P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Water contaminated in two towns
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 23
Residents of Tanda and Mukerian towns in Hoshiarpur district are consuming contaminated water being supplied from the water supply sources of Municipal Councils of these towns.

Dr S.K. Sharma, District Health Officer, Hoshiarpur, told this correspondent here yesterday that three samples of water had been collected from the water supply tubewells of the Municipal Council, Tanda and two from Mukerian last year. Laboratory tests found the samples contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

He said that similarly 15 water samples had also been taken from water supply tubewells of the Municipal Council, Hoshiarpur, out of which four samples were found contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Authorities of all the above said councils had been directed to chlorinise the water supply sources .

Besides, 106 samples of water were also taken from private sources in the district last year. Of these 31 were found contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

Dr Sharma said that as many as 203 samples of various edible items had been taken from hotels, restaurants, halwais, karyana shops etc. from the district during 2004. Out of which 18 had been found adulterated or sub-standard. Prosecution had been launched in 11 cases, he added.


Siddiqui in soup over wakf appointment
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Former Punjab police chief, A.A. Siddiqui, who has been aspiring for an important assignment at the Centre, seems to be in difficulty in connection with an appointment in the Punjab Wakf Board.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked Mr Siddiqui to explain within a stipulated time “why his pensionary benefits should not be withheld” because of the case related to the board appointment.

In a memorandum that is to be served on Mr Siddiqui through the state government authorities, the Home Ministry has stated that he is alleged to have violated Regulation 27 of the Punjab Wakf Regulations, 1966, by appointing Mr M.S. Wani to the board.

The memorandum says that “since Mr Siddiqui had attained the age of superannuation on January 31, it is proposed to take disciplinary action under various service rules against him”. He has been asked to give an explanation within 10 days of the receipt of the memorandum that is to be delivered to him through the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill.

Informed sources said the Chief Secretary’s office had forwarded the memorandum to the state Home Department for further action. Sources in that department said that a copy of the memorandum would be made available to Mr Siddiqui shortly.

Copies of the memorandum, which has been signed by Mr Jishnu Barua, Director (Police) in the Union Home Ministry, have also been sent to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Central Bureau of Investigation, Chandigarh, Mr S.P. Shokhanda, Under Secretary (Vigilance), Union Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Secretary of the Central Vigilance Commission.

What is interesting is that the Union Ministry has all of a sudden decided to take action in this case after the retirement of Mr Siddiqui. Why was this memorandum not served on him earlier when he was in service. Did the Union Home Ministry deliberately maintain silence on the issue when Mr Siddiqui was in service and initiated action against him when he made it public that he may get some good assignment at the Centre.


Left: PSEB unbundling will be bad for Manmohan govt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
“It will be bad for Dr Manmohan Singh’s government at the Centre if it allows the Punjab Government to unbundle the Punjab State Electricity Board”, says the top brass of the CPI and the CPM in the state.

“We will urge our high command in Delhi to review support to Dr Manmohan Singh’s government in case the PSEB is unbundled”, threatened the Left leaders.

The unbundling of the PSEB is to be carried out under the New Electricity Act, 2003, by the state government. But the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has made a promise to the Left parties to review this law, and this was also part of the Common Minimum Programme agreed upon by the UPA government and the Left parties supporting it from outside.

Talking to The Tribune, Prof Balwant Singh and Dr Joginder Dayal, top leaders of the CPM and the CPI, respectively in Punjab, said today: “Clearly, if the Punjab Government goes ahead with the unbundling of the PSEB, it will be a violation of the promise made by the Prime Minister. In fact, the Act, using which the Punjab Government wants to unbundle the PSEB, has not been enforced yet at any other place because it is under review.

Recently, Left parties had held a meeting on this issue with the Prime Minister”, said the Left leaders.

“We will certainly urge Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet and Mr A.B. Bardhan to take up the matter with the Prime Minister to stop the state government from unbundling the PSEB. If the Punjab Government did not stop, we will urge Mr Surjeet and Mr Bardhan to review support to the Manmohan Singh government”, said Prof Balwant Singh and Dr Dayal.

They alleged that the Punjab Government wanted to hand over all important social sectors to private players. “The state government is out to privatise the PSEB, government schools, government health institutions and even profit-making public sector undertakings. Already, Punjab Tractors Limited, which was in profit and worth Rs 500 crore, has been sold for Rs 265 crore”.

