P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Teachers, doctors to be recruited: CM
Tribune News Service

Taprian Khurd (Balachaur) January 12
In its bid to improve the performance of the health and education sectors, the Punjab Government has initiated a process of recruitment of teachers and doctors in the state.

Giving this information, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the state government had started the recruitment process and the Education and Health departments had been asked to furnish a detailed report of vacancies. “We have asked the two departments to send the report as early as possible so that the Cabinet nod for filling vacancies can be taken.”

Capt Amarinder Singh was speaking at a religious function organised in connection with the 113th anniversary of Sant Lal Das Bhuriwale after inaugurating a Rs 15 lakh Rejesh Pilot Memorial Stadium here today.

He said computer education would be made compulsory from Class VI in all government schools from the next academic session. “We want that rural and poor students should not lag behind in education and for this we have decided to introduce computer education in government schools from the next academic session. It will be an effort to bring education standards of rural and urban areas on a par and to enable rural and poor children to compete with others,” said Capt Amarinder Singh, who was accompanied by Mr Sachin Pilot, MP, besides other leaders of the Congress.

Lauding the role of the Maharaj Bhuriwale Garib Das Educational Trust, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Trust was running five colleges, two hospitals and 10 schools in the Balachaur area which was a big contribution towards the development of people of this backward area. He assured that Maharaj Bhuriwale Girls College at Garhi Maneswal in Garshankar would be taken under government control soon and that a ‘pucca’ road would be constructed to link the college at Tibba Nangal with Rattewal. He also announced a Rs 15 lakh grant for the Trust.

Mr Sachin Pilot urged people to contribute towards the development of the state. “The government effort for development is never complete without people’s active cooperation. We need to bring young people forward for this and it is possible since half of the population of the country comprises people below age of 30,” he said.


Computerised land record copies soon
Tribune News Service

Punjab Revenue Minister Amarjit Samra inaugurates the first “farad centre” of the state under the e-patwari scheme at Tehsil Complex in Jalandhar
Punjab Revenue Minister Amarjit Samra inaugurates the first “farad centre” of the state under the e-patwari scheme at Tehsil Complex in Jalandhar on Wednesday. Deputy Commissioner Ashok Gupta is also seen in the picture. — Tribune photo by Pawan Sharma

Jalandhar, January 12
Farmers and other people will soon be able to get computerised copies of land records with the implementation of the ambitious e-patwari scheme, on which the state government has decided to spend an amount of Rs 25 crore.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating the first e-patwari ‘farad centre” of the state here today, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Punjab Revenue Minister, said the land record problems of farmers, landowners and others would come to an end soon with the computerisation of land records in the state. “The Revenue Department is spending Rs 25 crore for this and the process of computerisation of ‘farad centres’ was on in a phased manner. After its completion, anybody would be able to get e-copies of land records from these centres instantly. This will not only be helpful to people here, but, it would immensely help NRIs, who need not waste time for getting information about land and land records,” said Mr Samra.

Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner-cum-chairman of the implementation committee, Punjab Land Records Society, said with the inauguration of the “e-farad centre” today, 28 villages falling under the Pholriwal kanungo circle would be covered and other kanungo circles were being brought under the ambit of the scheme soon.

Dr Swaran Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, said farmers and other people of Jalandhar district would be benefited in more than one way with the ongoing computerisation of land records.

Mr Harnek Singh, Additional Secretary, and Mr A.S. Bains, Director Land Records, Punjab, also spoke.


Parties garner support for today’s conferences
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 12
Following the Election Commission’s decision to hold the Ajnala Assembly byelections on February 23, all principal political parties in the state have pressed their rank and file into service to mobilise support for their respective conferences to be organised here tomorrow on the eve of the Maghi mela. They will also use the occasion to unfold their poll agendas.

The SAD the Congress the CPI, the BSP, the SAD (Longowal), the SAD (Ravinder) and the SAD (Amritsar) have set up pandals for the conferences to make their presence felt in the state.

The SAD and the Congress leadership has asked its respective rank and file to use all modes of transport to bring people to the venues

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, his Cabinet colleagues, and section of some Central the Congress will address the party conference. However, these leaders are likely to avoid any speech on the SYL issue keeping in view the Assembly elections in the Haryana.

The SAD conference will be attended by its the Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, senior party leaders, including former ministers, and MLAs. Some Central leaders of the BJP are also expected to attend the conference. Mr Badal is expected to formally launch the party’s election campaign for the Ajnala byelection at this conference tomorrow. Mr Sukhbir Badal, MP and general secretary, SAD, (B), who has been camping in the town for the past many days, has been leaving no stone unturned to ensure a huge gathering for the party’s conference.

The byelections to the Nawanshahr and Kapurthala assembly segments, which were held a few months ago, were won by the ruling Congress party. The Ajnala byelection could not be held at that time as an election petition was pending in this connection in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has been dismissed now.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who will unveil statue of Dr B. R. Ambedkar, will also inaugurate a 66 KV grid sub-station in the area. He is also expected to make some politically important announcements on the occasion. Whether the party faction led by Mr Jagmeet Brar will attend the conference or not is not yet known as his photograph is missing from posters used by the party for mobilising support for the conference.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President, SAD (Longowal), who was expelled from the SAD after the last Lok Sabha elections, will launch party’s movement against Mr Parkash Singh Badal from this town tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Public Relations Department has made elaborate arrangements for the media coverage of the Congress conference.


Flying yet to start after Tehelka operation
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 12
Flying has become the biggest sufferer at the Patiala Aviation field here after the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) of the Jalandhar Flying Club was suspended by the Punjab Civil Aviation Department when he was allegedly caught taking a bribe by a spycam during a Tehelka sting operation. The aviation field here, which houses both the Jalandhar and the Patiala flying clubs, is not witnessing flying in any of the clubs since mid-December.

Surprisingly the State Civil Aviation Department is unaware of this, with Civil Aviation Director Rakesh Chandra claiming that flying had been restarted at the Jalandhar club after the suspension of its CFI S.S. Kang. The Director claimed that this had been done after the charge of the club had been handed over to Capt Mangat of the Ludhiana Flying Club.

