P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Sale of PTDC complexes under scanner
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
The Punjab Government is likely to order a probe into the sale of Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) tourist complexes and holiday homes by the previous government. Sources say that the files regarding the sale have been summoned by the minister for tourism Hira Singh Gabaria. The minister admitted that the records regarding the sale of the tourism complexes had been summoned.

Many of the tourism complexes of the PTDC across the state were put on sale by the previous government amid allegations that they were sold at throwaway prices. It was also alleged that some of the complexes were sold by the buyers at much higher rates just after a short time.

The PTDC had 18 tourism complexes. However, now there are just five tourism complexes - Boat Club (Ropar), floating restaurant (Sirhind), Amaltas (Ludhiana), Chandani (Nizampur) and Mangolia (Kartarpur).

The government had also almost finalised the deal of selling all holiday homes to an NRI for just Rs 2.5 crore, besides the liabilities of the complexes. This despite the fact that the registry value of the holiday home in Goa on 6 acres and a 12-room hotel was alone Rs 6 crore. The other holiday home properties include a hotel located on about 1 acre prime land in Jaipur, 20 huts in Mussoorie, a 30-room hotel at Dharamsala in Himachal and 3.5 acres in Manali.

After the matter was reported in these columns a PIL was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the issue and sale of holiday homes was stayed.

Meanwhile, the ousted employees of the PTDC have also demanded reinstatement. There were about 350 employees of the PTDC. In lieu of privatisation of the department the employees were asked to opt for VRS. Almost all employees opted for the same.

However, later a pick-and-choose policy was adopted to give retirement to the employees. A large numbers of employees were retired but dues were not paid to them for over two years. The employees who had applied for the VRS continued to work for the organisation for over three years but no increased or enhanced dearness allowance was paid.

Former manager of the Boat Club Surjeet Singh Saini, who was given retirement under VRS had accepted his emoluments. He had now pleaded with the government that he should be taken back as the VRS he had applied for lapsed after one year.


Atta-dal Scheme
Badal declines to raise income limit
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 14
Despite a strong case made out by Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and other speakers during the Ambedkar birth anniversary celebrations here today for raising the income limit for providing subsidised atta-dal to people, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal declined any commitment on the issue. Rather, he said at the existing income limit the government would have to spend Rs 800 crore for the scheme.

Atwal said the existing annual income limit of Rs 30,000 a year was too meagre. He pointed out even people with an annual income up to Rs 60,000 a month were not in a position to afford basic needs like atta and dal at the market prices. He appealed to the Chief Minister to extend the income limit to Rs 60,000 a year.

Besides Atwal, Vijay Dhanav, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Valmiki Samaj which had organised the function, had also raised the issue of enhancing the minimum income limit to Rs 60,000 a year for subsidised atta (Rs 4 a kg) and dal (Rs 20 a kg).

Referring to other demands, the Chief Minister announced to abolish the contract system introduced in various local bodies and government departments. This was in response to a specific demand where safai karamcharis in urban areas are paid a monthly remuneration of Rs 1,250 a month. He regretted certain government departments and the local bodies were exploiting the helpless people. He agreed it was difficult to manage survival with a paltry sum of Rs 1,250 a month.

He also announced Ambedkar Bhavans would be set up in every city and a special grant of Rs 8 crore had been earmarked for the purpose. Besides, at least one adarsh school in each city would be set up in the name of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, he said.


Badal for national commission on agri-economy
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
Even as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged the Centre to set up a national commission to review the agriculture economy of the country to work out strategies to bail it out of crises, most of the party leaders who addressed its conference organised here on the occasion of Baisakhi today endorsed the leadership of Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Though Parkash Singh Badal raised a number of issues concerning the economy of Punjab and stressed that there was need to review Centre-state relations to make the states independent to decide their own fate, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, former president, SAD, Kanwaljit Singh, cooperation minister, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sikander Singh Malooka and Gurdev Singh Badal (all former ministers) claimed that party would be strengthened under the leadership of Sukhbir.

The political conference held by SAD in the diwan hall of Takht Damdama Sahib complex was well attended. However, the local and state level leadership of the BJP was conspicuous by its absence.

The conference also brought to the fore the opinions being held by leaders on the issue connected with the defeat of a large number of party candidates in the last Assembly elections due to the support given to the Congress by the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda. While Talwandi and Harwant Singh Datewas, former MLA, Budhlada, appealed to the Sikhs to counter the increasing influence of Dera Sacha Sauda sect as it had become a major reason for the party’s poor performance in Malwa region, Sukhbir said party candidates were not defeated due to the support of the Congress by Dera Sacha Sauda.

He said the Bathinda refinery project, which had been delayed by the previous Congress government would be completed within the stipulated time. Apart from it, the party MPs would meet the Prime Minister to arrange special funds for the overall development of Malwa region.


State to be made global hub of cotton textiles, fashion
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 14
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today unveiled a blueprint for making the state into a global hub of fashion technology, textile designing and cotton goods within a time frame.

“We will turn Punjab not only into the cotton capital of India but also the most significant landmark in the world of commercial designing, manufacturing and fashion technology, unleashing an unprecedented employment potential for the youth,” Badal said while addressing the CII Cotton Award Ceremony for excellence in cotton production in Punjab here.

The Chief Minister stated that the state government was already in touch with the major players in the corporate world for a state-of-the-art upgraded and assured global market. In another significant announcement, he said the delegations of progressive cotton growers and prospective textile industrialists would be sent to China, Australia, Italy, Canada, France, Germany, UK and USA for upgrading their knowledge in the field of quality cotton production and fashion designing and garment industry.

Badal further called upon the key players in textile industry, farm scientists and researchers of Punjab Agricultural University to play a pro-active role to come forward to develop modern farm practices in order to further increase cotton yield in the Malwa belt. He also stressed on the need to chalk out a joint strategy to cover the entire cotton area under the BT technology.

Badal directed the Agriculture Department to adopt Abohar block and Markfed to adopt Talwandi Sabo block for training farmers with regard to the dissemination of latest cotton production technology. Underlining the need to eradicate water logging in the cotton belt, especially in the Malwa region, Badal said he had already directed the Irrigation Department to eradicate this problem positively by June 30.

Congratulating the 14 cotton growers who received awards for 2005-06 and 2006-07, Badal exhorted other farmers to replicate the techniques and farm practices adopted by them to increase production.

Speaking on the occasion, chairman, CII national committee on textiles, and chairman and MD, Vardhman Group, S.P. Oswal said the Vardhman group would adopt 50 villages in Lambi block this year. Director, Agriculture, Balwinder Singh Sidhu said the department had fixed the target to bring 6.5 lakh hectares under cotton during the ensuing kharif season.


Pak okays memorial at Gurdwara Panja Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 14
In a significant development the Government of Pakistan has agreed in principle to raise the memorial at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in the memory of those who had embraced martyrdom in 1922 while attempting to serve food to the imprisoned Sikhs who were being transported to Rawalpindi from Amritsar in a train during the British period.

An announcement in this regard was made by federal minister of religious minorities in Pakistan Izaz-ul-Haq while addressing the Sikh sangat at Gurdwara Panja Sahib today. This would fulfil the long-cherished demand of the Sikhs to have a suitable memorial to commemorate the heroic event which took place at the Hasan Abdal railway station and the miracle of Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

Meanwhile, Baisakhi was celebrated with great fervour at the gurdwara where thousands of devotees from India, UK, Canada, USA, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world celebrated the birth of the Khalsa.

Pritpal Singh, convener, American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, while talking to The Tribune on telephone said the federal minister had promised the Sikhs that the number of Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries would be increased from the present 5,000 to 50,000 by 2010. He also promised the congregation that Pakistan was committed to liberalising the policies to ensure smooth flow of Sikh pilgrims from India. He added that they would make arrangements for the renovation of Sikh shrines which are in a dilapidated condition. In yet another significant development, the Government of Pakistan has also agreed in principle to finalise the blueprint for the proposed university in the name of Guru Nanak Dev at Nankana Sahib.


Chawla promises new hospital at Central Jail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 14
Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state health minister, today announced that the government would soon provide a new hospital at Amritsar Central Jail here with latest equipment and facilities. She was speaking at an AIDS awareness camp organized by the state unit of the Red Cross Society at the jail complex here today.

Chawla said a grant of Rs 50 lakh had been received from the Central Government and the required funds would be released after adding whatever part the state government could add.

The health minister also promised to provide funds for installing a dental chair along with a dental doctor for woman inmates. She also directed the authorities to arrange a female doctor for the inmates.

She said she would take up the matter of providing free litigation to economically weak inmates. While visiting the hospital in the jail, she offered to provide financial support from her funds for the release of Som Nath of Tarn Taran who could not be released from jail as he was unable to pay the fine.

While lauding the efforts of Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, DIG, Jails, for developing Amritsar jail as a model one.

Meanwhile, Chawla awarded the jail inmates who won prizes in various competitions. The inmates also presented a skit and poem on the occasion.


Congress puts up a poor show
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
Even as the rally organised by the Congress here to mark Baisakhi turned out to be a poor show due to poor gathering and absence of Amarinder Singh and former state Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today urged the partymen to unite to fight against the atrocities being committed on Congress men by the present ruling set up.

Most of the chairs in the pandal remained unoccupied for the major part of proceedings despite the fact that the organisers had called folk singers.

Bhattal while assuring that the party would not allow any government to cause harm to its workers and leaders, warned the SAD-BJP ruling alliance to stop their misdeeds. She urged the MLAs to take care of those party candidates who got defeated in the recently held Assembly elections.

“Congress men are able to face all kinds of storms. They will never bow before the atrocities and terror. The ruling alliance should take a lesson from the exemplary courage of Congress workers,” Bhattal pointed out while addressing the rally, which was attended by almost all party MLAs belonging to Bathinda and Mansa districts.

Those attended the rally included Harminder Singh Jassi, Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Makhan Singh, Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Ajeetinder Singh Mofar, Avtar Singh Brar, Mangat Rai Bansal (all MLAs), Harbans Singh Sidhu and Jasvir Singh (former ministers), Baldev Singh Ballamgarh (former MLA).

Bhattal, while dubbing the pre-poll promise of providing ‘atta-dal’ at subsidized rates to the poor made by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as a biggest fraud, alleged that the state government had already backtracked from the same as it failed to implement it on Baisakhi as being claimed by the Cchief Minister repeatedly.

She added that Amarinder Singh could not attend the rally as he was busy with some work in Delhi. Bhattal welcomed those leaders who had joined the Congress after leaving the CPI.


Minister warns govt against vindictiveness
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 14
Ashwani Kumar, Union State Minister for Industries, has warned the SAD-BJP government for its vindictiveness against Congress workers and has said that the Congress and the Union Government will not remain a mute spectator to the situation.

Ashwani was addressing a political conference at Chohla Sahib, 24 km from here, today in connection with the Baisakhi fair. He alleged that the state government was registering false cases against Congress workers, especially sarpanches.

Dharamveer Agnihotri, S.S. Shahbazpuri, former minister, also spoke on the occasion.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) too organised a political conference at the township in which Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, panchayat and rural development minister, Punjab, was the main speaker. Brahmpura distributed cheques for Rs 4,72,500 among nine victims who had lost limbs while working in the fields.


CPSs to be sworn in tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will administer the oath to chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSs) on April 16 at Punjab Bhavan here.

A statement issued in this connection by the state government was silent on the names of the MLAs who are to be inducted as CPSs.

Recently, Badal had stated that 11 more MLAs would be made CPSs, raising their number to 14. Of the CPSs to be sworn in on April 16, three are likely to be from the BJP and the others from the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Sources said the BJP had cleared the names of Sukhpal Singh Nannu, Raj Khurana and Arunesh Shakar for induction. The SAD MLAs who are likely to be included in the list are Sohan Singh Thandal, Sital Singh, Capt Balbir Singh Bath, Nand Lal Balachaur, Jagdeep Singh Nakai, Sher Singh Ghumaya, Des Raj Dugga and Harish Rai Dhanda. The sources said the other SAD MLAs who are trying for induction as CPSs include Balbir Singh Ghunas and Mohan Lal Banga.

The sources said that though Badal had finalised the list of CPSs, there could be changes in it at the last moment as had happened during the formation of the cabinet. The name of Bikram Singh Majithia was included in the list of cabinet ministers at the last moment, removing the name of Sarwan Singh Phillaur, who was later made chief parliamentary secretary.



Tribune Impact
SGPC drops move to buy Duleep Singh’s bust
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 14
Following pressure, the SGPC has finally dropped the move to participate in the proposed auction of the bust of Maharaja Duleep Singh to be held in the UK on April 19.

Instead, the UK-based Nishkam Jatha, headed by Baba Mohinder Singh, would participate in the auction on behalf of Anandpur Sahib Foundation of the state government. Assistant secretary, SGPC, Daljit Singh Bedi said the 150-years-old bust would now be installed at Sikh Heritage Centre, Anandpur Sahib, instead of the Sikh Museum at Darbar Sahib.

SGPC members, including Sukhdev Singh Bhaur (general secretary), Manjit Singh Calcutta, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur and Dr Prithpal Singh Kapur had opposed the SGPC move to buy the bust.

The SGPC had earned flak from a section of Sikhs that the purchasing of the bust amounted to idol worship which was against basic tenets of Sikhism. They had also opposed the installation of the bust in Sikh Museum at Golden Temple.

The bust is expected to sell for £25,000 to £35,000.


Poaching threatening butterfly species
Lalit Mohan & Charu Chibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 14
Though news about illegal poaching of tiger and its declining population has been hogging headlines every now and then, many smaller species are also facing a similar bleak future due to poaching.

H.S. Rose from the Zoology Department of Punjabi University, Patiala, has been carrying out research for the past seven years under the project earmarked by the Union Ministry of Environment to identify and document moths across the country.

While talking to The Tribune, he said 300 species of butterflies in the country had been enlisted in the red data book under the endangered species category.

Large-scale poaching and international smuggling nexus is threatening many species of butterflies and moths in the Himalayas. The appolo butterflies and swallow-tail species are the most threatened. They are found at an altitude of 12,000 feet. Near the Rohtang Pass researchers noticed that foreigners hire local people to poach these species of butterfly. The foreigners engaged in illegal trade of butterflies in the Rohtang area pay Rs 20 to 30 per butterfly to the locals. The locals on their part also collect these and sell these to foreigners for being smuggled to foreign countries.

In international market some of the butterflies have an ornamental value and are sold at a very high price. A pair of bird wing butterfly found on Tiger Hill of Jammu and Kashmir is sold at price ranging from $ 2,500 to $ 3,500 in the international market. The yellow colour in the wings of some species of butterflies is permanent. It is even used in gold ornaments in some countries. In Taiwan wall plates used for decorating houses are made from wings of butterflies, he said.

He further stated that in 1994 butterfly some smugglers were nabbed in Delhi and 26,000 specimens of moths and butterflies collected from the Himalayas were seized from them. The government on its part failed to find an expert to identify species that were covered under the Wildlife Preservation Act among them. Owing to this laxity, the smugglers were freed.

No major research has been carried on moths and butterfly species in India after Independence. The present project being run from the university is first of its kind. The researchers under the project have collected samples of about 700 species of moths found across the country.

“I want that these rare specimens should be handed over to some natural museum, Rose said.

The government should give attention to the preservation of about 1,500 species of moths and butterflies found across the country. The international borders of the country along China and South East Asian countries are the hot spots for smuggling of butterflies from the country. The butterflies are also protected under the international trade for endangered species.

They pollinate about 75 per cent of staple crops in the world and 80 per cent of all flowering plants. The economic value of pollination is about $ 200 billion.


IG promises drug-free Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 14
Inspector General of Police (Border Zone) R.P.Meena has said the police will try its best to end drug menace and control crime in the city.

He said this at the first meeting organised by the district police, Amritsar, yesterday, as a part of community policing initiative to have greater police-public interaction and co-operation.

The meeting was chaired by Meena who discussed various issues with leading businessmen of the city in co-ordination with the Amritsar chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

The business community was represented by a cross-section of traders involved in manufacturing, besides those from the service sector.

DIG (Border Range) R.L.Bhagat, SSP, Amritsar, S.S.Srivastava, SP (City I) Kaustubh Sharma and SP (City II) Sukhminder Singh also attended the meeting.

Issues like drug-addiction, traffic congestion and its management, need for training and change of attitude of sub-ordinate police officers, police assistance to tourists, modernisation of police force and relief to accident victims were discussed. Meena assured the businessmen, industrialists and traders that the police would try its best to make Amritsar city free of drug-addiction and criminal activities.

Gunbir Singh, Chairman, CII, said the business community would provide assistance by providing motor cycles and close-circuit cameras for the proper management of traffic and surveillance on criminals. 


Survey to track pollution
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 14
The amount of pollution in the vicinity of the Golden Temple will be studied by the Punjab Pollution Control Board by carrying out a special survey. The pollution levels of vehicles plying on the roads leading to Darbar Sahib will also be tested on April 16 and 17 so that the exact amount of pollution produced on a regular basis could be ascertained.

Deputy commissioner Kahn Singh Pannu gave these directions here today after holding a meeting to discuss concerns over growing pollution around the Golden Temple complex.

Apart from this, there has been concern over the effects of pollution on the heritage buildings and environmentalists have pointed out that even the upcoming elevated road project, which would provide a direct link to the Golden Temple, could be a threat to the environment of the area. Municipal commissioner Hussan Lal, however, said the Rs 173-crore project does not hold out any environmental threat to the environs of the Golden Temple.

At a meeting held yesterday to review the status of pollution from brick-kilns, it was observed that 37 of these within the district were violating pollution laws by using unauthorised fuel.


Curbing accidents at night their aim
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
The local Rotary Club (Mid-Town) has launched a programme called “safe driving on roads during nights”. The club, in collaboration with the traffic police, installed ‘cat eyes’ and reflectors on tractor trailers at New Grain Market on the Sirhind Road here yesterday.

A function was organised under the programme. It was presided over by president of the club Rakesh Singla. Mandeep Singh Sidhu, SP (city), who was the chief guest, inaugurated the programme by installing a reflector on a tractor trailer.

Sidhu emphasised most of the accidents during night happened due to absence of reflectors on tractor trailers or other vehicles.

Secretary of the club O.P.Gupta said the state government should make it mandatory for manufacturers of trailers to fix a reflector on the rear of it.

As many as 500 reflectors were fixed on the trailers, which came to the market.


Two jail inmates die
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
A youth convicted for rape, died of jaundice at Government Rajindra Hospital, here, in the wee hours of Saturday.

In another incident, an undertrial died of an illness at the hospital.

Gurdeep Singh (20) was serving a 10-year sentence for rape in the Central Jail, Bathinda. He was admitted to the hospital on March 30 after he complained of being sick. Later, he was diagnosed of jaundice. However, he died in the early hours of Saturday at the hospital.

The body has been sent for postmortem.

In the second incident, Amarjeet Singh, an undertrial who was lodged in Central Jail, Ludhiana, died here on Saturday due to illness.

The deceased was a resident of Ludhiana.


50-yr-old man kills himself
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
A 50-year-old man ended his life here on Saturday by consuming acid.

Sarvan Singh, a resident of Tripuri, Patiala, consumed acid on Friday morning after a scuffle with his younger brother Harnek Singh over a property issue.

Harnek Singh and his sister’s son Shammi had allegedly abused Sarvan Singh on Friday morning over a long-pending property dispute.

Sarvan Singh felt insulted and in a fit of rage consumed acid and was rushed to a private hospital by his sons.

Later, he was referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. He was brought to the hospital in a critical state and died at 1 pm on Saturday.

A case has been registered at the Tripuri police station against Harnek Singh and Shammi on charges of abetment to suicide on the complaint of the deceased’s son, Alvinder Singh.

The body has been sent for postmortem.


Dr Ambedkar remembered

Amritsar, April 14
The birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar was celebrated by the SC/ST cell of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. A cultural programme was organised on the occasion.

Those present on the occasion included Balbir Singh (Bubby), president, and Gurinder Singh (Sabhi), general secretary of the PPCC SC/ST cell.

The Congress leaders said it was due to the efforts of Dr Ambedkar that the Dalits of the country got a respectable position. — TNS


Sant Khalsa march today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The 150th year of the formation of Sant Khalsa by Satguru Ram Singh and the satyagrah to free India from the clutches of foreign rulers will be celebrated by the Namdhari Panth at Bhaini Sahib.

A Sant Khalsa march will be organised from Chandigarh to Bhaini Sahib on April 15, in which Namdharis from Chandigarh, Mohali and the nearby areas will participate.

It will start from Namdhari Gurdwara, Sector 30, at 6 a.m. and reach Bhaini Sahib via Mohali, Kharar, Morinda and Samrala at 10 a.m.

A state-level function will be organised by the Punjab government at Bhaini Sahib on Sunday.


3 state DCs to observe Bhutan’s mock poll
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 14
On the request of the election commission of Bhutan, the Election Commission of India has deputed three IAS officers from Punjab and one from Uttarakhand to observe the national parliamentary mock poll to be conducted nationwide in Bhutan on April 21 and May 28.

The four IAS officers who will function as election observers for Bhutan’s mock poll are Sangrur deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar, Faridkot deputy commissioner Rakhi Gupta Bhandari, former Nawanshahr deputy commissioner Krishan Kumar and Udham Singh Nagar (Uttarakhand) district magistrate G.K. Dwivedi.

Talking to The Tribune here today Ladhar said he and Rakhi Gupta Bhandari would observe the poll on April 21 while Krishan Kumar and G.K. Dwivedi would observe the same on May 28.

He said he along with the other observer would depart for Bhutan from Delhi on April 19 and would hold a meeting with the Bhutan officials on April 20. 


Three killed as jeep, truck collide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 14
Three persons, including the driver of a jeep, were killed when the vehicle collided head-on with a truck on the Peelibanga-Hanumangarh road yesterday.

Sources said Sanjay Kumar Gujjar (30), a resident of Dhaani Jalalji (Neek-ka-thana), was returning after dropping some passengers who had hired the Marshal jeep for reaching Sriganganagar to attend a marriage. His cousin Ramesh Kumar (35) and Nathu Khan Teli (26) of the same village accompanied him. A speeding truck on its way to Peelibanga reportedly hit the jeep near Kamana village and dragged it to the roadside fields for a few minutes reducing the jeep into pieces. The driver and his assistant fled leaving the truck there. The bodies were removed by breaking doors of the jeep. The police could establish identity of the driver by recovering the driving licence. A case against the unidentified driver of the truck has been registered, SHO Jaipal Sharma said this morning.

Another report said seven pilgrims travelling by a car were injured as it collided with a three-wheeler near Pallu in the Hanumangarh area on Friday night. Three occupants of the three-wheeler also received injuries. The police said today morning that Narayan Dass Aggarwal, a resident of Motipur district (Bihar), was returning along with his relatives in a car after paying obeisance at the historic deity temple located on the sandy heaps in Pallu late at night when the car collided with the tempo head on.

Besides Aggarwal (60) those injured were identified as his wife Kaushalya Devi (55), son Sanjay (29), daughter-in-law Sunita (27), grandson Mukand Lal (4), granddaughter Manali (2) and driver Bisraj. Bhanwer Lal Joshi and Bishan Dutt travelling by the tempo were also injured, the police said. All have been hospitalised and said to be out of danger.

A minor motorcyclist Anwar (12) was killed and his pillion-riding brother Gani Khan (10) was injured as a bus hit the two-wheeler in the Rawatsar area yesterday. Durga (6), daughter of a brick-kiln worker, was crushed to death on Friday on the Nehrana-Meghna road by a pick-up van when she was returning to the dwellings after purchasing some goods. The police has impounded the vehicle and booked its driver Raju under Section 304-A,IPC.


Principal moves HC, seeks confirmation
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, April 14
Freeda Mudgil, principal of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Public School, Phillaur, has moved the high court seeking her confirmation by the managing committee of the school.

In a petition in the court, she has sought her confirmation as principal of the school on the basis of completing her probation period of two years without any adverse remarks in her ACR as stipulated by the CBSE byelaws followed by the said school.

She alleged the school managing committee had invited fresh applications for the post of principal though she had been serving as principal for almost five years.

She further alleged the aforesaid matter of her confirmation as principal in the said school and consequent action of the school management in inviting fresh applications had been challenged before the high court which came up for hearing on April 5 which after taking cognizance of

the fact, had issued notice of motion to school managing committee, including Punjab police academy's director RS Gill, for July 12. 


Intellectuals resolve to oppose SEZs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 14
A number of intellectuals today passed a resolution at a seminar on "Special Economic Zones (SEZs): A new type of attack on farmers by capitalists", organised by the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) here, to oppose the creation of SEZs to save debt-ridden farmers from capitalists in the wake of suicides by farmers in the country.

Presenting his paper at the seminar newspaper columnist Karam Barsat said the creation of 234 special economic zones (SEZs) in the country would deepen agrarian crisis in the country as land of the farmers would be acquired to set up big industrial units, by providing industrialists tax exemptions to the extent of Rs 1,75,000 crore during four years. Besides this, in these SEZs 75 per cent land could be used for non-industrial purposes by the developers, he added.

Barsat also accused various governments of misusing the Land Acquisition Act 1894 to benefit speculative capitalists by acquiring the lands of the farmers at throw away prices.

Punjabi writer Dr Tejwant Mann, state president of the AFDR Hari Singh Tark, SMO of Bhawanigarh, Dr A.S. Azad, district president of the AFDR, Tarsem Lal, state secretary of the Democratic Employees Front, Swarnjit Singh, press secretary of the BKU (Dakonda) Jagmohan Singh, an editor of weekly paper "Charcha" Bashesher Ram also presented their unions at the seminar. 


BOT roads hurting operators
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 14
The recent toll levied by the private companies on build, operate and transfer (BOT) roads - Balachaur-Dasuya (110 km) and Hoshiarpur-Tanda (28 km) - has hit mini-bus and three-wheeler operators the worst and they were seriously thinking of closing down their establishments.

The state government had got the abovesaid BOT roads strengthened and widened from private companies and authorised them to install three toll plazas on the Balachaur-Dasuya and one on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda BOT roads. They have also been allowed to charge toll from three or four wheelers on each trip. As many as 70 persons are plying mini buses within the radius of 25 km-long route whereas 150 three-wheelers are being plied on a 16 km-long route around Hoshiarpur.

Dilbag Singh, president of the Mini-Buses Operators Union, told this correspondent that a mini bus having a maximum seating capacity of 30 passengers were making four trips a day for which the owners had to pay Rs 15,000 each as road tax and as special road tax annually and Rs 5,600 as permit fee for five years. They had to pay regular salary of driver and conductor, annual insurance, annual bus passing fee and bus stand parking fees etc. With the levying of the toll, the owner had to pay Rs 350 daily to the private companies for using the toll roads. 


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