P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Centre set to announce Rs 40 as bonus on paddy
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Punjab Government has got information that the Union Ministry for Agriculture and Food has approved Rs 40 per quintal as bonus on paddy. An announcement in this regard is expected soon.

Earlier, the Union Government had increased the procurement price of paddy from Rs 600 to Rs 610 per quintal. However, it was rejected by all political parties across the board in Punjab and Haryana. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had described it as “ too meagre” and had written to the Union Government to increase the price of paddy by at least by Rs 50 per quintal. The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had also written to the Centre seeking increase in the price of paddy in the light of the increase in the cost of inputs such as diesel.

A senior officer of the Punjab Government, who deals with the Centre on such issues, told The Tribune today that he had got information that the Union Agriculture and Food Ministry had cleared the file with regard to Rs 40 per quintal as bonus on paddy. The announcement was likely to be made after the approval from the Cabinet Subcommittee on Economic Affairs.

The Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices Prof T. Haque, had also recommended Rs 40 per quintal as bonus on paddy. He had earlier recommended an increase of Rs 10 per quintal in the procurement price of paddy in January and had sought the comments of the state governments concerned in February.

However, after Professor Haque’s recommendation of Rs 10 as increase in January, the situation changed on the food security front in the country and the Union Government had to announce Rs 50 per quintal as bonus on wheat to enhance its procurement for the Central pool in mid April. And the same is true in the case of paddy from which rice is obtained. The Union Government wanted the maximum procurement of rice for the Central pool to keep its price within the reach of poor sections because the increase in the price of wheat flour has created a difficult situation for it.

In the Lok Sabha yesterday, the issue of the minimum support price ( MSP) was discussed by MPs. Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, taking part in the discussion, urged the Union Government to raise the MSP to Rs 700 per quintal.

Punjab is expecting the arrival of 100 lakh tonnes of paddy in grain markets for procurement this year. About 25.75 lakh hectares of land is under the paddy crop this year. Paddy will start arriving in the third week of September. The Government procurement agencies are expected to enter the market in the last week of September to procure paddy following permission from the Union Government.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government, which has been facing criticism for not releasing the pending dues of Rs 20 per quintal as bonus on paddy for 2002, is examining this issue seriously. Sources said about Rs 220 crore remains to be paid to farmers in this regard. 


Declare Punjab drought-hit state, says CPI
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
Keeping in view the acute power shortage, especially during the paddy season, in Punjab, the CPI today asked the Central Government to install a nuclear power plant in the state to end the power crisis.

It also asked the Centre to declare Punjab a drought-hit state and compensate the farmers as they were spending about Rs 3,000 per acre more on diesel to run the tubewells and meet other expenses due to scanty rainfall in several districts.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Dr Joginder Dayal, a member of the national executive of the CPI, said the nuclear power plant was a must to meet the power requirements of agriculture and industry sectors. He said one could not understand that why the Chief Minister was opposing the installation of the power plant, whereas Haryana agreed to set up a nuclear power plant.

He criticised the Chief Minister for making tall claims about eight-hour power supply to the tubewells. He said the farmers were actually getting supply for just four to six hours daily. The farmers were suffering a lot but the Centre and state governments were doing nothing for waiving their loans.

Dr Dayal said though the industry was also in a bad shape, both the ruling party and the main opposition party were busy in mud slinging against each other and not thinking for the welfare of the people of the state.


Dalbir is fine, says doctor
Police lodges DDR, forensic report awaited
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind, August 18
The medical report submitted by the Civil Surgeon of Tarn Taran, Dr Karanjit Singh, to the District Magistrate has stated that Ms Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit Singh, is “absolutely normal” and fit to be discharged.

With this, Dalbir Kaur who had hogged the media limelight for a long time after launching the Save Sarbjit campaign has landed herself in the trouble this time.

The Tarn Taran police has, meanwhile, lodged a DDR against Dalbir Kaur and may register an FIR for attempting to commit suicide after getting a report from the Forensics Laboratory, Patiala.

On March 11, family members of Sarbjit Singh, alias Manjit Singh, who has been awaiting execution of death penalty in Pakistan due to ‘mistaken identity’ had threatened to commit ‘self-immolation’ at the Wagah joint checkpost if the Government of India failed to take up his case with Pakistan within a month.

While Sarbjit Singh had crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated condition in 1990, the Government of Pakistan had dubbed him as an agent of the Indian spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). RAW had allegedly assigned him to carry out a series of bomb blasts in the 1990s. It was alleged that he had blasted a number of bombs that killed 14 innocent people and injured some 90 persons in various cities in 1990.