However, a visit to the Jalandhar club premises revealed that flying was yet to start at the club. Director-General Civil Aviation (DGCA) representative and Senior Air Worthiness Officer P.S.N. Rao, who is posted at the aviation field, said flying at the Jalandhar club had been suspended ever since the Tehelka story broke out in the second week of December last year. He said flying was yet to restart and could be done so only after the DGCA gave its nod in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government is waiting for the DGCA to take action on the issue before it moves further against Mr Kang, who had been placed under suspension following the Tehelka expose. Mr Rakesh Chandra said Mr Kang and a few other members of the Jalandhar club had been summoned to Delhi by the DGCA on January 18. He said only after the DGCA inquiry was completed and a report submitted to his department, further action could be initiated against Mr Kang and the other members of the club.

Students, who have come from various parts of Punjab and other states are at the receiving end in the current situation. The Jalandhar Flying Club has over 10 students on its rolls who are taking training on Cessna aircraft. The students say they do not know when flying will restart. “That means that we have to stay in the city and incur additional expenditure, besides losing out on flying”, a student said. The students want the DGCA to start flying at the club immediately.

The students cannot turn to the Patiala Flying Club, which is situated on the same premises. This is because there has been no flying at the Patiala club for months. Earlier, the club had to wait for months to get an engine of its Cessna aircraft back from servicing. At present, the CFI is medically unfit and has not been cleared by the DGCA.


SGPC honours Pakistan journalists
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 12
The visiting Pakistan scribes took great fancy to colourful Indian Banarasi sarees, imitation jewellery, shawls and other textiles items.

A 57-member delegation of Pakistan journalists led by Arshad Ansari, President of the Lahore Press Club, with lone woman journalist Farah Waraich, visited the local market during their 24-hour stay in the city.Today was the last day of their week-long tour of Punjab, Himachal, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Local shopkeepers went overboard to extend warm welcome and offered various textile items and jewellery at cost price for the Pakistani brethrens across the border. Overwhelmed by their affection,the Pakistani emptied their pockets. They purchased number of items for their family members, friends and close relations.

Speaking to The Tribune, President of the Lahore Press Club Arshad Ansari describing his visit as historic said they had no words to express the warmth and affection showered by the people from this region. Mr Ansari who became emotional while commenting on the outcome of the visit said unprecedented warmth had brought the journalists across the border together and helped to understand each other’s perception about their countries. The friendship among the journalists had added a new and positive dimension which would help to ease tension and usher in an era of mutual faith and trust and helped the countries move forward.

Commenting on the role of the media including the print and TV channels, Mr Ansari said the journalists had helped to clear many misconception and lent a new direction to the ties after the thaw in relations created by both the governments in 2003. He hoped that the journalists would be writing different columns about their experiences in India and would help to evolve and mould public opinion which will further bring about cordiality in relations between the two neighbours. Bowled over by the true Punjabi hospitality, Mr Ansari said they felt really at home and wish to strengthen ties between the journalists fraternities and hoped that their counterparts would visit Lahore soon.

Lamenting at the delay in getting visas, the President of the Lahore Press Club said that both the governments must take immediate steps to provide easy access to visa as this single gesture would further bring people to people contact more easy.

The local MLA Mr. O. P. Soni, Chairman PSIDC, hosted a dinner for them at a hotel where they enjoyed the Indian music and danced till past midnight. Mr Soni gave them packet of sweets. Earlier, the SGPC honored them with siropas and mementos. They paid their obeisance at Golden Temple this morning and witnessed the daily installation ceremony of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The general secretary of the Amritsar Working Journalists Association Mr Shammi Sareen along with other members presented a model of Golden Temple to Mr Arshad Ansati.

The delegatin also visited Guru Nanak Dev University and were welcomed by Vice-Chancellor, Dr. S.P. Singh, Dean,Academic Affairs, Dr Jai Rup Singh, Registrar, Dr R.S. Bawa, Dean, Students Welfare, Dr R.K. Bedi, Dean College Development Council, DrAmarjit Singh Dua and Director, Public Relations, Mr R.P. Sobti extended a warm reception to them.

The Vice-Chancellor gave them details of the academic programmes being run in various streams. He said that Guru Nanak Dev University in near future would encourage academic and cultural exchange programmes between both the countries and develop harmonious and friendly relations. He said media of both the countries could play a vital role to establish peace and friendly atmosphere between both the countries.


Sealing of bank accounts of MC ordered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 12
Following the failure of local Municipal Council (MC) in paying back wages as per a court order to Mr Ram Saran and 25 other employees of the council to the tune of Rs 6,60,974, the Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC), Sangrur, has reportedly ordered some local branches of different banks, including the State Bank of Patiala and Union Bank of India, to seal the accounts of the MC till further orders or sent him a cheque/draft for the amount if the same was available in the accounts of the council.

Sources said in a letter written to different bank branches, having the municipal council account, the ALC had stated that the municipal council was to pay back wages to 26 MC employees as per a court order, but it had not paid the wages to them. So the workmen filed the claim to this effect. The municipal council had to pay Rs 6,60,974 to these employees. The sources further stated that the ALC had asked the banks to send him draft/cheque, if the municipal council had money in its accounts in the bank, to pay wages to the employees, otherwise accounts be sealed till further orders.

Mr Ram Saran Dass, district president of the Retired Municipal Pensioners’ Association, who is one of petitioners, today told TNS that all 26 petitioners were from octroi wing of the local Municipal Council who had filed a case in the Labour Court in 1989 to get wages for performing duty one day more (six days in a week) as other municipal employees worked for five days in a week. He said after a long legal course, the court giving them temporarily relief, asked the municipal council authorities to pay them wages for three years. He said the amount of Rs 6,60,974 was to be paid to them for a period of three years. When the municipal council failed to pay them this amount, they again approached the Assistant Labour Commissioner, who gave the municipal council authorities several chances, but the municipal council authorities did not bother to pay the wages to the employees. After that, the ALC ordered the bank branches some days ago to seal the bank accounts of the municipal council to ensure the payment of back wages to the 26 employees, he added.

When contacted, Mr B.M. Jhamb, Executive Officer, municipal council, today declined to the give the official version of the council. However, Mr Harbans Singh Garcha, president of the local municipal council, claimed that the municipal council would pay back wages to 26 octroi employees in four to five days as recovery of water charges and house tax amounts had been expedited by the council.


Plan to rope in ex-servicemen for training capsules
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
To tap the potential of defence officers as well as to provide a means to equip the job-seekers for employment in the fast growing service sector, the Punjab Government has initiated a scheme to engage about 5,000 ex-servicemen to conduct training capsules for the youth.

Under the scheme, retired officers, who are spread over the length and breath of the state, would conduct specially tailored regular training capsules at designated places. A nominal fee would be charged from students, out of which a small portion would be retained by the Directorate, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, and the rest would be used to pay remuneration to the officers.

The scheme was given the go-ahead last week. As a first step, a day-long seminar is being organised by the Sainik Welfare Department in Ludhaina next month, where interested retired officers would be selected for further orientation and brief training to enable them to conduct training capsules. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would also attend the seminar.

"Punjab has about 3 lakh ex-servicemen, out of which there are a large number of well qualified officers who can be oriented in the fundamentals of the service sector and management skills which they can further impart to the youth," Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Brig J S Jaswal (retd) said.

By virtue of their training and job profile, defence officers acquire considerable skill in various aspects of management, leadership, technical skills, planning communication skills and motivation, which, he said. have great relevance for pursuing an entrepreneurial career. The scheme, he added, would serve a dual purpose by generating a source of reasonable income for retired officers as well as provide a career opportunity to the youth.

Service industry encompasses fields associated with airlines, travel, tourism, hospitality, event management adventure and sports and leisure activities. According to reports, the service sector contributes about 36 per cent to Punjab's GPD. The data released by the planning commission stipulates that 200 million jobs are required to be generated in the country over the next two decades, out of which 120 million will be in the service sector. Presently in Punjab alone, there are 3 million job-seekers.


Probe pins down ‘friendly hand’
Fake medico-legal reports to nail opponents
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 12
A retired Class Four employee of a government health institute has acquired the rare ‘expertise’ to cause multiple cracks in the human skull without damaging underneath brain . The ‘friendly hand’ , as mentioned in the inquiry report of a Professor and Head, Forensic Department, helps in preparing fake medico legal reports ( MLRs) .These fake reports were used by some persons to put their opponents in tight spot.

Though the startling facts about the ‘dubious ‘ role of a retired employee has come on record but nobody bothered to take any action against him so far . However, Dr J.S. Dalal , Director, Medical Education and Research who is also holding the charge of the Principal of the local Government Medical College said that he would send a reminder to the Police department for taking immediate action against the culprit , involved in the racket .

Though the cases of ‘fake MLRs’ had been making the rounds of the city for a long time yet it was for the first time that a Head ,Forensic department, has exposed the ‘racket’ by bringing the ‘friendly hand ‘ on record . Preparing fake MLRs is not possible without the alleged connivance of the medical staff .

Dr Hakumat Rai , in his report clearly mentioned the name of a serving official and a retired employee of the health department who had made cracks on the skull . However , the name of a senior doctor also figured in the report at whose alleged behest this was done.

According to reliable sources , certain unscrupulous persons are a minting money by cutting /cracking of bones of shin (tibia) or fibula (supporting bone of the leg) , cutting back of little finger or side of hands or back of elbow joint are quite prevalent while preparing MLRs.

The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA) described the inflicting of cracks in the skulls for the purpose of preparing factitious medico legal reports as ‘inhuman, unethical and immoral’ .This is done on the request of some vested interests who resort to such acts to implicate their opponents in false and fabricated cases .

Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon , General Secretary of PSMDTA said, stern action should be taken against all those who were involved in such rackets . He said his association would endeavor to unmask those who were involved in such unethical practice . Dr Dhillon , however, expressed surprise that no action had been taken against the culprits despite the fact that the three member Medical Board and a senior professor of the Medical College clearly mentioned the names of the ‘culprits’ in their respective inquiry reports.


Are rules being ignored in Irrigation Dept promotions?
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
If allegations levelled by “qualified degree holder” engineers in the Punjab Irrigation Department are to be believed, the government promoted officiating “non-degree holder” engineers after ignoring not only the department rules but also the Supreme Court verdict.

In a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary in the Irrigation Department, at least three engineers working as Sub Divisional Officers (SDOs) and Assistant Engineers (AEs) have claimed that the government also ignored the qualified engineers in the process.

The Principal Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, could not be contacted for his comments on the issue. But the sources in his department categorically denied the allegations of violation of any rules or the court directions. They added that the matter would be looked into at the highest level and necessary action would be initiated as per the rules, if at all the same was necessary.

The applicants — Harbans Lal, Avtar Singh and Puran Dass — have, meanwhile, added that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in its verdict abolished the promotions of diploma engineers after April 4, 1992. The orders were upheld by the apex court.

Giving details the engineers alleged that the government made “anti-dated” promotions of non-qualified diploma engineers. They were promoted from class III to Class I by ignoring the engineering rules as well as the court directions.

Describing themselves as “applicants of the 1998-batch of temporary engineers appointed through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC)”, they asserted that the non-qualified diploma engineers were further shown senior to them “by flouting the court directions and the rules”.

The engineers demanded that in view of the findings of the apex court and the department rules, the promotions of the “officiating diploma engineers from the Scheduled Caste quota” must be stopped without delay. Moreover, they should not be considered for promotion in the departmental promotion committee (DPC) scheduled to meet on January 19. The applicants added that their names should be considered in place of the diploma holders for further promotion. As such, their cases must be included in the DPC.


Vast scope for Indo-Canadian trade: Grewal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Tsunami relief

"What has been foremost on our minds is the devastating destruction resulting from the tsunami-affected areas of South-East Asia and Africa. A large majority of the Newton-North Delta constituents are of South East Asian origin. My wife, Narinder Grewal, MP, and I worked with Radio India in a one-day fund -raising campaign for disaster relief in India and Sri Lanka. Individual donations made it possible for the programme to present a cheque for $582,000 to the International Red Cross," said Mr Grewal.

Chandigarh, January 12
"As the fourth largest market in the world, India has an enormous capacity, economic and political potential," says Mr Gurmant Grewal, Member of Parliament from Canada, holding that " India is already the second largest source of immigrants to Canada and offers great potential for trade expansion and opportunities for Canadian businesses."

Mr Grewal, who represents Newton-North Delta Riding of British Columbia in the Canadian House of Commons, is not only a third-time MP representing the Opposition Canadian Democratic Alliance (CDA) but has wife, Narinder, in Parliament as well. Gurmant and Narinder are the first parliamentarian couple of Indian origin in the Canadian House of Commons.

Mr Grewal is currently on a six-day tour of India and Pakistan. It may be a mere coincidence that he is travelling to the subcontinent when Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin is also expected to visit New Delhi on January 14. A strong delegation, including some Canadian MPs of Indian origin, are expected to accompany him. Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, who is Health Minister in the minority government of Mr Paul Martin, is already here.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Grewal says that there is a vast scope for improving trade and cooperation between Canada and South Asia."Of late Pakistan has played a significant role in the anti-terrorism campaign and is an emerging market. Regrettably, it was in 1998 that the Liberal Government unwisely imposed sanctions against both India and Pakistan in a knee-jerk reaction to their nuclear tests.

"As a result of the sanctions, Canada's trade with India declined by 33%, despite a Team Canada mission headed by the Prime Minister in 1996. While sanctions were imposed, Canada even voted against India and Pakistan at international levels, irrespective of the issue. Suddenly the Canadian Government realised that it was rapidly falling behind other nations and in 2001 it decided to lift the sanctions ," said Mr Grewal. "I am truly very pleased to have this unique opportunity to work to strengthen ties between our nations and am confident that this visit will prove to be highly beneficial for our countries," continued Mr Grewal.

Mr Gurmant S. Grewal is now the Chairman of the Canada-India Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group and Acting Chairman of the Canada-Pakistan Parliamentary Association. "I welcome this opportunity to strengthen the political, economic and cultural ties between the people of our nations," said Mr Grewal, who is a product of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

Son of a school teacher, Mr Gurmant Grewal created history when he became a Parliamentarian within a few years of acquiring Canadian citizenship.In the last elections held last year, both he and his wife were elected as representatives of the main Opposition alliance.

He serves as Joint Chairman of the Standing Joint Committee of the House and Senate on Scrutiny of Regulations. Mr Grewal was the only Canadian politician of Indian origin who lobbied and assisted in convincing the Indian Government to recognise dual citizenship. He has raised concerns for the extra-long waiting period for processing immigration applications for family class and the abuse by Canadian spouses orchestrating fake or fraudulent marriages. He has raised the issue of recognition of foreign academic credentials through his motion in the House of Commons in 1998. He has recently introduced a Bill to facilitate a guarantee by a Canadian or landed immigrant to sponsor a visitor to Canada.

Mr Grewal has exposed corruption at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi and Islamabad, which assisted in cleaning up some of these problems; was the force that ensured drinking water and washroom facilities would be available for people waiting in the long line-ups at the High Commission office; and successfully lobbied for the consulate office in Chandigarh.

Mr. Grewal has also helped to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan; has lobbied to resolve the Kashmir issue; and, in 1998, after the nuclear tests, successfully worked to ease sanctions placed upon India and Pakistan by the Canadian Government.


Cong Seva Dal members on dist panels
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 12
The AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has accepted the long-pending suggestion that the workers of the Congress Sewa Dal, who have devoted their life for the past two decades to the grassroot organisational work, should be given important assignments in the main organisation.

According to the list released here this evening the new office-bearers of the District Congress Committees are Thakur Sahib Singh, general secretary, Chandigarh, Mr Manjit Kumar Sharma, vice-president, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Surender Singh Parmar, vice-president Phagwara, Mr Satish Bali, vice-president, Jalandhar, Mr Om Parkash Khichi, vice-president, Muktsar, Mr Darshan Singh Kotia, vice-president, Amritsar, Mr Amrinder Singh, vice-president, Bathinda, Mr Balwinder Singh Satkoha, general secretary, Gurdaspur, Mr Surender Kataria, vice-president, Moga, Mr Ramesh Guglani, general secretary, Ferozepore, Mr Naresh Ari, general secretary, Ludhiana, Mr Gurdial Singh, general secretary, Mansa, Mr Gurmail Singh Brar, vice-president, Ludhiana, Mr Darshan Singh, vice-president, Jalandhar and Mrs Lila Verma, secretary, District Congress Committee, Amritsar. Mr Makkar and Mr Rasrania said the appointments would certainly help in further strengthening the organisation.


SAD (Amritsar) begins Sikhi Sidak March
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Damdami Taksal today launched the Sikhi Sidak March from Gurdwara Zaffarnama Lohgarh, Deena Sahib. The march will culminate in Muktsar on January 14.

Interacting with mediapersons before the march, SAD (Amritsar) president, Simranjeet Singh Mann said the aim of this march was to check Sikh youth from going a stray, sensitise people on Sikh tenets, and make them aware as to how the SGPC was “ignoring” the historic Sikh gurdwaras. He said from now onwards the Damdami Taksal would look after the religious activities of his party, while his party would lead on the political front. He said his party would make every possible effort to spread Sikhism and a programme would also be chalked out to achieve “political power” for Sikhs. He alleged that anti-minority laws were being framed in the country. He alleged that anti-minority forces wanted to finish democracy and establish Hindu state. The chief of Damdami Taksal, Mr Harnam Singh Dhumma, appealed Sikh youth to follow‘gurbani’.

He urged the masses to boycott ‘sadhus’ and saints who were merely looting the poor and follow the path shown by Guru Gobind Singh.

