P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Tribune Impact
Irrigation Dept told to review
farmers’ canal water bills
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
While the Punjab Government has directed the authorities in the Irrigation Department to set things right with regard to the issuance of bills to farmers who had not used canal water, the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said when his party formed the government, it would immediately waive the water charges.

A senior officer of the state government said that the Secretary, Irrigation, Mr A.S. Chhatwal, had been directed to look into the matter and review the entire process on the basis of which the bills were issued.

Accepting that mistakes had been committed with regard to the issuance of the bills, the officer said corrections would be made in the bills after re-examining the matter. Farmers would be asked to pay only the genuine charges, he added.

Farmers are supposed to pay Rs 40 per acre as water usage charges for each crop of kharif and rabi. However, at many places farmers had been issued bills with charges in the range of Rs 800 per acre or even more for each crop of kharif and rabi. There were farmers who had got bills though they had not used canal water for irrigation.

The Tribune had highlighted the issue of water bills and the harassment being faced by farmers on this count across the state.

Reacting to The Tribune report, Mr Badal said the tehsildars should be immediately directed to stop the harassment of farmers on this score.

Mr Badal said a fraud had been played on farmers by forcing them to pay bills for canal water which they did not use. The Congress in its manifesto for the 2002 Assembly poll had promised to continue the waiver of these charges that had been effected by the previous SAD-BJP government, Mr Badal added.

Mr Badal demanded the immediate cancellation of the notification asking the farmers to pay the water usage charges (abiana). He said when his party formed the government in the state, it would immediately reintroduce the complete waiver of these charges if the present government ignored the farmers’ plea.

He said that although the Chief Minister never tired of talking about the so-called benefits given to farmers and even claimed to have outshone the previous SAD-BJP government in this regard, he had quietly slapped abiana on the use of canal water.The Akali leader said his party would not be a mute witness to the suffering of the farmers. This would also feature on the agenda of the party at the dharna it planned to hold in front of the Prime Minister's residence on August 8, said Mr Badal.


Banks should check loan utilisation: Johl
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
Diversion of loan amount has emerged as one of the main reasons behind the rising debt on the farming community. The banks should not only advance loans but also monitor its utilisation. This was stated by Punjab State Planning Commission Chairman S.S. Johl here today while interacting with mediapersons after chairing a meeting of the working group of the RBI and farmers. A four-member team of the RBI led by Dr Johl was in the city to study the problems of distressed farmers.

Dr Johl said a large section of farmers was not utilising loan amount for the purpose they had taken it for. He said the banks should keep an eye on the use of the loan amount and catch up with the farmers who were defaulting on their payment. He said the farmers were taking loans while turning a blind eye on repaying capacity. He said about 45 per cent of Punjab’s farmers were having less than 2 hectares and they could not cater to the needs of their families despite best of their efforts.

Talking about diversification in Punjab, he said when the farmers were getting power, water and their produce was being procured quickly why would they opt for diversification. He said the Centre too was exporting large quantities of wheat and rice despite suffering huge losses. He said if the Centre could extend financial aid to Punjab, the area under paddy and wheat could be reduced and utilised for cultivation of crops that the country was importing.

He said the RBI had formed a 15-member committee to conduct a study on distressed farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Vidarbha and other states. He said the panel would submit its report to the RBI in September.

Meanwhile, during the committee’s interaction with the farmers other causes behind the increasing debt that came to light were rising expenditure on marriages and other rituals, denial of remunerative prices of produce, drug addiction, increase in input cost, unpredictable weather conditions, lack of canal water at tail-end villages and poor quality of groundwater, pest attacks and farmers’ reluctance to work.

Mr C.S. Murthy, CGM, RBI, Mr C.K. Shah, DGM, RBI, Mr B.D. Narang, ex-CMD, Oriental Bank of Commerce, and AGMs of various banks were also present at the meeting.


Professor accused of moral turpitude
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 3
Dr Dhanwant Kaur Puri, Professor and Head, Dept of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, has levelled serious charges of moral turpitude against a professor of Sri Guru Ram Dass Medical College run by the SGPC.

