P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



UNESCO clarifies on Harmandar Sahib status
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 4
The Director, UNESCO, Prof M. Tawfik, has categorically stated that after granting the World Heritage Status (WHS), it becomes the responsibility of the organisation (UNESCO) to protect the site from any external aggression. Such security would have been provided to Harmandar Sahib, if it had received the WHS.

This is part of the minutes of the meeting, held in the office of the Chairman National Commission for Minorities, copy of which has been given to The Tribune by the Chairman (NCM), Mr Tarlochan Singh, here today. He was here to preside over the installation ceremony of the president of the Rotary Club.

Giving details of the meeting, the NCM Chairman informed that Mr Babu Rajeev, Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), had clarified that the inscription of Harmandar Sahib on the WHS would not in any way alter the management status of the shrine. The management of Harmandar Sahib would continue to remain with the SGPC even after the inscription of the shrine on the WHS. Neither in the nomination dossier nor in the site management plan, there was any proposal to replace the present management system. Therefore, the question of the new management system, after inscription on the WHS list does not arise.

Much to the embarrassment of the SGPC executive committee which had recommended the withdrawal of the dossier, all three members who attended the meeting concluded that the apprehensions raised by the committee were unfounded.

The ASI Director clarified that there was no proposal to interfere in the management of the core precinct (Darbar Sahib complex). UNESCO did not and would not impose any management directions on the WHS, he said. Any suggestion from UNESCO as an expert body would only be advisory in nature with regard to upholding and conserving the heritage value of a site. Full responsibility for protection as well as suggested conservation of the heritage property would be with the SGPC, he added.

He said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was only a nodal agency for such tangible heritage in India in so far as UNESCO was concerned. Therefore, the ASI reports to the World Heritage Committee on all matters of importance on WHS.

Professor Tawfik, Director, UNESCO, however, clarified that the purpose of granting WHS to a particular historical monument was to preserve it for generations to come for record and for their posterity. He said the Director-General, ASI, had taken a wise decision by withdrawing the dossier. He urged the ASI to take the initiative of organising a discussion in the form of seminars or debates to discuss on the issue to appraise the apprehensions of the Sikh community.

He said a country could send only one nomination for WHS every year, but India had lost the chance to send the nomination this year. “We have only withdrawn the nomination of Harmandar Sahib this year, but there is no bar on resubmitting the application next year.


Small bridge of big troubles
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Lohian Khas (Jalandhar), July 4
This century-old bridge is unique in many ways. Connecting two main districts of Punjab, this is the only bridge in the entire state catering to both rail and road traffic.

Built over the Beas river, this bridge, just across Lohian Khas railway station in Jalandhar, is the only rail connection with Ferozepur.

As many as eight trains move to and fro over the bridge 16 times a day. The road traffic is also controlled differently here as there are two level-crossings on either side of the bridge that have to be closed when a train is about to pass.

The road traffic is stopped at that time by a unique interlocking gate which is connected with an automated rail signal device. The signal is downed for the train to pass only when the gates on either side operating with a common key are shut. The two gates have guards on both sides who communicate with each other over telephone.

Since the span of the bridge is not very wide, the road traffic also moves on differently here. Two heavy vehicles coming from opposite sides cannot cross each other as either of the two has to move back. As a result, traffic on either side of the bridge has to be stopped to let vehicles on the other side cross over.

While slow means of transport, including bullocks and tongas are not allowed over the bridge, only those vehicles that have pneumatic tyres are permitted to pass over.

But this old bridge seems to be living beyond its age. Constructed in the year 1912 by the then British rulers, the bridge seems to be losing its strength. Even as the railway officers claim that the bridge undergoes annual maintenance, the passers-by can feel that it is shaking too much.

Mr Balwant Singh, truck driver, said, “The government has hardly done anything to improve upon its condition for the last many years. Its condition is deteriorating with each passing day and we are being made to risk our lives passing over it almost every alternate day.”

Though another road connection exists between Jalandhar and Ferozepur via Sidhwan Khas, this passage is preferred by those commuting between Nakodar, Malsian and Lohian on Jalandhar side with Makhu and Zira on Ferozepur side due to shorter distance.

This bridge is even frequented by those traveling to Harike and Patti areas in Amritsar from this side.

But the commuters here have been long demanding a separate bridge for rail and road traffic as they said that they were often stranded for hours due to passing of train almost every hour.

They even complain of inconvenience due to less width of the span of the bridge due to which traffic on one side has to be halted.

Railway officers in Jalandhar, on the condition of anonymity, said no plan was yet on the anvil to build a separate bridge for rail and road traffic.

They said the bridge was undergoing timely inspections and girders underneath were being greased from time to time. They added that a plan to repair the partly damaged track on the bridge was under consideration.


