P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



4 SGPC secretaries on warpath
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 7
The unprecedented move of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to elevate four officials as secretaries on the pretext of streamlining the committee administration seems to have proved counterproductive. Instead of bringing efficiency in the day-to-day working, the move has encouraged wranglings.

The missive, written by Mr Raghbir Singh, one of the four secretaries, to the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, has brought to light internal strife within the SGPC, raising many eyebrows in the Panthic circles. A copy of the letter had also been sent to members of the SGPC Executive, who would meet at Tarn Taran on August 9. A copy had been sent to the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.

Levelling serious charges against Mr Dalmegh Singh, another secretary, Mr Raghbir Singh has said the former had been ‘misguiding’ SGPC presidents with a view to getting ‘undue favour’, including promotions. The communication alleged that certain ‘red entries’ in the ‘personal file’ of Mr Dalmegh Singh could be enough proof of his handling of the administration in the past.

Mr Raghbir Singh alleged that following serious reports, the then SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, had transferred Mr Dalmegh Singh to Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib. He said he was senior to Mr Dalmegh Singh, who remained his subordinate for many years.

However, Mr Dalmegh Singh claimed that his personal file was ‘clean’. He said he had joined the SGPC direct as Gurdwara Inspector on the basis of his postgraduation, while Mr Raghbir Singh joined the institution as a clerk being a matriculate. Mr Dalmegh Singh claimed that there was a clear judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had fixed qualification for a secretary. He said if length of service were to be the criteria for promotion then a gardener would have become seniormost in the SGPC .

While Mr Dalmegh Singh claimed that once Gurcharan Singh Tohra, on the basis of ‘corruption charges’, had sacked Mr Raghbir Singh, the latter said he would immediately resign as SGPC secretary if such charges were proved. He said his entire service record was ‘excellent’ throughout service as he was instrumental in vacating the encroachments on the SGPC land worth crores.

The missive also questioned the re-appointment of Mr Harbeant Singh as secretary, who was earlier sacked on the charges of getting job on the basis of a ‘fake certificate’. Mr Raghbir Singh said if one executive body (presided over by Jathedar Tohra) had sacked Mr Harbeant Singh, besides imposed a heavy fine on him, on what basis the new executive (presided over by Bibi Jagir Kaur) had not only reinstated him but also given him important assignment.

Mr Raghbir Singh has also questioned the promotions given to Mr Harjit Singh, personal assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, and Mr Waryam Singh, another secretary.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that at least four assistant secretaries had also given separate representations to the SGPC chief questioning the ‘undue promotions’ given to their ‘juniors’.


Poisonous pesticides in eatables: Health Dept
collecting samples

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 7
The Government of Punjab has finally woken up to the threat posed by increased concentration of pesticides in eatables. The Health Department has ordered an extensive survey across the state to find out the concentration of pesticides in blood of residents of the state.

The blood and urine samples have been collected by the Department of Health at the district level. From Gurdaspur the district health authorities have collected about 80 samples at random. The samples have been sent to laboratories at Patiala to examine the pesticide content in them.

The Civil Surgeon, Gurdaspur, Dr Niranjan Singh Suman, admitted that blood and urine samples had been collected at random from across the district. The samples were collected on the orders of the Secretary, Health.

The sources informed that the government had decided to carry out the survey after the findings of the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) a Delhi-based Non-Government Organisation were made public. The CSE had claimed that the concentration of pesticides in the samples of residents of the Dher area in Ropar and some areas of Bathinda were abnormally high. The organisation blamed the increased concentration on the extensive use of pesticides.

The pesticide industry had, however, termed the claims of the CSE as exaggerated. However, the recent findings of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) have also highlighted the problem. The reports of the PPCB have indicated the presence of heavy metals in the vegetables that have detrimental effect on health of the consumers.

In Gurdaspur district the excessive use of pesticides has been reported in the Dera Baba Nank belt. In the said belt the farmers have switched over to growing vegetables. The area was famous for growing off season vegetables especially cabbage.

However, the production of off season vegetables was coming at a price. The farmers were using pesticides recommended for rice and cotton on vegetables. In Gurdaspur district the use of Thimat, a pesticide with 45-day residual period that was recommended for paddy was being used on vegetable crop. The use of highly poisonous copper sulphate has also been reported by some farmers who were trying to kill hardened pests.

The Department of Horticulture authorities told that their role was limited to just educating the farmers. “We have no power to stop the farmers from using harmful pesticides. So, in spite of being aware of the fact that harmful pesticide-laced food items were being supplied in the market. We cannot do much to check the practice”.

The solution to the problem was that the government should form an agency to grade the food items as organic or fit for human consumption. If this is done the people will have an option to buy the tested food items. This would also promote organic farming among the agriculturists as they can act a good price for their produce.


SAD to ‘inaugurate’ Rahon-Machhiwara bridge
on Aug 13

Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 7
With work on the Rahon-Machhiwara bridge over the Sutlej already completed, the ruling Congress and the Opposition SAD-BJP alliance are eying to take credit of fulfilling the long-pending demand of the people of the area, in view of the Assembly elections, which are one and half years away.

Though the ruling Congress is yet to finalise the date of its formal inauguration by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the Opposition SAD has decided to “inaugurate” the bridge on August 13 by observing Akhand Path as a token of “shukrana” (thanksgiving) for the completion of the bridge.

The party has started mobilising its rank and file to make it a big event.

In this connection, local MP and Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, Charanjit Singh Atwal, while addressing a meeting of SAD-BJP leaders and workers at Gurdwara Singh Sabha here yesterday, said the work on the bridge had been started during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government and crores of rupees had been sanctioned as funds by the previous government.

He said the foundation stone of the bridge was laid by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and that three-fourths of work on the bridge and widening and strengthening of roads was completed during the SAD-BJP rule. Hence, he claimed, the credit went to the SAD-BJP government for completion of the work.

He said the SAD did not want to create a Gurdaspur-like situation and wanted to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the Congress on the issue of inauguration of the bridge. So, the party had decided to “inaugurate” the bridge on August 13.

Party workers were being mobilised to attend the ceremony and turn the event into a political rally to highlight the development activities of the previous government.

Former MLA Jatinder Singh Kariha, SGPC member Gurbakash Singh Khalsa, district BJP president Ashwani Ballagan, Resham Singh Thiara, Mohinder Singh Bajaj, Harjagdish Mann, Paramjit Singh Mirpur, Jaswinder Singh Anokherwal were among others who addressed the gathering.


Cooperative sugar mills want cane price hiked
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
As the opening of sugar trade with Pakistan has given a hope to cooperative sugar mills in Punjab, the managements of various cooperative sugar mills have urged the Punjab Government to enhance the procurement price of sugarcane to Rs 115 per quintal from Rs 100. It has not been revised in the past five years.

About 1 lakh tonne sugar is expected to be exported to Pakistan from India and the price of sugar in this country is expected to go up to Rs 1,950 per quintal in the coming days. At present, the sale price at mill outlets is Rs 1,850 per quintal.

As the transportation cost of sugar from Punjab’s cooperative sugar mills located in the Wagah border belt will be negligible, such mills can expect to derive maximum benefit from the opening of the sugar trade. Managements of the cooperative sugar mills are of the view that they will be able to earn maximum profit during the coming sugar manufacturing season, if they manage to get adequate raw material (cane) for their mills.

In the last season, Batala, Gurdaspur and Nawanshahr cooperative sugar mills had earned a net profit of Rs 4.33 crore, Rs 4.54 crore and Rs 8 crore, respectively, though these mills had to close the cane crushing operations well before the end of the season owing to non-availability of raw material. “ We would have certainly earned more profit if we had more cane to crush,” say those who run cooperative sugar mills.

The Punjab Government has given permission to 11 cooperative mills to run their sugar manufacturing operations during the coming season, which will start in November. Their are 14 cooperative sugar mills and six private mills. Three cooperative sugarmills are almost on the death-bed.

Sources say that the Nawanshahr cooperative sugar mill had passed a resolution asking the state government to increase the cane price. A similar demand had been by the Batala and Gurdaspur cooperative mills. There is a feeling among the elected boards of various cooperative mills that owners of certain private mills were not allowing the government to enhance the price of cane.

Members of the board say that by paying a higher price to farmers of the cane than fixed by the state government, the owners of private sugar mills manage to get large supplies of cane diverted to their mills. In the last season, private millers paid Rs 140 per quintal to farmers to buy cane but cooperative mills are bound by the government order that authorises them to pay Rs 100 per quintal only.

Members of boards of cooperative mills say that if the government increased the price of cane to Rs 115 per quintal this year, it would give them an opportunity to convince farmers to supply maximum cane to their mills ignoring private mills. “We are sure that farmers will supply cane to cooperative mills if they get Rs 115 per quintal as the price of cane”, says a member of the Batala sugar mill.

“We can earn a huge profit if the government gives us the freedom to take important decisions with regard to the operation of mills and their management. We should be given freedom on the pattern of the PSUs, the managements of which have been allowed to take vital decision at their own level by the Union Government recently,” says Mr Pritam Singh Keonta, Chairman of the Gurdaspur cooperative sugar mill.

Meanwhile, Mr M.S. Gill, Member of the Rajya Sabha and former Chief Election Commissioner of India, who is also known as authority on cooperative movement in the country, says that he was delighted to learn that the Batala cooperative sugar mill had returned to Government’s share capital. Others should do the same. He said that the bureaucratic control over these sugar mills had virtually crippled them and also the cooperative movement in the state.

He said the cooperative movement ushered in Punjab the Green Revolution and the second green revolution would only be possible if the cooperative movement in the state was freed from bureaucratic clutches. He said he was so happy over the decision of the Batala mill that he would soon personally visit the same to congratulate its management. “At least there are people (management of Batala mill), who for the first time have decided to show the mirror to the government authorities concerned and exhibited the confidence to manage their affairs on its own,” he added.


Villager shot in case of mistaken identity
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
In a case of alleged mistaken identity, 40-year-old Jagga Singh, of Uppli village, lost his life on Friday night when Makhan Singh of the same village opened fire from his double barrel gun mistaking him to be a thief. Jagga Singh was seriously injured and reportedly succumbed to his injuries on the way to local Civil Hospital.

Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, SP (D), Sangrur, told The Tribune yesterday that at about 2.30 am when rain started in Uppli village, Mr Karamjit Singh and members of his family, who were sleeping on the roof of their house in Uppli village, came down and found the door of a room of their house bolted from inside. On this, Karamjit Singh made a hue and cry that thieves had entered his house. Mr Grewal further said that a window of a room of Karamjit Singh’s house was found broken. Jagga Singh and Bhura Singh, who were amongst the crowd to catch the thieves and were armed with a lathi and a shovel, stood in front of the window to nab the thieves. Meanwhile, Makhan Singh, a villager, armed with his double barrel gun, went towards the back of the house and saw two persons with a lathi and a shovel, standing near the window. In darkness, Makhan Singh mistaking them to be thieves, opened fire, injuring Jagga Singh. Bhura Singh cried out aloud that saying that they were not thieves but residents of the village.

Mr Grewal said the police had initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr P.C. 


Punjab geared up to revamp jail security
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Wary of increasing number of jailbreaks across the state, the Punjab Prisons Department is all geared up to revamp jail security and put in place some impregnable systems that facilitate safe jail networks.

After a comprehensive study of prison administration in Commonwealth nations like Australia, the one man committee on jail reforms in Punjab has proposed a tight, unassailable three tier security net for prisons in the state. The proposal rests on three premises - provision of a firm periphery which, in turn, is backed by two well-designed impenetrable walls towards the inside of the outer wall.

The urgency of implementation of the proposal is underscored by frequent jailbreaks in Punjab over the recent past. The state has witnessed several jailbreaks — by scaling perimeter walls at Ferozepore jail twice; by removing bricks from barrack wall of the Patiala jail; and most recently by digging a tunnel in Model Jail, Burail.

Lapses in the security system can be plugged by providing a strong jail periphery, which is supported by equally strong networks inside. The proposed measures to build safety networks in Punjab jails include construction of a 6-metre high concrete wall for prison periphery.

Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, Adviser, Prisons Department, Punjab, has in his report submitted to the government, drawn attention towards existing loopholes in the jail administration which is not well equipped to check entry of vehicles into the Administrative Blocks.

“We have to immediately provide for a system that can check movement of vehicles and pedestrians into the administrative block. The arrangement should be such that any security man on duty can command a view of not only the entry and exit point of the administrative block but also the entire length of the path leading to various areas within the prison -from start to finish. Such a system barely exists.”

As for the three-tier system, it will have a 6-metre high periphery wall with another 6-metre high anti-climb fence at a distance of 6-metres on its inside. Another 5-metre high containment fence will stand at approximately 6-metres from the anti climb fence.

Mr Bhatnagar added, “The 6-metre high anti-climb fence should have censors fitted to it so that a touch is enough to set an alarm and alert monitoring team in the control room. The outer concrete wall will have its base dug up to 2-metres underground to make escape by digging a tunnel under it very difficult.”

Another proposal is to ensure that there is only one entry point allowing ingress and egress into and from the prison. This point, the Adviser has recommended, should have separate arrangements for checking entry of vehicles and pedestrians. Thus vehicles will be able to go only on the indicated path which will lead to those places where vehicles have a reason to go.

Said Mr Bhatnagar, “The pedestrian path will also be caged and will be visible all along to the guard stationed at the guard post. If a prisoner deviates from the path, a guard can immediately get into action. Living quarters of the prisoners will be multi storeyed and will have cellular accommodation, where each cell is meant for four prisoners. This will make escape by tunnels almost impossible. Places of visitation also need to be redesigned to make searches easier to minimise smuggling of undesirable objects into prisons.”


Ropar wetlands take battering from silt, pollution
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh: The Ropar wetlands, an important part of the ecosystem of the region, are endangered by siltation and pollution.

Nestled in the foothills of the Shivaliks, the wetlands were formed with the construction of a barrage across the Sutlej in 1952. These are an important habitat for some threatened species like the scaly anteater, the python, the smooth Indian otter, the hog deer, the sambhar and the pangolin.

Dr Satnam Singh Ladhar, Principal Scientific Officer (Environment), Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, says industrialisation around the wetlands is posing a major threat to the water body.

He says the quality of the Sutlej water, which feeds the reservoir, gets degraded due to effluents from industries and municipal waste. At Nangal, the quality is generally class “A” with sufficient dissolved oxygen content. Downstream, it deteriorates from class “B” to “C”.

Effluents are discharged into the Sutlej from the NFL, the PNFC and Punjab Alkalies at Nangal and the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant at Ropar. The emersion of human ashes at Kiratpur Sahib also contributes to the toxicity of water.

The wetlands are surrounded by bare and soft hills. During the monsoon, a large amount of silt chokes the mouth of the wetlands. It is estimated that the silt load during the rainy season is about 100 tonnes per hectare per year.

Certain bird species like the green bee eater, the parrot and the pigeon are responsible for degrading the hills. They generally make burrows that lead to erosion.

Similarly, the invasion of lantana and parthenium has resulted in the decline of native flora. Commonly called ghaneri, lantana has spread its tentacles throughout the 3.5 sq km forest. A hardy flowering shrub, it grows faster in comparison to the indigenous species.

Biologists and environmentalists are worried over the decline of one of the internationally recognised wetlands of Punjab. Seasonal streams and marshes along the wetlands are home to 55 fish species. As many as 318 of the 421 bird species found in Punjab have been recorded in the wetlands.

