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Jolt for Cong as MC defects to SAD
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
The Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and the ruling Congress party suffered a major body blow as ruling party's sitting Municipal Councillor, Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh Minta, quit the Congress and joined Shiromani Akali Dal today in protest against the anti-Punjab and anti-people policies of the Punjab Chief Minister.

With stakes for the forthcoming Assembly elections hotting up, observers here feel that this development, happening in the Chief Minister's home turf, may have far-reaching implications in this politically important Assembly segment from where Capt Amarinder Singh is likely to contest the elections within a few months time.

Announcing his decision to quit the Congress and join SAD in the presence of former Chief Minister and President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Minta said that his resignation from the Congress was just a tip of the iceberg as there was widespread resentment against the policies of the present government.

He said that thousands of Congress workers were feeling suffocated in the party as the "government in the state was being run by a corrupt coterie of unrepresentative elements."

Referring to his decision to join the SAD, Mr. Minta said that this was the last wish of his deceased father. He was keen to fulfill this wish before the bhog ceremony of his father which falls tomorrow.

Welcoming Mr Minta to the party fold, Mr. Badal said that he had been approached by a large number of prominent Congress leaders and workers who wanted to join the SAD movement against the unjust, anti-people policies of the Congress government.

He said that the party would welcome the forces who wanted to put an end to the "ruthless government" headed by an ex-Maharaja.

Mr Badal praised Mr Minta for showing exemplary moral courage in defying the sustained and forceful efforts of the Chief Minister's coterie in stopping him from raising the voice of truth and justice.

 

PPSC appointments: SC comes down heavily on HC
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
On May 3, the Supreme Court, while setting aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement cancelling all appointments made by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) during the tenure of the then chairman, Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, also came down heavily on the High Court for having failed to uphold the principle of natural justice.

In the hard-hitting judgement, Mr Justice S.B. Sinha observed that the manner in which the proceedings were conducted in the High Court left much to be desired.

"We fail to understand as to why two senior Judges who had headed the committees (constituted by the HC to go into the selections of judicial officers) should have been made part of the Bench," the court observed.

It also remarked that the "High Court was probably enthralled by the media reports that two of the wards of its sitting Judges obtained appointment wrongly".

The other Judge on the Bench, Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari, wrote, "The High Court has not considered the case in the proper perspective. The consequences of en masse cancellation would carry a big stigma, particularly on cancellation of the selections which took place because of serious charges of corruption."

After hearing the submissions made by Dr Rajiv Dhawan appearing for the PCS (Executive), Gurminder Singh for PCS (Judicial) and other advocates, the SC has referred the matter back to the High Court, requesting it to constitute two independent scrutiny committees, one relating to the executive officers and the other relating to the judicial officers. It has directed the High Court to decide the matter afresh after receiving the reports of the two committees.

It may be recalled that following media reports, which said that wards of some sitting Judges of the High Court had been favoured by Sidhu, the then Chief Justice of the High Court constituted a committee of five Judges.

This committee, in its report, recommended that appointments of judicial officers in all the four batches selected during the tenure of Ravi Sidhu should be cancelled. This was inspite of the fact that selection of officers from the 1998 batch was not in question. However, the report was accepted by the Full Court.

But, when the recommendations of the High Court were received by the Punjab Government, a query was raised as to on what basis the recommendation for cancellation of the appointments of the 1998 batch candidates were made. Thereupon, another committee was constituted.

Finally, on September 27, 2002, services of the judicial officers were terminated.

Ironically, no action was taken by the government for cancellation of any other examinations or termination of the officers belonging to other services.

During hearing of the SLP, counsel for the petitioners told the SC that two judges - Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi - who were members of the committees should not have been part of the Full bench that heard the petitions challenging the cancellation of appointments.

Observing that the petitioners might have waived their right to raise a contention regarding some bias on the part of these two Judges, Mr Justice Sinha remarked that the same could not mean that the SC would ignore such a vital fact.

However, Mr Justice Bhandari, while agreeing with almost the entire portion of the judgment penned by Mr Justice Sinha, dissented via-a-vis the part relating to Mr Justice Singhvi and Mr Justice Sodhi being part of the Full Bench.

However, he too agreed that the termination of the services of the judicial officers was done in undue haste.

"When the basis of termination is serious allegations of corruption, then it is imperative that the principles of natural justice must be fully complied with. The High Court has not considered the case in the proper perspective. The consequences of en masse cancellation would carry a big stigma, particularly on cancellation of the selections which took place because of serious charges of corruption," he added.

Incidentally, while Mr Justice Sinha held that the High Court judgment as also the orders of the state government and the High Court were liable to be set aside and directions in this regard were so issued, Mr Justice Bhandari wrote that status quo as of today (May 3) would be maintained until the disposal of the matter by the High Court.

Saying since the petitioners were out of job, Mr Justice Bhandari requested the High Court to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible, preferably within three months from the date of receipt of the copy of this order.

 

Split in SGJC Bench gives reprieve to Bibi
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
The split in the three-member panel of Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) with the president on one side and two members on the other, in the three consecutive writ petitions has provided a reprieve to Bibi Jagir Kaur, former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

It is after a long period that the panel members have given separate decisions on the same petitions. While Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, president of the SGJC, a state government nominee, in his decision said a prima facie case was made out against Bibi Jagir Kaur, the two other members — Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa, who were appointed from the SGPC panel — said no case was made out against the respondent, Bibi Jagir Kaur and others. Hence, due to majority decision, all three petitions were dismissed .

The three petitions were filed by Mr Sukhwinder Singh, member of the SGPC, Mr Shamsher Singh, resident of Amritsar and Mr Joginder Singh Fauji, resident of Tarn Taran, levelled serious charges against the former SGPC chief and others.

The petition of Mr Fauji alleged that Sant Baba Prem Singh Khalsa Senior Secondary School Begowal, and Sant Prem Singh School were being run by a close relative of Bibi Jagir Kaur who was the chief patron of both the schools and were given grants of Rs 5 lakh each in violation of the rules during her tenure as SGPC chief.

He alleged that the Dharm Parchar Committee had no sanctity as it is not elected as per the rules of 1959 but was nominated by the respondents for a “political motive”. He claimed that no amount could be given to privately run profit-making institutions from the Education Committee or Dharm Parchar Committee. In this way the respondents had allegedly misused Rs 10 lakh allegedly to help SAD, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal by opening the coffers of Guru Ki Golak in the area of Kapurthala and Begowal to influence and win over the voters in the elections .The said amount was released prior to the elections, during the elections and also after the poll to fulfill the promises made to the voters.

The petitioner had also alleged that huge grant was released during the Ajnala byelection with a political motive. The respondents, including Bibi Jagir Kaur, had distributed huge sums of money through the Dharm Parchar Committee to fulfil the promises made to the voters.

However, the writ was dismissed for want of majority. The two members of the SGJC, in their majority decision stated that, as per the documents the funds were allotted by the DPC and not by the respondents in their personal capacity. The DPC and SGPC were not party in the case and as such prima facie case was not made out to grant ad- interim order against the respondents and as such the application was dismissed.

On the other hand, the president of SGJC, Mr Patti, in his decision said a prima facie case was made out against respondents, including Bibi Jagir Kaur and the SGPC secretary. 

 

A Tribune Investigation
Buddha Nullah remains a threat to public health
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
Budda Nullah in Ludhiana continues to torment the environment in the absence of any effort by the government to clean it.

All hopes and claims of a solution to the problem have so far relied on the construction of three strategic treatment plants to come up near the nullah under the Sutluj Action Plan. While the projects continue to be delayed year after year, a Tribune investigation has found out that even if they become operational, there would be no respite from industrial effluents flowing into the nullah.

The shocking reason is that the treatment plants being constructed and installed by the water supply and sewerage board (WSSB) in Bhattian, Jamalpur and Balloke villages can only treat sullage and not industrial effluents.