Punjab canals flow to capacity
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Punjab never had so much water in the recent past. With all the major dams in the state having sufficient inflow of water, the outflow into the canals is flowing to capacity as per the peak requirements. The sources in the Irrigation Department maintained that this had happened for the first time in past few years that the canals are flowing to capacity and the farmers were getting sufficient water. Heavy rains in the catchment areas preceded by heavy snowfall during winters is attributed to massive water reserves.

Compared to the last year the water reserves during this year are substantially high. In Bhakra dam the water level is at 1586 feet against 1497 feet during last year. Bhakra has been getting 63,000 cusecs of water daily and only 33,000 cusecs is being released against only 19,000 cusecs during last year. Level in the Bhakra dam is likely to go up as the inflow of water is quite high than the outflow.

Similarly in the Pong dam this year the water level has already crossed 1300 feet while last year it was only 1275 feet. Currently daily inflow of water to Pong dam is 19,000 cusecs while the outflow is 2000 cusecs only for Harike headwork through river Beas. Last year 5500 cusecs of water was released from Pong dam for the Harike headwork as the outflow from the Ropar headworks for Hairke through Satluj was quite low. With the outflow from Bhakra, which is again regulated by Ropar headworks, this year having substantially improved less water needs to be released from the Pong dam this year.

Water level in Ranjit Sagar dam is also relatively higher this year as compared to last year. Last year the water level in the Ranjit Sagar dam was 1862 feet while this year it is 1892 feet and is likely to increase further. The daily inflow of water into the dam is 13,600 cusecs while 12600 cusecs is released from here against 9600 cusecs last year.

For the first time in recent years the water flow into the Sirhind canal from Ropar headworks 10,000 cusecs, which is according to the demand. Similarly the flow in the Bist Doab canal is also to full requirement of 1400 cusecs. All distributary canals from the Mannpur headwork near Doraha, which included the Patiala branch, the Abohar branch, Bathinda branch and Sidhwan branch are carrying full capacity water.

The Harike headwork is also getting 26,000 cusecs water daily from Satluj and Beas. However, the Rajasthan canal is getting only 10,000 cusecs against the capacity of 13,000 cusecs but not because of the shortage of water, but due to the increased growth of weeds at various places which hampers the capacity and flow of water.6900 cusecs is also released for the Hussianiwala headworks from Hrike.

The Irrigation and Canal Department officials and also the farmers are upbeat over abundance of water.


Bhakra level up, so is fear of flood
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, July 4
The increasing water level at Bhakra Dam following the arrival of the monsoon has caused concern for people living downstream of it in Ropar district. The water level at Bhakra today was 90 ft higher than last year. The level was 1586.07 ft today compared to 1497.05 ft last year.

The inflow of water at Bhakra Dam was 63,508 cusecs today, about 43,367 cusecs more than the inflow last year.

During the past 11 days, the water level at the dam has increased by 32 ft.

The discharge of water to consumer states like Punjab and Haryana has also increased this year. The outflow has been 32,957 cusecs compared to 19,000 cusecs last year.

The outflow of water from Bhakra Dam, coupled with the flow of water from seasonal rivers into the Sutlej has raised fears of floods in villages situated along the Sutlej say senior officials of the administration.

Sources in the Bhakra Beas Management Board ‘BBMB’ say the maximum storage capacity at Bhakra Dam is 1,680 ft. The filling period to store water began on May 20 and will continue till September 20.

The Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, said this year the water level of the dam was better than last year. However, it was still 94 ft less than its maximum storage capacity.

Meanwhile, the fear of flood continues to loom large over villages situated in Bela in Nurpur Bedi, Nangal, Anandpur Sahib and Ropar city due to the swollen Sutlej.

The district administration has ordered for “Thikri Pehri” (patrolling) in villages situated along the Sutlej.


Thein Dam level highest in 3 yrs
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 4
The water level of Ranjit Sagar Dam (RSD), popularly known as Thein Dam, today rose to 511 metres which is the highest in the past three years. However, the full capacity of the reservoir is 527.9 metres and the situation is under control, officials said.

The water level of the multipurpose dam started increasing after release of water from the Chamera project in Himachal Pradesh. The Chamera project, according to sources, is producing 540 MW of electricity. The project has released 15,075 cusecs of water in the RSD lake, while the RSD is releasing about 11,250 cusecs of water for the Upper Bari Doab Canal here.

The water level of the dam in the corresponding period last year was registered at 502 meters. The dam is producing 300 MW by using its two units, while its other two units were not started by the authorities as the work on the Shaper Kandi dam, which is said to be the second face of the RSD, was not started due to paucity of funds and other reasons.

The dam till now had produced electricity worth more than Rs 1,800 crore. The water level, according to sources, is the second highest since it was commissioned except three years ago when it registered at 518 meters due to floods.

Chief Engineer of RSD project P.L. Saini ruled out the possibility of floods. He said it had sufficient capacity to store water, adding that the officials had been regularly monitoring the level of the reservoir and trend of current rainfall in the area.


