P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Traders not consulted on VAT: mandal chief
Total bandh in Bathinda
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, March 30
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal today urged the state government not to implement the value added tax (VAT) system for the collection of sale tax in Punjab as its draft was prepared by authorities concerned without consulting traders and industrialists.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, President, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, in a memorandum submitted to Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, said that VAT system would enhance corruption prevailing in the state government departments.

He pointed out that in the recent past, a senior official of the Excise and Taxation Department was caught red-handed while accepting bribe from a Kotkapura based trader. He said such things would become rampant if VAT was introduced without changing its provisions, including one relating to the minimum penalty.

He said penalty provision made under VAT system were very harsh, unjust and anti-trader and anti-undustrialists. Apart from it, the provision of maintenance of records would harass the small and marginal traders.

Meanwhile, the business establishments including the petrol stations observed a complete bandh in this district today.

ABOHAR: A partial response to the bandh call was noticed in this subdivision on Wednesday. Most of the markets remained closed in the morning but shopkeepers opened their shops before lunch hours, betraying the bandh call.

FEROZEPORE: Local traders and business establishment observed a total bandh here on Wednesday in protest against the introduction of VAT. The Beopar Mandal led by its District unit President Ashwani Mehta, vice-president Sat Pal Bajaj and Secretary, Vijay Tuli burned an effigy of VAT in front of the Excise and Taxation office.


Good response to bandh against VAT
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, March 30
Shops, industrial units and petrol stations remained closed today at several places in Punjab and Chandigarh in response to the 72-hour bandh against VAT even as there was no effect in Haryana, which had become the first state to implement the new tax system last year.

Reports from Kaithal, Yamunanagar, Ambala, Rohtak, Sirsa and other places in Haryana said there was no response to the bandh call as VAT had been implemented in the state by the previous government.

In Punjab and Chandigarh, however, the call received a good response from the trading community, reports here said.

Reports of traders, industrialists, petrol station owners and chemists joining the protest were received from a number of places in Punjab, including Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Phagwara, Amritsar, Patiala and Moga.

Over 25,000 retail and wholesale chemists and druggists across Punjab downed their shutters on the call of the Punjab Chemists Association to join the countrywide protest against implementation of VAT from April 1.

Amritsar: All commercial and business establishments here on Wednesday observed a complete strike in protest against the implementation of VAT by the state government.

Various business and trading associations held a rally outside Hall Gate seeking the immediate repeal of Vat. The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, along with associations and the BJP had given 72-hours bandh call in the state, which evoked overwhelming response paralysing the entire trading activity in the city.

Jalandhar: A near total bandh was observed by city traders in protest against the implementation of value added tax here. Barring a few medicine shops, public call offices and fruit and vegetable shops, all other showrooms remained closed for the whole day. Petrol pumps too remained closed.

SANGRUR: Traders and shopkeepers here on Wednesday observed a complete bandh by keeping the shutters of their shops and business establishments down in protest against the proposed implementation of value added tax (VAT) from April 1. Petrol stations also observed bandh here. Shopkeepers at Sunam and Dhuri also observed bandh.


CLP meeting postponed
Bir Devinder says Capt is his leader
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
While a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party ( CLP), which was to be held tomorrow, has been postponed, a senior Congress MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today categorically made it clear that he was with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and not associated with party leader Jagmeet Singh Brar in any manner.

The Chief whip of the CLP, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, told TNS this evening that Capt Amarinder Singh would be out of the city tomorrow and hence postponement of the meeting. “ The Chief Minister will be away on urgent work and the meeting of the CLP will be held after the Budget session of the Assembly”, said Rana Sodhi.

The meeting of the CLP was convened by Capt Amarinder Singh following a demand by some MLAs. Interestingly, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar had stated that the CLP meeting had been called to discuss important issues such as the auction of liquor vends under pressure from the MLAs supporting him on this issue. However, it appears that the political manager of the Chief Minister got the CLP meeting postponed to counter Mr Brar’s move.

Rana Sodhi said that all MLAs, except three or four, had signed the memorandum to be presented to the party high command to seek action against Mr Brar. A copy of memorandum would be sent to the party high command by the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, with his forwarding letter and other comments soon. The number of MLAs who have signed the document is around 65.

Meanwhile, Mr Bir Devinder Singh has said that he had read Mr Brar’s statement in a section of the media today that 35 MLAs had extended support to him by holding a meeting. He said there was no truth in what Mr Brar had said. He said that only 10 or 11 MLAs had got together for an interactive session on issues to be discussed in the House. “ At no stage were the issues raked up by Mr Brar discussed at that meeting”, asserted Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said “Capt Amarinder Singh is our leader and we all are with him”. When asked about reports that 28 MLAs had signed a document in support of Mr Brar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said he had not seen any such document. “ I am not a signatory to any such document,” he asserted.


