P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt planning separate gurdwara panel, says Hooda
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today reiterated that his government was actively considering the demand of Haryana Sikhs for the formation of separate Haryana gurdwara parbandhak committee as promised in the Congress manifesto.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, while presenting a siropa and replica of Harmander Sahib to Mr Hooda, urged him that the demand of Haryana’s SGPC members for a separate committee was not justified as per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. She told Mr Hooda that the SGPC had the legal right to control all historical Sikh shrines in Haryana as per the Act passed by Parliament.

However, Mr Hooda told the media that though his government did not want to interfere in the personal affairs of the Sikh community, the aspirations of the Haryana Sikhs would definitely be considered.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, had not been presented with a siropa during his three visits to the Golden Temple after he became the Chief Minister. However, his political secretary H. S. Barsat was presented with the robe of honour when he returned from Pakistan along with Mr H. S. Bolina, a close confidant of the SGPC chief.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr H. S. Chatha, Speaker, Haryana Vidhan Sabha, and Mr Venod Sharma, Excise and Taxation Minister, Haryana, were also presented with siropas today.

Mr Hooda visited Jallianwala Bagh Memorial and the Durgiana temple. Mr Hooda, Mr Venod Sharma and Mr Chatha were honoured by the Durgiana Temple Committee with a siropa, shawl and sword each.

Meanwhile, Mr Hooda evaded queries on issues like inclusion of certain Punjabi-speaking areas, including Chandigarh, in Punjab. He said all inter-state issues would be settled amicably after giving due consideration and serious thought.

He said former Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, and his colleagues were already under the scanners of the Vigilance Bureau and other inquiry committees.

Over the SYL issue, the Chief Minister said the Supreme Court had decided in favour of Haryana and a reference had been made to the apex court.

He announced that the new industrial policy of Haryana would be declared on June 6.


Pakistan Bar members decry military rulers
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, May 6
Perturbed over frequent amendments to the constitution by various military rulers since independence in Pakistan, members of the Bar Council of Pakistan today had a word of praise for India for successfully abiding by the democratic way of governing.

A five-member team of lawyers led by Mr Hamid Khan, chairman, Executive and Legal Education Committee, Bar Council of Pakistan, visited Lovely College of Law here this afternoon and interacted with lecturers and students.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Qazi Muhammad Anwar said, “There is no democracy in Pakistan even as the lawyer fraternity regularly holds protests in our country for the restoration of democracy as per the original text of the constitution. Though General Pervez Musharraf, in consonance with the US government, is claiming that the country is being run in a democratic manner, this is not the situation.

He added that the military rulers had never allowed politicians to discharge their duties which was deplorable and not in the interest of the country.

The reigns of power should be handed over to the people of Pakistan in a fair manner as was the case in India “The politicians should be allowed to represent people of Pakistan instead of the former being handpicked by the military rulers. Our people are still fighting for the restoration of democracy,” maintained Mr Mian Abdul Qaddous.

The delegation said even the judiciary was affected in such a set-up. Pakistani judicial officers were administrated oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) instead of the constitution. “Adhering to the PCO by the judicial officers implies that they cannot go against the military rulers, thereby, putting a question mark on the constitution. The judicial officers are supposed to defend the provisions of the PCO, which is contrary to the constitution,” said Mr. Muhammad Yousuf Leghari, a senior member of the Bar Council.

The president of the managing committee of the institute, Mr Ashok Mittal, presented mementoes to the members of the delegation.


Car owner to blame, says Customs official
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Assistant Commissioner (AC), Land Customs Station, Amritsar, Mr P.S. Bisht, has denied that there was any lapse on the part of the Customs Department in the case highlighted in the report headlined “Sports car caught in bureaucratic jam” published in these columns on May 1.

In a communication to The Tribune, he said Mr Nassafor Ali Sheikh did not have any import licence for the import of his car or the document, Carnet-De-Passage, required for its transit through India. Therefore, his car was detained on July 27, 2003.

