P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Education board’s money invested in shares
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 23
Another controversy is brewing in the Punjab School Education Board. Its higher officials have been accused of investing Rs 8 crore of board’s money in shares and thereby causing a loss of about Rs 1 crore to it.

Highly placed sources said that the education board had Rs 8 crore at its disposal. Against the general practice the board officials during the stint of the previous Chairman invested the money in equity shares floated by Punjab National Bank. The shares were bought at premium.

The motive of the board authorities was to earn profit from a booming market. However, the move proved to be counterproductive and as of today the board incurred a loss of about Rs 1 crore due to investment in shares.

The sources told The Tribune that the loss had been caused due to depreciation of PNB share in the market and the loss of interest that the board could have earned in case the money was kept in fixed deposit. Had the money been kept in bank, the sources said that, the board could have earned an interest of Rs 80 lakh. In addition to that, a loss of about Rs 22 lakh had been incurred due to depreciation of PNB share in the market.

After the matter he came to know members of the board created a ruckus over the matter. The board then constituted a committee under a Parliamentary Secretary and member of the board, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, to probe into the case and fix responsibility. The committee is to meet next week to take a final decision on the matter.

The sources further said that the onus of causing loss by investing its funds in shares was likely to be fixed on the secretary of the board. Though the committee was likely to fix the responsibility on the officer but the channels through which the board money was invested in shares needed further probe.

The sources indicated that the possibility of officials receiving commission for investing such a large amount of the board money in shares could not be ruled out.

The government departments or the boards were not allowed to invest public money in the open market due to risk involved. The government departments or the boards could invest their extra money available with them in government bonds, which have the government guarantee and assured interest.

The education board officials had flouted norms by investing public money in shares and thereby causing loss to the public exchequer, the sources said.


Farmers’ organisations fail to agree on common programme
Vimal Sumbly

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 23
Various kisan organisations today failed to reach a consensus on a common minimum programme to be adopted for getting various issues addressed. The main reason of discord was the issue of employees’ interests raised by certain organisations affiliated to the Left political parties.

The all-party meeting had been convened by the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) to deliberate upon the problems being faced by farmers that led to distress and desperation and even suicides. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Bhartiya Kisan Union the (BKU)-Lakhowal, the BKU (Mann), BKU (Ekta), the All India Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and the Khetibadi Kisan Front Punjab besides the IHRO.

While the BKU organisations wanted to stick to farmers’ issues only, the other three organisations wanted to include the employees’ problems. There were some differences also when a BKU leader pointed out that there were too many government employees and most resources were spent on them. This was opposed by the Left affiliated organisations who wanted the employees’ interests also to be taken care of. The BKU leaders said this would simply dilute the issue.

Ultimately, all parties agreed to authorise the IHRO to plead the cause of farmers at the government and legal level. Referring to the suo motu notices issued by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the state governments of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and the central government on the issue of farmers’ suicides, the parties wanted that the IHRO should become party to the case and plead the cause of Punjab farmers.

It was announced at the meeting that the state government was trying to down play the suicide by farmers as it had only owned up about 7600 suicides by farmers during the last five years while in actual there were over 13,000. It was decided that for handling the issues concerned with the Centre, the IHRO delegation would meet the Prime Minister while the issues concerning the state would be taken up at meetings with the Chief Minister.

The meeting noted with concern that while the input costs of agricultural production had increased manifold during the last few years, the cost of the product was “almost frozen”. The meeting pointed out the meagre increase of Rs 10 per quintal was just an eyewash as it hardly helped the farmers in terms of financial relief.

The kisan leaders observed that despite the Indian economy being predominantly agriculture based the agriculture sector was most ignored and overlooked when it came to formulating the policies. They pointed out that at the time of preparing of the Budget the Finance Minister held meeting with all business and industrial organisations but nobody bothered about agriculture. No farmers’ organisation was taken into confidence.


Singhs’ indelible mark on Indian politics
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 23
The post-Partition scenario in Punjab has seen many ups and downs and in this regard the rise of two personalities — Mr Swaran Singh and Dr Manmohan Singh — may be construed as momentous events in the history of this period. Mr Swaran Singh though basically a man of academics entered politics through the Sikh arena and rose to become Home Minister of Punjab. He was later picked up by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the Union Cabinet. There he had the feel of all the departments. But his stint as Foreign Minister became memorable for the Indian subcontinent when Swaran Singh-Feroze Khan noon agreement on the borders was signed between India and Pakistan.

