P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Changes in periphery Act on cards
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
While drastic changes in the Punjab Periphery Control Act are on the cards to free it from stifling provisions, which has been affecting at least 300 villages and several small towns in Punjab region near the periphery of the Chandigarh, the state government headed by, Capt Amarinder Singh, today decided to develop the Mohali and its neighbouring areas as one of the world’s most modern metropolis.

Capt Amarinder Singh today held a meeting with his team of officers including the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, Principal Secretary, Mr Suresh Kumar, and others concerned. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, who represents Kharar and Mohali in the state Assembly was also present. In fact, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, had submitted a detailed roadmap for the development of Mohali and its neighbourhood to the Chief Minister which was discussed at the meeting.

At today’s meeting two-pronged strategy has been chalked out about the planned development of the Mohali region that will include areas up to Kharar, Chunni Kalan, Banur and also Zirakpur-Derabassi belt up to Lalru. Capt Amarinder Singh wants to develop this entire region as information technology (IT) and bio-tech corridor. And he has big plans in his mind in this connection which he shared today with officers at the meeting. He also agreed with several proposals put up by Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

Informed sources said that Capt Amarinder Singh wanted that a captive thermal plant of 1000 mw, the assurance of which was given recently by the Prime Minister, should be established in the Mohali region to ensure 24-hour power supply in the IT and bio-tech corridor. Mr Bir Devinder Singh told The Tribune that the Chief Minister had agreed in principle to give the status of district headquarters to Mohali in due course.

The Punjab Government, that has earlier almost accepted the proposal to give 300 acres of land adjacent to Chandigarh airport to the Chandigarh Administration for setting up a cargo facility is now keen set up its own cargo facility at a suitable place near Mohali. “The Chief Minister is keen that instead of 300 acres, about 1000 acres of land should be acquired in Punjab region near Mohali to set up strips for the landing of cargo planes and godowns”, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said. “All revenue earned from the transportation of goods at the cargo facility would come to Punjab. Moreover, the state would have a sort of indirect control over it though it would function under the control of the Union Aviation Ministry”, he added. “Why should we depend on the Chandigarh Administration for cargo facility”, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said.” We are all for having a edge over Chandigarh to develop IT and bio-tech units in Mohali region”, he added.

All development activity will start after the committee headed by Mr Jai Singh Gill submitted the report with regard to the changes to be made in the periphery Act and the development to made in the in Punjab region adjacent to Chandigarh. Informed sources said that Mr Gill told the Chief Minister that the report was almost ready and it would be submitted by the next week end.

Informed sources said that Mr Gill’s committee would recommend the increase in the “lal dora” of all 300 villages located in the periphery in Ropar, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib district. At present, people of these villages cannot build their houses outside the “lal dora” which is outer limit fixed for each village to construct dwellings. In case, people construct their houses outside the “lal dora”, cases are registered against them under the Periphery Act.

People of these 300 villages have been insisting that the “lal dora” has not been increased since 1890, though population of their hamlets have increased several fold. In absence of extension in “lal dora”, people often violate the law and even face the punishment. Moreover, certain Act enforcing officials use this as a pretext to exploit villagers.


Administration  unresponsive, says Johar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 20
Punjab Education Minister and Chairman of the district grievance committee, Harnam Dass Johar, today expressed unhappiness over the functioning of the administration while dealing with complaints of people relating to land mafia.

Mr Johar at the grievance committee meeting pointed out that out of 18 complaints of various natures received at the last meeting, the concerned official did not bother to file reply in eight complaints. It shows unresponsive attitude of the administration. Preliminary report on the complaint should be submitted in 15 days and final report before the grievance committee meeting held once a month.

Taking up the case of Bhago Majra village and Bhikhdi where panchayat land had been grabbed by land mafia, he said any complaint of land grabbing should be brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner or officials concerned. Anandpur Sahib MLA, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, also brought into notice of Mr Johar that false registries and mukhtiar namas had become modes of grabbing land-by- mafia.

Mr Johar directed the administrative officials to ensure that for what purpose the registry and mukhtiar nama was being prepared by the person. The verification would be done before issuing registry and mukhtiarnama.