This was admitted by no less a person than Mr H G Arora, Managing Director, WSSB: “Our treatment plants can only treat sewage. For industrial effluents, the Punjab Pollution Control Board and the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation have to take stern action against those industrialists who continue to pump effluents into the sewerage.”

Further, the Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials privately admit that they cannot monitor each and every production unit round the clock for throwing effluents into the sewer and eventually into the nullah.

The PPCB officials say the board takes action against an industrialist only if the waste crosses the permissible limits of effluents. The percentage of effluents allowed under the permissible limits would fall in the sewer and ultimately in Budda Nullah.

“What can we do in such a situation? These few percentages of the permissible limits of effluents eventually accumulate into a highly dangerous amount of toxic elements”, Mr Malwinder Singh, Member Secretary, PPCB, asserts candidly.

It is ultimately these effluents, which are responsible for contaminating underground water with toxic chemicals. Vegetables irrigated with this water have been found to contain fatal chemical residues, which cause diseases.

Interestingly, former Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr T R Baalu, was quoted in a news report in 1999 that the results of treatment using waste stabilisation pond technology are far superior to those achieved by the UASB (Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket) process, selected by Punjab. It required less land too.

Mr Baalu had claimed that an expert committee constituted to review the environmental standards and the technological options had confirmed that the waste-stabilisation pond technology appears to be the only economically viable option for tackling faecal coliforms, which are pathogenic and hence injurious to human health.

Mr Arora, Managing Director, WSSB, stressed that the UASB technology was chosen as best by the experts and approved by the state and union governments.

Apart from the residents of Ludhiana, those of about 40 villages situated downstream the nullah suffer from diseases and polluted underground water. Those living in Ludhiana are at least earning directly or indirectly from the industrial production. But these village residents are just paying the price for the effluents.

“What is our fault?” asks ex-sarpanch, Ballipura village, where the nullah eventually falls into the Sutluj river near Ballipur village. The black current of the nullah is seen mixing into the relatively cleaner Sutluj water at the confluence point.

“The pollution caused by the nullah is visible even to the naked eye. One does not need experts for this,” he argues. This water is later used for drinking purposes in the Ferozepore, Abohar belt of the state, apart from Rajasthan.

With the onset of summer, water-borne diseases strike the area in a big way every year. Villagers now have to dig deeper for safe drinking water as the underground water is getting increasingly polluted.

The residents of villages like Basaimi, Phagra, Birmi, Malakpur, Salempur, Gonspur, Waran-hara and Hambran are the worst hit. Several other villages like Issewal, Mohi, Chak and Dakha also face the threat.

Studies by experts have already established that a high concentration of toxic metals was present in tubewell as well as handpump water. Another study showed that the nullah was almost clean till Dhanasu village where it enters the city. After that the presence of heavy metals shoots up by over hundreds times. The presence of heavy metals in high concentration in the underground water is known to cause cancer. Lead cause toxicity in humans and animals.

 

3 Class X board answer-sheets found dumped
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 6
In yet another case of lackadaisical attitude of the Punjab School Education Board, three unmarked answer-sheets of Class X examination, held in March, were found dumped near a bridge here today.

The three answer-sheets were of physical education paper, conducted on March 21.

The result of Class X is expected to be announced in the first week of June.

The three answer-sheets, each bearing 28 pages, carried roll No. 345288 (sheet No. 280149); roll No. 345290 (sheet No. 279972); and roll No. 345293 (sheet No. 279975).

The three answer-sheets belonged to students of Hindi medium. The sheets bore stamped signature of Mohinder Bir Singh, board secretary, on top of the first page. The answer-sheets were spotted by some passersby.

When the TNS checked these sheets and made inquiries from the board, it found that these unmarked answer-sheets belonged to schools in Ferozepore district.

The sheets were supposed to be kept in a collection centre of the education board at Ropar.

Sources in the education board said the evaluation of the answer-sheets kept in the collection centre had begun and evaluators were allowed to take the answer-sheets home.