Prof M.S. Johal of the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, who had recorded 62 fish species in 1969 from Nangal to Ropar, believes that now there are chances that a good number of species that are intolerant to pollution may have disappeared. The reason: the toxicity of water prevents the auto-stocking of species in nature.

He says the water body should be scientifically managed and biodiversity in the degraded areas restored.


Waseem brings Barilevi flavour to Patiala
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 7
A tough travelling schedule made no impact on Prof Waseem Barilevi as he sparkled at the All-India mushiara here last evening. He came from the USA, where he had gone to attend another mushiara, and held the audience spell-bound with his couplets and verses.

Poetry-lovers lapped up his verses and asked for an encore.

“Kab tak meri pyaas ko yunh behlaiga, saaf bta kab ghar-ghar sawan aiyega, tu kya meri man ki pyaas bujhaiga, dariya dekh kar khud sahra ho jaaiga.” Barilevi’s couplets touched cords and truism put in new words as he said: “Jhooth ke aage peeche dariya chalte hain, Sach bola toh pyaasa mara jaaiga.”

The mushiara started at 8 pm and continued past midnight.

Prof Shahryar could not make it due to illness while Sardar Panchi from Ludhiana filled in for the great poet. Panchi started the proceedings with his couplets and the evening gained momentum.

Miraz Faizabadi from Lucknow and Shezada Gulrez from Rampur also sparkled. Gulrez’s couplets were short, succinct and sweet. “Woh baat-baat pe palkein kahan bhigote hain, bade saleke se khuddar log rotein hain.”

Talking of love and wait experienced by lovers, he recited: “Bajaye seene ke ankhon mein dil dharakta hai, yeh inteezar ke lamhain bhi bade aajeeb hotein hain.”

Continuing in the same vein, Faizabadi said:

“Ankh aur khwab mein ek raat ki doori rakhna, ai mussavir meri tasveer adhoori rakhna.”

Sardar Anjum, Malika Naseem, Pritpal Singh Betab, Prem Kumar Nazar, Tazdar Amrohi, Mumtaz Rashied and Nashir Naquvi also recited their compositions.

Malika Naseem, the only woman poet at the mushiara, recited: “Jhulaste sham ki dehleez par jalta diya rakhna, hamari yaad ka khwaabon se apne silsala rakhna, sada ban kar, ghata ban kar, fyza ban kar, saba ban kar, na jane kab main ajayon galicha tum apna khula rakhna.”

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the chief guest, announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the Mehak Cultural Forum, organisers of the mushiara. She also announced the setting up of an Urdu academy in the state by the end of next year. She was honoured by Prof Hans Raj Gupta, a freedom fighter.


People unhappy over police indifference
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 7
The indifference of the police officers concerned towards the first weekly meeting of the peace committee this morning disappointed some eminent residents, who had been enrolled as members of the committee to redress grievances of people.

Sources said such committees had been formed under instructions of Mr Rajinder Singh, IG, as the DGP, Mr Sarabjit Singh Virk, had desired that petty disputes over dowry, recovery of dues from farmers by commission agents etc be solved by public representatives selected from different political parties and social organisations.

Some members of the committee said they had received telephone calls from old city police station saying they should reach the Municipal Town Hall by 9 am today to participate in the committee meeting. DSP Narinderpal Singh had earlier said he would preside over such meetings. However, the members found that municipal employees were busy cleaning the town hall till 9.30 am. Chairs were yet to be placed. No police officer was present there. They had to stand in the shadow of trees. The municipal complex was stinking as sewage water from public urinals was flowing inside.

As some members had moved out the in charge of the old police post arrived to preside over the meeting. Neither the DSP nor the city SHO was available as they had some other important assignment, rest of the members were told.

Some of the members said they would be constrained to abstain from such meetings in future if the officers concerned failed to mend their way.


Rural road network to be strengthened
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 7
In a major initiative, which could go a long way in boosting the much-needed development of rural areas of Punjab, the Punjab Mandi Board is all set to add 1500 km of new roads to the existing 42,000 km rural road network within one year.

Though the proposed initiative which has been okayed by the Punjab Government recently, one of “biggest developmental exercises of the board, political pundits link it to the forthcoming assembly elections polls in the state.

Apart from the proposed addition of 1500 km of new roads, for which, a deadline of June 30, 2006, has been fixed, the board will also undertake repair of all of those roads in rural areas, which are lying neglected. “Actually, it is a need-based programme. We have already got approval from the government and have chalked out our programme accordingly. In Doaba area of Punjab, rural areas of Jalandhar district will get 105 km, Kapurthala 71 km and Hoshiarpur 136 km of new link roads before end of June next year,” said Ms Seema Jain, Secretary of the Punjab Mandi Board, in a chat with The Tribune.

Ms Seema Jain, who was accompanied by Mr. Jagtar Singh Sanghera and Mr Balwant Singh Brar, two senior officers of the board, was here yesterday to review the progress of revenue generation of the board and the ongoing road repair process going on in the Doaba region.

Hoshiarpur: Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works Department, Punjab, said out of 13 Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) roads, work for the construction, strengthening and widening of the 105 km Balachaur-Dasuya road via Hoshiarpur and 58 km Patiala-Sunam-Patra road had been allotted to a private company. The construction of each kilometre of these roads would cost more than Rs 1 crore and it would be started soon after the end of the rainy season.

