P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab requires Rs 3,200 cr to buy power
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
A power-hungry Punjab requires a whopping Rs 3200 crore during this financial year to buy electricity from outside sources just to cope with the rapidly increasing demand in the state. This is nearly Rs 600 crore more than what the state spent on buying power during the just-ended financial year.

At present there is a deficit of 20 per cent in power availability in the state which has to depend heavily on outside sources to keep the homes of people “illuminated” and to “run” the tubewells of farmers.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has made a formal request to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission for this increase in the Budget for buying power worth Rs 3200 crore. The PSEB has asked the commission to have a realistic view of the situation in this regard while approving the PSEB’s annual revenue requirement (ARR). The Commission has asked the PSEB to provide the actual expenditure it incurred in buying power during the last financial year.

Sources in the PSEB said this figure could be between Rs 2500 crore and Rs 2600 crore. The final calculations were being made and these would be passed onto the commission at the earliest. The expected rates of power purchase in this year will also be projected to the Commission.

The PSEB has also presented a detailed picture of buying power from outside sources during the summer/paddy season. Starting April 1 till the end of September, Punjab will be buying from various power surplus states like West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala among others. The rate of this power is very high and it varies according to the expected intensity of summer. The PSEB will be buying a major chunk of this power within the price band of Rs 4 per unit and Rs 4.85 per unit. A negligible amount of power will be available at Rs 2.57 per unit.

The highest demand of power is expected in the months of July and August when paddy will require water while the urban areas will stretch the power distribution system as air conditioners will be running. In July alone the state will buy 140 lakh units of power daily from outside while another 142 lakh units will be required to be purchased on a daily basis during August.

Explaining the high-cost involved in buying power an engineer said the country had opted for an open access regime for buying power. The power generator sells it to the state offering the maximum. States like Punjab are left with no option but to buy power at exorbitant prices as this could have a major impact on grain production.

It may be mentioned that Himachal Pradesh has deferred its power sale agreements scheduled to start from April 1 and these will now start from May 1. The hill state is a major generator of hydro-power.


Wheat procurement insignificant,
as traders offer higher prices

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Though government procurement agencies have entered various grain markets in Punjab to procure wheat, private traders are in a dominant position as far as purchases are concerned.

Sources said that officials of almost all government agencies today had a round of the markets allocated to them for procuring wheat. But they were unable to make significant procurement in the state because of higher prices being offered by private traders to farmers.

In Khanna mandi, which is known as the largest grain market in the country, private traders today purchased about 1,200 quintals of wheat at prices varying between Rs 700 and Rs 715.

" About 3,000 quintals of the commodity arrived in the market. Of this, 1,200 quintals of wheat, which had less moisture content, was procured by private traders," said Mr Harbans Singh Rosha, president of the Khanna Commission Agents Association.

The minimum support price ( MSP) fixed by the Union Government is Rs 650 per quintal. As private traders are aware of the depleted wheat buffer stocks at the national level, they are offering higher prices for making profits at a later stage. During the January-March period this year, wheat fetched a price of Rs 1,000 per quintal and its flour was sold for Rs 1,300 per quintal.

Mr Rosha said that as the remaining stocks were likely to dry in a day or two, these would also be procured by either private traders or government agencies.

Mr Rosha said that the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, had visited the Khanna grain market to have a report on the purchase of wheat.

At Rajpura, private traders purchased wheat by offering a price of Rs 690 per quintal. Mr Lajpat Rai, president of the Commission Agents Association at Rajpura, said more than 2,000 quintals of wheat arrived in the market today. " The government agencies had also entered the market but purchases were mostly made by private traders," said Mr Rai.

Meanwhile, there is no response from the Union Government as far as increasing the MSP of wheat is concerned. 


Cop cross-examined in Hawara’s wife case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
Mr Harjinder Singh, Head Constable (HC) and prosecution witness, was today cross-examined partly in a Fast Track Court, Sangrur, in connection with a case registered against Balwinder Kaur, whose marriage with Jagtar Singh Hawara of the Babbar Khalsa International had been annulled by the court recently.

The court also directed the witness to bring the register No. 19 with regard to the period, June 14, 2005, to July 20, 2005, on May 3, the next date of hearing. The court also ordered the summoning of remaining witnesses for May 3.

Balwinder Kaur, Sukhdev Singh, Pargat Singh and Amarjit Singh, all alleged accused in the case, were present in the court today.

Earlier on March 6, the court had summoned Mr Harjinder Singh, HC, through bailable warrants, as he had failed to turn up in the court on that day. On February 17, the court had directed the HC to produce DDR register from June 19, 2005, to July 14, 2005, in the court on March 6, but he did not turn up.

