P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Departments told not to interfere in Vigilance cases
Chief Secretary’s directive
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Taking umbrage at the practice of departmental heads shielding corrupt employees from the Vigilance Bureau, the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, has issued written instructions that there should be no interference in the work of the Vigilance Bureau.

Crucially, the Chief Secretary has asked that the mandatory “permission to prosecute” employees, who had been nabbed in corruption cases by the bureau, should be given promptly.

The letter, the first of its kind written by the Chief Secretary, who is also the Chief Vigilance Officer of the state, was circulated last Friday. It has been sent to all Financial Commissioners and all Principal Secretaries and also to the Administrative Secretaries.

More than 100 cases of “permission to prosecute” are pending and repeated requests of the Vigilance Bureau in this regard are regularly turned down as the employees are virtually “off the hook”. Without this permission the bureau cannot even file a charge sheet in court.

The Chief Secretary has noted that it had been brought to his notice that departments started their own inquiry when the Vigilance Bureau asked for permission to prosecute the corrupt officials. Such a system of inquiries by the departments was wrong, the Chief Secretary maintained.

Sources in the Punjab Government stated that the Chief Secretary had been apprised of the fact that various departments of the state government were seemingly “protecting” corrupt employees from facing the law.

The “modus operandi” to shield the employee is simple. Whenever a permission to prosecute a tainted employee is sought, the bureau is informed that a departmental inquiry was on against the said employee to probe the charges of corruption. Needless to say these departmental inquiries are never completed or they give a “clean chit” to the employee. The Chief Secretary had been apprised of this situation which led to the recent directive.

Using discretion, several departmental heads of the government have used this method to save tainted employees, who had been caught taking bribes by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the past two years.

More than 25 cases are of the employees who had been nabbed more than two years ago but could not be charged in court as their parent departments were “not cooperating”.

The principal violator is the Health Department which was yet to give permission to prosecute 12 doctors. Doctors from Moga, Muktsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Bathinda have been nabbed. Sources point out that this is not an exception as the Punjab State Electricity Board follows a close second. The department has denied permission to prosecute about 12 SDOs, five Executive Engineers, one Deputy Chief Engineer and one Superintending Engineer. The Revenue Department has ‘‘saved’’ its own Patwaris and Tehsildars from facing trial.

A couple of Junior Engineers of the irrigation wing are facing charges of having assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. A senior functionary of the transport department has also availed the ‘‘benefit of the departmental inquiry.”

The bureau had shot into limelight when it dealt the alleged corruption cases of former Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravi Sidhu and of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. 


Dismayed at corruption, NRI to donate IT institute
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 10
Red tape and corruption have dismayed 89-year-old NRI Lajpat Rai to such an extent that he has decided to donate his prestigious Swami Sarvanand Giri Institute of Information and Technology located at Bajwara, a suburb of Hoshiarpur city, to Panjab University, Chandigarh. He had recently written to the Vice-Chancellor of the university in this regard.

Talking to this correspondent at his institution here today, Mr Lajpat Rai, who is still quite active, said that he had a strong ambition to provide job-oriented education to the poor students of this backward district of Hoshiarpur, which once led in education. He had opened Swami Sarvanand Giri Institute to provide latest technology and job-oriented education to poor students in the memory of his Guru. A beautiful complex on 11 acres was constructed at a cost of Rs 20 crore along with a charitable hospital for the poor of the area. A course in computer engineering was started with the partnership of California State University, Fresno (USA), in 2001, followed by the introduction of Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) in affiliation with Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar.

To promote further technical education, he had obtained a letter of intent from the All India Council of Technical Education for starting classes of computer engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and electronic and communication engineering from the forthcoming academic session.

While describing his bitter experiences to get cleared any of the course for his institution, he said he had been compelled by the authorities concerned to grease their palms. Nepotism and favouritism was prevailing everywhere. He said he had spent a major part of his life in the USA, where there was little corruption.

He left India in 1965 when there was little corruption. But to his surprise, he found corrupt officials everywhere now. “Without greasing the palms of the officials concerned, one could not get his work done in India,” he categorically said.

