P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



VHP releases design of Ram temple
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
The VHP’s national leadership today released the design of Ram-Mandir at Ayodhya on the second day of its national convention here. The computer-generated design in colour print shows three main structures with one dominating over others and carrying the ‘Hindutva’ flag in saffron colour.

Meanwhile, remarks of Dr Praveen Togadia, VHP general secretary, yesterday came for sharp criticism by SGPC member Jaswinder Singh who took strong objection to terming every Indian born in Hindustan as a ‘Hindu’ by the VHP.

Meanwhile Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Vice-President, VHP firing a salvo at the BJP leadership following Mr L.K. Advani President BJP’s recent remarks on Jinnah and Babri masjid in Pakistan said that they were perturbed over the BJP abandoning its agenda during its five-year rule. This has resulted in the elevation of Communist forces. “The BJP has conveniently abandoned the agenda of scrapping Article 370 and building Ram Mandir at Ayodhya for its political conveniences,” he asserted.

However, when asked to comment on Mr Advani the VHP vice president remained silent but clarified that they were not against the BJP but anguished over Advani’s remarks.

Criticising the Congress he said they were mainly trying to appease the Muslims at the cost of Hindus. This was evident from announcing various concession for Haj pilgrims while discriminating against Hindu pilgrims to Mansarovar.

In the coming days the VHP leadership is likely to discuss various issue including conversions, the Advani issue, caste-based politics, Ram Temple as well as strategy for its construction.

Significantly organisational elections would be drawn up during this convention.

However, Mr Giriraj was reluctant to support any development works at ancient Ram Tirath temple near here that is in a pathetic condition and connected to exile of Sita mata and birth of sons of Lord Rama — Lov and Kush.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today offered lukewarm reception to senior Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders who visited the Golden Temple to pay obeisance. They were not offered any siropa.

The senior VHP leaders who visited the Golden Temple included Mr Ashok Singhal, international working president, and Dr Praveen Togadia, national general secretary of the parishad. However, Acharya Giriraj Kishore could not go to the Sanctum Sanctorum, as he was not keeping well and remained at the information centre. Surprisingly, none of the senior SGPC members was present to welcome senior VHP leaders, who were later presented a set of books by the junior functionaries at the information office.

In the visitor’s book, Dr Togadia wrote. “This place of pilgrimage has been the source of inspiration to save the religion by making many sacrificing, including martyrdom for patriots of the country”.

Later, the VHP leaders laid wreaths at the martyrs memorial column at the Jallianwala Bagh here. Mr Ashok Singhal in his remarks in the visitor’s book at the memorial wrote that the history of Punjab was replete with many stories of sacrifies which had inspired the freedom movement in the country for independence. This memorial is a source of inspiration and encourage for our countrymen.”

Earlier, Mr S. K. Mukherji, secretary, Jallianwala Bagh, welcomed the VHP leaders and escorted them to memorial. 


Bhakra registers highest inflow in 7 years
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, June 27
The inflow of water at Bhakra dam today rose to 72, 317 cusec, which is the highest in the past seven years. However, there is no need to press the panic button, as the water level of Bhakra is still 116 feet below the danger line, the senior functionary of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) told The Tribune.

“The water level of Bhakra is 1564.76 feet today while its water storage capacity is 1680 feet. So there is no possibility of flood like situation in areas situated in the down stream, he added.

The water level of Bhakra Dam has increased 4.18 feet today, triggered by the high water waves that had caused damages in the parts of Himachal. The water level of Bhakra was 1560.58 feet yesterday, the official said.

The release of water from Bhakra has been reduced following the rainfall in parts of the north. The outflow of water from Bhakra was 24, 955 cusec today while yesterday the inflow had been 54, 624 cusec and outflow 25, 000 cusec.

Giving details, the official said the inflow of water at Bhakra was today much better and highest since 1998. Last year on June 27, the inflow had been 20, 132 cusec

The BBMB Chairman, Mr Rakesh Nath, while taking to The Tribune ruled out any possibility of flood at Ropar district. “We still have enough space to store the water, as the water level is about 116 feet below its capacity,” he added.

He said officials of the BBMB had been regularly monitoring the water at Sutlej at Rampur.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr H.I.S. Garewal, when contacted said the people living along the Sutlej in the district need not panic as there was no indication of heavy flow of water into the Sutlej in the district. “I have discussed the matter with the senior officials of the BBMB and they informed me that there was nothing to worry” he added.


Sutlej overflow: DC holds meeting
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 27
Senior officials of the district administration today held a meeting to take a stock of situation arise following the release of water in the Sutlej and overflow of water from Pareechu, in the evening.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.I.S. Garewal, ordered all the official of the administration to remain in the district headquarters round-the-clock to cop up with flood like situation. Mr Garewal said the Punjab Government had released a grant of Rs 28 lakh to provide help to people in case of flood.

Mr Garewal clarified that as such there was no threat of flood in the district as the water level of Bhakra was several feet low than its capacity. So there was no need to get panic. We held the meeting as a precautionary measure to check the preparation, he added.


‘Chhabeel’ was not contaminated: sarpanch
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Pandhori Kalan (Barnala), June 27
The village Sarpanch, Mr Jaswant Singh Johal, denies that water used in the chhabeel was contaminated and led to the death of three persons on June 23 as reported in the media.

All persons falling ill or dying were living in the proximity of a decaying pond in the village. Chhabeel water was consumed by the entire village of about 3,000 and even by outsiders. Moreover, the chhabeel was organised three days before the incident, Mr Johal said.

Three deaths in one day and more than a 100 persons taken ill due to water-borne diseases in this village does not come as surprise. The village has no source of clean drinking water and the villagers have been drinking water from shallow hand pumps.

The village pond is filthy, stinking and filled with waste-plastic where sewage emanating from toilets in the village accumulates. It has no outlet. Thus, the stagnating water in the pond is filthy, pointed out a village youth, Maninder Singh. Negligent villagers have bored shallow hand pumps located close to the pond for drinking water. The hand pumps spew grey coloured smelly water.

Pandhori Kalan is one of the two villages in the area that do not have a government-run drinking water scheme, lamented Kharak Singh, a village elder while talking to The Tribune yesterday.

Water supply lines were laid out more than 10 years ago, but no water has ever passed through them. An overhead water tank which is fed through a deep bore tubewell is ready for the past eight months but there is no power connection to operate it, said the Sarpanch.

With the exception of Pandhori Kalan and Mehal Khurd, all other villages in the area falling in Barnala subdivision of Sangrur district have piped water supply, he said.

Meanwhile, the deaths and disease which started on June 23 has shaken the entire village. No further deaths have occurred, but 50 persons are still admitted to the Civil Hospital, Barnala. Another 20 patients are being treated at the open compound in the village gurdwara.

Doctors and paramedics of the government and activists of a local NGO, Umeed Khanna Foundation, sit under a tent, rushing in medicine and suggestions. A small contingent of policemen has also been posted. Health officials are doing rounds in the villages handing out chlorine tablets.

The tragedy has helped accelerate the matters of development. The tubewell has been provided a power connection after eight months. The old water pipes are being tested. Water will flow through the taps by Tuesday, said officials of the Health Department.

The Deputy Commissioner of Sangrur, Mr Hussan Lal, has promised a grant of Rs 5 lakh for cleaning up of the pond.


Master Tara Singh birth anniversary fiasco irks Akali factions
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
The rival Akali factions are contemplating to observe here, on a large-scale, the forthcoming death anniversary of Master Tara Singh, an event which may also witness strong reactions against the SAD (Badal) and SGPC.

Earlier, the SGPC and Shiromani Akali Dal had received flak for ignoring the 120th birth anniversary of 'Panth Rattan' Master Tara Singh who had occupied the centre-stage of Sikh politics for more than five decades.

Though the death anniversary of Master Tara Singh would fall on November 22, the rival factions have decided to mobilise Sikh masses to mark the occasion here .

Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, said it was most disgusting that the Sikh Panth had forgotten the leader who had served the community selflessly.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, SGPC member, said it was shocking that no 'chowk' or lane had been named after Master Tara Singh in the city who had made Amritsar his permanent abode much before the Partition.

He said while the Government of India had taken the initiative by placing his portrait in Parliament, the state government, Shiromani Akali Dal and SGPC had not given him due honour even after 42 years of his death.

Mr Sarna sought public apology from Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SAD and SGPC, respectively, for having failed to celebrate the birth anniversary of the leader at the party-level.

He said Master Tara Singh remained the SGPC chief thrice and played significant role in steering the Sikhs into India during Partition and raised slogans against M.A. Jinnah, father of Pakistan.

To ignore such a great freedom fighter and 'Panth Rattan' after his death was a 'criminal', he rued.

He said the SAD and SGPC were losing credibility by ignoring the selfless leaders like Master Tara Singh.

Mr Sarna stressed that if a leader like Master Tara Singh could be forgotten then Mr Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur could foresee their future too who are unlikely to find their names in the foot-notes of the Sikh history.

Mr Calcutta, however, said he would endeavour to observe the forthcoming death anniversary of Master Tara Singh in a befitting manner and Sikhs and representatives of other communities would be invited to pay tribute to the towering leader.

He said Master Tara Singh never brought his two sons into politics. His (Master Tara Singh's) daughter, Dr Rajinder Kaur, who was killed by the militants at Bathinda in late eighties, was brought into Akali politics by Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Badal only after the death of Master Tara Singh.

He said Master Tara Singh never held any political post and never contested any election except that of SGPC.

He was the only leader who had not made any property, what to talk of taking political mileage, said Mr Calcutta.


SGPC gen secy’s note of dissent to Bibi Jagir Kaur
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
Trouble has been brewing in the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) as Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, has sent a note of dissent to Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, raising serious objections over burning topics.

Mr Bhaur, who has been a confidant of Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra, a former SGPC chief, in his communication has described the withdrawal of dossier on Harmander Sahib as ‘hasty decision’. He has also raised objection over the reinstatement of Mr Harbeant Singh, as Secretary who earlier was sacked on the charges of getting job on the basis of ‘fake certificate.