Balwinder Kaur, Sukhdev Singh, a former granthi of Dohla village (near Dhuri), Amarjit Singh and Pargat Singh had been arrested on June 19, 2005, in connection with a case registered against them under Sections 121,121 A, 122, 123, 124A, 153 A, 212 and 216 of the IPC and Sections 3/4/5 of the Explosive Substances Act 1908 and Sections 25,54,59 of the Arms Act by the Dhuri police. 


Advocate grilled after Bheora’s disclosure
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
After the revelations by Paramjit Singh Bheora, BKI terrorist accused of the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, that an advocate in Amritsar had given him shelter and funds for carrying out his activities, the police detained the advocate Amarjit Singh for investigation.

According to sources, the police took Amarjit Singh in custody last evening and grilled him till today.

Mr Harmanbir Singh, SP (City), when contacted, said he was released after some investigations.

Bheora had revealed during interrogation that an advocate in Amritsar had given him shelter during his sensational escape from the Burail jail at Chandigarh.

The Chandigarh Police operation cell had immediately contacted senior police officials at Amritsar and given them the details of the advocate.

However, advocate Amarjit Singh said he had nothing to do with all this, adding that he had fought Bheora’s case years back when he was in the Burail jail and he used to practice at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Bheora’s wife held

Kapurthala, April 3
The Punjab police today arrested five terrorists, including two women, one of them wife of a dreaded terrorist, at Rail Coach Factory here.

DSP (City) Dijinder Singh Dillon said the terrorists were identified as Manjit Singh, his wife Devinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Gurcharan Singh and Amanpreet Kaur.

He said Amanpreet Kaur is the wife of hardcore terrorist Paramjit Singh Bheora, an accused in the murder of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The terrorists used to give shelter to Bheora, the DSP said. — PTI


Road repair work comes to standstill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 3
Recarpeting work on all the state roads has come to a standstill, thanks to the strike by owners of hotmix plants in the state, who have refused to supply the material in protest against rise in bitumen prices.

The decision was taken at a meeting of owners of 135 hotmix plants from all over the state under the banner of Punjab Hotmix Plants Owners Association here today.

The association resolved to keep the operations suspended till their demands were acceded.

The state government had announced that it would finish all the road projects by June 30 this year.

Mr H.S. Sodhi, president of association, said hike in bitumen prices with effect from April 1 would cause them huge losses.

He added that there had been around 60 per cent rise in bitumen prices and a 100 per cent increase in carriage charges during the past six months. “In our contract we get a profit margin of 5 to 10 per cent of funds.

If we have to pay 60 per cent extra for bitumen alone, we would be doomed.”

The hot mix plant owners demanded that if the government wanted to achieve the target of road repair and laying work by June 30, it would have to supply bitumen to them. They added that they were being supplied bitumen by government owned subsidiary suppliers.

They had met the PWD Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, some time ago.

\He had promised to find solution to the problem but things were moving at snail’s pace, claimed the owners.


LAC Sodhi facing contempt proceedings also
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
It seems that not only did P.S. Sodhi, Land Acquisition Collector (LAC), PUDA, Mohali, treat common people with utter disdain but he is also accused of adopting a similar attitude when it comes to the courts also.

His actions, or lack of actions on High Court orders, are subject matter of a contempt of court petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In a contempt petition for initiation of action against B.S. Sekhon, Sub-Divisional Magistrate-cum-LAC, Anandpur Sahib, and P.S. Sodhi, LAC, Bhupinder Singh and others have accused Sodhi of willfully and intentionally disobeying an order of the High Court passed on November 1, 2004.

The petitioners are all landowners whose land was acquired by the government and who had been ordered to be paid enhanced compensation by the court.

In his order dated, November 1, 2004, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta directed the government to deposit the entire compensation due to the petitioners within a period of two months.

However, despite the court order and subsequent legal notice sent by the petitioner on February 15, 2005, Sodhi did not deposit the money.

This was in spite of the fact that B.S. Sekhon, Sub-Divisional Magistrate-cum-LAC, Anandpur Sahib, wrote to him on February 23, 2005, telling him that since the land had been acquired by his department, his department should deposit the amount. Sodhi did not do so.

Surprisingly, in not implementing High Court orders, he chose to gloss over the fact that he had been let off with just a warning by Mr Justice M.M. Kumar in another contempt case. However, the Judge, while taking a lenient stand, warned the respondent (Sodhi) to be careful in future.

‘‘It is made clear that if any such contempt petition is filed in this court against the respondent, then serious view shall be taken,’’ the Judge wrote in his order.

He also directed that a copy of the order be sent to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, so as to place the same on the personal file of Sodhi.

On March 9, the same Judge asked the Advocate-General (AG), Punjab, to appear in court as another contempt plea involving Sodhi had come up before him. Not only was the AG forced to give an assurance to the court that follow-up action would be taken, the Bench even directed counsel for the State of Punjab to apprise the court about the status of the FIR registered by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Sodhi on August 20, 1999 as well as other FIRs registered against him.

