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Pawar seeks action over PDS diversion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today asked the Punjab Government to take strict action against officials who were involved in the diversion of subsidised foodgrains meant for targeted public distribution system (TPDS) as the state tops in the country amongst the foodgrain leakage from fair price shops.

Pawar’s direction to the state government to act came in reply to a question raised by Shiromani Akali Dal MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan based on a news report published in The Tribune.

She wanted to know from the Agriculture Minister what action had been taken as the needy were not getting the foodgrains meant for them.

Pawar acknowledged in the Lok Sabha that there was “substantial” diversion of subsidised foodgrains meant for the TPDS in many states, including Punjab and the North-East.

Quoting from The Tribune report, she said, in Punjab as much as 76.50 per cent of total highly subsidised foodgrains meant for below poverty line (BPL) families through public distribution system is diverted to the market, in addition to the 13 per cent reaching the above-poverty line (APL) families, followed by 55.65 per cent leakage in Haryana and 38.97 per cent in Uttar Pradesh.

A report “Performance evaluation of targeted public distribution system conducted by the Planning Commission, the Akali leader said, has found that over 36 per cent of the total budgetary subsidies, estimated at Rs 20,000 crore annually, is “siphoned off” in the supply chain and another “21 per cent of the subsidies reach the APL families.”

In 2003-04, the amount sent to 16 states in this regard was Rs 7,258 crore, of which Rs 4,197 crore “did not reach the below poverty line (BPL) households, Pawar said during question hour.

Pawar elaborated several measures to check this diversion, including reducing wheat allocation to all rice-eating states and stopping flour mills in the north-eastern states to lift wheat directly from the FCI godowns.

 

Assembly
Move to make bureaucracy accountable
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
To ensure the accountability of the state bureaucracy, the Rules Committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, today presented an amendment to the Rules of Business of the House. A time frame has been fixed for the government to implement the recommendations and observations of any committee of the House.

Under the proposed amendment, a new rule, Section 202-A, shall be added to the Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. It has been made mandatory for the government to implement the report of any committee of the House within six months from the date of the presentation of the report in the House, or to the Speaker.

After implementing the report, the action taken report (ATR) will have to be submitted to the committee concerned.

Further the proposed amendment says, that in case, the ATR is not submitted by the government within the stipulated period, the Administrative Secretary of the department concerned, shall appear before the committee to explain reasons for the non-implementation. In case the committee is not satisfied with the reply of the officer, it may call the minister concerned to elucidate and explain the reasons for not submitting the ATR.

A formal nod to the amendment is considered a formality as the Chairmen of all the committees of the House have given their consent and also the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, is Chairman of the Rules Committee that had proposed the amendment. The committee had met on December 5 and on February 7.

In another important development the Rules Committee has recommended that an "Ethics Committee" of the House shall be constituted with the consent of the House.

Also the Lok Sabha pattern has been recommended for adoption regarding the live telecast of proceedings of the House and the Speaker has been authorised to issue necessary directions.

The Shiromani Akali Dal raised a demanded in the House that their viewpoint must also be telecast when the Budget is presented and also during the conclusion of the discussion on the Governor's Address. The Speaker had assured them that he agreed with their viewpoint.

Meanwhile the Rules Committee also decided that Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and Parliamentary Secretaries will not be classified as ministers as they have been deleted from the list.

 

Rising mercury to lower wheat farmers’ gains
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 27
With the mercury maintaining its upward trend, production losses in wheat are almost certain and only rain gods can help restrict the damage now, said Dr Gurmit Singh Buttar from the Agronomy Department, PAU, while talking to The Tribune here today.

However, he expressed his inability to spell out the likely extent of loss.

Following an inspection of wheat crop along with the Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda, Mr Rahul Bhandari, at Katar Singh Wala village, Dr Buttar said the farmers who had sown wheat after harvesting cotton in December could suffer production losses, as tillering (growth of branches) would reduce drastically owing to heat. He said tillering required a temperature lower than that prevailing now and for that the appropriate time to sow wheat was around November 15-20.

However, the wheat crop of the farmers who went for sowing after vacating their fields of paddy in October had witnessed profuse tillering, as the temperature was suitable for it in December.

He said if the increased temperature prolonged the growth of wheat sown early, which is now in the fertilisation stage, it would also be hampered during the milky and dough stages. The milky stage was approaching in two or three days.

“High temperature also results in forced maturity of wheat grains, which translates into quantitative losses,” he averred.

He said though the rain could bring the temperature down, it would be of little help to the wheat sown late.

On witnessing aphid on wheat leaves, he said though it was a common insect, the early rise in temperature had created an atmosphere conducive for its spread and a large number of farmers were reporting aphid attacks.

He said aphid sucked the wheat’s sap, leading to shrivelled grains and stunted growth of crop.

Terming the current weather as abnormal, he said at this time of the year the normal temperature should be around 20-22 degree centigrade, but now it was four or five degrees in excess.

On damage control, he said the farmers could resort to frequent irrigation, but that was helpful only up to some extent. It could also lead to blight and other diseases.

Meanwhile, the farmers rued that they were receiving only 50 per cent of their canal water requirement.

The DC directed the Xen concerned to redress their water problem.

Regarding qualitative losses, Dr Buttar said he could not comment on it right now. He disclosed that the PAU was working on new wheat varieties in the wake of the changed weather conditions. The losses could increase if the mercury soared further in the near future.

On the other hand, the DC expressed apprehension of crop loss of 10 to 20 per cent if the current weather trend continued. He said suitable pesticides were being recommended to the farmers to deal with the aphid attack. The DC asked the Chief Agricultural Officer to prepare a comprehensive report on crop loss and send it to the Financial Commissioner (Development) and the state government.

He also extended a financial aid of Rs 10,000 to a poor widow having three children. 

 

International market for fruits, vegetables possible: VC
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, February 27
"If the marketing technologies developed by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) are promoted and cost-effective environment friendly technologies are ensured, Punjab can create an international market for vegetables, fruit and flowers", says Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Dr Aulakh said in an interview here that India had emerged as the largest producer of fruit in the world with an annual production of 47.7 million tonnes. The country at present required 100 million tonnes of fruit crops, which would further rise to 120 million tonnes by 2025.

In India, fruit crops occupied an area of 4.18 million hectare but the present production was sufficient to meet 46 per cent need of the country.

The Horticulture Mission had provided Rs 18 crore for improvement of cargo facilities for fruit and vegetables at the Amritsar airport. The Mission will also provide financial assistance for planting and maintenance of new orchards for marketing infrastructure like packaging houses and waxing plants, he added.

Stating that kinnow, a citrus crop, had a great potential in Punjab provided its cultivation is done on a sound scientific basis, Dr Aulakh observed the productivity of kinnow was highest among citrus fruit with 25 to 30 tonne per hectare as an average productivity of good orchard.

The best orchards could even yield up to 35 to 45 hectare and this highly remunerative crop could fetch about Rs 80 thousand to 1.20 lakh per acre, he said.

Claiming that the PAU had taken a lead in providing disease-free planting material for improved longevity of the orchards, Dr Aulakh said the university was giving top priority to production of high quality and disease-free plants of kinnow now called " King fruit of Punjab".

Estimated area under kinnow in the state exceeded 19 thousand-hectare and more plantations were in progress. Kinnow had great potential for packed juice market, estimated to be worth Rs 200 crore by 2010.

In Punjab 48 per cent area was under citrus, followed by guava (15%) mango (14%) and pear 6%. Citrus, mango and guava accounted for nearly 75 per cent of total fruit production in the state. 

 

Human rights situation in Punjab not alarming:
Justice Jain

Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The Chairman of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), Justice N.C. Jain (retd), has put in his papers. Justice Jain, a former Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court, has resigned to resume practice in the Supreme Court.

Justice Jain, who took over as Chairman of the PSHRC on February 27, 2003, still had almost two years left of his five-year term.

He had handed over his resignation to the Governor, Punjab, in the third week of January.

Talking to The Tribune, the outgoing Chairman expressed happiness over his tenure at the PSHRC, saying he had a "fruitful time" at Chandigarh.

To a question, Justice Jain said he did not think human rights situation in Punjab had reached alarming proportions, adding that the sharp rise in number of complaints before the PSHRC could be attributed to growing awareness among the masses about their rights.

As per available figures, the number of complaints relating to violation of human rights that came up before the PSHRC went up for a paltry 90 in 1997 to 17,144 in 2005. Last year, the PSHRC disposed of 14,329 complaints, while 2815 remained pending.

Asked to comment on the controversy that arose following the orders passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, making it clear that the PSHRC was only a "recommendatory" body and it could not issue directions - the PSHRC has since then moved the Supreme Court against the High Court orders, Justice Jain asserted that there was "no controversy at all".

"The High Court laid down the law about powers enjoyed by the PSHRC. We thought since the order could have an affect in other states also where human rights commissions are functioning, we appealed in the Supreme Court," he added.

He, however, did suggest that human rights commissions must be bestowed more powers.

"While Parliament is going to decide in this regard, I personally feel that human rights commissions certainly need more teeth. Bodies such as ours must be given powers to punish violators," he added.

Asked if he felt all states should set up human rights commissions, Justice Jain replied in the affirmative, adding that it should not be left to the discretion of the state governments whether to set up the human rights commissions or not.

"It must be mandatory for state governments to set up state human rights commissions," he said.

While the Punjab Government set up the PSHRC in 1997, neighbouring Haryana has steadfastly refused to do so.

Even during hearing of a PIL filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking directions to the Haryana Government to set up a state human rights commission, the successive governments, including the present Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, have said there was no need for a human rights commission in Haryana.

 

Women cops allege gender bias
Kanchan Vasdev

Tribune News Service

Phillaur, February 27
Gender discrimination has been plaguing the Punjab Police also. Lack of equal opportunities continues to demoralise the women members of the force who feel reduced to ‘‘poor colleagues’’ of their men counterparts enjoying postings at important places.

This disclosure came from many women police officials from all over the state who gathered today to participate in a two-day workshop on ‘‘Role of Women Police in Contemporary Society and their Problems’’ under way at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, New Delhi.

Women their capabilities were underestimated in comparison to men members of the force said the women cops given a chance they would handle crime cases more efficiently as nature had gifted with them better problem tackling acumen.

Similar views were expressed by SI Bindu Bala, who has the distinction of being the first women Station House Officer of a police station in Patiala. Now posted at Police Lines, Patiala, Ms Bindu Bala is unhappy with the police administration that it does not ‘‘trust’’ capabilities of women as police officials.

‘‘Women cops are definitely discriminated against. Despite requests to senior officers that they could man posts requiring responsibility, they were not given opportunity. This was leading to under-confidence in many women cops, who were just passing their days dutifully without coming true to the expectations of society and the force.’’ said Inspector Rakka Ghira, posted Chowki In charge of Mubarakpur in Dera Bassi agreeing with Ms Bala on the issue.

Circle Inspector, Khanna, Ms Surinderjit Kaur said women cops were deputed for mela duties or places considered soft in the police. ‘‘‘‘The lady head constables are not appointed munshis and women ASIs are not deputed as Investigating Officers by seniors. They are underestimated.’’

President’s Police award winner Sub Inspector Kashmir Kaur of Moga said that women in the police suffered on a number of accounts. ‘‘The lady head constables are not appointed munshis and women ASIs are not deputed Investigating Officers.’’ she said adding that their seniors reasoned with them that they had to look after families. And additional work would overburden them.

Inspector Gurmeet Kaur, Station House Officer, Police Station, Crime against Children and Women, Mohali said that senior officials posted women for the sake of justifying their salaries.

‘‘But we are willing to work. All women should not be treated under the same principle. Every individual has different circumstances and young women are ready to accept all challenges.’’

The women cops demanded that there should be a posting quota for women cops in every district. At least three to five per cent posts requiring mettle should be given to women.

POLITICS
 

Sidhu dares govt on poll promises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Cricketer-turned-MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, today challenged the Congress-led government in Punjab to show even one promise it had fulfilled which it made in its election manifesto in 2002.

He went on to add that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would jointly contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Sidhu was speaking to mediapersons at the protest dharna organised by the Punjab unit of the BJP here today.

He alleged that the Congress was wrongly claiming that it had fulfilled most of the promises it made in its manifesto.

Punjab’s industry was in a bad shape and many had started looking at other states. He said “economic terrorism” was now threatening Punjab.

He criticised the Central Government for “allowing wheat import”, saying it was an “anti-farmer step” and this could lead to a fall in price of wheat grown by Punjab farmers.

At the dharna, the President of the Punjab Unit of the BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, trained his guns on the Punjab Government, saying, “He is a non-performing Chief Minister and people are fed up with the present regime”.

Addressing party workers, Mr Khanna claimed that the Amarinder government had not fulfilled even a single poll promise mentioned in the Congress manifesto.

He claimed that farmers in Punjab were not even getting eight hours of electricity, as promised by the Chief Minister.

Mr Khanna said the CM had given an official clean chit to the 11 ministers of his Cabinet who were facing serious corruption charges. He alleged that people like Mr B.I.S. Chahal and Mr Rana Sodhi were misusing their positions.

He said the CM was a ‘poster boy’ for the media.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Harjeet Singh Grewal, National Secretary of the BJP, said the wrong policies of the government were compelling farmers to sell their lands and migrate to other areas of the country.

Speaking up for employees, Mr Grewal said many legitimate allowances of employees had either been withdrawn or reduced.

Mr Vijay Sampla, state General Secretary, said the latest issue of alleged police patronage to former militants has brought out the misdeeds of the Congress led governments.

COMMUNITY
 

Pollution Control Board cracks the whip
7 colonisers to stop work on their housing sites
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The Punjab Pollution Control Board has issued notices to seven colonisers to stop construction at certain housing project sites. Notices have been issued by the Chairman of the board under section 33-A of the Water( Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

The colonisers, on whom notices have been served are: M/s Gurkirat Promoters and Developers for the Krishna Enclave residential colony at Himmatgarh village at Zirakpur; M/s Palam Land Developers for the Palam Enclave at Chandigarh Road, near Morinda; M/s N.K. Sharma Builders for Savitri Towers and Enclave at Lohgarh village at Zirakpur; and M/s Shiva Enclave at Khanpur village, near Kharar; M/s Barnala Builders for Silver Enclave at Desumajra village, near Kharar; M/s Akankash Galaxy Apartments at Bishanpur village, near Zirakpur and M/s UT Builders and Promoters for Green Estate at Madhopur village, near Dera Bassi.

The board's Chairman, Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, told The Tribune that notices had been issued because these colonisers-cum-developers had not obtained the consent of the board to operate outlets for the discharge of sewage from their residential colonies. He said it was mandatory for a coloniser to provide adequate and appropriate sewage treatment facilities to bring down the concentration of various pollutants in the sewage within the permissible limits. However, he said, these colonisers had not obtained no objection certificates to operate outlets at the colony project sites from the board.

A senior official of the board said these builders were given two opportunities to appear before the authorities concerned to present their case. However, no one turned up.

He said the if colonisers did not stop construction work at their project sites, prosecution proceedings would be started against them.

A copy of the notices has been sent to the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority and certain other departments for information and necessary action.

The PUDA authorities have been asked not to issue license to the builders on whom notices had been served. And in cases where licences had been issued, these should be cancelled. The Chief Town Planner, Punjab, has been asked not to approve the proposals submitted by these colonisers for development of residential colonies. The Deputy Chief Engineer( Distribution), Punjab State Electricity Board, has been told not to release power connections to the residential colonies where notices have been served by the board. The Tehsildars at Dera Bassi and other places concerned have been told not to register deeds of plots, houses, flats of these colonies.

 

17,243 trees felled to widen road
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The process of widening the Hoshiarpur-Balachaur road has led to the felling of 17,243 this was stated by the Minister of State for Forests, Mr Hans Raj Josan in the Assembly today.

Mr Joshan said these trees were of shisham, eucalyptus, kikker, Khair and teak and were collectively valued at Rs 1.31 crore. He was answering a question raised by Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA from Hoshiarpur.

The road was recently taken up for widening and it provides a crucial link to cities like Pathankot and Gurdaspur.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said the process of promoting Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers into the Indian Police Service shall start soon. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA from Kharar, had raised the issue as to why the state was delaying promotions of the PPS cadre despite available vacancies for them in the Punjab cadre of the IPS. Mrs Bhattal also released a list of 21 PPS officers who would be eligible for promotion in the years 2002, 2003, 2004.

It was also told in the house that Rs 50 crore had been allocated for the next financial year for constructing houses for the economically weaker sections of the society.

Mr Lal Singh, Rural Development Minister, told the House that the Centre had turned down a request to give cash in lieu of wheat allocation it makes for the poor in the state.

The issue of dirty water of Amritsar causing problems in the Chheharata area was raised by Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike. The House was informed by the Minister for Local Government, Mr Jagjit Singh, that a Rs 239.65 crore project had been accorded sanction by the Government of India. The Bank of Japan funding the project, had already sent a survey team. This covers treatment of sewerage in new colonies of Amritsar.

Mrs Bhattal, informed the house that the state owed Rs 36.26 crore to the sugarcane farmers. She said the area under sugarcane production had come down from 2.83 lakh hectares in 1996-97 to a mere 83,000 hectares in 2004-05.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, raised the issue of consumption of narcotics by youth in the state.

Meanwhile participating in the discussion on the Governors address, Mr Joginder Singh Mann of the Congress expressed concern over the depleting underground water table in the state.

 

2.5 lakh defaulter homes plunged into darkness
PSEB overlooks police stations
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 27
About 2.5 lakh homes in the region have been plunged into darkness as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has cut off their power supply owing to non-payment of electricity bills. However, the board is yet to take any action against defaulter police stations that owe lakhs of rupees to it.

According to sources, a majority of these defaulters are poor farmers and farm labourers. The board has to recover about Rs 66.13 crore from these 2.5 lakh houses, while the police department of Bathinda and its adjoining five districts owes Rs 1.21 crore to it.

Sources said 55,000 homes had lost their power connections in Bathinda and Mansa districts, as they could not pay their bills amounting to about Rs 18 crore. Similarly, 60,000 residences in Faridkot owed Rs 17 crore to the electricity board. In Ferozepore circle, Rs 13.5 crore was due towards 50,000 homes.

The worst scenario prevailed in Muktsar district where power supply of 70,000 houses had been disconnected. As per the board norms, the power connection is temporarily cut after the last date of bill payment and a month later it is discontinued permanently.

Though the board has disconnected power supply to these homes, it would not be easy for it to recover its dues in the wake of the forthcoming Assembly elections. Sources said there were thousands of other defaulters whose power supply was yet to be cut.

The district chief of the BKU Ekta, Mr Shingara Singh Mann, said poor farmers and labourers were unable to pay the bills due to the “high power tariff”.

Mr Lachhman Singh of the Khet Majdoor Union said the labourers were not finding daily employment and sought some relaxation for their families.

On the other hand, the police of Bathinda and its neighbouring districts owed Rs 1.21 crore to the electricity board. Sources said Bhuco Mandi police post had power dues worth Rs 75,305, while Nehia Wala police station had to pay Rs 96,000 to the board.

Meanwhile, PSEB officials said they were in touch with the defaulter departments and the process to recover dues from them was on.

 

3 Dalit youths beaten up by cops
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 27
Following alleged beating up of three dalit youths by policemen of Fatehbad police post two days back, Mr Gurnam Singh, SDJM, ordered a medical examination of the victims at the local civil hospital today.

The victims had filed an application in the court of Mr Gurnam Singh for a medical examination. The three youths were reportedly beaten up by policemen two days back.

The victim, Mr Hardip Singh of Bharowal village, 20 km from here, in an affidavit stated he along with his cousin Daljit Singh and relative Jorawar Singh was coming back to their village on the night of February 25 on a motor cycle and a scooter when three policemen of Fatehbad police post stopped them and checked their documents.

They alleged that when the policemen found all documents in order, they demanded bribe and when it was refused the three were beaten up. It is alleged by the victims that a gold chain and Rs 3,900 were snatched from them by the policemen.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, district police chief, when contacted, said neither he nor officials of Goindwal police stations had received any complaint in this regard. However, he said he would look into the matter after receiving the complaint.

 

Intelligence seeks crime record of migrants
Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 27
The state Intelligence Department will study the record of crimes committed by migrant labourers in the state. The department has asked all district police chiefs for such records.

The Intelligence Department feels that the records thus maintained will help stem their criminal activities and nab them.

The department, in a letter to all district police chiefs, has asked for the records of the criminal activities over the past five years.

The order issued by Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Intelligence J.P. Virdi has also asked for dossiers on big criminals or criminals notorious for their activities.

The step has been taken by the department to ascertain the crime patterns of the migrants so as to stem the same and maintain law and order in the state. The department would maintain surveillance of the migrants.

All migrants entering the state would be given an identity card and the police station concerned of the area they are to go to would be informed about their arrival.

 

Punjab still has scavengers, says Santosh
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 27
Despite the claims of Punjab being a scavenger-free state, it still has 300 to 400 scavengers. This was stated by the Chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Ms Santosh Chaudhary, today. She was here to examine the working conditions of Class IV employees of Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital. She said Uttar Pradesh had the worst record in this regard.

“No pension has been given for the past five years and wages not released for the past 22 months in some areas of Uttar Pradesh. The condition is no better in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Nearly four lakh scavengers still exist in the country,” she added.

The Supreme Court had directed the states to file affidavits on the status of scavengers. Following this, Punjab too had filed the affidavit and declared itself a scavenger-free state.

She said the commission had recommended that the scavengers should be included in the rural employment scheme.

She said the commission had decried the contract system that led to the exploitation of the labour. She lamented that Rs 800 crore was being provided as funds but much of it was diverted for developmental purposes.

The Chairperson urged the Prime Minister to observe Gandhi Jayanti as safai Karamchari divas.

 

Unaware of ban, Sikligirs wed kids
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 27
Sonu (8), Mangu (8), Raju (12) and Mohinder (16) got married to the granddaughters (all minors) of Mr Pooran Chand at their Seeto Road residence here on Sunday night.

All belong to the Sikligir community. They are gypsies who wander around to earn money by doing mechanical labour.

According to information, the brides included two daughters of Mr Hans Raj of Bahawalbassi village near Abohar town and the other two were daughters of Mr Baja Ram Balluana village, near here.

The community was not aware of any ban on child marriages. None of them had gone to a school, he rued.

COURTS
 

Ropar lawyers protest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 27
Lawyers at the district courts here today struck work to protest against the proposal of the state government to make Mohali subdivision a separate district. They said the size of the Ropar district had already been reduced following the carving out of the Fatehgarh Sahib and Nawanshahr districts. So the state should withdraw its proposal.

The president of the district Bar Association, Mr R.N Modgil, said that many villages of the district had already been included in Fatehgarh Sahib and Nawanshahr. If Mohali was be made a separate district then Ropar district would lose its identity. Besides, the lawyers here would get less work, he added.

AGRICULTURE
 

Punjab needs Centre’s help for crop diversification
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 27
A two-day workshop on ‘Human Development Report-2004’, held recently at the Punjabi University here, discussed threadbare the issues involved in the human development of Punjab and the problems which were beyond the scope of the report.

The issues related to diversification of agriculture, drug addiction and abuse, gender issues, education, health, migration and environment were taken up for discussion in six sessions.

It was argued that without the help of the Union Government, diversification was not feasible and the scholars present asserted that diversification of crops in Punjab was the basic requirement to solve the economic crisis.

Views on gender disparity and issue of women empowerment in politics was also taken up. It was felt that Punjab’s affluence had not translated into better opportunities for women.

Issues like adverse sex ratio and violence against women caught attention of academicians and policy-makers alike.

Concern was expressed over wide prevalence of drug abuse among every section of Punjabi society, particularly the youth.

Another topic of concern was ‘literacy differential’ among different districts and communities of Punjab and poor resource allocation to the education sector.

The health-related session focused on the emerging lifestyle diseases in Punjab and decreased allocation of resources to the health sector.

It was felt that the dismal public health infrastructure in the state was mainly responsible for the growth of the private health sector. The worst sufferers were poor rural people, particularly women and children.

The migration and environment issues were the subject matter of the last session.

The experts said depleting watertable, emerging new disease clusters and pesticide-use were the main reasons behind environmental degradation.

 

BKU starts indefinite dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) today started an indefinite dharna at Matka Chowk here in support of its demands.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, president of the union, said the farmers, by and large, were facing an acute financial crisis. The number of suicide by farmers had gone up. Promises made by the government in the last Assembly elections had not been fulfilled.

He said farmers should be made direct payment in lieu of foodgrains procured by the government agencies. Compensation should be given to dependents of farmers, who committed suicide. He said Deputy Commissioners had already submitted reports regarding suicides to the state government.

Each dependent family should be given Rs 10 lakh, he added. He has urged the government to stop the import of wheat and to increase the minimum support price of wheat. The state government should pay monthly honorarium to chowkidars from its treasury instead of charging the money to pay it from farmers in villages. Mr Sidhupur said the government should stop the privatisation of cooperative organisations like the Punjab State Electricity Board under pressure from the World Trade Organisations.

Mr Bogh Singh Mansa, finance secretary of the union, said the PSEB should stop charging fee for the replacement of low power motors with high power ones at the tubewells and also for their shifting from one place to other place.

Mr Balkar Singh Dakonda, general secretary of the BKU, said the government should clear two pending instalments of bonus on paddy and also make payment of Rs 32 crore to sugarcane growers that was supplied to various cooperative mills by them last year. Promise to give free canal water should also be fulfilled. He said that the government was silent with regard to the payment of compensation to farmers whose potato crop was damaged by frost in January.

Leaders of the union opposed the ruling party’s policy with regard to the housing projects, the licences for which had been given to big companies in Punjab. Mr Hardev Singh Sakrodi, Mr Mani Singh Chak, Mr Jagjit Singh Dalewal, Mr Hardev Singh and Mr Gurbax Singh Balbera also addressed the workers. Mr Sidhupur said the dharna would continue till the demands of union were accepted.

CRIME
 

5 booked in dowry death case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 27
The local police has registered a case under Sections 304-B (Dowry death) and 34 of the IPC against five members of the family of in-laws of Kulwinder Kaur (29), who had allegedly consumed some poisonous substance a couple of days ago and later died in a hospital at Patiala.

Mr Darshan Singh, Incharge, City Police Station, said yesterday that the police had registered a dowry death case on the complaint of Mr Kesar Singh, the father of the deceased Kulwinder Kaur, against Avtar Singh, husband of the deceased, Jaswinder Singh, brother-in-law, Harbhajan Singh, father-in-law, Surinder Kaur, mother-in-law, and Ramandeep Kaur, sister-in-law (wife of Jaswinder Singh).

 

Love triangle: 2 friends held
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 27
The police today arrested two persons accused of murdering their friend at Nawanshahar Badali village near here on Saturday night.

They were arrested this morning.

The two had allegedly stabbed to death their friend Dildar Mohammad following a fight over a girl. They had confessed to their crime.

The police added that the weapon used in the crime had also been recovered.

EDUCATION
 

GND varsity fest concludes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
Charanpreet and Sukhjeet Singh, of Department of Architecture and Simriti Kapoor, of Sports Medicine Department, were declared Mr and Ms Jashan, respectively, in the Guru Nanak Dev University Campus Youth Festival “Jashan-2006”. The youth festival concluded late last night. Over 500 student-artists took part in this three-day competition.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, presided over the prize distribution function and gave away the prizes to the winners.

Raj Baldeep Singh of Food Science and Technology Department and Harkirandeep Kaur from Architecture department were declared Best Folk Dancers in their respective categories.

The Department of Architecture won the fine arts and theatre trophies while the Department of Commerce and Business lifted the ‘‘Literary Trophy’’. The Department of Sports Medicine and Department of Food Science & Technology got the trophies in music and dance contests, respectively.

The results (All finals) are as follows: Fine Arts Trophy: Architecture Department —first; Applied Chemical Sciences and Technology (A.C.S.T.) — second; Laws and Electronics — bracketed third.

Literary Trophy: Commerce and Business management (C.B.M.) — first; Chemistry — second; and Law and English — bracketed third.

Music Trophy: Sports Medicine department — first; Architecture — second; and Electronics — third.

 

Seminar on drug de-addition held
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 27
A seminar against drug de-addiction has held at the local RR Bawa DAV College for Girls here today. The seminar was organised by the Red Cross and the Drug De-addiction centre in collaboration with the Youth Red Cross and NSS units of the college.

Dr V.K. Puri, Secretary, Indian Red Cross Society, Punjab State, Chandigarh, presided over the function.

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