P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Special Economic Zones at Mohali, Amritsar soon
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Centre, on the recommendation of the Punjab Government, has finalised the setting up of two Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the state for “boosting exports, and the state’s overall economy”. A formal announcement in this regard is likely to be made soon.

The state government was initially working out the modalities for establishing a multi-product SEZ in Amritsar. But now the authorities have finalised the setting up of another zone at Mohali.

Each zone being established by the Punjab Government will be spread over an area of 2,500 hectares. “The one in Amritsar will be a general product zone, while the one at Mohali will deal with information technology (IT) goods,” says the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

As far as Amritsar is concerned, the location is “ideal” as the city is close to the airport and will provide a gateway to Pakistan and Central Asia. Thirtyfive flights are already operating in a week from Amritsar. Moreover, the cargo facility is being upgraded.

Mohali, on the other hand, is fast gaining the reputation of being the state’s IT hub. Giving details, sources in the Punjab Government assert that Quark City is already being established in the township. Other IT giants are also moving in. Moreover, the township has easy access to Chandigarh Airport.

Experts in the field assert that the zones will attract foreign direct investment, along with the latest technology and new management practices. These will, subsequently, be transmitted to other industries.

“In the end, the process will result in the backward and forward integration of industry,” says the Director-General of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZ Units, Mr Lalit B. Singhal.

He is of the opinion that concessions being given to industries in Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal are not enough for boosting exports. This is because exemption from central excise benefits only industries manufacturing products for the domestic market.

Export-oriented units in the SEZs are allowed to import and procure raw material, besides capital goods, without the payment of any duty. In fact, they are permitted to get the goods from abroad without an import licence. Even for setting up the units, goods are allowed without the payment of duty.

The sources add that the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) has already submitted its recommendations on the SEZs. It has suggested that industrial units in the SEZs should be declared providers of public utility services. The suggestion is significant as the units will be provided with better infrastructure and other facilities once these are declared public utility services providers.

In its detailed report, the PSIEC has also suggested that exemption should be provided from procedural formalities hampering the quick implementation of productivity-related changes. Revision in the minimum wages after intense interaction with industry and certain relaxations in labour legislation have also been suggested. Exemptions from provisions restricting the working hours have also been sought, along with relaxed working hours for women workers.

Regarding the expenditure to be incurred on the SEZ project in Amritsar, the PSIEC has asserted that the land will cost Rs 203.56 crore, while another Rs 215.64 crore will be required for providing core infrastructure, including roads, a power distribution system and the water, drainage and sewer facilities. The total cost will come to Rs 509.21 crore.


Fake visa racket busted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 3
The Jalandhar police has busted a racket involving in fabrication of documents and arranging of visas to foreign countries.

An Assistant Sub-Inspector and a Head Constable have also been booked on the allegations of accepting bribe to hush up the matter after the gang was busted.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP and Mr Rakesh Kaushal, SP, said the racket was detected after a call was received by Mr Vibhor Kumar, SHO, Division No. 6, informing him about the racket operating from a house in the Urban Estate, Phase 1.

A raid was conducted and one Sudhir Bajaj, alias, Bunty, tried to enter into an altercation with the raiding police party and alleged that an amount of Rs. 3.5 lakh was given to ASI Manjit Singh and Head Constable Balwinder Singh of Police Division No. 7, as bribe, who had earlier conducted a raid at the same house.

The SSP said sub-agents used to bring clients to Sudhir Bajaj, who used to take an amount of Rs. 2.5 lakh for the issuance of a visa. Bajaj used to give a share of Rs 10,000 to his aide Manjit Singh, who used to prepare a file of the client on the basis of fake and fabricated documents.

Though the police managed to arrest Sudhir Bajaj, Manjit Singh Jeeta, Parminder Singh Sonu and Kulbir Singh Bira, ASI Manjit Singh, Head Constable Bawinder Singh and one Anil Bajaj, managed to flee. 


Doraha to have 1,000 MW gas plant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will enter into a joint venture with GAIL for the setting up of a 1,000 MW gas plant near Doraha at a cost of over Rs 4,000 crore, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today.

The Chief Minister also asserted that a trade delegation to Pakistan, led by him, would make concerted efforts to strengthen the ongoing peace process and confidence-building exercise.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he would meet Foreign Minister Natwar Singh before leaving for Pakistan. The delegation was scheduled to leave on a four-day visit on March 14.

Releasing a pictorial album, “A Resurgent Punjab — Three Years of Initiatives and Results”, the Chief Minister said: “For augmenting the power supply in the state, the government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Hydro Power Corporation. The intention is to initiate the process of implementing the prestigious 168 MW Shahpur Kandi hydel project”.

Claiming that the power situation in the state would improve in the coming months, he said the water level in the Bhakra Dam had improved considerably. He added that otherwise also the Punjab Government had earmarked 31 per cent of the total plan allocation for the power sector in the Annual Plan of 2005-06.

