P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC says no to dossier on Golden Temple
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 21
The SGPC today rejected the dossier on the Golden Temple which had divided the Sikh community world over. The SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said since the very concept of getting world heritage status (WHS) for Harmandar Sahib stood rejected, the dossier could not be used even as reference anymore.

Much to the embarrassment of Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, who had coordinated for preparing the dossier, and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar , a former SGPC chief at whose behest it was sent to UNESCO, the SGPC executive has described the document as ‘anti-Sikh’. The SGPC has decided to approach the Centre and state governments for immediate withdrawal of the dossier from UNESCO.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said it would approach UNESCO to clarify the stand of the ‘Sikh community’ that ‘Guru ka ghar’ (Harmandar Sahib) did not need any ‘stamp’ from UNESCO. She said Harmandar Sahib was a living monument and abode of the Almighty where sangat pays obeisance for spirituality and hence it could not be treated as a ‘tourist centre’.

To a question , Bibi Jagir Kaur said the SGPC would order a probe into the expenditure of Rs 40 lakh incured on the dossier. Without mincing words, Bibi Jagir Kaur said that the Sikhs could not accept any status which was being opposed by the intellectuals and the masses as well .

The decision has evoked mixed reaction from the Sikhs. While, Mr Jagmohan Singh Tony, Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind and Bhai Ram Singh, all general secretaries of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), had alleged that the dossier was rejected at the behest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, who wanted to please the ‘RSS lobby’ that did not want world heritage status for the Golden Temple. Mr Tony said Bibi Jagir Kaur had shot the Sikhs in the foot. He challenged the authority of the SGPC to withdraw the dossier which was routed through the Union Government.

Meanwhile, the SGPC executive has authorised Bibi Jagir Kaur to re-instate Mr Harbeant Singh, a former SGPC secretary, after seeking legal opinion. The move is likely to antagonise the ‘Tohra loyalists’ as Mr Harbeant Singh was sacked when Jathedar Gurcharn Singh Tohra was president of the SGPC. The executive committee held at Anandpur Sahib on January 19 last year had imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Mr Harbeant Singh for allegedly ‘defrauding’ the SGPC.

On the conversion issues the three-member inquiry committee of the SGPC has indicted a Goindwal-based journalist for the concocted story on conversion of former SGPC employees. The SGPC has decided to file a defamation case apart from lodging a complaint with the Press Council of India.


“Investigate preparation of dossier”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Mr Hardeep Singh, a member of the SGPC, who had launched a campaign for seeking the withdrawal of the dossier which was submitted by the SGPC to the UNESCO to seek heritage site status for the Golden Temple complex, today said a panel of experts should hold an inquiry to identify the forces which got objectionable facts regarding the Sikh history incorporated in the dossier.

Thanking the management of the SGPC for rejecting the dossier today, Mr Hardeep Singh, said Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, who was allegedly the brain behind the preparation of the dossier, should be summoned by Akal Takht.

Mr Hardeep Singh had been highlighting certain parts of the dossier which according to him were distortion of facts regarding the Sikh history. He had recently alleged that Rs 40 lakh had been paid to get the dossier prepared. He had sought an inquiry in this connection also.


Charges in canal scam diluted
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 21
Inquiry into the multi-crore UBDC scam was blowing hot and cold indicating the non-seriousness of the Punjab Government in pursuing the case. The charges on the officials involved in the scam have been watered down from 30 to five on the directions of the government. With this, the number of officials against whom criminal action would be taken has also been reduced from 170 to just 10. Action would be taken against the others at the department level.

The five charges that were forwarded to the Gurdaspur police for investigation are grave in nature. Interestingly, four out of these five charges pertain to the Bathinda canal division that was specially posted here to execute the UBDC remodeling work. The canal division was entrusted with the execution of the remodeling work of UBDC canal near Tibri in Gurdaspur.

M/s Oasis Contractors was awarded the work for supply of material that generally consisted of earth and gravel in Tibri. The contractor was made the entire payment of Rs 40 lakh just one day after the contract was awarded to them. It has been alleged that it was physically impossible to supply material worth Rs 40 lakh in a single day for any establishment. By making the payment in just one day the officials, in connivance with the contractor, swindled the public money.

The officials of the Department of Irrigation, ranging from executive engineer to junior engineers, who were then posted at the Bathinda canal division, have been accused on account of the above said charges.

The second charge was officials entrusted with remodeling work near Tibri made excess payment to the tune of Rs 18.32 lakh to the contractors without any proper sanction from the competent authority. Beside the officials of the engineering wing the Finance Department officials have also been accused.

The rate for dewatering an area in the UBDC canal was fixed at Rs 9 per hour. However, the officials concerned made the payments for dewatering at rates of Rs 70 per hour. In addition to that, instead of the sanctioned 21,000 hours payments for 93,000 hours were made to the contractors.

Sanction was given for the purchase of 783 kilogram Epoxy material used in the pucca lining of the canal. However, instead of that 2000 kg material was purchased by the officials. Besides the above said four charges one offense committed in Amritsar has been earmarked for criminal proceeding. The officials who got the remodeling of canal work done in the Thehpur area in Amritsar have been accused of tampering with the records to favour certain contractors.

The FIR in the UBDC canal case was registered on July 4, 2003. Initially, the Congress government pursued the case with much vigour with the hope that it would be able to corner former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal in the case. However, with about 170 irrigation officials getting involved in the case pressure was built by a prominent Congress leader of the area and the case was put in cold storage.

The influence of the politicians in the case can be gauged from the fact that the officer involved in the case has been promoted and given a prime posting. He was recently transferred after the case was reopened. However, an influential minister of the area got his transfer orders struck down from the Chief Minister.


CM flayed for clubbing cases of detainees, cops
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 21
Taking strong exception to the reported statement of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that the state was reviewing cases of Sikh detainees during the period of militancy in Punjab along with that of police officials who had been put behind bars for human rights violations, the Dal Khalsa, the Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) and the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) have objected to the clubbing of two separate issues by the government.

Hitting out at the Chief Minister, the PHRO Chairman, Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), the Deputy Chairman, Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, the KMC Chairman, Mr Harmandeep Singh Sarhali, said clubbing the two issues was like rubbing salt into the wounds of victims of police torture. He further said Sikh detainees had suffered almost 18 years of jail sentences and deserved to be set free.

But Captain Amarinder Singh was still giving a statement about the need for investigation in 17 of the 51 such cases. They stated that in 109 cases of police atrocities admitted by the National Human Rights Commission in which the government was liable to give compensation to victims, cases should be filed against guilty officers.

Accusing former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of keeping mum on April 19 on the issue of Sikh detainees, the organisations said the RSS document had allegedly exposed the misdeeds of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, general secretary of the Dal Khalsa, and SGPC member Karnail Singh Panjoli said the Chief Minister’s statement in the Assembly was glaring as police officials as protectors had violated the law and therefore did not deserve to be granted amnesty.

