P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Kiranjit case: cancellation of life term sought
Tribune News Service

Mehal Kalan (Sangrur), August 12
This year, the main focus of the “shardhanjali samaroh”, organised in memory of Kiranjit Kaur, a plus two student of this village who was abducted, gangraped and murdered eight years ago, today virtually shifted to stressing on the demand regarding the unconditional release of three members of the “Kiranjit Katal Kand Virodhi Action Committee” — namely Master Prem Kumar, Mr Narayan Dutt and Mr Manjit Singh Dhaner — from the jail and get the life imprisonment awarded to them cancelled.

The eighth death anniversary function of Kiranjit Kaur was today organised in the Grain Market of this village, about 20 km from Barnala. The function was attended by thousands of men and women from different parts of the state.

Kiranjit Kaur, a daughter of physically challenged teacher Darshan Singh of this village, was abducted from the village on July 29, 1997, when she was returning from her college. Her body was dug out from a field in the village after some days. In the Kiranjit abduction, rape and murder case, the Barnala Sessions Court had awarded life imprisonment to the convicts.

Later, in a case of murder of Dalip Singh, a member of the family of the convict in the Kiranjit case, the Barnala Sessions Judge on March 30, 2005, awarded life imprisonment to three members (Prem Kumar, Narayan Dutt and Manjit Singh Dhaner) of the action committee and some others. Dalip Singh was attacked on March 3, 2001 in the Barnala Courts complex by some persons but he died after some days in a Ludhiana hospital. The three members of the Kiranjit Katal Kand Virodhi Action Committee were awarded life imprisonment on the basis of witnesses.

Paying tributes to Kiranjit Kaur, Mr Kanwaljit Khanna, convener of the Sangharsh Committee, formed to get the life imprisonment awarded to three members of the action committee cancelled, announced a four-point action plan. According to the plan the Sangharsh Committee and Kiranjit Katal Kand Virodhi Action Committee would submit a memorandum, signed by one lakh people, to the Punjab Governor and Chief Minister in the second fortnight of this month for the cancellation of life imprisonment sentence of action committee members. He also asked the gathering to observe August 15 as “black day by putting up black flags on their rooftops. The committee would also submit memorandums to MLAs, MPs and ministers from September 15 to 30 to impress upon the Governor to cancel the sentence. The committee would also organise dharnas at all district headquarters from October 1 to November 15, in this regard. The first such dharna would be organised at Sangrur on October 7, he announced.

Mr Bhagwant Singh, convener of the Kiranjit Katal Kand Virodhi Action Committee, declared that they would not sit silent till the three “innocent” members of the action committee came out of the jail. He asked the Punjab Chief Minister to initiate steps to get life imprisonment of three members of the action committee cancelled, otherwise the people would be compelled to force the government in this regard by organising a big mass struggle.

Among the others who paid tributes to Kiranjit and demanded immediate cancellation of the life imprisonment sentence of action committee members were Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan); Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, state president of BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur); Mr Bhupinder Sambar, a state-level leader of the CPI; Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, convener of Joint Platform of Mass Organisations; and Mr Maghar Singh Kulrian, president of the Kisan Vikas Front, Punjab.


SAD leaders meet Kalam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal, led by its president Parkash Singh Badal, today met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam seeking his direction to the government to register criminal cases against Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, MPs, for their alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases.

“We request you to direct the Union Government to order the registration of criminal cases for murder, rape, looting, arson and other forms of mayhem against Tytler and Sajjan Kumar and all those whose names figure in the Nanavati Commission report,” the memorandum submitted to the President said.

Seeking the intervention of Kalam in the issue, the SAD said: “We have no faith in the willingness and ability of the present Congress-led UPA government to pursue cases against the guilty leaders and workers of their party with any seriousness.”

The delegation, which comprising SAD MPs and MLAs from Punjab, including Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Sukhbir Singh Badal, and Manjit Singh Manna, demanded the trail of arrested persons in special courts to ensure that “justice, which had already been inordinately delayed, is delivered at the earliest”.

Badal impress upon the President saying “this is the minimum that could be done to restore the faith of our people in the fairness of the system”. The party said the resignation of Tytler and Sajjan Kumar from their respective posts was merely an attempt to deflect public attention from the gravity of charges against them.

They were allowed to “resign honourably without so much as a censure from the ruling party. They continue to hold high posts in the Congress hierarchy”, it said.

“They and many others named as guilty in the Nanavati report are still roaming freely and still have not been booked under the relevant clauses of law,” it said.

Interestingly, SAD member and president, All-India Riot Victim Relief Committee, Kuldip Singh Bhogal had a separate meeting with Kalam, where he recounted the events that unfolded after Indira Gandhi’s assassination and requested his intervention for immediate justice to the survivors of the carnage.

