P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Hoshiarpur covered under job guarantee Act
Tribune News Service

Garhshankar, February 2
The Punjab Government today kicked off the process to give jobs to the rural unemployed youth under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) 2005 in 1,317 villages of Hoshiarpur district at a functional organised in Samundra village, about 10 km from here, today.

Hoshiarpur is the first district of Punjab to be covered under the Act aimed at providing employment to the rural youth. These villages are among 200 villages across the country to be covered during the first phase of a programme under the Act in the next five years. All villages of the district, that fall in rural areas, would be benefitted from the Act which has the provision of employment to unemployed and unskilled youths.

Mr J.R, Kaundal, Finance Secretary (Rural Development), Punjab, who announced the implementation of the Act at the function, said over six districts of the state would be taken up under the second phase of the Act.

The Finance Secretary highlighted the characteristics of the Act. He said it would generate employment opportunities besides developing infrastructure in rural areas.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Kundal, said the government would soon come up with a noble scheme under which mini-secretariats would be constructed at the village level. All records of the panchayats would be digitised under the scheme.

Each village secretariat would be equipped with modern libraries for the farmers and the youngsters, added Mr Kundal.

He handed over job cards to two villagers at the function. He asked representatives of various panchayats to accommodate unskilled adult men and women.

Earlier, Mr D.S. Grewal, Joint Development Commissioner (IRDP), Punjab, said the implementation of the Act would help in curtailing the number of migrant labourers shifting to Punjab. He said if any panchayat failed to provide jobs to the registered persons (under the Act) they would be given unemployment allowance.

The Deputy Commissioner, who is also district programme co-ordinator of the Act, said the panchayats had chalked out various plans to generate employment under the Act. The process of registration of villagers by the respective panchayats for issuing them job cards is on, he added.


SGPC institute Principal in tight spot
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 2
The squabble between the Principal of the SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Das Medical Science and Research Institute and a trustee has come out in the open with the SGPC staff and members today threatening to seal the records and asking the Principal to resign or face dire consequences.

The situation took an ugly turn today with an SGPC member and one of the trustee, running the institute, Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, and Mr Jawinder Singh Advocate, SGPC member along with the secretary, SGPC, Mr Dalmegh Singh, and Mr Harbeant Singh storming the office of the Director-cum-Principal, Dr U S Dhaliwal, and ordering the sealing of the entire college record. However, following the intervention of the high-ups, the SGPC members and senior functionaries returned without taking any action .

The situation worsened when the SGPC called its task force while the Principal had sought the protection from the Punjab Police . However, the SHO denied that the Principal had called the police on the college campus.

Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC chief, told The Tribune on the phone that he coming to the city to take stock of the situation and work out a solution to the controversial episode. He said it was the SGPC team which went to the institute on his instructions to ward off any unpleasant happening on the basis of reports that some students were planning to organise protests on the college premises. It is, however, learnt that a phone call from the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, helped in controlling the highly surcharged situation on the campus.

Today’s unsavoury episode seems to be the fallout of yesterday’s press conference organised by Dr Balwant Singh Tung, a member of the trust, in which Dr Dhaliwal squarely blamed Dr G.S. Grewal, another trust member, for instigating a group of students for not clearing dues in his bid not to pay up a huge outstanding amount against his wards.

Meanwhile, Dr Dhaliwal alleged that Mr Dalmegh Singh used derogatory language on the form and later accompanied by Mr Mehta and Mr Harbeant Singh entered his office pressurising him to resign. He said that he refused to succumb to the pressure and would fight to redeem his unblemished record of the past six years service as Principal of the institute.

The groupism within the Akali Dal and the SGPC came to the fore when some senior Akali leaders, including former ministers and the acting SGPC chief, rushed to the college on hearing the news . The Akali MLA from Naushehra Pannuan, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, visited the institute and described the situation as unfortunate .He said he had apprised the SGPC chief of the whole incident and was hopeful of resolving the matter amicably.Mr Brahampura, however, added that Mr Dalmegh Singh had no right to intervene in the matter of the medical institute as he was only an employee of the SGPC. According to Dr Dhaliwal, the fees due from the daughter of the Dr Grewal continues to remain unpaid, as he had only paid the old dues of his son, who had taken admission in the 2000 session.

