P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Immersion of idols polluting water bodies
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Environment related issues are yet to find a place in the heart of the common man.

During the festive period beginning with the 10-day celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi and ending with Divali, diverse religious activities lead to a rise in pollution.

Festivals are significant contributors to water and air pollution and have become a cause of concern, say environmentalists.

During Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja celebrations, thousands of idols are immersed into water bodies, causing the death of thousands of fish and other species.

“Most of the aquatic fauna died due to pollution caused by idols and puja material immersed in water bodies,” says Prof M.S. Johal of the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

“The chemicals and metals in the idols and puja material deplete the oxygen level in the water body, making it dangerous for the aquatic fauna to survive. The synthetic material also affects the river ecology,” warns Prof Johal.

“In Punjab, the Chhat festival is more responsible for polluting water bodies, especially in industrial towns like Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar where migrants are settled in a large number,” says Dr Neelima Jerath, Joint Director (Environment), Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh.

“Rivers in Punjab have already been driven to a high degree of pollution due to sewage, factory wastes and other chemicals,” says Dr Jerath.

Citing a report prepared by the council, “A State of Environment — 2005”, she says the Sutlej is the most polluted river of the state. Its toxicity level is high at Nangal, Kiratpur Sahib, Ropar, Ludhiana and Gidderpindi village.

The water quality is generally class “A” with sufficient dissolved oxygen content at Nangal. As the river progresses downstream, the quality deteriorates from class “B” to “E”.

The report also points out that the presence of suspended particulate matter in the air in Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar remains high throughout the year, even in residential areas.

So spare a thought for the environment and spread awareness about the dangers of pollution and buy eco-friendly idols made of papier-mâché.


Villagers block traffic over poor water supply
Tribune News Service

Dhar (Gurdaspur), September 5
Residents of Dhangu Sran village today blocked traffic on the Pathankot-Dalhouise road to protest against the shortage of drinking water.

Hundreds of villagers, including a large number of women, sat on dharna on the road in the morning at about 10 am, raising slogans against the state government. The traffic remained disrupted on the road for about six hours due to the dharna.

The villagers had also brought with them bottles of turbid water that they were being forced to drink due to the non-supply of water by the Public Health authorities. They alleged that they were getting one to two hours drinking water supply just in two to three days.

Due to the shortage of water, they were being forced to drink water from the village well. The water in the village well turns turbid and is unfit for drinking especially during monsoons.

Impure drinking water was causing various ailments and water-borne diseases in villagers. They have complained many times to the local authorities in this regard. About four months ago, they had submitted a memorandum to the local MLA, who has assured them that the water supply would be ensured to their village. However, nothing has been done till date.

The protesting villagers also received the support of former minister and senior BJP leader Mohan Lal, who also sat on the dharna.

He said the BJP would launch an agitation in case the demands of the people of the Dhar area were not met.

The residents also threatened to intensify their agitation in case their demand was not met.


Mann rejects Tandon’s statement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
In a rejoinder issued here today the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) said the former president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, had made a statement to divert people's attention from the facts and reality about Punjab and Punjabis.

Referring to the speech made by Mr Mann at Talwandi Sabo a few days ago, Mr Tandon had stated he was creating a division among Punjabis by making provocative and pro-"Khalistan" statements.

Responding that statement, Mr Mann said that in 1947 the ruling Unionist Party in joint Punjab, which represented the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu communities,was not in favour of the partition of Punjab. Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru wanted a division of India on "communal grounds" to which the then Attlee Labour government in Great Britain agreed.

Mr Mann said while Punjabi Hindus found their national aspirations in the Hindi and Sanskrit languages, Punjabi Muslims found their national aspirations in Urdu and opted for Pakistan. The Sikhs, who stood for the Punjabi language, were left high and dry.

In 1966 Punjab was again divided on linguistic grounds. He said that because of the negative and communal role played by certain leaders, many Punjabi Hindus in the census of 1961 declared Hindi as their mother tongue. Therefore, vast areas which were Punjabi speaking but had Hindu populations like Kangra, Chamba, Nalagarh, Kasauli, Solan, Mandi, Kulu and Bilaspur were amalgamated with Himachal Pradesh and the Punjabi-speaking areas of Ambala, Karnal, Sirsa and Hisar went to Haryana.

He said Mr Tandon had also alleged that "my actions suit the Congress." In 1984 when Congress Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered Army action in the Darbar Sahib complex, Mr Tandon’s party leader, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, glorified her.

He said Mr Tandon's objection to his being honoured by the SGPC at Talwandi Sabo had no rationale.

" What has further enraged a fundamentalist party like the BJP is that on that day I spoke as per Sikh religious tenets that Sikhs should not have two types of gurdwaras, one for the farming class and the other for Dalit Sikhs. Since the BJP believes in the caste system, any reform in the Sikh religion is anathema to it as it wants to gobble up Sikhism", said Mr Mann.


Sikh Regiment battalion celebrates Raja Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Second Battalion of the Sikh Regiment is celebrating Raja Day to commemorate the capture of the strategic Raja Picquet in Poonch during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Several events spread over two days have been organised to mark the occasion.

A barakhana, pagal gymkhana and a cultural programme were organised at the unit’s location today. A special sainik sammelan, memorial ceremony, honouring of war widows and an officers’ mess function are scheduled to be held tomorrow.

Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was commissioned into this battalion in 1962 is also expected to attend some of the functions along with a large number of serving and retired regimental officers.

On the night intervening September 5 and 6 over 40 years ago, the battalion led by Lt Col Narinder Nath Khanna wrested the well defended Raja Picquet picket from the Pakistan Army near Haji Pir Pass. The feature was at a height of 7,700 feet with fortified bunkers, minefield and wire obstacles around it.

In the face of stiff opposition, the assault was personally led by Colonel Khanna As he dashed across a mined area and threw a grenade into a bunker, he was hit by a burst in the chest. Inspired, the rest of the troops followed, overcoming the enemy. Colonel Khanna was decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously. The battalion also received the Battle Honour Raja Picquet.


Rs 20 lakh grant for jail expansion
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, September 5
The Central Jail administration has drawn out major expansion plan to provide more accommodation to prisoners.

DIG (Jails) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said here today that BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu offered Rs 20 lakh from MPLAD funds to add more rooms, dining room and toilets.

The central prison, meant to house 1100 prisoners, had more than 2300 inmates, leading to congestion and crowd in the jail premises.

He said that proper site plan has been prepared by the architects to provide two sets of six toilets each besides construction of two to three rooms and a dining hall for decongesting. He said that the construction would commence immediately after the release of funds by the district administration.

Meanwhile Mr Sidhu had handed over a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh from his personal account to the jail authorities for 100 fans and over 500 cots during his last visit to the prison.

The DIG (Jails) said fans had been installed in different hostels to provide relief to the prisoners. He said orders for cots had already been placed and it would make the jail first in India to provide cots to all women inmates. 


Appeal to President for amnesty to Bhullar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
The Khalra Mission Organisation (KMO) here today appealed to President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for amnesty to Davinder Singh Bhullar awaiting death sentence.

Mr Harmandeep Singh Sarhali, President, KMO in a missive to the President has appealed for remitting of the sentence of Mr Bhullar, which had been pending before this office since January 14, 2003. He said the delay in disposing of the mercy petition had resulted in the mental agony and physical and psychological sufferings. He said the capital punishment was awarded to Mr Bhullar by the Delhi sessions Court and later upheld by the Supreme Court in a sheer fractured verdict on the basis of the prepared and fabricated so-called confessional statement. He said while the presiding Judge of the three member Supreme Court Bench, Mr Justice M.B. Shah acquitted him by terming the so-called confessional statement as unauthentic but the rest two members while admitting the so-called confessional statement, upheld the sentence.

Mr Sarhali said that Sikhs all over the world have raised the voice from time to time against the injustice committed to Mr Bhullar, who is in jail since more than a decade now, and to his family.


Two die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Batala, September 5
Two motorcyclists were killed in an accident. Their third companion was injured seriously near Qadian 20 km from here.

Raju son of Lakhan Singh, and Sukhdev Singh alias Kala son of Mangal Singh and Baldev Singh son of Rattan Singh, residents of Naathpura, were coming to their village from Khujala on a motorcycle bearing (PB-58C-6979) last night.

The vehicle went out of control and hit a tree killing Sukhdev Singh alias Kala (20), Baldev Singh (25), and Raju was injured seriously.


Traders end relay fast
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 5
Members of various local trader organisations ended their relay fast at Dhuri around 4.30 pm today.

They were protesting against the continuation of collection of octroi by the octroi contractor from September 1.The relay fast was ended after the closure of octroi posts at Dhuri following a Punjab and Haryana High Court order.

After the closure of octroi posts, ‘laddoos’ were distributed by traders.


No equipment damaged, says BBMB

Chandigarh, September 5
The BBMB today said that no power generating equipment at the Dehar Power House was damaged during the flooding on August 28.

Work on the drying of generators was in full swing and power generation would be restored in a few days, said the secretary of the BBMB. — TNS


National oral health programme
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
The Indian Dental Association Patiala organised a national oral health programme. “Bright Smile, Bright Future” at Dhudial Public School, Old Bishan Nagar, with the help of Colgate Palmolive India Limited.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation inaugurated it. He later distributed toothbrushes, toothpastes, educational charts and booklets to students.

Dr Manjinder Singh Duggal, president, IDA. (Patiala branch), gave a dental presentation with audio visual aids.


high court
Notice issued to Chief Secretary
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for December 11 on a writ petition filed by Mr Joga Singh and others, working as Project Managers in the Industries Department, Punjab.

The petitioners have sought quashing of Clause 3 of Appendix B of the Punjab Industries Non-Technical (Group A) Service Rules, 2005, which provides for filling up the posts of Deputy Directors and General Managers by promotion without providing for proportionate quota to the category of project managers.

The petitioners have stated that the department was discriminating against them in matter of further promotions. Quoting rules, they said that 65 per cent of the posts are to be filled up by functional managers, assistant directors, assistant director (data), assistant controller of stores etc, whereas the remaining 35 per cent are to be filled up from amongst the project managers.

During hearing, counsel for the petitioners submitted that no person from outside had been appointed to the posts of assistant director, assistant director (data), assistant controller of stores, etc and these posts were being manned by Project Managers.

Therefore, he said, there was no justification to club the said posts with the category of functional managers and thereby give them 65 per cent of total posts to be filled by promotion.

After hearing counsel, the Division Bench of Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice S.D. Anand issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and other respondents. The Bench also ordered that promotions, if any, made by the department will be subject to the decision of the writ.

Stay lifted

The high court on Tuesday lifted the stay ordered by it on the decision of the Punjab Government to abolish octroi in the state in so far as the Municipal Council, Dhuri, was concerned.

The court also adjourned the matter sine die as was done in two other writs some days ago by another Bench to await the decision of the Supreme Court in a similar matter.

Resuming the hearing on the petition filed by Mr Gurdev Singh and others, who had been granted the contract to collect octroi on behalf of Municipal Committee, Dhuri, the Bench adjourned the matter.

In their petition, Mr Gurdev Singh and others have stated that they had been awarded the contract till May 11, 2007, and the action of the Punjab Government in abolishing octroi was highly arbitrary and illegal as it amounted to interference in the working of the civic bodies, which are autonomous.

Counsel for the petitioners had informed the court that earlier also in 2001, the Punjab Government had abolished octroi. However, the order was struck down by a Division Bench of the high court on various grounds, following the state government moved the Supreme Court.

He had also stated that even though the government has set up the Municipal Fund for compensating the civic bodies for loss in revenue suffered by them due to abolition of octroi, there is reason to believe that the cash crunch will not allow the government to make good its promise. He had also asserted that the decision of the government would weaken the municipalities.


63-year-old gets life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 5
Mr S.K. Goel, Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ), Sangrur, has awarded life imprisonment to Jagdev Singh (63), of Banbhauri village (Dhuri), in a murder case registered at Dhuri police station on September 29, 2001. Jagdev Singh has also been ordered to pay Rs 5000 as fine and in default of fine he shall further undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for three months under Section 302 of the IPC.

In this case the ASJ has also awarded RI for one year each under Section 323 of the IPC to Pritam Singh and Ajaib Singh. The ASJ has also awarded RI for two years each under Section 324 of the IPC to Baljinder Singh and Ranjit Singh, all residents of Banbhauri village.

The FIR was registered against the accused in connection with the murder of Jora Singh and injuries to Surinder Kaur, Bharpur Singh and Paramjit Singh on September 28, 2001 in the area of Banbhauri village. As per facts of the case of prosecution Jora Singh, Paramjit Singh, Bharpur Singh and Surinder Kaur were admitted to the hospital at Dhuri in injured condition. Injured Jora Singh was referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, where he died on September 29, 2001.


Sukhbir told to join probe

Faridkot, September 5
A local court today directed the Akali Rajya Sabha member Sukhbir Singh Badal to join the police investigations into the case of assault registered against him at the Kotkapura police station in the district.

A case against Mr Badal was registered at the Kotkapura police station as he had allegedly beaten up a photo journalist during the 2002 state Assembly elections campaign.

As per the court orders, Mr Badal has been asked to be present at the Kotkapura police station tomorrow from 10 am to 1 pm.

The court has adjourned the hearing to September 14. Mr Badal is on bail in the case. — UNI


Medical Officer suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
Dr Darshanjit Singh Walia, Medical Officer at the Community Health Centre, Model Town, was placed under suspension by the state health authorities following allegations of misbehaviour by a woman patient.

Dr V.S. Mohi, Civil Surgeon, said Dr Walia had been suspended and an inquiry was going on. Dr Puran Chand Goyal, SMO, was conducting the inquiry.

The patient along with her kin had lodged a protest after Dr Walia allegedly misbehaved with her. They also complained to senior officials.


Another Pathankot councillor booked
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 5
Another Pathankot Municipal Councillor, Mr Manjit Singh, was booked yesterday for threatening Mr Raj Kumar, a Section Officer of the council.

Mr Raj Kumar, in his compliant to the police, alleged that he was passing through the market when the accused councillor stopped him. He inquired about the contractor who was carrying out the concreting flooring work in the ward. He told him that the work was being carried out by the improvement trust and not by the municipal council.

However, the councillor starting abusing him and threatened to kill him alleging that the poor quality work was being carried in the streets.

Mr Raj Kumar lodged a complaint with police after which a case under Sections 186, 294, 353, 506 and 341 of the IPC was registered against the councillor. The employees of the council held a rally in protest against the manhandling by the councillors.

They alleged that the councillors were misbehaving with them as the police was not arresting them.

The employee criticised the move of handing over development works in their area to the trust. The trust was carrying out poor quality work and they are drawing the flak for it they alleged.

Meanwhile a group of councillor close the local MLA also organised a protest rally on Monday. They alleged that most of the works being carried out in the city were of poor quality. They levelled charges of corruption against the municipal authorities. 


Mumbai man poisoned, says police
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
The person, who was found dead in the room of a hotel here on Monday was killed after administering poison. The poison was administered through intravenous injection on his right arm, said a police official.

Anurag (35) of Mumbai came to Amritsar on Sunday along with Rajender Singh. He booked a room in a hotel in Civil Lines area. Next morning, the guards of the hotel got suspicious after no one opened the door even after repeated knocking.

Immediately, the manager of the hotel was informed, who informed the Civil Lines police station that broke open the door and found the body of Anurag lying on the bed. The body was sent a post mortem examination and its report is awaited, said the police. “We have sent the samples for viscera report to Patiala. The complete information about the cause of the murder could be ascertained after the viscera report,” said the police official.


Abducted baby found abandoned
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 5
The 10-month-old baby, abducted from Shahpur village on September 2, was found abandoned at a tomb in Sunam, 13 km from here, last night.

The police found him while it was searching deras and tombs, apprehending that the infant might have been abducted for child sacrifice.

Three suspects, including a waiter, were taken into custody in a bid to solve the case, this being the first instance of such a young baby having been abducted.

The police was working on the theories of ransom, personal enmity and child sacrifice.

A preliminary medical examination of the baby, Nitish Batish, son of Mr Nachhattar Sharma, was conducted.

According to the medical report, the infant was in good health, though he had been manhandled.

The police interrogated some waiters and other persons who had worked at the tent house of Mr Sharma in the past.


Husband booked in dowry case
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 5
On a complaint of a woman, the police has booked her husband and her mother-in-law for demanding dowry from her family.

According to sources, Jagmeet Kaur got married to Gurdeep Singh on February 13, 2005.

In her complaint lodged with the police, Jagmeet alleged that her in-laws demanded dowry from her family and on being denied the same they threw her out of their house.

She alleged that her in-laws had taken goods worth Rs 4.5 lakh as dowry at the time of her marriage apart from Rs 2 lakh in cash for buying a car. She alleged that she was often beaten up for more dowry.

A case has been registered against her husband and mother-in-law under Sections 498A, 406 and 313 of the IPC.


Teachers’ Day celebrated
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, September 5
Mr Ajit Singh of the Citizen Forum, Vidya Mandir School, Maqboolpura, was honoured by the Springdale Public School at a function ofganised to celebrate Teachers’ Day here today.

He was invited as the chief guest and was given a cheque for Rs 50,000 by the managing committee of the school.

A similar function was organised at the DAV International School, where 300 students were awarded prizes for excelling in academics and co-curricular activities.

Scholarships worth Rs 15,000, track suits, prizes and uniforms were distributed.

Teachers’ Day was also celebrated at the SR Government College for Women, where cultural items, were presented.

The day was also celebrated at the Sri Guru Harkrishan Senior Secondary Public School, where the managing committee honoured four teachers of the school — Ms Parveen Kaur, Ms Satinder Mukhni, Ms Kiranjot Kaur and Ms Manjit Oberoi.

The ICFAI, Amritsar branch, and the Shezada Nand College for Girls also celebrated Teachers’ Day.

At least 100 students participated in a slogan-writing competition.

NAWANSHAHR: Rich tributes were paid to Dr S. Radhakrishan at a Teachers’ Day function at the Government Senior Secondary School, here on Tuesday.

Seven teachers — Mr Kashmiri Lal, Mr Daljit Singh, Mr Hem Raj, Mr Kuldip Singh, Mr Krishan Dev, Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Karnail Singh — were honoured on Tuesday.


Blood donation marks Teachers’ Day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
On the occasion of Teachers’ Day a blood donation camp was organised at M.M.Modi College here today in which nearly a 100 volunteers and cadets donated blood. The camp was inaugurated by Prof S.B Mangla. The donors were given certificates and mementos.

Paying tributes to Dr S. Radhakrishnan on his birthday, students of Government Bikram College of Commerce celebrated Teachers’ Day with fervor and enthusiasm. The college organised a teachers’ message contest in which students who participated were given prizes.

Punjab College of Education, Raipur, Patiala, also celebrated the occasion with enthusiasm. The students presented a colourful programme. Principal . R.S.Tiwana highlighted the contribution of teachers.

The staff and students of Lucky Modern High School also celebrated the day. 


PSHRC takes note of fainting of students
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has taken a serious note of fainting of 12 schoolchildren during rehearsal for Independence Day function at local stadium on August 11.

As per a release issued by the city-based Punjab Human Rights Committee, the PSHRC chairperson has asked the ADGP (Intelligence) to submit his report to the commission in this regard.

On August 11, 12 schoolchildren belonging to St Joseph Convent School and Police Public School had fainted during rehearsal due to heat and lack of drinking water arrangements at the stadium.


SBoP loan mela
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
A loan mela was organised by the State Bank of Patiala, Bhattiwal Kalan branch, near here today.

Mr C.S.Jagadish, deputy general manager of Patiala zone, and Mr Vinod Kochhar, assistant general manager of the bank deliberated upon various schemes of agricultural and personal segments.

The function was attended by sarpanches and panches of seven villages and loans amounting to Rs 1.30 crore were disbursed.


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