Dr Puri said here today that a professor of the college had been harassing her daughter for the past three years and she had even complained to Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, in this regard. She claimed that the president had ordered an inquiry which was conducted by Dr Devinder Singh of the college. But Dr Singh had cleared him of all charges.

Dr Puri said earlier too she had met Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, and Bibi Jagir Kaur, the then SGPC president and former Principal of the college, in this regard but they had never taken any initiative against the 

Dr Puri alleged that the accused professor asked her daughter, who was in the final year, to meet him alone in his office or residence. But her daughter had refused. Angered at this, he tried to fail her daughter in the exams but was unsuccessful, as she had performed well.

She further alleged that when the accused professor was appointed as Superintendent of the girls hostel, she had requested former Principal to appoint lady doctor in his place but he didn't listen to her appeal and the professor continued to harass her daughter on one pretext or the other.

She claimed that she had also requested former Principal to allow her daughter to do her internship at Patiala but he had categorically refused.

Dr Puri said earlier too, she had also narrated the whole story to Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, the then secretary, SGPC, who had promised to look into the matter and advised her to see the then SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur.

She further said that she met SGPC president in Fatehgarh Sahib on January 6, 2005, who had promised to give NOC to her daughter but the very next day she refused to do so after Bibi Jagir Kaur met the Principal.

She further alleged that the professor was earlier working with DMCH, Ludhiana, as senior lecturer and was shunted out from there for his abnormal behaviour with girls.

However, the professor refuted these allegations as baseless. He said he was transparent in his working and did justice to everyone. He said Dr Puri wanted her daughter to be transferred to Patiala, which was not permissible under the college's law.

Dr S.S. Walia, Principal of the medical college, said he had not received any complaint in this regard. Moreover, the professor was honest and a man of integrity and also very helpful to the students, he added.


No news of driver missing in Iraq
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bhagowal (Gurdaspur) August 3
With another month passing, there has been no news of Gurvinder Singh Sony, a truck driver from Bhagowal village near Batala, who has gone missing in Iraq.

However, with the passing time the anxiety and fear among family members are increasing. With none of the government officials coming to their help they have sought the help of Lok Bhalai Party chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.

Inderjeet Kaur, wife of Gurvinder Singh, said her husband was the only bread-winner of the family. Now they have not been able to contact him for the past three months. When the drivers from Una and Ropar had gone missing in Iraq the entire government machinery was pressed into service. However, nobody was helping them.

Gurvinder Singh was working for the KGL company. He was sent by a Hoshiarpur agent.

The family took Rs 1 lakh loan from private lenders to pay to the agent. Gurvinder was sent abroad to Kuwait where he was employed with KGL company. He sent money for the family twice from Kuwait. However, now the news that is missing has shattered all.

However, no action was taken against travel agent.


Non-stop flight to London
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 3
The Jet Airways (India) will launch the first non-stop flight to London from Amritsar at Amritsar International Airport on August 4.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will inaugurate the maiden flight to be launched by the Jet Airways from the Rajasansi Airport.


Congress leaders list achievements at rallies
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 3
The Congress today held rallies at Pathankot and Sujanpur attended by Mr Amarjeet Samra, Minister for Cooperation besides local representatives of the ruling party.

At Pathankot the rally was organised by MLA Ashok Sharma and member (Administration) PSEB, Raman Bhalla. At Sujanpur the rally was organised by Transport Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri.

Addressing the rally Mr Samra said the programme had been launched by the Congress to spread awareness regarding the achievements of the present government. The present government has fulfilled all promises made in its manifesto. The only remaining promises are abolition of octoroi and time scale for employees. These two demands would also be met in the near future.

The present Congress government in the state was the only government that has fulfilled all the promises made in the election manifesto. The SAD/BJP government had left the state in financial crisis.

Mr Ashok Sharma said the state had lifted produce of farmers. There hasn’t been any protest by the farmers in the past four years during the procurement period. This illustrated the farmers had got their due without any hassles. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had taken a bold step of saving the waters of Punjab by annulling the water-sharing agreement with the adjoining states.

Mr Raman Bhalla said that the Pathankot area had benefited the most in the past four years. The Pathankot city has been included in A class category due to which power cuts have been minimized here. The Dhar substation has been upgraded from 33 KV to 66 KV due to which the problem of low voltage in the entire hilly area has been solved.

The PSEB has also brought up a pole making unit near Pathankot that would provide employment to the locals, he said.


Panthic panel formed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 3
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A), today organised a meeting of all Panthic organisations and political parties except the SAD (B) at Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind today. Leaders from various Panthic organisations attended the meeting.

Addressing the press, Prof Jagmohan Singh Toni, spokesman, SAD (A), Hardeep Singh Mohali and Kanwar Pal Singh of Dal Khalsa said that the leaders of all Panthic organisations except SAD (B) have decided to form a “Panthic Panel”. A coordination committee has been formed with that purpose in mind.

It has been decided in the meeting that the panel would initiate ‘Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar second’ from tomorrow.

A new programme would be given to the Sikh masses tomorrow during a conference which will be held at Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara.

They said the SAD (B)- BJP nexus would be exposed during tomorrow’s conference. They said that within four months, Badal will have to face the truth and the wrath of the Sikh masses. They said that every Sikh wants the present leadership to go.

They said that even after 24 years of starting the Dharam Yudh Morcha, the demand of giving Chandigarh to Punjab hasn’t been fulfilled by Mr Badal or by the present CM.

Answering a query, they said they would not leave the political arena. In the coming days, the political position would be cleared.

Those who attended included Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra.


Badal pulls up Congress

Chandigarh, August 3
President of the Shiromani Akali Dal Parkash Singh Badal yesterday 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. — TNS


Attari to be world-class station
Obsolete magnato phone may be replaced
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 3
The Indian Railways has prepared the blueprint for upgrading the Attari railway station to world class by providing all ultra-modern equipment and facilities.

This was stated by Mr V.N.Mathur, General Manager, Northern Railway, after conducting a surprise check of the Pathankot-Amritsar section here today. He, however, said that he could not give the time-frame for the upgradation of the Attari station since it was to be decided at the ministry-level only.

This is perhaps the only international railway station where the Station Master still communicates with his Pakistani counterpart at Wagah through the obsolete magnato phone, which is otherwise uncommon in traditional railway stations of India and Pakistan.

While in rest of India, the trains are moved from one station to another on the basis of token instrument system, the Samjhauta Express runs on paper line clear system that authorises the drivers to move.

A few kilometres short of zero line lies the last railway station on Indian territory, Attari, from where its sister city, Wagah (in Pakistan) is visible with the naked eye. However, the train crawls out of Attari station and proceeds towards Wagah at snail's pace. It takes at least 30 minutes to cover the distance of 3 km, even as the mounted BSF jawans run along with the train to keep vigil on the passengers during the journey. The Samjhauta Express has earned the rare distinction of a train that covers a distance of just under 3 km, possibly the shortest route covered by any train in the world. However, the small distance ends up in one of the toughest rail journeys in the world. The tedious wait at Attari and Wagah really tests one’s patience.

In the given circumstances, the passengers could not get fresh food from the platform. There is insufficient seating capacity that causes a lot of harassment to the passengers.

Even as the Samjhauta Express was also infamous due to seizure of fake currency, narcotics and firearms in the past, yet the overzealous Customs and Immigration officials make the journey more mind-numbing. However, the Government of India may introduce some ultra- modern gadgets which might save precious time of passengers .

While unfolding more bonanza for Amritsar, the General Manager said another platform would be added to Amritsar's railway station to cope with the rush of passengers. To a question, Mr Mathur said modalities were being worked out for introduction of three more trains from Amritsar to Vishakhapatnam, Hardwar while the running time of the existing trains from the holy city had already been improved.

Mr Mathur while expressing satisfaction over the Amritsar section, however, said that there was still scope for a lot of improvement.


PSHRC to rescue of harassed scribes
Asks IGP to investigate case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
Coming to the rescue of two Muktsar-based journalists, who were allegedly harassed by the Punjab Police, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to investigate the case. The report has been sought within three weeks.

The journalists, Harjit Singh Kohli and Gurmit Mann, had made a movie about an incident in which a girl and three boys were arrested from the house of a police constable, Pargat Singh on July 24, 2006. When the journalist refused to supply the CD which contained footage of the incident, a false FIR was registered against them under Section 306 of the IPC. The complainants stated before the Commission that the SSP, Mukstsar, had threatened them as they had refused to hand over the CD which showed the inhuman act of the police.

One of the scribes, Mr Harjit Singh, who moved the Commission, stated that after arresting the girl and the boys, the police took them to the Gidderwaha Police Station and produced them before the Station House Officer Balkar Singh. The police tried to snatch the video camera of the scribes when the footage was being recorded.

On July 29, 2006, the complainants were called to the office of the SSP, Mr Nageswar Rao, who asked them to hand over the CD to him. The girl, who was arrested by the police, later committed suicide and the incident was reported in newspapers.

While admitting the complaint, the Commission stated that a prima facie case was made out for proceeding under Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1992.

The copies of the order of the Commission have also been sent to the Principal Secretary ( Home) and Additional Director General of Police, Punjab. The case would come up for hearing on September 1, 2006. 


Proclaimed offender tries to flee; hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
Avtar Singh of Lakha Singh Walla village, who was declared a proclaimed offender, reportedly jumped from the second floor of the district court complex while trying to escape here today.

He broke his hipbones and legs in the incident and was rushed to hospital where his condition is stated to be serious.

Avtar Singh was declared a proclaimed offender in February as he failed to appear in the hearing of an excise case registered against him on January 11. His father brought him to court.

However, the police recognised him and tried to catch him. Seeing the police, he tried to run away and contact advocate. 


CM’s package puts bankers in a spot
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
While the Chief Minister’s announcement of a possible debt relief package may have brought cheers to the farming community, the loan recovery scenario has turned gloomy in various banks. Senior Regional Manager of Punjab National Bank Ajit Jaitley, said: “Our loan recovery rate has gone down following media reports on the package.”

He said reports of very few farmers turning up to repay their loans were pouring in from various branches of the bank. However, he could not spell out as to how much drop their loan recovery had witnessed, as the bank’s quarterly report was awaited.

Another senior bank official said, “The bankers are in a very awkward position. They are unable to persuade farmers to repay loans, as they don’t understand that it is not the government’s money which they have borrowed.” 


Reservation within reservation sought
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Valmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs in Punjab have demanded that the state government must ensure that their share of 12.5 per cent remains reserved within the quota reserved for Scheduled Castes. They had been granted "reservation within reservation" during the chief ministership of Giani Zail Singh.

However, other members of the Scheduled Castes had always objected to it saying that the Valmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs had been given more "reservation within the reservation" than was due to them on the basis of the population proportion.

This was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The person who challenged it in the court is reportedly related to a senior Congress Minister. The high court ruled in favour of the petitioner thus abolishing the reservation within the reservation for Valmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs.

Yesterday a delegation of the members of the Valmiki and Mazhabi Sikh organisations met the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, demanding that the government should bring in a legislation to restore the "reservation within the reservation" to them.

Mr Dullo told The Tribune that there was no deliberate attempt by the government to get the high court verdict against the notification. He said the legal aspects of the case were being examined. He hinted that the government would move the Supreme Court against the high court order.


Freedom fighter Amarnath Indori dead
Chander Parkash and Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, August 3
Freedom fighter Comrade Amarnath Indori died here today. He was 96.

The end came at Government Rajindra Hospital, where he was struggling for survival for the past one week. He is survived by his son Suresh Kumar. The cremation will be held at the Rajpura road cremation grounds here tomorrow at 11 a.m.

A renowned freedom fighter, Comrade Amarnath had participated in the Simon Commission movement in 1928 and in the Quit India Movement in 1942. In 1945, he had courted arrest in the Faridkot jail along with Jawaharlal Nehru. He was also offered the post of minister when Babu Brish Bhan became the first Chief Minister of state in 1952.

However, Comrade Amarnath died virtually unattended in an obscure-looking ward of the hospital. A one-time comrade of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Comrade Amarnath was admitted to the hospital with an assortment of ailments.

Comrade Amarnath valiantly fought for the independence of the country against the British empire. He virtually shooed away all benefits, saying that whatever he did for his country was his duty.

He had neither availed any pension that comes as a regular perk for freedom fighters nor took any other financial benefits from either the state government or the district administration. His family has been surviving on a bare minimum.

His only request for a job to one of his grandsons in the Police Department was turned down by the government.

Moved by the old man’s plight, Patiala Deputy Commissioner R.K. Verma arranged for his medicines from the District Red Cross. But that was not enough, said Amarnath’s relatives.

Some philanthropic organisations had come forward to help him. One such organisation was the Bhau Bhaichara Sangathan whose president, Mr Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, provided some succour by giving an undisclosed amount of financial aid. The general secretary of the District Congress Committee, Mr Rajinder Sharma, had donated Rs 5000 towards his care. That was all that came the freedom fighter’s way when he breathed his last today.


Villagers donate land for educational institutions

Patiala, August 3
Two separate delegations of philanthropists and eminent residents of villages of Karandi and Sardoolgarh visited the Punjabi University campus here today and formally handed over land deeds of 62 acres and 18 acres of land respectively to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, for opening neighbourhood campuses of Punjabi University at same places.

According to a press note issued here by the Punjabi University authorities, concerned over the increasing educational backwardness of their areas, they appealed to the Vice-Chancellor to come to their rescue so that their next generations do not suffer from poverty of minds.

Responding to their appeal, Mr Boparai announced that a university science college with medical and non-medical disciplines would be started immediately at Sardoolgarh with effect from this academic session.

Those who met the Vice-Chancellor for this purpose included former MLA and Congress leader of the area Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Mr Amrik Singh, sarpanch of Junir village, Mr Kuldip Singh from Karandi village. Mr Darshan Singh, President, nagar panchayat, Sardoolgarh. TNS


Mahant’s security vehicle burnt
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 3
The police Gypsy provided as security to Mahant Sanjeev Haridass, president of the All-India Hindi Surakhsa Samiti, was allegedly burnt by miscreants last night.

Mahant Sanjeev was to take out a “Lalkar rally” from today which was to culminate in New Delhi on August 10 after travelling through various parts of Punjab and Haryana.

An FIR in this connection has been registered by the Kotwali police under Section 435 against unidentified persons on the instructions of Mr Bimal Sharma, SHO.

The fire was brought under control by residents of Arorian street where the Gypsy was stationed in front of Mahant Sanjeev’s residence.


Flight cancellation denied

Amritsar, August 3
Mr Kamaljeet Singh, Area Marketing Manager, Indian Airlines, said that no flight of Indian Airlines was cancelled on July 31.

However, he said that Air India’s two flights AI 187 Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto and AI 188 Amritsar-Delhi were cancelled due to technical snag. —OC


35 buses donated to Afghanistan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
As many as 35 buses crossed over to Pakistan to be delivered to Afghanistan via Wagah Joint check Post today. This fleet was part of the 300 buses pledged by the Indian government to provide humanitarian aid to Afghan government. Earlier, two fleets of 35 buses each had been delivered to Afghanistan.


High Court
DGP asked to probe charges against SP
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the DGP, Punjab, to nominate an officer to inquire into the complaint filed by one Hans Raj, levelling serious allegations of fraud, cheating, threats of intimidation and registration of false cases against Mr Kewal Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Majitha, and his son, Kumar Amit.

In his petition, Mr Hans Raj had stated that he had been suffering from business losses due to which he wanted to induct some partner in his business - Hans Gas Agency, Amritsar, which had duly been allotted to him by Indian Oil Corporation. He further claimed that in August 2000, Kumar Amit approached him for purchasing the land of the building for Rs 18 lakh and 49 per cent share in the gas agency for a consideration of Rs 17 lakh.

Claiming that without paying the entire amount, Kumar Amit and his father not only took complete control of the gas agency, but also drove him out of his control in the agency, the petitioner alleged that instead of paying him Rs 35 lakh as agreed upon, he had been divested of his control, that too for just Rs 12 lakh.

Mr Hans Raj had also claimed that though the written agreement to sell the land had fixed the sale consideration at Rs 18 lakh, the SP managed to get the sale deed executed and registered only for Rs 3.59 lakh.

He also alleged that despite many representations and complaints, which also resulted in action being recommended by a senior police officer against the father-son duo, no actual action was initiated against them.


Land case: petitioner alleges threat to life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
Two days after Congress MLA S.S. Kathunangal's conviction by a court in Amritsar in a land case, the petitioner in the case today alleged threats to her life by the legislator and sought protection from government agencies.

“The MLA threatened to eliminate us physically by making a telephone call. He also asked us for a compromise in the case,” the petitioner in the case, Paramjit Kaur and her husband Hardev Singh of Pindi Saidan village in Ajnala told mediapersons at a press conference here.

Mr Kathunangal rubbished the claims of the couple and challenged them to prove that he made any such call. “I am a public man, my telephone numbers are known, let them tell which number was used to make a call”, he said while alleging that baseless allegations were being made by the couple who were being propped up by his rivals.

It may be mentioned that the MLA was a former Akali and had switched sides to the Congress.

Meanwhile, while addressing the press conference the couple said : “We are so afraid that we don't even have the courage to approach the police fearing the ruling party MLA can get anything done against us,” the couple said. They were also accompanied by village former head Daljeet Singh and former panchayat member Santokh Singh.

“We will approach the Governor to seek protection,” they said.

A court in Amritsar had recently awarded three years sentence to Mr Kathunangal, MLA from Majitha and chairman of the Punjab Food Agro Corporation and five others in an old land case.

Paramjit Kaur had accused that her father was a owner of the property measuring 57 kanal in the Pindi Saidan village. She alleged in her complaint that the accused in connivance with another person trespassed over her father's property and got “forged and fabricated” power of attorney.


Encroachment stays despite SDM’s order
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot August 3
The Improvement Trust here has failed to abide by the orders of the local administration to remove the encroachment raised on the Dalhousie road. SDM Amarjeet Paul had written to the trust authorities to remove the encroachment more than a week ago.

However, the orders of the SDM have been put in cold store by the trust authorities. The encroachment was raised on the Dalhouise road allegedly under the aegis of local politicians.

Due to the active involvement of the politicians, the trust authorities turned a blind eye towards the blatant encroachment on the road.

After the public outcry, the SDM ordered revenue officials to carry out an inquiry into the illegal structure raised right on the road.

The revenue officials said encroachment was constructed 15 feet into the road.

The SDM wrote to the trust authorities to remove the encroachment with immediate affect. However, till date the trust authorities have not acted in the matter.

Earlier also the trust authorities had tried to justify the illegal structure by stating that they had given permission to repair of kutcha structure present at the site. Whereas, the fact is that no structure existed at the spot, but for a few teen sheds quite at a distance from the road.

The SDM, when asked, said the trust authorities had once again been directed to remove the encroachment.

If the trust authorities fail to act in the matter the district administration would be forced to remove the encroachment from the road on its own.


Rural areas to have more dispensaries
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 3
The Punjab Health Department has decided to increase rural dispensaries from about 1,300 to 2,600.

Punjab Finance and Health Minister Surinder Singla has assured health service providers—doctors assigned contract assignments—that the nomenclature of their positions would be changed to medical officers.

These doctors were recruited recently on contract by the Health Department amid protests by permanent government doctors. They have also sought Class I status.

At present, on an average there is one government dispensary for 10 villages and each is headed by a health service provider who works under zila parishads.

“We are going to increase the rural dispensaries. We would have to recruit more service providers,” he said while talking to The Tribune.

He said the contract system was working well in the rural areas and a ten-fold increase in patients has been recorded in OPDs.

“For solving problems relating to service provider doctors, we are constituting a district-level committees under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners,” he said.

“The government is going to solve problems being faced by the doctors who have been given contract assignments. We are also discussing to change the nomenclature attributed to their position. They would be free to recruit staff of their choice. We have already sent a grant of Rs 1 lakh for each dispensary so that their repair could be undertaken,” he said.


4 die as Sumo collides with bus
Tribune News Service

(Himatpura) Ropar, August 3
Four pilgrims from Handyaya village in Sangrur district were killed and seven injured, one of them seriously when their Tata Sumo collided with a CTU bus coming from opposite direction about 15 km from here, this afternoon. They were returning from Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh after paying obeisance during the ongoing Saravan mela.

Gurdeep Singh, Bagga, Neela died on the spot while the driver of the Sumo, Lakha, died at the Civil hospital.

The mishap took place at about 1.30 p.m. when the driver of the Sumo (RJ-20-C-4859) lost control and smashed it into the CTU bus which was on its way to Nangal near Himatpura village. The Sumo overturned as a result of the impact. The driver of bus sped from the spot.

After the accident the injured had to wait for sometime as no one immediately came for their help. “We tried to stop passersby but to no avail. Later a passerby from Kurukshetra, who was also returning from Naina Devi, called for an Ambulance and brought us to the hospital,” said another injured Lakhvir Singh.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A, 337, 338 of the IPC against the bus driver at Sadar police station.


Zila Parishad chief accuses ADC of fraud
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 3
Mr Arjan Singh, chairman of zila parishad, Hoshiarpur, stated here today that Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development)-cum-Chief Executive Officer of the zila parishad and officials of the zila parishad had distributed grants under Indira Avas Yojna without taking him or any member of the zila parishad into confidence.

He stated that grants between Rs 25,000 to 27,500 each had been disbursed among 1,000 persons living below the poverty line. He further alleged that these had been fraudulently distributed among those living abroad or were doing money-lending business by showing them as members of below poverty line section during the past four years. He claimed that he had documentary proof of many such cases and would produce the same during an enquiry against the said officials.

Mr Arjan Singh and 18 other members of the zila parishad had submitted resignations to the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, yesterday, under protest against the alleged callous and non-cooperative behaviour of the officials of the parishad.

Talking to mediapersons Mr Arjan Singh further said of the 21 members of the parishad 19, including himself, had resigned. Two members Gurdial Singh, vice-president, and Amrinder Singh Gill had gone abroad and would resign after returning.

While referring to the non-cooperation of the Chief Executive Officer and other staff members, Mr Arjan Singh said the petrol and repair bills of the zila parishad car being used by him and other members were not cleared for months together. Broken furniture and toilet of his office had not been repaired despite his repeated reminders. Any information sought by the members had not been provided.

Referring to the recent recruitment of doctors and ETT teachers, he said none of the members had been taken into confidence during the recruitment process. Their signatures were only taken during counselling.

He said he had brought the abovesaid facts to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, many times, but he remained a silent spectator for reasons best known to him.

Meanwhile, Mr D.R. Bhagat, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), refuted the allegations of Mr Arjan Singh and said cases under the yojna had been prepared and forwarded by the block development and panchayat officers to the development branch for providing grants under the scheme. All cases were discussed at the district-level committee constituted by the government.

He alleged that Mr Arjan Singh was demanding a car for his personal use which was not given to him. He further alleged that Arjan Singh had also approached many persons to whom grants were given and demanded share from them. When these facts were inquired from him, he became agitated, Mr Bhagat added.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, told this correspondent that he had advised Mr Arjan Singh to submit his allegations in writing. As soon as his representation was received he would constitute an inquiry to probe the allegations.


Two cops suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
The Majitha police has suspended constable Hardev Singh and SPO Baljinder Singh for negligence as undertrial Vikramjit Singh escape from their custody.

According to information, Vikramjit Singh dodged the two cops when he was being brought for hearing of his case. He ran with his handcuffs from outside Jandiala Guru police station. A case has been registered.


Booked for using loudspeaker

Abohar, August 3
The city police has booked Ram Avtar, president of the Parvasi Mazdoor Sabha, Munshi Ram and others under Section 188, IPC, and the Noise Pollution Control Act for violating the prohibitory orders imposed by the District Magistrate, Ferozepore, regarding use of loudspeakers without valid permission. — OC


B.Ed counselling from Aug 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
The first joint BEd and BEd yoga counselling for the colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh will commence from August 10, 2006, and go upto to August 31, 2006, at Gymnasium Hall, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

According to Dr Satinder Dhillon, Coordinator, BEd counselling, the admission for the colleges situated in Chandigarh and colleges situated in Punjab will commence from August 10 and August 11, respectively. The detailed schedule for counselling will be published in all leading newspapers and also put on PU website within 2-3 days.


Governor asks CM to probe ‘lapses’ at GND varsity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
The Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), has asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to hold an inquiry into various alleged lapses committed at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, in the past years.

Sources, today said the Governor had written to Capt Amarinder Singh drawing his attention to various lapses with regard to the university brought to his notice by some faculty members and organisations such as the Punjab Human Rights Organisation. The alleged lapses were committed before the appointment of the present Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jai Rup Singh, on July 21.

In fact, discreet inquiries with regard to the allegations were got conducted from intelligence agencies and their reports had stated that there was substance in some complaints regarding the functioning of the university, it is learnt. Among the alleged lapses are the admission of ineligible students, irregularities in the evaluation of answer sheets, irregular and questionable appointments in the university, failure to take action against persons responsible for the PMT scam of 2005 and inaction against persons found guilty of committing serious offences related to morality.

The sources said the Chief Minister had forwarded the Governor’s letter to the Deputy Chief Minister,Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for the necessary action. Mrs Bhattal holds the portfolio of Higher Education.


DEO (E) office working under cloud
Bills submitted for clearance under mid-day meal scheme
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 3
The working of the DEO(E) office has come under a cloud over some pending bills worth Rs 20 lakh, which had been submitted by some Block Primary Education Officers at the office for clearance.

The bills belonged to teachers working in elementary schools, who claimed that they had spent the amount from their pockets for providing meals to students under the mid-day meal scheme.

They claimed that they were not funded for the scheme and had to provide meals to students by making purchases from their own pockets.

Now, they claimed to be under debt as traders were demanding payments from them.

On the other hand, former DEO(E) R.D. Goyal had raised doubts over the authenticity of the bills and refused to clear them.

Various teacher’s unions had met him and urged to clear the bills but Mr Goyal refused to entertain their request and marked his comments on the file.

Interestingly, the DEO(E) office has demanded a grant of over Rs 1.5 cr from the Central Government for the mid-day meal scheme.

They have requested Rs 65.63 lakh for meals and Rs 39.85 lakh for the pending bills. This includes the Rs 20 lakh sought by the teachers.

However, Mr Goyal claimed that during a preliminary inquiry it was found that records had not been maintained in the respective schools or BPEO offices.

Also, no prior permission of the department was sought before making purchases and no bills of material purchased were kept in the record of the schools.

He had also sought an inquiry before the amount was released.

Furthermore, ADC(D) B.S. Shergill had written to the DO asking him not to entertain bills over a week old. But the bills in question were over two to three months old, Mr Goyal claimed.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Jaspreet Talwar said no one had brought the issue of pending bills to her notice before but BPEOs had mentioned about Rs 40 lakh lying pending during a recent meeting.

She said she had issued instructions that the grant received would be spent only on mid-day scheme and no pending bills would be cleared.

She added that an inquiry would be ordered when the file came to her for clearance of pending bills to ascertain whether the bills were genuine or not.


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