At one time he was asked by Mr Rajiv Gandhi to contest in the UNESCO board. As a representative of India in the General Assembly of the UN, Mr Swaran Singh had quite a few encounters with Z.A. Bhutto, then Foreign Minister of Pakistan. It is also well known that Mr Swaran Singh missed the top slot only by the turn of events when Mrs Indira Gandhi was unseated.

Mr Swaran Singh always had the feel of Punjab and remained quite conversant with the developments of Akali politics. He often acted as mediator between the Akalis and the Centre. His negotiating skills had brought the Akalis and Mrs Indira Gandhi closer to a settlement but vested interests in the Congress created a situation due to which Punjab had to pass through a period of turmoil for a decade.

Dr Manmohan Singh, on the other hand, remained an academician to the core throughout his career. He made it to the top position in the country by dint of his hard work, clear understanding of matters and expertise in the economic sphere. What has always helped him is his honesty and clear perception of difficult situations. It is well known that he pushed the country out of the economic mess and levelled the road to liberalisation. In fact, it was the need of the time and India could not have been able to stand on its own after the collapse of the Soviet Union because the balance of trade was heavily dependent on trade with Communist countries and the Soviet Union. It was almost a miracle performed by Dr Manmohan Singh. His honesty and impeccable credentials in political matters have stood him in good stead. As a matter of fact, these qualities of Dr Manmohan Singh got sufficient exposure when the Congress was in the opposition.

Dr Manmohan Singh’s interest in Punjab remains alive. The establishment of National Institute of Guru Granth Sahib Studies at Guru Nanak Dev University and his interest in the corridor plan at Amritsar has been well received. He has always pleaded for revamp of the Punjab economy.


‘Cure’ by baba lands 40 in hospital
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, April 23
Eye treatment by a dera head near here proved to dear for about 40 patients as they had to be referred to the Civil Hospital, Khanna, for various complications. Report said that they had gone to get their eyes treated as the dera head allegedly claimed to treat all eye problems and remove spectacles.

According to Dr Achhar Singh, eye surgeon of the Civil Hospital, Khanna, about 40 patients had taken treatment from the hospital. They had earlier got medicine from a dera head camping at gurdwara Tari Sahib.

He told this correspondent that the patients were suffering from swelling, redness, burning, watering and itching in their eyes.

A victim Surinder Singh, resident of Model Town, Samrala Road, said he and his family members had taken eye treatment from the baba on the advice of a relative who told them that he could remove the specs of his granddaughter. He said the next day, they all fell burning, swelling, redness, watering and itching in their eyes. Today they had taken treatment from the Civil Hospital.

Other patients identified as Tirlok, Asha, Vishal, Mohinder Kaur, Amar Jit Kaur and Amandeep Kaur had also reached the hospital for treatment of their eyes.

Dr Achhar Singh has appealed to the public not to go to quacks.


Teachers protest against privatisation move
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
Protesting against the proposed privatisation of government schools, teachers from various parts of the district today took out a rally from Teachers Home.

Teacher leaders announced that they would wage a war against the Punjab Government in which thousands of students and their parents would also participate.

After passing through main areas of the city and sloganeering in front of the mini-secretariat, the rally culminated at the local bus stand where the agitators burnt the state government’s effigy.

Addressing the rally, the convener of the Anti-privatisation Action Committee, Mr Gurdev Singh Gill, said the state government was handing over government schools into private hands at the behest of the World Bank. He said the privatisation would hit the work atmosphere in government schools and also the salaries of school staff. He said students from the poor section of society would not be able to afford education. He alleged that the state government was trying to finish job security.

He said the teachers would oppose the government move tooth and nail and force it to withdraw this decision.

He flayed the inconsistency in the statements of Punjab’s Finance Minister.

Teacher leaders said they were working on a strategy to launch a state-level agitation against the government.

GURDASPUR: Members of the Government Teachers Union today organised a rally, staged dharna and blocked traffic against the proposed privatisation policies of the Punjab Government.

A large number of teachers took out rallies through Pathankot and Gurdaspur, raising slogans against the government.

At Gurdaspur, the teachers blocked traffic on the post office crossing for about one hour while at Pathankot, the rally culminated at the Shimla Pahari.

Mr Subhash Sharma, union leader, while speaking on the occasion alleged that at the behest of some corporate houses, the government was planning to privatise government schools in urban areas. The move would make education costlier and out of reach for the poor.


Order of British Columbia award for Dr R.S. Bains
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 23
Dr Raghbir Singh Bains, the compiler of the first-of- its-kind “Encyclopaedia of Sikhism” and producer-creator of Multimedia Sikh Museum, has been selected for the “Order of British Columbia” award for this year. It is British Columbia’s highest honour for outstanding achievement. The award was declared by British Columbia (Canada) Lieutenant-Governor, Her Honour Iona Campagnolo.

