P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM says no to nuclear power plant, snubs Dullo
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Patiala, November 3
In a significant development that could have far-reaching political consequences, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said no nuclear power plant would be set up in the state. He also snubbed the state Congress chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, by saying that he (Mr Dullo) was not in the government and hence he was not supposed to take interest in such issues.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who presided over a meeting in the local medical college in the evening, said Punjab was a small state and no government could allow any disaster to take place by setting up a nuclear power plant in it.

When asked why Mr Dullo had been stressing for setting up a nuclear power plant in the state, he first said Mr Dullo was having his own opinion in that connection.

When asked that difference of opinion between him and Mr Dullo would send wrong signals to the people, he said such issues were supposed to be looked after by the state government and Mr Dullo was not in the government.

Mr Dullo has been making repeated statements favouring the setting up of a nuclear power plant in Punjab to overcome the shortage of electricity.

The best solution to overcome shortage of power was to set up hydro-electric projects in association with hilly states, including Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttranchal and others, Capt Amarinder Singh said.

He added he had been talking to the chief ministers of these states in that connection and he was hopeful that it would become a reality one day. He said apart from it, a number of thermal and hydro-electric projects were being set up in Punjab.

To another question, he said the state government was going to hold a special session of the Assembly in November or December to hold a debate over the development and law and order situation in the state.

He claimed the achievements of the Congress government in the past three years were much more than those of the previous SAD-BJP combine government in the entire term of five years.

In connection with the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), he said though power reforms were mandatory under the national Act, he had asked the people concerned to look into the fact whether the unbundling would suit Punjab or not and find out the option that would suit the state the most. He said the Punjab Government would not hurry in this case.


Major development projects cleared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
A day after the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, announced his intention to hold a special debate on development in the state, the government today got into an overdrive and announced a slew of major development projects.

The projects include the four-laning of five major roads, the building of railway overbridges and the construction of a ring road around Ludhiana to decongest the industrial city.

The decisions on these projects were taken at a high-level meeting of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) held here. The Chief Minister chaired the meeting a day after he announced in Ludhiana that a debate to discuss development during the Congress regime and the previous Akali regime would be held.

The five road projects are worth Rs 303. 57 crore and would be undertaken on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The roads are the Kiratpur-Una (Rs 41.84 crore), the Patiala-Malerkotla (Rs 63.56 crore), the Ferozepore-Fazilka (Rs 105.52 crore), the Moga-Kot Kapura (Rs 62.09 crore) and the Hoshiarpur- Tanda (Rs 30.56 crore). There is heavy traffic on these roads.

The major thrust would be on railway overbridges (ROBs). Two of these would be in Bathinda. This is as per the announcement made by the Chief Minister during the state-level Republic Day function in Bathinda this year, a government spokesperson said.

The PIDB also decided to undertake the construction of a railway overbridge at phatak no. 21 in Patiala shortly. The modalities would be worked out by the PWD (B&R).

The PIDB also approved the construction of three railway overbridges in Jalandhar in the Lyallpur Khalsa College , Maqsoodan and DAV College areas. Also ROBs would be built at Beas, Tanda Yard, Jagraon, Sangrur, Moga, Tarn Taran, Batala, Dasuya, Suchhi Pind, Amritsar (Jwala Flour Mill), Chawapail, Mansa, Subanpur and Patiala and two at Dhuri.

The board also approved the much-awaited alignment of the four-laned Ludhiana ring road to be constructed at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore. This road is being built as Ludhiana is now a junction of highways coming from Chandigarh, Ambala, Ferozepore and Amritsar .

Besides, the PIDB approved four polytechnics to be located at Anandpur Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi, Muktsar and Rahon. These would be constructed with private parties also investing in the projects.

It was also decided at the meeting to launch a scheme of water supply and sewerage under the Municipal Development Fund and a low-cost sewerage facility under the Village Development Fund at Malout on November 14.

The PIDB also cleared the start of construction work at the Inter- State Bus Terminus in Jalandhar and Ludhiana on November 15 and December 15, respectively.


PUDA plans to offer better deal to farmers
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 3
In order to offer a better deal to farmers whose land is acquired by the government for development, a sub-committee constituted by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to suggest an alternative compensation scheme has finalised its recommendations.

According to the recommendations made by the sub-committee, farmers who give their land to the government can now opt for a developed residential plot for every acre of land that they part with instead of the compensation amount.

Currently the only option available with the farmers is payment of a compensation amount for the land that they give to the government. The compensation amount is calculated based on the recommendations made by a price fixation committee headed by the district’s Deputy Commissioner. The land price fixed by the committee (also known as announcement of the award) is mandatory and has to be accepted by the farmers. The sub-committee has stated that this option would still be available to the farmers, along with the new option.

According to the new option, farmers whose land is being acquired are entitled to a residential plot sized between 333 to 444 square yards from PUDA for every acre of land that they forego. This means that if a farmer gives 20 acres of land to PUDA he can take 20 such plots from PUDA in the various developing sectors of the area.

Sources added that the size of plot offered by PUDA would vary from place to place depending on the compensation award declared by the price fixation committee for that area. “The basic premise of the new scheme is that the farmer has to be given a plot worth at least 1.5 times and at the most 2 times the compensation amount declared by the DC for that area,” pointed out Mr Parshottam Singh Sodhi, Land Acquisition Officer, PUDA.

This means that in case the district price fixation committee has recommended an award of Rs 20 lakh per acre to the farmer, he would be given a plot worth at least 30 lakh or at the most Rs 40 lakh (calculated at the rate of the cost of plots fixed by PUDA in that area).

Land owners in many parts of the state, including Ropar, Patiala, Pathankot, Amritsar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nawanshahr, Bathinda and Jalandhar, have been protesting against the acquisition of their land by PUDA alleging that the awards announced by the government was too little.

Stating that while PUDA “bought” their land at very low rates, it sold this land at very high rates, the farmers have been demanding a “share” in the profits earned by PUDA at their cost. The farmers alleged that they were the losers in every way since acquisition of land left them without land and employment as the acquisition amount was not enough for them to take up an alternative employment.

Mr Sodhi added that these recommendations have been finalised by PUDA’s sub-committee and were now part of the agenda of PUDA’s next meeting due on November 11. Following passing by the authority, these changes would be taken to the Cabinet for approval.


Tactical battle on between Cong, SAD
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
To attract public attention to issues which are likely to be in the limelight during the Punjab Assembly elections to be held in 60 weeks from now, the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD), the main Opposition party in the state, have started a tactical political battle.

The earlier debate held on the issue of terrorism and the next to be held on the issue of law and order and development are clearly part of this battle." It is time to score political points and both parties are playing political games to do so," a watcher of Punjab's political scenario says.

As a part of the strategy devised by his ‘‘kitchen cabinet’’, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced that the special session of the state Assembly would be held either in the last week of this month or in the first week of December to hold a debate on the issue of development and law and order.

Making the announcement regarding the holding of the special session, Capt Amarinder Singh told a group of mediapersons today : " We are calling the special session on the demand made by the Leader of Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal who, while speaking in the last session of the Punjab Assembly had sought a discussion on the law and order and development issues".

Obviously, Capt Amarinder Singh has started building up pressure on Mr Badal by putting the ball in his court as far as calling the next special session is concerned. Mr Badal cannot say that he did not make a demand for such a discussion.

In fact, not only Capt Amarinder Singh but other senior Ministers who are part of his ‘‘kitchen cabinet’’, are of the opinion that by engaging Mr Badal in debate they can politically subdue him. They are, perhaps, conscious of the fact that they cannot beat Mr Badal in the public sphere because he still commands wide acceptability in the state.

On the other hand, the general secretary of the SAD, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, says that such a debate should be held in the rural areas. He adds that a debate should be held on the issue of corruption. Mr Sukhbir Singh is himself keen to hold a debate with the Chief Minister on these issues.

Mr Sukhbir Singh today said that such a debate with the Chief Minister could be held at a place of his (CM's) choice.

The Akali leader said that a debate on these issues should be held once a week in a village or a town till the holding of the Assembly elections. People in the villages should get an opportunity to ask questions during the debate. Mr Sukhbir Singh knows well that his father, Mr Parkash Singh, is well versed in rural idiom.

However, it remains a moot question whether the people of the state will be benefit such debates or not.


Virasat mela to showcase Malwa’s rich culture
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 3
The three-day Virasat mela beginning today at the sports stadium here will showcase rich cultural heritage of the Malwa region presenting a rare chance for city people and young generation to get familiar with their rich traditions and typical rural lifestyle. However, the mela, being organised by the Malwa Heritage Foundation, might end on a political note, as sources said the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, appeared keen on ‘gaining political mileage’ on the last day of mela when Gurdas Mann, Balkar Sidhu and Kuldip Manak would present their programmes. Deputy Commissioner, Rahul Bhandari, who is also the president of the foundation, admitted that he had extended an invitation to the Chief Minister, but he was yet to confirm participation.

On the opening day, Jaipal Garh, a village depicting typical rural lifestyle especially built for the mela at the stadium and a painting exhibition will be inaugurated. The same evening will showcase noted playwright Balwant Gargi’s play on Razia Sultan at the historic Quila Mubarak. Famous theatre personality Tony Batish would direct the play. On the second day of mela, a heritage march comprising elephants, horses, camels and regional artistes will be taken out from Hajiratan Gurdwara, and pass through main market of the city before culminating at Quila Mubarak. To revive the region’s dying traditions, ‘Jago’ from various villages having participants in colourful attires will start from Quila Mubarak in the evening and participate in a contest at the sports stadium. Saroop Parinda (Chachi Atro) and Chanchal Bharti will also present programmes on programmes like Kavishri darbar, folk songs, Malwai Giddha and sports fair would be the highlights of the final day. The three day fair would come to an end on a musical note with Gurdas Mann and Balkar Sidhu performing at the stadium. Stalls of Punjabi food would also be put up at the mela. 


Pathankot civil airport a victim of political rivalry
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 3
The civil airport of Pathankot is ready for inauguration. However, the flights are not being started much to the chagrin of the people of Kangra, Gurdaspur and Jammu, who are likely to benefit the most from it.

Sources said the airport had been a victim of political rivalry. The Congressmen from Gurdaspur were of the opinion that the BJP MP from the area, Mr Vinod Khanna, might get the credit in case the airport was made operational. So, they were not lobbying for making it operational keeping in view the Assembly elections in Punjab.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) official, who is in charge of the construction work, said the entire work of construction had been almost completed. The minor work that was continuing could be completed anytime once the schedule for inauguration was received from the government.

The work was started in 2001. The apron of the airport has been linked to runway of the Indian Air Force station. The civil planes would land and take off from the runway of the Air Force and stop in the apron constructed by the Airports Authority of India.

The apron constructed in the airport can accommodate three Airbus 320 aircraft at a time. The lounge of the airport can accommodate 110 passengers. It is fully air-conditioned and equipped with all modern facilities.

The airport has been brought up in an area of 23 acres. Till date, an amount of around Rs 15 crore has been spent on the construction of the airport.

The approach roads to it have also been constructed by the Himachal Government. As per the MoU signed for the airport, the Himachal Government was to provide the approach roads.

Officials said the decision regarding the flights to be operated from Pathankot was to be taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Private airlines were already posing queries to the Indian Air Force authorities regarding the operation of flights.

The inauguration of the airport is likely to witness a political struggle. The work of the airport started during the stint of the NDA government. The local MP, Mr Vinod Khanna, claims the credit of bringing the project to the area.

During his recent visit to the area, he claimed he would take up the matter of starting flights from the airport with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

However, with the Congress in power both in the Centre and the state, its leaders would like to take away the credit for the airport by inaugurating it.


Bathinda Cong for leaders’ expulsion
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 3
Taking a serious note of the voices of dissent emanating from within the party, the city Congress held a meeting last evening and recommended expulsion of the District Youth Congress chief Mr Paramjit Singh Kotfatta, District INTUC president Mr Preetam Singh Brar, and Mr Satpal Bhateja and Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu from the party for six years. These leaders had come out against the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, and the District Congress chief, Mr Inder Singh Sahni, at a meeting on Monday.

During the meeting, the party leaders said the Congress had nothing to do with Rajeev Gandhi Lok Bhalai Manch, of which Mr Bhateja and Mr Sandhu were office-bearers. They alleged that both members had always tried to sabotage programmes of the party in the past and they made another such attempt prior to the PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo’s, forthcoming visit to the city. They accused both of them of misbehaving with a former minister, Mr Surinder Kapoor, sometime back. They claimed that Mr Sandhu was only a member of the party and not the PPCC general secretary as he had been projecting himself. A resolution was passed recommending the disgruntled leaders’ expulsion for their anti-party activities.

On the other hand, Mr Sandhu, who had been leading the attack on Singla-Sahni duo, claimed that he was the PPCC secretary and he had got the party’s I-card too.

However, Mr Sahni said Mr Bindra was the press secretary of the DCC. Mr Sandhu alleged that sarpanches, who attended the meeting on Monday, were being threatened and he too had received threatening calls. He said they had only raised people’s voice in the meeting and added that they were ready to face action if they had done anything wrong.

City Congress chief Anil Bhola denied Sandhu’s allegations stating that he should come clean on the issue and name those who had threatened him or the persons mentioned by him.


Church of North India denies conversion through coercion
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 3
Criticism of the church notwithstanding, Mr Joel V. Mal, newly elected moderator of the Church of North India (CNI) asserts that the conversion would continue. He added, there was no coercion or allurement used for the conversion. He asserted, “I believe in conversion and not coercion”.

The CNI is an apex representative body of the Protestants representing almost entire India except the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh which are covered by the Church of South India. Mr Joel is first Punjabi to become the moderator, the supreme authority, of the CNI.

In a frank exchange of views with The Tribune here today, Mr Joel said, “our mission is to preach, teach and serve”. He said, they served people in India through teaching and medical services. At the same time, mission of conversion also continued, he said. He asserted that despite so much hue and cry by some vested interests, no government of any party at the Centre or in any of the states in India had ever been able to establish a single case of coercive conversion. He asserted, conversion can never be forcible. “You cannot enforce faith upon anybody, it is always of free will”, he pointed out.

He said, except for the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narinder Modi, he had not found anybody hostile towards the church in India. Even then he does not have any grievances against the people like Mr Modi. In an ideal Christian way of “understanding and forgiving”, he maintained, “even those people (meaning the right wing Hindu organisations) do it out of political compulsions and they do not mean it”. He remarked that he had good personal relationships with so many people in the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party like in other parties. “Your faith should not come between your personal relationships”, he remarked.

Mr Joel V Mal is a third generation convert to Christianity. He disclosed that he continued to maintain good relationship with his blood relations, most of whom have retained the Hindu faith. “I strongly believe that anybody who believes truly in his own religion would certainly respect every other religion”, he observed, while adding, “there is a marked difference between being religious and being communal”.

Although he agreed that casteism and Christianity did not go together, he strongly advocated reservation for Dalit Christians. He said, it is not a religious issue. It is a social and economic issue. “By converting to some other faith like Christianity, the Dalits do not overcome their social and economic problems overnight and reservation is meant for bringing people on a par”, he said, adding that the Christian vote did count a lot in Punjab and they had made it clear to everybody that whoever granted them reservation would get their votes.

On the issue of conversions being more predominant among the lower classes only, Mr Joel V Mal said, most of the earlier converts belonged to this section. Obviously they come in more frequent contact within their own circle, be it the social or friendly, that may lead to conversions. He categorically denied that there were any allurements. “We are not that rich to lure people to our faith with money”, he said, while adding, conversion comes from motivation and not any compulsion, not even economic or financial.


Protest against ‘destruction’ of crop by police
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 3
In yet another incident, the crop of a Dalit farmer, Sumitra Devi, of Soly Bholi village, near Sujjanpur, has been destroyed allegedly by the police at the behest of a minister.

The BJP workers from the area, including former ministers Mohan Lal and Satpal Saini, today held a demonstration in front of the office of SDM Pathankot to protest against the destruction of crop. Mohan Lal alleged that the minister from Sujjanpur was trying to grab the land of poor farmers by misusing the administration.

The BJP workers threatened to launch a statewide agitation if the Dalit farmers were bereft of their land at the hands of those in power.

In a memorandum submitted to the SDM, Sumitra Devi has stated that she had bought 21 kanal land in the village in 1984. Around a year ago, she gave 1 kanal 10 marla of that land to a gujjar, Barkat Ali.

But without informing her, revenue officials, including the Tehsildar of the area, changed the girdawari of the land in favour of Ali.

The land was transferred in the name of Ali at the behest of the minister who wanted to take control of the land, she alleged.

A few days ago the police came to her land and destroyed the crop and gave charge of the land to Ali, who was just her tenant.

It is pertinent to mention here that around a month ago, some policemen allegedly destroyed the crop of Bir Singh, another poor farmer of the area.

Bir Singh had taken five acre of barren land from the Irrigation Department on lease. He made it cultivable and had sown vegetables on it.

However, the police and Forest Department officials came and destroyed the crop.

Bir Singh had alleged that the minister wanted to take control of the land. Due to it he used the police and forest officials to destroy his crop. He submitted a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Vivek Pratap Singh, who initiated an inquiry into the incident.

It is being alleged that the police was using its might to remove poor Dalits from prime lands by destroying their crops.

SSP Gurdaspur Pramod Ban was not available for comments.


NMC chief comes to Reddy’s defence
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 3
Mr Tirlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, has spoken in favour of Mr Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, who was criticised by SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur for not getting up on his feet to accept the German translation of Guru Granth Sahib recently.

In a letter to the SGPC president, the NMC Chairman has said that the criticism of the minister by the SGPC president was “unwarranted”. She needed to get facts right before levelling allegations against Mr Reddy, he has said.

The Union Minister had come on the stage in a wheelchair. “Wherever he was required to stand up and speak, he was exempted due to his condition,” he added.

Incidentally, the SGPC offers special service of wheelchair for the physically challenged who wished to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, he said.

The SGPC in its crucial executive meeting last evening at Gurdwara Alamgir (Ludhiana) had heaped criticism on the Union Minister for accepting Guru Granth Sahib in German translation from the Prime Minister without rising from his seat.

He said instead of criticising, the Sikhs should laud the efforts of Mr Reddy who spent crores from the Union Ministry for organising five seminars on Guru Granth Sahib throughout the country.


Revoke disturbed area tag on Punjab, says M. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Dr M.S. Gill, member of the Rajya Sabha, here today said that he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to revoke the order through which the Punjab was declared disturbed area years ago.

Dr Gill said Punjab was the most peaceful area in the country at present and there was no logic in keeping this order in force in the state now.

He said because of this order, Punjab’s social and economic development had been adversely affected. Many people from Pakistan were keen to get treatment in Punjab’s hospitals but they could not come to Punjab because of the enforcement of the order regarding disturbed area.

Dr Gill said he had urged the PM to direct the Union Home Ministry to revoke the order.

He said the main technical difficulty in plying the bus service between Lahore and Amritsar was the order regarding disturbed area in Punjab. He said those who come to India in the Lahore-Delhi bus cannot alight from the bus in Punjab area. They have to first report at Delhi, he added.


Photo exhibition on birds
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 3
With a view to spread awareness about more than 150 species of birds, including migratory birds, in the wetland area in Ropar district and Himachal Pardesh, a Nangal-based NGO, Jagriti, organised a photo exhibition at government college here today.

More than 400 photographs of birds, including some of the endangered species, are on display.

The exhibition was inaugurated by the Parliamentary Secretary (Industry and Commerce), Mr Rana K.P., in the morning.

The aim of the exhibition is to highlight the threat being posed to the birds due to pollution and hunting and the need to take immediate steps to save ecology.

Photographs of sarus crane, greenbee eater, black drongo, purple sun bird, cormant fish eater, shriks, flower pecker, ruddyshelduck, coots and red crested poacherd are on display.

These photographs were taken in the forest areas along rivers in Una district, Anandpur Sahib, Ropar and Nangal.

“Photographing these birds is not an easy task. It took more than a year to me, along with a local bird watcher, Mr Jaspreet Singh, to trace and photograph these birds. But we have managed to collect some photographs of rare birds that have already disappeared from the area,” says Mr Prabhat Bhatti, director of Jagriti.

Mr Jaspreet Singh expressed concern over the neglect of birds.


Schemes for girl child highlighted
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 3
In order to check increasing gender bias and encourage couples to go for girl child, the Family Planning Department of the state has announced various lucrative schemes. Couples opting sterilisation after one girl child will be rewarded with Rs 500 per month and those choosing not to expand the family after two girl children would get Rs 350 each in the name of the girls till attaining the age of 18, provided the parents were not income tax payee.

Civil Surgeon V.S. Mohi announced this while addressing a gathering of medicos at the local Civil Hospital today. He said the money would be made available under the Balri Suraksha Yojna.

He urged media to share the responsibility to spread awareness about HIV and ongoing nationwide tuberculosis control programme.

He said doctors found forcing patients to go to private laboratories and scan centres would be dealt with sternly.

District Family Planning Officer Dr Navjot Sidhu exhorted the gathering to keep a check on scan centres so that those indulging in sex determination tests could be brought to justice.

She also honoured doctors and paramedics for their contribution in the field of family planning.


Protest against publication of article
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 3
Activists of the Brahmin Sabha, Sirhind, led by Mr Devi Dayal Parashar, state president of the sabha, organised a protest march in front of Deputy Commissioner and SSP’s office in protest against the derogatory language used by a reporter of a newspaper in an article against the Brahmins. They were demanding registration of a case against the reporter. They raised slogans against the reporter and the newspaper. They also burnt copies of the newspaper.

Addressing the rally, Mr Parashar said the reporter had knowingly used the derogatory language against the community. He said if the administration did not take any action, they would be forced to launch a state-level agitation.

They also submitted a memorandum to the SP (H) on behalf of the SSP and to the ADC on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner.


120 delegates to deliberate on global peace
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 3
A seven-day meet on creating international partnership for building global peace started at the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society here today. The founder of the Goldin Institute for International Partnership and Peace, USA, Ms Diane Goldin, said they were engaged in bringing various religious leaders and civic activists on a common platform to discuss diverse issues to bring about global reconciliation.

She said there was a growing sense of alienation among various communities around the world, especially in the areas where conflict was going on. Talking about the Indo-Pak conflict, she said India being a larger country must show magnanimity to resolve outstanding issues for lasting peace.

The head of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewa Jatha from England, Bhai Mohinder Singh, said more than 120 delegates from various countries would share their experiences and explore the possibility of creating a movement to foster reconciliation.


Fire breaks out in shop
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 3
Goods worth about Rs 20,000 were destroyed in a fire that broke out in a kiryana shop in Desumajra village late last night.

According to information available, Kuldeep Singh, owner of the shop, was informed about the fire by some persons who happened to see the smoke coming out of his shop. Soon after people of the area gathered and brought the flames under control before the fire brigade could reach the spot. Another case of minor fire from a handloom shop in Gandhi Bazar has also been reported.


Cong leader dead
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 3
After a brief illness, Mr Jai Singh, secretary, District Congress Committee, Hoshiarpur, died at the DMC, Ludhiana, early this morning. His body was brought to his house today.

Mr Jai Singh was a contractor and associated with various social and religious organisations. He was 68 and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

His body was cremated at local cremation ground this afternoon. Hundreds of men and women from all walks of life, including Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, a member of Rajya Sabha, Mr Kuldip Nanda, president, District Congress Committee, attended the funeral.


Brahmkumaris celebrate Bhaiya Dooj with BSF men
Our Correspondent

On The Zero Line, November 3
More than 50 jawans and officers of the Border Security Force (BSF) today felt at home as members of the Brahmakumaris organisation celebrated bhaiya dooj with them at Sulemanki sector. Mr Ajit Kumar, Company Commandant of the 99th Battalion of the BSF, welcomed them. The Brahmakumaris applied tilak on forehead of the jawans and other members of the team offered sweets.


4 labourers held for murder
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 3
The police has arrested four migratory labourers Yousuf, Sunil, Munna and Ram (all residents of Ranchi district in Jharkhand) for murdering another migratory labourer Raju from Jharkhand, residing at Karyam village. According to information, the victim Raju went to meet the accused at Hiala village on Tuesday. They drank wine there. Later in the evening, an altercation followed in which Ram allegedly attacked Raju with a sharp-edged weapon, which proved fatal. With the help of his companions, he buried the body of Raju in the nearby sugarcane field. Mr Raghubir Singh, master of Ram, somehow, got the clue and informed the police about the incident. Mr Run Pal Singh, SSP, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Dahia, SP(D), Mr Gurmukh Singh Cheema, DSP, and Mr Satnam Singh, SHO (Sadar), reached at the site and took all the accused in custody. The body of Raju was recovered from the field. A case under Sections 302/201, IPC, has been registered against them.

In another incident, the body of another migratory labourer, Ram Partap, was found at Gahun village. Dilawar Singh, master of the deceased, informed the village panchayat and police about it. The police has registered a case.


Two killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 3
Two persons were killed and five others were injured, one of them seriously when a private bus in which they were travelling overturned and fell into a deep field on the Morinda-Kurali road here this evening.

The mishap took place at about 3 pm, when the private bus which was on its way from Kurali to Morinda over turned after the driver lost control over the vehicle.

Mohammad and Badan Mukhiya died on the spot. The seriously injured, Amar Singh of Ludhiana was referred to the PGI.


One killed in accident

Tarn Taran, November 3
Bhupinder Singh (20), a resident of Kallaha village, was killed and three others were injured when the three-wheeler in which they were going overturned near Mughalchack village. Ms Daljit Kaur, the mother of the deceased, in her complaint to the police, said that the driver of the three-wheeler, Sukha, was under the influence of liquor driving the three-wheeler rashly. The three-wheeler overturned when he failed to control it. — OC


One held for abducting girl
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 3
The local police today booked a Nawanshahr resident on charges of abducting a minor girl in order to marry her.

According to the police, the boy, Sukhvinder Singh, was booked under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC following a complaint by the girl’s father, who is also a resident of Nawanshahr. The police said the boy had brought the girl with him on October 18 and was arrested from the Mundi Kharar bus stop today.


Empowered panel on medical colleges to be set up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
The Punjab Government has decided to set up an empowered committee headed by the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to work out modalities to upgrade and modernise all three medical colleges of the state.

Disclosing this to reporters here this evening , Capt Amarinder Singh, who presided over a meeting on the upgradation and modernisation of Rajindera Medical College here said that this step had been taken to provide best medicare to people at subsidised rates.

“Now the Punjab Government has good financial health and it is planning to arrange enough funds for making all its medical colleges fully advanced and equipped,” the Chief Minister pointed out.

The Chief Minister added as far as the local medical college was concerned, the Punjab Government would spend Rs 35 crore on infrastructure, latest equipment and upgradation of facilities for making it more people friendly. The CM said a trauma centre would be set up in this hospital and the primary health centres across the state would also be strengthened.

Capt Amarinder Singh added he had asked the authorities to draw up a list of vacancies so that the matter could be taken up at the next cabinet meeting.

On the issue of recruiting teachers, the Chief Minister said that posts of 23 primary teacher in the state would be filled shortly on contract.

Speaking on the privatisation of the PSEB, he said the government would take steps according to the national policy on power and added trifurcation of the board into three companies would not solve the problem.

Mr Tejvir Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Karan Avtar Singh, Managing Director of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board and Mr S.L. Kansal, Chief Architect, Punjab were also present at the press conference.


25,000 teachers to be recruited
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
As many as 25,000 teachers will be recruited soon to fill vacant posts in government schools in the state.

Informed sources said a meeting was held in this connection between the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the School Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, here today. All these teachers would be recruited on a contract basis, the sources said.

Mr Johar confirmed that the Chief Minister had given the green light to fill the vacant posts. He said that the process to recruit the teachers would begun soon.

The government has been dithering on the issue of filling the vacant posts of teacher for the past three years.

Meanwhile, the state government said that the appointment of the Lok Pal would be made soon. It also said that the process of setting up four fast-track courts to deal with cases of corruption and economic offences at the divisional headquarters was on.

The government has appointed Mr S.S. Randhawa officiating Director, Public Instruction (High and Secondary Schools).


Non-academic duties ‘hit’ teaching
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 3
Leaders of Barnala region of Government Teachers Union (GTU), Punjab, have demanded that the Punjab government should immediately do away with the system of assigning non-academic duties to government school teachers in Punjab as it was adversely affecting the teaching work and the standard of education in the state.

Mr Brij Bhushan, Mr Pritam Singh Chananwal and Mr Niranjan Singh Bhadaur, presidents of GTU Punjab, Barnala and Shehnaand Mehal Kalan blocks of Barnala region in joint press statement released here today flayed the government’s policy of assigning thousands of government school teachers non-academic duties for about one month.

These GTU leaders said it was ironical that despite Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Punjab secondary Education Minister’s repeated assurances to the GTU of not putting government school teachers on non-academic duties nothing had been done. Assigning them non-academic duties implied closing these schools for that period.

They regretted that sending the school teachers on vote-making and Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan camp duties during peak study months was gross injustice with poor students studying in the government schools.


Cold storage to come up at Rajasansi
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 3
The Union Government has decided to construct an ultramodern cold storage at an expenditure of Rs 18 crore at the Rajasansi International Airport for perishable goods meant for exporting to various countries.

The Agricultural Marketing Adviser to the Government of India, Mr P.K. Aggarwal, during his visit to the city, said the Union Ministry of Agriculture had cleared the project and the work would start soon.

He said to meet the need of fruit and vegetable exporters, temporary shed would be built to provide immediate facility. He said the Punjab Government had been lobbying for the project for a long time and a large number of Indian and foreign companies had been exploring the opportunity to export perishable agriculture produce to Europe and Middle East.

Mr Aggarwal said the Airport Authority of India had already earmarked 3,500 sq yd plot for the construction of the complex.

According to the feasibility report prepared by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation and the Agriculture Produce and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA), there was an export potential of Rs 100 crore per day, he added.

Mr V.S. Mulekar, Director, Airport, said the project would benefit the farming community of the state. He said the Airport Authority of India would extend all possible help to make the project a success.

He said the meeting was attended by senior functionaries of the Airport Authority of India (AAI), including Mr Roshan Lal, Executive Director, Cargo, Mr Balbir Singh, Executive Director, Land, Mr K.S. Money, Chairman, APEDA, and Mr Himmat Singh, Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation.


Draw for Divali bumper held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 3
The draw of lots for the Divali bumper prize of Rs 2 crore of Punjab Lotteries was held at the Nehru Sidhant Kendra here today in the presence of a large gathering.

A press release issued by Punjab Lotteries said that a record number of 14 lakh tickets had been sold for the Divali bumper.

The prize money for the New Year-Lohri bumber, 2006, had been increased to Rs 2 crore from Rs 1.5 crore. Two prizes of Rs 1 crore each will be given to the winners in the A and B series of tickets, the release added.

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