Thereafter, DSP Banarsi Dass of the Vigilance Bureau filed a detailed affidavit in the court. The affidavit says that the Vigilance Department of the Punjab Government refused to give sanction for the prosecution of Sodhi.

In the absence of the sanction, Sodhi walked free. As for the other accused in the case, Ram Rattan, the Special Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib, found him not guilty.

Interestingly, in his legal opinion sent to the Department of Prosecution and Litigation, Punjab, the District Attorney, Fatehgarh Sahib, wrote that the ‘‘real accused in the case was Parshotam Singh Sodhi, GA to DC, who demanded and accepted the illegal gratification’’. The DA further wrote that the money had been recovered from the file lying on Sodhi's table. Ram Rattan, who had been tried for offence, never demanded or accepted the bribe.

‘‘The real accused is not challaned by the police due to lack of sanction from the competent authority and Ram Rattan, accused, cannot be connected with the crime,’’ the DA wrote on April 15, 2005.


One killed, 31 hurt in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 3
One pilgrim was killed and 31 others injured when a tourist bus collided with a truck at the Banur barrier, near here, in the wee hours of today.

According to the police, the bus was on its way from the Vaishno Devi shrine to New Delhi. The driver of the bus, allegedly being driven at a high speed, lost control before ramming it into the truck. The impact of the collision was so strong that the bus was almost ripped apart.

While a pilgrim Vijay Yadav, a resident of Ghaziabad, died on the spot, the injured, including three seriously injured, were rushed to the PGI and Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, in Chandigarh.

Police sources said the bus, carrying over 50 pilgrims left New Delhi on March 31 for the Vaishno Devi. Meanwhile, both drivers have absconded. The police has registered a case against the bus driver.

Residents highlighted that accidents were a routine affair on the Banur barrier in the absence of traffic lights and road dividers. As a heavy flow of traffic was observed at the barrier during day and night time, residents have demanded traffic lights and road dividers.


Ministers criticise Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Senior Congress Ministers today took exception to what they described as “irresponsible utterances” of SAD President Parkash Singh Badal.

Reacting to Mr Badal’s statement made yesterday regarding the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Ministers said it was unbecoming of a seasoned politician like Mr Badal to talk in this manner and cautioned him to abstain from day dreaming because the people of Punjab would never allow him and his coterie to wrest power from the Congress.

Mr Badal had stated that he would put Capt Amarinder Singh in jail when he came to power.

The Ministers who issued the statement were Public Works (B&R) Minister Partap Singh Bajwa, Food and Supplies Minister Avtar Henry, Revenue Minister Amarjit Singh Samra, Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Local Government Minister Jagjit Singh, Irrigation and Power Minister Lal Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister Sardool Singh and Finance Minister Surinder Singla.

Criticising Mr Badal for his alleged involvement in cases of corruption, they said Mr Badal and members of his family exploited the religious sentiments of the people in an attempt to woo voters. Had Mr Badal been sincere he would not have defied the president of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna’s appeal to welcome the first nagar kirtan since Independence carrying Guru Granth Sahib in a golden palki from Gurdwara Sri Bangla Sahib, Delhi, to Gurdwara Janamasthan Sri Guru Nanak Dev at Nankana Sahib (Pakistan).

They said frustration was building up among the rank and file of the SAD due to the autocratic style of functioning of Mr Badal.


Gagandeep is PPYC spokesman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress President, Mr Raminder Awla, has appointed Mr Gagandeep Singh Wasu as spokesman of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress with immediate effect.

Mr Wasu, a practising lawyer, is former General Secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress. He is the son of former Punjab Advocate General Joginder Singh Wasu. His mother, Mrs Pritpal Kaur Wasu, is a former Congress MLA.


Dogra kicks off Pulse Polio campaign
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 3
Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Romesh Chander Dogra today launched the pulse polio campaign here by flagging off polio raths. The vehicles carrying message of polio immunisation will cover the state by April 9.

Around 37 lakh children below five years will be covered in the first round of the National Pulse Polio Immunisation Day on April 9.

At least 16,000 booths have been set up across the state for the purpose and will be manned by around 70,000 volunteers.

Special mobile teams have been constituted to cover urban and rural areas.

Addressing a gathering, Mr Dogra said before the launch of the immunisation strategy, there were 28,000 positive polio cases in the country in 1988. In December, 1995, national immunisation days were introduced, as a result of which a gradual decrease in the number of positive polio cases had been seen.

Mr Dogra appealed to the parents to cooperate with the government on complete eradication of polio.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference here, Mr Dogra said the population of female children was on the rise in the state due to the strict implementation of the PNDT Act .

According to a recent survey conducted by the State Health Department, the birth rate of female children had increased from 798 to 817.

Referring to the implementation of the Act, Mr Dogra said licences of 163 nursing homes had been suspended and cases against 79 had been sent to courts for legal action.

Also, registration of four doctors had been cancelled for performing sex determination through ultrasound machines.

