P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab goes Bihar way
Pilferage of foodgrains
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
Punjab is going the Bihar way as far as pilferage of subsidised foodgrains is concerned.


  • Against the national figure of 36.5 per cent of the BPL cardholders possessing any or one or more assets like tractor or thresher and consumer assets like fridge, washing machine or a vehicle, at least 65 per cent of the cardholders in Punjab and Haryana, possess the assets.
  • About 57 per cent of the food grains do not reach the target group, of which a little over 36 per cent is siphoned off in the supply chain.
  • Against the national figure of 21 percent of the targeted food grains being diverted to people in the Above Poverty Line (APL) category, the figures in case of Punjab (76.5 per cent), Haryana (55.65 per cent), Bihar (81.54 per cent), and Uttar Pradesh ( 61.27 per cent).
  • PDS is less efficient mode of income transfer to the poor. The economic cost of the grains is higher than the market prices in most of the states.

An evaluation of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TDPS), conducted by the Programme Evaluation Organisation has revealed more than 75 per cent of the foodgrain issued from the central pool and meant for below the poverty line (BPL) families is being pilfered in case of Punjab and Bihar. The national figure of pilferage is around 21 per cent.

The evaluation conducted on behalf of the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the Food and Public Distribution, the Government of India, points out that with above 55 per cent pilferage, Haryana has been clubbed with Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

In the region, Himachal Pradesh has reported the lowest pilferage, ranging between 25 per cent and 50 per cent.

Based on a sample survey of fair price shops and household spread over 18 states, the study has pointed out that 58 per cent of the subsidised foodgrains issued from the central pool do not reach the BPL families because of the identification errors, fake ration cards and other unethical practices in the implementation of the TDPS.

The cost of handling the targeted foodgrains by public agencies is very high. For Re 1 worth of income transfer to the poor, the Centre is spending Rs 3.65, indicating that after every Re 1 of the budgetary consumer subsidy, only 27 paise is reaching the poor, says the study. This has rendered the Public Distribution System (PDS) ineffective.

At the fair price shop (FPS) level, the pilferage of foodgrains in case of Bihar, Haryana and Punjab is above 50 per cent. For other states in the region, Rajasthan and UP, the pilferage is between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. The lowest is again in case of Himachal Pradesh.

Pointing towards the problem of fake ration cards, the evaluation agency has observed that Haryana, and Punjab have reported moderate ( less than 10 per cent) pilferage of foodgrains through the fake ration cards. On the other hand, Himachal Pradesh has reported over 30 per cent pilferage.

Analysing the delivery system of the TDPS, the study says there is a low demand for the PDS grains in Haryana and Punjab. The targeted consumers are reluctant to accept the wheat flour due to its poor quality, short shelf life and damage caused to the flour due to poor stocking and handling conditions in the FPS. A number of consumers reported the presence of foreign particles in the grains.


Conditional free power to Dalits starts controversy
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
While a notification on the supply of free power to farmers and a section of the Dalits will be issued after the approval of the Council of Ministers, which will meet on September 21, a controversy that can prove harmful politically to the Amarinder Singh government has begun with regard to the benefit.

Conditional free power to Dalits has created heartburning among them and their leaders. In fact, Dalit panches and sarpanches have started getting together to oppose this. They say that while Punjab has given free power to all farmers without laying down any condition, Dalits with a sanctioned load of up to 300 watts will only be entitled to free power up to 200 units.

The government has given free power to even rich farmers with an income of crores of rupees every year.

The condition of power load in the case of Dalits was laid down three years ago when 50 units were given free to them. Though the limit of free units has been increased by the government to 200, there has been no increase in the limit of the power load.

Sources said nearly 45 Dalit sarpanches from the Doaba region, which is considered the stronghold of the Congress, met the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, last evening to lodge their protest in this regard. They urged him to take up the issue with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Dalit leaders say that the large-heartedness shown by the state government in the case of farmers should have also been shown in the case of Dalits and other poor sections, which faced a lot of hardship.

The sources said that only 10 to 15 per cent of the poor families would be eligible for free power of up to 200 units though the Dalits constituted about 30 per cent of the state’s population. However, the government says that except the “creamy layer” of Dalits, all others will get the benefit of free power.

The Dalit leaders say that the powerful leadership of the two main political parties — the Congress and the SAD — is from the landed aristocracy of the state. With the taking of the first decision to give free power to small farmers, this aristocracy had remained outside the purview of the free power benefit. However, as it has a powerful political clout, it compelled the government to give free power to all farmers.

The sources said that this issue could be exploited by political parties in the days to come.


Farmer ends life along with two kids
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 15
A farmer hailing from Charik village allegedly jumped into a canal along with his two kids reported due to his poor financial state yesterday.

While the bodies of his children were taken out from a nearby canal, the body of Baljinder Singh was yet to be recovered. Sources said the farmer only had an acre of land to support his family. According to his wife, Kuldip Kaur, he left home in the afternoon yesterday along with his sons — Chamandeep Singh (4)and five-month-old Talwinder Singh —stating that he was going to meet one of his friends. In the evening some villagers informed the family about bodies of two kids floating on the canal. Much to the horror of Kuldip Kaur, they turned out to be her kids’ bodies. Baljinder’s slippers were also found near the canal.

While a section of villagers attribute his suicide to his poor condition, sources said he was also mentally upset. They said sometime back Baljinder used to have a dose of liquor with some Home Guards in Jagraon. One day he had taken away one of the guard’s firearm in an inebriated state. Though he had returned his weapon the next day, a case was registered against him. Sources said despite getting bail in the case, he feared imprisonment in the case and got mentally disturbed.

Meanwhile, the bodies of both children have been sent for post-mortem examination, while efforts were on to trace the farmer’s body.


Housefed cancels booking of flats
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 15
Housefed, Punjab, today cancelled the booking of super deluxe flats in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar here on the first day of announcing the scheme, after employees refused to accept forms at 9:30 a.m. claiming that all 90 flats were booked by that time on first-come, first-serve basis.

Many aspirants for the scheme, who had come from all parts of the state following an advertisement inserted by the Housefed in a vernacular daily, protested outside the site office today. They demanded an inquiry by an independent agency alleging “favourites were allotted” flats in the previous housing schemes of the organisation in the state.

Mr K.K. Bawa, Chairman, Housefed, said that they had cancelled the booking following such allegations. The scheme would be re-advertised after some days and the procedure of booking would be followed again.

Housefed, had, in an advertisement issued only today announced the scheme for 90 six-storey super deluxe flats constructed on 1495 square feet area. Surprisingly, when the residents reached the office at 9:30a.m. they were told that bookings were over. The Housefed office, selling forms, opens at nine and a bank draft was also to be attached with the forms.

Angry residents staged a dharna outside the office. Mr Japnam Singh, an aspirant said that after reading about the first come, first serve scheme, he reached the office at 8:30 a.m. “As soon as the office opened at 9 a.m. I bought a form for the same and went running to my bank for a draft of Rs 75,000 required by the Housefed as initial payment. When I reached there at 9:30 am, I was told my form would not be accepted,” he said while raising slogans against the authorities concerned.

Mr Rajinder Singh another aspirant said that he was also standing outside with the form and draft but no body was accepting it. “It is near impossible for anybody to fill the form and submit the draft within half an hour. Banks also take a lot of time to issue drafts. It means the employees knew that such a scheme was being opened today and they had already come with the drafts. The advertisement was a mere drama and we all have been taken for a ride, “ he said.

Seeing the commotion outside, many employees left their offices. Some of them were stopped by the protesters. “I was shocked to hear the reply from one of them, who said that all flats were booked by IAS and IPS officiers. He asked me whether a common man like me would be able to do anything in these circumstances,” said Mr Daljit Singh, another resident.

He added that he had tried to contact the Managing Director of Housefed also but he did not know anything about it.


Another land scam comes to the fore
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 15
Another land scam in which the land mafia and certain officials of the local government circumvented rules to their personal advantage can come to the fore.

The modus operandi is simple. Firstly, notify a scheme on private land. Force the owners to sell the land at lesser rates on the plea that the land would be acquired by the improvement trust. Later, when the land is secured, scrap the government scheme and sell the land at market rates.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that the Improvement Trust, Pathankot, notified a development scheme on a 6-acre prime land on the Dhaki road about two years ago. Acquisition notices were issued under Section 5 and later under Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring the land.

A committee was formed under the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, to fix the award for the land. The owner of the land ran helter-skelter to stop the acquisition of his land. However, when he failed in his efforts, he sold the land at a throwaway price to an NRI.

As soon as the land was purchased by the NRI, the attitude of the higher authorities of the local government department and Improvement Trust officials changed suddenly. A representation was made by the local officials to the higher authorities of the local government that they did not have funds to acquire the land. Sources, however, alleged that the improvement trust had constructed shops worth crores that are still to be sold. So, the assertion that there were no funds available with the trust was totally baseless.