He further said he had also sought permission to start law classes in his institution from Panjab University. He was also running a charitable hospital adjoining the institute to provide free health facilities to the inhabitants of the area. He had an earnest desire to make possible for the poor to undergo heart surgery in his charitable hospital on nominal rates.

Replying to a question, he said he would donate the entire complex of institution having all types of modern amenities to Panjab University only in case its syndicate accepted conditions, including running of all aforesaid classes and the charitable hospital. He had also offered Rs 6 lakh annually for the purchase of medicines for the hospital. He would double this contribution if the university authorities introduced surgery in it.


Uttaranchal Government repressing Sikhs: Badal
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 10
The Congress government in Uttaranchal has totally failed to protect the human rights of the Sikhs settled in Kashipur and the Chief Minister, Mr Narain Dutt Tiwari, has been unable to perform his constitutional duty to safeguard the interests of the Sikhs in Uttaranchal. Mr Parkash Singh Badal stated this while addressing a huge gathering of Akali leaders, workers and supporters at the residence of former Irrigation Minister, Mr. Janmeja Singh Sekhon, here today.

Mr Badal said after 1984 anti-Sikh riots, this was for the second time in history that the Congress had unleashed large-scale oppression on the Sikhs. He said if the Punjabi Sikhs settled in Kashipur were not given immediate relief, all political parties would jointly launch a protest against the Congress regime in Uttaranchal. He along with his party MPs, MLAs and leaders would go to Kashipur on January 23 to take stock of the situation and extend solidarity to the affected people.

While launching scathing attack against Capt Amarinder Singh’s government, Mr Badal said the days of the Congress regime in the state were numbered. He said pseudo exit polls were not going to help the Congress and as per his reports, the Congress would not get anything more than 15 seats in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections in the state.

Mr Badal said all segments of society, including employees, farmers, traders, teachers, doctors or the poor, were fed up with the erroneous and anti-people policies of the Congress government. Addressing the rally, Mr Sekhon said the Congress government had not kept any of the promises made in the election manifesto and had played with the emotions of the Punjabis. He said various developmental works undertaken during the previous Akali-BJP regime had come to a grinding halt. Mr Hari Singh Zira, MLA, Mr Paramjit Singh, Mr Sher Singh, both former MLAs, besides scores of SGPC Members and SAD leaders also addressed the rally.


4 killed as car falls into canal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 10
Four youths in their early twenties were killed when their car fell from the Vallah bridge into the Upper Bari Doab Canal on the Verka bypass here this morning.

According to police sources, they were driving a Honda City car (PB-02A-0666) and lost control of the vehicle on the bridge leading to the accident. The policemen posted at Vallah police chowki rushed to the spot on learning about the incident and started rescue operations. Three boys died on the spot, while the fourth one succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital.

The deceased were Nitin Dhand, a son of Kesar Lal Dhand of Mohindra Colony, Court Road, Amritsar, Dhruv Kumar Kirpal (24), a son of Dr K.C. Kirpal of Amritsar, Pankaj Sharma of Sandhole, Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh, and Parveen of Galotra, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

According to the police, all the four boys were returning to their homes after attending a function at Forest Resort, near Verka, 8 km from here. Dhruv Kumar Kirpal was the only son of his parents.

The Vallah police has registered a case.


Welcome gates to be built at Indo-Pak border
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
Welcome gates were proposed to be built through kar seva for pilgrims to Nankana Sahib during the forthcoming commencement of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus.

This was disclosed by Baba Amrik Singh of Baba Jagtar Singh Karsevawaley, who had recently created the gold “palki” for Nankana Sahib . However, the Baba denied handing over the collections offered during “palki” procession from Delhi to Nankana Sahib to the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (PSGPC) and cleared that the collection was not Rs 65 lakh as claimed by some persons. He said the collected amount would be used for kar seva on Chuna Mandi Gurdwara, birthplace of Guru Ram Dass in Lahore, and the holy sarovar of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib.

