P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


River Waters
Bhattal corners Badal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Congress led by Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today cornered Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during zero hour in the Punjab assembly on the river waters issue, especially on the stand taken by the state government in the Supreme Court yesterday with regard to section 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.

Bhattal urged Badal to issue a clarification on what made his government back out in the Supreme Court from his promise to the people of the state that section 5 of the agreements act would be scrapped. She said the SAD-BJP had secured a mandate by promising to do away with section 5 and it could not run away from that promise. She said Badal should either clarify his position in the house or resign because the stand taken by his government in the Supreme Court amounted to sacrificing the interests of the people of the state.

Not satisfied with the reply and statement made by Badal on the issue, Bhattal walked out of the house along with the other Congress MLAs. Along with the river waters, the other issue raised by her was the grounds on which a case had been registered against Amarinder Singh and the former Punjab Congress chief, H.S. Hanspal.

Yesterday, the Punjab government had taken a diametrically opposite stand to that of Badal’s frequent assertions that he would remove section 5, under which the existing use of water by the neighbouring states has been protected, from the agreements act. Senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for the Punjab government, had told the Supreme Court: “ We stand by section 5 that all agreements in terms of this will be honoured”. Dhawan had also stated in the court that Badal did not make any statement at a press conference on March 3 with regard to the scrapping of section 5.

Badal said he had checked with his advocate-general and the advocate concerned in this regard. “ No application has been given in this regard in the court”, he said. He read out his statement on the issue in the house.

The statement was: “ I have asked the advocate-general to consult leading legal and constitutional experts of the country to take all legal steps in the matter, including challenging section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. I have also asked the advocate-general to examine the present legal validity of the MoU of Punjab, known as the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, especially in view of the fact that it had already been violated by the Congress government at the Centre by not transferring Chandigarh to Punjab on January 26, 1986. The issue of abrogating section 5 of the agreements act has also been referred to the advocate- general for exploring all legal options available to the state. This has been done because the matter is already pending before the Supreme Court.”

However, not convinced with the answer, Bhattal asked whether he would probe how such an important statement was made before the Supreme Court without his permission. She wanted to know who filed the application in the court, if his government had not done so. “ You give me a clear reply to what I have asked”, she told Badal.

However, Badal tried to pacify the opposition by announcing that it was Punjab’s water and he would stick to the stand taken by him on all issues concerning river waters. He said the case in the Supreme Court was not related to river waters but with regard to the digging of the SYL canal. He said he would take the opposition into confidence on the issues related to river waters. He blamed the Congress for passing section 5 in the house. “ Punjab’s waters are safe in my hands”, he said.


Vote on account passed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 2007, was passed today by the Punjab assembly authorising the payment and appropriation of Rs 6945.53 crore from and out of the consolidated fund of the state government for three months, that is up to June 30.

Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who moved the bill in the house, said the regular budget would be presented in the house in June. While presenting the bill, Manpreet Badal said that to save Punjab from further decline on the fiscal front, there was an immediate need to stop what he called the political tug of war on the state’s economy. “ I will consult the leader of the opposition and others concerned while preparing the state budget. I am for political consensus on the state’s policy direction for years to come”, he said, adding that at the moment Punjab was behind even those states that were considered the most backward a few years ago. “ All MLAs and ministers should come together to take Punjab ahead”, he added. Punjab was in the “maximum danger” stage, he said. He quoted from speeches of various prominent politicians of the USA and other parts of the world to hammer home his point. He interspersed his speech with couplets from Urdu and Punjabi poetry.

“ We have reached a stage from which Punjab can become either Japan or Afghanistan”, he said. From a leading state, Punjab was now, growthwise, an average state.

Haryana was growing at the rate of 12 per cent and Himachal Pradesh at 7.5 per cent whereas Punjab’s growth rate was only a little over 5 per cent. Even trouble- torn J and K was doing better than Punjab. That was less than even the national average, he added. “ If the present scenario on the economic front continues, Punjab will be left behind a Union Territory like Andaman and Nicobar during the 11th plan as far as growth is concerned”, he added. In the next four years, Punjab would slide down to the 7th place in the country as far as its economy was concerned, he added.

He said the economic decline of Punjab would affect its culture, confidence and pride. Punjab’s decline on the growth front started in 1980. He said the union government should realise that Punjab’s progress would be in the national interest and it should be helped to move ahead.


BJP made Badal change stand: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said today Badal had always played a double game on the river waters issue and he did not answer what was asked from him in the House today. Earlier Badal and his associates were saying that they would scrap Section 5 now they had changed the stand under pressure from the BJP, she said at a press conference.

“Ehna de kathni te karni vich farak (there is lot of difference in what they say and what they do)”, she said. “Kursi (chair) is more dear to them than that of interest of Punjab”, she asserted. She said Badal continued to beat around the bush instead of giving a clear reply with regard to the stand taken by the state government on Section 5 in the Supreme Court yesterday. And in his reply on the Governor’s address yesterday, Badal did not refer to the scraping of Section of 5 of the Abrogation of River Waters Agreements Act even once.


HC notice to Centre on NRI-abandoned women
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for July 12 on a PIL seeking directions to the government of India to protect the interests of 15,000-odd women living in Punjab after having been deserted by their NRI-husbands.

The petitioner, Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer H.C. Arora, has referred to news reports in The Tribune of August 26 last, in which it was reported that about 15,000 women were residing in various parts of Punjab after having been deserted by their NRI-husbands. The report had also talked of how NRI husbands had used fraudulent means to first get married to Punjabi women and then fleeing after deserting their wives. The petitioner has stated that in most cases, the culprit husbands go unpunished.

Arora also stated that he had submitted many representations to top government of India functionaries, including the Prime Minister and the home minister, seeking action to check such practice. But no response came from the functionaries.

He has also stated that in September 2004, the National Commission for Women (NCW) had recommended to the Ministry of External Affairs to sign bilateral agreements with countries having sizeable population of persons of Indian origin to facilitate recognition and enforcement of foreign divorce decrees, maintenance orders, child custody and other foreign orders.

The NCW had also recommended compulsory registration of all marriages in which one of the partner is NRI, creation of a government agency for registration of NRI marriages, scrapping the dual citizenship of defaulting NRI spouses, etc. But, no action was taken by the government.

The PIL also refers to the report of a Parliamentary panel, which was tabled in the House on March 18. The report has also recommended that registration of NRI marriages be made compulsory. It has also recommended that in view of rising incidence of failed and fraudulent marriages of Indian women with NRIs, all such marriages be compulsorily registered in India by amending the Hindu Marriage Act which should provide for divorce proceedings only in the court in whose jurisdiction the marriage had been solemnised or registered.

Today, after preliminary hearing, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla issued notice for July 12.


Separate gurdwara panel
Sikh conclave’s ultimatum to Haryana
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
The Sikh conclave held in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) complex here today served 15-day ultimatum on the Haryana government asking it to desist from going for separate gurdwara committee in the state as promised in the Congress manifesto before the assembly elections in Haryana.

The conclave presided over by SGPC chief Avtar Singh resolved unanimously to stop the formation of separate committee, by holding peaceful agitation. Heads of various Nihang and other Sikh organisations described the move of the Haryana government as “anti-Sikh”, illegal and a violation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, passed by Parliament of the country.

The conclave decided to launch peaceful struggle from Kurukshetra (Haryana) after the ultimatum, if the Congress government in Haryana went ahead with the move on separate committee. Describing the move “deep-rooted conspiracy” and politically motivated., the conclave said the Sikh Panth won’t tolerate any move, aimed at causing harm to the SGPC.

The Sikh organisations alleged the move was aimed at creating division in the Sikh Panth. The conclave resolved if Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress, failed to direct the Haryana government from “interfering in the internal affairs” of the Sikhs they would be forced to plan next course of action.

Later, talking to media persons, SGPC chief said there were more than 13 lakh Sikhs in Haryana while the Haryana government arranged three lakh “fake affidavits” from Haryanavi Sikhs. The Sikh conclave also appealed to Haryana Sikhs not to play to “ill-designs” of the Congress.

On the other hand, the Sikh clergy, at a meeting at the Akal Takht secretariat accepted the plea of Jaswinder Singh Advocate he had disbanded the J&K unit of the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj which had burnt effigies of Parkash Singh Badal, President SAD, Avtar Singh, SGPC chief and other Sikh leaders on the issue of Dasam Granth.


CAG slams state govt
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
In what should be a wake-up call for Punjab, the Comptroller and Auditor-General today pointed at money-guzzling public sector undertakings that are eating into resources and also the fact that 78 per cent of all revenue was being used to pay salaries and pensions to employees besides interest payments on debts.

The CAG report released today warns the state that the continuous borrowing of funds to meet current consumption and to service debts increased the vulnerability of the state’s finances. It goes on to say that the government failed to collect Rs 245.62 crore by way of short levy of taxes, duties, interest and penalties.

Among the glaring irregularities, the CAG says Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, had not prepared a balance sheet since 1962. Hence, the assets and liabilities are not known. The Pepsu road corporation was running buses on routes that were uneconomical and caused a loss of Rs 77 crore. By operating a one-time settlement scheme for industrialists, the Punjab state industrial development corporation accumulated a loss of Rs 49 crore. Out this, waivers of Rs 31.91 crore were made to profit- making units. The Punjab state civil supplies corporation did not present its claims to the Food Corporation of India in time and Rs 29.13 crore remained blocked.

In the period between 2001 and 2006 a sum of Rs 86.43 crore meant for the education of the Scheduled Castes was unutilised. The government could not avail itself of Rs 20 crore central assistance for scholarships for SC children. The sarv siksha abhiyan has had its own share of problems. Funds were not utilised while books worth crores of rupees could not be distributed. The state identified 39,179 students for the education guarantee scheme under which only 8,659 were actually enrolled.

In the water supply and sanitation department, government money was kept in the personal accounts of officials. A sum of Rs 80.95 crore has been embezzled or lost on account of wasteful spending. Among the main wasters were food and civil supplies -- Rs 2.12 crore; animal husbandry -- Rs 2.45 crore; and information technology -- Rs 60 lakh. The CAG has found that the animal husbandry department retained Rs 13.71 crore accruing from government receipts while the education department retained Rs 5.56 crore. The home department did not utilise a sum of Rs 35.92 crore.

The police department made an irregular expenditure of Rs 11.89 crore.

Among the public sector undertakings, the CAG says 18 working and 10 non-working PSUs have not even finalised their accounts for periods ranging from one year to 15 years. Thirteen PSUs are running into losses and the collective loss is Rs 130.78 crore. In the case of six companies the loss aggregates to more than the paid-up capital.


Girl accuses parents of ‘domestic violence’ and forcible marriage
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Twentyone-year-old Ramandeep Kaur apprehends danger to life from her own parents. After allegedly enduring torture and illegal detention at their hands, she has dragged them to the Punjab State Women’s Commission, which earlier took police help to rescue the girl from her own house in Ludhiana.

Noting that Ramandeep’s complaint against her parents falls under the purview of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, the commission today directed SSP, Ludhiana, to protect the girl from the accused, who have been trying to force her into marrying an NRI.

The commission further directed the Ludhiana police to arrange to send Ramandeep to Jalandhar, where she is pursuing the last year of her nursing training.

Her parents had forced Ramandeep out of college, threatening to “never let her study” if she refused to marry the boy of their choice. Ramandeep, for her part, wants to marry someone else.

But her parents wouldn’t let her do that unless that the boy paid Rs 8 lakh, which they spent on her nursing education.

In Chandigarh today to represent her case to the commission, Ramandeep said that her parents were smitten by the west. “They forcibly got me engaged to this boy. Now they are pressurising me for marriage.

They have even told me that I can divorce the boy but that I should marry him to earn the “US-returned” tag. That’s why they sent me to a nursing college. They had even forced my elder sister to marry an NRI.”

At the college in Jalandhar from where she was forcibly brought back, Ramandeep has some friends who informed the women’s commission about her condition. Ramandeep actually never wanted to return home to Ludhiana but her parents beat her up and took her away, her friends say.

Now the commission has directed the local police to offer protection to the girl and escort her to the college. “I have told SSP Ludhiana and the police officers concerned at Jagraon to take Ramadeep to her nursing college in Jalandhar and hand over her charge to the principal,” said Parminder Kaur. Meanwhile, the principal has also been informed of the goings-on in the case. She has been directed to shelter the girl and allow her to remain in the hostel as long as she desires. “The idea is to help a girl who has dared to take her parents to task for infringing upon her freedom.

We have stated in our order that this is a clear case of domestic violence and illegal detention.

We have also taken it in writing from the parents that they will not prevent Ramandeep from studying or from marrying the boy she wants to.”


SGPC writes to PM on PSB issue
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 29
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar has called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to disband the Board of Directors of the Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) and reconstitute the board with new directors who should be well versed with the banking system.

Reacting to the publication of a news item in The Tribune, the SGPC president has taken a strong exception to the appointment of semi-literate persons as directors of the Punjab and Sind Bank which was founded by renowned Sikh personalities, namely Bhai Vir Singh, Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia and Sardar Tarlochan Singh, in the holy city of Amritsar with a vision and noble cause of promoting and developing the economy of Punjab. The SGPC and almost all Sikh institutions and organisations are patronising this bank.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Makkar has expressed satisfaction over the appointment of R.P. Singh, an IAS officer, as managing director with whose efforts the bank, which was showing loss of Rs 72 crores on March 31,2005, has not only covered its losses, but has shown a profit of Rs 108 crore as on March 31,2006. The bank is again going to show a profit of Rs 200 crore this year. In this way, with the efforts of the chairman-cum-managing director R. P. Singh and his team of bank staff, the bank is emerging as a premier bank of the country.

Makkar has regretted that influenced by narrow party politics, the Government of India (Ministry of Finance) has appointed semi-literate directors in the bank. He has written in the letter: “ It is again shocking that the bank which was born and brought up in Punjab with maximum branches in the state and with maximum business from Punjab and staff, does not have any representative on the Board of Directors from Punjab. You are well aware that the appointment of Harcharan Singh Josh as a member of the minority commission has evoked sharp criticism from the Sikh community due to his anti-Sikh bias. The appointment of such adversaries of the Panth on the Board of Directors of the bank has affected your image and reputation of a clean administrator”.


Union defends bank director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , March 29
Reacting to a news-item, “Can a matriculate be the director of a bank?”, carried in these columns on March 27, the All India PSB Officers Union (Regd.) has clarified that all directors, except for one, are highly qualified with a proven track 

In a Press release, Union President G.S. Khera has asserted that focusing on issues like “lesser qualification”, and leveling “vague” allegations of an individual being the beneficiary of some loan settlement, amounts to casting aspersions on people with “extraordinary social standing”.

They may not be economists, but if an IAS officer is allowed to run a financial organisation without any experience in the field, why should a person, with deep sense of problems faced by the common man, not function as a board member, he asked.

Giving details of other issues faced by the bank, he said there are “gross financial and administrative irregularities”.

He said, “promotional bonanza is showered on tainted officials in bulk, irrespective of vacancies”.

A number of cases have been referred in vain to bodies like the Central Vigilance Commission and the Reserve Bank of India.


State to approach centre
Aid for border farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Intervening in a question asked by Sher Singh, SAD MLA, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said he would soon approach the union government to seek the revival of payment of compensation to farmers owning land across the fence on the Indo-Pak border.

Earlier, the union government was paying Rs 2,500 per acre as compensation but it was stopped in 2004-05. Badal said he would write to the union government in this regard. “ During our previous government, the union government had started paying the compensation to all farmers owning land across the fence”, said Badal. “ We will now urge the union government to enhance the compensation amount,” Badal told Rana Gurjeet Singh, who had asked a supplementary question in this regard in the Punjab assembly.

Replying to a question regarding the discharge of untreated water in Bein nadi and Budha Nullah, Bikram Singh Majithia said such discharge would not be allowed. Responding to a question asked by Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Janmeja Singh Sekhon said repair work on water courses in Mansa district would continue.

Replying to a question asked by Chaudhary Nand Lal, Gulzar Singh Ranike said the government was in the process of taking steps to deal with the problems caused by stray cattle in various parts of the state.

Luxmi Kanta Chawla said she was in the process of streamlining the health services and would undertake special checking to check absenteeism. She was replying to a question asked by Sohan Singh Thandal.


Wildlife Dept to get tranquiliser guns
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 29
To save wild animals that stray into human habitations from being killed, the state Wildlife Department has initiated the process of procuring tranquiliser guns. Sources in the department said orders had been placed for two long-range and one-short range tranquiliser guns.

The guns are being procured for Ropar and Hoshiarpur forest divisions where the maximum number of animals came down from the hills this year due to winter draught and paucity of food in jungles.

Principal chief conservator forests Punjab Balbir Chand told The Tribune said that about 100 wild animals were rescued from the Ropar forest division and about 40 from Hoshiarpur division this year. Some of the animals were killed as the officials present in division did not have tranquiliser guns to control them.

The department had just one tranquiliser gun which is stationed at Patiala. It takes a lot of time to carry the gun to other places. The delay led to the death of the animal trapped in hunter nets or human habitations.

The new guns that would be stationed at Hoshiarpur and Ropar and help save animals in the Shivalik ranges were the maximum forest cover of the state is concentrated.

The principal chief conservator further informed that due destruction of habitat, the pangolin and python had become very rare in the forests. The species are nearing extinction in the state. Effort are now been made to save animals in the forest areas.

The people also have to be educated about the status of animals like pythons as they tend of kill them out of fear on sighting them, he said.

Proposals have been sent for declaration of wetland areas of Gurdaspur and Kathlore forest and wildlife sanctuaries. The department also intends to declare the wetland area around Nangal as reserve forest due to the presence of large number of migratory and indigenous birds in the area.

The wildlife warden Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa said they faced a great difficulty in controlling large animals like sambars while rescuing them from the canal or villages where they strayed this winter. However, with the help of tranquiliser guns such animals can be rehabilitated very easily, he said.


Home Guards’ plea on parity in pay scales
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 29
The Punjab Home Guards Association today urged the state government to bring parity in pay scales of Home Guards and the Punjab police.

National vice-president Devinder Singh and general secretary Rakesh Sharma of the association addressed a meeting convened by the border wing.

The meeting demanded free bus travel facility, Rs 250 as medical and Rs 100 as washing allowance, cycle allowance, ration allowance and TA, DA during VIP duty for the Home Guards. The association said special allowances should be paid to SPOs and policemen also as applicable to employees in other government departments.

Full uniform for the guards deployed on election duty in other states, food during journey and Rs 200 as daily meal expanses be also paid during the period of their deployment there. They must have Rs 5 lakh insurance cover on government expanses. There should be no disparity in wages for the Home Guard and the SPO.


Police probing Jain incident, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Giving a statement in the Punjab assembly regarding an incident that occurred on March 26 at Moga in which Congress MLA Joginderpal Jain was allegedly manhandled, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said both parties -- Jain and certain Akali municipal councillors-- had submitted their complaints to the police.

The police was investigating the matter and would act as per the law. He said he had got a report from the deputy commissioner of Moga that Jain’s resignation as president of the Moga municipal committee was accepted on March 6 and he was not entitled to occupy the chair of president after that day.

He said what happened at Moga should not have happened. However, he said that Akali councillors had objected to Jain occupying the chair of president of the committee and his summoning of the official files.


CM’s wife dusts shoes of sangat
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, today paid a surprise visit to Guru Ram Dass Langar hall to have information about the quality of the langar being served there.

SGPC employees Kuldip Singh Bawa and Dalbir Singh accompanied her to the langar hall where she spent two hours.

She also spent around two hours in dusting the shoes of the Sikh sangat in the Golden Temple complex as per the Sikh Maryada.

Earlier, Ms Badal listened to kirtan for several hours at the sanctum sanctorum of Harmandar Sahib.

She spent the night in Gurdas Hall Serai.


Cops burn 30 quintals of drugs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 29
Jatinder Jain, DIG, Punjab police, Faridkot range, today said police chiefs of districts falling in the neighbouring states would be involved in efforts to check smuggling of narcotics.

The police burnt about 30 quintals of narcotic substances seized in about 99 cases here today

He said this district shared its boundaries with Haryana and it was not far from Rajasthan and interstate smuggling could be checked effectively with the joint efforts of police authorities of areas concerned.

Addressing a press conference, he said the women were also being motivated to play a role in fighting the evil of drug addiction at the village level.

The police would also organise seminars on evils of drug addiction at district level and in schools and colleges to bring about awakening among the masses.


Ranike allays fears of poultry firms
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 29
“The SAD-BJP government will allow mega projects of the previous government in the poultry sector to continue provided these companies take care of farmers’ interests,” said minister for animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries Gulzar Singh Ranike at Jai Nagar, near here, today.

Allaying the fears of companies undertaking poultry contract farming in the state in the wake of threats from breeders, the minister said the government would provide security to the companies to undertake their operations.

Earlier, the minister inaugurated a poultry training centre pilot project, launched by the JAPFA in association with the Punjab farmer commission and the SBI, at Jai Nagar.

D.S. Bains, principal secretary, animal husbandry, hoped that the centre would go a long way in imparting knowledge on latest techniques to poultry farmers.

Claiming that conditions were conducive to the working of major poultry companies in the state, MLA Raj Khurana called upon big poultry firms to work for the welfare of poultry farmers.

Chairman of the farmers commission G.S. Kalkat demanded the opening of such training centres in each district of the state to give benefit to maximum farmers.

Ashwani Chaloo, chief operation officer of the JAPFA, said the company would start its poultry farms in all 20 districts over a period of three years.


19 pilgrims hurt
Tribune News service

Bathinda, March 29
About 19 persons, including seven women, were injured when the bus in which they were going to a religious place located near Moga from Gill Patti village of this district to pay their obeisance overturned near Jeeda village after one of its tyres burst.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that though there were a number of pilgrims in the mini bus, two passengers identified as Sukhminder Singh and Amandeep Singh suffered serious injuries.

Information revealed that the injured had been admitted to the local civil and other private hospitals.

Those injured were identified as Fateh Mohommad, Arshad Ali, Darshan Singh, Nazma Begum, Sukhminder Singh, Tara Chand, Nazir Khan, Iqbal Singh, Dharam Dev, Babbu, Simarjit Kaur, Naseeb Kaur, Marzeena, Manjeet Kaur, Sabina and Amandeep Kaur.


Senior officials found absent
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 29
Senior officials and other staff members were found absent from duty by two teams led by Subdivisional Magistrates (SDMs) of Muktsar and Gidderbaha subdivisions in a surprise visit today morning.

Taking a serious view of absenteeism in government offices, deputy commissioner Vikas Garg has written to the head offices of the concerned departments for action against them.

The senior officials who were found absent included Ranjit Kaur, district education officer (secondary), Jagir Singh Joshan, Assistant Municipal Engineer, Gidderbaha, and Sham Lal, Assistant food and Supply Officer (AFSO).

Other senior officials found absent included Sukhdev Singh, horticulture officer, Gidderbaha, Amar Singh, Subdivisional Officer, public health, Gidderbaha and Sunita Rani, child development project officer (CDPO), Gidderbaha.

Checking officials were amazed when they found only three employees out of a total of 41 employees of the Municipal Council, Muktsar, were present at 9 a.m.

Six employees working in the district education office (secondary) identified as Manjit Kaur, Gurmeet Kaur, Pardeep Kumari, Gurmail Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Pritam Singh were found about at 9.30 a.m. Two employees of the district education office (Elementary), namely Swarn Singh and Gursewak Singh, were found absent.

Manjit Singh, junior engineer, block development and panchayat office (BDPO), Muktsar, and two other employees of the same office Iqbal Singh and Sukhwinder Kaur were found absent. 


DC issues ban orders
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
Deputy Commissioner Alaknanda Dayal, in an order issued under Section 144 today, banned the carrying of weapons, explosive material, iron rods, swords, knives, tridents in public places. She has also banned display of posters, sign boards on all the government properties, particularly on all four memorial gates.

The deputy commissioner has directed all junk dealers to immediately inform the respective SHO if they found any explosive material in the scrap lying in their godowns. keeping in view the increasing cases of drowning, she has banned the movement of vehicles on the banks of the Bhakra canal.

She has made it mandatory for all landlords to give addresses of their tenants at the nearest police station. Open sale of 106 type of medicines without prescription has been banned.

The use of loud speakers on high volume at marriage palaces has been banned from 9pm to 6am. However, these would be allowed only on a low volume.

The orders would remain in force till May 24.


0001 fetches Rs 1.40 lakh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 29
The craze for smaller registration numbers for vehicles is growing among the rich and famous of the city. The district transport authorities today auctioned the PB-11AF-0001 number of the new series for Rs 1.40 lakh.

The proprietors of Highways Bus Service bought the number for a Mercedes Benz of the company. The reserve price for the number was Rs 50,000.

The F series, however, fetched lower prices than the E series launched last year. The 0001 of the E series was sold for Rs 2,70,000 last year.


Man killed over gurdwara dispute

Amritsar, March 29
Tension prevailed in Loharka Kalan village after the death of Dalbir Singh after he reportedly objected to the recitation of path in the backyard of a gurdwara.

The police booked five persons, including Dharam Singh, Satinder Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Bakshish Singh and Paramjit Singh, all residents of same village under Section 304 IPC at Rajasansi police station here today.

Daljinder Singh, a relative of the deceased, in a statement to the police alleged that Dalbir Singh had objected to the recitation of path in the back rooms of the gurdwara. Enraged over this Dharam Singh and his four accomplices attacked him with iron rods.

He succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital.

However, residents of area alleged there was dispute regarding the land and holding sewa in the gurdwara between two groups which led to the dispute. Nirmal Singh, SHO, said the accused had absconded. — TNS


Sleaze CD: Actor surrenders

Tarn Taran, March 29
Amandip Singh, alias Prince, who had appeared in a sleaze CD, today appeared in the court of Gurnam Singh, subdivisional judicial magistrate.

Earlier, the boy was booked on charges of assaulting Shiv Sena leader.

The boy had acted the role of a Nihang in a religious Punjabi film, which recently hit the theatre screens. The CD was also sent to the jathedar of Akal Takht for taking appropriate action.

The court has given one-day police remand. — TNS


Chemical technology discussed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 29
Director of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) S.K. Pandey on Tuesday called on scientists to generate ideas on the advancement in the area of chemical technology.

She was addressing the valedictory function of the two-day national conference on chemical technology, organised by the department of chemical technology of the SLIET on the institute’s campus at Longowal, 20 km from here.

She also focused on issues related to chemical industry and urged scientists, chemical engineers and future engineers to promote research culture for the benefit of rural society.

At the technical session on the second day of the conference, Dr Gautam Bhattacharya delivered a talk on “ Wind energy” and spoke about capacity utilisation factor and equipments used to produce energy.


Students remember Kalpana Chawla
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
Students of Scholar Fields Public School, Akali Majrian, paid tributes to Kalpana Chawla here today. They highlighted the life and achievements of Kalpana Chawla.

Father of Kalpana Chawla B.D. Chawla was the chief guest. Director of the school S.S. Sodhi threw light on the life of the astronaut. Samsher Kaur of Class X delivered the key not address.

Chawla interacted with the students and answered their queries about the life, studies and ambitions of Kalpana Chawla. Kalpana Chawla memorial awards were presented to two students of the school.


Ensure safety in industries: chief secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Ramesh Inder Singh, chief secretary, Punjab, has called upon industrialists to take preventive measures to check chemical-related accidents in their units and save precious human lives besides environment.

He was speaking after inaugurating a two-day training programme being organised by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), here yesterday.

Recalling the Bhopal gas tragedy and Minamatti disaster in Japan, he said such disasters left unprecedented trauma not only on the affected persons or environment but also on the unborn.

He said such accidents could have been averted by taking necessary preventive measures. He advised the industrialists to give adequate attention to taking all required safety measures in their units.

Delivering the key note address of the training programme, PPCB chairman Yogesh Goel said industries should be more proactive in providing measures on preparedness and prevention of chemical accidents in their industries and also be prepared for incidents so that damage to environment and population was negligible.

Alop K. Mittal, adviser, FICCI, explained the significance of the training programme in the context of operation, maintenance and setting up of new chemical industry.

Around 150 delegates from chemical industries spread over in the state and other northern parts of the country are participating in the programme.


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