The Health Minister said a dialysis machine costing Rs 20 lakh was being installed at the local Civil Hospital. Besides, a Faco machine would also be installed at the hospital for eye operations.

He added that the emergency ward of the hospital would be air-conditioned shortly. Also, the number of doctors had been increased from 28 to 39 for the hospital.

The Civil Hospital, Dasuya, was being upgraded from 50 beds to 100 beds and the number of doctors had been increased from 12 to 22.

Mr Dogra added that around 1,100 doctors were being recruited through panchayats for rural dispensaries of the state.


Work at hydel power project disrupted again
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur April 3
Work at the 18 MW hydel power project of the PSEB has again been hit due to eruption of water. Water has once again started gushing out of the new site of the proposed power houses causing disruption of work.

The PSEB authorities are pressing on the contractor employed for digging the new sites of power houses to put in use extra water pumps to flush out the water.

Earlier too, work at the project had come to a standstill due to water eruption at the proposed foundation of the powerhouses in September 2004. The PSEB authorities failed to stem to flow of under ground water even after trying different options for about nine months.

Consultants of the PSEB on the project had then suggested that the site of the power houses should be shifted either up stream or down stream. The site of power houses was shifted a few meters on the suggestion of the consultant.

However, the same problem has erupted again at the new site leaving the authorities in a quandary.

The Chief Engineer Civil Design and Construction, PSEB, Mr Bhupinder Singh Saberwal, when contacted admitted that the work of the project had been hit once again due to eruption of water.

The Mukerian hydel project has been conceived quite close to the Beas. In the past two years the Beas has been receiving a lot of water.

The contractor will start pumping out water from the site with powerful motors in a few days.

A senior irrigation expert, Mr MR Goel, is being consulted to tackle the problem, the Chief Engineer said.

However, the quagmire has delayed the project by about two years now causing loss of crores in terms of generation. Besides the eruption of water the canal to the power house also has been the problem.

A siphon on the canal developed cracks after the water was released in it for the first time. The siphon has now been repaired. However, the authorities have not yet released water at full capacity in the canal due to seepage problem in some areas.

Mr Sabarwal however, denied that there was any problem with the canal. Presently about 3000 cusec water was being released in the new canal. It has been planned that 3000 cusec water would be released in the canal while about 7000 cusec would be released in the old portion. This would solve the breach problem at the tail end of old canal portion that causes loss of generation worth crores each year, he said.


MC gets Rs 10.83 cr for development
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 3
Ch Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, gave cheques for Rs 8.35 crore for water supply and Rs 2.48 crore for sewerage work to the local Municipal Council at a function here today.

Besides, he also gave cheques for Rs 45.97 lakh and Rs 10.29 lakh to the nagar councils of Mahilpur and Garhdiwala, respectively, for development works.

He said the state government was committed to bringing development in the state.


Home Guards resent non-payment of salary
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 3
Resentment is brewing among home guards over the issue of non-payment of salary before their deployment for the coming Assembly elections in West Bengal. About 1,200 home guards have been sent for election duty from Punjab.

The Tribune team spotted a group of home guards, who were on their way to West Bengal, at the local railway station on Saturday. Expressing anguish on the matter, a home guard said: “We haven’t received our salary for March and we are being sent to West Bengal for one-and-a-half month. We don’t know how our families will survive for so long.”

The general secretary of the Border Wing Home Guard Welfare Association, Mr Rajesh Kumar, also admitted that they had not received salary for March. He said they had demanded that home guards being sent for poll duty should be paid salaries of 45 days in advance, but they didn’t get their the previous month’s salary.

He said a majority of home guards took loan on heavy interest to meet their family’s expenses while they were on poll duty. He said 10 per cent of them had got cheque books and only their families could get their salaries withdrawn from the bank.

On the other hand, Mr B.S. Tiger, DIG, Home Guard, said their salary for March was normally paid in the first week of April and it might have been deposited in their account till now. He said they were given facility of cheque book and withdrawal form so that their family didn’t face any problem in their absence.


Autorickshaw operators on strike
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 3
Autorickshaw operators here today kept their vehicles off the roads to protest the illegal nakas raised by mini bus operators. The protesters alleged that the mini bus operators were not allowing them to operate on the suburbs of Pathankot.

They have raised nakas at all exit points of the city. Whenever an autorickshaw operator takes the passengers on suburbs they stop the vehicle at exit points and force the passengers to get down.

Under the permits issued to autorickshaw drivers by the district administration, they can take passenger within 18 km of the municipal limits of the city.

However, the illegal nakas raised by the mini bus operators cause harassment to both passengers and autorickshaw drivers. This despite the fact that most mini buses are being operated illegally in the area by some influential persons, protesters alleged.

The protesters also held a rally and submitted a memorandum of demands to the SDM, Pathankot. 


Vani Jairam enthrals audience
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, April 3
Renowned playback singer and Tansen awardee Vani Jairam in a scintillating performance regaled people during a live concert in aid of Chinmaya Mission here last night at BBK DAV College auditorium.

She rendered her favourite bhajans, ghazals and film songs and received standing ovation as she completed her two-hour long show. Vani, who has established herself as a bhajan singer, began her performance with the recital of bhajan ‘Humko Man Ki 
Shakti Dena’.

Her unique style of singing especially ghazals had the entire audience in raptures applauding her each couplet. Later, she rendered her first Hindi film song which she recorded for ‘Guddi’ ‘Bole Re Papi hara’ and brought her five awards including prestigious Tansen award. She followed it up with another bhajan ‘Bas Ek Yahi Meri Kamna’.

Vani, a singer of Karnatak music, has rendered dedicated service for three decades and exhibited extraordinary versatility in handling different regional music of India. She sang in 14 languages recording more than 8,000 songs and the same number of bhajans.

Talking to this correspondent, Vani said she received training in Hindustani Light Classical music from Ustad Abdul Rehman of Patiala Gharana, who honed her skills to make her one of the leading singing stars of the country. As a child prodigy she could distinguish between different musical notes and ragas.

Born in a family where music was a way of life. She received her first national award for a Tamil film in 1976 and later two more awards came her way in 1980 and 1992 for Telugu songs. Vani also won the coveted Filmfare award for her songs in the Hindi film Meera, under the direction of Pandit Rani Shankar and lyrics were written by Gulzar. She said she has worked with top music directors, including, Naushad, Madan Mohan, O.P Nayyar, R.D Burman, Kalyanji Anandji, Lakshmikant Pyarelal and many others. She has sung duets with stalwarts like Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey and Mohinder Kapur.

She participated in almost all major music festivals of the country, including Badri Kedar festival, Ganga Mahotsav in Varanasi, Meera Utsav at Chittorgarh, Dover Lane festival of Kolkata, Swami Haridas festival at Vrindavan and many more.

After a long stint as a film playback singer Vani specializes in bhajan singing. Giving live concerts for Ramakrishna Mission, Chinmaya Mission, Vivekananda Centre bringing to life immortal lyrics of Tulsi Das, Kabir, Sur Das, Meera and many other eminent Bhakti Lehar poets.

She has complete repertoire and can sing different and difficult compositions. A music director had remarked that she can sing any form of music without restriction as she had the ability to adapt to any situation 
of verse.


Councillors allege corruption in MC
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 3
At a press conference in the town hall, here today evening Mr Pawan Kumar Sharma, Mr Talochan Chanda, Mr Joginder Angurala, Pinky Pamma, Sukhdeep Singh, Harinder Singh Kalsi and Ms Inderjeet Kaur Municipal Councillors levelled allegations of corruption and mismanagement against Mr Subhash Sekhri, President, MC, Batala and officers of the council.

Mr Pawan Kumar Sharma said development works were not being done according to rules and certain areas had been ignored. The works undertaken were of very poor quality they alleged.

Councillors criticised the attitude of Municipal officers and said they did not listen to MCs interest and areas of above said councilors were suffering. Councillors were demanding maintenance of the streetlights but no heed was paid to this demand.

Some of work orders were issued six months ago but the same were lying in cold store while in some areas development was being undertaken without tender or work order.

Mr Subhash Sekhri, President, MC and Mr Kasturi Lal Seth, Congress President, Batala city arrived at the conference hall and denied all allegations. They said that they would look into the matter if anything was brought to their notice. 


BJP to oppose land acquisition in 3 villages
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 3
The BJP today decided to oppose the Punjab Government’s move to acquire around 331 acres of farmland in Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sanghera villages here to make way for three industrial units of Trident Group of Industries, and the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation’s (PSIDC).

The BJP also decided to raise issue in the state Assembly and Parliament.

This was stated by party national secretary Harjit Singh Grewal while reacting to Trident managing director Rajinder Gupta’s statement that he would not drop the idea of setting up the units there.

Making BJP’s stand clear, Mr Grewal asserted that the party would not allow forcible acquisition of farmland to set up industrial units.

A six-member deputation of affected farmers — Roop Singh, Ranjit Singh and Bhagat Singh, Bhola Singh and Gurcharan Singh and Jagseer Singh — also met Mr Grewal and aired their grievances.


Poll rolls with photos for all 90 constituencies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Electoral rolls having the photograph of each voter will be published for all 90 Assembly constituencies in Haryana with January 1, 2006, as the qualifying date.

This will make Haryana the first state in North India and the second after Kerala where the electoral rolls will have the photographs of the voters.

At present, two Assembly constituencies of Haryana, Ambala Cantt and Baroda, have electoral rolls with the photographs of the voters. These electoral rolls were used during the last Assembly elections.

A spokesman of the Haryana Election Department said here today the electoral rolls having the photographs of the voters would be displayed at the offices of the Deputy Commissioner, District Election Officer, Subdivisional Officer(Civil), Deputy Election Officer,Tehsildar and District Public Relations Officer concerned besides post offices, patwarkhanas, panchayat ghars and municipalities from April 4 to 25 to enable the voters to verify their particulars.

He said errors, if any, could be got corrected by filling Form 8 and submitting it to the Electoral Registration Officer concerned. Objections to the names of those persons who had died or become ineligible to vote because of other reasons and for registering as voters could be filed on the relevant forms from April 4 to April 25 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily with the Electoral Registration Officer concerned. 


Thethi takes charge as CE of GNDTP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 3
Mr Narinder Singh Thethi, has taken over the charge of Chief Engineer, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), Bathinda. He has replaced Mr Baldev Singh who retired on March 31.

He recently got the work of renovation and modernization of Unit II executed, while the work on Unit I is on. An engineering graduate from Punjab Engineering College, he joined the Punjab State Electricity Board as assistant engineer in 1973 and was posted at GNDTP. 


Baisakhi celebrations
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
The Mehak Cultural Forum will organise a function here in connection with Baisakhi on April 8. Noted Punjabi singers Sardool Sikander and Manpreet Akhtar will perform before a select audience.

According to Dr Naresh Raj, president of the forum, Mr Birender Singh, Finance Minister, Haryana, Mr S.K.Sharma, Inspector General, Patiala Zone and Mr. R.S Sohi, Member (Finance and Accounts), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), will be the chief guest, president and guest of honour, respectively, on the occasion.


HC notice to two officers
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to the Financial Commissioner, Local Government, Punjab, B.R. Bajaj, and Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, K.S. Kang to show cause as to why proceedings under the contempt of court not be initiated against them for not complying with its orders.

Taking up the petition filed by the Saphai Karamchari Union (INTUC), Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, which alleged that the corporation had not passed a fresh speaking order about the settlement with the employees unions on the issue of bonus to the employees, Mr Justice M.M. Kumar issued notice for July 22.

The corporation had through a resolution on September 11, 1985, nullified a settlement with the employees unions, including the petitioner union, on the issue of payment of bonus to the employees. 


Insurance company told to pay relief
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 3
The District Consumer Forum, here headed by Mr B.C. Gupta, president, Ms Manjeet Walia and Mr Amarjit Singh Jauhar, both members, accepted the complaint of Mr Gurcharan Singh of local Government colony, and ordered the National Insurance Company here to pay Rs 17,928/- along with Rs 5,000/- for harassment, litigation expenses and interest in two months.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, filed a complaint against the National Insurance Company for paying a compensation of Rs 22,500/- as his car was involved in an accident on October 27, 2005. The insurance company repudiated the claim on the pretext that the complainant got 20 per cent no-claim bonus at the time of getting the insurance cover issued from it. The forum observed that at the time of issuing the insurance policy it was the duty of the company to check the record before allowing bonus and the complainant was not to be blamed for the negligence of the company.


Decline in interest on farm loans on cards: minister
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 3
Aiming to achieve agricultural growth rate of 4 per cent, the Central Government has asked various banks to peg their rate of interest at 7 per cent for a farm loan of up to Rs 3 lakh. This was stated by the Union Minister of State for Finance while addressing a public meeting at Maur Mandi here yesterday.

He said the Union Government had chalked out a strategy to double the agricultural growth rate of the country from the present 2 per cent to 4 per cent in the coming few years.

He said though the growth rate of entire country was 8 per cent, it was less in the field of agriculture.

He said a decline in rate of interest would help in promoting diversification among the farming community.

He said the banks would suffer losses of about Rs 2,000 crore due to decrease in interest rate. The government would compensate the banks, he added.

He said there was a need to strengthen cooperative sector and increase public participation in it so as to extend better quality seeds, fertilisers and loan facilities to farmers.

He said Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) had been given a financial aid of Rs 100 crore for research work and facilitating modern agricultural training to the farmers.

Answering a query on wheat imports, he said it would not at all affect the procurement of wheat in Punjab and other wheat producing states. He clarified wheat was being imported due to a decline in the country’s buffer stock from 4 million tonnes to 1.8 million tonnes.

Prominent among those present on the occasion included MLAs Jeet Mahinder Singh Sidhu and Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal and ex-minister Sukhdev Singh Dhillon.


Gill for waiving farmers’ loans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Former Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill here today urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to make a decisive intervention to deal with the problem of rising debts of Punjab farmers.

Reacting to The Tribune story regarding debt-ridden farmers of the Malwa belt, Mr Gill said the Chief Minister should waive loans of farmers immediately. The government should set up debt conciliation boards to save farmers from commission agents who give loans to them on high interest rates, he said.

A law was framed in the forties to save farmers from these loan sharks. The law had not been repealed yet and could be implemented to settle the issue of private loans against farmers, Mr Gill said.

