P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Hansi-Butana Canal
CWC favoured Haryana, allege Punjab, Rajasthan
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Punjab and Rajasthan’s concern regarding the Central Water Commission (CWC) playing foul in respect of a report on the Hansi-Butana canal to be submitted to the Supreme Court has proved correct. Punjab and Rajasthan had earlier raised questions on the handling of the Hansi-Butana issue by the CWC and its alleged bias in favour of Haryana in this regard, and were surprised to know that the CWC had supported the cause of Haryana on the canal issue.

“We have not been expecting that the CWC would go to such an extent to support Haryana,” said a senior functionary of the Punjab government. He said the CWC had toned down the objections raised by Punjab and Rajasthan on the linking of Hansi-Butana canal to the Bhakra canal near Samana.

On the other hand, the CWC had justified the Haryana government’s stand on the canal, he said. To tone down the objection raised by Punjab and Rajasthan, the CWC used the expressions “may not be serious, may not be significant” etc.

However, Punjab and Rajasthan, which are jointly opposing Haryana on the Hansi-Butana canal issue, feel relieved as the Supreme Court has done justice to both states by taking notice of the main objections raised by them before the court. Rajasthan has informed the Supreme Court that it will not give clearance to the Bhakra-Beas Management Board (BBMB) to allow Haryana to link the Hansi-Butana canal to the Bhakra canal near Samana.

Punjab has taken the stand that the canal project has serious implications for inter-state rights of the member states. Sidestepping the inter-state implications, the canal project has not cared to address the serious environmental implications it has for the neighbouring state of Punjab. Moreover, the process followed by Haryana with regard to the digging of the canal has clearly violated the Bhakra Agreement of 1959. There were reports that even the CAG has objected to Haryana spending Rs 300 crore on the project of long-range inter-state implications. Sources said there had been an exchange of arguments through letters between the Haryana government and the CAG on the report prepared by latter.

However, what has peeved Punjab the most is the CWC not giving an impartial and reasoned report on the canal issue. It has not responded seriously to major issues raised by Punjab on flooding and water-logging and has played down technical infirmities stating that Haryana will be prepare a revised project report to overcome these.

Punjab had also lodged a protest to the CWC against not supplying to it a report prepared on the canal project by CWC chief engineer A.K. Bajaj.

The chief engineer had prepared the report after site visit and discussing all issues with engineers of Punjab and Haryana. What has further made Punjab suspicious on the fairness of the CWC is the transfer of Bajaj from its (CWC) regional office in Chandigarh to elsewhere.

Punjab feels that the CWC, a national institution, has impaired its credibility as a neutral body. “The CWC should have realised that any messing around with the Bhakra Mainline canal system at any point of time without consensus among the partner states can lead to dangerous consequences. Once the tinkering with the system is allowed, there will be no end to it,” says a senior Punjab politician.


Cong cries foul over withdrawals
Varinder Walia and Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
The returning officers (both senior PCS officers) for Block Samiti and Zila Parishad elections in the district are in the dock for allegedly allowing withdrawals of 11 Congress candidates on the basis of “forged signatures”.

President of the PPCC Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has said her party would lodge FIRs against Kirpal Singh and Tarlochan Singh, additional deputy commissioner, Tarn Taran, and SDM, Patti, respectively, for being instrumental in the withdrawal of 11 candidates fraudulently at the behest of an Akali minister and son-in-law of the Chief Minister.

However, Bhatti said two gazetted officers were deputed to scrutinise the papers and the withdrawals were accepted after properly verifying the documents and the signatures of the candidates concerned.

Meanwhile, Bhattal sought a CBI inquiry or a judicial probe into the matter. All affected candidates, in their affidavits, have alleged that they were shocked to learn that their candidature stood withdrawn.

General secretary of the PPCC Harminder Singh Gill said the deputy commissioner, Tarn Taran, failed to give satisfactory reply when party leaders met him in his office over the issue.

The Congress has decided to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking stay on the elections besides lodging a complaint with the Election Commissioner in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhattal alleged that SAD leaders had forged Congress candidates’ signatures on the withdrawal forms.

She said similar incidents were reported from Patiala, Ferozepur, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda , Ropar, Valtoha, Faridkot, Mohali and other areas where documents of nearly 24 candidates had been forged. Reacting to the allegation of information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Bhattal said he was just a “kid” and did not have the knowledge about the Sikh religion.