Amarinder: steps taken to curb kidnappings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Sharing his concern with the Akali MLA, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, over the high number of cases of kidnaping in Punjab, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today told the state Assembly that several steps had been taken to check such crimes.

While replying to a question asked by Mr Manpreet Badal regarding cases of kidnapping from 2002 to March 10 this year, Capt Amarinder Singh, said he was in agreement with the Akali MLA that the number of such cases was high and that the acquittal rate was also on the higher side.

He said it was also a disturbing development that most of these crimes involved ransom and were related to other economic factors. However, he said, it was satisfying that the police authorities had been successful in cracking all recent cases of kidnapping which had hit the headlines.

Asked by Mr G.S.Atwal Congress MLA, whether labourers from Bihar and other states were involved in such cases, Capt Amarinder Singh said that a criminal was a criminal and it was meaningless to make any distinction on the basis of state, etc.

Listing the steps taken to check kidnappings, he said that patrolling around educational institutions and tuition academies had been stepped up, a system of sealing exit roads had been introduced, besides community policing. Asked by Mr Bir Devinder Singh whether there was a proposal to set up a rapid action force to deal with such cases, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that certain other measures had been taken in this regard.

From 2002 to March 10 this year, 1691 cases of kidnapping were registered. In year 2002, the figure was 608 and in 2003, 500 cases. Next year 509 cases were registered. Up to March 10 this year, 74 cases had been registered. Interestingly the number of such cases in Ludhiana and Jalandhar is exceptionally high as compared to the figures for other districts.

Replying to another question asked by Mr Manpreet Badal, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said that in the future the mobile phone numbers of those IPS, IAS and other officers, whose phone bills were paid by the government would be included in the government directory.

Replying to a question asked by Chaudhary Balbir Singh, the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, said rice worth Rs 16 crore was to be recovered from rice millers for the past two years.


Ball in India’s court on Baglihar issue: Pak
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ranjit Sagar Dam (Gurdaspur), March 30
The ball is in India’s court on the issue of the Baglihar dam,” said Mr Sayeed Jamati Ali Shah, Commissioner of the Indus Water Commission from Pakistan, while talking to The Tribune here today.

Mr Shah along with three other members of the commission from Pakistan, including Mr Arif Nadim, Secretary, Irrigation, Pakistani Punjab and Mr Waris Kazi, Deputy Commissioner, Indus Water Commission, was here to visit the Ranjit Sagar dam.

While responding to queries on the contentious issue of the Baglihar dam, he said Pakistan had already moved to the World Bank for the appointment of a neutral expert to adjudicate the issue of the Baglihar dam.

However, within the framework of the Indus water treaty, a compromise can still be forwarded before the neutral expert to resolve the matter mutually. Since Pakistan has gone in for the neutral expert after exhausting all possible mutual negotiations within the framework of the commission the onus now was on India to come forward with a compromise formula.

When asked about it objections of Pakistan to the Baglihar project, Mr Shah said various design parameters proposed by India could not be resolved between both parties. Generally, within the provisions of Indus water treaty, India can construct run-of the-river projects on the western rivers of erstwhile Punjab.

However, in the case of the Baglihar project, certain issues like the pond capacity, gated and ungated flow of water and water inflow into the turbines could not be resolved within the framework of the commission. So, Pakistan, exercising its rights under the Indus water treaty, went ahead to seek the intervention of a neutral adjudicator on the matter.

He said the present visit of the commission members was general in nature. During visit, the members visited various power projects being constructed by India on the Ravi river basin. The members visited the sites for the Chamera stage I, II and III projects. After visiting the Ranjit Sagar dam today, the team will visit the Shahpur Kandi dam site and the Madhopur head works tomorrow before moving for a meeting of the Indus Water Commission.

Mr D.K. Mehta, Commissioner, Indus Water Commission, from the Indian side, when asked to comment on the statement issued by his Pakistani counterpart said the Baglihar issue was not on the agenda of the meeting.

Mr Bhalinder Singh, Chief Engineer Ranjit Sagar dam, was appointed as adviser to the commission members from Pakistan for the present visit.


Premature retirement part of vendetta: Prof Verma
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, March 30
A Punjabi University Professor, Dr H.R. Verma, who was given premature retirement by the authorities following charges of harassment levelled against him by a girl research scholar, alleged that the decision was taken ex-parte and no chance was given to him to defend himself.

Claiming that the decision on his premature retirement was part of a vendetta carried out against him, Dr Verma accused the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr S.S. Boparai, of victimising him. Dr Verma, who belongs to the Physics Department, had earlier appealed to the university authorities that an inquiry into the alleged harassment case should be conducted by outside experts from the field of physics.

