P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ravi swamps border areas
13 villages cut off from Gurdaspur district
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 7
Heavy rains over the past twentyfour hours brought unprecedented water in the rivers flooding areas along the Indo-Pak border. Till last reports, 13 border villages were cut off from the rest of the district. The Army and the BSF have launched rescue operations using motor boats. In Bamiyal, a family of Gujjars got trapped in an area that got surrounded by swirling flood water. The family was rescued by the Army and the BSF personnel.

Sources here said flood was caused mainly due to the sudden surge in the Ujh river that entered the state near Paharipur village from the Kathua area of Jammu. Last night the irrigation authorities here recorded 1,80,000 cusecs water in the river.

In Punjab, the Ujh was joined by the Tarnah and the Jalalia rivers coming from Jammu hills swirling the inflows to 2,55,000 cusecs. The three tributaries of the Ravi that flow separately otherwise took the shape of a single river submerging the entire area.

Though no loss of life has been reported but it has caused colossal damage to crops in the area. The Army and the BSF had to rescue their men who were stranded at some posts on the border due to the sudden surge in the water level.

At Kathlore, flash flood drowned two trucks that were trying to cross a stream yesterday night. The occupants of the vehicles, however, managed to save their life swimming to the banks. A temporary bridge constructed by private contractors at the construction site of Kathlore bridge also got damaged. The boats used by contractors to ferry passengers across the Ravi in many border areas also perished.

The worst affected villages along the border are Tash, Datapur, Paharipur and Symbol Sangol. Officials of the district administration including the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, visited the flood-affected areas.

The inflows in Ranjit Sagar Dam also saw unprecedented surge in the water level. The dam received highest ever inflows of 83,000 cusecs last night. The sudden inflow increased the level of the dam to 516 metres that amounted to a record 4 metres in day. Till date, the dam had attained the maximum level of 518 feet against its capacity of 528 feet.

Till last reports received the water level in the flooded tributaries of the Ravi had started receding.

PATIALA: Even as the seasonal Ghaggar crossed its danger mark in the Khanauri area this evening, a section of district officials, including Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh, rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, a farmer, Bharpur Singh, was suspected to have drowned yesterday while he was working in his fields which came under deep water due to continuous rains lashing the Rajpura area. The body of Navjit Singh, alias Rinku, who was washed away with two others while travelling in a car near the area yesterday, was recovered today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that while the Ghaggar crossed its danger mark of 748.5 feet today, the Tangari rivulet had been flowing at its danger mark of 13 feet since yesterday.

As per the official information, the flow of Ghaggar near Bhankarpur point of the district had come down by 1 ft as compared to its flow yesterday. The Markanda, which was in spate yesterday, started witnessing reduction in the level of water.

The DC, who alongwith other officials visited certain pockets of the district to assess the preparedness in the flood prone areas of Samana subdivision, said officers had been deputed to reinforce all vulnerable points by the bags and to maintain round-the-clock vigil at Khanauri.

NANGAL: Incessant rain that has caused floods in Himachal Pardesh today brought high inflow of about on lakh cusecs in the Bhakra Dam, which rose its water level by 5 feet in a single day. The inflow of water and increase in the water level of the Bhakra Dam was today recorded the highest of the season since May 20.

The water level of the dam was today 1597.05 feet, while yesterday it was 1592 feet. The inflow of water was 98,249 cusecs today, while yesterday it was 82,582 cusecs.

Officials said that the four floodgates could be opened when the water level of the Bhakra Dam will reach 1650 feet. The decision to open the floodgates would be taken after evacuating the villagers living along the Sutlej downstream, the officials added.


Ghaggar above danger mark, but where is Samra?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Where is Punjab’s Revenue, Relief and Resettlement Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra? This question has assumed significance as the threat of floods is looming large over certain parts of Punjab, especially in the Malwa belt.

The Ghaggar, which has become infamous as the river of misery and destruction in most parts of the Malwa belt, today overflowed at various places in Patiala district, creating fear and anguish among people in the villages located along its course. At Khanuri, the Ghaggar was today flowing at 749 ft, about 6 inches above the danger mark.

Besides, three breaches occurred yesterday in Pachees Dara, a seasonal choe. Two breaches occurred in its bundh at Mahdoodan village and one near Lalru in a common bank of Pachees Dara and the SYL canal. One of the breaches in the Mahdoodan bundh is said to be 600 ft long.

The Ghaggar water submerged vast areas of paddy fields in Sarala, Maru and Sarala Khurad, Dudhan Gujran, Raur Jagir, Adalti-wala, Bibipur, Budh-maur and other villages in Patiala district.

The Tangri and the Markanda, which flow into the Ghaggar near Budh-maur, have been in spate for the past two days. Mr Narinder Singh, general secretary of the BKU (Patiala district), said that fortunately the water which overflowed from the Ghaggar did not enter inhabited areas. However, the paddy crop in low-lying areas had been submerged.

He said the Ghaggar had overflowed because of the U-turn in its course near Sarala village. “ We have been urging the government to remove that U-turn to make the course of the Ghaggar straight, but no one has cared to listen to us”, he added. With the removal of that U-turn 40 villages could be saved from the devastation caused by the Ghaggar almost every second year.

Three persons were killed yesterday in rainwater-related incidents in that district. Two boys were killed in Loh Simbli village and a trader, whose car was washed away by a strong current of water near Sarjapur village, is missing.

There was a heavy rain in the entire Samana-Patran-Sangrur-Bathinda belt today. A big sheet of water spread over miles could be seen in paddy and cotton fields. The rain started early this morning and was continuing till late evening.

Mr Samra is said to be abroad. A telephone attendant at his residence here said that Mr Samra left for the USA and Canada at the beginning of this month and would return after July 20.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is also away to Hyderabad on a four-day visit to the South to woo industrialists to Punjab.

It is the job of the Revenue Minister to visit flood-hit areas and announce relief for the affected persons. He is also supposed to take a decision on ordering a special girdawri to assess the loss caused by floods or overflowing waters of rivers like the Ghaggar. In his absence, who will handle the situation when reports of heavy rain are also being received from Himachal Pradesh, from where most of the seasonal rivulets and rivers flow into Punjab.

Informed sources said that only a meagre sum of a few lakhs of rupees has been released for the Patiala area, which is highly prone to floods, for putting flood-protection measures in place.


Water enters fields in Muktsar villages
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 7
A heavy rain lashed various districts of Malwa today choking sewers and inundating low-lying areas in Muktsar, Moga and Bathinda. Agricultural land in various villages of Muktsar has submerged due to overflowing sem nullahs that are yet to be cleaned.

In Bathinda, areas like Mall Road, Amrik Singh Road, Sirki Bazar, Gurunanakpura, Ganesha Basti, Power House Road, Civil Lines, Ajit Road and Bhagu Road were submerged in water. The scenario in Parasram Nagar and Namdev Nagar was worse with their narrow bylanes getting blocked due to inundation. Poor sewerage in these areas has led to waterlogging in front of the people’s homes.

Meanwhile, following a news report in The Tribune highlighting installation of sewerage pumps right in the middle of the GT Road, the authorities concerned today removed them from the road. Talking to The Tribune, meteorologist Dr Sompal Singh said that the city received 30 mm of rainfall, while it was 25 mm in rural areas. According to him, the rainfall would continue tomorrow.

Moga received heavy showers throughout the day resulting in waterlogging in localities of old Moga, Zira Road, Ward No. 1 and 2, low-lying areas on Akalsar Road and Bahona Chowk. However, the neighbouring Faridkot district got a spell of shower only in the morning, while there was a slight drizzle during rest of the day.

In Mansa, Gurdwara Chowk, Sewa Singh Thikriwala Chowk and Court Road were submerged in water.

The Chief Agricultural Officer of Mansa, Mr Amarjit Lal Sharma, said the fresh spell of rain was beneficial for both paddy and cotton, especially in the district, as its soil had more absorption power. However, if the trend continued in the coming days, it could also prove harmful to the cotton crop, he added.

Reports of water entering the farmers’ fields have been received from various villages in Muktsar district. These include Buda Gujar, Chadewan, Chotra and Jhabelwali villages, besides Landewala village in Malout. Sources said the fields were submerged due to overflow in sem nullahs that were yet to be cleaned.


DC reviews measures to check floods
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 7
The water level in the Sutlej near here is increasing rapidly due to heavy rains and it was recorded 33,000 cusecs today. This was confirmed by Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta while talking to The Tribune here today. He said strengthening of the 90-km Dhussi bundh in Jalandhar district was the need of the hour and the district administration had sought a financial help of Rs 1.12 crore from the state government to strengthen the Dhussi bundh.

Mr Gupta who inspected various sensitive points of the Dhussi bundh near Phillaur, Nakodar and Shahkot said that he had summoned a meeting with concerned SDMs of three subdivisions yesterday to discuss preventive measures in case of alarming situation caused by floods.

The Deputy Commissioner said all preventive measures were being taken by the administration. It had arranged 40 boats.


Efforts to resume cultivation of cotton in border area
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Mianwal (Indo-Pak Border), July 7
The ‘white gold’ (cotton), which virtually had disappeared from the border belt after large-scale attack of American bollworm is now being cultivated up to the zero line.

The border belt was home of cultivated cotton in old times but the pest attack had virtually ruined the growers economically and they were forced to plough their standing crops in the past. However, when their counterparts in the Malwa region started getting remunerative prices of the crop, it also encouraged the local growers to work out economics of cotton cultivation.

