P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ajnala byelection
Left keen on common candidate
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
As the byelection for the Ajnala constituency of Punjab Assembly has been announced, Left parties have become active to chalk out their strategy in this connection. Informed sources said that leaders of Left parties were in touch with each other to find a common candidate for Ajnala byelection.

Asked in this connection, Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the CPI, said that the Left parties were seriously thinking to put up a common candidate to contest the Ajnala byelection. He said that the Pasla group had also showed its interest to contest the byelection.

Dr Dayal said that Dr Satnam Singh, who had been active on the agriculture technocrats front for years and also served in the Agriculture Department, was being considered as candidate for the byelection by Left parties. He said that Dr Satnam Singh was a close relation of the late, Mr Dalip Singh Tapiala, who was a household name in the Majha belt a few decades ago. Besides, mainstream Left parties, various groups of CPI (ML) have also good following in the Ajnala belt.

The Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal would name its candidate for the Ajnala byelection on January 20 after holding meeting of its Political Affairs Committee. Mr Amarpal Singh Ajnala, son of Akali MP, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, is expected to be SAD candidate though some other Akali leaders are also in the race for the Akali ticket. The Congress is expected to pick up Mr Harpartap Singh, son of late, Mr Harcharan Singh Ajnala, as its candidate.

“We are serious to contest the Ajnala byelection and trying our best to find a consensus candidate for the byelection”, said Dr Dayal. There was a lot to say against the ruling Congress in the byelection that would be held on February 23, he added. Almost all sections of society were against the government, added Dr Dayal.

Meanwhile, Dr Dayal said that it was wrong on the part of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), to say that Mr S.S. Virk, an IPS officer, who is expected to be next Director General of Police (DGP) in Punjab, is an anti-Sikh police officer.

“Mr Virk was never anti-Sikh. He has been against terrorism and made significant contribution to wipe out terrorism from the state”, said Dr Dayal. Mr Mann had recently met the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, to oppose the extension of deputation of Mr Virk in Punjab. However, the Union Government has given the green signal to extend the deputation of Mr Virk in Punjab.


SAD (Mann) to stall Virk’s appointment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, in a memorandum submitted to the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, has expressed its opposition to the Punjab Chief Minister’s move to consider the ADGP, Mr S.S Virk, as the new state police chief, and has levelled various charges against him.

A party delegation comprising of general secretaries Mr Charan Singh Lohara, Prof Jagmohan Singh, Bhai Ram Singh, Dr Harjinder Singh Jakhu, Parliamentary Secretary Prof Gursharan Singh and Mr Rabinder Pal Singh Ghuman led by its president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann submitted the memorandum on Saturday. The minister reportedly gave them a patient hearing and assured them to look into 
the matter.

“The appointment of Mr Virk, who has been involved in various human rights violations, as the state police chief by superseding eight other officials will lead to discontentment and indiscipline and affect the morale of the force, the memorandum states. Speculations have been rife over Mr Virk’s appointment during the past few days. Even though the Chief Minister has been reiterating that no decision has been taken on the appointment of new police chief yet but the name of Mr Virk has been doing the rounds.

A 1970 batch officer of the Maharashtra cadre, Mr Virk has been working in Punjab on deputation since 1985. His repatriation to his parent state has already become a talking point and he stands chargesheeted for the same by the Union Home Ministry.

Talking to mediapersons here yesterday, the general secretary of the party, Prof Jagmohan Singh, said to stall the government’s move they would also be filing a public interest litigation (PIL) in the court.

The party wants that the ADGP should be sent back to Maharashtra as his deputation period had ended on April 1, 1998. However, he was still continuing “unauthorisedly” in Punjab. The Union Government had terminated Mr Virk’s deputation on April 12, 2004, and he was directed to report back to Maharashtra latest by April 30.

It is alleged in the memorandum that Mr Virk was responsible for killings of the youth during the militancy period along with certain other officers. Other allegations levelled in the memorandum include his connivance with smuggler Paramjit Singh Pamma for conspiring the killings of innocents during the phase of terrorism and the “extrajudicial murder” of militant leader Dharam Singh Kashtiwal.


Cong govt failed on all fronts: Badal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 17
In protest against price hike, move to privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board and the prevalence of corruption in the state, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, held a dharna in front of the district administrative complex here today.

Addressing hundreds of Akali workers, Mr Badal alleged the Congress government had failed to control hike in the prices of essential commodities, making the life of a common man miserable.

He said no facility was being extended to farmers, who had been contributing a lot to the country’s food kitty. “Farmers are burdened with hike in prices of diesel, while, common people are affected adversely due to power cuts and hike in prices of essential commodities such as gas, petrol and sugar. On the other hand, thousands of employees of the PSEB are facing threat of privatisation of their organisation,” he said.

He said unemployment was increasing in the state as all promises of providing government jobs to the youth had failed to yield any result. “This government has failed on all fronts,” he declared.

Later, referring to the issue of appointment of the DGP of the state, he said politicisation of the Punjab Police would harm the interests of the state.

He also criticised the state government for controversy surrounding the liquor auction and for its alleged failure to curb industrial migration to neighbouring states.

Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Sarvan Singh Phillaur, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, all former ministers, Mr Gurdeep Singh Bhullar, a former MLA, Mr Gurcharan Singh Channi, general secretary of the district unit of the SAD, and Mr Sarbjit Singh Makkar, former Jalandhar Improvement Trust Chairman, also addressed the gathering.


Regimental officers seek land to set up welfare centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Punjab Regimental Officers Association (PROA) is seeking land in Punjab to set up a welfare centre for soldiers who had served with the regiment or their widows.

Stating this during a PROA get-together here today, president of the association's Chandigarh Chapter, Lieut-Gen Ranjit Singh Dayal (retd), said that PROA would also serve as a link between regimental ex-servicemen and the Punjab Regimental Centre.

He said that the problems of ex-servicemen would be received at the proposed welfare centre and these would then be sorted out with the Regimental Centre located at Ramgarh in Jharkhand. The Regimental Centre, he said, is too far of for aged-ex-servicemen or widows residing in Punjab to visit conveniently.