Dr Verma, while protesting against the decision, stated that the university authorities should be restrained from taking any action on the basis of an inquiry report in which he had not been given an oppurtunity to even present himself before the committee. He claimed that despite writing numerous letters to the Inquiry Officer to present his case and submitting a list of defence witnesses, his case had been decided ex-parte. Saying that this went against the principles of natural justice, Dr Verma said that “he had fallen out with the Vice-Chancellor on two counts.”

Stating that he was debarred from headship and deanship under a premeditated plan, Dr Verma claims that the date of his appointment as Professor was arbitrarily changed from April 1, 1995, to July 27, 1998, on January 1, 2004, to stall him from becoming the Head of the Physics Department.

According to Dr Verma, the same report of the preliminary inquiry committee was used by the Vice-Chancellor to suspend him on February 7, 2004, as he had applied for the post of Registrar of Punjabi University for which Dr Param Bakshish Singh, a close relative of the Vice-Chancellor, was selected.

Talking about the harassment case filed against him by research scholar Punita Verma, he said all allegations levelled by her were false. He claims that Punita took up a job soon after she registered herself as a PhD student and, therefore, could not complete her thesis work for which she wrote to him a number of apology letters which have been produced by him during cross-examination. He said after submitting in writing that Punita “had nothing against Dr Verma” a migration certificate was issued to her to enable her to get registered at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, and the case was finally closed on May 6, 2003.

Dr Verma alleges that nine months after the case was closed, it was used as a pretext by the university authorities to victimise him and ultimately suspend him. A spokesperson for the university, Dr B.S. Sandhu, when contacted, said that Dr Verma was given eight or 10 chances of defending himself, but he chose to avail none of these.

Dr Sandhu stated that Dr Verma excused himself on one pretext or the other from the hearing, including on medical grounds. He was then issued a notice by the Inquiry Officer stating that an ex-parte decision would be taken in his case in the event of his absence from the Inquiry proceedings.


Patient ‘raped’ by two hospital employees
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 30
A young female patient, Daljit Kaur (name changed), daughter of Kehar Singh (name changed) of Lambra village, who was operated on for appendicitis four days ago at a private hospital at Lachowal, was allegedly raped by two employees of the hospital last night.

According to close relations of the victim, who were attending to her at the hospital, two employees of the hospital, Mintu of Lambra and Bittu of Chakowal, administered an intoxicant injection to Daljit Kaur when she complained of pain in the stitches. Thereafter, they took the girl to the adjoining room for a “check-up” where they allegedly raped her one by one.

When the girl came to her senses, she reported the incident to her relatives and to the doctor at the hospital. In the morning, some influential persons, including panchayats of the area, intervened to save the family from slander and “settled” the issue amicably. Mintu and Bittu were told to apologise for the heinous crime to the girl and others. But the duo disappeared from the scene due to which a settlement could not be done.

The girl was taken to the local Civil Hospital this afternoon. Dr G.P.S. Bedi, Senior Medical Officer of the hospital, said on receiving the patient, he first informed the police. A board of two lady doctors had been constituted by him for a medical examination of the girl. He said after the medical examination, the girl had been admitted to the hospital for treatment. The swab of the girl had been sent to the Chemical Examiner, Government of Punjab, Patiala, through the police for examination.

Meanwhile, Mr Kuldip Singh, DSP, along with other police officials reached the hospital and recorded the statement of the girl. According to police sources, Mintu and Bittu were still at large. A case has been registered.


Police-industry interface sees real-time action
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi (Patiala), March 30
A police-industry interface held here today to know about the problems being faced by the industry in the Dera Bassi and Lalru belt saw a real time action when an industry member told the police officials present on the spot that the local truck union members had waylaid a private truck while its owner was loading material at his factory.

Earlier the industry members of both the Dera Bassi and Lalru areas had been stressing on Zonal Inspector-General of Police Rajinder Singh and other senior officials present at the function, to check monopolistic trade practices of local truck union. They said despite assurances from Patiala MP Preneet Kaur and even State Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the union was continuing to charge industrialists on freight according to its own laws.

Even as the discussion was going on, Winsome Textiles head S.K. Gupta got up to say that he had received a phone call that a private truck he had hired from Chandigarh to carry his material had been waylaid by members of the local truck union and taken to the office of the truck union. Mr Gupta said he had called the private truck to his factory as he had obtained a stay order from the Punjab and Haryana High Court restraining the local union from forcing to hire trucks only from it.

The Zonal Inspector-General immediately asked senior officers, including Deputy Inspector-General of Police Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota and Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai, who were also present on the occasion, to look into the matter. Subsequently, the police authorities reached the spot and got the truck released from the union office.

Mr Rajinder Singh, while addressing industrialists on the occasion, said he would not allow unfair practices of the local truck union. He said none was above law and that the truck union would not be allow to stop any industrialist from running his business on professional lines. He also asked the industrialists to give details of the freight charges being billed by the local union and those charged by truck operators in Chandigarh and Rajpura.