He was sacked when Mr Tohra was SGPC chief. Earlier, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a senior SGPC member, also ‘Tohra loyalist’ created ripples in the Sikh circles by writing an open letter to Bibi Jagir Kaur, criticising mismanagement of the SGPC on the ‘Ghallukara Divas’ (genocide day) to mark the anniversary of Operation Blue Star.

The five-page letter of Mr Bhaur alleged that the dossier which took three years to complete with a cost of Rs 40 lakh was rejected within three minutes which brought un-necessary embarrassment to the Sikh community.

He said the development had given clear indications that the decision taken by one president (Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar) could be easily rejected by his successor (Bibi Jagir Kaur).

However, when contacted Bibi Jagir Kaur said that Mr Bhaur had no right to raise any question over the withdrawal of dossier or re-instatement of Mr Harbeant Singh as these decision were taken by the Executive committee body. She said the SGPC might initiate action against Mr Bhaur for having his communication leaked to the Press.

Expressing surprise over the functioning of the SGPC chief , Mr Bhaur said that he was shocked that neither the copy of the dossier was supplied to him nor the report of the sub-committee which had rejected the dossier ,so far . He said the report of the Sub Committee should have been circulated to the executive committee members. He alleged that the withdrawal of the dossier had denigrated the prestige of the SGPC at the international level. He said he did not want to be party to such arbitrary decisions.

Touching another important point, Mr Bhaur said that Mr Harbeant Singh who was sacked on serious charges had failed to appear before the sub committee (Mr Bhaur was one of the members) despite repeated reminders and warnings. He had failed to produce his original certificate of matriculation on which he had got the job in SGPC.

He said the SGPC executive committee had imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Mr Harbeant Singh which he had failed to deposit. He expressed surprise over the inclusion of the item to re-instatement of Mr Harbeant Singh in the proceedings, despite my objections, though it was not discussed at the executive committee meeting at all . He described the development as ‘illegal’ and ‘disgraceful’, amounting to violation of Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925.

Mr Bhaur also described promotion of Mr Joginder Singh as Secretary as violation of the bylaws of the Gurdwara Act.


Police team visiting Delhi today to get Hawara
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 27
A team of Operation Cell of the Chandigarh Police is going to Delhi for the third time tomorrow to bring Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of Babar Khalsa International to Chandigarh. Hawara is the main accused in Beant Singh assassination and Burail Jailbreak cases and is wanted by the Chandigarh Police.

The Chandigarh Police has taken production warrants from a local court and would bring Hawara on transit warrants. Sources in the Operation Cell said the team would be fully equipped and all security related measures have been taken to bring Hawara to the city.

Earlier also the team of Operation Cell had gone to Delhi to bring Hawara on June 20 and 25, but it had to come back empty-handed as the Delhi court had given the police remand of Hawara to the Special Cell of the Delhi Police and later extended it. Jagtar Singh Hawara was arrested on June 8 by the Delhi Police.


RDX sticks seized from Hawara’s accomplice
Tribune News Service

Kharar, June 27
The Kharar police has seized two sticks of RDX, two detonators and 20 cartridges of AK-47 from Parvinder Singh, alias Bhinda, an alleged accomplice of Jagtar Singh Hawara.

Parvinder, a resident of Fatehpur village in the Bassi Pathana block, was arrested by the Khanna police and was brought to Kharar for questioning on production warrants on June 24. A local court has remanded Parvinder to four days of police remand. He will now be produced in the court of the Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Mr Ranjan Khullar, tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a local court today remanded Paramjit Singh and Swaran Singh, also alleged accomplices of Hawara, in judicial custody till July 11. The Kharar police had booked the two along with Hawara, Parvinder Singh and Gurdeep Singh.


Canadians evince interest in Doraha power project
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Canadians have evinced keen interest in the 2000 MW gas-based power project which Punjab has decided to set up Doraha, near Ludhiana.

While one segment of the project for the generation of 1000 MW of power will be undertaken by Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), the Punjab Government proposes to give the second part for the generation of the remaining power to the private sector.

Reliance has already expressed its interest in undertaking the second part of the project.

The Canadian High Commissioner to India, Ms Lucie Edwards, during her visit to the city last week, met the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and offered a participation of a Canadian company in the project.

“The Canadians want a little expansion in the scope of the work as they have offered that the second unit, if commissioned by them, will be of a capacity of 1,500 MW to 1,600 MW and not 1,000 MW,” reveals Capt Amarinder Singh.

“We will wait for their formal proposal before taking a decision. Their offer to undertake this project looks attractive. We will examine the bids of both Reliance and the Canadian firm before taking a final decision,” the Chief Minister said.

The Punjab Government also appears not too happy with GAIL which, after initial clearances, is now dragging its feet.

“Any delay in starting work on the project will not only enhance its cost but will also be detrimental to the interests of the state,” says a senior functionary of the Punjab Government. He maintains that the “availability of power is a major attraction for any industry wanting to make Punjab its new home. When we are going in for many new major projects, including car and heavy vehicle manufacturing units besides attracting IT and BT units, power supply remains the key issue.”

“The Canadians have promised to undertake the project on priority,” he adds.