Mr Makkar said Dr Grewal and Dr Dhaliwal should not have gone to the Press to wash their dirty linen in public and should have sorted out their differences.

According to eyewitnesses on the campus, the SGPC team, along with a group of the task force, had gone to seal the entire records. During this unsavoury situation, both Dr Dhaliwal and Mr Dalmegh Singh exchanged hot words.


Kanwaljit contests Singla’s claims on development
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Though the Assembly elections are 11 months away, verbal duels have begun between the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal in the state.

Accepting the challenge posed by the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, a former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said today that he was prepared to resign as MLA and contest an election against Mr Singla from any Assembly constituency in the state any time.

Talking to The Tribune, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said here that Mr Singla represented a government that was surviving by making bogus claims regarding the development of the state. While people were committing suicide, including self-immolation, Mr Singla viewed it as part of the state’s development, said the former Finance Minister. “As the ground was slipping from under the feet of the Congress government, it is trying to mislead people by resorting to false propaganda”, he asserted.

He said Punjab had the slowest growth rate of 2.5 per cent at present against the country’s growth rate of above 8 per cent. As the government had done nothing for the agricultural sector, which contributed 40 per cent to the gross state domestic product, the crisis had become so acute that 40 per cent of the farmers wanted to withdraw from this sector. “I am saying this on the basis of a recent study conducted by Punjab Agricultural University”, he said.

“Even by heavily taxing the people of the state, the Congress government has failed to resolve the financial crisis”, he added. “If the fiscal crisis had been resolved, the government would have by now abolished octroi, which was one of the election promises”, he said. He said there was no logic in charging octroi, Central sales tax and excise duty when VAT had been enforced. Mr Singla had failed to stop this dual charging of taxes from traders, industrialists and others concerned.

He said the Congress government was claiming that it had brought investment of Rs 52,000 crore. No-where was that investment evident. In the past four years, hundreds of industrialists had closed down their units. The number of unemployed persons had gone up to 40 lakh. The government had brought some property dealers to the state to build townships. “No one should consider that an investment because Punjab had been the fastest urbanising state in the country for the past several years and the building sector was already booming, attracting a lot of investment on its own”, he added. “What contribution has the government made in it?” he asked.

Mr Singla had said his government had generated 10 lakh jobs. “Can Mr Singla tell how many youth of Punjab have got employment because of the efforts of the government?” Instead of giving jobs to educated youth, Mr Singla’s Ministry had frozen thousands of posts in government departments denying jobs to educated youth, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh.There were 90,000 vacancies of teachers, doctors, clerks, nurses, patwaris, paramedical staff and others which were not being filled by the government, he asserted.

The power sector was the most critical for the development of the state. But the government had paid no attention to it.The result was that the state had 20 per cent less power than its requirement at present. He said the government would not be allowed to get away with misleading propaganda.


Jathedar Vedanti’s directive on
Sarna brothers criticised

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 2
The Sikh organisations and Panthic leaders today criticised Akal Takht Jathedar following the issuance of ‘unprecedented interim directive’ asking the Sikh Panth to boycott socially Sarna brothers and three other Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) members. The Dal Khalsa ‘disowned’ (Jathedar, Akal Takht) for his ‘biased decisions’.

The Dal Khalsa announced that no case or petition would be made to Akal Takht till Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was its Jathedar.

However, Akal Takht Secretariat said that Sikh clergy might take strict action against all those who would violate the ‘interim orders’ against Sarna brothers and three DSGMC members .

Former Akal Takht, Jathedar Prof Darshan Singh sought the ‘social boycott’ of Jathedar Vedanti for his ‘worst performance’ as Jathedar. He said that it was unbecoming of the Akal Takht, Jathedar to act as a ‘slave’ of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). He said the ‘interim order’, on the social boycott of the DSGMC chief without giving him an opportunity of being heard was ‘shocking’. He said the Sikh masses would have to take a decision whether or not to take any petition before Jathedar Vedanti.

Violating the directive of the Akal Takht, Jathedar, Dal Khalsa leaders talked to Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, President, DSGMC on telephone despite the call of ‘social boycott’ given by Jathedar Vedanti.

In a hard-hitting letter to the Akal Takht, Jathedar, Prof Darshan Singh, alleged that the Jathedar Vedanti was being used as rubber stamp by the vested interests.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami and Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, leaders of the Dal Khalsa, described the decision of Jathedar Vedanti as unprincipled. They held Mr Vedanti responsible for eroding supremacy of Akal Takht by following the dictates of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his coterie.

They said, “We will continue our cooperation with Sarna brothers on issues pertaining to the Sikhs. We appeal to Sikh Panth not to follow the directive of Mr Vedanti and his co-jathedars since it was aimed of giving political benefit to Mr Badal and his company in the coming elections to management of Delhi Gurdwaras.

They said time had come when Sikhs would have to confront persons occupying high posts, and who had been misusing their powers. They called upon the Sikhs to save the honour and dignity of Akal Takht Sahib from the clutches of modern ‘Mahants’.

They said their party would start a movement on the pattern of the Singh Sabha Lehar to save religious institutions from the politicians, who had no agenda other than of remaining in power.

They said there was a long list of violations of Sikh principles and maryada by Akalis due to the weakness of Mr Vedanti, who never considered to punish them.


Suicides: DGP tells SSPs to be vigilant
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Suicides, including self-immolation cases, in Punjab during the past few weeks are worrying the police.

“Though such cases have more to do with social, economic and other problems, we have issued instructions to all district police chiefs to be extra vigilant and intervene effectively when any information about intent to end life by an individual or group of individuals comes to their knowledge,” says the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk.

Talking to The Tribune here this evening, Mr Virk said the district police chiefs and other field officers had also been instructed to interpret correctly all laws relating to suicide, attempt to commit suicide and abetment to suicide.

After the president of the Patiala Rehri Union, Gopal Krishan, immolated himself, in a separate case a former clerk of Punjab Technical University, Rajinder Kumar, ended his life. Yesterday, a man poisoned his wife and three daughters before trying to end his own life in Kalyan village, near Mandi Ahmedgarh.

Of late, there has been a spurt in cases of suicide, not only by individuals but also by groups, including families.

“Admittedly, it is a disturbing phenomenon, the causes of which are mostly social and economic problems, besides frustration caused by other stress and pressures. The most worrying part is that such actions, which should be opposed by all saner sections of society, are being projected and equated with martyrdom,’’ said Mr Virk.

His communication to the police chiefs is categoric about the interpretation of law relating to abetment to suicide. In the case of Mr Rajinder Kumar, both the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar of Punjab Technical University have been booked under Section 306 of the IPC.

Normally, in a case of suicide, the police initiates action under Section 174 of the Cr PC with intimation to the Subdivisional Magistrate/ District Magistrate of the area concerned.If during the course of investigations, it comes to the notice of the police that someone instigated, aided or facilitated the suicide, he or she is booked under Section 306 of the IPC.

The district police chiefs have been told to be firm if any information about someone planning or being instigated to end his or her life comes to their notice. In such cases, the person(s) concerned should be apprehended and detained for a week or 10 days.

“No leniency should be shown in such cases. Similarly, those facilitating, aiding or instigating should also be dealt with in accordance with the law,” is the message conveyed to the district police chiefs.

Besides socio-economic issues, chronic illness, rejection in love, failure of the matrimonial alliance and failure in studies are the other major reasons for the recent suicides in Punjab. Growing in debtedness, both among the rural and urban population, remains the foremost reason for self or family destruction.

Mr Virk said all cases of suicide were being monitored. The necessary steps were being initiated to check this phenomenon from spreading. Though social organisations, including NGOs, had an effective role to play, the police had been cautioned against remaining a mute spectator to such incidents anywhere, Mr Virk added.


SAD to ‘uproot’ Cong govt from Punjab
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 2
The SAD has launched a campaign “Insaf Muhim” in Punjab and it will continue till the Congress government is uprooted from the state, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He had come to preside over a function at the District Bar Room organised by Advocate Harnek Singh Diwana to celebrate the achievement of his son Inderjit Chadha, hockey player of Chandigarh Dynamos playing in PHL league.

He said every section of society was annoyed with the government. Farmers and traders had been ruined economically due to wrong policies of the government. The government had not given any benefit to employees and all facilities provided to Dalits had been withdrawn.

Mr Amardeep Singh Dharni, president of the District Bar Association, advocate R.S.Goyal, Harnek Singh Diwana, Sukhdev Singh Libra MP, Kirpal Singh Libra, Gaggu Bhatti and Ranjit Singh Libra also spoke.


Amarinder, Chahal, Mayor to be booked: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhbir Badal, today said his party, if voted to power, would ensure that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, his Media Adviser, Mr BIS Chahal and the Patiala Mayor, Mr Vishnu Kant Sharma, were tried on a charge of murder in the case relating to the suicide by Gopal Krishan Kashyap of Patiala.

Mr Badal said, that in a separate case of suicide the police had registered a case of murder against senior functionaries of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, using the statement of the victim as a dying declaration. However, the police done nothing in the case of Kashyap, who had named Mr Chahal and the Mayor in his declaration before death.


CPM activists court arrest
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 2
The state unit of the CPM, launched a statewide “jail bharo andolan” from here yesterday to draw the attention of the government towards the deplorable condition of the agricultural and industrial sector, and growing poverty and unemployment. Activists of the party courted arrest in front of the office of the DC.

Addressing a rally, Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the state unit of the CPM, said during the tenure of Giani Zail Singh in the state, a committee had been constituted to allot agricultural land to the landless. The committee had demarcated 74,000 acres for the purpose but till now, only 1440 acres had been provided to the beneficiaries. The remaining land was under the possession of big landlords with a political clout. He said the surplus land should be distributed among the landless.

He also raised the demand to waive loans of farmers, besides tax holiday for the industry, revamping of the public distribution system and simplification of pensions.

Mr Charan Singh Virdi, Mr Raghunath Singh, Mr Ram Singh Nurpuri and Mr Rakesh Nayyar also spoke.


Sidhu criticises right to information Act
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
Terming the “right to information” Act as “bogus”, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, today lashed out at the government and said the Bill lacked practical execution.

Mr Sidhu said he had written to the Chief Information Office (CIO) Mr Rajan Kashyap, regarding information about the balance of excise duty funds with the state government in respect of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation.

However, despite the communication to the CIO in November, Mr Sidhu regretted that no information had been forthcoming even though the legal recourse was taken in the matter subsequently.

Mr Sidhu said if an MP representing population of 15 lakh could not access information in pursuance of this right, the fate of common people could be well imagined . Moreover , he said that no norms or procedures had been highlighted to make people aware of their right and its usage.


Harassed by financier, jeweller attempts suicide
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 2
Mr Naresh Babbar a jeweller here yesterday tried to commit suicide by consuming pesticide. He was admitted to civil hospital. He was stated to be in a serious condition. Till the filing of the report, sources said the jeweller tried to end his life due to harassment from financiers. Naresh was said to have borrowed amount from financiers at higher rate of interest. The amount taken on interest increased several time and he failed to return the amount.

The financiers visited his shop and abused him. They also forced to take away silver and gold of customers from the shop. Under stress Mr Naresh consumed celphos tablets. He is battling for life and the police has registered a case on his statement. It is second case of suicide following harassment by financiers. Recently a couple from Qadian ended lives due to alleged harassment by financiers.

Illegal finance companies are functioning in the district and poor and people in dire need of money are their victims. Taking advantage of the situation of victims financiers charge interest ranging from 4 per cent to 10 per cent per month on the principal amount.

The gilts of financiers function in government offices especially in the municipal councils. The class IV employees mostly sweepers are their victims. They lend small amounts to the class IV employees ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000. The victims are forced to pay an interest on that amounts which comes out to more than half of salary every month.

The modus operandi of charging interest from the victims is simple. The financiers gather in front of the office the day payments are made to the employees and snatch the interest amount from the victims.

An executive officer of a Municipal Council admitted that exploitation of labourers and class IV employees by financiers. Move is being considered to send salaries of employees to banks to prevent financiers from collecting in front of government offices, he said.

The sources said charging of hefty interest from people was illegal. No person can run the business of financing without permission from the RBI. Rate of interest that can be charged on the principal amount has also been fixed by the RBI.

However, illegal finance companies are operating in the district and no action was in sight against them.


Bonded labourer freed from clutches of farmer
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 2
Gurmail Singh (37), a bonded labourer, of Lalpur village, 14 km from here, was rescued by a Warrant Officer (WO) appointed by the HC from the custody of the family of a farmer of the same village today.

The matter was brought into the notice of an NGO, Dalit Dastan Voridhi Andolan (DDVA), some time back, which in a writ petition filed before the HC requested for intervention and get the victim freed.

The bonded labourer in his petition had alleged that he had been forcibly kept by a farmer, Balwant Singh, of the same village for the past many year. He further alleged that around one and half months back he escaped from the illegal custody of the farmer, but an ASI of the local Sadar Police Station, Sakattar Singh, beat him up and took him back to the farmer.

The victim alleged that his father, Charan Singh, had taken a loan of Rs 5,000 from Balwant Singh that was returned in installments. But the farmer demanded the interest accrued on the loan. Unable to pay up, he was kept as bonded labourer for the recovery of the interest seven years ago.

During the hearing in the High Court, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohattono appointed a Warrant Officer, who with the help of the police recovered Gurmail Singh from the custody of the family of the farmer. The Warrant Officer has directed Balwant Singh, Raji (wife of Balwant), Balwinder Singh, Billu, Raju (all members of the family) and ASI Sakattar Singh to appear before the High Court tomorrow.


Stamp released on Raising Day of 3 Sikh battalion
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 2
To commemorate 150th Raising Day of third battalion of the Sikh Regiment the Department of Posts and Telegraph yesterday released a stamp.

Post Master-General K.L. Khanna released the stamp in the presence of Maj-General R.S. Sujlana, General Officer Commanding of Infantry Division. The General also released the unit’s history book and disbursed financial assistance of Rs 7.5 lakh among ex-servicemen and war widows of the unit. The event preceded a Sainik Sammelan, which was attended by all serving and veteran soldiers of the unit.

Addressing the troops, the General Sujlana recalled contribution of the unit in safeguarding national sovereignty and also in the country’s development. He said soldiers were the last hope of the country be it defence of the nation, counter-terrorist operations, disasters or natural calamities, they were always held in very high esteem. He exhorted all ranks to be role models for their countrymen and live up to their expectations. Those who received financial aid of Rs 50,000 each included — Mrs Santosh Kaur, widow of Sub Surinder Singh, Ashok Chakra, Mrs Dalbir Kaur, widow of naib Sub Shangara Singh and Mr Piara Singh, father of late Sep Kulwinder Singh.


‘Best investigative’ story recalled
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 2
“This is straight out of a murder mystery thriller. The Jassi murder case, which involved the death of an NRI in 2000, was a blind murder and with the available information, it was virtually impossible to solve the case. But how we did it was amazing. Seven culprits were convicted and are now behind the bars,” recalled DSP Rajbachan Singh Sandhu, who was awarded at the state-level Republic Day function held in Ludhiana for the best investigation.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Sandhu said, “On June 8, 2000, at about 9.30 pm Sukhwinder Singh and his wife Jaswinder Kaur, alias Jassi (an NRI from Canada), were returning by link road from Malerkotla to Narike village on a scooter when they were ambushed by some unidentified persons. Sukhwinder was badly wounded with sharp-edged weapons while his wife was kidnapped. This incident was reported to the police station Amargarh late in the night without any further clues to the incident”.

“On the following day, the body of Jaswinder was recovered from a rivulet near Bulara farm. Her throat was slit open by some sharp-edged weapon. The week after the incident proved to be a very tough one for the local police. The sensitivity of the crime was compounded by the fact that the deceased was an NRI. In the absence of any clues the police was at the receiving end,” he said.

Realising the gravity of the crime the then SSP Sangrur, Mr J.S. Aulakh, formed a special investigation team, consisting of DSP Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, who was then posted as DSP, subdivision Sangrur, and Inspector Swaran Singh, who was then SHO, Dhuri.

“Initially we came up against a blind wall in the absence of any clear evidence. No plausible information regarding the crime was forthcoming from the usual sources which the police normally depends upon. Then we decided to scrutinise the call details of all concerned towers for any international calls during the period of crime,” Mr Sandhu said.

This led to the first major break through as the Canadian number of Malkit Kaur (mother of the deceased) and Surjit Singh (maternal uncle of the deceased) had been repeatedly called from the area of crime till well past mid night on that day. “After detailed scrutiny of thousands of calls, the SIT was able to link the crime with the accused leading to the unfolding of the mystery which revealed a sensational sequence of events involving murder, kidnapping and contract killing,” the DSP added.

The first arrest in the case was made on June 22, 2000. “With the arrest of Darshan Singh, a resident of Kaunke Kalan, whose phone was repeatedly in contact with the Canadian numbers of Malkit Kaur and Surjit Singh, various pieces of the jig-saw puzzle fell in place and the entire story tumbled out.”

Jaswinder Kaur was a citizen of Canada, who was staying at Surrey with her parents. She visited India in 1995 and stayed at the residence of her maternal uncle Surjit Singh in Kaunke Khosa village. During her stay here, she fell in love with Sukhwinder Singh, alias Mithu, of the same village. After her brief stay, she left for Canada in the same year. But again in the last quarter of 1999, she arrived and her bond with her lover further strengthened. She got married to him in March 1999 without the knowledge of her parents. She left for Canada and disclosed her marriage to her parents.

This disclosure resulted in ferocious resentment especially from her maternal uncle and mother which finally led to the murder through hired killers, Darshan Singh being one of them.

Darshan Singh was asked to arrange for the killers. “What was most horrifying was the fact that one of the hired killers Anil told us. He said after they had injured Sukhvinder and took away Jassi, they made her talk to her mother over the phone. She begged for mercy but her mother refused and directed them to kill her,” related Mr Sandhu adding that Jassi’s mother and an uncle are still wanted in the case.


Staff shortage hitting PSEB working, says union
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 2
Taking strong notice of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) dumping power bills in gurdwaras, the PSEB Engineers Association today blamed the board for the prevailing state of affairs.

At a meeting of the association held here, Hardeep Singh Sidhu, regional secretary, said power consumers were suffering due to staff crunch in the board.

The members said around 400 posts of employees who distributed power bills were lying vacant and the board had not held recruitment since 1999.

Around 400 posts of SDO were awaiting appointment, while thermal plants and hydel projects were also facing staff shortage, they claimed.

Secretary Baldev Singh Sra said though the government was contemplating start of second unit of Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant, arrangement of staff was yet to be made.

He claimed that if the board didn’t fill vacant posts in thermal plants soon, it would become difficult for it to function.

The members said the posts of SDO were also vacant in those sub-divisions that generate huge revenue.

The engineers demanded installation of bill collection machines in all towns. They also urged the board to arrange billing machines to make the process smooth.

They sought immediate recruitment against vacant posts to bring an end to the suffering of customers and check losses to the board.

Jarnail Singh and Sikander Singh also addressed the meeting.


Kite flying claims life of 10-year-old boy
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 2
Kite flying on Basant Panchami cost a child his life, while two others were injured in Faridkot and Bathinda districts today.

According to sources, a 10-year-old child was run over by a train at a level crossing near the Chahal road in Faridkot. Sources said the child was engrossed in kite flying at the time of the mishap and was unaware about the fact that he had strayed on the railway track.

A six-year-old child fell from roof in a similar incident at Adarsh Nagar locality of Faridkot.

The sources said he received serious injuries and had been admitted to Civil Hospital.

In yet another incident, a 12-year-old boy fell from the roof of his house at Amarpura Basti in Bathinda. Son of a rickshaw-puller, the boy fractured one arm and was recuperating at the Civil Hospital.

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old woman jumped into a canal in Faridkot. The woman identified as Gurdev Kaur of Mukund Singh Wala village took this step after an altercation with her husband. However, representatives of a women’s helpline saved her.


Two youths drowned
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 2
Two youths today drowned in a canal near Lehragaga, about 40 km from here, when they slipped into the canal. However, their bodies could not be recovered from the canal till evening.

Paramjit Singh (16) from Rattakherra village (Lehragaga) and Bhura Singh (25) from Mand Jodh Wala village (Machhiwara) had gone to answer the call of nature when they drowned in the canal.

The police said as per information some monkeys chased and frightened them due to which they slipped into the canal and were drowned.


Micro-hydel project to be operational this month
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 2
Work on the micro-hydel 1.7 MW project near Ghanauli village, to be run on the waste water being released from the Super thermal plant at Ropar, has been completed and is expected to become operational in this month.

The first of its kind in the state, the PSEB has spent Rs 14 crore on the project.

The water was released in the channel on an experimental basis yesterday.

Besides power generation, the project would help reduce pollution because of the concrete channel built for supply of water from the thermal plant.

A senior functionary of the thermal plant told The Tribune that the project would generate 4 lakh units of power everyday.

Earlier the water used in the turbines used to be released through the Ghanauli canal.

Now a 3-km channel had been built at a cost of Rs 7 crore.

The waste water from thermal plant, after being used for power generation, would be directly released into the Sutlej. The official added that the power generated from the project would be further distributed from the thermal plant.


IT Commissioner’s car challaned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
The traffic police today challaned the official vehicle of the Income Tax Commissioner as the driver was driving the car with beaming red beacon even as the officer was not sitting in the car.

Mr Harinderjit Singh DSP (Traffic) said here today that the driver of the car, Bakshish Singh, was driving the car with the red beacon on even as the Commissioner was not present in the car (No. PB-02 B, 4863).


Gharuan residents raise slogans

Kharar, February 2
Residents of Gharuan and surrounding villages staged a dharna at the Primary Health Centre (PHC), Gharuan, against the proposal to shift emergency health services to another village.

The protesters raised slogans against the government and demanded that the medical facility provided to the village and surrounding areas not be withdrawn. They flayed the government for the proposal.

There was a proposal to move emergency health services from the PHC located at Gharuan village to Majat village. Among the persons, who took part in the protest were the sarpanch of the Gharuan village, Mr Bhag Singh, former SGPC member, Mr Mokha Singh, senior vice-president of the Ropar unit of SAD, Mr Sewa Singh Silh, Director of the Land Mortgage Bank, Kharar, Mr Amarinder Singh. OC


Shooting incident: Parishad chief,
four others booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 2
Mr Ranbir Singh Harike, a senior Congress leader and Chairman of the Amritsar Zila Parishad, has been booked along with four others for shooting at a person during a clash between two groups on late Tuesday evening at Harike, 30 km from here.

Hundreds of residents of the area, led by the rival group leader, Mr Tejpreet Singh Peter, who also belongs to the Congress, yesterday blocked traffic and staged a dharna on the GT Road at Harike. The traffic remained suspended for hours.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, said a piece of land was the bone of contention between the groups. The family of Mr Ranbir Singh Harike was in possession of the land and the rival group which belonged to the Baba Bidhi Chand sect, was opposing the claim of Mr Harike’s family. Both groups opened fire due to which one man was seriously injured.

The police has taken eight followers of the Baba Bidhi Chand sect into its custody. Mr Tejpreet Singh has urged the administration to register a case against those persons responsible for opening fire.

The SSP said besides Mr Ranbir Singh, his two brothers, Jasbir Singh and Ranbir Singh, had been booked under the Arms Act.


Soil Dept officer, patwari nabbed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
A soil conservation officer of Mohali and a revenue patwari of Fatehgarh Sahib district have been nabbed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in separate cases.

A spokesperson of the bureau said Mr Sukhmohinder Singh, Soil Conservation Officer, Mohali, was arrested by the bureau of a charge of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income to the tune of Rs 65 lakh. The bureau probed his assets and income sources for the period January, 1998, to December, 2004.

During this period his expenditure was allegedly more than Rs 81 lakh while his income was only Rs 15 lakh.

A case had been registered by the Vigilance Flying Squad-1, Mohali, and further investigation was on.

The spokesperson said Mr Mohan Singh, patwari of Fatehgarh Sahib district, was caught red-handed by a team of the bureau. He was allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 4,000 from Mr Tirath Singh of Narwana village, tehsil, for providing him with a copy of the mutation record for his land.


Teacher charged with molestation attempt
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 2
A physical instructor at a private high school affiliated with the Punjab School Education Board has been charged with a molestation bid on the wife of a watchman on the school premises.

The management of the school yesterday held a close meeting to discuss the. Though members of the managing committee were tightlipped after the meeting, sources said reports published by some local newspapers in this connection had upset the management. The instructor was asked not to come to the school.

According to the complaint a rickshaw-puller had been employed as a night watchman by the school management which runs a college also. He lives on the school premises along with his wife. On Saturday evening, when he did not return from the market, the physical instructor allegedly forced entry into the watchman’s house and tried to molest his wife. The woman raised the alarm and put up a fight, forcing the teacher to flee.


Kalyan village incident: one more dead
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, February 2
Kamaldeep Kaur (10), one of the five members of a family who tried to commit suicide at Kalyan village yesterday died in the CMC Hospital, Ludhiana, today. Her mother Gurmeet Kaur died yesterday. The condition of other three members is critical.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem examinations of the two bodies was carried out at the Civil Hospital, Malerkotla, and after the examination the bodies were handed over to the relatives of the deceased.

The relatives and villagers cremated the bodies at the village in the evening.

Mr Gobind Singh Khanjla, sitting MLA, while consoling the family demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the members of the family. He condemned the local administration for not attending the cremation. He said this was the negligence of the government that the people of the state were committing suicide.


Students must know about wetlands: experts
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
There is a need for introducing a chapter on wetlands in the subject of environment that is part of the school curriculum in Punjab. This will greatly help the students understand the role of the wetlands vis-a-vis ecological sustainability.

These views were expressed by the Senior Scientific Officer of the Punjab School Education Board, Ms Shruti Shukla, at a training programme organised by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology here today. The programme was organised under the United Nations Development Programme — Global Environment Facility (Small Grants Programme).

Dr N.S. Tiwana, Executive Director of the council, in his address to NGOs, teachers and government functionaries on World Wetlands Day highlighted the importance of the wetlands.

The rate of loss of wetlands and the wetland species is greater than those of forest and grasslands. This is the result of lack of awareness about wetlands’ multifunctional role.

Most of the wetlands are facing the problems of excessive growth of hyacinth, increasing pollution levels, deforestation in catchment areas, excessive grazing and soil erosion.

Wetlands occupy about 6 per cent of the total landmass of the globe. In India, they cover roughly 1.5 per cent of the area, but in Punjab it is a dismal 0.5 per cent.

Dr H.K. Parwana, Senior Scientific Officer, Punjab Pollution Control Board, said: “The threat is more from agricultural fields on the catchment of the wetlands. The water is getting toxic due to nutrients and pesticides that run off from agricultural fields.

Mr Nirmal Singh, president, Thermal Ambuja Peedit Committee, highlighted air and water pollution problems created by the Gujarat Ambuja cement plant at Laudi Majra village in Ropar district.


Spreading awareness about wetland protection

Ropar, February 2
About 200 school children of the various schools in the district today participated in a painting and quiz competition organised by the district forest department with a view to spread awareness about the need to protect the birds in the national wetland area here.

The children were informed about the species of the local and migratory birds and why it is important to protect them.

The District Forest Officer, Mr S.S. Bhatti, said that wetland area in Ropar is providing natural habitat to the migratory and local birds. Every year from October to April, hundreds of migratory birds visit in this wetland area. So school children were informed need to protect the wetland and birds.

In painting competitions of the senior and middle school children, first and second prize were won by the Shivalik Public School while in the primary school painting competition first prize won by the Netaji Public School. TNS


Allahabad Bank opens 5 ATMs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
In order to extend any time banking service to its customers Allahabad Bank opened five ATMs in the state on the occasion of Basant Panchami today. These are in addition to two ATMs already functional in the state.

The new ATMs have been installed at Vardhman Spinning Mills, Oswal spinning Mills, Metro Tyres and Kitchlu Nagar Market in Ludhiana and Hathi Gate, Amritsar.

The Zonal Head of the bank, Mr Ashok Dutt, said Mr VK Goyal, CEO, VSGM, opened the ATM at Vardhman Spinning and General Mills, while Mr Man Singh, Chairman, Metro Tyres, inaugurated the ATM site on the factory premises. Mr N.C Gupta of M/s Towel India and Trident Group of Industries inaugurated the ATM at Kitchlu Nagar, Ludhiana.

The ATMs are centrally connected to ATM Switch Centre enabling connectivity on National Financial Switch having 17 member banks with over 5,000 ATMs in India and VISA network.

The bank has been laying emphasis on technological upgradation, product development, social commitment and more customer convenience. The opening of these ATMs is a part of the programme of installing more than 100 ATMs shortly. The bank is also going to bring 900 branches under the Centralised Banking Solutions (CBS) network and the pilot project is going to be implemented shortly.

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