Dr Balwinder Singh and Dr Harpreet Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer and Block Agriculture Development Officer, respectively, said after the approval of Bt cotton (six varieties) by the state government, area under cotton was likely to increase in the coming seasons. Dr Harpreet Singh took The Tribune team to villages near zero line along the border observation post.

The area, which was shown ‘nil’ in the record of Punjab Agricultural University, has come out to be more than 1,600 acres.

However, the Border Security Force has not given permission to sow cotton across the border fencing due to security reasons.

The official sources said the size of the Bt cotton plant could be more than 6 feet and, hence, hamper the vigil . However, the farmers say that the cotton could get them more remunerative price than any other crop across the fencing. Cotton needs less water than any other crop.

The villages where farmers had sown cotton include Mianwala, Khem Karn (150 acres in both areas), Mehdipur (125 acres), Rattoke (175 acres), Mohmadiwala (100 acres), Macchike (130 acres), Valtoha (145 acres), Bhurakona (85 acres), Varnala (89 acres), Gazal (35 acres) and Assal Uttar (150 acres).

Mr Bikramjit Singh Mehmoodpura, who has brought 7 acres under cotton, said due to paucity of irrigation facilities, cotton could be more successful than any other crop.

Mr Mokamaljit Singh Malka, a resident of Valtoha, said he had tried three varieties of cotton and hoped a good yield. He was encouraged to sow the cotton following agriculture training camp organised in his village last year.

Interestingly, historical Bir Sahib Gurdwara at Rattoke had also made efforts for the diversification of crop. The manager of gurdwara said if the crop was successful on 8 acres, he would try to increase the area under crop by the next season.


Deer Park faces sheer neglect
Cage meant for 25 black bucks houses 80
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 7
The Deer Park here having deer and birds is a picture of utter neglect.

The Tribune team visited the park this week and found stray dogs and monkeys roaming inside the park. The park has a sizable number of black bucks, sambar and cheetal. The cage for black bucks has 80 black bucks against a capacity of 25. The cage is in bad shape with its grill bent and broken at various points. Similar is the condition of cages housing geese and monkeys.

These black bucks also face a security threat, as the back wall of the park is broken and people of nearby areas have made ways into the fencing on its both sides. The park only has one guard on night duty, which is not enough to keep an eye on its sprawling area. Their security only rests on a small lock put on their cage.

The park also has birds like the budgrigar, parrot, lovebird, pigeon, and dove, but their cages too lack cleanliness. Even the vessels in which they are fed are not properly cleaned.

A solitary peacock shares its cage with a number of rabbits. Sources said earlier there were two peacocks, but one of them got injured while fluttering its wings. Lack of space forced the park authorities to shift it to the zoo from whre it was brought.

Over the years the park has also turned into a “drug addicts” paradise, as The Tribune spotted a couple of addicts rubbing ‘ganja’ leaves on palms. They were so engrossed in their work that they did not know about their photographs being clicked by the photographer.

The sources said the addicts did not mind paying Rs 5 for an entry ticket of park, as they had got a safe place to have their daily dose of drugs. Though the police had nabbed a few of them in the past, it was to no avail.

A large number of neelgais in its vicinity also gave sleepless nights to the park staff, as they barged in by breaking fencing and walls.

Wilted leaves and congress grass can be seen in different pockets of the park. The grass mower developed a snag on the day this correspondent visited the park.

The park only has a single dilapidated shed for visitors to take shelter during rains. Seating arrangement has also taken a back seat with just four-five seats that too only near swings.

The pathways leading to various cages are not cemented and visitors find it difficult to tread on the muddy tracks in the rainy season. The park has a hand pump and a water tap in the name of drinking water arrangements.

The park has no canteen despite being 5 km from the city.

According to the sources, the park only has nine employees of which seven are daily wage workers. These employees have to tend the plants, feed animals and birds, clean their cages, a guest cottage and toilets, issue tickets to visitors and guard the park. A park employee said they could not clean all birds’ cages on a daily basis due to staff shortage.

He said the park should have specialised gardeners to tend its garden.

Sources said the park was grappling with fund shortage and the scenario could only change once adequate flow of funds was ensured to it. 


Punjab MLAs on ‘Europe darshan’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Threat of floods in many parts of the state and the spate of bomb blasts in London notwithstanding, 24 members of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, left on a 15-day “Europe darshan” tonight. Four of the legislators are accompanied by their family members.

Another group of 26 legislators, awaiting visas, will also embark on a 15-day sojourn Down Under — Australia and New Zealand.

While the Vidhan Sabha takes the bill on air travel, board and lodging besides local sightseeing and related expenses, members are required to shell out Rs 1.65 lakh for each family member accompanying them on “Europe darshan” while for the tour Down Under, it is Rs 1.45 lakh per family member.

Initially, both groups were scheduled to leave simultaneously. But since there has been some delay in the grant of visas to Punjab legislators by both the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions in Delhi, the departure of the second group has been delayed.

Though the visits of the MLAs to Europe and Down Under were planned long ago, delays were also caused because of differences among members of the Congress Legislature Party on undertaking such trips in view of the poor fiscal health of the state.

One group within the CLP held that while on the one hand, the government had doubled the electricity duty, increased stamp duty and wanted to levy cess on diesel and petrol to raise additional resources to fund the Agri-Diversification Fund, expenditure on such visits should be avoided.

At one stage, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, wrote a demi-official letter to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, advising against sending legislators on such trips.

A group of Punjab legislators led by the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, visited Pakistan a few months ago.

Among those who left for Europe tonight were eight Akali legislators, two Independents and one from the Bharatiya Janata Party. The rest were from the ruling Congress

Mr Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, dropped out at the last moment citing personal reasons. A couple of other legislators, who were in the initial list, too could not make it for one reason or the other.

The Europe-bound group will visit England, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and France before returning home on July 23.


Master Tara Singh’s house to be preserved
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 7
The Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD), the oldest Sikh body, today took the lead by constituting three-member committee to preserve the old residence of Master Tara Singh, legendry Sikh leader who had occupied centrestage of Akali politics for more than 50 years.

Decision to this effect was taken by Mr Charnjit Singh Chadha, president CKD after an appeal made by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman National Commission for Minorities (NCM), in this regard . The NCM Chairman had appealed to the residents of Amritsar to preserve the heritage of the ancient city and the heroes of Amritsar who had played significant role in the freedom struggle of the country. Mr Chadha, promised that the CKD would bear the cost of preserving the house of Master Tara Singh who had saved half of Punjab from going to Pakistan at the time of Partition. He said if the government of Pakistan could take a decision to install the statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in Lahore, it was great injustice to ignore the sacrifice of Master Tara Singh in Amritsar. He said that statue of Master Tara Singh which was prepared at his behest in 2001 could not be installed in Amritsar so far.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said that it was a matter of concern that the city of Amritsar which was considered twin city of Lahore could not progress on expected lines after the partition. He said while the population of Lahore had reached 80 lakh mark, the overall development of Amritsar was ignored by all concerned on the pretext of it being a border district. He asked if Lahore which was also a border district across the Radcliff Line, why development of Amritsar was being ignored?


Bhattal for fair deal to BDS students
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, July 7
Students who were placed in supplementary category in the subject of ‘prosthodontics’ in the recently declared result for bachelors (Dental Surgery examination) BDS final met Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal for the redressal of grievances. They stated that the alleged ‘fault’ by university authorities would affect their academic career.

The Deputy CM reportedly remarked on the application presented to her by students from all dental colleges in the state, to Baba Farid University, Faridkot to “examine the matter sympathetically, take urgent notice and give comments within five days”. The application was signed by more than 80 students who met the Deputy CM yesterday in Chandigarh. The university controller could not be reached despite calls.

As many as 30 students out of 49 students in two dental colleges in the city have been affected while the state’s figure of the aggrieved students was 95 out of total of 200 students who appeared for the examination and have been placed in supplementary category after results were declared on June28. Students allege that the number placed in supplementary this year was “unprecedented”.

While demanding re-evaluation of examination papers or allotting them grace marks the students explain that supplementary in even a single examination means a setback of six months for internship and life-long bar to appear in any entrance examination for Masters in Dental Surgery for them.

Many of the students placed in supplementary were reported to be bright students. Dental Students of all seven BDS institutes in state including Government Dental College, Patiala; Government Dental College, Amritsar; Christian Dental College Ludhiana; Laxmi Bai Dental College Patiala; Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College Ludhiana; Guru Ram Dass Dental College Sunam, Dashmesh Dental College, Faridkot and Guru Ram Dass Dental College, Amritsar, alleged ‘discrepancies’ in question papers and in the checking of answersheets. They urged early resolving of the issue.


Badal dares CM to carry out threat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today dared the Punjab Chief Minister. Capt Amarinder Singh, to carry out his threat of legal action on allegations of official patronage of the present regime to militants like Jagtar Singh Hawara .

“If he goes ahead with it, he will find us waiting for him eagerly outside the courtroom,” said Mr Badal in a statement here.

The Akali leader also accused the Chief Minister of deliberately skirting the real issues of violation of diplomatic protocol, foreign exchange regulations and security — the Blue Book — during his secret trip to Dubai.

Mr Badal said if Capt Amarinder Singh had the courage to follow up his words with action, the resultant case would give the people of Punjab an opportunity to see the Chief Minister being cross-examined faced with a mountain of evidence on “Congress involvement” in militancy.


Development charges revised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
To promote planned urban development and check the mushrooming of unauthorised colonies in the state, the Punjab Government has decided to abolish development charges for the provision of basic infrastructure — water supply, sewerage, pucca roads, streetlights and drains — in all unauthorised colonies.

A spokesman of the government said there was resentment among residents of these colonies over the exorbitant development charges. Though the Department of Local Bodies had limited resources, in the larger public interest, the state had decided to share the burden.

Under the revised structure, there would be no development charges in notified slums and in the case of plots measuring up to 50 sq yd. Until now, the actual development charge for the provision of basic infrastructure was Rs 350 per sq yd (Rs 8,750 per marla measuring 25 sq yd).

Under the new scheme, for plots measuring between 50 sq yd and 125 sq yd, 18 per cent of the actual cost, which came to Rs 65 per sq yd or Rs 1,625 per marla measuring 25 sq yd would be charged. For plots measuring between 125 sq yd and 250 sq yd, 31 per cent of the actual cost — Rs 110 per sq yd or Rs 2,750 per marla measuring 25 sq yd — would be charged. And for plots bigger than 250 sq yd, 50 per cent of the actual cost — Rs 175 per sq yd or Rs 4,375 per marla measuring 25 sq yd — would be charged.


Body of youth fished out
Bipin Bhardwaj

Rajpura, July 7
Body of a Patiala-based youth, who drowned in a drain near Sanjurpur village while saving his friend, was fished out by villagers this evening.

Resident of Harinder Nagar in Tripri locality, Patiala, Navjot Singh, alias Rinku, (25) and his friend Kamaljit Singh of Rajpura, were travelling from Delhi to Patiala in an Indica car (PB-39B-8225) when they were caught in swirling waters of the drain.

As the overflowing drain washed away the car about 20 ft downstream, Rinku helped Kamaljit in climbing atop the vehicle. But he himself slipped and disappeared in the muddy water. The incident occurred at about 2.30 am on Wednesday.

Kamaljit Singh said the water level in the drain rose very high and he kept calling for help for about two hours. Finally, a granthi from the village gurdwara spotted him. He made an announcement from the gurdwara following which some villagers assembled at the site.

The villagers rescued Kamaljit Singh, who remained three hours on the roof of the car, with the help of ropes.

Subsequently, family members of Rinku were informed about the incident.

The local administration also reached the site and pressed two divers to search for Rinku’s body. The villagers joined the rescue operation and finally found the body and took it out with the help of at tyretube.

The body was later sent to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for post mortem.


Kapurthala bets on two ill-equipped fire stations
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala: The Kapurthala district that consists of 5 subdivisions — Bholath, Sultanpur Lodhi, Dhilwan, Kapurthala and Phagwara — is relying on only two fire stations equipped with a total of 3 fire tenders one of which was inducted 21 years back.

One of the two fire stations, situated at Shalimar Gardens here, is equipped with two fire tenders and the other one at the industrial city of Phagwara is dependent upon more than 15-year-old lone fire tender.

Out of the two fire tenders in the service of Kapurthala fire station with the capacity of 4,500 litre and 4,000 litre water, one remains on VIP duty on the G.T. Road for the VIPs passing through the district.

Though 90 incidents of fire were reported in 2004 in which property worth Rs 6 crore was gutted, the administration took no step to upgrade the fire stations despite repeated requests from the department.

Moreover, the number of staff deputed at the station is less than half of the required strength that too equipped with old and inadequate gadgets. Out of 6 required gas masks, the station has only one and has no chemical uniform. Though 14 firemen, four leading firemen, one key man, four drivers and one sub officer is required to operate one fire tender, the station is managed by a staff of 15, including one fire officer, with a total budget of Rs 20 lakh out of which Rs 18 lakh goes to the salary of employees.

In addition to tackling the fire incidents in the city, the city fire station has to provide services to the areas as far as Begowal, which is 40 km from here.


Round-the-clock power to domestic consumers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
As the power situation improved tremendously in the state because of the heavy rains in majority areas of the Malwa region, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today decided to provide round-the-clock power supply to domestic consumers in the state.

“It was a zero power cut today”, said Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman, PSEB. He was happy over the easing of the power transmission system that was over stretched since the past few weeks because of its ever increasing demand.

He said the mandatory weekly off for the industry would continue for the time being. “I will review the power situation in the state tomorrow. If the heavy rain continued for a day or so, then there is a possibility of the mandatory weekly off for the industry being withdrawn”, he added talking to the TNS on the phone.

Last week, the demand for power in the state had crossed 1,300 lakh units. However, today it came down to 1,100 lakh units. “ We had closed the number II unit of the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant because of the decrease in demand”, said a senior officer of the PSEB. He said the number II unit would again become operational either tonight or tomorrow as there were no chance of making the Nathpa and Chamera hydro power projects operational as yet. Power generation at both hydro power projects was stopped about two weeks ago following a flood in the Sutlej which led to shutting up of both projects as a preventive measure. The level of silt in the river is still very high.

Mr Ratra said all those companies,with which the PSEB had entered into an agreement to purchase power, were supplying it. He said when the Nathpa and Chamera hydro projects would start generating power, the situation on this front would improve further. 


K.S. Khera elected Lions Club president
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 7
Mr K.S. Khera, a leading lawyer of district courts in Fatehgarh Sahib was unanimously elected as president

of the Lions Club, Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, for the year 2005-2006 at a meeting held here today.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Khera highlighted his priorities as president. He said that the club would educate and create awareness among the people about AIDS, drug addiction, female foeticide and other social evils. He said besides this, the public-oriented projects like blood donation, tree plantation, eye operation camps, medical check-up and drug de-addiction camps will be organised.


Row over Services Club membership
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 7
Do service rules permit Indian Air Force (IAF) officers to become members of a civilian club? And, can the names and places of posting of the IAF officers be circulated among the civilians, keeping in view the security aspects?

In a letter to the Chief of the Air Staff and the Defence Minister today, a group of members of the local Services Club (Officers) has sought their immediate intervention, a few days before the election of the club which has been fixed for July 10.

However, the president of the club, Mr Sarbjit Singh Sandhu, claimed the IAF officers were made members as per the rules and bylaws that were not violated at any stage. He also refuted the charge that the list of members was tampered with. He said the senior IAF officers knew their responsibility regarding the security aspects.

The warring group, headed by Mr S.S. Chhina, a retired IPS officer and Security Officer of Guru Nanak Dev University, in a communication to the senior defence authorities has alleged that the list of members was “tampered with” and did not match with that circulated among the members. The group alleged that it was “astonished” to find the names of 63 IAF officers as “corporate members”. It alleged that there was no provision in the bylaws of the club to induct any one as corporate or block member without charging admission fee and charged that ‘as per rules of the IAF, its officers were not allowed to mix up with civilians over “drinks and cards” as it might lead to security problems.

The opposition members further alleged that the list, submitted to the SDM by the president of the club on June 30, contained the names of the members entitled to cast votes, but the list supplied to them on July 4 was “altogether different”.

Meanwhile, the ruling group has said that it will not allow any ‘expelled member’ to participate in the election on July 10. It has served a notice on one of the senior members to explain his position for allegedly violating the bylaws of the club.


Fish die in Kanjli wetland
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 7
Some fresh water fish perished in the waters of Kanjli last evening due to the alleged discharge of effluents from various factories into the Kali Bein that flows past the wetland.

The stagnant waters of the wetland had gone quite dirty in the past few days as the gates below the bridge had been closed and the influx of waste discharge of effluents from factories falling along the Kali Bein had not been reportedly checked. After the matter was brought to the notice of the authorities, the gates were opened so that the dirty water could move off and fresh water could start coming in.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sameer Kumar, said that he had alerted the Pollution Control Board officers and asked them to inquire into the matter. He said that though the exact number of fish that had died could not be ascertained he was told that the damage was not much.


Takht Jathedar condemns London blasts
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 7
Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today strongly condemned the series of bomb blasts in London.

In a press statement, issued here, Jathedar Vedanti said that Sikhism always stood against the innocent killings and acts of violence. He urged the world to maintain peace and harmony at all costs.


Appeal dismissed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 7
A Bench headed by Mr Justice Amar Dutt has dismissed the appeal filed by one Rajan Seth, who was awarded 10 years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for his involvement in a case under the NDPS Act.

The CBI had nabbed Rajan from a Amritsar hotel on December 24, 1998, and recovered 3 kg heroine from him. Later, his accomplice was also arrested.

On August 5, 2003, an Amritsar court had convicted Rajan and awarded 10 years' RI and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. In his appeal, Rajan had alleged that the case was false and that he was implicated in it.

However, the court did not agree with his contentions and dismissed the appeal.


Principal, 3 others booked in job racket
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 7
The police has busted a fake certificate and job racket and booked four persons, including a private school Principal, in this connection.

Two of the suspects have been arrested.

Sources said the police had conducted a raid and recovered fake certificates and stamps of nearby government schools. They said Principal Sukhdev Singh was running a private school in Sarkari Mehma village for a long time. He was reportedly involved in issuing fake certificates to students and duping them on the pretext of ensuring jobs to them.

