P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC bestows ‘siropa’ on PSGPC chief
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee today virtually recognised the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) by bestowing ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour) on visiting Swaran Singh, president, of the Pak Gurdwara Committee, here today.

The PSGPC chief was honoured by Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, in its Information Office followed by bear hugs. On this, the PSGPC chief said that he was extremely happy that the SGPC had blessed the Pakistan Committee though it took undue time to do so .

However, Mr Swaran Singh, President, PSGPC today said that though the PSGPC was committed to cooperate with the Shiromani Committee but it won’t accept supremacy of the SGPC so far as maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan was concerned.

Mr Swaran Singh, however, said that the PSGPC would reciprocate every goodwill gesture of the SGPC while carrying out Sikh affairs all over the world. He said India and Pakistan being sovereign countries, were free to form independent committees to manage shrines in their respective areas. He said if there could be more than one Gurdwara Committee in India why there was hue and cry over the formation of the PSGPC in Pakistan.

This is the first visit of any PSGPC chief to Amritsar since its inception on April 15 in 1999.

The honouring of the PSGPC chief assumes significance since a former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had stopped sending Sikh ‘Jathas’ to Pakistan to protest against the formation of the PSGPC. She had been claiming that the SGPC had the sole right to maintain Sikh shrines in Pakistan as per the Nehru-Lyakat Ali pact and hence the Pakistan’s Gurdwara Committee be scrapped. The SGPC had serious objection over the appointment of Lt General Javed Nasir, a former ISI chief as the founder-president of the PSGPC. However, her successor, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, took the decision to send Sikh Jathas to Pakistan but the SGPC continued to claim that the maintenance of Pakistan’s gurdwaras be given to the Shiromani Committee. For a long time, SGPC officials or Jatha leaders kept on refusing ‘Siropa’ from the PSGPC during their visits to Pakistan.

While Mr Sham Singh and Mr Mastan Singh, both former presidents of the PSGPC, did not visit India during their presidentship. Mr Swaran Singh is the first PSGPC president to visit Amritsar and Delhi. Mr Swaran Singh assured the Shiromani Committee chief to restore maryada. 


Bus permits to firms owned by politicians set aside
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Presiding Officer of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Punjab, has quashed the passenger bus permits issued for the highly-lucrative Pathankot-Amritsar route to some private bus permits, many of them owned by influential persons, including a minister in the Capt Amarinder Singh government.

In his stinging order, the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal, Mr B.S. Mehandiratta, District and Sessions Judge, set aside the grant of permits to 13 companies on the grounds that the State Transport Commissioner, Punjab, did not apply his mind while allocating the permits.

The Judge also noted that the perusal of the record showed that some of the applicants who had been ignored while granting permits were better equipped and had better qualifications.

Among the companies that had been issued permits to operate buses on the route is Kartar Tourist Bus Service Limited in which Food and Civil Supplies Minister Avtar Henry has a share.

The Tribunal also set aside the permits issued to kin of Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sukh Sarkaria, Congress MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa, MLA Chaudhary Rumal Chand and former MLA and Director, Punsup, Joginder Singh Chinna.

It also remanded back the cases of majority of the appellants to the STC for fresh consideration and disposal.

The appellants, Supinder Singh Bajwa and others had challenged the October 29, 2004 order passed by the STC, through which he had disallowed their request for grant of permits. Incidentally, most of the appellants were educated, unemployed youths. They had stated that following notification in the Motor Transport Gazette, all of them applied for issuance of permits to operate buses on the route.

They were also called for meetings in August 2004, where they were allowed to plead their cases. However, the transport authorities issued the orders, granting permit to the respondent companies, on October 29, 2004. The rejected candidates were not informed as to why their cases had not met with success.

However, as the appellants told the Tribunal, the grant of permit was done mainly on “extraneous” and “flimsy” considerations. The application filed by Minister Henry’s company met the approval of the department even though the company did not operate any bus on the said route.

In his order, Mr Mehandiratta observed that the official-respondent should have made a through and complete appreciation of the facilities being offered by all the parties, including the appellants.

He also said that it would not be incorrect to say that the order of the STC, which highlights the merits and qualifications of the successful allottees only, was passed only to favour them. The STC, he noted, had not given any reason while turning down the applications of the rejected candidates.


PU signs MoU to set up regional centre at Hoshiarpur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Panjab University was today handed over the 10-acre campus at Hoshiarpur for opening the Swami Sarvanand Gir Panjab University Regional Centre. The centre would offer four engineering courses from the coming session.

The PU Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, today signed the registration deeds that named PU as the new owner of the land and the buildings therein. The sprawling campus on the Una road houses engineering college buildings, hostels, teaching and non-teaching staff quarters and a hospital.

Talking to The Tribune Prof Pathak said the society running the Swami Sarvanand Giri Institute of Information Technology from the campus had decided to donate its land to the university and following a nod from the syndicate and the senate, the entire exercise was finalised today.

This would be the fourth extension centre of the university in Punjab. “BE courses in Computer Science, Electronics and Communications, Electrical and Electronics and Mechanical Engineering are expected to begin from the coming session but courses in BCA, nursing and law would be started later as and when the campus starts building up,” said Prof Pathak.

He added that fresh staff for the engineering courses would be hired shortly and the staff already employed at the campus by the society would be retained if found to be qualified.

Prof Pathak pointed out that the society would not have any administrative control over the running of the centre once it was handed over to the university.

“We would be retaining the name of the centre and follow the conditions set by society members,” said Prof Pathak.

As part of these conditions PU has agreed to run a three-year graduate law course and a five-year integrated law course also. Other than this the university would also run Bachelor of Nursing, Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Physiotherapy and Radiography courses along with running the charitable hospital.

Mr Lajpat Rai Munger, an NRI and President of the society, had started the institute at Hoshiarpur as a mission in the name of his revered Guru but wanted the university to run it.


Rs 536 crore plan to check Ghaggar pollution
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Concerned over rising pollution in the Ghaggar flowing in the Malwa belt of Punjab, the state government has prepared a Rs 536 crore plan and submitted it to the Government of India for part funding.

The Centre will bear 70 per cent of the project cost while the balance 30 per cent will be borne by the Government of Punjab. A total of 33 towns will be covered under this project which will be completed in five years.

The most critical reach of the Ghaggar for Punjab is till the point where the Sangrur-Khanauri-Jind road crosses it. Five major towns that release polluted water are to be covered. These towns are Patiala, Rajpura, Dera Bassi, Zirakpur and Samrala. The estimated cost of covering these towns in the first phase is Rs 190 crore. A provision of Rs 160. crore as state share has been made under the project for 10th Five Year Plan.

A project for special Central assistance for urban water supply and sewerage schemes costing Rs 88 crore has been submitted to the Government of India for approval.

This project covers water supply schemes for 21 towns and sewerage schemes for 32 towns. Under this project the Government of India provides funds out of which 30 per cent will be in the shape of a grant and the rest as a loan. A provision of Rs 25 crore has been made for this scheme in the 10th Five Year Plan.


Tension in village over religious function
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kanjali (Kapurthala), February 1
Tension gripped Kanjali village following a dispute between followers of a Udasin Dera situated on the outskirts of the Kanjali village and some of the villagers over holding a religious function at the dera, here today.

Mahant Krishan Dass, head of the dera had announced to celebrate the annual sant sammelan by organising akhand path today and performing a havan yajna on February 2.

Sikh leaders headed by Jarnail Singh Dogranwala, member of the general council, SAD met Mr Sameer Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP yesterday and apprised them of the tension in the village over the holding of the function.

On the intervention of the district administration, Mahant Krishan Dass agreed not to organise the akhand path with havan, as objected to by SGPC members and Sikh leaders.

Villagers assembled at the gurdwara today and criticised the mahant for creating tension, alleging that he was converting the gurdwara into a temple. They also criticised him for inviting the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan for holding kirtan at the time of the bhog of the akhand path.

Mr A.K. Sikka, SDM, assured the gathering that the administration would soon convene a meeting of both parties to settle the dispute.

The Mahant told mediapersons that the dera had been organising the sammelan every year for the past 11 years and the dera used to hold the akhand path, which was never objected to by the villagers. He alleged that five villagers who were under the illegal possession of 18 acres of the dera land for the past 35 years, and lost their case in court last year but had still not given up the possession.

They were misguiding the villagers and creating tension.

Some villagers corroborated the statement of the mahant. They claimed that the villagers used to participate in all religious functions of the dera.

A heavy police force has been deployed outside the dera as a precautionary measure.


Punjab to create 10 lakh jobs in one year: Singla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 1
Striving hard to paint a rosy picture about the state’s fiscal position and making the SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal his prime target, the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, has assured the people of Punjab that the state government is all set to create a whopping 10 lakh jobs within one year.

The new jobs, according to Mr Singla, will be created with the help of private sector.

“Though unemployment is a countrywide phenomenon, but we are trying to bring economy of Punjab back on rails and creation of more jobs is our priority,” said Mr Singla, who was interacting with mediapersons here today.

Mr Singla, who sought to shift the burden of almost all ills of Punjab to the previous SAD-BJP government, alleged that the then Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had conspired against Punjab. “An example in this regard is that when the NDA-led central government extended tax holiday facility to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, not a single word was uttered by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to seek a similar incentive. On the other hand, it was quite easy for the then Central Government to give such an incentive to Punjab, but it preferred to brush aside demands regarding this. Is it not a conspiracy against interests of Punjab? “questioned Mr Singla.

Taking his anti-Badal pitch to a new high, he said,” Mr Badal is saying that Punjab is a highly taxed state, particularly with regard to Central sales tax and excise tax. Perhaps, he does not know that these taxes are everywhere in the country. If he is illiterate, at least, he should not try to befool people of the state. He (Badal) has never talked about trade and industry before. I think he has forgotten his agricultural skills too as he has entered into the business of seven-star hotels. Mr Badal and his party are talking of opposing the VAT, but I wonder why the representatives of the BJP and the SAD have been attending meetings of a high powered committee on VAT formed by the Union Finance Ministry,” questioned Mr Singla.

Talking about incentives to be extended to trade and industry by the state government, he said interest-free tradable bonds were in the offing for industrialists. “These bonds will come with a maturity period of three to four years. 


Fee muddle in medical college
Trust member wards among defaulters
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
The Principal and the management of the SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Das Medical College and Research institute today blamed Dr G.S. Grewal, a member of the trust running the institution, for “instigating” a group of students not to clear their dues in his bid not to pay up a huge outstanding amount against his wards.

Out of the 20 students who had earlier not cleared the dues, eight have yet to pay up the balance.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr Balwant Singh Tung, a trustee, along with the Director Principal of the institute, Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, produced documents to prove their contention that Dr Grewal, in spite of repeated reminders, had not paid the fees of his wards who had been admitted under the NRI quota for the 2003 session. A sum of Rs 17.62 lakh each was pending against Harsimrat Kaur and Charanpreet Singh Grewal, his daughter and son, respectively.

As per an office order dated January 19, the name of Harsimrat Kaur had been struck off the roll with effect from that day and she had been directed to vacate the hostel within 24 hours.

Dr Dhaliwal said this had been done in spite of an assurance given by Dr Grewal to SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, also a member of the Trust, that he would pay the amount in instalments.

Dr Balwant Singh added that the Trust had directed defaulting students to pay up or surrender the seats.

Another former SGPC chief, Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke whose son Bikramjit Singh also took admission, has not paid the balance amount of Rs 18.55 lakh.

Dr Dhaliwal alleged that Dr Grewal had been instigating 20 students who had initially failed to pay up the dues. Eight of these students had still not paid the dues. Action would be taken against them in accordance with the rules, he added.

Quoting from the high court judgment of November 18, Dr Dhaliwal said the court had directed the students to give money as fixed by the Majithia Committee, following directions by the apex court to fix the fee structure.

He said 18 students continued to defy the order and a notice had been issued to them that they would not be allowed to attend classes unless they paid the fees. Dr Balwant Singh, who had been asked to look into the fee issue, had held a meeting with the parents of the aggrieved students on January 11 in this regard.

When contacted, Dr Grewal reacted sharply to the allegations and said he had paid four cheques of equal instalments to Mr Badal and the first cheque for Rs 4.25 lakh had been cleared by his bank. He questioned the wisdom of the management to strike off the name of his daughter and said it amounted to defying the directions of Mr Badal. He said he would take up the issue with Mr Badal and the SGPC president.


Govt agrees to hike minimum fare of mini buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Punjab Government today accepted various demands of the Mini Bus Operators Union. The Transport Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, told The Tribune that representatives of the union today held a meeting with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, with regard to their demands.

Mr Kaypee, who was also present at the meeting, said the union’s main demand was to fix Rs 5 as the minimum fare up to the first stoppage from the point of origin of bus operations. “We have raised this fare from Rs 2 to Rs 4”, he added. The other demand of the union was to take their representatives on the Transport Advisory Committee. “ We have already done so”, he added. Other demands such as waiving the bus stand fee for mini buses and reduction in certain taxes had been examined by the authorities, he added.

He said certain demands of the Punjab Roadways Workers Union had also been accepted.


Lathi charge on mini-bus operators
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 1
The police today reportedly resorted to a mild lathi- charge on the protesting mini-bus operators when they were staging a dharna at Balad Kenchian, Bhawanigarh, about 22 km from here. The operators were protesting against the state government, demanding relief in taxes imposed on them.

As per reports, the operators were going in four mini-buses to Chandigarh from Rampura Phul to take part in a protest.


Man poisons 4 of family, self; wife dies
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 1
A man poisoned his three daughters and wife at Kalyan village near here today. The woman (34) died while the doctors were struggling to save others. They said the chances of their survival were thin.

Jasvir Singh, a Dalit of Madiani village, who had been living with his maternal uncle at Kalyan village, poisoned his wife Gurmeet Kaur, daughters Sandeep Kaur (18), Kamaldeep Kaur (11) and Amarjit Kaur (10) before trying to end his own life by consuming the poison.

In the evening Jasvir dragged all member of his family, except his 8-year-old-son Nanak, into a room and poisoned them forcibly after bolting the door from inside. After some time he opened the door and told the neighbours that he had poisoned his family and consumed the poison himself.

It was suspected that the victims had been administered Celphos tablets.

As Nanak, who had been left outside, raised an alarm, villagers gathered near the house. They took the members of the family to a private clinic in the village. The practitioner at the clinic referred them to the Civil Hospital at Malerkotla.

The doctors at the Civil Hospital, too, referred all five members to the CMC Hospital in Ludhiana. Gurmeet Kaur died on the way.

Sources at the CMC Hospital said doctors were trying to save the victims. However, the chances of their survival were slim, they added.

Devi Dyal (76), maternal grandfather of Jasvir, told the police that Jasvir had been living with him as he had no son. “For the past some days he and his wife Gurmeet had been behaving abnormally. I thought that they might be annoyed over some petty problem and ignored the matter. Had I suspected the gravity of the situation, I could have never allowed them enter the room,” Devi Dyal told the police.


SAD promises effective governance
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Amloh, February 1
Sea of flowing beards and blue turbans made the SAD-BJP “insaaf” rally, which was held at Amloh, late Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s heartland, today, a success. Throwing down the gauntlet to the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government, SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and general secretary Kanwaljit Singh launched an all-out attack on social, political and economic fronts.

Predicting a wipe-out of the ruling government in the coming Assembly elections, Mr Badal said all records of the Congress rout would be broken. “When the government fails its promise, it can’t be trusted,” he said, attacking the Congress on the non-fulfilment of promises made in its manifesto.

Mr Badal promised good and effective governance if voted back to power as the chanting of “bole so nihal” rent the air.

The SAD accepted the “fatwa” of the public after the last elections. As the Opposition we still stood for the betterment of Punjab and its people, but Capt Amarinder Singh adopted the policy of confrontation from the day one. Now, it is time for Capt Amarinder Singh to ponder over it as the Akalis withstood the hardships. The people are ready for change and we will bring prosperity back to them, Mr Badal said.

With the memory of split votes still fresh in Akali minds, speakers after speaker emphasised on the continuation of Tohra’s legacy by bring Mr Badal back to power.

A former minister, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, said the SAD was the party to carry the leader’s work forward. The aim was to counter breakaway of votes by various factions, which had been to the Congress advantage four years ago.

The rally was effectively a tool to fill the vacuum created by Tohra’s death. Former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh’s efforts seemed to have paid off as he had worked tirelessly preparing for the rally.

With the theme of “Bring Badal back to power”, the thrust was to present the party as a saviour for all sections of society, including traders, workers and Dalits. Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP, Ropar, said the SAD was not a party only for the farmers.


War of words between SAD, BJP leaders
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
A war of words has begun between leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP just a year before the Assembly elections in Punjab.

Supporting the stand taken by Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national secretary of the BJP, with regard to the party’s relations with the SAD, Mr Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, a senior leader of the BJP and former president of the Punjab unit of the Yuva Morcha of the party, said today that the secretary had not committed any wrong by singling out weak points in the alliance between the SAD and the BJP.

Mr Harjit Singh had urged the SAD leadership to follow the principles of “coalition dharma” in the case of an alliance between the two parties at the state level. Mr Sukhminderpal Singh told The Tribune that the president of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, should address the issues raised by Mr Harjit Singh.

He said both the SAD and the BJP could win coming the Assembly elections easily, but Mr Badal should call a meeting of senior leaders of both parties to sort out political matters.

Though the BJP leaders are silent over what has caused “bitterness” in the relations between the SAD and the BJP, there are reports that the BJP leaders are not happy at the way senior leaders of the SAD are trying to poach on their ranks in various towns. Sources say the BJP is upset because the SAD has lured to its party fold certain BJP leaders in the Faridkot area.

“If the SAD wants to create its base in urban areas, it should develop its own Hindu leadership”, said a senior BJP leader. It may be mentioned here that the BJP is also trying to consolidate its base among farmers. It is organising a rally of farmers, which has obviously caused concern in the SAD, at Fazilka on February 4. Mr Rajnath Singh, national president of the BJP, is scheduled to address that rally. On the other hand, the SAD will hold a traders rally at Bathinda on February 5. Obviously, a sort of competition is on between the two coalition partners to make inroads into the vote bank of each other.


Parity in relief with 1984 victims sought
Tribune News Service

Pathankot February 1
The victims of the terrorism days in Punjab today organised a protest rally demanding parity in compensation with the 1984 riot victims. Hundreds of persons who had to migrate from rural areas due to terrorist activities participated in the rally and raised slogans to press for the acceptance of them demands.

While addressing the rally, Mr Charanjit Singh, leader of the migrants at Pathankot, alleged that many families were forced by the terrorists to leave the rural areas. They had to sell their fertile lands for peanuts under pressure of terrorists. They had to live like migrants in towns in the temporary shelters provided by the government. Even now the families who were well off before terrorism had to live in abject poverty.

It was a sorry state of affair that while the Union and state governments had announced a financial package for the 1984 riot victims, nothing had been done for the victims of terrorism in Punjab. The state should consider the victims of terrorism at par with the 1984 riot victims, he demanded.

Mr Baldev Raj, another leader of the migrants, said that they would organise the victims of terrorism across the state to press their demands.

Many migrants have been putting up in a PUDA colony here. They have been occupying the colony since the administration put them here after they migrated from the rural areas of the state.

On a petition by the original allottees of the colony, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had ordered PUDA to get the houses vacated. PUDA was yet to take action in the matter.


Akal Takht orders Sarna’s social boycott
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
In a hard hitting directive the Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today asked the Sikh Sangat not to give any sort of political, social and religious cooperation to Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, his elder brother Parmjit Singh Sarna and their three associates till February 10 for allegedly violating the directives of Akal Takht.

The kind of directive, issued under the seal of the Jathedar, is unheard in the annals of Akal Takht that amounts to virtually call of social boycott .

The other members who would face “social boycott” for the next nine days include Mr Joginder Singh Walia, Mr Manmohan Singh Kochhar and Mr Rajinder Singh Techno.

Even as the offices of the DSGMC committee continued to be locked for the past one week, the Jathedar, Akal Takht, took serious note of it. He said the Sarna brothers and their associates were summoned by the Sikh clergy on January 30. However, they failed to appear on the stipulated date. Jathedar Vedanti said the DSGMC president again tried to denigrate Akal Takht by giving public statements that they won’t appear before the Sikh clergy on February 10 which was the last chance given to them.

However, Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, president, DSGMC, while expressing surprise over the harsh language used by Jathedar Vedanti in his directive said he held Akal Takht in high esteem and could not dream of violating its directives . He said the DSGMC offices were locked on the direction of the executive magistrate who stated that there was “apprehension of breach of peace” if the offices were opened.


Verma may not join as revenue panel chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Will the newly appointed Chairman of the Punjab Revenue Commission, Mr P.K. Verma, join his new assignment or prefer to continue working in the government? Though nothing has been conveyed in writing, Mr Verma, a 1970 batch IAS officer, has reportedly told officers close to him that he might prefer to work on his present post of Financial Commissioner, Development, rather than head the commission.

His appointment is for a period of two years. However, if he continues in the government he will retire in November this year. Also being Secretary, Agriculture, he heads various high-profile boards and corporations. In the Commission, it will be a rather insipid work of suggesting changes in existing revenue laws. Also there is no surety that the Commission will continue to function if the Akalis are voted to power.

Tonight, all senior officers were present at a dinner hosted by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. It could not be confirmed if Mr Verma met the Chief Minister individually and conveyed his desire to stay on his present post.

Official sources said since he had been appointed as Chairman of the Revenue Commission, he would have to give in writing if did not want to join.

“There is nothing in black and white so far” senior functionaries of the government said.


Man arrested with fake visa
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
The immigration authorities have nabbed Balbir Singh, a resident of Behram Farishta village, in Jalandhar district for allegedly possessing a fake visa and passport. The accused had been handed over to Rajasansi police where a case under Sections 419, 420, 468 and 471, IPC, has been registered.

According to a complaint lodged by Mr Ashish Hira, Immigration Officer, Rajasansi, the accused was arrested during immigration checking at the airport in which his passport was found to be fake. He was going to Italy by Salvakia Flight 556. 


Punjab’s first women helpline launched
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 1
The state’s first women helpline was launched here today.

Addressing a gathering after launching the helpline at the Red Cross Women Hostel, Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar termed it as the need of the hour.

Mr Shekhar said the helpline would extend timely aid to any woman in distress. Though a number of cases of women’s exploitation had come to light, one could not deny that still in many cases women were coming in the open under some sort of pressure. 


Rs 18.33 crore okayed for rural areas
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 1
The Punjab government has sanctioned Rs 18.33 crore for the various development work in the rural areas of Ropar district under “Punjab Nirman Scheme”, informed chairman of district planning and development board and the state Education Minister, Mr Harnam Das Johar, while conducting meeting with local MLA’s and official of the district administration here yesterday.

He said under the scheme the grant would be spend on providing water supply scheme to rural areas and public toilets for the villagers living Below poverty lines. The grant would be distributed equally among the assembly constituencies in the district, he added.

However, Mr Johar showed ignorance about the recruitment to be done in the Education Department, when asked about the announcement made by the Punjab government in this connection. Mr Johar said that he had no idea about it and the Chief Minister would take the decision about it.

Earlier, heading the grievance committee meeting, Mr Johar, took up 21 complaints of various nature. About non-completion and misuse of community centre by contractor in Anandpur Sahib town, Mr Johar directed the administrative and police officials to enquire the matter. The administration had spent Rs 84 lakhs and the contractors were allegedly misusing the community center.

He said that a total of 72 acres land would be required to shift out diary farm of Mohali sub-division. Tenders for the construction of the Nurpurbedi road would be opened in February 2 and the work of carpeting of road from Nurpurbedi to Anandpur Sahib road would be completed till March 15.


Temple panel chief lashes out at RSS, BJP
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 1
The RSS and the BJP were playing with the sentiments of Hindus to grab power at the Centre. This was stated by Mr Surinder Arjun, president of the Durgiana Temple Committee, here today.

Mr Arjun said basically these organisations were anti-Hindu. These were trying to divide the country on communal lines by playing the Hindu card. Both parties had been criticising Mohammad Ali Jinnah for the Partition, but now these were praising him, he added.

Lambasting the RSS for allegedly capturing the properties of the Hindu temples in the country forcefully, Mr Arjun said they had not done anything for the Hindus.


Advocates’ chambers inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 1
The Parliamentary Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Mr K.P.S Rana, inaugurated the new building of the advocates’ chambers in the district court complex here today.

The 27 new chambers, built at a cost of Rs 23 lakh, will accommodate 81 advocates.

“No one can provide better service to the litigants without proper facilities. In the absence of the proper space many of the advocates have been practicing just with a bench and a couple of chairs in the corridors and in the open. Now many of the advocates will get proper place,” said Mr Rana while addressing the gathering.

Mr Rana said besides it, the work on advocates’ chamber in Anandpur Sahib would soon be completed. Thereafter, the similar facilities would be provided to the advocates practicing in the Kharar court, he added.

Many senior advocates, including the president of the District Bar Association, Ropar, Mr R.L Modgil, demanded proper bar room and parking space for the advocates. The advocates opposed the move of the government to set up courts in the Mohali subdivision.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.I.S Garewal, assured that he would provide every possible help to the advocates and make arrangement to provide law journals to their library.

The District and Sessions Judge, Mr A.K. Sharma, also spoke.


Inside Babudom
Superseded officers absent at meeting called by CS
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
All IAS officers, except one superseded by the new Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, were absent at the first meeting of senior officers convened by the Chief Secretary today. While elevating Mr Lakhanpal to the top post, the state government had yesterday superseded eight IAS officers, four of whom are stationed in Chandigarh.

Only Mr B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, who is two years senior to Mr Lakhanpal, was present at the meeting where the new Chief Secretary spelt out his plan. Among those absent at the meeting were Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Mr P.K. Verma, Financial Commissioner, Development, and Mr A.K. Dubey, Home Secretary. All three, like Mr Bajaj, belong to the 1970 batch of the IAS, while Mr Lakhanpal is from the 1972 batch. Mr Dubey was said to be on leave.

Sources said the other two, Mr Verma and Mr Bhatnagar, attended office as usual at the Civil Secretariat here.

The sources said though eight officers had been superseded only four were expected at the meeting. Enquiries made by The Tribune revealed that Mr Bikramjit Singh and Mr V.N Ojha were not supposed to attend the meeting as they are not working on posts within the “mainstream” of the government. Mr Bikramjit Singh is posted as Presiding Officer, State Colleges and Schools Tribunal, while Mr Ojha is working as Director-General, Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration, Chandigarh.

The other two, Mrs Satwant Reddy and Mr Amitabh Pande, are stationed in Delhi. Mrs Reddy is on deputation with the Government of India while Mr Pande is the Principal Resident Commissioner of Punjab in Delhi. This means they were also not required to attend the meeting.

A senior bureaucrat said the absence of the three IAS officers stationed in Chandigarh was on expected lines. The bureaucracy honours its tradition of seniority. Seniors do not attend meetings chaired by their juniors. Bureaucrats pointed out that in 1997, when Mr R.S. Mann was appointed the Chief Secretary superseding 11 officers, he did not convene a meeting of the secretaries for nearly eight months because he was reportedly not sure how the superseded officers would react.

Punjab’s new Chief Secretary started off the meeting on expected lines. He asked senior officers to “show that officialdom works,” adding there was no dearth of money in the state for any development project.

He made his message clear that no elected representative or the common man should be aggrieved at any slackness on the part of the government. Mr Lakhanpal also told the officers that they had to work with full force as the government was in the last year of its term. All efforts made by the government should percolate down to the masses, he said.


Restructure education system: Governor
Tribune Reporters

Batala, February 1
Punjab Governor, S.F. Rodrigues, today pleaded for the restructure and revitalisation of education system with focus on technical and vocational courses to meet changing global economic challenges. He called upon the youth to make the best and positive use of their potential and advised them to take a lead and develop the region as role model for the rest of country.

He was here on the occasion of convocation of VMS College and to lay the foundation stone of the new block.

The Governor said next two decades would witness India to become one of the world’s largest economies and the rest of the world would laud the county’s growth. He added India would become major source for the supply of workforce of professionals and technocrats.

He said our educational institutions had the special responsibility to re-orient and reinvent educational programmes to equip the youth with appropriate skills to meet the required standards. He said that the country would have 400 million strong youth and we must utilise the resources at our disposal to develop their potential by providing them with suitable opportunities, through innovative programmes.

The Governor said that India had established vast network of institutions at different levels and we have resources, capabilities and strength at our disposal. The only need was to stretch the abilities of our students to prepare them for global competition and improve their knowledge, confidence, and competence.

Mr Rodrigues appealed to the educationists to develop ways to improve the quality of higher education by creating a climate of discipline, dedication, hard work and relentless pursuit of academic excellence. They should create an atmosphere conducive to studies and social development for all, especially for those, who, for one reason or the other, had been deprived of it. “It is our social responsibility to enable them to catch up with the rest of society”, he added.

The Governor said that Punjab was on the fast track of development and we must all involve ourselves and be partners, in this process of socio-economic change. He emphasised the need for effective public-private partnership in our development and to work together for harmonising our endeavour, keeping the interests of Punjab in mind.

The Governor presented degrees to 100 graduates from different faculties. He also distributed grants of Rs 40 lakh among government schools to renovate buildings and other infrastructure. He also distributed blankets among the poor.

Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, said India was emerging as a super economic power in the next few years and we had to prepare ourselves to meet future challenges. He referred the success in the telecommunication technology and Information Technology, which attracted huge investments from all over the world.

Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Chairman of VMS Institutions and Parliamentary Secretary Local Government and Freedom Fighters, Punjab, welcomed the Governor.

He said the institutions had laid stress on technical and professional education to equip students with skills to achieve excellence in different fields.


Conference on ‘Punjabi Diaspora’ inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 1
An International Punjabi conference on the theme of `Punjabi Diaspora’, 22nd in the series, was inaugurated today in the Punjabi University by Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Higher Education, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Mr S.S Boparai presided over the conference while Dr Jasbir Jain, Professor Emeritus at University of Rajasthan, presented the key note address. Eminent scholars of Punjabi and a larger number of delegates from various countries attended the conference.

Mrs Bhattal, in her inaugural speech, focussed on global achievements and growth of Punjabi diaspora outside India. She said that using their potential Punjabis have shown their impact in all spheres of life.

“Clearly visible fascination of foreigners for Punjabi dresses and foods was an indicator of `likability of our culture’ and now the focus should be in making Punjabis more and more attractive,” she emphasized.

She appreciated the efforts of Punjabi University in making Punjabi language at par with some other standard world languages.

Dwelling upon the beauty of expression in Punjabi, she remembered the great contributions of Late Amrita Pritam and appealed to all to make every possible efforts to adopt and project the fine spirit of Punjabi language and culture.

Speaking on the role of Punjabi University she lauded the steps taken by the institution to help the poor in getting higher education and assured all possible help form the government for such projects.

Mr.S.S. Boparai, in his presidential remarks, highlighted the entrepreneurship of the Punjabi character. He remarked:” God has gifted them with immense capacity to survive and prevail in the worst of situations. The need of the hour is to intelligently plan the future development programmes for the Punjabi community.” He stated now Punjabi University is doing its best in this direction.

Dr Dhanwant Kaur, Head Department of Develop-ment of Punjabi Language, apprised the audience of the work done by Department during the last one year. She informed that 72 books on various themes in Punjabi language were published by Punjabi university during the last year.

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