P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



40 pc increase in temporary resident visas to Canada
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Though there is 40 per cent increase in the number of temporary resident visas granted by the Canadian High Commission during the past two years, the number of students going to Canada has remained unchanged.

As many as 48,000 temporary resident visas were granted during 2004, with students numbering only about 2,000, says Mr Dominique Collinge, a Counsellor in the high commission. More than 50 per cent of the total permanent resident visas granted by the high commission in India last year went to Punjab. Thirty per cent of the total temporary resident visas also went to Punjab.

“The increase in the number of temporary visas is phenomenal,” says Mr Collinge revealing that permanent residency visas are now granted on the basis of global qualifications of the applicants. Canada is a growing destination for work, study, business or tourism and there is an increase in the number of Indians going there, he adds.

“It is totally delinked from the labour market. Now the criteria adopted for granting permanent resident status is the knowledge of language, level of education, global experience and Canadian experience.”

“Though we normally give about 60 per cent of the total permanent residency to the economic category, the refugee and family categories account for the remaining 40 per cent. Since there are one million Indian-Canadians, the ratio is 50:50 between the economic category and the family category. There is not much of refugee category work here,” says Mr Collinge.

The opening of nine visa application collection centres, he says, has shown an overwhelming response. So much so that instead of getting a couple of hundred applicants at the high commission in Delhi every day, “we had only 40 applicants in person in the last week”.

The visa application collection centres have started functioning from March 9 in Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata. All temporary resident visa applicants can submit their applications at these centres.

“Our approval rate is about 70 per cent. In 10 per cent of the cases, we call the applicant for an interview,” reveals Mr Collinge hoping that outsourcing will save the applicants not only time and money but also harassment and long travel.

Talking about immigration controls, Mr Collinge says that Canada has set a target of allowing 1 per cent of its total population to come as permanent residents every year. Against a population of 30 million, ideally about three lakh immigrants can come every year. Last year, 2,35,000 permanent residents arrived in Canada of which nearly 11 per cent came from India alone.

Interestingly, 14 per cent of the new permanent residents opted for French-speaking Quebec state as their destination. “Nearly 80 per cent of the total new immigrants want to settle in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal because of a large population of immigrants as well as job opportunities,” he adds.


Woman, daughter found murdered
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 16
The bodies of a woman and daughter were recovered today from their rented house near Pathankot Public School in the New Shastri Nagar locality. The neighbours had not seen the deceased 42-year-old Sarita and her 14-year-old daughter Mehak since the past 10 days.

The relatives and acquaintances of the deceased who visited the house during the past 10 days returned after finding it locked. Today the sister of Sarita, perturbed over her disappearance, crossed the locked gate of the house with the help of neighbours.

As soon as a window of the house was opened, a strong stench of decomposed body emanated from the house. The police was informed. It broke open a door of the house and found the bodies of the woman and her daughter in highly decomposed state.

The body of the woman was lying in a nude state in the bedroom. Her face was crushed with blunt weapons and covered with pillows and a blanket. The blood had splattered all over the room. The body of the daughter was recovered from the bathroom in a semi-nude state. Blood had splattered on the floor of the bathroom and the body had turned black.

Sniffer dogs and forensic experts were called by the police. The SP, Pathankot, Mr Manminder Singh, also reached the spot.

Sarita and her daughter had shifted to Pathankot in a rented accommodation about six months ago. Her husband is an NRI based in Greece and had not visited home since five years. Her only son is studying in the local MCS boarding school.

Kin of the deceased, who collected at the spot, suspected dispute over property as the motive behind the murder.

They alleged that Sarita’s husband owned about 22 acres in Kathlore along with his two brothers. She had recently mortgaged about 4 acres to raise a loan of about Rs 4 lakh from a local moneylender.

The police suspects that some acquaintance might be involved in the murder. The doors of the house were locked properly and there was no ransacking, which shows that the murderer had an easy access to the house.

A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered.


Money transfer scam: two more cases against accused
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur Dakha, March 16
Two more cases have been registered against an NRI family, allegedly involved in a money transfer scam on the complaints made by a resident of Dango village near Sudhar and another of Mandi Gobindgarh.

With these two fresh cases, accused Raja Deol, his brother Devinder Singh Deol and father Pritam Singh Deol, president of NRI Sabha, Ludhiana, have now been booked in five cases with misappropriated amount of nearly Rs 20 lakh.

The Jagraon police raided the accused’s house near here. The police, searching for some documents, was keeping silent on the recoveries.

SSP Rajiv Ahir said the accused had been booked in the Sudhar police station on the statement of Kewal Singh of Dango village who alleged that the accused had pocketed his Rs 1.40 lakh sent to him by his NRI relatives in Canada.

He said the second case had been registered at Mandi Gobindgarh. Ranjit Singh Grewal of Dadehri village near Mandi Gobindgarh had accused him in the FIR that his NRI relatives had sent him Rs 12 lakh out of which the accused paid him Rs 1 lakh only.

The accused had property in India and Canada and was one of the most high-profile NRI families from Punjab. The family had a business of money transfer in which they transferred money of NRIs to their family members here.

All three accused are at present on bail in a similar fraud case lodged by the Mullanpur police in August last year. Police sources said the three accused were in Canada after they got permission from a court to leave the country.

The SSP said an FIR was lodged at the Dakha police station last week on the statement of Kuldeep Singh of Koom Kalan in Ludhiana under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC.

The FIR has been registered on the directions of Punjab DGP, J.S. Virk. The complainant has alleged the accused had cheated him of Rs 3 lakh. They had taken money from his NRI relative in Canada but did not pay the amount to him.