The sources said Harbans Singh admitted his son, Nirmal, who had failed in Class X, to his school. The Principal allegedly promised to get him cleared in Class X and also a job.

He then issued him a fake certificate in lieu of Rs 5,000 and demanded Rs 50,000 for getting Nirmal a job. Harbans paid him Rs 20,000 in advance and assured to pay him the rest of the amount later.

Sukhdev then sent Nirmal to Amritsar where he was introduced to Ranjeet Singh. After sometime Ranjeet sent him back, saying he didn’t have the certificate. When Harbans approached Sukhdev and asked him to return his money, he refused to do so.

Harbans then lodged a complaint with the police which recovered about 200 fake certificates from Sukhdev’s school.


Hawala money recovered
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 7
The Jalandhar police has claimed to have busted a hawala racket by arresting three persons and recovering hawala money worth Rs 3.36 lakh from their possession.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said the accused had been identified as Gurmej Singh, Rajesh and Parmjit Kaur, all residents of Nakodar.

The accused were arrested as a police party checked an Esteem car which was standing along the road near Kishangarh village, near Beas, and in which Gurmel Singh, Rajesh and Parmjit Kaur were sitting. The search of the car yielded two polythene packets which contained Rs 3.36 lakh.

During preliminary interrogation, the accused admitted that it was hawala money which was handed over to them by a youngster at the Jalandhar bus stand.


Transport office clerk held for graft
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 7
The Vigilance Bureau arrested a clerk posted in the District Transport Office while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 500 here today.

According to sources, the complainant, Sukhjinder Singh of Bhagi Bandar village, had purchased a mini bus in the name of his brother, Buta Singh, from Surinderpal Bansal. The bus had the route permit from Rama to Lehri. The complainant sought renewal of the route permit for which he required a no-due 

When he went to the District Transport Office, the clerk, Jagtar Singh, demanded a bribe of Rs 1,000 for the job. However, the deal was struck for Rs 500. Sukhjinder then approached the Vigilance Bureau with his 

A Vigilance team under DSP Baldev Singh laid a trap and arrested the clerk red-handed when he was accepting the bribe. The amount paid as bribe was also recovered from his pocket. A case has been registered against the clerk under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Couple killed, 3 hurt in car collision
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 7
While a couple, Arun Kumar and Kiran Bala, were killed and three persons were seriously injured when an Opal Astra (PB-8-T-8208) and an Indica car (HR-3-D-7434) collided with each other near Beerowal village on the Nawanshahr-Chandigarh road, about 15 km from here, last evening.

According to information, Arun Kumar, a resident of Laxmipura, Jalandhar along with his wife, Kiran Bala, son Saurav and daughter-in-law Poonam, was travelling in his Opal Astra car. They were returning from Chandigarh. Their car collided with an Indica car coming from the opposite direction. The Indica car was being driven by Sukhwinder Singh, a son of late Mohan Singh, resident of 237, Advocate Colony, Sector, 49-A, Chandigarh.

In the head-on collision, Kiran Bala died on the spot, while Arun Kumar succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital at Nawanshahr.

Saurav (20), his sister-in-law Poonam (22), who were also travelling in the Opal Astra car and Sukhwinder Singh, who was travelling in the Indica car received injuries.


Wife killed, man hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 7
A woman riding pillion on a motor cycle with her husband was killed and her husband injured as their vehicle was allegedly hit by a bus of a private company near Nurpur village on the Jalandhar — Pathankot national highway this morning.

The couple has been identified as Parmjit Kaur and Baldev Singh, residents of Salempur village.

They were coming to Jalandhar from their village when their vehicle was allegedly hit from the hind side by the bus. Parmjit Kaur fell on the road and died on the spot after being hit by the bus. Baldev Singh was injured in the accident.


25 arrested for running gambling dens
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 7
The police carried out raids at a number of gambling dens and arrested 25 persons for running them in the guise of lottery vends last evening.

Sources said the Kotwali police raided these vends in Lottery Market on Amrik Singh Road, Parasram Nagar, Multania Overbridge and Bibiwala Chowk. A case has been registered against them under Section 420 of the IPC and the Gambling Act.

All the accused were today produced in a local court. Sources said they had been arrested earlier too, but they continued their activities even after that. The police has recovered Rs 36, 555 from their possession. 


5 satta operators caught red-handed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 7
During a campaign launched against the anti-social elements in the district, the CIA staff of the district police led by Inspector Gurmeet Singh Pinky raided various hideouts and business establishments of satta operators in the district today.

According to a press note issued by Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, five satta operators from the different towns of the district were arrested red-handed by the CIA staff. They were indulging in gambling, and unauthorised lottery business when the CIA staff seized the material and money.

They have been identified as Harvinder Singh, a resident of Jassomajra, who was operating satta at the grain market, Amloh, Resham Singh, a resident of Bugga Kalan, operating from the village bus stand, Narinder Kumar, alias Nindi, a resident of Ward No14 Khanna, running satta at Gobindgarh Chowk at Amloh, Bant Singh, also a resident of Khanna, operating satta at octroi post near Amloh and Yusaf Khan, a resident of Bhadal Thua village. The police has registered cases under Section 7(3) and 8 of the Lottery Regulation Act, and 13A/3/67 of the Gambling Act. The SSP said the police has also launched a campaign to nab the eve-teasers, petty criminals, thieves and other anti-social elements. He said night patrolling have been intensified and all SHOs has been directed to keep a close vigil.


Posts of school teacher, other staff to be filled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The Punjab Government will soon fill vacancies of teachers in government schools and also those of the subordinate staff, the School Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, said here today.

Mr Johar said 10,000 posts were vacant in secondary schools. Another 12, 000 posts of primary teacher in the Elementary Directorate and about 3,700 posts of non-teaching staff in the field were also vacant.

He clarified that the vacant posts of principals and head master and those under other categories would be filled in accordance with the recommendations of the departmental promotion committees.


Ad hoc recruitment hits Education Dept
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 7
Employment on the ad hoc basis is miring the state Education Department. Due to the alleged apathetic attitude of the state government, the teachers much lower in seniority are occupying the key posts.

As per the data collected by The Tribune, all 228 posts of the Bloc Primary Education Officer in the state were lying vacant. Similarly, 1,039 out of the 1,298 posts of the principal, 1,307 out of the 1,775 posts of the headmaster were lying vacant. Most of these posts had been given to “out of turn promotees with right connections.”

The trend has led to corruption and lack of control that is hitting the education especially in the elementary section. In Gurdaspur district, even the post of the District Education Officer in the elementary section was till recently being held on ad hoc by a deputy DEO level officer. A permanent DEO was posted in the district only after irregularities were found in spending of the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan funds in the district.

Due to the ad hoc persons appointed at the key posts large number of complaints of corruption have also been received in the appointment of the teachers and block resources person under the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan scheme. Most of the persons against the said posts in the district have been recruited either ignoring merit or the guidelines of the scheme. Though a lot of complaints have been made against the said recruitments, no action has been taken by the concerned authorities as yet.

The spokesperson for the Government Teachers’ Union, Mr Subash Sharma, while talking to The Tribune alleged that 1,223 elementary schools in the state were without any teacher. The buildings of these schools located in the remote rural or border areas were being used by villagers as cow sheds. In addition to that 1,786 elementary schools were being run with a single teacher.

The state of the secondary and senior secondary schools was no different. But for the schools near the urban areas that are over crowded and the schools in the rural areas are without teachers. In Gurdaspur district alone, all 22 posts of BPEO, 862 posts of head teacher and 181 posts of centre head teacher were lying vacant in the secondary section.


70 candidates get jobs at placement camp
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 7
As many as 70 candidates were selected for jobs in various private Industrial units during a placement camp held here today for technically qualified ITI pass candidates and which was organised by Employment Department officials at the Central State library.

In a press note, Mrs Gurinder Kaur, Joint Director (Employment), presiding over the function, said the camp was organised in association with private sector industries, including Nahar Group of Industries, Rana Polycot, Chema Spintex, Euro Costpin and Bhandari Export.

This time the department had made an effort to place the candidates in the private sector as opportunities in the public sector were shrinking.

Mr A.B. Aggarwal, Deputy Director (Employment), said more such camps would be organised shortly. Mr Gurmeet Kaur said 400 hundred candidates were called for the final selection after screening.

Mr N.S. Multani, District Employment Officer, asked students to improve their skills to increase their chances for decent jobs.


Language Dept to organise contest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 7
The State Language Department, Punjab, in order to spot talent among students, will organise a quiz, literature and a poetry competition at the district level.

In a press note issued here today, Mrs Harbajan Kaur, District Languages Officer, said these competitions were an annual affair to promote talent. She urged heads of various education institutions to allow students to participate in these competition.

Mrs Harbhajan Kaur said the literature and poetry competitions will be held from July 25 to 26. The last date for sending entries for these competition was July 20. The last date for sending entries for the quiz contest was July 22.

The contest would be held on August 22 at 10:30 a.m at the Language Department.

She said heads of educational institutions should send all entries to the State Language Department after enclosing details of students and the category in which he or she had applied.


Market Committee Chairman

Ropar, July 7
Swtantar Kaushal has been nominated Chairman of the Market Committee, Ropar, by the Punjab Government.

He along with other nominated members of the Market Committee joined office in the morning at a function held in the market committee office. Mr Kaushal, is considered to be close to the Anandpur Sahib MLA, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, of the Bhattal camp. TNS

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