Punjab turns ‘friendly’ to sleaze
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 27
College-going girls, young women and even wives of NRIs are being openly made available for fun and for sexual favours in lieu of money in all major cities and townships of Punjab, courtesy a large number of 'friendship clubs', which have mushroomed in Punjab owing to huge profits offered by the business.

A Tribune investigation, carried out for over two months and during which audio and video evidence was collected by this correspondent, suggests that newfound affluence and sex becoming an open subject of discussion has further encouraged this "friendship" business.

The business enables willing couples not only to 'enjoy' together on tours but they can go a step further by staying together for two to three months if they are able to dole out thousands for the "service".

These friendship clubs are manned by young as well as middle-aged males and females.

Such "friendship managers", manning "friendship clubs" have been operating from all major cities and townships of Punjab including Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Phagwara and even Chandigarh and they attract young couples through catchy advertisements in newspapers, particularly, the vernaculars, where they openly flaunt their mobile phone numbers. The numbers are, however, changed often.

Interestingly, men and women who run these clubs don't even bother to check the credentials of those making calls to them and they openly ask questions like if one wanted to have "just friendship" with girls or "wanted something more".

If the conversation progresses a little further they even wish to enquire whether clients are "interested in high-class girls" or are likely to go in for "college girls".

After finalisation of the deal over mobile phone, the "friendship manager, male or female", directs the prospective client to deposit "membership fee", which often varies from Rs 250 to Rs 1200 (depending upon age, looks and marital status of the female), in a given bank account.

Once the deal is struck and membership money is deposited, the "friendship managers" dole out advices to prospective male clients like: "Girl would be calling to them within half an hour and further settlement would have to be made with her."

Interestingly, these "mobile friendship managers" claim to provide girls and females of any age in the choicest city of the prospective customer.

"Do you want a girl in Phagwara? Ok, no problem. Deposit the money in the State Bank of India account no………………. and call back. A Phagwara-based girl would be calling you within half an hour," said a female "friendship manager" on mobile phone, when this correspondent posed as a prospective customer from Phagwara.

Similarly, when another club was called and it was enquired whether a Jalandahar college girl was available, the male manager responded in the affirmative and suggested that even a "high-class" girl from Chandigarh could be arranged.

"You should first deposit Rs 750 in the account no. ………. . This account is in the name of Satnam Singh," he added.

When asked whether one had to go to Chandigarh or "high-class " girl would be coming to Jalandhar, the manager said the girl would come.

Enquiries revealed that certain "friendship clubs", which were indulging in flesh trade clandestinely, had also roped in a large number of college girls and lonely young wives of NRIs.

This stunning revelation was made over mobile phone by one of the "friendship club managers", who was a bit more open as compared to others.

"The college girls are not call girls, they are provided with just 4-5 mobile numbers in a month. But anyone can stay with young NRI wives for two to four months," he disclosed.

Enquiries made by The Tribune revealed that young girls, contacted through such clubs, even go on short one-day trips with "friends", for which they charge anything between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000.

The money they charge during their night stay has to be settled separately.

A woman "friendship club manager", identified as Mrs Venus, told this correspondent, "You can take the girl anywhere. Sex is no problem either."

Asked what if the girl did not contact after the initial "membership fee" was deposited in the bank in an account (as suggested by the lady), she got irritated and said, "We will not kill our business because of your Rs 500 or so. In any case, we have our office in Rama Mandi."

But when she was asked to give the exact address of the "club", she retorted, "We don't meet people like that, you simply say what you want."

The Tribune has all bank account numbers and the video-cum-audio recordings, which show how certain "friendship clubs" are minting money and how these are running flesh trade and how this new genre of "mobile flesh trade network" has entrenched itself in Punjab.

"More than 80 percent of such friendship clubs are fakes and are basically a new form of flesh trade," said a senior police officer.

Interestingly, the police and intelligence agencies are also aware of this "friendship network".

Mobile numbers used by "friendship managers' and their activities were being investigated clandestinely, it was learnt.


CM’s move on free power, octroi hollow: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today described the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s move to give free power to the farm sector and abolish octroi as a “last-ditch election-oriented fraud on the people of Punjab by a government which is already on its deathbed.”

“But we will be happy if he goes ahead with these decisions to fully vindicate the policies which we followed for five years and which Capt Amarinder Singh has been bitterly criticising,” said Mr Badal.

Mr Badal, however, pointed to the insincerity behind the announcement. “This is a classic case of the proverbial cobra hiding its bloody fangs to ensnare its victims again. For the past four years, the people of Punjab have been reeling under utter neglect, betrayal, indifference, massive lying and arrogance of the Chief Minister. Now, with the elections drawing nearer, they are just waiting for an opportunity to teach him and others of his tribe the lesson of their life time,” said Mr Badal in a statement here today.

He said the Chief Minister’s bluff had already been called by none other than the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who had publicly stated that their party was against free power for farmers as well as measures like octroi abolition, the shagun scheme and the pension scheme. But Capt Amarinder Singh believed that he could use these decisions to come back to power and then discontinue their implementation as he did earlier. He must realise that no one was going to be befooled, Mr Badal said.

Mr Badal ridiculed Capt Amarinder Singh’s assertion that the reintroduction of these policies would be a fulfilment of the promises made in the Congress manifesto of 2002. 


SAD stages dharna in front of MC office
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 27
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Municipal Corporation in support of the party’s demands like octroi abolition, withdrawal of the hike in water and sewerage bills and adequate water supply for outer localities.

Addressing the protesters, the chief of the district unit of the party, Mr Sikandar Singh Malooka, said the way population had increased in Bathinda, a master plan should be drafted for well-planned development of the city.

He alleged that the Congress came to power by making false promises and it hadn’t fulfilled a single promise. He alleged that corruption and inflation had broken all records during the Congress regime.

He alleged that no government work was being done in the state without greasing the palms of employees. Mr Malooka said the rates of water power, diesel and petrol had shot up.

He said within the last year of Congress rule the prices of petrol and diesel had risen by over Rs 11. He alleged that the government belonged to the rich and that was why it wasn’t thinking about the poor.

He said on the one hand Left parties were opposing the petrol price hike and on the other hand they were supporting the Congress government at the Centre.

He said if these parties had any sympathy for the poor, then they should withdraw their support to the Congress government on moral grounds.

A party delegation led by Mr Malooka later handed over a charter of demands to the Municipal Commissioner.


Constructions breach defence zone, courtesy admn laxity
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, June 27
Hundreds of permanent structures have come up illegally in the prohibited 1000 meters ‘circumference zone’ of the 2 Ammunition Sub Depot (2ASD), Mamun, here, putting the authorities at their wits end.

The local civil administration confirmed to The Tribune that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had cautioned them to ‘stop immediate construction’ in the prohibitory zone.

Despite the hoardings on various points, the illegal construction activities are going on unabated. According to sources, the local authorities from the Defence have been periodically reminding the administration over the years about the illegal construction but to no avail.

It is reliably learnt that Chief Secretary had recently convened a meeting at Chandigarh in this connection.

It seems that people were not educated on the sensitivity of the matter involving ‘national importance’.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior functionary in the Town Planning Department said, “These constructions have come up over the last more than fifty years and due to a large-scale political interference, nothing could be done at this stage.”

Vital arms and explosives have been dumped in the 2ASD, which was set up in the sixties. The intensity of the breach grew with the passage of time. From the large-scale illegal construction it is clear that the breach could not have taken place without the consent of the authorities concerned.

On April 29, 2001, a huge fire broke out in the 2 ASD and ammunition worth crores was destroyed. Sources said after the fire incident more than 80 per cent of the local population was shifted from Pathankot to adjoining Himachal or Jammu and Kashmir fearing losses to person or property.

Inquires reveal that several officials, including some senior government functionaries, had recently built their houses in the prohibitory zone.

Though some politicians had reportedly requested the MoD to shift the depot but their request was turned down by the Ministry, said credible sources.

Mr Amarjit Pal, SDM, said, “The issue of illegal construction near 2ASD is a sensitive one and the local administration is handling the same within legal purview”.

The concerned departments have been directed not to sanction the site plans of prohibited zones, added SDM.


Water flows into Pak from silted Madhopur headworks
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 27
Farmers in Malwa areas of Punjab and Rajasthan are struggling for water. However, at the Madhopur headworks water is going waste due to official apathy.

Nearly 300 cusecs of water has been overflowing from silted up gates of Madhopur headworks and flowing into Pakistan. These days due to increased irrigation and power demands 15000 cusecs of water was being released from the Ranjit Sagar dam after generation of 300 MW power.

Normally the water released from Ranjit Sagar is stopped at Madhopur head and diverted into the UBDC and Ravi-Beas link canal. However, Madhopur head has been filled with silt over the years reducing its storage capacity considerably. Now when water is released from Ranjit Sagar dam a sizable portion of it overflows silted up gates resulting in wastage of precious water.

Sources here blame the lack of planning by successive governments in Punjab for the wastage of water. Fact that the water retaining of Madhopur headwork has been exhausted was known to the authorities since long. To compensate for it Shahpur Kandi dam was proposed as part of Ranjit Sagar dam project. The Shahpur Kandi dam was to come up, downstream Ranjit Sagar dam.

Most of the water released from the Ranjit Sagar dam was to be stopped at Shahpur Kandi dam and released into irrigation canals. Due to the non completion of the Shahpur Kandi dam even the generation potential of Ranjit Sagar dam has not been realized as yet.Ranjit Sagar dam has a generation potential of 600 MW. There are four turbines at the dam each with a generation capacity of 150 MW. However, if all turbines are operated at a time 25000-30000 cusecs water would have to be released downstream. There was no dam downstream to check the flow of such large quantity of water. So, till date only 300 MW could be generated at the maximum from the Ranjit Sagar dam.

Had the Shahpur Kandi dam been constructed water released would have been stopped and generation of 600 MW from the Ranjit Sagar and an additional 168 MW from Shahpur Kandi would have been realized at least during peak hours.

Last year when the state faced acute power shortage bureaucrats started looking into the Shahpur Kandi project files. About Rs 15 crore from Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) was released for the project. The NHPC was given contract for submitting the project report of the Shahpur Kandi dam.