In another case registered at the Sudhar police station last week under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC, Harnek Singh of Atiana village has charged that the accused duped him of Rs 2 lakh sent to him by his NRI relatives through the Deol foreign exchange company.

The SSP said they were investigating several other complaints in which the Deol family collected money to deliver to their relatives. But the collected amount had been misappropriated.

The accused could not be contacted as they were in Canada. However, they have been denying the fraud allegations in previous statements to the Press.


Handwriting expert disputes alibi in Khalra case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
The accused in the human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra disappearance case got a jolt when a government handwriting expert today submitted a report in a local court disputing the alibi of a Head Constable, who is an accused in the case.

The handwriting expert, Mr B.A. Vaid, who is the general examiner of questioned documents (GEQD), was summoned as a witness in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigations in the court of Additional Sessions Judge S.P. Bangarh.

The crux of the issue is the presence of Head Constable Jasbir Singh on October 5, 1995, just before Khalra was allegedly liquidated by a Punjab Police team at the Jhabal police station in Taran Tarn. The accused had claimed that he had booked a room at Gobind Dham on October 1 the same year while on a pilgrimage to Hemkunt Sahib.

The accused had claimed that due to landslides he was stranded and had to book a room at Gobind Dham on October 5 again. He had also claimed that he had even got a blanket issued from the “serai”. The alibi aimed to prove that there is no way the Head Constable could have been at Jhabal police station at the same time.

According to sources, Mr Vaid in his report submitted to the court has claimed that though the signatures on the register of the “serai” on October 1, 1995, are that of the police official, the signatures on October 5 do not seem to be that of Jasbir Singh. He said the same was the case with regard to the blanket which Jasbir claimed was issued to him by the ‘serai’ on October 5.

Meanwhile, defence counsel — Satnam Singh Cler demanded a copy of the opinion submitted by the handwriting expert to the court. The demand was accepted by the court and the same was provided to him. The defence will cross examine the witness tomorrow.


Thermal plant unit to be operational tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 16
One of the six power generating units of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), which has been closed for the past some time for maintenance, will start functioning from Friday. The decision to start the fourth unit, having 210 mw capacity, was taken this evening.

The state will have shortage of 60 lakhs units every day when power generation at the Shahpur Kandi Hydel Project will be stopped. The authorities of the GGSSTP have, therefore, decided to start generation from the fourth unit, which would help to fill the gap of power generation created by the hydel project, sources informed. The GGSSTP with designated capacity of 1260 mw is one of the major power suppliers to the state.

Earlier, generation in the second unit of 210 mw had been stopped for 45 days for maintenance purposes. When the second unit became operational in mid-January, then the fifth unit of 210 mw was closed for 15 days for the same purpose. The second unit had become operational in the end of February. Thereafter, the fourth unit closed and will now become functional on this Friday.

Sources also informed that there may be power crisis in the state from April 15 with the increase of demand for power in the state. At present, the state has been getting a total of 767 lakh units from all sources, including thermal plant in the state, hydel plants and also from the central sectors.

The state is getting 335 lakhs units from all thermal plants, 168 lakhs units from all hydel sources and 284 from the central sector. Bhakra Dam has been supplying 40 per cent less power than last year, as at present the water level of Bhakra Dam is 18 feet down than last year. The Bhakra Dam is generating about 70 lakh units and supplying about 38 lakh units to the state as its share in the project.


Exam cancelled at yet another centre
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Naraingarh (Amritsar), March 16
Even as the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has cancelled 10 examination centres in the state, most of them in the border belt, following mass copying, the flying squad today recommended the cancellation of yet another (SDM High School) centre, here after a surprise checking.

Staff including controller, examination centre, was found helping students in mass copying. Surprisingly, the centre was de-linked from the main school and was made on the upper story on the backyard of the school.

On spotting the flying squad, the Controller allegedly pressed a bell to alert the students and duty staff about the arrival of the flying squad. However, the flying squad, comprising Prof Ajit Singh Shahi, Prof Rakesh Sharma, Prof Satnam Singh and Prof Sukhdev Singh, took no time to reach the centre and found students copying from the open books.

The flying squad collected huge helping material from the students. Shockingly, no policeman was found on duty, though the District Magistrate had banned the entry of unauthorised persons within the radius of 200 metres of the examination centres under Section 144.

Following the checking, helping material was piled up within the centre . In a report to Controller Examination, PSEB, the members of the flying squad recommended that this school should never be made examination centre in future.

Another three-member flying squad of Guru Nanak Dev University found mass copying at Government School, Bhucho Sohal.


Petition filed to derecognise SAD
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 16
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, senior JD(S) leader and Chairman, Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, has filed a petition before the Election Commission of India for the derecognisation of the SAD.

Mr Khera had previously submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission on September 20 last year that the SAD had violated the provisions of its constitution by contesting elections as it’s a purely religious body under the Sikh Gurdwara Act,1925.

The SAD had thus violated the essential conditions contained in the sub-section 5 of the Section 29-A. As such, the SAD had no more a right to continue as a recognised political Party, argued Mr Khera.

It is mentioned in the petition that the SAD was functioning under the directions of the Akal Takht Sahib.

The petition has submitted many clips of newspapers in which it is apparent that the SAD held its meetings and conferences including PAC and Parliamentary Board sittings, in the SGPC premises and used the vehicles, staff and other amenities of this body.

The manifesto for SGPC elections was released by SAD President Parkash Singh Badal.


