P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSEB staff strike work for 2nd day
Tribune Reporters & PTI

Members of families of the PSEB employees protest against the move to privatise the PSEB in Bathinda on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph
Members of families of the PSEB employees protest against the move to privatise the PSEB in Bathinda on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Jalandhar, April 20
Most of the employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board remained on strike for the second day today in protest against the proposed move of unbundling of the board.

“Eighty five per cent of the employees remained on strike today and participated in the gate rallies,” said Raj Kumar Choudhary, state president of the council of junior engineers of the PSEB, said.

While addressing a gate rally in front of the Shakti Bhavan here, Mr Choudhary said employees would not tolerate any attempt to privatize the board and take their fight to its logical conclusion.

The functioning of Ropar, Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda thermal plants were also put on halt by the striking employees, he added.

The employees union had called a two-day strike since yesterday.

Mr Choudhry said on coming May 31 and June 11, employees of the board all over the country would observe strike in protest against the proposed implementation of the Electricity Act-2003.

SANGRUR: Under the banner of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, employees of the various local subdivisions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) observed a strike on the second day today and held a rally at the PSEB Circle office here.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Phaljit Singh, convener of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum; Mr Mohinder Singh Kala, circle president of the Technical Services Union; Mr Kaur Singh Bath, circle president of the federation AITUC; Mr Pawan Harchandpuri, circle president of the Ministerial Services Union, Sangrur; and Mr R.M. Bansal, Circle secretary of the JEs council.

PHAGWARA: Strike by PSEB staff was marked by rallies and dharnas here today.

Addressing the protestors, Mr Tarsem Lohia, a senior leader of the Technical Services Union, claimed that the strike was complete. He flayed the Punjab Chief Minister’s statement about dividing board into three corporations. The unbundling and corporatisation of the board would render employees jobless, make electricity costly and put excessive burden on the poor people of the state, he alleged.

HOSHIARPUR: The Joint Struggle Coordination Committee, PSEB, Punjab, has termed the statement of Mr Lal Singh, Power Minister, Punjab, as misleading where he claimed that board would not be privatised and unbundling of the PSEB would not effect the employees and people of state. This was stated by Mr Satish Chander, co-convener of the Technical Services Union of the PSEB in a press note here today. He said past experience of seven states, including Delhi, revealed that unbundling lead to privatisation in different steps.

He thanked the employees and organisations for their overwhelming support to the cause of PSEB employees.

Mr Satish Chander and Mr Om Parkash, general secretaries, Punjab Ministerial Services Union, PSEB, said 86 to 95 percent employees observed strike on the second day today in Amritsar, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar, Ropar, Khanna, Patiala, Bathinda and Ferozepore circles.

FEROZEPORE: The PSEB employees continued their protest against the unbundling and privatization of the board for the second consecutive day here today. The employees sat on the dharna and raised slogans against the state government.


PSEB unbundling inevitable: CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today made it clear that the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board was inevitable and the government was fully committed to taking this step very soon.

Addressing a press conference here after inaugurating the railway overbridge over 22 No railway crossing, Capt Amarinder Singh lashed out at critics of the unbundling process, including the PSEB Engineers Association. He said he had met representatives of the engineers association many times in the past and he had already put forward his government’s viewpoint on this issue.

Reacting sharply, Capt Amarinder Singh said now he had no time for such trivial issues like meeting members of engineers association and asked them to meet the chairman, who, he said, would make the government’s policy on the unbundling process clear to them.

The CM added that the engineers association was time and again pointing to the fact that certain states like Orissa and Delhi, where unbundling had been done, were ‘complete failures’. However, he insisted, that there were success stories, too, in other states and the engineers association was deliberately ignoring this fact. He also made it clear that both transmission and distribution systems of the power board would remain under government control while the generation system would be `corporatised’

The CM added that last year the government had to purchase power worth Rs 1600 crore from various agencies outside the state and this year the state had to purchase power worth Rs 2400 crore. Keeping in view all these factors, the government was left with no option but to go in for unbundling.

Capt Amarinder Singh added that the government had identified nearly 1250 schools in the state where the failure rate was more than the success rate. He said the government had identified a couple of institutions which would adopt these schools by lending teachers. Once this was done, nearly 5000 teachers of these schools would be rendered surplus and all of them would be adjusted in other schools.


Road repair starts amid protest
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 20
Amid slogans being raised by rebel groups of the Congress, PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa inaugurated the repair work on the Barnala-Raikot (Ludhiana) road today. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 28.15 crore.

Addressing the gathering, the minister recalled the achievements of Capt Amarinder Singh’s regime. He came down heavily on the previous Akali regime, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Bajwa said the state government would focus on development for its remaining term of about two years. All roads of the state would be repaired. The World Bank had assured the state government to provide Rs 1,100 crore this year for strengthening roads.

A sum of Rs 28 crore would be spent on the Sangrur-Ludhiana road. The Ludhiana-Ahmedgarh road would be widened apart from completing the Barnala-Raikot road in less than a year’s time.

The MLA from Sangrur, Mr Arvind Khanna, said due to an indifferent attitude of previous NDA government at the Centre, funds were denied to the state government. Now the state was back on the rails and development was its priority. The vice-president of the PPCC, Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, called upon the people to rise and ensure another term for Capt Amarinder Singh.

Senior leader Surinder Pal Singh Sibia also criticised the previous Akali regime.


SGPC to withdraw dossier on Darbar Sahib today
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 20
The dossier to declare Darbar Sahib as world heritage site is likely to be withdrawn by the SGPC executive meeting, scheduled to be held here tomorrow.

According to highly placed sources in the SGPC, the chief has already got the ‘green signal’ from the Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal to recommend immediate withdrawal of the dossier on the basis of steep division in the community the world over .

While majority of the executive members will recommend the withdrawal of the dossier , Bibi Kiranjot Kaur , an executive member who had coordinated preparation of the voluminous document, will give a dissenting note. On her return from Pakistan, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said at least six members of the executive body were the same who had earlier passed the dossier during the presidentship of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar.

She said it was shocking that certain persons, close to SGPC chief, had described the dossier as ‘deep-rooted conspiracy’ to denigrate Sikhism. She said Mr Badungar should come out openly in favour of the dossier as it was he who had given the ‘go-ahead’ to the document. The SGPC’s general secretary Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, and some members from Haryana are likely to support Bibi Kiranjot Kaur on this issue. Mr Bhaur had already announced that the required amendments should be made in the dossier.

Cautioning the SGPC and SAD against showing “undue haste” in withdrawal of dossier, the SAD(A) suggested that intra-party politics should not overshadow a golden opportunity for Sikhism to get WHS status.

In an urgent message to the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, and in an open letter to Mr Badal, Prof Jagmohan Singh and Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, both general secretaries of SAD (A) while endorsing the dossier as a comprehensive document to bring Darbar Sahib, the first Sikh shrine on the world heritage map, said discussions and debate could bring about a consensus on minor changes. Significantly the party pointed out that according to guidelines of UNESCO, the Government of India was only authorised to withdraw the dossier once submitted. They demanded immediate intervention by the Home Ministry to hold discussions on the issue.

Hitting out at critics of the dossier and in view of possible rejection of it at the SGPC, the SAD (A) stated that contrary to objections, out of a total of 788 world heritage sites, as many as 278 were religious in nature, including 50 relating to Christianity, evangelists (7), Eastern Orthodox Church (21), Protestants (5), Judaism (7), Islam (18), Buddhist (30), Hinduism (15), Confucianism (17) and indigenous beliefs (35).

Expressing doubts over the intentions of the SGPC in not allowing widespread discussion, the party decried the soft stand taken by the Jathedar of Akal Takht on such vital issue and urged him to call a meeting of various Sikh bodies to reach a consensus.


Budget session
Govt puts up half-hearted defence on vital issues
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Punjab Government, which drew flak on major issues like health, education and the quality of roads from the Opposition as well as the Treasury Benches, defended itself half-heartedly in the state Assembly during the Budget session that concluded yesterday. In fact, it faced a lot of embarrassment when ruling party MLAs had a dig at their own ministers.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh and Mr Randeep Singh Nabha, both from the Congress, minced no words while asking questions on health and other issues. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who came fully prepared, has the art of framing his questions in a manner that makes most ministers in the House sweat.

But Mr Randeep Singh, who does not make his point as frequently as Mr Bir Devinder Singh does, was quite sharp in hitting at the ministers concerned. He was quite vocal on health issues and posed hard-hitting questions on the filling of 1,375 vacant posts of doctors. “How should we face people on this issue?” he asked.

However, the Health Minister, Mr R.C. Dogra, had to give the same reply every time that there was a ban on the recruitment of doctors. He appeared helpless as the decision on lifting the ban is to be taken by the council of ministers. For how long would people have to wait for the filling of the vacant posts. Members were unable to get any time-frame from the government.

Mr Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, Mr Manpreet Badal, Mr Balwinder Bhunder, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Tikshan Sud, Mr Sukhpal Singh, Mr Balbir Singh Bath, Mr Des Raj Dugga, Mr Sohan Singh Tandal, Mr Tarlochan Singh and Mr Tota Singh were among other members who took the government to task on health, education, roads and related issues.

Mention of potholed roads was made repeatedly by members, including Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal. MLAs did not hesitate to tell Capt Amarinder Singh and the Public Works Minister, Mr Partap Bajwa, that cracks had appeared in roads at various places within a few months of their construction.

The issues of vacant posts of teachers, falling standards of education, etc, were raised repeatedly during question hour. The Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, had a tough time handling such questions. In fact, the state government was so confused over improving the functioning of its schools that it was unable to spell out a clear policy on this issue.

Vagueness in the replies given by most ministers, who seemingly attended the House half-prepared, was perceptible. There were assurances galore from most ministers as they tried to wriggle out of difficult situations.


Pakistan conceals death of Sikh militant
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
The Government of Pakistan has concealed the death of militant leader Balbir Singh Sandhu (80), a former general secretary of self-styled Council of Khalistan, for more than a month . He died in Lahore hospital on March 8 last month.

The acceptance of the death would have exposed Pakistan which has been denying that no Sikh militant leader was taking shelter on its soil.

He was cremated in Lahore itself in the presence of top militant leaders, currently taking shelter in Pakistan.

Sandhu, a prolific Punjabi writer, remained a naxalite before joining militancy under the influence of Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan. His Punjabi novel “Dhoor Urdi Rahi” used to be a “bible” for the Communist activists. He was instrumental in installing radio transmitter in the Golden Temple in 1980. He was inside the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar and succeeded to sneak into Pakistan.

He had written a book “Six Days eyewitness accounts of Operation Bluestar”. In 1990, he joined Dal Khalsa and remained with the outfit till 1998. Later he joined International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) led by Lakhmir Singh Rode. However, he deserted the ISYF too and had been leading an isolated life.


Sikh jatha back from Pak
Our Correspondent

Sikh pilgrims at Attari Railway Station after their return from Pakistan on Wednesday. — ANI
Sikh pilgrims at Attari Railway Station after their return from Pakistan on Wednesday. — ANI

Attari, April 20
‘Panj Piaras’ will lead the jatha to Pakistan on the occasion of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth in November this year . This was stated by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, SGPC member and leader of the Sikh jatha to Pakistan that returned here today after 10-day pilgrimage on the occasion of Baisakhi.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Kiranjot Kaur said she had met many persons in Pakistan who had expressed their desire to join the Sikh fold . For this purpose, ‘Panj Piaras’ would accompany the next SGPC jatha to Pakistan who would baptize the persons desirous of joining Sikh fold.

After arrival at the Attai Railway Station, Mr Balwinder Singh Chabbal of the Khalra Mission Committee said about 20,000 Sikhs joined the celebrations from all over the world this time, of which 4,000 were from India. He said the sangat was happy over the fact that new ‘sarais’ were being constructed at Gurdwara Tambu Sahib and Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and another one would be constructed soon at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore.

Mr Gurpanth Mann brother of famous Punjabi singer Gurdas Mann, said Pakistanis had accorded him a warm welcome. “It never felt like another country as except for Urdu signboards everything looked like hometown including the people,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bibi Jagir Kaur in a statement requested the Union Government to include a meeting of the SGPC with Gen Pervez Musharaff, President Pakistan, on his forthcoming visit to India.


FC reverses decision of Secretary on land allotment
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 20
In a landmark order, the Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, has shred to pieces a decision taken by the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, regarding the grant of a coloniser’s licence to the President of the Mohali Municipal Council.

Parts of the order delivered by the Financial Commissioner (FC), Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, yesterday, clearly state that the Secretary, Housing, has in his capacity as the appellant authority in the case “overstepped his jurisdiction” and “usurped the functioning of the competent authority” (who is the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority) (CA, PUDA).

The FC delivered these orders on a petition filed by the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) against an order passed by the Secretary, Housing, on August 2, 2004.

Following denial of a coloniser’s licence by the competent authority, company Janta Land Promoters Limited (JLPL) owned by the Mohali MC chief, Mr Kulwant Singh, had appealed to the Secretary, Housing, for revision of the competent authority’s decision.

In his decision of August 2, 2004, the Secretary, Housing, had asked the competent authority to reconsider its decision on the basis of certain observations made by him in the case.

However, the FC in her orders has reiterated that while the final decision in the case should be taken by the competent authority, the riders imposed by the Secretary, Housing, should not be considered as “directions to the competent authority, but may be kept in mind as its considered views on the matter. Since the prerogative, the duty, as well as the responsibility to grant the licence is squarely with him, the competent authority shall decide the issue of grant of licence… without the scope being hedged in by any directions”.

In his appeal to the Secretary, Housing, the coloniser had also roped in the PSIEC as a party. The coloniser had sought directions from the Secretary, Housing, (appellant authority in this case) to the PSIEC with regard to use of PSIEC roads that led to his proposed colony at Mohali. The Secretary, Housing, had in his orders held that when licence to develop a colony is granted to a promoter, the PSIEC is bound to construct the missing links as soon as it is possible after the coloniser deposits the assessed amount and departmental charges.

However, the FC has set aside the order of the Secretary in this regard. Pointing out that the appellant authority while dealing with the core issue of denial of access to JLPL appears to have over stepped his jurisdiction, the FC’s order stated: “The decision of the appellant authority in respect of providing access to the promoter company is contrary to the law of the land. The appellant authority appears to have violated the rights of the PSIEC by issuing mandatory direction to the PSIEC to provide connectivity.”

Quoting certain pronouncements of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a 1925 case, Mitra versus Municipal Committee, Lahore, the FC order has unambiguously laid down that the revenue ‘rastas’ lose their significance after the land is acquired by the government. “The appellant authority could not compel the PSIEC to construct roads for the purpose of providing connectivity to JLPL,” stated her orders.

Making another vital addition to her orders the FC has asked the competent authority to consider and satisfy himself as to the effect of the different orders of the Punjab and Hrayana High Court in the Forest Hill Resorts case at the time of the consideration of the issue of the licence.

The Minister for Housing and Urban Development in a controversial decision taken on October 31, 2003, allowed the change of land use of over 120 acres of land in Sohana and Lakhnaur villages owned by JLPL for the purpose of colonisation.

The decision was taken by the minister despite serious objections raised by the then CA, PUDA, and the then Secretary, Housing. Following this, the JLPL applied to PUDA for a license in March, 2004. But the competent authority refused granting a coloniser’s licence to the company on various grounds and even questioned the validity of the minister’s decision in allowing change of land use in the case.


Sutlej turns into muck of industrial waste
as admn sleeps

Fish, rare birds, ground water badly hit
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 20
With the District Administration and the Pollution Control Department turning a blind eye to the threat posed by industrial pollution, the discharge of toxic effluents from the industrial units into the Sutlej river, passing through the district, continues unabated.

The insensitive attitude of the authorities is now motivating industries of the other districts also to dump their toxic wastes in the several villages along the Sutlej.

The increase in the pollution level here poses a major threat to the rare species of birds, fish, etc besides causing damage to the agricultural land and also polluting ground water.

A number of fish in the Sutlej river perished on March 10 and March 11 following the release of high levels of toxic wastes near Bela village.

The villagers living along the Sutlej river complain of getting polluted water through their hand-pumps as the polluted water of the Sutlej has seeped into the ground water.

There are several places where due to high level of the discharge of the wastes into the Sutlej river, the fish population has been reduced to almost zero.

The threat is aggravated given the fact that tonnes of toxic wastes are being dumped along the Sutlej near the Sutlej Bridge in the Ropar city and also along agriculture land in the several villages of the district.

The toxic wastes being released from a factory, situated in Nawanshahr which is involved in the manufacturing of vehicle-parts, can be seen dumped along the Sutlej river in villages like Bhinder Nagar, Daudpur Khurd, Jindanpur, Maliwal, Kurkiwal, Katri in Ropar. The places most important for the survival of rare bird species along the Sutlej ‘lake’ situated at the state-run tourism complex in Ropar city have also become dumping grounds. Hundreds of tonnes of toxic waste are dumped in the forest land.

Besides it, the Sishma Kirow river carries effluent waste from the industrial units in Kurali and factories in Banmajra and converges into the Sutlej river near Bela village in Ropar.

The villagers in the district have been suffering from skin problems due to hazardous waste dumped in the Sutlej river.

On March 10 and 11, a large number of fish in the Sutlej had perished as the discharge of the effluents was amazingly high.

“Now the fish population has been reduced to zero here" said Mr Charan Singh, member panchyat, Bela village.

A representation was also sent to the Deputy Commissioner and also to the Grievances Committee but nothing has happened so far.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, says that they have been raising the matter with the Pollution Control Department to prevent the flow of wastes into the Sutlej and the SDM has been asked to inquire the matter.

Besides it, we have decided to taken up matter with Nawanshahr Administration to put a check on the dumping of toxic wastes in the district, she added. 


Revolt in SAD’s Amritsar unit
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
In a severe setback to the SAD, senior Akali leaders led by Mr Pardeep Singh Walia, a former district president SAD (Urban), today revolted against the newly nominated president of the party, Mr Bawa Singh Gumanpura. Mr Walia is a confidant of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, SGPC member.

The meeting, held in the SAD office, which was attended by a large number of supporters of Mr Walia sent a communication to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, that the new president being ‘rootless’ was not acceptable to them.

Mr Walia claimed that senior former office-bearers of the SAD district Jatha had attended the meeting. He alleged that the new president was made on the basis of ‘bogus membership’. 


Ex-leaders of AISSF join AISAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
A number of former leaders of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) today joined the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) headed by Mr Jaswant Singh Mann.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mann said that as other Akali parties had failed to live up to the expectations of former federation leaders, they had decided to join his party to fight for the cause of the “Sikh nation”.

Mr Mann said that Mr Gur Kirpal Singh, Mr Sarabjit Singh Jammu and Mr Hardeep Singh Bajwa, all former federation leaders had been appointed general secretaries following their induction into the party. He said a number of other federation leaders would join the party in the next few days.

Mr Mann said that at the party meeting a resolution was passed asking the authorities not to register non-Punjabis as voters.


Sewerage experts advocate Madhopur model
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 20
The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology organised a seminar on “Bio-management of sullage ponds” and solid waste management through vermiculture biotechnology” here at Dilbagh Hall. Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the seminar. In his inaugural address, Mr Grewal exhorted the officials, representatives of the Panchayati Raj institutions and progressive farmers to become torch-bearers to educate and mobilise the masses to evolve a mechanism for regular operation and maintenance of the projects based on the latest technology.

Experts from the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh, delivered lectures and demonstrated details of the project on the projector. Mr Pritpal Singh in his lecture on “Low cost sewerage management in rural areas” said the waste water generated from various household activities overflows into open surface drains and was ultimately flowed, into village ponds, thus making it highly polluted.

As the laying of conventional sewerage in the village is much expensive, a low cost “small bore sized sewerage,”popularly known as Madhopur technology, has been designed for the villages. Under this system Madhopur village, the village has been given a complete new look. The villagers have also become aware of the benefits of the safe waste-water disposal. Its operational and maintenance cost is also low. The need of the hour is to propagate this scheme among the rural masses.

The panchayats should come forward to play a proactive role to making the people aware for creating awareness, evolving mechanism for the imposition and collection of user charges etc.

Mr Rajesh Grover delivered a lecture on ‘boi-management of sullage water’. He gave detailed information about the ‘Duckweed Technology’ and ‘constructed wetland technology’ for transforming village ponds into source of multiple benefits. By adopting these technologies, the village ponds could not only be made cleaned but they could also be developed into picnic spots and sources for generating employment as the fish farming could also be done there.


Illegal vehicles ply with impunity
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, April 20
A large number of maxi cabs, three-wheelers, and tempos are plying illegally causing huge losses to the state exchequer in the shape of taxes. This has also caused an alarming increase in traffic chaos and accidents in the town.

Although there is no official figure available on the number of these vehicles plying illegally but sources revealed that their number might be in hundreds. The District Transport Office and the police are responsible to keep a check on the matter and take remedial and punitive measures.

Mr Manjit Singh, District Transport Officer, said action was being taken against the unauthorised vehicles and heavy fines were being imposed on the violators. He, however, admitted that about 400-500 vehicles were plying illegally in Gurdaspur district.

Though the authorities had granted permission to hundreds of vehicles and provided permits to its owners for specific routs but according to an estimate their number was more than 1,000. A majority of them were plying illegally without number plates and relevant documents.


Lone rickshaw-puller wages gutsy battle
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chaman Lal, a rickshaw-puller, observes a fast to demand completion of the Pathankot bus stand. Photo: Jangi
Chaman Lal, a rickshaw-puller, observes a fast to demand completion of the Pathankot bus stand. Photo: Jangi

Pathankot, April 20
Where politicians fight shy a rickshaw puller has decided to make his voice heard for the benefit of the people. Chaman Lal, a local rickshaw puller, is on a fast until death till the Punjab Government decides to take concrete step to complete the bus stand here. His fast today entered the third day.

Lying on the floor of the bus stand, he garners scant attention from the people passing by. However, as soon as mediapersons gather around him so does a group of persons keen to know what is going on. However, after sympathising with the poor man and abusing the government for sometime everyone moves on, leaving Chaman Lal alone in his struggle for a common cause.

Talking to The Tribune. Chaman Lal says his struggle for the completion of the Pathankot bus stand has been on since long. Initially he staged dharnas before the office of the SDM, Pathankot. Later, a 40-day dharna was organised at the bus stand after which the local MLA made the announcement that a sum of Rs 2.3 crore had been released for the bus stand. However, nothing has been done.

When asked why he was waging a lonely battle, he said he was deeply moved at seeing passengers’ suffering at the bus stand every day. During the monsoon nobody was able to enter the bus stand as huge pits got brimful with water. Even otherwise the area in the bus stand was so uneven that it was difficult to walk here.

The bus stand here was included in the modernisation scheme of bus stands launched by the SAD/BJP government. Under the scheme, the previous bus stand was demolished and work for the new bus stand began. However, after some time work came to a standstill. Since the past three years no work has been carried out at the bus stand. Thousands of commuters, rickshaw pullers and traders have been suffering as a result of the sorry state of the bus stand. The valiant rickshaw puller says,” “Nobody is daring to take on the government that takes people for granted. Though I am alone in my struggle today. I hope people will join me and raise their voice against the apathy of the rulers”.


Thousands pay homage to Singla
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 20
Thousands of people thronged the local Polo Ground here today to pay homage to former Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla.

From All-India Congress Committee General Secretary Ambika Soni, who came with party President Sonia Gandhi’s message, to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who described the passing away of Singla as a “personal loss” to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership, everyone had a good word to say about the late leader whom they described as epitome of selfless service.

According to conservative estimates, more than 25,000 people gathered at the ground to attend the bhog of Singla. Almost the entire political leadership of Punjab and leaders from Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were present.

Ms Soni read out Mrs Gandhi’s message.

The message reads: “Mr Singla’s demise was a great loss to the party as he had dedicated his entire life to serving the party. Mrs Gandhi, while expressing her condolences with the Singla’s family, said she would always stand behind them.”

Later, Ms Soni said she had learnt a lot from Singla as his values of humanity were lacking in present day politicians. Singla had been so committed to the party and its leadership that he had even sacrificed his Lok Sabha seat for Capt Amarinder Singh. “If you want to learn loyalty, learn it from Singla’s actions”, she added.


Army aid sought for running thermal plant
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 20
The state government has sought the help of the Army to keep the local thermal power plant operational, as 93 per cent of the power employees have gone on strike.

According to information available with The Tribune, six grids in the west zone have failed affecting power supply to about 500 villages.

The district administration has sent two bulldozers to the thermal power plant. Bulldozer drivers at the plant have also gone on strike and the administration has requested the Army for four bulldozer operators.

Bulldozers work round the clock in shifts at the local thermal plant. At present three units of the plant are working, while Unit No. 2 has been shut for repairing.

The Chief Engineer of the plant, Mr Baldev Singh, said they had deployed bulldozer operators from the Army so that the power supply was not affected.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, said that the administration had also provided two bulldozer operators.

On the other hand, a large area of Talwandi Sabo subdivision had plunged into darkness since yesterday. Initially, feeders of the area were shut, but today the grid of Talwandi Sabo failed. Similarly, the power grid of Phul had been shut hitting power supply to the industrial sector in Rampura and a dozen villages.

The 33 kV grid on Dabwali road here was shut for five hours today, while 66 kV grid at the Civil Line was shut for six hours in succession.

The Deputy Commissioner had called a meeting of the PSEB officials to restore the power supply. Four feeders of Nathana were also shut today. Abohar’s 33 kV grid was also shut for five hours today, while three feeders of Abohar city had failed.

Power supply was also hit in Malout and Muktsar. Focal Point grid and 66 kV grid in Moga were also shut last night.

A feeder in Mansa and 132 kV grid in Baghapurana were also shut. Ferozepore villages were also crying for power.

Meanwhile, members of the PSEB Engineers Association said that they were on duty for public convenience and the board should not think that they were not participating in the strike. 


NRI from Moga buys land on Moon
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Langeana Nava (Moga), April 20
His flight of imagination took him to moon and fascinated with the idea of having a home there one day he bought 10 acres on it. Jasvir Brar of Langeana Nava village, near here, has joined the elite club of landholders on the moon.

Talking to The Tribune, Jasvir’s father, Saudagar Singh, told that Jasvir had migrated to Germany in 1985 with the dream of making it big abroad. Born and brought up in this non-descript village of Moga, he is now working in a textile industry in Germany. His elder brother, Balvir Singh, said that Jasvir rang them up a few days back and told them that he had bought two pieces of land on the moon. He purchased five acres on March 26 and again another plot of the same size on March 30. However, members of his family denied knowledge about the price of the land. Balvir told that Jasvir was looking forward to reside on the moon somewhere between 2016 and 2020. They disclosed that Jasvir bought this land from The Lunar Republic Society.

Interestingly, he has not stopped after just having a piece of land on the moon in his name. Balvir said that Jasvir wanted to accomplish more in this direction, for which he was having discussions with the society. Jasvir told them that there was 9 billion acres on the moon, of which only two per cent was available for purchase to common people. He also said that India was lagging behind other countries on this front and scientists, doctors and other professionals from the USA, the UK, and Germany were buying land on the moon. Jasvir has promised his family to visit them once he gets the citizenship, a passport, and the voting right (in case of the formation of a government there) documents, of the moon.

Meanwhile, the villagers are awestruck with what Jasvir has done. They said first they thought it was a joke, but when they realised his feat they felt proud of him. Now, they were planning to felicitate him on his arrival to the village. 


CM inaugurates railway overbridge
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has dedicated two projects to the city residents here.

In the morning, Capt Amarinder Singh inaugurated the Rs 10 crore railway overbridge over the 22 No railway crossing, a project which will considerably ease the flow of traffic in the area.

Later, Capt Amarinder Singh inaugurated the 2,420 sq yard Mid Town Plaza, shopping complex, built by the Improvement Trust at a cost of Rs 6.50 crore in the Dharampur Bazar area.

Prominent among those who were present at both the functions were MP Preneet Kaur, PWD
Minister Partap Singh Bajwa, Local Bodies Minister Jagjit Singh, Power and Irrigation Minister Lal Singh,
Sangrur MLA Arvind Khanna, DC Tejveer Singh, Mayor Vishnu Sharma and officials of the District Administration.

Meanwhile, members of the 22 No Phatak Market Association have urged the Chief Minister not to close the railway crossing under the overbridge.

In a memorandum
submitted to the Chief Minister at the venue of the function, the association members claimed that with the permanent closure of the railway crossing, residents of nearly 27 colonies living in the vicinity of the crossing woul be badly affected.

The association praised the efforts of the DC in getting the overbridge constructed.

The decks have also been cleared for the construction of an overbridge over the 21 No railway crossing.

According to the Executive Engineer, Provisional Division No 1, PWD (B&R), the bridge will be constructed by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore.

The width of the four-lane bridge will be 19.20 m while its length will be 631 m.

The profile sketch received earlier from Northern Railway officials has been approved and sent back to the Chief Engineer, Northern Railway, for further action.


Due respect to Punjabi sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Punjabi is not getting its rightful importance in Chandigarh and other states in the country. This was highlighted by the local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at a protest dharna in Sector 17 here today.

A letter addressed said the government and the government officials were not according the due regard to the language. The language was not used in recording the proceedings and issuing of official documents of the municipal corporation, panchayat samiti and the Zila Parishad.

The President has been requested to contact the French Government and help in getting due respect to the Sikh residents there. The SAD demanded that a number of “innocent” Sikh youths detained in the context of terrorism in the state during the 80s should be released.


Inside Babudom
No move to slash number of ADGPs in Punjab
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Punjab Police is going in for a new look.

An Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) is likely to be shifted out from police headquarters in Chandigarh to Jalandhar. Besides this, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) — in charge of police headquarters — is likely to be replaced by another officer.

This is not all. Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) posted at district headquarters are also expected to change. The transfer orders are likely to be issued within a week.

The sources at the Punjab Police headquarters claim that ADGP R.S. Gill — looking after the communication and wireless wing of the Punjab Police — is likely to be shifted to Punjab Armed Police (PAP) Battalion in Jalandhar. The post fell vacant on March 31 with the retirement of Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP) D.R. Bhatti upon attaining the age of superannuation.

They insist that as of now there is no move to slash the number of ADGPs in the state. Giving details, they add that currently there are 13 ADGPs in the state, even though the number of sanctioned posts is just 11.

The sources add that Mr Sumedh Saini — in charge of economic offences and special operations wing — is likely to be posted as IGP (Headquarters) in place of IGP Sanjiv Gupta.

They claim that some of the SSPs are also expected to change places "in an attempt to further streamline the functioning of the police force in the state". PPS Officers, removed from cadre posts following orders by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, are also expected to be given a better deal. Some of them, involved in fight against militancy, were resentful against the orders directing their transfer from the posts of district chiefs.

The sources add that DGP S.S. Virk is also expected to take up the issue of elevating PPS officers to the IPS with authorities concerned for solving the controversy between the cadre and non-cadre officers.

They assert that the posting and transfer orders are already overdue. In fact, speculations regarding the same were on ever since Mr Virk took over as the DGP of the state on January 31. They add that currently the modalities for issuing the orders are being worked out by the Punjab Police in consultation with state government's Home Affairs and Justice Department.


Nine PWD engineers suspended
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 20
The state government has placed nine engineers of the PWD (B&R) Department under suspension with immediate effect for alleged bungling in the construction of road from Ferozepore city toWaka and Waka to Makhu. The construction work on the said road was still in progress when cracks surfaced on a segment of the road soon after the premix was laid. The cracks were later covered by patchwork.

Some local politicians and mediapersons brought the matter to the notice of the PWD (B&R) Minister, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, during his recent visit here on April 13. Apparently irked over the issue, Mr Bajwa immediately ordered that the erring officials be brought to book. Thereafter, Mr Bajwa sent a note to the Secretary concerned, Mr R S Sandhu, who ordered the suspension of the nine officials of the department.

According to information, the suspended officials are Mr Kewal Krishan Garg and Mr J.S. Nanda, both Executive Engineers, Mr V.K. Sehgal and Mr A.K. Gupta, both SDOs, and Mr Inderpreet Singh, Mr R.P. Jindal, Mr Subhash Chander Sharma, and Mr Tilak Raj, all Junior Engineers.

Earlier, after the news regarding cracks in the newly constructed road appeared in a section of the media, the Director, Quality Control, PWD, was entrusted with the job to probe into the matter and submit a report.

A senior official of the PWD Department on condition of anonymity said that the government action to place nine engineers under suspension was unwarranted. He said that the matter had been blown out of proportion, as there was only a minor problem that too in a small segment of the road that was repaired at once.

He said that the officials were being made a scapegoat for no fault of theirs. It is for the second time in this district that officials of any department had been suspended in such a big number. Earlier, during 1988 when the Sutlej played havoc in the area, 27 officials of the Irrigation Department were suspended for allegedly siphoning off crores of rupees meant for the flood relief measures.

Meanwhile, the sarpanches of the villages situated along the road have demanded that an independent inquiry be conducted into the matter and stringent action taken against guilty officials. 


Online VAT system
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Punjab has become the first and only state in the country to implement a working online value added tax (VAT) system. This will facilitate the online processing of VAT accounts and returns.

Disclosing this, Excise and Taxation Commissioner D.P. Reddy said the state had achieved the milestone even as certain other states were dithering over the implementation of the VAT system. The other states were now keen to follow the Punjab model.

The collected information, he said, was being stored online and being added to the dealer database for the purpose of transparency. The work, being performed on any terminal across the state, could be viewed by any senior officer at any point.


New assignments for 2 bureaucrats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Punjab Government today ordered the posting of IAS officer A. Pande as Principal Resident Commissioner, Punjab Bhavan, Delhi. He replaces another IAS officer J.S. Maini.

According to an order issued by the state government’s Department of Personnel, Mr Maini’s services have been placed at the Union Government’s disposal for appointment as Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, Delhi.


MC cancels approval to new bus stand
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 20
The private bus stand controversy at Goniana Mandi yesterday took a new turn with the Municipal Council cancelling approval to it.

The MC decided that the old bus stand would start functioning again and the former contractor would be given the contract for fee recovery.

Open bidding would take place only if he was unwilling to take the contract.

It may be mentioned that some private contractors had build a new bus stand with MC approval, but owing to its distance from the township, local residents had set up an action committee against it.


2 ex-officials convicted for fraud
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 20
In an interesting case, Additional District and Sessions Judge S.K. Aggrawal has sentenced two former senior Punjab Home Guard officials to rigorous imprisonment for one and a half years for allegedly hatching a conspiracy, preparing false records and withdrawing salary in the name of 12 Home Guard jawans. These jawans had either not performed their duty or had left service long ago.

The sentence has been handed out on the basis of an exhaustive investigation carried out by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. The probe official revealed that the then Company Commander Hargobind Khosla, Manjit Singh, and Platoon Commander Malkit Singh had allegedly forged signatures of SHO Division No 3 Ravinder Kumar and Subhash Chander, another official of the police station, to ‘withdraw’ salary of as many as 12 Home Guard jawans.

The bureau investigation, carried out on the basis of statements of Home Guards, who had been shown by Home Guard officials as having drawn out salary, had pointed out that, in fact, 36 Home Guard jawans were deployed by the District Home Guards authorities in 1995 in Police Station Division No. 3 and not 48, as shown in the records of the Home Guards. Though the practice of withdrawal of excess salary in the names of ‘fictitious’ Home Guard jawans was allegedly carried out for a longer period, the prosecution could prove that the accused had withdrawn salary of 12 jawans for months of July, August and September of 1995 by preparing ‘false’ salary records, authenticated by ‘forged’ signatures of then SHO Ravinder Kumar and Subhash Chander.

Handing out his judgement, Mr Aggrawal said each of the two accused, Hargobind Khosla and Manjit Singh, were found guilty and, thus sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one and a half years. They were fined Rs 2,000 and in case of default ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one month under Sections 13 (c ), 13( 2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and under Section 471 of the IPC. The substantive sentences shall run concurrently and the period of detention undergone by the convicts during investigation and trial shall be set off against the period of imprisonment awarded to the two officials, observed Mr Aggrawal.


Bank defrauded of Rs 90 lakh by
submitting fake documents

Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The CBI has filed charges against two bank employees of Ludhiana, a Charted Accountant (CA) and a loanee, for allegedly procuring a loan by mortgaging forged property documents of around Rs 90 lakh.

The agency filed the charge sheet recently in the special CBI court in Patiala nearly two years after the case was registered by the agency.

The delay in the filing of the charge sheet was caused as the top officials of the Bank of India took considerable time in granting permission to prosecute the bank employees - Chief Manager of the Model Town branch Mukesh and its Deputy Mangager (Credit) V. K. Mera. The grant of the permission for prosecution was examined at the level of a director of the bank.

According to the charge sheet CA Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal, loanee Charanjeet Singh Bajaj and Anish Kumar allegedly forged documents of the property which the bank officers passed without physical verification of the site of the property. The balancesheet of the loanee company and funds flow also did not indicate about the existance of the property, the CBI detected.

According to the investigating agency, Bajaj had to return Rs 1 crore to the bank. The case in this regard was registered on August 28, 2003.

The CBI says that though there does not seem any proof of any gratification to the bank employees, yet they grossly ignored rules before advancing a loan of such a big amount.

The CBI claimed to have got proof of the CA allegedly forging the documents for Bajaj. The CBI has confirmed it by getting his signatures matched by experts.

The bank employees have been charge-sheeted by the agency as there is a "series of omissions" in the procedure they adopted in advancing the hefty loan amount and did not take care of the credit safety as per the bank rules.

The charge sheet says it seems the bank officers did not carry out any spot inspection before advancing the loan. The bank accounts' report was not confirmed by the bankers. The employees have been nailed as the credit appraisal report seems incomplete because of omissions.

The investigation has also gone into funds flow to track as to how the funds were utilised and who were its beneficiaries. The CBI had gone into the transfer of funds from the bank to the loanees and further to establish that it was allegedly fraudulently procured from the bank.


Pak intruder shot
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 20
Alert personnel of the 14th Battalion of the Border Security Force gunned down a Pakistani intruder in the DT Mal Enclave area under Mamdot sector here today.

Around 7.45 am today, the BSF jawans spotted a Pakistani intruder moving under suspicious circumstances in the DT Mal Enclave area. Noticing the movement, the BSF jawans challenged the intruder who ignored the warning and was later shot down.

BSF sources revealed that the intruder was presumably an agent of smugglers operating in the area who might have come for reconnaissance. Sources further said that due to the ongoing wheat harvesting operations, there the workload on the BSF, was tremendous.

Smugglers send their men for reconnaissance to gather information about the position of the BSF personnel. Due to darkness BSF men have to be extra vigilant to prevent the smugglers and intruders from barging into Indian territory.


One arrested with smack worth Rs 10 lakh
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 20
The CIA staff has arrested a Danewala resident and seized 1 kg of smack worth Rs 10 lakh from his possession.

According to a press release issued here today, the accused, Ram Singh, had brought this smack from Madhya Pradesh and Bhiwani Mandi and Ramganj Mandi in Rajasthan. The accused confessed that his brothers — Chanan Singh, Jagraj Singh, and Ram Sarup — were also into the smuggling of drugs. They have links in MP and Rajasthan and have been smuggling large quantities of smack, opium and poppy husk into Haryana and Punjab for the past 20 years. There are two cases registered against Chanan Singh with a heavy recovery of poppy husk in Rajasthan and Punjab.


15-year-old girl raped, 1 arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 20
The police has arrested Manpreet Singh of Behrampur village for allegedly raping Manpreet Kaur, 15-year-old girl of the village. His accomplice Happy, resident of the village, is still at large and the police has started raids to nab him.

Manpreet Singh was today produced in the court of Mr G.S. Dhillon, Chief Judicial Magistrate, who remanded him in police custody for one day. The girl had been admitted to the Civil Hospital here.

Manpreet Kaur told The Tribune that her father was an employee on combine harvester and had gone to Madhya Pradesh. Her mother and younger brother were working in the fields and she was alone at home. At about 10 am, Manpreet Singh, along with his friend Happy, entered their house and raped her one by one.

She said she cried for help but no one came. She alleged that after raping her, both of them ran away and she locked the door and remained crying till 1 pm when her mother and brother came back from fields.

She narrated her tale of woes to them and they informed the police. She was taken to the Civil Hospital. The family has demanded a stern action against them.

Mr Gurkirpal Singh, SHO, Bassi Pathana, said the police had arrested Manpreet Singh, whereas the second accused ran away. He said the police was raiding his hideouts and he would be arrested soon.

He said the treatment of the girl was going on in the hospital and after getting the report the rape would be confirmed.


No response from industry on school-adoption scheme
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Punjabi spirit of magnanimity seems to be withering or so it seems-given the poor response of the state’s industrialists to Punjab Government’s appeal to adopt government schools.

The government’s plan to provide quality education to its children through its innovative scheme of a public-private interface has, of now, failed to elicit a response from the industry. Barring Julandhar-based Victor Tools, the rest of the state’s top industrial houses have still not responded to the government’s request though the department, willing to wait, has still not written them off yet.

Despite having sent out 20 letters to various individuals and associations in March, only one acceptance of the offer to adopt a primary school has come in so far. The regional office of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) was also approached by the department to tap its many members in this regard. Responses from them are also awaited.

The letter received by the industrialists listed out 200 schools the government wanted to give for “adoption”. The names of the schools in need of help had been circulated to enable industrialists to identify schools most suited for “fulfiling their social obligation” based on location.

“We have not lost heart. A handful of industrialists had first shown interest in this kind of a venture where schools will be run by them under the supervision of the state. This will be done by meeting the shortage of teachers, contributing to building infrastructure and pumping in funds. Prompted by the initial interest shown by them, the Industries Department sent out letters seeking support of these industrialists. Now, we are waiting for them to respond,” an official of the Industries Department said.

This ambitious project of the Punjab Government had been worked out to deal with the inability of the cash-strapped government to provide quality education on account of vacant posts, mounting maintenance costs and an insufficient budget. Ready to adopt “flexible” terms and conditions which suit the industry in running these schools, the department is yet to prepare a blueprint of the whole plan.

“We will do that once we get inputs of the industry on how they want to run the show for us,” the official added.

The former Chairman of CII (Northern Region), Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, during whose term the letter was received by CII, says,”It is a laudable step of the Punjab Government and the entire industry staunchly supports the Chief Minister’s move. There has been no response only because the letter reached us by in the last week of March and was subsequently circulated to the members. The entire process will take time but the industrialists will certainly come forward for this cause.”

Expressing his inability to give a definite time-frame for the industry to respond, Mr Mittal stated that it could take three to six months or even more. “The industrialists will take time to identify the schools they can adopt, give their views to CII. These will be forwarded to the government before these essentials of the adoption programme can be worked out”, Mr Mittal explained.


Govt school students take to streets
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 20
The Punjab Government’s proposed move to give government schools in private hands has now forced children to take to the streets.

A number of students today held a protest march in the lanes of Bhairupa village. They were not alone. Their teachers, PSEB employees, ETT teachers, and farmers’ bodies, had also joined hands with them.

One of the children said he had to pay Rs 85 as annual fee, but if his school was privatised, he would have nowhere to go.

At the school of Jodhpur Romana village, lectures on privatisation to sensitise the students had replaced morning prayers. A majority of them belong to poor section of society and have made up their mind to join their teachers in the protest.

The Lok Morcha, Bathinda, is also preparing students to join protests against privatisation of the education sector in the state. Similarly, the Democratic Teachers Front and Anti-privatisation Action Committee, is also organising poor students against the government’s decision.

Front members today held a meeting with teachers of eight government schools in this regard. They claimed that in the forthcoming agitation school students and their parents would also participate.

According to sources, 58 per cent of the government school students in Bathinda belong to Dalit families. Kirti Majdoor Union leaders said they were holding a meeting with the Dalit families in this regard.

They said Dalits would be the most affected by the government move. The Punjab Students Union (Randhawa) had also started holding meeting with the school students on the issue.

Lok Morcha leader Jagmel Singh said he would meet the parents of government school students in various localities in the town.


India Trust to run Dashmesh Academy
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 20
Members of the Delhi-based India Trust have agreed to run Shri Dashmesh Academy, Anandpur Sahib, on contract basis at a meeting held with the members of the academy trust. The meeting was held in Chandigarh on April 18, which was attended by the chairman of the academy trust and the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and other trust members.

“We have been preparing agreement as things had been finalised at the meeting and soon contract would be signed with the Trust”, said the Vice-Chairman of the Dashmesh Academy Trust, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra.

Mr Rakhra said Mr Parkash Singh Badal and a trust member, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, had discussed about the conditions of the contract at the meeting and have expressed satisfaction about the proposal of the India Trust to improve the functioning of the academy.

He said all employees of the academy would be retained by the trust. The India Trust would also impart training to the teachers of the academy in order to improve the education standard, he added.


Computer labs opened in 71 govt schools
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 20
Seventyone senior secondary schools in the district were provided with computers yesterday under the Information Communication Technology (ICT) project started by the Punjab Government here. The project was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School here.

Addressing a gathering she said that in the era of information and technology it was need of the hour that students of the government schools should have all the modern information technology facilities to compete with the students of other schools. The computers would also help the students of rural areas as earlier they could not afford costly computer education.

With a view to facilitating girls students belonging to poor sections of the district, 1,250 cycles would be provided to the girl students of different schools as a part of Sarb Sikhsha Abhiyan, she said.

The District Education Officer, Mr Piara Singh, said that said two teachers had been appointed by the government in computer labs on a contract basis to impart computer education to the students. He said soon rest of the schools in the district would also have computers.


Washing soap manufacturers meet minister
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 20
A deputation of the All-Punjab Soap Manufacturers Association met the Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla yesterday seeking the inclusion of washing soap in the list of commodities attracting 4 per cent value added tax (VAT) and solution to their VAT-related problems.

Mr Sumer Garg, general secretary of the association, said today that the deputation told the minister that the imposition of 12.5 per cent VAT on the washing soap was not in the interest of the common man as it was a hand-made product and was used mostly by the middle class and poor sections of society.

He said customers (now registered under VAT) of sales tax exempted washing soap units would now have to pay 8.5 per cent tax on the washing soap leading to a steep downfall in the sales of such units. The state government had given sales tax exemption to the industrial units to establish industry in the state in the past years, so it was the duty of the state government now to save them from shutting down, he added.


Retailers return 1500 SIM cards to distributor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 20
More than 50 members of the local Mobile Traders Association today returned about 1,500 SIM cards to the local distributor of AirTel in protest against the alleged “anti-retailer” policies of the company.

Giving this information here today, Mr Dharamvir Singh and Mr Sarbjit Singh, secretary and press secretary, respectively, of the association, said the retailers of AirTel had also decided not to sell the new connections of the company till the acceptance of their demands.

Mr Sarbjit Singh alleged that the local distributor of the company had taken the signatures of some retailers on stamp papers, mentioning that the retailer would be responsible for any type of misuse of the SIM card sold by him or any loss to the company even on account of non-payment of the bill by the subscriber. He claimed that the association had talked about this problem of the retailers with the representative of AirTel, but to no avail so far. He said the retailers also wanted that the stamp paper taken from them by the distributor should be returned to them.

The members of the association held a meeting at a hotel here and decided that the retailers would collect all the documents, desired by the company, from the subscriber, but after the activation of the mobile phone number the entire responsibility would be of the distributor/company.


Bank panel celebrates foundation day
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 20
The 60th foundation day of the All-India Bank Employees Association was celebrated by the bank employees here under the banner of Punjab Bank Employees Federation.

Earlier in the morning the employees held a flag hoisting function at Prabhat Parwana Memorial Trade Union bank Centre, Baradari Gardens. The flag was hoisted by Mr Vinod Sharma, secretary, All India Bank Officers Association and Officer Director of the board of the Oriental Bank of Commerce. Later, books were distributed among the children of Bal Niketan, Lahori Gate by the office bearers of All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation.

Mr S.K.Gautam, general secretary, State Bank of Patiala Employees Union (Punjab), said that the Union was helping the needy children for the past 10 years. Mr Gurbax Singh Dhillon, secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Federation and Mr K.K.Sehgal, treasurer of the federation, also spoke on the occasion. 

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