P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sonia’s resignation mere drama: Badal
Amarjit Thind

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The SAD chief and Punjab former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today claimed that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had quit her Lok Sabha seat only after coming to know that President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam would not sign an ordinance to bail her out of the office of profit controversy and it was a mere drama.

He was in the city to attend a marriage function and also met senior leaders of the city here this afternoon.

Running down the chorus of “Madam’s sacrifice” by Congressmen, he claimed that he had reports that the President was averse to the government adopting the ordinance route and would have refused to sign it queering the pitch for Ms Sonia Gandhi. Sensing that it would put the Congress in danger, she quit, he added.

Moreover, where was her sacrifice spirit when it came to the Volker report, the Quattrocchi case or the dubious role of the Bihar Governor, he questioned.

Commenting on the office of profit controversy, he said his party had submitted a list of 32 MLAs of Punjab who were holding such offices to the Governor. The list contained names of legislators who were chairpersons of various boards and corporations, besides the Chief Parliamentary Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretaries.

It was up to the Governor to initiate action against them, he pointed out.

Mr Badal flayed the decision of the government to hand over various departments to the panchayats. “While I do not oppose greater empowerment for the grassroots units, the government should have asked the panchayats and Zila Parishads whether they can run the schools and dispensaries, he said.

Due to lack of funds, most of the panchayats depended on grants from the government and did not have the wherewithal to operate such institutions, he opined.

Commenting on the decision of SGPC chief Avtar Singh of removing former minister Maheshinder Singh Grewal from the managing committee of the Nanakana Sahib Educational Trust, he said he was unaware of the move and would get the matter enquired. “I read about it in the newspapers this morning only,” he said.


SAD seeks disqualification of 34 MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The political storm over MPs and MLAs holding an office of profit has also engulfed Punjab. The Shiromani Akali Dal today formally submitted a petition to Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) urging upon him to disqualify 34 MLAs of the ruling Congress party in the state.

A press release of the SAD said there was no moral, political or legal ground for these legislators to continue in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. The memorandum to the Governor drew the attention to the constitutional provisions as well as to the recommendations of the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution which clearly spoke against MLAs and MPs holding offices of profit.

The memorandum was signed by two General Secretaries of the SAD, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Captain Kanwaljit Singh. A special emissary delivered the letter to the Governor. The SAD said: “It has been judicially recognised that the purpose of the disqualification regarding an office of profit under Articles 191 and 102 was to ensure the independence of the legislative wing from the executive, because it is through the legislature that the accountability of the executive is ensured”.

“Accountability of the executive to the legislature is the basis of Parliamentary democracy which is the basic feature of the Constitution,” said the party. The memo cited constitutional provisions saying even where an exemption had been granted by a state legislature, the number of such beneficiaries cannot exceed 2 per cent of the total strength of the MLAs of the party.

In Punjab’s case, more than half of the legislators belonging to the ruling party were enjoying status as holders of offices of profit, many of them in the rank of minister. Also the SAD has included MLAs who in the past have been Parliamentary Secretaries or headed various boards and corporations.

The SAD has complained against the following MLAs: Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Mr Shavinder Singh Kathunangal, Mrs Aruna Chaudhary, Mr. H.S. Thekedar, Ch Ram Lubhaya Mr Randeep Singh Nabha, Mr Surinder Dabur, Mr O.P. Soni, Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, Mr Romal Chand Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, Mr Ashok Sharma, Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Jasbir Singh Gill (Dimpa), Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lalli, Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Dr Harbans Lal, Mrs Harbans Kaur Dullo, Rana KP Singh, Mr Parkash Singh, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Ms Razia Sultana, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Mr Sunil Jakhar, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Mr Hans Raj Josan, Mr Rakesh Pandey and Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal.


Interpol to verify Badals’ property
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 26
The police has decided to seek help of the Interpol to verify the property allegedly owned by the former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal abroad in a case of disproportionate assets registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau. The Punjab police has decided to move the application in the Special court, Ropar, said SSP Surinder Pal Singh Virk, in a press conference here today.

Giving details, he said that the case of disproportionate assets against Badal and his family in Ropar district court had been stayed and the Supreme Court is likely to hear the case in the first week of April.


Sonia running UPA show, alleges BJP
Tribune News Service

Sahib Singh Verma, Avinash Rai Khanna and Balramji Dass Tandon at the ‘Jan Jagran’ rally in Rajpura on Sunday.
Sahib Singh Verma, Avinash Rai Khanna and Balramji Dass Tandon at the ‘Jan Jagran’ rally in Rajpura on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Rajpura, March 26
Mr Sahib Singh Verma, BJP vice-president, today trained his guns on the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, alleging that she was running the Congress-led UPA Government and the Prime Minister was a mere “rubber stamp”.

