Saturday, August 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal predicts mid-term poll
Advocates politics of revenge
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 9
While the former Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today claimed that the days of the Congress government in Punjab were numbered, his father and former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal hinted at mid-term elections in the state on the plea of the deteriorating law and order situation and atrocities being committed on SAD, and BJP workers.

Giving a call to the party workers to protest against the atrocities while addressing a rally held in protest against the state-sponsored atrocities on SAD-BJP workers held in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here, he quoted a couplet from Gurbani, “kou kisi ko raj na de hai, jo le hai nij bal se le hai".

Taking an entirely different stance, Mr Badal, while advocating the ‘politics of revenge’ threatened that Congress leaders, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, bureaucrats, police officials and functionaries would have to pay a heavy price for unleashing a reign of terror on SAD and BJP workers.

“Mr Amarinder Singh has introduced a new stream of administration in Punjab, which has endangered law and order. Democracy is being murdered and human rights are being snatched away. Akalis never faced such circumstances”, he pointed out.

Calling Mr Amarinder Singh a “pickpocket” for imposing cuts on the salaries of employees, the SAD president alleged that he (Mr Amarinder Singh) had gone to the USA for enjoying “comforts” of life when the state was facing a dry spell. Mr Amarinder Singh should approach the World Bank for a loan through the Central Government after completing all formalities. He added that he would support the move, if initiated.

Reacting to the statement made by the Punjab Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal that loss to due to the dry spell was not much, Mr Badal said she was not presenting the true picture as the Congress government has not held “girdawari” so far and thus could not declare the state drought affected to get aid from the Centre.

He added that he along with other SAD leaders would meet Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh to urge him to visit Punjab to personally assess the losses due to the dry spell. He added that as a partner of the NDA, it would press the Centre to link the determination of minimum support price (MSP) of foodgrains with price index.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh was ruling the state with the only motive of implicating him (Mr Badal) and his family in criminal cases. He said neither he nor any member of his family was afraid of going to the jails.

Mr Sukhbir Badal said he had started keeping a record of the atrocities being committed on SAD-BJP workers by Congressmen and government functionaries and added that whenever they would come to power they would be made to pay a heavy price.

A number of former MLAs, Mr Gurdas Badal, former MP, and senior SAD leaders attended the rally.

Later talking to mediapersons, Mr Badal said the NDA team did not visit the state to assess the law and order situation as SAD had not submitted its report on the same yet.

He alleged that the electronic media had played a negative role during the Assembly elections and affected the prospects of SAD and BJP.


Fight against corruption ‘selective’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal faction led by the former Chandigarh Mayor, Ms Harjinder Kaur, today drew the attention of the Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen. J. F. R. Jacob (retd), to the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s campaign to “terrorise” party cadres by implicating them in corruption cases.

A delegation of the party members, including Ms Harjinder Kaur, party president (Kaur faction) N. S. Minhas and general secretary Harcharan Singh Sahni, today handed over a memorandum to this effect to General Jacob.

The memorandum also sought to expose Mr Amarinder Singh’s anticorruption campaign saying his ministerial colleagues indicted by the Lok Pal remained untouched due to the Chief Minister’s selective fight against corruption.

The memorandum, however, appreciated the fight against corruption but condemned the way it was being carried out.

It urged the Governor to ban the Noormehlia sect reminding him that lest it should acquire the proportion of Nirankari Kand of 1978.

The memorandum also said the law and order situation in Punjab and Chandigarh was deteriorating.

Meanwhile, the local Akali Dal faction opposed to the former Mayor and led by Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, today braced for a show of strength by deciding to organise a demonstration tomorrow and submit a separate memorandum.

Mr Riar said Ms Harjinder Kaur had nothing to do with the Akali Dal and he was the only recognised president of the party.


The case of “missing’’ paddy
New legislation proposed
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Paddy worth about Rs 250 crore is reportedly ‘’missing’’ in Punjab. This paddy was given to rice shellers for milling by various state procurement agencies in recent years. In the process, either this paddy was “misappropriated’’ or rice was never handed back to the agencies concerned, it is reliably learnt.