The district police chief, Mr Parveen Sinha, said an FIR could not be registered without the report of Forensic Laboratory.

Drama was enacted here last evening when Ms Dalbir Kaur was admitted to Vijay Hospital after she allegedly consumed poison in protest against leaders of various political parties who had failed to take up the case of her brother with Gen Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan.

When a team of government doctors visited Bhikhiwind to shift her to Tarn Taran, the family members had resisted the move. Ultimately, the will of the Administration prevailed and she was shifted to Tarn Taran for a medical check-up.

Interestingly, Ms Sukhpreet Kaur, wife of Sarbjit Singh, and his younger daughter did not visit the hospital.


50 pc seats go vacant in Punjab polytechnics
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Technical education in the state seems to have hit an all-time low. While almost 50 per cent seats went vacant in engineering colleges affiliated to Punjab Technical University (PTU), another 50 per cent seats have now gone vacant in the various polytechnics in the state.

The joints admission counselling for these polytechnics affiliated to the Punjab State Technical Education Board ended here some days ago.

Out of a total of 10,956 seats available in almost 60 polytechnics across the state, 5,361 seats have been filled and 5,595 are still vacant. Out of the over 7,250 seats available for general category students, only 3,650 were filled and out of the over 2,700 seats available for Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe students, 640 seats were filled.

According to the data provided by the Board, there are some polytechnics which have not been able to fill more than five seats. These are located at Mansa, Fazilka and Gurdaspur. And there are only a handful of colleges which have managed to have 100 per cent full seats. The most coveted have been the polytechnics operating near Chandigarh and in and around Ludhiana. Board officials pointed out that this is due to the fact that the students have a greater chance of being placed within these cities.

Unlike engineering colleges, where students clearly preferred government colleges over private ones, among polytechnics there is no such preference. Many government polytechnics have over 40 per cent of the seats they offer going vacant.

Branchwise, electrical engineering has proved to be the most unpopular course. Other than Thapar Polytechnic College, Patiala, and GND Polytechnic College, Ludhiana, no other institute has been able to fill up its electrical engineering seats. Similarly, polytechnics have found very few takers for architecture assistant course and civil engineering.

The most popular courses are electronics and communication engineering, computer engineering and information technology. In many polytechnics for girls, students have preferred to opt for the various engineering courses to diplomas and degrees in garment manufacturing, fashion designing, textile technology and library and information science.

The Government Tanning Institute at Jalandhar, which is the only institute that offers leather technology and footwear and leather manufacturing courses, too has only found seven students for the 55 seats offered. Similarly, all 30 seats in commercial arts being offered by the Government Polytechnic College for Girls, Patiala, are still vacant.

The Punjab Institute of Textile Technology, Amritsar, offering specialised courses in textile technology (weaving and spinning) and textile design, has managed to fill only half the seats. The Government Text Chem and Knitting Technology Institute at Ludhiana, which offers 40 seats each in knitting technology and textile processing, has admitted only 22 and five students, respectively.


high court
PIL filed against land concessions to Reliance
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 18
Certain Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs today moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Congress Government in Punjab and Reliance Retail Limited, a sister concern of Reliance Industries Limited for setting up a special economic zone (SEZ).

Apart from allotting PSIEC land, allegedly at throwaway prices, to the company for the mega project, the government has also granted a large number of concessions to the Mukesh Ambani-owned company.

The petitioners, former Finance Minister, Punjab, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and other MLAs, have sought quashing of the MoU inked on August 1. They have also sought setting aside of the letter dated August 7 written by the government listing the concessions promised to the company.

It may be recalled that The Tribune had first reported the government move to give unprecedented number of freebies to Reliance for setting up the project. Following the news report, the opposition parties had come down heavily on the government for virtually gifting land worth thousands of crores to the company, allegedly at throwaway prices.

At the time of signing of the MoU, even Reliance had scaled down its earlier proposal of investment in the project and did not even give a deadline to actually make the project operational.

As opposed to the initial figure of over Rs 3,000 crore to be invested by Reliance, the sum that the company announced at the signing of the MoU was just Rs 500 crore. Interestingly, despite repeated requests, the Punjab Government did not provide a copy of the MoU to mediapersons present at the signing of the MoU.

Now, the PIL filed by the Akali MLAs alleges that the MoU flouts the state policy on land allotment for industrial and allied purposes as also contravening the decisions of the Supreme Court vis-à-vis allotment of land.

The petition says that 292 acres land belonging to Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) in various focal points has been earmarked to be handed over to Reliance on freehold basis for a paltry Rs 37 crore, which is negligible as compared to the actual cost of the land.

Not only this, the government has also decided to allot 169 acres of land, given by the PSIEC to the Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation for certain projects, to Reliance for Rs 4.35 crore.