The baba said they were making efforts for permission from the Pakistan Government to construct a similar welcome gate on the Pakistan side. 


Pak art college delegation arrives
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
A 37-member delegation of the National College of Arts, Lahore (Pakistan), including eight teachers, arrived in India to take first hand information of prevailing and old forms of arts in the country.

Prof Shahnaz Malhi of the college, who is heading the delegation, said it was a great opportunity for students of her college to closely watch art forms here.


Punjab changes school timings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Keeping in view the extreme cold and hostile weather conditions prevailing in the northern region, the Punjab Government has decided that all government schools in the state will open at 10 am instead of 9 am till January 31.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Harnam Das Johar, School Education Minister said the cold wave was causing extreme difficulties for the people especially students. It had been decided to open all elementary and secondary schools by one hour late i.e. from 9 am to 10 am and double shift school timing has been changed from 7:45 am to 8:45 am. He clarified that only the opening timings had been changed but the closing time of all the government schools would remain the same as per the schedule already being implemented.


BJP to hold rallies from Jan 16
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will hold nine ‘jan jagran’ rallies in Punjab between January 16 and March 9, said state BJP President Avinash Rai Khanna at a press conference prior to the party’s zonal meeting here today.

The party would hold a farmers’ rally at Fazilka on February 4, in which the party President Rajnath Singh would participate, he said.

Mr Khanna said the party President would address conferences of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bawaria community during the Maghi Mela on January 13.

He said a six-member team of the state BJP would leave for Kashipur today to take stock of the situation.

Regarding the SAD move to forge an alliance with other like-minded parties, he said the BJP had not received any such proposal from the SAD so far, adding that the SAD-BJP alliance would continue.

On his party’s claim on Assembly seats for the poll, he said it would be too premature to state anything on the matter and a joint team of the SAD and the BJP would be formed to finalise the seat-sharing arrangement.

He criticised the state government’s move to give 2 per cent job reservation to Christians and said there was no arrangement in the Constitution to extend job reservation on the basis of religion.

Taking the Congress government to task, the state BJP chief alleged that the promises on which the ruling party won the last poll remained unfulfilled.


Youth Akali Dal holds protest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 10
Youth Akali Dal leaders in the district came together in protest against the pulling down of billboards carrying pictures of a Shiromani Akali Dal MP, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, by the Municipal Corporation, Patiala, recently. A large procession, led by Mr Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, started from Lakkar Mandi and culminated at Anardana Chowk, the nerve centre of the town, yesterday.

Mr Amarjot Singh Punia, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Tohra, Mr Nardev Singh Akri, Mr Sukhman Singh Sidhu, Mr Jaswant Singh Tiwana and Mr Kulwinder Singh Lovely came together on a platform to lodge a protest against the “high-handedness” of the local municipal corporation, which, they alleged, acted as a puppet in the hands of the Congress government while removing the billboards.

Mr Lovely challenged the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, to remove another board. Thanking the crowd for its suppport, Mr Kohli said he was confident of winning the battle to get the boards reinstalled. Having a dig at Congress leaders, he said it was out of sheer frustration and fear that the Congress had stooped so low. He said the fear of Mr Sukhbir Badal’s influence had made local Congress leaders remove the hoardings.

Addressing the rally, Mr Punia demanded a response from the Commissioner’s office, alleging that double standards were being adopted in pulling down boards of the SAD in the Chief Minister’s home town.

Mr Harinder Pal Singh Tohra lambasted the corporation for the manner in which the issue was handled. Mr Faujinder Singh Mukhmailpur assured Mr Kohli that he was not alone in the fight to get the billboard reinstalled. He said the Youth Akali Dal was behind him.


Attack on scribe flayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists has strongly condemned the brutal attack on Punjabi Tribune journalist Charanjit Bhullar in Bathinda yesterday.

Union state president Vinod Kohli, in a statement here today demanded that the matter should be thoroughly probed as it was an attack on the freedom of the Press.

The union has expressed concern over the increasing attacks on journalists in Punjab. It has demanded that the government should ensure protection to the journalists.

Amritsar: The Amritsar Working Journalists Association at its meeting here yesterday condemned the murderous attack on Mr Charanjit Singh Bhullar, a Punjabi Tribune journalist from Bathinda by certain persons at Mandi Kalan village in Bathinda district.

Mr Shammi Sareen, general secretary of the association while presiding over the meeting sought the immediate arrest of those responsible for the attack.

He held the administration responsible for attack on the journalist and demanded security for him and his family.

He said the association would provide financial help to the victim.


CM seeks report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Taking a serious note of the murderous attack on Bathinda based Punjabi Tribune reporter Charanjit Singh Bhullar, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today asked the Punjab Police Chief, Mr S.S. Virk, to submit a report in this connection within three days.

Mediapersons raised the issue of attack on Mr Bhullar at a press conference addressed by the Chief Minister here today. Mr Bhullar, who has been admitted to a hospital in Rampura Phul, was attacked by unidentified persons.

He was beaten up with iron rods. He has suffered injuries on his head and other parts of the body.


Horse gifted to CM sent to Phillaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 10
After passing through three rounds of clinical tests, ‘Sunny the kid’, the chestnut-coloured four-year-old horse gifted by Mr Parvez Ilahi, Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, has been sent to Phillaur by Delhi-based quarantine officials of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The horse was sent to India through Wagah on December 17 following the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office after a number of legal wrangles.

The horse had not been allowed to be sent by road by the Indian authorities on the grounds that India was a livestock-disease-free country, contrary to Pakistan, which fell in the disease-prone zone.

After the horse had been sent to India, it was taken to the quarantine station of the Ministry of Agriculture, near the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, where it was kept for three weeks for checking and for covering the gestation period of certain common equine diseases.

During this period, its blood samples were subjected to three-layered laboratory tests thrice by the ministry’s Quarantine Officer, Dr Rajiv Khosla, as per norms fixed by the Government of India.

The results of all tests were negative and the horse was found not to be suffering from common equine diseases like African horse sickness, glanders and equine influenza.

After the completion of all formalities, the 16-hand-tall horse was sent to the Police Training Academy at Phillaur this morning.


CM extends Eid greetings

Chandigarh, January 10
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today extended greetings to the Punjabis, especially the Muslim brethren, on the eve of Eid-ul-Zuha (Bakrid).

In a message, Capt Amarinder Singh said this unique festival symbolises love, sacrifice, goodwill, compassion and trust. He said these values should enrich our composite culture, strengthen our unity and harmony and inspire us to work for the overall development and growth of humanity. — TNS


Amarinder releases New Year diary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today released the Punjab Government Diary for the year 2006, published by the Information and Public Relations Department here. The diary also has the telephone numbers of the officials posted here and in various districts.

The minister along with Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also released another diary for the government staff.

Prominent among those present on the occasion include Minister for Printing and Stationery Sardool Singh, Adviser to the Chief Minister B.I.S. Chahal, Principal Secretary, Information and Public Relations D.S. Jaspal and Director Information and Public Relations B.S. Sudan.


“Govt must step in to save ghazal”
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 10
“Despite having been ignored for long by the powers that be and common people, ghazals still captivates youngsters due to its beauty, sensitivity, dynamism and purity.”

These are the feeling of Janab Parveen Kumar Ashq, an internationally acclaimed Pathankot based poet, who, is so obsessed with ghazals that he never forgets to term it as a “reflection of God.”

Janab Parveen Kumar Ashk has three ghazal collections- “Dar Badar,” “Chandni Ke Khatoot, a number of awards including, ‘Shahanshah-E-Ghazal’ award by the Punjab Chief Minister in 2001, Firaq Gorakhpuri Award by the Bihar Voluntary Literary Council, ‘Ghazal Bhaskar’ Award by Kavya Ganga Organisation, Bihar Urdu Academy, Bengal Urdu Academy Award, Punjab Language Department Award on his book, “Chandni Ke Khatoot” and the “Ghazal Hero Award” by Pathankot based ‘Funkaar International’ to his credit.

Besides, his ghazals have been published in over 150 newspapers and magazines of Urdu across the world and he has been interviewed a number of times on DD and by the BBC, London.

“Despite the fact that Urdu poetry is on the decline due to indifference of governments, and lack of interest among common people, Ghazal still commands respect amongst the younger generation. Youngsters might not understand the language, but they are able to make out subtle nuances of ghazal.

That Janab Ashk is obsessed with ghazal is clear when he says ghazal is, “nectar, which, flows through his veins as my father Kanwal Hoshiarpuri has been a doyen of Urdu literature. Ghazal is a replication of God for me. I have been worshipping it for over 33 years since I started scribbling couplets in 1973 after the death of my father.”

“But what pains me the most is that, in general, people of Punjab don’t try to understand ghazal. Nowadays it has become dependent on cassettes. Me and other people are putting in their blood and toil to save Urdu as well as ghazal, but, people and governments of north India have to make sustained efforts in this direction.

The Languages Department, has been ignoring me despite my unparalleled contribution, to Urdu and ghazal.

Though, I hardly attach any importance to worldly acclaims and awards, I am feeling relieved by airing my hurt feelings openly,” says Janab Ashk, who, has been associated with music directors like Anand Raj Anand, Hary Anand and Ravinder Jain and whose songs have been rendered by singers like Amar Noorie and Sardool Sikandar.


34 villages to get potable water
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 10
Thirtyfour villages in the district will be provided clean drinking water at a cost of Rs 10.42 crore.

The project is expected to be completed by March 31, 2007, said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.I.S Garewal, here today.

Giving details about the scheme, Mr Garewal said NABARD had agreed to provide Rs 8.86 crore while the state government would provide Rs 1.56 crore for the project.

He added that so far 132 villages in the district had been provided clean drinking water at a cost of Rs 41.51 crore.

Meanwhile, the DDM, NABARD, Mr Dinesh Kapila, said besides Ropar, other districts where water would be provided included Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar at a cost of Rs 98.73 crore.


Power cuts add bite to cold
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 10
The cold wave, coupled with dense fog, continues to disrupt life in the district. Unscheduled power cuts are adding to the woes of the people.

Drivers on the National Highway-21 are having a tough time here due to poor visibility during the morning and evening hours triggered by the fog.

People in rural areas have been facing power cuts for more than six hours while those in cities between two and four hours. The power consumption in the state is about 850 lakh units while the supply from all sources is about 750 lakh units.

Although the sun appeared for about two hours today, it did not provide the much needed relief from the bone-chilling cold. Most people preferred to remain indoors.

Students in government schools continued to suffer due to the cold. Parents have demanded that either the timings of the schools be changed or the authorities should declare holidays for a few days keeping in view the unprecedented cold. Only one school run by the administration in Ropar city has declared holiday for schoolchildren from nursery to Class V. 


CMO’s staff to get land in periphery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced that PUDA would soon allot a piece of land for the staff working in the Chief Minister’s Office somewhere in the periphery around Chandigarh under the cooperative housing societies scheme.

Sharing greetings with the staff of CMO for the New Year over a cup of tea, the Chief Minister further said that he was alive to the problems of the employees and assured them that he would accord top priority to the same.

He said that he would personally ensure that land was allotted to the staff to enable them to construct their dwelling units. 


Akal Takht honours Sikh scholar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
Dr. Raghbir Singh Bains of Canada was today honoured by Akal Takht for propagating Sikh religion and philosophy in the world through multimedia.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, bestowed Dr. Bains with the title of ‘Sikh Scholar of Computer Age’ at a religious function organised at the Takht.

Dr. Bains prepared a “Encyclopaedia of Sikhism” which was released in 1997 by Mr. Jean Cherian, the then Prime Minister of Canada. “Multimedia Sikh Museum” at Khadoor Sahib near here was his brainchild.

The Kes Sambhal Prachar Sanstha, a socio-religious organisation, congratulated Dr. Bains for receiving the honour. 


Farmers gherao SSP office
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 10
Hundreds of farmers under the banner of the Joint Kisan Manch gheraoed the office of the SSP here yesterday against the police atrocities and the alleged anti-people policies of the state government. As a result the normal traffic was affected for hours as the farmers sat on the main road to lodge their protest.

Mr Balraj Singh Bhail, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, and Mr Davinderjit Singh Dhillon, leaders of the Kisan Sangarash Committee, the Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta) and the Punjab Kisan Sabha, respectively, while addressing the farmers condemned the government policies and the police atrocities being committed on the farmers while taking part in the agitation boycotting the power bills. They condemned the police for not detecting the theft case in the house of Mr Satnam Singh Pannu even after a year had passed.

The SSP, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, assured the leaders that the police would take all the necessary measures to detect the theft.


Inconvenience in buying revenue stamps
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 10
Residents of Barnala region are facing difficulty in procuring revenue stamps from the treasury office.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, the revenue stamps are only available in the treasury office, Barnala, whereas earlier the stamps could be procured from post offices in the region. The public found it very convenient to get revenue stamps from their nearby post office branches.

Dr Jasvir Singh Daangon, Municipal Councillor, Barnala, and Mr Pritam Singh Toni, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Barnala circle, while highlighting this grievance, regretted that residents of Barnala region and surrounding areas like Bhadaur, Tapa, Dhanaula, Mehal Kalan, Shehna, Tallewal, Sanghera and Handiaya had to face inconvenience in procuring revenue stamps.

Dr Daangon and Mr Toni expressed surprise that the courts complex post office, Barnala, and the post office, near the old courts complex had been given stamp papers for sale but ironically revenue stamps could only be procured from the treasury office.

They demanded that post office branches should be allowed to sell revenue stamps.


3 hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 10
Three persons, including two women, were seriously injured in a road accident here yesterday.

According to information, Pooja Rani and Seema, both residents of Gajju Kheri village, near here, were injured when their rickshaw was hit by a commercial vehicle.


Delimitation Commission to hear grievances
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 10
The Delimitation Commission will hear grievances and suggestions about new Assembly segments in Ropar district and also the Lok Sabha constituency on January 18 in Patiala.

Anyone interested can submit his application with the District Election Commissioner office till January 14, according to the Deputy Commissioner and District Election Commissioner, Mr H.I.S Garewal.


12 traders released on bail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 10
As many as 12 Sabzi Mandi traders, arrested during a scuffle between the police, traders and MC employees, were let-off on bail, today. The fruit and vegetable union stated, here.

The traders had been at loggerheads with the Municipal Corporation over their alleged displacement and had been fighting legal battles against the department.

On December 28, the members attempted to hold a path of Guru Granth Sahib at the old Sabzi Mandi after receiving the Punjab and Haryana High Court order. However, the MC and the district administration, which had got the prime area vacated, opposed the move. This led to a scuffle in which the police had to resort to mild lathi-charge.


Kinnow show delays survey of damaged crop
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 10
Even as potato and tomato growers of the state are lamenting large-scale losses to their crops due to persistent fog and frost, the entire Horticulture Department has been busy in a kinnow show in Hoshiarpur for the past two days. The department is already facing an acute staff crunch and is yet to kick off a survey to assess damage to potato and tomato crops.

Sources said the district had 11 posts of horticulture development officers (HDOs), of which seven were lying vacant. All four HDOs on duty had got additional charge and were overburdened with work.

The HDO at Bathinda had got additional charges of HDO, Sangat Mandi, HDO (vegetable), besides having the onus of preparing technical reports. The HDO posted at Talwandi Sabo was also looking after Rama Mandi and Maur Mandi.

The Rampura Phul HDO had shifted his office to a 70-acre nursery of the department, while the Bhucho Mandi HDO was taking care of the department’s potato farm at Harnam Singh Wala. Both nursery as well as the farm had an HDO and a Class IV employee each.

Eight posts of Class IV employees were also lying vacant and the office didn’t have a peon and a watchman.

The sources said the government was neither filling up the vacant posts nor allowing the department to recruit staff on a daily-wage basis, which was making it difficult for them to manage the affairs smoothly.

The sources said the department had no other option but to give various jobs on contract. The department had to give the work of cleaning up the office on contract, as it could not appoint even a part-time sweeper.

Interestingly, Class IV employees were posted at some stations merely for the purpose of opening the department’s offices there.

At one point the department had 10 HDOs, but later they got themselves transferred leaving limited staff to conduct field visits.

The sources said the scenario was no different in Muktsar and Mansa districts.

When contacted, Director, Horticulture, Mr K.S. Joshan, admitted that they were facing an acute staff crunch. He justified the requisition of almost entire staff to Hoshiarpur stating that it was a massive show of the department and their services were required.

On losses to the potato crop, he said they had already given rough estimate to the government and their field staff would soon carry out a survey to assess the damage.

The Deputy Director, Dr G.S. Dhillon, said out of the four HDOs two were set to retire in the near future. He said as per an estimate more then 50 per cent of the potato crop spread over 5,500 hectares in Rampura Phul division had been damaged.

He said the real picture would be known within a week or so after the assessment by the department officials.


4 panels to oversee diversification in agriculture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
With a view to intensifying diversification in agriculture, the Punjab Government has decided to set up four special councils.

This was disclosed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a press conference here today. He said that there would be a Council for Citrus and Fruit Juices, a Council for Value Added Horticulture, a Council of Viticulture and a Council of Organic Farming.

He said the State Government had fixed a target of diverting 33 per cent area from paddy and wheat crops to citrus, horticulture, viticulture and organic farming. He said farmers could get up to three times higher returns from citrus, high-value horticulture crops and viticulture.

There could be 20 per cent to 50 per cent higher return from organic farming, he added. He said big industrialists such as Reliance Industries and the Bharti Group had already entered the farming sector in Punjab. The Reliance group has sought land from Punjab to set up 40 centres for the procurement of fresh vegetables and fruits to sell through its chain of stores to be set up in the country.

He disclosed that all the four councils would be independent organisations and industry would be their co-partner. In the citrus sector, already Tropicana and Pepsi Corporates had been showing great interest in Punjab. One of the world’s best wine manufacturers — Soma Somant — known for its Sula wines had become active in the viticulture sector in the State.

At present the President of all the four councils would be the Financial Commissioner (Development). Experienced persons would be engaged as their Chief Executive Officers. High grade varieties and root stocks of citrus plants and seeds of grapes had been imported from abroad. A nursery of grapes was being established at Birla farm. Farming of grapes would be promoted along the Shivalik foothills, he said. For the processing of citrus and other horticulture produce, two multipurpose plants were being set up at Abohar and Hoshiarpur, he added.

During the current financial year, 2.80 lakh acres of land would be covered under contract farming, he added. Area under basmati had increased significantly. Focus is on to produce globally competitive vegetables, fruits and foodgrains and cotton, he said.

Punjab had also started brand building under the brand name Five Rivers. Already, Five Rivers hyola oil, Basmati rice, wheat, moong and haldi(turmeric) was available in the state, he added.


Kaypee team set up to assess damaged potato crop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Punjab Government has set up a high-level team under the command of Transport Minister, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, to make on the spot assessment of damage caused to potato crop by the persisting cold wave. Frost has damaged vast stretches of potato crop in the Doaba and also in the Rampura Phul belt of Malwa region.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said here today Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala and Mr Parkash Singh Nawanshahr, would be other members of the Kaypee team. They will visit all areas where the crop had been hit by frost. Compensation would be announced for farmers on the basis of the report submitted by the team, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, general secretary and Mr Vineet Joshi, a youth leader of the BJP, in a joint statement urged the government to give due compensation to farmers after conducting a special girdavari of the crop hit by frost.


2,300 illegal colonies may be regularised
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, January 10
With elections a year away, the Punjab Government is on a regularisation spree. The state Housing Department is likely to regularise about 2,300 illegal colonies.

The Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), which has got police cases registered against 1,500 such colonisers and is planning to get more booked, has been told to convene a meeting in a few days to work out the modalities.

Sources say the government wants that before the colonies are regularised, changes must be made as per PUDA norms. "The residents will be required to pay external development charges (EDC) and a fine to the PUDA authorities," they add.

PUDA officials have been asked to finalise EDC and fine, as different areas of Punjab are graded from A to F. The sources say after PUDA finalises the scheme, the file will be sent to Housing Secretary and then to the Chief Minister for final approval.

"The process has already started. If the Chief Minister gives the green signal, illegal colonies will be regularised," said a PUDA official, adding that the process of registration of cases would continue till a policy was framed.

Meanwhile, a resident of one such colony in Phagwara said: "The residents of new settlements and those facing police cases have no option but to accept the regularisation process. But those who have already sold plots in these illegal colonies will be least bothered to pay EDC or fine. And several of them have sold illegal land to unaware residents."

PUDA has extended the date of accepting applications for the regularisation of structures in the extended 'lal dora' in the periphery of the districts concerned to January 15.


15 illegal vehicles impounded
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 10
The district administration today swung into action against the illegal vehicles moving on the Pathankot-Mukerian road. The news regarding the illegal vehicles threatening the lives of commuters was carried in these columns today.

The DTO, Gurdaspur, Mr Bikramjit Singh Bajwa, today conducted a checking in the area and impounded 15 illegal vehicles.

While talking to The Tribune, the DTO said that stone crusher owners had been directed against moving illegal vehicles without proper documents and passing on the national highways. The owners of the vehicles impounded today have been fined Rs 50,000. Any illegal vehicle found plying on the national highway in future would be impounded with immediate effect. 


Case of unnatural act in prison
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 10
A case of the most pervert form of physical abuse of a prisoner by his two fellow prisoners in the District Jail here was reported at the City police station last night.

According to police sources, prisoners Jarnail Singh and Sat Pal allegedly sodomised Onkar Singh in the District Jail last night.

A case under Sections 377 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against both the accused prisoners.


Youths duped of lakhs
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 10
Two cases of duping innocent youths of lakhs of rupees in the name of settling them in European countries by the so-called travel agents was reported at Sadar police station here yesterday.

According to police sources, Ajay Kumar, a son of Jatinder Kumar, a so-called travel agent of Uttam Nagar, Delhi, along with his wife and father-in-law had allegedly taken Rs 4 lakh each from Charanjit Singh, a son of Mr Ram Piara of Kot Fatuhi, Ranjit Singh, a son of Mr Jarnail Singh of Naroor and Randhir Singh, a son of Mr Resham Singh of Khera Dona of Kapurthala district for sending them to Italy. They neither sent them nor returned their money.

In another case, travel agent Devinder Kaur, wife of Mr Avtar Singh of Adampur, took Rs 7 lakh from Harmesh Lal, a son of Mr Jagdish Ram of Pandori Kadh, for sending him abroad in January, 2002.

The Sadar police has registered two separate cases against all of the accused under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC.


Auditorium inaugurated at Mohindra College
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 10
Continuing with his philanthropic work, Dr Amarjit Singh Marwah inaugurated a new auditorium at Government Mohindra College, here yesterday. He was accompanied by his wife Kuljit Kaur Marwah.

Dr Marwah had given a grant for the construction of a common room for girls named after Bibi Kartar Kaur in 2004. Dr Marwah also gave Rs 1 lakh for amenities at the auditorium, besides a promise to provide assistance to improve the acoustics.

College Principal Dr D.I.S. Brar welcomed Dr Marwah and thanked him for providing a grant of Rs 25 lakh. The role of Old Students Association was also appreciated.

Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Dr S.S. Boparai, former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Bhagat Singh and teachers and staff of the college were present.

Dr Marwah has been sponsoring scholarships worth Rs 50,000 every year, besides trophies and awards in the fields of sports and academics in the memory of his mother-in-law Kartar Kaur.

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