Commenting on the complaint of Kharar MLA, Bir Devinder Singh on insanitary conditions in Mohali, Mr Johar directed the officials of the Municipal Council to keep Mohali clean. Mr Johar also pointed out the parks in Mohali were not maintained and required plantation.

Mr Johar also directed the SDM Mohali to stop cattle menace. Mr Johar directed the SDM to shift the dairies from Mohali to distance places.

He also asked Improvement Trust and Municipal Council Ropar officials to complete the drainage project from Ropar to Bela chowk. He had asked the officials to complete the project soon.


Police short on staff, says DGP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
The Punjab police is short by about 5,000 personnel, as there has been no recruitment in the force for a long time, according to the Punjab Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk.

Dr Ravdeep Kaur was presented before the DGP, who questioned her for a while about the murder. He, however, refused to give details, saying that it would hamper the investigation.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, visited the house of Vijay Singh to offer condolences to the bereaved family. The Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Lal Singh, was also present when Mr Badal visited the family.

Interacting with newspersons here today, he said vacant posts would be filled soon after approval from the state government. He said a policy was being formulated in this regard. He admitted that the police force was short-staffed as many personnel were performing security duties for individuals who did not require it.

The DGP said a campaign to withdraw police personnel from such duties had already been put into motion and about 2,700 police personnel acting as security guards had been recalled. The malady was widespread as approximately 7,000 personnel were attached with various individuals for security.

Mr Virk said the police was contemplating formulation of a policy to reward officers who did exemplary work in solving cases of murder, robbery and kidnapping. Such officers would be recommended for awards and rewards, besides promotions. Government attorneys who are able to dispose of cases favourably and quickly would also be given awards.

Commending police action in cracking the high-profile murder case of Vijay Singh here, Mr Virk admitted that there were about 200 unsolved murder cases pending in the state. The maximum number of such cases was in Ludhiana. The crime problem was compounded in the district as besides being one of the largest and most populated districts in the state, it also had a shifting population of migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Virk congratulated the Patiala police team for its work in apprehending contract killer Manjit Singh and Dr Ravdeep Kaur for Judge Vijay Singh’s brutal murder.


Kang minting money from Dalit’s petrol pump?
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Khizrabad (Ropar), October 20
The schemes launched by the Punjab Government for the uplift of the Scheduled Castes (SC) in the state have come under a cloud as a Cabinet Minister has allegedly got allotted a petrol pump in the name of a poor Dalit, but is running it himself.

The fact came to light when a team of the District Food and Supplies Department, acting on a complaint of adulterated petrol and diesel being supplied to consumers, raided Hamara Petrol Pump situated at Khizrabad village in the district on October 14.

On reaching the petrol pump, the in charge present there informed them that the pump belonged to the Cabinet Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Tourism, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang. As per records, it was actually allotted to one Ruldu Ram under the Scheduled Caste quota.

Even while the team headed by the District Food and Supplies Controller, Ms Rajwant Kaur, had started taking samples and inspecting the petrol pump, a relative of the Cabinet Minister also reached there.

The agitated local residents present there started raising slogans against the minister. The DFSC, Ms Rajwant Kaur, took samples of petrol and diesel and sealed the petrol pump.

Ruldu Ram, a resident of Morinda, is working with a municipal contractor on daily wages and earns around Rs 2,000 per month. His mother is employed with the Mohalla Sudhar Committee on a salary of Rs 1,000. Despite being owner of a petrol pump, he is facing hard times. He does not have even a cycle to commute.

Only a few months ago, the petrol pump was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr H.I.S Garewal, at a function organised by Mr Kang. He himself was not present there, but his family members, including wife and son, were there.

When contacted, the DFSC, Ms Rajwant Kaur, said the petrol pump had been sealed and test results of the samples were expected in two days. The complaint regarding adulterated fuel was filed by one Mr Sarbjit Singh.

The DFSC said, “I did not know if Mr Jagmohan Kang had anything to do with the petrol pump. She, however, admitted that the in charge of the petrol pump had informed her that it belonged to Mr Jagmohan Kang.”

