P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


160 petrol stations of Malwa belt go dry
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
Prior to a much-likely oil price hike the supply of fuel from the local oil depot to HPCL petrol stations has been discontinued due to which around 160 petrol stations of the Malwa belt have gone dry.

A large number of dealers from Bathinda and its neighbouring districts under the banner of the HP Dealers Association today gathered at the oil depot. The association’s president, Mr Mahesh Chand, dealers Tejinder Singh Midukhera, Pradeep Goel, Vijay Verma and Ashok Bansal alleged that Indian Oil was making full supply of fuel to its dealers without any delay.

The dealers stated that they were totally dependent on the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for product availability in the region. They had been facing the problem since May 10 due to non-supply of diesel and petrol from the HPCL, which received the same from the IOCL. They lamented that their outlets in Bathinda, Ferozepore and Muktsar areas had gone dry a number of times in the past 25 days.

They alleged that they had received only 30 or 40 per cent of their product requirement due to “non-cooperation from the IOCL”. They said the IOCL had denied them their due share of the product, which amounted to about 34 per cent of the market in the above-mentioned areas. They claimed that while their 160 petrol stations were grappling with dry out, the IOCL pumps were operating on tank full. They had also deposited bank drafts in advance for the supply of fuel. In a fax sent to the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, these dealers had rued that their petrol stations were suffering huge losses due to discontinuation of fuel supply and people were suspecting that they were stocking fuel ahead of a possible price hike.

The dealers unanimously decided that if the IOC didn’t restore supply as per the HPCL’s share within a week they would hold a meeting to chalk out their future course of action. They said consumption of fuel had shot up in the sowing season and their regular customers were facing problem owing to fuel crisis.


‘Operation cover-up’ on forest cover depletion
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 5
Today is World Environment Day. The Department of Forests, through advertisements inserted in all leading newspapers, has claimed that the forest cover in the state increased from 1,387 sq km in 1997 to 1,580 sq km in 2003.

The figures have been quoted from the latest Forest Survey of India report published in 2005. However, the department has cleverly concealed the figures that reveal the real picture of the state of the forests in Punjab.

The department has deliberately concealed the figures as regards the forest cover in 2001. As per the Forest Survey of India report, the forest cover in the state in 2001 was 2,432 sq km. It included 1,549 sq km dense forest cover and 883 sq km open forest cover.

However, just after two years, the forest cover got reduced to 1,580 sq km. In just two-year rule of the present government from 2001 to 2003, 806 sq km forest cover disappeared.

Another interesting data is that the entire forest that has vanished formed the dense forest cover. The dense forest cover in the state reduced from 1,549 sq km in 2001 to just 743 sq km in 2003. The open forest cover remained almost the same at 837 km.

Punjab was at 11th position in terms of forest cover in the country in 2001. However, the state went down to 35th position in 2001. The forest cover in Punjab was now lower than even that the desert state of Rajasthan.

The forest cover loss in the state was also the highest in the country. It was even more than Madhya Pradesh, the biggest state of the country in terms of geographical area. Punjab tops among the 10 states that have lost the forest cover as per the latest Forest Survey of India report.

Environmentalists have demanded that instead of claiming false accolades, the department should order an inquiry into such large-scale depletion of the dense forest cover in the state. The dense forest cover has depleted despite the fact that the state had raised a loan of about 600 crore from a Japan bank for plantation.

A large percentage of the said amount has been mostly spent by the state on plantation in kandi forest ranging from Ropar to Gurdaspur. In an advertisement issued earlier, the department had claimed that 20,000 sq hectares area had been brought under plantation under a Japanese project.

However, if such a large area was brought under plantation, how the dense forest cover in the state went down by around 50 per cent.

In a PIL filed in Punjab and Haryana high court, former wildlife wardens Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa and Gunraj Singh have already demanded a CBI probe into the large-scale depletion of forest cover in the state.


SBI manager caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 5
Udhar Chand, loan manager at the State Bank of India’s main branch here, was caught red handed by the Vigilance Bureau while accepting Rs 10,000 as illegal gratification for sanctioning a loan of Rs 2 lakh to a farmer.

DSP Ashok Kumar who led the Vigilance team said Mr Jas Ram, a farmer from Ramsara village here, approached the district Vigilance office complaining that Udhar Chand wanted him to pay Rs 10,000 as illegal gratification for getting a loan of Rs 2 lakh sanctioned under the Gold Card Scheme.

Though the complainant had completed all formalities, the manager resorted to delaying tactics to mint money through a Dalit nambardar and typist at the subdivisional complex here.

The Vigilance Bureau laid a trap this afternoon. The farmer reportedly paid currency notes of Rs 10,000 to Udhar Chand after getting the same treated with chemical.

DSP Ashok Kumar, assisted by an Inspector, immediately swung into action on getting the signal. Two gazetted officers from the district headquarter accompanied the Vigilance team.

He was taken to Ferozepore for further interrogation.


PMT: options, time limit increased
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Students appearing in the Pre-Medical Entrance Test (PMET) in Punjab on July 2 will get five options, instead of the usual four, to answer a question. Also, the time limit has been increased to three hours to the solve the paper comprising 200 questions. Earlier, the limit was two hours and 30 minutes.

It will be mandatory to use a black ballpoint pen and not a pencil to answer the questions.

All these are steps are being taken to prevent tampering with the answersheets and to avoid allegations later , said the Registrar of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, Dr P.L. Garg, while confirming the move to The Tribune on the phone today.

The students will have a fifth option for each question. Normally, the answersheets for entrance tests for professional courses have four circles indicating the options to a question. One of these has to be filled in by the students using a pen or a pencil to indicate their choice of answer. In case of the PMET this year the unfilled circle offered as the fifth option is meant to be filled in only if the student has not attempted the question. If the fifth option is filled in , it will be accepted that the student has chosen not to reply to the question.

The university has made it mandatory that one of the five circles has to be filled in. In case the answer to a question has been left blank and none of the five options has been filled in, it will invite negative marking. However, there will be no negative marking in case one of the circles is filled in. At the examination centre a student will be required to write details of the number of questions attempted and the questions which were left unanswered. The invigilator will also do a separate count and sign at the end.

This is being done as it had been noticed that some students were leaving answers blank, allowing scope for tampering at a later stage.

Meanwhile, sources said the university had prepared a back-up plan in case last year's fiasco is repeated when the question paper was leaked. A second question paper has been kept as a back-up to meet such an emergency. The results are expected on July 7 as the checking of the answersheets will be done with computers.


UGC project runs into rough weather
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
The Rs 30 crore UGC project, “Centre for Potential Excellence Research in Sports Sciences (CPERSS),” established in 2002, has run into rough weather. Its Coordinator, Dr Jairup Singh, Director of Centre for Genetic Disorder, Guru Nanak Dev University, has apprehended that “no research is likely to be materialised by July 31, 2007 as the grant of Rs 5 crore, released by the UGC, would just be spent on the buildings and creation of infrastructure only.”

In a communication to the Vice-Chancellor, copy of which has been sent to members of the Advisory Committee, Dr Jairup Singh expressed anguish and surprise that though he was appointed Coordinator of the project by the UGC on July 8, 2004, yet he was conveyed about his appointment last week only.

Out of Rs 30 crore, the first instalment of Rs 5 crore was released about three years ago. The CPERSS was allotted to Guru Nanak Dev University on the basis of its exceptional performance in the field of sports.

While allocating the grant , the UGC noted that GND University had produced 18 Arjuna awardees in different sports and won Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy for record 17 years. The UGC had sanctioned Rs 75 lakh for laying synthetic track and an equal amount for purchasing new infrastructure, Rs 1.25 crore for indoor stadium and rest of the amount was allocated to sports-related subjects.

However, when contacted, Dr S.P. Singh , Vice-Chancellor, said it was the “right time” to inform Dr Jairup Singh about the implementation of the project. On the expenditure already incurred from the released amount, he said it was within the jurisdiction of the varsity authorities to do so.

The two-page letter of Dr Jairup said that the first meeting of the Advisory Committee was held last week under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor.

He pointed out that a huge amount, including Rs 1.25 crore and Rs 75 lakh for gymnasium and synthetic track, had already been spent without holding any meeting of the Advisory Committee. The gymnasium building had already been inaugurated by the Chief Minister.

“It is almost after two years of the receipt of the letter from the UGC that the departments which were expected to undertake research are going to be conveyed the information about the sanction of the money about their departments that too when they are closed for vacations,” reads the Coordinator’s letter.

He writes that the “grant is coterminous with the 10th plan period i.e. March 31, 2007, and moreover this is a one-time grant.”

Dr Jairup questioned the authorities for not informing him about his appointment as Coordinator which was made by the UGC way back in 2004.


Third stone for ‘Gateway to Amritsar’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
This is the third foundation stone in the past about three decades for the same project on the Amritsar-Lahore road! Nothing has been changed except the name from “Gateway to India” to “Gateway to Amritsar” in the past 29 years.

The broken foundation stones tells the story of broken promises made in the past. It was on October 24, 1977, that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister, laid the foundation stone of the “Gateway to India” at a place in the middle of the Amritsar-Lahore road to commemorate the 400th year of Amritsar’s foundation.

Many trees were cut to build an “Ajooba” (wonder) to greet people from across the border who come to India by road or rail.

However, in the past 29 years, successive governments failed to complete the ambitious project. So much so that Mr Badal did not bother to complete the project even when he became Chief Minister again and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the Delhi-Lahore bus service on March 20, 1999.

It is believed that even the late Beant Singh, during his stint as Chief Minister, had also laid a foundation stone at the same place.

Interestingly, the foundation stone, which was missing during the Congress regime, was later found from a cottage in pieces. With a passage of time, slums came up on the site, instead of the ambitious project, making the area accident-prone.

A government department had constructed a room for a caretaker of the project, who continued to live there for a long time along with his family. He was not paid his dues by the department and ultimately he vacated the dwelling about seven years ago.

The local corporation has now prepared a model for the proposed “Gateway to Amritsar.” It proposes to install life-size statue of great Sikh warrior Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala there.

Though Mr Sunil Dutti, Mr K.S. Kang, Mayor and Commissioner, respectively, of the local municipal corporation, and Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Chairman, Improvement Trust, were present at the time of the laying of the foundation stone, yet a local MLA and a minister, whose names were mentioned on the foundation stone, were conspicuous by their absence at the function.

However, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, said the project would be completed within five months at a cost of Rs 2 crore.


Crumbling Heritage Sites
A national ‘unprotected’ monument
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Serai Amanat Khan, June 5
At least 50 pucca houses have mushroomed inside Serai Amanat Khan, a few kilometres from the Pakistan border, though the site had been declared as protected national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India.

A visit to the heritage site revealed that the illegal house owners had also got water and power connections with impunity.

The serai was famous for its ornamental gateway and glazed tile decorations. However, the elegant structure situated in a small village, south-west of Amritsar, is a picture of utter neglect these days. Heritage lovers say the serai has a beautiful gate constructed in Mughal style of architecture. The tomb of Amanat Khan is surrounded by four minarets. The mosque near the tomb is decorated with Persian verses. However, one of the majestic minarets is in a shambles and may fall any time. The restoration efforts by the state government are not up to the mark. Some of the portions have been renovated with modern tiles instead of Nanakshahi bricks, which are easily available at the village.

During the Mughal period the Badshai Road passed from Attari to Goindwal via serais Amanat Khan, Nurdin, Naurangabad and Fatehabad. These were of the same design and dimensions.

Serai Amanat Khan was constructed 29 km from Amritsar and 4 km from Attari during the reign of Shah Jahan. The outer walls of the serai have already fallen, whereas its two gates still stand, though in a dilapidated condition. Outside the serai, there is the tomb of Amanat Khan, which is now in ruins.

There is a small tank near the premises of the national monument. A beautiful “bouli” attached with a well in this border village is in ruins. However, the authorities concerned seem to be so indifferent that could not even protect the hydraulic engineering of the Mughal period, which could have become an attraction for tourists.

Interestingly, big hoardings installed on both sides of the serai reads, “This national monument has been declared to be of national importance under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. Whosoever destroys, removes, injures, alters, defaces, imperils or misuse this monument shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months or with fine that may extend to Rs 5,000 or both”.

The local population has violated all instructions mentioned on the board. They have destroyed the monument by keeping animals, cow-dung cakes and altered and destroyed the majestic portions.


107 Punjab police officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Punjab Government tonight ordered the much-awaited transfers of middle-level police officers in the Punjab Police. A total of 107 police officers, including 5 IPS officers, were shifted.

With the order the government shifted more than 55 SP-level officers, 41 DSP-level officers, most of whom were posted at the subdivisions and were promoted as officiating SPs a couple of days ago. A handful of AIG-level transfers have also been carried out.

This is the first major shake up in the police force in the past couple of years and was long expected in view of the coming Assembly elections in the state. Notably three persons have been shifted from the Chief Minister's security wing.

Two of them have been "adjusted" as SP-city-I Ludhiana and SP City-II, Ludhiana. They are Mr Rakesh Aggarwal and Mr Dinesh Pratap Singh, both IPS officers of the Punjab cadre.

The other IPS officers to be shifted are Mrs Vibha Raj, who has been posted as Commandant 27th Battalion, Jalandhar. Mrs Shashi Prabha Dwivedi is the new Commandant, 7th Battalion, PAP, Jalandhar while Mr Jitendra Jain will be the Commandant of the 75th Battalion, PAP, Jalandhar, in addition to his own duties as Deputy Director, PPA, Phillaur.

Among those to be shifted at the SP-level are the SP headquarters at the following places: Nawan Shahr, Jagraon, Kapurthala, Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa, Amritsar, Batala, Ludhiana, Majitha and Hoshiarpur. The SPs in the dectective wing at the following places have also been shifted: Khanna, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda, Amritsar, Moga, Majitha and Gurdaspur.

Among those to be shifted were the DSPs at Samrala, Kharar, Patiala, Mohali, City-Patiala, SD-II Amritsar, City-II Amritsar, City Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Rampura Phul, Balachaur, City-I Ludhiana, Dhuri, Jagraon, Bathinda, Batala, Chamkaur Sahib, Ferozepore and SD-Bathinda.

Also the following DSP working in the detective wing at following subdivision have been shifted: Ropar, Bathinda, Kapurthala, Ferozepore, Patiala, Amritsar and Fatehgarh Sahib.


Pak Punjab legislators coming on July 10

Chandigarh, June 5
A delegation of 69 members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs) of Pakistan Punjab is scheduled to visit India on a tour starting on July 10 and ending on July 16.

The Punjab Government here has started making plans for the visit which will in a way revive the Punjab-to-Punjab contact that is considered important within the framework of India-Pakistan relations.

Their tour programme was today communicated to various agencies which are responsible for making arrangements for security, arrival, stay and transport for the visitors from Pakistan. The delegation will visit Agra, Jaipur, Ajmer, Delhi, Amritsar and Fatehgarh Sahib besides having a two-day halt in Chandigarh. The office of the Speaker here has already sent a demand for Rs 20 lakh to the Punjab Government to meet the expenses on the trip. — TNS


Revenue official nabbed for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
The Vigilance Bureau today nabbed a reader from tehsil office in Rampura Phul while he was allegedly accepting bribe from a Mehraj resident for the registry of his land.

According to sources, complainant Ravinder Singh from Mehraj, had produced required documents for the registry of his land in the office of the tehsildar a few days back. He alleged that when they came to the office for getting the registry reader Vijay Kumar, demanded money from him. He said when he met the reader today regarding the registry he again allegedly sought Rs 1,500 from him. The deal was finally struck at Rs 1,000. A Vigilance team led by DSP Anil Kumar arrested Vijay Kumar while he was reportedly accepting bribe from the complainant. A case has been registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Agricultural inputs seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
The Agriculture Department seized fertilisers and other agricultural inputs in large quantity during a raid on a private firm’s godown near the sports stadium here.

As per a statement released here recently, the Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr P.S. Aulakh, raided the company’s premises and seized 140 kg isoprotgun, 80 litre alphagasrine, 560 litre ethyl ester, 1,375 kg forate, 500 kg corthop hydrochloride, 100 litre chlorpyrifarm, 140 litre pritilachlor and 816 kg unauthorised biofertiliser.

Seven samples of these agricultural inputs were collected and sent for testing. The firm could not show any licence or purchase bills of these products. The company had also not put up its board at the godown site.

The department had taken its entire stock in its possession and sealed it. The case has also been referred to the police.


Rs 1.68 lakh looted from old man

Ropar, June 5
Unidentified persons today looted Rs 1.68 lakh from an old man, Mr Rattan Singh of Fatepur Tajauwal while he was on his way to deposit the amount in a local bank in the city. He had collected the amount for his wife’s surgery who is a cancer patient. The police did not register a case till the filing of the report.

As news of the incident spread across the city, a large number of persons and police personnel gathered outside the local bank. When contacted the SHO (City), Mr Manvir Singh, said that it appeared that the old man might have lost the amount on the way. TNS


PU creates seats for displaced Kashmiris
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Panjab University has created seats for the wards of Kashmiri displaced persons for admission to various courses in the educational institutions for the academic session 2006-2007.

Candidates who appeared for CAT-2005 entrance test conducted by IIM, Kozhikode, on November 20, 2005, and have already applied for admission to MBA course to UBS for the session 2006-2007 are advised to apply (for one seat in the MBA course) on plain paper along with attested copy of Kashmiri migrant certificate issued by the competent authority.

According to a press release issued by Prof. Satish Kapoor, Chairman, University Business School, the candidates should mention their CAT registration number and UBS form number. Such candidate should apply latest by June 26, 2006, to the Chairman, University Business School, PU. Those candidates who have already applied under the Kashmiri migrant category need not apply again.


UGC-Net exams
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Panjab University UGC-Net cell has dispatched roll numbers to all the candidates appearing in the UGC-NET Examination scheduled to be held on June 25, 2006, at Centre No 48, Chandigarh.

According to a press release issued by Prof. Rajesh Gill, Coordinator, UGC-NET, PU, candidates who do not receive their roll numbers by June 17, 2006, are directed to collect the same from UGC-NET office in Room No.119, Department of Sociology, Panjab University, from June 20 to 23 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Candidates requiring duplicate roll numbers are requested to bring two-passport size attested photographs.


B.A/B.Sc. Part-II results today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
Result of B.A./B.Sc. Part-II examinations of Guru Nanak Dev University held in April, 2006 would be declared on June 6.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, said that the results would also be available on the University Website www.gnduonline.org  after 5 p.m.


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