P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rain Fury
DCs of 3 border dists alerted
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
As the flow of water in streams has been rising due to heavy rain in various parts of the state, Punjab government has alerted deputy commissioners of Amritsar, Ferozepur and Gurdaspur in case rain persists for another 48 hours.

While the Ravi flows close to Gurdaspur and Amritsar, the Sutlej zigzags through Ferozepur belt.“Though there is no threat of floods in any part of the state, we have alerted the deputy commissioners in the districts having a network of rivers and other streams. Ropar is another district where several streams flow from Shivalik foothills and some parts of this district are prone to flash-floods. Siswan and Budhki nadis cause flash-floods in Ropar areas. And Swain nadi flowing into Ropar from Una side is also prone to flash floods,: he said.

“Though there is no report of floods from any part of the state, except minor breaches here and there, alert has been sounded in border belt,” said a senior officer of the Irrigation Department.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was also briefed by the Irrigation Department on the situation.

The level of water in various reservoirs is comfortable at the moment. The level of water at Bhakra dam is 1,570 ft; at Pong dam 1,294 ft; and Ranjit Sagar dam 512 m.

The sources said demand for water in the countryside had gone down because of rain. Some of the rain water has been diverted to the Ravi at Madhopur headworks. As canals cannot accommodate more water, it had to be released into the Ravi, said a government official.

“We are monitoring the situation on hourly basis and there seems to be no major threat of floods in any part of the state,” said the officer.

However, rain is proving to be a blessing for the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) facing problem in keeping operational some of its thermal plants in the state.


Bathinda still inundated
Bhanu P. Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 16
Hundreds of people in the low-lying flooded areas continued to seek succour as normal life remained paralysed for the second day in the town today. The water and power supplies have been disrupted.

Even the houses of the deputy commissioner and the superintendent engineer, civil lines police station and the court complex remained submerged while flood-like situation continued in Sikri Bazar, the Power House road, some areas of Paras Ram Nagar, Pratap Nagar, the Mall road and other areas.

Following yesterday’s downpour, the efforts of the municipal corporation and administration to restore normalcy were too meagre to provide any relief.

District agriculture officer said the town received around 127 mm of rainfall yesterday, which was the highest in the region. The city has been turned into a lake.


Flood-Control on Chakki
Dept to wait till monsoon is over
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Saili Kulian (Gurdaspur), June 16
Though increasing level of the Chakki river continues to pose a danger to the lives and property of people living close to it, the Drainage Department is not likely to repair a damaged stud and revetment until monsoon is over.

Early monsoon has caught department officials unawares and estimates of various civil works to be executed as part of flood-protection measures are yet to be sanctioned by the authorities concerned, said officials of the department, who inspected the damaged stud and revetment on the river.

“Though a stud and a portion of a revetment had been damaged in flash-floods yesterday, the restoration work will be started in all likelihood after monsoon has stopped,” said chief engineer Ashok Malhotra

He said the department started work on flood-protection measures from July 1 every year. Even the flood-control rooms became operational on July 1 every year. The early setting of monsoon had upset all arrangements made by department to tackle floods.

As the river is prone to flash-floods, there could be loss of men and machinery, if protection measures were taken up now, Malhotra said.

Meanwhile, with less chances of flood-protection measures to be started soon, people living close to the river have started looking for safer places. Last year, increased level in the river had washed away the soil adjacent to the foundations of their dwellings.

The damage stud and revetment have posed a serious threat to the Pathankot-Dalhousie national highway as well. The distance between the highway and the eroded bank of the river has been reduced to only 100 yards.

Malhotra pointed out that the wire, required for weaving stone to erect studs, was not available with the department.

The department was yet to make payments worth Rs 5 crore to contractors for the flood-protection works executed by them last year.

About 10-foot portion of the 40-foot stud has been washed away while a 40-foot portion of 1700-foot revetment has been damaged in the flash-floods. If the corrective measures were not taken soon, the entire area alongside the right bank of the river, inhabited by a large population, could be flooded.



Support for Patna Takht Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
Criticising Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, for holding a meeting on June 6 without invitation to Takht Hazoor Sahib and Patna Sahib, a meeting of the Sikh clergy at Takht Hazoor Sahib today announced that any directive or appeal, issued without the presence of Jathedars of all five Takhts could not be acceptable to the Sikh Panth.

The Gurmatta, signed by Sikh high priests of Takht Hazoor Sahib, including Giani Kulwant Singh, Jathedar, also took a serious note of the humiliation to Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, who was stopped from entering for a meeting at Akal Takht secretariat on June 6.

Rejecting the Gurmatta, passed at Akal Takht secretariat on June 6, the Sikh clergy of Takht Patna Sahib also took a serious note of taking up the case of Prof Darshan Singh, a former Jathedar of Takht who was declared permanent “tTankhaiyya” (guilty of religious misconduct) by Takht Patna Sahib for challenging the authenticity of Dasam Granth. The meeting of Takht Hazoor Sahib said it was unfortunate that the case of Prof Darshan Singh was taken up though he had not made any formal representation in this regard.

The meeting of Takht Hazoor Sahib was held in violation of the directive issued from Akal Takht a few days ago in which Jathedar Vedanti had asked the Sikh sangat not to raise any controversy till October. 


Youth Congress to expose vendetta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
The legal cell of the Punjab Youth Congress decided at a meeting here today that cases of political vendetta and atrocities unleashed by the SAD-BJP government on Congress workers in the wake of the Panchayat Elections would be highlighted.

The cell will provide all help to the victims of the vendetta. The meeting was presided over by PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

According to PPCC general secretary Raj Pal Singh, the cell stressed the demand for the constitution of a three-member state election commission.


Akali MLA’s Complaint
GND varsity VC asked to submit reply
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
After forcing vice-chancellors of PAU and Punjabi University to quit, now Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh has been asked to submit his reply to inquiry officer B.C. Gupta, principal secretary, Home, on June 20 in his office at Chandigarh regarding a complaint by Akali MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, regarding alleged irregularities in the varsity.

The Akali MLA has said he would also meet the inquiry officer in his office on June 20 to brief him about allegations against Jai Rup Singh and other senior officials. The inquiry officer has urged the MLA to be present during the probe, along with all relevant documents to substantiate his allegations against the vice-chancellor.

Earlier, Valtoha had sought a high-level probe against the VC by raising the matter on floor of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on March 25. The complainant had alleged that some retired officials were being accommodated on high posts and affidavits were submitted by representatives of some organisations for ordering probe into the matter.

DPI (Colleges) Kanwarjit Singh has been deputed to act as presiding officer to conduct proceedings of the inquiry.

The university authorities are said to be consulting lawyers and senior educationists to know whether an IAS officer could hold a fair probe against the irregularities, allegedly committed by the VC. The ordering of inquiry has evoked a mixed response from the educationists.

Valtoha alleged there was great difference in prices quoted by a private communication agency for Internet networking compared to the prices settled by Punjab Agricultural University. “Had the GND university imported the material of networking direct from the USA, it would have saved lakhs,” he said.

Another complaint is of alleged embezzlement of funds in international conferences held from 1990 to 1998 by Jai Rup Singh as coordinator of the Centre for Genetic Disorders. He has also sought a probe into financial and administrative “scandal” in the conduct of PMET, 2005. He said by closing down B.Sc (Hons) and five-year integrated courses, the university had suffered a financial loss.

Valtoha and the VC have been on loggerheads following action by the university against finance and development officer Varinder Pal Sharma. Sharma is a confidant of the Akali MLA. He was dismissed despite opposition by Valtoha.

In November last year, denial of permission by the university for holding Punjab state games for women on its campus forced the Punjab Sports Department to shift the venue to the Guru Nanak Stadium and Khalsa College at the 11th hour had created tension between the VC and the state government. Even Gulzar Singh Ranike, sports minister, had complained to the Chief Minister.


Martyrdom day of Guru observed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
The martyrdom day of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, was observed with religious fervour. Chhabeels and langers by different sabha societies and organisations were held in the city today.

The main function was organised at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib where Guru Arjan Dev had compiled Guru Granth Sahib. The bhog of Akhand Path was held about 7.30 am. 


UN experts inspect historical buildings
Assess tourism potential of Patiala
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 16
The city is likely to be on the tourism map of world shortly with United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) experts inspecting heritage buildings of the erstwhile princely state capital.

The city has already been included in the master plan being prepared by the Punjab government for the preservation of heritage and to develop it as tourism circuit focal point of the northern region.

Having been the capital of Pepsu and erstwhile Patiala state, the city has a number of heritage buildings and monuments, which have the potential to attract tourists from India and abroad in a big way.

The UNWTO team, comprising team leader Richard Bachelor, heritage expert Hillary Dukeross, economist and investment expert Jim Flecher, transport and infrastructure expert Sam Sapoy and urban resort planner Rod Hamilton, inspected a couple of historical buildings here today. Earlier, they discussed the potential of tourism in Patiala at a meeting of the Contribution of Heritage Promotion Council presided over by Patiala deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal.

The DC highlighted the historical aspects of Patiala. Grewal said the team would file its report to the UNWTO.

Bachelor recalled his earlier visit to Patiala and said the city’s buildings and architecture had impressed him. He said UNWTO experts would help Patiala regain its place on heritage map. “We are going to prepare a special report to tap city’s tourism potential,” said Bachelor.

Dukecross and Bachelor visited a couple of historical buildings, including the Mall Road-based office of the PSEB, along with the DC, ADC (Development) Shiv Dular Dhillon and district town planner Harpreet Dhaliwal.


I lost sleep: Raja 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
Overwhelmed with emotion, the Prime Minister’s childhood friend Raja Ali, could not express his feelings while returning to Pakistan today after meeting his friend.

At a farewell organised by DAV Public School here, Raja said the second emotional parting from his friend had been very difficult and was an emotional upheaval for him as he was unable to sleep for a couple of days. He said he continued to cherish every moment of his meeting with his old friend.

Raja said he was touched by the love and affection of people of India. He said, “I had come here to re-establish bonds between people of the two countries for laying the foundation of a bright future of this region”. He said already there was lot of bloodshed during the traumatic decades. He said, “We must move ahead to establish an era of peace and stability in the area”.

Impressed with educational standards in the country, the PM’s friend hoped to send his youngest granddaughter for studies at Khalsa College in Amritsar. Responding to his wishes Neera Sharma, principal, DAV Public School, said her institution would give her admission to pursue her studies.

Raja said on the initiative of the PM, Teri, an NGO of Tata group of companies from India, had agreed to take up development projects in their village Gah in Pakistan. He said he had also invited the PM to inaugurate the high school being established in the village.

He was given warm send-off by students, teachers and the management of the school.


High Court judge faces Moga bar ire
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 16
There is resentment among lawyers of the district courts here against Justice Rajesh Bindal, a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who is also the inspecting judicial authority of the sessions’ division of Faridkot and Moga, following the alleged use of “aggressive words” by him against president of the district Bar Association Nasib Bawa.

The lawyers passed a resolution unanimously, condemning the act of the judge, at a meeting of the general house of the association on Saturday. The copies of the resolution had been sent to the Chief Justice and Justice Bindal.

Talking to The Tribune, Bawa said he got a message of Justice Bindal through the local chief judicial magistrate on Saturday morning to talk to him. “When I called up Justice Bindal, he used aggressive words and asked me stop the ongoing strike of the bar otherwise I will not be given any cooperation from the local judicial officers,” he alleged.

The lawyers have been on a strike for the past couple of weeks, opposing the setting-up of a judicial court at Nihalsinghwala subdivision.

Bawa said a deputation of the association recently met the inspecting judge during his visit to the district sessions court at Faridkot on June 11 and apprised him of their demand. But, the judge tried to pressurise him to withdraw the strike.

He had alleged that the district and sessions judge of Faridkot and Moga had tried to create a pressure on him a couple of days ago during a conversation with them to suspend the strike and request for a resolution of the association for setting up two more judicial courts at Dharamkot and Baghapurana in the district.

Meanwhile, the lawyers, continued with their strike today. The association has extended the strike till June 30. Bawa claimed that setting up a new court at Nihalsinghwala was not in the interest of the public.

Meanwhile, the association has requested the High Court to first establish a sessions division at Moga and then go for the expansion plan. The district courts were established at Moga more than 13 years ago. The administrative control of the local district court still falls under the Faridkot sessions division.


Jobless teachers’ plea to CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today directed Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal to review the matter pertaining to the appointment of teachers in schools.

A four-member deputation of the Punjab Un-employed BEd Teachers Front, led by its president Sukhdarshan Singh, met Badal at his official residence this morning. The deputation urged the Chief Minister to expedite the process to clear appointments of 14,000 selected teachers and service providers.

Principal secretary to the Chief Minister D.S.Guru attended the meeting.

The other members of the delegation were Shamsher Singh Shera, Jugraj Singh Zira, Jagtar Singh and Preet Bhagwan.


Homoeopathy Council reconstituted
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
The Punjab government has reconstituted the state Homoeopathy Council, inviting criticism from a section of council members who have approached the state Election Commission (EC), asserting that this was a violation of the model code of conduct in force due to the forthcoming elections to the municipal councils.

The government, in a notification passed recently, appointed S.K. Puri as chairman of the council. It also removed three members Dr Vimal Rekha, Dr Ranjit Singh and Dr Suresh Kant Sharma and appointed Dr Umesh Wadhwa, Dr Pritpal Manesar and Dr Sandeep Dogra in their place.

The move has invited criticism from some council members who have represented to the state EC against this move. A complaint filed in this regard claims that Puri has been a municipal councillor of the Congress from Hoshiarpur in the past, and that his appointment now is aimed at influencing votes in favour of the BJP.

It has also been alleged in the representation that medical education and research minister Tikshan Sud, who also hails from Hoshiarpur, is behind the appointment.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Anti-Corruption Forum for Homeopathy Development has alleged that the government has played a joke on qualified homoeopaths in the state by appointing a registered medical practitioner (RMP) as chairman of the council.

Dr Harpreet Singh Saggi of the forum claimed that Puri had been appointed chairman of the council earlier also in November 2003. He claimed Puri was, however, removed from his post when the matter about his qualification came to light.

According to sources, there is a bitter struggle for heading the council between different groups, with the group of Dr Parmjit Singh Ranoo, who has also headed the council in the past, behind the present protest. The removal of three members from the council is also being seen in this light. According to the Ranoo group, this has been done to facilitate Puri and also allow him to ensure the required quorum of three members in the 12-member council.


13 kg heroin seized, 5 held
Tribune News service

Gurdaspur, June 16
The police today seized 13 kg of heroin smuggled from Pakistan.

The seizure was from Dostpur village, 15 km from here and 3 km from the Indo-Pakistan border.

Four persons, including three brothers of Chauda Kalan border village of this district and one other person belonging to Amritsar district were arrested for smuggling narcotics.

Sources said Gurlal Singh Lalli, belonging to Amritsar district, who was carrying a bag, was roaming under suspicious circumstances into the farms of Gurjeet Singh bordering the fencing erected on the Indo-Pakistan border. Residents of Chauda Kalan village searched his bag and 13 packets containing heroin were recovered from it. The police was informed about this incident.

The sources said those arrested were identified as Darshan Singh, Gurjeet Singh, Jagir Singh (all brothers) and Balwinder Singh. The name of fifth accused was identified as Gurjeet Singh Lalli of Amritsar district.


Girl bought from Delhi for brothel, woman held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
A month after a girl from Ludhiana was bought allegedly by a Delhi brothel, now a Shimla Puri-based woman has allegedly bought a girl from Delhi.

The sale came to light when the victim complained to the Shimla Puri police here against Asha Rani, a local woman, and Bittu of Delhi.

A three-wheeler driver here helped her by giving her shelter.

The minor girl said Bittu, who used to frequent her house, lured her into marriage in Delhi. Her father lives with two women and did not care for her much.

After the elopement, Bittu forced her to “please” several men. Later, she was sold off to the Shimla Puri-based woman here for Rs 60,000.

The girl said the woman used to send her to clients. The man, for whom she had left her family, had ditched her. So she could not go back to her parents. After being a slave to many, she chose to escape last evening.

SHO Pawanjit said the woman was arrested after hearing the girl’s tale of woes. She asked the three-wheeler driver, who was taking her to a client, to help her. The man gave her shelter with a family and helped her out of the mess.

The police was questioning the accused women to know about other girls being exploited in this way. 


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