Earlier, Mr M.M. Verma, general secretary of the Lalru Industries Association, and Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, general secretary of the Dera Bassi Industries Association, briefed the senior officials that industrialists of the area were not being allowed to get their goods transported at market rates. He said in case they wanted to book a truck for Mumbai, they had to pay Rs 40,000, while the market rate was only Rs 16,000. Due to this, many industrialists were shifting their base to Baddi in Himachal Pradesh where they were already being offered various concessions, they said. The leaders said political will was needed to stop this unfair practice. They should be ensured justice by the district police, they said.


Sarpanches directed to utilise grants in time
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 30
If any sarpanch failed to utilise the grant sanctioned under the MP-lad Central government-sponsored schemes for various development works, disciplinary action would be initiated, said Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP, today. He was presiding over a meeting of the Monitoring and Vigilance Committee held at the Bachat Bhavan to take stock of the implementation of Central government.-sponsored development schemes in the district.

He directed officials concerned to present cheques to sarpanches only with the consent and in the presence of the MP, otherwise he would recommend discipalinary action against them.

He took stock of the programme of the Sampooran Gramin Rozgar Yojna, the Indira Awas Yojna, the Prime Minister Gramin Udey Yojna, computeri-sation of land records, rural water supply, the Swarn Jyanti Self-employment Scheme, the National Old- age Pension Scheme, National Family Planning Scheme, the fuel and fodder project and the Prime Minister Gramin Sarak Yojna.

He said it must be ensured that the grants sanctioned must reach the real beneficiary and it must be utilised for the purpose, for which it had been sanctioned.

He expressed concern over encroachments by individuals on the village ponds and cremation ground land in villages. He directed the district administration to immediately launch a campaign to remove all such encroachments in villages. He also directed the Rural Development Department to ensure proper cleaning of village ponds. He also directed officers to ensure their presence in offices, so that the people did not suffer and their grievances were redressed on priority. He appreciated the working of the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, gave detailed information about the ongoing development projects in the district. He assured the MP that the district administration would always give top priority to the redressal of public grievances. He also assured that all the grants would be properly utilised.

Mr D.S. Walia, ADC(D), Mr Pakhar Singh, Chairman of the Zila Parishad, also spoke on the occasion.


Punjab to spend Rs 1400 cr on roads
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 30
The Punjab government will spend Rs 1400 crore on the four-laning and repair of different roads besides constructing some bridges on various rivers and seasonal rivulets in the state in the ensuing year.

The government has also decided to spend huge money on various public benefiting schemes like old-age pensions, widow pensions and shagun schemes, claimed Mrs Preneet Kaur, Member of Parliament, Patiala. The MP was addressing a public rally after laying four foundation stones for improving the condition of four roads, including the Dera Bassi-Mubarikpur-Ramgarh road, the Dera Bassi-Barwala road, the Bhankharpur-Mubarikpur road and the Mubarikpur-Sundran-Nimbuan road.

Apart from this Mrs Preneet Kaur also laid the foundation stone of a bridge to be constructed on the Dera Bassi-Mubarikpur-Ramgarh road on Mendhkali rivulet in Mubarikpur village near Dera Bassi.

She claimed that Rs 10.50 crore would be spent on the project on raising the level, widening and strengthening these roads. In addition the government had also planned to spend Rs 13 crore on other link roads. The bridge on the seasonal rivulet, Mendhkal, would come up at a cost of Rs 3.21 crores. The MP directed officials of Building and Roads wing of the Public Works Department (PWD) to complete the project by next year and asked Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner (DC), Patiala, to inspect the project from time to time.

Mrs Preneet Kaur was accompanied by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, state Cabinet Minister for PWD (B and R), Mr Tejveer Singh, DC, Patiala, Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board and Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, president of District Congress Committee.

Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, vice-chairman Punjab State Industrial and Development Corporation, gave a memorandum listing the problems of small scale industrialists of Mubarikpur Focal Point and local residents relating to the shortage of teachers in government schools and doctors in hospitals in the area and many more, to the MP.

Mrs Sheelam Sohi raised the issue of old-age pension which had not granted to many beneficiaries as yet. 


US arms sale poses threat to Sikhs, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 30
The USA has spurred an arms race by giving a nod to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan and offering the same to India. The SAD (Amritsar) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, stated this while addressing a press conference here today.

Mr Mann said this move has raised concern on the security of Sikh population in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan. He said the USA had reasoned that the sale of F-16s that could carry nuclear weapons would enhance the feeling of security in India and Pakistan. He said since both nations possessed deadly nuclear weapons, Sikhs faced a great threat in the event of a nuclear exchange between the two countries. If the USA wished to give F-16s to India and Pakistan, it must think of the safety of the Sikhs and its security, he added.

