P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


EPF Scam
Action sought against Virk
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
The former DGP of the Punjab State Electricity Board vigilance, Lalit Bhatia, has sought action against the former DGP S.S Virk and former SSP of Ropar Surinder Pal Singh for allegedly watering down the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) scam.

In a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Bhatia levelled charges of professional misconduct against Virk and Surinder Pal Singh. Surinder Pal Singh was also SP, vigilance, handling the corruption case against the Badals in the EPF scam case.

In the letter Bhatia has stated that on the basis of a detailed inquiry conducted by the internal vigilance wing of the PSEB an FIR was registered in EPF scam at Ropar on October 19, 2002. The matter pertained to the embezzlement of Rs 50 lakh from the EPF of daily wagers working at the Ropar thermal plant.

The case was later investigated by the crime wing of the state that directed SSP of Ropar to file challan against 14 officers of the engineering wing, seven from the accounts wing and the labour contractor M/s Sodhi Erectors.

Despite orders issued by the then DGP Sidique to file challan in the case, Ropar police SHO filed cancellation report in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ropar, on April 24, 2004.

When Bhatia, who was then DGP, PSEB vigilance, wrote to the ADGP (Crime) to know about the developments in the case, he wrote back to him that Virk had agreed to the proposal of then SSP, Ropar, Surinder Pal Singh, for cancellation of the case. The case was cancelled on the plea that the embezzled money was deposited by the accused contractor and accepted by the regional provident fund commissioner.

Bhatia has alleged that rather than taking action against the policemen who acted in defiance of the orders of his predecessor, Virk had acted on illegal advice of SSP, Ropar, to file a cancellation report in the EPF scam case.

He said that while on one hand the crime wing headed by the ADGP and a DGP issued directions to file challan in the case, on the other hand an SHO filed the cancellation report in the court.

Bhatia has demanded that an inquiry should be ordered to find out the reason behind the cancellation of criminal case of such a serious nature as EPF scam and fix responsibility on the guilty police and other officials.


News Analysis
Don’t treat varsities as boards & corpns
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 8
The education scenario both at the school and the higher education levels in Punjab is far from satisfactory. It is accepted that the government has utterly failed vis-a-vis the school education and the government schools in the rural areas are as good as closed. The college education is also feeling the heat. In some of the prestigious colleges of Punjab, more than half of teaching posts are lying vacant.

The university education has remained a holy cow for some time for the state government because the Central government and the UGC have stakes in the college/ university education.

But the political masters have always been too eager to interfere in the universities, irrespective of the party affiliations. The recent resignation of PAU VC Dr K S Aulakh is a case in point.

Dr Aulakh was appointed VC in 2001 by Parkash Singh Badal, who was then chief minister of Punjab. Dr Aulakh steered the PAU through many a crisis.

Being a hard task master, he restored discipline in teaching, research and extension activities. Carrying on a tirade against absenteeism in the departments, he did not hesitate to reduce the staff whenever and wherever necessary.

When Dr Aulakh pressed for enhanced grants for the university, the erstwhile finance minister and the finance secretary found ill at ease. But the matter was resolved by the then Chief Minister and the Punjab Governor.

Likewise, the Akalis have also had inbuilt inclination to treat the universities as boards and corporations, where political interference is too well known.

Many people are debating the question whether Dr Aulakh's resistance to the opening of the gate of the university toward Kitchlu Nagar side was a matter so serious that he should have resigned.

He was right in concluding that no university could run without the cooperation and support of the government and the local administration This is evident from the events that are taking place on the campus of the Punjabi University, Patiala. Vice-chancellor S S Boparai has openly alleged that the local administration is not cooperating with him in implementing the orders of the court. There too, the vice-chancellor is not in the 'good books' of the present regime.

In PAU, Dr Aulakh felt that he could not wield the authority without the support of the political masters. Hence, he opted to quit. He chose his time to quit rather than being forced to quit.

The present state government will do well to leave the universities alone and do ground work at the level of school and college education to restore education system to normal health.


‘Over 10 crore child labourers in India’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 8
Kumari Jyoti Satia, deputy chairperson of the National Child Labour Advisory Board, Ministry of Labour and Employment, said India was facing an acute problem of child labour compared to other countries of the world.

To identify the exact number of child labourers, a survey was being conducted in the country. It was expected to be completed in three or four months.

According to her, the number of child labourers in the country was more than 10 crores.

Satia, who came here to study the ongoing works of the survey and child labourers rehabilitation programme, was talking to mediapersons at PWD Rest House here today.

She said two new amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, had been done in October, 2006, to free child labourers between the age of five and 14 years working as domestic servants, attendants at dhabas, restaurants hotels, motels, etc.

The National Child Labour Advisory Board with the help of state governments and NGOs has rehabilitated 1,26,66,377 child labourers in 250 districts of 21 states of the country so far. The Union government had earmarked Rs 402 crore in 10th five year plan for the welfare of child labourers.

With the help of state governments, 20 centres for housing the rescued children for rehabilitation had been set up in each district where free food, education, clothes, health facilities, etc were being provided to them. Besides, Rs 100 per month was also being given to each of them.

She said Uttar Pradesh had the maximum number of child labourers in the country, and Bihar and Andhra Pradesh were second. Lakshadweep had only 27 child labourers.

“The government has been taking several measures to tackle this problem. However, considering the magnitude and extent of the problem it is essentially a socio-economic problem linked to poverty and illiteracy, and requires concerted efforts from all sections of society to make a dent in the problem,” she said.

She claimed that she had already covered Haryana and had visited Amritsar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Tarn taran and Hoshiarpur districts of Punjab and would cover the remaining districts. After Punjab, she would go to Himachal Pradesh.


Traders allege subletting, bylaws violation
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Shahpur Kandi, April 8
Throwing rules to the winds, certain influential persons of the area, allegedly in connivance with a senior official of the Ranjit Sagar Dam (RSD) subdivision, have been running a business establishment at the RSD Colony shopping complex.

The shopkeepers have not only occupied shops on sublet basis, but also managed to get licences from government departments for running their business.

In one such case, a sub-divisional engineer-level officer, Gaurav Mahajan, has obtained a no objection certificate (NOC) from the SDO, enforcement wing, and also managed to get a licence from the state drug controller for running a medical store at a shop specified for dry cleaning business.

In a letter to the principal secretary, state irrigation department, Dinish Kumar and Ajinder Singh, both shopkeepers of the complex, have alleged that Sudarshan Kumar, original allottee of the shop, had sublet the premises to Mahajan and got the NOC illegally.

The complainants also alleged that the SDO issued the NOC even though he was not a competent authority. The drug controller, however, later cancelled the licence after the complainants brought the matter to his notice.

The executive engineer of RS Dam, Davinder Singh, claimed that the matter would be looked into after a dispute pending with the deputy commissioner, Gurdaspur, over the ownership of the shop was settled.


Huge funds to be used for industrial infrastructure
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh April 8
Crores of rupees earned by the Punjab government in the past three years by charging conversion fee on account of change of land use will be used for industrial infrastructure. A high-powered meeting of Punjab government officials is scheduled to be held on April 10 for finalising the creation of a separate fund known as the ‘industrial infrastructure development fund’.

The fund was envisaged as part of the change of land use policy adopted by the government in 2005 but has not been made operational.

Sources added that a large amount of money has been collected over the years from various agencies like the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority, the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC), Punjab Infotech and the Directorate Industries as conversion fee from promoters but has not been put to use for infrastructure development.

According to the modalities worked out by the government for making the fund operational, the Udyok Sahayak which is the industrial facilitation wing of the state in the department of industries and commerce will operate the fund and will be used for development of infrastructure in the existing industrial focal points.

The March, 2005 scheme for change of land use had laid down regulations for promoters interested in creating industrial parks, IT Parks, Agro Estates that 60 per cent of the land would be used for industrial purposes while 30 per cent will be residential and another 10 per cent commercial. The promoter has to pay different conversion charges for change of land use to industrial commercial and residential.

The conversion fee collected by the various agencies being maintained in separate accounts will be pooled into this fund, which will be maintained by the Udyog Sahayak. The projects to be executed under this fund will be considered and approved by a committee headed by the chief secretary and have members from various other departments. The chief secretary will execute and monitor the projects sanctioned by the committee.

Sources added since many agencies had collected the conversion fee, the sharing of funds by various agencies was bound to become a point of contention during the meeting.

Also likely to come up for discussion is the fact that the conversion fee charged by PUDA from CLU approvals issued to various housing projects which will now have to be refunded to those promoters whose approvals have been cancelled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While a final decision regarding the operation of the fund is likely to be taken during the meeting, the government is also expected to declare a fresh policy regarding guidelines for setting up of residential projects in the vicinity of industrial units.


Bank to set up training centre for farmers at Zira
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
In a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at rural development, the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) proposes to set up a training institute for farmers and unemployed youth at Zira in Punjab.

To be spread over an area of 10 acres and completed in 18 months the institute would impart training to the beneficiaries in various vocational activities with a view to increasing their family income, bank’s executive director Allen CA Pereira, told The Tribune here today.

After training, the beneficiaries would get loans at subsidised rates for starting their ventures besides getting the benefits of the government's subsidy, Atul Gautam, general manager, informed.

Pereira, who was here to inaugurate bank's onsite ATM in Sector 47 here, said the bank was also in the process of promoting solar energy projects in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand to help solve the power shortage problems in these states.

The project, the bank executive said, would be implemented in collaboration with the World Bank and the Bharatiya Vikas Trust, Manipal, an NGO, in both the rural and the urban areas of these states. In fact, the bank was organising a three-day free training programme for the elected representatives at Shimla from April 15, he added.

"The bank is aggressively marketing the small and medium enterprises, agriculture and priority sector advances as these play a significant role in the economic development of the country, Pereira said, adding that the total business had touched the Rs 1,09,000 crore mark as on March 31 this year.

Talking about the expansion plans of the bank, he said the bank was going for a large-scale centralised banking solutions under which the customer could operate their accounts from anywhere in the country.

The bank had also signed an MoU with the IDBI for the online trading of shares by the customers of over 100 branches of the bank. Similarly, the bank is opening its Dubai office soon for overseas presence, he added.


VC writes another letter, lists achievements
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
Apprehending government move to remove him from the post of vice-chancellor, Swaran Singh Boparai today shot off another letter to the minister for higher education Upinderjit Kaur.

In the letter, a copy of which was released to media here today, the VC first of all has praised the SAD/BJP government for appointing an academician of the stature of Dr Upinderjit Kaur as education minister.

Later, he has listed his achievements while expressing the hope that the government would appreciate them.

Listing his achievements, the VC has stated that before he joined only three department of the university, namely Punjabi, economics and physics, were covered under the special assistance programme of the UGC. The number has now increased to seven with the addition of computer science, chemistry, botany and zoology departments.

The Department of Biotechnology has been conferred the status of FIST (Fund for improvement of science and technology) by the Department of Science of Technology, Government of India.

Applications of three more departments viz, Psychology, biotechnology and correspondence courses are still pending with the UGC for adoption under special assistance programme.

More than 50 research projects worth Rs 4.25 crores have been allotted to different faculty members by various national and international funding agencies.

The number of Ph.Ds allotted by the university in the last five years is 400 vis-ŕ-vis 258 issued in the five year previous to that. The registration for Ph.Ds has also increased by more than 70 per cent in the last five years.

Since its inception, the university has produced 270 doctorates in Punjabi only out of which more than 80 candidate have been awarded the highest academic degrees during his tenure, the VC has claimed.

Yesterday also, the VC had written a letter to the higher education minister clarifying his position on the last syndicate meeting that was boycotted by the representatives of the government.


SSF activists protest against change in Sacha Sauda probe
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
The Sikh Students Federation (Grewal) today launched an attack on Haryana-based religious sect Sacha Sauda and the Congress by burning an effigy of Sonia Gandhi at Hall Gate here.

SSF activists were protesting against the alleged change of CBI inquiry against Sacha Sauda and held Ms Gandhi responsible for that. The SSF activists charged that the change of CBI panel was enough proof that the Congress had a 'secret pact' with Dera Sacha Sauda before the Assembly elections in Punjab.

Many Akali stalwarts in Malwa had lost the Assembly election with the open support of Sacha Sauda to the Congress. The 'premis' (followers) of Dera Sacha Sauda had, however, earned the wrath of SAD, SGPC and Akal Takht due to the support given to the Congress during Assembly poll.

While speaking on the occasion, the SSF's senior vice-president Kanwaljit Singh Mirankoti said the federation won't let the Congress intervene in the CBI inquiry against Dera Sacha Sauda.

Earlier, without naming 'Sacha Sauda', the Sikh clergy had issued directive to the Sikh sangat, to oppose mushrooming of such deras in Punjab and elsewhere.

Karnail Singh Panjoli, an SGPC member of the opposition party, attributed the 'influence' of Dera Sacha Sauda in Malwa region to 'lack of dharam parchar'.

It is believed that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Parkash Singh Badal was behind the issuance of directive by the Sikh clergy and burning of the effigy of Sonia Gandhi by SSF activists. The dismal performance of SAD in Malwa region during Assembly elections reportedly prompted the issuance of the directive. It was for the first time that the SAD, SGPC and Akal Takht realised the 'actual threat' posed by deras to Sikhism, especially in Malwa region .

The SGPC has also decided to open a dharam parchar kendra at Takht Damdama Sahib to check the influence of deras in the region. The directive, signed by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Giani Iqbal Singh, Giani Balwant Singh and Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedars of Akal Takht, Damdama Sahib, Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Patna Sahib and Head Granthi Golden Temple, respectively, emphasised the need for checking the 'rising influence' of deras which were working against the Sikh maryada and very principles of Sikhism. They called upon SGPC, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Chief Khalsa Diwan and other Sikh organisations to launch dharam parchar on a war-footing in order to defeat the 'ill-conceived designs' of such deras. They asked the SGPC, DSGMC, Chief Khalsa Diwan and other Sikh organisations not to indulge in any 'social, political and religious' activities, aimed at harming the interests of Sikhism. Their activities should be strictly as per 'Gurmat', the directive reads.


Fast by Sarabjit’s sister enters third day

Amritsar, April 8
The indefinite fast by Dalbir Kaur, demanding the Centre to take immediate steps to secure the release of her brother Sarabjit Singh who is on death row in Pakistan, today entered the third day.

Dalbir Kaur, who stopped taking food on Friday, said she had developed fever today but was determined to continue the fast. So far, no official of the district administration had approached her to enquire after her health, she said.

On fast at Bikhiwind village, 45 km from here near the Indo-Pakistan border, Dalbir Kaur said she was “forced” to take the step to protest against the “negligent attitude of the Centre” for safe repatriation of Sarabjit languishing in Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail near Lahore.

She also threatened suicide in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi if all else failed.

She has urged President A P J Abdul Kalam to send a special envoy to Pakistan to visit the jail and provide medical aid to Sarabjit who is in solitary confinement.

A few months ago, Sarabjit had written to her from prison in which he mentioned about his failing health and lack of medical facilities.

Sarabjit was sentenced to death after being convicted by a Lahore court of killing 14 persons in four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan.

His family said he crossed the Indo-Pakistan border inadvertently in the early 1990s and his lawyer had petitioned the court, saying he was implicated in false cases. — PTI


Amarinder played his cards well
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 8
Many critics of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh might have questioned his going to London and changing his stance by first announcing that he would not apply for bail and later applying for and getting it.

But he seems to have played his cards well so far. Because he has not only managed to get a reprieve from imminent arrest, but has also scored over his rivals in the first round.

Walking into the prison might have been something courageous, but it would certainly not have been wise on his part. The best course available to him was to exercise legal options which he did and got the relief. Had Amarinder returned to India without applying for interim bail he would obviously have landed himself behind bars.

As he returns to India tomorrow he is most likely to take his rivals, the Akalis, head on. Having beaten a retreat for sometime he seems to have reorganised himself well for the battle ahead. For a while it had appeared that the unexpected defeat had disappointed and dejected him too much. Plus the distance the party high command and the state unit tried to maintain from him had also been reason enough for him to take a break and stay for some time in London.

Sources close to the former Chief Minister revealed that he already had an idea about what the vigilance bureau, under the new head and the patronage of the new government, was going to do. He was sure of the registration of an FIR against him to pave way for his subsequent arrest.

In the first round he has scored over his rivals. Because the vigilance bureau, obviously at the behest of the powers that be, will find it difficult to get the interim bail, which has been granted till July 30, cancelled at the earliest. It may have to move the Division Bench for that.


Villagers bear the brunt of raging Chakki river
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 8
Over a dozen families living along the right bank of Chakki river have been spending sleepless nights for the past couple of years as the river has continuously been posing severe threat to the families by washing away a major chunk of land falling between the houses and the river bank.

The worst affected are the residents of Saili Kulian village who are virtually "living on the edge". The river has washed away the soil just adjacent to the foundations of about half-a-dozen houses. The Chakki river is also posing a threat to the national highway at the same place.

Residents of the area lamented that they have to come out of their houses whenever the water level in the river rises. Rains make the situation worse as the raging waters of the river threaten to submerge the entire area. “We have been shifting to safer places during rainy season,” said Darshan Kaur, a resident the locality.

The villagers claimed that they had brought their problems to the notice of the administration but to no avail. Earlier, the river was flowing at a depth of 15-20 feet but the level became almost 35 feet last year.

Sources in the administration claimed that a proposal for constructing spurs and revetments was finalised last year. But the authorities concerned failed to tame Chakki river due to financial constraints.

The deputy commissioner of Gurdaspur Vivek Pratap Singh along with Pathankot SDM S.M Sharma visited the site and assured the residents that studs with stone boulders wires would be constructed to divert the water.

Talking to The Tribune S.M Sharma disclosed that the administration, with the assistance of subdivisional authorities of Kathua and Jammu, had jointly inspected the rivers flowing along the border. About seven flood prone sites have been identified along Chakki river, Ujh river, Tash river, Jandwal, Bassa Khuds and Thara Jhikla areas.

He claimed that a project to construct studs and spurs on the right bank of Chakki river would be taken up on priority basis. “The administration plans to spend Rs 1.47 crore on flood prone areas for various flood control measures before the rainy season sets in,” he added.


Residents drop in clothes, medicines
Box proves boon for needy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
An iron box, which appears to be the frame of an old cooler, is proving to be a boon to needy persons of the city and surrounding villages. The box, which is installed on the main Lehal Road, has been providing them with clothes, watches, medicines, spectacles etc for the past three years.

With the change of season, the bounty from the box is increasing day by day. “I have to empty it every morning now,” said Mohinder Singh Walia, president of the Forum for Common Cause, Punjab, which is responsible for installing the box.

"The contents of the box help the poor, needy, old and infirm," said Walia. He said people were encouraged to deposit clothes which were in a good condition in the box. The forum had collected a huge amount of clothes from the box in the past few months. The collection of ladies suits is the maximum as many women cast away suits in a good condition due to a change in fashion, said Walia.

He said besides clothes, the forum was also getting old watches, spectacles, medicines etc from the box.

"We get the watches repaired and then give them to needy school going children,” he said adding that the spectacles and medicines were given to needy senior citizens, with the forum taking on the responsibility of changing the lenses according to the requirement of the new wearers.

Walia said he was inspired to put up the box because he wanted to do something which would require little manpower. "Getting dedicated manpower to do social work is very difficult. So I thought of taking up this venture.”

He said that he was distributing the contents of the box to undertrials in the Central Jail of Patiala, inmates of the Apahaj Ashram, Leprosy Ashram and to the needy villagers.


Gujral committed to reducing air travel woes in Doaba
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 8
The air-travel related woes of residents of the Doaba region are likely to be over soon as MP Naresh Gujral is busy persuading the union civil aviation minister Parful Patel and the Defence Ministry for giving nod to the utilisation of the Indian Air Force (IAF)- controlled Adampur airport for civil aviation as well.

The junior Gujral is also preparing an exhaustive and planned road-map for all-round development of Jalandhar city and for making the city green, clean and free from frequent traffic jams.

Though the Doaba region boasts of highest density of NRIs, yet as far as air travel is concerned the NRIs and other people face a lot of difficulties as they have to travel to Amritsar airport for their foreign and inland travel requirements.

About 10 years ago a plan was chalked out for setting up an airport on the Kapurthala road, but it failed to take off as farmers of the area protested against the aquisition of their land for the purpose.

"We don't want anything special. We just want that at least landing and taking off of domestic aircrafts is allowed from a section of the Adampur airport on the pattern of Chandigarh. It will solve a lot of problems of not only the people of Doaba region but also of those belonging to the Malwa region. In most cases they would not have to cover a distance of 75 km extra. I am busy taking up this matter with the union civil aviation minister Parful Patel and with the Defence Ministry. I am hopeful of solving the problem very shortly. The world has changed a lot. In this, era nobody can afford war and everyone has to work for development and uplift of people. So, there is no harm in opening up a bit further," said Gujral, in an exclusive chat with The Tribune.

On the home turf, this Jalandhar-based Rajya Sabha MP is working on an exhaustive development road-map for Jalandhar city. "The sad part is that Punjab has not been taking optimum benefit of central government funded urban development grants. Nobody from Punjab has been keen to do so. For example the Central Government provides a hefty up to 80 per cent grant for development of medium cities like Jalandhar with a population of one million and upto 50 per cent grant for big cities with a population of beyond one million. But, this grant has not been sought. We are going to get this grant with the help of project maps,” said Gujral.

He said his objective was to make Jalandhar a green and a traffic chaos free city. "Jalandhar is badly in need of lungs and lot of greenery in and around the city would provide these to the city. For reducing traffic congestion also we need to do a lot. Everything, would be there in our roadmap. Rather it would partly be like the city plan of New Delhi," he added.


Amritsar to host Punjabi film fest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
The first ever world Punjabi film festival would in held in the holy city of Amritsar in the third week of this month.

The festival would be dedicated to the memory of late Punjabi superstar and film maker Varinder who was shot dead by militants during the shooting of a film. The organiser of the ambitious four-day film festival 'Sur-Sanjh' today sought the support of all those connected with the film industry, including Punjabi artistes from Bollywood and Punjab, to join hands to promote this unique project to highlight the achievements of Punjabi cinema.

The patron of ‘Sur-Sanjh’, Navtej Sandhu, told mediapersons that although Punjabi film industry could never find its bearings in the film world, it had still managed to carve out a special place among the Punjabi diaspora in and outside the country. Sandhu felt that it was time to showcase the immense Punjabi talent that was ruling the tinsel world in Mumbai.

Sandhu said the festival would highlight the 60 long years of Punjabi film making although not many movies have been box office hits, the promoters of Punjabi folk and culture continue to produce movies.

He said the four-day event will open on April 22 and was likely to be inaugurated by top Punjabi cinestar Dharmendra while many other stars, including Deepti Bhatnagar, Preeti Sapru, Tej Sapru, Raj Babbar, Dara Singh, Guggu Gill, Kim Verma, Bhagwant Mann, would be present on the occasion.

A seminar to highlight the contribution of Punjabi cinema will be held on April 23 in which leading film journalists and critics, besides noted film directors, would discuss the achievements of Punjabi cinema in the promotion of tradition and culture of Punjab. Some of the films which have made Punjabi cinema proud would be screened during the festival.

A number of educational institutions and promoters of Punjabi art and culture have come together to give a boost to the first ever Punjabi film festival. Jatinder Brar, the man behind the revival of Punjabi theatre in the country, has offered support and offered Naatshala for organising the festival. Among those who participated in the conference included top Punjabi pop star Malkiat Singh from UK and Sudesh Lehri, a leading comedian and president of Chief Khalsa Dewan Charanjit Singh Chadda.


Sikh devotees leave for Pak
Tribune News Service

Attari, April 8
More than 3,000 Sikh devotees, led by SGPC member Manjit Singh Bapiana, today crossed Radcliffe Line to celebrate Baisakhi at gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal in Pakistan.

Members of the jatha started arriving at the Attari international railway station in the morning and boarded three trains to reach Pakistan. The jatha will reach Nankana Sahib today and after paying obeisance at gurdwara Sacha Sauda it will leave for Panja Sahib on April 11.

Bapiana said the Congress was dividing the community by setting up a separate committee for the management of gurdwaras in Haryana. He said such steps would not be tolerated by the community and added that the SGPC was competent enough to maintain all gurdwaras in the country and there was no need for setting up separate committees.

Balwinder Singh Chabal, general secretary of the Khalsa Mission Committee, said the SGPC was ignoring Sikhs not only in India, but also abroad.


PSEB to raise loan for Kandi project
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 8
The PSEB would raise a loan of Rs 1,900 crore for the Shahpur Kandi project. The board officials made presentations regarding viability of the project for Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) team that visited Punjab recently.

The PSEB officials are trying to convince the REC and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) to extend loan to the board for the Shahpur Kandi project. Prem Sagar, the Chief Engineer, hydel projects, PSEB, said negotiations for raising loan for the project were in an advanced stage. The government is keen to complete the project that would add about 168 MW to the hydro power generation capacity of the project.

Due to the non-construction of the Shahpur Kandi project the PSEB has not been able to utilise the full generation capacity of the Ranjit Sagar Dam project. The generation capacity of Ranjit Sagar project is 600 MW. However, if all the turbines at the project are made functional about 25,000 cusec water has to be released.

The Madhopur head is already filled with silt and it storage capacity has been reduced to just about 11,000 cusecs.

However, after the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam the water released from Ranjit Sagar can be stored down stream and optimum generation can be attained.

The previous government had got a project report of the Shahpur Kandi project prepared from the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). The NHPC had pegged the project cost at Rs 2,500 crore.

The chief engineer said the project cost, prepared by the NHPC, also included the cost of manpower. However, the committee constituted by government to look into the proposals of NHPC has suggested that existing manpower at the project should be used. By using the existing manpower the project can be completed in just Rs 1,900 crore.


Chawla asked to tone up ayurveda dept
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 8
The Hoshiarpur unit of the Punjab Ayurvedic Medical Services Association, in a representation to the health and family welfare minister, Punjab, Laxmi Kanta Chawla, described the plight of the state ayurveda department due to the apathetic attitude of the state government.

In the representation, members of the association urged the health minister to look into the functioning of the department.

They claimed that as many as 540 ayurvedic and Unani dispensaries were being run in the state, but unfortunately a well qualified person in ayurvedic and Unani system of medicine had never been appointed as head of the state department.

The posts of director, joint director and deputy director have been lying vacant since long. District ayurvedic medical officers are working only in four districts and the additional charge had been given to senior ayurvedic physicians or ayurvedic medical officers in the remaining 13 districts.


Moga market panel chief quits

Chandigarh, April 8
The chairman of the market committee, Moga, Gurdeep Singh Gill, today submitted his resignation to the Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board. Gill said it was his moral duty to resign after the change of government in the state. — TNS


Man rapes 18-yr-old niece
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 8
The police here today registered a case against Dharamveer, of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, on the charge of raping his niece some days ago. The case was registered on the statement of the victim, who today returned from Aligarh along with her paternal uncle Dharamveer.

DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said the father of the victim had been suffering from cancer here and Dharamveer had come here to see his brother. He took his niece to Aligarh for bringing medicine from there for her ailing father. But he raped the girl in a village of Aligarh.

During the visit of the girl to Aligarh, her father died.

The DSP said the girl’s father belonged to Aligarh, but he had been working in a factory here for many years.

He said a case under Section 376 of the IPC had been registered against Dharamveer.


‘Kidnapped’ youth feared murdered
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 8
The kidnapping of a youth from the border village of Mahnike three days back, today took a curious turn when the police feared that the boy might have been killed by the abductors.

Baljit Singh (23) allegedly had illicit relations with Paramjit Kaur (18) of a nearby Ghariali Rarewali village. He was also booked in a case registered at Valtoha police station under Sections 364 and 120-B of the IPC yesterday evening. The other accused include Balbir Kaur, mother of the girl and their relative Chanan Singh of Mahnike.

Sarwan Singh, the father of the kidnapped youth, complained to the police that the three accused kidnapped his son three days back. He alleged two women used to call his son to their residence. He (father) used to object to their relationship.

The police sources said in preliminary investigations it was found Baljit had gone to meet Paramjit as usual and did not return after that. They said he was abducted by the accused suspected to have eliminated him.

However, P.K. Rai, district police chief, said the police hoped to get a breakthrough in the case. The accused has been absconding.


Man robbed of motor cycle
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 8
Two unidentified persons today robbed Sunam resident Ram Pal of his motor cycle after injuring him with a bullet and iron rods near Chathe-Nanherra village on the Sunam-Kohrian road.

According to Sunam police, Ram Pal this evening was going on motor cycle from Sunam to Chathe-Nanherra village in connection with business-related work. On the way two persons sought a lift from him, but when they reached near Chathe-Nanherra village they took away the motor cycle from Ram Pal after injuring him with iron rods and a bullet, fired by them from a pistol.

The police said Ram Pal had been admitted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, in a serious condition. A case has been registered in this connection.


Smack seller held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 8
The Sirhind police has arrested Pankaj Sood alias Rajan Sood, a resident of Sirhind town, during a police ‘naka’ at Sidhuwal village and seized 1.5 gm smack from him.

According to the police, the accused confessed to selling smack to youngsters. A case under Sections 21, 61 and 85 of the IPC has been registered.


Aid to ayurvedic hospitals welcomed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
The Teachers Association of Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, has welcomed the statement of health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla about the special aid given by the Punjab Government to ayurvedic dispensaries and hospitals.

At present, there are about 540 dispensaries and four district-level hospitals in the state.

P.K. Rishi, president of the association, said that about 250 posts of ayurvedic medical officers were lying vacant in the state. An allopathic officer heads the department as a director.

No ayurvedic officer, except Dr Kanti Narayan Misra and Dr A.N. Shastri, has ever been appointed director ayurveda since the creation of a separate Ayurveda Directorate. He also said that in Himachal Pradesh, there were only 200 ayurvedic dispensaries some time back and 540 dispensaries in Punjab. Today, there are about 1400 dispensaries in Himachal Pradesh but the number in Punjab has remained same.

An ayurvedic hospital and research centre has been set up by the Himachal Pradesh Government at Paprola where post-graduate courses were conducted in about six subjects.

Whereas in Punjab, Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, the only ayurvedic college in the state, had become a white elephant due to the apathy of the previous government, he said. About 70 per cent teaching posts were lying vacant in the college.

The spokesman of the association said that the present government will constitute a high-power committee of ayurvedic experts for the development of this system of medicine.


Teachers’ front head retires

Amritsar, April 8
Datar Singh, president of the Democratic Teachers Front and Democratic Employees Front was given a farewell today on his retirement. The function was attended, among others, by activists of employees unions, farmers and workers.

Jagtar Singh Sidhu, deputy director, education department, represented the department. Bhupinder Singh Waraich, Amarjit Shashtri, Jasdev Lalton besides Rulda Singh and Sukhraj Singh Sarkaria were among those who spoke on the occasion and lauded the services of Datar Singh during his 37-year stint in the education department. — TNS


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