Decrying the Chief Minister’s approach as unfortunate, they said he had nullified the good work done by him by drawing parallels between the two issues and endeavouring to strike a balance between the aggrieved Sikhs and the bureaucracy.


‘Punjab minister shielding stabbing case accused’
Ramanjit Sidhu

Chandigarh, April 21
The accused in the stabbing case are allegedly being shielded by a minister in Punjab who is exerting pressure on the Chandigarh Police. Daman and Lakhwinder Singh, two other accused of stabbing Purandeep Singh, a DAV college student, are still eluding the UT Police on the sixth day also.

Mr Anil Deepak, father of the victim, Purandeep, today told the Chandigarh Tribune that the accused enjoyed the patronage of a senior Congress minister in Punjab. He alleged that relatives of the said minister were protecting the accused.

On the other hand, the police claim that they are raiding hideouts of the accused. The police already arrested four persons on April 18.

The SHO of the Sector 3 Police Station, Mr Kulwant Singh, told the Chandigarh Tribune that the police was regularly in touch with the parents of both the accused. They told the police that they were not aware of the whereabouts of Daman and Lakhwinder. The police team is also being sent regularly everyday to the college to arrest them if they come to appear for annual examinations.

However, sources in the police told the Chandigarh Tribune that the accused enjoyed political backing. The sources said the accused were hiding in the city or in the nearby areas.

It is learnt from the sources that all accused who are students of the DAV College were also involved in incidents of creating nuisance. The police sources also said that because of their political links the boy had taken room number 44 at the top floor in the DAV College hostel. The balcony of this room overlooks the Government Polytechnic College for Girls, Sector 10, from where they used to indulge in indecent behaviour towards girls.

Meanwhile, the other accused, Amaninder Singh, Jaspreet Singh, Harmeet Singh Malhi and Harsimran Singh, all residents of Fatehgarh Sahib, have been sent to judicial custody till May 2 after one day of police remand.

On Saturday the accused who were sitting near the entrance of the college passed a remark at a girl known to a friend of Purandeep. As a result, a scuffle was picked up. Following this the accused Harmeet Singh and others stabbed Purandeep Singh in the abdomen.

On that day also Purandeep was initially reluctant to inform his parents about the incident. Doctors at the General Hospital, Sector 16, stitched his wounds, it was only later when he complained of breathing problem that he was referred to the PGI. The police informed his father Anil Deepak in Faridkot.


Dalit dies in police custody
Deepkamal Kaur & Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 21
Tension gripped the city today following the death of a 37-year-old Dalit man in police custody under mysterious circumstances here.

As soon as news spread about the death of Balbir Singh, a daily wager and a driver of a tractor-trailer, hailing from Nawan Pind Bhathe village, hundreds of villagers and relatives of the victim gathered outside the Civil Hospital. The crowd was so charged up that they stopped the traffic on the Sultanpur Lodhi Road, forced the shopkeepers to down their shutters and burnt tyres outside the district administrative complex to register their protest against “police high-handedness”.

Subsequently, the angry mob of Dalits gathered near Balmiki Chowk and moved towards the Civil Hospital in a procession carrying swords, sharp-edged weapons and canes. They raised slogans against the Punjab Police, alleging that the victim died in custody as third-degree methods had been used. Senior police officials, including the SP (Headquarters), Mr Shammi Kumar, rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the mob.

Balbir Singh, who was working as a driver with the Punjab Trading Company owned by Mahinder Pal Aggarwal, alias Mindhi Shah, was reportedly arrested at 1 am today on the charge of theft and criminal conspiracy. He was arrested by sub-inspector Satnam Singh on the charge of fleeing with a tractor-trailer loaded with 300 bags of wheat on April 15 on a complaint lodged by the owner of the trading company. He died in police custody within six hours of being arrested.

The deceased had undergone a medical examination immediately after his arrest at the Civil Hospital at 1:35 am and was reportedly found fit. He was then taken away for investigation by the police and at 7:20 am he was declared “brought dead” by the doctors of the same hospital.

In his report submitted before the SDM, Mr Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia, inquiry officer Satnam Singh had said that the driver had strangulated himself to death with the bid of weaving threads from a blanket that had been given to him in the lock-up of the Sadar police station. Even as the body was brought to the Civil Hospital at 7:20 am, the post-mortem examination began at 4 pm as police officials delayed the delivery of various documents required for the purpose.

Denying that his son was arrested today, Mr Gulzar Singh had a different story to tell. “Balbir had himself approached Mindhi Shah after the latter filed a complaint. My son had not duped him or run away with the goods. In fact, he had been kidnapped while he was on his way to Talwandi Mehma village to deliver 300 bags of wheat from New Grain Market to a godown there. The tractor-trailer and the wheat had been taken away from him by the kidnappers at gunpoint and he was taken to Phagwara,” claimed the father.

He added, “My son was not given a proper hearing and a case was slapped on him at the behest of Mindhi Shah who handed him over to the police the same day. Since then he had been in police custody.” The family members had also demanded that they be given compensation worth Rs 5 lakh and a job for a relative on compassionate grounds.

The victim’s father and other relatives approached the SSP, Mr Arun Pal Singh, and lodged a complaint against the owner of the trading company, Mindhi Shah, the SHO of the Sadar police station, Mr Jasbir Singh Randhawa, and the inquiry officer, Mr Satnam Singh. The accused were later booked under Sections 302 and 120 B of the IPC.

Meanwhile, Balbir Singh’s body was cremated by his relatives in a peaceful atmosphere.


Jagmeet seeks appointment with PM
To discuss Hussainiwala link revival
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 21
Former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar has sought an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week. He will be accompanied by a deputation of eminent persons from various fields from Ferozepore district.

Mr Brar said here this evening that they would not discuss party affairs with the Prime Minister but take up reopening of the Hussainiwala border linking Ferozepore with Kasur, home town of Pakistan Foreign Minister Mahmood Kasuri. The rail link had been terminated after the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

This had given a major jolt to development and trade in both historic cities. The restoration of the link would open new avenues and strengthen people-to-people contact, he said.

The restoration of the New Delhi-Abohar-Samarsatta (Karachi) rail link, which was at present functional up to Hindumalkot, the last town on the this side of the international border.

Abohar had been a prime market for cotton cloth in the pre-Independence period. Its glory in trade, social and cultural fields needed to be revived. This would be the shortest route for Montgomery district from where 75 per cent population of Hindus and Sikhs had migrated to East Punjab during Partition.

The Congress leader said the Capt Amarinder Singh’s regime had made all preparations to privatise health and education services, but this would prove fatal for the party in the next elections.

On the one hand the government had no money to pay Rs 70-crore arrears to sugarcane growers, who had sold their crops to cooperative sugar mills, on the other it opted to give Rs 193 crore concession in excise duty to some private business houses.