The PIL states that as per the policy of the government, finalised on September 2, 2005, specific parameters had been prescribed for allotment under the “off-the-shelf” category whereas open invitation is to be given for allotments under the general category.

These parameters, the petitioners have pointed out, include scrutiny by high level committees of the proposal as well as the project report. But, in case of Reliance, the government chose to throw all the norms to the winds, the petition adds.

The petitioners have also taken exception to the fact that the land is being given to the company on a freehold basis and no restrictions have been placed on it against selling the land after 2012.

The petition also questions why nothing has been said about the purpose for which prime land, including 150 acres at Ladhowal near Ludhiana, is being given to the company. The petitioners have stated that there was every possibility of Reliance building its retail and commercial hubs on these lands.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has been named respondent by name in the PIL.

Today, when the petition came up for preliminary hearing before the Division Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, it referred the same to another Bench for hearing on August 22.


Notification on SEZ welcomed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
The much-awaited SEZ dream project announced by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, two years ago for the holy city has finally been notified by the Department of Industry and Commerce.

The government issued a mandatory land acquisition notice in leading newspapers today for setting up a special economic zone. Around 1,217 acres in the vicinity of villages Manawala, Rakhjheeta, Mehma, Pandori, Jheeta Kalan, Jheeta Khurd and Bhagtupura on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road have to be aquired for DLF Universal Limited, the promoter of this prestigious project.

Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, local BJP MP, said that though it was a belated move on the part of the government, his sustained and consistent efforts had finally bore fruits.

Welcoming the notification to acquire 1,217 acres, he said that it would have been in the interest of the local industry if the government had notified 5,000 acres for a multi-product SEZ, which would have been highly beneficial for the region.

Mr Sidhu hoped that this would trigger economic revival of the beleaguered border district and would generate employment opportunities for the youth.

Mr Gunbir Singh, Chairman, CII Amritsar Zone, termed this development as a step in the right direction.

He said that this was the way forward in implementing a long standing promise of the Prime Minister to the citizens.


Punjab to examine plea for road tax exemption
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Punjab transport authorities have agreed to examine the request of the Chandigarh Administration to exempt school buses from road tax which ferry school children to Mohali.

The exemption has been sought on the Chandigarh pattern, where no road tax is levied on school-owned buses and the school buses which run on the private-service vehicle (PSV) permit. However, no such positive response has come from the Haryana transport authorities, said a senior official in the Chandigarh Administration.

The bus operators registered with the Punjab and Haryana Transport Department who ferry children from Mohali and Panchkula, have only to pay the counter-sign fee of Rs 840 for a period of five years and no road tax is levied on the buses which enter the city registered in Punjab or Haryana.

But the buses registered with the Chandigarh Transport Department have to pay several types of taxes like passenger tax, special road tax and counter-sign fee.

The Secretary, State Transport Authority (STA), M P.S.Shergill, talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, said the Punjab Transport Commissioner had agreed to take up the matter with the higher authorities. The issue was the main agenda for the forthcoming meeting of the Transport Commissioners of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. The wider issue of uniform road fee for school buses, autorickshaws and taxis in the tri-cities of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula was also on the agenda.

Meanwhile, in the light of today’s one-day strike by the Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association, a special meeting was chaired by the Home Secretary, Chandigarh. The Director, Transport, State Transport Secretary and Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Chandigarh, were also present.

Sources said at the meeting it was decided that speed governors would be attached with the school buses to check overspeeding and a refresher course for bus drivers would be run by the police.


Four held for bid to kidnap girl
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
The police has arrested four persons for allegedly trying to kidnap and rape an Army officer’s daughter in an inebriated condition. While two persons are still absconding the police has impounded the white Maruti van used in the crime.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP, Amritsar, said a manhunt had been launched to arrest other accused. Those involved in the incident have been identified as Vishal Kumar, alias Shelly, Suraj Kumar, Surinder Singh, alias Gama, and Ashu, all residents of Indira Colony, Chabbal road, Deepak, alias Deepu, and Rajan Bhatti of Gawal Mandi.

Mr Srivastava said these persons, who were earlier working in various liquor shops, had now started their own shop. He said the police would inquire whether their shop was legal or illegal. On the opening and closing timings of the liquor shops, he said he would hold a meeting with the owners of the liquor shops in this regard.

Giving the account of the crime, the SSP said the accused took liquor till the wee hours on Wednesday. He said seeing the girl coming near they pushed her into their van and tried to rape her. Mr Isher Singh, who was proceeding towards Ranjit Avenue after paying obeisance at Golden Temple, hearing the screams of the kidnapped girl chased the van and stopped it. He was able to save the girl. Meanwhile, the girl managed to run towards his car after putting up a brave fight with the kidnappers.

