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TOP STORIES

Jor Mela: CM talks development, Amarinder says he will use stick
Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
There were two takes at the Jor Mela here today. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal talked development. His rival for the Chief Minister’s chair and PCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, talked about repression.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Prem Singh Chandumajra at an SAD rally at the Shaheedi Jor Mela, Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, on Monday; and (right) PPCC president Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Shamsher Singh Dullon and Lal Singh at a Congress rally at the mela.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Prem Singh Chandumajra at an SAD rally at the Shaheedi Jor Mela, Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, on Monday; and (right) PPCC president Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Shamsher Singh Dullon and Lal Singh at a Congress rally at the mela. Tribune photos: Vicky Gharu and Rajesh Sachar 

Gurdass Badal rules out rapprochement with CM
Ghudda, December 27
Gurdass Badal and his son Manpreet Singh Badal today ruled out the possibility of rapprochement with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal but said “emotional bonds between the two families will continue”.



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EARLIER STORIES



Easy availability of ‘birs’ on cards for Sikhs in US
Amritsar, December 27
With the return of a two-member SGPC delegation to India, the dream of Sikhs living in the US and Canada of getting copies of Guru Granth Sahib in their own countries may soon come true.The delegation, comprising SGPC senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk and secretary Joginder Singh, has already given its report to SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.

 Mela mirth has political, sporting flavour
Kabaddi tournament a crowd puller
Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
The Kabaddi tournament organised during the Jor Mela at Mata Gujri College drew immense response from the public today.Various sports tournaments and meets including hockey, football and kabaddi have been organised. The meets are being organised at Fatehgarh Sahib, where martyrdom day of younger sahibzada’s of Guru Gobind Singh


Baba Dalla Singh from Kartarpur sports a 300-metre turban at Jor Mela in 
Fatehgarh Sahib on Monday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu; Devotees prepare langar for Jor Mela visitors on Monday. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik







 

POLITICS

Channi was never with me from heart: Manpreet
Former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal addresses a public rally at Ghudda village in Bathinda on Monday. Ghudda (Bathinda district), December 27
Former state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said today that the sitting MLA, Charanjeet Singh Channi, who had recently deserted him and joined the Congress, was never with him from heart and had come with him hoping that he (Manpreet) would join the Congress after being expelled from the ruling SAD.

Former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal addresses a public rally at Ghudda village in Bathinda on Monday. Tribune photo: Pawan Sharma

COMMUNITY


A dyeing unit worker dries lengths of cloth after dyeing these on a cold day in Ludhiana on Monday.
A dyeing unit worker dries lengths of cloth after dyeing these on a cold day in Ludhiana on Monday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Adampur shivers at 0.2°C
Jalandhar, December 27
With dipping mercury and near blinding fog, the Northern region today reeled under extreme cold conditions while normal life came to a halt as people preferred to stay indoors.

Urea shortage hits wheat growth
Ferozepur, December 27
Even as a large section of farmers of the state are still disappointed over the less yield of paddy and cotton crop in the last season, shortage of urea fertiliser for growth of recently sown wheat crop has generated fear among them.

Power Generation Policy
PSERC has reservations, shoots off letter to govt
Patiala, December 27
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has expressed reservations on the power generation policy for the state that was announced by the Punjab Government in June. It has written a letter to the Principal Secretary, Department of Power, which mentioned that the objective of providing affordable power is unlikely to be achieved by adopting the MoU route.

2 community reserves for black bucks
Abohar, December 27
The Punjab Government has decided to set up two community reserves in this subdivision for the protection and conservation of black bucks, blue bulls and sambar, who roam in villages located outside the open sanctuary area spread over 13 villages.

HARIVALLABH SANGEET SAMMELAN
Pt Jasraj gives a performance at Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan, in Jalandhar on Sunday. Pt Jasraj strikes meditative notes
Jalandhar, December 27
For those who believe classical music is only for the ‘classes’, the last day of the 135th Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan would have been a sweet myth-busting treat. Harivallabh always supported the classical-music-for-the-masses cause but the huge Sunday crowds were a revelation.