Later, ‘Panj Pyaras’ led the march, in which thousands of people participated with religious fervour. The march would halt at Sarai Naga, where a gurdwara in memory of Guru Angad Dev is situated.


Transit passes were fake: report
No civic staff involved in scam
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 12
A report on fake state transit passes sent by the local Municipal Council to the Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana, admits that the passes issued were fake but hints that no council employee was involved in the scam.

The Deputy Director had stayed the decision of the civic body taken in connection with six employees allegedly involved in the scam and had asked for a detailed report. The report was sent by the council last week.

The council at its meeting held on November 25 last year took a lenient view regarding the scam and had decided to let off six municipal employees, indicted by the Vigilance inquiry, by issuing a warning.

It has been pointed out in the report sent to the Deputy Director that the state transit pass (58/16207) and receipts issued from state transit book (15658) had been released by one person but the pass had not been issued by the council. As such it was fake. According to the statement issued by Sushil Kumar, sadar clerk, the passes which had been released did not have the writing of any employee of the octroi wing.

The council had decided to let off the employees by giving a warning even when three separate inquiries had allegedly held the council employees guilty of issuing fake passes.

The council president, Mr Charanjit Singh, had pointed out at the meeting that out of the six employees, indicted by the vigilance inquiry, two had been on duty in the council office since 1998 and not at octroi posts. The remaining four employees, though working in the octroi wing, were not on duty when fake passes were issued.

The scam had come to light in February, 2003. Thereafter, the Ropar Deputy Commissioner had asked the Kharar SDM to conduct a probe into the matter. The inquiry showed that state transit passes issued were fake and the council had suffered a financial loss due to it. The inquiry report of the SDM was forwarded to the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, who ordered an inquiry into the scam by the Vigilance Bureau. The bureau indicted six clerks of the council for conspiring to issue fake transit passes from octroi posts in the town.

The Director, Local Government, had then asked the executive officer of the council to take action against those indicted. However, the council set up a three-member committee, comprising two municipal councillors and superintendent of the civic body to probe into the matter. The panel upheld the recommendations made in the earlier two reports.


Maghi Mela fails to draw crowd
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 12
The historical Maghi Mela held here every year to mark the occasion of the supreme sacrifice made by forty ‘muktas’ (liberated ones), which began amid tight security arrangements here today, could not attract much crowd on its first day.

The venue of mela, which was shifted outside the town last year, wore a deserted look as people were busy in Virasat Mela, named ‘Mela Melian Da’, being organised at Khidrana village near the local Guru Gobind Singh park complex on the eve of Maghi.

The revolving swings could not be energised as no one was willing to pay to have a joy ride. Owners of eating stalls could be seen sitting idle. A section of the stall owners said this time they would not be able to earn enough to pay the contract money to the district administration, which they are bound to pay in lieu of putting up their stalls at the venue. Policemen in uniform and plain clothes outnumbered devotees, belying claims of the district administration that about 10 lakh persons would visit the town on the eve of Maghi.

About 2,000 policemen have been deployed to make foolproof security arrangements in the town for the mela. Mr L.K. Yadav, SSP, along with the DIG, Ferozpore Range, have been monitoring the security arrangements. Unlike the usual crowd at Maghi Mela, there were only a few devotees at Gurdwara Tutti Gandi Sahib, who had come to pay obeisance and take a holy dip in the sarovar. Not only this, most devotees avoided taking a dip in the sacred sarovar as it was filled with dirty water.

On the other hand, on its second day Virasat Mela attracted a heavy rush of people. Traditionally dressed youths in competitions, including ‘Gabru Punjab Da’ and ‘Mutair Punjab Di’, kept people glued to their seats. Comedian Atro amused the audience in between these competitions. Manpreet Akhtar also regaled the audience with her classical and folk singing.

Falwinder Singh was elected Gabru Punjab Da and Ms Narjeet Kaur was elected Mutair Punjab Di. They were presented traditional jewellery items as prizes.


Ex-servicemen see MLA's hand in UBDC
Our correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
The Majha Ex-servicemen Human Rights Front has alleged that an MLA of the ruling party is hand in glove with senior officials of the Irrigation Department in the multi-crore UBDC scam.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Col (Retd.) G. S. Sandhu, chairman of the front, demanded inclusion of a technical expert in the previous inquiry committee.

He said 20 villages of the 'Khara Majha' belt had not received water for the past three years. Farmers with small land holdings were badly hit, as they could not afford submersible pumps.

The Gurdaspur police has reopened the inquiry into the scam to investigate charges as per the directions of the Punjab government.

The FIR in the scam was registered on July 4, 2003, at the Pathankot police station. Initially, the inquiry into the scam was conducted by an IPS officer.

Later, the case was handed over to an inspector-level officer posted with the CIA staff at Pathankot.

Despite serious charges levelled against Irrigation Department officers, including Chief Engineers and Superintendent Engineers in the FIR, no officer was arrested.

The Fir was registered on the basis of an inquiry conducted into the scam by a panel headed by Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, former Adviser on irrigation to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The committee had noticed glaring anomalies in the implementation of the project.


BJP’s shoeshine drive a farce?
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 12
The “boot polish” cavalcade, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Avinash Rai Khanna, arrived in the city today for the campaign, which has yielded little except local publicity for the party and its activists in the state.

Picture this. In the most crowded Daldalia Chowk in the inner city, BJP activists set up a small booth along with tables and chairs for its office-bearers. Shoe brushes were displayed on the table. No one even tried to touch the brushes till the BJP president arrived. When he did there were not enough brushes to go around. However, the enterprising few had their own brushes in their ‘kurta’ pockets to show off for the cameras.

One would imagine that with so many brushes many shoes must have been polished. However, that was not the case. Most of the BJP activists wanted to polish the shoes which the BJP president was shining or were content just posing for photographs with Mr Khanna. The show became a farce soon, with BJP activists even polishing plastic and sports shoes for the cameras.