With the passage of time and alleged connivance of staff of the agencies and owners rice sheller the paddy has vanished. Consequently, the procurement agencies lodged hundreds of FIRs in all 17 districts. But little or no effort was made to fix responsibility or recover paddy or rice say sources.

The state decided to hand over the cases to the state Vigilance Bureau, which has replied that its hands are full and it has no wherewithal to handle the paddy scam cases some of which are as old as 1994-95.

According to information available with TNS, paddy estimated worth Rs 78 crore is missing in the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation record, Rs 90 crore from Markfed and Rs 75 crore from the Punjab Civil Supplies Corporation.

This “theft’’ of paddy has surfaced at a time when the state is in the middle of assessing the current year (2002-03) paddy prospects. Sources say the government may not take any harsh measures at this juncture to effect recovery or “fix’’ defaulter rice mills. The Department of Food and Supplies is collecting relevant information to take a policy decision to deal with the matter.

Informed sources say that one of the steps is to enact new legislation to streamline the milling of paddy. Its two-fold objective is to ensure that neither farmers nor the government incur a financial loss in paddy procurement and processing and the quantity and quality of levy rice received is also maintained. To deal with defaulter rice mills and cases of misappropriated paddy/rice, a clause is being incorporated in the proposed legislation, which will ensure the recovery of cost of rice or “missing’’ paddy from the rice shellers as the arrears of land revenue. The present system of appointing an “arbitrator’’ has failed and is more of a liability than an asset because it leads to civil litigations and delayed recoveries, say sources.

Despite the drought-like situation and factors at play that have pushed up the per unit cost of paddy cultivation, the estimated paddy production is 130 lakh tonnes. The FCI and the state agencies are making arrangements for procurement of around 100 lakh tonnes. Already, Punjab has a paddy stock of 282.16 lakh tonnes.

In this scenario, several agencies, including the warehousing corporation, are now keen to “export’’ wheat/rice. MARKFED has made a beginning in this connection. The warehousing corporation Managing Director, Mr Ashok Kumar Goyal, says that Government of India has permitted the export of foodgrains and the corporation was looking for private agencies to do the job.


PSEB sends SOS to Centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The PSEB has sent an SOS to the Central Power Control Room in Delhi to divert to Punjab the share of other states which are not using their power quotas in the national grid.

“As soon as any state surrenders its power quota, it should be diverted to Punjab,” the board has pleaded.

A top functionary of the PSEB said today that the situation on the power front had turned critical following the “forced outage” of two units of the Ropar thermal plant and one unit of the Bathinda thermal plant, reducing 122 lakh units in the past 48 hours.

Moreover, power available from the Bhakra hydropower projects had also come down by about 50 lakh units daily. Earlier, Punjab was getting from the Bhakra Dehar and Pong dam projects about 190 lakh units of power daily but now it was only 149 lakh units, according to informed sources in the PSEB.

The discharge of water from the Bhakra dam in the past one week has been cut down to 21,000 cusecs from 32000 cusecs earlier, resulting into less power generation.

The PSEB had to buy costliest power yesterday at over Rs 3 per unit from the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant to partially meet power demand. The total power bought yesterday by the PSEB was about 292 lakh units against the earlier daily purchase of 220 lakh units. This cost the board Rs 6.60 crore yesterday against the earlier daily figure of Rs 5 crore.

The PSEB functionary said normally power was earlier available at Rs 2.25 per unit but it was yesterday purchased at the highest rate to tide over the power crisis. He hoped that one unit each of the Ropar, Bathinda thermal plant would start functioning by tonight, adding 72 lakh units to the state’s power grid.

The PSEB had also approached Goa which would supply six lakh units at Rs 2.30 per unit soon. Himachal had been currently supplying 20 lakh units daily and Uttaranchal, which had discontinued power supply to the PSEB, had resumed it. Uttaranchal was supplying 10 lakh units on a sale basis and nine lakh units on a loan basis which would be returned during the winter.

Jammu and Kashmir had discontinued power supply of 25 lakh units to Punjab following the attack on the Amarnath pilgrims pleading that more power was needed to ensure better lighting arrangements at camps for the devotees especially in the valley.