He added that the matter about allocation of land had already been taken up with the Punjab Chief Minister.

The Chandigarh chapter of PROA has about 80 members and the association provides them a social platform to maintain old links and associations. The association is also the link between serving and retired officers.

Besides General Dayal, who was decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra for capturing the strategically important Haji Pir Pass in the 1965 Indo-Pak war, other noticeable officers who attended the get-together included Major-Gen Shiv Dev Singh, Brig K S Chandpuri of the battle of Laungewala fame and Second World War veteran Brig Amrik Singh.


Reunion after 55 years
Our Correspondent

Lopoke (Amritsar), January 17
It took 55 years for Rashid Masih, a poor fruit vendor in Lahore, to cross the Red Cliffe line to meet his sister, who lives barely a few kilometres from the international border in this non-descriptive village.

The day has brought nostalgic moments for the family of Anoop Kaur alias Nuppo and her separated brother, Rashid Masih. Nuppo was just three-year-old when her aunt had carried Rashid away to Lahore, not knowing that they would never meet for decades. First it was the partition and then the poverty and later the fear on both sides of the border which had kept them away for long.

There was a great bonhomie for the entire family that celebrated the reunion of the brother and the sister after 55 years of the separation. Soon after their arrival in the village, there was a party mood as residents of whole village curiously assembled there.

Nuppo’s house became a centre of attraction for the village as soon as her brother arrived.

Their union was made possible with the efforts of the Sanjhe Rang Punjab De, a New Delhi-based NGO, and with the help of a Pakistan-based NGO, the Punjab Lok Sanjh. Their families expressed gratitude towards the two organisations without which their reunion was not possible, they said.

The family, recalling their reunion, said Rashid could not believe his eyes and his speech was choked with emotions and tears rolling down.

Narinder Kaur, daughter of Anoop Kaur, said her mother made favourite eatables for Rashid Masih. She said Rashid also brought special sweets and fruits from Pakistan. He also brought clothes for his brother-in-law and a shawl for her.

Charno, a relative of the Anoop Kaur said, ladoos were distributed among the villagers for celebrating Rashid’s arrival. Rashid went to his cousin house at Sarangna village where he was welcomed with 

Rashid is a fruit vendor in Lahore and has a family of nine members.


Class XII annual exam datesheet
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 17
The class XII annual examinations to be conducted by the Punjab School Education Board here would begin on March 2. Releasing the datesheet for the examinations the board authorities today listed the schedule of the written and practical examinations of humanities, science and commerce groups that would end by April 4.

On March 2, humanities students would appear in the history examination; science students would appear in physics examination; commerce students would appear in theory and practicals of management examination; and agricultural and technical group students would appear in physics examination. On March 3, humanities students would appear in dance/agriculture and science and agricultural group students would appear in agriculture examination. On March 4, humanities students would appear in psychology examination. On March 5, humanities, science, commerce, agricultural and technical group students would appear in the general English examination. On March 7, humanities, science, commerce and agricultural group students would appear in economics examination. On March 9, humanities, science, commerce, agricultural and technical group students would appear in mathematics examination.

On March 10, humanities students would appear in rural development and environment/music (instrumental) examination; science students would appear in elements of electronics engineering/ biology examination; commerce students would appear in office management examination; agricultural group students would appear in rural development and environment examination and technical group students would appear in elements of building construction/elements of mechanical engineering/elements of electronics engineering/elements of electrical engineering/engineering drawing examination.

On March 11, humanities students would appear in book-keeping and accountancy examination. On March 12, while humanities students would appear in political science; examination, science, agricultural and technical group students would appear in the chemistry examination and commerce students would appear in the accountancy examination. On March 14, humanities, science, commerce, agricultural and technical group students would appear in the general Punjabi examination. On March 15, humanities students would appear in the education examination. On March 16, humanities students would appear in the physical education and sports/insurance examination, while commerce students would appear in the insurance/business statistics examination.

On March 17, humanities, science, commerce, agricultural and technical group students would appear in the computer applications examination. On March 18, humanities students would appear in Punjabi/ Hindi/ English/ Urdu/ Bengali/ Gujrati/ Kannad/ Marathi/ Malayalam/ Manipuri/ Oriya/ Assamese/ Sindhi/ Tamil/ Telegu examinations.

On March 19, humanities and science students would appear in the home science examination. On March 21, humanities, science and agricultural group students would appear in geography examination. On March 22, humanities students would appear in the music (vocal) examination; on March 24, they would appear in the sociology (vocal) examination, on March 28, they would appear in the Gurmat sangeet examination, and on March 29, they would appear in the religion/history and appreciation of arts.

On March 30, the humanities students would appear in the public administration examination while science students would appear in the zoology examination. On March 31, humanities students would appear in the philosophy/geometrical perspective and architectural drawing examination. On April 1, humanities students would appear in the Sanskrit/Prussian/German/French/Russian/Arabic examination while science students would appear in the Sanskrit examination.

On April 2, humanities students would appear in the defence studies/music (tabla) and on April 4, they would appear in the business organisation and management examination.

According to the board authorities, all the above examinations would be held from 2 pm to 5 pm except the examination of geometrical perspective and architectural drawing that would be held from 2 pm to 6 pm and elements of building construction/electronics engineering/ electrical engineering/ mechanical engineering/engineering drawing, that would be held from 2 pm to 4 pm.


Drug menace is greatest challenge: Siddiqui
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
His commanding eyes and footsure gait compliment the traces of authority in his voice as Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui asserts: “I am retiring from service, not from life”. In a breath loaded with the same authority, he asserts: “After leaving the job, I will pursue a career in social work. But politics and political parties are a big no for me”.

The tone becomes a little more assertive as he talks about the row between the cadre and non-cadre officers. Also about the related claim of some police officers that they should be posted as Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) for their role in fighting militancy.

“The officers have already been rewarded with accelerated promotions for tackling militancy in the state. This is not all. They have been bestowed with medals and granted financial benefits. It is not justified for an officer to now turn around and say he should be posted as a district chief because he faced bullets during the dark days of terrorism.”

His assertion assumes significance as so many PPS officers have all along been claiming that they should be allowed to function as district chiefs because they had put their lives at stake during terrorism.