Pt Jasraj gives a performance at Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan, in Jalandhar on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Patiala murder case cracked
Recent floods in Patiala have raised the water table raising hope for better crop next season
Sangrur, December 27
The police today claimed to have solved a murder case wherein a father had allegedly murdered the lover of his daughter in the Patran area of Patiala on December 23. Sangrur SSP Harcharan Singh Bhullar told mediapersons that Harpal Ram (19) of Patiala district was allegedly murdered by unidentified persons at 4.30 am on December 23.

GCM of Lt-Gen Sahni adjourned till Jan 3
Jalandhar, December 27
The ongoing General Court Martial (GCM) of Lt-Gen Surendra K Sahni (retd), accused in the dry ration scam, has been adjourned once again till January 3. Now, the court will re-assemble on January 4.

Patiala floods: A blessing in disguise
Recent floods in Patiala have raised the water table raising hope for better crop next season
A file photo of people heading to safer places from the flood-hit @@Badshahpur village in Patiala. Patiala, December 27
The underground water table has recorded a steep increase due to the recent flash floods in Patiala.The floods have raised the water table and added a layer of fertile eroded soil in their villages and farms. Following these changes farmers expect a better crop in the coming season.

A file photo of people heading to safer places from the flood-hit Badshahpur village in Patiala.


CRIME

Akali leader ‘murdered’ by father-son duo
Ferozepur, December 27
Baaz Singh, a leader of the ruling SAD (Badal) of the Mamdot area, was allegedly murdered by Santokh Singh and his son Sarbjit Singh after the duo hit the deceased against the wall while he was trying to make a compromise between the accused and another person Bohar Singh in Alfu Ke village of this district.

Notorious smuggler arrested
Amritsar, December 27
The CIA staff today arrested a notorious smuggler, Mukhtiar Singh, alias Mukha, allegedly involved in the smuggling of fake currency and narcotics from across the border. His accomplice, Pehlwan of Bhuchar village, however, managed to flee. Nearly Rs 2 lakh in fake currency have also been seized from his possession.

Car thieves’ gang busted
Sangrur, December 27 The local police today busted a gang of thieves that used to sell cars with fake documents in Sangrur and Patiala districts.



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Jor Mela: CM talks development, Amarinder says he will use stick
Jangveer Singh & Gurdeep Mann/TNS

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
There were two takes at the Jor Mela here today. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal talked development. His rival for the Chief Minister’s chair and PCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, talked about repression. In between they took pot shots at each other. Badal claimed his party had got the Bathinda refinery to the state, while Amarinder said he would take police officers as well as Akalis responsible for “repression” to task once his party took over the reins of the state.

If ‘melas’ were any indication of which way the political wind is blowing, one would say the Congress is catching up. From being an underdog at the fair here each year, the party put up a good show even though this and other rural melas are considered Akali fiefdoms. The SAD, on its part, had a bigger ‘pandal’ than the Congress and more people attended it but apparently the strength was not up to the mark forcing the Chief Minister to delay his entry on stage.

Badal listed a long list of achievements of his government, saying Amarinder should achieve something before making any allegations. He alleged Amarinder had even sabotaged the Bathinda refinery project and it was left to his party to bring it back on the rails. He said besides the industrial front, his government would be credited with the creation of four more universities in the state, including two central universities besides Guru Granth Sahib University coming up here. Besides talking about his government, the Chief Minister said the UPA government was tottering with even its allies speaking out against it. He said a mid-term poll should be held to allow the people to recall a coalition, which had given birth to the 2G scam.

Later when questioned whether the promoters of the Bathinda refinery were being given another special package, he said, “Where is the package?” However, former minister Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said incentives could be given to the refinery project if needed.

Capt Amarinder targeted both former minister Bikram Singh Majithia as well as Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Referring to Bikram as “Majithia da munda,” he said the erstwhile respectable family was now indulging in selling sand. He said the Deputy Chief Minister on his part had recently held a police meeting and asked officers to stop sale of drugs and wrongful usurping of properties. “Why were such orders not given earlier?” he asked. Youth Congress president Ravneet Singh Bittu highlighted the cause of farmers, saying the Rs 800-crore drought relief promised to them had still not been delivered. Others who spoke included Jagmohan Singh Kang and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi.

Leaders of radical Sikh parties, including SAD (Panch Pardani) and SAD (Amritsar) of Simranjit Singh Mann, held separate rallies in which speakers invoked the legacy of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Panch Pardhani leader Harpal Singh Cheema accused the government of misusing its powers to detain their party president Bhai Daljeet Singh.