The drive at Daldalia Chowk finished as quickly as it had started. The next stop was an equally crowded Arya Samaj Chowk. Here, Mr Khanna preferred to do only one shoeshine for the camera while urging his workers to collect money in tin boxes which were emblazoned with the party’s name. A few senior BJP leaders of the state and leaders of the party’s Yuva Morcha also preferred to stand beside Mr Khanna and were not involved in either shining shoes or collecting money for tsunami victims.

Mr Khanna, however, claimed that the party’s exercise had been very successful. “We were able to reach out to the common man through this fund-collecting exercise, with even rickshaw-pullers contributing money to the relief fund”, he said. When questioned on the money which had been collected by the party, he said Rs 1.14 lakh had been collected in Ludhiana and around Rs 1 lakh in Amritsar. He said the money collected in Jalandhar was still to be counted.

Onlookers said the drive did not have much success because of faulty planning. “The BJP could have called upon its front organisations to conduct a fund-collection drive in a planned manner and could have also asked its office-bearers and workers to donate for tsunami victims”, said Manmeet Singh, a city resident. “If this was done they would have collected much more than the around Rs 4 lakh target they are likely to achieve by polishing shoes all over the state”, he added.


PSEB launches anti-corruption, anti-theft drive
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
Mr T.S. Mavi, Chief Engineer, Enforcement, Punjab State Electricity Board, has said that the board has initiated anti-theft and anti-corruption drive against its customers and employees.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr Mavi said warning had been issued to the employees to mend their ways till January 31 otherwise strict action would be taken against the guilty.

He said an austerity drive was launched in the board according to which all officers of the enforcement board had been told not to participate in parties hosted by businessmen in which alcohol was served. He said all employees had been issued computerised identity cards.

He said the board had decided to instal single meter for the colonies of Punjab police and PSEB.

He said on an average 800 meters were being checked by the department in the state and the board has earned nearly Rs 2 crore from fines detected during the first week of January.

He informed that the board had reduced the service connection charges from Rs 3000 to Rs 1000 for farmers.


Vehicle registration computerised
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 12
The vehicle registration in the district has been computerised.

The Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, today inaugurated the facility at the district transport office.

The DTO, Gurdaspur, Mr Vimal Setia, said the digitised procedure would speed up the registration of vehicles and bring transparency in the process. The Gurdaspur was the third district in the state to have installed the facility.

The software for the registration of new vehicles has been developed locally with the help of the district information centre. The process of making licenses had already been computerized in the district.

Mr Setia further said that during the recently concluded traffic rules awareness week in the district many glaring facts came to the fore.

In a camp held at Batala for checking eyesight of drivers, it was found that 15 per cent of the drivers did not have appropriate eyesight.


Lohri for girl child celebrated
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 12
Men need to change their attitude towards women. Girls have started competing the boys in every field so their should not be gender bias and all customs, traditions and festivals should be celebrated without associating with any gender, said Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister for Social Security and Child Development, while addressing the state-level function held to celebrate Lohri of the girl child at Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, today.

In this function parents of 31 newly born girls were honoured to promote the cause.

She said it was matter of concern for the Punjabis as they had the lowest sex ratio in the country and Fatehgarh Sahib had the lowest in Punjab. She said there were only 754 girls for 1,000 boys in the district.

Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Security and Child Development Department, in his address said self introspection was needed. If the present trend of unequal ratio continued, there would be a social disorder.

He said Government could make policies, but it could not eradicate social evils. He urged the religious heads to add in their daily “ardas” about the well being of the girl child and direct the people not to indulge in female foeticide.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, in his address refuted the allegations that the district had the lowest sex ratio in the country. He said when a male child was born in a family, employees responsible for registration visited their houses to get a treat and register the name, whereas on the birth of the girl child no official visited their houses.

He said the reality would be clear as the district administration was going to introduce multi-service card for all citizens of the district having complete information regarding the constituents of the family and it would establish the number of male and female children in the district.


Lohri celebrated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
Lohri was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety by residents of the city today. Heavy rush was visible in the shopping markets from morning. People were seen buying new clothes and sweets associated with festivals like rewri, gachak and khajoor.

The foggy condition in the morning failed to dampen the spirit of children who enjoyed flying kites.

To celebrate the festival Spice Telecom organised ‘kite flying show’.


Canal water supply to farmers stopped
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, January 12
To recover water dues from farmers of Maund village, near here, the Canal Department has stopped the supply of water to them. This has affected the crop of hundreds of farmers.

Surinder Singh, a farmer, said their fields had not been irrigated for the past one week. According to him, the officials concerned told them that they have to pay water dues of the past three years.

The farmers alleged that the department had never told them about the dues. Another farmer, Sadhu Singh, alleged that the department was acting tough with the farmers of this village only.


NHPC staff donate day salary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Employees of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) contributed their one-day salary amounting to Rs 65 lakh to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the Tsunami-affected victims.

The cheque was handed over to the Union Minister for Power, Mr P.M. Sayeed, by the Chief Managing Director of the corporation, Mr Yogendra Prasad. It had earlier contributed Rs 1 crore to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for these victims.


CS stresses on video conferencing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Mr Jai Singh Gill, Chief Secretary, Punjab, today urged all the Administrative Secretaries and Department heads to utilise video conference facility to hold review meetings and to execute and monitor various development projects in the state . Officers posted at district headquarters should not be called at the state headquarters for such meetings.

The Chief Secretary today addressed the first ever meeting of Deputy Commissioners using video conference facility. He reviewed various e-governance projects like “Single user-friendly window disposal help line for applicants” (SUWIDHA).


Rs 5 lakh sanctioned for Suvidha project
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 12
For the convenience of citizens to access government services project “Suvidha” will be established soon in Mohali subdivision of Ropar district. Chief Secretary, Punjab, Jai Singh Gill, today sanctioned Rs 5 lakh grant for the project while interacting with Deputy Commissioner Ms Seema Jain, through video conferencing this afternoon.

Ms Jain said that now the citizens would not be required to visit different government departments and all services would be available from a single-window counter named “Suvidha”. “After filing application for the requisite service at the Suvidha counter, they will be issued a receipt bearing token number and a date of delivery of service(s) connected with land records, registration of property, transport and licence branch,” she added.