Targeting the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, the two Left leaders said the Finance Minister was eager to hand over the state to private companies. “Mr Singla has emerged as a big protagonist of corporate houses which want to buy PSEB-like organisations at a throwaway price”, they alleged.

While bureaucrats and the Haldia committee had assessed the worth of the assets of the PSEB at Rs 12,000 crore, the Left leaders said that according to their assessment, these were worth Rs 35,000 crore.


Victims pour scorn on murder accused
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
“Shoot them down, chop of their hands” was the unanimous demand of scores of angry people, all victims of a notorious gang of 22 Bangalle tribesmen nabbed by the police on Monday on the charge of killing 12 persons, injuring 52 others in Punjab besides over 50 other such incidents in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Uttaranchal in the past three years.

The victims belonging to Amritsar, Sangrur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Amritsar had come face to face with the accused in an highly emotionally charged press conference organised by the city police here today. Their eyes flowed with tears and their hands trembled with anger at the sight of the accused.

An NRI youth, Ravinderpal Singh, had come from England to see the accused who had clubbed to death his grandparents in Kaadupur village in Kapurthala in September 2003.

The gang had ruined their families, taken away bread earners and left permanent mental scars on them. All this just because the tribesmen do not know any other way of living other than looting people after killing them mindlessly.

The accused sat huddled in a corner, scared on seeing the angry crowd. During their operations, the gang members had not shown any mercy and had killed pregnant women, pulled girls and children by the hair, and had smashed heads of aged persons.

“Please give us sense” pleaded Shurti one of the accused when asked by mediapersons what punishment should be given to them for their brutal actions. The one line reply epitomised their own plight.

SSP Narinderpal Singh said SP (Detective) Gurpreet Singh had done a remarkable job by remaining on the trail of the tribesmen for the past several months. Police teams of Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana and some other states are expected to arrive in the city to seek production remand of the accused.

The SSP revealed that the gang was involved in six incidents in Sangrur, five in Jalandhar, four in Kapurthala, five in Tarn Taran, four in Amritsar and one in Majitha and Jagraon each.

They had murdered the aged Najjar Singh and his wife, Pritam Kaur, in Kaadupur in Goraya and killed Piara Singh and his father, Gurdev Singh, in Rurka Khurd village in Jalandhar.

They had also injured seven other members of this family including five women. The accused had attacked the sleeping family members with iron rods.

The accused had allegedly clubbed to death Darbara Singh and his wife besides seriously injuring 10 other family members in Gharyal Kothe in Sunam. 


Flood victims demand removal of SYL bundh
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Lachhru Khurd (Patiala), February 23
Residents of this village situated along the Narwana branch of the Bhakra canal did not take any chances during the visit of a central team to their village today, seven months after flash floods had marooned it. Armed with a compact disc, the villagers showed the visiting team the horrors of being surrounded by water and also asked it to act - decisively this time.

The villagers, who presented themselves in the form an 11-member apolitical committee with none of the committee members wanting to be named for any kind of publicity, said they were not new to central teams which had been visiting their village since 1956 every time flash floods destroyed their home and hearth.

“This time we want the Centre to intervene decisively by ordering the Haryana Government to remove the bandh on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal which resulted in damage to our homes as well as crops”, a committee member said during a lecture along the banks of the Narwana canal.

Other villagers also said during flash floods when the water running in the otherwise dry SYL canal was met with a bandh in nearby Haryana territory, it rebounded back to destroy standing crops in nearby areas in Punjab besides destroying houses at places like Lachhru Khurd and Majri Fakiran. The villagers also want the SYL repaired and channelised because they said the canal became a raging torrent during the monsoons after water from various rivulets found its way into the canal.

The villagers also did not spare the earlier central teams which had made surveys of the area earlier following similar flash floods. The committee members said despite repeated assurances about their demands nothing was done to mitigate the root cause of their sufferings. The villagers say the two present syphons at the base of the canal turn out to be too less during flash floods due to which there had been two breaches in the stretch of the canal near the village in August last year.

Ms Natali Sen Gavai, a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, who headed the central team, listened attentively to the farmers besides sitting it out to watch the television presentation with the other team members. She also assured the villagers of this area as well as other places visited by her that she would recommend their case for compensation to the Centre. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh briefed the team about the damage caused by the floods, saying 13 people had died in the district following the flash floods and that 437 ‘pucca’ and 917 ‘katcha’ houses had been destroyed completely by the floods.

He also briefed the team that against a loss estimate of around Rs 50 crore sent to the State government, the district administration had received a grant of Rs 11.62 crore.


Kapurthala CJM suspended; Bedi UT Sessions Judge 
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today cleared the appointment of High Court Registrar (Judicial) M.M.S. Bedi as the new District and Sessions Judge, Chandigarh.

The post had been lying vacant since February 9, when the then District and Sessions Judge, Mr H.S. Bhalla, was transferred as Legal Remembrancer.

According to sources, the decision to post Mr Bedi as District and Sessions Judge was taken at a Full Court meeting held here today. However, it will take some more time before he assumes charge as his deputation from Punjab to Chandigarh will have to be cleared by the Punjab Government. Mr Bedi had taken over as Registrar (Judicial) last year.

Meanwhile, the Full Court also suspended with immediate effect Kapurthala Chief Judicial Magistrate Jai Karan Mattu.

The High Court had received a number of complaints against Mr Mattu. In fact, a deputation of lawyers practising in the District and Sessions courts at Kapurthala had also complained to the High Court against Mr Mattu.

According to available information, a delegation of lawyers from Kapurthala had met the Inspecting Judge of the district on January 19 to seek action against the CJM.

Meanwhile, Kapurthala District Bar Association President Ashok Sabharwal told The Tribune on phone that the association had decided to withdraw the boycott call of the CJM court’s following his suspension.

He said the deputation of the lawyers yesterday met the Punjab and Haryana High Court acting Chief Justice G.S. Singhvi and apprised him of the alleged indifferent behaviour of the Judge with the lawyers.


Boy died due to overdose of chloroform, Fortwin
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
Hoshiarpur DAV Senior Secondary School student Abhi Verma was given an overdose of chloroform and Fortwin injections by his kidnappers, which resulted in his death the same day.

According to the report of the State Chemical Laboratory here, Abhi was made to inhale chloroform, which was earlier used as an anaesthetic, by the kidnappers. After this, the report said, Fortwin was injected into his veins. Fortwin is used as a pain-killer but also has sedative properties.

The chemical laboratory, which sent its report in the case to the Hoshiarpur police yesterday, had been handed over the viscera of the boy for chemical examination on February 17. Sources in the laboratory confirmed this development though State Chief Chemical Examiner Dr D.C. Sharma refused to comment on the issue.

According to sources, there are instances of heart arrest when chloroform and Fortwin injections have been given in tandem. Besides, there is the issue of overdose, as the kidnappers of Abhi, who were known to him, wanted to keep him immobile till they were discussing the ransom amount with his parents. Keeping Abhi unconscious seemed to be the best bet in order to avoid detection due to any struggle or noise created by the boy, they said.

Meanwhile, the viscera report ruled out the earlier suspicion by the Hoshiarpur police that the boy was suffocated to death. The police had been working on this theory, as the kidnappers had themselves admitted to only having injected some sedative to the boy and the police thought there could be more to the case.


Muktsar girls need money to climb Mount Everest
Chander Parkash and Rajbir Sekhon
Tribune News Service

Sukhi and Pammi, both residents of Muktsar, have decided to scale the Mount Everest without oxygen.
Sukhi and Pammi, both residents of Muktsar, have decided to scale the Mount Everest without oxygen. — Photo by Sonu

Muktsar, February 23
Sukhi and Pammi, the local duo, were given rousing welcome by residents and officials of the civil administration when they returned after achieving the rare distinction of reaching the Khardungla Pass on a motor cycle in September 2004.

Not only this, these two girls have also been honoured for climbing the Khardungla Pass on cycle. Sukhi scaled the Mount Kamet alone, for this she was given state award in 1998. Sukhi was also accorded the status of Punjab-di-Dhee (Daughter of Punjab) at a function organised at Bhawanigarh in Sangrur district.

These girls have been selected for scaling the Mount Everest. This achievement has failed to bring cheers on their face as they have been finding it difficult to arrange adequate funds to deposit the required fee for the expedition in the absence of support from the state government, its agencies and private organisations.

Penniless, belonging to middle class families and confronting all odds, now both these girls have been running from pillar to post to collect enough money to meet the expenses of the expedition. However, they are a disappointed lot as so far they have failed to get any positive response from the state government though they have moved applications to the Chief Minister, Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Sports, Mr Rana Gurmit Sodhi.

“Though we were given heroic welcome in the town only a few people have come forward to provide funds for our new expedition, which we will dedicate to the becoming tercentenary of supreme sacrifices made by 40 Muktas (liberated ones) during the last battle of Guru Gobind Singh with Mughals at Khidrana-di-Dhab in 1705 A.D.,” the girls said and added that they would exhaust every channel to make their mission a success.

The girls added that they were required to pay $ 29000 per person to agencies concerned for facilitating the scaling of Mount Everest by the first week of March. So far they have managed to collect a little amount. A few people have promised to fund their mission, which would start on March 26.

They said they were optimistic that some organisations, including NRIs or the Punjab Government, would come forward to help them.


BSF team leaves for Pak

Amritsar, February 23
A nine-member delegation of Border Security Force (BSF) officers, all of Deputy Inspector General rank, crossed the Wagah border checkpost today to hold talks with their Pakistani counterparts on various border security-related issues.

The delegation is being led by Paramjit Singh, BSF DIG, Gurdaspur Range. The talks are likely to focus on issues like cross-border smuggling and infiltration, besides problems relating to farmers living on either side of the Indo-Pakistan border.

Both sides are in agreement that of late there has been an increase in smuggling activities along the international border in Punjab and Jammu.

While talking at the Zero Line on Wednesday, Paramjit Singh said the issues of smuggling and the alleged illegal construction of defence structures along the international border by Pakistan would be raised at these talks in Pakistan.

While expressing their point of view over the issue of cross-border smuggling, the Deputy Director General of Pakistan Rangers, Brigadier Sakhi Marzan, claimed that they had taken strict action against the smugglers and have even shot two of them dead.

He also said that the onus of informing the Pakistani Rangers about a smuggling attempt was on the BSF.

“I will take action within 24 hours,” Marzan said.

But Marzan couldn’t satisfactorily reply as to why the Pakistani Rangers were not able to curb smugglers activities at their end. — ANI


Marriage party returns sans bride
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
In a bizarre case, a groom, on finding his prospective bride’s family not prepared to marry off their daughter to him approached the police for help.

This incident occurred at Rajpura yesterday when the barat from Mullanpur village in Ropar district reached Bhagola near Rajpura. On reaching there, the barat, which consisted for around 25 persons, found that there was no one from would be bride’s family to receive them.

The perplexed baratis were made to sit in a house of one of the neighbours and a search was made for the relatives of the girl. After some time the girl, her parents and other relatives reached their house and upon questioning told the groom and his family that the girl was not interested in getting married.

The groom, Ramesh, was apparently not satisfied with the turn of events and reached the Kasturba police station to plead his case and put pressure on the prospective bride’s family to get their girl married to him. The girl’s family also reached there and despite the best efforts of people present there no headway could be made in the matter because the girl did not budge from her stand.

Ramesh told the police that he had been engaged to the girl for one-and-a-half years and the marriage was finalised four months back. But with no compromise in sight the boy was asked to approach the authorities of the Sadar police station. Here also the boy could not get “justice” following which the barat returned back to Ropar empty handed.


Poor roads bane of residents
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Dharamkot (Moga): Bad roads and heaps of garbage dotting the town have become the bane of residents.

During a visit to the town after rain recently, The Tribune team could not find even a single 100-metre stretch of road that was not waterlogged. Potholed roads welcome visitors to the town. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that a small pool had formed on the road right in front of the home of the Municipal Council president, Ms Mahinder Kaur. “All this is the result of sporadic rain in the past few days. One can imagine the residents’ plight when it rains heavily,” said a group of shopkeepers.

They said the council was collecting octroi, house and other taxes totalling lakhs of rupees every month but had failed to ensure proper drainage of water and repair of roads. Localities like Lohgarh Basti and Bhatti Basti are also victims of the council’s apathy and their residents are forced to live in unhygienic conditions.

According to sources, the council and the Market Committee have wasted years in shifting the onus on each other of carrying out repair work on roads. Interestingly, while Ms Mahinder Kaur is the president, her nephew, Mr Parminder Singh, is the committee chief.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, also had a bumpy ride on the roads of Dharamkot, where he attended a function recently. Invitees awaiting his arrival at the venue were heard joking that he may have returned after seeing the potholed roads.

Sources said that in view of the Deputy Commissioner’s visit, some officials persuaded a person to let them dispose of water from a waterlogged road in his vacant plot, as the stretch led to the venue of the function. Safai karamcharis were spotted lifting garbage lying near the venue when the Deputy Commissioner was addressing the gathering.

The road leading to the cremation ground is also in poor shape.


Misbehaviour by conductor: authorities indifferent, alleges woman
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
Four days after a conductor of a Haryana Roadways bus allegedly misbehaved with a woman, Mrs Mohua Roy, no action has been taken in the matter by the Haryana Roadways authorities.

Ms Roy, an employee of The Tribune had in a complaint to the local in charge of the Haryana Roadways as well as the Karnal depot General Manager had related the treatment meted out to her by a conductor of roadways on February 19. However, no action was taken on the issue.

According to the complaint Ms Roy boarded the bus - HR 45 6231 at 6.40 a.m. from the Patiala bus stand, along with her son and took one and a half tickets for Rs 190 from the conductor for Delhi. Ms Roy said the bus had hardly reached Rajpura, about 22 km away when she got a call from her mother from Delhi that she was boarding a bus for Patiala. The employee was going to Delhi only to get her mother back to Patiala.

Ms Roy said when she came to know about this development she asked the conductor let her get down at the Rajpura byepass and requested him to adjust her money accordingly. Ms Roy said in the meantime another passenger, who wanted to go to Delhi also boarded the bus. She said the conductor told her that he could only give her Rs 50 as adjustment. When she said he must follow the rule book in this case, the man started shouting at her and even used insulting language to address her.

The Tribune employee said when she tried to resist this behaviour, the conductor snatched the Rs 50 he had given her and boarded the bus and went away. Ms Roy said after this matter she had submitted a written complaint to Mr Mewa Ram, who is the in charge of the Haryana Roadways at Patiala besides also forwarding a complaint to the Karnal General Manager, from which depot the bus hails. She said despite these efforts no action was being taken on her complaint.


Cops fail to serve summon on Mahila Cong vice-chief
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 23
The local police has failed to serve summon on the Vice-President of the Punjab Pardesh Mahila Congress, Ms Surinder Kaur Balian, for the past three months. A defamation suit was filed against her in a court by a former Congress MLA, Mr Bachan Singh Pakhon. The police told the court that summon could not be served on Ms Balian as she was busy canvassing for a party nominee in Ajnala.

However, Ms Balian was in the town as she along with the SDM, Mr Jora Singh Thind, attended a function at Tapa yesterday. The function was organised by the newly-appointed market committee chairman, Mr Mitthun Lal Bansal.

The police and other congress leaders were also present on the occasion.

The court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Karnail Singh, heard the defamation case against Ms Balian on Monday. It for the third time directed the police to serve summon on Ms Balian till April 4, the next date of hearing.

The SSP, Mr Amit Prasad, said summon would soon be served on Ms Balian. 


1 killed in fire incident
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 23
The badly charred body of Sharvan Kumar, a barber by profession, was recovered by removing debris from his rented room in the Prem Nagar locality here this morning.

According to information, a phone call last night at the municipal fire brigade office said that a room in a house in the locality was on fire.

The fire-staff fighting reached the place to control the fire.

The police later sealed the room, fearing that someone might have been buried inside, as the roof with wooden sleepers had collapsed in the fire.

Today morning, the highly charred body of Sharvan Kumar was found under the debris. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained.

The body of the victim was handed over to his parents after post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital here this evening.


Gas tanker overturns
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
A scare was created in the city today morning when a gas tanker of Bharat Gas overturned while negotiating a turn at the Sewa Singh Thikriwala chowk.

According to the police sources, the mishap happened when the tanker’s coupling broke when it was negotiating the turn. It was filled with 18 tonnes of LPG.

The police swung into action and checked for gas leakage which did not occur. However as a precautionary step, traffic on one half of the Sangrur road was diverted for most of the day.


Bail plea of Goyal disallowed

Ropar, February 23
An anticipatory bail application moved by the president of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) New Delhi unit, Jai Bhagwan Goyal, who alleged to be involved in the digging of the Mohal Cricket stadium, was today rejected by the Ropar local court. The police had arrested several Shiv Sena activists on February 10 while they were digging stadium showing their protest against the scheduled match between India and Pakistan.

The police has alleged that Goyal had hatched the conspiracy to dig the Mohal cricket stadium. The public prosecutor pleaded that the arrest of Goyal was necessary as he along with other had hatched the conspiracy in Delhi on February 1. TNS


Farmers to hold march
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Farmers from wheat-growing states such as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will hold a march towards Parliament House in Delhi on March 16. This was stated here yesterday by Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, national general secretary of the BKU.