Bahujan Samaj Party state president Avtar Singh Karimpuri, while addressing his party conference, claimed that the real objective behind the martyrdom of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh still remained unfulfilled.

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Gurdass Badal rules out rapprochement with CM
SP Sharma/TNS

Gurdass Badal
Gurdass Badal 

Ghudda, December 27
Gurdass Badal and his son Manpreet Singh Badal today ruled out the possibility of rapprochement with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal but said “emotional bonds between the two families will continue”.

The father-son duo, who was in this ancestral village of Badal in Bathinda district, for the first time opened their heart on the sensitive issue and said the divide that had been created due to unceremonious expulsion of Manpreet from the Cabinet and the SAD could not be filled now.

Gurdass, who is the younger brother of Parkash Singh Badal, made it clear that while his son Manpreet was addressing rallies from a separate platform, the two families were standing together and should not be seen as enemies.

This was his first statement on the issue to TNS after his recent meeting with Badal in which the possibility of rapprochement was ruled out.

Gurdass said: “Our sons, Manpreet and Sukhbir, might be in different political parties but our family is one.”

Manpreet said emotional attachment between his father and uncle Parkash Singh Badal would continue to be there but the path would now never meet politically.

He said rapprochement between the two families was “politically impossible also for them and us as there is no space for me in the SAD and that is a fact”.

Gurdass said he stood like a rock with Badal during his joys and sorrows. Both faced political enemies together as he became the Chief Minister four times.

When asked earlier he had been accompanying Parkash Singh at public meetings and now he was with Manpreet, Gurdass said: “It was obvious to support ones children and the result depends entirely on their individual functioning and ability.”

Gurdass was impressed with the turnout at public meetings of Manpreet and said he had succeeded in striking the chord with the masses.

Meanwhile, two village elders, Nachattar Singh (89) and Gurdev Singh, hoped that the Badal family would unite again. Nachattar Singh was confident that they would come together after the Assembly elections.

Gurdev Singh said the divided family would suffer a setback in the elections and would achieve nothing as others would benefit out of their feud. Manpreet had not harmed anyone, he added.

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Easy availability of ‘birs’ on cards for Sikhs in US
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 27
With the return of a two-member SGPC delegation to India, the dream of Sikhs living in the US and Canada of getting copies of Guru Granth Sahib in their own countries may soon come true.The delegation, comprising SGPC senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk and secretary Joginder Singh, has already given its report to SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.

Talking to The Tribune, Joginder said: “The land offered to us at Charlotte in North Carolina for printing of Guru Granth Sahib is quite suitable in terms of road connectivity with Canada and rest of the US. It will enable us to facilitate ‘birs’ and other Gurmat literature in two countries having the most Sikh population outside India.”

The project will cost the SGPC around Rs 5 crore. The 2.5 acre-plot having a double-storied building in Charlotte has been offered by SS Randhawa, an NRI, who was earlier running a motor garage from its premises.

He has also offered to renovate the building as per the requirements.

However, the SGPC is treading cautiously and says it will first consult the experts before making any changes in the structure. It intends to set up the printing facility on the ground floor and binding section on the first floor. The SGPC is also mulling the setting up of a distribution centre for disbursal of Sikh literature in Canada.

The delegation also examined the land offered by Shamsher Singh in Washington, which the SGPC wants to utilise for establishing a Sikh mission. It also visited Vancouver in Canada to explore the possibility of setting up of a printing facility, but the land being offered there by an education trust houses a school and it could not be utilised for the purpose.

Makkar confirmed that the SGPC would acquire both pieces of land for the printing facility and the Sikh mission, adding that they would soon be initiating the next step in this regard. The SGPC executive also passed a resolution in this regard on Wednesday.

The SGPC had decided to allow printing of Guru Granth Sahib and other Gurmat literature in foreign countries in August this year following persistent requests from the Sikh Sangat residing there. Earlier, the SGPC used to send Guru Granth Sahib and Gurmat literature to the Sikhs abroad by air and sea.

However, maintaining of “maryada” (Sikh code of conduct) during travel was an arduous task. The SGPC has the exclusive and legal rights for publication of Guru Granth Sahib worldwide.

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Mela mirth has political, sporting flavour
Kabaddi tournament a crowd puller
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
The Kabaddi tournament organised during the Jor Mela at Mata Gujri College drew immense response from the public today.Various sports tournaments and meets including hockey, football and kabaddi have been organised. The meets are being organised at Fatehgarh Sahib, where martyrdom day of younger sahibzada’s of Guru Gobind Singh.

“I just came to the playground as my teenaged son insisted. Besides players, spectators are also showing interest in the matches,” said 43-year-old Gurchain Singh, a resident of Patiala.

Players of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) displayed their talent for the first time in today’s tournament.

The SGPC has announced to give monetary benefits and jobs to the players, who will join the SGPC kabaddi teams.Several spectators turned up to watch the matches and encouraged players. The audience comprised of students of the participating college teams.

High on adrenaline, the audience’s enthusiasm grew with every goal. Baba Zorawar Singh Baba Fateh Singh Kabaddi Academy, Amritsar, today defeated Dashmesh Academy Datewas, Mansa, in the first match with 15 points.

Inaugurating the tournament, MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said it was high time to save Punjab’s youth to save from clutches of drugs. He said introduction of games, especially kabaddi, in Punjab would help eradicate drugs in the state.

3,500 devotees treated at medical camp
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
Nearly 3,500 devotees got treated for different ailments during the Jor Mela in Fatehgarh Sahib.People were seen queueing up outside the temporary medical centres, which have been set up with the help of the District Health Department. Eight such medical centres were set up at different points to provide free medical treatment for devotees.

“There have been around 3,000 devotees who got free medication from the volunteers. Most of them complained of headache due to loudspeakers, cramps in legs and stomach ache,” said Dr Gurvinder Kaur Brar, who was supervising the temporary medical centres at the mela.

Five of the eight stalls are providing medication round the clock and two remain open from 9 am to 5 pm and 8 am to 8 pm.

The doctors said there was only one patient, a female from nearby village, reportedly serious. Her family members took her away after getting first aid today morning.

Three persons fell unconscious immediately after the political conferences due to chaos outside the political stages. “I have cramps in my legs and had a tough time breathing after walking up to 10 km to pay obeisance at the Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara as we are not allowed to park our vehicles at far off places,” said Balwinder Kaur, who came from Mandi Gobindgarh to pay obeisance at the mela.

She said VIP vehicles, with red beacons, were disturbing pedestrians with their sirens. “As soon as their sirens go off, persons get panicky, adding to the already chaotic situation,” said Rajesh Kumar, a devotee from Bassi Pathana.

NGO seeks PM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
A Bassi Pathana-based NGO has written to the Prime Minister Office seeking its intervention to initiate steps for betterment of area residents of Fatehgarh Sahib and devotees visiting Jor Mela. The NGO has sought a ban on entry of red-beacon vehicles inside the Jor Mela premises, while common man has to walk up to 10 km to reach the same venue.

“During Jor Mela, the police cordons-off the entire area for common man for the safety purposes of the VIP. While pilgrims have to walk 10 km to reach gurdwara and pay obeisance, the VIPs enjoy facility of being dropped at the doorsteps of venue in their vehicle,” rued the NGO’s general secretary Manoj Kumar.

Development should be the focus, says Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 27
General Secretary of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Prem Singh Chandumajra, said the edict issued by the Akal Takht Jathedar, in connection with political speeches during the Jor Mela, was misinterpreted. Chandumajra said this recently while talking to mediapersons in Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

He said the edict was issued in connection with the mudslinging and un-parliamentary language used by some political parties during religious functions. “During religious functions we should highlight the developmental works done by our party and the government,” he said.

He said the government played an instrumental role in bringing multinational companies to Punjab. It was due to these companies that employment opportunities would increase in the state.

The thermal plants in pipeline would also make the state an electricity surplus state. SGPC member (interim committee) Karnail Singh Panjoli and senior Akali leader Devinder Singh Pappu was also present with the leader.

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Channi was never with me from heart: Manpreet
SP Sharma & Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Ghudda (Bathinda district), December 27
Former state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said today that the sitting MLA, Charanjeet Singh Channi, who had recently deserted him and joined the Congress, was never with him from heart and had come with him hoping that he (Manpreet) would join the Congress after being expelled from the ruling SAD.

After addressing a public meeting in this ancestral village of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Manpreet said with Channi leaving him to join the Congress had certainly created an impression as if people had started deserting him.