No one should be allowed to attach immovable assets, including landed property of farmers, who are under debts. “I am upset that even government officials, including revenue officials and the police, join hands to use force against debt-ridden farmers to recover loans from them”, he added.

Mr Gill said farmers had to go to money lenders as cooperative banks were not giving adequate loans to them.


Six booked in immigration fraud
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 3
The Kotwali police today booked six persons, including two women, of the Kenya Export Company, for allegedly duping nearly 130 youths of about Rs 2 crore on the pretext of sending them abroad even as the Lok Bhalai Party has sought resignation of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for allegedly failing to check the menace.

The Kotwali police today booked Rohit Kumar and Tony Desuza, both directors of the Kenya Export Company, and employees Arjun, Shashi Sharma and Chandni besides an unidentified person for cheating the youths. They have been booked for fraud and cheating.

The company had its offices in AC Market Ludhiana, besides another two at Jalandhar and Mumbai. The company had allegedly taken Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.30 lakh from each of the 130 youths.

They were lured on the pretext of providing them jobs of truck driver, carpenter, petrol station staff and labourers in Kenya, Singapore, Qatar and adjoining countries. The youths were not given any jobs or tickets to go abroad. They made several rounds of the company head office in Ludhiana.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia said the travel agents were openly luring the youths through advertisements in newspapers but the state government was helpless in checking their growth. 


Decomposed body found in Kharar
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 3
An unidentified body was found lying on the way to the Jayanti Devi temple here today.

According to the police, Mr Karam Singh, a resident of Siswan village, was going with his wife to the temple when he got some foul smell in the area. He stopped to find out from where it was coming. To his surprise he found a decomposed body lying near the area. He informed the police in this regard.

The police reached the spot to recover the body which was then sent to the Civil Hospital at Ropar for a postmortem examination.

The police is investigating the matter.


Realise duties towards society, students told
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, April 3
Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, addressing combined faculty convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University today said the students understand their duties towards society, religion, and environment and make their minds free from prejudice to achieve their targets.

Mr Boparai was the chief guest on this occasion and 450 students of faculties of Languages, Arts & Social Sciences, humanities, Religious Studies, Visual and Performing Arts and Physical Education of the University received degrees.

Earlier, university’s, Vice-Chancellor Dr S.P. Singh, welcomed chief guest and detailed achievements of the university.

He suggested the students to look below to get satisfaction and work hard by getting inspiration from higher. He exhorted the degree recipients to follow the philosophy and teachings of Guru Nanak and inculcate these in their lives.

He said there was great potential of professions in rural areas whereas knowledge was available in urban areas so he encouraged youth to accept assignments in the rural and backward areas.

He said only one per cent of students of rural areas had been admitted since past 10 years in Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. He suggested students should have completed at least 10 years of education in rural areas to get admission in the Agricultural University.

He disclosed an English version of Mahan Kosh (Encyclopaedia of Sikhism) by eminent Sikh scholar Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha would be brought by Punjabi University, Patiala and released next month. 


Durgiana panel alleges embezzlement by ex-chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 3
The new Durgiana Managing Committee (DMC) has lodged a complaint against Mr Surinder Arjun, former chief, for embezzling Rs 3.33 lakh received as grant for the Sanskrit college.

Mr Harnam Das Arora, president, DMC, in a press note here today alleged that Mr Arjun had opened an account with the Town Hall branch of Bank of Baroda and deposited the cheque by impersonating as secretary of the managing committee. He said Mr Arjun had withdrawn the amount from the account in February last year. He said instead of distributing the amount among teachers and students of the Shri Laxmi Narayan Sanskrit College run under the aegis of the DMC, he kept it for personal use. He further said that the committee had lodged a complaint against Mr Arjun in D-Division police station.

The DMC president said the committee members had met the Deputy Commissioner for appointing an official so that the committee could prepare an inventory of valuable jewellery and other documents of the toshakhana in his presence. He said the district administration refused to intervene as it was the internal matter of the managing committee. He further said that committee was recording every detail by video filming the inventory of valuable jewellery, cash and other documents of the toshakhana.

He said the committee members were going through the records available in the committee’s office and would try to bring all the facts before the public.

When contacted, Mr Surinder Arjun told The Tribune that the present management had no locus standi and whatever they were doing was illegal. He said the committee members had launched a witchhunt against him by levelling false allegations. He said whatever grant he had received had been distributed among the teachers and students of the college.


DC lays stone of building for deaf and blind
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
Deputy Commissioner of Patiala Tejveer Singh laid the foundation stone of a residential school for the deaf and blind, being constructed at a cost of Rs 4 crore, at Saifdipur village, near Punjabi University campus, here today.

The Punjab Chief Minister was slated to lay the stone of the complex, but he failed to turn up. Minister for Co-operation Jasjit Singh Randhawa was also scheduled to come to the function, but he also failed to reach the venue.