He said the government would concentrate on the development of infrastructure, including overhead bridges and the power network, during the next two years. He also claimed that the state government, during the past three years, had made rapid strides in the spheres of infrastructure development, power reforms, industry, agriculture and information technology, besides health and family welfare, and urban development.

Giving details of his proposed visit to Pakistan, he said the objective this time was to boost trade, besides improving cultural ties. He added that members of the CII’s delegation would leave for Pakistan four days in advance for holding initial discussions with their counterparts.

He said the state could benefit greatly from trade between the two nations. “Wheat is sold at Rs 1,800 per quintal in Pakistan’s Punjab as compared to Rs 600 per quintal here,” he said, adding that the export of wheat from Punjab to Karachi via Mumbai and Dubai increased the cost. The Chief Minister said he would explore possibilities in this regard and later impress upon the Centre to take action.


School boy concocts kidnapping story
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 3
To remain with his classmate, for one more year, a student of class XII of Government Senior Secondary School, Rajpur Bhaian, disappeared from the school, reached Anandpur Sahib and told a concocted story of his kidnapping to the police last evening.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, Senior Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur, at a press conference here today, stated that Mr Kulwinder Singh, father of Jatinder Kumar, a resident of Pandori Kad village of this district, informed the Mehtiana police station that his 18-year-old son was missing since 7 p.m. last evening. He stated that his son Jatinder Kumar went to Government Senior Secondary School, Rajpur Bhaian, yesterday, where he was studying, and did not return home. The SSP said on receiving information, the police swung into action and 50 parties were constituted and sent to various places in search of the boy. All police nakas were informed and a photograph of the boy was also dispatched to the nakas. Jatinder was found by the Anandpur Sahib police in the evening which informed cops in Hoshiarpur.

The SSP said during investigation the boy concocted a story that some car occupants kidnapped him while he was going to school yesterday. On seeing a police naka near Anandpur Sahib, they threw him out of the car and disappeared.

Later during interrogation, he revealed that he had concocted the story. He further revealed that he had fallen in love with a girl student of the school. On account of his love affair, he wanted to remain in the school for one more year. He feared that in case of his failure in the examination his parents would become annoyed and they might not send him to school again. On account of this, he concocted the story.

The SSP further said that on account of the young age of the boy, the police had taken a lenient view and did not register any case against him. The boy was handed over to his parents. However, he warned that in case anyone tried to mislead the police by fabricating such false stories, he would not be spared in future.

The SSP further stated that a 10-year-old mentally retarded boy was also found roaming at Jandiala under Bulhowal police station yesterday. He was not in a position to tell his whereabouts. The Bulhowal police sent information of the boy to the adjoining police stations and made announcements in villages.

The parents of the boy were finally traced in Binpalke village of Jalandhar district. The boy was identified as Gurmail Singh, son of Mr Buta Ram. He was also handed over to his father today.


18 hurt as buses collide

Moga, March 3
Eighteen persons were injured, four of them seriously, when two buses collided head-on near Rajeana village, near here, today.

Sources said the accident occurred when a Punjab Roadways bus from Chandigarh on its way to Ganganagar collided with a private bus coming from the opposite direction. — TNS


CM misused power in byelection, says Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 3
Senior SAD leader and former union minister, Mr Sukhbir Badal, said today that by using police force, government machinery, money and muscle power, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had managed to save his chair but had become “most hated” person in Punjab.

Mr Badal, while talking to TNS, said though Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that he had become popular in Punjab and the Congress after winning the Ajnala bypoll, the reality was that he was the only Congress Chief Minister, who was hated by his Cabinet colleagues, party MLAs and other leaders for his style of ruling the state by suppressing the voice of even of elected representatives.

“His only agenda is to save his chair instead of winning the hearts of people of Punjab. Today people feel that there is no elected government in Punjab and only a section of policemen and bureaucrats have been running the state affairs to their advantage only”, he alleged.

He said the fact that Ajnala poll had been rigged could be established from the fact that senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar had expressed his displeasure over this misdeed of Capt Amarinder Singh in the Press.

Mr Badal pointed out that the popularity of Capt Amarinder Singh could be judged from the fact that on the occasion of a state-level function organised in the recently to mark the completion of three years of the government, he could not name a single project, which was initiated by him or his Cabinet colleague in Punjab. 


Badal accuses CM of muzzling democracy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said here today that if the government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh continued to be allowed to muzzle democracy in the state, political parties and the people would soon have no faith left in the democratic structure of the country.

The Akali leader said that he would take up the issue of the “murder of democracy” with like-minded parties at the Centre to consider ways and means to check the dangerous drift towards the criminalisation of the country’s democratic polity.

Describing the events in Ajnala, culminating in what he described as “ democracy’s hour of shame”, Mr Badal said Capt Amarinder Singh could not have got away with such a “murder of democracy” if he did not enjoy the encouragement of his central leadership and the “tacit patronage” of the Election Commission.