Regarding the controversy between PPS and IPS officers over postings, he rules, “The row has been blown out of proportion. The ground reality is absolutely different. There is complete co-ordination between the cadre and non-cadre officers in day to day functioning. You will see that the controversy will die its natural death in the coming few days”.

As far as other problems faced by the police force are concerned, he says: “Lack of fresh recruitment has made police functioning stale”. Giving details, he says, “New talent is not being allowed to enter. Even the strength of women police is hovering around 6 per cent even though we want it to be approximately 10 per cent. As of now, we are recruiting Special Police Officers (SPOs) only. Some of them are not young. Some others are not all that deserving”.

He adds: “A suitability test was conducted to examine the suitability of SPOs. After the test, almost 1800 SPOs were enlisted as constables last year. At present there are 3,585 SPOs awaiting absorption. Over 2600 SPOs, rejected in different suitability tests, are being sent to the Department of Home Guard and Civil Defence”.

About the “greatest challenge” before the police force, he says: “The menace of drugs needs to be tackled at the earliest not just by nabbing drug peddlers but also by holding awareness programmes and rallies in the state”. 


59 cops guilty of human rights violations in 2004
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
As many as 59 police officials were found guilty of violating human rights in 28 cases last year. A total of 44 complaints against cops were received.

Punjab’s Director-General of Police A.A. Siddiqui said in all 17,000 complaints were received by the Internal Vigilance-cum-Human Rights Wing and the Grievance Redressal and Monitoring Cell set up under the wing at the Punjab Police Headquarters.

He said 6261 complaints were received from Punjab State Human Rights Commission, 376 from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and 46 from the National Human Rights Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at Delhi.

Addressing a press conference this afternoon, he added that an Economic Offences Wing (EOW) was also set up at the headquarters last year for “dealing with the emerging economic offences”.

The wing was headed by an Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP). He was assisted by an Inspector-General of Police, a Deputy Inspector-General of Police and some Superintendents of Police. Regarding the welfare schemes launched by the police, he said construction of 250 residential houses for non-gazetted officers had already been completed, while 204 houses for other ranks were under construction. As many as 11 police station buildings had been constructed, while another 11 were still under construction. Barracks for housing 1000 recruits were being constructed at PAP Jalandhar and another 80 at Kapurthala. For fixing the seniority of PPS officers, a high level committee heard more than 64 officers and examined at length their grievances. “The committee has already submitted its report to the Punjab Government.”

Regarding the activities of the “administrative wing” functioning under the guidance of IG (Headquarters) Sanjiv Gupta and Asst IG (Personnel) Kuldeep Singh, he said. Human Resource Information System had been developed and partially implemented.


Cong, SAD activists clash
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 17
Supporters of the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal clashed during voting for panchayat bypoll at Salhina village, near here, yesterday. One of the groups reportedly indulged in firing too.

According to sources, one of the panchayat seats fell vacant following the death of a panchayat member, Swaran Singh. His son was the Congress candidate, while Mukhtiar Singh was the SAD candidate in the bypoll.

The voting was peaceful till 4 pm. The trouble started when SAD activists stopped some Congress workers from picking up voters from their homes. SAD workers allegedly stoned their vehicle that left its driver injured. The driver was also reportedly fired at, but somehow he escaped. No case has been registered in this connection.


Yogi’s successor to be named soon
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 17
Successor will be announced after performing “Challiah”, 40-day prayers at Golden Temple here to take over the reigns of Bhai Harbhajan Singh Yogi’s US-based Sikh Dharma International.

The wife of Yogi ji, Dr Bibi Inderjit Kaur, speaking to newsmen on the conclusion of paying homage held at the Golden Temple complex on Saturday, said she, along with Gur Amrit Kaur, would offer daily prayer at the Golden Temple starting this week and the final decision would be taken by the organisation through consensus.

The top brass managing the Yogi’s Sikh Dharma International has decided to carry forward the legacy of preaching Sikh religion across the world.

Gur Amrit Kaur said they had offered services for spreading the message of the Sikhism and sent the trained preachers from the USA to teach the Indians about the message of universal brotherhood and goodwill spread by the Yogi Bhajan during his life-long mission. She said the entire organisation was committed to work unitedly for the propagation of the Sikh dharma both in India and abroad.

The 3Ho and super health projects which was initiated by the Yogi to cure people from the scourge of drugs, which had cured many serious drug addicts, would be started in India on a permanent basis. Gur Amrit Kaur said one such experimental 90-day pilot project, in collaboration with the Punjab Health System Corporation, was started at local Mental Hospital, where a group of drug addicts was cured through yoga meditation and 


Dam staff resent allowance withdrawal
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 17
Employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam today blocked traffic on the Shahpur Kandi barrier to protest against withdrawal of their allowances by the Finance Department.

They continued the dharna till 1 pm. Various union leaders of the employees, while addressing the workers, alleged that the withdrawal of allowances was just victimisation of the employees. While the employees of the other power projects in the state, including the Pong and Bhakra Dam, were getting the allowances, the project benefits of the Ranjit Sagar Dam employees had been withdrawn.

The union leaders threatened to intensify the agitation in case their allowances were not restored. The employees are scheduled to meet the Finance Minister, Punjab, tomorrow to plead their case. In case no solution was found, the employees would resort to blockade of traffic on the national highway, they alleged.

The Finance Department has withdrawn the project and field allowances of the employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam from December. With the withdrawal of said allowances each employee was set to loose an amount ranging from Rs1,300 to Rs 1,500 per month in salary. In protest against the withdrawal of allowances the employees have declined to accept the reduced salaries. With both the Finance Department and the employees hardening their stand on the issue the matter is likely to generate more heat in the coming days.


Illegal gaushala comes up at Market Committee’s land
Kamlesh Sharma

Barnala, January 17
An illegal gaushala has come up at a prime land of Market Committee, Barnala. This land is a part of grain market and is worth Rs 1 crore. The gaushala is situated just in front of the office of Market Committee.

About 200 cows and 250 bulls have been housed in the gaushala. The boundary of the gaushala has been made by fencing with barbed wires. The local palledar union has constructed the gaushala and is manning its affairs, allegedly in connivance with some local politicians.

Even the SSP’s office is at a stone’s throw distance, but none of the civil administration officials have come forward to take stock of the matter. Three private shops have also been set up at Market Committee’s land to provide fodder to the cattle.

These shopkeepers are minting money by selling fodder without paying any rent to the Market Committee. None of these shopkeepers have bothered to take permission from committee officials for setting up shops. Everything is going on smoothly right under the nose of authorities.

Mr Kuldeep Singh Brar, secretary, Market Committee, when contacted, said the Market Committee had received a letter from the office of the SDM to take necessary action in this regard.

He said the committee would soon take action to get this encroached land vacated. 


SGPC workers to be verified: Bibi Jagir Kaur
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 17
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, while talking to media persons today at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering

College here said a five-member committee had been constituted to verify the certificates of all employees of the SGPC.

She was speaking after presiding over the selection committee of the college management committee.

She said the process of verifying the documents would start soon and she had already directed the secretary, SGPC, to procure all the certificates of every employee for verification by the committee.

She said apart from certificate verification, all the property of the SGPC, including land, buildings would also be scrutinised to have first hand knowledge of how much property the SGPC holds.

She said after analysing the properties, proper planning would be made to increase the earning from these. She said that the projections of new earnings would be done before the budget meeting of the SGPC.

The SGPC chief said these measures would help in running the SGPC in an efficient manner by making the right people work at the right place as per their qualifications and to increase future earnings of the SGPC by better utilisation of the property. Member secretary of the college and senior Akali leader, Kirpal Singh Libra, handed over a cheque of Rs 2.2 lakh to Bibi Jagir Kaur for the tsunami relief fund.

College Principal, Dr D.S. Hira said the staff and students of the college contributed to the relief fund. He said all the employees denoted their two days salary and student gave Rs 100 each.


Decision of SGPC men to campaign draws flak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
After Haryana, where as many as seven SGPC members had declared to support the Congress candidates, the decision of three SGPC members of district Amritsar to launch campaign for the Congress candidate for the forthcoming Ajnala byelection from tomorrow has caused flutter in the Sikh circles .

This is for the first time that out of total 170 elected members, at least 10 SGPC members would be seen campaigning in favour of Congress party, especially after infamous Operation Blue Star and ‘84 riots. The three SGPC members, who had won during the previous general elections of Shiromani Committee with the support of Congress, would leave for Ajnala tomorrow. They are Mr Jagjit Singh Bhullar, Mr Shingara Singh Jodhewala, and Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu.

Sikhs feel that the SGPC members should confine themselves to religious affairs only. 


PSEB engineers rue ‘bad’ policy decisions of govt
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 17
Members of the Punjab State Electricity Board Engineers Association here today blamed the “misplaced priorities” of the state government for the precarious power situation in the state. Accusing the state of short-sightedness, the general secretary of the association claimed that a profit of Rs 175 crore, as generated by the Board in 2003-2004, was turned into a loss of over Rs 1200 crore during the current fiscal year due to “bad” policy decisions.

Threatening to intensify its protests, the executive committee of the association, which met here today, condemned the proposal of the state government to create six small companies by segregating the three functions of generation, transmission and distribution. General secretary of the association H.S. Bedi stated that the loss being faced by the Board was expected to touch Rs 2000 crore if the state government persisted in going ahead with its unbundling plans for the PSEB.

Saying that the segregation of the functions of the Board will result in “bureaucratisation of power”, the members stated that the need of the hour was to bring in efficiency and accountability in the sector by introducing “real reforms”. Claiming that the present power crisis is a direct result of the delay in the execution of the Lehra Mohhabat Stage II and the Shahpur Kandi hydel projects, the engineers blamed the policy makers for having failed to decide the mode of execution of these projects.

Mr Bedi said the successful implementation of these projects alongwith the Goindwal Sahib thermal project which is an example of the “failure of private investment” in Generation, could have added 1150mw power in the system. He added that in case the state government took any unilateral decision to restructure the PSEB in any manner other than that required by the Electricity Act 2003, the engineers will start work-to-rule and intensify their protest by resorting to direct action.


Panj Piaras visit construction site
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
A delegation of Panj Piaras sent by Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Balwant Singh Nandgarh yesterday visited the site in the town where followers of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan headed by Ashutosh tried to construct a prayer hall on Saturday.

The Panj Piaras, while talking to mediapersons after hearing the views of those living in the nearby localities, said they would not allow the organisation to construct its “dera” in the district as it preached against Sikhism.

Following the tension that gripped the town after a section of followers of the sansthan started constructing a “satsang bhavan” (prayer hall) on a piece of land in Adarsh Nagar and a section of people belonging to the Sikh faith opposed the same, the district police yesterday deployed policemen on the site to prevent the situation from escalating.

The police also stopped the construction of the hall for the time being and assured the representatives of Sikh religious bodies of resolving the issue within a week or so.

According to information gathered, a woman, who was disciple of the sansthan, donated a piece of land measuring around 450 sq yds to the organisation for building a prayer hall.

Representatives of the organisation also held a prayer meeting on the site after one of them laid the foundation stone of the prayer hall. The disciples also invited people living in the nearby areas to attend the meeting.

On learning that sansthan had been holding a prayer meeting, people of the locality started a protest claiming that it violated the teachings of Sikhism and amounted to blasphemy.

A section of representatives of Sikh religious bodies moved applications to Deputy Commissioner K.A.P. Singh and SSP Kapil Dev to prevent the construction of the prayer hall. They also mobilised a campaign to oppose the construction of the hall.

Balwant Singh Nandgarh, when contacted, said the Sikhs would oppose the construction of the prayer hall. He added that the sansthan’s activities were controversial and questionable.


Beggars back at Kali Devi temple
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, January 17
Fifty odd beggars have returned near the historic Kali Devi temple premises here two days after the district administration herded and offloaded them outside the city. As hundreds of devotees made a beeline for the temple today owing to Ashtami, many reported manhandling at the hands of beggars.

