P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Land scam involving Rana Sodhi tip of iceberg
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 20
The land scam of Pathankot in which allegation of demanding Rs 25 lakh has been levelled against the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, by a local businessman, Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, is just a tip of the iceberg. The government land around Pathankot has been prone to encroachment and grabbing by a nexus of local land dealers and officials.

Sources said the case in which allegations of corruption had been levelled against Rana Sodhi pertained to a piece of six kanal land located on the Dalhouise road in Pathankot. The value of land was said to be in crores. The land was earlier given on lease for 30 years by the Punjab Government to the Jammu and Kashmir state transport.

The Jammu and Kashmir state transport ran a transport workshop and transit camp in the area. About a decade ago the lease of the land lapsed and the Jammu and Kashmir transport stopped its operations from the area. However, the area continues to be in the possession of the Jammu and Kashmir transport.

The land came to the notice of the local land dealers who tried to get it on lease from the Jammu and Kashmir Government with the alleged help of Rana Sodhi. However, the Revenue Department officials of Punjab later found out that since the lease of the land given to the Jammu and Kashmir transport had lapsed the Punjab Government was the owner of the land. The matter was highlighted in a section of press and land transfer to private parties was stalled.

The highly placed sources said, the effected businessman of Pathankot who has now levelled allegations against Rana Sodhi came in contact with a ruling party legislator. The legislator took him to a Cabinet Minister who is allegedly a rival of Sodhi with the assurance that his “other” grievances would be redressed.

Rana Sodhi brought the matter to the notice of the Chief Minister who took strong objection to the developments. Efforts were allegedly going on to nab the Pathankot-based businessman in some other cases. The cornered businessman then spilled the beans levelling serious charges of corruption against Rana Sodhi.

The sources said the controversy might have link with the Malikpur land case in the area. In the scam the local land dealers had laid claim to about 35 acres of land of the Malikpur Hydraulic Research being run in the area by the Department of Irrigation since 1935.

The local land dealers got the registriations of the land affected in their name from the original land owners allegedly due to the revenue record anomaly. The revenue records showed the farmers of the area as original land owners due to alleged anomaly in land record. Taking advantage of the anomaly some people got the land registered in their name at the rates ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 70,000 per acre against the government reserve price of about Rs 10 lakh per acre for the area.

The Department of Irrigation has recently traced the records of a case filed by the original land owners in 1961 seeking enhancement in land compensation. The records might prove a substantial tool in the hands of Irrigation Department to save its land.

The sources said if an independent inquiry was held in the case, many ruling and opposition politicians and officials might be found involved.


Tax disparity forces drug makers to look hillwards
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
“We have no choice but to close our units in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and move to Himachal Pradesh,” is the message representatives of the drug manufacturers from the plains conveyed to senior functionaries of the Punjab Government yesterday seeking their intervention for withdrawal of January 8 notification of the Central Government.

“Though the intentions of the Union Government are good to bring down the drug prices, unfortunately and unwittingly it has created a wide gap between units in the plains and those in the hills. The drug units in the plains have no choice but to perish or make a flight to hills,” says Mr Jagdeep Singh, president of the Mohali Drug Manufacturers Association.

“We met the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, who promised full government support and urged us not to think on lines of moving out of Punjab,” said Mr Jagdeep Singh, revealing that the flight of drug industry would render thousands of people in Punjab jobless.

The Punjab Government has been trying hard to attract investors in the state. It has been rightly perturbed over the flight of hosiery and other industry not only to hilly states but also to some southern states. Even the IT industry failed to find Punjab environs congenial for business.

Though the state leadership has been impressing upon the Centre for a package to neutralise the tax holiday extended to Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Jammu and Kashmir, it has been waiting for the Centre to react favourably.

“The Centre must not discriminate between hilly and plain states. Give us even playing field and we will help the state with further investments. But how can we survive in a competitive world with a minimum 25 per cent price difference disadvantage?

“While on the one hand, it is making our products costlier and out of competition, on the other hand the Centre wants us to upgrade and modernise our production units by June, 2005. One wonders what was the urgency when revenue from drugs shall at least double with VAT implementation. We are not against VAT, because it does not cause any discrepancy.

“All we want is a fair solution. Let the government notify rates it wants but it should not discriminate or create any discrepancy. The new notification has put at stake the future of one lakh families in the region. It also tantamounts to violation of the Constitution’s Fundamental Right to equality as the essence of special status to hill states has escalated with this notification.

We have stopped marketing our products since January 8,” reveals Mr Jagdeep Singh, maintaining that it was a “crisis situation which required immediate intervention of both state and Central governments’”.


Panchayati Raj institutions victims of politics
Tribune News Service

Bullowal Saunkhari (Nawanshahr), January 20
Panchayati Raj institutions have been victims of politics and hence have largely failed to achieve their true objective. Panchayats cannot function in their true sense without proper awareness among representatives of the Panchayati Raj institutions about their rights and duties,” observed Mr P.H. Vaishnav, former Punjab Chief Secretary.