Mr Rajewal said the Union Government was pushing farmers into the debt trap by fixing unremunerative minimum support prices for various foodgrains, especially wheat. The Centre had fixed Rs 630 per quintal as the MSP for wheat whereas Punjab Agricultural University had calculated its production cost at Rs 780 per quintal.


Lakhowal for compensation to farmers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 23
The Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) on Monday urged the Central Government to link the minimum support price (MSP) of the crops with the wholesale price index, considering the year 1966-67 a base for the purpose, to save the farmers from plunging further into debt. As per this formula, the MSP of wheat would be fixed at Rs 1064 per quintal while the MSP of sugarcane and cotton would be fixed at Rs 154 per quintal and Rs 3500 per quintal, respectively. It also demanded issuance of loans for agriculture purposes to the farmers at 4 per cent rate of interest per annum, besides waiving of all previous loans of the farmers.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the BKU (Lakhowal), was here in connection with a dharna at the DC office under the “Zamin Bachao Pagrri Bachao-Zamin Bachao Kisan Bachao” campaign of the union.


Govt may shift Shahpur Kandi staff to BBMB
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 23
The Department of Finance, Punjab, is trying various methods to curtail the expenditure of employees’ salary working at the Shahpur Kandi Dam. At present, about 11,000 employees posted at the Shahpur Kandi project are being paid around Rs 11 crore per month as salary without actually being put on any work.

The government has decided to handover the construction of the project to the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) due to which there is hardly any scope that the employees could be put to work in future. The government recently tried to curtail the expenditure on employees’ salary here by withdrawing some allowances. However, the move had to be withdrawn under pressure from employee unions.

However, now the Department of Finance is working on another proposal to curtail the salary expenditure at Shahpur Kandi. It is being proposed that the employees from the Shahpur Kandi project could be sent to the BBMB against the Punjab’s quota in the organisation. The department has already sought the data regarding vacant posts against the state quota from the BBMB.

Punjab has about 53 per cent share in the BBMB. Its employee quota in the organisation also equals its share in the organisation. However, over a period of time Punjab has ignored to fill its employee quota in the organisation. Due to it the BBMB has raised its own quota of employees, which has now become a permanent financial burden on the partner states in the BBMB, including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The BBMB is basically a managing organisation on behalf of the partner states. Its budget is contributed by the partner states as per their respective share in the organisation. Punjab contributes about 53 per cent to the budget of the BBMB while Rajasthan and Haryana contribute 15 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively.

The budget of the BBMB is used for the operation and maintenance of the organisation. The BBMB presently has about 15,000 employees on its rolls. The Punjab quota of employees in the organisation comes to over 7,000 employees, including those from power and irrigation wings. Had the Punjab Government posted state employees to the BBMB exhausting its full quota it would have saved in terms of the salary of those employees.

However, now that the BBMB has raised its own quota of employees the state has to pay them indirectly. However, still about 1,000 posts of the Punjab quota are lying vacant in the irrigation wing of the BBMB. If the government shifts 1,000 employees from the Shahpur Kandi project to the BBMB the state can save about Rs 1 crore per month or Rs 11 crore per annum in terms of salary. In addition to that it can also put its labour to effective use.


Punjab-UT dispute over plying of buses unresolved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
A meeting of officials of the Punjab Government and the Union Territory of Chandigarh held here yesterday ended without resolving the dispute with regard to the plying of government-owned buses in each other’s territory.

Informed sources said that only junior-level officers, who were not empowered to take decision on behalf of the Chandigarh Administration, attended the meeting. A senior officer of the Punjab Transport Department said that another meeting would be held soon.

Punjab officials have made it clear to the Chandigarh Administration that they would not allow the plying of CTU buses in their territory without the signing of an agreement. Officers say that CTU buses have been covering about 53,000 km in the state daily while Punjab’s buses cover only 10,000 km. Moreover, most of Punjab’s buses are not allowed to enter the main bus stand in Sector 17. There are also some other issues to be decided.


Three cops suspended
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 23
Three policemen were suspended after they were found missing from their night patrol duty during a surprise check by the Ferozepore Range DIG, Mr H.S. Randhawa, last night.

Those suspended are Mehna SHO Kesar Singh, Munshi Jagsir Singh posted at Mehna police station. and Munshi Jagseer Singh of Badhanikalan police station.

In the wake of rise in kidnappings in the state, the DIG had given strict instructions to the SHOs and other police personnel to be present during night patrolling. Last week a munshi was shot at by some unidentified assailants at Lopo village and the police was on the lookout for them.

Sources said that the policemen had to leave a closed envelope at their respective police stations mentioning about their spot of night patrolling.

But neither the suspended cops mentioned their places of duty nor were they present on duty.

Sources said that one of the suspended cops was even called to a place saying a brawl had broken out, but he didn’t reach there.


PRTC to acquire 100 new buses

Chandigarh, February 23
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has decided to add 100 new buses to its fleet for increasing revenue and improving services. The proposal has been sent to the Punjab Government for final approval. — TNS


Patwari, cop held on graft charge
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Punjab Vigilance Bureau sleuths have arrested a Tehsil Welfare Officer on the allegation of demanding and accepting Rs 750 for releasing a certificate and a stipend of Rs 1,000 to a motorcycle repair trainee.

The sleuths have also nabbed a Head Constable and a patwari in different corruption cases. The Head Constable was allegedly demanding Rs 5,000 per month from a Sangrur district resident after threatening him with implication in false cases.

All operations were carried out by the bureau’s flying squad under the supervision of Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP)-cum-Vigilance chief A.P. Pandey

The trainee, Kuldeep Singh, was allegedly told by Faridkot-based Welfare Officer Chinder Pal to hand over the amount if he wanted the draft and the certificate. Instead of making the payment, Kuldeep Singh of Dhude Kalan village in Faridkot district reportedly approached the Vigilance Bureau.

Acting on his complaint, the sleuths laid a trap and managed to take the suspect into custody while he was accepting the amount from complainant Kuldeep Singh.

In the other case, Head Constable Shiv Kumar, posted at the Moonak police station in Sangrur district, was allegedly caught red-handed while demanding and accepting a bribe from complainant Narata Ram.

Initially, he had allegedly demanded Rs 5,000. After paying Rs 3,000 to the Head Constable, Narata Ram approached the Vigilance Bureau. The cop was allegedly taken into custody while he was accepting the remaining amount of Rs 2,000 from Narata Ram at his residence.”

The Head Constable had allegedly registered a case against the complainant under the Gambling Act and was threatening him with implication in more cases if the monthly payment was not made.

Patwari Balwinder Singh of Mal Halka Dhanoor in Ludhiana district was, on the other hand, allegedly caught while demanding and accepting Rs 500 as bribe from the complainant in the case relating to the making of an entry on mutation of his land”. The trap was laid on the basis of information provided by complainant Jarnail Singh of Ludhiana district.


Dacoits open fire at police, one arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 23
Gurpal Singh, member of a gang of dacoits which was involved in firing shots at a police party and looting of a liquor vend in the Maur Mandi area today and last night respectively, was arrested by the police. A car, a pistol and two live cartridges were seized from him.

Gurpal Singh (27), who has undergone seven years of imprisonment in a murder case, has committed more than 10 crimes, including murder and dacoity. His two accomplices, who were involved in the looting of liquor vend at Kotli Khurd village in this district and then firing shots at the police party in Maur Kalan village escaped, were identified as Nanak Singh, alias Ranjit Singh and Charanjit Singh.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, while addressing a press conference late this evening, said that though the accused fired at the police party in the thickly populated area of Maur Kalan village, no policeman was injured. After firing one shot, the accused could not fire another shot and were overpowered by the policemen.

He said that Gurpal Singh, who belonged to Haryana, and the other accused, had been committing crime for the past many years. He said that though the two accused, who escaped, had been identified, it was suspected that their gang would be having more members.

He said that accused was arrested after police parties were alerted after the looting of a liquor vend took place in the Maur Mandi police station area. When the police party was patrolling the area, a car having three occupants was found moving under suspicious circumstances. When the policemen stopped it and started checking it, one of the occupants fired at the police party.

After firing the shot, the accused ran towards the populated area of the village. Nanak Singh and Charanjit Singh escaped, Gurpal Singh, who was driving the car, was overpowered by the policemen. He said it was yet to be verified whether the car used in this crime was stolen one.

He pointed out that while Nanak Singh, who had been undergoing imprisonment after being convicted in a murder case, had been declared a proclaimed offender by the court after he had jumped parole.

Gurpal Singh, who was presented before the mediapersons, said that he had committed a number of crimes in Punjab and Haryana and had been convicted in more than four cases pertaining to murder, attempt to murder and dacoity. He added that one of his brothers had also undergone imprisonment in a murder case and later, he (his brother) was also murdered.

He said that two separate cases had been registered in this connection and police parties had been sent to nab the other accused.


