P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt asked to take steps to protect Sarabjit’s kin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the Punjab Government to take adequate steps to protect the life of the sister and two daughters of alleged Indian spy Sarabjit Singh, who has been awarded death sentence by the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Taking up a complaint filed by advocate Kulbir Singh Sekhon, seeking intervention of the PSHRC in safeguarding the life of the three women, who had recently threatened to end their lives on the day Sarabjit is hanged in Pakistan, the Full Commission asked the Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police of Amritsar to take necessary steps to ensure that the three women don’t end their lives.

In his complaint, Mr Sekhon had brought to the PSHRC’s notice news reports in some newspapers which had quoted the three women as threatening to hang themselves if Sarabjit was hanged.

He had stated that there are hundreds of Indian citizens, most of them Punjabis, in Pakistani jails and if the families of all these prisoners also took similar steps, it could turn into a big law and order problem.

In its order, the Full Commission said since the matter concerned the issue of human rights, it had duty to intervene.


Delegation to visit Pak on Sarabjit mission
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Providing a new ray of hope in the Sarbjit Singh death sentence case, a Ludhiana-based organisation, the Vishwa Guru Ravidass Mission, which was the first to take up the case of Sarabjit Singh several years ago along with the Canada-based South Asian Human Rights Group, will send a 10-member delegation to Pakistan to file a review petition in his case with the help of Pakistan advocates.

Stating this here today, Mr Jaswant Kataria, chairman of the mission, who has been visiting Bhikhiwind village to meet Sarabjit’s family, along with the Canadian president of the mission and SAHRG member, Mr Sital Dass Klair, said the delegation would once again fight for his release as it was a case of mistaken identity.

Led by Mr Klair from Canada, the delegation will reach Pakistan within a day or two and take up Sarabjit’s case. The two organisations have engaged a lawyer in Pakistan and had funded the expenses earlier also.

Contesting the claims of the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Mr Khurshid M. Kasuri, that Sarabjit’s lawyer had not raised the issue of his mistaken identity, Mr Kataria said in August 2003 Mr Klair had made it clear to his lawyer that he was Sarabjit Singh and not RAW agent Manjit Singh.

Mr Kataria said the mission would appeal to the President of India, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to take up the matter with the Pakistan Government so that an innocent person was not sent to the gallows.

He said Mr Klair had taken up the cause of 275 Indian prisoners in Pakistan by offering to fight their cases in 2003. It was then that he had brought Sarabjit’s case to the notice of Indian Government. However, nothing was done at that time.

Mr Kataria said the delegation would meet Sarabjit’s lawyer, Abdul Hameed Rana, and pray to the Pakistan court to admit a review petition in his case.

The mission is upset over the Punjab Government’s lack of support in the case. It had requested the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take up the case during his visit to Pakistan but nothing was done. Interestingly, Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit Singh, is a Mahila Congress leader.


Principal suspended on PM’s directions
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, August 25
Following intervention of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh Principal of his alma mater Hindu College here was suspended in wake of serious charges of financial irregularities and malfunctioning.

The management has reportedly banned the entry of the principal, R.C. Verma in College premises till the completion of the inquiry.

The 108-year-old Hindu Sabha Education Trust here today announced that it would constitute a panel of financial experts to look into the charges of financial irregularity and malfunctioning against Mr. R.C Verma, Principal, who was suspended.

The decision was taken unanimously after a meeting of the trust here yesterday in which all 21 members participated. Mr. K.K Arora, former Head, Economics Department of the College, had been appointed Officiating Principal. Besides, a five-member committee of teachers of the college had been constituted to assist him (officiating principal) in running the college, which has produced personalities like Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw, Mr Bishen Singh Bedi and others.

Several teachers of the others college had written a letter on June 28, 2004 to Dr Mammohan Singh seeking his intervention to institute an inquiry into the working of Mr Verma.

The Prime Minister’s Office sent the letter to the Ministry of Human Resource, which forwarded it to the University Grants Commission (UGC). Mr Pati Ram, undersecretary, UGC, in his letter in April 2005 directed the vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University to ‘personally look into the matter and to send comments as early as possible’. The university in its letter on June 7, 2005 directed the chairman of Hindu College management committee to probe the matter.

Mr Satpal Mahajan, Chairman of the Trust, said that Mr R C Verma had not been submitting annual accounts of the college since 2001. He said that when asked Mr Verma refused to deposit FDs worth Rs 67 lakh with the management. He alleged that Mr Verma had not deposited Rs seven lakh collected from admissions in this session.

Besides, he informed that no appointment of permanent teachers was made in the College since 2002 despite the fact eight posts were vacant. On the other hand 30 teachers, on ad hoc were, appointed.

When contacted Mr Verma said so far he had not received any written communication from the management regarding his suspension. He alleged that the management had been indulging in unethical activities. He said if posts of permanent lecturer were vacant then the management was responsible as it was its duty. He said he was competent to employ teachers on ad hoc basis depending on the requirement of teachers.

He said he would seek appointment with the Prime Minister to apprise him of illegal activities of the management, which was harassing him.


Reserve Badal’s constituency: Cong
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The ruling Congress in Punjab has urged the National Delimitation Commission headed by Justice Kuldip Singh to reserve the Lambi Assembly constituency, from where SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal has been elected several times, for the Scheduled Castes because it has the highest percentage of the SC population in Muktsar district.

Likewise, the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency, which is one of the four parliamentary seats having the highest percentage of the SC population, should be reserved for the SCs. Last time Mr Badal’s son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, was elected from Faridkot.

However, it appears that Mr Badal will save the Lambi constituency from being reserved for the SCs. Instead of Lambi, the Malout constituency, which has been placed second as far as the percentage of the SC population is concerned, will be again reserved for the SCs.

Mr C.D. Singh Kamboj, chairman of the committee set up by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), told The Tribune today that he submitted the representation to the commission yesterday to reserve Lambi for the SCs. He said the report prepared by the State Election Commission had clearly shown the highest percentage of the SC population in the Lambi constituency.

The commission held a meeting regarding the delimitation of Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Punjab in Delhi yesterday. Representatives of all main political parties in Punjab were present.

The commission told the political parties that if they wanted to submit any representation, they could do so within a fortnight.

The commission will start public hearings in Punjab on the delimitation of constituencies on December 5. These will continue till December 7.

Mr Kamboj said the president of the PPCC, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, was also present at yesterday’s meeting. Mr Kamboj said the Congress had also requested the commission to maintain a balance between the urban and rural areas while reserving constituencies for the SCs. At present, the maximum number of constituencies which are to be reserved for the SCs fall in the rural areas. Only a few urban constituencies are to be reserved. However, the commission has told all political parties that there is a set formula to declare reserved constituencies and it will go by that.

Mr Kamboj said the Congress had also objected to the changes proposed in the jurisdiction of the Sunam Assembly constituency and also to the SAD’s bid to get Kot Kapura declared a reserved constituency. The Congress also told the commission that while reorganising Assembly constituencies in Jalandhar district, where the number of constituencies is to be reduced from 10 to nine, readjustment involving the inclusion and exclusion of areas should be made from all constituencies and not from the four constituencies — Nakodar, Nurmahal, Phillaur and Lohian — as had been proposed at present. 


Cane growers at loggerheads with mills
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 25
Cane growers of the state are at loggerheads with 14 cooperative sugar mills of Punjab over the non-payment of their dues to the tune of Rs 30 crore for the past three years.

While the mill officials have been claiming that they could not pay the debts towards cane growers because of financial constraints, the sugarcane farmers have been demanding their pending dues along with 15 per cent interest per annum as per the Sugarcane (Control) Order 1966.

The cane growers said that in 2002, they were assured a state advised price of Rs 100 per quintal of the produce but were paid only Rs 70 and that, too, after a month as against the Sugarcane (Control) Order 1966 of paying the dues within 14 days.

They said that three years had passed and they were yet to get the remaining amount of Rs 30 for every quintal of the sugarcane that the mills had lifted.

In fact, the farmers had become quite optimistic about getting their dues after the Punjab and Haryana High Court pronounced a judgement in their favour this month. This happened when Narinderjit Singh, a cane grower from Khurampur village of Nakodar, had filed a public interest litigation in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on which a Bench comprising Chief Justice D.K. Jain had given a verdict in favour of the cane growers directing the General Manager of Nakodar Co-Operative Sugar Mills Limited to pay the remaining amount along with 15 per cent rate of interest per annum.

The farmers of Udowal, Mehatpur and Ramoolia villages, who had sold off their produce to the Nakodar mill, said they had received Rs 30 per quintal of their produce as principal amount of their dues last fortnight but were yet to receive the rate of interest for the delay in making payment.

Partap Singh, a farmer from Udowal village, said he had sold off 1400 quintals of his produce in that year at Nakodar mill, 1600 quintals at Zira mill and another 1600 quintals at Jagraon mill. “I have received an amount of Rs 42,000 from Nakodar mill but I am yet to recover my dues from Zira and Jagraon. Besides, I am being denied any payment as per 15 per cent rate of interest for a payment delayed for three years”.

Prof Manjit Singh Kadian, president of the Bharti Kisan Union, said in case the farmers were not paid their dues, they would knock the doors of the court once again.

Mr Sarangal, General Manager of Nakodar Co-Operative Sugar Mills Limited said the mill had paid the principal amount that was due towards the farmers but he said that the rate of interest could not be paid as the Sugarcane (Control) Order 1966 applied only in case the farmers were paid as per Statutory Minimum Price (SMP).

But he said in that year, the farmers were paid as per the state-approved price which was over and above the SMP.

The statement of the GM, however, contradicts the Order, the Clause 3(3-A) of which provides for “interest liability on payments delayed beyond 14 days of delivery of sugarcane at 15 per cent per annum.”


Teachers protest, remind govt of poll promises
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, August 25
On a call of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), thousands of teachers, serving at privately managed colleges in Punjab, today organised protest rallies and dharnas on their respective college campuses for two hours to observe “Poll manifesto reminder day”. They were protesting against the alleged “anti-higher education as well as anti-private college teachers’ policies of the Punjab Government”.

Stating this to The Tribune this afternoon, Prof R.S. Brar and Prof P.K.Sharma, state president and secretary (Punjabi University area), respectively, of the PCCTU, said as per information received by the state leadership of the PCCTU, teachers organised protest rallies and dharnas from 12-00 noon to 2-00 pm on the college campuses throughout the state to observe “Poll manifesto reminder day”.

They said resentment prevailed among private college teachers in the state as the Amarinder government had “failed” in fulfilling its promises made to the private college teachers in its poll manifesto during the Assembly elections in February 2002.

They said the Congress had promised in its manifesto the continuation of 95 per cent grant-in-aid to the private-aided colleges and grant of pension-cum-gratuity scheme of December 18, 1996, for the private college teachers of Punjab, but the same was yet to be implemented by the government.

The PCCTU leaders assailed the Punjab Government for not bothering to implement the Johl Committee’s recommendations on higher education and Dr G.D. Sharma Panel ‘s recommendations, listed in a report “Punjab Vision 2020”, pertaining to the development of higher education in Punjab.

BATALA: Members of the local unit of PCCTU at BUC College went on strike for two hours from 12 noon and observed it as “poll manifesto reminder day.”

Addressing the rally, Mr Pawan Sharma and Mr Ashwani Kansra, president and secretary, respectively, of the local unit of the union emphasised the need to accept the long-pending demands of college teachers.

ABOHAR: The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union today observed “remind manifesto day”.

Teachers at the DAV College here sat on dharna for two hours to highlight their demands.

Mr B.S. Bhullar, president of the union, said the teachers of privately managed aided colleges were fighting for their genuine demands that included pension and gratuity, merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance with basic pay, lifting of ban on recruitment against grant-in-aid posts, updating 95 per cent grant-in-aid.


How PAU project fell through
K.S. Chawla

LUDHIANA: A prestigious research project was lost and around Rs 20 crore went down the drain allegedly due to the personal likes and dislikes of the powers that be and professional jealously.

A three-storeyed building constructed for the project, lying vacant near the campus of Punjab Agriculture University, has now been spruced up for housing the office of the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Husbandry University. The project involved research on tick-borne diseases (TBD). Its main objective was to produce a vaccine against theilereiosis (one of the TBDs) affecting imported high milk-producing cattle (taurine) and their crossbreds.

To increase milk production the solution was upgrading of the local low-yield cattle (zebu) with the taurine milk breed of the West. A nationwide crossbreeding programme was launched in the Third Five Year Plan. But theilereiosis killed 90 per cent to 100 per cent of the imported taurine cattle and 30 to 70 per cent of the improved crossbreeds. The National Commission on Agriculture observed that the disease posed the biggest hurdle in the success of the programme as neither effective drug treatment nor a vaccine was available.

Keeping this situation in view, PAU in 1971 proposed a research project to the ICAR for evolving control measures against the disease for full funding. The ICAR sanctioned a scheme under the leadership of Dr B.S. Gill, the then Dean College of Veterinary Sciences. The scheme continued for five years. The team of Dr Gill developed a vaccine against theilereiosis for the first time in India. Before that only Israel had developed such a vaccine.

To ensure the continuity of the research, the ICAR sanctioned a two-year scheme. It also asked the Punjab Government to provide funds for the scheme and take it over. The state and Central governments provided massive funds for the new building.

According to Dr Gill, the success of the research attracted offers of collaboration from Edinburgh University, the Queensland Animal Research Institute and Cambridge University. FAO and ICAR experts visited PAU and recommended to the ICAR to create a Centre of Excellence on TBD.

Dr Gill visited Australian TBD Laboratories in June, 1984, to acquaint himself with research work there. On his return Dr Gill was asked to explain why he left for Australia without the permission of the PAU vice-Chancellor. Further during the visit of Dr Gill to Australia, the Vice-Chancellor revised the building and site plan. This started a controversy. Bitter letters were exchanged between Dr Gill and the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sukhdev Singh. As Dr Gill was nearing retirement, he suggested that the building should be got constructed commercially to be completed within one year. The Board of Management approved this proposal. But the building actually took five and a half years to complete. The university authorities continued to adopt an indifferent attitude, alleged Dr Gill, and the gulf between him and the Vice-Chancellor went on widening.

After Dr Gill’s retirement, Dr Y. Bhattacharyaryulu, was targeted by the powers that be. He was humiliated and later left PAU for Haryana Agricultural University for a lower grade post to save his pension. The university authorities in 1988 merged the TBD scheme with the new Department of Immunology of the College of Veterinary Science despite a warning from the ICAR, said Dr Gill. Despite spending nearly Rs 20 crore, well-equipped laboratories and ample staff and funds, the scheme flopped.


Rape victim gives child for adoption
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 25
Life could not have been more cruel to a 16-year-old orphan than this. Raped by her uncle she gave birth to baby boy last month and now poverty has driven her to decide to give the custody of her child to a childless couple, as she has no means to support either the child or herself. She has been taking care of her two younger brothers aged 10 and her 75-year-old grandmother.

The girl and her family have been surviving on the donation collected by the panchayat of Malikpur Taparian village and no NGO or the district administration has come forward so far to provide financial aid to the poor girl.

She got little relief last week when a court framed rape charges against her uncle, Balbir Singh, in the case. But she is yet to come out of the trauma and is still in a state of shock and unable to react to the pain that she has been going through.

“She had lost her parents in a span of two years. Thereafter, last November she was sent to live in her uncle’s house along with her two small brothers in the same village. But the man, who had been given the responsibility to protect the minor, raped her. As a result she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy last month” the victim’s grandmother Jagir Kaur (75) told The Tribune.

“We have tried a lot to take care of the child but because of poverty we could not. We only depend on the donation collected by the panchayat and other villagers”. Therefore we have decided to give the child to a couple. At least the boy will have a better future” she added.

“We have been living in an ill-maintained house that can collapse anytime. With every passing day, the condition is becoming worse for us. The stigma of rape and no one take care has made life miserable for us” said the minor victim.

“The girl had no choice but to accept the offer when the couple approached us. As no one came to help us despite the fact that a number of applications were submitted to the district administration to provide financial aid to the girl”, said Sita Singh, a villager of Malikpur Taparian. “The panchayat of our village in providing help to the victim by collecting money”, he added.

“We had given an application to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, in the month of March and again on June 8 but no one came to help”, he further said.

Advocates Mr Gurtej Singh Prince, Ms Rajvinder Prince, who are providing free legal aid to the victim said the case against the accused was registered on March 28 and the charges against the accused had been framed. “We have decided to file a case in the court next week to handover the child to the childless couple”, the advocates added.


Cong factionalism comes to the fore again
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 25
The factional feud in the ruling Congress once again flared up when the local Congress MLA Joginder Singh Mann found faults with the functioning of Improvement Trust Chairman Balbir Raja Sodhi and levelled corruption charges against him.

This was stated by Mr Mann while addressing Phagwara block Congress workers here on Wednesday night.

Phagwara block Congress Committee president Manmohan Sharma accused Mr Sodhi of appointing non-Congress trustees in the trust and allegedly selling trust properties to persons close to him. He also demanded a CBI probe and immediate suspension of Executive Officer of the Nagar Council Jagir Singh Thind.


Gymkhana catering contract kicks up row
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 25
The alleged efforts of the management of the local Gymkhana Club to leave out the only government approved three-star hotel of the city and granting of catering contract to a ‘Ludhiana-based’ contractor, seems to have crash-landed, at least for the time being, as the management is learnt to have given week-long extension to the existing caterer, apparently in view of lot of dust kicked up by the controversial move.

Interestingly, the four-member catering committee of the club had found during a surprise inspection that the taste of food and snacks of the Ludhiana-based catering agency was “not up to the mark”. Though a Jalandhar-based bidder and city’s oldest caterer had offered the same amount of monthly commission of Rs 36,000 as was offered by the contractor from Ludhiana, but, the manner in which the management allegedly preferred to “shower” its favours on the Ludhiana-based caterer.

The Ludhiana-based caterer, it was learnt, has furnished his local address.

The catering contract was due to expire on July 21, but the existing Jalandhar-based contractor was given an extension of one month, which expired on August 21. Just before this tenders were invited from caterers and in of caterers had applied for it.

In their meeting on the evening of the July 19, most of the executive committee members were learnt to have favoured the name of local Plaza hotel, claimed to be the only government approved three star hotel and rated so by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. But nothing was decided in the meeting and on the next day, it was learnt, it was decided to give another week-long extension to the existing Chick Chick Caterers.

The extension period would expire on August 28. Though the chairman of the club has assured that the contract would be given purely on merit, certain local contractors have expressed apprehensions that the contract might be given over to the Ludhiana-based contractor.

“We are not lacking anywhere and we are one of the old food service establishments in the town. We have offered the same rate of commission as has been offered by the Ludhiana-based caterer, yet, we feel that our concerns will be ignored by the management under some pressure. When there are many capable caterers in the city, why should the contract be given over to an ‘outsider”? says Mr Parmjit Singh Buddhiraja, proprietor of the Plaza hotel and president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab.


No increase in bus fares
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
There will be no fresh hike in the bus fares in Punjab despite the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) claiming a shortfall of Rs 30 crore due to rising diesel prices and increased wage bill, said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while flagging off the first batch of new buses of the PRTC today.

The Chief Minister flagged off 10 buses under an ambitious plan of the PRTC to add 100 new buses to its existing fleet during the current year.

He said the state government planned to construct a state-of-the-art bus stand at Patiala at a cost of Rs 12.50 crore and a new one at Phagwara at a cost of Rs 2 crore.

Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC, said the corporation had made a profit of Rs 16 crore last year.

The Chief Minister handed over appointment letters to dependants of six deceased employees on compassionate grounds.


Docs allege loss in salary, seek CM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
Doctors serving in the Health Department of Punjab have sought intervention of the Chief Minister, the Health Minister and the Finance Minister into the matter of fixation of salaries after the merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance (DA).

The doctors came to know they would be suffering loss of Rs 1600 to Rs 4000 in salaries as per interpretation of merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance with basic pay instructions issued by the Under Secretary, Department of Finance, Punjab.

Dr Y.C. Markan and Dr D.C. Sharma, president and general secretary, senior PCMS association, respectively, here today, said that doctors were not being given non-practice allowance (NPA) according to salaries, which they were supposed to get after the merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance in their basic pay.

They added that on August 19, 2005, the authorities issued a letter mentioning that doctors would not get NPA on the 50 per cent dearness allowance (also known as dearness pay), which was discriminatory as the other employees of state government had been getting it.

They pointed out dearness allowance to Punjab government employees including the doctors was being given on the central government’s pattern for the past 35 years. The decision to merge 50 per cent DA into basic pay in its employees was taken by the Punjab government after the central government did the same.

After merging 50 per cent DA, the central government had started giving NPA on the pay which was worked after that merger while the Punjab government had been denying the same to its doctors by following different pattern and thus had made them to suffer monetary losses every month.


Power cuts back in Phagwara
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 25
Power cuts are back here after a gap of about two weeks. Residents had to go without power for five hours yesterday. The situation in villages is worse.

People were more affected due to the increase in humidity. “The humidity is unbearable and power cuts have been making the situation more painful for people,” said Major Singh of Guru Nanak Pura.

“Whenever there is rain in the town, the residents heave a sigh of relief for a day or two. But five to six hours of scheduled or unscheduled power cuts have revived the agonising days,” says a resident of Prempura.

A resident of Professor Colony, Akash Dhir, said: “Due to power cuts water is sometimes not available even on the ground floor. Streetlights are non-functional, while power cuts are unscheduled.”

“All our jobs have virtually come to a halt due to ever-increasing power cuts,” rued a delegation of industrialists.

The state has a consumption of 1500 lakh units of power daily. The PSEB can generate only 900 lakh units daily and it has to purchase 400 lakh units daily from other states. Thus there is a gap of 200 lakh units of power, says an official of the PSEB.

However, the Executive Engineer, PSEB, Phagwara, Mr Sanjeev Kumar, said it was due to some technical snag in the Mukerian power project. He added that the PSEB authorities had to impose power cuts to neutralise the demand gap of 200 units.


Employees hold up traffic against privatisation
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
An army of state government employees, including women, representing different unions and associations, today jammed traffic on Foundation Chowk, Moti Mahal Road, for hours together and held a rally to lodged their protest against the pro-privatisation policies of the state government and to press the same to implement their already accepted demands.

The employees who held a massive rally in New Grain Market under the banner of Nijiharu Virodhi Mulazam Sangarsh Committee also held out a threat if the Congress Government does not reverse its pro-privatisation policies and not accept and implement their seven points demand charter, they would force the Congress Government to quit.”

Apart from managing a huge show of strength, the committee also succeeded in ensuring the participations of different employees’ federations unions and associations on a common platform. Thousands of protesters carrying placards, banners and flags marched towards the Moti Mahal, the private residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and jammed traffic there.

Seven conveners of the committee, including Mr Hari Singh Tohra, Mr Dattar Singh, Mr Ranbit Dhillon, Mr Sacha Singh Khatra, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Mr Sajjan Singh and Mr Mahan Singh addressed the rally.

These leaders, while addressing the rally, alleged that on the one hand the state government had been spending huge money on the comforts of its MLAs, ministers, bureaucrats and police officials by providing them cars, residences and arranging foreign tours, on the other hand it was claiming that its coffers were empty for carrying out welfare schemes for commoners.

They alleged that on the eve of last Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh had made several promises to the employees. Instead of implementing these promises, the Congress Government led by him had started following “anti-employees policies” at the instance of international financial institutions and multinational companies based in India and other countries.

Instead of reviewing its anti-employees and anti-people policies, the state government started taking decisions to privatise government, semi government and cooperative sector institutions.

Not only this, the state government had started snatching concessions from the employees despite the fact that prices were ever rising and they had been finding it difficult to meet their routine liabilities with the present pay structure. More than 70,000 posts had been abolished. Ban on regular recruitment of employees had been imposed. The employees were not being taken on contract with lower wages. The per capita income of Punjab had gone down and now it had come on fifth position in the country.

They said that their seven-point charter of demands, included the withdrawal of decision of privatisation of schools, hospitals, water supply, ITI, roads and bridges, electricity board and other government bodies, restoration of all the abolished posts immediately, regularisation of employees working under contract, adhoc and daily wages category, withdrawal of the notification made on July 29, 2003, in connection with the communication of pension and one more notification made in March, 2004 in connection with contributory pension, promotion scales for them after 4, 9 and 14 years of service, payment of bonus after seven years of service and hike in medical allowance and setting up the Fifth Pay Commission.


Partition victims remembered
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 25
The History Society, Gurdaspur, at a function organised here today, paid homage to about 10 lakh persons killed during Partition in 1947. The president of the society, Mr Raj Kumar, said as per the official records 10 lakh persons had died during the violence that erupted as aftermath of Partition.

The society demanded that government should raise a memorial to them on the border.


PSEB staff protest against board member
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 25
Punjab State Electricity Board member Hardayal Singh Kamboj had a tough time today when the board employees raised slogans against him during his visit to the city. The PSEB member was here to inaugurate an automatic power bill payment machine.

The scene was tense as long as Mr Kamboj remained present at the inauguration ceremony. The PSEB employees held a protest rally in front of the Power House office under the banner of the Technical Services Union. They also sought the reinstatement of two cashiers who were suspended after a robbery at a PSEB office. They handed over a charter of demands to the board member who assured them to look into the matter.

Earlier, the PSEB member inaugurated an electronic power bill payment machine. 


Majithia panel report sent to AG for advice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the recommendations of the Majithia Committee regarding the new fee structure in privately run professional institutions such as medical colleges had been sent to the Advocate-General, Mr Rajinder Singh Cheema.

He said Mr Cheema had been asked to legally examine the issue in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court regarding quotas in private colleges and other related aspects.


135 donate blood
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 25
As many as 135 persons donated blood at a camp organised by Government Polytechnic College, Khoonimajra, in association with the local Rotary Club here today.

Dr Chanderdeep Verma, president of the Rotary Club, said prior to the camp a blood donation motivational seminar was organised in the college to motivate the students. A poster competition on blood donation was also organised as part of the seminar.

He said apart from students of the college, those from Shaheed Kanshi Ram College of Physical Education also donated blood at the camp.


high court
Poll petition

Chandigarh, August 25
Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court had dismissed the election petition filed by Ms Sheelam Sohi, defeated Congress candidate from the Banur Assembly constituency, seeking setting aside of the election of former Punjab Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh from the constituency.

The petitioner had alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh indulged in corrupt practices to secure victory in the election. The Akali leader had won by just 786 votes in the 2002 Assembly elections.


Govinda variety plays havoc with subsoil water
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
Govinda, a short-duration early-maturing variety of paddy, is causing incalculable damage to Punjab’s environment, especially the subsoil water. Already, farmers have harvested this variety and disposed it of in the market.

However, the variety adds to the income of farmers who have gone in for the three-crop pattern instead of two adopted by most of the farmers in the state.

This dwarf variety is popular with farmers in certain parts of Sangrur, Patiala and Amritsar. The variety is sown in April-May immediately after the harvesting of wheat. It takes only 60 to 70 days to mature for harvesting to make way for the transplantation of paddy in July. In fact, it is called a “sathi variety” because it matures in 60 days.

However, during the sowing period, the temperature in this part of the region starts shooting up. So, it needs a large quantity of water which evaporates at an alarming rate during the transplantation period and afterwards.

Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said: “This crop is not good as it is a water-gulping crop. The crop needs a lot of water that has to be pumped out to meet the requirement”.

However, he said, moneywise it had proved to be good for farmers. This year farmers who had sown this variety earned up to Rs 13,000 per acre. It fetched a price of between Rs 510 and Rs 525 per quintal. Rice millers quickly procured it. After harvesting this crop, farmers had transplanted basmati from which they would certainly earn about Rs 15,000 per acre. “It means that such farmers have earned about Rs 28,000 from one acre — first by sowing the Govinda variety and later basmati,” said Mr Sidhu. After basmati, wheat was sown.

There is no exact figure available of the area covered under the Govinda variety. The Agriculture Department says this variety had been sown on about 20,000 hectares this year.

However, Mr Sidhu said that farmers should avoid transplanting it and try some other short-duration crop instead. “We are facing a serious problem on the subsoil water front and farmers should be conscious of this fact”, he adds. Other varieties of paddy such as PUSA are sown in June. PAU, Ludhiana, has recommended that no farmer should transplant paddy before June 10. Haryana acts tough with farmers who transplant paddy before June 10.


15 farmers injured in lathicharge
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 25
More than 15 persons, including Mr Sohan Lal Nayak, former MLA from Raisinghnagar, were injured as the police resorted to lathicharge to disperse farmers at Gharsana, in neighbouring Sriganganagar, yesterday.

Hundreds of farmers raised slogans and marched from Rawla township to Gharsana responding to a call given by the Kisan Mazdoor Beopari Sangharsh Samiti. As many as sixty-six of them courted arrest. They alleged that the authorities were conspiring to sabotage the peaceful agitation. Early in the week, 400 farmers had courted arrest.

Mr Sheopat Singh Makkasar, former Member of Parliament, alleged that the police resorted to lathicharge without any provocation. Mr Sohan Lal Nayak, former MLA Raisinghnagar, Mr Mani Ram Suthar, Mr Krishan Bishnoi, Mr Mandar Singh, Mr Banwari Lal and Mr Bagh Singh were injured.

The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police, were present at the site.

Mr Makkasar demanded the release of Mr Het Ram Beniwal (70), and Sant Lekha Singh (80). He said women would join the protest on August 27, at Gharsana to press the government to implement Ajmer Pact signed in January this year to redress grievances of the farmers of the border region.


Computerisation of land records loses steam
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, August 25
The computerisation of revenue record initiated on the Republic Day with much fanfare has run into rough weather.

The government had made special allocation from annual budget to impart training to employees and officers of the Revenue Department to computerise land record in the state.

The aim was to bring transparency and accuracy in the records for which the department had earned a bad name. Though the primary task was to be finished by Independence Day but none of the ministers or officers who hoisted the Tricolour even made an oblique reference to the scheme while listing the achievements of the government in their speech.

Sources said as many as 140 patwaris and other employees posted in Abohar and Fazilka sub-divisions were called for a 20-day primer-one course here. The government had acquired the services of Punjab Infotech and Aptech experts to tutor the patwaris in Punjabi typing, Internet access and computer application. Staff of the department, trained at central institute based at Jalandhar, functioned as supervisors and resource persons during first phase of the training. Similar training camps were held at Jalalabad West and other sub divisional towns.

The participants were told that they would be trained in programming, language etc during the second phase of the training.

Knowledge about software was to be provided in the third/last phase of the much-publicised project. The state government had claimed that the Jalandhar centre would be able to finish work in stipulated time.

Ironically the department has so far not set date for the trainers to start the second phase of the training.


Amarinder grants Rs 11 cr for roads
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
Even as the Assembly elections are more than one and a half years away in the state, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has shelling out money for various development schemes for this erstwhile princely town represented by him in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who gave only Rs 4 crore from his discretionary quota funds to the local municipal corporation for laying down new roads and carrying out repairs of existing roads of the town during the past three years, today sanctioned Rs 11.2 crore for laying down new roads and carrying out repairs of those roads which have been damaged due to digging up for laying the sewerage system.

Sources said it was for the first time that any Chief Minister of Punjab had sanctioned such huge money for his hometown for laying down new roads and carrying out repairs of a section of roads at one go. About 152 new roads would be laid in this town including its outer colonies.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Commissioner, municipal corporation, while talking to The Tribune said that money sanctioned by Capt Amarinder Singh would be used by the end of this year. He added that when new roads were laid and other roads were repaired, the town would get a massive facelift.

He added that hectic efforts were being made by the authorities concerned in connection with the shifting of the local bus stand, to cover the open dirty-water drain passing through the town and to shift the vegetable market and junk dealers market to give a better look to the town.

The sources said that the authorities concerned were also pressing hard to execute the project connected with the railway overbridge over the level crossing number 21. The local municipal corporation authorities had already started work on setting up two dairy complexes on the outskirts of the town.

Already crores of rupees had been pumped for the facelift and development of this town during the past three years when the Indo-Pak game were organised here. Apart from it, a considerable amount was being spent on the faelift of the town whenever Patiala heritage festival was held every year.


Computerisation of transport offices by Dec 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
With a view to providing better services, all district transport offices in Punjab will be made fully computerised by December 31.

The state Transport Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, decided on this deadline at a meeting of transport officers held here today.


Racket involving sale of girls busted
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 25
Batala police has busted a gang of women, involved in trafficking of women. Their modus operandi was to buy young girls from other states and sell them to the aged handicapped and illiterate unmarried persons of Batala and its adjoining areas at the price ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per person.

Dr Jatindra Kumar Jain, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Batala police district, told the mediapersons here today that an Inspector, city police station, Mr Kirpal Singh, laid a naka at Sukha Singh Mehtab Singh Chowk, Jalandhar road, on the basis of information that four women and three men were involved in the trafficking the young women from other States. Then used to sell them in Batala and its adjoining areas.

The police party raided the place and arrested four woman. A case under Section 366/368/34, IPC, has been registered.

The police was succeeded in arresting three of the girls who were brought for sale. 


1 killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 25
One person was killed and four others were injured in an accident on the Nadala road at Subhanpur, near here, last night.

According to information, the motor cycle of the deceased Kashmir Singh, a resident of Butala village, collided with a car while he was coming towards Subhanpur from Nadala with his cousin.

Kashmir Singh died on the spot, while his cousin Gurpreet Singh was injured. After this the same car hit a scooter injuring its riders, Ladi and Sonu, of Jagg Behlor village. The driver of the car also got injured.


Driver held for murder
Tribune News Service

Bholath (Kapurthala), August 25
With the arrest of a milk tanker driver, a resident of Khassan village, the local police today claimed to have solved a murder mystery of 2001.

According to Mr Amrik Singh Powar, DSP, Bholath, Kulwinder Singh, the accused, had murdered his uncle Gurmeet Singh, a resident of the same village, on August 23, 2001.

The accused was the driver of a milk tanker owned by Gurmeet Singh and wanted to usurp the vehicle of his uncle and therefore murdered him, said the DSP, adding that they had a property dispute also.

The accused and his family members managed to divert the investigation towards a migrant labourer with whom the daughter of Gurmeet Singh eloped, said Mr Powar.

As the daughter returned to her family and the labourer was untraceable, the police had stopped the investigations in this case, the DSP said.

After a perusal of unsolved cases, the police started the investigations in this case and arrested the accused after registering a case under Section 307, 302,452 and 34 of the IPC.


Sexual harassment: SFI demands panel
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
The Students Federation of India has demanded that a committee comprising university officials and students should be constituted to deal with sexual harassment cases, according to the Supreme Court’s directions. The university’s reputation had been affected by such cases. The Saru Rana case brought adverse publicity to the university.

The federation has undertaken a signature campaign to press for their other demands, including fees, library and reading room facilities for students, according to Mr Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal, joint secretary, SFI, Punjab. A meeting was held by the campus unit of Punjabi University here today to chalk out the future course of action.

To help the students in their endeavours, the federation has demanded separate libraries in all departments. They also said the two reading rooms outside the university library should be functional round the clock. Besides there should be the provision of reading rooms in girls’ hostels. The library should also be made online to help the students.

Their other demands include refund of extra fees that were deposited for various courses last year; refund of counselling fees charged for the past two years; the late fees charged from students for re-admission and the abolition of fees charged for late degree.

The federation also demanded that internal assessment for the LLB and other courses should be stopped.

The demands also included provision of hostel facility to all students and PCO/STD facility in the boys’ hostels. Students of hostel No 4 also asked for separate cubicles.

The issue of demands that the authorities had accepted last year but haven’t been implemented till now was also taken up. The SFI delegation will hand over the charter of demands to the Vice-Chancellor on September 1. The federation also threatened to adopt the course of agitation if their demands were not met.


Kulwinder is Kandi educational trust chief
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 25
Ms Kulwinder Gurcharan Singh was once again elected as the Chairperson of the Kandi Friends Educational Trust that is running Bhaddal Engineering College unanimously for the tenure from September 2005 to September 2008. Dr H.S Gurm, was elected as the vice-chairman of the trust. Farmesh was elected as the Finance Secretary and Prof Devinder Singh as the general secretary of the trust.

The following members were elected to the Council of Trustees — Prof Ajit Singh, former Senator and Syndic of Punjab University, MLA Bir Devinder Singh, to Maj Rajinder Singh Virk, Mr Satwinder Singh, Gurtej Singh, Jaspreet Kaur, Ms Guneet Kaur, Jagmohan Singh, Mewa Singh and Surinder Singh. This information was given by the Chairman of the trust, Ms Kulwinder Gurcharan Kaur, here today.


Experts blame PMET mess on paper setters
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 25
Even as the Guru Nanak Dev University authorities remained busy throughout the day in preparing a fresh PMET merit list to meet the 72-hour deadline fixed by the Supreme Court, the Vice-Chancellor seems to be in a tight spot in fixing responsibility of the senior teachers who were allegedly responsible for the “mess” and finalising the answer key.

In a letter to the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA), four of the eight experts alleged that they were not responsible for the PMET mess and a “wrong affidavit” was filed by the Registrar in the court to make them “scapegoats”. Representatives of the GNDUTA held a marathon meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, in his office, but failed to reach a consensus.

The four subject experts in their missive said: “The statements of the questions, the choice of the answers and the key to the right answer are the sole responsibility of the paper setters. Till date, the university has not disclosed the names of the paper setters. It is alleged that the PMET papers were not set by renowned experts. Instead, the papers were set from guides (kunjis) available in the market.”

In the academic field, the imposition of Rs 1 lakh cost by the apex court by describing the entire exercise of conducting the PMET as on “apathetic and casual approach” is a big blot on the name of the university, which was given five stars by NAAC. 


Banaspati unit denies causing pollution
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
Reacting to a news-item, “Report finds high levels of toxicity in Punjab rivers”, carried in these columns on July 4, Amrit Banaspati Company Ltd. has claimed that it was not generating “hazardous liquid effluents”.

In a communication to The Tribune, the company’s General Manager (Pers. & HR) has added that the effluents generated by their industry contained only traces of oils and acid. These too were treated in the effluent treatment plant and met the “qualitative requirements” specified by the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

In fact, the board officials were drawing samples of treated and untreated effluents for testing purposes after visiting the industry and the effluent treatment plant regularly. Besides, the company was getting the samples tested at laboratories like the Thapar Research Centre. “The results meet the laid down standards”, he claimed, adding that the company itself had a well-established laboratory to test the effluents.

He further claimed that they were not discharging the treated effluents in the sewerage, but were using the water for irrigating Eucalyptus plantation spread over five acres within the factory premises.

The Tribune Correspondent adds: The news-item is based on the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology’s report — “State of Environment Punjab — 2005”. The report was based on the data provided by the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |