P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Land to Reliance okayed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
About 480 acre of panchayati land across 23 sites in Punjab, 450 acre of land across six industrial areas and a chunk of 150 acre of land at Laddowal farm near Ludhiana will be given to Reliance Retail Limited (RRL) on varying terms and conditions.

As per the memorandum of understanding(MoU) signed between Reliance and the Punjab Government yesterday, the government promised that it would facilitate any requirement of additional land. It will also provide for quick clearance for environment, sanction of building plans, change of land use, besides providing a unified licence to deal in packaged and processed food and beverages in the state.

The company will also be allowed to set up its own private mandis. The changes will be effected in the Punjab Agricultural produce Markets Act, 1961. The government will grant waiver of market fee, infrastructure cess and the Rural Development Fund for a period of 20 years, however, no waiver will be given on cotton and those varieties of wheat of paddy which are procured by government agencies for Central poll of food grains. There will be exemption of stamp duty and registration charges on all land purchased by the RRL for the project. Exemption of electricity duty will also be given.

Copies of the MoU were selectively made available to the media tonight after newspapers lambasted the government for keeping the MoU a secret rather than making it transparent.

The price of land in the industrial belts has already been fixed, while the company will pay any enhancement ordered by the court. In case of the land at Laddowal the company will get it at a lease of Rs 16,000 per acre for a period of 30 years. In case of panchayat lands the government will separately notify the terms and conditions for allowing the “effective transfer” of land made available to Reliance with the consent of the village panchayat concerned.

The PSIEC land to be transferred to Reliance is as follows: Abohar - 90.28 acre for Rs 12 crore; Tanda - 24.86 acre for Rs 3.34 crore; Mansa - 46.55 acre for Rs 5.30 crore; Muktsar - 53.64 acre for Rs 6 crore and Malout - 77.65 acre for Rs 10.12 crore. The PSIEC land at Goindwal Sahib measures 169.42 acre will be given for Rs 4.35 crore.

The MoU specifically touches upon the completion of the project and says the company shall have to complete the rollout of its “agri mega projects and retails business” before December 31, 2012. The project will make a beginning by October 31, this year. 


Make RIL deal details public: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
General secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Singh Badal today described the deal signed between the Punjab Government and Reliance as “a cruel joke on the farmers of the state who have been fed on dreams of the company transforming their destiny”.

Mr Badal demanded that the original details of the deal be made public. He asked the Chief Minister to explain how the size of the deal had come down from Rs 5,000 crore, as originally claimed by Reliance. He said the seriousness of the project for the government was evident from the fact that neither the Chief Minister nor the Chairman of Reliance turned up at the signing of the MoU. 


RIL deal a drama, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 2
Terming the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the Punjab Government with Reliance Retail Limited headed by Mukesh Ambani as a drama, SAD chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said if his party was voted to power in the next assembly elections, he would order probe against all the mega project signed, including that with Reliance. He said the MoU was signed by the Congress government keeping in view the next Assembly elections.

Mr Badal, while interacting with mediapersons after addressing rally at about 10 km from here in Toansa village, said the decision to start mega projects was taken, ignoring the interest of people of the state.

Mr Badal said SAD would stage dharna in front of the PM’s residence on August 8 in protest against the meagre hike of Rs 10 in the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy and cotton. “When our government was in power, the farmers had got Rs 40 as MSP,” he said.


Japanese bank to give Rs 462 cr for development
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 2
A team from Japan National Bank Corporation, led by Yama Moto and Hashi Motto, is visiting various city slums and holding detailed discussions with the civic authorities here, for the allocation of Rs 462 crore development grant.

The team is working out detailed project and feasibility report for providing funds for the Rs 240 crore Guru Ram Das Integrated Development Project aimed at providing civic amenities in poor and underdeveloped colonies.

The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr Kulbir Singh Kang said that the Centre had taken the initiative to invite Japan Bank International Corporation to formalise a financial agreement with the civic bodies here.