Farmers allege foul play by Punjab, Rajasthan irrigation officials
To send video evidence to PM
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 4
The Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Canal Water Users Committee, Sriganganagar, have decided to send fresh video tapes to the Union Irrigation Minister and Prime Minister to support their allegations that Irrigation Department officials of Punjab and Rajasthan had “joined hands in siphoning off Rs 25 lakh” drawn on account of removing waste material from Bikaner Canal commonly known as Gang Canal.

The canal, beginning from Ferozepore in this district, was originally constructed by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner with estimated 50 years of life but survived for more than 75 years.

The total amount paid for remodelling of the canal to Punjab Government exceeded Rs 200 crore but the farmers, organisations feared that the reconstructed canal beds and walls might not survive for even next five years, sources said.

Professionally trained cameramen accompanied members of the sangharsh samiti and users committee, who took another round of the canal in this district yesterday.

Capt Subhash Sehgal (retd), spokesman of the samiti, told newsmen that neither Punjab nor Rajasthan Government was serious for probing into allegations of large-scale bungling in the reconstruction work.

The Chief Engineer (North Zone), Rajasthan, had been directed by the state government to inspect the canal in Punjab area. He was supposed to stay at Ferozepore for a night to complete the inspection next day.

But the CE allegedly told samiti members that the work had been assigned to the Chief Engineer of Quality Control section who was to stay at Circuit House Ferozepore on June 30 and members of the samiti were to assist him next day.

But inquiries by the samiti allegedly indicated that none of the officials visited Ferozepore as per schedule.

Mr Het Ram Beniwal, former CPM legislator, said the Irrigation Department lacked will, sensitivity and sympathy for the farmers who had struggled for decades to get Rs 472 crore sanctioned for remodelling of Bikaner canal.

In fact, some funds had been provided by the Union Government while rest of the amount poured in from Agriculture Marketing Board. The Rajasthan Government had not contributed any amount from its treasury.

Recently, three dozen breaches were allegedly reported in other canals bordering Abohar sub division but no step had been taken to avert reoccurrence of such incidents. Nearly 500 cusecs of water was allegedly released in LNP canal against its capacity of 350 cusecs. This not only flooded fields and damaged crops but tubewells too had become non operative.

The users committee members said water released from the Eastern Canal in RD 45 Bikaner canal in Ferozepore district was posing a threat to its banks in Rajasthan area.

They alleged that surplus sand of Guruharsahai -Sadiq Road Bridge had been thrown into the Bikaner canal.

Trees uprooted by the storm on June 9 near RD 90-91 were still lying in the canal. Nearly eighty percent of the pressure release valves had allegedly been damaged and created big holes even before the official release of water into the canal.

This could be disastrous and cause major breaches, as lining quality was extremely poor, the members said.

Mr Birbal Jakhar, officiating Executive Engineer, Irrigation, confirmed that Rs 25 lakh had been paid to irrigation authorities in Ferozepore district. 167 valves were repaired, waste material removed from the canal bed and inspection too was completed. Nothing wrong was found, he allegedly told the users committee members on mobile phone.


Protest against ‘discrepancies’ in PMET paper
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 4
While alleging that incorrect keys (options for answers) were given for various questions in pre-medical entrance test-2005 (PMET), re-conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), parents and candidates today protested against the authorities in the administrative block of the university here.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the OMR (optical mark reader) sheets, the protesters alleged that about seven questions and keys of more than 10 questions in the question paper were incorrect. They alleged that they were forced out of the examination controller's room when they tried to note down the questions and answers, which according to books and professors were incorrect.

However, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, and coordinator of the examination, said the keys were made by the experts in the presence of government nominees appointed for the evaluation of the examinations. He said it was impossible to satisfy all students. He, however, said credit of seven questions, which were doubtful, had been given to all students.

Meanwhile, the parents said, "What type of transparency is this, when the students were not allowed to note down the serial number of the questions whose answers were wrong?"

The protesters raised slogans against the university authorities and resisted when the security guards asked them to leave the block. The parents threatened to file a writ petition.

They urged to form a panel of professors to examine the keys of answer sheet and then hold re-evaluation.


Ex-councillors exploit status for making money
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 4
After getting elected as people’s representatives from their wards, now they are using their status for pocketing one 100-rupee note for signing as witness on a legal document or a registry and at times they end up signing on forged documents. This is the story of hundreds of those former Municipal Councillors and nambardars who have made attesting government papers their business.

These councillors, elected to redress grievances of electorate, are today making money in various tehsils. According to sources, 18 persons were involved in “selling” their testimonies in Bathinda alone. There are 72 subdivisions and tehsils and 81 sub-tehsils in Punjab.

Sources said nearly 40 per cent of former councillors and nambardars working at these tehsils had already faced action for wrong testimonies.

The sources said two former councillors of Bathinda were also found to have been involved in giving wrong testimonies. Both these councillors had been doing this work for the last five years.

The sources said they had reportedly given wrong testimonies in a number of deals involving land mafia. A couple of nambardars were also doing this “business” in the city. As per norms, the witness should personally know the person involved in the deal, but these ex-councillors and nambardars simply sign on the dotted line without having knowledge of any of the individuals approaching them. However, these ex-councillors denied the charge and said they didn’t force anybody to pay them. A case has also been registered against Nambardar Kartar Singh for giving wrong testimony.

Ex-councillor Ram Chandar of Rampura Phul was also booked for giving testimony on a fake marriage. These ex-councillors and nambardars charge Rs 50 to Rs 100 for a testimony.

The sources said though the presence of these ex-councillors provided a facility to people, but charging them for giving testimony led to wrong testimonies.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari said appropriate action would be taken against those ex-councillors and nambardars who had given wrong testimonies.


Hawara was patronised by police officials, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Reacting to a report published in Punjabi Tribune, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here today raised the issue of the reported links of militant Jagtar Singh Hawara with top police officials.

Mr Badal alleged that it confirmed the worst fears about the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s alleged conspiracy to disturb the peace through state-sponsored terrorism. The Akali leader said after the publication of such reports, the Chief Minister had no moral right to continue in office.

The former Chief Minister reiterated his charge that Capt Amarinder Singh could go to any length to secure a second term.

In his statement Mr Badal said during questioning by the Delhi police, Hawara had confessed to patronage by several senior Punjab police officials and other influential persons in the state. He demanded a high-level independent probe into these reports.

He further alleged that Hawara roamed about without a disguise in the Chief Minister’s home district for almost two years.


SAD wants panel to probe ‘revival of militancy’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 4
In a significant move the SAD leadership today demanded that a commission headed by sitting judge of the Supreme Court should be set up by the Central Government to probe the fact that a nexus of a section of policemen and ruling politicians were trying to revive terrorism in Punjab to drive political mileage from it.

Former Finance Minister and senior SAD leader, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said a meeting of the party leadership would be held in this connection soon at Chandigarh and it would be decided whether the president or Prime Minister should be approached to demand a commission for the probe.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who addressed a press conference here today, while alleging that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and a section of policemen and officials had been trying to revive terrorism to create terror in Punjab and to create fear psychosis among the people so that the Congress could win next assembly elections by cashing in on the same.

“Links of a section of policemen with Jagtar Singh Hawara, the alleged assassin of late Chief Minister Beant Singh, has been reported in a section of press. The conspiracy hatched by the Congress to divide Hindus and Sikhs and to create terror among the people has come to light,” alleged Capt Kanwaljit Singh and added that the Congress had been using its old tactics to prepetuate in power.

He said as it had become clear that the Congress had become issueless and sensing its defeat in the next assembly elections, it had started playing the game of terrorism for which the Punjab had already suffered a lot.

The SAD leader declared that party would make every sacrifice to maintain peace in Punjab. The party would launch a mass contact programme to make the people aware of nefarious designs of the Congress.

Commenting on the performance of Capt Amarinder Singh government, he said an era of economic repression had been started by the Punjab Government and every section of society had been heavily taxed under the garb of VAT and cesses and hence their lives had been made miserable.

On the other hand, about Rs 4 crore had been spent on the decoration of Chief Minister’s Office where Capt Amarinder Singh had not sit more than 30 days in the past three and half years.

He said in the party rallies, apart from deteriorating law and order situation, the SAD leadership would also put focus on the issues pertaining to unprecedented unemployment and deterioration in education and health services in Punjab.


SAD (A) workers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 4
Workers of the SAD (Amritsar) today held a protest at the Ropar court complex against the Punjab Government when they came to know that the party president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, could not be produced in the court during the hearing of a sedition case registered against him.

Earlier, the Ropar court adjourned the hearing in the case for July 16, as the police could not produce him before it this afternoon.

The party workers had been waiting for Mr Mann in the court complex since morning. They started raising slogans against the Punjab Government and the SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, when they came to know that the Punjab Police could not produce Mr Mann.

Addressing party workers, Mr Iman Singh Mann, a son of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said party workers would hold a protest against the arrest of Mr Mann and organise a rally in Chandigarh on July 11. The rally would start from the Singh Sabha Gurdwara to the Punjab Bhawan. He said the police had arrested Mr Mann under government pressure and had falsely implicated him in the case.


Rain brings sewerage woes for residents
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 4
Heavy rain last week choked sewers in various localities of the city and water-logging in front of houses and commercial establishments made residents’ life miserable. Localities facing sewerage problem, included Parasram Nagar, Ajit Road, Janata Nagar, Gopal Nagar, Jogi Nagar, Partap Nagar, Lal Singh Basti, Civil Station, Kamla Nehru Colony, Guru Nanak Pura, Kartarpura Basti, Amarpura Basti, Power House Road, and Model Town Phase II. Residents of these areas had to wade through water collected near their gates. Mr Prem Kumar, a resident of Power House Road, said water remain collected for three-four days in front of his house following rain last week and foul smell started emanating from it.

