P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Punjabi varsity VC faces sack
Syndicate members to meet Governor against Boparai
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
The battle between the government and the vice-chancellor of Punjabi University Swaran Singh Boparai came out in the open today.

SAD leaders from Patiala led by Prem Singh Chandumajra, who is also a Syndicate member, at a press conference here today said: “Things in Punjabi University, Patiala, have gone out of hand. The government might consider seeking the removal of the VC in the near future.”

Surjeet Singh Rakhra, Surjeet Singh Kohli former minister, Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC president, and Inder Mohan Bajaj, district president of SAD, were among the Akali leaders present at the conference.

They alleged that the VC had used derogatory language on the eve of the Independence Day function against Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. The Syndicate members of the university would meet the Governor of Punjab to complain against the VC. He had also misled the Governor about the developments in the university, they alleged.

The government had banned promotions and new appointments in the university. However, defying the orders, the VC was making new appointments, they added.

The registrar of university was caught by the Punjab Vigilance in a trap. The VC, however, blamed the government for it. He has also stated that the university would provide legal assistance to the arrested registrar. This is open defiance of the government and state Vigilance. The Syndicate and government would not allow the VC to provide university funds for a person accused of corruption, they alleged.

The Akali leaders also accused the VC of acting as a political person. He had equated himself with the baba of Dera Sacha Sauda when his effigies were burnt by students.

The VC, when contacted, said events that were now unfolding clearly showed that a particular political party was targeting him. Earlier, the leaders of the party, including an MLA, had addressed a dharna against him.

He denied using derogatory language against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. “I have full respect for him and would not use unparliamentary language against anyone,” he claimed.

About the recruitments, despite the government ban orders, he said the university had been persistently writing to the government regarding the requirement of personnel. However, the authorities concerned did not reply. More than 55 promotions of employees and appointments on statutory posts had been withheld.

The strength of students had risen to 10,000 in the university. So, to keep certain departments functioning, he had made some appointments on a temporary basis, he clarified.


Residential Colonies 
New policy gets government nod
Three Zones Formed
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

For mega projects, the promoters will now have to submit ownership documents of at least 50 per cent of the project area before executing the agreement. Similarly, at the time of applying for change of land use, ownership documents for at least 75 per cent of the project land will have to be submitted by the promoters. It has also been decided that henceforth for all new projects promoters would have to submit ownership documents for the 50 per cent project land at the time of submission of their proposal to committees headed by the chief secretary before it is considered by the empowered committee.

Mohali, August 17
The Punjab government has notified the new policy for establishing residential colonies. The entire state has been divided into three zones based on its growth potential. While Mohali has been placed in the zone which has the highest growth potential in coming years, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana have been placed in the high potential zones.

All areas which are within 5-km belt on both sides of the National Highway No. 1 in the state have been placed in the medium potential zone. Other areas will fall under the low potential zone.

The division into zones had been done on the pattern of Haryana, said secretary, housing and urban development, Arun Goel. He added that unlike Haryana, where areas like Gurgaon had been identified as hyper potential, no area in state was at that stage of growth. Mohali is the closest, he added.

Laying down the size criteria for the development of colonies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has fixed that a residential colony (with cut-out plots) will be of minimum 100 acres in the high potential zone, 50 acres in the medium potential zone and 25 acres in the low potential zone.

For a group housing scheme the minimum areas required for a colonizer in a high potential zone will have to be 10 acres (independent) and 5 acres as part of cut-out plots. The rule remains the same for such a colony to be established in a medium potential zone. In low potential zones such a colony can be established in 5 acres.

The department has also laid down 2 acres as the minimum area requirement for the setting up of a commercial colony. The establishment of a knowledge park, which will include information technology parks or those defined as knowledge parks by the department of industries, will require 10 acres in all three zones.

An industrial park for manufacturing (other than a knowledge park) will require 50 acres in any of the three zones across the state. The minimum area of plot development within the jurisdiction of urban local bodies has been fixed as 5 acres and would be 4000 square meters in case of group housing and commercial use. However, development norms of the local body in terms of set backs, parking, height ground coverage, FAR will be applicable.

The department has also laid down frontage and road width for commercial complexes or group housing projects within and outside the local bodies limits. For a commercial activity the minimum frontage is 30 metres and minimum road width is 100 feet. For group housing the minimum frontage has been laid down as 20 metres and minimum road width 100 feet.

The criteria will, however, be not applicable to the state areas in Chandigarh periphery, which is governed by the revised periphery policy laid down by the state government.


Kanak-Dal Scheme
9,600 card holders lift stock on first day 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
More than 9,600 ration card holders have lifted the stock of wheat and dal from different warehouses across the state on the very first day of “kanak-dal” scheme.

According to an official spokesman, 48,256.metric tones of wheat and 4835 metric tones of dal were stocked in warehouses spread across 20 districts of the state for August. The department of food and civil supplies has activated its machinery all over the state to ensure its smooth distribution among eligible beneficiaries.

Over 14,250 depots have been assigned the task of distributing wheat and dal at subsidised rates among beneficiaries.

Grant-in-aid panel

NGOs seeking grants will now have to get them released through a committee set up by the Punjab government. This will be called the “grant-in-aid committee” as per the guidelines issued by Central government. The committee will recommend the cases of the NGO's for releasing grant-in-aid to them.

The committee will be headed by the principal secretary of the department of social security. The principal secretaries of departments of health and rural development will be two of its members. Three experts or reputed NGO's from the state will be nominated by the chairperson for one year as members, whereas the director (social security) will function as member-secretary of the committee.

Fertilisers reviewed

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh today reviewed the availability of fertilisers in the state and the arrangements made to ensure its smooth availability during ensuing rabi season. At present, about 1.40 lakh metric tonnes of urea, 85,000 metric tonnes of DAP and about 8,800 metric tonnes of murate of potash are available in the state.

Whereas, 12.5 lakh metric tonnes urea is required, 5.5 lakh metric tonnes of DAP and 0.60 lakh tonnes murat of potash. The Punjab government has already taken up the issue with the union ministry of chemical and fertilizers. An order to supply 3.5 lakh MT of imported DAP before September 30 has already been placed with Indian Potash Limited.

The distribution of DAP shall be made through cooperative societies as well as traded through Markfed and Punjab Agro Industries Corporation.


Blue cards distributed in Bassi Pathana
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, August 17
The Food and Civil Supply Department has completed the distribution of blue cards to the atta dal beneficiaries in the Bassi Pathana Sub-Division. This was stated in a press release issued by assistant food and civil supply officer Sajjan Singh. He said 1,536 families in Bassi Pathana town had been provided with blue cards, whereas in the rural areas of the sub-division, 3,431 families had been provided with the same.

He said from August 15, all these blue card holders had started getting atta and dal on subsidised rates from the ration depots. He added that besides this, the BPL and Antodya card holders were also getting the facility from ration depots.


Close shave for 35 as bus catches fire 
Tribune News Service

Beas, August 17
Nearly 35 passengers of the Punjab Roadways bus going from Amritsar to Shimla had a narrow escape as the gas cylinder placed in it caught fire due to leakage early in the morning.

According to information, the Punbus (No. PB-02-AP-9924 of Amritsar Depot No. 1) caught fire when it reached near a petrol station on the Amritsar-Jalandhar GT Road at 8.45 am.

A passenger, Parveen Kumari of Himachal, felt the heat on her legs and started crying. The other passengers raised the alarm and asked the driver to stop the bus. The passengers got down immediately to save their lives, leaving behind their baggage and important documents, which were completely damaged as the bus turned into ashes within minutes.

Some passengers informed the police and the Fire Brigade immediately, but they could reach the spot half an hour later. The brigade controlled the fire within 15 minutes of reaching the site.

The driver of the bus, Angrez Singh, told The Tribune that Vijay Kumar, yard master of the bus stand Amritsar, had instructed him that two gas cylinders of a senior officer of the department were to be lifted from Jaskaran Gas Agency in Rayya and taken to Chandigarh. However, after a few kilometres one cylinder, placed near the rear door of the bus, started leaking and caught fire.

But, a major tragedy was averted as conductor Ninder Singh, showing courage, threw the other cylinder placed near the front door out of the bus.

Raising slogans against the Punjab Roadways and the state government, Avtar Singh, Satish Kumar, Gurnam Singh, Rajesh Kumar and Nirmal Singh demanded that the government should ban the transportation of gas cylinders in passenger buses to prevent such incidents in future. They also urged the government for initiating action against the erring officials.

The police, fearing a second blast, blocked the GT Road which resulted in a traffic jam, causing hardship to commuters in the severe humid conditions.


Ferozepur in for major revamp
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, August 17
Concerned over the decline in the growth rate, finance minister Manpreet Badal stated that efforts would be made to improve the fiscal condition of the state, which he termed as satisfactory at the moment.

The FM was here to preside over the meeting of the District Development and Planning Board.

The FM sanctioned a grant of Rs 8.41 crore for various development works in the district. He also sanctioned Rs 10 crore for laying sewerage in the city.

He announced that the old bridge connecting Ferozepur city and cantonment areas which was posing a danger to commuters would be reconstructed within 18 months and for this, Rs 16 crore had been sanctioned.

He said the development of this border district which shared over 120-km boundary with Pakistan would be the priority of the government.

He ruled out re-imposition of octroi in the state. About the abolition of octroi in the cantonment areas, he said the government had sent a proposal to the Ministry of Defence and after getting its nod, octroi from these areas would be abolished.

Admitting that there was a shortage of PCS officers, he said the government wanted the officers to work overtime to fill the void.

The FM stated that the government had kept a provision of 122 per cent hike in the budget for augmentation of electricity production and improvement in the irrigation network.

Healthcare, medical and technical education, school education were the other priorities of the government.

About the recruitment of 16,000 new teachers, Badal said the Finance Ministry had already given approval for the same.

Regarding non-payment of salaries to some teachers and other government officials, the FM clarified that it was an administrative issue since some posts were not sanctioned earlier.

He added that the process had been completed and all pending salaries would be soon paid.

Answering a query, Badal said the case regarding pension to retired teachers of government-aided schools was under consideration.

He was accompanied by irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, chief parliamentary secretaries Sukhpal Singh and Sher Singh, MLA Gurtej Singh and senior civil and police officials. 


A Promise

In the birth centenary year of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, the state government has decided to develop this historic town, stated finance minister Manpreet Badal after inaugurating the Leisure Valley and Kids Park constructed near the National Martyrs Memorial, Hussaniwala, at an estimated cost of Rs 50 lakh.

He was addressing a gathering of social workers, freedom fighters and schoolchildren.

The FM was accompanied by Cabinet colleagues and senior civil, Army, BSF and police officials. On the occasion, acceding to the demand put across by the Army authorities, the FM announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh each for the development and beautification of Shakti Park and Saragarhi Memorial. He said the road from Hussainiwala to Ferozepur and further up to Ludhiana would be four-laned shortly.

Earlier, the FM accompanied by DC Bhagwant Singh, SDM D.P.S. Kharbanda and other senior officials paid floral tributes at the samadhi of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, B. K. Dutt and Punjab Mata.


Built for patients, now a threat to them
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
The building of the local Civil Hospital has started posing a threat to the lives of patients and their attendants as a section of its projections has started falling and plaster of the roofs has started peeling off.

After the plaster of two rooms of the medical ward peeled off recently, the hospital authorities decided to carry out repairs so that patients could be kept safely. Sources said the plaster of roofs of room Nos. 207 and 209 fell off about a week ago and Monday evening, respectively. As there were no patients in those rooms at that time, a tragedy was averted.

Interestingly, no inspection has been carried out of the more-than-30-year-old building of the hospital and no repairs have been done for the past seven years, ever since the Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC) came into existence.

What the authorities had been doing was to close those areas.

Last year, the authorities had demanded Rs 60 lakh from the Punjab government to carry out repairs of the building apart from upgrading its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the emergency wing. It did not receive the funds and, hence, could not carry out the repairs.

Maninderjit Singh,civil surgeon, Bathinda, first said he was not aware of the fact that plaster had peeled off in two rooms. After making inquiries from the subordinate staff, he said the hospital authorities would start repairing the building by using the funds collected as user charges.

He pointed out that the PHSC had sent a letter to him in which it was mentioned that the hospital would be given Rs 20 lakh for carrying out various jobs.


Follow-up: Poison in Jails
Reports differ on cause of inmates’ deaths
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The mystery over a series of unexplained deaths of inmates in jails of Punjab due to insecticide poisoning has deepened further with officials uncovering a crucial piece of information.

The reports of the post-mortem conducted on the bodies, analysis of chemical examination of the viscera, magisterial inquiry and the cause of death listed in the records of the Prisons Department, do not match with one another.

While the chemical reports say the deaths are due to poisoning, the post-mortem and magisterial inquiry conducted much before knowing the outcome of the chemical reports, say “it is death due to natural causes”.

Even as the National Human Rights Commission, acting on a news report in The Tribune, has sought a report from the Punjab government, senior police officials consulted by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission have suggested that cases of murder should be registered in each case of death due to poisoning alongside a full-scale enquiry to unravel the truth.

“If poisoning has been established by the chemical examiner, it is nothing but murder,” said a senior functionary.

Further investigations by The Tribune show that these men have died without any official batting an eyelid or following up the chemical reports to find who poisoned them.

The PSHRC has given compensation to the kin of the deceased in about 20-odd cases and a similar number of cases are pending hearing. All cases have been decided on the basis of reports of the government chemical examiner at Patiala.

The Prisons Department shows a much lower figure of deaths due to poisoning. The post-mortem reports of all, except around 10 cases, says “death due to natural causes”.

In almost a similar number of cases, the magisterial inquiry also says the death was caused due to natural causes but advises that the final outcome should be based on the chemical analyser. The reports of the analyser reveal that many more deaths have occurred due to poisoning. On this basis, the PSHRC is awarding compensation.

Senior government functionaries are baffled as to how the magisterial inquiries in successive cases are not taking note of the chemical analysis and not informing the Prisons Department or the police. Also, why is the police not taking note of the reports which clearly says insecticide poisoning caused the death. Why is the matter not being taken to the logical conclusion as giving of compensation alone is not justice, said a senior official.

Explaining the process, sources said when an inmate dies, the jail superintendent informs the police and the body is sent for post-mortem. The viscera is sent for examination. Separately, inquest proceedings are launched and a magisterial inquiry is ordered.

There is no explanation as to how the insecticides reached the jails.


Move to unbundle PSEB cleared
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
As opinion is sharply divided among top leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) on withdrawing the facility of free power given to farmers, the move in this regard has been dropped for a while.

However, the proposal to unbundle the Punjab state electricity board ( PSEB) has been cleared at the political level by the SAD. Sources said the issues of free power and unbundling were discussed at a meeting of the core committee of the SAD held under the leadership of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Almost all top leaders of the SAD were present at the meeting. Some top officers were also present, it is learnt.

Except one or two leaders, no one supported the move to discontinue the free power facility to farmers. Though the core committee has given the green light to the authorities to divide the PSEB into three companies, it will not be an easy task to implement the decision. The SAD had opposed the move to unbundle the PSEB initiated by the previous Amarinder Singh government.

The SAD had also taken a stand against dividing the PSEB into three companies in the state assembly. In such circumstances, it would be difficult for the Badal government to enforce the decision to unbundle the PSEB.

The Punjab state electricity regulatory commission is ready with its proposal to revise the tariff. The sources said the commission, after examining the documents sought by it from the PSEB and hearing objections from the public, had reached the conclusion that it should order an increase of 1.24 per cent in the power tariff. 

During the remaining period of this fiscal year, the PSEB will get about Rs 124 crore if the increase in tariff worked out by the commission is enforced by September 1. The management of the PSEB is not ready to accept this increase. 

The sources said the state government was prepared for 15 per cent increase in the power tariff to save the organisation from financial collapse. This issue was expected to be taken up by the authorities with the commission. However, whether the commission will agree to an increase of 15 per cent or not, remains to be seen. If the tariff is increased by 15 per cent, the PSEB will be able to mop up over Rs 1,500 crore during the remaining period of the current fiscal year.


Now, Khalsa panel targets Ashutosh
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 17
In another cause of worry for the state government, the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) has decided to launch a mass movement against another controversial godman -- Ashutosh, chief of the Divya Jagran Jyoti Sansthan (DJJS) in the Doaba region, for his alleged anti-Panthic activities from August 19.

Earlier, activists of radical organisations and followers of Ashutosh had clashed in many placed in Punjab. Akal Takht had constituted a sub-committee headed by Jagmohan Singh Tony, leader of SAD (Amritsar), to confront Ashutosh and in its report, it has sought a ban on the activities of the DJJS. However, Akal Takht and the SGPC had failed to implement the report.

The members of the committee who met under the chairmanship of Bhai Mohkam Singh decided to expose and contain the activities of Ashutosh, describing his activities as anti-Sikh.

He said a march would be held in Ludhiana district on August 19 and another one in the area of Nurmahal on September 9 against Ashutosh.

The KAC asked the Akali government to name the “Satguru” Ram Singh chair as Baba Ram Singh chair. The KAC also sought from the state government to set up the chairs after Giani Dit Singh and Prof Gurmukh Singh.


Mann released
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD(A) chief was released from the Central Jail after three months and three days along with 16 of his party colleagues late last night. The lone women arrested with them, Bibi Gurdeep Kaur Chatha from Batala, also walked free. 

A beaming Mann announced that his party would hold a rally on August 22 at Sunam in which the death sentences awarded to Jagtar Hawara and Balwant Singh and Mohammad Afzal would also be condemned. 

Party activists, besides those from other Sikh organisations, had been camping in front of the jail since noon. The former MPs release was delayed as some important legal papers had to be brought from Jalandhar, where a case under Section 124-A (sedition) had been registered against him and 21 of his supporters. 

Those who had assembled to receive him included former MP Dhyan Sigh Mand and Bhai Mohkam Singh of the Damdami Taksal. 


75 pc of Ghaggar breach plugged 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 17
Of the 120-foot breach in the Ghaggar river at Chandu village (near Khanauri), 90-foot breach was today plugged by the district administration in assistance with the villagers by 5 pm. Another 15-foot breach is likely to be plugged later today and the remaining 15-foot breach will be left open for the flood water to enter the Ghaggar back from the standing crops.

Meanwhile, the flood water today further spread to about 400 to 500 acres, submerging crops on about 2000 acres. The water in Ghaggar today started receding as it was touching the 749.5-foot mark at about 6 pm against the 750.5 foot mark last night.

Area in charge of the SAD of Lehragaga Assembly constituency Prem Singh Chandumajra today also visited the breach site at Chandu and met the villagers there. He assured the affected farmers that they would get compensation for the damage of their standing crops after girdawari. 

Chandumajra said work on taming the Ghaggar would start on October 1 with Rs 85 crore, given by the NABARD, for this purpose. 

He assured the people that next year they would not face flood problem in the Ghaggar as the Badal government would tame it before the next monsoon session.

Talking to The Tribune, Sangrur deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would conduct an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas in the Khanauri-Moonak belt on August 20 after attending the death anniversary function of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal village. 


Vishwa Mohan performs at Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
SPICMACAY, Patiala, org-anised a musical evening with the Grammy Award winner Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, at Thapar University auditorium.

The creator of the Mohan Veena and winner of the Grammy Award, Vishwa Mohan has mesmerised all with his pristine pure and delicate fiery music.

He is the first ever Indian to strike a Jugal Bandi with a Chinese artist.

Dr K.K. Raina, deputy director was the chief guest on this occasion. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt with his sheer virtuosity and limitless supply of melodies enthralled the audience. Being the foremost disciple of Pt. Ravi Shankar, he belongs to that elite body of musicians which traces its origin to the Moughal empire Akbar’s court musician Tansen and his guru the Hindu mystic Swami Haridas.

He attracted the attention of the audience by copying the western Hawaiian guitar with his sitar, sarod and veena techniques, by giving it a evolutionary design and perfect speed. Being a powerhouse performer, his electrifying performance always captivates the audience whether in the USA, Europe countries or his motherland India. He has become the cultural ambassador of India by carrying the Herculean task of glorifying popularising Indian culture and music throughout the world.

He also performed his outstanding features ‘Baaj’ (style), which is his natural ability to play Tantrakari Ang and incorporate the Gayaki Ang on Mohan Veena, which is the greatest advantage of this instrument over traditional Indian instruments like sitar, sarod, and veena. It was no surprise that Vishwa Mohan with his sheer virtuosity won the highest music award of the world, the Grammy Award in 1994 along with Ry Coodar, their world music album, “A Meeting By The River”.

Dr N.K. Verma, the Dean of Student Affairs, Thapar University and other dignitaries, including staff and students of the DAV Public School and YPS were also present on this occasion. 


Both nations want peace: Pak writer
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 17
Britishers had created an atmosphere of communalism in Punjab on the basis of language and people are still suffering for that. Despite all this, it’s a matter of pride that people have preserved its rich traditional heritage. These views were expressed by Pakistani writer Janab Maqsood Sakib while interacting with the faculty and students of the School of Punjabi Studies at Guru Nanak Dev University here.

Talking about the cordial and peaceful relations during recent years, Janab Sakib said people of both countries wanted peace in this continent.

Janab Sakib is the first Punjabi writer to be honoured with Bhai Vir Singh Puraskar by Bhai Vir Singh Sahit Sadan.

Another Pakistani writer Col Nadir Ali said from Baba Farid to Gulam Farid there was a rich tradition.


A social worker par excellence
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 17
Speaking on the life and works of a great Pakistani social worker Abdul Satar Idi, translator of Idi’s autobiography in Punjabi, Sarbjeet Singh Chhinna said Idi had started his social work in the field of healthcare.

He had opened a small dispensary and bought an old van as ambulance at Mithadar in Pakistan in 1951. But now he had more than 550 ambulance vans, five aeroplanes and helicopters for social service, besides 250 health centres at a distance of every 25 km and hospitals for major diseases like cancer, TB, he added.

Chhinna was delivering a lecture organised by the local Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum. President of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, Inderjit Kaur was the chief guest while president of the forum A.S. Mann presided.

Chhinna said Idi had buried about 2 lakh unclaimed bodies, and eaten “baasi roti”. He said once a mentally ill woman poured boiled water on Idi’s grandson and he died. Despite this, Idi continued his social work.

Among others who attended the lecture included Malkiat Singh Khatra, Jagdev Singh Sohi, Surjit Singh Mann and Amrik Singh Gaga, all educationists.


Dera seeks more time
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
Even as the district police authorities today seemed satisfied to a certain extent with the response given by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head, Dera Sacha Sauda, to questions put to him by a team sent from here in connection with a case registered against him, the dera functionaries have sought more time in this connection.

A team of policemen, which included SHO Harwinder Singh Virk, led by DSP Surinder Pal Singh, visited the dera headquarters to question the dera head. 


Review blacklisted Sikhs’ cases: Dhindsa 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 17
Secretary-general of the SAD Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today asked the union government to form a committee to review the cases of all “blacklisted” Sikhs, so that the names of all those Sikhs whose names had been wrongly included in the list could be deleted. These Sikhs had shifted to foreign countries during militancy in the state. He said the names of 80-90 Sikhs were still on the list of the Central government and could not get visa to visit India.

Dhindsa said he had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh twice during the past few months in this regard. He urged the union government to withdraw the notification, vide which it had declared the state disturbed about 25 years ago.

Dhindsa was here in connection with a cheque distribution function. He distributed cheques worth Rs 1.74 crore among more than 250 panchayats of nine blocks of the district and many individual beneficiaries under two Central-sponsored schemes “Swaran Jayanti Gramin Rojgar Yojna” and “Indira Awas Yojna”.

He also announced a grant of Rs 4 lakh for fixing iron grills around a boxing ring, construction of a wrestling shed and a water cooler at the local War Heroes Stadium.


Arrested man not from BSF

Jalandhar, August 17
The BSF today clarified that Sarvan Singh, who was arrested from near Kakkar village in Amritsar district along with 95 grams of heroin, was not its employee.

“Lance Naik Sarvan Singh is not from the BSF. Rather, he was apprehended by vigilant BSF staff. Our officers and men work tirelessly on the hostile border.” — TNS


Radio listeners air their grievances
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
The Radio Listeners’ Welfare Club organised a meeting today during which members from all over the region discussed problems affecting the FM in Patiala.

Club’s president Sham Lal Khusdil said three private FM stations were expected to go on air soon while two others had already been launched.

Club’s general secretary said Gurwinder Udha appreciated the role of FM Patiala, which was established in 1992. He said it reached new heights under the guidance of Dr Amrit Lal, director of FM Patiala. The president said special programmes like ‘Saturday Message Male’,

‘Chithi Ayee Hai Saturday Special’ and ‘Sunday’s Urdu Yuv-vani’ had been changed. The favourite announcers including Miraz Naqvi, Netar Singh (Tayya Ji) and Som Sahota had been shifted and all of this indicated that there was some internal politics in FM.

Further, the club members said ‘Khat Sajna De’, which was created to redress the grievances of the listeners, had now been reduced to ‘a mirage’. They also demanded that ‘My Patiala’, a phone-in programme on the pattern of Chandigarh and Jalandhar, be started here. 


New V-P of Indo-Pacific association

Patiala, August 17
Chief forensic investigator, Patiala Bureau of Identification, Dr Vikram Raj Singh Chauhan was adjudicated the Best Paper Presenter on Comparative Analysis of Left and Right Hand Writings at the 9th Indo-Pacific Congress on Legal Medicine and Forensic Science that concluded recently at Colombo.

Dr Chauhan, who represented India, also chaired the session and was the assessor for the assessment of research papers. He was also elected as vice-president of the Indo-Pacific Association of Law, Medical and Science for three years. — TNS


High Court
Notice to Punjab on felling of forest trees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today issued a notice to Punjab over a PIL filed by the Environment Protection and Welfare Society, a Ludhiana-based NGO.

The petitioner had sought directions to respondents - Centre, Punjab, secretary of ministry of road transport and highways, secretary of ministry of petroleum, principal chief conservator of forests, Punjab, and district forest officer - to immediately block illegal passages carved out of the forest area along the Rara Sahib Jagerha road by felling forest trees.

The petitioner further prayed that respondents be directed to carry out fresh plantation, wherever trees had been felled or removed to create illegal passages by unscrupulous elements in the forest area, and ensure compliance with the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Centre’s policy regarding the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.

The policy was formulated through a letter on July 15, 2004.

It was also averred in the petition that the respondents be asked to ensure that the forest area in the state in general and along the Rara Sahib Jagerha road in particular was adequately protected from being encroached upon.

Also, an interim direction be issued to check felling of trees in the area and blanket ban be imposed on such activities. The next hearing is on November 22. 

Memorial to martyr

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today issued a notice to Punjab on a PIL seeking completion of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha’s memorial.

The petitioner, H.C. Arora, had sought directions to the respondent to ensure that the construction of the half-built memorial to Kartar Singh Sarabha, at his ancestral village of Sarabha in Ludhiana district, was completed within a specified duration by releasing adequate grant.

The petitioner quoted a news item that stated that the panchayat of Sarabha village had donated land measuring two acres to the state government in 1997 for the construction of a memorial to the martyr, comprising a library, a museum, etc within a timeframe.

The meager grants released by the state government had not been enough for the completion of the memorial, the petitioner averred. The next hearing of the case is on November 27.

SGPC driver’s plea

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today issued a notice to Punjab for November 22 on a plea by Nirmal Singh seeking issuance of passport.

The petitioner, working as driver with the SGPC, Amritsar, had sought directions to the Centre, regional passport office, Jalandhar, and home secretary, Punjab, to issue a passport to him as the same was being denied in spite of the fact the petitioner was not in a category of persons who could be denied passport under the Passport Act.

Nirmal Singh had applied for a passport on September 8, 2001, but was given a reply by the Jalandhar passport office, after four years, that it could not be issued to him and his case had been closed, as the police had not recommended the grant of passport to him.

The petitioner had been charged under TADA in 1987 though later acquitted by a Pune court. His acquittal was affirmed by the apex court also.


Reprieve for Dawar 

Ludhiana, August 17
Former parliamentary secretary Surinder Dawar has got reprieve from the court in the alleged Rs 600 crore bribe scam related to the Punjab Polloution Control Board.

The court of additional sessions judge Gurbir Singh has directed the Vigilance Bureau and SHOs of all police stations in Ludhiana to serve five-day prior notice if they wanted to arrest Dawar. The order shall remain in force for two months, says the order.

Following the allegations levelled by Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Satpal Gosain against him, Dawar had moved the court seeking anticipatory bail. In the bail application he had stated that he had defeated Gosain in the last Assembly elections. Now he is in power and wanted to implicate him in false cases. — OC


Badal case
Hostile witness count goes up to 20
Tribune News Service

Rupnagar, August 17
Five more witnesses turned hostile today in the Badal disproportionate assets case in the court of special judge G.S. Saran. With this the total number of hostile witnesses has swollen to 20. Keeping this in view, the public prosecutor has moved an application in the court seeking summoning of investigating officer in the case former SSP, vigilance, Surinderpal Singh. 

Deposing before the court, one of the witnesses, SP Harminder Pal Singh told the court that B.I.S. Chahal and the then Punjab Vigilance Bureau chief A.P. Pandey had forced him to give wrong statements before the court in Kharar. He denied having bribed MP Sukhbir Badal for any kind of plum posting or promotion. 

Similarly, Kamlajit Singh, an assistant plate maker in the Department of Printing and Stationery, Patiala, denied having given any kind of bribe to Sukhbir for recruitment or posting. Sukhbir Singh of Bhikhiwind vilage, another witness, said he had not given any money to the then SAD minister, Harbans Lal, and neither visited his residence at Killianwali for his son’s recruitment in police. One more witness Gurminderpal Singh, too, denied having given any bribe for any favour.

Meher Singh of Amargarh village, Sangrur district, said he had never met the investigating officer in the case. 

The accused present in the court included Sukhbir Badal, Narottam Singh Dhillon, Harbans Lal, Gurpinder Singh Grewal, Nirabhjeet Singh, Jagnandan Singh, Pavittar Singh and Darshan Singh. 

August 20 has been fixed as next date for hearing The application seeking examination of Surinderpal will also be taken up on August 20.


After mealy bug, now it’s whitefly

Ludhiana, August 17
As if the mealy bug wasn’t sufficient, now it is the whitefly, which has hit the cotton crop. According to scientists at Punjab Agricultural University here, the whitefly has caused extensive damage to the cotton crop in cotton-growing belt and non-traditional cotton growing areas.

According to N.S. Butter, professor and head, Department of Entomology, the whitefly has spread due to the prevailing dry spell in the region. He said the pest had been damaging the crop by sucking the sap from the leaves causing shedding of leaves. Prior to shedding the leaves become sticky when touched.

Butter suggested need-based application of pesticides. He said the presence of the whitefly could be ascertained by shaking the plant, following which the adult whiteflies fly like smoke and soon settle down on the same plant on the underside of leaves. — TNS


Villagers spur teachers’ transfer by locking school
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
The Punjab government transferred two teachers from Government Senior Secondary School, Deon village, after a large section of its residents locked the school after getting agitated over the apathetic attitude of authorities concerned towards their problems.

Residents of this village have been demanding the transfer of two teachers due to their alleged non-performance and have approached the district administration and state education authorities in that connection time and again.

Fed up with the non-responsive attitude of state education authorities, the residents locked the school this morning and raised slogans against the government and Education Department for about half an hour.

They received a pleasant surprise when the school authorities informed them that the government had transferred both the teachers as per their demand and hence they should withdraw their agitation by opening the locks fitted on the gate of the school.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that residents of Deon village had been demanding that PTI Kulwant Singh and DPE teacher Sitawanti should be transferred, as they had not been performing their duties well.

The residents were agitated over the fact that their repeated pleas made to the district administration and other authorities concerned had been failing to bring any positive response and hence they announced yesterday that they would lock the school gates on August 17.

Minutes after the residents locked the school, principal of the school Joginder Singh Mann informed that both the teachers had been transferred and hence they should withdraw their agitation.


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