The beggars, who are at most times intoxicated or drugged, are a big menace to the temple-goers owing to their aggressive mannerisms. Instances where beggars have resorted to grab the devotees from their collars while asking for money are reportedly increasing. Keeping this in view, the district administration had rounded up the beggars two days earlier to drop them off around Sanour, which is around 8 km from here. To discourage the beggars, the temple committee has even decided to refuse them langar from the temple kitchen.

In a bid to prevent liquor finding its way outside the temple, where beggars addicted to it sit waiting, and also following large-scale reports about the temple priests indulging in the resale of liquor bottles which are brought as offering to the Goddess by devotees, the temple management has decided to pour the offered liquor into a havan kund in the temple complex. The coconuts being offered will also find their way into the sacred fire burning in the havan kund.

A board has been put up inside the temple, informing devotees that liquor is not allowed beyond the sanctum housing the idol of Goddess Kali. The devotees must return to the havan kund and pour in their offering before proceeding to pay obeisance to the idol of Goddess Gauri in the temple complex. However, despite the effort, beggars had a field day today as some bacchus managed to get across even if the beggars were denied langar.

The head of the Hindu Suraksha Samiti, Mr Sanjeev Bhardwaj, said that his organisation would make sure that such incidents do not happen. “Our volunteers will be near the havan Kund on all Ashtamis and Saturdays, the days when liquor offerings overflow at the temple to ensure proper disposal of liquor”, he said, adding that this would check the boisterous attitude adopted by the beggars when high on intoxicants.

Regular devotees to the temple, though happy about the measures being taken, said the return of the beggars was inevitable. “I was sure we had not seen the last of them after they were carted away. Transporting them outside the city is a temporary measure and could last but a day or two. The only lasting solution to the harassment caused by them can be their rehabilitation through forced labour at government sites”, says devotee Dr Vishal Chopra.

Even though cleaning is being carried out on the temple premises, garbage bins were overflowing in the absence of an adequate garbage disposal system. Corners of the mandir had mounds of refuse piled up and dogs were seen scurrying around the place.


Widow of Nanak Singh dies unsung
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
Raj Kaur (98), widow of Nanak Singh, Punjabi novelist and freedom fighter who died in 1971, died after prolonged illness here today. She was perhaps the oldest woman of the state.

Though two books of Nanak Singh — Khooni Vaisakhi and Zakhmi Dil — were banned by the British and he remained in jail for the sake of the country, yet Raj Kaur and her children never claimed any benefit, including pension, from the government.

Neither the ‘indifferent’ state or the Centre Governments nor the district administration bothered to honour her at any function. She died unsung at the house of her youngest son Kulbir Singh Suri, a publisher.

She is survived by five sons and a daughter.

In his novels, Nanak Singh had appreciated the role of Raj Kaur who helped him during odd days.


Tributes paid to Namdhari martyrs
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Bhaini Sahib, January 17
Rich tributes were paid to 66 Namdhari martyrs of the freedom movement who were blown with cannons at Malerkotla by the British in 1872 at a state-level shardhanjali samaroh organised at Bhaini Sahib here today.

Since the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, could not make it to the function, the function was presided over by Mr Lal Singh, Minister for Development, Panchayat, Irrigation and Power.

Satguru Jagjit Singh, Head of the Namdhari Darbar, blessed the gathering and advised people to follow the path shown by Satguru Ram Singh.

Mr Lal Singh said the great sacrifices of these martyrs have no parallel in the history of India as they had sacrificed their lives bravely facing the cannons of the British rulers.

The Minister said the ideology of Satguru Ram Singh to carve out a harmonious society by eradicating the social evils like dowry, intoxicants, foeticide etc is still relevant and all organisations working for social reforms should lay stress on this programme.

He also announced that the government would release sufficient funds for the ongoing development projects at Bhaini Sahib. Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, PPCC, Mr G.S. Galib and Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, both former MPs, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, Mr Jasbir Singh Sangrur, a former Minister, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA were among those who paid their tributes to the martyrs.


Legislators fail to keep promise
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 17
The 88 km-long stretch of the Fazilka-Ferozepore road is full of large potholes for the last more than three years. Legislators from Ferozepore district have been promising voters that the road stretch would be reconstructed. Ironically six of eight Congress MLAs belong to the ruling party.

All of them have to frequently travel on this damaged road segment from Zira to Balluana and Abohar.

Accidents have increased manifold. Vehicles have got damaged. Commuters describe the road as a road of potholes. Perhaps it can get an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most damaged road.

Mr Ashok Kumar Gulbadhar, President, Beopar Mandal, Fazilka, has called upon the legislators that instead of making statements, they should work for its reconstruction.


Ex-Cabinet Secy Grewal dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Former Cabinet Secretary S.S Grewal died of a brain hemorrhage in New York this morning. He was 80. He is survived by two sons, both settled in the US. Mr Grewal belonged to the first batch of the Indian Administrative Service after the independence of the country after leaving the Indian Army, where he served for several years participating in the World War II.

Mr Grewal was the husband of former Tribune Trust Chairperson and former Madhya Pradesh Governor Sarla Grewal.

A Punjab cadre IAS officer, he occupied key positions, including that of Chief Secretary in the state, before moving to the Centre. He also had an important role to play in the administration during the Partition and was instrumental in the rehabilitation of refugees from Pakistan. Along with his late wife Sarla Grewal, he played an important role in the development of Punjab during the regime of Mr Partap Singh Kairon. Mr Grewal had the distinction of being India’s first and only Sikh to be appointed Cabinet Secretary.

He served as Secretary, Food and Agriculture, in the Union Government and retired as the Cabinet Secretary during the regime of Mrs Indira Gandhi. His body is being flown to Chandigarh for the last rites. According to family sources, he would be cremated at Chandigarh later this week.


Jaswant Mann bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Mrs Joginder Kaur, mother of Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Founder-Director of Bank of Punjab and an eminent educationist, died here last night after a brief illness. She was 93.

Her cremation today was attended among others by senior bureaucrats, leaders of various political parties, social organisations, academicians, bankers and others.


Farmer, agent reach compromise in land auction case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
The issue pertaining to the auction of a police of land of a farmer, belonging to Chathhewala village of this district, on the direction of a court has been solved by the district civil and police authorities with the help of a Congress leader last night.

The authorities, which have been avoiding direct confrontation with the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahhan), heaved a sigh of relief after Mr Balwant Singh paid about Rs 2 lakh to commission agent of Raman Mandi, Mr Raj Kumar after they reached a compromise.

The Punjab Government has managed to score a victory over the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahhan) group, led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahhan which held an agitation whenever the authorities tried to auction the piece of land. No representative of this organisation was involved in the compromise reached between Mr Balwant Singh and Mr Raj Kumar in the presence of Deputy Commissioner K.A.P. Sinha, SSP, Kapil Dev and Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, District Congress Committee, Bathinda.

The auction was ordered by Mr N.K. Gaur, the then Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Talwandi Sabo, while deciding a civil suit filed in his court by Mr Raj Kumar against Mr Balwant Singh. Mr Gaur, who passed this order a few months ago, had also ordered the auction to be videographed.

Though the court fixed dates twice for holding the auction, it could not be held. On October 26, when the auction was to be conducted by the officials, activists of BKU (Ekta-Ugrahhan) virtually laid the siege of Chathhewala village and the authorities were forced to move to the court to get it postponed. The court fixed next auction on January 20,2005.

As per the compromise reached between Mr Balwant Singh and Mr Raj Kumar, the amount of loan taken by Mr Balwant Singh from Mr Raj Kumar had been given back and in lieu of that Mr Raj Kumar would withdraw the case filed against Mr Balwant Singh from the court.


Kisan unions stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 17
Thousands of activists of five farmers’ organisations staged a dharna and organised a rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today to lodge their protest in connection with the non-acceptance of their pending demands by the authorities concerned.

The activists of farmers’ organisations — Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta), Punjab Kisan Sabha, Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha and Khetibari and Kisan Vikas Front — who raised slogans against the state government, declared that they would take their agitation to the village level if the authorities concerned failed to accept their demands at the earliest.

They demanded that the government should waive off the loans of the farmers and also take necessary steps to stop the auction of agriculture landholdings in lieu of recovery of loans. The farmers should not be arrested due to their failure in paying back the loans.

The other demands included significant increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of cotton, sugarcane and other crops, payment of balance amount of those crop which had already been procured by the government agencies, to decrease the prices of pesticides, fertilisers, diesel and agriculture equipment.

They added that the state government should complete all those canal water schemes which had been hanging fire.

They demanded that the government should promise to provide free power supply to farmers and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) should not be privatised. Members of various PSEB unions also supported the agitating activists.

While addressing the activists, the leaders of various farmers’ organisations alleged that the government had been ignoring the agriculture sector and it had been paying more attention to the policies of foreign trade.

They said such attitude would not be tolerated. They demanded that the prices of crops should not be kept stable and should be increased in proportion to the increase in the prices of pesticides, fertilisers, diesel etc. They demanded 40 per cent of the budget for the agriculture sector.

The farmers’ organisations decided to hold a massive protest rally and dharnas and to burn effigies of the Chief Minister at Jalandhar and Amritsar on February 4 and 7, respectively. It was also decided that on February 17 the activists of farmers’ organisations and electricity board employees would organise a protest rally at Patiala.


MC demolishes extensions of shops
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 17
The Municipal Corporation authorities today demolished extensions created by shopkeepers outside their shops near Lahori Gate.

More than a dozen shops in the Gujrati bazaar, situated between Lahori Gate and the bus stand, were targeted under the drive. The demolition drive was conducted to reduce traffic congestion in the area.

Shopkeepers on this road have extended their shops by two to three feet. With two wheelers also being parked in front of the shops, the movement of traffic is very slow in the area. The drive was conducted by the Health Officer, Dr Karamjit Singh. Other areas in the city are also likely to be targeted under the drive soon.


Encroachments removed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 17
The district administration today launched a campaign to remove encroachments from the government lands in all urban and rural areas. The teams of municipal officials led by SDMs, Tehsildars and Executive Officers accompanied by police personnel removed encroachments in Sirhind, Mandi Gobindgarh, Amloh, Bassi Pathana and Khamano.

Similarly, teams from rural and revenue departments led by respective BDPOs removed encroachments in rural areas. The Deputy Commissioner has directed all EOs and BDPOs to submit the list of encroachers within two days, so that these could be removed immediately.

The Deputy Commissioner, said the drive would continue for a week.


Kingpin of gang of car thieves held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 17
The police has busted a gang of vehicle snatchers by arresting its kingpin and seizing eight vehicles from him.

Disclosing this, Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said one Anoop Pal Singh, a resident of Kolkata, had been arrested on charges of snatching vehicles in Rajasthan and Haryana and bringing them to Panchkula where these were sold after preparation of new registration papers.

Mr Rai said the accused Anoop Pal was living in a rented accommodation — 107, Army Flats, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula.

He said Anoop Pal used to take taxis on hire for Panchkula from places as far off as Bikaner, Churu, Kishengarh, Nagaur, Sikar and Ajmer in Rajasthan and Kurukshehtra, Rohtak, Kaithal and Jagadhri in Haryana.

He said on the way he used to ask the driver to stop for food and befriend him. After this, the police officer said, the accused would ask for the car keys from the driver citing an emergency. He said the keys were usually given as the accused would leave a small suitcase and his coat in front of the driver before getting the keys.

After stealing the vehicles in this manner, Anoop Pal used to destroy the original chassis numbers and start the process of preparing new registrations for the vehicles. The registration certificates were prepared through use of stamps of the Patna and other District Transport Officers of Bihar.

After this Anoop Pal used to submit the registration certificates to the office of the SDM, Panchkula, for preparation of new number plates of Haryana state. With the connivance of the staff of the SDM office, even these number plates were issued.

The SSP said once the new number plates were issued, the cars were sold off. The officer said there were also instances of a finance company taking over some vehicles after Anoop Pal could not pay off loans he had taken against them. These vehicle were also sold to unsuspecting customers.

The police has seized six Indica cars, one Qualis and one Tata Sumo vehicle from Anoop Pal following a raid conducted by the CIA Inspector Jassa Singh under the directions of Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk.


