P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress rally fails to arouse enthusiasm among people
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Lambi, December 15
Even as the ruling party is upbeat about its first electoral rally at SAD president Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s citadel, local electorate has hardly displayed any enthusiasm towards the event.

Talking to The Tribune, people attributed their cold reaction to the Congress rally to “utter neglect” that the area had faced on account of it being Mr Badal’s constituency. “Where was the Congress government for the last four years when we didn’t have roads, drinking water, education and health amenities?

“Being in power the party did nothing for us then how come it was seeking our votes,” asked a visibly angry Balbir Singh of Khiowali village.

Lambi-Gidderbaha road had been crying for attention for the last four years and the buses had started taking a detour through a link road. Bridges connecting the area to other important towns had collapsed, but the government had turned a blind eye to them. These included Rorawali bridge, Sotha village bridge and Doda-Kauni bridge.

Sources said private bus operators and transporters repaired portions of the roads on their own, as they had to ply their vehicles to eke out their living.

Drinking water had been another major problem in a large number of villages including Lambi, Husnar, Buttar Shree, Kaga and Babnia.

“Four persons had died of hepatitis-C in our village, as drinking water available was not fit for human consumption,” said Baldev Singh of Kauni village.

Gurbaj Singh of Banwala village said water being supplied through waterworks was being mixed with water of nullahs resulting in its contamination.

“We’ve received stepmotherly treatment from the state government only because our village falls under Mr Badal’s constituency. Does it make us any different from people from other parts of the state,” quipped Harnek Singh of Lambi village.

Meanwhile, government machinery was working overtime to make the rally a success. When The Tribune team visited the rally’s venue, Baba Maan Singh Stadium, today a tehsildar and a naib tehsildar were supervising the preparations, while the staff of PWD (B&R) was busy lending a fresh coat of paint to the pavements on the venue’s approach road.

The Gidderbaha MLA, Mr Manpreet Badal, flayed the “massive misuse of government machinery” for a political rally of the Congress. He alleged that the area was facing severe drinking water crisis and people were dying of a dreaded disease like cancer, but the state government had shown no urgency to deal with the situation.


Ravi, Beas make Amritsar coldest
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 15
The holy city has often been in the headlines due to the severe cold during winters touching sub-zero temperatures in the early mornings and late nights. The reasons for this are related to both geography and its location.

According to meteorological observatory at the Amritsar International Airport, Rajasansi, which monitors the daily temperature and weather conditions, though there are no scientific explanations for the city being the coldest in the winter, the city’s location at the foothills of the Himalayas does make the difference.

The Director, Airport, Mr V.S. Mulekar, who is studying the phenomenon, says the huge air mass spread over 100 to 1,000 square km moves towards the low pressure area from the cold regions of Dhauladhar and Kashmir. It descends on this area bringing the temperature down. He adds that the phenomenon of excessive dew, especially during September and October, also brings down the temperature at night.

The second logical explanation given by geographical experts is that the city is situated between the two major rivers basins, the Ravi and the Beas, which bring with them cold and breezy water gushing from the heights.

The river creates a funnel kind of a corridor phenomenon, which also brings in cold condition whenever there is a heavy snowfall in the hills. Sometime, the temperature in the city falls below normal in comparison to Shimla and Srinagar during December and January. This can be described as cold waves with huge air mass flow into this corridor created by the vicinity of the two rivers.


90 Punjabis fall victim to drug abuse in Canada
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 15
Dr Inderjit Kaur, president, All-India Pingalwara Society said that more than 90 Punjabi youths majority of them Sikhs, fell victims to drug-abuse in Canada in past few years.

Expressing concern over the use of drugs she said that Sikh leaders in Canada were concerned over the use of drugs among the community, which had resulted in many families losing young children. She said Sikh religious leaders were trying to dissuade the young generation to give up drugs by inculcating in them traditional values by organising special camps in gurdwaras in the country.

The Canadian Parliament bestowed a rare honour on Dr Kaur, for service to destitute, mentally sick and handicapped.

Dr Kaur, on return after one month tour of Canada said here today that Mr Navdeep Singh Bains, a member of Parliament from Mississauga, in Ontario and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister lauding work of Pingalwara said that the organisation was helping the poor, mentally challenged and the orphans besides caring for terminally ill patients. He said that this organisation was working for a noble cause and also running three schools for poor and the needy besides helping poor patients.

The Pingalwara president said she was invited by the All-India Pingalwara Society, registered in Ontario which was contributing funds to help this organisation through donation in the state of Ontario and from nearby areas. She said during her stay in Canada, a number of Sikh voluntary organisations and gurdwaras honoured and gave her donations.

She said that schoolchildren had dedicated the newly built park in the Scarborough gurdwara to the memory of Bhagat Puran Singh besides Sikh devotees of Kitcheners gurdwara also commemorate special Mother’s Day in the memory of Bhagat Puran Singh’s mother.


Action sought against Chicago baba
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal International (SADI) has submitted documentary evidence to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and sought action against Baba Daljit Singh Chicago, of Gurdwara Gurjoti Parkash , Chicago, under Sikh Rehat Maryada. The baba was allegedly caught with a girl in a motel in November.

Mr Atinder Pal Singh, a former Member of Parliament and president of the SADI, told mediapersons here today that the organisation had submitted every proof, including a police report, to the Jathedar to prove the allegations against the baba.

However, Baba Sukha , a close confidant of Baba Chicago, said the allegations were just a figment of imagination . He alleged that there was a lobby against the latter and it was out to defame him.

Mr Atinder Pal Singh claimed that Jathedar Vedanti had assured the delegation that he would take up the matter with Sikh High priests within a week.


Tribune follow-up
Chief Conservator to probe forest scam
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 15
The Punjab Government, in a press note issued here, has stated that Mr Kuldeep Singh, Chief Conservator of Forest, has been appointed to enquire the forest scam. Spokesperson for the department said the inquiry officer had been ordered to seize all records of Japan bank-aided project at the Pathankot forest division. The record included a number of saplings planted, the amount used for the maintenance of plants and labour paid through muster rolls.

It had also been stated that the inquiry officer was ordered to fix the responsibility on the officials, who were found to have misappropriated money in the scam.

However, no time frame had been fixed for the inquiry. It is also strange that no officer has reached the spot even a week after the scam was unearthed.

Sources here said the tardy pace at which the department had acted in the matter indicated the involvement of higher officials in the scam.


Rally against eightyfifth amendment
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur December 15
The general category employee's federation today held a huge protest rally against implementation of the 85th amendment in the state. Over a thousand members of the federation staged a rally at Suka Talab park here today.

Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, state president of federation, while speaking on the occasion, flayed the Congress government in the state for allowing implementation of the 85th amendment in the state. The reservation in promotions was in no way going to help the poor as it will benefit just three per cent elite among the dalits in the state.

The studies have proved that the benefits of the reservation have remained limited to the elite among the dalits.

Mr Arun Kumar, district president, said the federation fought decade-long legal battle to get reservations in promotions annulled. Finally, the Supreme Court held the reservation in promotion as illegal. However, the NDA government led by Mr Vajpayee passed the 85th amendment to the Constitution that has once again been challenged in court.

The NDA government, especially the BJP, paid the price for betraying the general categories. Now it is the turn of the Congress government in Punjab if it decides to ahead with the implementation of 85th amendment.

Mr Shayam Lal Sharma, chief organiser, said that reservation would create insubordination and unhealthy atmosphere in government offices as much junior employees of dalit castes would start occupying higher posts than the senior employees of general category.

The federation workers vowed to campaign against the ministers who failed to protect the interests of the general category.

The federation members, wearing black gown, took out a rally through the town and broke earthen pots as a mark of protest. They also burnt effigies of the Punjab government and the PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, who, they alleged, lobbied for implementation of the 85th amendment.


Lambi rally: no one rounded up, says police
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 15
In view of the Congress rally on December 17 at Lambi the police claimed that it had arrested only two unemployed ETT teachers in Sangrur district, but the press secretary of the Sangrur District Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union (UETU), Mr Sukhbir Singh, today claimed that the police had taken four unemployed ETT teachers, a contract-based ETT teacher, besides Mr Kulwant Singh, father of Mr Mohinder Pal Singh Kaleke, district president of the UETU, in custody.

Mr Sukhbir Singh told The Tribune today that the police had taken Gurmeet Singh Khetla, Ram Singh Sunam, Amtinder Batra Sunam, Kanwaljit Singh Kalbanjara, all members of UETU, Mr Sandip Garg Sunam, a contract-based ETT teacher, and Mr Kulwant Singh, father of Mohinder Pal Singh Kaleke, in its custody.

Besides the police also conducted raids at the places of Kulwinder Singh, state treasurer of DIET Students Welfare Association (DSWA); Jagtar Singh Ilwal, district president of DSWA; and Sukhbir Singh, district press secretary of the UETU, but failed to arrest any one, he added.

When contacted Mr Sushil Kumar, DSP, Moonak, confirmed that the police had arrested Kanwaljit Singh Kalbanjara as a preventive measure. The Dirba police also confirmed that it had arrested Gurmeet Singh Khetla. But Mr Devinder Attri, SHO, Sadar police station, Sunam, said that the Sunam police had not arrested any unemployed ETT teacher.

The Dhanaula police also said it had not taken Mr Kulwant Singh, father of Mohinder Pal Singh Kaleke, in its custody.


Brick-lining of water courses stalled
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 15
The construction activity worth crores of rupees of brick-lining of water courses under the Faridkot circle of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation has come to a standstill at almost all sites.

It is stated that the construction work was stopped at some places a couple of days back, while the engineers have allegedly directed the contractors to stop work now at the remaining places.

Mr Amarjeet Singh Sohi, Managing Director of the corporation, had conducted a raid on construction sites in the Fazilka area on Saturday where Rs 11 crore are being spent on the brick-lining of water courses. During the raid Mr Sohi had indicated strict action against two junior engineers for substandard work.

Although no written action has been taken against them, a meeting of all the junior engineers of Faridkot circle was held to protest against the attempted victimisation of their two colleagues. There was resentment among them and they decided to stop work.

On the other hand, the junior engineers have officially cited different reasons for stalling work. They maintained that the estimates for some of the works have not been cleared.

It was also resolved at the meeting that a deputation of the junior engineers would meet Mr Sohi on December 17 and apprise him of their problems. They warned that if their grievances were not redressed the construction activity under their control in the entire state would be brought to a halt.

When contacted, Mr S.K. Goyal, Executive Engineer, Fazilka division, said the construction work had been stopped due to some departmental shortcomings and the decision of the junior engineers at their level.


Pregnant woman dies in hospital
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, December 15
Two persons, including a woman, were killed in Malerkotla yesterday.

Naresh Kumar, Director, Sankirtan Mandal, was crushed to death near Sadar police station, Dhuri Road, by a tempo.

The police, after registering a case, took the tempo in its possession. The driver of the tempo, however, escaped.

In another case, a pregnant woman died in the local Civil Hospital. According to information available, Maninder Kaur, wife of Mr Sukhbir Singh Sukhi, a resident of Chindhan village, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital with labour pains.

Mr Sukhbir Singh alleged that when the lady doctor was not present in the ward at night a nurse gave a wrong injection to his wife.

Dr Meenakshi Goyal of the Civil Hospital and Dr Badri Das, SMO, were not available for comments.


SSF meets Vedanti over film on Sahibzadas
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 15
The Sikh Students Federation (SSF) today presented a memorandum to Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti regarding animation film made on the sacrifices of four Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

Addressing media persons, the federation led by its financial secretary Gurbinder Singh Prince said that according to Sikh Maryada this was not permissible to show the Gurus or their relations in any form whether it is animation.

The federation demanded constitution of a committee of experts or intellectuals to deliberate on the issue and clear the picture in this regard.


Memory man mesmerises audience
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 15
Mr Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury, said to be India strongest memory man and the national record holder for memory registered with the Limca Book of Record for the past half of decade, enthralled a select audience by demonstrating his super natural memory here today.

‘Biswaroop Chowdhury, who has also authored eight books, including the bestseller Dynamic Memory Methods fluently and flawlessly recollected the eighty random digests given to him by different members of the Press.

Biswaroop later explained that though it seemed to be magic it was purely science, the science of ‘memory mnemonic’.

Later speaking to the mediapersons, Biswaroop said he was conducting memory workshops all over the country with the help of his unique self-invented device, the mnemonic pen which was a tool to enhance memory. It would act as an alternative supporting system for the user to support specific information. He elaborated that the pen consisted of two basic rollers, which accommodated an infinite matrix system for holding the information to be memorised. Each matrix had 120 codes, which helped the user to direct the information to specific addresses by using imagination and made the learning process faster.

Whoever was in need of a sound memory, Biwaroop added visualisation was the basic key to a strong add perfect memory because the nerves that went from the eyes to the brain were twenty times stronger than those that went from the ears to the brain. Biswaroop further proved his theory when he randomly selected a member fo the Press and made him memorise several things at a fast pace. He said the pen was devised in such a way that all age groups, including children could easily and effectively use it.

Biswaroop, informed that till date, he had conducted such workshops in 64 cities across the country, including Chandigarh, Nasik, Pune, Kolkata Kota, Meerut, Bareily, Agra and Surat.


high court
Contempt notice

Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 15
The High Court on Thursday issued contempt notice to IAS officer D.S. Bains, presently posted as Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab, and two other officers of the same department.

The notice was issued by Mr Justice M.M. Kumar for January 23, 2006, on a petition filed by Dr Dev Parkash Chugh, Senior Veterinary Officer, Moga.

In his petition, Dr Chugh has prayed for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the officers for "intentionally and willfully" disobeying orders of the High Court dated September 29.

The petitioner, who was transferred from Moga to Ferozepore on June 20, with less than one-and-a half years left for his retirement, had challenged the transfer through a writ. He had stated that it was the policy of the Punjab Government not to transfer employees who had less than two years left in service. 

In its order dated September 29, a Division Bench of the High Court set aside the transfer order.

However, now the petitioner has alleged that despite passing of over two months, the respondents have not implemented the High Court order. 

When, despite repeated requests and representations, the respondents did not implement the High Court order, the petitioner served a legal notice on the officers, asking them to implement the order. However, nothing was done.


Dharna by lawyers
Our Correspondent

Batala, December 15
Lawyers of the Judicial Courts observed a strike and sat on dharna at Gandhi Chowk here yesterday under the leadership of Mr R.S. Sandhu, president, Batala Bar Association.

They are demanding that Batala police district should be made a district headquarters for Judicial purposes also.


BKU members stall auction
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 15
Members of Bhartiya Kisan Union today stalled auction of immovable property mortgaged by a farmer at Khatwan village in this sub-division to the state bank. The bank officials had to return as an agitated mob encircled the house owned by Mr Gurditta Ram to prevent an open auction.

Sources said hundred of farmers thronged the village half an hour before the arrival of the bank officials and started shouting slogans. They included Mr Kewaljit Singh, Mr Gopal Singh Kamalwala, Mr Baltar Singh, Mr Major Singh and other senior workers of the BKU. The union leaders asked the farmers to resist such attempts by the bank officials or their nominees all over the district.


Promotion quota increased
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The Punjab Government has enhanced the quota for the promotion of junior engineers in the Public Works Department.

The promotion quota for diploma-holding junior engineers has been raised to 25 per cent from 20 per cent and in the case of AIME or other degree holders, from 5 per cent to 13 per cent.

A quota of 2 per cent has been fixed in the case of those employed in the drawing branch.


Sale of medicines sans prescription banned
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 15
The District Magistrate yesterday prohibited the sale of various medicines without clear prescription from a doctor for it.

The order came after the DM, Mr Rahul Bhandari, was informed about some unscrupulous chemists selling medicines without the prescription from authorised medical practitioners. He said drug addicts created nuisance after consuming medicines like Corex syrup, Phency syrup and Proxyvon capsule.

He attributed his preventive measure to the rising menace of sale and consumption of medicines without prescription.

Apart from these medicines, he had prohibited the sale of Parvodax, Parvon and Parvon-N capsules. The order would remain in force from December 12 to February 5.


Sale of 106 medicines banned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 15
The district administration today banned the sale of 106 medicines, without valid prescription. Banning the sale under Section 144, CrPC, the District Magistrate, Mr Kirandeep Bhuller, said the identified drugs were increasingly being used by drug addicts and youth that was causing injury and producing psychological and physiological impact. Since such conditions were a threat to public peace and tranquility the drugs were placed under prohibition.


2 cheats held
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 15
The police claims to have arrested two high-profile cheats who would offer a lift to people in their car, give them a cold drink laced with drugs and make them unconscious. Then they would decamp with their cash and valuables before dumping them at remote places.

Pathankot Division No 2 SHO Sulkhan Singh said Bhupinder Singh (30), alias Deputy and Rajesh Kumar (28), both residents of Phagwara in Kapurthala district, were arrested today.

The police have booked them under Sections 379, 428, 401 of the IPC.


Firing incident: 3 remanded
Tribune News Service

Kharar, December 15
The Kharar police on Tuesday arrested three persons who were involved in the firing of gunshots in Ballomajra village near here, on December 11. Jaswinder, Manpreet Singh and Sultan were arrested today from the village. They were produced before a Kharar court which remanded them to a day in police custody.

Yesterday the police had booked at least 10 persons, including the president of BJP (Panchayati Raj) Ropar unit, Manjit Kaka, who along with two others were injured during a stampede that followed the firing of gun shots in Ballomajra. According to the police the shots were fired by a resident of the village during an ongoing fight between two groups regarding ownership of land in the village.


School sealed, exams deferred
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 15
In view of the tense situation in PBN Senior Secondary School, the police here today sealed it to prevent any untoward incident between the warring factions.

The closure affected 2,000 students whose quarterly exams have been postponed indefinitely.

Teachers agitation took political colours as the Aided-School Teachers Union (ASTU) sought the help of the BJP.

A four-member committee having Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, former Health Minister, Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president, BJP, Mr Satpal Mahajan and Mr Sarbjit Singh, former Deputy Commissioner was formed.

Mr Jalwant Singh, district president, ASTU, alleged that a local Congress leader was backing a group. He said a land mafia was eyeing Rs 150 crore worth school property.

The fighting had affected the study of thousands of students. Parents are pained about the future of their wards and said their children could not get admission in other schools in the middle of the academic session.

The S.P said keeping in view the sensitive situation, the school had been closed and would be opened after the decision of the authorities concerned.

Mr Prem Kumar, Officiating Principal, said the school management had the power to appoint any teacher as acting principal.

He claimed that the examination would take place from December 24. He said he would follow the verdict of district administration and the Education Department.


Singla’s assurance to aided schoolteachers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
A deputation of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union held a meeting with the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, with regard to its demands here today. The meeting was arranged by Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Hardeep Singh Dhindsa, press secretary of the union, said Mr Singla told them that the government had decided to merge 50 per cent DA in the pay and pension of aided school employees from April 1, 2004.

He said Mr Singla had assured them that he would sympathetically look into the demand of the union with regard to the revival of the 1992 pension scheme for the aided school staff. The scheme was scrapped by the government in June, 2003.

Mr Singla had promised the payment of salary in time to all employees of aided schools and also examination of the demand regarding the grant of rural allowance, senior scale to the clerical staff, promotional scale after eight, 16, 24 and 32 years of service and special allowances to heads and science teachers.

Among those who attended the meeting were Mr M.L. Chopra, Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal and Mr Mohan Lal.


Income tax survey irks traders
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 15
Tempers ran high at various markets in the town today when following complaints the income tax department carried out a survey at four shops.

Sources said the department officials kicked off the survey at four shops simultaneously at about 11 am. These included Bharat Glass House, Dhobi Bazar, a hardware shop at Sadar Bazar, Sanitary Sales and Raj and Company on Amrik Singh Road.

The survey triggered protests from traders who downed their shutters against the Income Tax Department’s move. Traders converged at Dhobi Bazar and indulged in intense sloganeering.

The police also reached the spot to avoid any untoward incident. Sources said glass doors of Raj and Company were also broken in the melee. The department had reportedly seized some documents from these shops.

Later, Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president, Beopar Mandal, met the Income Tax Commissioner, Mr L.R. Nayyar, and urged their two representatives should be taken along during any such survey of the department.


Chinese coal for Punjab power plants
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 15
After the instructions of the Power Ministry, the PSEB has begun using imported Chinese coal in two thermal plants of the state, the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), Ropar, and Lehra Mohabbat, to increase the plants’ efficiency. But the price of Chinese coal is almost double than the Indian coal that is used in thermal plants.

The Power Ministry has suggested state electricity boards in India to use the imported coal keeping in view the decline in the sources of high calorific value coal in India, said PSEB sources.

They said the PSEB had signed an agreement with the Metal Mineral Trading Corporation (MMTC), New Delhi, for the supply of Chinese coal to the two thermal plants till March next year.

The Ropar thermal plant would receive a total of 4.42 lakh metric tonnes of Chinese coal worth Rs 2.16 crore. Chinese coal cost the PSEB Rs 4,898 per metric tonnes while India coal cost Rs 2,250 mt.

The sources added that at present only 10 per cent of Chinese coal was being mixed with 90 per cent of the Indian coal to run the two thermal plants.


Central Bank extends working hours
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 15
The Central Bank of India (Adalat Bazar branch) has extended its working hours from 9 am to 6.30 pm. This facility was today formally inaugurated by Mr A.P. Shukla, Assistant General Manager, Regional Office, Central Bank of India, Ludhiana.

The extended working hours in the first shift will be 9 am to 2 pm and in the second shift the hours will be from 2.30 pm to 6.30 pm on all working days except Saturday. On Saturday, the working hours will be from 9 am to 11.30 am (first shift) and from 12 noon to 2.30 pm (second shift).

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