It was important to fill vacancies of 34,000 teachers than indulging in wasteful expenditure on luxuries by the government, he said.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh had succeeded neither in getting him booked in any case nor in expelling from the party. He claimed that he had desired only organisational responsibility and not any office of profit.

Those who betrayed the Congress in the last Lok Sabha elections in the Ferozepore constituency were propagating that he would be joining the SAD. He reiterated that he would contest the elections from the Ferozepore constituency only if he got Congress ticket.

He would remain loyal to the party and its President Sonia Gandhi situation. His fight was issue-based and confined to some persons only.

Mr Brar said the delimitation committee was going to meet on May 9. There was a proposal to transfer Malout and Muktsar Assembly segments, including the village of SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal from Faridkot to the Ferozepore Lok Sabha constituency.


Khanna to remain Punjab BJP chief
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Refusing to buckle under pressure built up by the anti-Avinash Khanna lobby of certain senior leaders, the BJP high command today made it clear that Mr Khanna would continue as the president of the Punjab unit till the completion of his three-year term.

Party sources said that the decision regarding the continuation of Mr Khanna as the president was announced at a meeting of senior leaders of the BJP from Punjab held in Delhi under the chairmanship of Mr Sanjay Joshi, in charge of organisational affairs of the party at the national level. Obviously, the meeting was called to end the turmoil within the state unit. The party high command made a strong intervention to resolve the crisis, the sources added.

Among those who participated in the meeting were Mr Khanna, Mr B.L. Rinwa, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, Mr Vijay Sampla and Mr Parshant besides Mr Madan Lal Khurana, who is in charge of party affairs in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, etc.

The sources said that some senior leaders, including former presidents of the Punjab unit of the party, had been lobbying hard for getting Mr Khanna, who has one and a half years left for his tenure to end, removed. However, Mr Joshi, after hearing all concerned at today’s meeting, asked him to continue as the president.

The sources said that at the meeting Mr Harjit Singh Grewal and Mr Vijay Sampla, who were close to Mr Khanna, came under sharp attack from certain senior leaders. However, the party high command did not agree with the criticism of these leaders.

Meanwhile, Mr Khanna, according to the sources, has abolished the advisory council which was constituted by him on the directions of the party high command for seeking the advice of senior leaders on various issues. The sources said that Mr Khanna was of the view that there was no need for the council at present.


Govt, SGPC to organise separate tercentenary functions
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 21
The forthcoming tercentenary of 40 ‘muktas’ martyrdom here is slowly turning into a “show of strength” between the state government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Both of them have announced parallel programmes to attract maximum devotees to their respective venues.

The state government will hold a ‘kirtan darbar’ at Minar-e-Mukta on May 2, while the SGPC will take out ‘nagar kirtan’ on the same day. On May 3, the state government will organise ‘nagar kirtan’ and ‘dhadi darbar’ and the SGPC will hold a seminar for Sikh women. Political heavyweights will converge here on the final day.

On May 4, the state government will hold a state-level function at Minar-e-Mukta, in which Punjab and Union Government leaders will take part. On the same day, the SGPC will organise a function on Malout Road. SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal will participate. Besides, there will be ‘nagar kirtans’ from Jhabal and Anandpur Sahib.

Apart from this, the state government and the SGPC will showcase rural sports, plays and light and sound programmes separately. All these programmes are bound to create confusion among the lakhs of devotees who will be arriving here for the event, but neither of the two is bothered about it.

The district administration is running a series of ‘akhand paths’ at Minar-e-Mukta near the District Administrative Complex, while the SGPC is doing the same at Gurdwara Sri Shahid Ganj Sahib. The administration will erect a ‘pandal’ about 2 km from the main gurdwara on the Kotkapura-Bathinda bypass and sports events will be organised there.

Sources say the government machinery can be misused to bring maximum people to the state government venue. The government has invited Punjabi singers Hansraj Hans and Satvinider Bitti, besides Bhai Lalji, to attract the crowd. In a bid to show its strength, the state government has included the cattle fair, which is usually organised at Lambi Dhab village, near Minar-e-Mukta.

Punjab minister Jagmohan Singh Kang is monitoring the preparations for the event, while SGPC chief Jagir Kaur and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal are doing the same for the SGPC. ‘Dharmik, Deewan’ earlier held at Bhai Maha Singh Hall, has now been taken to a huge ‘pandal’ on the Malout road. While the state government is trying to cover devotees from Kotkapura and Bathinda roads, the SGPC is focusing on Malout road. The SGPC is also holding a sports fair, ‘dhadi dharbar’ and seminar on the lines of the state government. Surprisingly, while crores are being spent on observing this event, not even a single board has been erected to make people aware about the history of 40 ‘muktas’.


Hike in MSP of paddy a joke: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The President of the Shiormani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said the insignificant increase of Rs 10 per quintal in the minimum support price of paddy was a joke played on the farmers by the Union Government.

He said while there had been a substantial increase in the rates of agricultural inputs such as diesel, fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and farming machinery, the increase made in the paddy price by the government was even less than 2 per cent.

He said if the Union Government continued to treat the farming sector shabbily, the survival of the farming community would become difficult. “During the SAD-BJP government in Punjab, the average annual increase in the price of paddy was Rs 35 per quintal and wheat Rs 45 per quintal”. Rejecting the increase in price, Mr Badal said the paddy price should be linked to the price index.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), in a separate statement, said a delegation of his party would soon call on the Union Food and Supplies Minister to urge him for further increase in the minimum support price of paddy.


Make Nanavati panel report public: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that action should immediately be taken against those accused of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots on the basis of the findings of the G.T. Nanavati Commission. He said that the report of the commission should be made public at the earliest.

Mr Badal said that as Justice Nanavati had made observations that certain cases of violence against Sikhs had not been probed properly, these should be reopened.” Justice Nanavati had made a significant disclosure that dwellings of Sikhs were attacked after their identification. It proved the allegation that Congressmen had got the homes of Sikhs attacked by inciting crowds,” Mr Badal added.

Phagwara: Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, member, Political Affairs Committee, SAD, on Thursday demanded that the report of the Nanavati Commission should be tabled in Parliament.

Talking to newsmen here, Prof Badungar alleged that the Congress-led UPA government was sitting over the 185-page report submitted to it in February because there were skeletons in the government’s cupboard. The retired Supreme Court Judge had now clearly said in the press that the riots were planned against Sikhs.


One boat meets needs of 25 villages
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 21
Development is still a distant dream for more than 25 villages of the district, as the only form of transportation here is still a single boat, in the absence of any bridge over the Sutlej near Jindapur village here. The residents of these villages situated about 20 km from here on both sides of the river have been using a boat for commuting to work and for other occasional trips to reach other parts of Ropar and also nearby districts, including Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur.

The villagers residing in Jindapur, Kurkewal, Malewal and Tajauwal, Daudpur Khurd, Bela, Sultanpur, Brahmpur and several other villages are facing a tough time due to lack of connectivity.

The villagers said that it was become difficult for them to have access to other places in bad weather conditions, as the route was dangerous in a boat. Also during night the villages were virtually cut off, as the boatman did not carry any person after 7 pm. Other routes to reach through roads to Ropar and other distance places were not viable for the villagers, as they had to cover about a distance of 40 km to reach their respective places.

So the villagers preferred the boat for commuting.

The schoolchildren and the villagers employed in the various factories in and neighbouring district have to reach about 6 am at the Jindapur and Bela villages to catch the boat.

ven then they had to wait for two to three hour an average for the boat to carry them to the other end. The boat ride to other end cost each person Rs 5. The villagers of Jindapur village had given the boat contract to a private party for transporting villagers at Rs 85,000 for a year.

Life was especially not for the villagers having two wheelers here. They had to go through many difficulties to reach on the bank of river to take a trip in a boat.

They have to drive about half a km stretch full of sand and then to put their motorcycles or scooter on the boat and then again pull out on the other end.

“Life is dead here after 7 pm here. There are no means of transportation to reach other places of the town.

In case any person falls sick we have to wait till morning to get suitable treatment at the Civil Hospital in Ropar city.

First we carry the patient by boat to other end then hire a vehicle for hospital”, said villager Jasbir Singh from Jindapur.

“The life has not changed for the people here. People lack healthcare facilities, face problems to start business due to lack of connectivity. The price of the land is also low. The boatman does not carry any person after evening. The three persons had lost their lives two years ago in an attempt to cross the river during the night” said Chand Kumar of Bela village.

“We start carrying villagers since early morning. Only 10 persons with three two wheelers can be safely carried to other end in single ride boat. We stop work at 7 pm as it is not safe to carry persons in dark here” said a boatman, Mr Amarjit Singh.


Fire breaks out near NFL campus, tragedy averted
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 21
A major loss of property and human life was averted today when a fire that broke out just next to the National Fertilisers Limited (NFL) premises was brought under control within three hours of the incident.

According to sources, a property dealer, who had bought a piece of land near the NFL campus, in a bid to clean the area had set afire weeds on his plot. Sources said harvesting was also on in about 30 acres of neighbouring agricultural land belonging to farmers of Kothe Sucha Singhwala. The farmers having land close to the property dealer’s land asked him not to set the weeds afire, but he did not pay heed to them. The fire, which started at 11.20 am, soon spread to hundreds of trees on the NFL campus and the harvested crop of a farmer. Panic spread in Kothe Sucha Singhwala and its residents set their cattle free. Fearing for their lives, they took shelter in the village gurdwara from where announcements were being made, appealing to people to rescue themselves. Sources said high-tension power cables were also passing over the plot, but leaping flames could not engulf them. Seven fire engines were rushed to the spot. It took them about three hours to control the fire. But, before that it had already damaged the green belt on the NFL campus to some extent and the trees were burnt up to 20 feet height.

Meanwhile, Makhan Singh, a poor farmer, seems to be the only loser in this tragedy. Father of five children, Makhan had taken a 1.5-acre plot on contract to the property dealer’s plot. He was harvesting his crop when the dealer set ablaze weeds on his plot. Makhan had already harvested most of his wheat crop and had even pleaded the dealer not to go ahead with his plan. His whole crop got destroyed in the fire and he had no clue as to how he would feed his family. His wife, Jasbir Kaur, fell unconscious soon after their crop caught fire.

Makhan said he had sustained injuries in an accident a few months back and had resumed work sometime back. He rued that he had borrowed money from people to take a piece of land on contract but all his hopes were dashed in the fire. Now, the villagers are taking care of his family and the only thing he is left with is his small home.


Only one fire tender in Phagwara
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, April 21
The pace at which the town is expanding, the local fire department needs to be upgraded.

There is only one fire tender in this station, which is 15-year old. The authorities say whenever there is a fire incident in the subdivision or neighbouring districts of Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr, the fire engine from Phagwara is pressed into service As this is an industrial town and traffic bottlenecks are common on the highway, the fire engine takes a long time to reach it destination. “If a fire breaks out in here and we are on job at some other place. it would be a difficult situation, said a fire station official.

The fire department is also under-staffed. In 1962, it had a strength of 32 for five fire engines at present it has a staff of only 11, including six firemen, three drivers, one sub-fire officer and one fire officer.

Most of the staff is ill-equipped to tackle a big fire in an industrial unit or a big building. “Punjab does not have any training centre that has resulted in the lower staff being largely untrained”, a fireman said.

A fire official said that in an industrial unit like sugar or starch mill, they would not be able to douse the fire and would definitely need the help of neighbouring districts.There are also no fireproof dresses available to the fire station.

“The old and insufficient ladder system has not been replaced yet, which can prove to be fatal in many cases. In case of narrow lanes where fire tenders cannot sneak in, we use narrow nozzle of half inch to hit water to the farthest range”, informs fire officer Lakhwinder Singh.

With a population of 1.75 lakh and around 60 cases of fire mishaps every year, the ill-equipped Phagwara fire station cuts a sorry figure and calls for immediate attention.


Abohar witnesses rise in suicide cases
Raj Sadosh

Sadhuwali/Abohar, April 21
An increase in the incidence of suicide in this border region has once again drawn the attention of psychiatrists. At least five incidents of suicide had been reported during the past 48 hours.

Santro Devi, wife of Ram Kumar of Jasana village, was found dead along with her eight-year-old daughter Punam in the fields. The post mortem examination established that they had consumed celphos tablets. Mr Ram Kumar said she had not been behaving normally for the past few days.

Prem Kumar (20), son of Budh Ram Gosain, allegedly strangled himself to death at his residence, near Sadhuwali. He is survived by wife and daughter. Raja Khan, son of Khurshid Khan, too allegedly ended his life by consuming poison.

Goma, alias Savitri, wife of Rajji Ram and Amit (24), son of Gopi Ram, who had allegedly committed suicide during the past two days, also belonged to the border area. The causes for these acts couldn’t be ascertained.

Dwindling tolerance among people following a rise in the temperature in the desert was considered the primary reason when such a trend was noticed last year. Most of the doctors believed that the high incidence of suicide here was because this had been the hottest region in northern India and insecticides were easily available.

The BKU and other organisations had blamed economic instability for the increasing number of suicides.

Meanwhile, the police yesterday arrested Raju, alias Gullu, son of Manga Ram of Kalatibba village, about 5 km from here, for allegedly driving Veerpal Kaur, mother of three children, to suicide. She had reportedly jumped into a tank of rural water works of the same village on Monday.

Her husband had complained to the police that Raju had repeatedly attempted to outrage her modesty in his absence. Raju, who had been booked under Section 306 of the IPC, was remanded in police custody for two days by a local court. 