Village shows cleanliness is affordable
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Kharoudi, March 16
The people of this village in Hoshiarpur district are proud of a huge water tank they have constructed. It is difficult to believe that it contains sewage water because it is odourless.

Before the water flows into the tank it passes through an effluent filtering unit connected to the septic tank. The water smells ghastly when it reaches the unit but after the treatment, it is as good as clean water.

Of all the projects initiated for the development of Kharoudi, this water treatment facility is the most impressive. For the villagers, access to clean water and meticulous disposal of waste has altered their lives.

For Dr. Raghbir Basi and Dr. Gurdev Singh Gill, NRI doctors from Canada who initiated the project, sanitation, public health and education go hand in hand. “Public health was taught to us in the medical school in Canada. In a way, it is part of the basic education there. If sanitation and hygiene are not in place, no amount of treatment will work.”

Eighty per cent of diseases in the villages are directly related to poor sanitation and hygiene. Kharoudi was no exception to this statistic. Shailender, a 65 year-old villager, remembers a time when, “the waste from the septic tanks sometimes spilled out onto the street, up to ankle level, causing a stink and breeding diseases.”

The village now has new underground water pipes connected to all homes. Although the government was supplying water to the village, the water pipes were in a state of disrepair. The government estimated Rs 8 lakh for changing the water pipes but Rs. 2 lakh is what it cost the pioneers of the project to change them all.

Underground sewage lines lead out to septic tanks near the filtering unit. Part of the wastewater is treated through a process called ‘absorption field’ or ‘leach field.’ After the septic tank has settled out solids, clarified water is dispersed through perforated pipes into the soil. The anaerobic organisms in the septic tanks prey on potentially pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites thereby eliminating most of the solid waste. The soil acts as a biological recycler for the wastewater passing through it.

This works well where the soil is sandy, loamy and the water goes back to the earth. Dr Gill wishes more land was available as “this form of wastewater treatment is one of the oldest methods in the US. It is cost effective and stays for at least 50 years with minimal maintenance and care.”

The remainder of the wastewater treatment is through a system referred to as ‘intermittent sand/gravel filters.’ Gurnail Gill is an engineer, an NRI living in Abu Dhabi. He is responsible for the work on these systems.

The treated wastewater is collected at the bottom of a two-foot gravel filter in an under drain and is discharged into a facultative pond. A flushing pump in the pond keeps the water clean by recycling it. The water collected in the tank is used for washing and irrigation facilities.

Ram Das is the husband of the ex-sarpanch of the village in whose time the project began. “I am so grateful to all the people who have contributed to this project. Our lives have become so much simpler and the cleanliness is a boon to all of us. This water project gives us an additional supply for our fields and for our homes.”

Sohan Singh Deo, an NRI from Canada currently on a visit to his village, reaffirms his support to the project. “The change is unbelievable. The village stands transformed.”

According to the 2001 Census, there are 12673 villages in Punjab. These can be sanitised in 10 years if, as Dr. Gill says, “the government has a streamlined approach to projects like these”. — Concluded


Project to treat wasteland
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 16
The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Mansa, has started a project to treat wasteland measuring 2500 hectares located in Sardulgarh block of this district under the Hariyali scheme launched by the Centre under its Integrated Wasteland Development Project.

The project, which is to be completed in five years at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore, will treat 2500 hectares, which has been lying barren for the past two decades or so.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that due to severe waterlogging in certain areas around the Ghaggar river in Sardulgarh block, a significant area of cultivable land became barren and it adversely affected the area’s economy. Though the state government tried to remove waterlogging in a phased manner from that area, it could not achieve any success due to paucity of funds.

When the authorities concerned approached the Union Ministry of Rural Development, a project worth Rs 1.5 crore was sanctioned by it for treating 2500 hectares with the help of panchayats in five years. Out of Rs 1.5 crore, the state government will contribute only Rs 12.5 lakh while the remaining among will be given by the Government of India.

The objective of this project is to treat the land and to harvest every drop of rainwater for the purpose of irrigation and plantation. Apart from it, the project will generate employment for rural people.

Mr Shivdev Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), in a press note issued here today, said under this project wasteland affected by waterlogging, salty and sand dunes would be treated. After treatment, fodder and trees would be planted making the land fertile for agricultural purposes.

To implement the project, three villages, Jatana Kalan, Jatana Khurd and Kotra of Sardulgarh block, where most of the land is lying barren for the past 25 years, have been selected. Samples of soil and underground water of these villages were tested by the state Agriculture Department. The treatment of the land started as per recommendations of the Agriculture Department. The project is being implemented by the gram panchayat concerned with the active participation of farmers.

The total area of 2500 hectares has been divided into five sub watersheds. Watershed development teams have been constituted. One officer each from departments of soil conservation, forest agriculture, horticulture and Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), Sardulgarh, have been taken as members.

The first installment of Rs 20.63 lakh has been released by the Centre for this project.


Nek Chand proposes rock garden in every city
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Talwara, March 16
Bringing up rock gardens in each town and city of the state could prove to be an effective method for solid waste management in the country. Mr Nek Chand, creator of Rock Garden at Chandigarh, stated this while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He was here to supervise the rock garden being brought up by the BBMB at its Talwara township.

The solid waste is one of the biggest problems being faced by the cities and towns in the country. Most of the municipal councils and corporations are finding it hard to locate places for dumping the waste. The Supreme Court has also issued directions to the states for scientific management of solid waste.

Almost every municipal council or corporation spends substantial budget on bringing up parks. However, if even a single park in each town was developed using solid waste, it would help tackle the problem of solid waste management, he said.