The Akali leader said w hat was happening in Punjab must not be seen in isolation but in the context of developments in other parts of the country like Goa, Jharkhand and Bihar where the Congress had been flouting democratic norms and traditions in its pursuit of power. Those who believed that the Congress high command did not approve of what Capt Amarinder Singh was doing in Punjab should ponder over the attitude of that party, the Central Government and the Election Commission to similar developments all over the country.


Durgiana Temple ex-panel in a spot
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 3
The Congress-led Durgiana temple committee headed by Mr Gopi Chand Bhatia, president, and working president, Mr Surinder Arjun, has charged the BJP-led former temple management of embezzlement of temple funds.

In a communique shot off to former executive members of the temple committee, Mr Nand Lal Nagpal and Mr Ramesh Kapoor, it was pointed out that funds to the tune of lakhs were misappropriated and temple land worth crores was sold at throwaway prices.

The temple committee alleged that the former temple management had kept no records of offerings and other temple funds. “They always dilly-dallied when asked to furnish details of expenditure,” they alleged.

However, the new management stated that it was able to procure “incriminating” records from the computer, while they alleged that no written records were maintained. According to data procured from the computer, no expenditure was found against a sum of Rs 3 lakh. Mr Nagpal could not be contacted. However, his son, Mr Deepak Nagpal, refuted the allegations. Mr Ramesh, too, was unavailable.

In another instance, a sum of Rs 69,000 was deposited in the accounts of the committee for 46 paintings. Most of the amount allegedly was yet to be paid.

In yet another instance, prime land at Manawala on the GT Road measuring nine kilas worth about Rs 1.35 crore was alleged to have been sold at throwaway prices. Various power of attorneys were given in 2001 from September onwards till December of which there was no account.

It was also alleged that two plots in 2002 were sold and the sale price was not shown.


Commercial complexes flaunt building bylaws
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 3
Throwing norms and building bylaws to the winds, scores of multi-storeyed shopping complexes are coming up in different residential and other localities of the city under the very nose of the Municipal Corporation.

Most of these multi-storeyed commercial complexes are mushrooming in posh residential areas such as Model Town, Mithapur road, Rainbow road, Parkash Nagar and the Mall road without the requisite permission. A large number of such multi-storeyed complexes are violating the directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court as they have no parking space.

There are 25 shopping complexes, wherein basements have not only been constructed in the stark violation of the building bylaws, but these basements are being used for commercial activities.

Despite a directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which prevents the construction of any commercial complex without parking facility, hundreds of shopping complexes have no parking space, sources in the MC revealed.

Mr Manoj Arora, the secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and president of the Model Town Shopkeepers’ Association, decried the construction of such illegal buildings. “A lot many commercial complexes are coming up in the residential areas, but nothing is being done by the MC to prevent it,” alleged Mr Arora.

The MC Commissioner, Mr Satwant Singh Johl, was not available for comment.

The sources said all illegal constructions were carried out on either Saturdays or Sundays or during official holidays. This was done to accomplish as much construction as they could.

Interestingly, the MC had launched a drive against illegal construction a number of times, but such drives were deflated for political or bureaucratic interference in the past.


BJP protests against Jharkhand Governor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 3
Activists and members of the district unit of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) today took out a march from the local BJP office to the office of the Deputy Commissioner here in protest against the Jharkhand Governor’s action, regarding the swearing-in of a seven-member UPA ministry, headed by Mr Shibu Soren, in Jharkhand yesterday.

The protesters urged the President to recall Jharkhand Governor for allegedly “murdering” democracy.

A deputation of the BJP, including Mr Satwant Singh, Mr K.K.Mudgil, Mr Prem Gugnani, president, vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the BJP, today also submitted a memorandum to Mr N.S. Walia, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur.


Effigy of Governor burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 3
The Bharatiya Janata party activists today burnt the effigy of Jharkhand Governor Sibtey Razi for his controversial decision to invite Mr Shibu Soren to form a government.

Led by Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, district president, BJP, the activists raised slogans against the Governor's action, terming it unconstitutional.

They stated that the Governor was required to satisfy himself about the claims of the majority support before inviting the deserving party. 


Punjab MLAs’ visit to Pakistan put off
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Punjab MLAs’ visit to Pakistan has been cancelled for a while. Twentyfive MLAs of different political parties of Punjab were to visit Pakistan from March 20 to March 28 under the command of the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan. They were invited by Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi.

However, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s visit to Pakistan from March 14 to 17 stands as it is. He will be heading a delegation of industrialists and other eminent persons.

Sources said the MLAs’ visit to Pakistan had been cancelled because of the Assembly session that was to start on March 18. Because of the session, neither Dr Kewal Krishan nor MLAs could afford to stay away from the Assembly for 10 days.

New dates for MLAs’ trip to Pakistan will be decided after the session, it is learnt.

But two other groups of Punjab MLAs are set to visit various countries from March 7 to 15. Sources said one group of 15 MLAs would leave for Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong on March 7. Deputy Speaker Prof Darbari Lal would lead this group. Another group of almost same number of MLAs would leave for the UK and Canada on the same day.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had asked Capt Amarinder Singh and Finance Minister Surinder Singla to send Punjab MLAs turn by turn to developing countries, especially China, to see how age-old policies were being changed to gear up the tempo of development.


Need to reduce Punjab’s fiscal deficit: Malhotra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Since Punjabis could be found all over the world there is much scope of making the state global, especially in respect of its contribution towards India’s GDP. This was stated by the Punjab Finance and Planning Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, at an interactive session on “Pre-Budget Memorandum for Punjab Budget 2005-06” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Punjab State Council, in Chandigarh today.

Mr Mukesh Malhotra, Convenor, Finance and Taxation Panel, CII, Punjab State Council, in his presentation on key recommendations of CII Pre Budget Memorandum for Punjab Budget 2005-06 said the increasing debt burden of Punjab was a cause of concern. To step up the rate of economic growth, it was imperative to drastically reduce the fiscal deficit. Resources should be provided for investing them in various sectors and for achieving a second breakthrough in the agriculture sector, he added.


Rs 2 crore allotted for development
Tribune News service

Faridkot, March 3
Funds allotted for various beneficiary schemes and development works in the district should be utilised to the optimum before March 31. Any official found guilty of negligence in the work would not be spared.

The Punjab Cooperative and Horticulture Minister, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, stated this while presiding over a meeting of the District Planning Board here yesterday.

The minister said that Faridkot was being allotted about Rs 2 crore for beneficiary schemes and development work in the current financial year.

He said pensioners would start getting their pensions regularly through the Social Security Department from April, while their dues would also be paid soon. Mr Randhawa asked the non-government 
members of the committee to take up the issues with the departments concerned instead of directly raising a matter at the meeting so that grievances could be redressed at the departmental level.

He asked the Deputy Commissioner to launch an anti-encroachment drive on a war footing in the city and sought everyone’s help in this regard.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, the ADC, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, and the SSP, Mr B. Chander Shekhar, were also present at the meeting.


Swayam Sidha Scheme a boon, says DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 3
To make women aware of their legal rights, empower them financially and raise their social status, the Swayam Sidha scheme of the Centre is proving to be a boon in the district.

This was stated by Deputy Commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia at a seminar organised by the Bharatiya Gramin Mahila Sangh, Chandigarh in collaboration with the CDPO, Khera and District Social Security Department at Bachat Bhavan here today.

Mr Ahluwalia said the scheme had been introduced in 15 blocks of eight districts of Punjab, and Khera block of Fatehgarh Sahib was one of them. A modern community hall for women would be built in the Khera block of the district at the cost of Rs 10 lakh, out of which Rs 6 lakh had been sanctioned by the Government of India, whereas Block Samiti, Khera has deposited its share of Rs 4 lakh. So Khera had become the first block in the state, where this scheme had been introduced practically.

He said under the scheme, camps would be organised at various places in the district to educate women so that they become economically and socially stronger. He said 100 self-help groups (SHGs) of women were being set up in the Khera block alone where 45 SHGs were already working. Under the scheme, women would be given training in dairy farming, detergent-making, candle-making, mushroom plantation. The Police Department had also been involved to give them training to safeguard their rights.

Mr Devinder Pal Singh Walia, ADC(D), said under the “Swayam Sidha Scheme”, the Government of India had released Rs 17.50 crore for diet to the children for the ICDS. This would cover about 4 lakh children in anganwaris in the state. These groups had started income-generating activities, which would lead to the empowerment of women. These are also being empowered to ensure that all children in rural areas go to school. The groups will also fight de-addiction in the villages and will have interaction with the health authorities for providing medical care to the children.

Dr Harkirtan Pal Singh Sandhu, Civil Surgeon, Ms Amrit Bala, District Social Security Officer, Ashwani Mahajan, AGM, NABARD, Ms Krishna Attri, CDPO, and Mr Satish Kumar, CDPO, coordinator also spoke on the occasion.


PSEB staff gherao power expert
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today blocked the gates of the headquarters building here in protest against the visit of a US power expert who had reportedly come to deliver a lecture on transmission and distribution losses.

The employees first gathered together under the umbrella of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum at the TTI guest house where they felt the expert — Mr Bill Griffen would deliver the lecture. However, when they came to know that the expert was in the headquarter building they blocked both entrances and also sat down in protest outside the gates.

Mr Griffen finally came out in the evening and was shown black flags besides facing angry slogans. PSEB Joint Forum leaders, including Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Karam Chand Bhardwaj, Mr B.S. Sekhon, Mr Manjit Singh Chahal, Mr Jasmel Singh Dhindsa and Mr Vijay Dev, also accosted Mr Griffen and demanded to know the reason for visit to the board.

The US expert said he had come to deliver a lecture on transmission and distribution losses based on his experience in the US. He said he had not come to recommend privatisation of the board as was being conceived by them adding if he had come to know about the sentiments of the employees he would not have visited the board.

Meanwhile the Board Distribution Member Mr H.C. Sood, when questioned on the issue, said Mr Griffen’s programme was finalised in 2003 and did not have anything to do with the proposal to dismantle the board which was being considered by the state government. He said the expert had been invited to suggest ways to bring more efficiency in the system and had delivered a lecture on this in the board headquarters.


PSEB staff protest against US expert’s visit
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 3
Employees of the PSEB, under the banner of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, today held a rally in front of the PSEB’s circle office here in protest against a visit of Mr Bill Griffin, an engineer from the International Executive Services Corporation (IESC) of the USA, to Sangrur today. They held a rally, fearing that Mr Griffin’s visit to the Sangrur circle office of the PSEB is part of a survey by him in connection with the privatisation of the PSEB.

The protesters also went to the campus of the Bhai Gurdas College of Engineering, about seven km from here, to oppose the visit of Mr Griffin, when they came to know that Mr Griffin was addressing PSEB officers there. But Mr Griffin left the venue as they reached there.

Sources in the PSEB told The Tribune that Mr Griffin addressed more than 50 engineers at the college regarding measures to reduce the losses of the PSEB.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Satnam Singh, deputy general secretary of the PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC); Mr Hans Raj, a leader of Mulazam Front PSEB; Mr Puran Singh Khai, a state-level leader of employees federation; Mr Mohinder Singh Kala, Circle president of the Technical Services Union, PSEB and Mr Kaur Singh Bath, circle president of the PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC).


Bhattal visits folk art exhibition
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today visited the Folk Art exhibition held at Government College of Girls here.

Mrs Bhattal, while going around the exhibition, put up by students of the college, lauded the efforts being made by the institution to revive the dying folk art forms. She said she was happy to see that girls in the college were taught how to work on the tradition “charkha” and were also engaged in embroidering traditional folk art motifs which were fast disappearing.

Briefing the chief guest about the exhibition, GCG Principal Gursharan Kaur Jaggi said the college had established a tradition of holding a folk art exhibition every year to promote folk traditions. Todays function saw the presentation of a cultural programme based on folk songs, dances, instruments and folk costumes.

Folk games were also organised on the occasion. Eight teams from different colleges from all over the state participated in the games besides displaying their own handicrafts and artifacts depicting Punjabi culture and tradition.


Gurmat Vidya Martand title for Maskeen
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 3
While paying tributes to noted Sikh scholar Giani Sant Singh Maskeen at the bhog ceremony held at Alwar (Rajasthan), he was conferred the title of “Gurmat Vidya Martand” posthumously by Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today.

SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur announced to confer “Bhai Gurdas Award” carrying an award of Rs 1.25 lakh at a special function to be organised at Gurdwara Manji Sahib here and also a financial assistance to the wife, Bibi Sunder Kaur, of Rs 10 lakh. She announced to preserve and circulate audio, videos, CDs and books of the Maskeen. 


Jaundice cases in Gurbax Nagar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 3
Three out of five water samples taken from the Gurbax Nagar locality have failed. The samples were taken after about a dozen reported jaundice cases in the area in the past fortnight.

Dr H. S. Gill, Civil Surgeon said that chlorine tablets had been distributed in the area and the Municipal Corporation authorities told to take measures and chlorination of water to ensure hygienic water supply. Dr Gill said about nine cases was reported from the area.

Mr Bairagi of the area claimed that over a dozen people were reported to be suffering from jaundice. He said the residents were also complaining of skin irritation. He said they were getting contaminated water from the Municipal Corporation the past one month. 


Alag, his wife felicitated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 3
The local Guru Arjan Kirtan Mandal today organised a function at which members of around 20 literary art and social organisations presented siropas and gifts to the Sikh scholar, Dr Sarup Singh Alag, and his wife, Ms Jasbir Kaur Alag, for their efforts in spreading the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev through their writings and distribution of literature around the world free of cost.

The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, conferred Bhagat Munshi Ram Shatabdi Award — 2005 on Dr Alag and his wife.

Earlier, convener of the programme and general secretary of Guru Arjun Keertan Mandal Tarlocan Singh Jeet said Dr Alag had written 55 books, including 15 books in English on Sikhism.


SPO grilled in Khalra case
Security beefed up in court complex
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
Overzealous Patiala cops today set up a security picket at the entrance to the District Courts complex here and allowed security personnel accompanying accused police officers in the Jaswant Singh Khalra disappearance case to enter but denied the same facility to CRPF security personnel accompanying SPO Kuldeep Singh, who is the prime prosecution witness in the case.

This delayed the court proceedings for some time, with the CBI and Kuldeep’s lawyer Brijinder Singh Sodhi arguing with police personnel that Kuldeep’s CRPF guards should be allowed to go inside the court premises. Police personnel at the picket first checked up with the Kotwali police station and later with senior officials following which the CRPF guards were also allowed entry.

Meanwhile, SPO Kuldeep Singh brought the incident to the notice of the court also. Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai, when questioned on this score, said security in the court complex had been beefed up after a quarterly meeting with the Deputy Commissioner and the Sessions Judge. He said it had been decided to put more security personnel around the court complex to take care of any eventuality.

The SSP said the security personnel posted at the gate were not aware that SPO Kuldeep Singh had been authorised security. When questioned about the easy entry given to the security guards of the accused police officers, he said they had been authorised to provide security to the accused persons.

Meanwhile, the cross examination of Kuldeep Singh continued for the second day today. The defence first asked the witness about a ration card acquired by his father. Kuldeep was then grilled about the ration card made by him and asked when he applied for it and who had signed the card. The witness was also asked the name of his landlord during his stay in Himachal Pradesh and also the name of the landlord of the house in which Kashmiri militants whom he had helped nab were staying.

After a long round of questioning, prosecution lawyer Brijinder Singh Sodhi claimed that defence lawyers were going astray by not asking a single question about the occurrence which Kuldeep had deposed about earlier.

Kuldeep also made the same charge after getting out of court. He also said since his statements were being made an issue in court, he would now only speak to the media after his cross examination was completed.


Construction of sewerage line stayed
Tribune News Service

Kharar, March 3
A local court today stayed the construction of a sewerage line on the Randhawa road here. Issuing a notice of motion to the local Municipal Council for tomorrow, following a petition by certain local residents, Judicial Magistrate Ranjan Khullar has asked it to file a reply in the case.

Residents and farmers of the area had been agitating against changing the route of the line on the grounds that the diverted route would spoil crops in the fields on either side of the road.

It had also been alleged that the council had diverted the route of the line to “oblige” certain land holders in the area.


Bid to dig pitch: order reserved
Tribune News Service

Kharar, March 3
A local court today once again reserved its order on the Punjab Police plea seeking arrest warrant against Jai Bhagwan Goyal, North India president of Shiv Sena, in the case pertaining to the attack on the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on February 10.

Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate Poonam Ratti adjourned the hearing in the case till April 1 since the investigating officer did not appear in the court for the fourth time today.

On February 11, the Mohali police booked Goyal for allegedly masterminding the attack. The police had that time made tall claims that they would investigate Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s role in the incident.

Preliminary interrogation of the six activists arrested from the stadium had revealed that all of them were I-card holders of the Shiv Sena and office-bearers of the party in Haryana.

The bid to dig up the pitch was allegedly planned by Goyal in Delhi early this month, the police had claimed.


Rains harming wheat crop
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 3
After taking away the smiles from the faces of potato growers, intermittent rains over the past few weeks have started damaging crops like wheat, mustard, menthol, and pulses.

Rain has also hit those willing to diversify, as they have failed to sow their crops in time. In many of the villages, farmers are complaining about their wheat turning yellow owing to water logging in their fields.

Baldev Singh, a farmer from Mehro village, told The Tribune that rain had already ruined over half of his potato crop and now it had deprived him of sowing menthol in time. Menthol has to be sown between February 15 and March 15, but sporadic rains have not allowed the farmers to go ahead with it.

Paramjeet Singh of Bahona village said he had sown a good quality potato, but untimely the rains spoiled his plans. Harbans Singh Johal of Dhaleke village said the initial showers were supposed to benefit the crop, but the continuation of wet spell had wrecked potato and wheat crops of many farmers. He said mustard crop had also caught a disease, following the sporadic rains.

The Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr P.S. Aulakh, said wheat crop was getting affected in either low lying fields or agricultural land where crop had been sown after brick-kiln owners had dug up mud. He said mustard crop had suffered to some extent.


Farmers hold dharna, seek free power, canal water
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), which held a protest dharna here today, has urged the Punjab Government to effect a drastic cut in the interest rate on cooperative loans which are advanced for farming purposes. It also demanded free power and canal water, as promised to the farm sector.

The BKU headed by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal also held a “kisan panchayat” here to discuss various issues. It has given the slogan “Jameen bachao, pagri bachao, jameen bachao, kisan bachao”.

Mr Lakhowal said the prices of farm produce should be linked to the price index by fixing 1966-67 as the base year. The system of procurement of foodgrains by the FCI, etc, should be kept intact. Steps should be taken to replace the wheat-paddy rotation. The cotton price should be fixed at Rs 3,000 per quintal and farmers should be encouraged to sow other remunerative crops. Exemption should be given from sales tax to farmers who were interested in selling their foodgrains, etc, outside the state.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating condition of farmers, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, working president of the union, said cooperative banks had been availing themselves of loan money from NABARD at an interest rate of 5.2 per cent but had been advancing the same to farmers by charging an interest of 11 to 12 per cent. The interest rate should be slashed to 7 per cent. The government should frame a law under which the household goods, agricultural implements, land and jewellery of farmers could not be auctioned for the recovery of loan amounts from them.

Mr Baldev Singh Barkandi, secretary-general of the BKU, urged the Union Government to clear Bt cotton varieties for sowing in Punjab.

Seeking free power and canal water for farmers, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesari said the ruling Congress had made a promise in this regard in its manifesto. It should reimburse the power bills paid by farmers for operating tubewells. All applications pending with the PSEB for power connections to operate tubewells should be cleared.


Progressive farmers to be honoured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
Three progressive farmers, Mr Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Mr Daljit Singh Gill and Mr Harbans Singh will be honoured on the occasion of annual PAU Kisan Mela here tomorrow.

Disclosing this here today, Dr Amrik Singh Sandhu, Director, Extension Education, said Mr Mohinder Singh Sidhu of Sheron village, tehsil Sunam in Sangrur district, is a progressive farmer in the field of agriculture. Adopting the way of diversification in agriculture, he started producing oil seed crops. Besides adopting the poly-house technology, Mr Sidhu produced the hybrid seeds of tomato, lady finger, beans, bittergourd, muskmelon and watermelon. He used 13 acres of his land for cultivating ber, guava and amla. Mr Sidhu is also a successful cattle breeder and bee keeper. Mr Sidhu was honoured with Dalip Singh Dhaliwal Memorial Award in 1999. He was also awarded with Punjab govt certificate in 1998 for his achievements in the field of agriculture.

Mr Daljit Singh Gill of Sadarpura village, tehsil Jagraon in Ludhiana district, is also a progressive farmer in the field of animal husbandry. 


Four selected to PCS (Executive)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, Secretary to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been selected to the PCS (Executive Branch) by the Punjab Public Service Commission. He has been selected under the Register All-1996 category.

The commission today declared the results. The others who have made to the PCS under this category are Mr Tejinderpal Singh, Mr Sukhmander Singh and Mr Jagdish Chander Bhatia.

Informed sources said that in all eight candidates were considered by the commission under this category. The results of four other candidates have been withheld by the commission because of court cases.

Mr Mohinder Pal Singh’s name was in the list of candidates sent to the commission under this category by the then Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, at the time of the SAD-BJP government. However, the selection of these candidates to the PCS was delayed because of certain internal administrative problems in the PPSC at that time. 


Two cops surrender in custodial death case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 3
Two of the three police personnel accused in case with regard to torturing a Dalit to death in Lohian police station last month, surrendered before the police yesterday.

According to the police, a case was registered on the complaint of Jasbir Kaur, wife of Satpal, who was allegedly tortured by three police personnel for refusal to accept his involvement in a theft case.

The three accused had absconded. The accused were identified as ASI Vijay Kumar, Head Constable Surjit Malik and Balkar Singh, a Home Guard.

The ASI is still evading arrest.

Meanwhile, the district police has confiscated 125 cases of illicit liquor from a car. The accused escaped the police dragnet from near the BSF chowk here.

The liquor was being smuggled from Chandigarh to Jalandhar. The accused have been identified as Vipin Jain and Bhadur Singh of Ludhiana. A case has been registered.


Bank officer, family booked for forgery
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 3
A field officer of Punjab National Bank, his wife, son and daughter-in-law have been booked by the city police under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC for fraudulently mortgaging immovable property of a person to get a limit sanctioned for their business house.

Mr Gaja Nand, son of Mr Murari Lal, had a house in Street 8 of the Nai Abadi locality here. He had applied for loan to the main branch of the PNB here,but the loan was delayed on one pretext or the other. Tired of excuses made by officials, Gaja Nand dropped the idea, but the registration deed of his house was not returned. Later, he was shocked to receive a notice for refunding a loan of Rs 4 lakh, with a warning that the immovable property mortgaged to the bank would be seized if he failed to do so.

Upon inquiry from the main branch of the bank, Gaja Nand was reportedly told that the documents of his house had been kept as guarantee against cash credit limit availed by a firm allegedly floated by the family of Mahabir Prasad Gupta, a field officer posted in the same branch. The firm had not cleared the debts.

Mr Gaja Nand submitted a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, the Senior Superintendent of Police, the Chairman of the bank and the DGP, Punjab.

Later, he approached the CBI directorate to expose the working of the staff dealing with loan applications.

After fighting from pillar to post for over two years, the applicant has now succeeded in pursuing the police to register a case.

The police has booked Mahabir Prasad Gupta, his wife Pushpa Devi, son Naveen Gupta and daughter-in-law Renu Gupta for alleged forgery and conspiracy.

The field officer has since been shifted from the main branch, sources said. 


PO arrested
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 3
The police has arrested a proclaimed offender who is accused of snatching Rs 1 lakh from a telecom employee and killing two petrol station employees.

According to sources, a team led by PO staff incharge, Mr Tehal Singh, arrested Rahul, alias Monu of Dinapur when he was passing by a road beside a canal at Gill village.

Information available with The Tribune revealed that on July 31, 2003, Rahul along with his three accomplices threw red chilli powder in the eyes of the Telecom Department’s cashier, Mr Gurdev Singh, and looted about Rs 1.2 lakh from him. The police suspected the hand of this gang in the murder of two petrol station employees on Mudki Road that took place on September 27, 2003. They had also looted some cash from the petrol station. The police had arrested his three aides, but could not nab Rahul at that time.

Meanwhile, the police has also arrested a travel agent who had duped a Langeana resident of Rs 1.3 lakh on the pretext of sending him abroad. The travel agent, who was booked for the crime, was also a proclaimed offender.


Youth injured in clash
Tribune News Service

Jaito, March 3
A youth sustained serious injuries during a clash between two groups of youths near the local bus stand yesterday.

According to sources, about half a dozen youths armed with sharpedged weapons and cycle chains attacked four others who were walking past a bookshop in front of the bus stand. They first struck a sword on a youth’s head and he fell on his face. The assailants fled from the spot after injuring him. His friends rushed him to the local Civil Hospital, but in the absence of any doctor, the hospital staff referred him to Kotkapura.

The injured has been identified as Gurdip Singh of Gill village. He and his friends belong to Ferozepore district.

However, the reason behind the incident was yet to be ascertained. Sources said neither the police could record the statement of the injured nor got any clues about the assailants.


Teachers go on mass leave
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 3
Hundreds of activists of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) working in private college in Punjab affiliated with Punjabi University, Patiala, and Panjab University, Chandigarh, today proceeded on mass casual leave and staged a dharna in the local DAV College to lodge their protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the authorities concerned.

The teachers threatened that they would boycott the annual examinations to be held by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) and universities on March 10.

Dr Jaswant Singh, general secretary, PCCTU, in a press note issued here, said the dharna was specially staged in the assembly segment of the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, to express strong resentment prevailing among the teachers over the indifferent and callous attitude of the government towards the grievances and hardships.

He pointed out that the teachers were agitated over the fact that the government had failed to honour the pre-poll promises made with the PCCTU leadership at Barnala on February 6, 2002, where Capt Amarinder Singh committed to continue the payment of 95 per cent grants-in-aid to private colleges and to implement pension gratuity scheme.

He said the Punjab Government had also failed to merge 50 per cent DA in the basic pay of the teachers of private colleges despite the fact that teachers working in government colleges had been availing of this benefit for the past many months. 


Student exchange programme held
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 3
On the initiative of the Principal, Prof Hepesh Shepherd, the Landscaping Environment for Tomorrow (LEFT) Club, Baring Union Christian College, organised the first-ever “Students exchange programme” here yesterday.

Fortyseven students, including 10 girls, and three faculty members from Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya (West Bengal) visited Baring Union Christian College.

While welcoming the participants, Dr Shepherd described this kind of educational programmes as the necessary part of informal education. An interaction session was arranged in the Department of Zoology.


Move to hike water, sewerage rates
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 3
The Municipal Council has revised the rates of sewerage and water supply.

A resolution to this effect has been sent to the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, for approval. The revised rates will be enforced with retrospective effect from May 2, 2003.

Leaders of the opposition, Mr Dharam Veer Seth, along with other BJP and SAD municipal councillors opposed the adoption of the resolution and voted against it at the meeting. There are 33 councillors in the Municipal Council, but only six belongs to the BJP-SAD alliance.


Relevance of Guru Nanak’s teachings discussed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 3
The relevance of Guru Nanak’s teachings in the present time was discussed at “Guru Nanak Dev Commemorative Lectures” organised at the Department of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies at Punjabi University here today. Dr Gurbhagat Singh, former Professor, Department of English, delivered two lectures and Dr S.P.S. Virdi, Dean, Academic Affairs, presided over the function.

According to Dr Gurbhagat Singh disciplinarian ideologies and apparatuses still remain in our times. They have not only territorialized the individual and cultural groups, but also contaminated languages.

All sign systems and mode of communication have been made one dimensional. The interface that existed between God, nature and humans has been disrupted. Guru Nanak Dev’s writings not only retain that dialogue but also strengthen it.

He concluded that “The message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib” sums up the thought of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr Virdi while presiding over the function highlighted the contribution of the university in celebrating the centenaries related with Sikhism.

Earlier, Dr Gurnam Kaur, Head of the Department, while highlighting the departmental achievements said it had produced a lot of source material concerning Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Dr Sarabjinder Singh proposed a vote of thanks. 

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