Mr Sheikh was time and again requested to produce the necessary document but he failed to do so. Consequently, his car was seized on July 13, 2004, for violation of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, read with Section 11 of the Customs Act 1962.

Show cause notice dated August 31, 2004, was issued to Mr Sheikh asking him why his car should not be confiscated under the Customs Act, 1962. Reminders were sent to him on November 22, 2004, December 16, 2004, February 11, 2005 and March 29, 2005 but he failed to submit the same. His reply dated April 19 was received only on April 29, three days before the report appeared.

Thus, there was no delay on the part of the Customs Department. His case is now in the process of adjudication by the competent authority by following the due process of law.


CM clarifies on ‘privatisation’ of education
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today clarified that the issue of the participation of private industrial houses and educational institutions in education in the state was being misunderstood. First of all, he said, it was not at all the privatisation as it was being made out to be. And second the issue was still under the consideration of a high-power committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and with Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar as one of the members.

Talking to reporters here today after laying the foundation stone of the lawyers chambers in the new District Courts, he maintained that once the issue was finalised, everything would be clarified. “Let us be clear and categoric that it is not the privatisation, but only the support of the private institutions and industrial houses for strengthening the government educational institutions,” he asserted.

He said the education would be “absolutely free of cost” and according to the existing routine. Only the expenses would be borne by the industrial houses and leading private schools. “This arrangement is being worked out with the industrial houses and they have come forward in a generous way while owning up the social responsibility,” he disclosed.

To a question on the power situation in the state, he said there would not be major power cuts this year in the state. He said besides purchasing additional power from the central pool, the power generation in the state was likely to improve as reservoirs were full to capacity. He disclosed that the state was working out an arrangement with the Gas Authority of India Limited for a power-generation plant. Besides, a private sector firm was also interested in power generation in the state.

The Chief Minister reiterated his stand on the change of guard in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. He said he had already made it clear to the party high command that changing the PCC president at this stage will not be in the interest of the party and he should be allowed to continue till the elections to the state assembly. “But it is up to the Congress president to take the final decision,” he pointed out. He said the process for the reorganisation of the party on the district and grassroots level had already started and would be completed soon. 


Bathinda to come up as textile centre
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
The state government would promote Bathinda as a major textile centre and five companies have announced their plans to set up factories in the city. This was stated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing a CII function which was organised to felicitate progressive cotton farmers here today.

The Chief Minister said the development of Bathinda as a textile destination would not only generate employment opportunities for the youth, but would also add to the flow of funds to the state exchequer.

He said during the past three years the cotton yield in the Malwa belt had increased from 7 lakh to 21 lakh bales. The area under cotton cultivation had also increased by about 50,000 hectares. He said the cotton production was set to increase in Malwa with the experts expecting area under cotton cultivation to increase up to 6 lakh hectares this year.

Over VAT, the Chief Minister said the state government had lifted VAT from almost all agricultural inputs, including fertilisers, pesticides, agricultural machinery and tools. He said while other states were charging 22 per cent VAT on diesel, Punjab had maintained it at 8.8 per cent. He said the state government was also making efforts on the power generation front.

He said the government had started work on Lehra Mohabbat Phase II, Shahpur Kandi power project, besides a 2,000 MW gas unit that was in the pipeline. He said the water levels at Pong and Gobind Sagar dams were good due to heavy snowfall in Himachal Pradesh this year.

The Chief Minister said he had asked the officials concerned to ensure that there was no shortage of DAP, power, water, and diesel, for the state’s farmers. He said the state government was committed to promoting diversification, as water consuming crops like paddy and sugarcane had taken a heavy toll on the already depleting water table in the state.

Later, at a press conference, Captain Amarinder Singh denied that the Johal Committee Report had been rejected by the Centre.

He said the matter was pending with the Planning Commission, which would take a decision on it. Regarding low cotton prices in the region last year, he said it all happened due to more-supply-less-demand problem. 


SAD writes to PM over visit to France
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 6
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to seek time from the Education Minister of France for a deputation of SAD MPs and representatives of the SGPC, which wants to visit France to have discussions with the French Government over the turban issue.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of SAD, said he had received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) the previous day in response to the letter written by him.

He said he had told the PMO that the SAD leaders wanted to meet the Prime Minister on May 9 or 10.

Mr Dhindsa has also asked the Union Government to table the report of the Nanawati Commission, which probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, in Parliament.

With regard to providing aircraft to the Justice Phukan Commission, which is probing the defence deals, by Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister, Mr Dhindsa said no one could raise a finger of suspicion on the integrity and honesty of Mr Fernandes.

On being aksed whether SAD MPs would continue the boycott of Parliament, Mr Dhindsa said this matter would be discussed at a meeting of the NDA on May 9 in New Delhi.

With regard to the proposed new Assembly constituencies by the Delimitation Commission in Punjab, Mr Dhindsa said SAD would submit its district-wise proposals to the commission on May 9. He added that SAD wanted that there should be no change in all 10 Assembly constituencies of Sangrur district.


SAD launches website
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has launched its website (www.shiromaniakalidalbadal.com) giving its version of the history of the 85-year old party.

The website was launched by Member of Parliament and party’s general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal at the Kalgidhar Bhavan in Sector 27.

The website was developed by Mr Barjinder Singh Brar (Makhan), a former Senior Vice-President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Youth Wing.

Mr Brar collected history, documents and photographs of party’s leaders from different places in the country.

It has a message of the party’s chief Parkash Singh Badal, constitution of the party, party’s history and its role in the freedom movement.

The site has section on sacrifices by leaders of the party for the cause of Punjab. It has list and contact numbers of party MPs and MLAs.

Mr Bikramjit Singh Majithia, a former Senior Vice-President of the Youth Wing, and Mr Harsukhinder Singh (Bubby Badal) were also present on the occasion.


Green cover on highway under threat
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Adampur (Jalandhar), May 6
Is the once thick and lush green tree cover along the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur national highway vanishing slowly under mysterious circumstances and is making way for petrol stations by taking “undue advantage” of loopholes in the process of grant of permission for felling trees given by the Punjab Forest Department officials?

The answer is in the affirmative if mushrooming of petrol stations on both sides of the road and the striking “absence” of plants on strategic exit and entry points of certain petro-outlets even before applying for a no-objection certificate by such petrol stations is taken into account. The way out, involving illegal felling of trees with the alleged connivance of the Forest Department Officials, according to trade sources, is resorted to in order to avoid denial of no-objection certificate (NOC) by the Forest Department authorities.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests guidelines specify that no felling of trees will be allowed under any circumstances if the petrol station to-petrol station distance is less than 5 km and the NOC will be given only to stations under 5 km of distance if there is no need for felling trees. This means that the conditional felling of trees can be allowed only if station-to-station distance is more than 5 km.

In most cases, the station-to-station distance on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpuar road, which was given the status of a national highway in 1999, was less than 5 km. This, in other words, means there is no requirement for felling of trees precisely at the entry or exit points of certain stations. Otherwise, these stations could not have been able to attain the NOC under any circumstance in the light of the Environment and Forests Ministry guidelines. But this remains a mystery. Despite that certain petrol stations were situated at less than 5 km distance. Trees were not visible exactly at the entry and exit points of such petrol stations. What makes the entire episode more interesting and rather mysterious is that though one can make out from the ambience that there are dense and unbroken tree rows running on both sides of the road yet there are barren patches too.

What makes the entire development more painful is that the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road was once the greenest motorway of the state.

Elaborating the modus operandi used for felling trees, trade sources pointed out this was done with “official connivance” by those running petrol station even before they applied for the NOC. Once the trees were felled at specific locations, the NOC was applied. Subsequently, the authorities concerned reported back that there was no tree at the site. Hence, there would be no objection over setting up of a petrol station or an industrial unit.

During a tour along the road, The Tribune team noticed that a petrol company had just applied for setting up a petrol station near Chuharwali village. The forest cover was allegedly cleaned on the pretext that these were “dead or leaning trees”. The roots and trunks of these mercilessly felled trees were still visible. Similarly, the tree cover had come to an abrupt end at a point along the road near Chack Gujran village in Hoshiarpur district where a petro company had proposed to install its petrol outlet. Fresh sand filling at the treeless patch suggested that effort could have been made to conceal root section of trees.


PEDA to set up 135 small power projects
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) is all set to tap the vast micro hydroelectric power generation potential by setting up 135 small power projects in the state.

The state can generate a substantial amount of power if small hydropower projects are set up at various places along the extensive network of canals in the state. In wake of the acute power crisis witnessed last year, various experts are of the view that more such projects are the need of the hour.

This concern is echoed by the PEDA chairman, Mr Vijay Inder Singla, who visited the agency’ s two micro hydel projects at Bowani and Khattra villages in this district on the Bathinda branch canal, here yesterday.

Talking to TNS, he said special emphasis was being laid to give a fillip to the micro hydel power generation. “Since I took over a few days ago I am going through various proposals. But I am of the opinion that we could generate about 150 - 200 MW by setting up small power plants of 1 MW at various places in the state,” he said.

He reviewed the efficiency of the two projects and said that at present the efficiency of the eight micro hydel projects being run by the agency was 75 per cent. He said efforts would be made to increase the efficiency. He said PEDA was also exploring the possibility of identifying and establishing more hydel projects whose operation and maintenance would be given to private parties.

Elaborating on the decision of setting up small hydroelectric projects, he revealed that the agency had identified 135 sites along various canals where the flow and fall of water was ideal for setting up such plants. Since most of the canals were flowing most of the time, the state could be assured of a steady power supply, he pointed out.

Mr Singla said tenders were invited for 25 - 30 sites and the response had been encouraging. In many cases, the work was at an advanced stage and some of the units could begin production within this year and the others next year. 


FEAR demands probe into financial irregularity
Tribune News service

Patiala, May 6
The Forum for Educational Action and Reforms (FEAR) has urged the Auditor-General of Punjab to make arrangements for holding a probe into the serious violations of financial norms allegedly committed by Punjabi University in the year 2004-05.

Mr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, president, FEAR, in a press note issued here today pointed out that a probe into the violation was needed as to enforce the accountability for the expenditure of more than Rs 60 crores in the year 2004-05 to which the state government was the major contributor.

He said it was surprising that there was no check on the huge expenditure despite the provision made in that connection in the University Act and statutes. The university did not follow its Act and statues in this respect and there was also a lapse on the part of government in not demanding the annual account report from the university.

He pointed out that university had violated the Section 21 of the University Act, which by not submitting the annual account report to the government as the same was mandatory under the same section. Not only this, statute 22 of the University Act had also been violated as the official concerned did not prepare the annual general statement showing in detail the state of each account which should be checked and countersigned by the auditor.

The forum also noted that the university had also violated the statute regarding the membership of the finance committee, which met on March 22 for passing the university budget for the year 2005-06 and also for endorsing the decision of the Vice-Chancellor of the university taken in connection with getting loan of Rs 48 crores from the State Bank of Patiala as the same was attended by a under secretary, Finance of Punjab government, instead of the Deputy Secretary or the Finance Secretary, as required by the statute. He added that the whole exercise of that meeting had become null and void in the eyes of law due to that fact.

He alleged that as there was no provision for the position of a Professor in charge, Finance, either in the university act or statute, the appointment of same was violation of the same on one hand and on the other a complete distrust in the non-teaching staff of the university. He added that Vice- Chancellor had not been observing faithfully the Act and statues of the university.

While Mr S. S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, could not be contacted for his comments.

Mr R. K. Sehgal, Professor in charge, Finance, when contacted, said every expenditure was being done by the authorities after getting the sanction from the pre-audit wing set up by the government. He added on other matters, he would not like to make any comment as he was not an official spokesman of the university.


Clean chit to cops on custodial rape charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
The local police that had been in the eye of storm following the allegation of custodial rape by a Rajasthani woman arrested with opium, heaved a sigh of relief as the magisterial probe gave it a clean chit on the matter. The Talwandi Sabo SDM today submitted his report to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha.

Sources said the probe didn’t find any substance in the custodial rape charge against the police. Sources said the report of the samples sent to Patiala following Pawani Bai’s medical examination didn’t corroborate the rape charge.

She could not even recollect as to whether she was raped or not, as she fell unconscious after being reportedly beaten up by the police. However, the charge of police torture has been proved.

Sources said an identification parade was carried out at the Central Jail today and Pawani Bai identified a constable, Inderjit Singh. Sources said Inderjit Singh and a woman constable, Ranjit Kaur, were found guilty of torturing her.

Dr M.L. Chauhan of the local Civil Hospital had also been found guilty of giving wrong medical report at the time of Pawani Bai’s first medical examination on April 20.

Pawani Bai was arrested about 15 days back and the police had seized 150 gm opium from her possession. She had accused the police of torturing her, besides charging some policemen with raping her in the custody. Her medical examination was conducted four times.

Rajasthani migrants had been sitting on fast seeking action against the guilty for the past few days. Various local organisations had also come out in Pawani Bai’s support, which had built up pressure on the police and the district administration to sort out the matter at the earliest.


Child labourers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 6
Nisha is just eight-year-old but is forced to work as brick kiln labourer to support her family to overcome poverty. More persons mean more money for the family. Her routine is to work more than 18 hours in a day under hazardous conditions along with her parents at brick kilns in the district.

She is not alone. A large number of children below 16 who came along with their parents from Uttar Pardesh have been working in 17 brick kilns in Akbar Pura in Ropar district.

The fact came to light today when the children along over 200 labourers staged protest here in Ramlila ground in the city against their exploitation.

When asked the children, Nisha, Monu (14), Ravinder (14) Deepak (15) said that they were not able to get proper meal despite hard work and were subjected to live in inhuman conditions. They did not even have proper water supply facilities.

Despite a Supreme Court direction against employment of child labourers, children are made to work for long hours in dangerous conditions. This is in violation of their constitutional rights as well as labour law.

Narrating the problems being faced by the labourers, Nisha’s father, Karan said he came along with his family three months ago from Saharanpur in Uttar Pardesh. Nisha was studying in second class. I have neither property nor land in Uttar Pradesh hardly able to feed my family meal two times in a day.

So when an agent offered us a job in brick kiln, I could not say no, he added. “Me, my wife and daughter can earn Rs 2000 in a month”, he said.

“The agent who had brought us from Uttar Pradesh did not made us full payment. The agent released only small amount after a month. Four members of my family can earn Rs 3500 per month” said labourer, Deepak, who came along with his parents from Muzaffarbad in Uttar Pardesh. He has been working at brick kiln for the past six years.

“As per the agreement with brick kiln owners if any labourer met with an accident during work, it’s the responsibility of the owner to provide the labourer medical facility. But when my 10-year-old brother met with accident here we had to bear all expenses” said Monu.


Rs 5-lakh reward for courageous soldier
Tribune News Service

Moga, May 6
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, today awarded a cheque for Rs 5 lakh to Lieut-Col Jagdeep Singh, hailing from Saidoke village, for showing exemplary courage in an encounter with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on March 23, 2003.

The government had felicitated Colonel Jagdeep Singh with the Sena Medal.

The Punjab Government had announced this award to honour this courageous soldier hailing from the state.

He had killed three terrorists who were identified as Abu Muslim, Al Badr and Mohd Shah Alam of Jaish-e-Mohammad.


’84 violence: Badal flays step on seats for victims’ wards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Shromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal today expressed “shock and utter disbelief” at the Punjab Government’s reported decision to virtually close all avenues of admission for wards of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence victims to medical colleges in the state, while creating reservation for tsunami victims.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, he claimed, was certain to go down in history as the first head of government to have shut the door on the victims of the worst carnage in Sikh history.

Mr Badal was commenting on a notification issued by the Punjab Government according to which the wards of the 1984 victims were relegated below the list of victims of terrorist violence for admission to the MBBS, DHS, BAMS and DHMS courses in the state.


Doctors take out protest march
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
Doctors of Goniana Mandi today took out a protest march wearing black badges against the case of negligence registered against Dr Gurtej Singh. They also kept the shutters of their clinics down.

Chemists and panchayats of various villages also participated in the march, besides doctors from Bathinda and nearby areas. The protest proved costly for patients and their families as they had to travel to other places for buying medicines. The protest march started from Dr Gurtej Singh’s clinic and culminated at the local grain market. Dr Sukhdev Singh, IMA member, addressed the protesters.

A few days back Harjeet Kaur had died at Dr Gurtej Singh’s clinic due to his alleged negligence. The victim’s family had thrashed the doctor and damaged his clinic. The police had registered a case against the doctor and his compounder under Section 304-A of the IPC.


SSP orders probe into man’s death
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, today ordered an inquiry into the death of Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Samana town of this district. Rajesh Kumar was found dead under mysterious circumstances on May 1 near Kakrale Bhai Ke village in the area.

Mr Rai directed the CIA staff of the district police to conduct an inquiry into this case when Ms Rani, the widow of the deceased moved an application to him and later met him along with a section of leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by its secretary Paramjit Singh Kainth today.


Stamp on Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 6
The Government of India would issue a commemorative postage stamp to mark the 400 years of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

In a press note issued by the SGPC here today, it was stated that the stamp was likely to be issued on the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16 here.

The Director of Postal Services, Punjab Circle, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur, today met SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur and sought consent for the date and venue for releasing the stamp.


J. J. Singh to visit Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Jandiala (Jalandhar), May 6
The Chief of Army Staff, Gen J. J. Singh, will visit Jalandhar on May 9 to inspect Vajra Shakti, an Army exercise.

The exercise is being held on the banks of the Sutlej, especially in areas that fall in Phillaur and Jandiala. Sources in the Army said the training involved the use of hi-tech equipment.


7 farmers awarded for high cotton yields
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh awarded seven farmers for achieving the highest cotton yields in Punjab at a cotton award ceremony held under the banner of the CII here today.

Mehnga Singh from Muktsar district won the first prize of Rs 25,000 with his average cotton yield of 34.5 quintal, while Gurpreet Singh of Bathinda bagged the second prize of Rs 20,000 with 33 quintals. Sikanderjit Singh of Muktsar got the third prize of Rs 15,000 with an average cotton yield of 31 quintals.

The other winners are Jasvir Singh (30.5 quintals). Gurmeet Singh (30 quintals), Mukhtiar Singh (29 quintals) and Jasbir Singh (28.5 quintals). Dr Major Singh who had shifted his research from paddy to cotton was also awarded.

Three farmers, who were awarded last year, were presented mementos for maintaining the cotton production to an average of about 31 quintals. They are Surinder Pal Singh Avtar Singh, and Gurpartap Singh.

Agricultural experts Kuldeep Singh and D.S. Brar and Bathinda’s Chief Agricultural Officer J.S. Dhaliwal were also felicitated.

Earlier, Finance Minister Surinder Singla lauded the farmers and said if guided properly the farmers of Malwa could bring a revolution in cotton farming. “The day is not far when Punjab would be known for its cotton,” he said, adding that the long-term solution of the state’s agricultural problems lay in agro-industry and the state government had initiated talks with three firms in this direction.

He said Rs 450 crore had been sanctioned for irrigation works in the Malwa belt.

Dr S.S. Gill, Director, Extension Education, PAU, said the farmers had proved that they could compete with the best in the world when it cames to cotton production. He said PAU techniques enabled the farmers to get more then the average cotton yield in Malwa.

He said spurious seeds were giving rise to diseases and new pests in the cotton crop. He urged the farmers to use optimum quantity of pesticides and avoid mixing them, besides following the recommendations of the PAU to check losses.

He said Krishi Vikas Kendras were being set up to provide of water and soil tests to the farmers at every district headquarters.

Dr B.S. Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, asked the farmers to focus on right plant population and destroy weeds prior to sowing to increase the cotton production.


Suvidha launched
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 6
A project, Suvidha, started for the convenience of the public, was formally launched by Mr B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Local Government and I.T. Punjab, at the office of Mr M.L. Sharma, SDM, here today.

The project was started at Ropar on March 27 last year and after seeing the success, it was extended to the sub-division level. The trial run of the software were going on here since March 29.

While talking to mediapersons, Mr Bajaj said efforts were being made that all government offices that had to deal with the public adopted such a system so that people had to spend minimum time at a counter and did not have to come again and again for the same work.

The main objective of the Suvidha project launched here today was to provide convenience to the people by receiving applications for various types of services, accepting cash at the counter itself and making delivery of the document/service from the same counter within a stipulated period of time.

Various services like the attestation of affidavits, certificates issued by the SDM’s office and Tehsildar’s office, permission for the use of loudspeakers, registration of marriages, registration of vehicles, issuance of driving licences were being provided at a very nominal cost.


NRI dupes man of Rs 20 lakh

Phagwara, May 6
An NRI, hailing from the city, has duped a Jalandhar resident of Rs 20 lakh.

It was learnt today that Gurpreet Singh of Jalandhar had complained to Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh that Chetan Singh, a resident of Satnampura, Phagwara, who is based in the UK, had duped him of Rs 20 lakh in a land deal.

He said he had given the NRI Rs 20 lakh as “biana” following the deal for 43 kanals at Chak Hakeem and Mehtan villages along the GT Road. The deal had been struck for Rs 38.5 lakh for one acre while the total deal was worth over Rs 2 crore.

The power of attorney on which the deal had been done turned out to be fake. The SSP had ordered an inquiry. — OC


Jail inmate commits suicide

Amritsar, May 6
Gurvinder Singh, an under- trial prisoner today committed suicide by jumping from a watchtower inside the Central Jail here.

He was rushed to the local Civil Hospital where he died after one and half hours due to multiple and grievous head injuries.

According to information, a resident of Pipli in Haryana, was facing trial in a murder case. He was arrested by the Valtoha police in Tarn Taran police district for allegedly killing a nine- month-old boy at Khadoor Sahib in April last year. Since then he was in the Central Jail here.

Capt S.P. Singh, Superintendent (Jail), said that Gurvinder Singh was depressed. He also remained in mental hospital here for three months. He was discharged when he regained some mental health. However, his treatment was still going on, he added. — OC


Man held for killing kin over property
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur May 6
The police has arrested Jaswant Singh for allegedly murdering his brother-in-law and sister-in-law for land.

The bodies of Ramanjit Kaur (20) and Lakhminder Singh (14) were recovered from their house on April 23 at Jogi Chinna village under the Kanuwan police station. The victims were living with their widowed mother and owned seven acres.

Police investigation has reportedly revealed that on April 22, Jaswant Singh took his mother-in-law to his house in an adjoining village on the plea that her daughter was ill. Jaswant Singh, his mother-in-law and wife slept in the same room.

At about midnight when his wife and mother-in-law were sleeping he left the house on a bicycle. Leaving the bicycle about 5 km away, he walked down to the house of his in-laws. He knocked the door and Ramanjit Kaur allowed him in.

He persuaded her to accompany him to a tubewell located near the house. He strangulated her there and returned to the house to strangulate Lakhminder.

He then placed the body of Ramanjit Kaur beside her brother on a bed. To give an impression that they had been electrocuted, he threw a live wire on the bodies.

The accused then came back to his house and slept. The next morning, he accompanied his mother-in-law back home and pretended to be in grief.

The SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, said only Jaswant had the motive to kill the victims. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered.


MBA students boycott exam

Amritsar, May 6
The students of the MBA course today boycotted their examinations, which have been postponed indefinitely.

According to a report sent by Dr A.S.Sidhu, Head of the department, to the Vice-Chancellor, the students of MBA, MBA (HRM) (second semester) and MBA (fourth and sixth semester) boycotted the examinations today.

Dr Sidhu said that certain students who were being detained for want of required lectures were behind the move. — TNS

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