Mr Vaishnav was addressing a seminar after inaugurating a two-day training programme for representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions at the Kandi Research Centre here today.

He further said panchayats had largely been dominated by the influence of the British administration, based on partiality. “The principle of inequality found in the British administration and its lingering influence has taken the Panchayati Raj institutions away from its very objective. Similarly, suppression of the smaller Panchayati Raj institutions by the bigger one and that of junior member by a senior member has adversely hit the objective and concept of Panchayati Raj. If we want to achieve the targets of Panchayati Raj in a true sense we have to make all members of these institutions work in tandem and with a sense of equality and harmony,” said Mr Vaishnav.

Mr Harjitinder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, Nawanshahr, said though provision had been made under the Panchayati Raj Act for holding panchayats responsible for running as many as 29 departments, but to start with the administration of only six departments had been put under the control of panchayats. He said members of 445 panchayats, five block samitis and one zila parishad would be trained about their rights and duties in a phased manner.

Mr Balwinder Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Prof Gurdev Singh of the Regional Rural Development Agency and Chaudhary Nand Lal also spoke on the ocassion.


Punjab wakes up to welfare plan for SCs
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
Already behind schedule, the Punjab Government has finally decided to implement the Special Component Plan to benefit Scheduled Caste (SC) population of the state. The implementation becomes possible with the promise of release of Rs 16 crore by the state Finance Department.

Besides implementing the plan, Punjab had also decided to set up a Rs 450 crore social welfare fund. Of this Rs 350 crore would be spent on social security schemes, and the rest will be used for welfare activities of SC.

As for the plan which follows the Maharashtra pattern, it was approved in 2003, but could not be implemented because the Finance Department did not release Special Central Assistance (SCA) sent by the Central Government for the said purpose. Because of non utilisation of funds, the state has even accumulated losses to the tune Rs 10 lakh.

These losses are consequent upon the policy of incentive and disincentive which the Central Government follows for release of SCA funds to states. Any state that fails to use these funds will have to suffer a cut equivalent to the unspent balance from its SCA share in the next financial year.

To tide over the financial crisis, the state government today decided to get going with the Special Component Plan for the SCs. At a high-level meeting of ministers and the Chief Secretary held here today, it was decided that the state government would take all possible steps to strengthen the implementation of social welfare schemes under the Maharashtra model so that the entire SC population benefited.

Presiding over the meeting of the high-powered standing tripartite committee constituted to monitor the implementation of the said plan for the SC, Minister of State for Social Welfare Ms Gurkanwal Kaur said that the plan is of the size of Rs 886 crore. She admitted that the delay in plan was caused due to non-availability of funds for the purpose.

Also present during the meeting was Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Finance, who finally came to the rescue of the state government. His assurance regarding the release of special central assistance of Rs 16 crore for the Special Component Plan came as a welcome gesture. After long, the Finance Department was ready to part with funds, obviously to ensure that the Centre does not block the flow of funds in the next financial year too.

Upbeat about the plan implementation, Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Welfare said that the implementation of welfare schemes on Maharashtra pattern would be ensured in letter and spirit. He was also in favour of constant monitoring of the plan for its effective implementation.


Mann moves HC against Virk as DGP
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 20
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking directions to the Punjab Government not to appoint ADGP (Intelligence) S.S. Virk as Director-General of Police, Punjab, when the current incumbent retires at the end of this month.

In his petition, Mr Mann has also sought directions to the government to repatriate Mr Virk to his parent state of Maharashtra.

The petition is expected to be taken up for hearing on Monday. The petitioner has named Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh as one of respondents to the case while other respondents include the Government of India through its Home Secretary, Punjab Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and Mr Virk himself.

The petitioner has stated that the Union Home Ministry chargesheeted Mr Virk sometime back for refusing to return to his cadre state. Despite repeated reminders, Mr Virk has refused to go back to his parent cadre. "To appoint an officer who is disobeying the order of the Union Government would not be in the interest of the state and police force," says the petition.

A copy of the chargesheet has been appended to the petition. The petitioner has also claimed that supersession of eight senior police officers by appointing Mr Virk as DGP would cause "heartburn" and have a "demoralising effect" on the force.

Mr Mann has also alleged that Mr Virk has been involved in a property dispute and a complaint in this respect had been filed against him before Punjab State Human Rights Commission.


Education board's matric exams from March 2
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 20
The Class X (matric) annual examinations to be conducted by the Punjab School Education Board here would begin on March 2. Releasing the datesheet for the examinations, board authorities today listed the schedule of the written and practical examinations that would end by March 16.

Students would appear in their English examination on March 2 and the open school students would appear in the health sciences examination on March 3. The Hindi/Urdu examination would be held on March 4.

On March 5, students would appear in agriculture (common with open school students)/ music-tabla (only for blind students)/ mechanical drawing and painting (only for deaf and mute students). On March 7, students would appear in the mathematics/ music-vocal (only for blind students)/ cutting and sewing (only for deaf and mute students)/ mathematics (only for re-appear candidates) examination.

On March 9, students would appear in the Punjabi-A/ Punjab History and Culture-A examination. On March 10, students would appear in the Home Science (common with open school students)/ Home Science (only for deaf and mute students) examination. On March 11, students would appear in the Punjabi-B/ Punjab History and Culture-B examination. On March 12, students would appear in the health and physical education examination. On March 14, students would appear in the science/music-instrumental (only for blind students)/ Science (only for reappear candidates).

On March 15, students would appear in their respective optional subject examination and on March 16, students would appear in the social science examination.


MC staff lock offices of Commissioner, Mayor
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20
Municipal Corporation employees today locked the offices of the Commissioner and Mayor this morning after what they termed as the indifferent attitude of Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu towards their demands.

Though the locks of the offices of both Commissioner and the Mayor were opened after the Commissioner arrived at his office today at 11 a.m., the employees announced that they would close down the corporation in case the Commissioner did not meet their demands by next Wednesday.

Municipal Workers Union president Prem Paharia said the workers were forced to resort to this extreme step because the corporation Commissioner was completely indifferent to their demands. He said today also the employees were forced to lock the offices of the Commissioner and the Mayor as no officer was present in the office till 10.40 a.m., adding that even the Assistant Commissioner reported for duty at 10.35 a.m. When asked why the office of the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, was also locked, he said this was done as a simultaneous act.

Mr Paharia said the employees were agitated that the corporation was not submitting pension benefits amounting to Rs 90 lakh into the relevant accounts. Besides, he said even Rs 30 lakh had not been submitted into the providend fund account of the employees. He said employees were also sore over the fact that the money collected for tsunami victims has not been sent so far.

Mr Sidhu denied that the employees had locked his office. “No such thing happened,” he said, adding that the employees had been holding a rally in support of their demands, which would be looked into in the next few days. He said as far as the pension benefits were concerned, the backlog had been created in the past over one year and that the corporation was trying to reduce this backlog.

He said as far as the money collected for the tsumani victims was concerned this could not be dispatched till now as he had assigned the money for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. “The employees want the money to go to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and since it is their money it will now be dispatched to the said fund.”


Ranjit Sagar Dam workers resent govt decision
Our Correspondent

Shahpur Kandi (Pathankot), January 20
Resentment prevails among engineers and workers of the Ranjit Sagar Dam project against the Punjab Government for handing over the construction to the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC).

The spokespersons of the Temporary Engineers Association and representatives of the workers unions alleged that handing over the construction in private hands would tantamount to losses to the tune of about 1,000 crore to the state exchequer.

Mr Natha Singh, and Mr. Harinder Singh, president and general secretary of The Thein Dam Workers Union, respectively, said here today that if the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Punjab and the NHPC is finalised then they would resort to dharnas and block traffic.

They stated that machinery and spare-parts worth Rs 700 crore were lying ideal at the project site.

The union leaders said the 12,000 employees on the project were competent enough to complete the project as these employees had gained experience during the construction of Bhakra Dam , Beas Dam, Mukerian Hydel Project and Anandpur hydel project.

They claimed that 25 per cent of the work had already been completed adding that if the construction work was carried out at the department level then it would cost Rs 900 crore instead of the proposed Rs 1,800 crore.

Meanwhile, a deputation of the union leaders has decided to meet the Chief Minister to press for their demand.


MoU on Shahpur Kandi Dam signed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
The Punjab Government and the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to start the Shahpur Kandi dam over the Ravi in Gurdaspur district.

The MoU was signed by Mr Karan A. Singh, Finance Secretary-cum-MD of Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), and Mr. K.P. Singh, Executive Director, Consulting Services of NHPC, in the presence of Mr Lal Singh, Power and Irrigation Minister, Punjab.

The basic object of the MoU was that the NHPC would carry out review and updating of Detailed Project Report (DPR) cleared by the Planning Commission, other reports, documents, besides updating the designs and costs estimates so as to provide the latest design and technology.

Mr Lal Singh said the Shahpur Kandi Dam Project comprising 54.5 metre-high concrete dam, 7.7 km-long hydel channel and two power houses of 168 MW capacity is to be constructed on the Ravi, 11 km downstream of Ranjit Sagar Dam, and 8 km upstream of Madhopur Headworks to act as a balancing reservoir to ensure uniform water supply to the canal system taking off from Madhopur headworks and to ensure optimum power production during peak hours from Ranjit Sagar Dam power houses.

The project estimated was updated in June, 2000, which worked out to be Rs 1324 crore at that time. The average annual generation of energy from this project works out to approximately 720 (90% dependability) million units and the project was expected to be completed in a period of 3-4 years.


Govt depts fail to pay power bills
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 20
On the one hand, ministers of the Punjab Government have been making tall claims that the state government’s financial health, shattered during the SAD-BJP regime, has improved during the regime of the Amarinder government, and on the other, the government is unable to make funds available to its departments to pay bills to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

In Sangrur district alone, crores are yet to be paid to the PSEB by various government departments as power bills.

As per information provided to The Tribune by sources, in Sangrur Circle of the PSEB, a sum of more than Rs 3.50 crore is yet to be paid by various departments to the PSEB on account of electricity bills.

Sources said the Health Department topped the list of defaulters as it had yet to pay Rs 1.20 crore to the PSEB against 103 electricity connections in Sangrur Circle of the PSEB while the Public Health Department was number two as it had to pay Rs 1.11 crore to the PSEB against 203 connections.

The direction of the Chairman of the PSEB, the Superintending Engineer (SE) of the Sangrur Distribution Circle of the PSEB had written demi-official letters about 10 days ago to heads of the departments concerned to deposit the bills in 15 days, otherwise power supply to the offices concerned of their departments could be disconnected.


Drive launched to check power theft
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
Seven official of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) posted in its enforcement wing in Bathinda zone have been shifted and a number of meter readers have been taken to task for their alleged involvement in facilitating theft of power.

While disclosing this at a press conference here today, Mr T. S. Mavi, Chief Engineer (enforcement), PSEB, said that in its anti-power theft and anti-corruption drive, the PSEB authorities had decided to unveil those officials who had been facilitating the same to consumer first and then take action against the real beneficiary.

He added that this exercise had been undertaken as the PSEB had decided to bring down its transmission and other losses to 24 per cent in the current year from 25.35 per cent in the previous year.

He added that Mr Y. S. Ratra, Chairman, PSEB, had instructed the field staff to reduce the losses by 2 per cent this year.

He added that in this connection, the PSEB had launched a scheme under which the farmers had been extended the facility of increasing their power load by paying Rs 1,000 per horse power instead of Rs 3,000 which was being charged from them earlier.

He said that such a scheme would be launched for domestic and commercial consumers on February 1.


PWD seeks 20 cr for repair of roads
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 20
The Public Works Department has demanded Rs 20 crore from the Punjab Government for immediate patch work on almost all the state highways for smooth running of vehicular traffic. This was disclosed by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, while talking to media persons at the Canal Rest House here yesterday. He said that he had requested the Chief Secretary to release the amount soon so that the work may be completed as early as possible.

Mr Bajwa said that to strengthen and widen 1000-km long roads of state highways, high power committee headed by the Chief Secretary had decided to make 18 toll roads in the state. All preliminary formalities had been completed in this regard and their allotment to private firms would be done within few days. The successor firms would start construction within the next month. He said that the state government would provide up to 40 per cent of its share according to the importance of the road and the remaining amount would be spent by the successor firms. Strengthening and widening of toll roads would cost Rs 60 lakh per km. A sum of Rs 500 crore had been earmarked for this project.

Mr Bajwa said that tractor-trailer and two-wheelers had been exempted from toll tax whereas owners of other vehicles would have to pay 35 paise per km for plying their vehicles smoothly and safely.


Hoardings removed from highway
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 20
Huge hoardings were removed from Gol Chowk on National Highway No. 1 here today. These big hoardings had been fixed there on iron structures by political and industrial bigwigs.

These hoardings distracted the attention of drivers and blocked trans-road view and visibility. They had been fixed on the GT Road in clear violations of the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The hoardings numbered over a dozen. Some of these were as high as 20 feet. They had been there for the past several months.


Fresh probe ordered into scribe’s case
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 20
Taking serious notice of the Press Club’s demand for a fresh probe into the case registered against a journalist, Sanjeev Gupta, the SSP has ordered an inquiry into the matter.

A delegation of the Press Club led by its president, Mr Iqbal Singh, today met the SP (D), Mr H.S. Pannu, in this connection. Mr Pannu assured the delegation that an impartial probe would be conducted into the matter. The Press Club also lodged its protest against the misbehaviour by the policemen at the time of arresting the journalist.

Earlier, a meeting of the Press Club was organised, in which the club office-bearers expressed their solidarity with Gupta on this issue and assured him full cooperation.

Gupta was arrested yesterday despite the fact that he had court orders as per which a two-day notice was needed prior to his arrest. Later, the police released him after a copy of the order was produced before it.


Look into Colonel’s complaint, SSP told
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 20
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepore, to look into the complaint lodged by Col Onkar Nath Chopra (retd).

Colonel Chopra alleged that some armed persons led by a circle president of the SAD had grabbed his land forcibly at Chanankhera village, near Abohar, on the national highway No. 10.

He had been running from pillar to post for the past five months but in vain as the land mafia had political links.

Colonel Chopra also met Capt Amarinder Singh recently and submitted a representation as to how the land mafia had been carrying on its activities under political shelter.


Negligence by doctors alleged
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 20
A resident of Tirpuri village, near here, has allegedly held doctors of the local Civil Hospital and the police responsible for the death of his father. Malkit Singh, who had met with an accident about a week ago near the city police post, died at the PGI, Chandigarh, last night.

Mr Harbhajan Singh said in a complaint made to the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, the SSP and the Civil Surgeon that his father had met with an accident on the night of January 13 but the family was informed about the accident by the police the next day.

Moreover, if the condition of his father was serious, why had not the doctors on duty at the Civil Hospital referred him to the PGI immediately instead of doing it the next day. The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 304 A of the IPC in this regard.


Wadali brothers enthral audience
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 20
Wadali brothers, renowned sufi singers of the region, enthralled the audience at a cultural evening organised by the District Cultural Society at Giani Dit Singh Memorial Auditorium of BBSB Engineering College here today.

Mr Hukam Chand Bansal, chairman, OP Bansal Education Trust, was the chief guest, while Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner and chairman of the society presided over the function.

Wadali brothers started the performance by reciting a “shabad” and then shifted to their traditional “sufiana kalam”. The function continued till late in the evening.

Mr Ahluwalia, in his address, said the society had been organising cultural programmes every month so that the coming generation got to know about their rich heritage and culture.


Painting of gurus presented
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
Jagdish Kaur Bamrah presented paintings of the gurus, painted in Tanjore style, to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) for the Central Sikh Museum here on Tuesday.


Power cuts hit cotton industry
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
The power cuts in Punjab have triggered a crisis in the cotton markets as the sale of raw cotton has come down drastically as the functioning of units was affected.

Though the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) authorities have been continuously writing to the Punjab Government and the PSEB authorities to exempt the ginning and pressing mills from the power cuts for the past two months, the authorities are yet to take necessary steps in that connection.

“Due to power cuts, the functioning of ginning and pressing mills have been affected as these are running at 50 per cent of their installed capacity. Due the reduction in their capacity, the ginning and pressing mills are facing problems on account of storing the raw cotton and hence their owners have slowed down their purchases from the markets,” pointed out a mill owner.

About 145 mills could process only about 8.5 lakh cotton bales so far despite the fact that more than 12 lakh bales had arrived in the markets, he said.

A survey carried out in different cotton markets by TNS revealed that due to low demand from private traders and ginning and oppressing mills owners, growers had been left with no other option than to dispose of their cotton at minimum support price to the CCI or even below that price of that.

Though the demand of raw cotton in the markets have touched its bottom, its arrival has been witnessing a significant jump for the past one week. About a week ago the daily arrival of raw cotton was about 16,000 bales in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and now it has reached upto 25,000 bales daily. The Chairman of the CCI had taken up the matter of power cuts with the Chairman, PSEB.

Information revealed that though every time, the CCI authorities were assured that power position would be improved, at least in the cotton belt of Punjab where cotton mills were located, nothing positive had taken place so far in that direction.


KKU demands withdrawal of cases against farmers
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 20
Hundreds of farmers under the banner of the Kirti Kisan Union today staged a dharna outside the DC’s office in favour of their demands. They were demanding immediate withdrawal of the false cases against the farmers, and their unconditional release.

Addressing the protesters, the state union president, Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, said the farmers’ stir was for the implementation of the Congress manifesto, but on the contrary the state government was treading the way to suppress their movement, which would not be tolerated at any cost.

Union leaders demanded withdrawal of the “false” cases registered against farmers andrelease of those arrested during their statewide stir.

They also sought waiving of loans of the farmers who were unable to repay the same. They demanded free water and power, loans to farmers at 4 per cent interest, jobs to farmers’ family members, free access to health services and education to small farmers, andimmediate payment of dues to cane farmers. Other union leaders, including Jarnail Singh, Chamkaur Singh, and Nirmal Singh, were also present.


CS to review reforms implementation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
As some government departments continue to drag their feet to implement administrative reforms, the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, has decided to conduct department-wise review of the implementation of such reforms.

Official sources said Mr Gill, who discussed the issue of reforms with Administrative Secretaries concerned at a meeting on Tuesday, was not happy over the progress in the implementation of reforms, obviously planned to reduce delay in the disposal of government work and to improve the functioning of administration. Next meeting would be held in two weeks.

The major task taken in hand by Mr Gill is to do away the duplication in dealing with the same matter at the “multiple levels” for decision even on matters of simplest and routine nature. Such duplication in dealing has been found as the main reason of delay.

For cutting the delay, the government had introduced single file system between the directorates and government departments in the secretariat. However, there are departments, which have impeded the implementation of such system. At the meeting, it was decided that all departments would have to implement the single file system as it would be in the interest of employees concerned as well as the public at large.

With the introduction of single file system, the files dealt at the directorate level would be directly put up before the sanctioning authority and returned immediately. Such files would not be dealt by the supporting staff of administrative secretaries at the secretariat level. The existing practice is that one file is prepared at the directorate level and other on the same matter is prepared at the secretariat level in most of the cases. These two files loaded with notes, queries and other objections continue to shuffle to and fro between the secretariat and directorate. To reform this system, the state government had issued instructions to initiate one file and the same should be processed at all fixed levels.

Matters picked up for the introduction of single file system include: sanction of tour programmes, TA, sanction of leave of heads of departments, other officers, routine confirmation cases, retirement orders, NOC for passports, issuing of no-due certificate in respect of retiring Class I and II officers, extension of ad hoc/temporary appointments, change of home district and matters relating to Class III and IV employees.

Other matters are upgradation of schools, dispensaries, offices, continuation of posts of all categories of employees, constitution of various departmental committees, training, Assembly questions, Budget estimates, plan schemes, financial sanctions, hiring of buildings, medical reimbursement and purchase of staff cars etc.

Sources said certain sections of the secretariat staff had not liked the idea of single file system. Such staff has argued that the system at the secretariat level was developed over the years to counter-check the legality and viability of proposals and cases initiated at the directorate level.


Police-public meeting attracts few
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 20
Residents of the city are not following traffic rules and regulations. This was stated by the SP (D), Mr Surjit Singh Garewal at a police public meeting organised at Bhaseen Bhavan here today. The meeting was attended by seven municipal councillors, seven reporters and 11 residents.

It began with municipal councillors’ appeal to take lenient view while challaning. While reacting to councillors’ plea, Mr Garewal said the traffic police had challaned 240 persons and impounded 35 vehicles so far.

When Mr Garewal was questioned by reporters that despite the police drive, a large number of people were plying two wheelers on internal roads and even on the national highway without wearing helmets. He said the police could not do much.

Mr Garewal said people would get their passport within 15 days and verification would be conducted within a week.


Child’s torture: police Inspector suspended
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 20
The district police chief, Mr R.P.S.Brar, today placed Mr Sawinder Singh, Inspector, CIA Staff, under suspension on the charges of giving electric shocks to a student of Class IV. He would be posted in Police Lines during his suspension.

The child, who was accused of picking the pocket of an influential person at a marriage palace, was allegedly tortured during ''illegal custody'' of the child, Sumit, son of a bank employee. The child was identified with the help of a video film which clearly showed him picking the pocket. Instead of filing an FIR in the police station concerned, the child was taken to the CIA Staff.

However, Mr Gurmukh Singh, who had arranged a party at the marriage palace, denied that the child was subjected to torture. He said on the basis of the video film, which proved beyond doubt that the boy had stolen Rs 2 lakh from the pocket of his father, the boy was taken to the CIA staff.

He, however, said that he was present and electric shocks were not given to him. Mr Gurmukh Singh said that now he would file a FIR. The Inspector, Mr Sawinder Singh, also refuted the charge.

He alleged that he was being implicated for the act which he had not committed. He alleged that the child was a professional thief and was caught on a similar charge earlier, but was set free due to his being minor. Meanwhile, the parents met the DIG.


MVI, 2 others held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 20
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested local Motor Vehicle Inspector, a clerk and a peon, red-handed while accepting bribe for issuing fitness certificate of vehicles. The Vigilance SP, Mr I.S. Randhawa, revealed this at a press conference here last evening.

According to Mr Randhawa, the fee for passing of vehicles is paid at the MVI’s office at Brar Complex and the total fee has to be deposited in the state exchequer till 1 pm daily. The MVI, Mr Mandar Singh, along with his clerk, Kesarpal Singh, and peon, Balkar Singh, after depositing this fee took bribe for issuing fitness certificates at a separate office near the local bus stand after 3.30 pm.

The rates for all categories of vehicles were fixed. For instance, they charged Rs 800 for a truck and Rs 600 for a tempo.

Sources said the accused got the passing fee deposited at their GT Road office and later call applicants to grease their palms at their private office. Kesarpal Singh filled the certificates, while Balkar Singh collected money.

The complainant, Mr Navdeep Kumar of Bagha Purana, had applied for the passing of five trucks and two tempos, for which he paid Rs 5,200 to the accused. A Vigilance team led by DSP Narinder Pal Singh raided the premises and nabbed the three red-handed.

The Vigilance team seized a total of Rs 47, 450 from them which they had collected in just half an hour.

Documents pertaining to their daily account, which revealed that they were earning anything between Rs 60,000-80,000 daily, were also seized.

These documents had details like the vehicle number and amount charged for it.

The Vigilance Bureau has registered a case against the accused under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Meanwhile, in another case of graft, the Vigilance Bureau has arrested a PSEB lineman while accepting Rs 1,500 at Zira.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, the Vigilance DSP, Mr Surjeet Singh Khosa, said complainant Amarjeet Singh had applied for a motor connection on December 24. The JE was told to prepare an estimate for it, but no action was taken for the next 15 days.

Later, the lineman, Mr Ajit Singh, contacted Amarjeet and demanded Rs 3,500 for the job. The deal was struck in Rs 2,500 of which he had paid Rs 1,000 in advance. The lineman was adamant on giving connection after full payment.

Amarjeet approached the Vigilance, following which a Vigilance team arrested the lineman when he was accepting the remaining amount from Amarjeet Singh yesterday.


Wife murdered after 20 years of marriage

Pathankot, January 20
A case has been reported today from Thara Upparla Teeka Patta village near here in which husband has reportedly killed his wife after 20 years of marriage. After committing the crime he had allegedly destroyed her body.

The body of victim Lata is still untraceable. The accused, according to the police, is still at large. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.

According to complainant Balwant Singh of Darkua Bangla village, his sister Lata was married to accused Manohar Singh about 20 years ago. Her husband had been maltreating the victim since then. It was on December 12 last year that the accused’s sister informed the sister of the victim, Rita Devi, that Lata was missing from the house. On search, some belongings of the victim were recovered from the bank of a river known as the Phangota lake.

Thereafter, the body was not recovered. On suspicion, the complainant informed the police and disclosed that accused Manohar Singh had killed her sister and destroyed her body. — OC


7 hurt as Akali-Cong workers clash
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 20
A clash took place between Congress and Akali supporters at Wadala Grandhian, about 7 km from here, on the Batala-Qadian road yesterday. Seven person were injured. A case has been registered against 15 persons, of which nine have been arrested.

The clash took place at about 8 a.m. and continued for four hours in which sharpedged weapons were used.

The police had fire in the air to control the situation. Police parties from Batala and Qadian were also called in this regard.

Mr J.K. Jain stated that those booked are Sulakhan Singh, Yadwinder Singh, Mela Singh, Mixon Masih, Sultan Singh, Tarsem Singh, Nirwair Singh, Yakoob Masih, Kashmir Singh (all arrested), Hira Singh, Dilbagh Singh, Ajit Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Des Raj and Nazir Masih.


17, including patwari, held in fraud case
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 20
Seventeen persons, including a patwari and four nambardars have been booked for duping various banks of about Rs 50 lakh by taking loans on the basis of forged documents.

According to sources, the fraud came to light when Baldev Singh of Dharamkot complained to the SSP in this connection. The SSP then ordered a probe into the matter. Sources said these loans were reportedly availed of in connivance with bank agents and employees of banks concerned and the Revenue Department. About 24 such cases were unearthed in Dharamkot tehsil.

Sources said the forged documents produced before various banks were issued by the Patwari of Sherpur Taiba, Harbans Singh. Nambardars Darshan Singh, Sarain Singh, Jagir Singh, and Dharam Singh also played a key role in forging these documents. Sources said on the basis of Baldev Singh’s complaint a Vigilance team from Chandigarh had recently recorded the statements of those concerned.

The banks that were duped include the State Bank of Patiala, Jalalabad and Dharamkot, Central Bank of India, Dharamkot, Punjab National Bank, Dharamkot, and State Bank of India, Moga.

A case has been registered against all 17 accused under Sections 420, 465, 466, 468, 471, and 120B, of the IPC.


Labourer’s body found hanging
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 20
The body of a migrant labourer was found hanging from the ceiling of a house in Balongi village last evening.

It is learnt that the deceased, Ram Darsh Yadav, who hailed from Uttar Pradesh worked in a factory in Mohali. When he did not go to work for the past two days, the owner asked the foreman to find out why Ram Darsh was not coming to the factory.

When the foremen went to the house of the deceased in Ambedkar Colony last evening, he found the door bolted from the inside. He knocked at the door but failed to get any response. When he peeped into the room from a small chink, he found the body of the worker hanging. He informed the police about the incident.

The police removed the body in the presence of the sarpanch and sent it to the local Civil Hospital for a postmortem. Some marks on the neck were found during the postmortem though viscera has been sent for chemical examination to Patiala to ascertain the exact cause of death. Family members of the deceased, who lived in UP, were informed.

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr PC.


Seminar on immigrant literature begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
Even though the Punjabis settled abroad have enormously contributed for the development of their respective countries yet they can not get the same respect, regard and equality, which they were enjoying in their parent country, commented Dr Raghbir Singh of Panjab University, Chandigarh, while presenting his keynote address at the opening of the two-day international seminar on “Twentieth Century Immigration and Immigrant Literature” at Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

The seminar is being organised by the Centre for Immigrant Studies of the Guru Nanak Dev University in which over 100 delegates from all over the world are participating.

Dr Raghbir Singh said though Punjabi literature had been produced voluminously by the Punjabi writers settled in various countries but that literature still seemed to be superficial as compared to the literature being produced in Punjab.

Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, in his presidential remarks said the Punjabi literature produced by immigrants had been rapidly becoming a major part of the Punjabi literature here and was a subject of constant study for the Indian and foreign critics and thinkers.

Dr S. P. Singh released a volume of research papers and a book ‘Parvasi Punjabi Sahit Sandharb Kosh’ written by Dr Harchand Singh Bedi. He honoured immigrant writers, Ajit Singh Rahi, Darshan Dhir, Avtar Jandialvi, Harbaksh Maqsoodpuri, Darshan Gill and Balbir Singh Momi. He also honoured Hardev Singh, artist, Bhupinder Singh Cheema, journalist, and Ajaib Kamal by presenting them sets of university publications.

Earlier, Dr Harchand Singh Bedi, Director, gave an introduction about the aims and objectives of the seminar. Dr Manjit Pal Kaur, Head of the School of Punjabi Studies, while welcoming the delegates informed that the University Grants Commission had given a grant of Rs 40 lakh under the Special Assistance Programme for the development of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

In the afternoon sessions, Dr Gurbachan, Dr Tejwant Singh Gill, Dr Paramjit Singh Judge, Dr Paramjit Singh Sidhu, Dr Mohanjit, Dr Akal Amrit Kaur, Dr R.S.Bajwa, Dr Amritpal Kaur, Dr Satish Verma, Dr Rajinderpal Singh, Dr Baldev Singh Dhaliwal, Dr Sarbjit Singh, Dr Anurag Sharma and Dr Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa presented their papers.

An eminent scholar, Dr J. S. Rahi, presided over the first session while the other session was chaired by Dr Tejwant Singh Gill.


Principal harassed my daughter, alleges father
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 20
Alleging mental harassment of her daughter, a local resident has demanded a strict action against the principal of the school.

Lajpat Rai, a local commission agent ,has sent copies of the legal notice served on the Principal of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, here, to the Chief Minister, Education Minister, and various officers of the Education Department. He has alleged that the Principal, Miss Nishi Jalota, had caused mental strain to his daughter Ritika, a 10+2 student of the school.

Ritika developed the symptoms of acute anxiety and depression and was admitted to a local Civil Hospital .

According to father Lajpat ,she was upset since August 27 last year , the day her grandmother expired. She was admitted in various hospitals at Nabha, Patiala and Chandigarh .She resumed school in September. She could not clear her pre-board exams she again showed signs of anxiety. Doctors told us sympathetic and encouraging words and special attention of her teachers could bring Ritika out of depression, her father added.

Lajpat Rai along with vice president of the local municipal committee , Mr Hari Seth ,went to the school and requested the principal and the class teacher to be kind and polite to Ritika.But instead of heeding to our requests the principal scolded Ritika and accused her of feigning illness.

She even threatened her Ritika that her name would be struck off from the school roll. Ritika burst into tears and fainted.Since then she has been undergoing treatment in the Civil Hospital.

Principal Miss Nishi Jalota termed the charges baseless. she even told Ritika that she would arrange special pre-board exams for her so that she could qualify for final exams.


Khalsa College teachers back GNDUTA
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
The Khalsa College Teachers Union today extended support to the struggle launched by the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association protesting against the Vice-Chancellor and the university authorities over the headship issue of the Department of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy.

The union, which is a unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Association, assured all help and support to the varsity teachers’ association.

In the meanwhile, the protest dharna organised by the GNDUTA outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office entered the third consecutive day today. Dr Davinder Singh, president of the association, said that the GNDUTA was contemplating to intensify the stir by organising mass rallies from next week after holding an executive meeting. He claimed that all the teachers’ unions were supporting to teachers cause.


School’s contribution to PM's Relief Fund
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, January 20
The principal, teaching, non-teaching staff and students of Gobindgarh Public School expressed deep anguish on the large-scale disaster caused by the tsunami tidal waves, and donated their one-day salary to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

The students have also come forward in a big way and contributed Rs 48,517 out of their pocket money to help the victims.

The president, GEST, Mr Suresh Goyal, the chairman of the school managing committee, Mr Chaman Lal Garg, and the secretary of the trust, Mr Swaranjit Singh Bagli, also expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.


Khadi board subsidies for entrepreneurs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
The Punjab Khadi and Village Industries Board will give subsidies worth Rs 1.25 crore to those entrepreneurs who have been given loans by the board to set up industries in rural areas in the state.

Speaking to mediapersons, Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, Chairman of the board, said yesterday that payment of subsidy would be made through cheques which would be given to entrepreneurs concerned by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at a Republic Day function at Bathinda on January 26.

Mr Walia said that the board had distributed loans worth Rs 5 crore and had approached the Khadi and Village Industries Commission of India to provide Rs 5 crore more to the board for the loan purpose.

Mr Walia said that a state-level exhibition would be organised by the board at Patiala from February 13 to 15 at the time of Basant Panchmi mela. Various products manufactured by units set up with the loans provided by the board would be part of the exhibition, he added.

Mrs Maya Sinha, Commissioner, Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Ms Praneet Kaur, MP from Patiala and Mrs Jean Rodrigues had been invited to visit the exhibition, he added.


Abolish octroi, sales tax, demand traders
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 20
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has urged the Union Government to abolish central sales tax, octroi duty and other provincial taxes before enforcing VAT from April 1.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, in a letter faxed to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, and Finance Minister P. Chidambram today recalled that the Congress-led UPA had made commitment to the electorate in different states that octroi duty would be abolished.

The party was committed for lifting all inter-state barriers (Information Collection Centres) as these had reportedly become dens of corruption.

Such barriers had made no addition in the government revenue but only helped the employees in extracting money from traders, transporters and consumers.

Auction of octroi in Punjab had hit the image of the ruling party during the past as well as present political government.

Mr Kapoor said most political parties had been in favour of simplifying tax structure and bringing parity in the rates. Now when the government had finalised arrangements for implementing VAT from new financial year, there seemed to be no genuine ground for allowing other provincial taxes, cess or duties. If the UPA was sincere in its resolve to weed out corruption from the bottom to the top and bring out black money, only VAT should exist.

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