The Area Reform Committee chairman, Mr Kamal Kishore, who had made a number of complaints in this regard to various officials concerned, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the case.

He said he had taken up the matter with Ms Meera Kumar, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, who had assured him of proper inquiry into the case. Beside, he had sent a complaint to the National Commission for SCs and STs.

When contacted, Mr Jagmohan Kang said he had helped the poor person in getting a petrol pump allotted under the SC quota. “The allegation levelled against me was baseless and I had nothing to do with the petrol pump,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ruldu Ram issued a statement here today claiming that the petrol pump was owned by him and some persons were making false allegations.


Fake identity case: FO reinstated
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur October 20
Forest officials are allegedly protecting the Ferozepore-based forester who has been accused of working on fake identity for past 27 years. After a report was published in these columns, the Chief Conservator of Forests ordered the Conservator of Forests Ferozepore, to take action against the guilty official.

The Conservator of Forests Mr M.S. Dhillon, ordered the suspension of Mr Harbans Singh who was working against the post of Range Officer, Ferozepore Division, on September 29. The orders, however, never reached the office of DFO Ferozepore. After 11 days on October 11, the Conservator reinstated the accused official. In the orders the Conservator has stated that there was a threat of contempt of court due to which he was reinstating the accused official.

However, officials of the office of the DFO, Ferozepore, while speaking on the condition of anonymity alleged that they had not received any court paper in the case of Mr Harbans Singh. Mr Bodh Singh Ghuman, a retired DFO and leader of CPM (Pasla) who initially took up the case, alleged that certain forest officials were hand-in-glove with the accused officer. They were deliberately not taking action against him despite the police inquiry in the case proving the fact that Mr Harbans Singh had faked the identity and cheated the Forest Department for 27 years.

The Conservator of Forests, Ferozepore, Mr M.S. Dhillon, when contacted said, Mr Harbans Singh had been reinstated as no department inquiry had indicted him. About the inquiry report of the police he said he had no knowledge about it. He, however, added that the charge of the forest range had been withdrawn for the accused official.

As reported earlier in these columns, two persons have been serving on two different posts on the basis of a single certificate for the past 27 years.

As per the documents available with The Tribune, Mr Harbans Singh, a Range Officer in Forezepore Forest Division and a JBT having the same name have been allegedly working on the basis of the same certificates for the past 27 years. The real name of one of the accused was Jasbir Singh son of Mr Balwant Singh instead of Mr Harbans Singh.

The real Mr Harbans Singh is a resident of Langiana Khurd village in Ferozepore district. He belongs to the reserve category.

In 1977 Mr Harbans Singh got selected as a JBT teacher as well as Forest Guard against reserve posts. He took up the post of JBT teacher. Another youth of the same village, Mr Jasbir Singh belonging to the Jat community, took advantage of situation allegedly in connivance with the real Mr Harbans Singh.

He joined as Forest Guard and is today working as Range Officer. When the matter came to the fore in 2002, the Forest Workers Union reported the matter to the Ferozepore police. An inquiry was conducted into the complaint by a DSP.

The DSP in his report held that it was a case of fake identity. He alleged that the person working in the Department of Forests was actually Mr Jasbir Singh. On the basis of the findings of the DSP an FIR was registered against the Range Officer.

Mr Harbans Singh, Range Officer Forezepore, when contacted on telephone, however, said that the charges against him were baseless. 


Dullo cautions ticket-seekers
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 20
Sending a strong signal that he means business, the PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today exhorted the party workers and leaders to first set their house in order and then think of fighting the enemy. The “issue-less” Akalis couldn’t stand in the battleground and the party feared its own people, he said.

He was addressing party workers at the local Congress Bhavan here on his first visit to the city after taking over as the PPCC president. He announced that keeping winnability factor in mind he would recommend names of only those who worked for their constituency and the electorate wanted them to re-contest elections in the forthcoming Assembly poll.

He said no “paratrooper” would be allowed to contest elections. In a bid to keep controversies at bay prior to the Assembly elections, he said no minister or MLA would be allowed to interfere in the matters of each other’s ministry or constituency.

Reiterating his resolve to curb factionalism, he said anybody working against the party’s interests would not figure in his list. He said he would visit the city again in the first half of the next month and would meet party workers from all areas separately for two days.

He also made it clear that none of the leaders would sit with him during meetings.

He urged the party workers to build cadres in village on the basis of their population. He asked them to include people from all age groups in the party keeping in view the caste equation in their respective areas.

Following the lines of Left parties in West Bengal, the Congress would issue cards to its party cadres. He said the scheme would be kicked off from Punjab and AICC chief Sonia Gandhi would inaugurate it.

He said terrorism-hit families facing any problem could approach the local Congress office and their grievances would be redressed on priority.

Later, addressing a press conference, he claimed the Congress government had fulfilled its 60 per cent poll promises till now and the remaining would be accomplished within few months.

He said the recruitment of teachers and doctors would be done soon and they would get full job security.

Regarding the employees of closed sugar mills, he said they should be adjusted in some other government institutions.

Mr Dullo also attended Prof Mohan Singh Yadgari Punjabi Sabhyacharak Mela. Chief Parliamentary Secretary Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, DCC chief Anoop Singh, and PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh were also present.


Centre seeks time on turban issue
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 20
Counsel for the Central Government today sought time to seek instructions on the stand of the Government of India on the issue of Sikhs, especially students, in some foreign countries being forced not to wear the turban.

A petition in this regard has been filed by the Singh Legal Foundation through its secretary Hirdey Pal Singh, seeking directions to the respondents to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens in India as also abroad. Saying that there have been many instances of Sikh citizens of India being persecuted and harassed for wearing a turban, which is part of their religious ethos, the petitioner has alleged that the Union Government has not done anything worthwhile to resolve the issue.

Giving the example of some Sikh students in France being directed not to wear the turban to their schools, the petitioner has alleged that the Union Government misled the country by claiming that the issue had been resolved with the French Government and that the Sikh students would be allowed to wear a “patka”.

Referring to a statement made in Parliament by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on August 5, wherein he had said that the French Government had agreed to allow Sikh students to wear “patkas”, the petitioner claimed that no such thing has actually happened. He has claimed that even now Sikh students are not being allowed entry into the classrooms with the turban.

After hearing counsel, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta adjourned the matter to December 15.


Opening of Hussainiwala border sought
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 20
The 27th International Prof Mohan Singh Yadgari Punjabi Sabhyacharak Mela concluded here today. It aimed at promoting Indo-Pak friendship.

The three-day mela, which was organised in the city for the first time, was exploited to the hilt to urge the governments of both countries to open Hussainiwala border.

Four members of National Assembly, Pakistan, Mr Khalid Iqbal Memon (Sindh), Ms Shakila Khanam Rashid (Lahore), Ms Samina Khalid Ghurki and Ms Tahira, also attended the mela for two days.

A local organisation handed over a memorandum to them seeking opening of the Ferozepore-Kasoor border.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Rashid said she belonged to Ferozepore and recalled her days as a student of Class VII at the city’s Arya school.

Ms Ghurki said she would make efforts for opening up of Hussainiwala border. Ms Tahira said she would take up the issue with Pak President Gen Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. She said she would also raise the issue of allowing free flow of Sikh devotees to Kartarpur Sahib. Mr Memon also promised full cooperation on the issue. Ferozepore MLA Sukhpal Singh Nanu also submitted them a memorandum on the issue.

Meanwhile, addressing a gathering on the last day, PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo said the event would strengthen Indo-Pak ties. He expressed hope that Pak President Pervez Musharraf and Indian PM Manmohan Singh would work towards improving relations between the two countries.

Mr Memon said President Musharraf’s announcement of opening LoC for quake relief was a good indication and expressed optimism that Wagah and Hussainiwala borders would be opened for trade soon.

The president of Prof Mohan Singh Foundation, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, announced that next year the mela would be held in Moga, while it would be organised in Barnala in 2007.


Rai Sikhs may get SC status
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 20
The Rai Sikh community will get benefits of Schedule Castes after a Bill is passed in the next session of Parliament, said Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Sports and Youth Affairs), Punjab, after laying the foundation stone of Rai Sikh Bhavan at Dasehra Ground here.

Rana Sodhi said the Congress had forwarded the case for the grant of Schedule Caste status to the Rai Sikhs to the Union Government for notification.

Lauding Rai Sikhs for sacrifice and bravery, Rana Sodhi stated they belonged to border areas but did not leave their houses, and provided support to the Army during the 1965, 1971 Indo-Pakistan wars.

Rana Sodhi said the Akalis were responsible for vitiating atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the state and bringing economy of the state to ruins.

Rana Sodhi distributed Rs 1 lakh grant each from the CM Relief Fund among families of 12 persons belonging to Hazara Singh Wala village, who died when a boat they were in capsized in Satluj couple of months ago.

Mr B.C. Thakur, DC, Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, Mr Anup Singh President, DCC, Mr Ravi Sharma, Capt Jasdeep Sodhi, Mr Anumit Singh, Mr Gurdip Dhillon and other senior Congress leaders were present on the occasion.


Rumours mar Karva Chauth spirit
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 20
Rumours about the Karva Chauth fast not being favourable for newly married women continued to do the rounds today.

While some women did not observe a fast, others said they had followed the remedies given by astrologers.

Navneet Kaur, who observed the fast for the first time, said she would break her fast by seeing a star and not the customary moon.

First-timers apart, other women observed the fast with religious fervour.

A large number of unmarried girls and boys also observed the fast.


10 students hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 20
Twelve persons, including 10 schoolchildren were injured in a road mishap at Dhanaula 10 km from here on the Barnala-Sangrur road yesterday.

According to reports here, a tourist bus carrying schoolchildren overturned at Dhanaula to save a mule-driven rehra (a cart) and a peter engine-driven ‘rehra’ today.

This tourist bus was carrying students of Evergreen Senior Secondary, Bhikhiwind of Amritsar district. The students who received injuries, included Jasvir Kaur, Ravinder Kaur, Amritpal Kaur, Amarvir Kaur, Harjit Kaur, Mandeep Kaur, Arshdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Taranvir Singh and Gurbinder Singh. The injured students were taken to a hospital at Dhanaula where they are undergoing treatment.


Panel formed to put pressure on police
14-year-old untraced since June last year
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 20
A 40-member action committee, comprising representatives of political parties, the Bharatiya Kisan Union and members of various panchayats was formed at Badrukhan village, near here yesterday, to put pressure on the police to trace a 14-year-old Jugraj Singh of Badrukhan village, gone missing since June 4 last year under mysterious circumstances.

A deputation of the committee, including Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, a former Punjab Minister; Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A), Mr Pavittar Singh, district president of the BSP; Mr Prem Singh Swatantar, district committee member of the CPM; Mr Pritam Singh, a leader of the BKU, and Mr Bikar Singh, Sarpanch, Badrukhan village, met the SSP in his office here and submitted a representation in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh said the boy had been seen some time ago by a milk vender in Alipur village (near Nabha) in the house of some persons. The panchayat members of Badrukhan village along with policemen visited Alipur village, but the owners of the house did not allow them entry into their house. After that the police called Alipur residents to the police station and questioned them about Jugraj Singh.

On this, they reportedly admitted that Jugraj Singh had stayed between 15 to 20 days at their house, but later fled. The police then registered a case and arrested Gurbaj Singh, alias Soni, a resident of Alipur village, while Baljinder Singh was at large.

Mr Alloarkh said the SSP assured the deputation that the police would take the necessary steps to trace the missing boy.


Harassment by ST officials alleged

Batala, October 20
Businessmen here feel harassed by the Excise and Taxation Department officials here. Businessmen particularly Mr Dev Raj Chachowalia and Mr Rishi Dutt Gulati, office-bearers of the Beopar Mandal here said Excise officials of Gurdaspur district were harassing traders on alleged illegal directions of district Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner B.S. Bal and were not following norms prescribed under the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act.

Excise officials do not issue detaining orders which is necessary under the law. They take all documents, including driver’s licence etc in possession without assigning reason.

Mr B.S. Bal, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Gurdaspur district said he could not reply on the question. — OC


Labourers electrocuted

Bathinda, October 20
Two labourers engaged in repair at a factory here were electrocuted here today. One of them died, the other was reported to be in a critical condition.

Sources said the victims, Soman and Balkar Singh, both in their 20s, were working on a factory’s wall when they accidentally touched high tension wires passing behind them. They were taken to the Civil Hospital here, where Balkar was declared brought dead and Soman admitted in a critical condition. Sources said the deceased received 80 per cent burns while the latter got 75 per cent burns. — TNS


3 hurt as bus hits bicycle
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 20
Three boys were injured, two of them seriously, as a bus hit a bicycle near Khanpur here today.

The injured — Simranjeet Singh, Bhupinder Singh and Pardeep Singh — were taken to the local Civil Hospital. Dr Pushpinder Sapra, who was on emergency duty, referred Simranjeet Singh and Bhupinder Singh to the PGI, Chandigarh.

It is reported that a Punjab Roadways bus on way to Chandigarh hit the bicycle as it suddenly came on the road. The driver applied brakes but could not stop the bus from hitting the cycle.


High Court
Liquor contractor alleges re-auction of vends illegal
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 20
Liquor contractor Sanjeev Bhandari, who had challenged re-auction of liquor vends of excise districts of Jalandhar-I, Jalandhar-II, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr on November 5, 2004, today alleged that the re-auction was conducted in an illegal manner to benefit the firms of liquor baron Ponty Chadha at the cost of the state exchequer.

During hearing of Mr Bhandari’s petition, his counsel, Senior Advocate Mohan Jain, stated that the exchequer suffered a loss of Rs 11.78 crore in the process.

Re-auction of vends was conducted pursuant to the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Mr Bhandari’s writ.

Mr Jain alleged that the re-auction was conducted by changing the reserve price arbitrarily in contravention of the Punjab Liquor License Rules, 1956. He stated that once the reserve price for the full year had been fixed at Rs 102 per bottle, the government had no powers to revise the same, more so when the petitioner had made a higher bid and also deposited a sum of Rs 6.07 crore which was 5 per cent security deposit for the full year.

He added that the Excise Department lowered the reserve price to the bare minimum — Rs 75 per bottle — so that the bidders who belonged to the group of Mr Chadha could take advantage. After the re-auction, he said, the authorities announced a loss of Rs 17.79 crore and later claimed improvement by reducing the same to Rs 11.78 crore through negotiations with the successful bidders.

After hearing the parties, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta adjourned the case to October 24.


Extend period of relaxation of procurement specifications: govt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
The Punjab Government today urged the Union Government to extend the period of relaxation of specifications for paddy procurement till the end of the procurement season in the state.

Sources said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to the Union Government, which had allowed relaxation of specifications till October 24, to extend the period. The state government had asked for relaxation of procurement specifications in the first week of October following the rejection of large stocks of paddy by procurement agencies.

Conceding the government’s plea, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in its letter dated October 4, had written to it: “Damaged, discoloured, sprouted and weeviled grains may be procured up to a maximum limit of 8 per cent without any value cut.” Earlier, the limit was only 3 per cent.

In the same letter, the Union Ministry had made it clear that the relaxation of specifications would only be up to October 24. Other uniform specifications of paddy, including moisture content, would remain the same. And these relaxations were applicable in the case of the stocks procured on October 4 and thereafter.

Sources said the state government had reached the conclusion that a substantial part of the paddy would come to various grain markets after October 24. And a large part of that paddy is also damaged and discoloured.

Besides, the state government wanted that relaxation of specifications should also be applicable in case of paddy procured before October 4. Paddy in various grain markets had started arriving on September 26. And under pressure from the state government, certain state government agencies had procured paddy which had a high percentage of discoloured grain between September 26 and October 4. Now, the government wanted that relaxation be applicable on that stocks of paddy too.

And the state government under pressure from the Rice Millers has also urged the Union Government to reduce the ratio of recovery of rice from paddy to 64 kg. It is now 67 kg from 100 kg of paddy. Millers have been arguing that as the Union Government had given relaxation regarding damaged and discoloured paddy, there should also be relaxation in case of recovery of rice. 


Cotton stages comeback
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
Cotton has staged a great comeback, as almost all markets in the belt are overflowing with bumper crop.

An impressive export scenario has widened the smiles of cotton farmers and their produce is fetching them fair prices now.

Talking to The Tribune, president of the Punjab Cotton Factories Association Bhagwan Bansal said they had already piled up huge stock in their factories and if the current trend continued, they won’t have enough space to store it, which would lead to glut of crop in the market.

He said with paddy harvest drawing to a close, the picking of cotton would soon pick up, causing flooding of the market with the crop.

He said the quality of cotton arriving in the market was also good and exporters were making a brisk purchase. Major export orders were pouring in from Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan and China, and new exporters were entering into the market every day, he added.

He claimed that China alone was facing a shortage of 2 crore bales. Expressing delight over bumper cotton crop, he claimed that unsold pesticides worth around Rs 200 crore were sent back from Punjab and the state’s farmers had saved Rs at least 250 crore on pesticides this time.

“The farmers can earn more if the state government slashes its 4 per cent market fee, which is probably the highest in the country.”

He added that they had to pay Rs 25,000 per truck as shipment charges for export of cotton.

He added that the opening of Wagah border would benefit them and also farmers, as cotton prices in the state would attain parity with Gujarat.

A factory owner claimed that today’s cotton arrival in North India was 45,000 bales, as against 15,000 bales on the same day last year.

The chairman of export cell, North India Cotton Association, said North India was currently recording an arrival of over 30,000 bales of cotton every day, of which Punjab alone was contributing above 20,000 bales.

He added that there had been a consistent improvement in cotton arrival in the region’s markets. He admitted that such a massive arrival had not been witnessed in the past one decade.

About exports, he said they had received enquiries from Pakistan, but it was yet to translate into business.


Now pomegranates from Abohar
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, October 20
Known for the one-fifth of the cotton produce of Punjab, Abohar will soon be counted among pomegranate exporting areas. Dr Ram Asrey, a scientist at the Central Post Harvest Engineering and Technology Institute, here took the initiative of growing pomegranate in the area in 1999. He planted Mridula, Ganesh, G-137 White Muscat and Jalore seedless varieties of the fruit at the CIPHET research farm. Using the drip irrigation system the saplings were planted at the distance of 5x5 m. Five plants of each variety were allowed to flower and fruit in 2002.

Impressed by the yield of Mridula, a section of farmers bought the saplings from Nasik and Rahuri. Certain scientists had expressed their reservations about this plantation in the arid region, but Dr Asrey preferred to ignore those. Now its cultivation has been recommended for Ferozepore, Sriganganagar and Sirsa districts.

Presently Dr Satyender Kumar and Dr Gautam Mandal are maintaining the pomegranate mother block at the CIPHET and conducting trials on suitable irrigation standards in the area.

The fruit is in demand in the UK, Germany and West Asian countries.


Gurdwara poll on Dec 11
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Elections to the management committees of gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh will be held on December 11.

The Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, Mr Gurdev Singh, said yesterday that the elections would be held under Section 87 (1) (b) of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

The election process would begin on October 21. Nomination papers could be filed by the prospective candidates with the returning officers concerned on any working day between October 21 and November 7 (both days inclusive).


Salary release on Oct 27, 28
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Employees of the Punjab Government will get their salaries for this month on October 27 and 28.

A spokesperson of the Finance Department said this decision had been taken keeping in view the Divali festival, which falls on November, 1.


2 hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 20
Mr Gursewak Singh son of Kewal Singh of Dade Khurd and Gurnek Singh son of Sat Pal Singh of Kang Kothi were wounded seriously in a clash between two groups at Kot Fatuhi village, 38 km from here this afternoon.

According to police sources, Gursewak Singh and Gurnek Singh went on motorcycle and scooter respectively, to adda Kot Fatuhi.

Gurpreet Singh of Bugra village who was already there with his nine friends, allegedly assaulted them with sharp-edged weapons, as a result both were injured.

After injuring them, the assailants escaped. Gursewak Singh and Gurnek Singh were taken to Civil Hospital, Mahilpur from where referred them to Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur.

