P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

Punjabi varsity VC’s wings clipped
Barred from carrying out recruitment, promotion
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
In a significant development in the ongoing tussle in Punjabi University, Patiala, the Punjab government has curtailed the powers of vice-chancellor (VC) Swaran Singh Boparai.

Sources said the secretary, higher education, in a fax message to the university today barred the VC from carrying out any recruitment or promotion in the institution till further orders.

After receiving orders, the VC cancelled interviews of lecturers in the department of economics scheduled for today. The experts and candidates called for the interview had to be returned by the university authorities.

Boparai, when contacted, admitted to having received the orders from the government. Following the directive the interviews scheduled till September were postponed.

A committee was constituted to look into the legal provisions under which the orders had been issued by the government. It would also study the impact of the order on the aspirations of those in service with the university, its impact on the academics and the finances of the institution. The committee was directed to file its report within seven days. Once the report of the committee was received, the government would be urged to review its decision, he said.

The VC said the decision of the government would hamper many academic developments in the university. The university was intending to start a five-year law and an M.Phil courses from the next academic session. Besides number of seats in the Rampura Phull and Talwandi Sabo engineering colleges were also proposed to be increased.

However, due to the government decision to bar recruitments or promotions, the university would not be in a position to start the new courses. Administrative posts in the university, like registrar, were also likely to fall vacant from July onwards. If recruitments were not carried out, it would also have a bearing on the finances of the university in the next academic session, the VC said.

It is for the second time that there has been direct confrontation between the VC and present government over the issue of appointments. In the last university syndicate meeting, the government representatives, including secretary, higher education, DPI, colleges, and director, languages, objected to the agenda of appointments taken in the meeting.

When the VC went ahead with the confirmation of recently appointed faculty members, the government representatives left the meeting in protest. After that meeting, the government appointed two more political leaders, including Prem Singh Chandumajra and Raj Khurana, BJP MLA from Rajpura, to the university syndicate.

The joint action committee demanding the removal of the VC had also lodged a complaint regarding alleged illegal appointments in the university to the Governor-cum-chancellor. The Governor has sought comments from the government on the complaint.

Attempt to attack VC

The tussle between the joint action committee (JAC) seeking the removal of the vice-chancellor and the university authorities turned murkier today.

The university authorities alleged that members of the joint action committee, led by convener Manjit Singh, co-convener Dr Kulbir Singh and Dr Khan, today forcibly tried to enter the office of the VC with a motive to manhandle him.

The agitators hammered the door and made violent gestures raising abusive slogans against the VC. But the situation was handled tactfully. The university authorities alleged that the police present at the spot remained a mute spectator. The VC had already written to the DGP regarding the matter.

Meanwhile, the members of the joint action committee in a press note issued here today alleged that they had been organising peaceful protest outside the office of the VC for the past 16 day. However, a few miscreants, led by the supporters of the VC, today tried to attack them. They were stopped by the police. However, still they threatened us with dire consequences in case we did not stop dharna against the VC.


3 more dists under job guarantee scheme
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 25
Thousands of rural unemployed of Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Amritsar districts will get employment by May 20 under the second phase of the centre-sponsored National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.

Hoshiapur was the first district of Punjab where the programme was launched last year. Enthused over the success of the ambitious programme in Hoshiarpur, the central and state governments are in the process of its extension to Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Amritsar districts.

The bright aspect of the scheme is that each household in rural areas of these districts is bound to get employment for at least 100 days in a year under the supervision of respective panchayats, zila parishads and officials of the district administration.

More than one person of a household, including women, can also be the beneficiaries of the programme.

“Apart from providing employment to rural people, the programme is aimed at strengthening the panchayati raj institutions like panchayats and zila parishads. The decision about undertaking of projects under the scheme will be taken by panchayats and zila parishads. All people above the age of 18 will be eligible to avail of the benefits of the scheme,” said Vinay Bublani, additional deputy commissioner, who is coordinating the project.

Unemployed rural people, who intend to get employed, will have to apply to their respective panchayat samitis for registration after April 30 when the registration process takes off in the three districts.

“Such people will be issued job cards from April 30 to May 20. After May 20, these people can demand employment within the next about 15 days or up to June 10. If they still fail to get employment (with a minimum daily wages of Rs 93), they will attain the right to get a guaranteed unemployment allowance under this programme. A person having a job card will have to be given work for at least 14 days in a month at a stretch,” said Vinay Bublani.


Chief Chemical Examiner
‘Board of 3 should handle sensitive cases’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The post of the chief chemical examiner to the Punjab government enjoys immense power. The government should curtail its power in the interest of justice.

These are a part of the reforms the present incumbent Dr Gurinder Singh Mohi has suggested to the government for improving the credibility of the state’s chemical laboratory.

In the letter he has written to the director,Health,a copy of which is with The Tribune, Dr Mohi has stated the chief chemical examiner is the final authority in all cases of dowry death, murder, rape and poisoning in the state. The viscera in all categories of criminal cases are sent to the state chemical laboratory headed by the chief chemical examiner for testing. The report of the laboratory is used in a court against the accused as final medical evidence.

The viscera once tested by the laboratory is destroyed and cannot be re-examined. This gives immense power to the person heading the laboratory. While a person can always appeal against the judicial verdicts and police inquiries, there is no provision of appeal against the report submitted by the chief chemical examiner.

This casts serious doubts on the credibility of the person heading the laboratory. So, to rule out manipulation of the test reports,a board consisting of at least three officers should be constituted especially to handle sensitive cases. The human viscera coming to the laboratory should be opened in the presence of board members headed by the chief chemical examiner. The chemical analysis too should be done in their presence.

Most of the staff members working at the state chemical laboratory at Patiala have been working here for the past 15 to 32 years. Some of them have developed a nexus with bad elements, who broker deals with those in power. The stint of an employee in the laboratory should be fixed at three years.

Dr Mohi said he had sent the suggestions to the government.


State Roundup
UK company for eco cities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
In a major bid to modernise infrastructure in Punjab, the UK-based Sun group today expressed its readiness to set up a “first-of-its-kind” rural development institute at Nabha and an Indian institute of public health with a combined outlay of over Rs 100 crore.

One of the proposals of the group relates to building new "eco cities" in Punjab, with emphasis on the minimal use of polluting forms of power. A significant feature of the proposal on the new cities is that it does not imply any acquisition of land by the government. Instead, the group has offered to buy land direct from farmers through negotiations.

Uday Khemka of the group said the development of an "eco city" close to some major commercial centre such as Ludhiana or Chandigarh was planned.

The group also plans to preserve the historic fort at Nabha.

PRTC contractual staff

More than 2,000 employees, including drivers, conductors and cleaners, engaged by contractors for the Pepsu roadway transport corporation got major relief today. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal cleared a demand that these employees should not have to bear a deduction of 12.5 per cent service tax from their salaries every month.

The Chief Minister issued these directions at a sangat darshan programme when a delegation of employees engaged by contractors of the PRTC pleaded that after the notification of a new finance act by the union government, the contractors had started deducting service tax from their salaries. They said every employee getting an average salary of Rs 5,000 had to bear a deduction of more than Rs 625 every month.


Amarinder ‘loner, frustrated’ 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Reacting to the contents of an interview of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh published in a newspaper today, Punjab’s youngest minister Bikram Singh Majithia said today that Amarinder Singh was showing signs of frustration as he was finding himself a loner in politics.

Majithia, who holds charge of public relations and public health departments, said in a statement issued here today that Amarinder Singh had charged the present government with vendetta. The fact was that it was the previous government led by Amarinder Singh that had launched a vilification campaign against political opponents. On the other hand, the present government believed in the rule of law and had made it known that the law would take its own course in every case.

He advised Amarinder Singh to quit active politics, as people had rejected him. Instead of speaking of political vendetta the former Chief Minister should explain all his misdeeds and explain his involvement in all scams.

The SAD leader said if former Chief Minister believed in the law of land and claimed himself to be innocent then why had he run away to London immediately after election results. Not only that he had sought bail fearing arrest in numerous scandals and scam in which he was allegedly involved.

The people of Punjab recognised his “mega-loot” and the bundle of “mega-lies” and besides he being the fountainhead of corruption. Majithia questioned why was Amarinder Singh avoiding coming to Punjab?

Majithia said the fact was that Amarinder Singh was facing political isolation as his own party men in Punjab had shut all doors on him. Finding himself a loner in politics today, Amarinder Singh was issuing meaningless statements against the present government, which only showed his frustration.

The minister said Amarinder Singh lacked vision and during his regime Punjab had slipped from the top slot in the country to fifth slot with economic growth dipping to less than 1.9 per cent.

He said the people of Punjab would remember Amarinder Singh as a leader bereft of any vision and ideology, the one who was surrounded by a corrupt coterie and the one who had deserted the state when he lost power. 


‘CM tried to save tainted ministers’
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 25
Allegations are being raised against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for not ordering any inquiry into the alleged involvement of his two ministers in the human-trafficking racket during his previous tenure.

Despite making a statement of holding an inquiry into the serious allegations at that time, Badal never gave it a practical shape, alleged Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission chairman Balwant Singh Khera while talking to The Tribune.

The two former ministers facing allegations of their involvement in human-trafficking are Sohan Singh Thandal and Sujan Singh.

Presently, Thandal is a SAD MLA from the Mahilpur constituency of Hoshiarpur district. Whereas Sujan Singh died in 2002. His son Harpreet Singh is an SAD MLA from the Malout constituency in Badal’s home district Muktsar.

Now in the wake of recent BJP MP Babubhai Katara’s case, Khera demanded that an independent inquiry be done in the case.

When contacted, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, adviser to the Chief Minister, said, “We are not aware of the matter.”

He said the government had not received any complaint in this regard.

Thandal has denied his involvement in the human trafficking matter.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, the two ministers had gone to Vancouver in April, 2001.

Four members of the entourage, who had gone on the minister’s permit with special visa granted at the instance of a Canadian federal minister, disappeared after reaching Vancouver, alleged Khera, adding that Rs 10 lakh from each of them had been taken for taking them to Canada.

Khera said the then two Punjab ministers and the four “kabooters” were part of a delegation of the SAD and SGPC. He said he had given memorandums to Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and then jathedars of Anandpur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo to do the needful in the matter.

But Thandal claimed that he and Sujan Singh had gone to Vancouver on the invitation of the Canada gurdwara committee and no other person accompanied them.

Rather he levelled allegation of human trafficking against Khera.


Youth Cong to hold dharnas
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 25
The Youth Congress has drawn up an action plan to counter the “political vendetta” let loose by the ruling SAD-BJP alliance government against Congressmen in Punjab from May 1.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Vijay Inder Singla,president of the Punjab Youth Congress, said here yesterday that Congress workers were being targeted in the state by registration of false cases against them.

“To counter the evil designs of the SAD-BJP alliance,we will hold meetings at the block level in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran to enthuse the Congress workers by making them realise that the party leadership is behind them and they should not bow down to the registration of false cases against them,” he said.

He further said the block meetings would also be used as a platform to tell party workers about the “delay tactics” being used by the government on the atta-dal issue and dharnas would be held in each district from May 1.


Recruitment should continue: YC

Amritsar, April 25
President of the Punjab Youth Congress Vijay Inder Singla said here today that though the move of the SAD-BJP alliance to extend the retirement age of medical teachers to 60 years was a welcome step, the recruitment process started by the previous Congress government should also continue.

Singla addressed a series of block-level meetings of the Youth Congress and Congress workers in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran districts during the last three days.

Meetings of the Youth Congress were held in Chaula, Khalra and Khemkaran blocks of Tarn Taran today. — TNS


Wrong affidavits delay rehabilitation
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 25
On account of erroneous affidavits filed by the various state governments regarding the number of scavengers partially or wholly engaged in the obnoxious and inhuman occupation of manually removing night soil, the UPA government has been compelled to extend the period for eradicating the uncivilised profession from December, 2007, to March, 2009.

This was disclosed by Santosh Chowdhary,chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, while addressing a press conference yesterday.

She said none of the state governments had given the exact number of scavengers partially or wholly engaged in the inhuman practice.

Scavengers numbering 4,27,870 had already been assisted under the National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation for Scavengers and were eligible for assistance, while the number of manual scavengers yet to be rehabilitated was 3,42,468. The self-employment scheme had been introduced with the objective of assisting the remaining scavengers in a time-bound manner by March, 2009.

Each scavenger and his/her children, who were of 18 years of age and above and were not employed,would be identified and rehabilitated.

The National Safai Karamcharis Finance Development Corporation or any other identified agency at the apex level would provide interest subsidy to the banks through its state channelising agencies.

She lamented that safai karamcharis were being exploited in various government and semi-government departments. The Railways was the largest single employer of safai karamcharis in the country where manual scavenging was in practice on almost all railway tracks.

Earlier,Chowdhary convened a joint meeting of officers and safai karamcharis of the BSNL, Hoshiarpur.She interacted with women safai karamcharis and noted their difficulties.She instructed the BSNL district manager to settle their grievances.


City Centre Scam
Chaudhary got Rs 1 crore: VB
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, April 25
The vigilance bureau today accused former local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh of receiving kickbacks worth at least Rs 1 crore in the City Centre scam. The bureau said the figure might swell more after further investigation.

Special public prosecutor Mitter Sen Goyal stated this in the court of special judge Gurbir Singh while opposing the anticipatory bail application of the former minister in the scam.

He said the vigilance bureau had evidence of the bribe paid to him where Manmohan Singh, chief engineer of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, was also present in 2005.

He said G.K. Gambhir, managing director of Today Homes, gave a black bag containing the money to Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Manmohan Singh in the presence of a former executive officer (EO) of the improvement trust.

The EO had in a statement to the vigilance bureau said the minister had told Manmohan Singh to count the money and send to his home next morning.

The vigilance bureau named the former executive officer of the improvement trust as a witness to the money changing hands. Manmohan Singh, who was produced before a city court, later talking to The Tribune said the vigilance bureau was concocting tales to nail him and no such meeting took place.

The defence lawyer said the vigilance bureau was adopting “pick and choose” policy in the case. The case of former PPCC president H.S. Hanspal was also on the same footing. He was also named in the FIR being one of the beneficiary in allegedly receiving Rs 100 crore in the scam. He asked why now the bail application of Jagjit Singh was opposed, who also faced the same allegations.

Referring to the observations made by the high court while staying the arrest of former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the counsel requested the court to consider the same as his case was similar to that of Amarinder Singh. The judge reserved the order on bail application till tomorrow.


Human rights body hold officials guilty, orders relief

Chandigarh, April 25
Taking a serious note of death of a prisoner in Ludhiana Central Jail, the Punjab Human Rights Commission has held jail authorities guilty of negligence for failing to protect the life of the deceased.

The commission had also recommended that an interim relief of Rs one lakh be paid to the legal heirs of the deceased. Incidentally, the state government has accepted the said recommendation and sanctioned the said relief.

A communication was received by the commission from the SP, Central Jail, Ludhiana, that Sadhu Khan, a prisoner under the NDPS Act, had been referred to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, where he died.

The commission then sought a detailed report along with a copy of the post-mortem report, video film, report of the chemical examiner regarding the viscera of the deceased, report regarding the treatment of the deceased in the jail hospital or outside hospital and the magisterial inquiry report.

The magisterial inquiry could not reach any definitive conclusion with regard to the cause of death in the case. But the report did mention that the prisoner had died suddenly and also that he had expired on the way to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana. The senior medical officer of the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, after the receipt of the chemical examiner declared the cause of death due to ‘chloro compound’, a group of insecticide. Despite the cause of death having been ascertained, there was no report pinning down a particular public servant. — TNS


Reviving link between Sikh shrines and divine trees
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Rooted deep in religion, a senior IAS officer from Punjab has branched out to nurture the tree of knowledge.

After travelling over 30,000 km across India and Pakistan, the 1976-batch officer, D. S. Jaspal, has faithfully revived the sacred link between Sikh shrines and the “divine” trees by religiously capturing in his 12-mega pixel camera the visible, yet indiscernible, realities of growth and decay.

His efforts will now be on display at the “Tryst with Trees”-a two-day exhibition depicting the state’s holy heritage reflected vividly through photographs of sacred Sikh shrines commemorated by the names of the trees.

In all, the display will put on show pictorial documentation of 17 species of trees that have 48 Sikh shrines named after them.

Sponsored by none else than the Indian chapter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the exhibition is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice Vijender Jain, at the Lake Club on April 27 at 4.30 pm.

The first of the series in this part of the region, WWF-India has already expressed its desire to exhibit the pictorial representation across the country, and abroad, after describing the work as “profound impact of nature on spiritual, social and cultural evolution of Sikhism”. One such exhibition was held in New Delhi last year.

For Jaspal, the hobby of photography helped him undertake the mission of tracing the religious roots, and preserving the state’s blessed heritage, after he clicked “some disturbing developments”.

During one of his pilgrimages, Jaspal realised at many places the dazzle of marble was replacing the religious sheen. In fact, the sacred “relics” of the past “that had actually seen the gurus” had indiscriminately been chopped off at these places for the expansion of gurdwaras in the marble-clad buildings.

“At Gurdwara Santokhsar near the Golden Temple at Amritsar , the sacred ‘Tahli’, associated with Guru Ram Dass, was axed to make way for a building cloaked in marble,” he says.

“This is not all. At Imli Sahib Gurdwara in Chamkaur Sahib, the tamarind tree was cut down in 2005 for erecting a marble structure”.

He adds: Otherwise also, at more than a few shrines, the historic trees are either dead, or to use T.S. Eliot’s expression “are dying with little patience”, due to ignorance about elementary tree-preservation practices.

Through the exhibition, Jaspal not only wishes to bring to the foreground the Sikh heritage and its tryst with trees, but also to drive home the message of preserving the trees that have “grown on us religiously”.


‘Swiss Embassy’s delaying tactics frustrate native’
Sanjay Bumbroo

Amritsar, April 25
“I will be forced to seek legal remedies against the dilly-dallying tactics of Swiss Embassy officials if they do not stop harassing and creating obstructions in my taking my husband along to my country”, said Claude Francoise, a resident of Switzerland.

Talking to The Tribune, Claude said investigating officers at the embassy were time and again asking them to change the papers, re-register the marriage and were not ready to accept the documents certified by the Ministry of External Affairs in India.

She said they had married as per the Hindu Marriage Act and later remarried under Special Marriage Act.

Talking about her chance meeting with her husband Randhir Kumar, a resident of Kashmir Avenue in Amritsar,Claude said she had come to attend a yoga session held in the city in June 2005.And it was there that she developed friendly relations with him and later decided to get married to him.

The Swiss resident said she and her husband had been making rounds of Chandigarh and New Delhi for the visa and had spent a lot of money. She said her visa would expire in August.She said come what may she could not be separated from her husband. 


Temple chapatti-making machine switched off
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 25
Following reports that pollution in the holy city has gone up, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has stopped the chapatti-making machine in the Golden Temple premises after four years of its installation.

The Pollution Control Board in a special survey has also confirmed the machine was source of great pollution around the Golden Temple. The board monitored ambient air quality around the periphery of the Darbar Sahib from April 16 to 17 .

The Maxifour automated system for preparing parsada (chapattis) in the langar house (community kitchen) of the Golden Temple was donated by the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Mount Lebanon. The system was invented by Lebanese baker Anis Abi Ramia, in the early 1960s. The automatic parsada-making machine had been preparing 2,000 to 6,000 chapattis per hour.

Analysis results of the Punjab Pollution Control Board revealed concentration of suspended partcles of matter around the Golden Temple varied from 296 to 586 microgram per cubic metre against the permissible limit of 100 microgram per cubic metre which was standard for the sensitive area.

Alarmed at the results of the PPCB, deputy commissioner K.S.Pannu took up the matter with SGPC officials, who promised to implement the suggestions made in the report. SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh promised that diesel-oil fired furnace installed with the machine for the preparation of chapattis would be removed.


Foundation for 2008 as year of religious pluralism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The Guru Gobind Singh Foundation has decided to call upon international and national constitutional bodies to adopt a declaration to commemorate the tercentenary --- due next year --- of the investiture of spiritual authority on Guru Granth Sahib as the eternally living Guru.

President of the foundation Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, while addressing a press conference today, said a draft declaration was being prepared in collaboration with spiritual and religious leaders from different faiths.

It would be on “religious pluralism and tolerance and to declare 2008 as the year of religious pluralism and tolerance”. The foundation would call upon UNESCO, the Indian Parliament, the Punjab assembly, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and other organisations in this regard.

The foundation also proposed to organise a religious summit at the UN headquarters in New York, dedicated to religious pluralism and tolerance as its theme. 


Auction recorder suspended
Tribune News service

Bathinda, April 25
Nirmal Singh auction recorder of Chak Fateh Singh Wala village purchase centre was suspended and the licence of commission agent Birbal Das Thakur Das was cancelled by deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandari after checking wheat procurement in the district today.

Official sources said Nirmal Singh was suspended for being found absent from duty. The licence of the agent was cancelled for filling uncleaned wheat in gunny bags. Bhandari also instructed the district food and supply controller to stop payments to the commission agent. 


Subsoil water over-exploited in 103 blocks
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Punjab is heading for self- destruction because of the excessive use of ground water for agricultural and other purposes.

This is indicated in mapping done by the local regional office of the central ground water board with regard to the use of ground water in the state.

Of the 137 development blocks mapped by the board's scientists, 103 are over-exploited ones as far as the use of subsoil water is concerned. Five blocks are at a critical stage and four at a semi-critical stage. Blocks falling in the the safe zone number 25.

In fact, in the safe zone are mostly those blocks where the subsoil water is unfit for drinking as well as for irrigation.

In blocks like Amloh, Tarn Taran, Barnala, Dhuri, Nihalsingwala, Bhikhi, Bhawanigarh and many others the over-exploitation of subsoil water is more than 200 per cent.

Simply put, it means that if 100 litres of water goes into the subsoil as replenishment in these particular blocks, 200 litres is extracted through tubewells and other means.

There are about 12 lakh tubewells, mostly operated on electricity, in Punjab. Free power given by the state government to farmers to operate tubewells and the growing of the paddy crop, which is also called a water-guzzling crop, has led the state on the path of self-destruction.

Free power to the farm sector has been proving a bane to the state in many ways.

Alarmed by the emerging situation, the central ground water authority has issued a notification that no person, organisation or agency (government or non- government) shall undertake the process of drilling, construction, installation of any new structure , scheme or project of ground water development without the specific approval of the deputy commissioners concerned in Moga-I, Moga-II, Sangrur, Mahal Kalan, Malerkotla-II ( Ahmedgarh) development blocks.

In other words, no new energised tubewell or other such structure can be installed for the extraction of ground water in these blocks without the permission of the deputy commissioner concerned.

However, tubewells can be installed in the shallow aquifer up to a specified depth to draw water for drinking purposes and domestic supply only. But in those cases also the deputy commissioners have been told to monitor the installation of tubewells up to a specified depth even for drinking purposes.

Similar measures are on the anvil in the case of Jalandhar (east), Jalandhar (west) and Nakodar blocks. In fact, before issuing the notification, the authority, an off-shoot of the board, had issued a public notice for the registration of all existing sources of water extraction, including tubewells.

Asked to comment on the subsoil water scenario in the state, S. Marwaha, senior scientist in the board here, said the situation was alarming."Because of the emerging alarming situation, the board has taken certain steps to regulate the extraction of water in certain over- exploited blocks”, he adds.

In the Sangrur belt, the water level has gone down by 8 metres to 16 metres in the past 28 years.

The same is the case in the Moga area. The watertable is going down by 10 cm to 60 cm per annum in certain areas of Punjab.


2 fake travel agents arrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 25
SSP Anita Punj said here today that the district police arrested two fake travel agents, Paramjit Singh of Bhangala village, Jalandhar, and Satnam Singh, alias Babba, of Kariavir Sarkar Maulanawala, Ferozepore, under sections 420 and 406 of the IPC.

The SSP said Paramjit Singh was arrested on a complaint by Jasbir Singh of local Ravidass Nagar in which he alleged that Paramjit Singh had taken Rs 9.44 lakh from him for sending his two sons Tirath Singh and Jarnail Singh to Italy.

The fake travel agent called his sons to Delhi and after some days sent them back to their homes under the plea that their visas had expired and after getting fresh visas they would be sent abroad.

The SSP said the case was registered after investigating by the economic crime branch wing. The police was searching some more accomplices of Paramjit Singh and he was being interrogated.

Meanwhile, the police has also arrested Satnam Singh in a case filed by Jaswinder Singh of Usman Shaheed on January 17 for allegedly duping him of Rs 8.65 lakh in the name of sending him to the UK.

Raids were being conducted to nab Sanjay Bhola, alias Swarn Dhillon, of Delhi, an accomplice of Satnam Singh, who was also involved in the case, she added.


Flesh trade racket busted; 8 held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
With the arrest of four boys and as many girls, the local police today busted a flesh trade racket being operated by its kingpin, a woman, from her rented house in Gobind Nagar here.

Police sources said the kingpin was in the immoral profession for the past about 10 years. She used to lure the girls from different areas of Punjab into the profession by offering them good money. She used to charge hefty amounts from the customers. To keep her activities a secret, she would frequently shift the base, the sources added.

The arrested persons have been remanded in judicial custody.


6 held for damaging secular pillar
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 25
The district police has arrested six accused persons involved in damaging the secular pillar erected by Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda at Mansa crossing on the night of April 22.

While the main accused, Balbir Singh, alias Madho, was arrested last morning, three other accused, identified as Omkar, Rajinder Kumar and Ravinder, alias Binder Singh, were arrested late last evening.

SSP Ram Singh said after Balbir Singh was questioned by the police, the other accused involved in the case were traced out and arrested. Two more accused were arrested today. They were identified as Rafiq Khan and Jagsir Singh, alias Seera.

After the arrest of the six accused, hundreds of dera followers, who were camping at the site of the incident and staging dharnas, lifted the same.


Synthetic milk factory raided

Patiala, April 25
The district police has unearthed a racket in which thousands of litres of synthetic milk was being produced and supplied in market. In a press statement here today, the SSP, Patiala, said last evening they raided the premises at Samana that were being used to produce synthetic milk.

A tanker filled with synthetic milk was seized and Kulwinder Singh,owner of the premises, was arrested.

District health officer D.C. Sharma, who was part of the team that was later summoned by the police,said 29 bags of Molto Dextrin powder, 24 bags of milk powder and one tanker milk were recovered from the premises of the accused.

He said the accused said they used to procure the Molto Dextrin powder from Karnal.The contents of the powder that was a major ingredient to the synthetic milk are yet to the ascertained. The samples of the powder have been sent to laboratory for analysis. A case has been registered. — TNS


Wheat purchase: auction recorder suspended, arhtiya’s licence cancelled
Tribune News service

Bathinda, April 25
Nirmal Singh auction recorder of Chak Fateh Singh Wala village purchase centre was suspended and the licence of commission agent Birbal Das Thakur Das was cancelled by deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandari after checking wheat procurement in the district today.

Official sources said Nirmal Singh was suspended for being found absent from duty. The licence of the agent was cancelled for filling uncleaned wheat in gunny bags. Bhandari also instructed the district food and supply controller to stop payments to the commission agent.

Bhandari also issued show- cause notices to the secretaries of market committees of Bhucho Mandi and Raman Mandi for shortcomings in the arrangements for procuring wheat. Bhandari said so far about 3.02 lakh metric tonnes of wheat had arrived in various purchase centres of this district.


Frankfinn ties up with SBoP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The Frankfinn Aviation Services today announced a tie-up with State Bank of Patiala making the bank its preferred partner to provide finances to the students of the institute.

The tie-up was announced by Ashok Chawla, vice-president (finance) of the institute, and Sebastian Chacko, general manager, planning and development, of the bank. Chawla said: “With India opening its skies to major airlines, cabin crew as a profession has become a lucrative career option for the aspiring young boys and girls from both metro and non-metro cities”.

Chacko said the bank was providing education and career loans for all job-oriented courses for studies in India and abroad. 


Excise auction elicits lukewarm response
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 25
The Excise and Taxation Department received only a handful of applications for 12 liquor shops in the town on the last day of submitting forms sources said this evening. The government under the revised excise policy has reduced number of sale outlets from 17 to 12 leaving it to the licensees to chose locations but the non-refundable fee was increased from Rs 45 lakh to 60 lakh for 11 months as the government decided to fix next allotments for last week of March 2008.Traditional traders virtually has lost interest in the liquor shops in urban areas due to tough competition but had preference for rural areas as was evident from the applications received at the district headquarter.

Sources in the department said 2257 applications had been submitted for 399 liquor shops to be allotted tomorrow in the largest district of the state spread over 8 assembly segments. The government has received Rs 1.35 crore from the applicants by way of non-refundable deposits.


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