P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CMC society threatens to close down institutions
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 17
If the Punjab Government refuses to budge and fails to bring in an amendment to the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions Act 2006, the CMC Ludhiana Society, running a medical, dental and nursing college here, might be forced to close down all its institutions.

The confusion prevailing with regard to the minority status of the CMC institutions after the said Act took effect from March 27, 2006, the admission process for undergraduate courses, which gets under way with the All India CMC entrance examination on May 21, will also run into trouble.

Addressing a news conference here today, Dr John Pramod, Director, Christian Medical College and Hospital, and Rev Joel V. Mal, Moderator of Church of North India and the president of the CMC Ludhiana Society, regretted that the legislation adopted by the Punjab Assembly on March 23 for the purpose of regulations of admissions, fixation of fee and making of reservations from time to time in all health science colleges in the state of Punjab, had either deliberately or inadvertently failed to make an exception for minority educational institutions.

“But to the Christians in Punjab, it appears to be a deliberate step to suppress the community as even though in private, most officials agree that the exception clause (for minority institutions) should have been part of the said Act, the state government has issued no addendum or further notification despite huge commotion and voice from the Christian community, as well as management of the CMC.”

Both Dr Pramod and Rev Mal stated that the Supreme Court, in its judgement on August 12, 2005 had ruled on the reservation policy, admission policy, fee structure, regulation and control by the state and the role of committees dealing with admission and fees, in relation to minority and non-minority unaided higher education institutions. But while bringing the legislation for this purpose, the government had conveniently forgotten that this landmark judgement had clearly exempted the minority unaided professional institutions in regards to all these issues while empowering the state government to regulate these institutions.

“We believe that the Act and the notification, which followed, are in violation of the apex court orders (PA Inamdar verdict 2005) concerning minority unaided educational institutions and the right of the minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their own choice as enshrined in article 30(1) of the Constitution of India, as also the violation of the 93rd amendment of the Constitution, which came in January 2006, much before the above mentioned Act came into existence.”

While agreeing that the state government had taken a step in the right direction to bring a legislation for regulating the entire admission process in health science colleges, Dr Pramod reiterated that the failure on the part of the government to recognise the district character of minority institutions was proving to be fatal for CMC institutions.

“If this Act is applied without the contained exemption clause, it will amount to enforcement on the part of the government of Punjab to change our objective, for which we established this institution, interfere with the mission and the mandate of the institution, constitution of the CMC Ludhiana Society and above all, transform the character of the institution from All India to All Punjab.”

Dr Pramod and Rev Mal made it clear that in the event the government responded in a positive manner and came out with the necessary amendment without further delay, the unanimous resolution of the extraordinary meeting of the CMC Ludhiana Society to close down all its colleges in Ludhiana would have to be implemented.


Midnight squall leaves 800 acres flooded
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 17
More than 800 acres of agriculture land was flooded with water today as the midnight squall caused 10 breaches ranging from 20 to 60 ft in half a dozen sub canals in the region. The total loss might exceed Rs 25 lakh, preliminary reports indicated.

The squall stormed the town and the adjoining areas at 12.30 a.m. and lasted with varied speed till 2.30 a.m. throwing electricity supply out of gear. Though there were signs of storm beginning 9.00 p.m. yesterday such a havoc was not apprehended. Hundreds of people sleeping on the roofs and open spaces preferred to take shelter under pucca roofs not caring for the valuables lying around.

In less than five minutes the squall took away sheds besides other goods lying in the open. Mild showers followed the duststorm but for 10 minutes only giving relief from the mercury.

The Tribune correspondent during a four-hour tour of the affected areas found that a major breach was caused near the RD 95500 bridge in the Daulatpura sub canal that had been lined at a cost of Rs 5 lakh last year.

An inconsolable Ms Gurmeet Kaur said her family had spent Rs 10 thousand on buying wheat husk for the cattle recently. Though the state government had claimed that all the families below poverty line had been given one-lamp electricity connection in the region her small house had got no electricity connection so far. The family struggled throughout night to save the husk (green fodder), but barely 10 per cent could be saved.

The breach near the city bypass damaged boundary wall of the spacious house owned by Mr Anoop Singh Jamnia. The houses of so many others were flooded with water. Migrant families were busy in saving household goods. The vehicles parked near these houses were trapped as land caved in.

The Kandhwala road linking the city bypass was inundated with water as another breach was caused in the Malookpura distributory. The breaches in the Jandwala minor near Patrewala village, Ramsara sub canal near Amarpura village, Daulatpura minor near Diwankhera village and Azamwala minor damaged crops in Panniwala, Kikkarkhera, Dangarkhera, Azamwala, Khippanwali, Dhaani Bishesharnath, Alamgarh and Burjmuhar villages.

Farmers said most of them had sown expensive Bt cotton seed. Only the mature plants in the affected orchards could survive.

Contractors wore gloomy look on their faces. SDM Jaskiran Singh while making on-the-spot survey along with Tehsildar M.L. Puri said last year he had requested the Executive Engineer of the Central Works Division of the PWD to reconstruct the bridge on the national highway No 10 near Burjmuhar village. He had pointed out that storms uprooted trees and their bunches blocked the flow of water through the bridge subsequently causing breach. This had happened many times.

The overflowing water in the Panjawa Minor today flooded the agriculture farms of Dr Pritam Singh Sidhu, an awardee grape grower besides affecting the treatment plant run by the army.

The SDM said that he had last year sent a detailed report to the Irrigation Department emphasising the need of repairing 32-km Daulatpura minor as 40 breaches had been reported in the recent past, which occurred again wherever plugging was done temporarily.

Sub Divisional authorities will send damage reports to the district headquarter by tonight. The SDM will recommend compensation to the farmers.

Hundreds of trees uprooted at night created problems for movement of the vehicles. Many dwellings collapsed but none of the inmates had serious injury.


Squall damages roof of marriage palace

Abohar, May 17
Squall damaged 60-foot wide roof of a marriage palace under construction on the Sriganganagar road here, sources said. Ms Anguri Devi a resident of street 7 in the Nai Abadi locality here received injuries as the boundary wall of her house collapsed. Nearly 200-foot long wall collapsed in the Uttam Vihar Colony also but none was hurt. The authorities also received reports of damage from other residential areas also. — OC


If 3 acres at Mohali sold for Rs 86 cr, what will 20 acres fetch?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The BJP is preparing to jump into the controversy with regard to the offer of land made to Reliance Industries Limited( RIL) in Punjab.

Its senior leader, Mr Arun Jaitley, will be flying here from Delhi on Sunday to speak to mediapersons on the controversy. Obviously, Mr Jaitley, who is a legal brain, will raise legal issues with regard to the offer.

Certain Punjab Ministers and some top bureaucrats had said that the 20 acres which had been offered to the RIL at a throwaway price of Rs 2 crore, plus interest on it from the day it was acquired by the Punjab Mandi Board, was not worth Rs 200 crore if sold by earmarking plots and not worth Rs 1,000 crore if sold by earmarking shop-cum-office sites ( SCOs).

Obviously, they are not aware of the price at which the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation ( PSIEC) sold land to two companies for setting up multiplexes in Phase VIII of Mohali. Official sources in the Punjab Government today confirmed that only a few months ago, the PSIEC sold 3 acres for Rs 86 crore to two companies— one from Delhi and the other from Chandigarh— to build multiplexes. The land was at a less prime location than that of the Mandi Board's land at Mohali. If 3 acres can be sold for Rs 86 crore, one can imagine at what price 20 acres located at a better location fetch.

Those linked to the sale of property at Mohali, including officers who have served in PUDA in the past, say that the board's 20 acres could be sold for Rs 1,000 crore by earmarking SCOs. The prevailing rates of commercial property in Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, and even Zirakpur, are very high. At least two private properties have been sold for setting up malls in Chandigarh in the recent past. They fetched such a high price that the buyers were not ready to disclose the amount.

Meanwhile, sources said that because of the controversy created by the offer of land to the RIL, the Punjab Government was exploring the possibility of a joint venture between the Mandi Board and the RIL to set up a marketing hub at Mohali on 20 acres. Obviously, the RIL would be in a commanding position in the venture. The sources said that denotifying the notification issued by the Mandi Board to set up the vegetable market would take a long time.

If the project was set up as a joint venture, there would be no need to denotify the market. However, the moot question is whether the RIL would accept this offer of the state government. The RIL has an eye on the 20 acres and wants to be its owner because of its commercial value. 


6 Pakistani nationals repatriated from Wagah
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
Six Pakistani nationals, including four boys, who had strayed into India and spent precious years of their childhood in the Juvenile Jail of Faridkot were repatriated to their country from Wagah Joint Check Post, 28 km from here today.

The delighted Mithun Messiah from Faisalabad, enthralled BSF and their Pakistani counter-part - the Sutlej Rangers when he sang the Mittran Di Chhatri Ton Ud Gai …’ a song of Indian singer, Babu Mann before crossing over to Pakistan.

Both Mithun Messiah and 13-year-old Imran were caught by the BSF near the Ramdas post in Amritsar district last year. They were playing cops and robbers when they strayed across the border. “We were playing near the border. My brother decided to act as a thief and I became a cop. While playing we entered Indian territory,” said Imran. Out of these children, 11-year-old Khurram Nawaz was the youngest. A resident of Dera Gazi Khan, he boarded Samjhauta Express after getting angry with her mother and ended up in the hands of Indian authorities. 14-year-old Shaukat Ali too entered into the other side of the border through Samjhauta Express.

The BSF, headed by Commandant Bhupinder Singh Rana handed over the six Pakistani nationals to Major Fyaz Haider Ali, a senior official of Pak Rangers at the Wagah border.

A Pak boy, Imran Khan (14) told the media persons that he had experienced extremely warmth hospitality during his detention in Juvenile jail. He said though he was happy to return to his country yet he won’t forget the love and affection showered.

Two Pakistan nationals who were repatriated from Wagah were Mohamad Ayub and Mohammad Rafi - both released from J&K jails. They were arrested on charges of TADA for indulging in anti-Indian activities. They did not reveal the motive or design for entering India despite repeated queries.


Boundary wall of 127-year-old school demolished
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
Boundary wall of the 127-year-old Alexandra high school on the Queens Road of the city was demolished in an alleged land grab bid here today.

Mr Sadrick Sohan Lal, Secretary, Amritsar Diocesan Trust Association (ADTS), said 100 persons armed with lethal weapons came at 5.30 in the morning in four trucks and trolleys with the intention of grabbing the trust property.

He said the grabbers had demolished a portion of the boundary wall of the school.

Mr Lal said chowkidar of the school Rajkumar informed the Estate Supervisor, Mr H. S. Rana, who informed the office-bearers of the ADTS.

He said the land grabbers dispersed from the site as soon as hundreds of men and women of the Christian community gathered there.

He said they had left behind two Tata -207 trucks (PB-010- BF-6992 and the other with number applied for) containing cement, sand and other materials at the site.

He said according to rumors in the area a son of a high-ranked police officer was involved in the incident.

Mr Lal said Mr Rana also informed the Bishop and Chairman of the Trust Mr P.K. Samataroy who met the SHO of the Civil Lines Police station and also informed the SSP.

Mr Sudhanshu Srivastava, district police chief told The Tribune that a case under Sections 447, 427, 148, 149, 379 of the IPC had been registered and inquiry.


Infighting in Cong
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 17
The infighting between the two groups headed by Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and Master Romesh Chander, Secretary, PPCC, came to the fore at the Rest House, Mukerian town of this district this afternoon when the latter levelled charges against his opponent for ignoring the old Congress workers and posing his son as his successor from the constituency before Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Supporters of both groups raised slogans in favour of their leaders.

Master Romesh Chander along with Col S.S. Randhawa, Mr Davinder Mahajan, general secretary, Punjab Youth Congress, along with his supporters met Mr Dullo separately in presence of Dr Kewal Krishan. He told Mr Dullo that Mr Rajnish Bubbi, son of Dr Kewal Krishan, was not even a primary member of the Congress. But his father was promoting him as his successor from the Mukerian constituency for Congress ticket by ignoring all old Congress workers of the area. He said the party high command should take a report about the popularity of Mr Rajnish Bubbi from different agencies before allotting party ticket to him.

Mr Dullo assured Master Romesh Chander and his supporters that the party high command would certainly weigh merits and demerits of all the ticket seekers.

Earlier, Mr Dullo was received by Dr Kewal Krishan along with party workers at Naushera Pattan. Mr Dullo inspected the on going works under the National Rural Guarantee Employment Act at Naushera Pattan and Pirke villages.

Later, Mr Dullo left for Talwara. He is on a three-day visit to Hoshiarpur district to meet party workers and review the on going progress under the rural job Act.


CM lays stone of admn complex
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 17
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today laid the foundation stone of the much delayed district administrative complex here. He said the complex would be brought up on 10.65 acres at a cost of Rs 30 crore. The work for the construction of the complex would start immediately and was likely to be completed within 10 months.

He also laid the foundation stone for providing 100 per cent water supply and proper sewerage in Gurdaspur town. The scheme would be implemented at a cost of Rs 13 crore.

The Chief Minister was here today to address a political rally organised at the local Government College.

While addressing the rally, Capt Amarinder Singh said the government had earmarked 25 per cent of the Budget for venturing into new power projects. A 500 MW stage II project of Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant was nearing completion. Two more major projects, including a thermal plant at Gobindwal and Shahpur Kandi power project, had already been sanctioned.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, state president of the Congress, also spoke on the occasion. The Minister for PWD, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, and the local MLA, Mr Khushal Behl, demanded a special package for Gurdaspur. They said being a border area hardly any industry had come up in the district.

The rally witnessed some unruly scenes when representatives of some employee unions and applicants tried to move towards stage to give their petition to the Chief Minister. 


Harassment due to CM’s rally
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 17
The commuters moving in and out of Gurdaspur faced problems today as the district administration stopped plying of buses from the bus stand. The buses were not allowed enter the town due to the visit of the Chief Minister here for a political rally.

Though the Chief Minister was not to pass from the vicinity of the bus stand, the district administration still deemed it fit to stop the plying of buses in the town in the morning. The ban on plying of buses continued till about 4 pm when the Chief Minister left the town in a helicopter.

The buses were made to stop outside the town on Pathankot, Batala and Mukerain roads. On the Pathankot road, the buses were stopped outside the railway crossing. On the Batala road, the buses were allowed only till bypass. The commuters had to walk kilometres to board buses or reach their destinations.

The passengers questioned the logic of stopping buses from entering the town when the rally was not to be held on any of the main roads. The rally was held in the ground of the Government College. The administration could have stopped traffic at the time when the vehicles of VIPs were passing. Stopping of buses in the town put the general public to a lot of harassment, they alleged.

Besides, the elaborate security arrangements in the town due to rally also posed problems for general public. The people were not allowed to move vehicles on the college road. Only the VIP vehicles were allowed entry on the road. The people residing in the area had to park their vehicles outside on roadside and walk to their places.

Even the mediapersons had a scuffle with the cops in the government college. Some of the cops used force to prevent the mediapersons from moving out before the VIP vehicles had crossed.


Weather hits war exercise
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Sidhwan Khas (Ludhiana), May 17
Creating an illusory battleground, the India’s military strike force in tandem with air troops has reached the final stage of a three-week-long war exercise code named Sangha Shakti (joint power) that involves the biggest Indian strike Corps 2 acting as attackers and 11 Corps troops maintaining a defensive posture.

In the mock battle, various manoeuvres are being staged in a theatre of 15 to 20 square km, in the region starting from south of Jalandhar, across Sidhwan Bet, Budha Nullah and finally Sutlej river simulating international border with Pakistan. The exercise is scheduled to culminate on May 19 with final events being witnessed by Gen J.J. Singh, Chief of the Army Staff.

The heliborne operations planned last night at Sidhwan Khas air range, however, proved a failure owing to inclement weather. The Air Force choppers carrying troops that were to fly from Adampur air base could not start. The idea was to demonstrate skill of the jawans in slithering down from hovering helicopters in the dark close to the red land of enemy but it failed as the skies could not get clear before dawn. The tanks, however, kept on moving forward in the same territory.

Brig Sanjeev Loomba, Brigadier General Staff of the 2 Corps, later announced that the night operation had to be called off as it could have been risky for the troops. He, however, said the troops had been marching forward on tanks while bridging the canal and nullah for vehicles and troops to cross over. He said that there were chances of some forward troops having reached close to the banks of Sutlej before morning.

The Brigadier added that night operations had been planned for tonight as well when paradropping would take place from aircraft, in a site close to Sidhwan Khas again. He said a mobile headquarter had reached Boparai village, nearly 15 km from the current exercise location, where the corps jawans and officers were being tested for integration of real time surveillance capabilities, networking, operational planning and execution in a battlefield.

Brig Loomba said that it was for the first time after Operation Prakaram in 2001 that the Corps 2 troops had been taking part in a war game. On being asked to why the choppers or aircraft were not being flown from Halwara Air Force station that was closer, he said that it could not be used as it technically fell in the red land of the enemy. He said that combat operations would be held close to Sutlej where the simulated firing would take place with the release of laser beams and puff emitting from the opponent’s tank indicating its defeat.


Sidhu supports medical students

Amritsar, May 17
BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu backed agitating medical students.

Addressing the rally of students here today Mr Sidhu said that more than 30,000 posts for OBC quota were vacant in the country and if the reservation quota has to be raised the number of vacant posts would also increase.

Endorsing stand taken by students Mr Sidhu said that there was need to uplift the basic education quality where everybody must get a chance. He said doctors were pursuing the agitation in most peaceful manner and they should not be lathicharged as in a democratic setup everyone had right to pursue the agitation peacefully. — OC


Docs block traffic
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
The resident doctors and medical students under the banner of Medical Students Association of Government Medical College intensified their protest by blocking various roads of the holy city, such as Lawrence Road and Bhandari Bridge, here today thus bringing the traffic to a halt.

The protest was almost peaceful though the authorities had deployed police personnel at strategic places of the city. The agitating doctors shouted slogans against the Central Government and Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh. The hunger strike which entered the fourth day had already paralysed the health services in the hospitals and patients had to face hardships.

Mr Gagandeep Sharma, president of the association, alleged that the government instead of giving heed to their genuine demands was trying to scuttle them. A large number of students from Junior Doctors Association, Ramdas Dental College, Government Dental College and resident doctors participated in the strike.


Medicos continue stir
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
The ongoing agitation by students of Government Medical College, Dental College and Ayurvedic College against the caste based reservation policy entered its fourth day although emergency services at Government Rajindra hospital were not paralysed.

OPD at Rajindera Hospital remained closed even as the protesting students sat on a dharna in front of the OPD. The Junior Residents Association and the senior faculty members too joined the students in their ongoing agitation.

In the evening a candle march by nearly 300 medical students from Rajindera Hospital to Children Memorial Chowk, Lila Bhawan.

According to Dr Gagandeep Sharma, various other unions like the Punjab Chemist Association, Patiala District Bar Association, Medical Representatives Association, PCMS Association led by Dr M.S Randhawa and Patiala Rice Millers Association joined the agitating students in their fight against reservation.


No polio cases detected in Fatehgarh Sahib
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 17
Dr Harcharn Singh, Civil Surgeon, in a press release issued here today claimed that no polio-affected case has been detected in the district. He denied the news item published in an English daily (not Tribune) that three cases of polio had been detected in the 

He said two out of three Gagandeep Singh, resident of Nandpur Kalour and Navjot Kaur Main Majri village, whose names had been mentioned in the news item were presented before mediapersons and both were hail and hearty, where as the Gudia had already died in UP as she belonged to a migrant family, who was earlier living at Sirhind. He said Gudia died there due to meningitis not of polio. He said the three were administered polio drops.

He added that stool samples of the two were sent to Kasauli to rule out polio virus and no such case had been reported in the district for the past three years.


Drive to make dist drug-free: DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 17
The district administration will launch a campaign in the district to make Fatehgarh Sahib drug-free in collaboration with the Health Department and the police, said Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of district officials held here today to control the menace of drug abuse.

She said the sale of drugs by quacks, fake chemists and unauthorised medical practitioners would be curbed strictly, adding that during the first phase of the campaign, a special survey would be conducted to identify such persons.

Medical officers, along with police parties, would visit each town and check certificates and licences of doctors and chemists and their list would be submitted to the district headquarters.

The Deputy Commissioner said after identifying such persons, the list would be handed over to the police to register cases. She said all chemists had been directed not to sell 106 medicines to customers without the prescription of authorised doctors.

She said in this campaign the district administration would also seek the support of social, religious and political organisations. She said with their help, the district administration would also set up deaddiction centres. 


Governor for data bank of ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today asked the Directorate of Sainik Welfare, Punjab, to create a comprehensive data bank of ex-servicemen of all ranks in the state, to help evolve an effective mechanism, supported with a monitoring system, for their placement in various public and private sector establishments.

Chairing a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Punjab Amalgamated Fund of Sainik Welfare, here, he stressed upon the need to work in coordination with the Army authorities for ensuring proper rehabilitation of ex-servicemen and their dependents.

General Rodrigues further said ex-servicemen constitute a useful task force of experienced and talented people, who could contribute to the transformation of society. He said in the changing socio-economic scenario, the capabilities and capacities of ex-servicemen must be utilised in different fields by imparting them training in various vocations.


Bridge being renovated
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 17
The Public Works Department (PWD) has started renovating the bridge situated on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran road near village Doburji.

The Ministry of Roads Transport and National Highway has issued a grant of Rs 9 lakhs for the renovation, a site Junior Engineer Tejinder Pal Singh said .

It was highlighted in these columns on May 4 that the notice boards at the bridge ends blocked the traffic sight This had led to many a collision of vehicles and 30 deaths after the bridge re-opened in 2004.


Challan in kidnapping case presented
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The sensational kidnapping case of Amritsar teenager Prabir Singh last year is reaching its logical end. The challan against all the accused, including a woman, Manjinder Kaur, who has escaped to the UK, has been presented in a court at Amritsar. The police is banking on the woman’s statement with regards to the role of her husband, a co-accused in the case.

Senior police functionaries monitoring the case at the police headquarters here said that Manjinder Kaur has been interrogated after she came back to India earlier this year. The Punjab Police had taken up the matter of her deportation with the UK police. She had been living in Leicester. Police functionaries claimed that on expiry of her visa, Manjinder Kaur came back to India.

The challan will come up hearing soon. The case was among the 16 cases which have been recommended for trial in fast track courts. Even though the process of putting it in fast track court is on, the police is confident of its success. The police is banking on the statement the woman has given saying her husband, Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta, was one of those who kidnapped Parbir Singh. She has claimed that about Rs 10 lakh had been transferred to the UK by her husband.

Prabir Singh, alias Guddu, son of an affluent rice sheller owner, was kidnapped from a congested locality of Amritsar on February 7 last year. One of the kidnappers was armed and in police uniform. The kidnappers used the car of the victim in the crime. Eleven days later, when Prabir was released by his captors, a huge amount had been paid as ransom. The case had rocked the state and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had also asked for all details.

The police has succeeded in tracking down all main suspects and their accomplices involved in the crime. One of the suspects had worked as a gunman with several senior police officers before being dismissed from service.


Punjab farmers seek debt relief panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
Punjab farmers today urged the Prime Minister to form a debt relief panel to provide aid to the peasant reeling under a cumulative debt burden of Rs 20,000 crore with an interest of Rs 3,000 crore being added to it every year.

Slogan-shouting protesters, carrying placards and banners, under the banner of the Akali Dal (Longowal), asked how the farmers could return the multiplying loan estimated to average Rs 1.60 lakh per farmer and Rs 17,000 per acre of cultivable land when the cumulative income of the state’s farmers hovered around Rs 7,200 crore a year.

“This debt burden is about 50 per cent of the annual income of the farmers,” said party president and former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra.

“Only 15 per cent of the farmers are free from debt. Of the 85 per cent indebted farmers, 11 per cent are heavily in debt, the most vulnerable are driven to suicide,” said Mr Baldev Singh Mann.

In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, they said the debt relief fund should be to the tune Rs 1,500 crore to be contributed by the state government, the Mandi Board and Nabard and it should provide relief to farmers unable to repay their loans.

The memorandum said the government should apply the principle of “damdupat”, pertaining to recovering interest from the loanee not more than the principle amount, said Mr Harbhajan Brar and Mr Surinder Singh Dhuri, both Akali leaders.


Eight-hour power supply for farmers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to provide eight hours uninterrupted power supply to the farmers for paddy cultivation every day from June 10. The PSEB has decided to purchase power worth Rs 3000 crore for the purpose.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, chairman, (PSEB), held special meetings with the representatives of Kissan Wing of SAD (A) led by Mr Satnam Singh Behru and BKU (Ekta group) led by Mr. Pishora Singh Sidhupur, today at the board headquarters, to review the problems and demands of the farmers, especially in the wake of fast approaching paddy season.

Mr Ratra said that though PSEB had made arrangements to buy 1200 MW power from eastern sector, global tenders for purchasing 1000 MW more powers would be floated shortly. He added that stage two of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) at Lehra Mohabbat in Bathinda district would be made operation early next year.

Mr Ratra informed that the board had made requisite arrangements to procure power from various sources at much higher rates to reduce the gap between demand and availability. Though the board had arranged to buy 1200 MW of power from eastern sector, only 600 MW was available to Punjab due to the non-availability of the corridor.

Mr Ratra said that important over-loaded grid sub-stations and transformers were being augmented and overloaded feeders were being bifurcated to reduce their loads. However, the chairman asked the farmers to refrain from the use of unauthorised motors. The field officers had been directed to take strict action against the defaulters.

He took a serious notice of the non-availability of field officers and supervisory staff at sub-divisions, sub-offices and complaint centres and directed the distribution chief engineers to ensure the presence of all SDOs and JEs at their headquarters. He also directed the field offices to maintain proper complaint/suggestion registers at all complaint centres/sub-divisions.

The Chairman also directed to depute field officer to monitor power supply. Grievances committee comprising representatives of kisan unions and filed officers were also being constituted for having proper interaction and feedback about supply position and problems faced by the consumers on regular basis.

Mr Behru said that he had urged the PSEB authorities that farmers should be ensured at least 10 hours uninterrupted power supply every day. Mr Ratra had also been requested to make arrangement of adequate staff in the field. Farmers had also demanded that farmers having their holdings in the flood-prone areas of Patiala and Sangrur districts should be given tubewell connections on priority basis.


4 sworn in as members of information panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Governor of Punjab, today administered the oath of office to Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj, Mr P.K. Verma, Mr R.K. Gupta and Mr Surinder Singh as members of the State Information Commission at a brief ceremony at Punjab Raj Bhavan here.

Mrs Bajaj and Mr Verma are retired IAS officers of Punjab. Mr Gupta is a retired IPS officer and Mr Surinder Singh is a retired Chief Engineer of the Punjab Government.


1 killed, 5 hurt in clash over land
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 17
One person was killed and five others injured, two of them seriously, in a dispute over land in Sahur Khurd village near Kalanaur today. The sources available here said Jagir Singh, a farmer who had a dispute over land with his neighbour Mangal Singh, was working in his fields alone this afternoon.

Mangal Singh along with sons Sardool Singh and Sonu and three other persons attacked Jagir Singh with sharp-edged weapons. Jagir was hit on the head and other parts of the body. He raised the alarm and following which his wife Jasbir Kaur, sons Ranbir Singh and Ranjeet Singh and daughters-in-law Harjeet Kaur and Manjeet Kaur ran to rescue him.

However, assailants, who had allegedly come prepared for armed conflict, attacked them also. All family members of Jagir Singh were also injured. The condition of the wife of Jasbir Kaur and one of the daughters-in-law was stated to be serious.


ASI attacks varsity employee

Patiala, May 17
Tension grips campus of Punjabi University after an Assistant Sub-Inspector of the Punjab Police and his accomplice allegedly attacked an employee of the university, Mr Rajinder Kumar, near the university gate late in this evening.

Information revealed that the accused tried to run away after the attack, but university security personnel, a section of students and other passers by managed to overpower them. A pistol and a knife allegedly used in the attack were recovered from them. Before attacking Mr Kumar with the knife the accused fired few rounds in the air. — TNS


GND varsity to conduct CET-Law on June 18
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
Guru Nanak Dev University (GND University) on behalf of the Punjab Government will conduct the Common Entrance Test (CET) : Law-2006 for admission to five-year B.A. LL.B.(Hons), five-year B.A..LL.B. and three-year LL.B. Course in the colleges situated in Punjab and affiliated to GND University, Amritsar; Punjabi University, Patiala and Panjab University, Chandigarh on June 18, 2006 (Sunday).

Stating this, Dr Sukhdev Singh, Coordinator of CET-Law said the prospectus-cum-application form can be had on payment of Rs 500 from May 25 to 31 from the designated city centres located at D.A.V. College, Abohar; Administrative Block of GNDU campus, Amritsar; Government Rajindra College, Bathinda; Students’ Centre, Panjab University, Chandigarh; GND University Regional Campus, Hardochhani Road, Gurdaspur; Maharaja Ranjit Singh Regional Campus of GND University Ladhewali, Jalandhar; GGN Khalsa College/Institutes, Civil Lines, Ludhiana; Government College, Muktsar; Information Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur.

Application forms complete in all respects along with a demand draft of Rs 1000 (Rs 750 for SC/ST/handicapped candidates) in favour of Registrar, GND University payable at Amritsar must be submitted from May 25 to 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the above stated designated city centres to get the provisional admit card-cum-roll numbers on-the-spot.

The provisional admit card-cum-roll number could also be had on submission of application forms complete in all respects at GND University, Amritsar with a late fee of Rs 1000 up to June 7 and with a late fee of Rs 2000 up to June 12, 2006. 


Roll No. not issued despite court order
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
Ms Neetu Sharma, a local resident is under severe depression after Punjabi University authorities allegedly failed to issue her roll number for appearing in the second semester examination of first year of L.L.B course despite court order issued to them on May 6.

The family members of Ms Neetu Sharma have been facing tough times, trying to bring their 22-year-old daughter out of depression by counselling her. Her father Mr Ashwani Kumar Sharma has been struggling for getting roll number of her daughter issued by the Punjabi University authorities.

Though the court on May 6 ordered that Ms Neetu Sharma, a student of Punjab College of Law, Raipur (Patiala) should be issued a provisional roll number to appear in the examination of second semester of first year of L.L.B course to be started from May 10, the university authorities failed to do so. She was denied roll number as she could not submit her migration certificate to the university authorities.

Narrating her tale of woe, she said that she went to Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S. Boparai, and others for the implementation of court’s order but no relief was given to her.

Dr Baldev Singh, Chief Coordinator, Exams, Punjabi University, who was also blamed by Ms Neetu Sharma, said that Punjabi University authorities would seek unconditional apology from the court of Ms Lakhwinder Kaur, Civil Judge, Patiala, for not implementing its order.

He said that he was misled by officials of his department in connection with this case. He was told that in the civil suit filed by Ms Neetu Sharma against Punjabi University, the judge had passed an order in the favour of the university. But today, when he saw the file pertaining to the civil suit, he came to know that university authorities had not implemented the order of the court.

He said that denial of roll number to Ms Neetu Sharma was unfortunate incident and the same had occurred due to fault of officials of his department. He added that he had no personal enmity with Ms Sharma and hence he had not done anything deliberately.


Ryan School opens branch in Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 17
The 89th branch of Ryan International School was opened here today by Dr A.F. Pinto, the founder Chairman of the school.

Dr Pinto also laid the foundation stones for new schools at Dugri and Jamalpur in Ludhiana. The school also plans to open a branch in Patiala.

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