P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Protest in Bhikhiwind
Telecast of old interview of Sarbjit Singh on PTV

Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind, September 11
Telecast of an old interview of Sarbjit Singh on PTV-official Television channel of the government of Pakistan in which he reportedly had ‘confessed’ his involvement in the series of bomb blasts in 1990 in the country evoked strong protests at his native border village, here today .

Family of Sarbjit Singh, who was shown as ‘Manjit Singh’ on PTV was awarded death sentence in connection with the bomb blasts in various parts of Pakistan including Lahore and Karachi, repeated threat to resort to mass suicide if he (Sarbjit Singh) was hanged. The family members alleged that the old interview of Sarbjit Singh was ‘arranged’ by the Intelligence Agencies of Pakistan which wanted to frame him in fabricated case.

Scores of Bhikhiwind residents, wearing black bands on their heads joined the protest march along with family members of Sarbjit Singh. Ms Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit Singh said that enough proofs had been sent to Pakistan, which proved that the person, awarded death sentence was Sarbjit Singh and not Manjit Singh . Moreover, at least two eyewitnesses had already turned hostile. The protesters raised slogans against Pakistan and pleaded that Sarbjit Singh was innocent who had crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated condition.

The family of Sarbjit Singh and residents of Bhikhiwind also raised slogans, pleading Gen Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan to grant clemency to Sarbjit Singh on humanitarian grounds as he had already spent 15 years in jails without committing any crime.


Repatriation again rekindles hopes of PoWs’ families
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
Even as 500 Indian and Pakistani prisoners would be exchanged at the joint check post of Wagah, near here, tomorrow, some of the families of Prisoners of War (PoWs) would reach there with a hope that the repatriated prisoners might give them some clue about the PoWs.

At least 35 out of 65 Pakistani prisoners, lodged in Central Jail here, would be repatriated to Pakistan.

Capt S.P. Singh, Superintendent, Jail, said 61 fishermen from Gujarat and three from Rajasthan had reached Amritsar, while more prisoners from J&K, New Delhi and Maharashtra would reach here late tonight.

Dr Simmi Waraich and Mr G.S. Gill, daughter of one of the 54 POWs lodged in a Pakistani jail, said despite the concrete proofs sent to Pakistan, officials and jawans of 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars continued to languish in various jails of Pakistan.

Mr Gill, brother of Wg Cdr H.S. Gill, who was lodged in a jail in Pakistan, said information about his brother was broadcast on a Pakistani radio in 1971. Later, Mohan Lal Bhaskar, an Indian spy, had mentioned about the presence of his brother in his book.

Meanwhile, family members of the youths, who are likely to be released from Pakistani jails, have said they would never send them abroad again in search of greener pastures.

Mr Shabeg Singh, father of Gurdev Singh (20), said his son had gone to Lebanon through a local agent. However, after successfully landing in Lebanon, his son and another boy from the same village tried to cross over to Greece and were caught on the way. He alleged that agents in Lebanon had duped Punjabi youths.

The situation of another boy Inderjit Singh (18) is worse. His family owned only one-acre land and his parents had to take a loan of Rs 2 lakh that they are unable to return. His mother said the economic condition of the family was pitiable and that was why they had agreed to send him abroad.

Another boy Gursahab Singh, who is also likely to be released, hails from Dharm Chand Kot village in Amritsar district. His father is now suffering from paralysis. Harpreet Singh, another prisoner, is from Tarn Taran and might be released along with other prisoners.


She died waiting for daughter separated during Partition
Tribune News Service

Kot Kapura, September 11
A hundreds of Indian and Pakistani prisoners are about to be released from both sides of border tomorrow, a woman, who got separated from her daughter during the Partition breathed her last here with an unfulfilled wish of seeing her before her death.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Puran Singh, who lost his octogenarian wife Mahinder Kaur on Saturday, said they were residing at Sekhwa village of Pakistan before the Partition. Two days before the riots broke out he and his wife had gone to Matta village in Rajajung to attend a family function leaving behind their four-year-old daughter with her grandparents. They could not see their daughter after that day. Riots broke out on both sides of border forcing them to flee. Unaware of the whereabouts of their near and dear ones, the couple managed to enter in India through Ferozepur. For over three decades they had no clue as to whether their daughter and other relatives were alive or not. It was in 1980 that they received a letter from Pakistan stating that their daughter had survived bloodshed and was fine. Their daughter Haneefa married Hamid Masih of Nawa Jalalpura village in Lahore district and also had a son, Zulfikar. Mr Puran Singh met her family twice in 1982 and 1990 in Pakistan, but Mahinder Kaur could not make it due to visa problem.

Though she had seen photographs of Haneefa’s family, it wasn’t enough to satiate her desire to embrace her daughter at least once before her death. However, a letter from her daughter in May about her visit to India soon had rekindled Mahinder Kaur’s hope, but destiny had some other plans for her. Haneefa got a visa for New Delhi and not Punjab. It was too-close-yet-to- far situation for Puran Singh’s family, as they could not afford travel to Delhi due to financial reasons. The couple has three sons and a daughter here, of which two sons work as watchmen, and the family had limited income.

Puran Singh had sent a letter to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Punjab Chief Minister, seeking visa for his daughter for Punjab a few days back. Now, he has again appealed them for her visa so that Haneefa could attend ‘bhog’ and ‘antim ardas’ of her mother who kept awaiting her till her last breath.


Former spies threaten stir
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 11
A group of “Indian Spies”, who had been captured in Pakistan and had already served their terms in different jails there, has threatened to launch an agitation if their long pending demands are not accepted and if their grievances are not redressed by the government.

They have alleged that despite their “immense contributions” towards their motherland as employees of the Military Intelligence, none of them has got their salary and pension arrears.

Mr Vasdev Sharma, a former Indian spy, who had spent eight long years of his life in Pakistan jails and who convened a meeting of former spies at his residence today, said a large number of people like him had spent years in Pakistan. “But we are shocked to see that nobody cared for our families and hardly anybody recognised our services towards nation,” rued Mr Sharma.

Mr Kishori Lal and Mr Gulzar Masih, two other Indian spies, now based in Ludhiana and nearby Dhogri village, respectively, said they also faced similar indifference from various quarters after their release from Pakistani jails in 1974 in the aftermath of the 1971 Simla Agreement.

“Whenever some Indian is captured in Pakistan, cases of bomb blasts or militancy related activities are slapped on them and they are later even hanged. In 1968 three Indians — Kapur Chand, Gurcharan Singh and Sham Sunder — were hanged in Sialkot jail,” they said.

“Announcements have been made repeatedly that some financial help and job to at least one member of the family would be given, but, nothing of the sorts has taken place so far. It is so discouraging, particularly, after putting in so much of hard work and prime time of life. We are left with no other option but to launch a stir in support of our demands,” said the anguished spies.


Three coaches of Jammu-Tawi Express catch fire

Ferozepore, September 11
Three coaches of the Jammu-Tawi Ferozepore Express caught fire in the railway yard here today, railway sources said.

One of the passenger coaches was totally gutted, while two others were partially damaged in the fire.

However, there was no casualty.

The train had arrived this morning from Jammu, they said, adding the cause of the fire was not immediately known.

According to railway sources, at around 11.30 a.m., some railway officials and passengers standing at the station noticed smoke emerging out of a coach (91215-A).

Railway officials raised the alarm and fire engines were summoned immediately. Till the time, the fire engines reached the station, one coach had been completely gutted in the fire whereas the other two adjacent coaches (75256-A and 96318-A) on either side had also caught fire.

Meanwhile, the railway staff detached the two adjacent coaches in order to prevent them from getting completely burnt.

Senior railway officials reached the spot. When contacted, senior officials, present at the site, refused to divulge the details of the incident and stated that the exact reason behind the fire was yet to be ascertained.

However, officials have ruled out the possibility of sabotage or any explosive kept in the train.

Divisional Railway Manager Dharam Singh has constituted a four-member committee to probe the incident. — PTI


Probe into leak of PPCC proceedings
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
Agitated over the negative outcome of the meeting of ministers, MLAs and other party leaders he had convened in Chandigarh on September 7, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has ordered an inquiry to find out as how the proceedings were leaked to the media.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Dullo claimed that the things were blown out of proportions and obviously some insiders, who were present at the meeting, must have fed some wrong information to mediapersons. He expressed surprise as how the proceedings were leaked when it was not open to the Press.

He claimed that except for some routine grievances aired by some legislators and party leaders at the meeting there was nothing much. He said nobody raised any demand for the change in the party leadership.

He agreed that some people within the party might be the source of all this information. He said the party had already identified some people responsible for it. The inquiry ordered by him would expose them and also recommend action to be taken against them.

Mr Dullo maintained that by and large all leaders and legislators of the party were quite happy with the functioning of the government. He pointed out that the government had taken so many measures like free electricity for farmers and the Dalits, besides the infrastructural development projects. He agreed that there might be some personal grievances and genuine too, but these could always be sorted out within the party forum and there was no need to go to the media.

He also denied that he had gone to New Delhi for any complaints against anybody in the government. He said he was in Delhi in connection with party affairs.


Rate contracts for timber raise eyebrows
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 11
The recently effected rate contracts for supplying timber to government departments in Punjab have raised many an eyebrow. The Punjab Forest Development Corporation recently fixed the rates for deodar, kailwood and chir varieties of timber for the first time. The rates have been fixed despite the fact that these varieties are not available in Punjab.

Sources said the rate contracts of these varieties of timber have been managed by a few timber merchants who earlier had similar agreements with the Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir forest corporations. However, due to large-scale bungling in the contract, the forest corporations of both states had stopped trade of wood through middlemen.

After losing business with Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, middlemen have managed rate contracts from the Punjab Forest Development Corporation. As per the rate contracts, the price of a 300x26x13 cm deodar sleeper has been fixed at Rs 46,200, of a 240x25x13 cm kailwood sleeper at Rs 35,425 and of a 300x25x13 cm chir wood sleeper at Rs 20,550.

After fixing the rates, the corporation has sent a directive to government departments to purchase wood at these rates from traders authorised by it. The PSEB and the BBMB are the major consumers of timber in the state. Earlier, these organisations were purchasing timber from the Himachal or Jammu and Kashmir state corporations. Both states have these varieties of wood.

However, by fixing the rates, the Punjab Forest Department Corporation has bound government organisations in Punjab to buy timber from particular traders. Though the rates fixed by the corporation are marginally lower than those fixed by Union procurement agencies, they are quiet high from the prevailing market prices.

Pathankot-based timber traders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that they were ready to supply those varieties of wood at about 60 per cent of the prices fixed by the corporation. After getting the demand from government departments, the corporation should call for open tenders to supply timber. This would provide an opportunity to all traders to quote their price and rates would come down, benefiting government departments.

The Managing Director of the Punjab Forest Development Corporation, Mr Rajinder Singh, when asked why rates had been fixed for the wood that was not produced in Punjab, said the corporation was a trading body. It had the right to fix the rates for any kind of wood.

About authorising only some of the traders for supply to government departments, he said open tenders could not be called for supply of wood.

Only the traders enlisted with the corporation would be allowed to supply wood to government departments in the state.


Punjab formulates Special Economic Zone policy
Chitleen K. Sethi

Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 11
The Punjab Government has formulated the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Policy for the state. The formulation of the policy was one of the main hurdles being faced by the government in procuring the SEZ status for Mohali and Amritsar. Though the Government of India had granted “temporary” SEZ status to Quark City Mohali, it had asked the Punjab Government to have an SEZ policy in place before other cases could be taken up.

“Following the formulation of the policy, a regular SEZ status has now been granted to Quark City. With regards to Amritsar SEZ, the government is finalising a private partner and once that is done, it should be a matter of weeks before SEZ status is granted to Amritsar also,” said Mr S.C. Agrawal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab.

SEZ status for a particular industrial belt is deemed foreign territory for tariff and trade operations. Since development of SEZs is expected to promote establishment of self-contained areas supported by world class infrastructure-oriented towards export promotion, getting an SEZ status means getting a host of exemptions.

All SEZ units and SEZ developers are exempted from the payment of sales tax/VAT, purchase tax, octroi, electricity duty on power purchased from the Punjab State Electricity Board, stamp duty and registration fee on purchase of land by developers for establishing SEZ and first sale of plots/land in SEZ and education, infrastructure or any other cess.

For units inside the zone, powers under the Industrial Disputes Act and other related Acts would be delegated to the “Development Commissioner” and the entire zone would be declared as a public utility service under the Industrial Disputes Act 1947. No authority/representative of any department/agency of the Punjab Government can carry out a physical inspection of a SEZ without prior approval of the Development Commissioner of SEZ.

The SEZ developer can set up a power plant for dedicated provision of power, including generation, transmission and distribution within the SEZ and charge for the same. Similarly, the SEZ developer can set up a system for water extraction, treatment, transmission and distribution within the zone.

Other than liberalising the regulatory framework, all works related to a SEZ would be cleared under the single-window system. Most of the clearances will be sought under the “deemed clearance route” which means that in case the clearance is not conveyed within prescribed time schedule, it would be deemed to have been granted. A SEZ Committee has also been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to review the progress of the zones.


Barnala first tech-savvy police district
Kamlesh Sharma

Barnala, September 11
Barnala has become the first tech-savvy police district of the state. Now onwards, anyone can get any information regarding status of complaints, services provided by the police or details about police officials right from the SHO to the SSP. This could be made possible with the Barnala police launching a website and developing an internal management software to get the latest information.

By logging on “barnalapolice.info”, one would get instant information on many counts regarding status of FIR, status of passport, police clearing certificate, information about missing or untraced persons. There is detailed information about the officers with their contact numbers, e-mail ID, personal particulars, residential address and sanctioned strength of police stations.

All the eight police stations falling under the police district will now be directly connected with the SSP office, who could be getting status of any report and information of any sort regarding the police in seconds. He will also be directly linked with the Director-General of Police.

The website has all the information about traffic regulations, challans made on any particular day, drug de-addiction activities, details of community police resource centre and women cell which could be used to know about crime against women.

The DIG, Patiala Range, Mr V.K. Bhawra, yesterday launched the website as well as software at Trident Group complex for exclusive use of police personnel having the capacity of update any new information according to police rules. Mr Bhawra said the website and software had been developed to increase the efficiency of the police to control crime rate and to enthuse confidence among people who are otherwise scared of coming forward by having friendly approach. He said the latest technology would also be beneficial to munshis recording first information reports . The same will also be started in other districts soon.

SSP Nageshwar Rao said with DG would be able to access any information any time. “Transparency will be the buzzword” with every official accountable for any lapses on the individual part. He said 18 computer operators would be engaged for all the police stations and head office. These persons would be at home in English as well as Punjabi for recording of entries.


Like Lahore, Amritsar to have Food Street
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
Like Lahore, Amritsar will shortly have its own “world-class” Food Street, where locals, visitors and pilgrims would enjoy various delicacies of the Holy City.

“Food Kiosks” would offer traditional Amritsari cuisines like kulche chhole, puri, lassi, samosas and kulfi etc. After sunset, lights, proposed to be designed to illuminate the decorated rooftops, would be switched on and the Food Street would come alive.

The ambitious project of the Improvement Trust would be set up at the famous Ranjit Avenue Shopping Complex along with 60 ft pavement. The Chairman of the Trust, Mr Jugal Kishor Sharma, told The Tribune that designs of “Food Kiosks” would be invited from interested parties on a competitive basis.

The Improvement Trust would be instrumental in providing the necessary infrastructure, including beautifying the area with fountains etc. The Food Street would be virtually a “Museum” of the composite Punjabi culture ,where “Baghi”, “Tonga” and other traditional artefacts would be displayed on a permanent basis. The Food Street would also become an entertainment zone, where Punjabi folk singers would entertain the visitors with traditional instruments.

The Food Street at Gawalmandi street in Lahore has earned name all over the world for serving Punjabi food .

Giving details of the project, Mr Sharma said that Amritsar had a unique ambience. Its warm flavour and verve is projected through the lifestyle of its residents. Hence, Food Street would be another attraction for the tourists.

Interestingly, the Holy City has the highest consumption of desi ghee and butter in the state. Puris, paranthas and gur da karah, samosas and kachauris, made of desi ghee, are available at eating joints here.

These snacks are sold on a “no-profit-no-loss” basis by the Durgiana Committee and Mata Da Mandir and other temples of the city. Though this is the city of Verka ghee, yet the monthly sale of Amul Ghee is said to be about Rs 50 lakh, while its consumption in Ludhiana, which has relatively more population, is much less. It is said that nobody dies due to starvation in Amritsar, though many may die due to “over-eating”.


Montek for quadrilateral project extension to Amritsar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, is in favour of the extension of golden quadrilateral project to Amritsar.

Stating this, Mr M.S. Gill, MP and former Chief Election Commissioner, said here today that he had a meeting with Mr Ahluwalia last evening in this connection. “I would meet him tomorrow again in this regard”, said Mr Gill. Provision of funds for the project would be made by the Planning Commission.

Under the project, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata are to be inter-linked with express super highways.

Mr Gill said he had told Mr Ahluwalia that the northern tip of the country started from Amritsar. Obviously, the super highway project should have started from Amritsar instead of Delhi as was the case now. In non inclusion of Punjab and Haryana, major suppliers of wheat and rice to deficit states, in the project was unjustified, he added.

Mr Gill said the two states had a heavy vehicular traffic and the national highway that led to Delhi from Jalandhar was prone to major accidents. This highway required to be expanded to an express super highway, he added.

Moreover, if the Wagah border was further opened for trade among India-Pakistan-Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries, the traffic would increase manifold on the Delhi-Amritsar route, he added.

Even, the stretch from Jalandhar to Amritsar and the Wagah border was not linked with a national highway. The government had promised to link the holy city with a national highway long ago, but nothing had been done in this regard, he added.


Pesticides mainly to blame for cancer deaths: report
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Pesticides and insecticides used by farmers are among the major causes of cancer deaths in the Malwa area of Punjab.

Vegetable, water, blood and urine samples have revealed the presence of a deadly concoction of heavy metals like selenium, arsenic and mercury, besides pesticides like heptachlor, ethion and chloropyrifos.

A final report in this regard has been submitted by the PGI to the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Patiala. The report said that pesticides had been a major cause of cancer deaths during the past 10 years. The other causes were the indiscriminate use of tobacco and alcohol as well the consumption of spicy food.

However, the state Health Department said the sample size was not adequate and released its own data which showed that samples of 235 persons collected from 12 districts had no traces of pesticides. An NGO, the Kheti Virasaat Mission, while welcoming the PGI study has written to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Chief Secretary saying the Health Department is trying to create confusion.

The PGI team headed by Prof Rajesh Kumar, Head of the Department, Community Medicine conducted the study in 36 villages of the Talwandi Sabo block in Bathinda district and 93 villages of the Chamkaur Sahib block in Ropar district.

Talwandi Sabo is in the cotton belt.

The report also blames lack of education and awareness for the storage of pesticides. In some cases, people have been found to be using empty pesticide containers for storing food items.

Figures showed that the number of confirmed cases was high among women with the cancer uterus, cervix and ovaries being the most common.

Last week, the pollution control board distributed leaflets in the cotton belt of Bathinda, Mansa-Sangrur-Muktsar, said Mr Malwinder Singh, secretary of the board. The leaflets contained information on the storage and the mode of use of pesticides. “The awareness programme will start and we have taken steps to tell farmers,” he added.

Meanwhile, the board tested the canal waters and found traces of DDT. However, no insecticides were detected in underground water, meaning the infected farmers were either drinking the canal water, or they got affected as food items were stored in empty cans of pesticides or while spraying their crops.

PGI experts say farmers need to be taught that pesticides should be sprayed by covering their faces. Most of them are doing so without taking the necessary precautions.

In June this year, Ms Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), had made startling revelations regarding the presence of pesticides in human blood in Punjab. She had claimed that a “cocktail of deadly pesticides” had been found in as many as 14 blood samples in Bathinda district.

There have been demands from NGOs like the Kheti Virasaat Mission to make Malwa pollution and pesticide-free, sensitise farmers on proper use of pesticides, provide information on contents of earth and set up an agency to deal with the problem.


Rice mills face closure threat
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, September 11
Rice mills in the state are facing threat of closure as a majority of them have not been provided with the electricity connection by the Punjab State Electricity Board on the direction of Punjab Pollution Control Board. The PPCB had requested to the electricity board not to release electricity connections to the mills which have par boiled rice units and had failed to upgrade the pollution control systems installed in their units according to new parameters of pollution control board.

Every year after the paddy season is over, the rice mills come to standstill as most of the mill owners get their connections disconnected to evade minimum charges PSEB according to the sanctioned load. The mill owners apply afresh for the connections on the onset of the next season to start their mills.

But this season though the paddy arrival in the district has already started the mills have not been released connections on the plea that they have not upgraded their effluent treatment plants with the demarcation of land for discharging the water left after making the par boiled rice.

According to Mr Jaipal Goel, a prominent rice mill owner of the district approximately 600 units in the state were rendered idle at the moment due to the policy of both the boards because of which they are bound to suffer the losses amounting to crores of rupees. Not only the mill owners but the farmers of the state also had to suffer as the rice mills bought that paddy of the farmers to prepare par boiled rice which the government procurement agencies refuse to lift due to excessive moisture content in it, added Mr Goel.

“We were not given sufficient time to upgrade our units according to new parameters of Punjab Pollution Control Board as it costs around Rs 4 lakh,” said Mr Ramesh, another Rice Miller of Kapurthala, adding that “ the boards have been partial to them as those units were not affected by this decision of the board who did not get their connections disconnected after the last paddy season”.

Meanwhile, Mr Tripat Singh Bajwa, Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board said the rice mill owners were given sufficient time to upgrade their pollution control systems and the PSEB was also requested to disconnect the power supply to those par boiled rice units also after October 31 who were milling the paddy at the moment and had fail to comply with the directions of the board by that date.

Still, keeping in view the difficulties to be faced by the farmers and rice mill owners due to the closure of the mills the board was considering to extend some concession to the millers for which a decision is expected to be announced by the Wednesday after a scheduled meeting of the board authorities with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday.


60 PCMS doctors to be promoted
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 11
The Punjab Government has decided to promote 60 PCMS doctors to senior lecturers and decided to take steps to improvise the working conditions in all the three government medical colleges at Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala. Besides, a decision has been taken to promote the other categories of doctors from senior lecturers to professors.

A meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) has been convened at Chandigarh on September 30 in this regard. This was stated by Dr J.S. Dalal, Director, Research and Medical Education, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. With the implementation of this plan by second week of October, nearly 90 per cent vacant posts of experts in the state medical college will be filled. The meeting is being held after many years, said the DRME.

In reply to a question, he said an order to the Principal of the local Govt. Guru Gobind Singh Medical has been issued to prepare a chargesheet against Dr Avtar Singh A.P. (Gynae) to take disciplinary action against him who has been absent from the duty for the past over one-and-a-half months from the local institution. The DRME made it clear that such irregularities committed by any medical expert would not be tolerated. Dr Dalal also assured to provide much-needed infrastructure to the college here shortly.

While giving details of the second day of the three-day counselling of the MBBS candidates being conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Faridkot Dr Dalal who is also the chairman of the Selection Committee, disclosed that 125 candidates belonging to different reserve categories like SC/BC and border areas have been selected. Out of the total selected seats, Government Medical Colleges Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot have been allotted 43, 44 and 14 seats, respectively, while DMC & CMC, Ludhiana and Guru Ram Dass Medical College Amritsar have been given 1, 4 and 17 seats respectively. The selection of the 186 general category candidates was held on Thursday. Fiftyone seats have already been allocated to the CBSE, said Dr Dalal.

He made it clear that the directions have been issued to all the government and private medical, dental, ayurvedic and homeopathic college to take the quantum of fee from each student as mentioned in the prospectus issued by the university.


Time limit for ETPs extended
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 11
What can be termed as a major relief extended to parboiled rice millers of the state, Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has extended the time limit for the rice millers to upgrade effluent treatment plants (ETPs) of ‘saila’ rice mills from October 31 to December this year. Mr Bajwa has also issued directions to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to release power connections for the corresponding period.

Mr Tarsem Saini, president, Parbolied Rice Millers Association, who along with the delegation of the millers, called on Mr Bajwa at his residence today, said the millers apprised Mr Bajwa of their problems in upgrading their ETPs.

Mr Saini said earlier the PPCB had directed the millers to upgrade their existing ETP immediately to achieve the standard laid down by the Board. He said the board had also directed the PSEB not to release the seasonal power connection for the commencement of new kharif season until the issuance of a fresh clearance certificate from board.

In today’s meeting, the millers stated that the board has approved only five consultant firms for the

ETP upgradation, and it required a period of minimum six months to upgrade a single unit. It was not possible for five firms to upgrade 350 units in a year as consultant firm could take up not more than four units at one time for the upgradation. Millers also stressed that as they had suffered a huge financial losses in the previous year, hence it was not possible for them to spare required funds for the up- gradation work immediately.

The millers also requested Mr Bajwa to free the rice milling industry from the Air Pollution Control Act. Mr Bajwa agreed to undertake a comprehensive study in this matter, they added.


300 motivated to preserve environment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The Samaj Bhalai Manch, a Punjab-based NGO, held a function here yesterday.

It said that 300 volunteers had been motivated to preserve social values and the environment and strive for social justice.

Dr Piare Lal Garg, general secretary of the manch, said this year the NGO gave coaching to a good number of aspirants for admission to medical and engineering colleges from poor sections of society at its coaching centres in Jalandhar. Certain students had succeeded in getting admission. The coaching was given free of cost.

The manch presented a cash prize of Rs 5,500 each to Rajpreet Jakhu and Dharminder Ahir for their excellent performance in the PMT and the CET, respectively, he added.

Mr Niranjan Singh, Chairman of the Commission for Scheduled Castes, Punjab, who was the chief guest, said such non-government organisations should play a pivotal role in providing social justice to the lower strata of society.


Aid sought for leprosy patients

Chandigarh, September 11
The Disabled Persons Welfare Organisation, Punjab, in a representation to the MP, Patiala, has sought financial assistance for the leprosy patients at Ghaghar Leprosy Ashram, Mubarakpur, Dera Bassi.

President of the organisation Parmdeep Singh said the NGO was providing assistance to 18 families of leprosy patients at the ashram. Each inhabitant was getting Rs 200 per month as disability pension from the state government. But due to meager resources, the patients had to live in huts made of mud. The MP was urged to provide suitable employment to the eligible persons. TNS


2 die as bus overturns

Batala September 11
A private bus carrying devotees back to Shri Hargobindpur after attending the marriage anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev overturned and fell in a drain near Udhanwal yesterday.

One Narinder Kaur and an unknown elderly woman died while another 20 persons sustained injuries in the accident. Those who suffered serious injuries have been admitted to civil and private hospitals of Batala.

The injured include Malkiat Singh of Dhadhiala, Kamalprit Kaur of Shri Hargobindpur, Nirmal Kaur of Khujala, Manprit Kaur of Shri Hargobindpur and Paramjit Kaur of Sangatpur. — OC


Farmers for adequate water in distributary

Chandigarh, September 11
Farmers of several villages of Mansa district here today urged the Chief Engineer (Canals), Punjab, to ensure adequate supply of water in the Uddat distributary there.

In a memorandum to the Chief Engineer, the farmers said they depended on the distributary for drinking water and irrigation. However, for the past one month, the supply of water was negligible causing a lot of problems for villages. — TNS


Fish poachers arrested
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 11
The district Fisheries Department has arrested fish poachers who were carrying out illegal fishing in the Beas and its tributary Sarri. The raid was carried out on a tip off provided by a former wildlife warden.

The raid was carried out by a team led by Assistant Director, Fisheries Department, yesterday evening. The team caught the poachers red handed. Hundreds of fishing hooks, fishing line and fishing nets and live fish being used as bait were recovered from them. Kala and Saroop of Sohal village near Dhariwal, Ilahi Khan and Idrees Khan of Qadian and migrant labourers were caught from Aulakh bet area on the banks of the Sarri and the Beas. Kala and Saroop have been indulging in illegal fishing since long. They were caught last year too. However, due to weak provisions of the Fisheries Act, the poachers get away easily. According to the Fisheries Act, a meagre fine up to Rs 1,000 is imposed on those caught fishing illegally. The poachers can earn thousands in a day from illegal fishing. The minor penalty under the Act is not enough to prevent them from the illegal fishing.

The Department of Fisheries has now written to the Punjab Government for amendments in the Fisheries Act. Under the proposed amendments the penalty for illegal fishing has been increased.

The government contractors are not allowed to catch less than 6 inch in size. The illegal poachers use nets that even catch small fish. The small fish are killed by poachers even before they reach the breeding age.

Sources said due to the large scale illegal fishing and declining in fish population in the river, the department has not been able to finalise the annual contract for fishing in Gurdaspur district for the current financial year. There are hardly any takers for fishing contracts in the district due to large scale illegal fishing.


Varsity expels 5 more students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
The Punjabi University authorities toughened their stand against the agitating students of the Law Department as they expelled five more students and obtained a stay order from court that no student or employee could hold a demonstration or agitate within 500 metres of the university gate.

The court order was read to the students sitting outside the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai. When the students refused to move, the police was called in. Then the students went away on their own.

Chamkaur Singh of the Punjab Students Union, Bakshish Azad of the PRSU and Ravinder Dhaliwal and Sandeep Barewal of the SFI were expelled last night. Narinder Singh of the Economics Department was also expelled.

The students alleged that the authorities did not let them have dinner, which was forcibly snatched from them. They went hungry the whole night and later held a rally in front of Bhai Vir Singh Hostel.

The Punjabi University Students Confederation said the students would continue to protest by peaceful means. It said they would not be provoked despite the high-handedness of the authorities. They have vowed to continue the agitation till their demands are met. A meeting will be held tomorrow afternoon to decide the further course of action.

Students of the Departments of Economics and Social Work are expected to join the agitation tomorrow, according to suspended student leader Rajinder Singh.

The students had vacated the hostels yesterday after the 12 pm deadline and “taken up residence” outside the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. At last 40 girls students also vacated the hostels.

Suspended students leaders Rajinder Singh and Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal yesterday accused Mr Boparai of trying to instigate and encourage extremists on the campus. They said Mr Boparai did not hold an inquiry on the arrest of Jagtar Singh Hawara (main accused in the Beant Singh murder case) in front of the university gate despite their repeated demands.

Students started an agitation asking for the abolition of the internal assessment in the Law Department on September 7. Trouble started when two student leaders were suspended that day and their entry was banned. The university authorities accused them of indiscipline and hooliganism. The students charged the management with an authoritarian attitude while the authorities alleged that student political leaders were disturbing the academic atmosphere. They have made it clear that no outside interference would be allowed.


Sudhir wins rangoli contest
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 11
Sudhir Sharma and his sister, Sunaina Sharma, won the first and the second positions respectively, in a rangoli competition during the three-day talent hunt function that concluded at the DAV College here yesterday.

They also won prizes in the fresh flower arrangement, bouquet, dry flower arrangement and alpana competitions.

Other toppers included Ms Kanika Goyal (mehandi), Mr Sanjay Saini (poster making), Mr Vivek (drawing from life), Ms Shalini Garg (fresh flowers arrangement), Ms Neha (collage making), Ms Gurpinder (cross stitch), Ms Shavinder (crochet), Ms Deepika Bansal (pakhi making), Ms Ramandeep Kaur (knitting), Ms Saloni Malhotra (clay modelling), Ms Neha Juneja (still life), Mr Sanjay Saini (cartooning), Mr Gurvinder Singh (poetry), Ms Amandeep Kaur (story writing), Ms Maninder Kaur (essay), Ms Ajit Kaur and party (shabad), Ms Isha (instrumental music), Ms Shavinder Kaur (ghazal and folk singing), Mr Sunil Kumar (songs), Ms Sukhjeet Kaur (poetical recitation), Ms Shavinder Kaur and party (traditional songs). Dr B.C. Josan, Principal and Mr B.S. Bhullar, Dean, EMA Department of the college said nearly 150 students participated in the competitions.


State-aided school panel meets CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
A delegation of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Progressive Front led by Mr Upjit Singh Brar, president, Mr K.K. Sharma, chairman, and Mr Prem Sharma, secretary, met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, recently with regard to their demands. The Chief Minister listened to their demands and asked the authorities concerned for a consolidated report in this regard, according to the press secretary of the front.

The delegation presented a charter of demands. The front is demanding the revival of the pension scheme for the teachers of state-aided schools. The employees have asked for regularisation of their salaries. The grants are often late, which leads to delay in their salaries too, they added. They also wanted the ban imposed on the recruitment of teachers to be lifted.


2 teachers selected for KVS award
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
Mrs Rajwinder Kaur Sekhon and Mrs Sukhwant Kaur Kamboj of Kendriya Vidyalaya No 1, Patiala, have been selected by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan for the KVS National Incentive Award for 2005 in the field of education.

Both teachers will be honoured with the award on September 21 in New Delhi.


Exempt shawls, blankets from VAT: federation
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, September 11
The recent clarification of the state government with regard to the VAT law to charge tax on shawls and blankets have literally created an unprecedented situation, where future of thousands of traders and factory owners is in jeopardy. The Federation of Amritsar Textile Associations has threatened a strike if the Punjab Government did not exempt these two items from the purview of tax.

After holding an emergency meeting, the federation in a press note issued here today expressed its deep shock over the unannounced and recent move of the state government to collect VAT on blanket and shawls which had virtually brought the trade to a standstill.

Mr Sanjay Kapur, secretary of the Association, told the Tribune that if the two items were not exempted from the tax, traders and industrialists dealing with these products would be forced to close down their business.

He said they had sought clear-cut guidelines from the government after the enforcement of VAT from April this year and added that the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, and the Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation, Mr Mukul Joshi, had categorically assured the representatives of the trade that there would be no VAT on blankets and shawls as such.

He said that the sudden imposition had intrigued the entire trade circles, which would shortly pass through its peak season of the year.

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