Mr Mann proposed that the USA, the UN, NATO, and the European Union should declare the “Sikh homeland” a no-fly zone for military aircraft to India, Pakistan, China, and Israel. He also sought the deployment of Patriot missiles by the USA in this zone and other military and diplomatic measures to ensure that none of these countries violate “no fly-zone”.

Mr Mann alleged the world must know that the “Sikhs have been the biggest victims of ethnic cleansing in 1947 and also the victims of genocide by the Indian state in 1984”. He said not a single perpetrator of those crimes had been brought to the book by the Indian Government and all western democracies had remained a mute spectator to the tragedy.

Speaking on the denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, he said it was a positive step and his party had lobbied for it. He alleged that Mr Modi had closed his eyes to human rights violation in his state. He said it was unfortunate that the Prime Minister and Mr Badal showed their concern on visa issue, while none of the political parties exhibited concern on the turban issue in France. Mr Mann said he would also seek the visa denial to Mr L.K. Advani, Mr P. Chidambaram, Mr Jagdish Tytler, Mr Sajjan Kumar, Mr Siddharth Shankar Ray, Mr Julius Rebeiro, K.P.S. Gill, Gen R.S. Dayal, and Gen Brar from the USA. He also demanded an independent probe into the Kanishka tragedy.

Mr Mann also came down heavily on what he termed dictatorial attitude of Mr Badal and the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. He said both leaders were not ready to hear anything against them and had curbed democratic traditions.

He alleged that both of them were stifling democracy in their parties. He said the Election Commission must take notice of it, as both the parties claimed to have a democratic set-up. He said Mr Jagmeet Brar had always raised concerns of Punjab in Parliament, but Capt Amarinder was disrespecting him.

Mr Mann welcomed the withdrawal of cess on diesel and petrol, as it would have decreased their sale in the state and spurred their smuggling from the neighbouring states. He said VAT should not be implemented on tractor-trailers, manures, pesticides, and medicines, as it would affect the farmers and poor.


Wakf Board: Siddiqui seeks more time to reply
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Punjab’s former Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui is involved in yet another controversy. He has not submitted his reply to a memorandum issued to him by the Centre in February regarding an appointment in the Wakf Board.

The appointment was made by Mr Siddiqui in his capacity as Administrator before the Punjab Wakf Board became fully functional in November last year with the nomination of seven members.

Sources in Punjab’s Department of Home Affairs and Justice say that the former DGP was granted 10 days’ time by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs last month to explain his stand in the appointment matter. But Mr Siddiqui has reportedly sought more time from the authorities concerned.

He has informed them of his desire to scrutinise the records first. The sources assert that the relevant records are currently in the Central Government’s possession. As such, these are not readily available for Mr Siddiqui’s scrutiny.

Giving details of the memorandum, the sources say the former DGP was initially asked by the authorities concerned to show cause why his pensionary benefits should not be withheld. The memorandum had added that Mr Siddiqui had violated Punjab Wakf regulations by appointing Mr M.S. Wani to the board.

This is the second controversy Mr Siddiqui is allegedly involved in. He was earlier blamed for violating the rules while issuing orders pertaining to promotions and other benefits granted to police personnel. In fact, he was accused of being on an “out-of-turn promotion spree” before demitting office.

Mr Siddiqui was not available for comments on both issues. But sources close to him say that the former DGP will submit the reply to the show-cause notice soon after seeing the records.

They insist that there is no irregularity in either the appointment made by him or in the promotion orders issued by him before he retired on January 31 after attaining the age of superannuation.

They add that the former DGP was acting well within his rights while making the appointment and issuing the promotion orders. The rules permitted him to issue such orders, they assert.

Meanwhile, sources in the Punjab police headquarters claim that standing orders regarding the recruitment and promotion of police personnel had been drafted by senior police functionaries for preventing “any kind of controversy” pertaining to such orders.


Roadways workers stop buses plying illegally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
On the call given by the CTU, a joint action committee of the Punjab Roadways Motor Mazdoor Union today gheraoed the private buses allegedly owned by political leaders, which were plying without any route permits.

Mr Gurnam Singh, joint secretary, state-level committee of Punjab Roadways, while addressing the workers sitting on a dharna outside the bus stand, alleged that more than 100 buses belonging to Congress MLAs, ministers and their kin were plying without permit. He alleged that these private transporters were plying these buses at Patiala, Ludhiana and various other routes illegally. He said these buses were causing a huge loss to the state exchequer.

He said efforts of the union had resulted in the earning of a profit of Rs 2 lakh by stopping these private buses plying without permit. He said the workers barricaded the makeshift bus stand and allowed buses to operate which had genuine route permits. He said the step was taken to draw the attention of the government in their bid to ask for new buses as the old buses were in a dilapidated condition, causing loss to the roadways. He alleged the state roadways was suffering losses with the connivance of senior officials who had turned a blind eye towards the private operators running their buses without permit.