Mr Nek Chand further added that he was willing to extend full support to any municipal council or corporation that proposes to set a rock garden within its area using solid waste.

He also lamented that though authorities in many foreign countries were seeking his advice in bringing up gardens using solid waste, hardly anyone was coming up with a proposal from our country, especially the Punjab state. Some proposals came up from states like Delhi and Rajasthan, but they also got scuttled with the transfer of officials who initiated the move.

He, however, praised the Chairman of BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, for having taken the initiative for bringing up garden using solid waste from their colony and dam site. The proposal of another rock garden between Nangal and Anandpur Sahib would also be taken up.

When asked, he said that a one way path was being laid in the Chandigarh Rock Garden. The project would take another two years for completion.

I also read a newsitem in which the Commissioner of Lahore has expressed the desire to bring up a rock garden in his city. However, no formal invitation has come up from them.


SGPC to move court against “Spokesman” Editor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar March 16
The SGPC would shortly file a legal suit against Mr Joginder Singh, Editor of “Spokesman”, a weekly magazine. The SGPC has taken strong objection to an article published in the magazine “honoured for editing even the worst book till date, on Sikh history?” by Harchand Singh.

The alleged writer had reported to the SGPC that he had not contributed the article attributed to him. Subsequently, the SGPC decided to take the matter to court against the controversial Editor Joginder Singh .

Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, in a written statement stated that Mr Joginder Singh had already been excommunicated from the community for his alleged anti-panthic and anti Sikh activities.

The article relates to a fund of Rs 10 lakh given by American NRI Harbhajan Singh to Guru Gobind Singh College, Chandigarh, for conferring honours on Sikh scholars.

It says that it was an insult to bestow the honours on some undeserving persons that the article names.


Site for Mukerian project approved
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News service

Mukerian, March 16
Work on the 18 MW Mukerian hydel power project of the PSEB will finally start. The proposal to shift the site of power-houses of the project has been put off after the board of consultants for the project approved the site at which the excavation was carried out earlier. Had the site been shifted it would have caused a huge financial loss.

The Chief Engineer, Civil Design and Construction, PSEB, Mr B.S. Sabharwal, while talking to The Tribune said after approval from the board of directors, work on sinking a well and plugging holes has commenced. Water eruption is likely to be checked within the next two weeks after which work can be started.

He said the water erupted at the site due to clay in the soil. It will not create any problem for the project in future, he said.

Work on the Mukerian hydel project had come to standstill due to water eruption at the proposed foundation of the powerhouses. Sources told The Tribune that water eruption started at the said site in September, 2004. The water flow was so strong at that time that within half an hour a 100 feet deep pit got inundated. The contractor did not even get the time to save his equipment.

Since then the PSEB authorities had been struggling to get water out of the proposed site. About 40 heavy motors were installed to throw out the water.


20 pc of budget should be allocated for disabled
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 16
About 20 per cent of the state Budget should be reserved for the rehabilitation of disabled persons and for launching projects for the benefit of this section of the society.

This demand has been made by Mr Ajit Salani, National secretary of the National Handicapped Welfare Council, in press note here today. He said that the strength of disabled persons in the state was about 20 to 25 per cent of the other population but the government had never reserved adequate funds for them.

While giving grants to various private organisations, the government must ensure that the funds were used for the benefit of disabled people.

Mr Avtar Singh Gharuan, president of the Punjab unit, said that government should give special benefits to those industrial units who employed a large number of disabled persons. He demanded the reservations for government jobs for this section of the society should be increased from 3 per to 10 per cent.


Tackling drug abuse through persuasion
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, March 16
Kanwal Nain Singh is a man determined to root out drug abuse from society. And the only method he uses against this menace is persuasion.

He uses his “weapon” to good effect by visiting bus stands and railway stations in various cities or by making his body an advertisement against drugs. Kanwal Nain, who is a Ludhiana resident, was here for the past few days to spread his message during a religious satsang held near the city in which his audience was estimated to be a few lakh every day.

“Everyone knows about the ill effects of chewing tobacco or lighting up a cigarette but few are asked to identify the need which forces them to become a slave of these habits,” says Kanwal Nain. “I confront such people wherever I see them but with love and logic so that they can be persuaded to quit such habits”.

A philanthropist, who believes in the Sikh maxim of donating at least one tenth of his earnings for the uplift of humanity, he says there have been a large number of success stories and some disappointments also. “I was most happy when I received a letter from a rickshaw-puller, thanking me for convincing him to quit chewing tobacco”. He says he takes disappointment in his stride, as a number of people ask him why he is interfering in a habit which is a matter of personal choice. “Once a ticket collector misbehaved with me when I tried to discuss the subject of his habits with him,” he says.

Kanwal Nain says his usual practice is to go to public places every morning and evening and spread awareness about drug abuse. “I distribute pictures depicting graphic details of throat cancer which afflicts people who chew tobacco so that they get an idea of what the habit can do to them”. He says he does this to emphasise his point, as general messages, including warnings on cigarette boxes stating smoking is injurious to health, do not have much effect on people.

The social worker says he also encourages people he meets every day to work for eradicating the drug menace from society. “I tell them to work at a micro-level by identifying drug users and providing financial help to those who want to kick the habit after due motivation.

Only when this is done and former drug users are rehabilitated as honourable members of society can the problem of drug abuse be tackled effectively,” he adds.


IT Commissioner for whom astrology is a passion
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
He had predicted the re-election of George Bush, the emergence of a dark horse as Prime Minister in India last year and even the Kargil war but would rather like to talk about the development of astrology as a science and the need to introduce accountability on astrologers.