The power supply from the Ranjit Sagar hydro electric project had improved in the past few days. Earlier, one unit was producing only 24 lakh units which had shot up to 48 lakh units with the second unit too becoming operational.

Owing to the acute power crisis, the board gave three-phase supply during the day yesterday for six hours and for 9.15 hours during the night. There was a 15-hour cut on single-phase supply to the rural areas. The PSEB functionary said that as soon as the situation improved, the supply to the farming sector would be for 10 hours for both day as well as night shifts.


Ex-PSSSB members’ remand extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 9
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, here today extended the judicial remand of Ashok Lumba, Virsa Singh Valtoha, and Munawar Masih, all former members of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, till August 23 next.

All three former members of the board were booked by the Vigilance Bureau under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Meanwhile, Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, today adjourned the bail application of Jathedar Tota Singh, MLA from Moga and former Punjab Education Minister, to August 13 next for remaining arguments on the bail plea. Mr Tota Singh was booked by the Vigilance Bureau in a criminal and corruption case on June 14 last.


Cracks appear in HIG, MIG flats
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
Cracks have appeared on roofs and floors of the newly built HIG/MIG flats at Mal Mandi on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road constructed by the improvement trust. The plaster on the walls has also peeled off at many places.

The possession of the flats (270 in number) was handed over to the owners in 1998-99. Shockingly, within a short time, their condition has become pitiable.

The woodwork and other material used in the construction was not as per the specifications. Roads are dotted with potholes and require immediate repair. The backyard of the flats is waterlogged and has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Members of the Shaheed M.L. Dhingra Housing Welfare Society alleged that officials of the improvement trust had siphoned off commission worth crores and allowed the use of substandard material in the construction.

Mr Avtar Singh and Mr S.D. Sharma, president and secretary of the association, respectively, said they had approached officials of the trust regarding the repair of the flats many times but in vain. They took the TNS team around the colony to show the cracks.

In some flats, the floors are uneven. Work on the boundary wall, which was started in April, 2001, has not been completed so far. Parks in the colony are in bad shape. Streetlights are working on temporary over-head wires. The water pipes also leak at many places.

Electrical fittings are also not up to the mark. Duplicate switches and accessories have been used. In the MIG flats, no auto cuts have been provided.

In a communication to the Chief Minister, the association has sought a probe into the hefty commission allegedly taken by those involved in the construction of these flats.


40 mines explode in village
Tribune News Service

Jamalke (Ferozepore), August 9
At least 40 mines laid by the Army are reported to have exploded at Jamalke village near the international border with Pakistan this afternoon. However, no casualty was reported.


Pen-down strike by excise staff
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
It was a day of bandh, gherao and dharnas, which paralysed life in many parts of the city today.

While the Sarafa Association and the Bazar Wahian Associations observed a bandh on the third consecutive day to protest against the alleged assault on a businessman by a team of Excise and Taxation, members of the tempo union gheraoed the office of the District Transport Office. On the other hand, the district unit of the SAD sat on a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. In another incident, mediapersons resorted to slogan shouting to protest against the misbehaviour of certain Congress leaders before the press conference of Mr H.S. Hanspal, the newly appointed chief of the Punjab Pradesh Congress committee. On the other hand, the district national Congress party, has in a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner protested against the alleged ‘anti-people’ policies of the state government.

On a call given by the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, the premises of the cooperative sugar mill, Sheron, was gheraoed in protest against the non-distribution of payments to the sugarcane growers.

Meanwhile, a pen-down strike was observed by the Excise and Taxation staff of Amritsar I and II divisions in protest against the behaviour of team of officials of the raiding party. A meeting of the confederation of the Excise and Taxation Department held here today condemned the anti-revenue and anti-government attitude of the tax evaders during an inspection on the premises of M/s Khurana Jewellers. It has been decided to observe a strike on August 13 in all the offices of the Excise and Taxation department, Punjab.


Crime scenario reviewed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 9
An inter-state coordination meeting of officers to share information regarding the crime pattern in the region comprising Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab and anti-terrorist operations was organised by the Hoshiarpur police in Talwara today.