Though the NHPC has submitted interim report of the project the Rs 15 crore released for the project has lapsed.

Chief Engineer Ranjit Sagar dam P.L. Saini when contacted denied knowledge of the overflow of water form Madhopur headworks. 


PTDC Chairman and BJP ex-minister trade charges
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 27
The war of press statements between the Congress MLA and the Chairman of the PTDC, Mr Ashok Sharma, and the former BJP minister from the area, Mr Mohan Lal, continued today. At a press conference held here today Mr Lal alleged that the Congress MLA was issuing statements against him just out of frustration.

“Mr Sharma is frustrated at being beleaguered in his own constituency by rivals in the Congress party. He just wanted to get back at his colleagues by making baseless statements against him,” Mr Lal alleged.

He also alleged that the Congress MLA was in league with the land forest mafia and had collected assets disproportionate to his known sources of income in less than four-year stint as MLA.

Earlier, Mr Ashok Sharma in a press conference had accused the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Raghunath Sahay Puri, and Mr Lal of being in league with each other.

Making a statement, Mr Sharma alleged that the meeting between Mr Lal and the Congress minister was being facilitated by the president of Pathankot Municipal Council, Mr Sarwan Kumar. He alleged that both leaders had a secret meeting regarding the affairs of the Municipal Council, which meant direct interference in his area by the minister.

Saying that if Mr Lal wanted to quit the BJP and join the Congress, he would welcome the step, he added, however, he being the local MLA, should also be made a party to the move.

If this was not the case the Mr Puri should explain the reason behind his secret parleys with the former BJP minister, Mr Sharma alleged.

He also said he would appraise the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, and the PPCC president, Mr Hanspal, about the developments.

The infighting between the Congress groups led by Mr Sharma and Mr Puri is not new. Mr Sharma has been beleaguered in his own constituency with the minister’s group enjoying power in the Pathankot Municipal Council.

Mr Sharma has already lodged complaints with the Department of Local Bodies and the Punjab Vigilance against alleged corruption taking place in the Municipal Council.


Kerosene scam: release of inspector demanded
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 27
Inspectors and ministerial staff of the Food and Civil Supplies Department, Hoshiarpur, in their joint meeting held here today, condemned officials of the local Vigilance Bureau for registering a false scam case of kerosene and implicating and arresting Mr Kamal Kumar, Inspector, and Mr Joginder Pal, Assistant Food and Civil Supplies Officer, in this connection.

In a joint press note, Mr Sucha Singh and Mr Kulbhushan, both presidents of the Food and Civil Supplies Inspector Staff Union and the Ministerial Staff Union of the Food and Civil Supplies Department, respectively, alleged that M/s Puri Brothers, M/s Hakam Rai Labh Singh and M/s Dialu Mal Gian Chand, all wholesale kerosene dealers of the Indian Oil Company, Pathankot, had no licence for selling kerosene in Hoshiarpur district.

They also said there was no quota of kerosene for Mukerian and Talwara of this district, as stated by the Deputy Superintendent of Police of the Vigilance Bureau, Hoshiarpur. The above said firms were holding kerosene licences since 1979 and had duly allotted kerosene quota for the sale in Mukerian and Talwara areas of Hoshiarpur district. They claimed that no black marketing had been done in the sale of kerosene. They alleged that business rivalry among the wholesale dealers was the main cause of this issue. 


Dispute over blockage of drain carrying stormwater
Our Correspondent

Banur, June 27
A piece of Shamlat land (village common land) carrying stormwater for the past couple of years has become a bone of contention between two groups of Kakrala village? The villagers have been leveling allegations and counter-allegations against each other regarding possession of the land illegally.

The problem aggravated on Sunday morning after the heavy downpour flooded the village streets and a drain carrying the stormwater was blocked by Mr Bhajan Singh, a villager, which was objected by others.

According to Mr Kirpal Singh, and Mr Jaswant Singh, former sarpanches, and Mr Harbans Singh and Mr Bhajan Singh blocked the drain on the village common land, which had been carrying the discharge of village to a pond outside the village since long. With the blockage of the drain, the stormwater and the sullage accumulated in the locality thus creating health hazard.

Bhajan Singh was apprehending damage to his crops by stormwater. Hence, he blocked the drain carrying sullage with the help of loose soil. A group of villagers, instead of putting the water discharge of the village in Shamlat land outside the phirni, has been using a part of the land as a drain to carry it to his fields.

“Discharge of the village stormwater into my fields had started destroying my paddy crops in seven bighas of land. The villagers should use the Shamlat land to store the sullage discharged of the village outside the lal dora. When there is sufficient Shamlat land in the village where waste and sullage could be dumped, why should my land be used for it,” claimed Mr Bhajan Singh.

Mr Malkiat Singh, village sarpanch, said that a case was still pending with the Block Development and Project Officer.

He, however, maintained that Mr Kirpal Singh and Mr Jaswant Singh, former sarpanches, Mr Harbansh Singh and some other villagers had been occupying a part of the village common land illegally. They even have been objecting to digging a drain at the site so that the stormwater could be carried to a pond at the Shamlat land outside the village.