The MC has also installed four-five pumps for cleaning sewerage pipeline right in the middle of the Bathinda-Goniana road. However, sources in the MC say main sewerage line passes through this road and therefore the machines have been installed there. These machines pose grave threat of accidents to motorists, as these have been put up at the road used by a large number of vehicles heading towards Faridkot, Muktsar, and Barnala. No signboards have been put up on these machines so as to check road mishaps.

According to sources, the Municipal Corporation had got a project sanctioned from Hudco under which a proper sewerage system was to be put in place at the cost of Rs 16 crore. Sources said it had already been two years since the project started, but the work on it had come to a halt midway owing to non-sanction of funds from Hudco. Sources attribute the delay in release of funds to the non-repayment of the loan for sewerage by the MCs of other cities and towns of the state. Sources said though the Bathinda MC had been fulfilling all terms of Hudco, it was paying the price of other MCs’ failure to accomplish the same. Sources said the MC was also paying 14 per cent as departmental charges to the sewerage board for the project.

When contacted, MC EO, Kamal Kant, said they had been awaiting release of funds from Hudco for the last three-four months and they had written to the state government to treat their case separately and ensure sanction of grant. Regarding the sewerage cleaning machines, he said the sewerage board was involved in this work and he had already asked them to put up signboards on machines.


CM inaugurates Tehsil Complex
Our Correspondent

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, along with Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, vice-chairman of the board of directors of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation, after inaugurating the Tehsil Complex at Dera Bassi
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, along with Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, vice-chairman of the board of directors of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), after inaugurating the Tehsil Complex at Dera Bassi on Monday. — Photo by J.S. Virdi

Dera Bassi, July 4
Claiming to have fulfilled his promises made with the public before the Assembly elections, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder, today inaugurated the new Tehsil Complex at Dera Bassi and dedicated the Lalru-Surat Manoli-Banur road to the residents of the Banur Assembly constituency.

The CM also announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the construction of a mortuary at the Dera Bassi Civil Hospital and Rs 15 lakh for the renovation of Primary Health Centre, Lalru. He promised a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the library of the Dera Bassi Bar Association.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the 11-km-long Lalru-Banur link road had been strengthened after widening it from 10 to 18 feet. The distance between Lalru and Banur had been reduced by over 22 km. Earlier, the motorists from this area had to take the Lalru-Zirakpur-Banur road to reach Rajpura and then Patiala.

The CM asked the Mandi Board to strengthen and widen the Dera Bassi-Chadiala link road and construct approaches on a bridge at Togapur village.

He also claimed that the “killer” Chandigarh-Ambala highway would be four-laned at a cost of over Rs 300 crore by 2006.

The Lehra Mohabat Phase-II, with a capacity of 500 mw, would go for power generation next year. Similarly, efforts were being made to tap sources of gas-based power potential. Negotiations were on to set up a 1800 mw gas-based plant in collaboration with a Canadian firm.

Asked about future investments, the Captain said he had invited a 21-member high-powered delegation comprising eminent industrialists and prospective investors from abroad who intended to make investments in Punjab in IT, bio-technology, infrastructure and the housing sector. The delegation was likely to visit Punjab in October.

The CM planted a sapling in the Tehsil Complex.

Those present at the occasion were Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chairman of Board of Directors of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, Vice-Chairman, State Planning Board, Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, district president of the Congress, Mrs Sheelam Sohi, local Congress leader, Mr Amrit Pal Singh, president of the Dera Bassi Municipal Council, Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, PPCC member, and other prominent persons of the area.


Patwari just a call away
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 4
The district has become the first in the country to launch a unique scheme – Patwari at your call. The people especially residing in remote villages, henceforth, would not have to waste time and money in making rounds of the office of the patwaris for obtaining a copy of any type of revenue records. Instead, Patwari would provide them the required copy at their doorstep within 48 hours of registering the request on the telephone at Suvidha Centre.

Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, giving further details, said under the scheme, the person desirous of getting copy of any type of revenue record, just have to make a call at telephone number 555501 for the registration of his request. The attendant would inform the Patwari concerned who would make the copy of the record available to the applicant at his residence. After completing the work, the Patwari would also report at the same telephone number.

Mr Kumar said besides revenue records, a medical officer for issuing medical certificate for the purpose of driving license would be made available on the spot. Some other facilities relating to the various departments would also be launched soon from this centre so that the people could get the required documents from the offices without delay, inconvenience and corruption, the DC said.


Tree felling probe being given a quiet burial?
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 4
The inquiry into the illegal felling of over 100 eucalyptus trees on the land of Government Senior Secondary School Lamini, Pathankot, is being given a quiet burial. After the matter was highlighted in these columns, the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, ordered revenue officials to demarcate the school land.

However, even after over a month, the revenue officials have failed to demarcate the school land. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the revenue officials blamed the school authorities for the delay in demarcation. They alleged that they had fixed two dates for the demarcation of 33 acres of the school. However, on both occasions, the school authorities asked them to defer the demarcation.