Trickster flees with tractor
Tribune News Service

Jaito, January 17
A trickster fled with a tractor from the Ramlila ground here in broad daylight yesterday. The trickster even came across the tractor owner on his way, but he also managed to befool him.

Sources said Thana Singh of Jhakhanwala village had come to M/s Jaswinderpal and Co., arhtiyas, on his tractor (PB-62 1113).

He parked his tractor in front of the shop and went to buy some goods from the nearby market.

Meanwhile, a clean-shaven youth came to the shop and asked its owner about his ‘uncle’, Thana Singh.

When told that he had gone to the market, he started the tractor with a screwdriver and said he would be back after picking up some family members from his village.

Interestingly, he met Thana Singh near the Market Committee office. When Thana Singh asked him to reveal his identity, he said the arhtiya had sent him to bring some items.

Thana Singh returned to arhtiya’s shop, but when the swindler didn’t turn up for about an hour, he asked the arhtiya about him.

He was taken aback when the arhtiya told him that he had not sent him anywhere.

Later, Thana Singh lodged a complaint with the police.


Doctor absconds; bodies cremated

Amritsar, January 17
No arrest has been made in the sensational suicide case in which four members of a family committed suicide at Rajdhana village in Rayya falling under Majitha police district due to alleged blackmailing by an RMP of the area.

The raids are being conducted to nab the culprit who has been absconding since the incident as his name was found scribbled on the walls of the house. The deceased include Naresh Kumar, his wife Manju, son Rinku and daughter Shallo.

Meanwhile, the bodies of the victims were cremated after post-mortem. — OC


Cops ‘tease’ women; rail traffic jammed
Tribune News Service

Bareta (Mansa), January 17
Three policemen of the General Railway Police (GRP), deployed at the local railway station, were sent to the police lines after a large number of residents jammed the traffic on the Bathinda-Delhi rail section for about four hours to lodge protest against their alleged misbehaviour with two women passengers late last night.

Though Mr Bahadur Singh, DSP, GRP, Jalandhar, who reached here today to make on the spot verification, talking to TNS, denied the allegations that the policemen had misbehaved with the women, he admitted that two of them were under the influence of liquor and entered into arguments with a mediaperson, who then blew the issue out of proportion.

He said a departmental inquiry had been initiated against them, Paramjit Singh, Ajaib Singh and Sukhdarshan Singh. He added that they had been sent to the police lines at Patiala. He said no case was registered against them.

Information revealed that after these three policemen allegedly misbehaved with the women, a section of residents started assembling at the local railway station.

They started lodging protest against them and demanded that a medical examination of the accused should be conducted, apart from giving them other punishments.

After that, the protesters jammed the rail traffic and did not allow a goods train and a passenger train to proceed on its scheduled time. Though, the Station Master made efforts to persuade the people to lift the jam, he could not succeed.


Probe into Rabul murder case begins
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, January 17
The SP (D), Mr Baljit Singh Butar, has started probe into the Rabul Bhangu murder case. Rabul, son of Barjindra College lecturer Preetam Singh Bhangu, was killed on the New Year Eve.

Mr Butar, along with SHO Manminder Singh, inspected Mehfil restaurant, where Rabul sat with his friends before the incident, and the spot where his car met with an accident. Mr Butar said he had recorded statements of some Faridkot road residents and the restaurant owner.

On December 31, Rabul and his friends had an altercation with another group of boys at Mehfil restaurant. Later, the other group headed towards the industrial area after challenging Rabul and his friends, who followed them to the spot. There they had a clash in which Rabul suffered injuries on the left ear.

While returning to the town, their car met with an accident. At the hospital, Rabul was declared brought dead.


Opt for tech courses, Johar tells students
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar today urged students to opt for technical courses so that they could not only explore avenues in self-employment, but also take the country further in the sphere of information technology.

He was addressing students from across the state at the concluding function of the 33rd State Science Exhibition at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar, here.

As many as 178 items and models were exhibited. Mr Johar honoured 45 students who had designed the winning entries.

Six of the winning models and items will be displayed at the north zone-level exhibition to be held at Delhi from January 18-21. The three models chosen by Punjab PCRO are Senior Secondary School, Uboke (Amritsar) first, RS Model Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, second and Doaba Arya Senior Secondary School, Nawanshahr, third.

The following are the results of the exhibition: Agriculture: secondary schools: Varun (Ludhiana) 1, Nripdeep Kaur (Amritsar) 2, and Hardeep Singh (Ropar) 3.

Senior secondary: Monika (Gurdaspur) 1, Charumita (Faridkot) 2, and Manpreet Singh (Moga) 3.

Energy and energy conservation; Jasbir Singh (Ludhiana) 1, Kuljit Kaur (Nawanshahr) 2, Sahib Singh (Amritsar) 3.

Senior secondary: Navneet Kumar (Ropar) 1, Kuljit Kaur (Nawanshahr), Mamta (Ludhiana) 3.

Industrial development and environment: Secondary: Rahul (Amritsar) 1, Mohit Kumar (Kapurthala) 2, and Gaurav (Ludhiana) 3.

Senior secondary: Gurvinder Singh (Patiala) 1, Puneet Goel (Ludhiana) 2, and Amandeep Singh (Faridkot) 3.

Education, technique and model making: Secondary: Gursharanpreet (Ludhiana) 1, Saurabh Sharma (Sangrur) 2 and Madhur Jagota (Jalandhar) 3.

Secondary: Navpreet Singh (Ropar) 1, Mukesh Mishra (Ludhiana) 2, and Ranjit Singh (Patiala) 3.

Technology for Health Secondary: Dharminder Singh (Amritsar) 1, Harmanjot Singh (Bathinda) 2, and Amrit Kaur (Kapurthala) 3.

Secondary: Divya (Kapurthala) 1, Nidhi Sharma (Mohali) 2, and Harmeet Singh (Sangrur) 3.

Village (Secondary): Jeet Singh (Ferozepur) 1, Jaswinder Singh (Patiala) 2, and Munish Kaushik (Ropar) 3.

Elementary: Munish (Sangrur) 1, Sumanpreet (Sidhwan Khurd, Ludhiana) 2, Gurdarshan Singh (Moga) 3.