Mr Bajwa was talking to mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House on Friday. He said the work for the construction of 11 other BOT roads would also be allotted to private parties very shortly.

He said the World Bank would provide Rs 1,100 crore for the construction of three roads —Ludhiana to Malerkotla, Malerkotla to Dhuri and Moga to Baghepur road. It would provide first installment of Rs 450 crore during the current financial year and the remaining amount in two installments during the next year.


Villagers seek proper demarcation of land
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 7
Lack of coordination between revenue officers and the administration of Kapurthala, Amritsar and Gurdaspur has resulted in numerous land disputes in the Mand area where many villages fall on the borders of the three districts.

Since there is no demarcation of land in Sheron Bagha, Raipur Arayian and Bagha villages that lie on the border of the three districts, many residents have encroached upon someone else’s land inadvertently or otherwise resulting in numerous conflicts in the area. The residents say that the pillars which were erected by the officials for marking the areas had long been uprooted due to devastating floods in the past few decades and these had not been replaced.

Since the price of the land has also skyrocketed in the past two decades, the problem has gained serious proportions. The land that many villagers had bought for just Rs 2000 per acre almost 20 years ago is now pegged at almost Rs 5 lakh per acre as the soil has become fertile and area has became less flood-prone.

Villagers have even started cultivating on the land that should have ideally been left as passages as in the revenue record of the area. Many villagers tilling their soil in Sheron Bagha village said there was no way by which they could bring tractor to their land.

“Whenever anyone tries to make his way through some cultivated land, the tractor is compounded by the occupants of the land and not handed back even after several days. Not just that, our relatives who come to meet us have to park their cars in Raipur Arayian village, almost 3 km away from our house as deep trenches are dug into the passages deliberately by some mischievous residents,” said Mr Gurcharan Singh, a farmer of Sheron Bagha village.

Capt Mangal Singh, a resident of the same village, said he owned 21 acres of land, of which almost four and a half acres had been allegedly encroached upon by someone else. Residents of Sheron Bagha village said patwaris and SDMs of the area had taken a round of the village a few days ago and dug up a few temporary pillars in the village but they were not convinced with their effort as such pillars should have been marked taking a reference point from any existing pillar of nearby village.

Mr Sameer Kumar, DC, Kapurthala, said he had asked Mr Shashi Chadha, District Revenue Officer, Kapurthala, and Tehsildars of the three districts to get together on the disputed land on August 10 and demarcate the area. 


Mute protest march by SAD (Amritsar)
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 7
A large number of the SAD(A) activists, led by party’s national General Secretary Dr Harjinder Singh Jakhu and central working committee member Rajinder Singh Fauji, yesterday took out a black-robe mute protest march here to demand release of party president Simranjit Singh Mann arrested under sedition charges.

According to a press note, the activists, wearing black robes with muffled faces and black bands, displaying banners and placards, started their march from the party office in the local Chaddha market on the GT road and converged on the tehsil complex.

A memorandum was presented to Naib-Tehsildar- cum- Duty Magistrate Mulkh Raj for the onward submission to the President of India. Besides demanding release of Mr Mann, the memorandum sought a political solution of the Punjab problem on the lines of the Naga and Kashmir problem.

It demanded that all those police officers, including present DGP S.S. Virk, ADGP Izhar Alam, former DGP K.P.S. Gill, and politicians like SS Ray and Ribeiro should be divested of their posts and assignments as they were responsible for " Sikh carnage and fake encounters" and their presence rubbed salt on Sikh wounds.

It also demanded a ban on the official observance of the death anniversary of slain CM Beant Singh who was responsible for " the indignities heaped upon Sikh women, youth and aged persons; elimination of Sikhs and fake encounters" during his regime.

It accused Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh of criminal failure on all fronts, adding that the government had arrested Mann in cooked up cases for diverting public attention.

Besides, Dr Harjinder Jakhu and Jathedar Rajinder Singh Fauji, other prominent leaders who took part in the march included Mr Gurjant Singh Kattu, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Khalsa, Mr Resham Singh Pappi, Mr Satnam Singh Sandhu and Mr Gurdial Singh Mananwali.


Congress wants to ‘terrorise’ bureaucrats
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 7
Reacting to the statement of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President Shamsher Singh Dullo that bureaucrats be instructed to honour Congress activities, former Punjab BJP president and Foods and Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal has alleged that the Congress wants to terrorise bureaucrats.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Mittal alleged that though the Congress wanted to politicise the bureaucracy of the state, but its designs would not succeed.

Mr Mittal said every citizen should be given due regard in all offices. He said bureaucrats should be answerable to the government and not to the president of a political party.

When asked to comment upon Mr Dullo’s statement that some ruling party politicians and bureaucrats were becoming hurdles in the way of implementing the 85th Amendment to the Constitution, Mr Mittal described it an acceptance of the PPCC president that all was not well with the Congress-led state government.


NCM missive to VHP on status of Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
The Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and MP, Mr Tarlochan Singh, in a letter to Mr Ashok Singhal, working president of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), has urged to give a categorical statement that Sikhism is a separate religion and has a distinct identity.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, in the letter released to ‘The Tribune’ here on Friday pointed out that the Government of India had issued a gazette notification on October 29, 1993, declaring Sikh community as one of the five religious communities in the country. This had formed the basis of the National Human Rights Commission.

The commission had been approached by a delegation of the Punjab Rights Forum an NGO dedicated to the protection of Human Rights of Sikhs. The forum had raised the issue that during VHP conclave held recently at Amritsar some of leaders had made public announcement that Sikhs were part of Hindus. The forum had also reported that the VHP had expressed a desire to place photos of Guru Gobind Singh in temples.

Recalling the meeting held on January 16, 2001 with the representatives of the RSS, the Chairman of NCM said the Sangh had unanimously asserted that it recognised Sikhism as a separate religion with distinct identity. 


Nambardars seek Rs 1,000 as honorarium
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
Resentment prevails among the nambardars in the state as the Amarinder government has “failed” in fulfilling its promise to grant Rs 1,000 per month as honorarium to every nambardar. The Congress made this promise during the last Assembly election.

Stating this here on Friday, Mr Mahinder Singh Jahangir, general secretary of the district unit of Punjab Nambardars Union, said before the Amarinder government, the SAD-BJP government, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had also taken a decision in the Cabinet to grant Rs 500 per month as honorarium to the nambardars, but nothing came out of it.

Mr Jahangir, who was here in connection with a meeting of the district unit of the Punjab Nambardars Union, said the meeting also discussed various pending demands of the nambardars. He said the meeting urged the state government to make arrangements to allot a room to the nambardars at every sub-tehsil, tehsil, subdivisional and district headquarters so that they could sit there and be available to the public easily.

He said the meeting also asked the state government to include the members of the union in the subdivisional and district grievances committees. The meeting also urged the government to ensure the job of nambardar for the son of a deceased nambardar as per Section 15 of the Revenue Act, 1909.

The meeting also decided to submit memorandums to the ministers and MLAs regarding the demands of the nambardars. 


PCCTU condemns govt move
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
Through an order that will adversely affect the normal functioning of more than 150 private-aided colleges in the state, the Punjab Government has asked the principals of all private-aided colleges not to fill posts of teaching and non-teaching staff, lying vacant under the grant-in-aid scheme or to be vacant in future, in their respective colleges.

Terming this order as a ‘conspiracy’, hatched out by the state government, to abolish the grant-in-aid scheme in the private aided colleges in a phased manner, Prof P.K. Sharma, secretary, Punjabi University Area of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), said this move of the state government had compelled the staff of the private aided colleges to think that their future was not safe in the hands of the Amarinder Government.

Prof Sharma also sent a telegram to the Punjab Chief Minister expressing resentment of the PCCTU in this regard. 


Novel way to check female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 7
Concerned over declining female sex ratio and to check illegal sex determination tests by certain diagnostic centres, the Jalandhar district administration has envisaged a novel way to deal with the problem by monitoring the health of pregnant women in rural areas.

The health workers will keep a watch if a pregnant woman has recently undergone termination of the foetus in any of villages. If they suspected any such development, they would question the woman concerned in a bid to identify the diagnostic centre which was involved in termination of the pregnancy. The erring diagnostic centre owner would be subsequently booked under the PNDT Act.

“We have advised the diagnostic centres not to conduct sex determination tests. But, if they failed to follow the advice, they would be dealt with an iron hand,” said Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, who interacted with a group of about 250 doctors and diagnostic centre owners.

Dr Y.C. Markan, Civil Surgeon, said the IMA members have been urged to work within the framework of the PNDT Act and they have been told that any violation of it would be taken seriously.


Girl sustains burn injuries
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
A 19-year-old girl sustained burn injuries reportedly due to gas leakage at a private clinic here today. Her sister also got injured.

According to sources, the victim, Sweety, used to work at the clinic of Dr Amnish Singh. She along with her sister came to open the clinic at about 8 am today. As soon as Sweety switched on the fan, there was a blast and her clothes caught fire.

The clinic’s glass door broke with the impact and its pieces hit her sister who was standing outside. People from nearby shops informed the fire brigade.

Fire tenders rushed to the clinic and extinguished the fire. A seriously injured Sweety was admitted to the Civil Hospital from where she was referred to Ludhiana.

The sources said the blast took place reportedly due to leakage of gas from a small cylinder kept at the clinic. The Kotwali police has been investigating the matter.

Meanwhile, in another incident, the State Bank of Patiala branch located in Kikar Bazar caught fire last night. However, fire tenders reached the bank in time and extinguished the fire. No major loss has been reported.


Rain throws life out of gear
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Heavy rains lashed Moga, Muktsar and Bathinda today inundating low-lying areas of these cities and throwing life out of gear. Though the much-awaited spell of shower also gave people some respite from hot and humid weather prevailing in the region for the last few days.

Sources said the shower would also ease the power scenario, as various districts of Malwa region were reeling under long power cuts for the past few days. The power cuts during night had added to the residents’ woes.

Rain would also give reprieve to the farmers, especially paddy growers, as it would cut their cost of running generators for watering their crop.

However, sources said rain accompanied by strong winds could spell losses for the region’s farmers. Such reports have been received from Faridkot, while Bathinda too witnessed strong breeze in the evening.

In Moga, narrow lanes in different localities were submerged following heavy rains. The worst hit were the residents of the Zira road, as the newly built road leads to inundation in nearby homes. In Bathinda, areas like Paras Ram Nagar, Bathinda-Goniana road, Mall road, and the Teachers Home road, got submerged. 


Bus operators discontinue services

Amritsar, August 7
Unable to find passengers from Malerkotla, falling in Sangrur district, to the Wagah border, almost all bus services, including government and private, have discontinued their services.

Buoyed by the resumption of ties between India and Pakistan, bus operators of PEPSU, Libra and Dukhbhanjani had started services to ferry passengers from Malerkotla to Wagah.

However, the restricted visa facility has spelled doom for their trade aspirations.
— OC


Govt to organise 500 camps for women

Kharar, August 7
The Punjab Government will organise 500 awareness camps, especially for women, where training in connection with rearing of milch cattle on modern lines will be provided.

This was stated by Mr D.S. Bains, Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development. OC


HC directive on pumps on canals
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Irrigation Department to take appropriate action against pumps operating on canals in different parts of the state. A certified copy of the orders passed by high court was officially received here yesterday. Mr Justice D.K. Jain, speaking for the Double Bench comprising Mr Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, observed that the canal authorities had stated in unequivocal terms and some lift pumps were being operated without sanction. If that be so, the canal authorities could not shirk from their responsibility of enforcing the decisions taken under the Northern India Canal and Drainage Act 1873. It was a complete code and contained provisions for taking action against illegal extraction of water from canal or drains. The canal authorities could not be mute spectators to the illegalities, if any, committed by any one, howsoever powerful he may be and the authorities concerned were directed to take action under the Act expeditiously and in any case not later than four weeks.


SC judgement whiff of fresh air: doctor

Ludhiana, August 7
The petitioner doctor in the landmark Supreme Court judgement holding that doctors could not be prosecuted for simple negligence has called upon the medical fraternity to be more careful now while discharging of their duties.

Dr Jacob Mathew, who fought the case for almost 10 years, told The Tribune over the telephone from Cochin that the judgment had vindicated his 10-year-long struggle for justice. He had left CMC Ludhiana three years ago and was now working as a paediatric surgeon at a hospital in Cochin. The incident had taken place at the CMC in 1995, where he was a senior faculty member.

Expressing happiness at the ‘‘very sensible and meaningful’’ judgement, Dr Mathew said the judgement might help several other doctors facing charges of causing death due to negligence. ‘‘But at the same time, doctors too will need to do their work with a sense of duty and not let the fraternity down, ’’ he remarked.

“The Supreme Court has reposed faith in doctors. Now, it is the turn of the doctors to live up the expectations,’’ he said adding that his fight for justice was ‘‘extremely difficult’’ but he never lost faith. After the judgement, he had received hundreds of telephonic calls from doctors all over the country congratulating him over the verdict.

He said the doctors in the country were working under immense pressure especially from the relatives of the patients. It was appropriate for the masses, too, at this juncture to show more faith in the doctors.

He said he was a little fortunate that the trend of media trials had not picked up in the country when the incident took place a decade ago, ‘‘These days the reputation of a doctor is ruined much before the court delivers a verdict for or against him.’’ He said he understood the working of the media also and the limitations but just hoped that everybody does his work responsibly.

Dispelling the common belief in medical circles that Dr Mathew had resigned from the CMC due to the same case, he said there were different reasons altogether.’’ He said he was aware of reports of senior doctors’ exodus from local institutions due to police cases but the judgement in his case had come as “whiff of fresh air for the medical fraternity. — TNS


Farmers’ meeting on citrus plants
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 7
A meeting of progressive farmers of Phagwara subdivision will be held at the BDO office here on August 12 for the promotion of profit-giving citrus family plants, especially lemon and orange, as a part of diversification of the traditional crops to liberate farmers from the unremunerative wheat-paddy cycle. This was decided here yesterday at a meeting presided over by Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Chairman, Punjab Agro and Foods Corporation.

The farmers will be taken to the Pepsi Food Research and Development Centre at Jallowal. A training camp for farmers will be held at Palahi village.

Mr Mann said an American seed of high-yielding citrus variety had already been procured and the corporation would make arrangements for the marketing of the variety.

Mr G.S. Kalona, General Manager, Pepsi Foods, Mr Karam Chand, DM, Punjab Agro, Jaspreet Singh Sati, Chairman, market committee, Phagwara, Mr Harbilas Bagla, BDO, Phagwara, Mr Gurmit Palahi, Principal, Community Polytechnic, Palahi village, were among those who were present.


Admn to give training to Army hopefuls
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 7
The district administration has started identifying youths, interested in joining the Indian Army by organising camps at block-level and onwards. After their identification, in collaboration with the district police an extensive training in physical fitness would be imparted and health facilities be made available, so that they could clear the recruitment test, said Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, while talking to the mediapersons here yesterday.

She said that in recently concluded meeting of all districts heads, the Chief Minister had expressed concern over the falling number of Punjabi youths in Army as compared to other states because of their lack of fitness.

Hence he had directed to make all-out efforts to improve the general health of the youths in their respective areas. She said similarly the CM had directed to make immediate arrangements to fill vacancies in all schools, which were without teachers. She said that directions had been issued to all Block Development and Panchayat Officers to recruit 32 teachers in primary schools through panachyats from their funds, She said that CM had also expressed concern over the deteriorating sex ratio in the state. She said that district administration had started a campaign against the social evils like female foeticide and drug abuse. She said that Civil Surgeon had been directed to make regular checks at ultrasound centers and nursing homes to curb the sex determination tests and to strictly implement the PNDT Act.

Similarly the chemists shops were being raided to nab those, who were indulging in sale of drugs. She said that to sort out the problems of the people at grass-roots level, suvidha centers were being opened at all sub-division levels, so that the people from for flung areas may not have to visit to district headquarters for their works. She said that the facility of affidavit attestation would also be provided at these suvidha centers.

She cautioned the people not to spread the rumours regarding the spreading and deaths due to jaundice, she said that district administration had taken all the remedial measures and was keeping a close watch. 


PR officials told to upgrade skills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Punjab Government has planned a major public relations exercise. The Adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr B.I.S. Chahal, has asked department officials to highlight the development activities and programmes of the government to keep the masses informed and ensure their participation in the process of development.

Mr Chahal asked the officials to upgrade their knowledge and communication skills in consonance with the advancement of science and technology.

Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Information and Public Relations, exhorted the officers to inculcate a scientific temper to discharge their duties efficiently.


Scooterist crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 7
A scooterist was killed and his brother escaped with minor injuries near Mehtan village here this afternoon.

According to police sources, Ludhiana residents Roshan Lal (48) and his brother Surinder Kumar, who was riding pillion, were going to Jalandhar on a scooter (PB-10 BM-5873). As per sources, on seeing the traffic police, Roshan Lal tried to put on the helmet and lost control of the scooter. A Scorpio (PB-09 F 2944), which was coming from behind, hit the scooter killing Roshan Lal on the spot.

Roshan’s body was brought to the local Civil Hospital for postmortem. A case has been registered against the Scorpio driver and the vehicle impounded.


8 persons hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, August 7
Eight persons, including six members of a family, were injured in a clash that took place between two families of Surron village, 8 km from here this evening.

The injured Niranjan Singh, his wife Vidya Kaur, sons Satnam Singh, Balwinder Singh and their wives Manjit Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur, have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura. Two brothers, Ramesh Kumar and Dev Raj of the rival group, have also been admitted to the same hospital.

According to villagers, both families clashed after their members argued over accumulation of starch and solid waste into a common drain running between their houses. The brothers attacked them with batons and sharp-edged weapons, he alleged.

No case has been registered in this regard till the filing of the report.


‘Mela Teeyan Da’ at Abohar college
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 7
Apni mitti pe chalne ka saleeqa seekho, sangemarmar pe chalogo to fisal jaoge”. with this Urdu couplet Mr Vivek Chhabra, a teacher, started “Mela Teeyan Da” at the Bhag Singh Khalsa College for Women here this morning. The students followed it in letter and in spirit when they competed for highly fascinating modelling competition. All were dressed in traditional clothes of Punjab. Ms Supneet Kaur was selected “Teej di Rani” while Ms Charankamal Kaur was crowned as runner-up.

Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Commissioner, Ferozepore Division, said Ms Harbaksh Kaur had set an example Hayer by donating 27-acre land and Rs 1.5 cr so far to develop the college and a hostel for girls. They laid foundation stones of the college library for which Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, had released substantial grant and recreation hall for the students who belonged not only to this but adjoining villages of Haryana and Rajasthan also. The guests complimented Dr Pritam Singh Sidhu, Principal, over making high strides in all fields within a short span.

The students enthralled the audience with folk songs and dances during the four-hour function. 


BCA, PGDCA courses hot favourites among students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 7
Local colleges offering Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) courses are finding it difficult to accommodate the large number of applicants wanting to join this course this year.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that contrary to the last year’s slump in the number of students seeking admission to BCA course, this year the demand for the same had increased so much that there was not a single vacant seat in the colleges offering this course despite the hefty fee structure of the course.

Not only this, the two leading colleges of the town — SSDWIT and DAV — have even increased the number of seats by 30 for the Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications (PGDCA) course. Now there are 60 and 90 seats for PGDCA course in SSDWIT and DAV College; respectively.

Even after the increase in the number of seats all seats have been filled leaving a number of candidates still hoping to get admission to the PGDCA course in both the colleges. The situation is very much the same in the BCA course. Interestingly, Last year, only 20 and 23 students had taken admission in the BCA course in SSDWIT and DAV College, respectively.

Ms S. Diwan, Principal, SSDWIT, said the demand for BCA course had increased as computer education had been introduced in government schools and the minimum qualification required for teachers in those schools had been prescribed as BCA without B.Ed. While Ms Vandana Jindal, head of computer science Department, DAV College, said along with the factor of more government jobs available for BCA graduates, another major factor had been the preference being given by BPO industry to the computer graduates for technical support jobs.


Tea traders for duty-free export
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 7
The Amritsar Tea Traders Association, while welcoming the opening of land trade route for exporting the five essential commodities — tomatoes, garlic, onion, potato and livestock — through the international Wagah check post, today urged the Government of India to request Pakistan to allow the duty-free export of tea from the Wagah border.

Mr Rajinder Kumar Goel, president of the association, said the opening of land route for tea would give boost to the trade link between India and Pakistan.

He said the association was likely to participate in the Made in India show to be held in Lahore from September 6.

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