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Punjab board exams begin; so does cheating
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 2
The annual examinations of class X and XII of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) started today. Along with these started the infamous practice of copying.

When The Tribune team visited some of the examination centres in and around Pathankot today afternoon, several malpractices in examinations were noticed. In one of the schools the teachers were found preparing cheating material for children appearing in the examinations.

As soon as the physics and economics paper of class XII commenced, some staff members of Government Senior Secondary School, Pathankot, got busy preparing cheating material for children. They were preparing the material from books in the rooms meant for the vocational classes when The Tribune team clicked their photographs. This spread panic among the teachers.

The material being prepared by the teachers was to be allegedly supplied to select children with right contacts. Though police was deployed on the school premises, many kin of the children appearing in the examinations gathered in and around the school building.

In the KFC Senior Secondary School, students appearing in the examination were found to be bringing the question papers out on the pretext of going to answer the call of nature. Once in the toilet adjoining the boundary, they were supplied material they needed inside the examination room.

In KFC school, even policemen deputed on duty were found to be supplying copying material to students. The supply through policemen came at a price that was paid by the kin of the examinees.

The controller of the examination centre here termed it as a stray incident. He said nobody was being allowed near the boundary and the police had been directed to check the identity of anyone entering the school premises.

A similar practice was reported from other schools. The situation was worse in private schools and those located in the rural areas.

Certain educationists from the district blamed the cheating cases on the recent policy adopted by the PSEB. Earlier the board used to appoint all the supervising staff at the schools during the board examinations.

However, now the board has changed the policy. Now the controller of the examination has been authorised to pick 50 per cent of the staff on his own, while the remaining 50 per cent is to be supplied by the principal of the respective school. Educationists alleged that teachers acting as supervisors would definitely have soft corner for their students.

 

Girl kept in bathroom to facilitate copying
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 2
A controversy of sorts has erupted in this town after a girl student, who appeared for the board examination of Class VIII at one of the local examination centres, was allegedly confined to a bathroom by one of the invigilators to facilitate copying of the science paper to another student.

Mr Sunil Kumar, Principal, Arya Senior Secondary School, while confirming the fact that a girl student, who appeared in the Class VIII examination at a centre set up in this school, lodged a verbal complaint to him that she was taken to the bathroom by one of the invigilators to facilitate copying to another student on February 25 when she took the science paper. He said that no written complaint had been lodged by her or her parents in this connection so far.

He added that when he took up the matter with the superintendent of the examination centre, he (superintendent) denied any such incident. Moreover, the girl, who was allegedly made to facilitate copying to another student, did not recognise the invigilator who allegedly confined her to the bathroom.

He pointed out that the father of the girl, who was agitated over the fact that his daughter was forced to waste her time during the examination period as the invigilators pressurised her to facilitate copying to other students, had not lodged any complaint in that connection so far. He added that the school authorities had nothing to do with the process of examination.

He added that after this incident came to his notice, he immediately informed the matter to the district education authorities.

He said that while the school authorities were taking up the matter with the authorities concerned, a section of the media persons intervened and both girl and her father went along with those media persons.

Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhary, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said that though a section of the media persons had brought this matter to his knowledge, he was not able to take any action in this connection as he had not received any complaint for the same from any quarter so far.

 

Punjab to gain Rs 2,000 cr
Finance panel recommendations
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Punjab is going to benefit a great deal from the recommendations of the 12th Finance Commission.

The Union Government has accepted the commission’s recommendations and is all set for the devolution of various tax revenues to the states. The net gain to Punjab from the recommendations during the next financial year will be to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore. Of this, the state will get Rs 1,556 crore as revenue deficit grant, Rs 254 crore as additional allocation as share from tax revenue and Rs 200 crore as special grant.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday specially thanked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for giving such a big relief to various revenue-deficit states which were facing a serious financial crisis for various reasons. In fact, Capt Amarinder Singh is expecting a huge allocation of funds from the allocations made in the Union Budget for various infrastructural projects.

The Principal Secretary (Finance), Punjab, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, said that the emphasis of the Budget on agriculture, irrigation, health, education, etc, would certainly benefit Punjab in a big way. “We will claim money from these budgetary allocations by submitting proposals for various sectors for which funds have been earmarked by the Union Government in the Budget,” said Mr Lakhanpal.

“The Budget will give a boost to growth and employment and Punjab will certainly benefit from it,” asserted Mr Lakhanpal.

However, experts say that the allocations in the Union Budget have been made for rural roads, health services, houses for the poor, rural electrification, etc. Already, Punjab has these facilities. Almost all villages are linked by road, there is a strong health services network and all villages have the power facility.

In such a situation, Punjab may not qualify for the allocation of funds under the guidelines laid down by the Union Government for this purpose. Punjab may get allocations from funds earmarked for the four-laning of various roads. Owing to the growing density of vehicular traffic, Punjab needs four-laning of a number of roads such as the Chandigarh-Bathinda road, the Chandigarh-Ludhiana road and the Chandigarh-Ambala road besides the Ludhiana-Ferozepore road and the Jalandhar-Amritsar-Attari road.

 

Ajnala byelection
Amarinder asks Badal where he stands now 
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Completion of a hat-trick of triumphs in the byelections held in Punjab since the last Lok Sabha elections has not only helped the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, climb further up the popularity graph but has also given to the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his Shiromani Akali Dal enough to ponder over the reasons for their falling citadel in the Majha belt.

The win for the Congress is significant as it was from here that the revival of the Shiromani Akali Dal had started in 1994 when Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, now an MP, had won the by-election with a margin of more than 17,000 votes. The Akalis had boycotted the 1992 Assembly elections. And after the Ajnala byelection triumph of 1994, they did not look back till they were voted to power in 1997.