The scheme on the land was abandoned within a month. The NRI and his associates that secured a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Improvement Trust, Pathankot, sold the land further allegedly making a profit of about Rs 1 crore.

The original owner of land was now alleging that he was forced to sell the land at lower rates by including it in the acquisition process. However, the way the scheme was abandoned despite acquisition notices, clearly indicates that it was a ploy to grab the land at lower rates.

The chairman of the Pathankot Improvement Trust, Mr Rajbir Singh, when contacted, blamed the district town planner for the lapse of the scheme. He informed that despite the fact that the improvement trust had completed the formalities for acquisition of land, the district town planner did not give a no-objection certificate for carrying out the scheme for one year. This led to the lapse of the scheme.

He also added that the improvement trust had recently passed a resolution to enhance the time frame of the scheme and the trust would notify the scheme again on the same land.


Gold palanquin to be installed at Nankana Sahib
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, September 15
A history of sorts will be scripted when Guru Granth Sahib will be carried in a gold palanquin from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan by covering more than 700 km, the longest religious procession after the Partition. The palanquin is being prepared with more than 15 kg of gold to be fitted on the teak wood.

The palanquin, being prepared under the supervision of Baba Amrik Singh, will be installed at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev.

Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, will leave for Pakistan tomorrow to meet Mr Pervez Elahi, Chief Minister, Pakistani Punjab, for making necessary arrangements.

Mr Sarna told The Tribune here today that he would also meet Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, to request him to personally present at the time of flagging off the procession on October 16.

The procession will be received by Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab, respectively, en route to Nankana Sahib. Mr Elahi will receive the procession at Wagah on October 17.

Mr Sarna said the palanquin would be carried in a specially fabricated air-conditioned bus. There would be provision for raagis to sing kirtan.

The DSGMC chief said efforts would be made to seek permission from the government of Pakistan to take the palanquin in the air-conditioned bus to cross from Wagah.


Power generation at two hydel projects stops
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 15
Power generation at Nakkiyan and Ganguwal hydel plants, each of 67 MW capacity, at Anandpur Sahib came to a halt today as the water supply to it was discontinued from the Bhakra Dam. The reason for stopping water supply to the hydel projects run by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is attributed to a low demand of power in the state.

Sources in the BBMB said the decision to discontinue water supply to the hydel projects was taken after a request from the PSEB management that the water and power consumption in the state had declined considerably after rainfall in the region in the past few days.

Besides this, one unit of 110 MW capacity, out of the six units at Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal plant, Ropar, has also been shut down due to low power demand in the state. The remaining five units at the thermal plant have been supplying 250 lakh units of power to the state per day.

The sources added that the power cuts in the state were reduced to zero as power demand in the state was decreased to about 880 lakh units per day. A senior official of the BBMB said as the demand for power and water declined, the water supply of about 10, 000 cusecs from Bhakra Dam to hydel plants in Anandpur Sahib was stopped.

This will help storing the same water in the Bhakra Dam which would help in power generation during the depletion period. The water level of Bhakra was today increased to 1674.78 feet. The inflow in the Bhakra Dam was 24, 842 cusecs, while the outflow was 14, 842 cusecs. 


Work on Mukerian hydel project restarts
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur September 15
The work on the 18-MW Mukerian hydel power project of the PSEB has started once again after a gap of about one year. The site of the powerhouses would now be shifted 45 metres downstream.

The work on the project had come to a halt due to water eruption at the proposed foundation of the powerhouses.

The water eruption started at the said site in September last year. The water flow from the ground was so strong at that time that within half-an hour more than 100-feet-pit dug for the power houses was inundated. The contractors did not even get the time to save their equipment from getting submerged.

Since then, the PSEB authorities had been trying to drain the water out of the proposed site for powerhouses. The PSEB authorities had deployed 40 motors to drain out water erupting from the bed of the site.

However, the water eruption continued. Due to the water coming out from the ground in such a large quantity, the earth in the surrounding areas had also sunk at certain places. The temporary shelters built by the contractors for their labourers had been damaged to the dunking earth around the site.

The Chief Engineer, Civil Design and Construction, PSEB, Mr Bhupinder Singh Saberwal, when contacted, said the work on the project had been started at a new site. The shifting of powerhouses to an alternative site would mean an extra cost of Rs 75 lakh, he said.

As per the original design of the project, the powerhouses were to be set up at 220-metre level.

However, due to technical reasons BHEL, that is to supply turbines for the powerhouses, demanded that ground level of power houses should be lowered to 219 meters. The consultants of the project at Roorkee, however, insisted that further geo-physical and technical investigations should be carried out in case the level was to be lowered by one meter.

Once a well was created for testing, the water started gushing out of it. All effort to plug the flow of water from the area failed. Some of the experts said the water flow could not be plugged as the ground water level in the area was at 238 metres. The PSEB authorities had already gone 20 meters below the ground water level.

The project was conceptualised on the Mukerain hydel canal because of two reasons. Due to excess water flow of water in the canal almost every year cracks appeared at the spot where canal merged with the Beas river. The authorities here had to put in stones rakes to control the situation every year. This led to loss of generation in Mukerain hydel project.

To tackle the problem the PSEB authorities decided to build an escape channel and in the process also create an 18 MW powerhouse over it.


Staff stage dharna near CM’s house
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 15
Hundreds of activists of the Joint Action Committee of the Punjab and UT Chandigarh Employees Central Representative Organisation today staged a dharna near the New Moti Bagh Palace, private residence of the Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the authorities concerned.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sajjan Singh, chairman of the organisation, said that the activists had staged dharna to press the state government to implement their demands which had been accepted by the Chief Minister during the meetings held with him. He added that employees were also protesting against the direct and indirect move of the state government to privatise its certain departments.

He said activists were demanding promotional scales, regularisation of services of all those employees, who were working on an ad hoc basis, temporary basis and on contract, implementation of pension scheme, enhancement in medical and house rent allowances and filling of vacant posts.

He said if the state government did not fulfill their demands, the organisation would join the all-India strike to be held on September 29. He added that on that day, demonstration would be held in all parts of Punjab.


Much-awaited terminal building opened
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi, September 15
The much-awaited newly constructed terminal building for the arrival lounge of the Rajasansi International Airport was inaugurated here today by the Chairman of the Airport Authority of India (AAI), Mr K. Ramalingam.

Talking to The Tribune, the Chairman said the modern terminal building had become operational for the convenience of passengers which would handle around 300 passengers at any given time. He said the arrival lounge, constructed at the cost of Rs 12 crore, would be connected to aerobridge, at present under construction, and would have all amenities. He said the departure lounge, also under construction adjacent to arrival lounge, would be commissioned within next three to four months at the additional cost of Rs 7 crore. The Airport Authority had provided 500 additional trolleys for the convenience of passengers.

He said the arrival lounge had already been fitted with escalators to be used for the passengers using the aerobridge. The arrival lounge had been fitted with two conveyor belt systems. He added that there was a provision to construct second aerobridge under the new expansion plan at a total outlay of Rs 80 crore for which the government had already given its go ahead. Mr Ramalingam said the next phase of construction would commence in January next year and hope to complete the project within a year.


Dalit Sena men brandish weapons
Clash averted with police intervention
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 15
A clash between the disciples of Dera Roomi Wala and Dalit Sena activists was averted here today with the police and the district administration persuading the latter to hold its protest in the city instead of at the dera at Bhucho Kalan.

However, tension prevailed in the district as both the sides brandished weapons at their protest venues in a “show of strength”. The police force was deployed in large numbers to avoid any untoward incident.

Sources said a violent clash could have taken place if the Dalit Sena had gone ahead with its programme to hold protest in front of the dera at Bhucho Kalan village.

The Dalit Sena first organised its protest rally at Ambedkar Park and later scores of its activists blocked traffic in front of the bus stand for about half an hour. Long queues of vehicles were witnessed on both sides of the road due to the blockade.

Dalit Sena general secretary Gyan Chand Gautam addressed the activists. Alleging discrimination against the Dalits at the dera, he gave an ultimatum to the state government to resolve the issue within 21 days. He said if the government failed to find a solution till October 9, they would launch a stir. He also gave a charter of demands addressed to the Governor to the district administration.

Dalit Sena chief Kiranjit Singh Gahiri said he would soon hold a rally in Bhucho Kalan which would be attended by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

The protest rally finally culminated at the mini secretariat. On the other hand, hundreds of disciples of Dera Roomi Wala armed with sharpedged weapons and canes converged on the dera.


Newly born found abandoned
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 15
A watchman, Vir Bahadur, found a newly born female child abandoned at the backside of the local Civil Hospital, yesterday morning. He took the child to the hospital and handed it over to Dr Jaswinder Singh, who was on duty. Dr Jaswinder Singh informed the district administration and the police.

On receiving information, Dr Majit Kaur, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, Dr G.P.S. Bedi, Senior Medical Officer of the hospital, and Ms Rahul Chaba, Assistant Commissioner (grievances) reached the hospital. The child was admitted to the hospital.

Dr Manjit Kaur expressed deep concern over the abandoning of female child and said that it was a serious crime. She appealed to leaders of NGOs to make the people aware of the the ill-effects of female foeticide.


Panel concerned over less funds for medical claims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union today took a serious note of the inadequate funds in various departments for the reimbursement of medical claims of the employees and pensioners.

A press note issued here today appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to intervene so that the employees got benefits of the facility.A number of patients had been forced to extend the date of their surgeries on account of delay in the release of advance to them, it alleged.

The patients, who go in for advanced surgeries such as heart, cancer and renal failure should be given priority for the release of money, the press note demanded.


Six of family hurt as roof caves in
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 15
Six persons belonging to a family were injured when a roof under which they were sleeping caved in at Sunder Basti (Ward No. 13), Patran, near here, yesterday evening.

All injured have been admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital here. When the incident happened, landlord Karnail Singh was sleeping at his residence with other family members.

The house was a dilapidated structure and it had got worst after heavy rainfall during the past two days.

Karnail Singh and his wife Paramjit Kaur sustained serious head injuries.

The other injured include Raj Rani , Manjit Singh, Sarabjit Kaur, Gurjit Kaur.


Man electrocuted, residents block traffic
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 15
Hundreds of residents of Hardo Khanpur and adjoining villages today staged dharna and blocked vehicular traffic for more than two hours in front of their village, 6 km from here, on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road. They were protesting against the PSEB authorities for their negligence, due to which Surinder Pal, alias DC, a resident of the village, was electrocuted last night. They were demanding employment to the younger brother of the deceased, who was the only bread winner of the family, due compensation to his family and installation of electric wires of required height. Later Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner (general) intervened and got lifted the blockade.


Badal's brother-in-law cremated

Bathinda, September 15
The mortal remains of Gurpreet Singh, brother-in-law of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, were consigned to the flames at Chak Fateh Singhwala village on Tuesday.

Gurpreet Singh, a retired Air Force officer and sarpanch of the village, had died in Chandigarh after a prolonged illness. — OC


High court
Parliamentary Secretaries’ case: notice to Punjab
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 15
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for October 27 on the petition filed by Mr Anter Singh Brar, a BJP leader, seeking directions to the Punjab Government to remove Parliamentary Secretaries.

Taking up the petition, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta also issued notice to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Parliamentary Secretaries.

The Bench also took on record the recent judgement of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, quashing the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretaries.

During hearing, Senior Advocate Satya Pal Jain, counsel for the petitioner, stated that the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries a drain on the exchequer and was illegal as no such post existed under the Constitution. He said though the 91st amendment to the Constitution restricted the number of ministers in Punjab to not more than 18, the Chief Minister, because of political reasons, appointed 12 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries all of whom have been given rank of Deputy Minister. This way, crores of rupees were being wasted, Mr Jain asserted.

He also maintained that there was no legal sanction to the post. Mr Jain also quoted the Himachal Pradesh High Court judgement in the matter.

Hearing will now resume on October 27.

Bibi allowed to go to USA

Mr Justice S.K. Mittal on Thursday allowed the petition filed by SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur for permission to allow her to visit the USA.

Bibi had moved the High Court seeking quashing of the September 1 order of Special Judge (CBI), Patiala, by which he had dismissed her plea for allowing her to go to the USA. She is facing trial in the case relating to the death of her daughter.

In his order, Mr Justice Mittal allowed Bibi Jagir Kaur to undertake the tour after depositing a personal surety bond for Rs 10 lakh. She has also been directed to return on or before September 30 and join court proceedings fixed for October 1.

In her petition, the SGPC chief had stated that she wanted to go to the USA to visit top universities there to evolve a pattern of the proposed Shri Guru Granth Sahib World University at Fatehgarh Sahib.

She had challenged the Special Judge’s order on the plea that he wrongfully disallowed her request.


Farmers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 15
Farmers staged a dharna and held a demonstration inside the canal colony complex yesterday to express resentment over “wrong” distribution of canal water by a Deputy Collector.

The situation became explosive as representatives of the protesting farmers marched to college road where the Deputy Collector was supervising the construction of his bungalow. He reportedly lost temper and used abusive language. Half a dozen mediapersons were also present when the incident took place.

Representatives of farmers, including some sarpanches, condemned the officer. They demanded that an inquiry into his movable and immovable property should be held by the Vigilance Department after transferring him out of the circle.

They referred to some instances related to Bahadurkhera and other villages where excessive water for irrigation had been sanctioned to favour a few farmers allegedly under some consideration. The protesters urged the higher authorities to cancel such arbitrary orders. Police was deployed immediately.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Collector reached his office and informally expressed regrets for using harsh words during conversation with the farmers. He advised them to file an appeal against orders on allocation of water to get the same modified.


Farmers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 15
Farmers held a rally at grain market here today in protest against forcible acquisition of their land. Farmers of three villages — Dhaula, Sanghera and Fatehgarh Channa participated in the rally.

Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, president, SAD (A) addressing the rally dared the state government to acquire 370 acres of land for proposed sugar mill by Trident group. He said that no government could acquire the land without the consent of the farmers. Mr Mann alleged that SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh were favouring Trident Managing Director Rajinder Gupta. He said that both leaders were pleasing Mr Gupta. He demanded Rs 20 lakh compensation for every acre acquired and employment for the three future generations of affected families.

Mr Maghar Singh Kularian, president, Agriculture Vikas Front, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, and Mr Gobind Singh Longowal both SAD MLAs and CPI ex-MLA Achra Singh Gowara and CPI leader Ujjagar Singh Bihla also addressed the farmers.


Minor breached, crops submerged
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 15
Cotton and paddy crops in hundreds of acres were submerged at Burj Mehma village yesterday morning due to a breach in Kotbhai minor, near here.

As per information available, the 15-foot breach has inundated 300 acres of crop in Burj Mehma village. Villagers displayed courage in plugging the breach, but rainy weather resulted in huge losses to them.

Villagers alleged that the minor had not been desilted for the past two years and it overflowed and breached. Farmers also shut their supply lines from the minor due to rains and it also resulted in increase in minor’s level. The breach occurred near the field of Ram Singh. When news of breach reached villagers they made an announcement from village gurdwara appealing all to converge for plugging the breach. Village sarpanch, Gurtej Singh said hundreds of acres of crop had been ruined due to breach.

He said within minutes of the occurrence of the breach their fields were submerged in two to three feet of water. When contacted, the SDO of the Canal Department, Mr Makhan Lal, attributed the breach to incessant rain for the past two days. Breach occurred in three more minors of the district in recent days causing damage to paddy and cotton crops.


99 procurement centres for paddy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 15
For making the paddy procurement hassel free, the district administration has decided to set up 99 purchase centres in the district and has also allotted purchase centres to different procurement agencies. The procurement would start from October 1.

Mr Shiv Dular Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), who presided over a meeting of representatives of different procurement agencies and other officials, said arrangements for the gunny bags and speedy lifting of procured paddy had also been made.

He said about 15.40 lakh MT of paddy would be procured in this district by different agencies, including the Pungrain, Markfed, Punsup, Warehouse, Punjab Agro and the FCI. The procured paddy would be stored in the godowns and the premises of about 450 rice mills dotting this district.


PAGREXCO to promote grape cultivation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
Punjab Agri Export Corporation Limited (PAGREXCO) today announced its plans to promote the cultivation of grapes in Punjab. This is aimed at taking away farmers from the wheat-paddy cycle.

PAGREXO has tied up with India’s leading wine company, Somant Soma Wines Limited, Maharashtra, which is providing technical assistance in implementing the programme and choosing the variety of grapes.


All 27 booths for nagar panchayat poll declared sensitive
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 15
With the administration declaring all 27 polling booths for nagar panchayat elections of Goraya and Shahkot sensitive, elaborate security arrangements are being made for the elections scheduled to be held on September 18.

The deployment of police force has already begun and all 26 wards in both the nagar panchayats would be under tight security by tomorrow, the officials have said. Apprehending rigging, the opposition parties have also written to the Election Commission demanding deployment of paramilitary forces in both the constituencies.

The Goraya constituency has 38 contenders contesting for 13 seats, of which five are general, four are reserved for women, three are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates and one for backward caste candidate.

The Shahkot constituency has 31 contenders to fight for 13 seats, of which five are general, four are reserved for women candidates, two are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, one each for women Scheduled Caste and backward caste candidate

Significantly, the Congress has fielded a candidate in each of the total 26 wards barring ward number 2 for general category candidate in Shahkot. All other candidates in both the constituencies are fighting independently. Though the SAD-BJP alliance is supporting its own candidate from almost every ward, they have not been given a party symbol. A symbol of chair has been assigned to all such candidates.

Such a move also indicates that the opposition party is perhaps not much confident of its win from these wards in Jalandhar city. Contrary to such a move, the SAD-BJP alliance has given its own party symbols to the candidates fielded by it for all wards in Bholath, Dhilwan and Begowal nagar panchayats falling in Kapurthala, where it seems confident of victory.


ZP chief complains of indifferent staff
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 15
Zila Parishad Chairman Bikramjit Singh Bikka and Maur Block Samiti Chairperson Narinderjit Kaur yesterday minced no words while narrating how panchayat secretaries, samiti staff and even drivers ignore their orders before the Chairman of the Punjab Finance Commission for Panchayat and Municipals, Mr A.S. Chatha, here.

Mr Bikka and Ms Narinderjit said panchayat secretaries try to dominate sarpanches, which make it difficult for an elected representative to perform his duties.

Mr Bikka sought the disbursal of grants for development to sarpanches, while zila parishad member Paramjit Kaur Pirzada said petrol stations falling under village limits should pay a part of tax to panchayats as it would boost their monetary position. They sought inclusion of traders and shopkeepers under the panchayat’s tax system. They also demanded motor connection on priority basis for over 10 acres of shamlat land in villages so that these may be given on contract at better rates.

Deputy Commisioner Rahul Bhandari informed the meeting that the panchayat of Nathana had sought consent for building a bus stand on its own and they be allowed to charge stand fee. Mr Chatha stressed on the need to encourage such activities of panchayats.

Mr Chatha was in the city to hold a discussion with the members of municipal councils , zila parishads and panchayat samitis. Ms Anjali Duggal, Member Secretary, Ms Surinder Kaur, Research Officer, and Mr S.C. Gupta, Joint Director, also participated in the discussion.

Mr Chatha sought suggestions from the members of municipalcorporation and councils on plethora of issues, including their present set of powers, continuation of octroi and views on its privatisation.

The members said a part of the revenue from the vegetable market, which normally goes to the market committee, should go to the municipal councils.


K.P.S. Gill’s relatives booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 15
The city police this evening registered a case of cheating against two relatives of former DGP, Punjab, K.P.S. Gill, who had allegedly demolished their petrol station without taking due permission from the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.

The former DGP was present at the time of the demolition of Satwant Filling Station near Bhai Bala Chowk here and uprooting of the machinery of the IOC installed there. The controversy came to light today when Indian Oil Corporation took up the matter with the city police.

A senior official of city police confirmed that an FIR against Satwant Kaur and Birinder Singh Gill, relatives of Mr K.P.S. Gill had been lodged at Division No. 5 police station here under Sections 406, 420, 379 and 427 of the IPC on a complaint lodged by Mr Ashish Kumar, a senior employee of the IOC.

The IOC had objected to the demolishing of the station building where there was allegedly a plan of constructing a Mall or big commercial building. The FIR states that a three-month advance permission from the IOC was required under the rules. They had not taken the permission.


SFI for CBI probe into Ajad’s death
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 15
Mr Gurpal Singh, state vice-president, Student Federation of India (SFI), today demanded a CBI probe into the death of eminent economist and senior professor of Punjabi University, Patiala, Nirmal Singh Ajad under mysterious circumstances.

Mr Gurpal Singh said Professor Ajad, who was known for his progressive thoughts, was under stress after the university authorities had placed him under suspension on flimsy grounds. He added that Professor Ajad had lost his life because he was promoting the progressive ideology and was being resisted by those forces, which were trying to promote fundamentalism in the state at the cost of its peace.

Professor Ajad died in the local Rajindra Hospital where he was admitted by his younger brother, Mr Kulwant Singh. Professor Ajad was found in unconscious state in his house located in the urban estate by his brother.

A section of teachers of Punjabi University had also demanded that at least the reasons leading to his death under mysterious circumstances should be brought to the surface.

Meanwhile, the body of Professor Ajad was cremated here today. A large number of people attended his funeral ceremony.


Statewide protest on September 23
Punjabi University row

Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 15
Representatives of different organisations of the students, which have formed a confederation to support the agitation launched by students of Punjabi University against the alleged highhandedness of the authorities, today said they would hold a state-level strike on September 23 to lodge their protest.

A large number of students of the university campus have been observing strike since September 7 to press the authorities to accept their demands, including the abolishing of the system of internal assessment in the Department of law hostel facilities to students of senior classes, library facility in the girls hostel and reading room facility for 24 hours. The students intensified their agitation after their two leaders were suspended and four others expelled.

The student leaders, who held a press conference today, said they would hold a meeting with the representatives of different employees and farmers’ unions on September 18.


Engineers’ Day celebrated

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 15
The Institute of Engineers (IE), Chapter of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering college (BBSBEC), Fatehgarh Sahib today celebrated “38th Engineer Day” to mark the birthday of Bharat Ratan, Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya.

The College Principal, Dr DS Hira, presided over the function while Prof HS Nigah of Mechanical Department was the chief guest.

Dr Hira in his address advised young engineers to inculcate human values, along with technical studies. He said that due to lack of these values in engineers, society was witnessing rampant corruption in Engineering Department of the state. Majority of social problems like poor roads , sewerage, water supplies, telephones irrigation could only be eradicated if engineers worked with honesty and dedication . He congratulate all engineers on this occasion.

The co- coordinator of the function, Prof Lakhwinder Singh in his address appreciated the life of M. Visvesvaraya and advised students to follow in the footsteps of the great visionary.

Prof APS Sethi , Head , Mechanical Department

highlighted the importance of decision making in the life of engineers.

Prof Gurpal Singh , Head, Department of Computer Engineering, also spoke.

A paper presentation contest, debate and technical discussion was organized among the students of engineering college of the state on. Thirty seven participants from different engineering college participated in it. Prof Niraj Bala coordinated the proceeding of the function .

Prof Amritbir Singh, Prof APS Oberio ,Prof Narinderpal Singh , Prof HS Bhatti, , Prof Neeraj Bala , Prof Manpreet Kaur, Prof Kiranpreet Kaur, Prof Tripatjot Singh, also addressed. — OC


Running trophy for Amrit Model School
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 15
Amrit Model School won the running trophy in Inter-State Poetical Recitation competition held on the Hindi Divas yesterday at Swami Keshwanand Senior Secondary School here. Individually, Mr Paras Jaitley and Mr Kunal Chhabra won the first and second prizes; respectively. Ms Kanishka Goyal and Ms Komal were bracketed for third position in the contest. Ms Nisha was given consolation prize being a junior most active participant.

Mr Thandi Ram Aggarwal, patron, Aggarwal Sabha, was the chief guest.


NRI pledges Rs 10.40 lakh

Patiala, September 15
A Los Angeles-based NRI has pledged to donate Rs 10.40 lakh to Punjabi University for the Golden Heart Scholarship scheme meant for rural poor students of the Yadavindra College of Engineering, Talwandi Sabo.

According to a press note, the NRI, Mr Nachattar Singh, today met the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Boparai, and handed over a cheque for Rs 60,000 to cover for the first year’s tuition fees of poor students of the engineering college. — TNS


Rs 17 crore released for aided colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Punjab Government has released Rs 17.70 crore as grant-in-aid for aided colleges of the state for the second quarter ending September 30, a spokesperson said today.


Abolish octroi, demand industrialists
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 15
The Small-Scale Industries Association Patiala (SSIAP) while demanding that octroi should be abolished immediately also urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to make arrangements for the disbursement of subsidy to industrial units, which was not paid to them since 1996.

Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Wraich, Public Relations Officer (PRO), SSIAP, in a press note issued here on Tuesday said in an emergency meeting of the association held under the presidentship of Mr S.D. Bhagat, the members pointed out that the Punjab Government had given an undertaking in the High Court that whenever it would have additional resources of income, it would abolish the octroi. He said the association had demanded that as the VAT system had generated about Rs 400 crore in the first quarter, the state government should abolish octroi immediately.

He said the association appreciated the bold step taken by Capt Amarinder Singh by extending the facility of free power to the farmers even though the World Bank withdrew its hands from giving any financial aid to Punjab for its development projects.

The association was of the view that in the past, free power to farmers meant no power to them and they were left with no other option than to run their tubewells on diesel sets and generating power at the cost of Rs 7 to Rs 8 per unit.

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