Teaching aid: (for teachers): Jallale Hussan Singh (Patiala) 1, Gurmeet Singh (Kapurthala) 2, and Nishan Singh (Moga) 3.


Baba Farid School gets CBSE nod for 4 faculties
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 17
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has given nod to Baba Farid School to start faculties like arts, commerce, medical and non-medical, simultaneously. With this it has become one of a few schools in the entire Malwa belt to have so many streams under one roof.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, the Chairman of Gurdwara Godri Sahib Baba Farid Society, Mr Inderjeet Singh Khalsa, said that earlier Maharaja Bikramjit Singh had set up a College of Commerce that was later shifted to Patiala.

To bring back the commerce faculty to Faridkot they had sent an application to the CBSE seeking permission to start the same. “So impressed was the CBSE team with our school’s infrastructure that they allowed us to start commerce, arts, and science streams, simultaneously,” he added.

He said that their society was running a number of educational institutions with income generated from of religious place. He said that the school had waived off fee of about 600 students belonging to poor section of society.

Highlighting the society’s future plans, Mr Khalsa said that they were working towards imparting coaching for entrance exams like PMT, IIT, JEE, etc in the school premises only so that students of Malwa belt did not have to go to New Delhi or Chandigarh for the same. He said that the society would make special arrangement for the students who could not afford such coaching fee.


Students resent private bus pass scheme
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 17
The Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa) today took out a rally at the local Industrial Training Institute (ITI) to protest against the private bus operators' scheme of issuing monthly passes worth Rs 150 to students.

Addressing the protesters, the union leaders alleged that the scheme was Punjab Government’s “conspiracy" to benefit private bus operators and to discontinue its own monthly pass facility.

They alleged that district administration officials were “pressurising” them to avail these passes, which would not be tolerated at any cost. They said meetings would be organised in various educational institutions to sensitise students on the issue and chalk out future strategy.

Union leaders, Karam Rama and Mandeep Singh demanded that the courses that were discontinued at the ITI be restarted. They alleged that despite paying fee the ITI students were not having access to safe drinking water, clean toilets, and proper furniture.

They said they had submitted a memorandum to the ITI Principal in this regard, but nothing had been done so far. They urged the government to either stop charging them for these amenities or provide them the same at their institution. The union leaders also opposed the “privatisation” of the education sector.


School uniforms, sweaters distributed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 17
The District Red Cross Society would provide sweaters, shoes, books and school uniforms to all needy students.

The teaching department has been directed to submit the lists of such students at the earliest, said the Deputy Commissioner while addressing the students and staff after distributing sweaters at Government Elementary School, Brahman Majra, Sirhind, today.

He said during his surprise visit to various schools, he found that certain students don’t have uniform sweaters and even shoes.

So it was decided that all such students would be given sweaters as per their requirement.

He said a special team of the Red Cross would visit and distribute sweaters, shoes and uniforms in all schools.

Similarly, members of the Rotary Club, Sirhind, led by Mr Rupinder Puri, president, and Mr R.N. Sharma, secretary, distributed sweaters and shoes to the needy students at Government Senior Secondary School, Tarkhan Majra. 


Punjab targets 4,000 cr from small savings
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 17
The state government has planned to collect Rs 4,000 crore through small 
savings during the current financial year.

This was stated by Mr Megh Raj, Director, Small Savings, Punjab, who was addressing a gathering at a function organised here yesterday in connection with the 26th and 27th Lucky Coupon Scheme of the Small Savings Department, Punjab.

Mr Megh Raj said the department had done a commendable job in making small savings a people’s movement in the state, where it was working with just 40 employees. He said the achievements of the small savings department could be gauged from the fact that the net collections for department during the financial year 2003-2004 were Rs 3260.19 crore and the department had recorded an increase of 30.12 per cent in collections within a year.


Tenders for gas power plant soon
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Nadampur (Sangrur), January 17
With a view to increasing power generation at a grand scale, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will soon float tenders for a 2000 MW gas-based power plant at Doraha.

The PSEB has also decided to introduce a voluntary load disclosure scheme (VLDS) for the domestic power consumer and small commercial establishments on the pattern of VLDS already introduced for the agriculture power consumer.

Mr H.C.Sood, Member, Distribution, PSEB, said here today a decision to float tenders for 2000 MW power generation was taken by the PSEB at a meeting recently. He said the party which got the tender would be allowed to set up its power plant in or outside the state.

He also said the PSEB was holding talks with Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) to set up a gas-based power plant at Doraha. This plant would be set up at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore and start functioning in 2006- 2007.

Mr Sood was here in connection with a load increase camp organised by the PSEB for agriculture power consumers under the VLDS for tubewells motors.

At the camp, a large number of farmers participated.

Mr A.S. Gulati, Chief Engineer, Distribution, South, PSEB, Mr H.S. Nagpal, Superintending Engineer (SE), Distribution Circle, Sangrur; Mr V.K. Singhal, SE, Distribution Circle, Patiala, Mr DPS Grewal, Senior XEN, Distribution Division, Sangrur, and Mr N.K. Garg, Senior XEN, Distribution Division, Dirba, also attended the camp.

Mr Sood said the PSEB would introduce the VLDS for the domestic power consumer and small commercial establishments after January 31 so that they too could avail themselves of the benefits of the scheme.

He said the PSEB had purchased power to the tune of Rs 650 crore till December last to meet the shortage. It would purchase power to the tune of Rs 800 crore during this financial year.

He said out of the total nine lakh agriculture power consumers in the state, 1.10 lakh had got the load of their tubewell motors increased since December 23, the date of declaration of the VLDS, due to which load had increased sharply.

He assured the employees of the PSEB that after the “unbundling” of the PSEB, no employee would be transferred. He said “unbundling” could be done by June 9,2005.

As per the Central Electricity Act passed in June 2003, states would have to “unbundle” their electricity boards in two years.

Mr H.S. Nagpal, SE, Distribution Circle, Sangrur, said under VLDS for tubewell motors since December 23, as many as 16,958 agriculture power consumers had got the load of their tubewell motors increased in the Sangrur distribution circle which had enabled the PSEB to earn Rs 486 lakh.

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