Addressing a “Jan Jagran” rally organised by the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Verma alleged that Ms Gandhi was the only centre of power in the government and the rest of the functionaries, including the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, were only implementing the dictates of the Congress president. He termed the resignation by Sonia Gandhi from Lok Sabha as a “mere drama”.

Saying that the SAD-BJP alliance had stood the test of time, Mr Verma claimed that the alliance would form the next government in Punjab. He hoped that the Rajpura seat would remain with the BJP in the seat-sharing arrangement between the two parties.

The national secretary of the party, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, came down heavily on the Amrinder Singh Government alleging that the Chief Minister did not demand any package for the Punjab farmers from the Central Government.

Terming the Congress as the “anti-Sikh” party, Mr Grewal asserted that the SAD-BJP alliance would contest all 117 seats in Punjab and form a stable government.

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Punjab unit chief and a Lok Sabha MP, accused the Punjab Chief Minister of going back on various promises made to the people during the last four-and-a-half years.

Former minister Mr Balramji Dass Tandon termed the Punjab Government as “anti-people”.


FCI to be restrained from direct wheat purchase: CM
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh while making an appeal to commission agents to reduce rate of interest on the money being lended to farmers declared yesterday that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) would not be allowed to buy wheat directly at some of its depots in Punjab from farmers.

The Chief Minister, who presided over a conference of the Federation of Aarthi Associations of Punjab held here today, made this announcement after the commission agents raised this issue with him. Capt Amarinder Singh said if the FCI would buy wheat directly at some of its depots from the farmers, it would not be allowed to operate in Punjab. He added that the FCI would have to buy wheat as per the prevailing practice.

The FCI authorities have decided to carry out the direct purchase of wheat at its depots from farmers in Punjab and Haryana to save money to the tune of about Rs 16 per quintal and subsequently pass monetary benefits to the farmers by paying him additional payment of Rs 10 per quintal.

The Chief Minister, who was given a number of memoranda by commission agents, also announced that one commission agent would be given representation in the Punjab Mandi Board set-up. Besides, the market fee on Taramira and Surajmukhi crops would be waived off shortly.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the community centre located in the local new grain market on the demand of Mr Bal Krishan Singla, president, Federation of Aarthi Association of Punjab, said nobody would be allowed to break the pious bond of farmers and the commission agents. He added that nuisance being created by some vested interests in this connection would be curbed.

Mr Surinder Singla, Punjab Finance Minister, said the export of foodgrains and their products was the only tool to bring prosperity among farmers and commission agents. He added that it was the time when the commission agents should compete with coopeartive banks and other agencies to lend money to farmers by reducing rate of interest on the loans.

Mr Bal Krishan Singla, president of the association, urged the Chief Minister to make arrangements so that no commission agent gets harassed by sales tax and other government officials.

He also demanded the removal of contractor system of loading of foodgrains from the grain markets by handing it over directly to the labourers, as it would make procurement speedier and smooth. This would also enable the state government to save about Rs 18 crore. He said procurement in the past four years in Punjab was flawless and officials of other states were visiting the commission agents to know the reasons behind this grand success.

Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, Mr Vijay Inder Singla, Chairman, PEDA, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC, Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Patiala, Mr K. K. Sharma, Chairman, Improvement Trust, were present on the occasion.


PM urged to finalise import policy for DAP
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 26
The non finalisation of the import policy for DAP fertilizer for 2006-07 was having an adverse affect on its availability in Punjab. The farmers of Punjab consume 7.5 lakh metric tonne of DAP and 25 lakh metric tonne urea annually.

Though the DAP is a decontrolled fertilizer, its maximum retail price and the concession given to the manufacturers is fixed by the union ministry for chemicals and fertilizers. Since Punjab is located away from the existing manufacturing facilities, even the indigenous manufacturers are reluctant to supply DAP to the state. They do this due to higher freight rates and the fixed maximum retail prices.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Punjab, has written to Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh regarding the problems being faced by the farmers in getting DAP fertilizer.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Randhawa said he had personally handed over the representation to the Prime Minister, during the latter’s visit to Amritsar on Friday.

The Prime Minister was informed that the state faced difficulty in meeting the demand of DAP during years 2004-05 and 2005-06. About 5 lakh metric tonne of DAP is consumed in the state for sowing of wheat within a short period of 20 to 25 days. However, due to inadequate supply, the demand is not met during this period. The inadequate supply of DAP affects productivity. It also results in large scale protests by the farmers.

In case of urea also the state faces problem as National Fertilizers Ltd. (NFL) is the sole supplier to the state. The other manufacturers stay away due to higher transportation costs.

To tackle the problem in supply of fertilizer the import policy of the DAP should be finalised and the union ministry of fertilizer and chemicals be impressed upon to enhance the supply to the state. The ministry should also be instructed to create a buffer stock of 2 lakh metric tonne in the state by September 30 to meet the demand for sowing of wheat. The allocation of urea to the state should be increased by 75 per cent in both rabi and kharif seasons.


CM admits signing Amritsar declaration
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Making a startling disclosure, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today admitted that he along with former Chief Minister of Punjab Surjeet Singh Barnala had put signatures on the Amritsar declaration in Amritsar. He said this was done in the larger interest of Punjab.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was talking to mediapersons here today in connection with the proposed visit of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, to this erstwhile princely town, said that he had put his signature on the declaration to bring Mr Simranjit Singh Mann into the democratic process of the state.

He said Mr Mann was not recognising the constitution of India and hence was adamant on the issue that a resolution in the shape of Amritsar declaration should be passed first to bring him into the democratic process.

In 1994 a number of Akali leaders, including Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Barnala and Mr Mann, took pledge at Akal Takht to launch a struggle for a independent Sikh state and put their signature on the declaration accordingly.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he was against the declaration when it came into existence and he was against the same even now. He said he parted company with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, when the latter along with other Akali leaders gave a memorandum to the then general secretary of United Nations (UN), Mr Buotros Buotros Ghali for recognition of Khalistan.

The Chief Minister said Prince Charles had been doing organic farming in his private land known as Duchy of Cornwall and wanted to see what was being done here in this regard.

He said Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Punjab Agro and other agencies would make efforts to promote organic farming in the state. The foodgrains and other items being produced through organic farming were having international acceptability and were fetching more prices than those which were being produced with the use of chemical-based fertilisers.

He said he hoped that Dr Manmohan Singh would do some thing in connection with the payment of bonus to the farmers on wheat which would start arriving in the markets shortly.


Punjab Govt owes over Rs 20 crore to PU: VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Panjab University Vice-Chancellor today stated that the Punjab Government owed over Rs 20 crore to the university as part of its share of the yearly maintenance grant pending since 2000.

Presenting the annual budget of the university before the PU senate today the VC, Prof K.N. Pathak, stated that the Punjab Government had virtually frozen this annual grant at Rs 16 crore when actually the Punjab Government should be sharing 40 per cent of whatever was the deficient burden of the university each year.

"While the university has been managing the affairs with utmost care we would once again request the government to release the grants as per the directive issued by the Government of India on the basis of approved formula of the consultative committee and also the arrears of the previous years," said the VC during his budget speech.

During the discussion on the budget it was suggested that pressure be built on the government to pay its dues and a delegation of senior university professors meet the Punjab Chief Minister in this regard. Agreeing with the proposal other senators also suggested that in case such an approach failed they should resort to agitation.

"The state's grants to the university are part of their responsibility, not charity," said a fellow.

The VC also pointed out that the central government too had given substantial grants to similarly placed universities in the country but had disappointed Panjab University in this regard.

Former MP Chandigarh and PU fellow Mr Satya Pal Jain objected to a circular issued by the central government demanding a religion wise breakup of students of the university. Stating that this could lead to unwanted divisions and vitiating of the academic atmosphere, Mr Jain asked the VC not to conduct such a survey.

The annual report presented by the VC today showed that the number of students enrolling with the university had depleted in the past one year. While the number of students enrolling in humanities and social sciences had gone down by more than 10 per cent the drop in the number of science students was not much.

However, the number of students joining professional courses had more than doubled during the past year. Interestingly the number of researchers in humanities had gone up from 12 in 2004-05 to 120 in 2005-06 and in social sciences from 51 to 253 during the same period.

Reacting to the proposed 10 per cent hike in fee across the board many fellows pointed out that university education would go beyond the reach of the common man.


Patiala ready to receive British royalty
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
After a gap of 84 long years, Patiala is once again all geared up to extend a ceremonial welcome to the visiting members of the British royalty — Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles who arrive here tomorrow on a two-day visit.

Prince Charles is the second member of the British royalty to step on the Patiala soil with the first being Duke of Windsor—King Edwards VIII— who came to this city in 1921 before he abdicated the throne.

King Edwards enjoyed playing Polo. However, Prince Charles, an ardent Polo player himself, who took retirement from the game recently, will be taking interest in an altogether different thing.

Prince Charles, whose interests in organic farming are well known due to the setting up of Duchy Originals, which was established by his efforts in 1992 in UK to “provide natural high quality food”, will be launching the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation which, like Duchy Originals, is aimed at supporting and promoting farmers who want to engage themselves in more sustainable farming by using organic stimulants.

The foundation will be launched at Yadvindra Public School here tomorrow and later the royal couple will also visit an exhibition at the same venue which will showcase various facets of Punjab’s agriculture including its diversification and focus on cultivation of natural and organic produce. Farm machinery too will be on display along with traditional farming equipment.

Before coming to Patiala, Prince Charles and his entourage will visit the Punjab Agri Food Park at Fatehgarh Sahib, which houses the headquarters of the Bhumi Vardan Foundation. The Food Park is an assisted sector project promoted by IDMA Laboratories in collaboration with Punjab Agri Export Limited. The royal couple will also visit villages in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

He would also visit Quila Mubarak, the official residence of the rulers of Patiala state till the middle of 19th century.

According to Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Prince Charles will visit Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib where he would be presented with a “Siropa” (robe of honour). After that, he would pay a visit to Khalsa Heritage Museum Complex being developed by Government of Punjab followed by a visit to the Herbal Park at Mohali.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that as Prince Charles was coming on a private visit so he would not be able to take up the issue of the return of relics belonging to Maharaja Ranjit Singh which are lying in the British Museum.

Meanwhile, pockets of this town where Prince Charles is supposed to go have been given massive facelift. Elaborate arrangements have been made to provide foolproof security to the visiting dignitaries.


NSG broke toshakhana locks, says temple panel chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
The locks of the toshakhana of Durgiana temple had been broken on the orders of the National Security Guards (NSG) of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, during their visit to the holy city and the lockers therein had not been touched.

Stating this to the media here today, Mr Surinder Arjun, president, Durgiana Committee, refuted the claims of the various Hindu organisations that the present management had taken away jewellery and FDRs worth crores of rupees from the toshakhana.

Mr Arjun said the NSG commandos, who had checked every nook and corner of the complex, had insisted on breaking the lockers in the toshakhana, too, but the committee members resisted the move by asking them to take away the lockers without breaking them to a safer place.

He said senior officials of the NSG then ordered not to open the lockers containing jewellery and FDRs worth crores of rupees.

Various Hindu organisations had yesterday accused the present management of breaking of the locks of the toshakhana without taking opposition party into confidence.

Regarding the charges of government grants not being spent on the Sankrit College, which is being run by the management of the shrine, Mr Arjun said they were getting a grant of Rs 1.66 lakh per annum from the government and were spending around Rs 2 lakh per year apart from the grant being received by it.

He said they had maintained all record of income and expenditure.


Stop befooling people, Sidhu tells CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
While projects announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his last visit in September 2004 was still pending with the planning board, the fate of new announcements would have to be seen, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, said here today.

Mr Sidhu said the Chief Minister should stop befooling the people by making hollow claims of development. He said the state government should start working for the betterment of the people.

Commenting on the MoU signed for the special economic zone (SEZ), Mr Sidhu said the dream project of the Prime Minister had taken two years for the MoU to be signed.

Coming down heavily on the Chief Minister for shifting of the biotechnology park to Dera Bassi, he said this had failed to back the gesture of the Prime Minister who had made announcements for many ambitious projects to boost the economy of this area. The euphoria on the eve of his visit had already evaporated, as most of the announcements made by him were actually repetitions, besides being highly toned down.

He questioned the wisdom of the government to churn out rehashed projects without any proposal for its time-bound implementations.

Commenting on the four-laning of Amritsar-Jalandhar highway, which was to be commenced some time back, he added that its implementation was no where in sight. He urged the Prime Minister to take up the implementation of these projects at the earliest.


‘Congress govt has failed on all fronts’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Mr Paramjit Singh, chairman, Sudhar Sabha, while claiming that state government had failed on all fronts, alleged that farmers and poor people were committing suicides and addiction had been spreading its tentacles.

Mr Paramjit Singh, while addressing the fourth awareness rally of Sudhar Sabha held here today, said people were struggling hard to get basic amenities. He added that certain pockets of Patiala town were yet to see the face of development.

Later, Ms Balwinder Kaur, who works in the State Bank of Patiala, was honoured for her achievements in weightlifting at the international level.


Cong men burn effigy of Advani

Amritsar, March 26
Congress activists today burnt the effigy of BJP leader Mr L.K. Advani in the Putlighar chowk area.

Led by councillor Raman Bakshi and Mr Sanjeev Tangri, Congressmen raised slogans against the BJP leadership for the resignation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. — OC


Using technology to solve murder
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
A few strands of hair on a cap, found at the scene of murder, have led to the arrest of a murderer. It may seem straight out of a science fiction movie, but the Punjab Police, using technology, got the hair on the cap and the hair of the suspect examined through a chemical analysis to nab him.

A forensic report last week confirmed that the hair had matched, thus nailing the murderer. In what is the first case of its type, the few strand of hair were found on a cap which the criminal was possibly wearing at the time of committing the murder. A middle aged woman in Jalandhar was killed in December last year. The cap had been accidentally left behind at the scene of the murder by the criminal and was found by the police.

Finding the person who was wearing the cap was a tough task for the police. This was solved when the police arrested a person in a separate case of theft. On questioning him if he knew about a youth, who wore a cap similar to the one found at the murder scene, he revealed a lead which was followed up.

Mr Ishwar Singh SSP, Jalandhar, said the detailed chemical test that tested the two samples of hair for 40 parameters, was required as the option of DNA testing could not be exercised. The hair on the cap, did not have what is called “root of the hair”, thus DNA testing - that uses the roots to match hair — was ruled out, he explained.

Increasingly, scientific help is taken by the Police in tracking down criminals. The new line of work adopted by the Punjab Police seems to be working. Heinous cases of murder that had rocked the state in the past few months have been solved.

In another sensational murder in Ludhiana, the body of the victim could not be recovered. A few bones were found to be buried by the criminal and those have been sent for DNA sampling and analysis to see if these were of the same woman who was killed. The match is expected to be perfect and this means the police will have a solid case on its hands.

Earlier this week, a woman in Devigarh, Patiala, called up the police to say her husband, a commission agent, had been shot dead. Forensic experts were called after the police found a gun owned by the deceased lying in the house. It had been used for firing recently, concluded the experts. The woman later admitted to have shot her husband as she had developed illicit relations with her tenant.

In the past, kidnappers have been traced by the police through mobile tracing equipment used by mobile telephone service providers.

The Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, claimed that the police was close to solving some more cases like this in the near future. He said all the investigating officials have been told to ask arrested criminals about their other associates and bring out information that could provide fresh leads. This type of questioning had led to crucial information. Also a data bank has been prepared of all gangs which have been arrested in theft cases or in other criminal activities. A scientific methodology is being adopted to step up the drive against criminals, he added.


Pak pilgrims centre of attraction at urs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 26
A jatha of 199 pilgrims from Pakistan, led by Abdul Razak, arrived at Rauza Sharif, Fatehgarh Sahib, yesterday to pay obeisance at the shrine during the annual ‘urs’.

The delegation was accorded a warm welcome by the district administration at the railway station, Sirhind.

The administration has made all the arrangements for the pilgrims’ convenience.

Hundreds of pilgrims from foreign countries come to Fatehgarh Sahib to pay obeisance at Rauza Sharif during annual urs, but the Pakistani pilgrims are always considered as the main attraction during the three- day affair.

They do brisk shopping and the shopkeepers at Sirhind town wait for their arrival very eagerly and arrange latest and attractive goods for them.

Many pilgrims, who are regular visitors, have very friendly relations with certain shopkeepers and the traders of Sirhind also respect them.

Talking to The Tribune, many pilgrims highly appreciated the offer made by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to the Pakistan at Amritsar yesterday.

They said people of both countries wanted peace and borders to be removed.

They added that it was in the benefit of both countries that they should heavily decrease the expenditure on security forces and the same funds should be spent on development.

They said there was no difference between the culture, language, tradition, fairs and social values of the people of two countries.

They highly appreciated the recently introduction of bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib.

The pilgrims said people of both the countries should be allowed easy access to their religious places and visa norms should be simplified.

They said the leaders of both country were sincere in trying to sort out problemetic issues and opined that peace process should be further strengthened.

The three-day annual urs at Rauza Sharif would start from March 27 and continue upto March 29.

According to Sajjda Nasheen Syed Mohamad Yahya Majaddadi, the urs at Rauza Sharif was held in the memory of great Sufi saint Sheikh Ahmad Farooqui Sirhindi.


More Phillaur areas to get sewerage
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 26
After spending about Rs 20 crore on the development of rural and urban areas in the town in one year, local MLA Santokh Singh presented a cheque for Rs 1.3 crore to Nagar Council President Narinder Goyal for the overall development of the town.

He presented the cheque to the council chief at a function at Phillaur Rest House today.

Mr Santokh Singh announced to provide all residents of the town with potable water and sewerage facilities by the end of this year. It would cost Rs 8 crore.

At present residents of Ward No. 12, 13, 14 and 15, constituting about 25 per cent population of the town, sans these facilities. Congress leader Bikramjit Singh also addressed the function.

The MLA had laid foundation stones for 23 development projects under the Punjab Nirman Programme just in a week. Five foundation stones were laid in the villages of Chahal Kalan, Talwandi Fattu, Lallo Majra, Herrian, Bajjon and Bakhlour in the Phillaur Assembly constituency today.

Addressing rural gatherings, Mr Santokh Singh said the state government would set up several new big projects in the state at a cost of Rs 52,000 crore. He said it had allotted Rs 5 crore to each MLA under the development programme.


Vidhan Sabha panel inspects work done under NREGA
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 26
The Vidhan Sabha Estimate Committee headed by Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, yesterday visited Hoshiarpur district and inspected ongoing works in various villages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and interacted with the gram panchayats and villagers.

The committee which included Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Mr Raj Kumar, Capt Balbir Singh Bath, all MLAs, Secretary Tara Singh along with local MLAs Lov Kumar Goldy and Sohan Singh Thandal visited Mehtabpur village in Garhshankar and Mehmadwal and Maili villages of Mahilpur block and inspected ongoing works.

Mr J.R. Kundal, Financial Commissioner (Rural Development), Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, Mr D.S. Grewal, Joint Commissioner (Development) also accompanied the committee.

The chairman of the committee and its members inquired from the labourers whether they were being paid wages within the stipulated period. Head count of the labourers was also done by the committee and their job cards checked to verify the actual beneficiaries.


Two-day conference on policy reforms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Punjab Government is hosting a two-day conference on ‘Stanford India Policy Reforms’ in collaboration with Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Reform (SIEPR), Stanford University and the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Silicon Valley Headquarters, USA. It starts tomorrow in Chandigarh.

Scholars at Stanford Centre for International Development (SCID) deal with large economies and regions like India and China.

The objective of the conference is to define a clear vision and a road-map for reforms for accelerated economic growth and development for Punjab in the areas of infrastructure, primary sector, industry, trade and business and social sectors including health, education and social security in particular and the country in general. 


Truckers join stir

Ropar, March 26
Advocates of the district court yesterday took out a procession and blocked traffic on the Ropar-Nawanshahr road for about an hour, protesting against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s decision to accord district status to Mohali for the second consecutive day here. The Ropar Truck Union also joined the advocates and staged a dharna. TNS


Keep record to make farming profitable: experts
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 26
Farmers should maintain proper record of expenditure incurred and their income so as to make agriculture profitable within their limited resources, felt experts at a state-level cotton seminar organised under the Mini Mission Scheme here today.

Addressing the seminar, Dr G.S. Brar, an agronomist, said by sowing cotton crop in ridges one-third water could be saved while the oxygen supply could also be maintained.

He said there was a need to be careful with the advertisements placed by the private companies. He said there was a large scope of work to be done in cotton cultivation.

Dr J.S. Butter from PAU, Ludhiana, talked on the role of soil testing in agriculture and said the farmers should use fertilisers on soil-testing basis. He also emphasised on the increase of organic carbon in the soil.

Dr M.S. Yadav, plant pathologist, explained about cotton diseases and recommended that the farmers should avoid cotton cultivation in gardens and shady places. Dr A.K. Dhawan, entomologist, threw light on various pests of cotton.

Dr Nirankar Singh, Joint Director of Agriculture (E&T), laid stress on the need to provide latest technology to the farmers. Dr S.S. Kandhari, Chief Agricultural Officer, Muktsar, stated that his district had topped in the yield of cotton with a figure of 788 kg per hectare, which was the highest in Punjab.

Dr Dulcha Singh Brar, Director, Regional Research Station, Bathinda, said with the cultivation of Bt cotton there was reduction in the number of sprays.

He also recommended proper dose of insecticides at the right time as told by the experts.

Dr J.S. Bains, Deputy Director, Agriculture, Dr Nirmaljit Singh Dhaliwal, KVK in charge, and the department officials from Moga, Faridkot, Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur and Ferozepore also attended the seminar.


BKU to intensify stir against land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 26
With a view to intensifying its agitation against the acquisition of 376 acres in Fatehgarh Chhanna, Dhaula and Sangherra villages, near Barnala, by the Punjab Government for the Trident Group of Industries, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) has chalked out an action programme to force the government to hand over the acquired land to the farmers.

As part of the agitation, two members from each family, who land have been acquired, will observe a 24-hour relay fast from March 28 to 30 at Grain Market in Dhaula village.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, state general secretary of the union, said here today that a decision to this effect had been taken by the union at a meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the union. He said during the relay fast farmers would hold demonstrations in villages across the state carrying “mashals”. Besides, a state-level “zamin bachao conference” would be held on April 13 at Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, he added.

Mr Kokri Kalan said that the union had asked the state government to cancel the notification, issued to acquire the 376 acres, and return the land to the farmers without any further delay. The union had also demanded unconditional release of all 626 farmers, lodged in various jails in connection with farmers’ agitation.


Awareness campaign for cotton growers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 26
An awareness programme on the utilisation of cotton plant stalks held at Patrewala village near here yesterday. While addressing the gathering, Mr R.M. Gurjar, Principal Scientist, Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology (CIRCOT), Mumbai, said around 500 processing factories could be set up to create 20,000 new jobs if 120 lakh tonnes of cotton stalks produced annually were not used as domestic fuel.

He said cotton stalks contained 22 per cent lignin and 15 per cent x-cellulose. These chemical compounds provided strength to the particleboard made from the stalks. He showed such boards and claimed these were stronger than other commercial ply boards, damp proof, termite resistant, fire proof and more durable.

Mr Ram Parkash, OIC, CIRCOT, Sirsa, Dr D Monga, Head, CICR, Dr M.S. Gill, Professor, Punjab Agricultural University, and Dr A.K. Dhawan, Senior Entomologist, PAU, were among others who addressed the occasion.


SDO held for graft
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 26
A Vigilance Bureau team led by DSP Kashmir Singh from Amritsar yesterday arrested Chaman Lal, Sub-Divisional Officer of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, from his office here for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 from Avinash Kumar Malhi.

Earlier, the complainant had stated that he was a contractor and the officer was demanding Rs 5,000 as bribe to make his payment due from the board. However, the deal was struck for Rs 3,000 and accordingly the trap was laid.

The accused was today produced before a local court which remanded him to police custody.


Theatre transforms village school kids
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Tanda (Kharar), March 26
A year ago, children of this village were not punctual at the school and suffered from low communication skills. Learning theatre has changed their lives.

Breaking away from the tradition of government rural schools reporting a high dropout rate and poor results, the Government Primary School in the village has become the centre for "revolutionary change" in the lives of the students. The school is 7 km from Chandigarh.

Life has not been the same for these students who have now begun to look beyond their books and into the realm of creative teaching-learning.

"These students used to keep mum, had no interest in studies and suffered from social problems," said Mr Raman Mittal, a teacher at the school.

A visit to the school revealed that the students have now even learned to act as counsellors for one another and address problems of home and school. They now look beyond their books and into the realm of creative teaching-learning.

The correspondent came across Uma Devi, Class V student, who used to suffer fits as she was supposedly "possessed". On being counselled by classmates, it was found that her elder sister used to threaten her and made her believe that she was possessed. "She improved in her studies after she was encouraged by her classmates not to worry about her domestic problem. I approached her family with the problem," said Mr Mittal, adding that they would take care of it.

A class II student, Laddi Singh, when given an opportunity to speak on the occasion of Teachers Day function, gave his wish list about the things needed at the school. The school authorities immediately installed a school bell, and gave pencils to poor student as had been suggested by the students.

These days the students are conducting "mock" interviews of each other. "It will instill confidence in them,” said Mr Arvind Puri, a social worker who donated 30 school dresses to the recently. “The Punjab Government should learn from the experiment and try the same at other rural schools,” he said.

Attracted by the unique experiment, the Aruna Asaf Ali Trust, an NGO has set up an open school in the village. Around 20 poorest of the poor students are being educated at the open school.

During a recent function by the Nayagoan-based NGO, which is headed by Mr Kulbir Singh, the meritorious students were given wrist watches.

The schoolteacher said it all started a year ago when he found that the traditional method of teaching was not going well with their pupils. So he devised a way of story-telling through dramatic presentation. Within weeks, the learners became performers.

A low-cost stage of mud and stones was made with the cooperation of the villagers in one corner of the school.

A panch of the village, Mr Bant Singh, said, “We are so happy with the transformation of our children that we are ready to do anything for the betterment of the school.”

The Education Secretary, Ms Tejinder Kaur, during a recent visit assured that the department would recommend upgradation of the school. 


National anthropology symposium concludes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Various aspects of Biological Anthropology like gene therapy, gene doping, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, formogenetics and other recent advances were discussed by scientists from all over the country during the two-day National Symposium on Biological Anthropology-Recent Perspectives organised by the Department of Human Biology, Punjabi University, Patiala.

The symposium inaugurated by Dr V.K. Kashyap, Director, National Institute of Biologicals, Noida, yesterday, concluded here today. He emphasised the role of molecular genetics in solving the evolutionary lineage of man with special reference to Indian populations.

Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University in his presidential remarks emphasised the creation of scientific temperament among the people of Punjab, especially among the rural masses. He also released the souvenir-cum-Abstract book on this occasion.

Over 70 research papers were presented in six scientific sessions and 30 posters were displayed by young scholars during these two days. The discussion aimed to broaden the scientific outlook in the subject of Biological Anthroplogy.

Prof A.J.S. Bhawer, Department of Human Genetics, GNDU, said the main need of the hour was to evaluate the molecular genetics status of various complex diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cardiac disorder in order to educate the masses about the susceptibility to these diseases.

A cultural programme was also organised on the occasion by the students of the department.


Foundation stone of Urdu Academy laid
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 26
The Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, yesterday laid the foundation stone of Punjab Urdu Academy at Malerkotla. The foundation stone was laid in the building of the hostel of Government College near Delhi Gate.

While speaking on the occasion, Ms Bhattal said the Urdu Academy would be set up at a cost of Rs 1 crore.

She said due to the Muslim majority it was the only town of Punjab where an Urdu Academy could be set up.

Prof M. H. Khan has been appointed the honorary secretary of the academy.

She gave a cheque of Rs 28 lakh to the Government College and Rs 15 lakh to the Intzamia Committee of Id Gah for the development of the Id Gah.

Ms Bhattal also attended the annual convocation function of the local Government College later in the afternoon and gave away degrees to the students.

She said the Punjab government had given Rs 2.5 crore for colleges in rural areas.

She also announced that vacant posts in all departments would be filled very soon.

Ms Razia Sultana, MLA, Malerkotla, was also present on the occasion.


Engg students conferred degrees
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 26
As many as 156 students were awarded with degrees in the three engineering disciplines at the annual convocation of the Rayat Institute of Engineering and Information Technology, RIEIT, Rail Majra, near here today.

A former chief of the AICTE and ICTE, Dr R.S. Nirjar, was the chief guest.

Dr R.P. Singh Shukerchakia, Director, RIEIT, presented the annual report of the institute.

The event started with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp by the chief guest. The students took the pledge that they would enter the profession with honesty and commitment.

Dr Nirjar asked the engineers to use their capabilities to spark the rate of growth of the nation, and be part of it. “There is a great responsibility on your shoulders to build the nation,” he added.

The students were conferred medals for excellence in academics. Nidhi Kumar (computer science engineering), Parvinder Singh (electronics and communication engineering), Depti Soni (IT), toppers in their respective fields, were conferred medals. Gaurav Ghai (computer science engineering) was given a special award for his all-round performance in the institute.


College students get degrees
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 26
As many 200 students were awarded degrees on the convocation at the Rayat College of Education, Rail Majra, near Ropar.

Dr O.P. Bajpai, Director, National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research, Chandigarh, distributed the degrees at the first convocation of the education college.

The Principal of the college, Mrs Saroj Saini, forwarded the students to the chief guest. Rubina, Preetinder and Sheetal were awarded for their academic achievements in the session 2003-04. Sawaranjit Kaur, Tajinder Kaur and Rubina from the same batch were given the special awards for the teaching skills. Manpreet Kaur, Amanpreet Kaur and Meera Sharma were presented with the rewards for their excellence.

“There is a great responsibility on you to build the nation and the nourishment of generations to come,” Dr Bajpai told the students.


Computer teachers seek full grade
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
The Computer Teachers Union Punjab (CTUP) submitted a memorandum of demands to Mr Harnam Das Johar, state Education Minister, here on Friday.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, president, CTUP, said computer teachers must be given a permanent job with full grade against the existing contract system. He said computer teachers, who are post-graduates with degrees in MCA, M.Tech, MSc (Computer Science), MSc (IT), were being paid a measly salary of Rs 4,500.


DAV College convocation

Amritsar, March 26
As many as 981 scholars of DAV College were awarded graduate and post-graduate degrees at its 48th annual convocation held here yesterday.

Mr D.R. Gupta, Director (Colleges) of the committee, informed that DAV College Managing Committee had earmarked Rs. 1.5 lakh each for its colleges for setting up research centres. He said that it was done with a view to encourage research work in the colleges.


‘De Innovatives’ rock
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
On the second day of “Saturnalia— 2006” being held at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), students from all over the region got themselves registered for taking part in various events.

On the occasion, Air Vice-Marshal S.K. Jindal (retd) delivered a lecture on application of technology in Air Defence Service.

A drag racing competition was held which saw around 12 teams take part. The major attraction yesterday was the rock nite. The preliminary rounds of the competition were held during the day. Ten rock bands, including those from Delhi, Roorkee, Patiala and Chandigarh, took part.

“De Innovatives,” a band comprising students from different colleges clinched the competition and the trophy to the band was presented by the Chairman of Saturnalia and Dean (Student Affairs), Dr N.K. Verma.

Another band from Chandigarh, “Crossdressers Basemen” bagged the second position. At the third position was a band called “Devil May Care” from Chandigarh. A band from IIT Roorkee, too, performed well. 

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