The school, which is coming up on a 5700 square yard piece of land donated by noted philanthropist Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, will be constructed with financial help from a US-based NRI, Prem Puri, who has already donated $ 1 lakh for the building. The school being built by the Patiala-based Society for the Welfare of the Handicapped will specialise in speech therapy, sign language, candle making, art and craft, tailoring, chalk making, computer education and other vocational activities.

This society is already running successfully the Patiala School for the Blind and the Patiala School for the Deaf.

Mr Tejveer Singh announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the school on behalf of the Chief Minister. The guest of honour, Mr Yogesh Agarwal, Managing Director, State Bank of Patiala, announced that the bank would be lending finance at easy interest rates for the equipment of the school.

Prominent among others who were present were Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur, wife of Mr Balwinder Singh Saifdipur and Sarpanch of Saifdipur village; the ADC, Mr Shiv Dullar Singh Dhillon; the Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr Manvesh Singh Sidhu; Mr B.S Brar and Col Karaminder Singh, president and secretary of the Society for the Welfare of Handicapped ; former Vice- Chancellor of Punjabi University Bhagat Singh and a host of district Congress leaders.


Private schools hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 3
Students, staff and managements of all private schools in the district organised a protest rally and dharna under the banner of "Save Schools" in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner today.

The dharna was organised to protest against the decision of the government to close all private schools as per the judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

They submitted a memorandum to the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Dr Harbans Lal, who assured them to take up their cause with the Chief Minister.

He said the Punjab Government would make all efforts to protect the future of the students, teachers and management of the private schools. Before implementing the judgment of the court, the government would study all aspects and take legal advice from experts, he said.

He said private schools had been imparting education to lakhs of students in the state as well as providing employment to thousands of teaching and non-teaching staff. If these schools were to be closed, it would lead to chaos in the society, he said.

He urged the Opposition parties to come forward in their support instead of instigating the government against them. 


DAV school celebrates silver jubilee
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
Noted playback singer Vani Jairam inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of the DAV Public School here. She appealed to young generation to understand and appreciate rich Indian cultural and musical heritage which had given so much to the world.

Later interacting with students Vani said that the present generation was aping the western culture without knowing its pitfalls. She said that it was the duty of teachers to create awareness about invaluable Indian scriptures and knowledge. She said that the faculty must give them a broader view of the Indian value system, including the small capsules in a simpler language and medium to enlighten them about the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and other spiritual and literary works to students.

Jairam said that we had to feed the young generation with the right things about our ancient culture, which had stood the pressure of times and remained undiluted in the present times.

Earlier, principal Mrs V. Puri, a President awardee, read out achievements of 25 years and said that the school had strong foundations to take up global challenges with fortitude.


Office-bearers of school trust take charge
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 3
The newly elected office-bearers of the Ashoka Educational Trust and Management Society, Sirhind, took charge of their respective posts today.

An impressive function was organised by the members of the trust and the staff of Ashoka Senior Secondary School. Subhash Sood, president, and his team consisting of Roshan Lal Suri, vice- president, Surinder Bhardwaj, secretary, and Krishan Kumar Sood, cashier, were garlanded by the members and the staff .

Addressing the function, Mr Subhash Sood assured that his team would work with dedication for the

betterment of the educational institutions run by the trust. He appreciated the good work done by the

outgoing president, Mr Rajiv Dutta, and his team. He assured the staff of the schools that the management would sort out their problems on priority.

Prof Ashok Sood, Mr Devinder Verma, Mr Tarsem Khullar and Mr Rajinder Sood also spoke on the occasion.


Annual function organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April3
The Punjab College of Education, Chuni Kalan, organised its first annual prize distribution on the college campus. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, former Deputy Speaker, was the chief guest in the morning session of the function and distributed prizes among the outstanding students.

In his address, he highlighted the role of the youth in the development, prosperity and security of the country. He said future of the country depended on how the youth behaved. He further said India got independence after a long struggle and now it was the moral responsibility of all to maintain communal harmony and accelerate the pace of development.

In the evening session, Mr Ranbir Singh Libra, OSD to Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP, presided over the function and also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh from the MP fund.


Annual credit plan of UCO Bank released
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 3
The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr H.I.S Garewal, today released the annual credit plan (2006-2007) of UCO Bank worth Rs 1,138.28 crore to be utilised in terms of loans under various schemes for the district. The amount of the credit plan was 34 per cent more than last year's.

Giving details, Mr Garewal said Rs 657.08 crore had been fixed for the agriculture sector, Rs 123.70 crore for the non-agriculture sector, Rs 255.62 crore for the priority sector and Rs 101.88 crore for the non-priority sector.

He said about Rs 55.44 crore would be utilised under various schemes to generate employment in rural areas . He asked the banks to provide more loans to youth for higher education and starting their own business ventures.

Other senior officials present on the occasion were the Chief Officer of UCO Bank , Mr V.K Sharma and the AGM, NABARD Bank, Mr Dinesh Kapila.

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