P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Fee hike mooted for engineering colleges in Punjab
Chitleen K. Stehi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
The review committee on revitalizing technical education in Punjab has suggested key changes in the conduct of entrance examination to engineering colleges in the state besides recommending a substantial increase in the fees paid by the students.

The committee’s report adopted in toto by the Punjab Government was released by the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Higher Education Medical Education and Technical Education, here today.

The Common Entrance Test (CET) conducted by Punjab Technical University (PTU) for admission to various engineering colleges in the state would now be a national level test and candidates outside the state would be allowed to appear for the test. The entrance test would now have two sections.

A qualifying section would be included to test the general aptitude and proficiency of the candidate in English.

The merit would, however, be decided on the basis of marks obtained in physics, chemistry and mathematics (section II).

While these changes are likely to be included in the CET to be held in 2005, the university would from the 2006 session, include a percentage of the marks obtained by the students in Class XII board examinations in the final CET merit list.

According to PTU Vice Chancellor, Dr S.K. Salwan, chairman, review committee, non medical science graduates would be taken into engineering courses directly at the III semester level following a lateral entry entrance test.

The committee strongly recommended that the engineering college fee be increased to realistic levels. “The fee be revised from being barely 1 per cent of the recurring expenditure per student per year, to at least 20 per cent of the recurring expenditure per student per year,” said the report. However, at the same time many “freeships” have been suggested for economically weak students.

All diploma programmes would now be of uniform duration and the minimum qualification for admission to diploma courses would be fixed as a pass from secondary school.

The state would also offer dual engineering degree programme in select institutions. The engineering programmes in which the student intake is less would be clubbed with information technology and offered to the students.

In order to utilise the infrastructure available with the various polytechnics in the state, short duration vocational/modular courses would be introduced. Senior students of the polytechnic would be allowed to teach these courses.

Encouraging private consultancy and sponsored research, government engineering colleges and polytechnics have been asked to form student- teacher teams and render services in line with their curricula to the private sector and earn their own revenue.

Emphasising that traditional and conventional courses in existence are not need-based and industry oriented, Mr Salwan pointed out all the courses which had become outdated would be phased out. These include chemical engineering, plastic technology, printing technology etc at the diploma level.

These would be replaced by separate courses for rural and urban demands looking into the future technologies. These include fashion, apparel, dairy engineering, fire engineering and forest technology etc.

Stating that the intake capacity of engineering colleges in the state had increased from 1508 in 1991 to 12500 in 2004, Mr Salwan pointed out that more seats were now available than the number of students willing to take admissions and the number of seats that were left vacant in 2004 was as high as 5000.


Police recalls some of Siddiqui’s promotion orders
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab police has recalled at least some orders pertaining to promotions and other benefits issued by former Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui just before he retired. The recalled orders were yet to be implemented.

Sources are unwilling to divulge the exact number of recalled orders, but add that over 200 were issued by the then DGP before he relinquished office on January 31.

The beneficiaries reportedly ranged from constables to Inspectors. In some cases, only minor benefits were given to the personnel, while in others seniority was granted.

The sources in the Punjab police headquarters assert that the authorities are also looking into some of the implemented orders. In case of illegality, the relevant legal provisions are being studied to “undo the damage” after following the due procedure.

Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters) Sanjiv Gupta refuses to comment on the issue. Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Personnel) Kuldeep Singh says “it is too premature to say anything”.

Controversy had overshadowed the appointments after it was reported in the media that Mr Siddiqui was on “an out-of-turn promotion spree” before relinquishing office.

Mr Siddiqui was not available for comments, but sources close to him say there is nothing wrong with the issuance of the promotion orders. “The DGP was well within his rights to issue such orders,” they insist, adding that none of the promotions was out of turn.

Quoting the Punjab Police Rules, the sources assert that these bestowed powers on the DGP to relax provisions relating to promotions in case this is considered essential.

A senior Punjab Police officers meanwhile, adds that this is not the first time that promotions ordered by a DGP have come under criticism. Another former DGP, Mr M.S. Bhullar had reportedly granted approval for the enlistment of approximately 600 special police officers (SPOs) as constables even though a ban on recruitment was in force in the state. As a result, the process remained incomplete. Finally, the cases were spiked by the Punjab police.

They add that the authorities are already drafting standing orders regarding recruitment and promotions of police personnel. Once the orders come into force, the DGP’s nod alone will not be enough. The existence of vacancies and the recruitment rules will be considered, along with the DGP’s approval, while appointing and promoting personnel.


Decks cleared for Indo-Pak trade fair in Amritsar
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Decks have been cleared for the Indo-Pak International Trade Fair to be held in Amritsar in April as the Pakistan Government has accepted the proposal of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in this regard. The coming together of Pakistani and Indian exhibitors on a common platform will go a long way in helping both countries enhance mutual trade.

The Principal Secretary of the Chief Minister, West Punjab (Pakistan), Mr G.M. Sikandar, has officially conveyed to the Punjab Committee of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry their willingness to take part in the trade fair. The Chief Minister of West Punjab, Mr Pervaiz Elahi, has also directed the Industries, Commerce and Investment Department to extend all possible assistance to all those exhibitors who wish to showcase their products in Amritsar, the letter adds. Subsequently, the Federation of the Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry have sought details about the exhibition — venue, construction charges of stalls, nature of the exhibition and whether spot/retail sale will be allowed at the exhibition.

The Resident Director of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr P.K. Verma, told TNS the exhibition would be held around Baisakhi in April to cash in on the festive spirit in the state. The proposed dates for the same are April 14-17. Nearly 100 exhibitors, including businessmen and traders from Pakistan and almost double the number from India, are likely to participate in this exhibition. This would help allay the fears of Pakistani businessmen of a lopsided bilateral trade scenario in a free-trade environment. They are apprehensive that Indian goods, if allowed entry, would swamp their domestic industry due to the sheer competitive edge the Indian manufacturers have on them.

Mr Verma said the participation of the exhibitors from Pakistan would help them study the Indian market, industry and hidden subsidies. The annual trade between the two countries at present stands at $ 345 million and Pakistan can import up to 700 items from India from the mutually agreed list of items. Similarly, India offers a huge market for Pakistan products.

The exhibition, an annual feature, will be held alternately in India and Pakistan to further strengthen the ties between the two countries. The representatives of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry from Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar had, as part of their goodwill missions to the state, discussed at length the opportunities of trade and mutual exchange between the two countries and the idea of holding an exhibition emanated from that, said Mr Verma.

This would boost trade prospects of Punjabi industrialists in a big way as there is huge demand for Indian goods from across the border and exporters from the region can showcase their products to the Pakistani counterparts for trade purposes, said Mr R.S. Sachdeva, co-chairman of the Punjab Committee of the Punjab Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Uncertainty over Dashmesh Academy’s fate
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, February 22
With termination of services staring at them in their faces, the hope of scores of staff members of the Sri Dashmesh Academy now rest with the Punjab Government or the Army’s decision to take over the institution’s management.

Also, uncertainty prevails over the fate of students, specially those studying in class IX or XI if the academy closes down at the end of the ongoing academic session as recommended

There had been speculation for quite some time that the academy, which has been in existence since 1978, would be shut down. Things became clear when the staff, numbering about 120, were “conveyed” verbally by the principal a couple of days ago that the management has decided to serve the termination notices. Though they have not been served as yet, the notices are effective from March 31.

The information came as a rude shock not only to the staff, but also to the parents of about 400 students studying there. On learning about the developments, a large number of worried parents today converged at the academy.

“I received the termination notices for the staff from the management a few days ago, but they are yet to be served,” the academy’s principal, Mr N. Gomes said. “The management is scheduled to hold a meeting on March 16. The termination notices can be withdrawn depending upon further developments,” he added. The academy is run by a trust and the governing body is headed by the sitting Punjab Chief Minister.

The academy, in the meantime, is functioning as normal and regular classes are being held. It has 76 boarders and 350 day-scholars studying in class nursery-XII. Spread over 204 acres, its foundation stone was laid on September 24, 1978, by the then President, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy.

Staff members said that though the decision to close down the academy was taken in February, 2003, by the former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, who also headed the trust, the orders were signed by him in December, 2004. They are hoping that the Punjab Government will rescue the academy by taking over the management and providing requisite funds.

While claiming that the staff as well as parents were kept in the dark about the developments, they added that the academy was being made a victim of political bickering between the former and the present Chief Ministers, which is unfortunate for an educational institute.

“During the silver jubilee celebrations in November, the management committee’s member secretary, Air Marshal M.M. Singh (retd) announced that the Army would be taking over the academy,” Mr Arun Sharma, a teacher, said. “This had given us confidence and hope of reviving the institute,” he added. The Army is also in the process of acquiring a large chunk of land here for setting up a military station.

The academy is reportedly facing dire financial constraints, which was the prime reason for recommending its closure. Staff members estimate that it requires about Rs 1.5 crore to get it back into shape. Despite revisions in salary being approved, the staff is still being paid at old rates. Some staff members even demanded an inquiry into the fiscal management of the academy.

For parents, most worrying is the future of their children. “Academic regulations state that students must class IX and X or class XI and XII from the same institute, Ms Namneet Kaur, a resident of Ropar, said.

“This is our prime concern as students in class IX and XI may not get admission elsewhere if the academy closes down,” she added. There are 40 students in class IX and 25 in class XI.

The academy hostel, which has a capacity of 600 students, presently has just about 80 inmates. Staff members say that over the past few years, about 270 students have either left the academy or have been removed by the management.


Plea to bury Father Mark’s body in school
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
After the court of Mr Baljinder Singh, Civil Judge, vacated the status quo on a petition by the diocese of Jalandhar for permanent injunction restraining the Christian Welfare Council (CWC) from burying the body of Father Mark Barnes on the premises of St. Mary School, Gumtala, the CWC headed by Dr Andrew, president, today moved an application for permission to bury the body of Father Mark on the school premises.

Dr Andrew said that after the dismissal of the application of the diocese of Jalandhar they were entitled to bury the body in St. Mary School. The body was earlier buried in the school but the grave was vandalised by some persons on the intervening night of February 17-18.

It may be recalled that Ms Anne Waikling, sister of Father Mark had consented to bury his mortal remains at St. Mary School in deference to the request of his followers. The sister had lodged a strong protest with the government to order an independent probe into the incident to arrest the culprit.

The council alleged that the plaintiff, diocese of Jalandhar, and the police were not allowing the body to be buried hurting the feelings of ardent followers of Father Mark. They said the exhuming of Father Mark’s body was as an act of sacrilege. They urged the court to issue necessary orders and direct the police to allow burial.

Father Jhony of Jalandhar of diocese, while talking to this correspondent, said that they would file an appeal to the court in response their application.

Mr Tarsem Peter, member of the Catholic Christian Welfare Action Committee, has claimed that they have the copy of a judgement of the Kerala High Court in which it was ordered that bodies could not by buried in schools as it would have adverse affect on children studying there.


Jagatjit Palace set for face-lift with grant of Rs 98 lakh
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 22
The Jagatjit Palace and the Baradari Gardens in Kapurthala are set for a face-lift, with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) receiving Rs 98 lakh for the restoration of the palace and also taking up the case for more funds for the same with the Ministry of Defence.

The Jagatjit Palace is a unique example of French architecture and has been modelled on the Versailles palace. It was constructed by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh who was captivated by France and even engaged a French architect to design the building. It is now under the control of the Defence Ministry and Kapurthala Sainik School functions from the building.

INTACH, while drawing up action plan for the restoration of the palace, had prepared a report which had listed a cost of Rs 3 crore for the works earmarked by the organisation. INTACH Chairman S K Misra said he had subsequently taken up the case for the provision of the funds with the Defence Ministry, which had said it would chip in with funds in case the Punjab Government also paid for the restoration work.

“Now we have received Rs 98 lakh from the Punjab Government and will take up the case for the provision of funds with the Defence Ministry again”, he said. The INTACH Chairman said the Jagatjit Palace is in urgent need of restoration. He said the building which started out with the use of red sandstone had to be finished off with pink plaster due to the exorbitant cost, adding that the plaster needed a face-lift. Besides, the Durbar Hall of the palace needs to be restored to its former glory along with a number of murals. Mr Misra said a reuse plan was being drawn up for the Durbar Hall, which was likely to be converted into a museum.

INTACH is also drawing up a plan for restoring the Baradari Gardens to their former glory. These gardens, Mr Misra claims, have virtually become a jungle, with unplanned growth of vegetation over the years completely destroying the original character of the gardens. He said an attempt would be made to restore the garden to its former self through study of old material on the gardens. INTACH has hired landscape artist Ram Sharma to prepare a report of the project, after which restoration work would be carried out.

Mr Misra said the INTACH initiative on Kapurthala was part of a concerted effort to project Kapurthala, Patiala and Amritsar as tourist sites in Punjab and that heritage festivals had already been conceived for all three places annually. He said Kapurthala had immense potential as a tourist site due to the Jagatjit Palace and the Moorish mosque, which itself was a unique example of the manner in which architecture from abroad had been assimilated in Indian conditions by the Kapurthala royalty. He said the restoration of the main attractions of the city to their former self was essential for promoting tourism in the region, he added.


Prabir recalls horror of captivity
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 22
It was a close shave for Prabir (18) who still continues to be in shock after being in captivity for 11 days somewhere in Punjab. He was brought back home today by his father, Mr K.S. Dimpy, from Faridabad after he was released outside a gurdwara in Sirhind on the morning of February 18 by his abductors.

Prabir, a student of local DAV Public School, was kidnapped on February 7 at 7.15 p.m. after he was returning home from tuitions in his Honda Accord car on the congested Majitha Road.

Slowly recovering from the trauma, Prabir today told The Tribune that immediately after his abduction, the group sprayed some chemical on his face due to which he fell unconscious. He recalled that he was tied up with a rope and remembered very little of his journey. He said he was blindfolded during his abduction.

When he gained consciousness the following morning, he found himself dumped in a small room with an attached bathroom and they provided him some food. Prabir added that he tried to cope with the situation and tried to muster confidence through continuous prayer. He said during his captivity, he had mixed feelings.

Prabir pointed out that only one man used to bring food for him and they would switch off the lights at 7 p.m. which was very scaring. He recalled that one day he felt sick and had fever but he stuck to his prayer which helped him to come out of depression. On the morning of February 18, he was blindfolded and ordered to be taken in a car and was left outside the gurdwara in Sirhind. He was told that he could only take off his bandage after 10 minutes. He said the 10-minute wait was quite horrifying and slowly after mustering enough courage he called up his parents from a nearby PCO and gave them the pleasant news. They later arranged his pick-up and he was immediately taken to his maternal uncle’s house in Faridabad.

His father said Prabir had lost 7 kg during his captivity and said they were grateful to the Almighty that their son had come back safe. Today on reaching Amritsar, Prabir and his family offered prayers at the Golden Temple and Gurdwara Shaheedan and took a dip in the holy sarovar.

Answering a question about police intervention and the ransom amount paid to the abductors, Mr Dimpy refused to comment and added that the most important thing was that his son had been released. He thanked the Principal and students of DAV Public School and all residents of the city who prayed for the early release of Prabir.

In the meanwhile, the car in which Prabir was abducted was found parked outside the Saharanpur railway station.


Gunmen of Akali MLA suspended
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, February 22
The three gunmen of Mr Vir Singh Lopoke, an Akali MLA, have been placed under suspension following a clash between the Congress and Akali workers in Jasraur village in this constituency today. The suspended cops include Rachhpal Singh, Jaspal Singh and Manjit Singh.

Sources claim that the clash occurred when SAD activists tried to distribute cash to the voters in the border village. Following stone-pelting on the vehicle of the MLA, his gunmen opened fire, resulting in injuries to one Sardul Singh, a Congress worker.


131 Ajnala booths sensitive

Chandigarh, February 22
In Ajnala, 131 out of 143 booths have been declared sensitive. But to avoid any untoward incident, nearly 1000 security personnel have been deployed. They include eight companies of the paramilitary forces.

Two observers for the overall supervision of the Ajnala assembly constituency have been appointed. TNS


5 parties to launch stir against govt policies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Five political parties have joined hands to launch a struggle against what they describe as the anti-people policies of the Punjab Government.

The parties are the Lok Bhalai Party headed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) headed by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, the Akali Dal headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, the CPI and the CPM.

At a joint press conference addressed by Mr Ramoowalia, Prof Balwant Singh (CPM), Dr Joginder Dayal (CPI), Professor Chandumajra and Mr Ranjit Singh Chajjalwadi of the Akali Dal, these leaders said that they would hold a protest rally against the state government on February 25 at Doraha on various issues.

The issues to be raised at the rally are toll, unbundling of the PSEB and the procurement policy for foodgrains. Mr Ramoowalia, who had brought the parties together, said that toll had become a big burden on the owners of trucks, buses, cars, taxis, etc. There were four toll barriers in Punjab and Haryana up to Delhi.

Truckers had to pay about Rs 900 daily to pass through these toll posts. He said that trucks, buses and taxis were sources of self-employment of many people and the state government, which had stopped giving jobs, should not burden those engaged in earning their livelihood.

Mr Ramoowalia said that at the rally, the governments concerned would be urged to make a drastic cut in toll rates. Secondly, the government would also forced to fix a time limit for the collection of toll. And those collecting toll should also give an account of the money spent on the maintenance of roads and the provision of other facilities for vehicular traffic.

Mr Chandumajra said that the Central Government had circulated a new draft of the foodgrain policy among all states which should be rejected by the Punjab Government. He said the new policy would put a lot of burden on states like Punjab. While the procurement of foodgrains would be made by the Central agencies, the states concerned would be asked to store, sell and transport the same to the deficit states, he added. Moreover, there seemed to be a proposal to bring the agricultural sector within the preview of income tax. All these issues would be raised at the rally. Mr Chajjalwadi supported what Mr Chandumajra said.

Mr Balwant Singh and Dr Dayal said that they were opposed to the privatisation of the PSEB and its unbundling. With the unbundling of the board, the power rates in the state would shoot up and there would be chaos all around. At the rally, all those supporting our viewpoint would be asked to join the resistance movement to be launched against the unbundling of the PSEB, they added. All the five parties have given a call to like-minded parties and organisations to join the rally.


Bhattal gives full marks to CM on governance
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
The Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today gave the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, full marks to his governance of the state.

Talking to media persons at the Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology here today, Mrs Bhattal laughed off all questions reminding her of her dissidence against Captain Amarinder Singh’s leadership last year.

“Some issues are best kept under wraps”, she said, adding that she was however, fully satisfied with the working of the Chief Minister. “He has put in his best to ensure that the party wins at Ajnala and full marks go to him,” she said.

When asked to react to the ousting of Mr Sanjit Sinha as the Home Secretary, Punjab, in view of the fact that it had been her group’s main demand, Mrs Bhattal denied that this had ever been an issue with her group. “We never asked for this change. It is the Chief Minister’s prerogative to transfer bureaucrats and this has been done as part of routine administrative changes,” she said.


Canal full of garbage
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, February 22
The Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal, known as the lifeline of this region, is in a pitiable state. A huge quantity of garbage and waste material was found in it after it was closed recently.

Polythene bags, decaying vegetables, leaves and fruit, broken bangles, toys, bones, egg shells, bricks, coconuts, earthen lamps etc can be seen lying scattered in the canal.

Not only this, people can be seen washing clothes, taking bath and throwing waste material in the canal. The roadside ‘rehriwallas’ can be seen throwing the leftover vegetables and fruit in the evening. People do not even hesitate to throw ashes and remains of the dead bodies in the water.

Despite the fact that the Bathinda branch of Sirhind canal supplies raw water to rural and urban drinking water schemes dotting this region, the authorities concerned have failed to do the needful to clean and desilt the canal.

Interestingly, residents of this town and surrounding villages have not been showing any concern towards this problems.

Mr M. L. Garg, SDO, Canal Irrigation, when contacted, said that the desilting of the canal could not be carried out for the past eight years. He added that the higher authorities had been requested to allocate adequate funds for carrying out desilting of the Bathinda branch of Sirhind canal and whenever the same were made available, desilting would be done.

He, however, said that the Irrigation Department had been deputing its own labour on the job to remove garbage from the canal manually.

Residents have also been complaining of a smell in the drinking water.


Team to arrive 7 months after floods
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 22
Seven months after the flash floods hit Patiala and a part of Sangrur district, a Central team is coming to make a final survey of the area tomorrow so that the amount of compensation for crops and damage to the State infrastructure could be decided.

The district administrations of Patiala and Sangrur are likely to rely on newspaper cuttings, photographs, revenue records and compact discs made by the Drainage Department to present a report of the damage inflicted in both districts due to flash floods in August last year.

The state government had on its part sent a report on the damage inflicted by the flash floods to the Centre in September. Standing crop in as much as 58,000 acres was accessed to have been destroyed by the floods in 312 villages in Patiala district. In Sangrur, the crop damage was stated to have occurred in over 26,000 acres of land.

The government had identified five subdivisions which had been affected in Patiala district including Patiala, Rajpura, Dera Bassi, Samana and Ghanaur while in Sangrur the lone subdivision of Moonak was identified as affected. Besides damage to the crops, the state government had calculated a loss of nearly Rs 58 crore to roads and bridges.


Newspaper office raided
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 22
The district police today conducted a raid at the local office of Ajit Weekly, the newspaper that is published from New York, Toronto, Vancouver and England, for allegedly violating the Copyright Act.

Police sources maintained that they had found a certain objectionable news item, which was being outsourced to other countries. The sources maintained that the news item was related to a death threat to former Director-General of Police, Punjab, and Indian Hockey Federation chief K.P.S. Gill.

The sources maintained that the raid was conducted after the police received a complaint from Canada that the newspaper office was violating the Copyright Act.

Mr Sunny Bains, News Editor, told this correspondent over the phone from Canada that the newspaper had not violated any copyright in India as it was being printed abroad.


MC issues to figure at PUDA meeting today
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 22
Various issues of the Municipal Council that were lying pending with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) over the past more than a year would be taken up at a meeting scheduled to be held in the office of the Principal Secretary to Government of Punjab, Department of Local Government, tomorrow. The issues include the handing over of various areas of the town to the civic body.

PUDA wanted to hand over various parks and roadside saplings and trees in the developed areas of the town to the council. A few parks were already being maintained by the civic body. Apart from these, PUDA wanted to hand over 166 parks, the area of which measured 163.08 acres, and four green belts, three neighbourhood parks, leisure valley, a herbal park, covering an area of 80.73 acres.

The council pointed out that in the parks that PUDA wanted to hand over, there was no provision of water, light and footpaths, etc.

PUDA had brought to the notice of the council that the expenditure to be incurred on the maintenance of these parks was Rs 69.80 lakh.

The civic body was reluctant to take over the parks on the ground that its financial position was not that strong and, moreover, it did not have the required staff for the maintenance of these parks.

The issue of handing over of the external water supply and sewerage of sectors 71 and 70, augmentation of the water supply scheme and the handing over of electrical works were among the items that were lying pending since long.


Punjab to develop Jayanti Devi temple as tourist spot
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
The Jayanti Devi temple would be adopted by the Punjab Government as a heritage village to promote rural tourism in the state.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Tourism, Punjab state this to The Tribune, Mr Kang said the temple was over 300 years old and had a large following in the state. The whole village would be adopted by the government and focus will be on the promotion of tourism.

Listing some of the other upcoming projects in the Morinda constituency, Mr Kang said a sanction of new bus stand at Kurali had also been received. “The bus stand would be built on three acres of land,” he said.

He said the construction of a road from Siswan connecting Baddi in Himachal Pardesh would be started soon, as this project had been approved by the Ministry of Road Transport and Rs 8 crore had been earmarked for it.

“With this road the distance would be shortened by 25 km,” he said, adding that land was being acquired for the 5 km stretch from Siswan to the point in Haryana where the road would connect Baddi.

Mr Kang said the work on the Morinda bypass was almost over.


Power subdivision inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Dairy Development and Tourism, Punjab, today inaugurated a distribution subdivision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) at Mullanpur Garibdass village.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister said the subdivision would benefit nearly 10,000 to 12,000 consumers belonging to Mullanpur Garibdass, Naya Gaon and 33 other villages.

“Consumers will no longer have to visit Mohali for new connections, depositing electricity bills and others routine problems,” he said.

An SDO and other essential staff have been posted at the subdivision and a telephone line (No. 2255899) had been provided.

An complaint centre has also been made functional at Mullanpur Garbidass village with landline No. 2255300 and a mobile phone No. 9872510800. The complaint centre at Nayagaon has been provided with mobile phone No. 9872510801.

Prominent among those who addressed the gathering were Secretary PSEB Jaspreet Talwar, Chief Engineer A.S. Gulati and T.S. Mavi and vice-chairman Zila Prishad H.S. Bains.


IVRS system for Barnala railway station soon
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 22
Computerised Public Reservation System (PRS) and Inter-Active Voice Response System (IVRS) will become functional at the local railway station within a few months. These two inter-linked facilities had already been approved by the Railway Department.

The IVRS would facilitate the public to dial 133 to make enquiries about the rail reservation, PNR status, arrival as well as the departure of the trains. Local people are nowadays going to Bathinda, Ludhiana or Dhuri railway stations to enquire about the trains or reserve the tickets.

Meanwhile, Mr Manohar Lal, Station Superintendent, said on Monday that the construction work of the loading/unloading platform along the rail line No. 4 would start shortly. It is estimated to cost Rs 25 lakh.

A generator has been installed and PCO opened for the benefit of the railway staff and the public, he added.


Kavi darbar organised

Patiala, February 22
The annual Basant Ritu Kavi Darbar was organised at the State Language Department here today. The darbar was presided over by former bureaucrat N.S. Rattan, who also recited a few coupletes.

Additional Director, Language Department, Dr Mohan Lal Banga said: “Poets can make a change in society by giving back something which strives to improve it”.

The function got off to a start with the poetry of Anokh Singh Zakhmi. After this it was the turn of Surjit Marjeera and Santokh Safri. Surjit Judge, Prof Anup Virk, Prof Ravinder Bhattal, Dr Harshinder Kaur and Jaswinder also recited their poems. TNS


BSNL staff hold demonstration

Jalandhar, February 22
BSNL employees held a demonstration in front of the GPO building here today in protest against the non-acceptance of their long pending demands by the management.

Addressing the gathering, Mr K.L. Sharma, chairman of the Employees Action Committee, asked the BSNL management to accept their long pending demands, including time-bound promotions and 100 per cent weightage for service rendered in the Department of Telecommunications. — OC


Half-day holiday in Punjab Govt offices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Punjab Government offices, including those of boards and corporations, besides educational institutions will remain closed in the state for the second half on Wednesday to enable employees to participate in the shobha yatra.

A press release issued by the Punjab Government said the yatra was being held in connection with the Parkash Utsav of Sri Guru Ravidas.


Auction of house put off

Sadiqpur (Jalandhar), February 22
A group of residents, including Dalits, opposed the auction of a four-marla house of a resident by the Shahkot Tehsildar here today.

Mohan Singh had taken a loan of Rs 35,000 from the Jalandhar branch of Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation about 10-12 years ago, but could not return the loan.

The Tehsildar, reached the village to effect the sale of the residence of Mohan Singh for the recovery of arrears of Rs 54,716.

However, the action was opposed by a group of residents. — TNS


High Court
Notice issued on relief to farmers
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for April 4 on a petition seeking directions to the Punjab Government to compensate and rehabilitate the families of the 2116 farmers who reportedly committed suicide between 1988 and October, 2004.

The notice was issued on the petition filed by the Movement Against State Repression (MASR) thorough its President, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, an ex-MLA.

In its petition, the organisation has stated that it is an admitted fact that 2116 farmers committed suicide in the period due to distress and failure to pay money that they owed to the money-lenders. The petition said that the Punjab Government failed to compensate the families of such farmers in accordance with the uniform national policy and on the same pattern as suicide-affected families in Andhra Pradesh were compensated in July, 2004.

After hearing advocate R.S. Bains, appearing for the petitioner, the Bench of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Viney Mittal issued notice for April 4.


Nangal SHO shifted over missing body
Tribune News Service

Nangal, February 22
The Nangal SHO was transferred this evening when the body of a labourer, who was crushed to death by a railway wagon at the NFL plant this morning, went missing. The family members of the deceased alleged that the police in connivance with the contractor took the body to hide the accident.

In the evening, a mob was gathered outside the office of Nangal MLA K.P.S. Rana asking for a probe into the matter. Sources said Mr Rana discussed the issue with the SSP and SHO Varinder Singh was transferred.

Krishna, the wife of the deceased, alleged that the police forcibly got the signature of Tarlock Singh to handover the body to him. But actually the police took the body to a distant place which had not been recovered yet.


2 held for making threatening calls
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 22
Timely action by the Hoshiarpur police saved another kidnapping in the state.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, Senior Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur, stated in a press note here today that Mr Narinder Singh of Pathralian village has lodged a complaint at the Bulhowal police chowki that some persons were threatening him on his telephone to pay them a ransom of Rs 2 lakh, failing which they would kidnap his 18-year-old son Taranjit Singh, a student of Class XII at Government School, Pajodeota.

On his complaint a case under Sections 387 and 506, IPC, had been registered at the Hariana police station on yesterday.

During investigation, the police found the activities of Jagtar Singh, alias Jagga, of Alowal suspicious. It was noticed that he used to spend beyond his income and had also got a loan from a cooperative society of Soosa village. Jagtar Singh was also a regular visitor to the house of the complainant and had cordial relations with Gurjit Singh of Alowal. The police arrested Jagtar Singh and Gurjit Singh and during their interrogation, both confessed that they used to threaten Narinder Singh.

They said that they hatched a conspiracy to abduct Taranjit Singh for ransom about a month ago because Jagtar Singh wanted to return back his loan to the society and Gurjit Singh was keen on business expansion.


Failed in love, boy plots self-kidnapping
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
After failing in love and taking a cue from a Bollywood movie “Bewafa Sanam” to gain the sympathy of the girl a youth of Jeeda village of this district executed self-kidnapping.

The boy, Sukhwinder Singh, alias Soni, also wanted to withdraw the attention of his parents, who were putting him on different jobs for the past few years against his likings.

However, the police traced him from the Golden Temple, Amritsar, today. A case was registered against him for plotting his own kidnapping and giving wrong information to the police.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said Sukhwinder Singh contacted, the SP (D), Mr Ajay Maluja, and told him that he had been kidnapped by two motorcycle-borne persons on the evening of February 20.

Sukhwinder, who has been learning tailoring work at Maur Mandi, also told Mr Maluja that he along with another boy, who had also been kidnapped, were locked into a room and four persons were on guard duty outside the room.

He said he had been making a call from the cell phone of the other kidnapped boy as the kidnappers had damaged his cell phone. “As per my information, the kidnappers had been keeping us in a room located in a secluded place of Ferozepore district,” he added.

Mr Dev said a police team contacted the mother of the boy who told his mobile number. When the police official tried to contact Sukhwinder on that number, it was found switched off.

However, during late night, Mr Maluja again managed to establish contact with Sukhwinder and he (Mr Maluja) heard recitation of shabads in the background. The accused also told Mr Aluja that he would free himself from the captivity of the kidnappers and would reach Bathinda by train. When the family members of Sukhwinder were contacted again, they told that he had visited the Golden Temple in the recent past.

Immediately, a police party of this district was rushed to Amritsar and Sukhwinder was spotted at the Golden Temple.

During questioning, Sukhwinder said he had done so to impress the girl with whom he was in love.


Two held on bribery charge
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 22
Under the anti-corruption drive started by the Vigilance Bureau, Shinder Pal Singh, tehsil welfare officer, Faridkot, was caught red-handed today when he was accepting a bribe of Rs 700 from Mr Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Fidde Kalan village of Faridkot district, in lieu of issuing him a certificate in connection with a course done by him.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Amrik Singh, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, said Mr Kuldeep Singh did the course related to repair work of motorcycles and was seeking certificate and scholarship of Rs 375. The latter demanded Rs 700 from Kuldeep Singh to issue him the certificate and scholarship.

The bribe amount was recovered from the drawer of the accused. A case in this connection has been registered.

In another incident, Kuldeep Kumar, a patwari in the canal department, Mansa, was caught while accepting a bribe of Rs 600 from Mr Ajmer Singh, a farmer of Kotli Kalan village of Mansa district, to extend him a favour in connection with decision of a case pertaining to the determination of water courses in his fields. A case has been registered.


Two travel agents nabbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 22
The Kapurthala police has arrested two travel agents Paramjit Singh of Sodhi Nagar, Ferozepore and Mr Sital Singh of Dhalewal village falling under Sultanpur Lodhi police station for cheating seven persons of Rs 7,50,00 each. This was stated by the Kapurthala SSP, Mr Arun Pal Singh, today.

Giving details, Sub-Inspector Gurwinder Singh, SHO, Sultanpur Lodhi police station, said the duo was arrested under Sections 420 IPC and Section 24 of the Immigration Act and was taken on police remand.

The duo had struck a deal with the seven persons in April 2003 for Rs 7.50 lakh each. A sum of Rs 6.50 lakh total was taken as the first instalment. The seven persons were taken to Paharganj in Delhi and kept in a rest house there. They were neither sent abroad nor was their money returned. SSP Kapurthala ordered registration of a case.


One dead, 5 hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 22
One person died on the spot while five others were injured, when a Maruti car coming to Bathinda from Faridkot side hit a speeding bus coming from the opposite direction, near Harraipur village of this district, today morning.

The Tata Sumo vehicle which the car had overtaken also hit the car from the rear and its four occupants suffered multiple injuries.

Police sources said the deceased had been identified as Manjit Kaur, a resident of Jangirana village of this district. She was sitting on the front seat of the car while her husband identified as Mr Nahar Singh was driving the same. Mr Nahar Singh also suffered injuries.

The injured were immediately shifted to the Civil Hospital, Goniana, where they were responding to treatment. The injured include Mr Gurmail Singh, Ms Baljit Kaur, Mr Baldev Singh, Mr Nirmal Singh (all occupants of Tata Sumo) and Mr Nahar Singh (driver of car). The body of Manjit Kaur was handed over to her kin after post mortem.

A case in this connection has been registered against the driver of the bus, identified as Gurchet Singh. He had fled from the spot before a police party reached there.


Unit producing spurious oil unearthed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
The district police unearthed a factory manufacturing fake turpentine oil in the Adarsh Nagar area this evening.

Police sources said on searching a building, which looked like a factory, the police found that its owner and a worker were involved in manufacturing fake turpentine oil from kerosene oil purchased from fair price shops illegally.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said that so far about 20 containers of fake turpentine oil had been seized from the factory premises.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that owner of the factory Amrit Lal and his servant Babu Lal were manufacturing fake turpentine oil from kerosene oil by using certain chemicals. The accused used to mix some chemical with kerosene oil to make it white. Then they would mix another chemical to make it look like turpentine oil.

Sources said that a police team led by the DSP, City, Mr Darshan Singh, which raided the premises, had also called the officials of the District Food and Supply Control Office for necessary action in this connection.

Police sources said a case in this connection would be registered tonight. The owners of the fair price shops, who had diverted kerosene oil meant for poor people to the accused, would also be arrested.


Patwari in Vigilance net over bribe charge
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, February 22
The Vigilance Bureau, Ludhiana Range, today arrested a revenue patwari Balwinder Singh for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 500 to dispose off an 'intqal' case.

The head of the Vigilance team, Mr Sajjan Singh Cheema, DSP, said accused patwari was apprehended when he was accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from Jarnail Singh of Chakli Manga village.

Narrating his tale of woes, 18- year-old Jarnail Singh said his father had passed away two years ago. His family owned 11 kanals of land which was to be transferred in the in the name of other family members.

Patwari Balvinder Singh had already received a sum of Rs 4000 for carrying out the necessary change in the revenue records, he alleged.

Now a demand of Rs 1500 more was put up by him, Jarnail alleged.

He had borrowed Rs 500 to pay the bribe and also informed the vigilance, he further disclosed.

In the past fortnight, it is the second case of corruption which has come to light in Machhiwara.


Cell phones, digital cameras worth 2.5 lakh stolen
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 22
Some persons broke into an electronics shop in the busy Dharampur Bazar last night and decamped with 35 mobile phones and five digital cameras valued at around Rs 2.5 lakh.

According to police sources, the robbers broke in through a wall on the first floor which was covering a stair case leading up from the shop. The police sources said the robbers had enough time as their forced entry went unnoticed. They opened all cabins and drawers in the shop to search for valuables and then took all the mobile phones and digital cameras they could get their hands on. A case has been registered in the matter at the Kotwali Police Station and a team of the local police even checked the premises for finger prints besides calling in a dog squad.


Five booked for attempt to murder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 22
Five persons have been booked by the police on charges of attempt to murder and being in possession of deadly weapons here today.

Two boys had been injured, one of them seriously, in a clash here yesterday.

A case was registered by the police on a complaint made by Mr Jagjit Singh. He told the police that he was waiting for his father near Kharar bus stand when two boys, Pawan Kumar, alias Kala, and Shiv Kumar, alias Sindra started a conversation with him. In the meantime some boys, armed with weapons, came in a car. After coming out of the vehicle, they attacked the two boys and injured them seriously.

Kala was taken to the Civil Hospital, here, from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, while Shiv Kumar was taken to a hospital in Chandigarh.

The police has booked Sushil Kumar, alias Sheela, Sanjiv Kumar, Simpy, Manjeet and Thanda under Sections 307, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


2 hurt as bus rams into bike
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, February 22
Two residents of Suroon village sustained serious injuries in an accident involving a motor cycle and a Punjab Roadways bus on the busy Rajpura-Patiala highway, this afternoon.

The motorcyclists Gurcharan Singh and Jagar Singh were coming to the highway from Old Rajpura link road when the bus (PB-11H-9867) heading towards Chandigarh rammed into the motor cycle (PB-39B-5390) leaving the two seriously injured.

The passersby took the injured to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura. The doctors later referred them to the PGI, Chandigarh, where their condition was said to be critical.

Traffic on the highway was also disrupted for over two hours following the accident.

The police has impounded both the vehicles and a case has been registered.


Amritsar Medical College alumni to hold convention
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
In an endeavour to pay back to their alma mater, alumni of Government Medical and Dental College settled in the USA and Canada have decided to hold a three-day Indo-American International Convention — “CME-2005” — at the college premises here beginning tomorrow.

The convention will be organised in collaboration with the Amritsar Medical and Dental Alumni Association of North America (AMDAANA) and the Amritsar Medical College Alumni Association (AMCAA).

Over 20 alumni of the college from the USA and Canada will participate. The convention will discuss the recent advances in medicine and hold a panel discussion on “The role of medical students in enhancing educational and life experiences.”

The alumni have funded equipment—including computers, LCD projectors for power point presentation, sound equipment, air- conditioning and lights — in all five lecture theatres of the college.

The former students will meet the college faculty to discuss future needs and joint ventures. They will also meet local businessmen, political leaders and government officials to seek help in executing their plans.

Says Dr Satwant Singh: “The need to belong and find one’s roots is an age-old human desire. It was the motivating force behind the formation of the AMDAANA.”


DIET teachers not paid salaries for months
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 22
Employees of the District Institute for Education and Training (DIET) dotting the state have urged various banks to advance them interest-free loans to enable them to pay the Income Tax.

The employees have started making rounds of various banks to raise sufficient loans to meet their Income Tax liabilities as they have not been paid their salaries by the Punjab Government for the past seven months.

Mr Labh Singh, convenor, DIET Staff Association, Punjab, said even banks were reluctant to sanction loans as the payment of their salary was uncertain.

Mr Shivpal Goyal, another of the association, said most of their colleagues had exhausted their FDs and other channels, which could extend them ‘social loans’ during the past seven months.

He added that so far six clerks, four peons and one librarian have got themselves transferred to other educational institutes.

Mr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), when contacted said the salaries of DIET teachers were likely to be paid by the end of this month.


Seminar on methods of effective teaching

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 22
A seminar on “Innovation methods for effective teaching” was organised by the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC), Fatehgarh Sahib.

College Principal Dr D.S. Hira while presiding over the seminar said due to the innovations in methods and media for effective instructions today’s teachers should be more equipped with multimedia teaching aids.

Coordinator of the seminar Prof Niraj Bala said innovative multimedia- based teaching is the need of the hour.

Prof B.S. Brar, another coordinator of the seminar, said 24 papers were presented in the seminar on different topics related to effective teaching.

He said apart from paper presentation in the seminar, interactive session was also organised in which teachers shared their experience of teaching and debate was made on the extent of use of multimedia in class.

Dr Hira released the proceedings of the seminar and said in future a contest would be organised among the teachers of various colleges for the best presentation on the latest technology.

Prof K.S. Panesar, Prof Lakhwinder Singh, Prof A.P.S. Sethi, Prof J.S. Oberoi, Prof Gurmeet Kaur, Prof I.P.S. Gill, Prof Sukhwinder Kau, Prof Kulwinder Kaur, Prof Rajpreet Kaur and Prof Harpreet Singh presented their papers. OC


Technical education vital for youth: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
The Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today said time had come to impart qualitative technical education to the state’s youth.

Ms Bhattal was speaking during the release of “Report on revitalising of technical education in the state of Punjab” at the Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology here.

Assuring that new institutions would be established, she said introduction of new courses would be done in the existing institutions by improving their infrastructure and training of faculty.

Special emphasis would be given to encourage greater participation of weaker and rural sections. Scholarships would be provided to students on merit basis.

A corpus fund had been recommended to be established for the purpose. She pointed out that there was a need to establish close and working interaction with the industry.

The Deputy Chief Minister further stressed that technical education would be treated as a priority sector.

“It is well recognised that the academic world, industries and research and development laboratories together hold the key to technology development in many sectors of economy of the country,” she said.

Earlier Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor of the PTU and chairman of the committee, gave a brief overview of the report.

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