The demarcation of the school land would have proved the illegal felling of trees from the government school land and brought the culprits to book. Sources said besides the school authorities which are keeping mum over the felling of trees worth about Rs 5 lakh from the government land, some local politicians were also against the demarcation. The local politicians have allegedly encroached upon the school land and fear that the demarcation may also expose them.

About 100 eucalyptus trees were felled illegally on the land of the school by some local landlords in an effort to grab the school land.

When The Tribune team visited the spot, the entire wood of the cut trees had been removed from the spot. Efforts were being made by the landlords to bring this land under cultivation.

Sources in the school said the total land of the school was about 33 acres. However, such a large area could not be brought under the school boundary. So, the some school teachers planted eucalyptus and other trees on the land lying outside the school boundary in 1982-83.

Some time ago, a road was laid on the school land. The road divided the school land into two portions. This brought the school land across the road in the eyes of land grabbers. They slowly started felling the trees planted on the school land. As of today, almost all the over 20-year-old eucalyptus and other trees from the school land outside the boundary have been felled and carried away.

Interestingly none of the school authorities objected to or complained against the felling of trees. The sources said the school authorities and politicians had connived in allowing the land grabbers to fell trees and take control of the school land. 


Power cuts hit water supply
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 4
The unscheduled power cuts across the state are hitting the water supply schemes. The worst hit are the people of the Kandi areas. Here water has to be pumped to hills. Unscheduled power cuts disrupt the water supplied by the Public Health Department. It takes about 3 to 4 fours to once again create pressure for supplying water to far-flung areas. However, consistent power supply of 3 to 4 hours was a distant dream in rural areas.

In many areas the Public Health Department has installed generators to compensate for the unscheduled power cuts. However, these generators have been rendered useless due to the unreasonable bureaucratic hurdles. Though the department purchased generators to keep the water supply schemes functional during power cuts, no budget was provided for purchasing the diesel. Due to the non-availability of the fuel these generators have not been put to use.

After The Tribune highlighted the matter the authorities of the Public Health Department obtained the detailed reports of generators lying unused in the field. The sources said a budget was worked out for providing diesel to generators and sent to the Department of Finance.

Since then the file has been moving from the Public Health to the Finance Department. The delay in clearing the file was keeping people without drinking water. Many rural areas were receiving power just for six to eight hours a day.


Roadways workers to launch stir
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 4
Demanding check on illegal plying of buses, the Punjab Roadways Workers Union has decided to launch a state-level agitation on July 7 and July 28.

Stating this in a press statement, Mr Gopal Singh Pal, general-secretary, said all members of the union would stage a ‘dharna’ outside their respective bus depots, demanding impounding of buses being run illegally on all highways across the state.

The members said the department was suffering a huge loss to the tune of about Rs 100 crore annually allegedly due to plying of buses in an unauthorised manner by the private transporters owing allegiance to the ruling party.

They said, on July 21, the roadways would also hold independent ‘nakas’ at various intersections and stop such unauthorised buses. Mr Pal said that the members had also been seeking long-pending promotions of roadways employees serving under different sections.


Home of varsity VC searched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
A team of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today conducted search operations in the homes of Dr J.S. Gujral and Mr K.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Registrar of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, respectively, today.

The house of Dr Gujral in Sector 27 and the house of Mr K.P. Singh in Mohali were searched today by the Vigilance Bureau as part of its investigation into the PMT-question-paper-leak case.

No incriminating document had been seized from the home of the VC or the Deputy Registrar, senior officials of the bureau said tonight.

The team also checked through the computers installed in the homes of the university officials.

It may be recollected that the bureau had asked senior functionaries of the university to join in the investigation. When asked what kind of documents were they searching for, officials said a probe was being conducted how an entire set of question papers was being leaked every year through coaching academies.

The investigating team had found that an entire set of question papers, comprising 200 questions, was leaked. “The source of leak is within the university and we are finding that,” officials said.

The controversy had arisen when the question paper of the PMT was leaked days before the examination was to be conducted on June 5.

The Tribune had carried a story in its edition on June 5 stating how a part of the question paper had been leaked. The Punjab Government cancelled later cancelled the exam.


Take back Padma Shri from VC: forum

Patiala, July 4
The Forum for Educational Research (FEAR), at its meeting held here today, has written to the President, Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, to take back the Padma Shri conferred upon the Vice-Chancellor by the Government of India because of his “links with terrorists”.

Copies of the letter have also been sent to the Prime Minister, the Human Resources Development Minister and the Union Home Minister, the president of the forum, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, alleged that “allegations had been levelled against the Vice-Chancellor by the CPI and the CPM”. Dr Dhillon claimed that the government had the powers to temporary withdraw the Padam Shri till the CBI probe is pending against him. TNS


Bank functioning in a mess
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 4
The functioning of the State Bank of Patiala, branch here is a mess. All services have come to a standstill.