He said the Japanese team visited the various slums of the city to take a first hand account of the ground realities and later held series of meetings with the corporation officers on technical feasibility of the projects.

Mr Kang said the Centre had given its technical approval for the implementation of the Rs 240 crore project.

The Japanese team has also shown interest to fund solid waste management project, he said.

He said the Japanese bank would provide 60 per cent of the funds in shape of soft loans. The loan would be payable over the next 40 years at a nominal rate of interest.

Mr Kang said the Japanese team would present its report to the state Chief Secretary to be submitted to the Centre for final approval. 


Woman struggles for life due to doctor’s negligence
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 2
Due to the negligence on the part of a lady doctor of the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, the daughter of a poor driver of an ambulance, who himself saved many lives, is struggling for life. It was only due to the efforts of members of the Citizen Club, Bassi Pathana, and other social workers of the area that more than 10 bottles of blood and Rs 50,000 were spent on her treatment, and more funds are still required.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Sardara Singh, working as a driver of an ambulance of Citizens Club, Bassi Pathana, said that on June 29 he got his daughter Mandeep Kaur admitted to Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, for a delivery case. The same night Dr Charu conducted a Caesarean operation. From the very next day she started complaining of uneasiness in the abdomen. The repeated requests to the doctor about the deteriorating condition of the patient fell on deaf ears. He said ultimately after putting some pressure on doctor, his daughter was referred to the PGI on July 7 in a serious condition.

He said doctors in the PGI mentioned that it was a case of “sub acute intestinal obstruction” and laparoscopy was done on July 8. They found that a piece of gauze (10x10 cm) was left in the abdomen.

The driver alleged during the operation Dr Charu left gauze in the abdomen and stitched it. He said his daughter struggled for life and it was due to the efforts of the doctors of PGI, members of the Citizens Club, Bassi Pathana, and other blood donors that he hoped that his daughter may survive. She was discharged after 22 days from the PGI and is still struggling for life at her residence in Bassi Pathana.

Dr Mohinder Singla, president of the IMA and general secretary of the club, said he along with other members had been extending all medical and financial help to the daughter of the driver. He said he had made many efforts to contact health officers and the concerned doctors but got no response from them.

When contacted Dr Rajiv Gupta, Civil Surgeon, said no doubt it was a case of negligence on the part of the doctor, and he would seek her explanation.


Govt focuses on 3 main demands of staff
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
The Punjab Government will take a decision on three main demands of employees at a meeting of the Council of Ministers scheduled for August 10 . On that day, the council will also approve the setting up of the pay commission for the staff.

Sources said yesterday that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had made up his mind to give the promotional scale to employees on the completion of four, nine and 14 years of service. However, the Finance Department and certain sections of the bureaucracy are not supporting this move.

“As the Chief Minister has given his word to the employees in this connection, he will not go back on it”, said a senior officer. The annual liability of giving the promotional scale from April this year will between Rs 180 crore and Rs 200 crore, it is learnt. The sources said Capt Amarinder Singh would not be in a position to give the promotional scale from February, 2002, when he became the Chief Minister.

The financial liability would be very heavy if the scale was given from that year , said the officer.

Before the Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh had promised to give this scale to the remaining employees. Some categories of employees such as doctors and subdivisional engineers are already getting the promotional scale.

The government is also keen on increasing the medical allowance. There are two opinions on this issue. A section of the officers says that the allowance should be increased to Rs 500 per month in the case of pensioners and Rs 300 per month in the case of employees. However, the other section says that the hike should be uniform.

The third issue relates to increasing the retirement age from 58 to 60 years. There is a difference of opinion among various Ministers on this issue. Some Ministers want that it should be enhanced to 60 to win the support of employees, who have, by and large, adopted a hostile attitude towards the Amarinder Singh government over the past few years.

Already, in the case of certain categories of employees the retirement age is 60.

The sources said the government was examining the political impact of this decision. Such a decision could cause heart-burning among unemployed youth, who number nearly 30 lakh. The increase in the retirement age could to some extent block employment avenues for them in government departments. Nearly 5,000 employees retire every year.


Work on refinery project on: Singla
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
Claiming that the prestigious Guru Gobind Singh Refinery project is not a poll stunt, Finance Minister Surinder Singla said HPCL had allocated Rs 300 crore for immediate work, which had already begun at the refinery site and debt component of the project had also been taken care of. He stated this while addressing mediapersons minutes after launching a plantation programme.

Mr Singla said after the withdrawal of the British Petroleum, the search for a strategic partner for an equity stake in the project was on. He said the talks were on in this regard with Total, a French company, which had shown interest in the project earlier too.

Denying reports of dearth of funds, he said the Petroleum Minister Murli Deora had promised him that “money is not an issue in the project”. He claimed that the refinery project would be completed by 2009.

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari said refinery officials informed him that the work on fire station, warehouse and godowns would be completed by January 31. He said they also expressed their desire to acquire 100 acres of land on the Ramsara road for developing their colony.

It had also fuelled speculations in the region that refinery project was once again being exploited to garner votes in the Assembly elections.

Earlier, the minister and PPCC general secretary Raninder Singh launched a plantation drive being organised by the Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa. When asked as to whether the ruling party was eying huge following of the dera ahead of the Assembly poll, Raninder said it was an unfair observation and the party had good relations with all social organisations carrying out community work.


Trust for free treatment of breast cancer
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
Although the incidence of breast cancer has been on the rise in India, especially Punjab, there has been no major intervention in terms of enhancing awareness about this cancer which is treatable if detected early. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organisation had reported that about 79,000 women each year were affected by breast cancer in India in 2001. The figure was over 80,000 in 2002 and has been on the rise ever since.

Given the situation and persisting ignorance among Indian women about the symptoms of breast cancer, the establishment of the Krishna Breast Cancer Charitable Trust by Ludhiana-based industrialist Mr Pran Arora is a heartwarming step. The trust set up by the industrialist in memory of his wife who died due to breast cancer, will work to create awareness about breast cancer and provide free surgery to cases that have not yet reached the terminal stage.

Speaking to The Tribune about the project, Mr Pran Arora said, “We had all the means to save her, but we could not because we failed to read the symptoms. Our aim now is to help other women, especially those in rural Punjab, identify risks and seek early treatment for prevention.” Accompanying Mr Pran Arora was his son Sanjiv Arora, who has supervised the surgery of six women suffering from breast cancer.

Being on the managing committee of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, both Mr Pran and Sanjiv Arora have access to the facilities required for surgery of suffering women. Their partners in the cause are oncologists Dr J.S. Sekhon and Dr D.S. Sandhu and surgeon Dr Gurpreet Brar. These experts are based in Ludhiana, from where the trust is functioning.

As regards accurate data, there are hardly any comprehensive national, regional or local level statistics about the incidence of breast cancer in Indian women. Only National Cancer Registry has reported some data. It remains the second most common cancer in Indian women. Its incidence is more in urban than rural women. Also, it is more prevalent in the higher socio-economic groups. Some studies have suggested that women of the Parsi community face a higher risk. The average incidence rate of breast cancer, however, varies from 22 to 28 per 100,000 women each year in urban settings to 6 per 100,000 women each year in rural areas.


6 get life term in triple-murder case

Moga, August 2
A local court today sentenced six persons, accused of committing triple murder at Abohar in 2000, to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 each whereas the other five accused involved in the murder were acquitted.

Those convicted were Daler Singh, Amarjit Singh, Kulwant Singh, Joga Singh, Baghicha and Iqbal Singh.

The five other who had been acquitted by the court were identified as Mohinder Singh, Angrez Singh, Pritam Kaur, Palo and Paramjit Kaur. Accused Lachhman Singh expired during the trial.

The accused had murdered Bhajan Singh, Kahan Ram and Banwari Lal. The orders were pronounced by Additional Sessions Judge Varinder Singh. — PTI


Excise staff on strike against Virk’s suspension
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 2
The entire staff of the Excise and Taxation Department of Gurdaspur yesterday struck work in protest against the suspension of Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC) T.S. Virk.

As reported earlier in these columns, Mr Virk was allegedly transferred after he refused to refund sales tax of the units owned by the kin of Parliamentary Secretary from Batala Ashwani Sekri.

A spokesperson of the taxation department employees said initially, they were on strike for two days against the government decision to shift Mr Virk. If the government would not relent, the protests would be intensified. It is unfortunate that the officer, who took a stand in the interests of the government, had been suspended and allowed to exist without any post. He was being victimised for saving public money.

The industrial units owned by the kin of the Parliamentary Secretary have allegedly fraudulently got refunded sales tax worth about Rs 1 crore from the taxation department. Mr Virk alleged this in his report to the higher authorities of the department.

Mr Virk had rejected the case for refund of another Rs 70 lakh to the units owners. It has been alleged that the Sekri family owned three yarn-making units at Batala. 


Excise & Taxation staff go on strike
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 2
Staff members of Gurdaspur district’s Department of the Excise and Taxation went on a two-day strike against the suspension of Mr T.S. Virk, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Gurdaspur.

The staff of the department, including excise and taxation officers, came forward in support of Virk who was suspended on the complaint of Mr Ashwani Sekhri, MLA Congress, Batala and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab.

The employees of the department locked their office in support of their demand. Today was the last day of the two-day strike.

A spokesman of the Excise and Taxation Department, Gurdaspur, said suspension of Mr Virk was baseless.

The employees of the Excise and Taxation Department urged the high-ups of the department to look into the matter and demanded a probe into the suspension.


Badal not against NRI Sikh nomination
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 2
The SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is not opposed to nomination of NRI Sikhs as members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. While responding to the questions from mediapersons during a reception arranged by Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, former BJP MLA, here yesterday, Mr Badal said the law enacted by the Government of India restrained Sikhs living abroad from nomination on the SGPC executive. he further said it could be reconsidered by constituting a committee of experts. He was not personally opposed to the demand.

Reacting to a statement made by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during the martyrdom function of Udham Singh at Sunam on the leadership of the SAD yesterday.

Mr Badal observed that the reshuffle by the Chief Minister was aimed at grabbing control over the Urban Development Department that had become a den of corruption due to launching of mega projects by NRIs and other wealthy people. 


Badal pulls up Cong over MLA’s conviction

Chandigarh, August 2
President of the Shiromani Akali Dal Parkash Singh Badal today described the conviction of Congress MLA from Majitha Sawinder Singh Kathunangal as “the beginning of the end of the Congress regime”.

Mr Badal was reacting to his conviction, in which he had been found to have forged documents and impersonated to acquire land belonging to a dead man. Mr Badal said here that corruption was rampant in the Congress right from the Chief Minister to the legislators. — TNS


Fire at Police Public School
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 2
Panic gripped students of Police Public School today, as a fire broke out following an electric spark at the school building here today. While a student fell unconscious, no loss of life was reported.

Sources said the electricity meter of the school caught fire at 9.15 a.m. when the classes were on. Smoke billowing out of the meter cables started spreading into classrooms and the students were brought out in the open. The school staff doused the fire with fire extinguishers. An electrician was also called who took measures to restrict the damage.

There was also some sparking at the nearby transformer. Simranjeet Singh, a student of Class V, fainted during the incident. The meter caught fire reportedly due to overloading.

When contacted, SSP Varinder Kumar said corrective measures had been initiated to avoid any such incident in future. He said the student, who had fainted, was asthmatic and was now alright.


Sheesh Mehal sealed
Vikrant Jindal

Malerkotla, August 2
The local administration has sealed Sheesh Mehal, the house of Sajida Begum, after her death and the security arrangements have been made to prevent any damage to the valuable articles and the Mehal spreading in the eight bighas.

Sheesh Mehal, which belonged to Janab Iftekhar Ali Khan, former Nawab of Malerkotla, had been in the possession of Sajida Begum for the past many years. Sajida Begum passed many years of her life in Sheesh Mehal. But immediately after the death of Sajida Begum, the local administration had sealed the property and prevented persons, including relatives of the Begum, from entering the premises.

The local administration claimed that as the Nawab and Sajida Begum were issueless and also Nawab had given "talaq" to Sajida Begum, the property of the Nawab would be taken in possession of the Punjab Government. The administration also claimed that no legal heir of the property had come to light so it was their responsibility to protect the historical monument.

On the other hand, residents of Malerkotla have demanded that Sheesh Mehal should be preserved as historical monument. It should be opened for the public as people want to know more about the Nawab of Malerkotla.

SDM Indu Malhotra said the administration had sealed the property in view of the tension as the relatives of Sajida Begum could take the possession of the Mehal.

It is learnt that no document about the Wakf Nama of Sheesh Mehal to Wakf Board by the Nawab Iftekhar Ali Khan was available with the board. So it would be difficult for the board to take the possession of the Mehal. 


ZP chief, 18 members resign
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
Mr Arjan Singh, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Hoshiarpur, and 18 members — Mohimpal Singh, Usha Rani, Piara Singh, Manjit Kaur, Kulwinderjit Kaur, Sushil Kumar, Nirmal Singh, Dilbag Singh, Jaspal Singh, Gian Chand, Chura Ram, Jaspal Singh, Subhash Chander, Jiwan Singh, Usha Rani, Ravinder Kaur and Balbir Kaur — have submitted their resignations to the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, here today under protest against the non-cooperative attitude of the staff of Zila Parishad.

They alleged that the staff of Zila Parishad, including the Additional Deputy Commissioner (D), did not take them in confidence while releasing grants to various villages.

Their recommendations were ignored in this connection. They had sent copies of their resignations to the Chief Minister, Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President of the PPCC.


Drive to beautify canal area
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 2
Following an appeal from the district administration, a large number of NGOs in the district today gave their proposal for the beautification of the area along the Sirhind canal. In the first step of the campaign, the area extending to 3 km stretch along the canal, has been allotted to different NGOs to develop, said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, after holding meeting with representatives of the NGOs.

He said the NGOs including the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, the Bharat Vikas Parishad, the citizen welfare council and religious bodies had extended their support.


Demonstration by Ambedkar Club activists
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
Activists of the Baba Sahib Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Youth Club, Hoshiarpur, led by Mr Anil Kumar Bagha, carrying lathis went in a procession in bazars, including Bassi Khawaju, Clock Tower, Roshan Road, Bus Stand and Phagwara road and Sutheri road, etc and forced the shopkeepers to down shutters of shops this afternoon in support of their demand for the dismissal and registration of a case against Mr B. C. Gupta, president and Ms Vandna Choudhry and Mr A. S. Jauhar, both members of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Hoshiarpur, for their remarks in the judgement of the forum of July 4, 2006 in the case of Harbhajan Singh versus Punjab State Electricity Board. No untoward incident has been reported from any corner of the city. The shopkeepers closed their shops but as soon as the activists left, they opened the shops.

Earlier, they assembled at Government College Chowk and staged a rally there and blocked traffic for some time.

Later, they went to the mini secretariat and presented a memorandum to the SDM addressed to the Deputy Commissioner.


Diarrhoea claims one life
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
A woman, identified as Bholi, wife of Ramo, died yesterday while 25 were suffering from diarrhoea at Panjora village, 42 km from here in Garhshankar subdivision of this district, according to sarpanch of the village Gurdial Singh.

He accused local medical practitioners of negligence and alleged that some officials of the Public Health Department got signatures of the husband of deceased to prove that the death was not due to intake of contaminated water.

Dr Manjit Kaur, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, said on receiving information, a team of doctors and pharmacists had been sent to the village. It was found that 25 villagers had been suffering from diarrhoea, she said, adding that the patients were given medicines and chlorine tablets were distributed in the village.


Trust meeting held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 2
A meeting of the executive committee of Baba Moti Ram Mehra Charitable Trust was held under the chairmanship of Mr Surjeet Singh at Baba Moti Ram Mehra Gurdwara here today. All members of the executive of the trust attended the meeting.

Addressing mediapersons after the meeting, Mr Surjeet Singh said it had been decided to conduct the trust elections. Announcing the schedule, he said by August 15, new members would be enrolled and on August 16, the membership list published.

Nominations would be on August 23, withdrawals by August 29 and the elections, if required, would be held on September 3.


Tihar Jail inmates to exhibit products
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 2
The jail authorities of Tihar Jail, New Delhi, and Amritsar Central Jail, have decided to exhibit items manufactured by jail inmates at a two-day exhibition to be held here from August 4.

The SSP of Central Jail here, Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, said this would greatly encourage the artisans and other women prisoners and others to show their talent. He said the jail authorities were running the art and craft centre, providing training in embroidery stitching, soft toys and furniture making. Similarly, a large number of items produced by the prisoners in Tihar Jail would also be exhibited in the show.

The promoter of the show, Mr Tanya Chatha, said this would provide a great opportunity to the talented artisans languishing in jail to display and sell their items. She said the exhibitors have provided stalls to them free of cost. 


Bank staff hold protest over transfer of officer
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
At least 300 officers of the All-India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) (Punjab State Committee) held a demonstration before the State Bank of Patiala head office here today.

They condemned the “high-handedness” of the management of the bank by transferring Mr I.G.Gupta, general secretary of the All-India State Bank of Patiala Officers Association (AISBOPOA), from Chandigarh to Rudrapur.

During the demonstration, Mr Vinod Sharma, general secretary, AIBOA (Punjab State Committee), said this “ unilateral and uncalled-for action of the SBOP management has been done in a vindictive manner with ulterior motives, which speak of a deep-rooted conspiracy.”

This act was a blatant attack on the officers association of all banks under the banner of the AIBOA.

Mr A.S.Mann of the All-India Punjab & Sind Bank Officers Federation & Director P&SB called upon the management to stop “such experiments” which were a ploy to victimise office-bearers of the association. 


Challan filed against SDM in poaching case
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, August 2
In an important development in the peacock hunting case against former Pathankot SDM Puneet Goel, the Department of Wildlife has filed a challan in a court against him now posted as Administrative Officer, Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Punjab, Chandigarh, Mohinder Singh of Hambra village at Tanda and Makhan Singh of Pathankot.

In the challan, it has been alleged that on February 29 2004, at about 9.30 p.m., while forest officials were holding a naka a Mahindra jeep (PB-08N-5916), driven by Puneet Goel, was stopped. Two other persons, Makhan Singh and Mohinder Singh, were also accompanying Puneet Goel.

Mr Gunraj Singh and Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, honorary wildlife wardens, were also present at the site. During the search of the vehicle, carcasses of two peahens and four partridges were seized. A .12 bore double-barrelled gun and 28 cartridges of .12 bore were also seized.

The arms and birds were taken into possession and a damage report was prepared by the officials present at the site. The accused, however, refused to sign the documents. The accused were remanded in police custody and released on bail.

The reports of wildlife institute, Dehra Dun, and Central Forensic Laboratory have been attached with the challan, along with other relevant documents.


Inside Babudom
Controversy over DFO’s transfer
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Garhshankar, August 2
The transfer of the DFO, Garhshankar, Mr Harbhajan Singh, has stirred up a controversy. The officer was allegedly got transferred recently as he pursued a case involving encroachments on the forest land.

The officer had issued a notice to the IITT College of Engineering, Pojewal, which falls in the Garhshankar forest range, over violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The officer had also written to the Punjab Technical University (PTU) authorities against allowing it admissions this year as infrastructure of the college had been built on the forest land illegally.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Department of Forest to get the forest land encroached upon by the college management removed. The college authorities moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order. The Supreme Court referred the matter to the Central Empowered Committee. However, no relief was granted to the college management regarding the High Court order.

While the officer was pursuing the case in the Supreme Court, the Chief Conservator, Hills, Punjab, Mr Gujral, told the DFO to hold in abeyance the letters he had written to the Principal of the IITT College of Engineering and the Vice-Chancellor of the PTU following the High Court order. Thereafter, the DFO, who was the only IFS officer serving in the sensitive Kandi forest area, extending from Hoshiarpur to Gurdaspur, was transferred.

The transfer of the officer has evoked protest from the Deputy Commissioner, Nawashahar, Mr Krishan Kumar, who is known for his integrity and reforms in administration. Nawanshahr areas also form part of the Garhshankar forest range.

The Deputy Commissioner has written a letter to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal against the transfer of the DFO. He has stated that the IITT college authorities have encroached upon 197 kanals and 2 marlas of the forest land. When the DFO initiated proceeding against the college authorities, they moved the High Court seeking damages worth Rs 87.5 lakh from the DFO.

However, the court directed the authorities to remove the encroachments from the forest land in accordance with law. Mr Harbhajan Singh has been carrying out his duty sincerely and he has ensured protection of public interest. His transfer at this stage would discourage other officers and affect the interests of the state government, the deputy commissioner states in the letter.

In response to the letter, the Chief Secretary has written to the Secretary, Forest, to look into the matter and do the needful. However, no action has been taken in the matter so far, allegedly due to political interference. 


Fake currency racket busted; 2 held
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 2
The Ferozepore police has busted an interstate gang allegedly involved in running a fake currency racket and has arrested two persons in this connection.

SSP Arpit Shukla said the police had got information that some anti-social elements in garb of doubling the money were befooling innocent villagers and were running fake currency racket. He said during special checking the police stopped a Maruti Zen car (PB-10AS 2963) near Chowk Talwandi Bhai on the Ferozepore-Moga road. When the car stopped, two persons sitting on the rear seats ran away whereas the other two were immediately arrested.

The arrested persons were identified as Sukhmander Singh, son of Buta Singh, resident of Kot Kapura, and Kewal Singh, son of Jasbir Singh, resident of Killianwali village. The police recovered one .12 bore gun, 19 live cartridges, Rs 3,50,000 original currency notes and fake currency worth Rs 35,000.

The SSP said in another incident the police had seized illegal consignment of liquor, which included 285 cases of liquor from Ghallu village. A case had been registered against Ashok Kumar, son of Mangat Ram of Ghallu village, Gurpreet Singh, son of Satpal of New Abadi, Abohar, and Gokal Chand, son of Ram Rakha, resident of Ghallu.


Suicide by son after spat with father
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
A quarrel between a father-son duo led to suicide by the boy at Pandori Kadh village of this district last evening.

According to police sources, Gian Singh, son of Harbilas, had a quarrel with his son Ram Sarup alias Kala at his house. Ms Kamla Devi, sarpanch of the Pandori Kadh village, who along with Naranjan Singh, namberdar, was passing in front the house of Gian Singh, noticed the row between the father and the son. After some time, Ram Sarup committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance.

On the statement of the sarpanch, the Mehtiana police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC against the father.


Youth, mother booked in rape case
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
A case of alleged rape of a student of class X on account of which she became pregnant has been reported from Mehtabpur village under the Mukerian police station of this district last evening.

According to police sources, Dev Raj (name changed) of the village stated in his complaint that Bidhi Singh of New Bhangala had adopted his daughter Veena Rani (17) (name changed). A few days ago, he along with his wife went to the house of Bidhi Singh to meet his daughter. But they were shocked to see Veena pregnant.

During enquiry, they came to know that Rinku, nephew of Bidhi Singh in connivance with his mother Santosh, wife of Raghbir Singh, used to rape her daughter following which she became pregnant. When they met Rinku and his mother in this connection, both threatened them with dire consequences in case they disclosed it to anyone.

On June 18, Veena was admitted to a private nursing home, where she gave birth to a son. The police has registered a case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC against both Rinku and his mother.


GND varsity to honour employees: VC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 2
Guru Nanak Dev University will honour outstanding employees of various departments in recognition of their contribution to the betterment of the university. Besides incentives, the university would also award an appreciation letter to such employees.

This was announced by Dr Jai Rup Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, here yesterday while addressing the C-class employees of the university.

Terming the employees as the backbone of the university, he assured them that their genuine and legitimate demands would be fulfilled and their difficulties would be solved within the purview of the university Act. He said a complaint box would be put up at the Vice-Chancellor’s office, so that any employee could put his complaint in this box without fear. He would seriously study such complaints and try to do justice.

Seeking their active cooperation for the upliftment of the university, Dr Singh said congenial, peaceful and education-friendly atmosphere for teaching and research would be provided to students. It is possible only because of their cooperation. He also advised them to wear the prescribed uniforms during working hours.

Earlier, addressing the research scholars and research fellows of the university, Dr Jai Rup Singh assured them that he would try to remove inconvenience being faced by them. The Vice-Chancellor said the researchers were an integral part of the university fraternity and as far research was concerned, it was more important and crucial for any university.


Teachers stage dharna to support Mohindra College Principal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
Members of the joint action committee of Government Mohindra College and the Government College Teachers Association (GCTA) staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here yesterday against the “indifferent attitude” of the local administration in the case pertaining to the attack on Mohindra College Principal Mr D.I.S. Brar.

All government college teachers also observed a one-day strike to express their solidarity with Mr Brar.

Members of the joint action committee and the Government College Teachers Association assembled at Dukhniwaran Sahib Gurdwara, after which they marched towards to the DC office.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were Prof Jai Pal Singh and Dr H.S Grewal, president and secretary of the GCTA, respectively. Both speakers demanded that those responsible for the attack on Mr Brar should be arrested immediately, and added that if the administration did not arrest the culprits, the joint action committee and the GCTA would intensify their agitation.


DEO(S) sends notices to 2 pvt schools
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 2
Mr R.D. Goyal, District Education Officer (S), has unearthed a fraud with candidates aspiring to get admission in B.Ed. colleges under the rural category getting fake rural area certificates from private schools .

The DEO(S) has issued a show-cause notice to the principals of Mata Gujri English Model School and Guru Teg Bahadur Model High School, Nandpur Kalour, who had signed the blank forms of candidates.

The village sarpanch had also signed the blank forms issued by Panjab University for admission.

The DEO(S) said he was surprised to see the forms when these came to his office for counter-sign.

After getting these forms signed, these were sold to the aspiring candidates who filled the particulars and got the seats under the rural area category.

He said he had sought an explanation from the principals and written to the DDPO to take action against the sarpanch, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur.


Animation exponent enthrals students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
Internationally famous animation exponent Prabal Pramanik and his team of artistes conducted a programme of animation movies at the Punjabi University’s Theatre and TV Department auditorium here yesterday.

The programme by Pramanik, which attracted a full house comprising students of the Fine Arts Department, saw him demonstrating paper-cutting art. A documentary named “In His Paper World” showing paper-cutting techniques was demonstrated on the occasion.


Make access to books easy: experts
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
“We are in dire need of enforcement of the Public Library Act. Since the children hold the key to the future, therefore, we should make sure that they have easy access to books,” said Dr Jaswant Singh, a resident of United States, at a seminar on declining popularity of library and books organised by the Department of Journalism and Mass communication and Global Punjab Foundation here today.

Dr Jaswant is actively engaged in the service of Punjabi language through his mobile library, which provides books to people residing in villages.

Sharing the findings of the survey on “Reading habits of university students” by the department, Dr Harjinder Walia, head of the department, expressed concern over the fading popularity of books among youngsters.


Teacher invited to Hong Kong
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
Mr Dharam Veer Sharma, lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Punjabi University, has been invited to present his paper entitled, “An iterative algorithm for segmentation of isolated handwritten words in Gurmukhi script”, in an international conference on pattern recognition to be held in Hong Kong, shortly a press note issued by its Public Relations Department said here today. 


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