Minor raped, man found murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 23
While a teenaged girl Karamjit Kaur and boy, Bunty, both residents of Bir Talab village of the district were allegedly kidnapped, another minor girl of Maur Kalan village was raped by Kulwinder Singh, today.

In another case, a man was found murdered in a drain passing near Masana village situated on the Bathinda-Dabwali road today. There were injury marks on the head of the man’s body. A case in this connection had been registered under Section 302 of the IPC in the Sangat police station. Police sources said Karamjit Kaur (17), a student of Class VIII, and Bunty (10), were kidnapped by Pappu, a hairdresser, who runs a shop in the village.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said the girl, Karamjit Kaur, had actually eloped with Pappu on February 19. The father of Karamjit Kaur reported the matter to the police late as he had been trying hard to bring his daughter back. He added that Bunty, who was an assistant of Pappu, also went along with them. He said a kidnapping case had been registered against Pappu, as the girl was a minor. He added that girl was to get married to another boy today. The case was registered on the complaint of Karamjit Kaur’s father. In another case a minor girl was raped by Kulwinder Singh in Maur Kalan village of the district.


One booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 23
The police has booked a resident of Chandigarh on a charge of cheating.

Mr Hari Singh Matharu, a resident of Kharar, had complained to the police that he had paid Rs 3.5 lakh to Deepak Verma, a resident of Chandigarh, for the purchase of a house in Sector 29, Chandigarh. While Rs 2.5 lakh were paid on October 22, 2001, the remaining amount was paid in instalments. He alleged that Deepak Verma was not giving him the power of attorney in connection with the house which had been purchased by him.

It is learnt that Mr Matharu had complained to the DGP in this regard who then asked the Ropar SSP to get an inquiry done into the complaint.

A probe into the complaint was done by the DSP, Mr Jasdev Singh. After taking the opinion of DA legal a case was registered.


Registrar’s supporters charged with verbal abuse
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 23
Alleged “verbal abuse” by some 20 supporters of the Registrar, Guru Nanak Dev University, at the residence of the FDO, Mr Varinderpal Sharma, last night has led to an unsavoury situation in the campus.

However, the Registrar, Dr R.S. Bawa, denied any knowledge of the verbal abuse by his supporters to the wife of Mr Sharma at the latter’s residence after the conclusion of the Syndicate meeting.

The FDO in communications to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, the DGP, the SSP and the Governor (Chancellor of University) alleged that 20 persons led by some senior university employees owing allegiance to the Registrar came to his residence on the campus at about 8 p.m. and made loud noises and indulged in sloganeering in a drunken state.

They also indulged in verbal abuse for the FDO who was not present at his residence at the time. This continued for nearly one hour during which the persons came thrice to his residence. 


Tribune Impact
DPI sanctions 14.11 lakh to clear pensioners’ bills
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 23
Pensioners of the Education Department are happy after the DPI (Secondary), Punjab, recently allocated Rs 14.11 lakh to the District Education Office (Secondary), Sangrur, to clear their pending medical reimbursement bills. Some of them were reportedly waiting for these bills to be cleared for more than one and half years.

The DPI (Secondary), Punjab, had on February 11 allocated Rs 14.11 lakh for clearing the medical reimbursement bills of the pensioners. It reached the DEO (Secondary) office a few days ago. On the basis of this budget allotment, the DEO (Secondary) office has now submitted the reimbursement bills to the District Treasury Office here. The pensioners now hope to get the payment in days to come.

Expressing happiness over the budget allotment for the clearing the medical reimbursement bills, Mr Vinay Kumar, Patron, Government Pensioners Welfare Association, yesterday, thanked “The Tribune” for highlighting their grievances on January 10. This had compelled the DPI (Secondary) office to expedite the matter related to the clearance of medical reimbursement bills of not only this district but also of other districts of the state.

Mr Vinay Kumar further said the DPI (Secondary) had now released Rs 1.25 crore, including Rs 14.11 lakh for Sangrur district in this regard. He said the clearance of the bills would certainly prove a boon for pensioners, as they would now be able to repay their loans, taken by them for their treatment.

Sources in the DEO (Secondary) office told “The Tribune” that the office had submitted 28 medical reimbursement bills, to the tune of Rs 10.50 lakh, to the District Treasury Office here for passing the same as out of the total budget allotment of Rs 14.11 lakh some medical bills had already been paid to pensioners by drawing funds from other sources.

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