.S. Kajal, professor, medicine, here has been transferred to Faridkot Medical College. Dr Inderjit Kaur Mahal, associate professor, ophthalmology, who was earlier ordered to be shifted to Faridkot on promotion, has been retained in Amritsar.

The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association today appealed to Deputy Chief Minister, who holds the portfolio of medical education and research, to bring the remaining doctors, who were still working in the Faridkot college, back to the local medical college.


Suicide by family: ex-SSP in the dock
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 8
The third suicide note of Hardip Singh who had killed himself along with four other members of his family on October 31, which was sent to the Forensic Laboratory in Chandigarh may land former district police chief Kultar Singh into trouble.

According to sources in the DGP's office, the investigating officer of the rank of SP had written to the higher authorities to depute a senior officer (of the rank of IG) to re-investigate the matter as the name of the former SSP clearly figured in the third suicide note recovered from Sonu, a friend of Hardip Singh.

The SP had expressed his helplessness to summon his then senior officer to join investigation. He was deputed as Investigation Officer by the IGP, Jalandhar Range, Mr S.K. Sharma.

The earlier two notes written by Hardip Singh had reportedly been tampered with and the name of the senior officer had been "cut". However, even then the rank was visible. However, the third hand-written suicide note mentions the name of the former SSP. Hardip Singh, in the note, had urged the senior police officer to donate the Rs 5 lakh which he had given to him as bribe either at the Golden Temple or Pingalwara.

The police believed that Hardip Singh, who had absconded after allegedly killing his father Sunder Singh but returned to his house on that fateful day, first gave poisonous substance to his children and then helped his wife and mother to hang themselves from a ceiling fan. Later, he consumed the poisonous substance himself.

He had to take this extreme step as some of his relatives and the police were "blackmailing" his family for money following the murder of Sunder Singh. He had scribbled this on the walls of his house.

The local MLA may also face the music for his role in this matter. He had received the "last letter" from Hardip Singh which was mailed to him a few hours before the suicide. The letter pointed an accusing finger at the senior police officer. Though the MLA had announced to unmask the police officer, the press conference he had planned was never held.

Another letter of Hardip Singh was with one of his friends, Bobby. The letter is now in police custody. Going through the letters, it is clear that senior police officers continued to harass his family even after taking the bribe.


Over 100 trees face MC axe
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 8
In what may give nightmares to environment lovers of Jalandhar, more than 100 full grown trees and plants gracing the Shahid Kuldip Singh Parhar Park face the axe of the Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar, which is already facing sharp criticism from residents of the city for its move to convert the park into a twin-storeyed underground shopping plaza.

The park is the lone green patch of Model Town Market area.

Though a large number of residents, shopkeepers and environment lovers have been opposing the MC move, the latter has been going ahead with full steam to set up the shopping complex, with claims that the project is likely to earn a good amount of revenue. The inauguration of the proposed shopping complex was done by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh about 10 days back amid black-flag protests by shopkeepers and residents. Interestingly, the park belonged to the Rehabilitation Department and was said to have been given to the MC in the early seventies on the condition that it would be maintained by it in future.

The promises of the MC authorities that the status of the park would be maintained, notwithstanding, environment lovers apprehended that even if the MC decided to retain the old status of the park, it would not be able to save about 100 big trees and plants which had been adorning the site for more than 50 years. “How can they construct an underground market without touching the park’s surface and how such old and full grown trees can be saved? We have failed to understand this,” said Mr Kuldip Kaushal, a resident.

Similarly, Mr Manoj Arora, president of the Model Town Market Shopkeepers Association said any felling of such old and full grown trees would amount to stark violation of the environment related norms. “We are going to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Ministry of Environment and Forests so that any possibility of damage to trees and greenery can be curbed,” said Mr Arora. He said the Palika Bazaar example extended by the MC in defence of its move failed to cut any ice as the Palika Bazaar had a 90 feet wide road around it for dumping of extracted sand and other material, whereas, the park was encircled by a narrow road.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Kartar Singh Manor, former president of the erstwhile Municipal Committee said the park in the middle of shopping complex was left open by the then Rehabilitation Minister Mr Umrao Singh to keep pollution at bay and to perpetuate the memory of martyr Lieut Kuldip Singh Parhar.


Mother abandons child, NGO unites them
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 8
Vijay, a one-year-old child who was abandoned two days ago by his mother, was handed over to her today by volunteers of Sahara Jan Seva, an NGO, who has been looking after him since then.

Vijay, who is suffering from various ailments, was abandoned after her mother failed to arrange enough money for his treatment. She expressed repentance at her decision when she was handed over the child in presence of police officials.

Vijay, who was found from near a local sports stadium by the volunteers two days ago, was first brought to its office and then shifted to the Civil Hospital where he was being taken care of and given treatment.

Though the child could not disclose anything to establish his identity, the efforts, made by the volunteers and their president Vijay Goyal with the help of the police, brought fruitful results when it was found that a woman, identified as Pashi had has abandoned her child due to poverty.

Pashi, when asked why she had abandoned him said she was earning a meagre amount by cleansing utensils and washing clothes in various houses. She added that as her child was suffering from various ailments, she could not arrange Rs 6,000, which was demanded by a doctor for his treatment. She said she thought that if her child would remain with her, he would die due to lack of treatment and hence, she decided to abandon her with the hope that some philanthropist would make arrangement for his treatment.

Mr Goyal said the Sahara Jan Seva would arrange money for the treatment of the child and also give him woollens to save him from the cold. He added that SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, had helped a lot in tracing the mother of the abandoned child. 


Unbundling of PSEB only after Cabinet nod: Lal Singh
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 8
Denying having any differences with the state Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, the Punjab Power and Irrigation Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today announced that the unbundling of the PSEB would only be done after getting approval from the state Cabinet.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Lal Singh said the views of Mr Singla about unbundling of the board were totally “personal”. “The state government has written to the Central Government for extending the time limit to unbundle the board till June this year. A detailed proposal about dividing the board into six state-owned companies will be presented before the state Cabinet for the approval,” he said, adding that he had no difference with Mr Singla.

He sought to clarify that there was no move to hand over the PSEB in private hands. “The board will be unbundled to be run by six state-owned companies and nobody will be retrenched. This is being done according to the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003. The private participation will be sought only in the generation of power as the state is short of 1,000 MW of power. The power generation needs huge capital investment, which will be met through private participation,” the minister added.

Mr Lal Singh also revealed that the state government had asked the UPA government to review the Electricity Act.


Fire in Sigma hospital
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
A short circuit in an MRI scan machine and subsequent bursting of some alkaline batteries led to a major fire and accumulation of smoke in Sigma Heart Care Hospital in Gurdev Nagar late today evening entrapping over 60 patients, their relatives and medical staff for about an hour in the building.

Though no loss of life took place thanks to a collective effort of doctors, hospital staff, the Fire Brigade, the police and a number of passersby in dousing the flames and rescuing the trapped persons, a number of patients, relatives and medical staff complained of congestion and nausea. All patients were shifted to Deep Hospital.

Doctors and nurses kept moving patients from the ground floor to the first and ultimately to the third floor to escape from smoke and flames.

The building had no fire exit. The main door of the hospital on the ground floor was the entrance as well as the exit point.

The rescue workers had to break a window on the second floor to enter the building and to bring the patients and attendants out. A wall also had to be broken to allow exit to those entrapped.

It took around one-and-half hour to control the flames. The work was hampered as there were no powerful lights with the Fire Brigade and officials had to use torches.

The site was crowded with anxious relatives of the patients and medical staff, who reached the place as word spread around.

Mr Manjit Singh, manager of the hospital, was the first to spot the fire. He raised the alarm at which security guards and other employees brought sand on stretchers and in buckets to put out the flames. Soon the Fire Brigade and the police took over the rescue work.


Tributes paid to Zail Singh
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, January 8
Hundreds of people, today paid rich tributes to former President Giani Zail Singh on his tenth death anniversary at his native village Sandhwan 8 km from here. Prominent among them were Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal Deputy Chief Minister, Mr H.S. Hans Pal, PPCC chief, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, PPCC vice-president, and Mr Uppinder Sharma, PPCC general secretary.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Bhattal said Giani Zail Singh had worked hard for promoting all religions during his five-year term as Chief Minister of Punjab from 1970 to 1975. She recalled his sacrifices made during the Praja Mandal movement and the freedom struggle. She said she would discuss the issues of observing his death anniversary at the state level and setting up a Chair in Punjabi University for the spread of his ideologies and philosophies with the Chief Minister. She announced a grant of Rs 7 lakh for the Giani Zail Singh Trust for the further development of his memorial in the village.

Dr Kewal Krishan appealed to the people, particularly the Punjabis, to follow in Giani Zail Singh’s footsteps for the uplift of the society. He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the trust.

Mr Hanspal announced a grant of Rs 6 lakh on behalf of Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Minister for Jails, and Mr Sant Ram Singla, Chairman of the Mandi Board, for the trust. Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon and Mr Mantar Singh Brar, all MLAs, announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the trust.

Ms Bhattal promised an independent inquiry against Mr Jai Pal Singh, SDM of Rampura Phul in Bathinda district, who allegedly misbehaved with some office-bearers of the Beopar mandal of the town who went to his office yesterday to deliver a draft for Rs 1.11 lakh as contribution to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund in aid of tsunami victims. She declared that if found guilty, stern action would be taken against him. She said a detailed report had also been sought from Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda, in this connection.

Mr Bhattal said requisite infrastructure for the three state government medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot was likely to be provided in the next two weeks. She added that a committee comprising Vice-Chancellors of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjabi University, Patiala, and the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, Secretary, Medical Education and Research, and senior medical experts had been constituted to improve the medical education system in state medical colleges.

KOTKAPURA: Following media reports on the late President Giani Zail Singh’s memorial lying incomplete, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on Saturday said the memorial would soon be given its planned shape. She said posts lying vacant in the state’s medical colleges would be filled soon. She clarified that appointment to these posts would be made from among the candidates who had applied earlier.

She said the state government was facing a financial crunch and this year, its economic condition had improved. “This is the reason that the government has decided to observe the year as one of development,” she added.


Residents up in arms against cellphone tower
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 8
A tower installed by Tata Telecom in a residential area in Lehal Colony in the city has invited the ire of citizens of the area who are complaining that the tower has been installed in violation of rules and regulations.

Citizens claim that despite complaints to the district administration, Municipal Corporation and even the Punjab Pollution Control Board, no step has been taken to redress their grievances.

The Forum for Common Cause, which has taken up the issue on behalf of the residents of the area, claims that the corporation could not allow any telecom company to install a tower in a densely populated area under the rules. Forum president Mohinder Singh Walia claimed the tower had been installed near a public school which had 200 children on its rolls besides a large number of residential houses.

Though the health hazards of such a tower being situated in a residential area are still to be proved, residents are already complaining of headache and other associated problems which they say started after the installation of the tower. Besides this, they say in case of an electric shutdown, the generator which is used as an alternative is a public nuisance due to the loud noise emanating from it. The residents also claim that the tower is causing vibrations which disturb them.

Mr Ujjagar Singh Dhindsa, another resident, claims that they had unitedly submitted applications to all the appropriate authorities urging them to intervene and not let the tower be installed in the colony. He said the hurrriedness with which the construction of the tower was completed after their complaint had, in fact, raised doubts in their minds that the administration was not serious about preventing its construction at the site. The residents have demanded immediate action in the matter.


Tributes paid to bus mishap victims
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
Rich tributes were paid to 11 girls, who died in a road accident near Polomajra village. The panchayats organised bhog ceremonies at gurdwaras in Kalour and Nandpur villages.

Addressing the gathering Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, expressed grief and added that the government would construct a memorial in the memory of those who died as per the wishes of village panchyats. He said the Chief Minister had sanctioned Rs 1 lakh for the family of the victims and Rs 25,000 for those injured. Mr Bir Devinder Singh urged the people to pray for the departed souls.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, handed over the papers relating to the ex gratia grant of Rs 1lakh to the family members of the victim and urged them to collect their cheques from his office. The owners of Malwa Spinning Mills, Machiwara, also presented cheques for Rs 1.5 lakh each to the families of victims and Rs 35,000 to those of injured.

On January 3 two buses had collided head on near Khamano in the district. About 14 girls of these villages and the driver of the bus died on the spot whereas 20 were seriously injured. A mini bus of Malwa Spinning Mill, Machiwara, was taking its women employee to Machiwara when it collided with Libra Transport Company bus due to heavy fog.


DC feted for removing encroachment
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 8
The Zila Parishad along with village panchayats of the district yesterday felicitated the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, for successfully removing encroachments on link roads and redressing other grievances of the rural population.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, the DC said no target could be achieved without people's cooperation. He thanked the district residents for their support in anti-encroachment drive and tackling stray cattle menace. He said that his doors were always open for common people and they could bring their grievances to his notice anytime.

The Zila Parishad chairman, Mr Kuldeep Singh Chameli, lauded the efforts of the DC in removing encroachments from link roads and curbing stray cattle menace. Mr Sukhinder Singh Dhaliwal said the administration and village panchayats should make sure that the encroachments do not come up again and stray cattle was not pushed into city limits. Former minister Avtar Singh Brar said this year was being observed as the year of development and the panchayats should utilize grants to the optimum. The SSP, Mr B. Chander Shekhar, and the ADC, Mr Darshan Singh Garewal, were also present.


Traders call off indefinite bandh

Rampura, January 8
An indefinite bandh, which was observed by some traders to lodge protest against the alleged misbehaviour with some representatives of the Beopar Mandal by SDM J. P. Singh yesterday, was called off today after the district administration reached a compromise with them.

A partial bandh was observed in this town yesterday following the SDM allegedly put under arrest some office-bearers of the Beopar Mandal when they went to hand over him a draft of for Rs 1.11 lakh as contribution to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. The Beopar Mandal had given a call for observing indefinite bandh until he was transferred from this place.

Mr J.P. Singh allegedly first refused to accept the draft by saying that the amount was little and when the office-bearers of the Beopar Mandal told him that they would hand over the draft to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, he told them that they were under arrest and they could not go out of his office.

The Beopar Mandal decided to call off the bandh when the ADC (G), Bathinda, listened to their grievances. Before that, a five-member committee of the Beopar Mandal also met the Deputy Commissioner at Bathinda in this regard.

Though Mr Kharaiti Lal, president, Beopar Mandal, claimed that Mr Sinha had assured the committee that he would write to the state government for the transfer of Mr J.P. Singh, Mr Sinha, said neither such an assurance was given to the five members committee nor the district administration would write to state government for his transfer. — TNS


BDPO staff contribute Rs 1 lakh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Khamano, today organised a function to hand over the relief material and the amount collected for the Prime Minister’s Relief to the Deputy Commissioner.

The panchayats and the staff of the BDPO Office, Khamano, have collected Rs 1 lakh for the relief work and handed over a draft to the Deputy Commissioner. They assured the Deputy Commissioner that they would continue to collect more funds for this cause.

Addressing the function, the Deputy Commissioner appreciated the efforts of the BDPO and his staff. He said all panchayats and the BDPOs were also collecting the funds on their own. He said, social, religious, political and traders’ organisations were also coming forward for this cause and amount worth Rs 35 Lakh from the district would be handed over to the Chief Minister for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. He urged everyone to contribute as per his will for this noble cause.


Martyr cremated with state honours

Mehal Kalan (Barnala), January 8
Sepoy Gurpreet Singh (21) was cremated at his native place Mehal-Kalan Kurd with full state honours. He was posted at Leh with Ist Sikh Light Regiment. He joined the Army about one-and-a-half-year back. He was the youngest son of his parents.

Gurpreet Singh died on January 5 owing to bad weather conditions while on duty. The Army unit paid homage to the departing soul by reversing their arms. The funeral was well attended by people of the area.

Col Satpal Singh, Station Commander, Sangrur, Mr Samunder Singh, District Sainik Welfare Officer, SDM Jora Singh Thind and SGPC member Sant Jasbir Singh laid wreathes as a mark of respect to the martyr.


Awareness rally by police

Nawanshahr, January 8
With a view to creating awareness about road safety measures, the police took out an “awareness rally” here today.

Students of various local schools participated in the rally, which was flagged off by Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SHO here at Doaba Arya Senior Secondary School. — OC


Increased cotton yield revives ginning industry
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 8
Even as farmers could not get remunerative prices of raw cotton due to its increased production this year, it has put a new life in the business of cotton trading and ginning and pressing industry, which has been facing recession for the past one decade.

Though growers have been selling their ‘white gold’ at the minimum support price (MSP) or at a price below the MSP, the availability of raw cotton in large quantity has started reviving the ginning and pressing industry and cotton trading business.

Due to increase in production of raw cotton this year in Punjab and Haryana, more than 40 ginning and pressing mills located in these two states, which were lying closed for the past many years, started their operations again. Mr Ashok Kapur, Director, Northern India Cotton Association (NICA), pointed out that in the current year, it was estimated that crop production in Punjab and Haryana would be around 30 lakh bales.

He added that if the production remained the same or increased next year, more and more cotton and ginning mills, which were closed by their respective owners, would come into operation.

He added that till December 31, 2004 from the beginning of season in September 2004 about 22 lakh bales of cotton had arrived in markets of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan against the arrival of about 19 lakh bales till December 31, 2003 in these states in the corresponding period.

After the production of raw cotton started declining in the north zone comprising Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in 1994, the cotton and ginning mills in this region were worst affected as more than 200 mills were closed in the past few years. The situation came to a point where a certain section of ginning and pressing mills owners disposed of their mills by developing residential colonies on the same. A section of owners converted the same into marriage palaces and rice mills.

Moreover, due to closure of more than 200 ginning and pressing mills in the period of about 5 years, lakhs of people, who were earning their livelihood directly and indirectly from the same, became unemployed.

Apart from it, the decreased production of cotton and subsequently closing of mills also adversely affected the revenue of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that some of the Mumbai and southern trading companies, which had almost closed their local offices, had also started deploying staff here again to revive their commercial activities.

Mr Kapur said due to excellent quality of Punjab cotton, owners of southern-based yarn and textile mills had also started purchasing their required stock from the state after many years.

Not only this, almost all owners of yarn manufacturing and textile mills based in the north zone, had also been preferring Punjab cotton to the cotton being produced in other states.


Cane growers up in arms over pending dues
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 8
Sugarcane growers are up in arms against the state government over the non-payment of their long pending dues.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president, Bharti Kisan Union (Punjab), talking to mediapersons, said here that the state government owed Rs 70 crore to farmers but it had been delaying the payment for the past three years.

Mr Lakhowal said the government had supplied molasses to wine distilleries at Rs 175 per quintal from sugar mills whereas its market value was Rs 900 per quintal. He said the government had also given excise duty benefits of Rs 190 crore to rich liquor barons for setting up distilleries in the state while its attitude towards the poor farmers was apathetic.

He said the state government had misused the funds of all government cooperative departments and taken loans worth Rs 73,000 crore, still the government was crying over its poor fiscal position.

Prof Manjit Singh Kadian, executive president of the BKU state unit, said MSP of the sugarcane had been Rs 100 per quintal for the past seven years whereas the prices of other crops had increased by more than 150 per cent. He said the government should immediately increase the MSP of sugarcane to Rs 154 per quintal to save the sugarcane growers from further financial crunch.

He said despite a sufficient buffer stock and good produce this year, the government was still importing sugar. He said if the government would not pay heed to its demands, the BKU would resort to statewide protests.

Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Managing Director, Sugarfed Punjab, said the pending payments of the farmers would be settled soon. He said this year the government was not delaying the current payments and the arrears, which were pending to the tune of Rs 50 crore, would be paid soon.


Rs 450 cr earmarked for SC students, pensioners
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 8
The Punjab Government has reserved Rs 450 crore for providing books and scholarships to students of the Schedule Castes and pensions to old-age persons. Instead of keeping this amount in the government treasury, it has been kept with the Social Welfare Department so that it could not be spent for any other purpose.

This was disclosed by Ms Santosh Chaudhry, Chairman, National Commission of Safai Karamcharis, while addressing a gathering at Nandachaur, 18 km from here, yesterday after inaugurating the Gram Panchayat Community Centre, constructed at a cost of Rs 18 lakh.

She said this step was taken to ensure the distribution of scholarships and books to the students of the Schedule Castes and pension to old-age persons.

She distributed cheques for Rs 32.50 lakh to 121 village panchayats of the Shamchaursi segment for various development works.

Mr Ram Lubhaya, MLA of Shamchaursi, also addressed on this occasion.


20 hurt in two road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 8
As many as 16 passengers were injured when a bus (No. PB-9-8281) of a private transport company bound for Hoshiarpur from Phagwara and a bus (No. PB-11M-9883) of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation bound for Ludhiana from here, collided head on due to poor visibility caused by a thick blanket of fog at the Phagwara-Jalandhar road bypass here this morning. All injured passengers were admitted to the local Civil Hospital from where 12 were discharged after providing them with first aid.

In another road accident due to the thick fog, four occupants of a Jeep (No. HP-38A-2851) were injured when their vehicle rammed into a truck (No. HR-38A-4990) near Khuda Kurala on Jalandhar-Pathankot highway this morning. They were identified as Sushil Kumar, Harbans Lal, Sham Lal and Kishore Chand of Thiala village under Nurpur police station.


3 held on rape charge
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 8
The local police yesterday arrested three youths for allegedly raping a girl of Chakhiyan village in the district.

The three were produced in the Ropar district court and were remanded in one-day police custody.


Khalsa College Principal reverted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
Dr J.S. Dhillon, Principal of Khalsa College, who had been sent on ‘compulsory’ leave after allegations of embezzlement in students’ fund, misbehaviour and hiring of former students of the college to beat up striking students were levelled against him, was reverted to the Khalsa College of Education (B.Ed college for women) here today. He had written to the management committee to allow him to join Khalsa College, but was asked to join the Khalsa College of Education again, where he joined as Principal today.

When students of Khalsa College got this news, they distributed ‘laddoos’ in the college. They raised slogans in favour of the management committee and the Students Welfare Association (SWA). Gursharan Singh Chhina, a leader of the SWA, in a press note, welcomed the step.

Dr Dhillon had been sent on three months’ leave after a former student of the college, who had recorded the interaction between him and the Principal, made it public. In the interaction, the Principal had allegedly asked the former student to beat up the students who were on strike.

The SWA had held a demonstration and the students had called an indefinite strike. Various student organisations, including the National Students Union of India and the Sikh Students Federation, had supported the agitation. The SWA had alleged that the Principal misused students’ funds for his personal benefit.

According to the SWA, he transferred the money from students’ funds to the Principal’s personal account on June 11, 2004. It had stated that as per university rules, the presence and signatures of two teachers’ representatives and two students’ representatives were necessary while drawing money from the students’ fund.

It had been alleged that the students’ fund was used for the construction of the Principal’s residence. According to the SWA, the college was charging Rs 600 per student annually for the past five years for the construction of an auditorium, which had not been constructed.

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