Stubble burns, despite CM’s order
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 6
Despite the recent fire in fields in the Malwa region, especially in Bathinda, in which three persons died and wheat crop worth lakhs was destroyed, people and the administration are yet to wake up to the enormity of the problem.

People in villages adjoining Bathinda were found burning wheat stubble in fields yesterday, barely days after the tragedy, but the district administration officials claimed to be busy in Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections.

This gives the impression that the visit of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to the fire-affected villages did not have much effect. The CM had ordered district administration officials in the area to check the problem, but stubble burning has been going on.

A visit along the Bathinda-Chandigarh highway on Monday, revealed farmers and labourers setting fields on fire. Most fields in villages of Phul tehsil of Bathinda district were found to be on fire and engulfed with smoke enough to cause road accidents on the busy highway, besides other disasters.

SDM Phul Umashankar, under whose jurisdiction the stubble burning was witnessed in villages like Lehra Sondha, Lehra Mohabbat and Rampura, expressed ignorance, but assured to look into the matter.

On his part, deputy commissioner, Bathinda, Rahul Tewari said, “We have urged people in general, but if they do not provide us with the information, we can not keep a check on such activities in the whole district. However, we will enquire about it and all guilty persons will be booked under various provisions of the law”.

Punjab agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah said, “We have been providing enough subsidy to the farmers to purchase equipment to remove stubble. Despite this, if they have been posing a danger to others, they willbe penalised”.


Stray cows in IAF shelling range starving to death
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Sidhwan Bet (Jagraon), May 6
Stray cows in adjoining Sidhwan Khas air shelling range of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been dying unnatural deaths.

Villagers and IAF personnel on duty in the range, confirm the death of five cows a week. A visit to the range reveals several cows having been reduced to skeletons. Cows, chewing grass thrown inside the range boundary by concerned people from villages around, can be seen looking for meagre green with their snouts. "We often see stray dogs feasting on weak stray cattle and calves," Jagdev Singh, a farmer from Janetpura village said.

More than 12 cows ran to the boundary wall at Sadarpura village when The Tribune team went inside the 3,600 acres of the IAF testing grounds. "Don't be surprised. The cows came here expecting something to eat from your hands," said Kuldeep Singh, a farmer working in a field adjoining the encircled area. The range touches the periphery of Janetpura, Sodhiwal, Sivian, Sheikh Daulat, Daaya, Sadarpura, Talwandi Mallian and Giddervindi Tihara villages.

"People from the adjoining human habitation come to the place with fodder from their fields. These days there is plenty of dry fodder because of the ongoing harvesting. Certain families bring 'gur' and some even serve green fodder to the animals," Jagdev Singh, a farmer from Janetpura village, said.

Jagdish Singh, a farmer, has his tube well adjoining the boundary wall. He provides water to the cows that visit the site throughout the day. "It being summer these days, we fill the reservoir on the other side of the boundary, at least four times daily," a helper at his farm said. There is a similar arrangement at one more place by another farmer, elsewhere, he added.

The Air Force authorities said they were aware of the problem faced by the animals, however, could do little to solve the problem. A senior officer, on anonymity, said, "We have had discussions with sarpanches of adjoining villages. Even they are concerned about the fate of the stray animals, but offered no lasting solution. We will take up the issue with the district administration shortly". He said the weapon-testing range had been more in use, particularly after the Kargil war.

Surinder Singh Thekedar, a villager, said, "The civil administration needs to intervene in the matter and ensure the well being of the animals. The animal welfare organisations need to come forward to the aid of the animals".

Darshan Kaur, an elderly woman from Sivian village, said, "The shelling grounds have been there for decades. Earlier, the area was not demarcated and encircled. We had even the permission to cultivate a huge tract of land in the fire-testing grounds. About five years back, we were asked to clear our fields. A look at the area near our village boundary will reveal markings of the fields as these were when under cultivation. The area was demarcated, boundary wall built and a barbed wire put."

On how the animals roamed unharmed in the heavy shelling area, she said, "As soon as these animals hear the sound of aircraft, these take to a corner adjoining the walls, mainly across the ‘foul line’ which is free from bombing activity".


