P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CPI snaps poll ties with Cong
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The CPI has decided to sever its electoral ties with the ruling Congress in Punjab.

A decision in this connection has been taken at a meeting of the State Council of the party. The last Assembly and Lok Sabha elections were contested jointly by the Congress and the CPI in Punjab. In fact, except on a few occasions, the two parties had been jointly contesting Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state.

When questioned in this connection, Mr Jagroop Singh, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said here today that the coming Assembly elections would be contested by the party on “class basis”. The party’s political objective would be to stand by those who were fighting for economic, social and political justice. The party would strive to bring Left forces on one platform to form a Left front and avoid a division in their vote bank.

“We will come out with a new programme meant for common people in the state”, he said.

There seem to be several reasons for the CPI to break away from the Congress. There is a perceptible shift in the policies of the Congress in the state. Its concern for the common man, especially the poor, is diminishing constantly. The Congress, which has been mesmerised by the process of globalisation and the new world economic order, is following the agenda of capitalist forces ignoring the interests of common people. In Punjab, the “religious agenda” adopted by the Congress to compete with the Akalis has also not been liked by the CPI. All these factors have made the CPI move away from the Congress.

People were fed up with the “issue-less politics” of the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, Mr Jagroop Singh said. Both the Congress and the SAD-BJP had been playing the politics of capitalist forces and had no programme to serve the people of the state. “The policies pursued by these political parties have ruined Punjab”, he added.

He said the Congress government in the state had failed to give jobs to unemployed youth. During the past four years, about 20 lakh youth had become eligible for jobs. The total number of unemployed in the state had gone up to 45 lakh. The state was facing a critical unemployment problem.

On the law and order front, there was virtually “jungle raj” in the state. Nowhere had labour laws been enforced. Poor sections were being targeted by the rich and famous in connivance with the police. “ The Congress will not be able to win the elections by playing money politics”, said Mr Jagroop Singh.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagroop Singh, Dr Joginder Dayal, Mr Piara Singh Deosi, Mr Bant Singh Brar, Mr Bhupinder Sambre, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Hardev Arshi, Mr Kartar Singh Buani and Mr Gurnam Kanwar have been elected members of the State Secretariat of the CPI.


Industrialists’ subsidy dues to be cleared
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The Punjab Government has decided to clear subsidy dues of Rs 600 crore of industrialists who had set up units in Punjab. This was stated here yesterday by the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla.

Talking to The Tribune, he said the previous SAD-BJP government had promised to give subsidy to a substantial number of industrialists for setting up their units in the state. However, it did not keep its word.

“The SAD-BJP government created a mess on the financial front in the state and made false promises to the people. Now, we are clearing the financial liabilities left by the Badal government and settling various accounts”, he said.

Mr Singla said the state government would clear all the subsidy dues by March 31. The government would issue tradable security bonds to all industrialists whose claims for subsidy had been found genuine and in accordance with the policy of the state. These bonds would be redeemable in parts in three years. For instance, if the government was to pay Rs 60 lakh as subsidy to any claimant industrialist, he or she would be issued security bonds worth Rs 60 lakh but would be entitled to redeem bonds worth Rs 20 lakh in the first year. However, there would be no change in the net value of the bonds in three years.

As the bonds would be tradable, industrialists could sell these to interested parties. The issue of payment of dues related to subsidy had been hanging fire for the past four years. Industrialists had been asking the government authorities to clear the dues. “ As the situation on the financial front has improved, we have now decided to clear the dues,” he added.

Asked about progress on the Bathinda Oil Refinery project, Mr Singla said Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited had entered into a tie-up with the British Oil Company. The refinery would be built keeping in view the export of petroleum goods to the neighbouring countries. He said the capacity, which was earlier proposed to be 9 million tonnes, was likely to be doubled.

Mr Singla said he had started interaction with traders, industrialists, farmers and others for preparing the new budget. Obviously, the Budget for the next year, which was an election year, would be tax free”. There was a possibility that certain sections of society would be given relief. “At present, I am interacting with various government departments and will complete the exercise in the next three days”, he added. Then the second round of discussions regarding the Budget exercise would start. In the third round, all proposals would be discussed with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.


Plea to rename Patiala Rural as Tohra
Delimitation panel meeting
Rubinder Gill

Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
The Delimitation Commission of India panel headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh heard over 100 objections and suggestions regarding the proposed Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies and their extent in the Patiala division. These included the districts of Ropar, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Ludhiana.

Justice Kuldeep Singh said the process work regarding Assembly constituencies in Punjab would be finished in two months while the delimitation work on Parliamentary constituencies would be completed only by the year end.

When asked if the Assembly elections in Punjab would be held according to the new proposed constituencies, he said his work was to submit the report and the President would take final decision regarding the suggestions.

Most of the objections pertained to Patiala district, followed by those about Ropar district. Ludhiana registered four suggestions while Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib had one each. The objections raised were mainly regarding the constitution and continuity of the proposed constituencies.

No objection came from Dera Bassi as the whole tehsil has been proposed as one constituency.

Akali leaders and MLAs were present in full force in the meeting while only two MLAs of the ruling Congress were present. Mr Randeep Singh of Nabha and Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon of Samrala attended the proceedings while others simply sent their representatives.

The objection regarding the proposed limit of the main Patiala Assembly constituency was raised by the Congress leader, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC. He suggested that wards of the city that had been included in the proposed Patiala (Rural) Assembly segment should stay with the Patiala constituency. According to the proposed extent, even Moti Bagh Palace, the residence of the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, would be shifted to Patiala Rural constituency, along with many colonies located in the outer areas.

For the Patiala Rural constituency the only suggestion was put forth by former Akali Minister Harmail Singh Tohra, who wanted it to be renamed as Tohra. Scores of village panchayats seconded the proposal.

When the panel pointed out that objections had been raised over a similar exercise in Tamil Nadu, Mr Tohra responded by saying that since Congress leaders were also present, they could be asked if they had any objection to this. However, no objection was raised by either the Congress or Akali leaders present on the occasion.

Another suggestion for change of name came from Mr Prem Sagar, Sarpanch, Sambhol, who wanted the Bassi Pathana Assembly constituency to be renamed as Sambhol. Objections were raised regarding the inclusion of Raikot Assembly constituency in the Fatehgarh Sahib Parliamentary constituency.

Akali MLA from Samana, Mr Surjeet Singh Rakhra came well prepared and objected to the proposal to reserve the constituency. Citing clauses from the Constitution, he argued that no two adjoining constituencies could be reserved for the same elections. Adjoining Shutrana Assembly constituency is already reserved and there is no proposal to change its status.

For the Rajpura and Banur constituencies the objections were regarding the shifting of areas under the proposed constituencies. In the proposed constituency of Banur (which will be largest in the district), villages under Ghanaur and Devigarh had been included. Most of the objections pertained to this aspect and they wanted to be included either in the Rajpura or Sanaur constituencies, depending on the proximity.

Justice Kuldeep Singh was accompanied by Mr N.Gopalaswami, Election Commissioner; Mr G.S Cheema, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab; Mr C.L Bains, Punjab State Election Commissioner; Dr Mrutunjay Sarangi, OSD to the Chairman; Mr Shingara Ram, Secretary, Delimitation Commission of India, and Mr S.K Mehndiratta, Adviser. Among the 10 associate members, only Ms Preneet Kaur, Mr Lal Singh (Congress), Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (SAD) were present.


SGPC wants Galiara plan re-designed, presents memo to Home Secretary
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar January 18
The (SGPC) Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee yesterday presented a memorandum to Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal urging for the “re-designing” of incomplete Phase IV and V of the centrally sponsored “Galiara” (Golden Temple corridor plan) scheme for the beautification and decongestion of surroundings of Harmandar Sahib.

Mr Duggal paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and was honoured with a ‘siropa’ and presented a memo by Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, SGPC executive committee member, Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary SGPC and Mr Jaswinder Singh, a member of the SGPC.

The SGPC demanded that the new plan should be drawn up in consultation with the SGPC in view of growing number of visitors to the Golden Temple and complaints of inconvenience.

They said during Gurpurbs, Divali, Baisakhi etc number of devotees increases, constricting open spaces. The memorandum stated that Brahm Buta market and major part of Katra Ahluwalia be acquired to facilitate free movement of devotees.

The SGPC also complained about mushrooming of restaurants and hospitals near the holy shrine and alleged that these structures were causing traffic problems, as no parking facility was there.

They also raised issue of pollution due to vehicular emission causing damage to the shrine and suggested expediting of proposed multi-storey parking at Town Hall, as envisaged in original plan. They also desired the Union Ministry to make the Golden Temple zone, free from the sale of ‘cigarettes’ and wine.

The union home ministry approved Rs 106 crore package for incomplete phases of the Galiara project in January last year . The union member also gave nod for the demolition of ‘heritage’ building of “Saragarhi government senior secondary school” to make way for multi-storey parking. In addition, the Rs 134 crore elevated road plan would facilitate smoother approach to the shrine from the GT road.


SGPC appoints new media adviser
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 18
The SGPC today appointed new media adviser, Mr Iqbal Singh Khanna, replacing Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwar, at an executive meeting, presided over by Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, here today.

The appointment has been made despite a blanket ban on new recruitment imposed by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.

This is for the first time that the SGPC president who had issued order for extension to Mr Bhanwar till ‘further orders’ last month subject to the approval of the executive did not honour his words.

The new media adviser is said to be close-confidant of the SGPC chief. Earlier, Mr Bhanwar was appointed media adviser by the then SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra. However, his successor Bibi Jagir Kaur had sacked him at the time of tug-of-war between Mr Tohra and Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Bhanwar was again appointed to the post when Mr Tohra became SGPC chief after his rapprochement with Mr Badal.

However, Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, the then acting president, SGPC, had removed him along with Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, another Tohra loyalist.


Ragi ready for Takht probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Reacting to news reports against Bhai Bakshish Singh, a Hazuri Ragi at the Golden Temple, Mr Sarbjit Singh, a local resident and father-in-law of the ragi, said the entire story had been concocted and there was not even an iota of truth in it.

The “victim” had already told an inquiry committee of the SGPC that she was not caught “red-handed” with the ragi and it was wrong to implicate him, said Mr Sarbjit Singh in a written statement. The committee comprised Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh Uboke. It had been reported in certain newspapers that the ragi was “caught” with the wife of one of his colleagues and was suspended. Mr Sarbjit Singh said Bhai Bakshish Singh had not received any suspension order.

Mr Sarbjit Singh said on the night of January 10, the woman in question, Ms Paramjeet Kaur and her husband, Mr Nirmal Singh, had approached Bhai Bakshish Singh to help them as Mr Nirmal Singh had lost his job.

Mr Nirmal Singh’s request to be a “saathi” with the ragi was turned down. In the past Mr Nirmal Singh had borrowed money from the ragi. Upon seeing that his request was turned down, Mr Nirmal Singh pulled out a knife and attacked Bhai Bakshish Singh, injuring him on the right hand. All the while the woman was stopping her husband. An injured Bhai Bakshish Singh was taken to hospital by Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Amarjeet Singh, employees of the SGPC, who live near the ragi’s house. Mr Sarbjit Singh also presented a statement of Mr Nirmal Singh, in which he has said that it was a case of misunderstanding and there was no such issue and “ I was at fault”. Mr Sarbjit Singh added that his daughter, the wife of the ragi, was living in Chandigarh as she had a handicapped daughter to look after, who had been admitted to a special school in Chandigarh. No such facility existed in Amritsar. It was wrong to insinuate that his daughter was living away from her husband. The condition of the little child had forced his wife to be away from him. There was nothing else in it, Mr Sarbjit Singh added.

Bhai Bakshish Singh said: “I am innocent”. He said he was ready to face an inquiry by Akal Takht and would accept any decision of the Takht Jathedars.


Octori: govt proposes, civic bodies dispose
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
A contradiction has arisen on the issue of octroi. While the Punjab Government has announced that it will abolish octroi in the state by March 31, there are several municipal committees which have already given the work of collection of octroi on contract for the next financial year.

Almost everyday advertisements appear in newspapers with regard to the holding of auctions to give the work of collection of octroi on contract 2006-2007. The advertisements are being inserted on behalf of the elected bodies of the committees.

When questioned in this connection the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, said yesterday that the government was committed to abolishing octroi and replacing it with some other measure to generate funds for the development of towns and cities.

At present, about Rs 800 crore is collected as octroi in various towns and cities in the state. After the introduction of the contract system, which has several flaws and is also not liked by people in general, the income of municipal committees had gone up substantially in the past few years. However, this system gets a lot of negative publicity for the government because contractors, by and large, adopt tough measures to collect octroi. There are reports that they also take the services of musclemen for the collection of octroi.

Mr Singla said the government wanted to know the opinion of those living in the urban areas on four options it shortlisted to replace octroi. These options are: levying of local area development tax; second levying of entry tax; 0.5 per cent surcharge on gross turnover of VAT of the shopkeepers and traders concerned; and property tax. Each option can ensure the collection of Rs 1,000 crore as revenue for the municipal bodies.

All options have elements that can lead to an adverse reaction against the state government in the urban areas. That is why the government is facing difficulty in making up its mind.

Mr Singla said that soon the government would issue advertisements in newspapers seeking the opinions of the people concerned in this regard.

However, how will the government cancel the octroi collection contracts which have been given by various municipal bodies? In fact, the municipal committees have got advance bank guarantees from the persons to whom the contracts have been given.


Rights panel for moratorium on death penalty
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 18
Apprehending that any move by the Government of India to hang Prof Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, presently lodged in Tihar Jail at New Delhi, would leave a permanent scar on the minds of the Sikhs, the Punjab Rights Forum has appealed to the President, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam to put a moratorium on death penalty in India.

The forum also felt that the forced eviction of Sikh families from Kashipur in Uttranchal was not only reminiscent of “ethnic cleansing of the Sikhs in 1947 and 1984,” but, was also a “direct attack” on Sikhs, which, could lead to a serious situation.

“We are disturbed by the role of the Congress government, which, has held back the proposal of the President to review all cases of death penalty pending before the government.

Prof. Davinder Pal Singh, was sentenced on the basis of a confession, extracted under police duress. Moreover, his death sentence has been confirmed by the Supreme court through a 2-1 split judgement. Hanging a person on the basis of a split judgement, wherein, the presiding judge has held the person totally innocent, is unprecedented in the annals of criminal jurisprudence, not only in India, but, across the world,” said a memorandum, which was handed over to the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner for submission to the President by a delegation led by Sukhwinder Singh Khalsa, Jagjit Singh Gaba, Satnam Singh Sandhu, and Manjit Singh Reru yesterday.

The forum office-bearers observed that the only way out of the piquant situation was to abolish death penalty from the statute book. “In case, such a decision takes some time, there should be a moratorium on death penalty as is practiced by more than 20 African countries, which, are less developed than India, but, have higher crime figures than prevailing in India,” said Mr. Khalsa.


Goods train derails near Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
A goods train carrying wheat from Malout to Dhanbad got derailed last night between Maiserkhana and Kot Fatta stations near here. Nine wagons out of total of 40 got derailed causing damage to the track and disrupting rail traffic.

Sources said the train left Bathinda Railway Station at 12.30 am and reached Kot Fatta at 12.50 am. The mishap occurred at 1 am when the train was near Maiserkhana.

The wagons that derailed were from No. 25 to No. 33. The first 24 wagons were sent to Maiserkhana, while the rear wagons headed for Kot Fatta paving the way for the restoration of track for traffic.

Meanwhile, the rail traffic was diverted from Dhuri-Jakhal. An accident relief train each from New Delhi and Bathinda reached the spot.

No casualties were reported in the mishap. However, a large number of bags containing wheat were lying scattered at the accident site. DRM Pradeep Kumar from Delhi said their priority was to resume rail traffic and an inquiry into the incident would follow. Section Engineer RC Dhingra said he could not comment on the reason behind the incident now, but he pegged the losses at Rs 2 crore, besides damage to wheat.


Army renames bridge as Kaman Aman Setu
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 18
The Defence Ministry finally acceded to an appeal by the family of Lieut-Col Kaman Singh Pathania by renaming Aman Setu as Kaman Aman Setu over the KD nullah along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Uri sector of Srinagar.

The name of the Kaman bridge was changed by the government while constructing a pucca bridge to restore bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabd after 58 years in April, 2005. The government had eliminated the name of Lieut-Col Kaman Singh Pathania, a resident of Kandrori-Surajpur village in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, to whom this bridge and the last post (Kaman Post) of the Indian Army on the LoC were dedicated.

The name of the bridge was changed from the Kaman bridge to Aman Setu by the Indian Government during the Indo-Pak peace process in April, 2005, thus hurting the sentiments of the kin of the martyr. Lodging resentment over renaming the bridge, the widow of late Lieut-Col Kaman Singh Pathania, Dayawanti, had written to the Defence Ministry for restoration of the actual name of the bridge.

The was considered by the Defence Ministry after nine months. A letter issued on January 4, 2006, by the Army.

The letter (a copy of which is with The Tribune) stated that the bridge would now be called Kaman Aman Setu instead of Aman Setu.

A narrow bridge over the KD nullah, that flows along the LoC, was named after Lieut-Col Kaman Singh Pathania who led 3 Garhwal Rifles during Tithwal war in 1948 and also fought World War II in the Uri sector, to commemorate him. Lieut-Col Pathania had laid down his life for the nation on July 15, 1956.


Rural employment scheme for Hoshiarpur district
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 18
To provide employment guarantee of 100 days to those who are willing to do unskilled manual labour, the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme of the Centre will be launched in this district on February 2.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, said here on Sunday that the scheme would remain in force for five years. It would provide enhancement of livelihood of the rural masses by generating additional employment opportunities.

The focus of the scheme would be on water conservation and its harvesting, drought proofing, irrigation canals, provision of irrigation facility to land owned by the SCs/STs or beneficiaries of Indira Awaas Yojana, renovation of traditional water bodies, desilting of tanks, land development and flood control and protection works.

“The entitlement of 100 days of guaranteed employment in a financial year is in terms of a household and 100 days entitlement of a household can be shared within the household, more than one person in a household can be employed, therefore, within a household entitlement of all adult members of household who register may apply for work. In order to register for employment, they have to be local residents. Payment of wages will be paid on a weekly basis, but not later than a fortnight and equal wages will be given to both men and women workers. Entitlement of wage rates will be as per the rates fixed by the Deputy Commissioner and are revised every year. In case a worker, who has applied for work, is not provided employment within 15 days from the date on which the work is requested, an unemployment allowance will be payable as per the provisions contained in the Act,” Mr Tiwari said.


DMCH surgeon to chair session in Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
Dr Kuldip Singh, Prof of Surgery at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana has been invited to the 3rd National Conference of Pakistan Surgical Society at Rawalpindi to deliberate on ‘Disaster Management’.

A laproscopic expert, Dr Kuldip Singh will discuss issues pertaining to “disasters that can happen while performing laproscopic surgery and the strategies to avoid them”. Dr Kuldip Singh, who is also the President of the Indian Association of Laproscopic Surgery, has delivered a number of guest lectures around the world on the subject of gall bladder surgery and technique of tackling difficult situations.


Faridkot boys win laurels
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 18
The local unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad (BVP) secured first position in “Bharat Ko Jano” (Know India) contest during the two-day national level competitions among the senior boys group held at Dibru in Assam recently.

More than 25 teams from different states took part in the competitions. Mr R.P. Sharma, national president of the BVP, gave away the prizes to the winners and runners up teams.

Disclosing this here on Sunday, Mr Jai Pal Garg, president of the state body of the BVP, said Shalinder Chaudhry and Rahul Chauhan of local Dashmesh Public School led the Punjab. Meanwhile, a warm welcome was accorded to the team members on their arrival at the local railway station here.

Lauding the achievements of the winners, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Principal of the school, emphasised on the need for conducting such of competitions on regular basis which not only strengthen the knowledge of the youths but also provide them opportunities to discuss and understand the problems of the younger generation.


CPI to hold protest against George Bush
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The Punjab unit of the CPI will hold a demonstration against US President George Bush if he comes to the state.

This was stated here today by Mr Jagroop Singh, secretary of the state unit of the CPI. He said he would also talk to the CPM leadership in the state in this regard to organise a joint protest against the reported visit of the US President to Punjab. At the national level, the Left-parties had decided to hold demonstrations in Delhi against Mr Bush, who is expected to visit India shortly.

He said Mr Bush had been browbeating various nations. He was systematically targeting various countries as part of his capitalist agenda.


Brig Sethi dead

Amritsar, January 18
A senior Gorkha Regiment officer, Brig Inder Sethi (retd), 81, who was instrumental in drafting the military part of the Indo-Russian Friendship Treaty before the 1971 Indo-Pak war for the liberation of Bangladesh, died on January 15 in New Delhi after a brief illness.

He was the younger brother of veteran journalist late G.R. Sethi. Brigadier Sethi was honoured with the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for exceptional services rendered during the 1971 war while serving with Indian Military attaché in Moscow. — TNS


High court
Proclaimed offender gives undertaking
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 18
Counsel for Youth Akali Dal leader Kiranbir Singh Kang, one of the main accused in the case of exchange of fire between two groups of Shiromani Akali Dal supporters on July 2, 2004, that left two persons dead and many injured, today gave an undertaking before a Bench of the High Court that Kang would appear before the Ropar Sessions Court on January 23.

The undertaking was given during the hearing of the petition filed by Kang seeking handing of the investigation of the case to the CBI. Kang has alleged that he has been framed in the case by some police officer.

However, today, when the hearing began, the Punjab Government counsel pointed out that Kang, who had been declared proclaimed offender in the case, is still not cooperating with either the police or the court. He wondered how a PO could seek the indulgence of the court while at the same time continue to be elusive. Following this, Kang’s counsel gave the undertaking.

The Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Saron thereafter adjourned the case to February 1.


The High Court on Wednesday summoned the Directors of the Departments of Industries, Mining and Panchayats, Government of Punjab, to appear in person in the court on February 2 to explain their failure to inform the court about action taken on its directions regarding alleged mining by influential individuals in river Ghaggar and the portion belonging to gram panchayat of village Hansala, Patiala.

The direction was issued during resumed hearing of the petition filed by Mr Dharam Singh and some other villagers, seeking directions for initiating action against the erring officials who failed to protect the interests of the panchayat with regard to royalty from the miners.


Cotton prices firm up in north
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 18
Cotton prices in northern region comprising Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have firmed up and there is stability in the same. In view of the stability and good returns, the area under cotton is expected to increase next year leading to revival of cotton cultivation in Punjab.

Enquiries made by The Tribune reveal that narma was being sold for Rs 2050 to Rs 2150 per quintal in the mandis of Punjab and Haryana. The prices are up by 15 per cent compared to the minimum support price of narma fixed by the government. There was initial setback to the cotton growers when the prices crashed. But for the past one month there is stability in the prices, claim textile industry sources. The major purchase of cotton is now being done by textile mills and official agencies are not in the market. The official agencies like the Cotton Corporation of India and Markfed did enter the market when the prices crashed in November.

The northern region is hoping to produce 40 lakh to 41 lakh bales, including 22 lakh in Punjab. The total cotton production in Punjab last year was 16.5 lakh bales. Haryana is expecting 13.5 lakh bales.

According to Mr D.L. Sharma Executive President, Vardhaman group, the future of cotton cultivation in the northern region looks bright with the rise in prices.

According to textile industry sources, on an average cotton farmers earn Rs 8000 per acre from cotton cultivation and average yield is 7.20 quintal per acre. The mandis in the cotton belt of Punjab have received as many as 17 lakh bales so far and the northern region as a whole about 32 lakh bales.

The overall production of cotton in the country is likely to touch 230 lakh bales against 242 lakh bales last year. The production of cotton was hit in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh because of untimely rains. Textile industry sources are hoping that there will not be much shortage of the same as there was a carryover of 72 lakh bales of last year.

The prices of cotton are ruling high in the country on the whole and extra long staple (ELS) cotton prices are higher by more than 20 per cent as compared with the prices of last year. Prices of cotton in the international market are also up by 15 per cent this year. The New York future is being quoted at 55.93 cents per pound.

Meanwhile, export of cotton from India is taking place and so far nine lakh bales have been exported to China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia. The total export of cotton is expected to be around 20 lakh bales this year.


Economist rues low farm subsidy in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Renowned Punjab economist Prof H.S. Shergill today warned that the promise made by developed nations to end farm subsidies regime by 2013 was eyewash to “deceive” developing nations.

Dr Shergill was speaking on “Can farmers survive without subsidies and price support in developed capitalist economies?’ during a seminar organised by the Department of Economics, Panjab University, today.

Initiating the discussion Professor Shergill said no developed nation could save its agriculture sector without offering huge subsidies to its farmers. The rate of subsidy in Japan was 95 per cent, in France 90 per cent, in the USA 70 per cent, in the European Union 65 per cent, in Canada 37 per cent and in Australia and New Zealand, It was 11 per cent each. Compared to these figures, in Punjab the subsidy rate was as low as 2 per cent and for India as a whole, the subsidy rate is negative. “Which means farmers here are burdened with taxes,” he said.

“In fact, developed nations would, in the coming years, increase these subsidies. Many nations are already doing it by renaming farmers as ‘environmental workers’ to legitimise the huge amounts of subsidies passed on to them.

The developed nations cannot hide the fact that their agriculture is free from crisis,” he pointed out, adding that even a farmer cultivating over 5000 hectares in the USA cannot survive in agriculture without receiving huge amounts of subsidies from the state.

“One of the important reasons of bleak future of global agriculture is the seasonal /cyclical fluctuations in agriculture produce prices,” he said.

Comparing the no-farm-subsidy policy of developed nations to their nuclear policy, Prof Shergill said: “The West wants us to believe that nuclear weapons with the developed nations are no threat to world peace but with the developing nations they are, similarly, according to the developed nations if they give farm subsidies, it is fine but if developing nations do that it is ruining the world economy,” he said.

“We have to look through their game. It is all about monopolising food supply by the USA to the rest of the world. Though in India as well as abroad gap between rural and urban income is increasing, making agriculture unattractive, still developed countries would continue to maintain agricultural production to use it as a future war weapon,” he said.


Hudiara drain water ‘unfit’ for irrigation
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 18
Results of the study on international Hudiara drain indicate that drain’s water is ‘unfit even for irrigation purposes or consumption by livestock and humans’. Dr Anish Dua of Guru Nanak Dev University a partner in the project conceived by WWF-India and the university stated this. The United Nations Development Programme funds the project and the study will be carried for two years. A meeting of key partners as stakeholders for developing a long-term strategy to address pollution and environmental issues related to Hudiara drain was held here yesterday.

The university and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) are committed for to the cause of clean natural resources. Both collaborators started working on the project titled “Addressing Environmental and Pollution Concerns across International waters through Strategic Partnerships” with special focus on Hudiara Drain — a Trans-boundary water channel between India and Pakistan.

Hudiara Drain starts in India in Gurdaspur district and after covering some distance enters Pakistan near Lallo village. Ultimately this channel joins river Ravi on the outskirts of Lahore city.

The experts deliberated on the issue of pollution in international water.


Re-inquiry ordered into case of tax evasion
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 18
The Vigilance Bureau reportedly under political pressure has ordering a re-look into the registration case of corruption against 17 persons, including five MC employees and 12 industrialists.

Mr C.S.R. Reddy, DIG Vigilance, announced here today that after hearing objection of an MLA and industrialists here, he had ordered re-examination of the case and stayed further arrests of accused.

Only three of the booked have been arrested so far. Mr Reddy said those arrested would have to undergo the course of legal procedure.

Local MLA Surinder Dawar, who had been opposing the registration of the case since day one led a delegation of 200 industrialists and unionists of the Municipal Corporation to meet Mr Reddy in Circuit House today demanding re-investigation of the case and transfer of SSP (Vigilance) G.S. Dhillon.

The re-inquiry has, put question mark on the functioning of the Vigilance Bureau. According to procedure, the Vigilance Bureau registers a case only after a preliminary inquiry report is approved for a regular inquiry. After the regular inquiry, the case file is scanned by the Vigilance high-ups. A case is registered only after taking approval from legal experts of the department.

In this case the investigation of two years went in vain with the orders of the re-inquiry made today. Mr Reddy admitted that procedure was duly followed, “But we would verify whether the accused had supplied the documents in their defence to the Vigilance during the inquiry and how were those assessed by the inquiry officers?”

Mr Dawar, who stayed in the Vigilance Office here till midnight on January 12 in protest against the registration of the case and arrest of three persons defended his intervention in the case, “I am a duly elected representative of people and have every right to defend their undue harassment. The Vigilance was totally wrong in the case and I have to defend the victims”, he said.


Cash, gold stolen from Punjab and Sind Bank
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
Some persons broke into the Punjab and Sind Bank’s branch at SST Nagar last evening and decamped with gold and cash Rs 4 lakh.

According to Mr G.S. Bedi, DSP (City-1), thieves used a gas-welding machine and a huge cutter to enter the room where the bank’s main safe and lockers were kept.

The burglars looted Rs 4 lakh from the safe and some gold ornaments, whose value had yet to be ascertained, from the lockers and also took away a double-barrel gun with them before fleeing.

Mr Bedi disclosed that an FIR had been registered at the Kotwali Police Station and added that the police were working on various possibilities and clues to trace the whereabouts of the thieves.


PTU releases merit list
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The Punjab Technical University Jalandhar has released the merit list of the top students of various engineering courses in its affiliated colleges in the state for the II, IV and VI semesters.

Students of Chandigarh Engineering College, Mohali have grabbed 22 positions in different branches of engineering including electronics and Communication Engineering, Computer Science Engineering, Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering while Lovely Institute, Phagwara and DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology have obtained 18 and 14 positions respectively.

Students of Amritsar College of Engineering and Technology have bagged 12 top positions while 10 students of Ludhiana Engineering College and 9 students of Chitkara Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jansla have bagged top positions.

Six students each of Sukhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology Derabassi and Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering, Sangrur have bagged top positions.

Shaheed Udam Singh Engineering College, Tangori secured 4 positions whereas Rayat Institute of Engineering, Nawanshahar, RIMT, Mandi Gobindgarh and Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal got 2 top positions each in these branches.

When contacted the Registrar PTU Mr M.S. Grewal said some colleges which were running exclusive courses had a larger number of students in the merit list but since there were no other colleges running the same course, it would not be fair to do a comparative analysis including those courses.

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