He is Daya Shanker and astrology is a passion for him. A passion yes but not a means of earning a livelihood. He works in the Income Tax Department as Commissioner (Appeals) but finds time not only to pursue his interest but also function as a Honorary Consultant Editor of The Times of Astrology, an astrological magazine published from Delhi.

During an interaction here as a prelude to the hosting of the second All-India Astrological Conference here from March 19 to 20, Mr Daya Shanker said he became interested in astrology when he was a graduate in Uttar Pradesh. Later he did his postgraduation in mathematics from Allahabad University and also joined the Indian Revenue Service but continued to harbour immense interest in astrology.

This interest of the budding astrologer brought him close to astrological circles in Delhi and he along with his wife Rajeshwari started contributing their skills for the Express Star Teller, a column taken out by the Indian Express group in 1993. During his association with the Express Star Teller the couple predicted that the P.V. Narasimha Rao government would be able to defeat the no-confidence motion moved against it in 1993. After this the couple moved on to contribute to the magazine Future Samachar. During this period they predicted the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. The couple, who now edit The Times of Astrology have since 1997 predicted a number of startling events including testing of a nuclear warhead by India in 1998.

Daya Shanker says presently he is concerned that astrology students get the right exposure to hone their skills.’’ Earlier we used to demand that astrology be recognised as a separate discipline. This request was partly acceded to in 2001 by the UGC and now 16 universities across the country are offering bachelors and masters courses in this discipline.” The Income Tax officer says though the courses being offered by these universities are called bachelors and masters degrees, they are basically teaching primary level astrology. He says holding conferences and other events on astrology were aimed at such students so that they could gain from practical experience and also benefit through interaction with experts.

The officer says there is an urgent need to introduce accountability in the profession. “A large number of people, qualified as well as unqualified, are practising in this field and there is a need to ensure all of them base their predictions on scientific basis.” He says only when this comes about can accountability be achieved in this field.

Prodded on about speaking about the future, Daya Shanker says a vaccine to counter the deadly AIDS virus may come about from India this year itself.


Move to acquire land for police colony invites protest
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 16
A number of persons and heads of organisations whose land was being acquired by the Punjab Government for the construction of a residential colony by the Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) protested against the move of the government here today.

Slogans were raised against the government and the PPHC by the protesters who also burnt an effigy of the government near the Civil Rest Hose here. The affected persons, including women, had earlier organised a protest match on a call given by the Housing Sangharsh Committee, which started from near a gurdwara on the Landran road. he protesters wore black badges. They demanded that the proposal of the government for a housing colony should be cancelled.

Many persons said they had got uprooted at the time of partition and got settled here after facing many hardship. Now the government was again planning to uproot them.

The SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, later heard the objections of the affected persons who had been called in this regard. He said he would be sending a report to the higher authorities in the next few days.

Mr Charanjit Singh, president of the municipal council, who also got his objections recorded with the SDM, told Chandigarh Tribune that the civic body would have no objection if the police wanted to construct a colony for police employees. But according to the proposal of the PPHC, a residential colony for retired government staff members was to be constructed by the corporation. And for this persons who had already settled in the area would be uprooted. He said the police was acting as a “property dealer” when it was there only to provide security.

The Principal of Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Mr Avtar Singh Gill, also met the SDM as the part of the school land was to be acquired. He opposed the move of the government as such an acquisition would adversely affect the school.

The council had on May 21 last year objected to the move of the government of acquiring land within municipal limits as it would lead to a loss in revenue. It was decided by the House at a meeting to write to the government to acquire land for the residential colony only outside the municipal limits.

The government had planned to acquire 200 acres of land falling under municipal limits for the PPHC to set up a residential complex for retired officials.


Shift ghee factory, demand residents
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 15
Residents of Khanpur village, along with 12 municipal councillors, today demanded the shifting of a ghee factory from the residential area as it was allegedly creating a lot of pollution.

The ghee factory has been running near Khanpur village for the past many years creating a number of problems for the residents.

In a written request forwarded to the Executive Officer (EO) of the Municipal Council, the residents said the ghee factory was located in a residential area and had been allegedly spreading air and water pollution making life miserable for the residents of Khanpur village. They requested the EO to discuss the matter at the monthly meeting of the civic body.

They said that they have been bringing their problem to the notice of various authorities but no concrete action had been taken in this regard so far.

They alleged that the factory had encroached upon a piece of land owned by the council the market value of which was nearly Rs 1.50 crore.

The matter relating to the ghee factory had earlier been probed by the SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill. He had given 60 days time to the ghee unit on January 4 to end all kinds of pollution in the area failing which action would be initiated against those running the unit.


Rs 4 crore granted for development projects
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 16
During the week-long celebrations on the completion of the three years of the Congress Government Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary laid the foundation stones and inaugurated various development projects, and handed over cheques worth Rs 4 crore for providing infrastructure in the government schools, development projects in all most majority of the villages and municipal councils of the Sirhind constituency.

Addressing the gatherings at Hansali, Khera, Rally, Khalspur, Patarsi Kalan, Bras, Bagh Sikandar, Sirhind, Bassi Pathana and other villages Dr Harbans Lal said the current year was being observed as Development year and the government would spend Rs 1000 crore through various Panchyati Raj Institutions on the development projects. He said Rs 300 crore had already been given to these institutions and Rs 700 crore would be spent further. He highlighted various achievements of the Government during the three-year rule.

He said that the villages and towns of the State would be developed in a planned manner. He said regular all type of pensions, 24-hour power supply to rural areas, uninterrupted power to industry, agriculture and domestic sector would be ensured. He said that 1.50 unemployed youths would be provided job opportunities directly or indirectly and under Sonia Gandhi Golden Rojgar Scheme. Over 2,000 Dalit youths would be given government jobs. He said to provide proper infrastructure and top quality roads for transportation the government had chalked out a plan to recarpet and repair all roads of the state at the cost of Rs 1300 crore. He said that 17000 km of roads were being recarpetted in most modern manner at a cost of Rs 950 crore.

He said the Chief Minister has approved a special development plan for Fatehgarh Sahib

Mr Charanjeev Channa, president MC Sirhind, Ranjit Singh Chairman, MC Sirhind, Sukhjeet Singh Punia, Vice Chairman block Samiti Sirhind, Gurwinder Singh Dhillon, Chairman Block Samiti Bassi Pathana Devinder Bhatt, Gulshan Rai Bobby all councillors and the respective village sarpanches and principals of the schools also addressed.


Grant of Rs 1.22 crore released
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, March 16
Keeping in view the tercentenary celebrations of the sacrifices made by the 40 muktas (the liberated ones), the Punjab Government has released a grant of Rs 1.22 crore for the construction of four gates, Shri Guru Gobind Singh stadium and Kukte-e-Minar in the town.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandry and Tourism Minister, said at a high-level meeting of district officials which was convened in connection with the construction of these projects before the terecentenary celebrations on May 4, 2005.

Mr Kang said that Mr Dalip Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, had been given the responsibility to ensure the timely construction of these projects. He said that a grant of Rs 15 lakh had also been given for providing the basic facilities to the people living in slum areas.

Mr Dalip Kumar said that the government had given permission to rename the local Civil Hospital as Bawa Kishan Singh Sant Singh Yadhgari Hospital. A notification in this connection would be issued soon.


Siren averts bank robbery
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 16
A bank robbery was averted last night as the bank siren went off after the thieves tried to cut opened the bank safe. The thieves initially broke opened the front shutter of the State Bank of India branch in Focal Point of Jharoli village.

However, their way was blocked by another iron gate. So they broke the rear wall of the building and entered the bank. As soon as they tried to open the strong room the siren went off. The thieves fled.

Interestingly the police and the local public came to know about the incident only after the bank staff came for duty in the morning. The police authorities alleged that the bank was located in a remote area. Still the authorities of the bank did not engage a watchman for the bank.


2 Pak visitors return
Our Correspondent

Wagah, March 16
Two Pakistani cricket fans, who were declared missing recently returned to their country from here today. Five Pak nationals had crossed over to their country yesterday.

As many as 2,754 visitors, who had crossed over to India to were scheduled to leave the country on March 14. According to officials, the number of missing Pak fans on the schedule day of leaving was 34. However, the Ministry of External Affairs had put the figure at 47 and the Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal was quoted as saying 36.

Meanwhile, the state government and Intelligence agencies had launched a operation to trace them.


Cultural exchange between India, Pak favoured
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 16
Mr Shafiq Butt, Coordinator Punjab Lok Boli Mela, Pakistan, accompanied by Dr S N Sewak President, Punjabi Sabhyachar Akademi and Rangmanch Sansthan, Ludhiana visited Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women, Gujarkhan Campus, Model Town Ludhiana. Mr Shafiq has come to explore the possibility of cultural exchange between college students of India and Pakistan specifically between two Punjabs. 


Medical camp on March 19
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
A medical camp to detect diabetes, thyroid, hormonal imbalance and impotence and advise those suffering from such afflictions will be held on March 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brain Diseases Hospital, 22 Number Phatak here.

Dr Surya Kant Mathur, DM, endocrinology, PGI, Chandigarh, will conduct the camp. Laboratory tests will be done free of cost at the camp. The hospital has been handling cases of neurosurgery under a team led by Dr Anupam Jindal, a former neurosurgery specialist from AIIMS, New Delhi.

Dr Jasbir Kaur, a former head of the ICU, Rajindra Hospital, will also be available for consultation free of cost. Dr Satwant Sachdeva, head of the Hospital, said he looked forward to render help in difficult cases of endocrinology through this camp.


Drug unit owners to hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
A dharna will be organised on March 18 in Delhi, under the banner of the Confederation of Indian Pharma Industry, to highlight the problems created by the January 7 excise notification.

The notification has added to the difficulties of small drug units in India which are on the verge of closure, says Mr Jagdeep Singh, president, Punjab Drug Manufacturers Association.


Ban orders in Fatehgarh Sahib
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 16
To prevent any untoward incident by anti-social elements in the district, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, District Magistrate, through an order under Section 144 here today made it mandatory for all landlords to give lists along with addresses of their tenents to the nearest police station.

In another order District Magistrate has banned the open sale of 106 type of medicines without the prescription to check the menace of drug abuse. He warned that if any one was found violating the orders he would not be spared. To avoid the accidents on the roads during night, he has also banned the plying of rickshaws, trailers, tractors, cycles and every type of vehicle without reflectors. All these orders will remain in force till May 16.


Office-bearers of pharma distributors’ body
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 16
Mr Santokh Singh was today elected president of the Pharma Distributors Association while Mr Rakesh Dhawan and Mr Deepak Gupta were elected secretary and treasurer respectively.

Executive member of the association Sanjay Sood said all had been elected unanimously.


Park Plaza case: hearing on bail adjourned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 16
The hearing on the bail application of the four accused in the Park Plaza case has been adjourned to March 21 by Additional Sessions Judge Sukhdarshan Singh Khaira on the plea of the prosecution that the matter is still under investigation.

The bail application was moved by defence counsels yesterday and it came up for hearing today. An additional public prosecutor argued that the investigation was under process and certain reports were awaited and under such circumstances the accused should not be freed on bail.

The defence counsel argued that the police was not able to recover anything and the accused were innocent and should be released on bail.


Regional kisan mela organised
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 16
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) organised a regional kisan mela at the local Regional Research Centre today.

Farmers from various districts, including Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot and Sangrur, participated in the mela.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Chahal, member board of management, PAU, emphasised the need of a second green revolution in Punjab keeping in view the present changing scenario of agriculture.

While Mr Amrik Singh Sandhu, Director, Extension Education, PAU, advised the farmers to adopt a scientific approach to meet the rising challenges in the farm sector. He also advised the farmers to avoid the wheat-paddy rotation and concentrate on crop diversification. He stressed on qualitative farming for diversification.

Mr G.S. Nanda, Director of Research, inspired the farmers for seed cultivation at their own end by using the seed aproved by the university.

A technical session at the mela was the major attraction for the farmers. The experts answered queries of the farmers relating to various agricultural fields.


Computerised power bills  for farmers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 16
The state’s first pilot project for computerised billing of agriculture power consumer was launched in Ropar circle here today. The purpose of adopting the scheme is to benefit about 36, 000 tubewell consumers, informed the Director Billing (PSEB), Mr I.C Mittal, after inauguration of the computerised billing system here.

Giving details he said all districts of the state would be get computerised billing facility before end of July.

He said the system would provide relief to the farmers who had to visit the sub-division office every month to deposit tubewell bills. With the computerised system, they will have to deposit bill, after a two months. Besides it, there is no need to carry pass books issued to carry the records.


Woman arrested in Prabir kidnapping case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 16
The Ludhiana police today claimed to have arrested a woman with alleged shady past from Karimpura Colony here on the charge of harbouring the three accused in the Prabir kidnapping case. The accused had allegedly stayed at her house for two nights.

This is the second Ludhiana connection in the case. Earlier the police had found that Prabir was kept in a rented house in Flower Enclave, Dugri, here.

SP (Detective) Gurpreet Singh told reporters in a press conference this afternoon that the woman, Jatinder Kaur (48), had allegedly given shelter to the three accused in the Prabir case. They were Gurcharan Singh Channa, Kulwant Singh Kanta and Sukhjit Singh Sukha.

Mr Gurpreet Singh said the woman was earlier booked in two cases of being part of a fake currency racket. She was also booked in a case of a street brawl. She had two sons and a daughter. All of them are grown up. Her husband was a shoe merchant.

The woman claimed in the press conference that she took to crime a few years ago when they suffered loss in business. She said she had a business of importing goods from Singapore and then Dubai but suffered losses. She met a man called Hazzi, alias Ali, in Dubai who made her a member in his fake currency racket.

The SP (Detective) said the woman had been booked under Sections 212 and 216 of the IPC. The police was investigating her further role in the case. None of her family member has, however, been booked or arrested.


Car purchased on forged pay order
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 16
A case of forgery has came to light today in which a young man succeeded in purchasing a Maruti Esteem car from a local dealer on the basis of a forged pay order.

The police has registered a case under Sections 420,467,468 and 471 of the IPC against the accused, Mohit Verma, a resident of Dharmsala (Himachal Pradesh).

According to Col Jagdish Raj (retd), General Manager of The Pathankot Vehicleades, local Maruti dealer here, they received a call on March 12 from Dharamsala by the alleged accused for purchasing a Maruti Esteem car . The caller also informed that a pay order of Rs 5,01,200 had already been prepared by him from UCO Bank, Pathankot.

The complainant alleged that the accused, who was clean shaven and about 35 years of age, handed over a pay order dated March 9 to them. The car along with documents was delivered to him. The accused also gave his mobile numbers and promised to collect the insurance cover later.

On March 14, when the pay order was produced for encashment before the UCO Bank here, the bank refused to encash the same with the remarks ‘forged and mutilated’. On inquiry, it was revealed that the pay order was made for Rs 50 only and it was tampered and converted into a pay order of Rs 5,01,200. 


8 nuclear power plants soon, says BARC Director
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
Dr V Venugopal, Director, Radiochemistry and Isotope Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, said India was on the threshold of commissioning eight more nuclear power plants.

Talking to The Tribune after presiding over the 36th annual awards day function at BBK DAV College for Women here today, Dr Venugopal said the fourth reactor of the Tarapore power plant became critical last week. He said to augment the power generation in the country, the Department of Nuclear Energy was planning to set up indigenously developed faster breeder atomic nuclear power stations. He added that by the year 2009, 3,000 MW of power would be generated.

He said according to the vision paper 2020 developed by BARC, it had chalked out a plan to produce 10 per cent of the country’s total power requirement of 1.35 lakh MW. He added that with the indigenous technology the nuclear scientists were confident of achieving this target.

Commenting on the setting up of advance heavy water plant, Dr Venugopal said it would be commissioned as per the schedule.

In the field of medicine and diagnosis, the BARC scientists had produced the technology which would compliment the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and help in accurately pin pointing tumour in the brain. He added that Cobalt 60, again produced by Indian scientists, could detect defects in the welding of steel. Dr Venugopal said India had the capability to lay 1,000 km oil pipeline for the oil sector through its own technology.