Dubey asked to ensure free and fair poll
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
A number of senior Congress leaders here today lodged a strong protest to the state Election Commissioner A.K.Dubey against what they described as murder of democracy in the countryside at the behest of the ruling SAD.

Urging Dubey that it was his duty to get the elections conducted in a fair and just manner as provided under the law, Congress leaders told him that officers appointed by him at certain places had betrayed him and were playing a negative role under pressure from the men in power. In the light of what has happened in Faridkot district, the election process there should be annulled and justice should be done with Congress party candidates, whose paper were rejected.

Among those who met Dubey to complain against alleged misuse of official machinery in the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections included Bir Devinder Singh, a former Deputy Speaker and Congress spokesperson, Avtar Singh Brar, Congress MLA from Faridkot, Ripjit Singh Brar, Congress MLA from Panjgrain, and Ripjit Singh Brar, Congress MLA from Kotkapura.

In the complaint submitted to Dubey, Congress leaders have stated that “what has happened in Faridkot district is a big challenge for constitutional authority”.

They have asked Dubey to take action against those officers as they were under his control as of now.

They have submitted a list of their party candidates whose nomination papers were allegedly either rejected and also those who were stopped from filing nomination papers. It also includes the names of those against whom cases have been registered or whose nomination papers were torn. In all, there were 38 names in the list. Copies of FIRs registered against Congress leaders have also been submitted to Dubey.

Meanwhile, Akali leader Mantar Singh Brar and Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, both former MLAs, have strongly refuted the allegations levelled by Congress leaders that nomination papers of about 60 per cent Congress candidates have been rejected in the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections. Both Akali leaders said it was big lie. Nomination papers of about 10 per cent candidates were rejected for valid reasons and these included also candidates of SAD and other parties.


Sukhbir says it’s a false propaganda
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, May 6
The SAD has denied the allegations of mass rejection of the nomination papers of Congress candidates in the ensuing Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections.

Talking to mediapersons here today, its president Sukhbir Singh Badal said these allegations were a false propaganda of the Congress leaders. Such allegations seemed to be a result of the frustration of Congress leaders fearing defeat in the elections.

Saying that the SAD believes in the principles of democracy and would ensure free and fair elections, he added there should be no doubt in the minds of the people that Akalis would use force or power to ensure win in the elections.

When asked about the rift between the SAD and the BJP, junior Badal said: “We are like one party and our bond is inseparable. Sometimes friendly matches are played between friends, that do not mean our friendship is on the verge of collapse”. 


Leaders take to roads
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 6
Led by more than 12 leaders from this district, Congress workers today blocked the Gurdaspur-Sri Hargobindpur road at Sathiali village, near here, against the alleged highhandedness of the ruling SAD-BJP government in the rejection of nomination papers of their candidates in Kahnuwan and other areas.

Congress leaders from Sujanpur, Pathankot, Dina Nagar, Narot Mehra, Gurdaspur, Kahnuwan, Dhariwal, Qadian, Batala, Sri Hargobindpur and Fatehgarh Churian along with their supporters assembled in Sathiali village and staged a dharna, disrupting the vehicular traffic on the road for hours.

They burnt effigies of Sewa Singh Sekhowan, an Akali leader, and Fuman Singh, Kahnuwan naib tehsildar-cum-assistant returning officer for the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections.

Kahnuwan MLA and former PWD minister Pratap Singh Bajwa claimed that the government officials had been playing in the hand of Akali leadership. He threatened to move to the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the rejection of nomination papers of Congress candidates.

Former minister from Pathankot Raman Bhalla flayed the government for tilling the paddy nursery, sown for the early transplantation in this region.

Former DGP Pritam Singh Bhinder criticised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his dual standards towards farmers. He said while farmers in Lambi, Faridkot and other constituencies had been pursuing early transplantation of paddy, the Agriculture Department had been tilling paddy nurseries in Gurdaspur district.

Naib tehsildar removed

Kahnuwan naib tehsildar Fuman Singh has been removed from post of assistant returning officer due to the charges levelled by Congress leaders against him on Sunday.


CPI for rescheduling poll in Faridkot
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 6
The Communist Party of India (CPI) today accused the SAD-BJP alliance of murdering democracy in Zila Parishad (ZP) and Block Panchayat Samiti elections, alleging the elections were not being conducted in a free and fair manner .