Efforts of Mr Badal and his men have failed to repeat 1994. Though they may have reasons to explain their debacle blaming the “misuse of official machinery and the use of muscle power”, the biggest margin of triumph in the three byelections held since the last February Lok Sabha poll cannot deprive the Congress and the Chief Minister of credit of broadening the party base in the rural and border area of the Majha belt, which has traditionally remained the Akali stronghold. It is the first win for the Congress in the constituency since 1992.

“Our men have been working hard on it,” says Capt Amarinder Singh, holding that Mr Badal must clarify his position now as he wanted the outcome of Ajnala to be treated as a referendum on the Congress government in the state.

“He was also talking of the second revival of the Akalis after 1994 from Ajnala. What does he have to say now after he has been defeated by the biggest margin in all byelections since February last year?” quipped Capt Amarinder Singh.

The stand of the government on the river waters issue, quick and hassle-free procurement of foodgrains and the Chief Minister’s own image in the mind of the common man were certainly factors which swung the tide in favour of the Congress.

The Ajnala triumph makes the Congress confident for the Assembly elections due in 2007. As such, the party has already taken up development projects in a big way. The focus on supplementing power generation is a welcome sign. Work on 18 corridors, bridges, public health projects, including drainage and potable water supply in villages, are the areas which are being attended to now.

In Ajnala, the Congress had given the Rural Development and Power Minister, Mr Lal Singh, charge of managing the election. For Mr Lal Singh it was also the third emphatic win in as many electoral battles witnessed both in Doaba and Majha belts of the state. Incidentally, Mr Lal Singh himself comes from the Chief Minister’s Malwa belt.

“It is time for Mr Badal to say goodbye to politics,” says Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, holding that both in Kapurthala and Ajnala, Mr Badal had made it a prestige issue. “He lost in both. Let him now quit politics and live a peaceful retired life,” he added.

On the other hand, the Akalis do not think that the defeat in Ajnala will have any impact on the 2007 Assembly elections. “Normally, it is the ruling party which gets the nod of the electors. But since the Congress had been pursuing anti-people policies, we thought we had a chance to bounce back,” remarked a senior Akali leader holding

that it was “not a triumph of the policies and programmes of the Congress but of muscle power and money”.

 

A jolt for Badal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Defeat of the Akali candidate, Mr Amarpal Singh Boney, in the Ajnala byelection is a jolt to the leadership of the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Under his leadership, the SAD-BJP combine, which did exceedingly well in the last parliamentary elections, has lost the third byelection in a row by a big margin.

Shortly after the Lok Sabha elections, the SAD-BJP combine under Mr Badal’s command had lost the Kapurthala and Garhshankar byelections by extensive margins. And now, the SAD candidate, Mr Amarpal Singh, who was supported by the BJP, has lost by a margin of 19,246 to the Congress candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh.

In the Ajnala byelection, where the SAD and the Congress were engaged in a fierce campaign, the defeat of the Akali candidate, whose family had been winning from the constituency for a long time, is big blow to the Akalis, who have been defeated in a rural constituency by the Congress, which is not known to be particularly strong in the countryside.

In fact, like earlier ones, this byelection was also a straight battle between the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Mr Badal. And Mr Badal has lost. Mr Badal’s problem is that he considers himself a seasoned player as far as contesting elections is concerned. He has never taken Capt Amarinder Singh seriously as a political leader.

He always considers him a “Raja”. But Capt Amarinder Singh has repeatedly proved that he has the ability to defeat a leader like Mr Badal at the hustings. “With his political sagacity and skills, Capt Amarinder Singh has not only managed to deal with the dissidents in his own party but has also put the Akalis on the back-foot for the first time”, says a senior Akali leader.

While Mr Badal has been politically weakened in his own party because of the Ajnala defeat, Capt Amarinder Singh has become more stronger, the Akali leader adds.

Half the byelection Mr Badal had lost when he named Mr Amarpal Singh the candidate for the Ajnala poll. Compared to the Congress candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh, the Akali candidate was too weak and a greenhorn. Many political pundits had predicted the victory of Mr Harpal Singh well ahead of the polling but they were not certain that he would win by such a big margin. Even alleged extensive rigging of the poll cannot ensure such a victory in an Assembly constituency in a state like Punjab where rigging is possible but on a very limited scale. Poll experts say that the “ repolling at 14 booths, held following the allegations of rigging levelled by Mr Badal and co, actually enhanced the victory margin of the Congress candidate”.

Asked to comment, a senior Akali leader said on condition of anonymity: “Mr Badal has become too old to deliver politically now. He has no appeal among the younger generation that calls the shots at present in every sphere of life. So, he should make way for the younger leadership in the SAD”.

Mr Badal committed a blunder by giving the party ticket to Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala’s family. People, especially party workers, have started hating the phenomenon of the growing monopoly on political power by a few families. Already Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala is a Member of Parliament. Was there any need to give the Assembly ticket to his son, Mr Amarpal Singh? People have started teaching a lesson to political leaders who have been promoting “clanocracy” in politics.

“The only consolation for us Akalis is that this byelection will not be a trendsetter for the next Assembly elections which are two years away. But we should be alert keeping in view the efforts put in by Capt Amarinder Singh to win the last three byelections. If he were to become as active in the general election as he has been during the byelections, he could make things difficult for the Akalis”, said another senior Akali leader.

 

CM seeks to give clean chit to Rana Sodhi
Tribune News Service

Todarpur-Rajla (Patiala), March 2
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today sought to give a clean chit to his aide and Parliamentary Secretary Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi by claiming that the earlier complainant in the case was himself claiming that he did not have any grouse against Mr Sodhi.

Talking to mediapersons here after inaugurating a 220 KV Grid Sub-Station in this village, the Chief Minister said the ADGP inquiring into the case had thrice summoned the complainant, but he did not turn up to submit his case to the investigating authority. Capt Amarinder Singh said the ADGP had told him that each time the complainant had claimed that he did not have any grudge against the Parliamentary Secretary. He said the complainant would, however, be called again to submit his side of the facts.

The Chief Minister, however, ruled out the immediate return of Mr S.K. Sinha to the Home Department. Trying to explain the issue, he said Mr Sinha was his personal friend who had a long association with him. “Only a friend can tell when the other is under strain and I felt this was the case”. He said he felt Mr Sinha needed a lighter assignment and was posted to the Cooperation Department, which is also an important assignment. He said though a bureaucratic reshuffle was not on the cards presently, it would take place after the budget session.

Earlier, while addressing a public rally at the village, the Chief Minister said getting industry into the state was the only way to remove unemployment. He said the state government had cleared 27 mega projects, which would bring in an investment of Rs 10,000 crore. He said as many as 1.53 lakh persons would be given employment under the scheme, which envisaged setting up of mega projects with investment of more than Rs 100 crore in various parts of the state.

The Chief Minister announced a Rs 10 lakh grant from his discretionary quota to both Todarpur and Rajla villages besides asking Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla, who was also present on the occasion, to broaden the Samana-Rajla-Patiala road. PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra also spoke at the function, which was also attended Raja Malvinder Singh and Harinderpal Singh Mann.

Earlier, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of the proposed Integrated Township which will come up over 300 acres at Baran village, near here. He also laid the foundation stone of the Rs 2.34 crore Central Vista of the Baradari Gardens, besides inaugurating a 66 KV Sub-Station at Dakala.

 

Kalam to inaugurate Science City on March 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Offering a blend of education, curiosity and fun, Pushpa Gujral Science City, on the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road in Punjab, will be thrown open to the public after its inauguration on March 19. The President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, will inaugurate the Science City, a joint project of the Government of India and Punjab.

This was announced by the Director-General of the Science City, Dr R.S. Khandpur, and Principal Secretary, Science and Technology, Punjab, Ms Romilla Dubey, at a press conference, here today. The Science City had been named after the mother of former Prime minister, Mr I.K. Gujral, who was a well-known social worker from Jalandhar in recognition of her services to society.

Constructed at a cost of Rs 70 crore, the Science City is an attempt at inculcating scientific temper among students and the general public. It will provide an opportunity for open-ended exploration, away from textbooks and blackboards, having something for everyone, regardless of age, education and profession.

Dr Khandpur said that the star attractions would be a giant dome theatre, virtual expeditions to the sun and through space on a 30-seater flight simulator, a virtual 3-D show, an indoor laser show.

Besides these, the major attractions are a space gallery, a health gallery, a mini planetarium, science exhibits, cyber space gallery, boating, energy education and awareness park and a kids' science park.

While all this has been completed in the first phase, the second phase which includes galleries on evolution (Dinosaur Park), electronics and electric power, ecology and environment park, nano technology, bio-technology, will be ready by May-end.

The entry fee to the Science City has been fixed at Rs 30 for adults and Rs 20 for children though Rs 10 each would be charged for the three star attractions and Rs 50 for the theatre. However, people can avail themselves of a Rs 100 package which allows a visitor entry to all sections. For the students, the package would be available for Rs 70. "The total for all paid attractions along with the fee was coming to Rs 140. We decided to offer a package at concessional rates and charge only 50 per cent from the students," he explained.

Claiming it to be the biggest Science City in the world, spread over 72 acres, Ms Dubey said they were expecting three lakh visitors every year. "The Science City will have food kiosks and restaurants and a souvenir shop relevant to the exhibit themes. As visualised by Dr Kalam who was involved in the project at the onset, the Science City would be a place for edutainment, a combination of education and entertainment," she added.

 

Student kidnapped, found in nullah
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 2
A student of Class XII hailing from Pandori Tadd village in Hoshiarpur was kidnapped by unidentified persons this afternoon and later thrown into a nullah near Anandpur Sahib in Ropar district in the evening.

Eighteen-year-old Jatinder Kumar Madle was on his way to school to take a history exam when he was kidnapped by some unidentified persons.

The matter came to light when Nirmala Devi, mother of the student, received a phone call from a teacher that Jatinder had not turned up for the examination.

The student was still unconscious till the filling of this report.

This is the second such incident in Hoshiarpur. Earlier, 14-year-old Abhi Verma, alias Harry, was kidnapped and later murdered.

The mother of the student, Nirmala, told The Tribune that Jatinder left for school about 11 am after having his meal. At 2 pm, she received a phone call from his teacher.

“Initially, the family enquired about his whereabouts from the school authorities and his friends but when they failed to provide any information, they reported the matter to the police,” she said.

“At 8.30 pm we received a phone call from an Anandpur Sahib police station that our son had been found unconscious in a nullah and was safe,” she added.

Jaspal Rai, uncle of the student, said a police team had left for Anandpur Sahib to get the boy back.

While the family members of the student confirmed the kidnapping and registration of a case, police officials at Anandpur Sahib police station declined to confirm this.

 
POLITICS
 

Celebrations to mark 3 years of Congress rule begin
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 2
On the completion of three years of the Congress government in the state, weeklong celebrations started at the Bachat Bhavan here today. On the opening day, Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, laid the foundation stones of various development projects in the district. He also inaugurated projects, which had been completed.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Harbans Lal highlighted the achievements of the government during the three-year rule. He said that the government had decided to celebrate 2005 as development year and this year all villages and towns of the state would be developed in a planned modern manner.

He said that regular pensions, 24-hour power supply to rural areas, uninterrupted power to industry, agriculture and domestic sector would be ensured. He said that 1.50 lakh unemployed youths would be provided jobs. As many as 2000 Dalit youths would be given government jobs. He said that to provide proper infrastructure and top quality roads the government had chalked out a plan to recarpet and repair all roads in the state at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore. He said that 1,7000 km of roads were being recarpetted in most modern manner at the cost of Rs 950 crore.

He said that the Chief Minister had approved a special development plan for Fatehgarh Sahib. He said that an urban estate having all modern facilities was being set up by PUDA in Fatehgarh Sahib. Besides a modern bus stand, strengthening of all roads leading to Fatehgarh Sahib, a community centre at Sirhind city at a cost of Rs 42 lakh, modern park at the Dasehra ground, Sirhind, and the main project of disposal of sullage water of Sirhind town would start soon. He laid the foundation stones of the disposal of sewer projects of Hamayunpur, Sirhind and a water supply project at Sirhind city. He inaugurated the newly recarpetted two main roads of the town constructed at cost of Rs 10 lakh.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, also spoke on the occasion.

 
COMMUNITY
 

More typhoid cases detected in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 2
Eleven new cases of typhoid and two cases of jaundice have been detected in the Khalsa Mohalla locality which had been struck by a series of water-borne diseases in the past few days due to contamination of drinking water supply.

Yesterday the Health Department had detected six cases of gastroenteritis and 25 cases of typhoid from the locality. Today officiating Civil Surgeon Dr V.S. Mohi toured the area along with a Health Department team.

Talking to TNS, Dr Mohi said besides Khalsa Mohalla, parts of the Angooran Wala Masjid area and the Dhanak area had also been affected. He said two teams of the Health Department had remained posted in the Khalsa Mohalla gurdwara and that eight other teams of para medical personnel had distributed 5,000 chlorine tablets to every household in the Khalsa Mohalla.

The Health Department has also taken water samples from the affected localities. Today samples were also taken from the water tankers of the Municipal Corporation to ascertain the cause of the spread of the epidemics. The residents pointed out that piped water could have mixed with sewerage water. Sources said illegal water connections could also be responsible for the problem as many people who had installed illegal connections had dug in plastic pipes which were open to contamination due to vacuum in them.

Meanwhile sources in Government Rajindra Hospital said all the cases which had been reported to the hospital till now were mild to moderate in nature and that there had not been any admission in the emergency ward of the hospital.

 

Ropar a picture of neglect
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 2
Around 50,000 residents of the city have been facing problems, thanks to lack of proper infrastructure, drainage system, maintenance of internal roads, sanitation system and water supply.

The Sirhind canal bridge, which was constructed more than 100 years ago, is in a pitiable condition. There are numerous potholes on the bridge and its railing has developed cracks.

The bridge has become a threat to the lives of hundreds of people who crossed it every day. Even, heavy vehicles continue to be allowed to ply on it.

A visit to all 17 wards of the city revealed a sorry state of basic amenities. For the past several years, the maintenance of the internal roads has not been done.

Potholes dot all internal roads, including those in Giani Zail Singh Nagar, Malhotra Colony, which are considered posh areas of the city. Congested roads in main market and book market also have numerous potholes.

Owing to lack of a proper drive from the Municipal Council and the administration to clean the city, insanitary conditions prevail all around. Stray cattle menace has added to the woes of the residents.

Sewage often overflows and enters into houses due to lack of a proper drainage system. One of the most affected areas is New Garden Colony where a large number of houses were seen filled with muddy water.

Encroachments on the main market and Book Market have hardly left any space for vehicles to move smoothly.

The new bus stand lacks proper infrastructure. Passengers are inconvenienced a lot in rainy days.

Complaints by residents about muddy water being supplied to them continue to pour in. Recently, water samples taken from various parts of the city were found unfit for human consumption.

Several representations from citizen welfare associations have failed to move the administration and the council.

 

Cops may face action in land grab cases
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
For breaking the nexus between policemen and land grabbers active in the state, the Punjab Police has decided to identify and act against personnel involved in all such cases. Directions in this regard have already been issued by the state’s Director-General of Police (DGP), Mr S.S. Virk, to all district chiefs and officers concerned.

Sources in the Punjab Police headquarters assert that the land mafia and policemen are openly being supported by the local politicians in a substantial number of cases.

The worst-affected are the NRIs as their acquaintances are conniving with policemen to forcibly occupy the land in their absence. The situation is particularly bad in Jalandhar and Ludhiana belt, he claims.

The sources add that the Internal Vigilance-cum-Human Rights Wing of the Punjab Police had received 6,261 complaints from the Punjab State Human Rights Commission last year, besides receiving complaints directly from residents. Over 17,000 complaints were received by the police in 2004. As many as 59 policemen were found guilty of violating human rights. The DGP asserts, “We have already started the process of identifying the officers involved in such activity. Action will be initiated against them regardless of their rank.”

 

YC to launch campaign against female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 2
Punjab Youth Congress, in collaboration with social and religious organisations, will launch a campaign against social evils particularly female foeticide and drug addiction in the state.

Youth Congress activists accompanied by social workers would go to every nook and corner of the state to create awareness among the masses particularly in rural and slum areas, said Mr Ravinder Kumar Awala, state president of the Youth Congress, while addressing a gathering at a seminar organised by the Youth Congress, Mata Gujri Institute and Punjabi Gabhru Manch on increase in cases of female foeticide and drug addiction here today.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, in his address appreciated the efforts of the Youth Congress and other social organisations. He said it was only the Youth, who could eradicate social evils from society. He said it was unfortunate that the male, female ratio was giving down and if this trend continued there would be social disorder in the society and the crimes against women would rise.

He called upon everyone especially women not to indulge in female foeticide and to resist if their partners forced them to go for sex determination tests. He said the government had made strict laws to deal with those doctors, who indulged in sex determination tests and female foeticide. He said the youth was being attracted towards drugs and they were falling in its trap. He said by providing good environment and education to children, we could save them from such evils.

Mr. Jagjit Singh Nagra, youth leader, Ranjit Singh Chairman, MC Sirhind, Harinder Singh Kang, Chairman, MC Bassi Pathana, Gurwinder Dhillon, Chairman, Block Samiti Bassi Pathana, Munish Verma, Sandeep Verma, Jasbir Singh Jassi of the Punjabi Gabhru Manch also addressed.

Dr N.S. Bawa organised an exhibition of his posters and books on female foeticide. Dr Bawa was honoured by Dr Habans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary for electing him as chairman of the international conference on impact of nuclear weapons on our health and environment to be held at Hyderabad from March.

 

Farmers clean up Raja Minor
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chahal (Faridkot), March 2
Tall claims of successive state governments fell flat as farmers of this village finally took upon themselves to de-silt the Raja Minor that was reportedly in a bad shape for the past six years hampering canal water supply to four villages of this area. However, the Irrigation Department has dismissed the farmers’ allegation of not cleaning up the minor.

Talking to The Tribune here, the former Sarpanch of Chahal, Mr Sewak Singh, said Raja Minor was awaiting cleaning for the past five years and it was affecting water supply to hundreds of acres spread over Chahal, Tibbi Bharaian, Bir Sikhawala, and Sandhawan villages. He alleged that the Irrigation Department had washed its hands off the matter saying Rs 12 lakh was needed to de-silt the minor and the department had no funds for the same. He said delay in carrying out the work had led to about 4 feet silt depositing in the minor. After making all efforts to move the authorities concerned, farmers of these villages decided to pick up spades and kick off work on their own.

They also raised some funds required for the job at their own level. Another villager, Mr Gamdur Singh, told that about 50 farmers were being engaged in the work daily and farmers from each of the affected villages were putting in efforts to clean up the minor. He said they had been working for the past 7-8 days and it would take a few more days to achieve the desired result. He said farming activity in their villages was hit badly in the previous years owing to lack of proper canal water supply. Farmers engaged in the work demanded that their canal water charge for this year be waived in the wake of their endeavour in cleaning up Raja Minor.

When contacted, the Executive Engineer of the Irrigation Department, Mr Devinder Singh Jassal, said they had been carrying out de-silting work of the minor every year, but a lot of silting was taking place there. He admitted paucity of funds at present, but said the department would clean up the minor before the peak season started. He said the farmers had only de-silted a part of the minor.

 

Arrest of Dalit’s killers sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 2
A deputation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Chaudhary Swarna Ram, vice-president of the Punjab BJP and in charge of Punjab BJP SC Morcha, today met the Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police here, demanding arrest of the alleged killers of Satish Kumar, general secretary of Sunam BJP SC Morcha, without any further delay. Satish Kumar was allegedly beaten to death on the night of February 27 at Sunam.

Mr Rajesh Bagga and Capt Ram Singh, president and vice-president, respectively of the Punjab BJP, SC Morcha, Mr Satwant Singh and Mr Prem Gugnani, president and general secretary, respectively of the district unit of the BJP, were also members of the deputation.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Chaudhary Swarna Ram said they had urged the Deputy Commissioner to provide protection to the family of the murdered SC leader, financial help to the family and a government job for the widow of the deceased.

Chaudhary Swarna Ram said even after three days of the murder of Satish Kumar, the police had not arrested the killers, perhaps due to political pressure. He further alleged that the law and order situation had and deteriorated atrocities on Dalits had been increasing.

Earlier, Chaudhary Swarna Ram, along with other BJP leaders, today visited the house of the deceased at Sunam and met his widow there.

 

Steps to check power theft
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 2
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has issued new conditions to check power theft and achieve the desired buoyancy in revenue collection in the state. Now as per the new directions the new applicants for power connection had to sign an agreement with the PSEB.

The board has applied the rule on government approved colonies, semi-government, improvement trust colonies and private colonies. Now if any colony holders seek electricity connections from the board, the promoter of the colony has to sign an agreement with the board. As per the agreement the promoter of the colony will be himself responsible for any proposed power theft in the colony. The Executive Engineer, Mr Ajmer Singh, while talking to The Tribune said that the board would install a single meter outside the new colony. Thus the board will recover billing at single point metering. However the manager or contractor shall be authorised to collect the consumption charges as per individual billing.

 

Residents urge CM to issue BPL cards
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 2
As many as eight poor residents from the Neevi Patti and Indra Colony areas in a joint plea urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to issue cards for persons below poverty line (BPL).

They said during the heritage festival here, the Chief Minister had released a “citizen charter “ booklet in which it was announced that BPL cards would be issued to lower strata of society from 2003-04 at the office of district administration.

In the wake of this announcement, they said they had submitted forms at local DC office in December last year and were told to collect the cards within 20 days. However, after the stipulated period no cards were issued and the authorities said that they had not received any orders from the government in the context.

In view of the present scenario they sought intervention of the Chief Minister to fulfil their needs.

 

Missing merchant returns

Jalandhar, March 2
A cloth merchant, Dinesh Kumar, who was reported missing from the local railway station on February 24, today returned home safely and disclosed that he was not kidnapped and had gone on his own as a result of family dispute.

SSP Satish Kumar asthana stated here today that during questioning Dinesh revealed that on February 23 he had got his train reservations done in a frontier mail for Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.

Dinesh revealed that he had left the home on his own since he was under tremendous tension owing to some family dispute, the SSP added.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case against Dinesh and his family members for allegedly misleading the police by claiming that Dinesh had been kidnapped. — PTI

 

Tribune impact
PWD officials inspect roads
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 2
Senior officials of the PWD today swung into action and inspected the widening of the Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road along Sirhind canal and the Chamkaur Sahib-Bela road. The Chief Engineer, Punjab, Mr T.C. Bali, and the Superintendent Engineer, Mr T.S. Gill, have inspected about 15-km long Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road and 13-km long Chamkaur Sahib-Bela road in the morning.

Chandigarh Tribune yesterday highlighted that even after two months of the deadline fixed by the Punjab Government, the development project to widen road along the Sirhind canal and the Chamkaur Sahib-Bela road was not completed yet. In addition to it, potholes appeared on the various places on the roads, which have been partially completed in the past three months.

Since morning, a large number of PWD employees were seen filling the potholes on both the roads. Despite the fact that the contract of the widening and maintenance of the roads has been given to a private party, the employees of the PWD were today called to complete the work.

PWD officials entrusted the task to the employees to fill the potholes with charcoal and then cover them with leaves with a view to hide the damages. But as a large number of vehicles plying on the roads, the potholes could not sustain for long.

 

Polygamy acceptable, says Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
The charges of polygamy put Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, in a fix yesterday when the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, announced that without divorce, second marriage by a Sikh is violation of the ‘Sikh rehat maryada’, approved by the SGPC and Akal Takht.

Jathedar Vedanti refused to accept the plea of the Jathedar, Patna Sahib, that polygamy was prevalent in the past and acceptable in Sikhism. Giani Iqbal Singh had pleaded that Maharaja Ranjit Singh who is called ‘Singh Sahib’ had more than one wife. He also quoted revered Sikh religious personalities having more than one wife to justify his second marriage.

Jathedar Vedanti said the matter of polygamy, in general, and case of the Jathedar, Patna Sahib, in particular, would be taken up in the next meeting of the Sikh clergy. He, however, clarified that Jathedar Iqbal Singh won’t be invited in this meeting.

Giani Iqbal Singh, however, claimed that he had married a Jammu resident with the consent of his first wife and in-laws, which was endorsed by the sangat from Patna Sahib. He claimed that his first wife had left the house without telling the family. Now she was living with her parents at Ganganagar (Rajasthan). “Had they (first wife and in-laws) any objection, they would have moved the court.”

 

Sikh leaders to attend Maskeen’s bhog
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Prominent Sikh leaders from various parts of the world, including the top brass of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and the Shiromani Akali Dal, will attend the bhog ceremony of Giani Sant Singh Maskeen, a noted preacher, Sikh scholar and interpreter of Gurbani, at Alwar tomorrow.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s condolence message will be read out by the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, MP, at the bhog ceremony.

Dr Manmohan Singh has described Giani Sant Singh Maskeen as an exemplary preacher and an epitome of wisdom gathered from a deep study of the scriptures of many religions and the writings of saints of the Bhakti movement.

 

Tarlochan: House proceedings must be in Punjabi also
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Mr Tarlochan Singh MP, and Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, has requested that the facility for the simultaneous rendering of the proceedings of Parliament in the Punjabi language should be made available as there are a large number of Punjabi-speaking MPs.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said that he sent a letter to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat yesterday hoping that Punjabi would be included in the list of languages.

The Secretariat provides the facility for simultaneous interpretation in nine regional languages — Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil, Urdu and Kannada. Punjabi did not figure in the original list.

 

Bibi distributes relief among tsunami-hit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 2
The SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, has distributed relief worth Rs 1.10 crore among tsunami-affected people for rehabilitation in Andaman Nicobar Islands on Tuesday.

According to a press release issued here today, the SGPC President visited Campbell Bay Islands yesterday along with a delegation and senior officers who participated in the bhog ceremony in a local gurdwara.

Tributes were paid to nine persons and on behalf of the SGPC, the President extended financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh to each family.

As many as 162 persons were provided relief of Rs 50,000 each, while 27 others were assisted with Rs 20,000 each. Two persons were provided Rs 1.50 lakh for medical treatment.

 

SGPC to release souvenir on Tohra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 2
The SGPC in collaboration with all Sikh organisations would observe the first death anniversary of its late President Gurcharan Singh Tohra at Tohra village on March 6.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, while stating this in a press note here today said akhand path would commence on March 4.

The SGPC would release a souvenir on the occasion.

 

Boy drowned
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 2
An eight-year-old boy got drowned when he fell into a pond near a mandir here today.

It is learnt that the boy, Sudhir, a class II student, had gone near the pond to throw something into it. He accidentally slipped and fell into the pond located near Shiv Mandir in Chogian Wala Mohalla. Sudhir was the son of the pujari of the mandir.

He was pulled out of the pond and taken to a private hospital where the doctor declared him dead.

 

Generation of power begins at Ganguwal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 2
After more than a week, the power generation at Nakkiyan and Ganguwal hydel plants in Anandpur Sahib began today after the water supply from Bhakra Dam restored to it. The water supply to the hydel plants was stopped earlier due to the paucity of the water in Bhakra Dam. Out of six, only two units of 33.5 MW has become operational only as total 2100 cusec water being supplied to it through Anandpur Sahib hydel channel.

 

150 donate blood at camp
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 2
As many as 150 units of blood were donated at a blood donation camp organised here today under the chairmanship of Mr Parneet Bhardwaj, Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM), Batala, on the completion of three years of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government in Punjab. The camp was held at Polytechnic, Batala. 

 
COURTS
 

Pleas to summon Gill dismissed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 2
A local court today dismissed two applications demanding that former Punjab Director-General of Police, Mr K.P.S. Gill, be issued summons in the Jaswant Singh Khalra disappearance case ruling that such applications could be filed only by the prosecution or the complainant in the case.

The court of Additional Sessions Judge, Mr S.P. Bangarh, today dismissed an application filed by Special Police Officer Kuldeep Singh who had recently in his deposition claimed that Khalra had been taken for a meeting with the former DGP before he was murdered in cold blood at the Jhabal police station in Taran Tarn. Another application filed by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Brigade through Mr Naresh Kumar also met with the same fate. Both applications had demanded that Mr K.P.S. Gill should be summoned in the court under Section 319 of the CrPc.

Meanwhile CBI star witness Kuldeep Singh while claiming that Khalra’s widow had asked him not to include the name of the former DGP in his deposition, said Mrs Khalra should have filed an application to summon Mr K.P.S. Gill before the court here. Kuldeep maintained he had been told by Mrs Khalra that the IPS lobby was very strong and that he should not name Gill in the case. Kuldeep himself appeared in the court today after missing four dates.

The witness was asked about where all he had worked and what he was doing in Himachal Pradesh during which period he had allegedly come in contact with deceased Taran Tarn SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu. Kuldeep said he had worked in the construction business and that he had gone to work as a pump operator at the Nathpa Jhakri project in Himachal for which he was paid a daily wage of Rs 50 per day.

 

Free legal services to mentally challenged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 2
The state Legal Services Authority will provide free legal services to the SC, ST, mentally and physically challenged and undertrial prisoners having an annual income of less than Rs 30,000. This was stated by the District and Sessions Judge, Mr Gurdev Singh, at a seminar organised on the occasion of International Women Day here.

While addressing the women inmates, he said the women residing in rural areas were still not aware of their rights due to illiteracy and there was dire need to make them aware of their rights.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, social worker and state vice-president of the BJP appealed to the District and Sessions Judge to make a system so that the jail inmates, who could not pursue legal path due to certain reasons, could be provided legal services.

 
ADMINISTRATION
 

Pathankot to have mini-sectt
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 2
The local Improvement Trust will soon construct a mini-secretariat in Pathankot. The mini-secretariat will be constructed on 85 acres belonging to the Improvement Trust on the Siali road.

Mr Ashok Sharma, chairman of the PTDC and local MLA, stated this at a press conference here today. The conference was held to enlist the achievements of the three-year Congress rule in the state. All officers of Pathankot subdivision, including the SDM, Mr Amarjit Paul, attended the meeting.

Mr Sharma said the mini- secretariat was an urgent need of the city. Most government offices in Pathankot were scattered, due to which people faced problems.

Mr Sharma said a budget of Rs 35 lakh had been sanctioned for the construction of an 800-seat open air auditorium. The local municipal council will give land for the auditorium.

To a query, Mr Sharma blamed the previous government for the present state of water pipes in the town due to which water was getting contaminated. He said in gross violation of the provisions during the stint of the previous government, sewer pipes were laid right at the top of water pipes in some areas of the city.

This was the major cause of the outbreak of jaundice in many parts of the city recently.

The government has sanctioned a plan worth Rs 3 crore for improving the water supply system in Pathankot. The Executive Engineer, Public Health, who was also present on the occasion, said 95 per cent of the population in kandi areas of the district had been provided drinking water through NABARD sponsored schemes.

The chairman of the Pathankot Improvement Trust, Chaudhary Rajbir Singh, said the trust would spend about Rs 75 lakh on various development works in the coming months.

 
CRIME
 

5 warehouse employees booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 2
Five employees of the Punjab State Warehouse Corporation posted at Baghapurana, including a retired district manager, have been found to be involved in misappropriation of rice and wheat worth about Rs 1.75 crore.

Sources said the MD of the corporation himself probed the matter and found them guilty of embezzling a large quantity of foodgrains. The Vigilance Bureau has registered a case against them under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC following the statement of the corporation MD.

The accused have been identified as Manager P.K. Kalia, Manager Ranjeet Singh, Technical Assistant D.K. Rohella, Godown Assistant Gurbaksh Singh and retired DM Paramjeet Singh. The Vigilance has already arrested Rohella, while a search was for the rest was on.

Unconfirmed reports said fearing action against them some of the accused proceeded on leave recently.

 

Huge quantity of cartridges found
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 2
A huge quantity of firearm cartridges has been found from an abandoned store of a house in Housing Board Colony here today.

According to the SHO (City), Mr Sarbjit Shaktiman, a police team, acting on secret information, raided house No. 257 in Housing Board Colony and found 824 live cartridges of AK 47, 504 cartridges of 7.62 SLR rifle, 22 cartridges of .425-bore rifle, 18 cartridges of .303 rifle and one live shell of anti-aircraft gun from the store kept in an iron box.

The store had been illegally constructed under the staircase leading to the house.

Mr Sudhanshu Srivastava, SSP, said that the police had registered a case and investigation was underway. He said that no arrests had been made so far. He said it seemed that the ammunition was dumped there long time back.

According to information, the house had been allotted to a Punjab police constable, who is posted elsewhere but he had rented it out to another person working in the Excise and Taxation Department

 

Farmer shot by 3 assailants
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 2
Three persons shot dead Jagtar Singh (45), a farmer of Malookpura village in this subdivision, yesterday, official sources said today.

According to Mr Iqbal Singh, a brother of the victim, three persons, identified as Kuldeep Singh (Malookpura), Kuldeep Singh (Panniwala) and Yadvinder Singh (Chanankhera) allegedly fired at Jagtar Singh late in the evening.

He died on the spot. The assailants escaped after the incident. Sources said that Jagsir Singh, a brother of Kuldeep Singh Malookpura, had allegedly been shot dead using .12-bore pistol on April 30, 2002, during a dispute over irrigating the fields with canal water. Kuldeep too had received injuries.

The police had arrested Jagtar Singh, his brother Iqbal Singh and father Balwant Singh in this connection. Jagtar and Iqbal were later released on bail under orders of the court, while Balwant Singh was still in the district jail at Ferozepore.

A post-mortem examination was done at the Civil Hospital here today. The Sadar police has registered a case.

 
EDUCATION
 

Lecturers wear black badges
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 2
Faculty members of all departments of the Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) today wore black badges in protest against the denial of benefits of the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) to them by the authorities concerned.

The faculty members, while claiming that they were forced to show their resentment against the inordinate delay being caused by the authorities concerned in issuing orders for grant of promotion to them under CAS, said they would continue to wear black badges for a week.

In a press note issued here today, the faculty members pointed out, “We have already drawn the attention of the minister concerned and the Principal Secretary, Technical Education, Punjab, in this regard but in vain.

The delay in the implementation of the scheme has caused unrest among the teaching community of the college. Some faculty members have become eligible for the grant of lecturer (selection grade) but they have not even been granted lecturer (senior scale) as yet. As a consequence, most teachers have got stuck at the entry-level post of lecturer even after acquiring postgraduate/doctorate degrees and putting in more than 10 years of service in the college.

“We appeal to the Government of Punjab to implement the scheme without delay. This will go a long way in improving the academic atmosphere in the institution as the faculty will be able to concentrate fully on academic affairs.

 

Teachers’ rally today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 2
The teachers working in government-aided colleges would organise a state-level rally here tomorrow to register their protest against the state government for not releasing the full and timely grants and for not merging 50 per cent of dearness allowance (DA) with their basic salary.

In a press note issued here today, Prof N.K. Gosain, district president, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), said that after organising a protest rally at the local DAV College, the teachers would march through the main markets of the city, and would hand over a memorandum of demands to the district administration.

Mr Gosain added that non-acceptance of their demands would force the PCCTU to intensify its struggle during the forthcoming session of the Vidhan Sabha.

Meanwhile, the non-teaching employees working in the local DAV College today sat on dharna in front of the office of the Principal of the college to lodge their protest against the state government.

In a press not issued, Mr Mahinder Pal, president, DAV College Non-Teaching Staff Union, said that their demands included merger of 50 per cent DA with their basic salary, grant of 15 per cent house rent for the employees, implementation of the pension gratuity, etc.

 

Probe into suspension of teachers sought
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 2
Condemning the suspension of Prof Darshan Kumar, Prof Harbans Singh and Prof Tara Singh, three teachers of Guru Gobind Singh College, Sanghera, Prof R.S. Brar, president of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU ), has urged Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, to order a high level probe into the "victimisation of the three teachers".

In a written statement issued here yesterday , Prof Brar termed the suspension as illegal as well as against the Punjabi University Calendar norms. He further said the college teachers had not been paid salaries for the past 13 months. 

 

Boparai presides over conference
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 2
A two-day national conference on “Recent Advances and Future Trends in IT” was organised by the Department of Computer Science here today. Dr Om Vikas, Senior Director, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, delivered the keynote address. The Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, presided over the inaugural function.

Dr Om Vikas spoke on the history of information technology revolution and the emerging future trends. While touching upon various aspects of computer related information he said with the advent of technologies- writing system, printing press, steam engine, electricity and personal computers there had been rapid transformations in society which ultimately helped in increasing the knowledge.

While touching upon the trends in language engineering Dr Om Vikas said language engineering was closely associated with digital engineering. Linguistic data in digital form cold be marked up at the meta-semantic level too integrate logical, knowledge-classification-related data into the data stream.

While delivering his presidential remarks Mr Boparai said during the past 50 years there had been phenomenal growth in many technological areas. Information Technology was perhaps the fastest growing area among all these areas. He said the range of application of information technology was so vast that no area of human activity had remained untouched by it.

In fact, information technology is the key resource for the development of society, community and the nation. Mr Boparai said there was a vast potential for the employment of IT professional in all sectors and urged young scientists to contribute towards their regional languages by developing IT tools.

Earlier, Dr G.S. Lehal while welcoming the guests said the main aim of the conference was to bring together eminent academician, technocrats, scientists and government officials to review the on-going process of research and development in various spheres of information technology. Dr Himanshu Aggarwal, Organising Secretary, introduced the theme of the conference. Dr T.A. Sarma proposed a vote of thanks. 

 

Workshop on IT, mass communication
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 2
The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Punjabi University, Patiala, will organise a workshop on “Information Technology and Mass Communication” here on March 4.

According to Dr H.P.S. Walia, Head of the Department, Prof B.K. Kuthiala, Dean, Media Studies, Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar, will be the main speaker.

Dr Walia said the workshop would focus on aspects of information and communication technology like cyber journalism, web designing, and scope of new media technology.

The workshop would help students acquaint themselves with the emerging trends in IT vis-ŕ-vis mass communication.

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