He was reprimanded by Parkash Singh Badal in front of the media for arranging such a meeting.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Minorities today held a discussion on the Nanavati Commission report, where NCM Chairman Tarlochan Singh observed that the basic reason for which the Nanavati Commission was set up “remains unanswered” as hardly “anybody has been punished”.

He said the commission had not inquired into the riots that took place out of Delhi even though it was within the terms of reference of the Nanavati panel.

Tarlochan Singh said the panel had hardly made “any mention about the persons who had delivered provocative and inflammatory speeches inciting members of the public to attack the Sikh community during the riots”.


Dullo praises PM for apology
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Five days after the Nanavati Commission report created a furore across the country, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, chief Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, chose to react today by saying that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, showed grace when he apologised to the nation for the anti-Sikh riots.

He also lauded the efforts of Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Ms Sonia Gandhi, in assuaging the feelings of the Sikh community and the stand of the party. Both Mrs Gandhi and the Prime Minister had taken a very wise step, said Mr Dullo.

Mr Dullo said during the meeting with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at Patiala on August 10, senior leaders of the party had conveyed to the Congress high command that Mr Jagdish Tytler and Mr Sajjan Kumar must resign to assuage the feelings of the Sikh Community.

During the meeting at Patiala it was a general feeling that the ground realities must be seen. The same was conveyed to the high command.

On his silence and side-stepping of the issue at a meet the press programme at Chandigarh, two days ago, he said the party was in the process of crystallisation of its opinion thus nothing could have been said then.


PM’s apology to have positive impact on poll: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Even as the Punjab Council of Ministers today formally appreciated the resolve of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on the Nanavati Commission report, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh has claimed that the action of the Prime Minister, will have a positive impact during the Assembly elections in the state which are 17 months away.

The Akalis were needlessly making noises and this would not have any impact on the poll, said the Chief Minister while replying to a question from a mediaperson asking what was the Congress doing to counter the impact being made by the Akalis, who were holding dharnas and protest rallies across the state.

The Chief Minister, who had maintained silence since the Nanavati Commission report was tabled, said: “We had conveyed our sentiments to the Prime Minister.”

He appreciated the apology tendered by the Prime Minister, saying that he had showed his humility. Capt Amarinder Singh said once we had move ahead of these troubled times. It was due to the policy of fanning terrorism by the Akali’s that the state witnessed the mayhem of terrorism. More than 30,000 persons lost their lives.

He said action in this regard had already been initiated with the acceptance of resignation of Mr Jagdish Tytler, Union Minister for NRIs and Mr Sajjan Kumar, Chairperson, Rural Development Board, Delhi. The Council of Ministers also urged upon the Government of India to ensure complete rehabilitation of all those affected by the riots.


‘Probe role of SGPC, SAD during militancy’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
The Durgiana Committee today shot a letter to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, demanding setting up of a commission to investigate the role played by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) during the days of militancy in Punjab.

Addressing media persons, Mr Surinder Arjun, President, Durgiana Committee, said the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had taken a bold decision in apologising to the Sikh masses for the 1984 riots and the action taken on the Nanavati Commission report. He said immediate relief should be given to the relatives of those killed in the communal frenzy.

Mr Arjun said that thousands of Hindus were either killed or dislocated from their homes during militancy and no political party had ever demanded any relief for the aggrieved Hindu families. He said there could not be two parameters for the same cause. He demanded that the President should order some relief for the dislocated families or to the relatives of those killed during militancy.

He said from 1978 to 1992 Hindus were killed in Punjab in a systematic way resulting in their exodus, especially from the rural areas of the state. He said the Hindus were forced to flee their native places for the second time in the state after the division of the country.

He lambasted the Bharatiya Janata Party for not demanding any relief for the Hindus who had suffered due to militancy.


Projects proposed as MC gets Rs 7 cr from auction
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 12
High drama was witnessed at the meeting of the Municipal Corporation presided over by Mayor Sunil Date here today.

Soon after adjourning the House, the Commissioner MC, Mr K.S. Kang, urged the press to await the briefing of the proceedings at the Mayor’s office. The Opposition, including the BJP, Akali Dal and Independent councilors, staged a walkout led by their leader Shwait Mallik on this, along with the press. Minutes later, the Commissioner pacified the agitated persons and apologised in the House for it.

Meanwhile, a mammoth agenda of nearly 350 pages was presented with a number of additional supplementaries and the meeting continued till the filing of this report.

The Opposition was against the use of courier service in the delivery of house tax bills and incurring such a large expenditure. The House was cautioned to utilise the record amount of Rs 78 crore fetched from auction of land recently whose first instalment of Rs 7 crore had been received for providing basic amenities of roads, sewerage improvement, water supply, traffic and parking management.