However, he clarified that Channi was basically a Congress man and had returned to his own party fold. Manpreet also ruled out that he was contemplating to launch a party and formally announce it during the Maghi Mela celebrations at Muktsar on January 14. “Some big announcement short of floating a new outfit has to be made during the political conference” that he refused to spell out. He said floating the third front was a “practical option for the people of Punjab”. “But before doing so, we have to chalk out an agenda after identifying problems that Punjab is facing and also have feedback from all areas of the state,” he said.

He said the state would not progress unless the basic problems inflicting Punjab were touched.

He said the proposed administrative reforms in the state were too little and very late to set the things right. The reforms should not confine to issuing motor driving licences but the most important thing to be done was reforming the set-up of the police and checking executive arrogance.

Manpreet said there was a widespread indiscipline in the police due to lack of the chain of command. Political interference in the police should stop immediately. Urban reforms were also necessary to check haphazard construction activity in the state. “Moreover, Punjab will not develop unless we negotiate out of the vicious debt trap,” he added.

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Adampur shivers at 0.2°C
Kusum Arora/TNS

Jalandhar, December 27
With dipping mercury and near blinding fog, the Northern region today reeled under extreme cold conditions while normal life came to a halt as people preferred to stay indoors.

Fog engulfed the entire region till 9 am causing trouble for daily commuters, especially those commuting on two-wheelers. However, yesterday the region had recorded a slight rise in the mercury with cozy sunshine during the daytime. Almost all major cities in the region today witnessed a decline in the mercury leading to chilled weather.

During the daytime, it remained cozy, bringing little respite for the people.

Adampur remained the coldest in the plains with a freezing temperature of 0.2°C as compared to a slightly cozy temperature of 3°C on Sunday. While the maximum temperature was recorded at 18.6°C.

While Bathinda, in the Malwa belt too saw a decline in the mercury with a low of 2°C as compared to 4.7°C yesterday. The maximum temperature at Bathinda was recorded at 17°C.

At Amritsar, mercury dipped further and recorded a low of 3.3°C. While yesterday, the minimum temperature at Amritsar was 4.1°C. Halwara recorded a minimum temperature of 3.6°C while the maximum temperature remained at 18.6°C.

Among other cities, Pathankot recorded a minimum temperature of 4.5°C followed by state capital, Chandigarh, which saw a low of 4.8°C. The Met Department at Adampur Air Force Station had predicted fine weather with fog in the morning hours with mist and haze in the evening hours in the next 24 hours.

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Urea shortage hits wheat growth
Chander Parkash/TNS

Ferozepur, December 27
Even as a large section of farmers of the state are still disappointed over the less yield of paddy and cotton crop in the last season, shortage of urea fertiliser for growth of recently sown wheat crop has generated fear among them.

A large section of farmers particularly belonging to the small and marginal category have been fearing that yield of wheat would also come down as they have been finding it difficult to find enough stock of urea to put the same into their fields for boosting the growth of wheat plants.

In certain pockets of the state, farmers, who have delayed sowing of wheat crop, could not put urea fertiliser even once in their fields.

Unconfirmed reports said a section of fertiliser dealers had been sending urea to Haryana, which had also been facing shortage of the same and where wheat sowing had also been completed. Anish Sidana, a farmer of the Jalalabad area, said the situation was not good as far as the availability of urea was concerned. Farmers having small landholdings were not able to get one bag of urea and, hence, had been left on the mercy of god as wheat crop would fail to pick up growth in the absence of the same.

Rohtas Bhagsar, organising secretary, BKU (Lakhowal), Ferozepur said Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, had assured them that he would take up the matter with the department concerned so that urea could be available in cooperative societies running in villages.

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Power Generation Policy
PSERC has reservations, shoots off letter to govt
Umesh Dewan/TNS

Patiala, December 27
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has expressed reservations on the power generation policy for the state that was announced by the Punjab Government in June. It has written a letter to the Principal Secretary, Department of Power, which mentioned that the objective of providing affordable power is unlikely to be achieved by adopting the MoU route.

The Punjab Government had notified the policy on June 21. Under it, the government can award any thermal project by entering into an MoU with private firms. After the policy was notified, the government had signed an MoU with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to set up a 2,640-MW coal-based power project at Gidderbaha.

The PSERC observed that procuring power through competitive bidding or state sector was in line with the Electricity Act 2003, national electricity policy and national tariff policy, which aimed to promote competition in the electricity sector through the competitive bidding process. The letter further reads that the commission assumes that the power generation policy aims at encouraging private investment in the generation sector in the state.

“Given the fact that the government successfully conducted the bidding of two thermal power stations (Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo) on build-own-operate basis this year, there is every reason to retain the policy option of awarding projects instead of doing so through an MoU,” said president of the PSEB Engineers Association HS Bedi. “Since through the MOU route, rates are fixed by a regulator on the cost plus basis, which is no substitute for competitive bidding power, it will not be possible to provide power at affordable rates,” claimed Bedi.

However, Principal Secretary (Department of Power) Arun Goel said: “We have asked Punjab State Power Corporation Limited to comment on the matter.”

Meanwhile, the PSERC has also observed that state-sponsored projects or projects awarded through competitive bidding are likely to result in power being available to the state at relatively low rates.

The PSERC has reiterated that there is need for a provision in the policy that power projects proposed to be developed in the state are executed by the credible developer with an ability to commission the plant in a minimum time frame. 

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2 community reserves for black bucks
Chander Parkash/TNS

Abohar, December 27
The Punjab Government has decided to set up two community reserves in this subdivision for the protection and conservation of black bucks, blue bulls and sambar, who roam in villages located outside the open sanctuary area spread over 13 villages.

Official sources said the necessary formalities in connection with the setting up of two community reserves were being completed and it was expected that the state government would issue a notification in this regard soon.

Members of the Bishnoi community, whose population dominated these 13 villages, take keen interest in protection of wild animals.

Sources said one community reserve would be set up in Gumjal and Panniwala villages and the second reserve would be set up in Haripura and Diwan Khera villages.

Sanjeev Tiwari, divisional forest officer (Wildlife), Ferozepur, said consent of panchayats of these villages in connection with setting up of the community reserves had been taken. Paper work was being completed and the state government notification could take place anytime.

He said the land, where the community reserve would be set up, would remain in the ownership of respective owners. The Wildlife Department would deploy its employees in these community reserves for the protection and conservation of black bucks, blue bulls and Sambar. 

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HARIVALLABH SANGEET SAMMELAN
Pt Jasraj strikes meditative notes
Aparna Banerji/TNS

Jalandhar, December 27
For those who believe classical music is only for the ‘classes’, the last day of the 135th Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan would have been a sweet myth-busting treat. Harivallabh always supported the classical-music-for-the-masses cause but the huge Sunday crowds were a revelation.

As the winter sun set at the Shree Devi Talab Mandir, Manni Bhardwaj, the talented percussionist, his esteemed guru, Pt Ramakant, and his other disciples, Harman Singh and Sandeep Sharma, teamed up to perform a recital titled “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. They were accompanied by Sunny Bhardwaj (harmonium).

Next came Ramneek Singh, the woman who had played a humble visitor to the sammelan last year and had showed promise right from the time she stood chanting a raga to curious TV cameras at the entrance to the Shree Ram Hall. A Toronto-based artiste, Ramneek rendered a delightful recital in Raag Madhuwanti and Raag Kalawati this time, ending her performance with a shabad. The sweet santoor strains of Harjinder Pal Singh Namdhari followed in Raag Jog with Rajesh Malvia for tabla accompaniment.

Somewhere towards the middle of the next performer Kalapini Komkali’s recital, the crowds started pouring in. Daughter of the late Kumar Gandharva, Kalapini’s range and boldness are hard hitting. She performed Raag Nand, Hamir and thumri in Raag Sindhura, along with many more compositions brimming over with classical wisdom from her gurus.

Yogesh Samsi, Ustad Allah Rakha’s talented disciple, who came next, witnessed the city’s madness for tabla talent. The pandal had so many people crowding on the mattresses that the ones who were sleeping had to get up. The pandal ran out of space. Samsi’s one and a half hours’ tabla spell had people glued to their seats.

Among other things, his tabla sounds denoted hesitance (‘hichkichahat’), a heated dialogue between a couple (‘nok-jhonk’) and cannon balls (top). Plus there were the remarkable and rare tabla pieces he got from his guru.

Parthasarthy Desikan’s melifluous, drugged notes rendered Raag Abhogi, a thumri in Mishra Khamaj and the immortal “yaad piya ki aaye”. The talented Sandeep Das accompanied him on the tabla.

Buddhaditta Mukherjee’s persuasive sitar strains and sensitive ‘meendhs’ were to die for. Touching on the ‘virah’ part, he presented Raag Bageshwari and Rageshwari, ending the recital with a thumri. At the break of dawn, came Pt Jasraj, dressed in saffron like saints. He did sound like a saint and his voice took you back to some ancient time. His disciples Rattan Mohan Sharma and Tripti Mukherjee accompanied him. Performing Raag Bairagi, Basant, Bahar and Basant Bahar, the accurate, deep, meditative notes of this wise old man of Hindustani classical music brought the most befitting end to the three-day-long festival. 

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Patiala murder case cracked

Sangrur, December 27
The police today claimed to have solved a murder case wherein a father had allegedly murdered the lover of his daughter in the Patran area of Patiala on December 23. Sangrur SSP Harcharan Singh Bhullar told mediapersons that Harpal Ram (19) of Patiala district was allegedly murdered by unidentified persons at 4.30 am on December 23.

He said in this regard the deceased’s father got a case registered at the Khanauri police station.

Bhullar said following the murder, he formed a special investigation team under the leadership of Pritpal Singh Thind, SP (D) Sangrur.

He further said they had arrested all accused, Narain Ram, Sukhwinder Ram aka Babbi of Khang Patran, adding that the team had traced this murder within three days.

He said during the interrogation the accused told the police that Harpal had illicit relations with Rajo Rani, daughter of accused Narain Ram. After finding her missing from her room on the night of December 23, they started searching her.

The SSP further said during the search, they found their daughter in an objectionable condition with Harpal in a room near a tubewell. The accused attacked Harpal with a sharp-edged weapon killing him on the spot.

“They later dumped the body on the Hotipur road to make it appear as an accident case. The accused has confessed to having committed the crime,” he added. — TNS

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GCM of Lt-Gen Sahni adjourned till Jan 3
Kusum Arora/TNS

Jalandhar, December 27
The ongoing General Court Martial (GCM) of Lt-Gen Surendra K Sahni (retd), accused in the dry ration scam, has been adjourned once again till January 3. Now, the court will re-assemble on January 4.

Earlier, the GCM had resumed on December 13 and continued for four days till December 16. However, it was adjourned as Major-Gen RS Gujral, Chief of Staff (COS), Headquarters 10 Corps, Bathinda, one of the committee members, had proceeded on leave for his daughter’s wedding. Sources at Jalandhar-based 11 Corps Headquarters said that General Sahni had engaged an independent defence counsel, Brig NPG Menon (retd), to fight his case in addition to Major Alok (retd) to defend him. Brigadier Menon initiated the prosecution on December 13.

The need to engage Brigadier Menon arose since Sahni’s previous defence counsel, Lt Col PN Chaturvedi, has proceeded on leave.

When the GCM re-assembles, it will hear the testimony of Major-Gen BPS Mandher. He is the 12th witness in the case so far. Meanwhile, the Army authorities also confiscated the mobile phone of General Sahni recently as he is under house arrest. General Sahni’s movements have been restricted in the wake of the GCM proceedings.

Ever since General Sahni was attached to Headquarters 11 Corps on August 6, the GCM has been adjourned five times. Army sources also said that the GCM was expected to be over before January-end.

General Sahni, who retired in 2006, is the highest-ranking Army officer ever to face a GCM. 

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Patiala floods: A blessing in disguise
Recent floods in Patiala have raised the water table raising hope for better crop next season
Aman Sood/TNS

Patiala, December 27
The underground water table has recorded a steep increase due to the recent flash floods in Patiala.The floods have raised the water table and added a layer of fertile eroded soil in their villages and farms. Following these changes farmers expect a better crop in the coming season.

Experts suggest that the rise in the underground water table was rare. Floods and a good monsoon were the major reasons for the increase in the water table.

The Ghaggar floods, which had lashed parts of Patiala and adjoining areas during the month of July, brought relief for the farmers as the water table rising in now two meters high in the flood prone areas.

Records prepared by the Department of Agriculture Ground Water Cell Patiala, confirmed that, out of the 8 blocks in Patiala, the water table had increased tremendously in five flood hit blocks. While the rainfall distribution was even in the entire district, the flood prone blocks have seen a sharp increase in the four monsoon months of July, August, September and October.

Officials of the water cell, told The Tribune, that out of the total 8 blocks in Patiala, five hit by floods were Samana, Patran, Ghanaur, Bhunarherhi and Sanaur. “However in the three blocks of Nabha, Rajpura and Patiala, which were untouched by the floods, the water table has gone down, ”they added.

“The flood water has been the major reason for the rise in the underground water table and this is sure to help the farmers in these blocks as it has been after many years that such a trend has been seen,” claimed assistant geologist of the Ground Water Cell, Patiala, Dr Arun Kumar. “We have fixed piezometer tubes in the entire district and we record the levels twice a year,” he said.

Agriculture experts in Patiala suggest that the rise in the underground water table would help the farmers in the flood prone areas. “Many of these farmers are planning to install new tubewells as the older ones developed snags after the flood water entered the bores,” they said. Dr Kumar said in the last 10 years the average rainfall received in these tubes was recorded at 377 mm. The four months of monsoon this year alone account for over 718 mm of rainfall.

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Akali leader ‘murdered’ by father-son duo
Chander Parkash/TNS

Ferozepur, December 27
Baaz Singh, a leader of the ruling SAD (Badal) of the Mamdot area, was allegedly murdered by Santokh Singh and his son Sarbjit Singh after the duo hit the deceased against the wall while he was trying to make a compromise between the accused and another person Bohar Singh in Alfu Ke village of this district.

Police sources said Baaz Singh was the part of a group of elders, who went to Alfu Ke village to make a compromise between Bohar Singh of Peer Ke Khangarh village and Santokh on Saturday.

While the group of elders were talking to both parties, which were having dispute over the payment of Rs 1.5 lakh by Santokh Singh to Bohar Singh, heated arguments started taking place between Baaz and Santokh.

Santokh and Sarbjit allegedly pushed Baaz against the wall. Baaz fell on the floor after hitting the wall. Finding the latter in problem, other members of the group took him to the local civil hospital, where he was declared dead.

Police sources said a case in this connection had been registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC in Lakho Ke Behram police station on the statement of Satnam Singh, a close kin of the deceased who was present on the scene.

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Notorious smuggler arrested

Amritsar, December 27
The CIA staff today arrested a notorious smuggler, Mukhtiar Singh, alias Mukha, allegedly involved in the smuggling of fake currency and narcotics from across the border. His accomplice, Pehlwan of Bhuchar village, however, managed to flee. Nearly Rs 2 lakh in fake currency have also been seized from his possession.

Earlier, Mukha was arrested in 2008 on similar charges along with another notorious smuggler, Tarwinder Singh, who was nabbed for possessing 1 kg heroin. However, Mukha, who has “close connections” with Pakistan-based smugglers, was released on bail in April this year. After his release, he “revived” his contact with his counterparts on the other side of the border.

During investigations, it came to the fore that Pehlwan came in contact with Mukha when he was serving his term in the Amritsar Central Jail. After his release, Mukha also involved Pehlwan in illegal activities.

A case has been registered against him. — TNS

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Car thieves’ gang busted

Sangrur, December 27
The local police today busted a gang of thieves that used to sell cars with fake documents in Sangrur and Patiala districts. SSP Harcharan Singh Bhullar told mediapersons that sub-inspector Gurmail Singh, in charge, CIA, and sub-inspector Sunil Kumar got a tip-off that Rupinder Singh, alias Bunty, son of Gurtej Singh of Ghagga in Patiala district, Jai Parkash and Rakesh Ranga, owner of Jai Jagdamba Car Bazar of Najafgarh, Delhi, and Amit Kumar, also of Najafgarh, Delhi, used to get loan from various banks under fictitious names. Without repaying the loan to the banks, they used to prepare fake registration papers of these vehicles and dupe innocent people by selling them in Sangrur and Patiala districts.

He said the informer also revealed that an accused, Rupinder Singh, was coming from Malerkotla in a Tata Safari and could be arrested. Sub-inspector Sunil Kumar set up a naka at Ladda Kothi bus stand and arrested Rupinder .

Investigations have resulted in the recovery of a Verna and an Indica from the possession of the accused. — TNS 

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