6 IAS officers in selection grade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Punjab Government today put six IAS officers in the selection grade. They are Mr S.S. Puri, Mr Surinderjit Singh Sandhu, Mr Babu Lal, Ms Usha R. Sharma, Mr Balbir Singh Sudan and Mr B.R. Banga. The grade has been given to them with effect from August 1, last year.

Already Mr Puri, who has been given this grade, has retired.


Release of scribe on probation ordered
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 12
The court of the Additional Sessions Judge here has ordered the release of Mr Parmod Kumar, a local press reporter of a vernacular daily on probation on furnishing the bond of Rs 25,000 with a surety in the like amount for a period of six months.

The court of the Additional Sessions Judge, passed this order offering conditional concession to the appellant under the provisions of the Section 360 of the CrPC. The Additional Sessions Judge court however, to assuage the feeling of wrong done to the complainant while exercising its powers under Section 357 of CrPC also directed the appellant Parmod Kumar and non-appellant Mr Balwant Singh to pay a sum of Rs 1500 as compensation to the complainant, asserting this amount might not wipe out the his humiliation made.

The counsel for the appellant had prayed for the concession of probation on the plea that he faced trial for almost six years and had been ‘sufficiently’ penalised.

Mr Guru Dutt Sharma, a postal assistant in the LSG Post Office, Barnala for no fault of his own had to suffer humiliation at the hands of Mr Parmod Kumar.


Foodgrain movement picks up
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 12
The movement of wheat and rice from Punjab to deficit and drought-hit states has picked up. The Railways are moving about 18 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice every month from Punjab these days according to official sources.

The official sources told The Tribune today that the strategy of the Central Government was to clear the stocks of wheat and rice from Punjab and wheat in particular by March 31 so that there was no problem of storing wheat in the state when the procurement for rabi season starts from next April.

According to Mr K. Siva Prasad, Senior Regional Manager, FCI, Punjab, as many as 10 lakh tonnes of wheat and about eight lakh tonnes of rice were being moved from Punjab every month. The rice stocks were being sent to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as the two states had faced drought-like conditions in the past two years.

Similarly wheat stocks were being moved to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. These states also faced drought in the past and are wheat consuming states.

Enquiries further reveal that the offtake of wheat had also increased following the enhancement of quota under the BPL scheme from 20 kg to 35 kg per family. Further the Centre had also launched SGRY (Swaran Gramin Rozgar Yojna) earlier known as Work for Food Scheme and wheat is issued to those who work under this scheme at subsidised rates.

Five official agencies of Punjab and the FCI had procured as many as 99 lakh tonnes of wheat last year. The FCI had about 20 lakh tonnes in its godowns but it is giving preference to the movement of wheat stock lying with the state agencies.

Officials of the Punjab Food Supplies Department are hoping that wheat stocks of the state agencies would be moved out to other states before March 31.

Meanwhile, the Union Government has not allowed export of wheat and rice this year in view of the drought-like conditions witnessed in the country last year.


Rs 3.65 lakh stolen from PSEB office
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 12
Thieves struck at the Punjab State Electricity Board office at Kot Ise Khan, near here,last night and decamped with the safe containing about Rs 3.65 lakh.

The SDO, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, said the stolen amount was yesterday’s collection of electricity bills. Thieves scaled the boundary wall of the powerhouse premises and entered the office from its backside. Taking out the entire frame of the backdoor they gained access to the room where the safe was kept. They then broke the wall around the safe and tried to open it, but failed. They decided to flee away with the safe and brought a ‘rehri’ that was parked at the roadside. They wheeled it in after breaking open the lock of main gate.

Sources said that this might be the handiwork of some labourers who were recently engaged in whitewash of the office premises, as they had got acquainted with the office. The doors and windows of the office were in bad shape and many of them could not be shut properly. The police was also blaming the local PSEB staff for their “negligence” in this regard. Sources said that there were no security arrangements at the office and two posts of watchman were lying vacant for the last 10 to 12 years.. According to sources, about 20 incidents of thefts have taken place in Kot Ise Khan in the last couple of months and the modus operandi of the criminals involved in these cases seems almost similar.

The SSP, Ms V Neeraja, had also visited the PSEB office this morning. The DSP (D), Mr Bhulla Singh, who was camping at the Kot Ise Khan police station, statedthat a theft case had already been registered and the police had launched a manhunt to nab those behind the incident. 


Boy ‘forcibly’ made eunuch
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, January 12
A case is likely to be registered against Kanta, alias Dharamveer, a eunuch residing in the Chheharta area in the sensational case of converting a boy into an eunuch by chopping off his organ.

According to police sources, the case has been referred to the DA legal to seek his opinion.

It may be mentioned here that medical reports have confirmed that Ankushpuri, a resident of Guru Harkishan Nagar situated in the same area, was a boy and was converted into an eunuch by cutting his organ. After confirmation through medical reports, a criminal case is likely to be registered against the accused.

The sensational case came to light when the victim lodged a complaint with the Chheharta police station in this regard after a year of the incident. Ankushpuri, in his complaint alleged that the accused, along with Narma of same area, drugged him and cut off his organ. After the complaint a three member investigating team led by Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP City-II, was formed to probe the case.

Ankushpuri, now known as Roshni, alleged that he liked to dance and used to participate in Ram Leela functions. He said the accused Kanta used to call him on one pretext or the other. He said on the day of the incident on April 12, 2003 the accused drugged and cut off his organ. He said he was kept underground by the accused for about one month who later told his parents that he had gone for a function. He said he did not tell his parents about it out of fear.

Police sources said the accused were at large.


Former Principal looted in Delhi
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 12
Former Principal of Mohindra College Vidwan Singh Soni said here today that on January 10 two persons robbed him when he went to Nizamudin from Delhi bus stand.

He went there to deliver a lecture at a seminar. Mr Soni added that as he wanted to go to Nizamudin from Delhi bus stand to board a train to Amravati. He took an autorickshaw. The driver of which was accompanied by one more person.

Near Serai Kalla Khan the second person pretended he was thirsty and he brought a soft drink. The driver took out three glasses and offered him to have it. First he refused to drink it and said that he never had it but the accused insisted and when he drank liquid he became unconscious

Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of D-Block Defence Colony, rang up the relatives of Mr Soni about his condition. Mr Soni woke up in the hospital in the afternoon. He added that even an FIR was not lodged as he was not in the condition to the case registered about the incident.

The former principal claimed that he lost his briefcase, CD’s, driving lisences and Rs 7000.


Woman ‘murdered’
Our correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
Ranjana, a resident of Sarvarpura locality here, died in a mysterious circumstances yesterday.

While her in-laws claimed that she died when she was returning home after leaving her children to school, Ranjana's family member said she was murdered by her in-laws.

The police has registered a case under sections 302, 498 and 120-B, IPC, at the B-division police station here against Sukhwant Singh, husband, Harmohinder Singh, father-in-law, Rani, mother-in-law, Kewal kumar, and Bobby, sister-in-law.

Sunita, sister of the deceased alleged that Sukhwant and his family members would beat her for dowry.


A night of thefts
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 12
A number of theft took place last night here with miscreants stealing imported perfumes, expensive showpieces, watches and mobile phones from Archies Card and Mobile Gallery located on the Old Tehsil Road. They attempted to break strong-room locks of a local branch of Allahabad Bank also after searching drawers and almirahs.

Half-a-dozen other mobile shops, including Nokia distributor’s showroom, had been successfully targeted by thieves earlier. The police had not been able to nab any miscreant so far.

Sources said some unidentified persons entered Archies Gallery by breaking the locks of the gate and comfortably packed whatever they could.

They reportedly removed ventilation iron grill from the roof of the Allahabad Bank branch to enter without further hindrance. They first searched keys from drawers of tables and almirahs, then tried to break the strongroom.

The siren fitted with the strong-room sounded alarm, then they rushed back to the roof top. Some persons gathered on hearing the siren but neither they informed the police nor tried to intercept the miscreants. They also tried to break shutters of Sheetal Cute Camp, a readymade garments shop on the road. The branch manager said he could know about the incident only this morning.

The police had pressed the dog squad into service.


Murder case of granthi solved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
Illicit relations was the cause of the murder of Dilbagh Singh, a granthi in Gurdwara Baba Bakala falling under Majitha police district.

The majitha police has arrested Ranjit Singh alias Rana, son of Sukhchain Singh and Ranjit Singh alias Rana son of Gurdip Singh, both residents of Wadala Kalan while one of their accomplice Jaspal Singh is still at large.

Ms Vibhu Raj, SSP Majitha police, in a press conference here today revealed that during interrogation it came to light that the deceased had illicit relations with his cousin. She said the accused along with his accomplices stabbed him to death when he was returning home from the gurdwara.


Blind murder case solved
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 12
The police claims to have solved the blind murder case of Ankit Kumar with the arrest of Satta Masih who, according to police sources, stabbed the deceased to death with a view to robbing him.

Mr Jatindra Kumar Jain, chief of Batala police district, told the mediapersons here today that Ankit Kumar was a junk-dealer and Satta Masih used to supply him junk material. Taking advantage of his business dealings with Ankit, Satta Masih carried the deceased to a deserted place on January 1, on the pillion of his (Ankit’s) motor cycle on the pretext that he had (Satta Masih) had procured junk for Ankit which the later should personally collect. But after luring Ankit to the deserted place, Satta Masih asked him to hand over to him the cash he was carrying with him. On Ankit’s refusal, Satta took out a dagger and stabbed him.


Class VIII exams from February 15
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 12
The class VIII (middle) annual examinations to be conducted by the Punjab School Education Board here would begin from February 15.

Releasing the datesheet for the examinations, the board authorities today listed the schedule of the written and practical examinations that would end by March 4.

Students would appear in their English examination on February 15 and the health and physical education (written) examination would be held on February 16. Examination of optional subjects like drawing and painting, Sanskrit, agriculture, computer science, home science, music vocal and instrumental, dancing, vocational etc. would be held on February 17.

On February 18 students would appear in their first language examination and on February 19, students would appear in the second language examination.Social science examination would be held on February 21 while science (written) examination would be held on February 25. The written examinations would end with the mathematics exam on February 26.

Practical examination for science would be held on February 27 and 28, for health and physical education on March 1 and 2 and for optional subjects like cutting and stitching, needle work etc on March 3 and 4.


Teachers to march barefoot to CM’s house

Phagwara, January 12
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today gave a call to all teachers working in non-government colleges of Patiala, Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts to assemble near Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Patiala to hold a barefoot protest march to the CM's residence on January 18.

Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary, PCCTU, said they were forced to resort to this step due to the apathy and indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards their demands.

He flayed the government for its alleged failure to meet their demands, which includes releasing the salary grant of the third quarter pending with the treasury since November, merger of 50 per cent DA with the basic pay at par with government colleges, policy for absorption of staff affected by its decision to shift 10+1 classes, relax the condition of refresher courses and hold meaningful dialogue on recommendations of Johal panel. — OC


Market fee on 14 food items to be waived
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 12
Mr Sant Ram Singla, chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, yesterday said that the Mandi Board had decided to waive market fee on 14 food items particularly cereals and pulses to boost crop diversification in the state. He was in the city to attend a sports function being held at Kairon village.

Talking to reporters, Mr Singla said that the Mandi Board was working to save the interests of farming community. Apart from cereals and pulses, the board had also reduced the market fee on other diversified items from Rs 2 to 25 paise per hundred. Mr Singla said the all mandis of the Punjab would be equipped with latest facilities to meet the international standards. Ludhiana mandi would be upgraded to the international standards at first.

Mr Singla said the Mandi Board had decided to set up four more cotton mandis in the state. The board had already set up cotton mandis at Mansa and Maur in the Malwa region. He said the Cotton Corporation of India had not started its sale.

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