Popularising Punjabi culture abroad
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 21
The Punjab Promotion Council organised an international show in February, 2005, in Canberra in which folk artists from Poland, Australia and India (Punjab) performed to collect funds for tsunami victims. About $5000 (Australian) collected were sent to UNICEF,” city-based lecturer Davinder Singh Chhina , Director of the council, has said.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Chhina said prior to his visit to Australia, he was impressed by multiculturalism in Australia. Hence he ,too, decided to form an NGO that will promote world peace through culture.

He said he wanted to motivate the youth of Punjab to showcase state’s great folk dances, old instruments and great traditions abroad. He said,”I am glad we have performed at 22 international folk festivals in various parts of the world . The countries we have performed in include Australia, South Korea, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Baltics. People have really appreciated robust bhangra and have a great deal of appreciation for Punjabi culture.”

Mr Chhina also had a chance to address more than a dozen meetings organised by Mayors of Europe. He talked of humanism viz-a-viz Sikhism and removed misconceptions about turban. He also addressed the International Media Conference in Copenhagen in 2002. He spoke on the topic ‘Sports and human rights’ again in Copenhagen in May, 2004. He addressed another international meeting and talked on ‘Education, peace and development through sports and culture. “In November, 2004, he held a presentation on Punjabi folk dances at the Culture for Peace and Joy organised in Argos, Athens.

He has been travelling in India too and delivering lectures on human rights education and environmental education. Mr Chhina is a lecturer in chemistry in Government Inservice Training Centre. He is working for doctorate in journalism. Mr Chhina is striving for international friendship across the globe and wants to bring multiculturism through international sports media as well as renowned folk artists.

Mr Chhina says, “We have good sports facilities in India. What we need is more voluntry workers. Retired teachers and coaches should be enrolled as volunteers. Punjab has a lot of multiculturism but it has to be well projected.”

Mr Chhina has been honoured with a citation at an international festival held in France in 2003 and is recipient of a gold medal at an international festival held in Slovakia and received a bronze medal at the international folk festival in Poland for his contribution in promoting Punjabi folk culture.


FCI staff stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 21
The Jaina faction of the FCI Workers Union today staged a dharna in front of FCI godowns on the Khera road here today in protest against the removal of 150 workers by contractor Ram Das. The protesters raised slogans and blocked entry of trucks into the godowns.


Construction of judicial complex starts
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 21
In order to solve the problems of advocates practising without chambers, the construction of a new building with a capacity of 32-chamber in the district judicial complex began here yesterday. The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said on the occasion that the administration had also been planning to solve the parking and other problems being faced by the advocates and litigants. The District and Sessions Judge, Mr A.K Sharma, and the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.K. Goel, along with other Judges and advocates were also present there.


Wheat arrivals pick up
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 21
Wheat arrivals in the mandis of Punjab have picked up though belatedly. The wheat harvesting operations started late this year because of untimely rains and delay in the maturity of the crop.

Markets in Punjab had received as many as 54 lakh tonnes of wheat till yesterday against arrivals of 67 lakh tonnes last year. The peak arrivals of wheat were recovered yesterday when the mandis got 6.8 lakh tonnes of wheat.

The official procuring agencies of the state government and the FCI are making bulk purchase of wheat. Traders are not making much purchases because of union government has not formulated any export policy for wheat so far.

According to official sources, there is very little possibility of export of wheat this year as the demand within the country is rising for the same.

According to Mr H.S. Sidhu, Joint Director, Food and Supplies, the agency-wise procurement of wheat so far has been as follows: Pungrain 6.66 lakh tonnes, Markfed — 14 lakh tonnes, Punsup — 11.52 lakh tonnes, Punjab Werehousing Corporation - 6 lakh tonnes, Punjab Agro - 7 lakh tonnes and trade 1.1 lakh tonnes respectively.

Officials of the state Food Department are hoping that the procurement could touch 100 lakh tonnes this year compared to last year’s procurement of 95 lakh tonnes. The total wheat production is also expected to be around 150 lakh tonnes. The quality of wheat grain is good this year and the yield may fall because of cold weather during the months of February and March.

Enquiries further reveal that there are no report of distress sale of wheat from any part of the state and the official agencies are buying wheat at the minimum support price of Rs 640 per quintal. The payment to farmers are also being made within two to three days.


MoU on pest control in cotton belt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Under their initiative of “reviving the Green Revolution”, Tatas have come forward to help the Punjab Government in the cotton belt.

An MoU has been signed by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust with the state government to promote “integrated pest management” in the cotton belt. Already, the trust management has released the first instalment of Rs 26 lakh to the Agriculture Department for taking up the work of pest control. The remaining Rs 23 lakh will be released in due course.

Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said today that the project would be launched in Bathinda tomorrow. As many as 56 villages, two in each of the 28 blocks, had been identified in Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Sangrur and Faridkot districts for coverage under the project.

In each block, an agricultural development officer had been made in charge of the project. He would visit the selected villages once a week. In the selected villages farmers would be told about pest control techniques and the latest technology in cotton cultivation. Even farmers of villages near to the ones covered under the project would benefit.

Mr Sidhu said that this year a programme had been drawn up to increase 1 lakh hectares under cotton and reduce that much area under paddy. A meeting of the chief agriculture officers of the cotton belt districts had been called in Bathinda tomorrow to discuss farm-related issues and progress with regard to the sowing of Bt cotton.

He said that farmers had been told to sow other hybrid varieties of cotton if the seed of Bt cotton was not available to them. He said the government had made arrangements to distribute Bt cotton seed for about 6 lakh acres this year. Farmers were also being motivated to reduce the cultivation cost, he added.


New stamp duty policy hits farmers hard
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 21
The Punjab Government’s new policy on stamp duty is causing financial burden to the state’s farmers. On top of that the district administration has revised the collector rates, which seem to be in favour of rich and against the farmers.

Sources said the rates of land in the villages falling within 5 km of the MC limit had also been fixed on the urban pattern. They said the revised rates of land in the nearby villages of Bhagta Bhaika village did not match with the genuine rates in the area and as a result of which the farmers would end up paying stamp duty on an amount more then their land rate. They would have to pay 9 per cent stamp duty instead of 6 per cent earlier.

There are about 36 such villages where land rates match with rural areas, but due to their proximity with the municipal councils they would have to pay 3 per cent more stamp duty. These villages include Jodhpur Romana, Katarsinghwala, Kot Shamir, and Kot Fatta. Till now the land rate in these villages was Rs 2 lakh per acre, which had now been jacked up to Rs 5 lakh. It means that if a farmer of any of these villages sells his land at Rs 2 lakh per acre, which is the genuine rate, he will have to pay stamp duty at the rate of Rs 5 lakh per acre. There are reports of the farmers turning their backs towards Tehsil offices after hearing the new collector rates.

On the other hand, the rich are striking gold after the revision of rates. Collector rates have been marginally increased in the city’s main commercial areas like the Mall Road and the Dhobi Bazaar, while current deals are being finalised at comparatively higher rates. This will translate into huge profits for big builders and property dealers, as they will have to pay less stamp duty despite striking deals at higher rates.

The president of the North Indian Cotton Association, Mr Kattar Singh Jeeda, said the state government should think again on stamp duty, as it was hitting the farmers hard. He said there had been a decline in rural registries after the new policy, which was causing revenue loss to the government.

The Deputy Commissioner said a committee had been formed to revise collector rates and the rates had been decided following a survey of the area.


BKU opposes sugar mills’ privatisation
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 21
Farmers have decided to oppose the government move to privatise cooperative sugar mills of the state. The Bharti Kisan Union presented a memorandum to Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa in this regard.

The farmers have alleged that the cooperative sugar mills are in loss due to government’s policies. The total loss to the government sugar mills till March 31, 2004, was Rs 70 crore. More than half of the loss had been covered last year.

The pending loss of about Rs 30 crore can also be covered if the government does not force the mills to sell molasses at lower rates. The market rate of molasses is about Rs 345 per quintal. Earlier, the government used to purchase molasses from the mills at a rate of Rs 89 per quintal to further supply it to distilleries. However, this year the rate has been further reduced to Rs 74 per quintal.

The sugar mills in Punjab have produced 5 lakh quintal of molasses this year. By reducing the rate of molasses by Rs 15 per quintal the mills would incur a loss of Rs 27 crore this year. If the government sugar mills were allowed to sell molasses in open market their loss can be eliminated totally.

The government is sacrificing the mills to benefit the lobby of liquor barons. The liquor barons after taking over the distilleries in the area are now trying to control the mills, allege farmers.


Arhtiyas protest over delay in lifting wheat
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 21
About 1.5 lakh sacks of wheat are lying in the Grain Market of Kot Ise Khan owing to delay in lifting the same. Arhtiyas of the market today took out a protest rally against the delay.

According to sources, the Food Corporation of India, Punjab State Warehouse Corporation, and Punjab Agro are procuring wheat from this market. Sources said wheat procurement started here on April 11 and wheat purchased on that day was lifted simultaneously, but after that not even a single sack of wheat had been lifted. The protesting arhtiyas have formed a six-member panel, comprising Kishanpura Said Sarpanch Major Singh and Jangir Singh Chhabra, to take up the issue with the authorities concerned. The arhtiyas said they had arranged some vehicles on their own for lifting the wheat and they paid Re 1 per sack for shifting wheat to godowns. They demanded that the contractor system in lifting be done away with and they be handed over the job. They said they were ready to take up lifting even if they were paid less.

The glut in the market has led to a major problem for the farmers who are arriving with their wheat, as they have no place to dump it. They are compelled to unload their stock on roadside. Farmers who have sold their produce are also a harried lot, as they would not receive their payment until their stock is shifted to godowns. Sources said the purchase was yet to start at the Kadarwala grain market.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Mandeep Singh said the lifting had started, but the process was slow. He said the FCI had some problem, which had been sorted out. It would be back to normal soon, he added.


Pawar cancels Punjab, Haryana visit
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Farmers who had been pinning their hopes on the visit of the Union Food Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, to Haryana and Punjab tomorrow for demanding a special bonus because of the increased cost of production and lower yields were disappointed at the last-minute cancellation of his visit.

Mr Pawar was to visit Kurukshetra and Ambala in Haryana and Rajpura, Khanna, Ludhiana and Jalandhar in Punjab to oversee the wheat procurement operations.

Sources in the Food Department said that since Mr Pawar had to go to Mumbai, his programme had been cancelled. Instead, the Additional Secretary in the Union Ministry of Food, Mr D.N. Padhi, would visit some grain markets in Punjab early next week.

It would have been Mr Pawar’s first visit to Punjab after joining the UPA government at the Centre last year. He was also scheduled to visit Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana.

Though the procurement operations have been going on smoothly all over Punjab, the farmers and their organisations were planning to argue strongly before Mr Pawar for the grant of a special bonus. They have been arguing that it was not only the cost of farm inputs, including diesel, pesticides, fertilisers and insecticides, which had gone up by more than 10 per cent since last year but the yields, too, had come down significantly.


PSEB extends VDS for farmers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 21
On the persistent demand of farmers and leaders of various kisan unions, the Punjab State Electricity Board has extended the date of the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) for the benefit of agriculture consumers till May 31.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman of the PSEB, said the scheme had been extended to give another chance to farmers to regularise unauthorised loads of big motors and submersible pumpsets being used to run tubewells.

Mr Ratra added that the board had reduced the regularisation charges to Rs 1,000 per BHP. However, the amount of security deposit remains unchanged at Rs 200 per BHP.


Inside Babudom
Finally, ADGP Aulakh to join BSF
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab Government has finally relieved a senior Punjab Police officer for posting on central deputation. It has permitted Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) N.P.S. Aulakh to join the Border Security Force (BSF). The relieving orders were passed on Wednesday.

Even though the Centre had earlier accorded approval for deputation in at least three cases, the officers were not relieved by the state government due to personal and “other” reasons.

As far as the rules are concerned, it is mandatory for the state to send at least 31 police officers on deputation with the Centre. But the Punjab Police has been sending a far less number of officers.

At present, there are seven officers on central deputation. As many as 24 posts are lying vacant. Sources in the police headquarters say in a large number of cases, the Central Government, too, is not very keen on having Punjab Police officers on deputation with it.

The sources say even otherwise the state government has been infamous for not sending enough officers on deputation with the Government of India.

They add that the list of officers forwarded to the Central Government is often nothing but a “farce” as the state government is not serious about sending officers on deputation. A large number of senior officers accuse the state government of deliberately forwarding the names of officers unfit for the purpose.

As a result, the cases of at least eight senior Punjab Police officers have so far been rejected by the authorities concerned. Over 24 names were initially recommended for deputation by the Punjab Police.

Quoting an example, the sources in the state Home Department claim that the case of a former ADGP was rejected last year as he did not fulfil the necessary criterion for deputation with the Centre.

Giving details, they assert that two years’ service before retirement is necessary for central deputation. But the then ADGP had just 10 months to go before his retirement when his name was forwarded.


Punjab guidelines for postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Issuing guidelines for general postings and transfers for the current year, the Punjab Government today ruled that such orders would be passed from April 25 to May 25 in all government departments.

Giving details of the broad guidelines, a spokesman said transfers would be kept to the barest minimum and would be made against vacant posts. The only exception would be in cases where the transfers were justified on administrative or compassionate grounds.

He said employees, gazetted or non-gazetted, due to retire within the next two years, would be allowed to continue in the same district or at the same station of posting as far as possible.

Referring to the transfer policy in cases of couples, he said when a couple was serving the government, it was desirable to keep them at one station for a period of not more than five years. Thereafter, they would be transferred as per the policy.

In case the wife was in government service and the husband working with a private undertaking, the same criteria would be adopted. However, efforts would be made to post unmarried women and widows at stations suitable to them.

The spokesman said to mitigate the suffering of the disabled and the blind employees, the state government would post them as per their convenience. They would be posted at the station nearest to their homes. A sympathetic attitude would be adopted while posting or transferring a government employee or officer whose child was mentally challenged and efforts made to post him at the place of their choice.

A three-year stay would be treated as the minimum and five years would be the maximum period at a particular place.


12 PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab Government today posted as many as 12 newly appointed PCS officers as Extra Assistant Commissioners.

Mr Gurjit Singh has been posted at Gurdaspur, Mr J.K. Jain at Sangrur, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh at Chandigarh, Mr Karanbir Singh Mann at Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Tejinder Pal Singh at Faridkot, Mr Sukhmander Singh at Jalandhar, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh at Ropar, Mr Jagdish Chander Bhatia at Jalandhar, Mr Kuldip Singh at Hoshiarpur, Mr G.S. Bahia at Ludhiana, Mr Manmohan Singh Kang at Mansa and Mr Lakhmir Singh at Nawanshahr.


DFO, 2 inspectors booked for fraud
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, April 21
The Vigilance Bureau today booked the District Forest Officer, Wildlife Division, Mr Basant Rajkumar, and two wildlife inspectors for allegedly defrauding the department to the tune of about Rs 13 lakh.

A case under various Sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered at the Vigilance Bureau police station here.

The two accused inspectors, Iqbal Masih and Rupinder Singh, were nabbed red-handed while preparing bogus vouchers/muster rolls during a surprise check on April 5 in the Wildlife Division at Harike.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Kashmir Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, said the two accused had withdrawn Rs 7.45 lakh and Rs 4.50 lakh respectively, on March 31. They took the money to their residences instead of keeping it in the department’s chest. However, the department got information and raided the residences of the two where they were preparing fake vouchers and arrested them. He said the Vigilance team recovered Rs 4.87 lakh from Iqbal Masih and Rs 4.35 lakh from Rupinder Singh.

Mr Kashmir Singh said the Vigilance Bureau asked the DFO to join the inquiry. However, despite many notices the DFO did not turn up. He was absconding after the registration of a criminal case.

Meanwhile, the two accused were produced in the court of the CJM where they were remanded in two days’ police custody. 


Youth jumps into gurdwara sarovar, dies
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 21
A 22-year-old Nepali youth committed suicide by jumping into the sarovar of Dukhniwaran Sahib Gurdwara in the morning today.

Gian Bahadur, a resident of Sabzi mandi, was a patient of psychiatry and undergoing treatment at the Government Rajindera hospital.

The youth, before plunging into the sarovar, reportedly placed a piece of paper on the edge of the sarovar on which he had written his name and address.

The police called in divers from Doraha to find the body but before the divers could arrive, some locals helped gurdwara authorities to take the body out.

The body has been sent for a post-mortem examination at the Rajindera Hospital.


ETT course eligibility made tougher
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, April 21
Confusion reigns supreme at the State Council of Education Research and Training as the authorities concerned have been changing their decisions frequently in connection with admissions to be made for the two-year Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) course.

The latest notice issued by the SCERT, notifying that admissions would be made on the basis of percentage of marks scored in 10+2, seems to have created a controversy of sorts instead of removing the confusion prevailing in the minds of applicants due to certain earlier decisions in connection with the same.

First, the SCERT took the decision that a test for admissions into the ETT course would be conducted on February 27, 2005, but subsequently the decision to hold the test was rolled back in the first week of February. Now the decision to make admissions on the basis of merit has resulted in pandemonium among the applicants.

Not only this, a number of statements made by a minister and a section of bureaucrats regarding admission into the ETT course, which were contradictory to each other, had also added to the confusion.

The dreams of a number of applicants, who applied for the ETT test, were shattered with the latest notice as now the eligibility for the admission into the ETT course for general category would be 65 per cent and for SC/ST, it would be 60 per cent in 10+2 as against the 50 per cent and 45 per cent for the categories, respectively, for the test. A condition that the applicants with higher qualification would be given priority had disappointed a number of applicants.

Another condition in connection with the maximum age bar of applicants put by the SCERT authorities now, in its new notice issued a few days ago, has also affected adversely a section of them as they have become ineligible due to the age restriction. Earlier, the maximum age limit for general category was 32 years but now it had been reduced to 25 years.

A random survey conducted by this correspondent on 50 applicants for the ETT course revealed that about 80 per cent of them would not be eligible for the admission, according to the latest notice.

Preeti (name changed), an earlier ETT aspirant who got 63 per cent marks in 10+2 (non-medical), said she was quiet hopeful that she would clear the test and get admission into the ETT course, but the new conditions had made her ineligible for the same. She said her batchmates of Arts stream were now eligible for admission into the ETT course as they had scored more than 65 per cent marks. She added that due to her poor economic condition, she was not able to afford admission into the Engineering courses. She had been determined to clear the ETT test and the latest notice had put her in an embarrassing situation as her batchmates, who were otherwise weak in studies compared to her, would now be admitted into the ETT course.

Manoj Kumar (name changed), a resident of Muktsar district, said though he scored more than 65 per cent marks in 10+2 the condition of age limit had denied him the opportunity of getting admission into the ETT course. He said at present he was 25 years and four months old.

Reetu (name changed), a student doing B.Sc, pointed out the Humanities students would sweep the maximum number of seats and particularly those who had the easiest of the subjects of the Humanities stream, including religion, sociology, home science and physical education. She added that most of the science stream students, who had scored more than 65 per cent marks, had been selected in various medical and engineering colleges or they were planning to do B.Ed rather than ETT.

While on the other hand Neena (name changed), 23, who scored 67 per cent marks in the Arts stream, was on cloud nine as she said now she had more chances of getting admission into ETT course. She added earlier she was reluctant to fill the ETT form due to the enormous competition but now she had already sent her application as now she would also get priority due to her being a graduate.

Mr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, Director, SCERT, when contacted, said the decision had been taken at the government level to produce quality teachers. He added that he had no role to play in this decision.

Ms Tejinder Kaur, Principal Secretary, Education, when contacted, said this was a collective decision of the bureaucrats and the elected representatives of the people. She said that it would help in producing quality teachers.

Going by the number of controversies the ETT admissions are embroiled in, the day is not far when a fresh and revised notice for ETT admissions might surprise the students ‘once again’.


7 engg students get jobs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 21
Seven B.Tech students of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College here got jobs in campus interviews in the past two days.

Three got selected in Spice Communication, Mohali, two in Radius Power Limited, Mohali, and two in SLR Infotech, Chandigarh.

College Principal Dr D.S. Hira, said there is no dearth of jobs for bright B.Tech students and so far 107 college students had been selected for jobs and still more companies are to conduct campus interviews. Placement Officer of the college, Prof I.P.S. Gill, said. ZTE Kangxun Tele-com Company (India) Private Ltd would be conducting campus interview for students of electronics and communication of the college on April 24.

Prof Gill said Ralson Cycles, Ludhiana, had asked for computer engineers having expertise in SAP software and in response to that the college had recommended two students.

He said Hero Majestic, Ludhiana, would conduct campus interview for mechanical stream students next week in the college.


Honour for Pbi varsity Botany Dept
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 21
The Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Boparai, today lauded the efforts of the faculty and students of the Department of Botany in helping the university achieve the rare distinction of being one of the two institutions selected under ASIST programme, the other being the University of Pune.

Under this scheme, the university will get an allocation of Rs 60 lakh for five years starting from April, 2005. Dr Boparai expressed satisfaction that the department, since its inception in February, 1967, had made a significant contribution in the fields of cytogenetics, algal physiology, mycology and plant pathology.

In recognition of these researches, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has sanctioned a Departmental Research Support (DRS) scheme in which the university has been allocated the grant.


Punjab pact with Malaysia on roads likely
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, April 21
With a view to providing international standard roads in Punjab, the state government is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian Government this month when the Minister for Public Works of Malaysia visits the state on April 28.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for PWD (B&R), Punjab, today said that the Malaysian Public Works minister would hold meetings on April 28 at Chandigarh with higher officials of the Punjab PWD and government representatives to discuss various issues related to the laying of roads and their strengthening to international standard in the state.

Mr Bajwa was here in connection with the laying of foundation stones for the repair and strengthening of the Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Sangrur road and the Malerkotla-Raikot road. The Sangrur-Malerkotla-Ludhiana road in Sangrur district area (49 km) will be raised and strengthened, besides patch work and laying of premix, at a cost of more than Rs 8 crore, will be done. The Malerkotla-Raikot road (20 km) will be widened, raised and strengthened, besides laying of premix at a cost of Rs 3.84 crore in a year.

Mr Bajwa said the Punjab Government would like to sign an MoU with the Malaysian Government. He said as per the proposals, the roads would be built by the Malaysian Government. These roads would be built with the financial collaboration of the Malaysian Government.

The minister also said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had sanctioned the four-laning of the Chandigarh-Ambala road, to be widened and strengthened at a cost of Rs 250 crore, and the four-laning of the Chandigarh-Kiratpur Sahib road, to be widened and strengthened at a cost of Rs 350 crore. The World Bank had also approved a loan of Rs 1100 crore for the state highways, for which the first installment of the loan would be received by the Punjab Government this month.

Mr Bajwa also stated that district-level committees to monitor the repair and construction of roads would be constituted in the state in a month. The Punjab Government was committed to abolishing octroi, besides providing free power supply to the tubewells, and the state government would soon take a decision to fulfil its both commitments.

Ms Razia Sultana, MLA from Malerkotla, and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, and Mr Arvind Khanna, MLA from Sangrur, also spoke on the occasion.


Labour unrest hits production
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 21
Frequent labour strikes in industrial units here have caused great concern among industrialists.

Ludhiana has been witnessing labour trouble for the past two years and the same has hit the industrial production too. The light engineering industries in particular are being made the target by the trade unions which owe their allegiance to INTUC, The Shiv Sena and CITU. The cycle parts and bicycle industry in particular has been hit hard by the strikes by the labourers.

Labour trouble in the cycle industry started some two years ago and the same was led by the Congress-led INTUC. The strike spread to about a dozen complete bicycle and cycle parts manufacturing units. This was for the first time during the past two decades that Ludhiana witnessed some labour trouble. The men behind the same were from the ruling Congress. The strike came to an end with the intervention of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Besides the cycle industry, trouble was also witnessed in some leading hosiery units.

Last year again there was a strike in some of the bicycle manufacturing units and it was allegedly sponsored by the Shiv Sena-led labour organisation. Some of the labour units also witnessed violence during this strike.

Representatives of the bicycle industry allege that ever since the formation of the UPA government at the Centre, labour unions of Left parties have become active and they are now engaged in enhancing their influence. A strike was observed in a leading bicycle factory here which lasted for one week.

Industrialists are sore that despite conceding all genuine demands of the workers, the functioning of the factories come to a halt without any rhyme or reason.

Inquiries made by The Tribune show that manufacturers of bicycle and cycle parts have been making all payments according to the Minimum Wage Act. Even some of the managements claim that they make the payments not only according to the Minimum Wage Act but even beyond the wages fixed by the government. They (workers) are paid leave travel allowance and production incentive besides facilities of the ESI and other medical facilities. The workers are also paid annual bonus according to government norms.

Managements allege that the bicycle industry being labour intensive, trade unions want to dictate terms to them.

According to a leading bicycle manufacturer, the production of bicycles has gone down by 10 per cent to 12 per cent during the past two years. The biggest problem being faced by the industry is that workers creat indiscipline at the instance of the trade unions. They violate the norms and do not obey orders of seniors. The majority of workers engaged in the industries are migrant workers from Bihar and UP.

The managements further allege that CITU wants to create a Kolkata-like situation in Punjab.

Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial undertakings, Ludhiana, alleges that trade unions are bent upon disturbing the peaceful atmosphere of Ludhiana which is already facing problems due to hike in steel prices and implementation of VAT.

Mr Jatinder Kumar, president, CITU, however, denied the allegation that they wanted to destabilise the industry.


Punjab CM honoured
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 21
The 12th South Asian Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) today honoured Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh with ‘SATTE INTACH Award’ for 2005 for his role in preserving heritage and boosting tourism.

Speaking on the ocassion, Capt Amarinder Singh said his government was committed to preserving and projecting the glorious heritage of the state. He said heritage festivals were organised every year at Kapurthala in Doaba, Amritsar in Majha and Patiala in Malwa.

The state government, he said, had assigned a project of to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for documenting heritage buildings in Amritsar, Kapurthala and Patiala. He said the state government would expedite the completion of Khalsa Heritage Complex at Anandpur Sahib.

According to an official spokesman, the citation with the award said Capt Amarinder Singh had toiled with “full knowledge and conviction that heritage was the single biggest asset that can promote tourism” and “had provided a new momentum to dying crafts.”


Bank employees to go on strike on April 25
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 21
Employees of Oriental Bank of Commerce will go on strike on April 25 to oppose Government’s bringing down capital in Public Sector banks up to 51 per cent and to encourage private capital in these banks up to 49 per cent.

Mr Vinod Sharma, general secretary, of the All India Bank Officers Association, said that if the government were ahead with it’s move, the ownership control and monitoring of banks will be diluted. Moerover grip of businessmen over banks and their vast resources will increase.

This, Mr Sharma added was not good keeping in view the mismanagement and failure of private sector banks.

Mr Sharma opined that since banks represented the common man’s money, the control of ownership should be with the Government alone.

Mr Sharma said that it was unfortunate that neither the government nor the OBC’s management was taking any serious action to recover the huge Non Performing Assets (NPAs) which are to the extent of nearly Rs 2,500 crore.

The strike’s call has been given by the All-India Oriental Bank Employees Federation and the All-India Oriental Bank Officers Association.

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