Siddiqui new ADGP, Law and Order
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Dr A.A. Siddiqui, an IPS officer of the 1968 batch of the Punjab cadre, on his return from the inter-state deputation from Manipur, today took over as Additional Director-General of Police, Law and Order.

Before returning to his parent cadre, Dr Siddiqui was Director-General of Police, Manipur.


Octroi collection contract granted
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 9
The work of collection of octroi for Municipal Council, Kharar, has been given to a private contractor for Rs 1.62 crore for one year in an auction held at Ludhiana yesterday.

According to Mr Tejinder Singh, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Kharar, the auction was held under the supervision of Mr S.R. Kler, Deputy Director, Local Self Government at Ludhiana and as many as 18 parties participated in the auction. The highest bid was from M/s Ranjit Singh and Company and the contract was allotted to this party.


Widow, in-laws booked for murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 9
On the direction of the Judicial Magistrate, the district police yesterday registered a case of murder against six persons, including the widow of the deceased, after more than six months of the crime committed on January 28.

According to information, the body of Harjit Singh of Kot Atma Ram was found by the police near Sultanwind canal on January 28 under mysterious circumstances. The police had taken action under Section 174 of the CrPC (died under circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion that some other person has committed an offence).

Mr Santokh Singh, father of the deceased, suspecting that his son was poisoned to death by his in-laws, move the court.

The police has registered the case under Sections 302, 201, 120-b and 34, IPC, against Pardeep Kaur (widow of Harjit) Gurcharan Singh (father-in-law), Nirmal Kaur (mother-in-law), Sachdev Singh and Jasdev Singh, (brothers-in-law) and Rani (sister-in-law).

Meanwhile, in another incident, Jarnail Singh, alias Dimple, of Kambo village under Sadar Police Station has been stabbed to death allegedly by Preetam Singh and Puran Singh of the same area following a dispute over a pigeon house. 


25 lakh seized from bus
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 9
The district police claimed to have seized Rs 25 lakh during a nakabandi on the GT Road in Sirhind. The money has been deposited in the state treasury at Fatehgarh Sahib.

According to Mr B.Chandra Sekhar, SSP, the Sirhind police, led by Mr Sukhwant Singh Gill, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, erected a naka at Dalo Majra village. At about 6 am, a Haryana Roadways bus was signaled to stop and during the checking a bag containing Rs 25 Lakh was found.

Satish Kumar of Mandi Gobindgarh claimed that the bag belonged to him, he, however, could not satisfy the police regarding its ownership. A case under Section 102 of the CrPC has been registered and the Income Tax Department informed about the seizure.

140 kg of poppy husk seized:
The Dehlon police while on patrolling on the Gopalpur-Bhali Mal road, arrested Ram Krishan of Kular under Payal police station and seized 140 kg of poppy husk from his possession.

The accused has been booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Girl rescued, abductor held

Jalandhar, August 9
The police today claimed to have solved a case pertaining to the abduction of a minor girl in May this year from the Model House area by recovering the girl and arresting one of the accused.

The district police, Chief Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, said here today that a case regarding the abduction of the 16-year-old girl was registered by the police.

It was reported in the complaint that the girl was allegedly abducted by Vijay Kumar from the market of Model House area where Seema had gone for shopping along with her sister.

The police got specific information yesterday that the accused along with the minor girl was residing in a rented house in the Islam Ganj locality of Ludhiana, Mr Gill said adding that the police raided the place and recovered the minor girl and arrested Vijay Kumar.

Meanwhile, the police arrested four smugglers and recovered 3,675 kg of poppy husk from their possession. A police release claimed that the police intercepted a truck carrying the contraband near Talwandi Buttian village.

The release said the three occupants of the truck, identified as Sukhpreet Singh, Pritam Singh and Sodhi, were taken into custody. One more person, identified as Dilawar Singh, who was escorting the truck in a car, was also arrested.

The poppy husk was purchased at Jabar in Madhya Pradesh and was being transported here where it was to be sold. PTI, UNI

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