Admn wants Army help to restore traffic
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur June 27
The district administration is planning to take the help of the Army to restore traffic on the Mukerian-Gurdaspur road. The proposal has been mooted by the PWD and sent to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh.

The Deputy Commissioner said the Army would be requested to lay a temporary Bailey bridge to restore heavy traffic on the road.

The Army also uses the road for traffic from the Tibri cantonment.

The Gurdaspur-Mukerian road has been rendered unfit for heavy vehicles. One of the pillars of the brick arch bridge on the road near Tibri collapsed about a month ago. Though repairs have been carried out, the Irrigation Department authorities have decided against allowing heavy traffic on it. Only light vehicles are being allowed on the road.

This has hit both commuters and business. After the construction of the bridge, the road became a vital connecting link between the national highway numbers 1 and 15. The entire heavy traffic from the Mukerain-Pathankot road had shifted to Mukerian-Gurdaspur-Pathankot road. Due to the shifting of heavy traffic, eight petrol stations came up on a 22-km stretch of the Gurdaspur-Mukerian road.


Resignation of Amarinder sought
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab unit of the BJP has demanded resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on moral grounds for allegedly providing shelter to former cricketer M.A.K. Pataudi in the Black Buck hunting case.

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, President of the unit, and Mr Vineet Joshi, member National Executive of the BJP Youth wing in a joint statement said that Captain Amarinder Singh had allowed him to stay in his farm in Delhi when the Haryana Police had sounded an alert for Pataudi’s arrest.

This is damaging for the state and country as we now have rulers who have taken law in their hands, they said adding that the role of Mr Shashi Singh, Managing Director K.B. Stud-farm was questionable as he was also member of the gang caught by the police.

Mr Khanna said the former Union Minister Ms Maneka Gandhi has also sought the re-arrest of Pataudi and condemned the role played by Captain Amarinder Singh in trying to protect him.

Mr Khanna said that the Chief Minister was also criticised by the public for attending a function at a Gurudwara in Canada under the banner of “Khalistan”.


Farmers protest against ‘outrageous’ bankers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 27
Members of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan group), Technical Services Union and the Democratic Teachers Front staged a dharna infront of the sub divisional complex here today.

While rejecting the inquiry report submitted by Naib Tehsildar in the Bhagu village incident, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Dhaba, state president and vice-president, respectively, of the BKU, alleged that civil and police officers, instead of imparting justice to the aggrieved family, were trying to shield the guilty officials of the Abohar Cooperative Primary Agriculture Development Bank. Mr Darshan Singh, district president of the BKU, presided over the rally.

The BKU leaders said earlier the SAD-BJP led government had faced wrath of the resentment from the farming community five years back by issuing warrants of arrest against loan defaulters, now the Congress government too was committing same mistakes. They alleged that Bank officials had not only humiliated a farmer, Gurdit Singh, to recover loan but also manhandled women members of the family when they resisted arrest. The Sadar police falsely implicated the farmer and his relatives and put them in lock up, they added.

The BKU demanded that the bank officials should be arrested.


Protest against oil price hike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
Activists of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Punjab, the Dihati Mazdoor Sabha, Punjab, the Government Teachers Union and employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today held a protest against the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel. The protest was organised on the call of the Joint Platform of Mass Organisations here.

Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa, general secretary, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, in a press release, stated that memoranda were given to the Deputy Commissioner, the chiefs of the Punjab State Electricity Board and the Canal Department.


Baba Rode Shah mela begins
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
Top Punjabi singers regaled the crowds at the annual Urs mela held at the mausoleum of Pir of Baba Rode Shah, near Malwa Cinema, today.

Prominent singers, including Gurdass Mann, Raj Tiwari and Manpreet Akhtar enthralled the audience. More singers are expected to take part in the mela which will conclude tomorrow.


Navjot Sidhu bereaved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
Mr Shamsher Singh, father-in-law of Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, Member of Parliament, died yesterday following a cardiac arrest. He was 78 and is survived by a son and a daughter.

Shamsher Singh had served the Army for 15 years and retired as a Major.


Armyman gets death for killing 2 seniors
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 27
The General Court Martial (GCM) organised here today awarded death sentence to Lance Havildar Jagtar Singh for murdering two Army JCOs and seriously injuring a Havildar.

The accused, Jagtar Singh of 167 Field Regiment attached with 41 Field Regiment, was also convicted for attempt to commit suicide after killing his two colleagues and seriously wounding another on December 7, 2003. The accused was also ordered to be dismissed from the service.

The prosecution, represented by Ms Ambica Gupta, a local advocate, argued before the GCM Jagtar had killed his two colleagues Havildar Ramesh Singh and Havildar Ajit Singh without any cause or provocation and it was cold-blooded murder and a fit case for death penalty.

She argued that on the day, the victims were having their dinner at Counter Terrorists column in their unit when Jagtar shot them with his service rifle.

The motive of crime, according to the prosecution, was exchange of heated words by the accused with the victims. When the troops and officers cordoned off the area, the Jagtar shot himself in the stomach and was also injured.

The accused had pleaded not guilty and was convicted under Sections 69 and 64 (C) of the Army Act and other provisions of the RPC. The sentence awarded to the accused, however, shall be subject to confirmation of the competent authority appointed under the Army Act.


2 held for murdering youth
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 27
The police today claimed to have solved a murder case within a day with the arrest of two persons. The police has also recovered a cycle, which was reportedly used in dumping the body.

Police sources said Chhinda Singh, a watchman at Chhapiawali village, lodged a report with the Malout police yesterday that he had spotted a body in a minor while he was on his way to bring cattle feed. He stated that the legs of the deceased were tied and blood was oozing out of his nose. The body could not be identified and the police registered a case against unidentified murderers under the Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.

Later the deceased was identified as Harjeet Singh, a resident of Kandhwala in Fazilka. His brother, Pargat Singh, told the police that the deceased had left his village about a year back and had worked at Prince Furniture House in Malout. He was putting up at Bararawali Gali in Malout.

The sources said Harjeet became friends with one Vijay Kumar, a resident of Tahliwala. Sukhi, a widow from Vijay’s village was staying at Chhapiawali. Sandeep Singh, Sukhi’s relative from Padampur, Rajasthan, along with his wife, Seetu, was looking for a job and was residing with her. Harjeet used to accompany Vijay to Sukhi’s home and had developed illicit relations with Seetu, who made it clear to her husband about her intentions to settle down with Harjeet. Seetu had an altercation with her husband and went back to her home in Rajasthan.

The sources said a few days back Vijay and Sandeep conspired to eliminate Harjeet.

On June 25, Harjeet had an argument with one Omi and he informed Vijay and Sandeep about it. Both of them visited Harjeet on a cycle on the same night and sat on the bridge of the minor. After sometime Vijay took off a piece of cloth that he had tied on his head and shrewdly strangulated him. Both the accused then hit him with an iron rod. They loaded his body on their cycle and threw it in the minor. They burnt their clothes stained with blood at Sukhi’s home and threw their cycle in a water pond.

Vijay and Sandeep have been arrested. The police also recovered the cycle. 


3 injured in group clashes
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, June 27
Three persons sustained serious injuries in two clashes that took place here yesterday.

According to reports, Kulwant Singh was injured in an attack on him with sharpedged weapons at Duggan village.

In another incident, Ram Pal and Kuldip sustained injuries when two groups clashed violently at Akalgarh village on Sunday evening. Police sources said that personal enmity was stated to be the reason behind the clashes.

All the injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital in serious condition. The police has registered different cases against the culprits.


Car thief arrested
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 27
Sadar police on Monday nabbed a car lifter along with a stolen car. It was learnt that Kuldip Singh of Gurdanpur village, falling under Amloh police station, was looking for a customer here for selling a Maruti car (PB 08-A-1881).

After failing to find any customer here, he was going to Jalandhar. A naka party, headed by Mr Lakhwinder Singh Mall, SHO, Sadar police station, nabbed him near Maheru village and recovered from him the car he had lifted some time back. 


Alert constables re-arrest thieves
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
Two Punjab police constables today overpowered two thieves within minutes after they escaped from their custody by putting chilli powder and salt into their eyes after coming out from the court.

The constables, Mr Sajjan Singh and Mr Raghbir Singh, showed extra alertness and bravery in re-arresting them. Though their eyes were irritating and they were finding in difficult to move, both managed to overpower them within the court complex.

Police sources said the accused, Ayajaz and Salim, who belonged to Uttar Pradesh, were facing trials in the court of Ms Lakhwinder Kaur, Judicial Magistrate, in connection with a theft case registered against them last year.

When they were coming out from the court room, Ayajaz put chilli powder in the eyes of Mr Sajjan Singh and Salim put salt in the eyes of Mr Raghbir Singh.

A fresh case was registered against them under Sections 323, 224 and 511 of the IPC.


Teachers to be evaluated from today
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 27
The first camp to evaluate annual progress report of the teachers will be held at Girls Senior Seconday School, here tomorrow. The cases of the teachers belonging to Anandpur Sahib Sub-division will be taken up in this camp, informed the District Education Officer (Secondary), Mr Piara Singh, here today. He said camp held for the teachers of Ropar city would be held on July 8 and for teachers of Kharar and Mohali would be held on July 15 at same school.


Bank quarterly meeting
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
To review the performance of bank under annual credit plan for the year ended on March 31, 2005, lead department of State Bank of Patiala held a quarterly meeting under the chairmanship of Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, here today. The meeting was also attended by Mr J.S. Brar, ADC (D), Patiala, and Mr T.P.S. Phulka, PCS Deputy Director, local bodies, Patiala.

Mr J.K. Jain, Lead District Manager, in a press not issued here said that the annual target under the priority sector had been achieved. Against the target — Rs 1259 crore under agriculture, the bank had disbursed Rs 1663 crore. Under SSI category, against the target of Rs 134 crore the bank had disbursed Rs 152 crore and against Rs 284 crore under other priority sector, the bank had disbursed Rs 1110 crore.

While reviewing the performance, Mr Tejveer Singh appreciated the bank efforts and advise staff members to achieve greater goals in the coming years. 

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