The bank is situated in the District Administrative Complex and the customers are mostly employees working in the Administrative Complex, students, lawyers and traders.

In the bank today only three clerks were present. They said there had been no manager since the past one month. All officers were on leave today.

Students who came to fetch bank drafts return empty-handed.

Similarly, employees complained that their loan cases had been pending since the past one month. Even the ATM was out of order. Parents who come to deposit school fee had to stand in a long queue as there was only one receipt and payment clerk.

Similar is the situation in the State Bank of Patiala, Sirhind.

Mr R.N. Sharma, president, Citizen’s Welfare Council and leading advocate BB Verma, said in this era of competition, when banks were approaching the customers and assuring them of best services, the working of nationalised banks was deplorable.


Hospital gets AC back
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 4
The district administration today removed the air conditioner fitted at the residence of Civil Surgeon which was earlier installed at the MTP-cum-minor Operation Theatre of the Civil Hospital. The AC had been removed from the hospital to cool the residence of newly joined Civil Surgeon Dr Yash Pal Singla.

Giving clarification, the SMO, Civil Hospital, Nabha, Dr I.D. Goel, said the AC was sent for overhauling to Civil Surgeon’s office at Patiala and the office had sent it back. However, he expressed his ignorance whether it had reached the residence of civil surgeon or not.


NGO adopts family
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 4
Continuing the policy to support the downtrodden, the Dedicated Brothers Group(DBG), an NGO, adopted a family which did not have the means to support itself.

Meanwhile, a monthly meeting of the group was held in which reports on various types of social work initiated by the group were presented.


Pathak is Rotary Governor
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 4
Dr Harbans Pathak, a former Head of the Department of Public Administration, Punjabi University, has taken over as Rotary Governor of Rotary International, District 3090, which comprises 72 Rotary clubs in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Dr Pathak was administered the oath of office at Mussoorie by the Uttaranchal Governor.


Mann files bail petition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Raising slogans or merely asking for Khalistan does not constitute an offence — at least this is what Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann has to say in this bail petition submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Mann has also quoted a Supreme Court judgement in support of his contensions. Taking up his application, Mr Justice A.K. Goel of the High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

The case will now come up on July 19 for further hearing.

Mr Mann was taken into custody on the allegations of sedition and disturbing communal harmony, besides other offences, under Sections 124-A and 153 of the Indian Penal Code.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case due to mala fide resaons, he said the first information report (FIR) in the matter was registered at the behest of Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Bibi Jagir Kaur. Otherwise also, the case was registered after delay. Giving details, his counsel stated that the alleged statement in favour of Khalistan was made on June 4, while the FIR was registered on June 8.

Quoting the contents of the FIR, he said there were no specific allegations against Mr Mann. The FIR had simply stated that a number of persons were delivering speeches.

Seeking the grant of bail, he added that the case of sedition and disturbing communal harmony was not made out against Mr Mann as none of the speakers had said anything about any other community. 


Corruption case: ex-chief of forest corpn discharged
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 4
Delay on the part of the Secretary, Forest Development Corporation, Punjab, to give sanction for the prosecution of Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, former Chairman, Forest Development Corporation has led to discharge by court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Ms Archana Puri.

However, Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SSP (Vigilance), said it was a temporary relief as he was discharged on technical grounds. He said the vigilance bureau would get sanction from the secretary within a couple of days.

Mr Kang was booked by the Vigilance Bureau for allegedly possessing assets worth Rs 4 crore, allegedly disproportionate to his known sources of income when the Congress government took over.

Advocate for the defendant (Mr Kang) said prior sanction was essential before prosecution of the accused in corruption case. He said sanction was heart and soul of the case and the bureau should have taken prior sanction before prosecution. However, he added that the bureau failed to present sanction of the secretary even after two hearings in the case.

Mr Bajwa said the department had applied for the sanction of the secretary for the prosecution and presenting the challan.


Five booked for murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 4
A brawl between some women at Balianwali village claimed the life of a person today.

Sources said Chhinder Kaur and Murti Kaur of the village had a fight with Balbir Kaur who complained about it to her husband Mithu Singh.

Later, Mithu approached these two women and objected to their behaviour. On other hand, both these women took up matter with their husbands that added fuel to the fire.

Sources said today when Mithu Singh was passing through a bylane Murti Kaur, her husband Sukhdev Singh, Chhinder Kaur, her husband Teja Singh, and their son Kala Singh, attacked him. Mithu succumbed to his injuries later.

The Balianwali police has registered a case of murder against them.


Liquor seized, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 4
The police claims to have seized 81,000 ml of India-made foreign liquor from different places of the town here yesterday.

According to police sources, five cartons of whisky were seized from Pawan Kumar of the Onkar Nagar locality and 11 bottles of liquor from Joginder Singh of Chachoki village.

In another instance the police seized 20 bottles of IMFL from a car driver of Husan Lal of Chachoki village and 12 bottles of whisky from Deepak Kumar of Jandiali village under Behram police station .

Cases under the Excise Act had been registered against all the four accused.

DSP Lakhwinder Pal Singh Khaira said the kingpin behind the smuggling of liquor had been identified as Amarjit Singh of Jalandhar who was quite active in the smuggling of liquor from Himachal Pradesh to Punjab.


2 neighbours rape woman
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 4
A married woman of the age of about 24 years was allegedly raped by her two neighbour at Panjwar village falling under Chabal on June 26.

SSP Paramjit Singh Grewal said the victim approached the police only yesterday and a case under Section 376, 452, 506 and 34 of the IPC had been registered against Kanda Singh and Bantu of the same village. According to the complaint, the accused entered the house of the victim when she was alone and raped her.


Pathankot a haven for liquor smugglers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 4
Due to cheap rates of whisky and beer in the suburbs of Himachal Pradesh adjoining Pathankot, this town has become a haven for liquor smugglers. The wine shops in Himachal territory adjoining the city are barely 500-600 metres from the Punjab state border and liquor can easily be smuggled from Himachal to Punjab.

Though the local police and Excise Department had taken extra precaution to check this menace even then not only men but also women are involved in the illegal trade. The local police has arrested 12 women in the past one month for smuggling liquor and cases under the Excise Act were registered against them.

The car-borne liquor smugglers or daily drunkards find it easy to buy whisky or beer from the Himachal area at cheaper rates.

Wine sellers reveal that due to big difference of prices the smuggling has increased. A beer bottle costs Rs 45 to 55 in Himachal while the same is being sold at Rs 60 to Rs 75 in the city. Similarly, wine and whisky is available at much cheaper rates in the Himachal side. The rate difference ranges from Rs 50 to Rs 150.

Mr B.S.Bal, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Gurdaspur, said steps had been taken to curb the smuggling from Himachal Pradesh and 13 nakas had been set up to check the smuggling.

Despite the fact that effective steps had been taken by the departments concerned, liquor smugglers, according to sources are either operating from local shops or houses. The vends in Himachal Pradesh include those at Damtal, Jassur and in the Dhangu Peer area which is about 50 yards from Pathankot.


No challan even after 8 months
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 4
The police has failed to present challan in the court in an accidental death case of a youth even after eight months of the registration of the case.

Kamlesh Rani, a resident of Dewlanvala village and mother of the deceased Harish Kumar, has urged the Punjab Human Rights Commission to help her in getting justice. She alleged that the police was using dilly dallying tactics in presenting the case in court and pressuring her to withdraw the case.

Harish Kumar was killed in an accident when he was going on his motor cycle in November. Raminder Singh of Dariawal village was arrested in the case and an FIR was registered under Section 304-A, IPC.

She has also written to the SSP, Kapurthala, in this regard.


Atwal lays stone of Navodaya Vidyalaya
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 4
Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, laid the foundation stone of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya at Phlahi village of this district yesterday. In the first phase, a hostel for boys and girls, administrative block and residential quarters for staff would be constructed.

Mr Atwal said students of government elementary schools of rural areas should be admitted to the school where standard education was being imparted. He said during his recent meeting with the Prime Minister, he found that Dr Manmohan Singh was keen to improve the education standards in Punjab.

He said he wanted to spend Rs 10 crore out of his MP Local Area Development Fund Scheme in the field of education. He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for a school ambulance.

Mr C.N. Sharma, Assistant Commissioner, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalya of the north zone, said the state government had provided 34 acres for the school complex and Rs 10 crore had been given by the Central Government for the building.

The Principal, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, said inter-connectivity facility was available and computer education was being provided in the school.


Ban tuitions by govt teachers, demand jobless youths
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 4
Unemployed youths of the area today urged the government to impose ban on government school teachers taking tuitions. They sat on a dharna and observed one-day hunger strike outside the SDM’s office and submitted a memorandum to him.

The unemployed youths alleged that the government had not recruited teachers for the past 10 years. More than one lakh qualified youths were without jobs in the state. They were earning their bread and butter by giving tuitions to students. However, government school teachers were denying them even this source of livelihood.

In many cases government school teachers forced students to take tuitions from them. They threatened to fail them in exams or practicals if didn’t stop from taking tuitions from private teachers. The rules ban government school teachers from taking private tuitions.

However, many of the government school teachers were violating the rules. The Punjab Vigilance Bureau had initially cracked on government teachers taking tuitions. The campaign has subsided since then and trend of government teachers taking tuitions has started once again with same vigour.

Mr Sunil Singh, an unemployed youth leader, alleged that they had submitted memorandums to various government functionaries like the Deputy Commissioner to Education Minister demanding ban on tuitions being given by government school teachers. However, none of the authorities took any actions.

Mr Yog Raj, another unemployed youth said they would start staging dharnas outside the houses of the government teachers taking tuitions if the government fails to act in this regard. The private tuitions were the only source of livelihood for unemployed youths. They should be protected by the government, he added.

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