A sum of Rs 16.18 crore was proposed for traffic management with the construction of three multi-storey parking complexes at the fish market, Kairon market and telephone exchange.

The proposal for the construction of elevated roads on some strategic routes in anticipation of greater need due to opening of international trade, were proposed.

The proposal for cleaning of the Mayor’s office on an annual contract of Rs 50,000 by a private contractor came for severe criticism. Dr Raj Kumar, Parliamentary Secretary, expressed alarm over the falling water level and sewerage disposal.

The civic body proposed to spend Rs 17.95 crore on the construction and repair of roads.

A documentary on the working of the MC that would be telecast on a local channel, was also proposed. Night sweeping with an expense of Rs 51 lakh annually, besides the installation of a statue of Indira Gandhi at a prominent crossing, in addition to an overbridge to connect two parts of DAV College divided by road were proposed.

A booklet on expense and liabilities from 1994 to 2005 was released.


Vigilance raids on MC, Trust offices
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 12
A team of internal vigilance of the local government department yesterday conducted a surprise check at the offices of the Pathankot Municipal Council and the Improvement Trust.

Sources said the team raided on the complaint of the local MLA and Chairman of the PTDC, Mr Ashok Sharma. Mr Sharma had alleged in his compliant that the Municipal Council authorities of Pathankot had changed the place of work mentioned in the tenders in gross violation of the rules.

He had alleged that at many places the work allotted in wards of some of the councillors was shifted elsewhere just because they did not enjoy good terms with the council president.

The tiff between the local MLA and the president of the council, Mr Sarwan Kumar, has been going on for quite sometime now. In the recent the past, the MLA had accused the president of ignoring the Congress councillors of his group. He had also accused him of facilitating a meeting between Mr Raghunath Sahay Puri, Minister for Urban Development and Housing, and the former BJP minister from Pathankot, Mr Mohan Lal.

Due to tiff, the council officials had stopped calling the MLA to their functions. The fight between the leaders has suffocated the officers of the council. While speaking on the condition of anonymity, they alleged that nobody was willing to carry out the development works fearing complaint and unnecessary harassment.

The team of vigilance officials, led by the Chief Vigilance Officer, also checked the attendance of the Municipal Council and the Improvement Trust employees.


Reports about Bheora’s arrest misleading: CBI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Almost one-and-a-half months after the reported arrest of Paramjit Singh Bheora, an accomplice of Babbar Khalsa International chief Jagtar Singh Hawara, the main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case and the Burail jailbreak case,the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) has rubbished the reports as “incorrect and misleading.”

In an application in the court of Mr M.M. Sharma, Additional Sessions Judge, the CBI said the averment made in the application that accused Bheora had been arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police was “wrong, incorrect and misleading.” The application had been filed without verifying facts with regard to the arrest of the accused, the application claimed.

Earlier, acting on media reports, counsels for Bheora — Mr Amar Singh Chahal and Mr Arvind Thakur — had moved an application before the court seeking his production here.Bheora was reportedly arrested by the Jammu police on the night of July 1. However, there was no official confirmation of his arrest.

“The matter with regard to the arrest of Bheora as alleged in the application was got enquired into through our CBI Jammu branch and a communication has been received that he was not arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police as alleged in the application,” the CBI, which is probing the Beant Singh assassination case, added.

It may be recalled that Bheora, along with Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Devi Singh, tunnelled their way out of the high-security Burail Jail here on January 21, 2004.

After the reported arrest of the militant, teams from the Punjab and the Chandigarh police were dispatched to Jammu to ascertain the identity of the arrested person.

Meanwhile, Mr Chahal and Mr Thakur alleged that the investigating agencies were “misleading” people about the arrest the of the militant. Interestingly, the information about the arrest was leaked to a section of the Press when Hawara was under police custody and it was obviously an attempt to put pressure on him, they added.


Punjab to recruit doctors, policemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Punjab Government has formally opened up recruitments in the state. In the first instance, the Council of Ministers, which met here today, gave its nod to the recruitment of doctors and policemen.

The council gave its nod to the filling of 1,374 posts of doctor and 2,631 of paramedical staff in the Department of Health and Family Welfare. For recruiting policemen, an India Reserve Battalion will be raised to provide security to banks in the state. This will cost Rs 13 crore. Fifty per cent of the cost will be met by funds provided by the Government of India as grant-in-aid and the rest through an interest-free loan.

The council also approved the constitution of a district planning committee in every district to consolidate the plans prepared by the panchayats and the municipalities and to draw up the draft district plan. The number of members of the district planning committee will be 15, 24 and 40 on the basis of the population of the district. The districts with a population of less than 10 lakh will have 15 members. The districts with a population of 10 lakh or more but not exceeding 20 lakh will have 24 members and those having a population of 20 lakh or more will have 40 members. The members will be from among the elected members of the panchayats and the municipalities in the district.

The government will nominate and appoint some members, which may include MLAs and other public persons. Also, the council approved the enhancement of the rate of War Jagir from Rs 1,200 per annum to Rs 1,870 per annum with effect from October 1, 2004. The parents of those persons who had served or were serving in the armed forces during the National Emergency declared by the President of India between October 20, 1962, and December 3, 1971, will be eligible along with those covered under the East Punjab War Awards Act, 1948.

The council also gave its approval to the grant of exemption to all sports meets organised by state or national level sports federations from the liability of payment of entertainment duty levied under the Punjab Entertainment Duty Act, 1955.

The extension of the notification had expired in 1995. The exemption will be until 2010. This will largely benefit the Punjab Cricket Association.


When police ran out of fuel!
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
Imagine a scenario when the police, on whose shoulders rests the onus of maintaining law and order, runs out of fuel. The local police passed through such a phase during the first few days of this month.

According to sources, the petrol pump located at police lines, which caters to fuel requirements of the district’s police force, ran out of fuel about 10-12 days back. Sources said though the pump had 2,000 litres of fuel, it was kept reserved for higher officials. Sources said there were 15 police stations and four approved police posts in the district. As per sources, the district police has three Ambassador cars, 27 gypsies, two buses, one prison van, 28 mini buses and canters, 35 motor cycles, one tractor, one jeep, one hydraulic mobile crane, and one water canon. Sources said though the fuel shortage had little effect on the police top brass, police officials posted at various police stations and police posts bore its brunt. Sources said the police officials at lower level, who had to travel the most in the field to check criminal activities, had to manage fuel on their own during these days. Sources said the police reportedly purchased a total of about 200 litres of fuel from private petrol pumps for their daily requirements. Sources said even if the police petrol station had fuel, various police stations get limited quantity of fuel, on the basis of the area falling under their jurisdiction. Sources said police stations of the district get petrol worth about Rs 1,500-Rs 3,000 per month, which comes out to be fuel as low as worth Rs 50 per day for some police stations. Sources said the police stations located far from the district headquarters opt for purchasing fuel from private pumps as per their quotas and pay them on receiving the disbursement from the department, as they would have to burn a lot of fuel to get their tanks filled from Bathinda.

Sources said private pumps also deny them fuel in case of delay in payment of their dues. Unconfirmed reports said a couple of tankers, one each of diesel and petrol, had arrived at the police lines last evening. However, the exact reason behind the delay in fuel’s arrival could not be ascertained. When contacted, the SP (H), Mr Vijay Kumar Verma, ruled out any shortage of fuel at the pump.

The DSP (H), Mr HS Randhawa, also denied any knowledge about the fuel crunch at their petrol pump.


Nexus between market staff, arhtiyas alleged
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 12
Nexus between market committee staff and arhtiyas has come to light. They are duping the government of revenue on account of evasion of market fee.

Tenders were called by the local market committee from contractors for collection of market fee and the bid fetched Rs 1,13,05,000

According to a report, several truckloads of vegetables and fruits are being brought daily by arhtiyas and sold without making entries in their registers or showing low purchase price, thereby evading the market fee and the income tax as well. Some officials of the committee are said to be in league with the arhtiyas.

Scuffle between contractors’ men and ahrtiyas is a routine matter. It is alleged that arhtiyas do not cooperate with contractors’ men.

It is alleged that such arhtiyas never present their account books and officials feel helpless to probe the public complaints against them.

A scandal concerning the non-recovery of the market fee from several wholesale traders of Phagwara vegetable and fruit market has come to light.

It is reported that the fee amounting to thousands rupees is outstanding against some arhtiyas who had allegedly connived with certain officials of the committee.

A complaint in this regard was brought to notice of Mandi Board secretary Seema Jain by the contractors, who deputed District Mandi Officer to look into their complaint. The concerned DMO , while taking action, shifted the whole supervisory staff of the market committee.

In a recent incident of evasion of market fee, a clash took place today in which a contractors’ man Mohan Singh was mercilessly beaten up by some arhtiyas who was admitted to the local civil hospital.

When contacted, Market Committee secretary Vinod Mahajan said: “We have given contract for collecting market fee and have nothing to do with this case of clash. We are fully cooperating with the contractors.”


PSEB plans to recruit staff for BBMB projects
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 12
The PSEB has decided to recruit personnel. In a proposal sent to the government, the PSEB has proposed that the personnel recruited for various projects should be forced to sign a bond that they would work for at least five years at these projects.

Mr Raman Bhalla member administration, PSEB, gave this information while talking to The Tribune. He revealed that the board was finding it hard to post personnel at its projects like Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Shanan, in Joginder Nagar area of Himachal, Ranjit Sagar Dam and Mukerian hydel project.

More than 1000 posts of the PSEB quota were lying vacant in BBMB. The government has posted officers in the organisation several times. However, employees posted there refuse to join. They either go on leave or manage to get their posting canceled. The organization was also finding it hard to find personnel for posting at remote places at Joginder Nagar and the UBDC power projects.

Under the proposal the Punjab government has been urged to allow PSEB to carry out recruitment especially for these projects.

Mr Bhalla also told that the PSEB proposed to recruit 500 personnel for its depleting technical cadres. These include 250 sub-station attendants (SSAs) and 250 graduate engineers. The PSEB has brought up 126 new sub-stations in the past two years. These sub-stations have helped improve the power supply in rural areas and provide 24-hour power supply to villages.

However, with the increase in number of sub-stations the need for SSAs for carrying out the operations in these sub-stations has also gone up. The board was feeling an urgent need to recruit personnel for these sub-stations.

The PSEB engineers association had also stressed on the need for urgent recruitments to make up for the depleting cadres.

Meanwhile, graduate civil engineers of PSEB who are working against the posts of junior engineers are also demanding promotions. They have alleged that there are about 20 graduate civil engineers working against the posts of junior engineers in PSEB. All the posts of assist engineers are occupied by diploma holders.

The graduate engineers have represented their case to the board many times for promotions. However, no action has been taken.


Anti-large dam lobby active in country: BBMB chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
A lobby that is anti-large-dams is active in the country, said the Chairman of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Mr Rakesh Nath, while countering claims of a non-government organisation, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra (MAK), here today.

The MAK in a recent document, “Unravelling Bhakra - Assessing the Temple of Resurgent India” had criticised the dam and said the benefits were much less than projected. Debunking this report, Mr Rakesh Nath said at a press conference that it was an assimilation of the biased views of its authors and not a rational analysis.

He said a separate report commissioned by Nippen Corporation of Japan and prepared by the Third World Commission on water would soon be out and the facts would be made clear. The report was expected next month, he added. Highlighting the benefits of the dam, he said India used to import wheat under the PL-480 programme during the sixties. Now India was not only sufficient in foodgrains but also occupied a very high position among the countries exporting it.

“Of late, some self-styled advocates of the anti-dam lobby have unleashed a sustained media campaign against the Bhakra Dam,” the Chairman said. Without Bhakra, India could not have utilised the waters of the eastern rivers. The dam could not be seen in isolation as a project on the Sutlej alone but as a major part of the integrated master plan of three rivers.

To start with there were two defined objectives of the dam - irrigation and power generation - which had been fulfilled. Punjab and Haryana together had become the largest contributors of foodgrains to the Central pool. Famines had become a thing of the past. On an average, the Bhakra- Beas projects provided 28 million acre feet of irrigation water for 12.5 million acres.

There had been a number of indirect and incidental benefits such as drinking water, flood control and land reclamation along rivers, prosperity of the agricultural community, industrial development, employment generation, rehabilitation of refugees, tourism and fishery. A recent example was the flooding caused by the Parechu lake in Tibet. All water was absorbed in the Bhakra while large parts of Punjab were saved. All these incidental benefits and the power generation figures were ignored. 


Dam workers protest allowance withdrawal
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 12
Workers of the Ranjit Sagar project today organised a rally outside the office of the Chief Engineer to protest against the withdrawal of their allowances. The decision to withdraw the allowances of Ranjit Sagar dam employees was taken by the Punjab Government at the Cabinet meeting.

The Cabinet decided to stop the field, project and terminal allowances of Ranjit Sagar dam employees. These allowances have been replaced by rural area allowance that is proposed to be 6 per cent of the basic pay.

With the implementation of the decision, each employee would lose amounts ranging from Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per month. In the protest held here today, the employees alleged that while the allowances were continuing for workers at other projects like the BBMB and thermal plants, the workers of Ranjit Sagar Dam had been singled out by Punjab Government for withdrawal of allowances.

The issue of allowances to be paid to the Ranjit Sagar Dam employees was taken by the Department of Finance a few months ago. The then Additional Secretary Finance, Mr Krishan Kumar, stopped the allowances. He had said the decision to stop the project and field allowances of the Ranjit Sagar Dam employees was taken by a sub-committee empowered for the purpose just after the completion of project work.

However, the decision was not implemented and employees continued to withdraw the allowances even 10 years after the completion of the project. He had said the Punjab Government was losing about Rs 1 crore per month by paying the extra allowances to the employees.

The employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam carried out an agitation against the decision to withdraw their allowance. The Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Raghunath Sahay Puri, who represents the area pleaded the case of the workers. The allowances of the workers were restored till the decision on the matter was taken by the Cabinet.

Now that the Cabinet has approved the withdrawal of allowances of the employees, the workers have once again started their agitation. They are demanding that economic loss to the workers due to stoppage of allowances should be compensated in some form by the government, pending which they would launch an agitation.

More than 10,000 employees posted at the Ranjit Sagar dam are a big pressure group in the area and issue is likely to generate heat in the coming days. In the today’s rally, the workers also resolved to oppose the government move to hand over the construction work of the Shahpur Kandi project to the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC).


First ‘revision’ knee-joint surgery in region
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
Patients having worn out knee replacements or facing pain and discomfort after some years of knee joint replacement surgery can now avail of facilities of ‘revision’ or ‘re-surgery’ to get back on their toes once again. The first ever ‘revision’ knee joint replacement surgery was successfully conducted in the region at a local hospital here.

Dr Manuj Wadhwa, who had specifically trained for this complicated surgery in the UK, Australia, Singapore, Germany, France and Belgium, operated upon 61-year old Ranjit Kaur for revision surgery. The patient had undergone a knee-replacement surgery six years ago, which had worn out, making her leg, swing like a pendulum. It could not bear any weight, greatly affecting her normal life.

Dr Wadhwa talking to The Tribune said this type of surgery was more complex and he had to insert a special intra-support system like a stem along with the artificial knee for support as opposed to normal knee replacement.

The revision or re-surgery was needed in cases when the artificial joint in the first knee replacement wore out, loosened or dislocated.


8-kg tumour removed
Our Correspondent

Nabha, August 12
Two patients have got a new lease of life as a team of doctors led by surgeon Dr Sham Singh and Dr I.D. Goel of Civil Hospital performed rare surgeries here.

Mrs Jasbir Kaur, a five-month pregnant woman of Simbron village, was operated upon for ovarian tumour. Her tumour weighing 8 kg was removed successfully without causing any damage to the foetus.

Jasbir (21), whose tumour grew in size in just two months, first mistook it for the foetus. The other patient, Ms Harpreet Kaur of Haripur village was operated upon for hydrated cyst which was occupying half of the liver.


Saving TB patients
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover gets worked up while talking about his passion i.e. saving lives, particularly from tuberculosis (TB). He feels strongly about creating awareness about this communicable disease. Prevention is better than cure but that requires awareness and knowledge, he says.

In India more people die of TB than of any other malady. Worse it is easily transmitted from one person to another through sputum. Moreover, HIV-infected persons have more than double chances of contacting TB and dying from the complications.

Majority of the TB cases are in rural India, where awareness and education levels are lower.

During a study that he conducted in government-run schools in and around Patiala, he was amazed to find that most of the children had no clue about the dreaded disease. This study of diagnosis and treatment of TB has led the Department of Health and Human Services in Georgia, USA, to invite Dr Grover to their annual workshop. The TB Education and Training Network, Atlanta, has asked him to present his paper at the fifth annual meeting and workshop being held from August 17-19.

Dr Grover is currently doing research on TB for a postgraduation degree at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Government Medical College, Patiala.

He graduated from Government Medical College, Amritsar. He has worked on a number of TB projects, starting as medical officer, TB Control, under the Revised National TB Control Programme. He then worked as Medical Officer at the district TB centre in Amritsar. After that he joined the Government Medical College here.

Fighting TB is a family affair for Dr Grover. His wife Jaspreet Kaur is an equal partner in his research projects and is also Medical Officer, Government Rajindera Hospital, here.


Green Revolution hit biodiversity, says report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Punjab’s biodiversity was hit hard by the Green Revolution. This significant revelation has been made in a report prepared by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology on the State of the Environment-2005. The contents of the report were shared with mediapersons by the council today . Most domestic varieties of various crops have either disappeared or are in disuse.

The Principal Secretary of the council, Mrs Romila Dubey, said the report prepared by her department had been appreciated at the national level and other states had been asked to follow its pattern.

As many as 41 varieties of wheat, 37 of rice, four of maize, three of bajra, 16 of sugarcane, 19 of pulses and 10 of cotton were in use prior to the Green Revolution in the state. However, in the post-Green Revolution period, the number of varieties decreased. Of the 38 varieties of wheat released during the post-Green Revolution period by PAU, Ludhiana, only three are widely used. Of the 17 varieties of rice released by PAU, only three are in use at present.

In the case of animals, the number of buffaloes increased in the post-Green Revolution period. However, the number of other animals such as cows, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs and camels has decreased. Certain breeds of milch animals are now on the list of endangered species list.

The quality of ground water is deteriorating in the state due to industrial and agricultural activities, especially in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Sangrur districts. Heavy metals have been reported in ground water in Ludhiana.

A high incidence of cancer has been reported from certain villages in Bathinda district. The cause appears to be the excessive use of pesticides in that area. In Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts, residents of the selenium-affected areas are experiencing the loss of hair, swelling in joints and some other health problems. To tackle these problems, the state government has initiated certain programmes. Industries, vehicles, the unplanned development of urban areas and agricultural activities are some of the major factors responsible for air pollution, says the report. During the past 35 years, large and medium-scale industry has increased six times and small-scale industry 25 times.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board has identified 15,547 polluting industries. The number of vehicles in Punjab is now about 40 lakh whereas it was only 3.6 lakh in 1980-81. 


Ban on plastic bags not total
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
There will not be a total ban on the use of plastic carry bags in Punjab. This was made clear today by Mrs Romila Dubey, Principal Secretary, Science and Technology. Obviously, it is good news for the plastic industry which has an investment of Rs 500 crore in the state.

Talking to The Tribune in this connection here, Mrs Dubey said the use of plastic bags made of virgin plastic film of 30 microns or more would be allowed. However, bags made from recycled plastic material would not be allowed to be used in any form. She said that colourful bags manufactured by using secondary material were considered harmful to the environment.

A few weeks ago, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had told mediapersons that there would be a total ban on the use of plastic bags in the state.

Mrs Dubey said the specifications for the polythene bag manufacturing industry have been approved by the Council of Ministers. An ordinance, the draft of which has also been cleared by the council, will be issued soon in this connection.

The industry would be given six months to make the necessary changes in technology to manufacture bags in accordance with the new specifications. There was provision in the ordinance for taking legal action against those who violated the specifications. 


Pensioners seek restoration of DA
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 12
A delegation of the Punjab Government Pensioners' Welfare Association led by its president Balwant Singh Sodhi today called on Deputy Commissioner Jaspreet Talwar and apprised her with their problems.

According to Mr Dharm Chand Markan, secretary of the association, the delegation submitted a memorandum to the DC demanding restoration of DA on family pension. The delegation also urged the government for an increase in the medical allowance to the 
pensioners due to high medical bills in the old age.

The association demanded that the minimum pension should be increased from Rs 1,310 to Rs 1,965 on the pattern of the Central and the Haryana Government. The pensioners also urged to register a 5 per cent hike in the pension after every five years.

The other demands included implementation of all benefits mentioned in the government manifesto for the senior citizens.


Census in sanctuary deferred
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 12
The Wildlife Protection Department has once again deferred census operation in Asia’s largest open wildlife sanctuary near here for want of funds, sources said.

The department had been facing acute shortage of funds after its merger with the Forest Department. The parent department had so far been releasing funds, which could only cover payment of salaries to the staff, which too was delayed many times, sources added. Last month was considered ideal for locating black bucks under the strip-counting system as the region had never been lashed by monsoon showers for the past two decades.

The sources said the census had officially been done in 1978, 1980, 1994 and 1998 in the local sanctuary. Officials put number of black bucks in 1998 at 3,500 here. This included 1,072 males, 2,008 females and 450 babies. The number of blue bulls in 1998 were 190 but villagers said it might have exceeded by more than 5,000 now.


Cobra controls traffic!
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 12
A Cobra virtually turned a traffic cop on GT road here last night and “controlled” vehicular traffic near Sugar Mill chowk.

The five feet long cobra moved on to the road and stood in the middle, striking a menancing pose, with its hood stretched upward.

It caused panic and drivers started halting their vehicles on the road. The traffic jam continued for a considerable time. Then a valiant youth, perhaps an expert in dealing with such snakes, caught hold of snake by its tail and released it in the fields nearby facilitating resumption of traffic.


Pvt bus operators “overcharging”

Amloh, August 12
The hike in bus fares has came as a boon for private bus operators with the government failing to check overcharging by them.

This was brought to the notice of Ms Jaspreet Kaur, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, during a meeting of the Pensioners Welfare Association under the leadership of district chief Balwant Singh Sodhi. OC


MC to provide amenities to six colonies
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 12
In a major development today, six colonies, which were under the Improvement Trust of India, have been handed over to the Municipal Council for providing basic amenities. The colonies include Giani Zail Singh Nagar, Bhai Lalu Market, Guru Nanak Market, Beant Singh Aman Nagar part-1 and part-11 and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar.


high court
PMET: case adjourned

The high court on Friday adjourned indefinitely the application filed by the petitioners in the case relating to the PMET 2005 examination muddle.

After hearing the counsels for various sides, the Bench of Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice S.N. Aggarwal adjourned the case, saying that they considered it just and appropriate to defer the hearing of the application till after the final decision of the Supreme Court in the matter.

The Supreme Court had yesterday stayed the operation of the High Court order in the case.

The applicants — Saumil Garg and others — have prayed that in view of media reports, Guru Nanak Dev University should be restrained from having anything further to do with the re-evaluation of the answer sheets as ordered by the Bench. They have also prayed that appropriate orders be passed for an inquiry into the conduct of the second examination.

The applicants have also sought action against Guru Nanak Dev University Registrar R.S. Bawa and any other officer who may be involved in the attempt to allegedly mislead the court by filing a “false affidavit”.

During the hearing today, the counsel for the applicants filed another affidavit to buttress the applicants’ claim. He also placed on record letters purported to have been written by the experts to the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.


Boy kidnapped for mobile, abandoned
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 12
A 10-year-old boy, Anshu, of Kaserian mohalla was found by three school boys locked, in an old deserted room near Pir Chaudharian on the outskirts of city after he was allegedly kidnapped by two unidentified persons near Paanch Mandir at 11 am here today.

According to the father of child, Mr Ravinder Behal, Anshu had gone to the market to get their mobile set repaired in the morning without telling anybody at home.

Two unidentified people lured him to sit with them in the rickshaw, saying that they would drop him at a genuine mobile set repair shop.

Till Anshu reached home with the students of Christ King Convent School in the afternoon, we were under the impression that he had gone to play with his friends, added Mr Behal.

Anshu said, As soon as the rickshaw reached a deserted place, they put a handkerchief on my mouth and I fell unconscious.

After I regained conciousness I found myself in a room alone and my mobile set was missing. I started crying when I found the door was locked from outside, said Anshu.

The schoolboys who were passing by heard his cries and came to his rescue.

I was returning home after school with my schoolmates Bawandeep and Savneet at 2 pm when we heard the cries of a child, said Harpreet Singh, a student of Christ King Convent School, Kapurthala.

On reaching the spot, we found the boy bolted inside the room. We opened the door and he told us the whole story and his address. we took him to his parents, said Bawandeep proudly.

The police has started investigations in the case.


Businessman shot, money looted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 12
Sumesh Taman, a city-based businessman, was shot dead by a few car-borne men near Bidhipur level crossing on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road this evening.

The deceased had gone to Amritsar to get some payments and was on his way back when he was shot dead and his briefcase that had few lakhs of rupees was looted by four men who had been following him in a white Zen car at 5 pm.

The victim was going in his black Indica car (PB-08-AP-5463) when he came out of his car to answer the nature’s call, he was shot dead. A driver who had been hired by him for the day was sitting in the car. The number of the car could not be noted.

The businessman was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital where he was found dead. The driver, Varinder Kumar, is said to be traumatised after the incident.


Woman found dead
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 12
The body of a 22-year-old woman was found dumped in garbage behind a hotel early this morning.

The deceased has been identified as Baljinder of Phagwara. The police has registered a case under section 174 of the IPC and the body has been sent for a post-mortem examination.

Relatives of the deceased said that she was an MA (final) student and had gone out to see her result but did not return home. They said they had been looking for her since last evening but could not contact her anywhere.

The body was seen by morning walkers at 5 am today who reported the matter to the police.


Students hold environment rally
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 12
As a part of National Environment Awareness Campaign being launched by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, students of Government Middle School, Tahli Mohalla, took out a rally here today.

The rally was flagged off by Mr Chander Shekhar Talwar, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation. Students carried placards with messages “Do not use plastic bags”, “Conserve water” and “Avoid loudspeakers”. The students distributed pamphlets to spread awareness. School teachers, school headmistress and councillor of different wards also participated in the rally.


Brick-kiln owners close units till December 31
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 12
The Punjab Brick Kiln Association (PBKA) today decided to close all 112 brick kilns in Ropar district and in the periphery of Chandigarh till December 31. The decision was taken in protest against the instructions of the Ministry of Environment that direct them to use fly and pond ash from thermal plants in manufacturing bricks.

The association also rued that the government did not reserve coal quota for them.

While addressing a press conference here, vice-president of the All India Brick Kiln Assocation and president of the PBKA Kuldeep Khanduja said it was not viable for the brick kiln owners to use ash, adding that the government had assured that the cost of the transportation of the ash from thermal plant would be bear by it, but nothing has been done so far. Moreover, the labourers had refused to work if ash was used, he added.

General secretary of district bricks kiln association Amarjit Saini said earlier there was a quota of coal for brick kiln owners and the prices were also low. But, now they had to purchase coal from the open market at higher prices that resulted into the increase in the prices of bricks, he added.

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