Refuting the news that appeared in a section of the Press that a son of a Superintendent of Police was involved in the incident, Mr Srivastava said it was only a rumour spread by some vested interests.

The SSP said the police had not recovered the bag of the girl, which could provide some vital clues about the identity of the girl. The girl had reportedly arrived from Delhi to meet her relatives here. He said the girl, who was bleeding profusely, went away secretly.

A case has been registered against the culprits under Sections 354/365 and 397, IPC, and 25/54 and 59 under the Arms Act in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Isher Singh, who was also present at the conference, said he would not backtrack from the complaint filed with the police yesterday till the accused were punished. However, Mr Bhag Singh Ankhi, honorary secretary of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, clarified that the vehicle No. PB 02 6158 was not theirs as reported in some newspapers today.

Meanwhile, praising Mr Isher Singh’s courage, Mrs Ratna, Chairperson, Punjab State Social Welfare Board, said the accused involved in the crime should be brought to book. She also requested the state government to recommend the name of Mr Isher Singh for Padmashree.


Badal woos residents of border areas with sops
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 18
If voted to power, they would offer incentives to industrialists keen on establishing units in the border districts of Punjab, stated Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of SAD, while addressing a mammoth gathering of border residents during a rally jointly organised by SAD-BJP in Guruharsahai, 40 km from here today.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr Navjot Sidhu, Mr Zora Singh Mann, both MPs, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Mr Surjit Jiyani, both former ministers, Mr Manpreet Badal, Mr Sukhpal Singh, Mr Hari Singh Zira, all MLAs, and Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu, Mr Gurtej Singh, Mr Sher Singh, all former MLAs, besides several other senior Akali and BJP leaders and members of the SGPC.

Mr. Badal said an inquiry would be held to look into the cases of excesses allegedly being committed by the present Congress regime in the state. He added that all mega-project deals signed by the regime in which crores of rupees had allegedly exchanged hands would be reviewed.

He alleged that Rs 130 crore had already been spent from state exchequer on various media campaigns by the Congress. He said the claims of the Congress government regarding colossal inflow of investments in the state were nothing but a farce.

While blowing the trumpet the achievements of the previous Akali-BJP regime, Mr Badal said that his government has made efforts to improve power generation by sanctioning of projects like Ranjit Singh Dam, Lehra Mohabbat and Shahpur Kandi whereas the Congress had not been able to produce even 1MW of electricity. He said that even Rs 16000-crore Bathinda oil refinery project could not see the light of the day.

He stated that the rise in inflation, if remained unchecked, would break the backbone of the common man, especially the farmers, who had no option but to commit suicide.

He said the Congress party was a part of the “anti-working class” and due to its flawed policies in the state, unemployment, crime, drug addiction were ruling the roost in this granary of India today.

About the possibility of any electoral alliance with BSP or any other party, Mr Badal said that his party was open to any kind of alliance with like-minded and anti-Congress parties.

On the occasion, Mr. Badal honoured parents of Sepoy Pritam Singh of 22 Punjab Regiment who was killed by a mob during the 1984 anti-Sikh Riots at Pataudi railway station.

Mr Navjot Sidhu, MP, ridiculed the Congress regime for ignoring the interests of farmers. He also attacked the UPA government at the Centre for giving a stepmotherly treatment to Punjab.

In today’s rally, around 300 families switched over from the Congress to join SAD. While welcoming the families into the fold of the party, Mr. Badal ensured them that they would get all respect and recognition, they deserved.


Unite, Dullo tells Cong men
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 18
Congressmen should desist from airing their personal differences in public, failing which disciplinary action would initiated against them by the party, stated Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, president, PPCC, while addressing a meeting of party workers, leaders and office-bearers at Congress Bhavan, here, today.

Issuing a warning to leaders who were blemishing the image of the party, Mr Dullo said if any worker or leader had any compliant with each other, they should discuss it with him first.

Mr Parminder Singh Pinky, Mr Inder Singh Sahni, both general secretaries of the PPCC, Mr Gurnaib Brar, president, DCC, Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, MLA, Pt Balmukand Sharma, vice-president, PPCC, Mr Raminder Awla, president, PYC, Mr Anoop Singh, Mr Anumeet Sodhi, Mr Harinder Singh Dhindsa, Mr Chander Mohan, Mr Kamaljit Singh and other senior Congress leaders besides hundreds of Congress workers participated in today’s meeting.

Mr Dullo exhorted them stand united in to defeat the BJP, Akali Dal and BSP in the coming Assembly elections. He said the Congress workers should interact with the people at the grassroot level to apprise them about the various welfare schemes and development works initiated by the Congress government.

Meanwhile, the meeting took an ugly turn when supporters of a local Congress legislator complained against another Congress MLA who, they claimed, was interfering in their constituency. Mr Dullo pacified the workers and assured them to look into the matter.


Tandon to form front to save industry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
A former president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, today said he was in the process of forming a non-political front to save industry in the state.

He said industry in Punjab was facing an unprecedented crisis because of the plethora of concessions given to industry by the Union Government in Himachal Pradesh. The Amarinder Singh government was sleeping over this issue.

Mr Tandon said the Centre should announce concessions similar to HP in Punjab for industry.


Bhagat’s memorials to be national monuments
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s memorials in three villages on the Hussainiwala border — Mudki, Pherushahr and Sabrao — are being developed as national monuments, said the Faridkot Division Commissioner, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, at Talwandi Sabo today. He was there to preside over a meeting regarding the forthcoming tercentenary of the completion of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said these three villages were the battlefield of the first Anglo-Sikh war and they offer a glimpse into the glorious Sikh history. He said he was in touch with the National Museum authorities in New Delhi in this regard.

He said Dr K.K. Chakraborty, trustee, Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts, visited these sites last week. He said the status of national monument for these sites would lead to recognition for them at the national level.

Earlier, he took stock of preparations for the “Sampooranta Divas” celebrations scheduled to take place in Talwandi Sabo from August 28 to 30. The event is likely to witness participation of about 10 lakh devotees from across the globe.

He said the Chief Minister would hold a meeting in this regard on August 21 in which a development plan of the district would be discussed. The government would hold exhibitions, seminars and conferences to spread teachings and philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said a project of improving roads, streets and waterworks would be on their agenda at the meeting. He said district administration officials had already been assigned duties to make preparations for the big event.

The town would be divided into six sectors and all arrangements of light, cleanliness, drinking water, help centres and first aid posts would be made.

The SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar, said tight security arrangements would be made for the event and each sector would have a magistrate and a SP/DSP-rank official.


Challenges before Ludhiana police
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 18
This financial and industrial capital of Punjab has been in news for the past sometime because of some horrifying incidents of crime which included the kidnapping of a son of a leading industrialist whose kidnappers have not been arrested so far. There was a spate of murders during June which also shattered the residents besides, daring daylight robberies. All these incidents shook the peace loving residents of this otherwise cosmopolitan city of the state. The police administration was also shaken and the authorities concerned had to work over time to restore the confidence of the residents.

This more than 500 years old city of Lodhis has grown manifold during the past three decades and the expansion of the town has been haphazard and without any planning.

The city has been rapid demographic changes and the town has taken the shape of a cosmopolitan city. There are about 17 lakh migrant workers hailing from up, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Nepal and other states. Besides, there are service people who manage the industrial units who are labelled as educated elite. Ludhiana town has the maximum population of muslims-numbering about seven lakhs.

The uncontrolled urbanisation has taken place and is further continuing and there is no stopping of the same. The uncontrolled growth of residential colonies has led to the land disputes and the landmafia has also become active.

The influx of migrants has made the trade and industry completely dependent of them and the industry is now feeling the pinch as the political parties like the CPI and CPM which are now allies in the UP a government have started organising the workers as a result of which the industry is facing labour trouble which was never witnessed. The loosely organised labour is posing serious problems to the police to keep the factories running.

Since the town has grown by leaps and bounds, the physical growth of the existing road network has not expanded with the result the management of the vehicular traffic has become very difficult. Ludhiana has eight lakh registered vehicles and four lakh vehicles remain in transit on the roads of the town according to police sources.

As Ludhiana has seen haphazard expansion and also seen prosperity, the police force has remained static. The total strength of the police in Ludhiana is stated to be around 2500 personnel. The mobility of the police force is very poor and the town has a fleet of vehicles which has outlived its utility. The police force lacks modern scientific aids for investigations and prevention of crime.

Mr Prag Jain, DIG, Ludhiana Range, when contacted by this reporter who asked him how the police administration was tackling the situation said that they had tried to motivate the police personnel to discharge their duties with dedication despite pressure of VIP duties and taking care of religious activities. “We have pruned the police force and drawn men from the offices of the senior officers and their security. The PCR men have also been activated to respond to the calls of the people. The force is very much pressed had and is expected to discharge multi-farious activities”, he said.

Ludhiana town at present has 19 police stations and 23 police chowkis spread over in various parts of the town. There has been change in the crime pattern and according to Mr. Jain the maximum increase has come in the land dispute in the wake of real estate boom. There is no transparency in the land deals. The crime pertaining to property like burglaries and snatching has also increased. There has been rapid increase in the cases pertaining to dowry disputes and marital relations. There has been no case of kidnapping for ransom, claims Mr Jain.

To cope with the law and order situation and check the crime in this town, Ludhiana needs a police commissionerate with minimum four police districts and increase in the police strength. The proposal to have police commissionerate was mooted during militancy and later dropped.


Longer power cuts as 1 unit shut again
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 18
In yet another jolt to the people of Punjab, one unit of 210 MW capacity of the Super thermal plant, Ropar, was again shut late last night. As a result the PSEB, which was already facing the shortage of power to meet demand, extended power cuts to 10 hours in cities and in the rural areas to 12 hours in the state.

It will require at least two more days for the unit to become operational. With the closure of one unit the state was facing additional shortage of 50 lakh units per day. Moreover, the Dadri-Rehand transmission line, which was under repair, was causing a loss of 100 lakh units of power per day. The repair work would take at least three more days, said PSEB sources.

The PSEB sources added that the power shortage in the state increased to 400 lakh units per day. The power supply from all sources was about 1,250 lakh units while power consumption was around 1,650 per day.

Earlier, all six units of the thermal plant were shut down after a snag surfaced in the 220 KV line between Ropar and Kohara on Wednesday. However, it became operational in the late night the same day.

The General Manager of the plant, Mr N.K. Arora, said due to the damage to bearings of a boiler component of the unit-6 it had been shut down. It was expected to become operational on Sunday.


SAD (A) activists’ plea to PSEB chief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
A delegation of the SAD (Amritsar) today met the PSEB Chairman and urged him to provide uninterrupted power supply for more than eight hours to the farming sector, keeping in view the fact that the region was facing drought-like conditions due to scanty  rainfall.

In a press note, Satnam Singh Behru, president of the Kisan wing of the SAD (A), said a delegation of farmers from various organisations met Mr Y.S Ratra, Chairman, today who gave a positive response.

He said the Chairman had assured them that he would look into the problem of burnt transformers not being replaced and overloading of 

Mr Behru said the Chairman had called a meeting next week of various farmers’ unions to discuss their problems. 


Protests near PSEB head office banned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
A local court has restrained various trade unions, including the Joint Struggle Coordination Committee, from holding demonstrations, meetings, dharnas, gheraos, raising and writing of slogans, damaging property of the PSEB office, within a radius of 200 metres from the boundary wall of the PSEB head office.

The order was passed by the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Patiala.


Dalit Sena burns effigies of CM, SSP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
Members and activists of the Dalit Sena, Punjab, led by Mr Kiranjit Singh Gehri, state president of the Punjab unit of the Dalit Sena, yesterday burnt the effigies of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Bathinda SSP at the traffic lights chowk here in protest against their alleged anti- Dalit and anti-poor policies and attitude, and police atrocities on Dalits.

The protesters were on the “protest bicycle march” from Bathinda to Chandigarh. They started their march on August 15 from Bathinda, which will culminate on August 19 at Chandigarh.

Mr Gehri said during the regime of Capt Amarinder Singh no one was listening to the grievances and problems of the Dalits. The police was committing atrocities on the Dalits by registering “false cases” against them. He said the police even did not register an FIR of a Dalit against influential persons. Thus the “anti-Dalit” face of the Congress Government in Punjab had been exposed, he added.

Mr Gehri said they would submit a memorandum to the Governor at Chandigarh on August 19 against the Amarinder Government.

Mr Gehri demanded that the Punjab government should appoint a judicial commission to give relief to the Dalits, who were in jails nowadays without committing any crime.


Recruitment for West Asia goes on
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, August 18
Travel agents are openly carrying out recruitment drives in the district for employing labourers in West Asia.

A recruitment rally was organised in Gautam Nagar locality here yesterday.

Despite horrific stories of job seekers arrested in the West Asia, hundreds of aspiring skilled labourers attended the rally. They appeared in tests for the posts of mason, carpenter, steel fixer and helper.

The managing director of Skyways Consultant, Rajinder Saini, who was coordinating the recruitment rally, said their organisation had a licence from the Union Ministry for Overseas to carry out recruitment for sending skilled labourers abroad.

According to him, they can send 300 persons abroad every year. Nearly 200 persons were selected yesterday.

In the state there are 25 to 30 registered recruitment agents, he claimed. However, hundreds of agents are working without any authorisation and duping people.

Sources said many unauthorised agents in the district were recruiting persons for banned company KGL.


Cop’s death highlights stressful work conditions
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 18
The death of Sub-Inspector Ajmer Singh while on duty for the President’s visit to Sanghol yesterday is a clear indication that the police personnel in the district, particularly lower rank, are working in tense situations and facing stress.

As the force is faced with staff shortage, many of the police personnel have to work for long hours. On many occasions, a constable has to perform duty for 48 hours continuously. The arrival of VIPs brings more tension for them. They are deputed by the roadsides days before the arrival of the VIP and on many occasions there is no proper arrangement of food and water for them.

The police stations in the district are facing acute shortage of constables. On an average, there are only two constables at each police station.

Even senior officials admit that serving in the police department is very difficult as compared to other departments. Lower rank say if the higher authorities did not take any step to increase the strength of the force in the district and the same situation continued, there may be more such unfortunate incidents in the district.

Stress is a major cause of their becoming drug addicts, they add. There are reportedly 368 sanctioned posts of constables in the district. Out of these, 25 are vacant, 32 are woman constables, 112 have become head constables, many of them are working as computer operators in SSP, SP, DSP and other offices, Police Line staff, security guards of VIPs, judges and senior officers.


Doctors seek ‘specialist cadre’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Specialist Doctors' Association (PSDA) has demanded the creation of a separate 'specialist cadre' within the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) so that patients could be provided quality specialised services in rural Community Health Centres and Civil Hospitals of Punjab.

In a resolution adopted at a meeting of the state executive held here, the association said that there were more than 1,200 doctors with postgraduate and post-doctoral qualifications in the PCMS, but their services had remained under-utilised due to the lack of a distinct 'specialist cadre' and arbitrary postings that resulted in a gross mismatching.

The resolution further stated that the optimum utilisation of modern infrastructure available at these 154 health institutions provided by Punjab Health Systems Corporation through a Rs 510 crore World Bank loan could only be achieved if specific specialist posts were created at health centres and hospitals. The resolution lamented that the state government had not implemented its own decision on the setting up of a separate 'specialist cadre'. It may be recalled that in 1989 the Sandhewalia Committee set up by the then Governor, Mr Sidharth Shankar Ray, had made elaborate recommendations in this regard and those were accepted by the government at that time.

The association also flayed the withdrawal of extra annual increments admissible to PCMS doctors with postgraduate degrees, diploma and house-jobs. It demanded that these additional increments paid to doctors for possessing higher qualification and skills be restored forthwith.

The resolution pointed out that due to lack of a cohesive policy on the utilisation of services of specialist doctors, often they were deputed for emergency duties. In fact such duties need to be performed by general duty doctors so that specialist doctors were available for their work. In case this anomaly is removed the quality of specialist services would improve dramatically.

The resolution further stated that the shortage of specialist doctors within the PCMS in key specialties of obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthesia, paediatrics, public health, TB, ENT, eye and orthopaedics could be overcome if the state government decided to restore postgraduate diploma courses in state medical colleges. These courses that were abolished in early eighties had resulted in an acute shortage of such specialists and most of the health centres and hospitals of the state were without doctors with experience or qualifications in obstetrics and gynaecology. The hospitals were facing an acute shortage of anaesthetists required to manage operation theatres.

The association also demanded the immediate filling of posts of Senior Medical Officers (SMO). More than 120 posts of SMO continue to be vacant and this has adversely affected middle-level management of health services in rural areas. It also demanded a cadre review of the PCMS and the re-designation of the posts of SMO and the creation of the post of Director-General Health Services.

The resolution also supported the demand voiced by various organisations of the government employees for the merger of dearness pay with basic pay. 


Panel set up to consider DSGMC employees’ demands
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
An eight-member subcommittee has been constituted to consider the demands of the employees of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

Stating this in a release issued here yesterday, Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, President, DSGMC, said an eight member subcommittee comprising eminent industrialists Jagdip Singh Chadha, Iqbal Singh Anand; two senior chartered accountants, including Baljit Singh Sahni; two advocates, H.S. Phoolka and A.P.S. Ahluwalia; and two senior representatives of the employees, Swaran Singh and Ram Singh, General Manager and Manager, respectively, would submit its report within two months to be approved by executive board of the DSGMC.

Mr Sarna alleged that a section of the gurdwara employees had been playing in the hands of the Akali Dal (Badal) leaders, and trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the gurdwaras. He said SAD (B) leaders had been unleashing a campaign of disinformation and misinformation against the present management. He further said these leaders instigated a section of the employees to create indiscipline and disturbance in the gurdwaras.


AC bus service to Delhi
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has decided to launch a super luxury air-conditioned service on the Patiala-New Delhi route from August 21.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta and Mr S.D.S Dhillon, Chairman and Managing Director, PRTC, respectively, said the bus service, the first of its kind in the region, would be launched on an experimental basis for at least three months and if desired results were achieved, the service would be started on other longer routes too.

Mr V.P. Gupta added that the bus was being launched during the ongoing golden jubilee year of the PRTC.


MC employees resume dharna
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 18
Employees of the Municipal Council today resumed dharna and demanded the arrest of the former councillor, Mr Jang Bahadur Bedi, who had allegedly beaten up a junior engineer of the council, Mr Desh Bandhu.

The employee staged a dharna in front of the office of the Municipal Council and raised slogans against the local politicians who were allegedly shielding the alleged municipal councillor. The employees threatened that they would gherao the police station concerned if no action was taken against the councillor.

The employees had earlier suspended dharna on assurance given by the Executive Officer of the council. The employees also met the Deputy Commissioner.

Meanwhile, the alleged councillor has alleged that the matter was erupted due to the political rivalry between leaders of the ruling party. 


Demand for memorial
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
Mr Madan Lal Jalalpur, vice-chairman, Zila Parishad, Patiala, and Mr Avtar Singh, Sarpanch, Kauli village, today urged Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to make arrangements for erecting a suitable memorial to Satnam Singh who laid down his life in Baramula sector of Jammu and Kashmir while fighting terrorists on August 12.

In a press note issued here today, they said 27-year-old Satnam Singh killed three terrorists before falling to the bullets of enemies of the country. They said Satnam Singh had done the nation proud and hence a memorial be raised in his memory.

They urged the Chief Minister to take necessary action in this regard by August 20 when the bhog ceremony of Satnam Singh will be held in his native village, Kauli.


Cop among vehicle thieves held
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 18
The local police has busted a gang of vehicle thieves and fake currency peddlers that had a serving cop as its kingpins. The cop, Pardeep Kumar, who was posted at Taran Tarn, had stolen about 35 vehicles from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and sold them in Jammu and Kashmir after preparing fake documents.

The SSP, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, said the accused cop was the kingpin of the gang and a resident of Pathankot. He got into the business of stealing and selling vehicles with his accomplices he formed during his posting at Amritsar.

The basic job of the cop was to facilitate the entry of the stolen vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir through Lakhanpur barrier. He used come in uniform to get the vehicles passed from the barrier.

The police got an information about the activities of the cop after their contact person in Jammu Adil Malik was arrested with seven stolen vehicles. Adil Malik during interrogation told the police that he used to get stolen vehicles from Pardeep Kumar and his accomplice.

On the information provided by Adil Malik besides Pardeep Kumar two other accomplice of the gang, including Vij and Tinku, both residents of Amritsar, were also arrested.

Later, investigation revealed that the arrested cop used make the fake registrations of the stolen vehicles at his residence in Pathankot.

During a raid at his residence, the police recovered fake currency worth Rs 2 lakh. It also seized a computer that was allegedly used for making fake currency.

Seven vehicles stolen by the gang have been recovered. The police parties have been conducting raids at various places where the gang members allegedly sold stolen vehicles.

Many more vehicles are likely to be recovered very soon on the information provided by the accused.

A case under Sections 379, 411, 420, 467, 468 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.


Assurance on pension scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Education Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, and the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, who held a meeting with a deputation of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and the Other employees union, today assured that the pension scheme, which was discontinued in June, 2003, would be resumed soon for retired employees of aided schools.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president of the union, said in a statement that Mr Bajwa yesterday issued instructions to Mr R.Venkatratnam, Special Secretary, Education, to immediately issue orders to fill the vacant approved posts in the aided schools. About 600 approved posts are vacant in such schools, it is learnt. Mr Bajwa also ordered that the grant should be sent to such schools on monthly basis to avoid any problem to employees of these schools in getting salary regularly.

He also assured to merge 50 per cent dearness allowance in pension from April 1, 2004.

Among those who met both the ministers were Dr Gurmit Singh, Mr Manohar Lal Chopra, Mr Mohan Lal,Mr K.K. Joshi, Mr Romesh Sharma, Mr Ranjit Singh Mr Gurnam Singh, Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr S.S. Bal, Mr O.P. Panday and Mr N.N. Saini.


Annual day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
Sri Aurobindo International School today celebrated its annual day, which was held to commemorate the 129th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo at the school’s premises today.

The Patiala SSP, Mr Parmod Ban, presided. Mr B. Jagdish Rao, general manager, Glaxo Smithkline, Nabha, was a special guest.

To mark the occasion, plays, dances and ballets were performed while the school secretary, Mr Ranbir, thanked all parents, guests and students for taking part in the celebrations.


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