Leasing of NFL school evokes employees' protest
Tribune News Service

Nangal, March 16
Protesting against the handing over the Capt Amol Kalia Fertilizer Model Senior Secondary, School, run by the National Fertilizer Limited, Naya Nangal, to a private party, over 300 employees the NFL held a gate rally here last evening.

In addition to it, the employees protested against the NFL decision to close down one of its plant producing CAN (Calcium Ammonia Nitrate) fertilizer.

The agitation was jointly organised by the three unions of the NFL employees. These include National Fertilizer Employees Union (NFEU); the Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (NFL) and the INTUC (NFL).

The employees' apprehended that the CBSE might cancel its affiliation with the school as it had been leased out to the Education Society Rose Marry for 10 years.

The general secretary of the National Fertilizer Employees Union the (NFEU), Mr U.K Rawat, told The Tribune that as per the CBSE affiliation Act-14, the board could cancel its affiliation with the model school, as the NFL had changed the management of the school.

Union leaders said the closing of the CAN producing plant would largely affect Himachal Pardesh was a major apple farmers.

The DGM (H.R), NFL, Mr A.J.S Kohli, said that the management would retain all competent old teachers in the school.

The school had been leased out school to the Rose Marry Education Society as it has been successfully running the NFL school at Bathinda.

Regarding the CAN fertilizer plant, Mr Kohli said that the demand of the CAN fertiliser had declined. We have decided to run the unit whenever demand for the fertiliser would increase. 


GND varsity organises seminar on Sai Mian Mir
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
“Though there is no written detail available about laying of foundation stone of Sri Harmandar Sahib by Sai Mian Mir, however, it is a tradition and tradition has its background and history”. This was stated by Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur, former Pro Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University.

He was delivering keynote address at the one-day seminar on Sai Mian Mir organised by the Sai Mian Mir Chair of Guru Nanak Dev University here at Baba Budha College today.

Dr S.P.Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, presided over this seminar, while Makhdoom Syed Chan Pir Qadri, a 19th generation descendant of Sai Mian Mir was the chief guest.

An eminent historian, Prof Kapur said the Sikhs have a close relation with the Sufis. He said Sai Mian Mir and Baba Sheikh Farid were associated with the Sufi community. He wished that Guru Nanak Dev University should also establish a centre for study on Pakistan.

The university is also constructing Sai Mian Mir Bhavan shortly, the foundation of which was laid by Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister, Choudhary Pervaiz Elahi, recently. The Vice-Chancellor of the university also honoured Pir Chan Qadri and Prof Kapur by presenting them mementos on the occasion.


804 students awarded degrees
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 16
At the annual convocation of Government College today, Dr S.C. Saxena, Director Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, conferred degrees on 804 students which included 160 postgraduates, 564 B.A. students and 80 B.Sc. students.

In his convocation address, Dr S.C.Saxena, emphasised the need for attaining excellence in education. He said that in the context of globalisation, educational and job market scenario was undergoing radical transformation and this had led to tremendous increase in the responsibilities of all stake holders in education.

He said only those nations which would make the maximum use of the new opportunities provided by the changing global scene would be able to make worth while progress.

Dr Saxena said keeping in mind the increasing competition for jobs, we would have to align our education system with the demands of the global market. He congratulated all students who were awarded degrees and exhorted them to keep pursuing knowledge.

Earlier, the college Principal, Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, welcomed the chief guest and highlighted the achievements of the college students in academics, cultural activities and sports.


Thapar to hold bioinformatics conference
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 16
The Computer Science and Engineering Department of the Thapar Institute of Information and Technology (TIET) will organise a national-level conference on bioinformatics and computing from March 18 to 19.

Disclosing this here today, convener of the seminar Deepak Garg said bioinformatics was one of the most upcoming fields. He said teachers, researchers, professionals and students were becoming passionate about the subject and that keeping in line the national policy on the issue the TIET had taken a lead by establishing an active bioinformatics research group.

He said TIET Director S. C. Saxena had pioneered the initiative in the bioinformatics arena in the institute. He said the conference would cover bioinformatics tools and applications, basic local alignment search tool, bioinformatics algorithms and DNA sequences and string algorithms.

Mr Garg said the conference would be attended by more than 500 academicians comprising scientists of national repute like Prof Karmeshu, Dean, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Prof Pramod S. Khandekar, Director, Bioinformatics Centre, University of Pune, Dr P. Rama Rao, Director, NIPER, and Dr G. P. S. Raghava, IMTECH, Chandigarh.


Dental surgery degree course recognised
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, March 16
The Union Ministry of Health and Welfare has recognised the degree of bachelor of the dental surgery of local Desh Bhagat Dental College and Hospital.

As per a press note issued here today, the college, affiliated to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, finally got recognition for the five-year degree course in bachelor of dental surgery.

The college, being run in memory of freedom fighter Lal Singh, an associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, was set up in 2000.


Special chance for BMC students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
Guru Nanak Dev University has granted a special chance to those students who had passed their one-year bachelor of mass communication or bachelor of journalism as their profession to appear in the MA in mass communication (Part II) examination to be held in April, 2005.


Libra is Member Secretary, BBSBET
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 16
Eminent educationist and senior Akali leader Kirpal Singh Libra was elected Member Secretary of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Education Trust (BBSBET), Fatehgarh Sahib. He was unanimously elected Member Secretary for the third successive time at the meeting of trust, presided by the Chairman of the trust, Bibi Jagir Kaur, on the college campus.

The BBSBET trust comprises of 10 members. Apart from Chairman and Member Secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Harmel Singh Tohra, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Surjit Singh Rakhra, Prem Singh Advocate, Didar Singh Bhatti and Tota Singh are member of the trust.

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