But, they had to submit the answer-sheets within a week after receiving these from the collection centre.

But the Punjab School Education Board does not feel concerned over the whole issue.

When contacted, board Chairman Harbans Singh Sidhu, said: “Fifteen lakh students took the examination in different subjects for Class X. We have so many answer-sheets. Three of these might have slipped out of the vehicle carrying the sheets.”

Dr Sidhu added that he would be able to take action only if the answer-sheets were shown to him.

 

Sukhbir promises probe into Mohali projects
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 6
The SAD general secretary and MP, Mr Sukhbir Badal, today said if his party was voted to power in the next Assembly elections they would get an inquiry conducted from the CBI against the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, for giving the green signal to various projects after allegedly getting huge amounts from the companies concerned.

Capt Amarinder has allegedly collected Rs 1000 crore for allowing colonisers to build colonies and the expansion of mega projects in Mohali district only, he alleged.

Mr Badal further alleged: “From my intelligence sources, I have learnt that the CM has invested a huge amount abroad.”

He was talking to the Press while appearing in the District Courts here to get his passport released. 

 

Delay in probe hits scheme
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
The inordinate delay in completing the much-hyped inquiry into the 32-acre land “scam” has adversely affected the overall development of the ambitious New Amritsar Scheme. The New Amritsar Project includes multiplex, hotel and world- class infrastructure.

The alleged land scam was raised on the floor of the Punjab Assembly by firebrand ruling party MLA Bir Devinder Singh. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had constituted an inquiry committee to probe the charges levelled by the ruling party MLA. Residents of New Amritsar had expected that many heads would roll after the inquiry report.

However, Mr Ajaib Singh, vice- president, New Amritsar Residents Welfare Association, here today said that delay on part of the inquiry committee to submit its report had hampered development works of New Amritsar. He said out of the 188 acres, 32 acres were allotted by the Improvement Trust to “land mafia”. He said this would only create difficulties for the development of the area i.e., roads, park and hotels etc. He said the inquiry committee should submit its report immediately so that development works could be taken up on a priority basis.

Mr Ajaib Singh further alleged that with the influx of land mafia, which had cornered best sites and was carving out commercial and residential localities in the holy city, the Trust officials were depriving the common man of his right to construct residential house at a reasonable amount.

 

SAD(A) forms panel for alliance prospects
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 6
A meeting of the political affairs committee of the SAD(A) was held under the presidentship of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann at his residence at Kila Harnam Singh here today.

All members of the committee attended the meeting. According to a press note issued by Mr R.S.Cheema, office secretary of the party, the committee discussed in detail the present political scenario of the state. All members of the committee were of the view that to defeat the Congress as well as the SAD-BJP combine, the party must hold consultations with the like-minded political parties and panthic organisations, which are interested in defeating the both.

He said it was decided to form an alliance with such like-minded parties and for this purpose a three-member committee, comprising Mr Charn Singh Loharan, Prof Jagmohan Singh and Bhai Ram Singh, all general secretaries of the party, was constituted. These members were given full powers to initiate dialogue with like minded parties, who are interested to join hands with the SAD(A) to form an alliance.

 

Heat wave boon for juice sellers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 6
Heat wave gripped the region as mercury touched 480 C here as well as the neighbouring Sriganganagar district.

The hot weather resulted in increase in the demand for watermelons many folds. The roadside stalls attracted hectic buying today, as the same were stacked to capacity with watermelons a day before yesterday.

Children were seen swimming in canals and sub canals. Rehris serving Bilgiri juice were also doing a good business. Mr Avtar Gill, a customer, said a glass of pure juice at Rs 5 only could be the best choice for an ordinary person. Scores of sugarcane juice sellers could be seen doing brisk business. High temperature proved a boon for the ice candy manufacturers located in narrow lanes.

The sale of locally bottled soft drinks has gone up suddenly. Dust and insects could be seen in bottles of such drinks. Mango shake, milk shake and lassi sellers were showing little concern about hygiene and purity. Cut fruits and partly perished vegetables were on sale all over the town.

Mr Sat Pal Khariwal, chairman, Consumer Movement, urged the district authorities to change the timings of the schools keeping in view the rising temperature. 

 

Grants: Panchayat Union to move HC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Strongly opposed to the giving of grants to panchayats on the recommendation of MLAs and Ministers and the predominance of officials in district planning boards, the Panchayat Union, Punjab, has decided to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek justice on these issues.

Speaking to The Tribune on the phone from Ludhiana, Mr Sukhdev Singh Barake, president of the union, said today that the decision to move the court had been taken by the executive of the union.

He said the state government had issued a notification a few months ago under which 80 per cent of the elected representatives were to be taken on the district planning boards. However, the government had, by and large, given more representation to officials on the boards,ignoring sarpanches and panches. He said this amounted to injustice to those living in the rural areas.

Moreover, he said, grants for development were being given to panchayats on the recommendation of ruling party MLAs and Ministers, who were resorting to a pick-and-choose policy, ignoring the principle of uniform development in the rural areas. He said the government did not give grants to villages for four years. And now when election year had come, it was resorting to discrimination against various villages in the release of grants on political grounds.

Mr Sukhdev Singh said the Vigilance Bureau was continuing to harass panches and sarpanches in most of the rural areas. However, this phenomenon was more pronounced in Ludhiana district. Earlier, panches, sarpanches and even officials of the Panchayati Raj Department had staged a dharna in Chandigarh to oppose the harassment of panches and sarpanches by the bureau. At that time the government had assured the union that no panch or sarpanch would be harassed on flimsy grounds.

Mr Sukhdev Singh said there was groupism in villages.The bureau should not act against any panch or sarpanch on the basis of a mere complaint. The bureau should first investigate the complaint. It should take action only if it found evidence to prove the charges.

Mr Sukhdev Singh said the union had decided to send a 21-member delegation to meet the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar. He said Mr Aiyar had invited union representatives to a meeting in Delhi on May 10. 

 

BPL families to get Rs 10,000 relief
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 6
Taking note of the problem being faced by residents of the district, the chairman of the district grievance committee and the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, on Thursday directed the Deputy Commissioner to make arrangements for the maintenance of the 100-year-old bridge with Ropar to get a bus stand built for the locals of Nurpur Bedi town and release old-age pension in time.

While conducting the meeting of the grievance committee members Mr Johar said the state government had released Rs 40 lakh for homeless Dalits in the district.

Besides Rs 3.84 crore had been released to 192 panchayats elected unanimously in the district for the development of the villages.

He also directed the officials that if a family was living below the poverty line, then a Rs 10,000 compensation should be released to it within three months.

The MLA, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, raised the problem of poor conditions of the roads. He said as Mohali had been made a district, another XEN (PWD) should be appointed to deal with Anandpur Sahib area.

Mr Johar also directed the officials concerned to take strict action against the land mafia to prevent them from grabbing shamlat land.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Sekhar, and the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, assured those present at the meeting that all government schemes would be implemented in time.

 

50 jhuggis removed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
Continuing with its anti encroachment drive, the enforcement staff of HUDA today removed over 50 jhuggis and other temporary structures here today.

The drive was carried on in Sectors 15 and 11. According to information, 35 jhuggis were removed from Sectors 11, 15 from Sector 15 and the rest from other sectors . The enforcement wing also removed some structures in Sector 11.

Residents had earlier complained to the authorities against the encroachers.

 

Workshop on female foeticide organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 6
Female foeticide is not only a blot on the society but it also is the misuse of technology for petty personal interests. If this trend continued there will be chaos in the society,” said Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a workshop at Aam Khas Bagh on Thursday organised by Regional Resource Centre (MAMTA) in collaboration with District Health Department.

The workshop was an inaugural part of the series of programme being initiated in the district as the historic district had been declared having the lowest sex ratio in the country.

In her inaugural address Mrs Talwar said the deteriorating sex ratio was a matter of concern. She appealed to all social, religious and other organisations to come forward and to take this social evil seriously. She appealed to the youth to wage a war against this social evil. She said that Government on its on could not achieve success without the co-operation of people.

Addressing the seminar Dr Harcharn Singh, Civil Surgeon said PNDT Act. Had been implemented in the district. Regular checking of all private hospitals and other health centres was being carried not with the help of police.

Dr Rattan Chand Director, PNDT Act Government of India, gave detailed information about the Act.

 

Rs 23 cr water project for Pathankot belt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, said here today that the state government had prepared a Rs 23.75 crore drinking water project for villages in the Pathankot belt.

Mr Puri said the supply of drinking water would be augmented in villages facing a shortage of water. As many as 93 villages in the Sujanpur, Narot Mehra and Pathankot areas had been included in the project.

He said under the project 23 deep tubewells would be sunk apart from providing new water pipes in certain areas.

 

Punjab Arts Council constituted
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 6
A meeting of the members of the Punjab Arts Council, including the ex-officio members, was held yesterday under the chairmanship of poet and litterateur Surjit Patar at the Punjab Arts Council complex.

Industrialist Kewal Dhillon was elected chairman of the Punjab Arts Council and artist Mehar Singh as vice-chairman while Prof Rajpal Singh was elected secretary-general.

During the meeting three presidents of the akademies were also nominated. Padmashri novelist Gurdial Singh was nominated as president of the Punjab Sahit Akademi and artist Shiv Singh as president of the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi. Punjabi folk maestro Dolly Guleria was nominated as president of the Punjabi Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Members of all three akademies too were nominated. The office-bearers would be announced shortly.

 

Lok Adalat held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
A quarterly Lok Adalat was organised at the judicial courts complex here today under the chairmanship of Mr Inderjit Singh, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Services Authority.

In the Lok Adalat, 11 Benches were constituted and each Bench was presided over by a Judicial Officer and to assist him one senior advocate and one eminent social worker were present.

A total of 276 cases were taken up, out of which 194 cases were disposed of with the consent of both parties.

On this occasion, Mr Inderjit Singh, District and Sessions Judge, told the people that in the Lok Adalat, besides non-compoundable cases, all types of cases, including motor accident claim cases, bank loan cases, matrimonial cases and petty criminal cases, were taken up.

Mr Inderjit Singh disclosed that according to the Legal Services Authorities Act-1987, a member of the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, children, mentally ill , disabled person, victim of mass disaster, an industrial workman and persons whose income is less than Rs 30,000 per annum are entitled to get free legal aid.

 

Kang elected Bar assn president
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 6
Mr R.S. Kang belonging to the Salana, Sodhi and Cheema group owing allegiance to former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh has been elected president of the District Bar Association. He defeated Mr N.S. Tiwana by six votes.

For the post of secretary, Mr Gaganjit Singh Virk, junior of Mr Cheema, defeated Mr K.S. Mattoo by four votes.

Ms Kanwaljit Kaur Dumna was elected cashier while Mr Ashwani Kumar was elected vice-president. Mr Gursharnjit Singh Nagra and Mr Gurdev Singh have been elected members of the executive.

 

Farm machinery on rent
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 6
Enthusiastic efforts are being made in border area of Fazilka to preserve agriculture. Fazilka is perhaps the only town in country where farm machinery rental service is available. Small farmers can get a host of expensive, latest, sophisticated farm tiling, sowing and harvesting machinery like tractors and about two-and-a-half dozen implements on nominal rent under one roof. This innovative effort has been started by Zamidara Engineering and Auto Pvt. Ltd. of Fazilka.

Vikram Ahuja, director of the company, says that since more than 70 per cent of the farmers of Punjab own less than 10 acres of land, it is virtually not possible for them to purchase costly agricultural implements. Even if they manage to do so they remain debt ridden and have to face financial crunch. To meet the requirements of farmers the Zamidara company has offered the agricultural inputs to small farmers at reasonable rentals. These agricultural inputs include tractors, disk harrow, cultivators, rotavator, shredder, levelers, combine harvesters, rain gun, power tiller, J.C.B. excavators, auger for horticulture, bulldozer, its attachments, lift trolleys etc under one roof. 

