155-year-old heritage school building faces demolition
Amritsar, October 26
What is worse, the school is being shifted to the new building on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road which houses the 220 lakh high grid pylon tower that poses a great danger to lives of students. The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the high- powered committee, constituted by the Education Department has already opposed the shifting of students to the new building, constructed at a cost of Rs 2 crore.
However, the state government is determined to shift the students in the mid-term session by ignoring the recommendations of the expert committees.
The PSEB also mentioned that no building could be constructed near the power grid since it could play havoc in case of a calamity. The Additional SE-cum-Sub Divisional Electrical Officer, in his report has clearly reported to his higher authorities that another 132 KV grid was also installed near the new school building. He also reported that it was practically difficult to shift the grids.
He also expressed surprise over the construction of the building while the 132 grid station was very old. He said construction of the building that houses 220 lakh high grid pylon tower was in violation of the PSEB rules, 1956. Dr Krishan Thakur, a resident of Amritsar who has been fighting a battle against the proposed demolition of the 155-year-old building, said the state government would be held responsible if any mishap occurred in the new building which did not follow the rules prescribed by PSEB.
He alleged that there was apprehension of electrocution of students and staff due to existence of the power grid in the school complex. He said the Education Department would be held responsible for any such mishap if the school was shifted without removing the power grid as recommended by officials of the PSEB and Education Department.
The high-powered education committee comprising Mr DPS Dhillon, Mr Mohan Singh and Mr Satwant Singh Gill, DEO (Secondary), Jalandhar, DEO (senior secondary schools), Amritsar and the Special Executive Officer, DPI (Schools) respectively, pointed out 17 discrepancies in the building, including lack of sewer facilities, laboratories and existence of power grids. Despite this, the state government has ordered shifting of the school immediately.
The 155-year-old majestic school building (Town Hall) which was the first school constructed in the state by the British Government after annexation of Punjab, is the place from where the Singh Sabha Movement originated.
The school has produced eminent scholars like Bhai Vir Singh who is described as the sixth river of the state.
The local administration has decided to shift the school so that traffic congestion around the Golden Temple could be eased.
The proposed multi-crore parking complex is part of the proposed elevated road from GT Road to the Golden Temple.
Mr Brij Bedi, convener of Citizens' Forum, wondered whether heritage could be destroyed for the sake of parking of vehicles.
The Saragarhi memorial school has 800 students on its rolls who come from poor families. It is the only government school for boys in the walled city.
BSNL first time increases mobile subscriber base
Chandigarh, October 26
Top officials in the BSNL, Punjab Circle, informed TNS that during the past two months (August to October), the subscriber base had increased from 4,37, 053 to 5. 43 lakh. For the past more than a year, the subscriber base of the telecom behemoth had been declining rapidly.
From 4. 38 lakh subscribers in July, 2005, BSNL subscribers dwindled to 3. 83 lakh in June, 2006. Figures available from the Cellular Operators Association of India reveal that though the BSNL lost the maximum mobile subscribers from July to December 2005 (52,000 subscribers), it lost another 3000 subscribers in the first six months of the year.
In fact, Punjab was the only circle (in B category) where the BSNL was unable to hold on to its subscriber base. Though the telecom major is doing well in the other B circles like Haryana, Rajasthan, yet it had the lowest number of subscribers in Punjab. This inspite of the fact that Punjab has the highest tele density in the country.
“But by launching aggressive marketing strategies and removing glitches in the distribution network by building its infrastructure, we have managed to reverse the trend,” said the Principal General Manager, Telecom, Punjab Circle, Mr S K Aggarwal.
He added that they had introduced competitive pricing for their mobile customers last week, wherein BSNL was offering full talk time on Rs 500 recharge coupons and talk time worth Rs 2200 on a Rs 2000 recharge coupon.
In order to catch Punjab Government employees, the BSNL has introduced a new scheme in post paid connections, where on a Rs 500 monthly rental, usage of 150 calls are offered free , besides free roaming , sms and free calls amongst all Punjab Government employees, who have opted for the BSNL connections.
“We will be setting up 400 additional BTS towers.
Since March, we have added 240 additional towers, taking the total number to 1316. Our network already covers villages and towns where population is over 5000, but by March, 2007, we will be covering all villages/ towns having a population of 2000.
Since the telecom company’s subscriber strength was based in these areas, there was more emphasis on improving infrastructure here,” said Mr Aggarwal.
As of now, the capacity of connections in the Punjab Circle is 13. 8 lakh, and it will enhance this capacity to 29. 4 lakh by March next year. “We have successfully tested the 3G equipment in Punjab, as the spectrum had been allocated to us.
As soon as the differences between the BSNL and other private telecom players are sorted out, we will be able to start this service here,” said Mr Aggarwal.
Johar orders probe into felling of khair trees
Ropar, October 26
Acting on a complaint by in this regard by a local MLA, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Mr Johar directed the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Ms Bhavna Garg, to look into the matter and submit a report soon.
During a meeting of the committee here an MLA from Anandpur Sahib, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, had pointed out that a large number of khair trees were being axed in Dhimana in Nurpurbedi and also in Kiratpur Sahib along the border of Himachal Pardesh by a well organised mafia. He said the cutting of khair trees had already caused severe damage to the environment of the area. He urged that a high-level probe in the matter would help in bringing members of the mafia, involved in the illegal cutting of the trees, to book.
Taking up the complaint of the farmers that they had suffered maize crop failure due to the supply of poor seeds, Mr Johar directed Markfed officials to provide appropriate compensation to the affected farmers.
The survey conducted by the administration in the affected areas revealed that about 4,000 hectare area under maize crop had suffered damage due to the poor quality of seeds supplied by Markfed.
Reviewing development works, Mr Johar, said in the second phase of the Punjab Nirman Scheme, a sum of Rs 14.32 crore had been granted to Ropar to complete various development works in rural and urban areas. Regarding the long-pending demand of the residents of Ropar to construct a new bridge in place of more than 100-year-old bridge that was the main link to the city, Mr Johar said he had discussed the matter with the Chief Minister and would be able to get the project for new bridge sanctioned soon.
Member Parliament Sukhdev Singh Libra, MLA Chamkaur Sahib, Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar, SSP Kapil Dev, Chairman Zila Parishad Kuldeep Kaur were among those present on the occasion.
Probe into fraud by two PSEB officials begins
Sangrur, October 26
After the detection of the alleged fraud on the PSEB and a consumer at the Badrukhan subdivision (distribution), the PSEB authorities suspended both employees on October 24 on account of negligence in duty.
Sources in the PSEB said today that the suspended employees might be reinstated anytime as there was pressure from some quarters on the authorities in this regard.
Talking over the telephone this afternoon, Mr H.S. Nagpal, Deputy Chief Engineer, said the authorities had started investigations into the matter to ascertain whether the employees had committed any other fraud on the PSEB or consumers in the Badrukhan subdivision.
He said after receiving recommendations, if these were in favour of the employees suspended, from the investigating authorities, the employees would be reinstated.
He also said after reinstatement, the employees suspended would be shifted to other divisions of the circle.
Badal blames CM for violence in rally
Abohar, October 26
Mr Badal today said his workers and the SGPC task force had prior information that Mr Mann and his supporters would create disturbance during the rally. The police was informed on Tuesday morning and they were assured that no miscreant would be allowed in. But later in the evening the police officials reportedly said that they were helpless upon getting message from Chandigarh to not prevent Mr Mann and his supporters from infiltrating in to the rally.
Mr Badal was here to address a dozen meetings in the villages falling in the Balluana assembly constituency, two days ahead of the visit of the Chief Minister. The SAD (B) supremo during an interaction at Burjmuhar village on the outskirts of this subdivisional town this morning said the SAD (A) and other small groups were free to express their views but for that they should organise separate rallies.
He alleged such factions were playing into the hands of the royal family of Patiala. They neither had a substantial following among the Sikhs nor a constructive plan to put forth. The SAD (B) and SGPC workers would thwart any similar attempt in the future also, he warned.
Earlier, addressing a well-attended meeting in the village, Mr Badal said he had toured the constituency thrice in the past four years, but the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, having postponed the road show due internal organisational bickering, opted to visit Balluana to inaugurate the water works that had been functioning for one year. The Chief Minister who had deprived the farmers of benefits amounting to Rs 2500 crore annually in contravention of the election manifesto of his own political party, could not fool millions of people by offering a few election sops when only a month was left in enforcing the Code of Conduct for the coming Assembly elections, he said.
Speaking on the rise in prices of essential commodities during the Congress rule, Mr Badal said the daily wage earners could not afford to arrange flour, pulses and sugar for their needs. Farmers were crying over acquisition of land for handing over the same on subsidised price to multi-national investors.
Unemployed teachers and employees were being subjected to lathicharge every week in the state. It was shameful for the Congress, which had been in power for decades, that people cried for basic amenities guaranteed by the Constitution even after 60 years of Independence. He was surprised to find that rural folk in this region were still without upgraded schools, drinking water system, roads, dispensaries and other facilities. He exhorted the electorate to reject the Congress in the next elections.
He offered siropas to some Congress workers on joining the SAD (B). Dr Pritam Singh Sidhu, former college principal, welcomed Mr Badal on behalf of the village. Mr Badal assured them that he would accept the demands listed in the memorandum presented by the panchayat if given the mandate to form the next government.
Mr Gurtej Singh Ghuriana, Dr Ram Kumar Goyal former MLAs of the SAD and BJP respectively and Jathedar Kaur Singh circle president of the party also addressed the gathering. Women too were present in strength.
Bajwa blames Badal for Kathunangal violence
Hoshiarpur, October 26
He said instead of inviting Sikhs and Punjabi scholars from the country and abroad at the function, Mr Badal had invited and honoured Mr Om Prakash Chautala, former Chief Minister of Haryana and persons like Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu.
He said the formation of the SGPC had been done 80 years ago after the liberation of gurdwaras from the control of Mahants. He alleged Mr Badal was considering the SGPC as his fief and hand trying to it over to Mahants which would not be allowed by Sikh masses. The task force in the SGPC was formed only by Mr Badal to use it against his opponents.
He questioned whether honour of Dastar (turban) was done by throwing it from heads and pulling beards. Jathedars should perform their duty honestly. If they failed in performing their duty, Sikh masses would not forgive them.
He said whenever Mr Badal failed in his mission, he always levelled charges against the Congress and held it responsible for his failure.
He warned Mr Badal stop if he did not unnecessary criticism of the Congress, workers of it would give him a befitting reply.
He appealed to Sikh intellectuals of the country and abroad to come forward to check the misdeeds of Mr Badal who was trying to convert the SGPC into a limited company.
Mr Bajwa said the Golden Temple, Amritsar and other Sikh gurdwaras were not the property of any individual. People of any political party had the right to pay obeisance there.
Amritsar, October 26
The Sikh clergy condemned Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and his associates, and held them responsible for the clash at Kathunangal. The Sikh high priests, including the Jathedars of Akal Takht, Patna Sahib, Anandpur Sahib and Damdama Sahib and the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple, alleged that Mr Mann and his associates indulged in ‘hooliganism’ and ‘disrupted the peaceful’ 500th birth centenary functions of Baba Budhaji.
Meanwhile, rival Akali factions have convened an emergency meeting at Fatehgarh tomorrow to chalk out the strategy for taking the next course of action following the clash at Kathunangal. The meeting is likely to be attended by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, veteran SGPC member, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, president, SAD (Longowal), Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, SAD, New Delhi, and Mr Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary, Dal Khalsa .
Meanwhile, the Majitha police is likely to book senior Akali leaders after screening the video clippings of the clash. Mr Gautam Cheema, district police chief of Majitha, said though the police had already identified some senior leaders there was need to screen the footage before registering cases.
It is learnt that during the meeting with the Jathedar of Akal Takht, the SGPC chief tried to put pressure on him to take the extreme step against Mr Mann and his associates following the clash.
In separate statements, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Kanwarpal Singh condemned yesterday’s incident in which Mr Mann and his party members were allegedly attacked.
BJP MP performs puja at Kathlaur bridge
Kathlaur (Gurdaspur), October 26
Mr Vinod Khanna, BJP MP from the area and former BJP minister Mohan Lal reached the Kathlaur bridge today afternoon with hundreds of party workers. A large number of Punjab policemen cordoned off the inauguration stone unveiled by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday at the bridge. The police was there to prevent the BJP workers from coming near the stone. BJP workers yesterday announced to wash the stone unveiled by the Chief Minister with Ganga water to purify it. However, due to strong police presence they had to remain content with performing puja and sprinkling of holy water at the bridge. After performing puja Mr Khanna addressed a rally near the bridge. Speaking on the occasion Mr Khanna said the plan for the bridge was passed by the SAD-BJP regime. He got released Rs 2 crore from the Planning Commission for getting a study for the bridge constructed.
The Congress government might have carried out the construction of the bridge but it was conceived and planned by the NDA government at the Centre and the SDA-BJP government in the state.
During my first election from the constituency I had promised to get constructed the Mukerian and Kathlaur bridges. Both bridges now have been constructed. The airport constructed due to his efforts would also be functional next month. Regular flights would start from the airport by the middle of November. Due to the works carried by him the Congress now had started carrying our development works in the area, Mr Khanna said.
Mohan Lal former BJP minister flayed the Congress leaders for not inviting Mr Khanna for the inauguration of the bridge. Congress leaders ignored Mr Khanna despite the fact that the bridge had become reality due to his efforts.
Mr Satpal Singh, a former BJP minister, was among others who addressed the today’s rally. About 100 BSP workers also organised an Akhand Path near the bridge. They also inaugurated the bridge by cutting a ribbon.
Congress workers clash
Tarn Taran, October 26 Deputy Speaker Darbari Lal, PPCC general secretary M.M. Singh Cheema and PPCC member Tripata Mehra were among those who came to give the party programme. As soon as the senior leaders arrived, a group of party workers started raising slogans against Mr Shahbazpuri for allegedly ignoring them. Supporters of Mr Shahbazpuri started raising slogans in his favour and the situation became tense after the scuffle.
Tarn Taran, October 26
Deputy Speaker Darbari Lal, PPCC general secretary M.M. Singh Cheema and PPCC member Tripata Mehra were among those who came to give the party programme.
As soon as the senior leaders arrived, a group of party workers started raising slogans against Mr Shahbazpuri for allegedly ignoring them.
Supporters of Mr Shahbazpuri started raising slogans in his favour and the situation became tense after the scuffle.
Dullo denies differences with Amarinder
Ropar, October 26 Commenting on the Chief Minister's much hyped road show, Mr Dullo said, “It is not appropriate to call it a road show it would be a “Jan Sampark Abhiyan.” He was taking to the Press after attending the bhog ceremony of founder of the BSP, Kanshi Ram, at Khawaspura village here. Denying differences with the Chief Minister in connection with the road show, he said once his scheduled interaction with Congress workers of all districts was over, thereafter he along with Capt Amarinder Singh, would start the mass contact programme. He said the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, would be coming to the state in November, but the dates had not been finalised as yet. The Prime Minister is likely to announce a package for the deprived farmers of the state during his visit.
Ropar, October 26
Commenting on the Chief Minister's much hyped road show, Mr Dullo said, “It is not appropriate to call it a road show it would be a “Jan Sampark Abhiyan.”
He was taking to the Press after attending the bhog ceremony of founder of the BSP, Kanshi Ram, at Khawaspura village here.
Denying differences with the Chief Minister in connection with the road show, he said once his scheduled interaction with Congress workers of all districts was over, thereafter he along with Capt Amarinder Singh, would start the mass contact programme.
He said the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, would be coming to the state in November, but the dates had not been finalised as yet.
The Prime Minister is likely to announce a package for the deprived farmers of the state during his visit.
CM to give ‘befitting’ political reply to SAD
Chandigarh, October 26
Sources said Capt Amarinder Singh had instructed his party MLAs and Ministers to ensure a gathering of between three and five lakh Congress supporters for the proposed rally. Capt Amarinder Singh will also mobilise Congress workers by launching a “ road show” on November 8. Before that he will also address the “ Jan Sampark” rallies along with the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo.
Capt Amarinder Singh said here today that Mr Dullo would join the “road show”. Though it is not confirmed officially, sources said that Mrs Sonia Gandhi might also be requested to address the Ludhiana rally. Capt Amarinder Singh said Mrs Gandhi would visit Punjab in the last week of November. However, the sources said as the rally would mark the launching of the election campaign in the state, requesting Mrs Gandhi to address the same would be an appropriate step.
Capt Amarinder Singh is visiting Delhi for two days at the end of this month. He is expected to meet the Prime Minister and Mrs Gandhi during the Delhi visit, it is learnt. Though officially it is being asserted that the state government has not sought any package from the Union Government and the Prime Minister, the truth is that its top brass is in touch with the authorities concerned at the Centre on this issue.
Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh, speaking to mediapersons here, said he had nothing to do with the clash between supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal(Amritsar) and the Shiromani Akali Dal ( Badal). “Both Mr Mann and Mr Parkash Singh Badal have been blaming me for their quarrel”, he added. He said that leaders like Mr Badal had stopped giving due respect to religious places and personalities.
He said first phase of the proposed “road show” would now commence from Nangal via Anandpur Sahib to Talwandi Sabo on Guru Gobind Singh Marg. He said he would cover 5,700 km in 38 days during the “road show”.
Badal flayed for attack on Mann
Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
He said had the Jathedar, Akal Takht, and SGPC acted in impartial and fair manner and introduced a code of conduct, such an ugly incident could have been averted.
He alleged that both SGPC chief and Jathedar, Akal Takht, were working as puppets in the hands of Mr Badal and by doing so they were pushing the Sikh community towards “domestic quarrel” and if it started it would have no end and the entire responsibility would be of Mr Badal and his supporters.
He said he would make sincere efforts to unite all panthic organisations, institutions, parties and all those who believe in Sikh principles.
He criticised the police for becoming a silent spectator to the incident. He said as the Punjab Chief Minister gave a clean chit to the police immediately after they beat unemployed women and other employees, similarly the Jathedar, Akal Takht, gave clean chit to Mr Badal and his men.
Mr Harminder Singh Harji, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli and Mr Lakhbir Singh Sondha also addressed the press.
Badal will pay a heavy price for attack, says Mann
Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
Hectic activity could be witnessed at the residence of Mr Mann. Mr Mann who was taking rest was however, in high spirits and narrated the details of the incident at Kathunangal to everyone.
His son Iman Singh Mann, who saved his father by lying over him and also suffered injuries on his left hand and back, was attending to the party workers and leaders who came to inquire about the health of Mr Mann.
While talking to The Tribune Mr Mann urged the media to highlight the hooliganism committed by SAD (B) leaders and workers on peaceful SAD (A) workers at the behest of Sukhbir Badal and Parkash Singh Badal. He said, “A good hunter always shoots to kill a lion but if he wounds it then, it is capable of destroying that hunter. Similarly, I was within the shooting range of Badal but he never followed this golden rule, so it would cost him dearly”.
He also criticised Sucha Singh Langah, Bikramjit Singh Majithia, Rattan Singh Ajnala, Bonny Ajnala his son, Rajinder Singh Mehta and Virsa Singh Valthoa, one time close aide of Sant Bhindranwale. He said these leaders were the main ‘‘commanders’’ of the anti-social elements who attacked SAD (A) leaders and workers. He said circle Jathedar of SAD (A) had suffered a fracture in the skull and hundreds others had sustained injuries.
Mr Mann said he would neither make a complaint to Jathedar Akal Takht nor get an FIR registered as both the state government and Badal were hand in glove. ‘‘They lodged FIR against Badal men in Ludhiana incident but nothing has happened till today . No arrest, so what is the use of making a complaint when you won’t get justice’’.
The District Jatha of SAD (A) criticised the incident in its meeting and demanded action against Mr Badal and his men. They also condemned Jathedar Akal Takht for his partisan role.
Badal seeks deployment of paramilitary forces for MC poll
Patiala, October 26 Mr Badal, who visited the Jodian Bhattian area of the town late last evening to support Mr Anil Bajaj, SAD-BJP candidate for the MC election, while addressing a gathering said the ruling Congress may try ‘some game’ as Ward number 32 included the area where Mayor Vishnu Sharma lived. While issuing a warning to those police and other officials who would support the Congress candidate by facilitating booth capturing and instigating violence, Mr Badal urged the people to fight against violence. He added that it was also the responsibility of the Election Commission to create a conducive atmosphere in the ward by making foolproof security arrangements so that people are able to cast their votes without any fear. He said people were fed up with the misdeeds of Capt Amarinder Singh government and were making efforts to get rid of the anti-people rule in which a handful of people had been allowed to loot the state. He said while on one hand the people were being looted by agents of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the other the state government had failed to give employment to youths in the state. He added that state government had become frustrated after coming to know that it would be defeated badly in the forthcoming Assembly elections and hence it had started terrorising the people. He appealed to the people to vote for the SAD-BJP candidate.
Patiala, October 26
Mr Badal, who visited the Jodian Bhattian area of the town late last evening to support Mr Anil Bajaj, SAD-BJP candidate for the MC election, while addressing a gathering said the ruling Congress may try ‘some game’ as Ward number 32 included the area where Mayor Vishnu Sharma lived.
While issuing a warning to those police and other officials who would support the Congress candidate by facilitating booth capturing and instigating violence, Mr Badal urged the people to fight against violence.
He added that it was also the responsibility of the Election Commission to create a conducive atmosphere in the ward by making foolproof security arrangements so that people are able to cast their votes without any fear.
He said people were fed up with the misdeeds of Capt Amarinder Singh government and were making efforts to get rid of the anti-people rule in which a handful of people had been allowed to loot the state.
He said while on one hand the people were being looted by agents of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the other the state government had failed to give employment to youths in the state. He added that state government had become frustrated after coming to know that it would be defeated badly in the forthcoming Assembly elections and hence it had started terrorising the people.
He appealed to the people to vote for the SAD-BJP candidate.