Monday, November 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bid to hush up paddy bungling case?
Police yet to register case against millers
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Nov 26 — Even six months after the misappropriation of paddy worth over Rs 3 crore that rocked the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) in Jalalabad, the police has failed to register a case against the rice millers allegedly involved in the offence.

Complaints lodged by the PSWC with the Ferozepore police against the partners of M/s Kamboj Brothers Rice Mill at Ghubaya in Jalalabad, who had allegedly misappropriated 58,494 bags of paddy, have yielded no results.

Although the PSWC has sought registration of a criminal case under Sections 406 and 409, IPC, against five partners of the mill, political pressure is said to have left the police helpless. The PSWC had earlier allotted the paddy to the mill for shelling and detected a shortage of 58,494 bags worth Rs 3,14,11,278 during the verification of the stock in May.

Subsequently, the District Manager of the corporation, Mr S.K. Sharma, wrote an application to the district police chief on June 1, seeking registration of a case against Surinder Kamboj, Sudhir Kamboj, Sumit Kamboj, Harkishan Lal and Khushal Singh, all mill partners.

However, the police did not register a case, even after receiving a similar communication from the PSWC Managing Director in August, reportedly due to political pressure.

Although the PSWC suspended its own employees — Mr N.C. Rana, the predecessor of Mr Sharma, and a local manager, the delay in police action against the millers encouraged them to arrange paddy from the open market to cover up the misappropriation. The matter reached a boiling point, whem Mr Sharma was threatened by the irate millers on November 21. The incident occurred when he reached the mill to shift the newly stocked paddy at a PSWC godown.

This prompted the Ferozepore Deputy Commissioner and the DIG to intervene and a case was registered against Surinder Kamboj and Sudhir Kamboj for obstructing a public servant from performing his duty. Had the police registered a case on earlier complaints, the situation would not have reached this extent”, a PSWC official said.

The SP (Headquarters), Mr N.P.S. Sidhu, denied political pressure and claimed that the complaint pertaining to the misappropriation of paddy was still under examination, adding that being an economical offence its probe was time consuming.



A Tribune investigation
Kisan Haveli a white elephant
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

ANANDPUR SAHIB, Nov 26 — Inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to mark the tercentenary celebrations last year, the majestic Kisan Haveli has virtually become a white elephant for the Punjab Mandi Board.

Constructed at a cost of Rs 2 crore in a record 10 months, the project has become economically unviable. Even the electricity bills of the Kisan Haveli are higher than the monthly income from it. On an average, two rooms are booked every day, which fetch about Rs 1000 (an average monthly income to Rs 30,000). However, the electricity bill is approximately Rs 50,000. The total salary of its 25 staff members is about Rs 2.5 lakh per month. The rooms of the haveli are rarely booked to capacity, like at the time of Hola Mohalla.

Though the haveli is named after kisans, the marginal farmers cannot even stay in this rest house due to its exorbitant charges. The farmers say that the name of the rest house should be changed from ‘Kisan Haveli’ to ‘Jagirdar Haveli’ as only rich people can afford to stay there.

The foundation stone of the Kisan haveli was laid by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, on June 4, 1998, while it was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on April 8, five days before the tercentenary celebrations.

The spacious dining hall and canteen are non-operational. The people who stay in the haveli have to go outside for meals. There are eight airconditioned rooms, apart from three VIP huts and one VVIP hut. The room charges range from Rs 300 to Rs 1000, which an ordinary kisan cannot afford.

What is worse, the Kisan Haveli has developed cracks at various places. This has raised doubts about the quality of the projects executed during the tercentenary celebrations. Not only part of the main Kisan Haveli, but six huts in the complex have developed cracks within a few months of the inauguration. However, the authorities concerned claim that the cracks developed due to rain and the soil settling down.

Though Mr Amarjit Singh Shahi, SDM, Anandpur Sahib, has reportedly sent a report to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, about the ‘poor quality’ of the material used for the construction of the Kisan Haveli, no action has been taken against any official so far.


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