Enmity was said to be the reason of the clash.


Synthetic milk racket busted
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 20
The police arrested two person on the charge of producing synthetic milk here yesterday. Those arrested were Bhola Singh and Mani Ram.

Addressing a press conference here today, the SSP, Barnala, Mr G. Nageshwar Rao, said he had received information regarding synthetic milk production at Dhanula.

The police and an inspecting member of the Dairy Development Board conducted a raid at a dairy at Dhanula. Bhola Singh and his servant, Mani Ram, were arrested. Some material used for producing artificial milk was also seized.

Mr Rao said Bhola Singh had been running this dairy for the past three years. He used to supply this milk to chilling centres situated in surrounding villages.

The seized milk consignment was meant for a chilling centre situated at Tapa.


Two killed in accident

Ludhiana, October 20
Two persons were killed and 11 others injured when a private tourist bus collided with a tractor trailer at Giaspura Chowk here early today, the police said.

The bus was on way to Amritsar from Delhi, they said. The deceased were identified as bus driver Sunder Lal of Fatehabad and passenger Bandhu Kashyap of Shamli in UP — PTI


Varsity students hold rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
Students of the Law Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, held a rally outside the main library and started a relay fast today on a call of the Punjabi University Students Confederation. Addressing the rally, Dharminder, Patran, district president of the Punjab Students Union, welcomed the university management’s decision to make the department functional from October 24.

The department was shut down last month after the students went on strike demanding the abolition of internal assessment.

The department was partially reopened about 10 days ago.

In the evening the police swung into action and arrested four protestors, including Dharminder Patran. Meanwhile, the Director, Public Relations, today accused student leaders of compelling students of LLB-I to accompany them to a meeting for beginning the chain fast.

The students left the venue and attended their classes, he said.

In view of these circumstances, the university authorities decided to ensure the implementation of the court orders and took precautionary measures, he said. Seven student leaders affiliated to parties who had been regularly violating court orders and indulging in acts of indiscipline were asked to come before a committee to explain their conduct. They have been debarred from the university for a week, he added.


Verka milk set for Mumbai launch
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
The rich and creamy milk from Punjab will soon be available in Mumbai. Verka- the premium brand of MILKFED, Punjab, is all set to launch ready- to- use milk in tetrapacks in the cosmopolitan to cater to the demand of the beverage lovers.

The Chairman of Milkfed, Mr Harpartap Singh Majhail, told TNS that "Premium Punjabi" ultra heat treated (UHT) Verka milk along with two new variants would be available on the shelves of supermarkets and other big stores by next month. It would be priced between Rs 22- 28 per litre depending upon whether it is double toned, toned or premium. The initial market study has proved the preference Mumbaites have for nutritious Punjabi milk. " We already have committed orders of approximately 80,000 litres per month, and the demand will only go up once it is launched," he added.

The Managing Director of Milkfed, Mr Vikas Pratap, said milk lovers in Mumbai who found it hard to get up early to buy their packets of fresh milk would have yet another healthier option in the Verka brand of milk with a shelf life of three months. Listing out the benefits of aseptic technology which is used to pack this milk, he pointed out that it kept milk fresh for months together; conserved taste, color and texture without the use of preservatives and used versatile low cost and eco- friendly packaging material.

"The major market for UHT milk is in metros and big cities since youngsters working in BPOs and call centres will not be able to store these tetrapacks even at room temperature and use it as and when required, said Mr Singh . Tie-ups are also being worked out with shipping agencies, flight operators and the Railways to cater to the demand requirements of their inbuilt pantries. At present Verka UHT milk is available in Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir; Himachal Pradesh and Ahmedabad.

The Army is the largest buyer of this milk in remote areas where the fresh milk is not available. Milkfed has already sold more than 29 lakh litres of UHT milk to the Army and more than 2 lakh ltrs in the open market in the first six months.

On the occasion of Divali, Verka has also introduced six attractive gift hampers in new packings These are already available at all Verka milk bars and day booths, besides prominent retail outlets across the state within the next 2-3 days. The gift packets, the MD, said had received an overwhelming response and we may run out.

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