Dr Bains, who is in Punjab these days, told this correspondent here today he learnt about this award while he was here. The award would be bestowed on him on June 29 at a ceremony to be held at Government House Victoria (Canada), he said.

The recipients of this prestigious award were selected from public nominations by an independent advisory committee chaired by British Columbia Chief Justice Lance Finch.

The citation by the Lt- Governor says, “Our province welcomes each recipient to the distinction that their dedication merits as members of the Order of British Columbia”. The award was established by statute on April 21,1989, to recognise those persons who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavour benefiting the people of the Province of British Columbia, the land of Canada or elsewhere in the world.

Decorated with 60 local, national and international awards, titles and medals for his outstanding services as a prolific writer, a volunteer, community activist, celebrated futurist and cultural educator, Dr Bains now enters the galaxy of the select few celebrities who have got this award.

In a brief chat with this correspondent, Dr Bains maintained that the work done with dedication, commitment and sincerity was destined to be recognised. “I am going to be 70 years old but am active like a 40- year-old person,” he claimed. “I still work for 18-20 hours daily, ” he said.

Dr Bains had emigrated to Canada in 1990 and had been tirelessly working for many organisations for promoting cultural understanding and mutual respect. He had made presentations at seminars and conferences worldwide on the subjects of drugs and youth, AIDS awareness, environmental issues and world peace.

He was declared Scholar of the Twentieth Century by the Government of Punjab and awarded the Order of Khalsa, Panth Ratan and Sahitya Shiromani Vashesh. He also received Bhai Gurdas International Award in India and Good Citizen of the Year Award from the City of Surrey in Canada. He had also been awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and Wisdom of Age Mentorship award. Recently, Nishan-e-Sikhi award was presented to him by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

Dr Bains belongs to Manik Dheri village in the Doaba area and is now settled in Surrey (Canada). As part of the worldwide campaign started by Dr Bains against drugs, AIDS and prostitution, he is on a visit to India these days to create awareness about these evils among the youth. His mission is to promote and spread the message of universal peace, human prosperity, brotherhood, goodness, honesty and integrity depicted in the scriptures, literature, history, culture and heritage of the Sikh people. He is committed to strengthening human roots by bridging the social and cultural gaps in the world.


Search on for missing Pak cricket fans
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab Police is co-ordinating with the central security agencies to get hold of 11 “missing cricket buffs” from Pakistan. In an attempt to trace them, the Punjab Police has now dispatched search parties to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states.

Even though Pakistan’s cricket tour to India ended a week back, there is no trace of the missing men. A case under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act has already been registered against them at Gharinda police station near Wagah border.

Their absence is forcing senior Punjab Police officers to believe that they were either Pakistani intelligence agency agents or terrorist operatives. The possibility of their indulging in some mischief is not being ruled out.

The missing fans had arrived in Mohali, along with 2,754 other Pakistanis, for the first test match of the series between the two countries at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in March.

Giving details, a senior police officer says they are currently looking into possible links of these missing fans with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), or even with terrorist organisations like the Al Qaida.

“If their intentions were honorable, they would have applied for extension of visa like so many other fans from the country,” the officer says. “Suspicion on our part is natural as even their relatives or friends have not informed us even though a month has lapsed since the expiry of their visa”.

The missing include Ibrahim Khan, Mohammed Zahir, Malik Zeb Alam, Syed Mohammed, Shahzad, Tasveez Khan, Inayat Samuel, Mohammed Kamran, Qayum Ayub, Waliyaz Khan and Nawar Khan.

Going into the background of the matter, the sources in the Punjab Police headquarters say that initially the cops were apprehending the disappearance of 34 fans after the expiry of their visa. But 23 of them reported at the Wagah checkpost within a few days of visa’s expiry. They had arrived in Mohali through the Wagah border by special buses.


Supporters of Mann held
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 23
The Sadar and City police today arrested activists of the SAD (Amritsar), including Jathedar Rajinder Singh Fauji, central committee member of the party, Mr Resham Singh Pappi, Phagwara circle president, Mr Gurdial Singh Mananwali, district press secretary, and Mr Gurmit Singh, a retired DSP and a senior party leader.

The arrests were made under Sections 107/151, Cr PC, for apprehension of breach of peace, it is learnt.

It may be mentioned here that the SAD (A) activists had given a call for burning an effigy of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and SAD President, here on April 25. However, activists of the SAD were also gearing up to oppose the proposed protest. Since there was every possibility of a stand-off and clash between the rival Akali activists, the police took the precautionary step of making preventive arrests.