The joint secretary urged the state government to ban the plying of these buses with immediate effect.


PSEB official’s plea to Chief Secy
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 30
An officer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has written to the Punjab Chief Secretary urging that he (Chief Secretary) should make efforts for getting the payments of the bills, pending towards certain officers, including those of the PCS cadre, cleared.

A letter, mentioning the names of defaulters of the PSEB, has been written to the Punjab Chief Secretary by the Assistant Engineer, city subdivision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Sangrur, in which he has requested the Chief Secretary to make efforts for securing the payments of pending electricity bills of some PCS officers.

Sources in the PSEB told The Tribune that out of six pending electricity bills of the officers, mentioned in the letter, five belonged to the PCS cadre, who had served on different posts at Sangrur in the past years. The names of the officers are Mr G.K. Singh, then ADC, Sangrur, (pending electricity bill amount about Rs 19,000), Mr Bikramjit Singh (about Rs 5700), Mr Pushpinder Singh (more than Rs 950), Mr K.S. Kang (more than Rs 1800), and Mr Deepak Raj Garg, then DTO, Sangrur, (more than Rs 9500). Besides these officers, another name is Mr Ranbir Singh Mann, who has also not paid his pending electricity bill of more than Rs 4,000.

The sources further said the Assistant Engineer had also written to the Chief Secretary that the higher authorities were putting pressure on his office to get the payments of these pending electricity bills cleared. He has also mentioned in the letter that his office had written letters several times to these officers for making the payments of pending electricity bills, but to no avail.


Record power generation at Ropar plant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, has set a record by generating over 9023 million units( MUs) of power during the current financial year. Though the financial year will end tomorrow, the 1260 MW plant crossed the figure of 9000 MUs at 6 a.m. today, surpassing the earlier record of 8856 MUs set in 2001-02.

Elated over the performance of the plant, its General Manager, Mr Ravinder Singh Sohal, said besides the record generation, the highest-ever plant load factor of 83 per cent had also been recorded. The generation target for the current financial year was 8292 MUs fixed by the Central Electricity Authority.

Mr Sohal said that by generating 540 MUs more than that recorded in the previous paddy season at the Ropar plant, the PSEB saved Rs 100 crore it would have spent on the purchase of power.

During this paddy season, the entire power generating system remained under a lot of stress. As the availability of power from Bhakra and other units had come down because of inadequate water in the reservoirs, the Ropar super plant contributed the most in tackling the power crisis in the state.

On fuel side also, a saving of Rs 50 crore was made during the current and last financial years by attaining a high level of efficiency. Even the auxiliary consumption was reduced by about 5 per cent, thus saving crores of rupees.

The Ropar plant is three times bigger in capacity than the Lehra Mohabbat plant. And this level of performance has been achieved when three old units of the plant are due to put under a life-extension programme. Moreover, there was a shortage of 50 engineers to operate the plant. 


Coop bodies generate profit of Rs 3.5 cr
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 30
The cooperative institutions in the district have earned a net profit approximately to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore and this profit would be distributed among members as per 8 per cent dividend, said Dr S.K. Batish, Deputy Registrar Cooperative Society, addressing the annual general body meeting of Fatehgarh Sahib Central Cooperative Bank Ltd, at Sirhind today.

Mr Gurdaman Singh, MD of the bank, said the bank had entered the 13th year of its working. The total business turnover was Rs 5,500 crore approximately and the paid up share capital was Rs 3.36 crore. 


Kin of martyrs get relief
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 30
Cheques worth Rs 2 lakh each were given to parents of 13 soldiers who lost their lives in various incidents while defending the nation since January 1999.

The cheques were distributed a ceremony conducted by the District Sainik Welfare Board. Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon handed over the cheques to family members of the martyrs.

Mr Dhillon also distributed certificates to 46 youngsters who had undergone a course conducted by the District Sainik Board. He said the course would help the youngsters in getting into all the three services of the armed forces.

District Welfare Board Deputy Director Surmukh Singh and Board Vice President Brig D.S. Sidhu (retd) and Col Bakhtavar Singh (retd) and Col P.S. Sohal (retd) also spoke on the occasion. 


CBI probe sought into PF officer’s directive
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 30
Three unions of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) have urged the Union Labour Ministry to entrust the enquiry pertaining to a directive of the Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner (APFC) to the thermal plant to release provident funds of Rs 1.55 crore to employees who worked on a contract basis between 1990-1994 to the CBI.

Claiming that the assessment of the APFC was illegal, the Employees Federation of Thermal Plant (EFTP), the Punjab Pardesh Employees Federation (PPEF) and the Engineering Association said the thermal plant could not be made liable to pay provident funds as the contractors had separate accounts for employees working with them.

The unions alleged that APFC failed to recover Rs 40 lakh from the contractors.

When contacted the General Manager of the thermal plant, Mr R.S. Sohal, said the plant had filed an appeal against the order passed by the APFC and would also approach the High Court if need be.


Govt’s attitude callous, say pensioners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Accusing the state government authorities of adopting a callous attitude, Punjab’s Municipal Corporation Pensioners Association has claimed that orders regarding the payment of dearness and old-age allowance had not been implemented.

The association, in a press statement, asserted that the authorities had time and again issued orders regarding the grant of 3 per cent dearness allowance, besides the merger of 50 per cent relief in basic pension. However, steps to implement the orders had so far not been taken by the officials concerned.


Olympian Bahadur Singh to be honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Renowned poets will recite verses at a special kavi durbar to be held at Gurdwara Ramgarhia, Jalandhar, on April 3. Mr K.S.Bahra, a spokesman for the Ramgarhia Virasat(Jalandhar), organisers of the event, said while talking to The Tribune.

On the occasion, prominent Ramgarhians, who have achieved distinction in their respective fields, will also be honoured. They include Dr Shangara Singh, Olympian shot putter Bahadur Singh Saggu, Mr S.S.Ajimal, Mr H.S. Sagar and Wing Commander (Dr) Balwinder Singh.


High Court orders re-auction of Punwire
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 30
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today set aside sale of a portion of Mohali-based sick company Punwire to a Chandigarh-based group in December, 2004.

Taking up an application filed by the Sun Group, which had bid a higher amount for the buildings, Mr Justice M.M. Kumar ordered re-auction of the buildings and other assets. The Judge also ordered that the workers of the now-defunct company be also involved in the process.

It may be recalled that on February 4, the Sun Group had deposited Rs 2 crore with the official liquidator as part of the Rs 12 crore bid for the company.

Earlier, on January 28, the High Court had stayed registration of the sale deed of a portion of Punwire to Chandigarh-based Winsome Group in December, 2004, by the official liquidator following a consolidated bid made by the Sun Group to buy the entire assets of the company.

Later, the company's liquidator sold the portion for Rs 3.11 crore. In its order, the court also directed Winsome to hand over possession of the assets of Punwire to the official liquidator.


2 bank officials held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 30
The police has arrested five persons, including two bank officials of Cooperative Bank of Ibban village, for committing a fraud of Rs 30 lakh. While the main accused, Baljit Singh, secretary of the Cooperative Society, had moved out of the country even before the investigations could begin at least 12 other persons who reportedly have some involvement in the case are also at large. 

The ones who have been arrested are Kanwaljit Singh and Sadhu Singh, bank officials, Bakshish Singh, president of the society, Dyal Singh and Mewa Singh, other society members.

The investigation revealed that the members of the society had reportedly recommended loans for farmers who did not have any agricultural land. The bank employees, who were supposed to verify the credentials of the enlisted farmers, did not get it done as they were allegedly working in connivance with the members of the society and patwari who were minting money from the scheme.

In many cases, the records were showing of higher amount of loans taken by the farmers than they had actually been allowed. The scheme had left many farmers in debted. Their complaints that lodged with the Cooperative Society were not redressed for months.

Investigation into the matter had begun in December 2003 when a former sarpanch of the village, Mr Mahinder Singh, had reported the matter to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma. Following this, at least 35 other complainants had also come up with cases of various anomalies in their accounts. The DC had then marked the inquiry to the DSP (D), Mr Bhajan Singh, who got the case registered at police station.


Man held for murdering wife
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 30
Pardeep Kumar, son of Des Raj, of the local Bhandari Mohalla, was arrested by the Batala Police yesterday on the charge of killing his wife. According to the chief of the police district, Dr Jatindra Kumar Jain, after committing the crime on March 25 he had absconded. 

Mr Jain told this correspondent here today that Pardeep Kumar confessed that he killed his wife because of her “immoral” character. Pardeep Kumar alleged that his wife was hobnobbing with certain anti-social element who used to visit his tea-stall. He alleged that she had illicit relations with these anti-social elements. He said he feared a threat to his life from these anti-social elements, so he killed his wife.

Dr Jain said Pardeep attacked his sleeping wife with the handle of a hand pump and she died on the spot. Thereafter, he ran away. He has also reportedly taken away his three children along with him.

The three children are in police custody.


3 arrested in murder case
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 30
The city police claimed to have solved the case of blind murder of a 70 year-old lady, Surjit Kaur, with the arrest of three relatives of the deceased here today. Surjit Kaur was reportedly strangulated to death on March 21 and later her body was found in the fields in Morinda subdivision. A case of murder had been registered in the police station, Morinda.

A team of police personnel led by Superintendent of the Police (D) Surjit Singh Garewal has arrested the three accused include Sawarn Kaur, Jagmohan Singh, and Darshan Singh. The fourth accused, Avtar Singh, is still absconding. The police here revealed that Surjit Kaur was murdered by her son, Avtar Singh, daughter in law Swaran Kaur and other two relatives Jagmohan Singh and Darshan Singh following a dispute over the possession of land.

Giving details the police said that Surjit Kaur, a resident of Kharar was strangulated to death by the four accused on March 21 at about 10 pm. Thereafter, the accused sprayed acid on the deceased’s face and also over her hands to hide her identity.

Later at about 2.30 am on March 22, the two accused Jagmohan Singh and Sawaran Kaur —took her body on a motor cycle to throw it into the Bhakra canal. But when they reached near Morinda by-pass, the motor cycle developed a technical fault. The two dumped the body in the nearby fields. The police said that Avtar Singh was not on good terms with his mother Surjit Kaur for the past some time. Surjit Kaur had been living alone in the upper portion of their house. The immediate cause of the murder was said to be that Surjit Kaur had sold land for Rs 90,000 and deposited the amount in a Bank in Ropar. Besides, she had refused to give Avatar Singh his share of the property.


Undertrial escapes from hospital
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 30
A jail inmate, who was arrested on the charge of rape nine months back, fled from the local Civil Hospital here today. According to sources, the accused, Joginder Singh, was a resident of Kadahewala village. He got admitted to the hospital feigning some problem in his back on March 21.

Sources said today morning he asked the constable on duty to open his handcuff as he wanted to get fresh. He went to the toilet and fled through its window.

He then reached the terrace of the building and crossed over to the other block of the hospital before escaping.

Sources said he was booked under Sections 363, 366, and 376, of the IPC.

Meanwhile, the constable on duty, Sukhdev Singh, has been suspended and a case registered against him under Sections 223 and 225 of the IPC for negligence.

A case has also been registered against Joginder Singh under Section 224 of the IPC. 


Labourer killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 30
A labourer was killed when a truck driver who went berserk overan him near the YPS chowk in the city late last night.

The truck driver, Rattan Lal, overan the labourer, Pankaj Kumar, who was on a motor cycle, after breaking through the NIS gate. After colliding the with motor cycle, the truck driver lost control over his vehicle and rammed into a tent full of police personnel who have set up a temporary chowki near the YPS chowk. 


Rape accused arrested

Tribune News Service

Kharar, March 30
The police has arrested Balbir Singh, who is accused of raping his 15- year-old orphan niece at Malikpur Taparian village near here.

The victim, now six month pregnant has named her father’s elder cousin Balbir Singh as the father of her unborn child.


Seminar on Guru Nanak begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
By understanding the teachings of Guru Nanak we could greatly help improve human relationships. So we must endeavour to bring about improvement in human conduct. These observations were made by Mr Gurdev Singh Brar, a retired IAS and President of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, in his presidential remarks at inaugural session of a two-day national seminar on “Guru Nanak Bani ‘Asa patti mahala pehla’: a multidimensional study”, which got underway today at the Guru Nanak Dev University here.

Dr Davinder Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs of Jammu University, delivered the keynote address.

Dr Jaswinder Kaur Dhillon, Dean, Faculty of Religious Studies also expressed her views. 


NIT teaching faculty holds protest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 30
The teaching faculty of the Dr B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology (NIT) held a protest demanding ouster of the sacked Director. Mr Pramod S. Mehta, who had been issued termination orders by the Ministry of Human Resource Development since March 23, had been coming to his office since then. Even as the Chairman of the Board of governors, Mr Hari Gautam, and Registrar, Mr K.K. Dhir, had been directed to hand over the charge to Dr R.Sharma, seniormost faculty member, it had not happened for almost a week now.

Finally, the faculty members resorted to protest and raised slogans against the authorities. They demanded that the Director be not allowed to enter the campus. Then they procured a letter from the ministry and after taking permission from the Chairman urged Dr Sharma to join the office by the end of the day.


“Jashan-2005” concludes at GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
Rahul and Suchika of the Architecture Department were adjudged Mr Jashan and Miss Jashan at the Guru Nanak Dev University inter-departmental competition “Jashan-2005” that concluded here yesterday.

The Department of Commerce and Business Management won the literary and dance trophies while the Department of Applied Chemical Science and Technology lifted the fine arts trophy.


Inter-medical college festival from April 2
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 30
To celebrate the achievements of their institution over the past 50 years, students of Government Medical College here, are all set to organise an all-India inter-medical/dental college festival, "Spectrum 2005", from April 2 to 4.

The festival will be inaugurated by the Chief Minster, Capt Amarinder Singh, on April 2, according to Dr Angel Rajan Singh, chief coordinator of the event. 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |