P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tree felled for multiplex on controversial trust land
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
Many heads may roll in yet another land scam in the city involving senior politicians and top IAS and IPS officers of the state.

Residents of the posh Ranjit Avenue, opposite Red Cross Bhavan, were today shocked to see the felling of the 125-year-old big bohar tree in broad daylight and the demolition of the structure of ‘Mughal Carpets’ to pave way for the construction of a multiplex-cum-hotel on about 10,000 square yards.

The land had been earmarked for residential plots at the prime location.

The felled tree was taken into tractor trailers in hush-hush manner even as the case regarding the prime land is pending in the high court.

The Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Mr Sunil Dutti, was shocked to learn that the penalty of Rs 1.90 crore had already been deposited with the corporation for change of land use without his knowledge though he was chairman of the Land Use Committee.

He said the Commissioner, Corporation, Mr K.S. Kang, and Mr Hemmant Battra, Municipal Town Planner, had bypassed the committee while allowing the penalty to be deposited. He said the matter would be raised in the General House of the corporation proposed to be held on March 13 and suggest strict action against all those involved in the scam.

It is learnt that the Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, Mr B.R. Bajaj, showed a keen interest in the clearing of the file.

Mr Kang could not be contacted since he is away to England. However, Mr Batra said he had been directly instructed by the Principal Secretary, Mr Bajaj, to deposit the land use charges. He claimed that the area was under industry and hence there was no harm in changing the land use.

Mr V.P.S. Bhatia, senior advocate and resident of the colony, said the green belt was being usurped for creating a multiplex. The booklet on Ranjit Avenue showed that the disputed land was meant for residential plots. The map given in the booklet corroborated the allegations.

Mr Naresh Seth, owner of Mughal Carpets (a part of the controversial plot) which he had taken on a 99-year lease from the mahants of Brahm Buta Akhara, had lost the case in the court as the Improvement Trust had already issued notification to acquire the land. He, however, admitted that the purchasers of the controversial land had reached a compromise. But he refused to disclose the names of the big shots who had purchased benami property.

It is learnt that earlier the ‘buyers’ had made several attempts to dispose of the property to real estate promoters and hotel chains in Delhi at a phenomenal Rs 80 crore.

Sources in the Improvement Trust said the land-use of residential area could not be changed by the corporation especially if the case was pending in the court.

However, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Chairman of the Improvement Trust, refused to comment.


Hawara’s wife files affidavit to annul marriage
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 3
Chief of the Babbar Khalsa International Jagtar Singh Hawara’s wife Balwinder Kaur today filed an affidavit in a case of annulment of her marriage with Hawara in a court here. Two other witnesses also got their statements recorded.

The statements were recorded in the form of affidavits in the court of Mr Jaspal Singh Chugh, Additional District Judge (Ad hoc), Fast Track Court, as part of ex-parte evidence on the petition filed by Balwinder under Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, for annulment of her marriage with Hawara.

Earlier, the judge had initiated ex-parte proceedings in the case when Hawara “failed” to appear in the court personally or through his counsel on February 17.

Balwinder, Dara Singh, father of Balwinder, and Balwant Singh, a resident of Kakkarwal village (near Dhuri) and a close relative of Dara Singh, were today present in the court to get their statements recorded. The counsel for Balwinder has closed the evidence and the case will now come up for consideration on March 10.

In the affidavits submitted to the court, the witnesses have emphasised that Hawara had introduced himself as Sahib Singh before and at the time of the marriage and had never disclosed his identity as Jagtar Singh Hawara. Had they aware about the fact that he was Hawara, they would not give consent to the marriage.

Balwinder also mentioned in her petition that she had learnt that Hawara was already married and had not divorced his previous wife. Had she known that the man was Hawara and was already married she would not have given her consent to the marriage. In the light of this, she appealed to the court to annul the marriage.

Balwinder is in judicial custody in connection with a case registered against her and others by the Dhuri police on June 19, 2005. The police had allegedly seized explosives and other ammunition from them in the area of Bhullarherri village, near Dhuri.


Tribune Impact
INTACH to preserve Qila Ahluwalia
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has decided to preserve the 250-year-old qila belonging to Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, great Sikh warrior called Sultan-ul-Qaum, which is in a dilapidated condition.

Mr S.K. Mishra, Chairman, INTACH, in a letter to Mr Jagjit Singh Walia, president of the Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Memorial Society, stated that “the INTACH team will prepare detailed drawings of the two gates of Qila Ahluwalia and the estimates after which we shall approach the Punjab Government for funds. Restoration work for the gates could then be taken up. We are all keen that this historic building should be preserved.”

The story about the crumbling fort was first highlighted in the columns of The Tribune. Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, and his wife Isher Judge Ahluwalia paid a surprise visit to the qila last week to have first hand information about this heritage building and described it as a “national heritage” that needed immediate preservation.

Sardar Ahluwalia played a pivotal role in repelling foreign invasions during the 18th century. However, his exploits have been relegated to the pages of history books. He was acclaimed as a supreme leader of the Khalsa Panth and awarded the title of “Padshah” (king) or “Sultan-ul-Quam” (emperor of the Sikh community) after the conquest of Lahore by Sikhs in November, 1761, and the death of Nawab Kapur Singh Faizullapuria.

The indifference shown by the SGPC towards Sardar Ahluwalia can be gauged from the fact that Qila Ahluwalia, a few yards away from Harmandar Sahib, auctioned in the beginning of the 20th century by the British Government, is hardly visited by any official or Sikh leader. The site of the qila has emerged as a big shopping hub even as no one has bothered to preserve this heritage building belonging to the Sikh warrior.

A random survey showed that many senior SGPC officials are even unaware of the existence of the qila. The historical well on the qila premises is in bad shape. While a major portion of the fort has already been demolished by shopkeepers after its auction, the remaining parts of the historical building have started crumbling.

However, one of the gates, well and certain parts of the building are intact. These could be preserved if the state government pays proper attention to it.

According to historians, the fort was intact till 1850. Sardar Ahluwalia used to stay there. However, during the British regime, Marwaris purchased it in an auction.

The wall paintings on windows of the building seem to be the works dating back to the 19th century.

“There seems to be a clear impact of the European school of art, style and technique on the art work. Except one painting, which is of Lord Shiva, all others are European paintings.” There are mostly landscapes in which beautiful English women with fairies and angels, children and couples are shown in English dresses.

However, the fine colour used in this artwork is fading.

Born with the blessings of the 10th Sikh Master and brought up under the tutelage of the Guru’s wife Mata Sundri, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia played a pivotal role during the turbulent period following the demise of Guru Gobind Singh and fiercely fought against invaders. This ultimately paved the way for the establishment of the Sikh rule under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

A devout follower of Gurbani and fierce soldier on the battlefield, Jassa Singh epitomised the message of Miri Piri given by Guru Hargobind.


3 MLAs back bandh call against Mohali decision
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 3
Three district MLAs, including two of the Congress, today backed the agitation of the Zila Bachaao Sangharsh Samiti against the state government’s decision to make Mohali a separate district.

Stating this here today, samiti chairman Dr R.S. Parmar said Parliamentary Secretary Industries and Commerce and Nangal MLA K.P.S. Rana, Anandpur Sahib MLA Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, and Chamkaur Sahib MLA Satwant Kaur Sandhu had expressed resentment against the decision and justified the stand of the samiti.

The three MLAs had decided to support a complete bandh on March 6 here, he added.

He said the samiti had been making efforts to seek the support of the Minister of Animal Husbandry and Tourism and Morinda MLA Jagmohan Kang on the issue.

Former minister Madan Mohan Mittal had also come forward in support of the agitation, he said.

He said besides other shops, all chemist shops would remain closed on the bandh day.

“We have requested doctors of nursing homes in the district and the Civil Hospital to postpone operations on that day. Besides, it has been decided to block traffic on the national highway during the day.”

K.P.S. Rana said he had met Chief Minister Amarinder Singh again on the issue and the latter had assured that others villages would be included in Ropar district to compensate the loss of Mohali sub-division.

Meanwhile, advocates of the District Courts abstained from work for the third consecutive day today in protest against the state government’s decision.

District Bar Association president R.N. Moudgil said they would support the March 6 bandh call.


Down, but not out; Bant Singh holds rally
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
“They cannot cut through my spirit till I am alive,” stated Bant Singh, at a massive rally, organised by the Bant Singh Jabar Kand Virodhi Action Committee, today at the Plaza, Sector 17. The rally was attended by thousands of workers from all over Punjab in support of Bant Singh and his crusade. “My limbs have been cut, but not my tongue and till I am alive, I will fight for the cause of the poor,” he stated.

Talking to TNS, he said while earlier his fight was only for his family and daughter, now he was fighting for his fellow brothers. “I will now work for my fellow brothers till I live,” he stated. Not concerned about the compensation given out by the government he said, he would not rest till the guilty were punished. “They can take back their money, the compensation I want is justice,” he said.

Bant Singh, farm worker, was brutally attacked in January by seven armed men for avenging a legal battle fought by Bant Singh against certain influential persons from Jat families. Bant Singh lost both his arms and one leg in the incident. The incident was in retaliation against the conviction of those who are guilty of rape of his daughter.

The rally saw workers raising slogans against the Punjab Government for not fulfilling the demands made by the Bant Singh Jabbar Kand Virodhi Action Committee constituted by 14 organisations of agricultural labourers, industrial workers, brick-kiln workers, etc.

The members of the organisation demanded the fulfilment of their demands, which included a job for victim’s wife, allowance for his minor children, Rs 1 lakh compensation for his daughter, action against the corrupt doctor of Civil Hospital, Mansa, and SHO, Joga police station, the arrest of sarpanch Jaswant Singh for hatching the conspiracy.

The speakers also used the opportunity to stress the problems of dalits and poor peasants. They demanded that the living standard of the rural poor be improved and they should be guaranteed eight hours working day and adequate minimum wages.

The rally was addressed by among others by Mr Tarsem Jodhan (Lal Jhanda Bhatha Majdoor Union), Mr Bhagwant Singh Smaon (Majdoor Mukti Morcha), Mr Malkiat Singh (All India Centre of Trade Unions), Mr Lachman SeveWala (Punjab Khet Majdoor Union), Mr. Sukhdarshan Nat (AICCTU), Kanwaljeet Singh (All India Centre of Trade Unions), Jai Singh (Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan) Mr Atma Singh Atma, TUC Mansa, Jora Singh Nasrali (All-India Kisan Co-ordination committee among others.

Similar protests were also held today at the outside the Indian High Commission, London, UK. The protests were held by the UK based organisations, including the South Asia Solidatory groups, Indian workers’ Association, Asian women United, Punjab Human rights groups. Apart from being endorsed by a number of UK-based organisations, the petition is online and has been signed by more than 600 individuals. They have sent a letter regarding the same to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh.


BJP gives memo to Governor against Amarinder govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
A delegation of the Punjab unit of the BJP led by the party’s national secretary, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, today met the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), and submitted a memorandum against the Amarinder Singh government.

The memorandum said the Congress government had miserably failed to perform its “raj dharma”.

No constructive work had been carried out in the state, said the memorandum. It alleged that leaders had been indulging in corruption, favouritism, mal practices and maladministration, resulting in “complete disillusionment and frustration” among the masses.

The BJP memorandum went on to add that the government had failed to tackle vital issues facing the state. 


SAD (A) to meet Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
The SAD (Amritsar) will soon meet the Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), and apprise him of the lawlessness in the state.

This was stated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A), here today.

Mr Mann, while citing the case of a 17-year-old Ranjit Singh, a Dalit, who was allegedly killed in police custody, said police atrocities on Dalits had increased over the years.


CBI probes RCF purchases
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 3
The CBI officials today remained busy checking records and stores of the Rail Coach Factory here. Employees unions had demanded a CBI inquiry into the purchases in the factory alleging that corruption was prevalent in the factory. A question on injudicious, purchases by the RCF amounting to Rs 11.11 crore was raised in the Rajya Sabha also.

Mr Yashpal Gupta, General Manager, RCF said he had no idea about the presence of CBI officials in the RCF. His subordinates confirmed it to The Tribune.

A 12-member team of the CBI officials consisting of an additional superintendent and an inspector descended on factory premises here yesterday.

According to sources first the officials went to the office of Mr S.K. Aggarwal, Chief Design Engineer-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer and inquired about the functioning of the factory.

“The CBI officials contacted me after they reached the factory and wanted to see stores and records and I asked Mr Ram Lal Chief Material Manager to accompany them,” said Mr Aggarwal.

Then FA&CAO and Mr Ram Lal Chief Material Manager were also grilled by CBI officials. To avoid questioning by the CBI Ram Lal reportedly did not reach office today, said sources.

After meeting the officers, the CBI team accompanying the CMM went to the workshop and depots and different wards where they checked till 7 pm.

The CBI asked Mr M. Biswas, Deputy Chief Vigilance officer to provide records of the material procured, issued between 2002 and 2004, the sources added.

The officials inquired about imported machines procured after spending more than Rs 25 crore but lying idle for years. These include sealed containers of CNC laser profile cutting machine imported from Germany and laser cutting and welding machine imported from Belgium.

CBI officials also met the union leaders, who reportedly handed over documentary evidence to them regarding malpractices in purchases.


PSEB to buy power worth Rs 2,460 crore
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 3
In the wake of mercury soaring early this year, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is already on power-purchase spree and it will buy power worth Rs 2,460 crore in the current fiscal year to meet the rising demand of electricity in the state, disclosed PSEB administrative member Raman Bhalla while interacting with mediapersons following a Pension Adalat held by the board here today.

Mr Bhalla said the board was now purchasing 120 lakh units of power daily and this year the daily power consumption was expected to shoot up to 1,400 lakh units.

He said the board had purchased power worth Rs 5,500 crore last year to maintain eight-hour power supply to the state’s farmers. He said work on new power projects like the second stage of Sri Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, was in full swing and it would produce 500 MW of power.

He said the PSEB had set an example by connecting Punjab’s villages to 24-hour power supply line. He said out of 13,123 villages 12,000 were brought under the scheme and the rest would follow before June 30.

When asked about government departments owing lakhs of rupees as power dues to the PSEB, he said a letter had been written to the Chief Secretary for its recovery. He admitted that the board didn’t have enough staff to distribute power bills among its consumers.

Earlier, talking about the Pension Adalat, he said they had received 400 cases of pension in the state and Rs 10 crore had been given to the beneficiaries.

He said cheques for pension, gratuity and leave encashment were distributed to the employees at the adalat.


11-year wait for compensation
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Farmers of Sardargarh and Jakhran villages of Patiala district are a harassed lot. Even 11 years after their lands were acquired by the Punjab Government,  44 families are  still moving from  pillar to post for  compensation.

Even as the Industries Department drags its feet on the payment of compensation, the families are having a hard time.

The “pick and choose policy” of the government has come under focus with the families saying that the  farmers of surrounding villages had been paid compensation.

The Industries Department had acquired the “super-structures”, including fruit trees, fuel trees, tubewells and bores falling in the agricultural land of Sardargarh, Jakhran, Gandakheri, Khadoli and Damanheri villages in Rajpura  tehsil in 1995.

The land was acquired for setting up an industrial estate.

After failing to get a response from the department concerned, the Dukhi Lok Samiti, an organisation fighting for the rights of the  farmers, approached the Punjab Chief Minister  for justice.

While at least 12 landowners had since died, a majority of them are on the threshold of old age, Mr Gurdev Singh Saini, organising secretary of the samiti, said.

He alleged that while the landowners of other villages had received compensation, those of Sardargarh and Jakhran villages continued to be at the receiving end  of the authorities despite repeated efforts.

This was despite the fact that the compensation award of 1995 clearly indicated the mode of payment to be adopted by the department.

It read: “The assessment of fruit trees, fuel trees, tubewells and bores has not been received from the department  concerned.

When the assessment is received from the department, the same will be set as per their recommendations and it will be part of the same award and no supplementary award  will be given for that  purpose.”

However, the recommendations for the Irrigation Department have long been received.

“We can’t understand why the compensation had not been awarded,” Mr Saini added.


Avtar Singh: Centre wanted to dissolve SGPC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The SGPC President, Mr Avtar Singh, said yesterday that the Union Government wanted to dissolve the SGPC.

He said the Union Government had failed to pass the all-India gurdwara Act but wanted to set up a separate gurdwara committee in Haryana.

He said the SGPC would set up its separate directorate of education to promote quality education in the institutions being run by it in the country.

Speaking to mediapersons at the local Press Club, Mr Avtar Singh said the SGPC would not tolerate the interference of the Union Government in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. The SGPC was prepared to cooperate with the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Earlier, the management of the gurdwaras in Pakistan was with the SGPC.

He said the SGPC would intensify the movement for social reforms and the propagation of the Sikh religion. He sought the cooperation of all in this regard.

He said the SGPC would organise a religious procession to Pakistan on June 16 to observe the shaheedi divas of Guru Arjan Dev.

Mr Avtar Singh said the SGPC had started recovering fees from defaulters whose wards had taken admission to the SGPC-run medical college. The fees would be recovered in four instalments. He said three employees had been suspended in connection with the selling of a "chandoa".

The SGPC would not allow the performing of the anand karaj ceremony in marriage palaces. Sikhs should get their marriages registered under the Anand Marriage Act, he added. 


DSGMC to set up school in Tohra’s memory
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), March 3
Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), accusing SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal of bringing disgrace to Sikhism, said Mr Badal and his son Sukhbir should leave the party for their failure to keep its religious essence intact.

Talking to mediapersons here today after attending a bhog at the house of the late SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra on the occasion of his second death anniversary, he said Mr Badal had been trying to take “possession” of the DSGMC.

Alleging that neither Mr Badal nor any other responsible person of the SGPC contacted the widow of Tohra in the past two years, he said the DSGMC would set up a primary school in the village in memory of Tohra.

He alleged that Mr Badal and his associates had been using the death anniversaries of Tohra and had been holding a political conference in the village under the garb of a shradhanjali samaroh without the consent of Joginder Kaur, his widow.

Asked whether he would participate in tomorrow’s shradhanjali samaroh, he said he had not been invited.

He said the DSGMC would honour cricketer Monty Panesra.


Head in disrepair, 100 cusecs of water goes waste everyday
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, march 3
Punjab has been losing precious water due to the poor condition of Madhopur head. According to official sources due to Madhopur headworks the state was losing 100 cusecs of water daily due to leakage in the gates which have not been repaired for the past 10 years.

As per data from sources the state lost 3.68 lakh acres feet of water in the monsoon months of July and August this year due to silted Madhopur headworks. Water retaining capacity of the head has been reduced to just 15000 cusecs against the original 20,000 cusecs due to deposit of silt in the barrage area.

During monsoon the authorities of Ranjit Sagar dam had to release more than 20,000 cusecs of water. Due to decreased storage capacity at Madhopur head 5000 cusecs of water went as waste to Pakistan almost daily in monsoon months.

The Irrigation authorities have sent a report in this regard to the state government. They have also submitted a proposal for the rehabilitation of Madhopur head. It has been proposed that capacity of Madhopur head be increased by removing silt. The authorities have also stressed for the repair of the gates of the Madhopur head to check the loss of 100 cusecs of water daily due to seepage. The cost of rehabilitation work of Madhopur head has been pegged at Rs 6 crore.

The state government was yet to respond to the proposal.

Silt deposit near headwork has also been affecting discharge in canals emerging from the barrage.

The canal emerging from the barrage is the Beas link diverting Ravi’s water to Rajasthan through Harike barrage. Water carrying capacity of the canal is 10,000 cusecs.


Inter-state ban on poultry trade may go
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, has assured the Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, that an inter-state ban on the movement of poultry products will be lifted shortly, according to a statement of the Punjab Government issued today.

Mr Pawar said he would talk to the Chief Ministers of all states which had imposed a ban on inter-state trade in poultry products, the spokesperson added.

Mr Kang had gone to Delhi today to urge Mr Pawar to intervene to lift the unilateral ban imposed by certain states on inter-state trade in eggs and poultry from states, where no incident of bird flu had been reported.

Production of eggs in the state is around 85 lakh per day and it produces around 10,000 tonnes of broilers every month.


Shortage of stamps irks people
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 3
A shortage of stamps of lower denomination for the past few days has irked the city residents who are clueless as to how to manage without stamps. None of the stamp vendors has a stamp of any denomination between Rs 5 and Rs 300. Only stamps above Rs 500 are available.

According to sources, the shortage of stamps of lower denomination was not only prevalent in Bathinda but also in other districts. People need stamps of lower denomination in large numbers daily for filing affidavits and other government works, but the crisis has hit their jobs hard.

Sources said Rs 50 stamp were not available for a couple of days, while the shortage of stamps below Rs 50 existed for many days.

Treasury officials admit that there is a shortage of stamps and said it would continue for another couple of weeks.


Hydel project mishap victims get relief
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 3
The Punjab Government today gave compensation to the kin of the labourers who died at the construction site of the micro-hydel project near Babaehali.

The Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, granted the compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured labourers from his discretionary quota. The cheques were handed over to the kin of the labourers in Babaehali and Tibber villages.

About 10 labourers were buried when earth slid over them at the construction site of the micro-hydel project on Upper Bari Doab canal near Babaehali. While others were rescued two labourers Pawan Kumar of Tibber village and Amrik Singh of Babaehali village died. The police had registered a case under Section 304 of the IPC.


Protest against water shortage
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 3
Residents of ward numbers: 17 and 18 of the town today staged a demonstration in front of the residence of the local MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma, in protest against water shortage. The protesters were led councillors Rani Chowdhary and Ramesh.

The residents raised slogans against the government and the Municipal Council. They said they were getting water just for an hour in a day and even its quality was poor. They said their petitions to the MLA and the council were of no avail.

The protesters met the MLA and requested him to get their grievances redressed.

Mr Ashok Sharma, when contacted, admitted that the residents were facing water shortage and the problem would be solved soon.


Relay fast put off
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 3
The relay fast that began to seek construction of an underbridge at a level crossing here was put off today as the state government gave an undertaking to the Railways. The government has also assured timely release of Rs 98 lakh required for the job.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhari, broke the news to the protesters sitting on fast. Sources said the Deputy Commissioner was in Chandigarh earlier to attend a meeting on infrastructure projects where the construction of an underbridge got the nod.


Disaster management bodies set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab Government has constituted bodies for disaster management purposes in the state. A spokesman of the government said that three bodies — the Punjab Disaster Management Authority, the State Executive Committee and the District Disaster Management Authorities — had been constituted.


High court
Notice issued to Amritsar DC
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for April 27 to the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, on a plea by a local resident for directions to the authorities to check the menace of stray dogs and take effective steps to prevent instances of dog bites.

In his petition, Mr Ravinder Kumar of Amritsar has stated that last year there were over 3,000 incidents of stray dogs biting residents in Amritsar district, while the figure till February18 since the beginning of this year is 243. He has stated that four persons have lost their lives after being bitten by dogs, but no effective steps have been taken by the authorities to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

He has stated that last year, 1890 cases of dog bite came to the anti-rabies department of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, Amritsar.

The petitioner has also prayed that during the pendency of the petition, direction be issued to the respondents to constitute a special task force to prevent dog bite cases. He has also prayed that anti-rabies injections should be provided at all government dispensaries and hospitals.

After issuing notice, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Surya Kant adjourned the hearing to April 27.


The High Court has restrained Mr Surinder Singh Ghuman, Managing Director, Punsup, and his wife from going ahead with the construction of a multi-storeyed commercial complex in the New Lal Bagh area, which is a residential colony.

This direction was issued during hearing of a petition filed by Mr R.K. Malhotra and 17 other residents of the area, who have alleged that the influential respondents were constructing the complex in blatant violation of rules and regulations.

Saying that the residents of the colony, which has been approved by the Punjab Government, have repeatedly raised objections to the construction of the complex, but no action was being taken as the couple, apart from being influential by themselves, is related to high and mighty. They include the present SSP, Patiala, Mr AS Rai, who is the son-in-law of the couple and has been named as respondent in the writ.

Later, the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh adjourned the hearing to March 31.


The High Court on Friday directed the Punjab State Human Rights Commission to take a decision at the earliest on a representation given by advocate H.C. Arora, seeking constitution of teams to conduct surprise checks of police stations so as to take first-hand note of condition of the detainees.

The Court was disposing of the PIL filed by Mr Arora, seeking directions to the PSHRC to discharge its statutory function by periodically visiting prisons, police stations, juvenile homes and nari niketans. This, he said, would go a long way in checking torture by the police of undertrials and detainees.

He had stated that he had submitted a representation in this regard to the PSHRC on January 11. After heating him, the Bench asked the PSHRC to decide his representation.


Farmers gherao PSEB employees
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 3
Employees of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) were reportedly yesterday gheraoed for more than two hours by the activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) at Togawal village, about 40 km from here.

The employees had reportedly gone to the village to remove cables from tubewell motors of those farmers, who have not deposited their electricity bills so far. Later the police intervened in getting the gherao of the PSEB officials ended.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the BKU (Ugrahan), said the BKU (Ugrahan) would not allow the PSEB authorities to remove the cables of tubewell motors of the farmers as they had not deposited the electricity bills of their tubewell motors in the light of a decision of the union in this direction.

Mr Ugrahan said even yesterday when Mr Gurmail Singh, a leader of the union, got the information that the PSEB employees had gone to the Togawal village to remove the cables, he (Gurmail Singh) along with other farmers immediately rushed to the spot and gheraoed the PSEB employees for about three hours and forced them to go back without removing the cables. 


BKU leaders, govt hold talks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Negotiations between the Bharti Kisan Union and the Punjab Government started here tonight.

A delegation of the BKU, which is sitting in dharna at Matka Chowk here, was invited for the talks with the government. Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary and confidant of the Chief Minister, was deputed for the initial discussions.

Sources in the government said there was a proposal to form a three-member committee to suggest immediate steps to provide relief to farmers.

Among the main demands of the BKU are the release of Rs 32 crore arrears to sugarcane farmers and bonus on paddy which had been pending for four years.

The BKU handed over a list of demands to the government, which included the provision of free canal water. It also demanded that all previous loans should be waived and future loans should be given at 4 per cent rate of interest.


Surinder Pal promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Mr Surinder Pal has been promoted to the rank of Chief Engineer in the Irrigation Department, Punjab. On promotion, he has been posted as Managing Director of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation. He has taken charge of his new assignment.


3 killed in road accidents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 3
Three persons were killed in separate road accidents near the town in the past 24 hours. Krishan Lal, son of Mukna Ram, was killed while Suresh Kumar, son of Lachhman Dass, and Bagga Singh were injured as a canter hit their jeep (RJ-13-1270) on the Seeto Road bypass here last night. The victims were returning to Kala Tibba village.

A case has been registered against the driver of the canter who fled leaving the vehicle on the spot.

In another accident, Main Pal was killed and Tara Chand got injured when a truck hit their motor cycle near Sayeedwala village on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road. Both used to work as mobile phone mechanics and were returning to Shergarh village.

In yet another fatal mishap, an unidentified vehicle allegedly crushed Bahadar Ram of Khippanwali village while he was crossing the road near Ghallu village. He died on the spot. A case has been registered.


Dean for fresh probe into ‘plagiarism’
Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
In a surprise development, the Dean (Physical Education), Guru Nanak Dev University, has withdrawn the proceedings of the Research Degree Committee meeting held on July 2, 2005, and suggested a probe into the alleged plagiarism of research papers.

The Research Degree Board meeting here today authorised the Dean (Academic Affairs) to accept the proceedings of the degree committee on behalf of the board.

The meeting was convened to discuss the allegation of large-scale discrepancies in the degree committee for approving PhDs in the Department of Physical Education. The allegations were levelled by Dr Devinder Singh, president, Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association.


Dress designing exhibition at Modi college
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3
An exhibition showcasing apparel designed by students of the Department of Fashion and Dress Designing, MM Modi College, was organised at the college here. Ms Satwant Kaur Boparai inaugurated the exhibition.

Dr V.K. Sharma, Principal, said the one-year postgraduate diploma in fashion and dress designing was started last year. He said the college was trying to make the courses job-oriented. He emphasised on the need to create effective work culture and the optimal use of resources in higher education institutions.

The coordinator of the department, Prof Baljinder Kaur, presenting the report of activities of the department. Harwinder Kumar presented ghazals.


Students seek grace marks

Patiala, March 3
Students of plus two, whose chemistry examination was conducted by the Punjab State Education Board yesterday, have complained to the board authorities that the paper was tougher than expected standards due to which average students would suffer.

In a petition to the Chairman of the board, several students have complained that since they had to take admission to professional colleges on the basis of the result of plus two, it would affect their prospects.

The students have asked the Chairman to look into the matter and have urged him to give grace marks. — TNS


Tax relief for transporters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab Council of Ministers today gave relief of about Rs 17 crore to public transporters by slashing special road tax to 5.18 paise from 5.75 paise per seat, per km per day.

Besides, mini bus owners have been given relief of Rs 5 crore. In their case, road tax and special road tax have been reduced to Rs 30,000 per annum from Rs 40,000. They were paying road tax and special road tax on a lumpsum basis.

However, the council put a burden on those who will buy personal motor vehicles. It approved the levying of road tax on a percentage basis on the price of such vehicles. Earlier, in their case, road tax was charged on a lumpsum basis. Three per cent tax will be charged on vehicles having a price of up to Rs 15,000 and 4 per cent on those having a price of more than Rs 15,000. Sources said there would be about Rs 20 crore annual income to the Transport Department from this provision. It would continue to rise because of the increasing number of new vehicles every year in the state.

Besides, the council approved an increase in the bus fare to Rs 4 from Rs 2 for the first stop from the point of starting of the vehicle on any route.

What has surprised vehicle owners is that the government has treated the buyers of luxury cars in the range of Rs 8 lakh to Rs 50 lakh or above on a par with the purchasers of small cars in the range of Rs 2 to Rs 4 lakh. “It would have been appreciated if the government had put more tax burden on the owners of luxury cars, costly sports utility vehicles, air-cooled trucks and modern buses and spared the buyers of small cars and two wheelers”, said a scooter owner.

The sources said the public transporters had been pressing the government to hike the bus fare by 6 paise per km in view of the increase in the diesel price. However, as it is election year and even a small increase in the bus fare would have created political trouble for the government, it opted to slash special road tax. The mini bus operators had recently withdrawn an agitation on an assurance given by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that the government would reduce road tax and special road tax on mini buses.

The council also gave its nod to the setting up of a turf club of international standards at Mattewara in Ludhiana district which would create job opportunities for 25,000 persons besides generating income for Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University for research and development.

The council also cleared the appointment of the Appellate Authority under Section 127 of the Electricity Act, 2003. The Divisional Commissioners and the Additional Deputy Commissioners (General) of each district and the SDMs of the places where the circle headquarters (distribution) of the PSEB are located will be members of the Appellate Authority for all bulk and small power consumers.

The council also approved the presentation of the supplementary demands for grants for 2005-06 to the Punjab Assembly. The supplementary demands involve an additional expenditure of Rs1,445.69 crore.

The council also cleared an amendment to the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948.

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