Gastroenteritis outbreak in Jalandhar areas
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 23
Gastroenteritis has gripped the Rama Mandi and Guru Nanakpura areas of Jalandhar city, with hundreds of residents feared to be afflicted with the water-borne disease..

While the teams of health authorities are busy treating people and distributing chlorine tablets, it is estimated that about 30 to 40 per cent population of these localities could be affected with mild or full-blown gastroenteritis.

In Ravidas colony of Rama Mandi, 20 to 25 families are said to have got afflicted with the disease, which, according to health authorities was caused by unsafe drinking water. Residents alleged that despite a number of complaints, the authorities had failed to supply safe drinking water to them.

Residents of Guru Nanak Pura, Ekta Nagar, Chaugitti, and Balmiki mohalla alleged that they were getting polluted water for the past about one week. Manjinder Singh, the area councillor, it was learnt, had complained to the MC about a week back that residents of these localities were not being supplied safe drinking water, but, no action was allegedly taken.

Mr Y.S. Markan, Civil Surgeon, said the Health Department was treating patients and preventive steps were being taken.


AIDS patient has no money to go to PGI
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, April 23
Ramkaran (name changed) has been referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. Patholo-gists at a private hospital here have declared him HIV positive . But neither he nor his relatives are able to bear the travel expenses. The victim has been married twice.

He had been running intermittent fever for the past three years. Two weeks back he was brought to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here. There the doctors said he had some chest infection and began treatment for the same.

The authorities got his bed shifted to the open on receiving the lab report declaring him as HIV positive.

This is the second HIV positive case in the area. Reports say four villages have reported AIDS cases, but the Health Department has yet to confirmed the information.


Dental check-up camp organised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 23
A dental check up camp was organised at the Police Lines dispensary by the Punjabi Dental Society of America (India Chapter) in collaboration with Dedicated Brothers Group, a voluntary organisation.

Doctors led by Dr Bindiya, Dr Shailja Sharma and Dr Manpreet Singh examined 300 patients and found out that 80 per cent of them were suffering from `dental caries’. Medicines, pamphlets and other dental education material was provided free of cost to the patients.

Chief Guest Iqbal Singh Sahota, DIG Patiala range, discussed the aims of objectives of the Punjab Dental Society. Dr Vinay Goyal, President of the Society said that his organisation was working for the upliftment of standards of dental awareness and was providing quality dental treatment to the rural masses.


Pakistani child operated upon
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 23
Two doctors of the local Civil Hospital have successfully operated upon Mohd Umar, son of Mr Abdul Samas, a Pakistani resident.

Talking to the Tribune here today, Dr Jaswinder Singh and Dr Bhagwan said 3-year-old Umar was suffering from congenital ingulian, a form of hernia. He was successfully operated upon in the local Civil Hospital where now he is recuperating.

Abdul Samas who works as a rickshaw puller in Pakistan said he along with his wife and their three children had crossed over to India for Umar’s treatment nearly 20 days back as they did not have to pay much for the operation.


Tension at dera
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 23
Tension prevailed at Dera Santsar Hansli, 4 km from here, on the second consecutive day today when two groups of villagers gathered on the spot to take control of the dera in favour of their respective Baba.

The dera was being run by Baba Sukhdev Singh till September 2004. Baba Sukhdev and his followers were involved in a murder case. About four months back, the village panchayat and the dera committee handed over the control of the dera to Baba Gurwinder Singh and Baba Kartar Singh Kairon. In the meantime, Baba Sukhdev Singh was released from jail on bail sometime back. The supporters of Baba Sukhdev Singh had been coming to the dera since Friday. On the other hand, the supporters of Baba Gurwinder Singh and Kartar Singh have also been gathering at the dera. The police has made elaborate arrangements to avoid any untoward incident. The situation remained tense the whole day today.


Janata Dal (S) to launch stir against MC
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, April 23
The city unit of the Janata Dal (S) has decided to launch an agitation soon against the ineffective working of the Municipal Council, Hoshiarpur.

In a press note here yesterday, Mr Dharampal, president of the unit alleged that the condition of almost all roads was pitiable. There was a great shortage of drinking water. People were getting contaminated water supply. Sanitary conditions were going from bad to worse.


Trade unionist’s fast continues
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 23
The fast by trade union leader Chaman Lal entered into its seventh day today here.

Mr Lal has been on fast to press his demand for the early completion of the local bus stand which is under construction. The Rs 5-crore model bus stand project has been hanging fire due to non availability of funds. The project was carved out during the Akali-BJP regime.


Patiala SHO remanded in judicial custody
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 23
Sadar police station SHO Shamsher Singh Guddu has been remanded in judicial custody after a Ludhiana court issued non-bailable warrants against him.

Confirming the development, the Patiala SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, said he passed an order this evening ordering Mr Guddu’s suspension and the cop had been sent to the Police Lines.

The controversial cop, who gained infamy when a TV channel aired a programme on him recently, yesterday went to the court of a Judicial Magistrate in Ludhiana to surrender. Since a non-bailable warrants were pending against him, the court sent him to judicial custody till April 25.

The case against the SHO dates back to 1995 when a Ludhiana resident, Ms Pritpal Kaur, filed a complaint against him in which she had alleged that he had forcibly entered her factory premises and indulged in arson.

According to police sources, the police had filed a challan in the case but failed to mention the names of the SHO and his accomplice Rajiv Sharma. Following this Ms Pritpal Kaur filed a complaint under Section 319 of the CrPC in the court which led to the arrest of the cop.


Dharni is Bar assn president
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 23
The group headed by outgoing president N.S. Tiwana made a clean sweep in the election to the District Bar Association.

Amardeep Singh Dharni was elected president who defeated his nearest rival R.S. Grewal.

He polled 67 votes, while Grewal polled 49, S.P.S. Cheema 37 and J.P.S. Chadha 18.

Satnam Singh was elected vice-president, R.S. Grewal was elected secretary and B.S. Kahlon cashier.

Returning officers R.S. Kang and R.N. Goel declared the results and said the elections were held in free and fair manner.


Glut forces farmers to go to other mandis
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
A glut in the grain market of Ghuda village is forcing farmers to take their wheat produce to the markets of nearby villages and towns.

Sources said the farmers from Nandgarh, Bajag, Jangirana and Ghuda villages had brought their wheat produce to the grain market but it had not been lifted since the past 10 days, resulting in a glut. Sources said the contractor, who had been awarded the lifting contract, was not satisfied with the rates (Rs 7 per quintal) and he had stopped lifting wheat after April 13.

Ajay Kumar, a labourer, said the wheat dumped in the market was measured and there was hardly any place to unload more. He said they were sitting idle, hoping for lifting to resume soon so that they could get more work. Jagnandan Singh, a farmer from Bajag village, said he had brought 500 sacks of wheat but it was yet to be lifted. Baljit Singh of Jangirana village said he had dumped half of his stock in the market, while he had to rush the rest to another market owing to lack of space. Bhola Singh of the same village had also been waiting for lifting the wheat stock as he had to sell off his produce at the same market.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr KAP Sinha, said Ghuda had a small grain market and there should not be any problem. He said he would check up with the officials concerned. In case of a problem, he assured, an immediate solution would be forthcoming.


Sangrur leads in wheat procurement
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
With the procurement of 11,19,325 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat by the government procurement agencies and the traders till yesterday, Sangrur district is all set to top in the procurement of wheat in the state for the sixth consecutive year. It had procured 11,14,392 MT of wheat till April 22 last year.

During the past five years, Sangrur district has topped in wheat procurement by procuring 12,07,644 MT in 2000, 13,36,682 MT in 2001, 12,52,331 MT in 2002, 11,92,365 MT in 2003 and 11,74,689 MT in 2004.

As per the information gathered by The Tribune today, the state has procured 72,06,947 MT of wheat till April 22 as compared to 78,89,931 MT during the corresponding period last year. Government procurement agencies and traders had procured 95 lakh MT of wheat in the state in 2004. Despite the fall in the yield of wheat crop this year, the authorities feel that they will be able to procure wheat equal to last year.

No other district in the state can surpass Sangrur in wheat procurement this season also, as it is far ahead of Patiala district, which is, at present, on number two with 7,60,259 MT of wheat procurement till April 22. Ferozepore with 7,25,346 MT of wheat procurement, Ludhiana with 7,16,790 MT and Amritsar with 7,00,992 MT are next in position.

Wheat procurement till April 22 in Moga 4,45,162 MT, Bathinda 3,82,385 MT, Mansa 3,34,320 MT, Jalandhar 3,32,609 MT, Muktsar 3,28,927 MT, Faridkot 2,74,445 MT, Gurdaspur 2,68,957 MT, Kapurthala 2,52,814 MT, Fatehgarh Sahib 2,40,676 MT, Nawanshahr 1,21,059 MT, Hoshiarpur 99,000 MT and Ropar 95,231 MT.

Ms Gurmeet Kaur Sidhu, District Food and Supplies Controller, Sangrur, said procurement work was going on in a smooth manner in the district and no licence of any arhtiya had been suspended for any discrepancy so far.


2,500 jobless youth to be trained in dairy farming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Punjab’s Dairy Development Department has initiated the process of training unemployed rural youth at five centres in the state. For the purpose, the department has already “strengthened the infrastructure” at the centres.

Sources in the department say that 2,500 youth will be imparted 15-day “self-employment” training at the centre’s at Bija, Phagwara, Tarn Taran, Sardulgarh and Kurali. Last year, training was provided to 2,451 youngsters there.

The candidates will be taught the latest techniques in dairy farming. They will also be instructed in marketing skills. After the successful completion of the course, the candidates will be able to set up their own dairy farms on modern lines with the help of easy loans provided to them by the government.

The sources add that experts from Punjab Agricultural University will be associated with the training programme.

The students, during the training programme, will visit PAU. They will also visit different milk plants in the state, besides the National Dairy Research Institute at Karnal.

Punjab’s Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang says the centres have been upgraded and renovated. They have been equipped with audio-visual aids. Equipment has also been installed for training farmers in the technique of converting milk into indigenous milk products.

Dedicated laboratories have also been set up at the centres for testing fat and SNF contents in milk. The facilities have been upgraded with the help of Rs 9 lakh provided by the Punjab Dairy Development Board.


Bt cotton ‘will enslave farmers’
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
The introduction of Bt cotton varieties in Punjab would lead to the state’s farmers becoming the slaves of big companies selling these seeds. There would come a day when they would have no choice but to buy their seeds, however costly they may be. Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Green Peace, Bangalore, Ms Thangma Mugappa, stated this at a seminar organised jointly by a number of anti-Bt organisations here today.

Ms Mugappa said the cost of Bt cotton varieties launched in Punjab was four times more than that of non-Bt hybrid and the farmers were not provided any mechanism to fall back on. She said the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had given the nod to Bt cotton varieties in Punjab for only two years but none of the government departments had cared to reveal this. The extension of these varieties would depend on their performance during this period. She said Bt cotton had failed to a large extent in the southern states of the country.

She said Bt was not suitable for the economy of the country. On some foreign companies’ charge that their Bt seeds only were opposed, she said Bt seeds of an Indian firm were also approved, but Green Peace opposed it too. She said Green Peace was against genetically engineered crops as they did not provide an answer to India’s agricultural problems. Ms Mugappa said the delay in arrival of seeds had led to the sale of spurious seeds in northern states and the state governments failed to check it.

Ms Mugappa alleged the GEAC was playing a double game. On the one hand, it showed it was working in farmers’ interests while on the other it had given the go-ahead to these companies’ field trials, she charged. According to her, Bt created contamination, put biodiversity at risk and posed a serious threat to organic farming.


Training in pest management
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
Experts of the Agriculture Department and scientists of Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, on Saturday imparted training to the field staff of the department regarding insect pest management (IPM) techniques. Sir Rattan Tata Trust, Mumbai, has sanctioned the grants to implement the IPM programme through the Agriculture Department.


Notices to 21 arhtiyas
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 23
The District Food and Civil Supplies Controller (DFSC), Mr Sukhdev Singh, has issued notices to 21 arhtiyas. While talking to The Tribune, Mr Sukhdev Singh said raids were conducted following complaints that certain commission agents were duping farmers by lesser weighing of their produce. Later, 21 commission agents were issued show cause notices. If the commission agents failed to give satisfactory answers to the notices their licences would be cancelled, he added.

The DFSC said that to prevent the misuse of domestic LPG cylinders raids were conducted at various hotels and restaurants. A case under the Essential Commodities Act was registered against the owners of Orbit Resort Hotel located at the bus stand of Gurdaspur and Shan motels on the Dalhousie road, Pathankot. A case was also registered against M/s Super Associates Gas Agency for overcharging for the home delivery of domestic LPG cylinder. The licences of 14 ration depot holders were cancelled for misappropriating food grains provided under the public distribution system, he said.


Rs 66.45 lakh released for welfare schemes
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 23
The district administration today released Rs 66.45 lakh under the MP land schemes for the welfare of people, Rs 85.30 lakh to provide meals to the children, Rs 13.20 lakh for the family benefit schemes and Rs 19.43 lakh under national old age scheme for this year. Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said here.

The MP land funds would be utilised for development of sub-division in the district, she added.

She said besides it, Rs 35 lakh had also been received from the Chief Minister’s funds and would be utilised for the development of the Ropar city.

A committee headed by the SDM, Mr G.S Ghuman, has been constituted to carry out the development work. The amount would be used for the carpeting and widening of the internal roads, to improve the old bus stand and old Sirhind Bridge.


Firm’s licence cancelled
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 23
The Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies, Dr B.C. Gupta, along with the Director, Food and Supplies, Punjab, Mr Jaspal Singh, visited grain markets in Mudki, Talwandi Bhai, Zira, Makhu and Ferozepore today.

During his visit to the Talwandi Bhai grain market, Dr Gupta ordered the cancellation of the licence of a firm, M/s Bishamber Dass and Sons, and imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 on it after he found that there was excess weight than specified during the checking of the firm’s stock. He conducted surprise checks at various other grain markets also and checked the cleanliness there.

Dr Gupta interacted with the representatives of commission agents and farmers and listened to their problems.


Drive to dispose of pending revenue cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Punjab Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister Amarjit Singh Samra today said that the Revenue Department had launched a special three-month campaign to take up and dispose of all cases regarding mutations, partitions and other such matters pending for more than two years.

This would be in addition to disposing of ordinary current cases by assigning a special day in the week exclusively for the purpose.


Evasion of Rs 10-cr excise duty detected
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 23
Documents seized during raids at 11, including one local, oil mills and industrial units in seven cities may expose one of the biggest excise duty scams in the state, well placed sources said here yesterday.

According to information, the Director-General (DG), Central Excise (Intelligence) had received information that some firms in Punjab had imported crude palm oil of non-edible oil grade for manufacturing washing scrap.

The importers had reportedly paid 20 per cent concessional duty for this purpose. They were to pay 65 per cent duty for imports meant for manufacturing edible oils.

The information revealed that the firms had allegedly diverted the crude palm oil to open market instead of using the same for the manufacture of washing soap. They had cheated the government by evasion off excise duty worth more than Rs 10 crore. The department then carried out raids at Abohar, Ahmedgarh, Dhuri, Moga, Mansa, Sunam and Ludhiana, sources said.

Although the officials did not elaborate, the sources said the documents seized from different units indicated that the importers had no infrastructure at the premises for manufacturing soap and the machinery installed there had become junk by now.

The bills issued by some of the importers were suspected to be fictitious as the firms, in whose name the bills against the sale of soap had been issued, did not exist.


Headmaster attacked by teacher’s husband
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 23
The headmaster of Government High School, Badochi Kalan, was allegedly attacked by the husband of a schoolteacher along with his three accomplices in the presence of staff and students today.

After the incident the headmaster, Raminder Singh, along with his wife met the Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner has marked an inquiry in this regard.

The headmaster was attacked for allegedly holding the teacher by her arm, an allegation which has been refuted by the former.

After submitting a written complaint to the DC, Raminder Singh told Chandigarh Tribune that on April 21 Suman Rani, the teacher, came late to the school. Since she was a habitual offender, he took objection to her marking attendance in the register, he claimed.

He claimed that he tried to snatch the register from her hands, but the teacher pulled it away and marked the attendance. He said the incident happened in the presence of certain staff members.

In the evening, Manoj Kumar, husband of the teacher, along with his friends came to his residence at Peer Baba Colony, Sirhind, and hurled abuses at him and his family members, he alleged.

He said today after the school closed, three person dragged him from his scooter and beat him up. One of the attackers was a policeman in mufti, he claimed. He alleged that the attackers threatened him with dire consequences.

He claimed that the sarpanch of the village, who lives in Patiala, came to the school and took sides with the female teacher. The sarpanch said the teacher had complained to him about the matter. He, however, claimed his innocence to the sarpanch.

He alleged that the sarpanch paid no heed to his pleas. He claimed that the sarpanch got his signatures forcibly on a piece of paper confessing to his wrongdoing. The teacher could however not be contacted.


Hoax phone caller ‘identified’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
The local police today claimed to have identified the “erring” person, who was allegedly making “false” phone calls to the Sangrur Civil Surgeon in the name of higher officers of the Health Department, Secretary and Director, asking to relieve the transferred pharmacists without any further delay.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Narender Kaushal, DSP, Sangrur, said investigations, except the recording of the statement of the Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, who was nowadays out of station and would return on April 27 had already been completed. He said after recording the statement of the Civil Surgeon on April 27 he would submit his report to the Sangrur SSP on April 28 to initiate legal action against the alleged “guilty” person.

Meanwhile, a deputation of the district unit of the Punjab State Pharmacists Association met the SP (D), Mr Harjinder Singh, in his office here today. They urged Mr Harjinder Singh to register a case against the “guilty” person. The deputation also asked the SP (D) to make the association a party in the case.

The members of the deputation, including Mr Amrit Garg, Mr Shishan Kumar and Mr Swaranjit Singh, all office-bearers of the association, told the SP (D) that during the past two years a number of employees of the Health Department from the Barnala area had been got transferred by some one on the basis of “false” phone calls to the Punjab Health Minister and the Director, Health, Punjab. The deputation said out of these several employees, one Sawinder Kaur, Lady Health Visitor (LHV), due to mental torture had to leave the job about four years before her retirement as she had been transferred twice in a short span.


Two intruders attack woman
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 23
Two intruders attacked and looted the wife of a dealer in bread when he had gone out of his house here to receive the day’s supplies early this morning.

It is reported that the intruders entered the house of Mr Raj Kumar in Ucchi Gali, near Janata Chowk, and attacked and injured his wife, Mrs Asha Sahni.

She received sharp-edged weapon injuries on her arm and the neck.

When Mr Raj Kumar returned home after 20 minutes he found that belongings in the house were lying scattered all over and his wife was lying injured. He then took his wife to the local Civil Hospital.

Mrs Sahni told mediapersons that she was not aware when the two youths, who had muffled faces and were probably in their twenties, entered the house. She woke up only after hearing a noise.

The assailants carried out searches and scattered things.

She said that she tried to raise the alarm but the thieves put a pillow on her face and attempted to choke her. She said that she then lost consciousness.

The couple claimed that the armed thieves took away a gold chain of Mrs Sahni apart from a gold jewellery set, which was lying in the cupboard, and Rs 2,500 in cash.

However, Mr Harijinder Singh, SHO, City, told Chandigarh Tribune that nothing had been taken away from the house by the assailants.

He said a gold chain one earring was found lying inside the house. He said that the woman had received only a minor injury. The police was investigating the matter.


No clue to kidnapped boy
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 23
The Patti police has failed in getting any information about the 12-year-old boy who was kidnapped six days back from Patti. A ransom of Rs 1.90 lakh has been given to the kidnappers by the parents of the boy, Gurbhajan Singh (12). Even then, the kidnappers have not returned the boy to the parents as yet.

A case under Section 364-A of the IPC has been registered on the information of Mr Balbir Singh, father of the boy.

Mr Balbir Singh alleged his son was kidnapped on April 18 and he got a telephonic call from certain unidentified persons on April 20 who demanded a ransom of Rs 5 lakh. Balbir Singh reached Kirtowal village the next day and paid Rs 1.90 lakh to the kidnappers who have not returned the boy yet.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, when contacted, said the police had concrete information about the incident as well as the kidnappers but declined to part with any information as it might hamper the secure release of the boy.


Centre for Training to sponsor youth for jobs abroad
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Centre for Training and Employment of Punjab Youth (C-PYTE) will start sponsoring technically trained manpower in the state for employment in different countries shortly. This is being done to boost job avenues and improve absorption of skilled youth in economically gainful and legal occupation.

"We have written to the Ministry of Labour in this regard a few days ago," C-PYTE Director General, Brig G J Singh (retd) said. "We already have a licence to sponsor people for jobs abroad, but we have never actually done so before," he added.

C-PYTE was established in 1990 to encourage the youth to upgrade their skills in different trades and involve them in constructive activities. The major beneficiaries of this scheme are the rural youth who are given pre-selection training for joining the Army and para-military forces. Special camps are run at various places in the state for training the youth.

Brigadier G J Singh said besides pre-training courses for joining the Army, C-PYTE was also introducing training modules for entry into the Air Force and the Navy as well as the Territorial Army.

A special module to train officer aspirants for entry into the Indian Military Academy and the Officers Training Academy is also on the anvil. A camp is being set up at Kapurthala for the purpose. Presently, training is aimed at aspirants for entry into the ranks.


IAS coaching classes from May 9
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 23
The IAS and Allied Services Training Centre of Punjabi University will start coaching for MBA, MCA, CDS Entrance Test from May 9 for Scheduled Caste, OBC and Minority Communities (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Bodhis and Zorastrians) and General Category candidates.

Dr G.S. Bajwa, Director of the centre, said that candidates desirous of appearing in the test should apply on plain paper and send three passport-size photographs and attested copies of the testimonials in the office of the Director latest by April 28. Interviews will be held on April 30 at 9 a.m. in the IAS Training Centre. Candidates belonging to SC, OBC and Minority Communities will be provided coaching free of cost and stipend as per rules.

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