 

3 faith-healers held for spying
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 6
The intelligence wing of the military has arrested three alleged faith-healers on charges of gathering secret military information and passing it on to Pakistan intelligence agencies.

The accused — identified as Anis Khan (25), a resident of Gobindgarh; Arif Khan, alias Sher Khan, alias Bhuvnesh, a resident of Mandi Adampur (Haryana); and Mohammad Gora (28), a resident of Kolkata — were reportedly arrested three days ago. They have been handed over to the local police. The three have also been charged with smuggling narcotic substances.

Some Pakistan currency, mobile phones and SIM cards of different companies along with religious literature printed in Urdu has been seized from them.

The Military intelligence arrested them from two different locations in the town. The three faith-healers, in the guise of selling medicines, used to stay at one place for months and later changed the place to carry out their activities.

According to police sources, Pakistan currency of Rs 50 denomination, SIM cards, an Army medal, religious posters, photographs, Urdu books, visiting cards, audio cassettes, railway tickets and military canteen bills were seized from Anis Khan, who was arrested near the cantonment area.

Pakistan currency of Rs 10 denomination, 12 urdu books, notebooks, year diary, audio cassette, photostat Urdu literature, a calculator, a wrist watch, a mobile phone and visiting cards along with SIM cards were seized from Arif Khan. While, the police seized Pakistan currency from Mohammed Gora. The three also had telephonic contacts in foreign countries.

The accused were today produced before a local magistrate who remanded them in police custody till May 12. A case under Sections 411, 414 and 489 of the Official Secrets Act and the NDPS Act has been registered against them.

 

Flesh trade racket busted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 6
A six-member gang of flesh trade, including three women, has been busted from border area township Bhikhiwind. The gang was being run by a widow Savita of the township.

Police sources told this correspondent today here that besides Savita the other gang member include Kulwinder Kaur, Mandeep Kaur (of the same locality), Balbir Singh, Gurpal Singh and Pamma of Narli village. A case under Sections 3, 4, 5, 7, Trafficking Act, has been registered against the accused.

All the accused have been arrested. Savita was leading the gang which was running for the last so much period.

 

Bus stolen
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 6
Some miscreants stole a bus (PB-12C-9833) of Punjab Roadways, Nawanshahar depot, from the local bus stand last evening.

According to police sources, Mr Kamaljit Singh, driver of the bus, told the police that he and the conductor after parking the bus at the bus stand, went for tea. When they returned, they found the bus was missing.

 

Two killed in accidents
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 6
Two persons were killed in different accidents around the town last night. According to the police, Surinder Kumar, an employee at a liquor vend near Balongi village, was killed when he was hit by a jeep late last night. He died on the spot. The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304 A of the IPC against the driver.

In another incident, Jatinder Singh was seriously injured near the PSEB office on the Morinda road when his scooter hit a pillar. He was taken to the local Civil Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

 

7 student federation group chiefs resign
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
In a significant development, presidents of at least seven splinter groups of the Sikh students’ federations today submitted their resignation to the two-member “Ekta Committee” (Unity Committee), which comprises Dr Bhagwan Singh and Sarbjit Singh Sohal, former veteran leaders of the federation, paving the way for forging the much-awaited unity, here today.

However, the federation led by G.S. Grewal (Mehta-Chawla), who owes loyalty to the SAD, stayed away from the meeting.

The meeting, which lasted for over five hours, decided in principle to sink their differences in the larger interest of the Sikh panth.

The “Unity Committee” also asked the federation leaders not to go to the media till complete unity was forged.

Among the chiefs of different federations who attended the meeting, held in the SGPC complex, were Manjit Singh Bhoma, Karnail Singh Pir Mohammad, Ujjal Didar Singh Aulakh, Parmjit Singh Gora Nangal, Tarlochan Singh, Harpreet Singh Kanda and Mandhir Singh (Bittu Federation).

The meeting took a serious note of the statement of Mr Grewal against the unity move. They described his recent statements as “stabbing” in the back of unity moves.

The meeting also took a serious note of the transfer of Ranjit Singh Bhoma, an SGPC employee and younger brother of Manjit Singh Bhoma, president of one of the Sikh students’ federations, from Amritsar to Jind (Haryana).

The leaders alleged that the younger brother of Mr Bhoma was transferred at the behest of SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who could not tolerate any move to forge unity among various federations.

The leaders threatened to hold protest in front of Teja Singh Samunderi Hall if transfer was not cancelled.

 

Mechanism needed to regulate private institutions, says Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
A mechanism is needed to regulate private educational institutions so that these do not become income generating institution only but serve the very purpose of generating creative individuals.

This was stated by former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh while inaugurating a national conference on higher education and national development issues and concerns at Jasdev Singh Sandhu College of Education here yesterday.

He said private institutions were contributing a lot in field of higher education but these should not become only tools of generating income for their masters. There should be a system of check and balances to regulate these institutions. He said society needed individuals who could understand problems of society in broader context of the WTO and the GATT, but he lamented that present system was not serving this purpose. In the Punjab context, he said state needed a better educational policy as the present policy was creating book worms.

Expressing concern on sidelining of rural students in the field of higher education, he said political masters should discuss this issue at length so that the very purpose of equality as enshrined in constitution could be attained. He said there should be coordination between educational institutions and various companies so that students get good jobs after completions of their studies.

He also expressed concern on universities becoming hot beds of factionalism and added that policies should be evolved so that confrontations could be averted at every level in these institutions.

Speaking on the occasion eminent economist Sucha Singh Gill said higher education had become sick industry these days. He said a large number of institutions from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia were interested in export of educational services to India. It was therefore important for all stake holders of higher education in India such as teachers, students, administrators and parents to be seriously concerned about this issue.

Among those who spoke were the college Chairman, Mr Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu, the vice-president of the AIAER, Prof Minakshi, the Principal of the college, Mr R.K. Sidhu and the Director, Mr Arpit Garg.

 

National conference on higher education ends
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
Dr R.S. Ghuman, Dean, College Development Council, Punjabi University, has advocated for reforms in higher education to make India a knowledge powerhouse.

Presiding over the concluding function of the two-day national conference organised by the All-India Association of Educational Research (AIAER) at Jasdev Singh Sandhu College of Education on “higher education and national development: issues and concerns”, said such conferences were beneficial to evolve strategies to deal with new challenges which were surfacing in education.

Those who attended the conference included Mr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, Additional Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab, Mr Darshan Singh Rakhra, MLA, and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, Punjab.

About 150 delegates from all parts of India participated. Eight technical sessions on various themes, including teacher education, technical education and vocational education were held.

Mr S.B. Mohanty, general secretary of the AIAER, said the AIAER had been taking steps to do more publication work in the field of research.

Dr S.P. Malhotra, Dean, Academics, Kurukshetra University, said it had been decided by the AIAER that it would take up the task of survey of educational research at the school level. The association would take up state reports on education. The work would be completed within a year.

 

B.Com II results today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
The results of B.Com Part-II and B.CAM-II of the Guru Nanak Dev University held in April, 2006, would be declared tomorrow i.e. May 7.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of the university, said that these results would also be available on the university website www.gnduonline.org afternoon.

 

KV No. 2 celebrates annual day

Patiala, May 6
Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 2, Diesel Locomotive Modernisation Works (DMW), celebrated its 21st annual prize-distribution function on the school premises here today.

The chief guest, Mr S.M. Bhardwaj, Chief Administrative Officer (Railways), inaugurated the function by lighting a lamp, which was followed by the singing of Saraswati Vandana.

The Principal of the school, Mr M.P. Mahahan, presented the annual report of the school, highlighting the achievements and progress made by the school in various fields during the session 2005-06. — TNS

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