P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Jobless ETT teachers observe black day
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
New Year began on a dissenting note with activists of the Panchayat Union and the Unemployed ETT Teachers’ Union observing black day in support of their demands here today. The police detained the jobless teachers at Teachers’ Home for a couple of hours to prevent them from gheraoing Finance Minister Surinder Singla who was also in the city. Sources said the police locked up ETT Union activists comprising large number of women as soon as they converged at Teachers’ Home at 10 am. They had announced to burn an effigy of the state government in front of Mr Singla’s local residence.

On the other hand, activists of the Panchayat Union gathered at the Fauji Chowk and they wanted to protest at Dhobi Bazaar. But, the police didn’t allow them to go ahead with their plan. Later, a compromise was reached and the unemployed teachers agreed to the burning of the effigy near Bus Stand. Activists of both unions marched through Mehna Chowk and Court Road before reaching the Bus Stand, where they burnt the state government’s effigy and raised slogans against it. Traffic was also disrupted for half an hour. Police force, including women cops, was deployed to prevent any untoward incident. The Finance Minister was on a visit to the trans Railway area to disburse grants for development and the district administration apprehended that the protesters might gherao him.

Addressing the protesters, state president of Panchayat Union, Sukhdev Singh Bareka, alleged the state government didn’t intend to empower panchayats and only shallow rights had been given to them. He accused the government of running away from extending education and health amenities to common man. Coming out in favour of jobless teachers, he said they should be recruited on regular basis. The state president of ETT union, Mr Jasvinder Singh Sidhu, said the government should recruit teachers on the lines of appointment of ETT batch of 1998 and 2000. He announced that they would hold a separate conference against the government policies at the forthcoming Maghi mela in Muktsar. 


Demands of employees to be met soon: secy
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 1
The Punjab Government is going to concede and implement all the genuine demands of government employees and a high-level meeting with the representatives of the government employees unions is going to take place shortly. The Punjab Employees Federation and its 29 allied associations will hold a massive rally at the Polo Ground in Patiala on February 11 and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will make declaration of acceptance of demands in the rally. This was stated by Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, Political Secretary to the

Chief Minister, while addressing mediapersons here today.

He said Mr Badal was promoting the interests of his family and projecting Sukhbir Badal as Chief Minister. This had created sharp difference among the senior leadership of the SAD (B). Many MLAs, senior leaders and workers are in contact with the Congress to switch over their loyalt, he claimed. The announcement would be made by the Chief Minister shortly.

Mr Barsat said state government was giving concessions to every section of the society and due to the proper planning and public oriented policies, the economic condition of the state had improved and development works were going on large scale.

He further said multinational companies were coming to the state to set up big industrial units, which would generate employment. For the first time farmers had been given eight-hour regular power supply and their produce had been purchased smoothly, he claimed.


Relief to victims meagre: SAD
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 1
Terming the compensation granted to the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims as "meagre", the general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Capt Kanwaljit Singh, yesterday demanded strict action against those leaders indicted by the Nanavati Commission.

Talking to reporters here today, the Akali leader regretted that a committee constituted in the wake of the Nanavati Commission had recommended an amount of Rs 1,100 crore to the riot victims. However, only an amount of Rs 715 crore was announced by the UPA government, which was neither accepted by the victims nor by the SAD, he added.

Answering a question, the Akali leader indicated that the party would contest the elections from the Patiala parliamentary constituency if the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, fought election from here.

Coming down heavily on the Punjab Government for its "anti-people" policies, Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged that the administrative work was seriously affected as there were 90,000 vacancies. He said the SAD would launch a "people's movement" against the "misdeeds" of Amarinder Singh Government.


Inside Babudom
Who will be new Chief Secretary?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Who will be the next Chief Secretary of Punjab will be known only after the State Government names the new Financial Commissioner (Revenue) in place of Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj, who retired yesterday.

Mrs Bajaj (1969 batch) was the seniormost IAS officer of the Punjab cadre after the present Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill (1968 batch). Mr Gill is due to retire on January 31.

Interestingly, all those in the run for the coveted position of Chief Secretary are also in the consideration for appointment as Financial Commissioner Revenue (FCR). Traditionally, the seniormost officer of the cadre is named FCR.

Mr Bikramjit Singh, who remained Principal Secretary to Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janta Party (SAD-BJP) government, is the only officer from the 1969 batch and has only eight months to go for retirement. As such he may be in consideration for the post of FCR.

There will be a tough competition among officers of the 1970 batch for the top administrative secretary’s position. Mr Piyush Kanta Verma, Mr Vishwa Nath Ojha, Mr Kuldip Kumar Bhatnagar, Mr Ashok Kumar Dubey and Mr Bharat Raj Bajaj all belong to this batch.

Mr Ojha will be the first to retire in September this year while Mr Verma will follow him in November. Mr Bajaj, who is the youngest in the group, retires on January 31, 2008.

Also in the run for the post of Chief Secretary is Mr Kura Ram Lakhanpal of the 1972 batch.

Though the Chief Minister is known to name officers for key positions much in advance, this time he appears to be making an exception. Even the new FCR was not named before Mrs Bajaj retired.

According to indications available, those in the run for the post of Chief Secretary are not keen to be considered for the FCR post.

Mr Piyush Kanta Verma is at present Financial Commissioner Development, which again is a key position in the State Administration. Mr Ashok Kumar Dubey, another chief secretarial candidate, has also an alternate option open to him. He has already been empanelled for a key position in the Union Government. He has 22 months to go for superannuation.

Speculations are also afloat about possible assignment for the outgoing Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill. The Punjab Government has not named a new Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission. The post of Chairman of the Power Regulatory Commission, too, has been advertised.


Punjab farmers see profit in castor plantation
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
A major crop diversifying project is set to cover 50,000 acres of land in the cotton belt of the Malwa region of Punjab. After being successful in a three-year experiment to grow the castor plant alongside the Bt cotton plantation, farmers in the state are set to grow castor on commercial basis.

An assured system of buying the castor crop has been put in place in collaboration with a private party. The unique project will be run by Fazilka-based NASA Agro Industries Ltd. The Punjab Agro has stake in it while the Central Silk Board and NABARD are backing the project.

A graphic design on how the castor plant will be used in 50,000 acres in the Fazilka and Ferozepore areas of Punjab.

Called “Navjyoti”, it is a path-breaking and innovative move and will be a Rs 64-crore project. Field trials were conducted under the programme in the past three years by growing a combination of cotton and castor. It was found that the cotton crop was saved as pests were attracted to the castor plant that naturally possesses a chemical called “raisin” which is liked by the pests. “This is just one advantage”, says Mr Sanjeev Nagpal, the man who experimented with the castor crop in his fields and will now implement the project.

Besides saving the cotton crop, poultry farming, sericulture and vermiculture are other income streams for the farmers. All this from the same piece of land.

Mr Nagpal revealed that castor is a host to all sorts of pests as its leaves attract pests. Castor does not need any irrigation or fertiliser. Hence, while the castor takes the pests away from the cotton, the farmer can also generate an additional income from selling the castor seed to solvent extraction companies. Castor has a number of applications which include nylon cord, lubricating oil, waterproof paints, missile fuel, aviation lubrication and satellite lubrication, among others.

Explaining this Mr Nagpal said the pest moves on the ground from the cotton plant to the castor plant. Hence, open farming of poultry was carried out and 500 birds per acre were kept on the fields as they consumed the pests. The poultry became an extra source of revenue for the farmer. Some pests escaped the poultry birds and laid eggs on the castor leaves. Here came the role of sericulture and silkworm rearing was started.

The castor leaves were then plucked from the plant and used as a feed for the silkworms, thus getting rid of the pest at the same time. The income from sericulture was by selling the cocoon to the silk industry.

Mr Nagpal said this would mean an additional income of Rs 10,000 per acre per month through poultry farming and silkworm rearing. Add to this the income from cotton and sale of oilseeds. Also it would mean lower costs because of stopping the use of pesticides, he added.

The NASA Agro is offering an assured buy-back for the produce of the farmer. The company will promote contract farming of cotton, castor and other oilseeds, poultry farming and silkworm rearing.

It will also set up a solvent extraction plant with a crushing capacity of 15,000 tonnes. This will manufacture various grades of castor oil for the domestic market as well as for export.

Mr Himmat Singh, Managing Director, Punjab Agro, says, “An Agro Park is also being planned at Fazilka which will interlink agriculture and agro industries”.


New decimal scientific calendar prepared
Pawan Kumar and Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, January 1
Imagine, every month of the year and every year of all times starting with the first day and ending with the last day of the week and any particular date of any month having the same day of the week.

With this, only one table would show the dates and days of the whole year and of all the years to come, saving huge expenditure on printing diaries or calendars every year.

A retired professor of surgery, Dr Gurdev Singh Girgala, has prepared a calendar, claiming to be the most simplified among the existing calendars. It took about 60 years of his steadfast efforts to make this calendar.

According to this calendar, all months of the year will consist of 30 days each, except the last month, which will have 36 days. However, in every eighth year (every year divisible by eight) and the 401st year, the last month will have 30 days.

With this scheme, the total number of days in the eight-year period of this proposed calendar will be 2922, which is the same as we have at present in the eight-year period of the common Christian era or Gregorian Calendar.

Further, if we let a week be composed of six (instead of seven) days, the whole calendar gets streamlined not only for the decimal system but every date of its every month also gets a particular day of the week allocated to it permanently. All months of all years will always start on the first day of the week and end on the last day of the week. Every week will have five working days and one holiday — all on the pattern of the decimal system. This would also have a stable relationship with seasons, said Dr Girgala.

Dr Girgala pointed out that he had no intention to wean those persons away who are dedicated to seven days on account of sentiment or faith. They would continue to enjoy the legacy of these seven days even if the proposed calendar was adopted. Six days a week are constituted to highlight the unique uniformity of days with dates.

There will always be 25 working days and five holidays in the first 11 months and 30 working days and six holidays in the last month. In every eights year, all months will have 25 working days and five holidays.

He said the calendar of the 21st century and of the third millennium would have to cope with calculators and computers. It will have to utilise fixed and constant figures and decimal system as far as possible. He opined that the world had replaced all old measures of length and weight by measures computable by fraction or multiples of 10 (by milli, centi, deci, meter, grams, deca, hecto, kilo etc) series.


Community policing scheme proves successful
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
An experimental project started by the Punjab Police in Khanna has been a hit. In September, the police started community policing by youth of the area and asked the residents to pool in a small amount each month to pay the salaries. Such has been the response that the police has decided to extended the project to nine other districts in the state.

The Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, will witness a parade by these community police officers (CPOs) on January 2 at Khanna and inaugurate the project. Police officials said groundwork had started in other districts for an early launch.

Under the scheme, each family of the area pays just Re 1 every day for availing itself of the services, said Mr Naunihal Singh, SSP, Khanna. In all, about 29,700 households were members of the community policing scheme and it employed 377 youth. Another 500 would be recruited soon, said the SSP, who was here today to fine-tune the preparations for the approaching function.

The youth would be provided with mobile phones for easier access and availability. About 350 handsets had been purchased. About 240 computers, including some laptop computers, had been bought to create a data base, the SSP told The Tribune.

The security men were not officially part of the Punjab Police but had been trained like policemen. They had their own uniform and ranks. At present, these youth were paid Rs 2,100 per month and had eight-hour shifts. Mr Naunihal Singh said: “ I want their wages to be increased”. In major cities the amount given to private security men was lower for doing longer duties, claimed the SSP, adding that there was scope for employing youth on better wages in bigger cities.

The police got a survey done and found that 99 per cent of the residents expressed faith in the system. The idea of having visible and preventive security seemed to have worked. However, the police had not planned to provide these youth with arms.

Four months ago, the experiment started with just 27 security personnel. A private security company was engaged to provide security personnel for the purpose. An initial study by the police found that in many theft cases, private employees deployed for security purposes were involved in the cases. In most cases the employer did not have a proper address. Keeping this in view, the police had arranged a full biodata of the security personnel.

The success of the system can be gauged from the fact that CPOs have solved several cases of theft in Khanna city.


Sabzi mandi conflict remains unresolved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 1, 2006
The sabzi mandi conflict spilled into the New Year, with mandi traders and municipal corporation (MC) trading allegations and counter-allegations.

While the fruit Vegetable Merchants Union president Harbans Singh Kamboj wrote to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, alleging that MC employees had instigated violence between the police and the traders, the MC commissioner refuted this.

The union stated that the MC employees pelted stones on the police and traders to encourage aggression that led to violence on December 28 when the traders had reached the old sabzi mandi to hold an akhand path there.

MC Commissioner KS Kang, when contacted, said the allegations were “false” and “misleading”. The union claimed to have a video proof of the episode. However, the Commissioner countered that he too had video clips to show that traders had initiated the stone pelting.

Buttressing his claim, he said the MC employees bore injuries in the incident, while traders were not harmed. The Commissioner alleged that the motive behind bringing the holy book to the site by traders was to take possession. Performing path at the centre of the mandi — the area under government possession — clearly indicated their intention.

The Commissioner said that traders were “misinterpreting” court orders to take possession. He said the MC had made concerted effort along with the district administration to get the “illegal occupancy” vacated after the lapse of the lease. He said a round-the-clock vigil was kept on the mandi site to thwart attempts at repossession.

The union wrote to the CM to take a suo motu action against the high-handedness of the MC. However, the MC felt that efforts that went into the reclaiming of land could come to a naught if the district administration showed laxity in the matter.

The traders alleged that the MC had ulterior motives to make use of the land for some other purpose. Following the demolition in June last year, a part of the sabzi mandi was shifted to Vallah on the outskirts of the city.


Girl cadets shine at parasailing show
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 1
The parasailing and the first time experience of firing by NCC cadets at the Gobindgarh Fort, here today enthralled the onlookers. First-time parasailing, especially, by Girl cadets was thrilling experience for them which marked the New Years celebrations.

The aero-model flying at the annual training camp of Punjab Air Squadron NCC, Amritsar, was memorable for the participants. The event was held in the Fort of Maharaja Ranjit Singh period, which is likely to be handed over to the state government shortly. General public could not watch these aero-skills since it is still under the Army’s control.

New Year breeze helped parasailing, said Wing Commander K.S. Saini, Camp Commandant . He said cadets from out-stations were preferred since they might not be able to get such an opportunity again. Cadets from girls Battalion were also invited to experience parasailing.

Air Cadet Nidhi Handa felt that para-sailing was not only adventurous but also helped reduce and remove height-fear. Air Cadet Sakshi Sharma said that she recollected Hrithik Roshan in “Main Prem Diwani Hoon” in the successful second attempt despite receiving a minor fall in the aborted first attempt .

Mr U.S. Aulakh, NCC Aero-modelling instructor of the unit thrilled air cadets by his remote-control model flying. He displayed micro-second precision when he synchronized model flying just above the parachute of the parasailer. He entertained air cadets with aerobatic manoeuvres of vertical climb, loop, inverted flying, rolling and diving. For most of the Air Cadets, the first-time experience of firing was a dream come true. They were overjoyed to aim and shoot with live arms and ammunition.


Jawan cremated with state honours
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
The body of Army jawan Jagsir Singh, who attained martyrdom in a landmine blast in the Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, was consigned to the flames with full state honours at Talwandi Sabo today.

Three other Army jawans were injured in the incident that took place yesterday.

A large number of local residents paid their last respect to Jagsir Singh with moist eyes.

His body was brought to his residence in an Army vehicle at 9 am today. The entire township plunged into gloom.

His father, Mr Malkit Singh, lit the pyre.

Major Neeraj Gupta from the Army, Talwandi Sabo SDM Kamal Kishore Yadav and DSP Jaspal Singh paid floral tributes to the martyr.

Jagsir’s regiment extended a financial aid of Rs 35,000 to his family. Representatives of various social and political organisations participated in his funeral.


Durgiana cautions against “fake” receipts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 1
The Durgiana Temple management today cautioned against fake receipts of donations for “shobha yatra” scheduled for January 7 from here.

In a press conference here today, the management president, Mr Surinder Arjun, gave a call to the donors to beware of fake representatives of the temple who might collect donations in the name of “shobha yatra”. He clarified that no receipts had been published by the temple management, hence no donation should be made for the yatra. He further appealed to the donors to report about any such person indulging in collections for temple.

The “shobha yatra” was to install “akhand jyoti” of Sri Vaishno Durga Mata at the Durgiana Temple. About 25 kirtan mandalis would accompany the yatra, he added.


Singla promises potable water for Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
The trans-railway colonies in the town would start receiving clean drinking water before March 31, announced Finance Minister Surinder Singla here today.

The minister laid the foundation stone of a water pipeline laying work and a new block comprising six rooms at a government school in the Parasram Nagar locality.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, he said the state government had released Rs 7 crore for development in the town whose entire population would get potable water before August 31. He said to provide all required amenities to the residents, an agenda would be prepared in consultation with the administration officials and funds would be allotted for the same.


high court
HC asks Punjab to frame rules
Leave of Consumer Forum members
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab government to decide the representations of two full-time members of the District Consumer Forum, Kapurthala, regarding entitlement of casual/earned leave within three months.

Disposing of the petition filed by Mr Sushma Handoo and Ms Sudha Sharma, seeking directions to the respondents to refund the portion deducted from their honorarium in lieu of leave taken by them, the Bench comprising Mr Justice J.S. Narang and Mr Justice Baldev Singh directed the respondents, including the Punjab Government, to take a “conscious and cautious” decision on the representations of the petitioners.

The Bench also said that it would be appreciated if the decision was taken after giving the petitioners the opportunity of being heard and the respondents must pass a speaking order on the representations.

In their petition, the two full-time members of the District Consumer Forum, Kapurthala, had, apart from seeking refund of the honorarium deducted in lieu of leave taken by them, also sought directions to the respondents to frame rules regarding leave, etc, of whole-time members of the forum.

The petitioners had earlier also made representations to the government and other authorities in this regard.

In their representations, they had stated that the Consumer Protection Act, under which they had been appointed, did not deal with the issue of leave, etc. In the absence of such rules, they had added, the Punjab Civil Services Rules, which clearly earmarked fixed casual and earned leaves for the employees, must apply in their case.

They had also said that while they were being denied leave on flimsy grounds, the President of the Forum, who had also been appointed under the Act, was being granted the facility.


Man found murdered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 1
Ramesh Kumar (35), a resident of local Mubarak Mehal Colony, was murdered with a sharpedged weapon near the main bus stand here last night.

Mr Bahadur Singh, a resident of Sanghrerri village, near Bhawanigarh, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital in an injured condition.

Ramesh Kumar and Bahadur Singh were found lying on the road (near main bus stand).

Giving this information this evening, the police said it had registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC against unidentified persons in this regard.

In another case, Darshan Singh (20), a resident of Gaggarpur village, near here, died in the local Civil Hospital last night. He was admitted there in a serious condition. He had allegedly consumed some poisonous substance.


Gang of power cable robbers busted, five held
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 1
The police has busted a gang of power cable robbers and arrested five members of the gang who were involved in about a dozen such cases in Moga and Faridkot districts.

Sources said the CIA staff in charge, Mr Tehal Singh, and his team caught these robbers following a tip-off that they were on their way to sell off power cables in the town. They had also stolen aluminium cables from Rauke Kalan village on December 10.

During interrogation they confessed to stealing power cables and selling to scrap dealers, Krishan Lal and Brij Lal, of Moga.

The police also seized power cables worth Rs 50,000 from their possession. According to an estimate, they had stolen about 28 quintals of power and telephone cables, which were worth about Rs 3.25 lakh.


Gangman crushed to death under train
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
A gangman lost his life when he was run over by a train at Katar Singh Wala station. Sahara volunteers rushed to the spot and informed the GRP about the incident.

Sources said the deceased, Niranjan Singh, got crushed under the train when he was removing stray cattle from the rail track. His body has been handed over to his family members after a postmortem examination.


College clash leaves one injured
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 1
Two students were injured in a fight between two groups of the local Sewa Deva S.D. College. The condition of Gurnaib Singh of Piddi is said to be critical.

The local police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 325, 148 and 149, IPC, against Nirvail Singh, Rajinder Singh, Bhaga, Ranjit Singh Bhalwan, Rama, Manoj and seven more.

The complainant has alleged that the students led by Nirvail and armed with hockey sticks and bats had attacked him and others, injuring Gurnaib Singh.


Surgeons burn copies of degrees
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
As part of the ongoing agitation the House Surgeons Association, Punjab, took a pledge by lighting candles in front of the statue of the founder of the Praja Mandal Movement Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala to continue their struggle for justice.

The surgeons later burnt photocopies of their MBBS degrees as part of their ongoing agitation which entered the third day. They are demanding a hike in the monthly pay of Rs 4800 which they described as meager and even less than the pay of class IV employees.

They demanded pay hike at par with their counterparts at Sector-32, Government Medical College.

Dr Gurpreet Singh, president of House Surgeons Association, also deplored the Punjab government’s decision to recruit PCMS doctors on contract basis through zila parishads. They said that such recruitment will expose them to arm-twisting and exploitation by politicians and their hench men controlling these Zila Parishads.

They maintained that such a situation will compromise their impartiality while performing medico legal duties and will severely hamper the process of justice of which medico legal and postmortem duties performed by doctors were vital for granting of justice to the victims.

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