Member of the national executive committee of the CPI Dr Joginder Dayal said it was shocking nomination papers of the persons, who had been contesting elections for many years, had been rejected on flimsy grounds. He also alleged the ruling alliance was using state machinery, the police and civil administration, to threaten the candidates of opposition parties by way of telling them either to flee from the contest or face dire consequences. He said this was mockery of the democratic process.

Dr Dayal also said in Faridkot district the way the returning officers rejected the nomination papers of opposition parties, major opposition parties had been forced to boycott the elections. He said claims of the SAD it had played a big role during emergency for the restoration of democracy had proven a lie now.

Dr Dayal also said the Election Commission (EC) of Punjab was watching the situation silently at the time when complaints were pouring in its office daily. Besides this, delegations were meeting it to conduct the elections free and fair. He said when this all had happened the Election Commission had appointed observers.

Dayal appealed to all people, who appreciate democratic values, and the media persons to come forward to expose the malpractices in these elections.

He asked the Election Commission to reschedule the ZP and Samiti elections in the Faridkot district and conduct the same in the presence of independent observers. 


Ex-Akali leader too backs out
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 6
Former Akali leader and independent former MLA of Dhariwal Sucha Singh Chhotepur has announced to boycott the Block Samiti and Zila Parishad elections in protest against the alleged rigging by the SAD-BJP leadership.

He alleged at Dhariwal today that the leaders of the SAD-BJP got rejected nominations papers of 15 candidates (nine at Kahnuwan and six at Dhariwal zone) fielded by him. He alleged that SAD workers assaulted his supporters and candidate from the Dulo Nangal zone Gurdev Singh with sharp-edged weapons. He had to be admitted to the district hospital, Gurdaspur.


Pathankot school faces closure
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 6
Nearly 1,000 girl students of Guru Arjun Dev Girls Senior Secondary School, Pathankot, face uncertain future as the Punjab Education Department has initiated action for the closure of the institution. The department has decided to close down the school after yesterday’s incident of roof collapse in which 12 students were injured.

The department says the school will remain closed till its management provides safe building for holding classes.

Talking to The Tribune, state education minister Upinderjit Kaur said the school would be closed down and a departmental enquiry would be conducted into incident. The minister also claimed that the department would tighten noose around other schools, which had been holding classes in unsafe rooms or buildings.

Interestingly, the minister was not aware of the incident and claimed that she had no such information. “I have not gone through any newspaper since I was busy in Zila Parishad election campaign. I am thankful to you for bringing the issue to my notice,” she added.

The minister, however, also claimed that she had not received any complaint regarding the school holding classes in unsafe building from anyone till date. Had anyone informed her, action would have been taken against the school management much earlier. She also expressed her concern with the injured students and their parents.

Over 12 students of Class XII had sustained injuries, some of them serious, when the roof of a classroom came crashing down on them yesterday afternoon. As many as 54 students were attending the class at that time.

Officials of the education department today visited the school. Seven injured students are still under treatment in different hospitals.

Meanwhile, members of the school management committee said free treatment would be provided to the injured besides financial aid.

Talking to The Tribune, Hardeep Singh Makan, president of the school management committee, termed the incident as unfortunate. “We have been working for the welfare of poor students by running the school. We wish a speedy recovery to the injured students,” he said.


Education board has 2 vice-chairmen!
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 6
An administratively anomalous situation has been created in the Punjab School Education Board here since yesterday, as the board now has two vice-chairmen. The vice-chairman of the board is Suresh Tandon, who was appointed by the Akali-BJP government this January. Tandon had replaced Ranjit Singh Bajwa, a Congress appointee.

Bajwa moved the court following his removal. Yesterday, he reached the board office with court orders re-appointing him as vice-chairman. He produced the orders before the secretary of the board, Paviterpal Kaur, and seated himself in Tandon’s room. He had even cleared over a hundred files since yesterday.

The sudden appearance of Bajwa has thrown the working of the board out of gear. The chairman of the board, D.S. Dhillon, said they had honoured the court’s decision by making him join duty. However, sources said Bajwa had to give the joining report to the education department and not to the board directly. Tandon has not been attending office for the past few days, but is likely to be removed once he comes to office. The chairman said Tandon’s appointment had been done subject to the high court decision.

Bajwa said to be a relative of former education minister Pratap Singh Bajwa was appointed as the board vice-chairman in January 2007, virtually minutes before the code of conduct was imposed in the state for the Assembly elections. He was removed in August 2007 after the new government came to power.


Virk Case
Panel puts its house in order
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Justice S.K. Jain Inquiry Committee has started putting its house in order to initiate a departmental inquiry against former Punjab Director-General of Police (DGP) S.S. Virk.

Virk has been summoned to appear before Justice Jain to defend himself in a departmental inquiry for an alleged land grab. Virk, who fought the “nation’s war on terror” during the heydays of militancy in Punjab, is facing a charge of this nature for the first time in his otherwise unblemished career.

The secretariat of Justice Jain housed in mini-secretariat today received a large number of documents and files from the Punjab and Haryana secretariat so that Virk can be asked pertinent and pointed questions. Though CAT has already vindicated Virk’s stand that he is only being haunted by the political masters for being close to the previous Congress regime, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the CAT order, bringing much reprieve to the otherwise embarrassed Punjab government.

According to the notice served upon Virk, he has been asked to appear before the inquiry officer (i.e. Justice Jain) to defend himself in a departmental inquiry on May 15.

In an earlier communiqué, Virk was asked to make himself available for inquiry and to make his point on May 12. But since the dates did not suit the inquiry officer for some reason, it was postponed by three days. 


Gram Panchayat Elections
Govt for review of reservation status
Block to replace district as unit
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 6
The Punjab government has ordered a review of the reservation status of the gram panchayats in the state for the forthcoming elections on May 26.

The fresh calculation of percentage of reserved category populations in villages would now be done on the basis of the block as a unit replacing the district as a unit.

Gurinderjit Singh Sandhu, principal secretary, rural development and panchayats, said the rules were amended almost a month ago and the changes had been notified.

The department has now asked the deputy commissioners to prepare fresh lists keeping the block as the unit of calculation of percentage of SC, BC and women population.

Since the reservation status is being reviewed completely, the roster system followed to rotate the reservation status every elections would also not be followed this time. The roster system was introduced in 1998 and the rotation was to be done for the third time in these elections.

“The review would ensure that a clear picture emerges with regard to the reservation status of villages. Block being a small unit than a district would lead to a fairer calculation of the reserved population and their representation in the gram panchayats,” said Sandhu.

The deputy commissioners have put block development and panchayat officers (BDPO) on duty to calculate the percentage of reserved category population on the basis of the total population of the block as given in the 2001 census. The final lists would be notified by the DCs before the end of this week.

Most of the DCs in Punjab had in the first week of March this year notified the reservation status lists of gram panchayats for the elections. The gram panchayats elections along with the block samiti and zila parishad elections were to be held on April 7. However, these were postponed. The lists notified by the DCs were not published in the government gazette and in some cases the process of notification was also abandoned.

Despite the government’s claim that the system has been changed to take ground realities into account, sources stated that this has been done by the Akali-led government to circumvent the roster-based system. The rotation has led to many unwanted changes in the reservation status and there had been widespread demands to revert to the original status. Village-level officers involved in the review of the lists admitted that there was undue pressure from the local Akali leaders to change the reservation status of the villages to suit them.


Holiday in state today

Chandigarh, May 6
On account of Parshuram Jayanti, the Punjab government has declared a holiday tomorrow. A government spokesman said here today actually earlier holiday in connection with Parshuram Jayanti was declared on May 8, but today the government decided to advance it for a day. Hence, all the educational and other government offices would remain close tomorrow. However, in case if there was any test or examination scheduled for tomorrow it will be held as scheduled and there will be no postponing of it. — TNS


Dispute Redressal
Despite claims, panel fails to check pendency
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Tall claims of the Punjab government on efforts being made to cut down the high pendency of cases in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission seem to be mere lip service.

On the footsteps of Haryana Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission the Punjab government has decided to appoint an additional Bench who will be paid on per sitting basis to deal with the pendency.

The additional Bench will be paid Rs 500 per sitting. At the moment there are 5,200 consumer courts cases pending at the Punjab Commission and more than 11,000 cases pending with the Haryana Commission.

Sources revealed that the government planned to appoint an additional Bench on per-sitting basis in order to cut down its expenditures. If three members are appointed for the additional Bench on a regular basis the government has to provide them with a fixed monthly salary along with some perks.

Also the accountability of the Bench increases if they are appointed on a regular basis. If the members of a Bench are paid per-sitting, then they are not obliged to hold the court everyday.

Confirming the same, D.S. Kalha said, “We have decided to appoint an additional Bench but on per-sitting basis to reduce the number of cases pending here.” According to sources the Haryana Commission has been looking for members to hold the Bench on daily-basis but nothing seems to be falling in place. The second Bench of the Haryana Commission is yet to start functioning. Thanks to the high pendency at both the Commissions the cases here are being deferred for a gap of eight months to a year.

However, according to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act the forums are supposed to dispose of cases within three months while most of the cases take longer time. But the pendency seems to affect the speedy disposal of cases in Punjab and Haryana.

As the figures of pending cases at the UT, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission is low, pending cases from the Haryana Commission and Punjab Commission have been transferred to the UT.


Water levels in BBMB resevoirs fall
Varinder Singh
Tribune New Service

Patiala, May 6
The falling water level in reservoirs indicates the impending power crisis and uncomfortable summer for people in Punjab .

The decade’s lowest water levels in the Bhakra-Beas Management Board (BBMB)-managed Bhakra, Pong and Ranjit Sagar Dam reservoirs this time have caused concern among the state’s power circles resulting in considerable loss of power generation in all BBMB-managed projects. This has also led to the dwindling of BBMB’s share in Punjab’s power kitty from the usual 175 lakh to 200 lakh units to an estimated 105 lakh units this time.

The water level in Bhakra reservoir has gone down from 1,563 feet in 2007 to 1,516 feet and similarly, the water mark has recorded shrinking from 1,347 feet last year to a mere 1,289 feet this time in case of Pong Dam reservoir. The water level in Ranjit Sagar Dam has gone down from 519 feet in 2007 to 504 feet. Dehar Dam has, however, turned out to be the only water body where water level witnessed negligible upward spurt from 2,921 feet to 2,924 feet.

Top PSEB sources revealed that it was for the first time that all these reservoirs had touched such low water levels in one decade. The situation could turn worse for consumers in summer ahead if the temperature continued to soar at the present rate.

While PSEB adviser (Systems and Operations) K.S. Jolly said there was nothing to worry about the falling water level as it depended upon power generation management, the board’s member (Generation) G.S. Sra admitted that the reservoirs were witnessing the lowest water levels this year. He said what mattered the most was the inflow and there could hardly be any problem if there was cohesion of inflow and outflow in respect of reservoirs. “We hope rains would be normal this time and there would be no power crisis this time. Moreover, reservoirs could get more water in May and June from the melting of glaciers in June,” said Sra.


Scholarship for Prof Gurdial Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
Prof Gurdial Singh, one of the most celebrated and honoured Punjabi writers, has been offered the national scholarship by the Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Shimla. Others who have been offered the national scholar include Marinal Miri, Dr Sheth and Bhal Chandra Nemade.

The institute offers scholarship only to eminent writers and academicians. Otherwise, one has to submit an application for for the same. The national scholars have to stay at the institute for two to three years to complete the work of their choice.

Prof Gurdial Singh is presently living at Jaitu, near Bathinda, a place in the centre of the Malwa region, known for its tough life and Malwai dialect. Others who had been offered scholarship include academic and literary giants such as Bhisham Sahni, Mulk Raj Anand, B.N. Goswami, and Prof Randhir Singh.


Stipend of medical interns raised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Punjab government today issued a notification enhancing the internship stipend of interns of Government Medical College, Amritsar; Government Medical College, Patiala; Government Dental College, Amritsar; Government Dental College, Patiala; and Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala; to Rs 4,500 per month with immediate effect.

Tikshan Sud, medical education minister, said enhancement in internship stipend in the case of ayurvedic interns would be from Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,500 and in the case of others enhancement would be from Rs 2,400 to Rs 4,500.

The minister said it was felt unjustified to pay a qualified doctor less than a daily wage labourer. He said when he brought this issue to the notice of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, they were quite pained on this and the Chief Minister ordered immediate revision on the Haryana pattern.

He said the revision in internship allowance would put an extra load of Rs 1.32 crore per annum on the state exchequer.


Staff oppose move on audit wing
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 6
The Punjab State Cooperative Audit Staff Association has criticised the state government’s decision to take audit out of the ambit of the Cooperation Department.

Officers of the Cooperation Audit Department said in the past five years, the Audit Department had reported embezzlements and other irregularities to the tune of Rs 40.90 crore. Those pertained to Central cooperative banks and state cooperative banks. Over the years they had been working diligently and that there was no backlog of audit work in the Central cooperative as well as state cooperative banks. This was despite the fact the audit section of the cooperative banks was sometimes understaffed.

Gurbachan Singh, president of the association, alleged that certain officers of the department whose irregularities were time and again pointed out by the audit staff were behind the move.

He added that it was in 1970 that the Public Accounts Committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had allocated audit work to the audit section of the cooperative banks.


Poor result kills engg student
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 6
A youth from Chandigarh, who got “reappear” result in five subjects of the second semester of Mechanical Engineering, allegedly committed suicide by consuming celphos tablets in the hostel of the local J.R. Government Polytechnic College 
last night.

Pritpal Singh (18), son of Prithvi Singh of Sector 27-C, Chandigarh, was a student of first year of mechanical engineering. Last evening, some of his fellow students noticed his condition had deteriorated. They informed principal of the college Rachan Kaur.

He was immediately taken to the local Civil Hospital where he breathed his last after struggling for life for more than three hours, said police sources here today.

The principal said according to his classmates Pritpal was upset over getting reappear result in five subjects out of the nine in the second semester.

Teaching remained suspended in the college today as a mark of respect to Pritpal.

His body was handed over to his parents after a post-mortem examination.


Row over post of Beopar Mandal chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 6
President of the PPCC Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today clarified that Subhash Mahajan had not been removed from the chairmanship of the Punjab Beopar Mandal.

Bhattal said she had not issued any orders appointing Sunil Vij of Ferozepur chairman of the mandal. She said he might have forged the letter to seek security and vehicle with red beacon from the state government. She said the party would not be responsible for any of his illegal actions.

Bhattal said a strict action would be taken by the coordination committee of the party against Vij.

Meanwhile, Mahajan said there was no proposal to change the executive body of the mandal in the state.


High Court
Denial of information puts senior cops under scanner
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Punjab police’s alleged attempts to withhold information on dismissal of police personnel have some under the judicial scanner.

In a petition placed before the Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, city-based scribe Sanjiv Pandey has claimed the information was sought for bringing out the “truth” and the “real picture”.

But the state information commissioner, an additional director-general of police (ADGP) and an inspector-general of police (IGP) “wrongly” and “illegally” denied the information.

The same, he added, was denied on the ground that it would result in unnecessary burden on the state exchequer as the information sought was old.

Going into the background, he added an application was initially submitted to the IGP (Headquarters). An appeal against non-supply of information was filed before the ADGP. But the same was again denied.

Issuing notice of motion to the respondents on the petition after hearing preliminary arguments, the Bench asked the state counsel to seek detailed instructions and inform the court about the reasons behind the information’s rejection.

Notice of motion

Chief Nihang of Budha Dal Baba Santa Singh’s nephew today alleged Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wanted to eliminate the baba “under the garb of medical treatment”.

In his petition against Badal and others placed before Justice H.S. Bhalla, petitioner Surinder Singh Babbar and others claimed Badal wanted to eliminate the baba, as he and his followers had performed kar sewa at the Golden Temple after the Operation Blue Star in 1984.

Seeking his shifting from Patiala Rajendra Hospital’s intensive care unit to PGI here or AIIMS in Delhi, the petitioner added the baba’s life and liberty were in danger. Issuing notice of motion on the petition, Justice Bhalla fixed July 16 as the next date of hearing.

Freedom fighter’s pension case

Another freedom-fighter has moved the high court. Behind bars for participating in the 1942 Quit India Movement, Harnam Singh has now asked for issuance of directions to the Union of India and the state of Punjab for considering his case for freedom fighters’ pension.

In his petition placed before the Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, Harnam Singh said he remained behind bars for a year from October 20, 1942.

He added the action of the respondents in not granting him the pension was not only unjust and arbitrary, but also discriminatory and callous. Taking up the petition, the Bench issued notice of motion for May 28.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |