P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Religious procession: PM accepts SAD invite
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
A spokesman of the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) said today that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, would take part in the religious procession to be organised by the SGPC from Tarn Taran to Lahore on June 12. The Prime Minister would take part in the Indian leg of the procession, he added.

A delegation of the SAD led by its president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, met the Prime Minister this morning in Delhi. The SGPC President, Mr Avtar Singh, and the secretary general of the SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, were also in the delegation.

The spokesman said Mr Badal today thanked the Prime Minister for what he described as the latter’s “ positive and highly cooperative response” to the issues raised by the delegation at the meeting.

Mr Badal had requested the Prime Minister to take up with the Government of Pakistan the issue of visas for a preparatory visit of an 11-member committee to Pakistan. The SAD wanted to send 10,000 persons to Pakistan as part of the religious procession which would terminate at Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore.

The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister with regard to certain religious and political issues. The delegation sought the return of material which had been missing from the archives of the Sikh Reference Library since Operation Bluestar. The Prime Minister was also requested to get the “galliara” scheme around the Golden Temple complex completed. Various problems faced by Sikhs abroad, including the issue of the turban in France and the maintenance of Sikh shrines in Afghanistan, were also taken up with the Prime Minister.

The SAD urged the Prime Minister to give representation to Sikh theologians on the Film Censor Board and the Textbook Board of the Union Government to avoid factual mistakes in films and books regarding the Sikh religion.

The issue of the upkeep of gurdwaras in Bangladesh was also discussed.


Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus arrives for trial run 
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 11
The Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus today arrived for its first maiden trial run amidst drum beats and Bhangra. The 10-member Pakistan delegation led by Brig Choudhry Hasham Khan (retd), Managing Director, Pakistan Tourism and Development Corporation (PTDC), arrived in the inaugural bus here.

Mr Sardool Singh Bandala, state Excise and Taxation Minister, along with representatives of the district administration welcomed the delegation.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Khan said the bus terminal at Nankana Sahib was under construction and likely to be completed within six months. Until then, the bus would ply from the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib complex, he said.

This would be second bus service connecting the two Punjabs after ‘Dosti’ and ‘Punj-Aab’ buses between Amritsar and Lahore. The Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus service would be started from February 24.

Mr Bandala, while welcoming the delegation, said with the running of buses between the two countries, relations would improve considerably. Naseer Shah, driver of the bus, said it was a proud moment for him to drive the bus from the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev to the holy city of Amritsar.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service would formally start on February 24 and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is likely to flag off the inaugural bus. This bus service will ply from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib every Friday and return on Saturday while the Nankana Sahib to Amritsar bus will arrive every Tuesday and return on Wednesday. The fare for the 150 km bus journey will be Rs 1,000 in Indian currency and Rs 1,200 in Pakistan currency.


Raj Babbar to disclose future plans on March 23
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
Keeping his cards close to his chest, suspended Samajwadi Party MP from Agra Raj Babbar today expressed his intention to continue his fight against “corporate culture” prevailing in his party and said he would make a major announcement on March 23.
However, he refused to divulge more details.

Mr Babbar was interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of annual sports function at Silver Oaks School here.

The Agra MP said the “middlemen culture” had demoralised party workers who were finding themselves weak. Firing a fresh salvo at his party general secretary, he alleged that Mr Amar Singh was delaying development projects for Agra and insisted on routing them through the Uttar Pradesh Vikas Parishad. He alleged that a water project worth Rs 355 crore, power project worth Rs 122 crore and a modern sports complex worth Rs 250 crore sanctioned for Agra were delayed due to Mr Singh’s attitude.

He said he got various projects, including an airport and a stadium for Agra announced by the Chief Minister, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav. He said development projects had nothing to do with any individual or party and they only reflected their commitment to the welfare of people. “Industrialists are being wooed to put in money by saying that we’re controlling power in UP. We are not slaves,” he averred.

On being asked as to whether he would continue his fight against Mr Amar Singh, he said: “He is just an individual who’s given so much power and there must be some interest in it. But it is certainly not in favour of UP and is totally against socialist ideology.” On his meeting with Left leaders, he said he would meet all the political parties, including the Akali Dal and the BJP to mull whether they should allow such culture to be promoted. 


Trying times for farm sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Punjab is slowly walking into the trap of an “environmental suicide”. The agrarian economy of the “food bowl” of the country is in for trying times ahead with a blind following of the American pattern.

This was stated by Mr Devinder Sharma, chairman of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security, in his keynote address at a seminar on “WTO ministerial in Hong Kong and after” at Panjab University here today.

The two-day seminar is being organised by the Kheti Virasat Mission with special reference to the issues and challenges for Punjab and Haryana 10 years after the WTO.

Mr Sharma said, “The main aim of the seminar was to assess the lessons that can be learnt from the 10 years of coming in of the WTO. It is noteworthy that at least 108 of the 138 blocks in Punjab were in a critical position because of the massive fall in the level of the groundwater.”

Mr Sharma said, “One of the major concerns for Punjab should be the changes being incorporated in natural agriculture in the name of diversification. Certain new crops require at least 20 per cent more inputs and 15 per cent more water.”

“Things for the Indian agriculture are not going to change till the time the WTO does not finish subsidies. At least 80 per cent of the subsidies go in the pocket of the rich alone. Some of these beneficiaries are the Queen of England, Prince Charles, the King of Denmark and the Prince of Monacco.”

“The US talks about corporatisation of agriculture while we should see the welfare of the millions of humans involved. Every fourth farmer in the world is an Indian”, he said.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister of Punjab, in his inaugural address, said, “We(SAD) have been opposing the WTO right from its inception. It is an anti-farmer policy as it records a negative on the input-output ratio. The negative totals more than Rs 1,500 crore annually. Farmers of Punjab who record a surplus in production will be at the maximum loss.”

Leading personalities who spoke on the occasion included Mr B.S.Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Mr Gobind Thukral, a veteran journalist, Mr Balwant Singh, secretary of the CPM, Punjab, Mr Kailash Kartiyan, a UNCTAD representative, Mr Sucha Singh Gill and Dr Joginder Singh.


Ex-BJP MLA booked for backing slum-dwellers
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 11
The anti-encroachment drive of the Pathankot Improvement Trust took a political turn today. The local police booked former BJP MLA Ram Lal for obstructing government officials from performing their duty.

A case has been registered against the former BJP MLA on the complaint of the executive officer of the improvement trust. The executive officer in his complaint to the police had alleged that Mr Ram Lal along with other slum dwellers attacked and tore his clothes while he was supervising the operation to clear encroachments from government land.

A case under Sections 353, 186, 447, 511, 145 and 506 of the IPC has been registered against Mr Ram Lal, Mr Raj Kumar, president of Slum Dwellers' Association, Mr Sita Ram and 38 other unidentified persons.

Till the filing of this report, the police had arrested 14 men and eight women. Mr Ram Lal is absconding, according to police officials.

When contacted on the telephone, Mr Ram Lal alleged that he was being victimised politically. The slum dwellers had been residing on the land since three decades. The Improvement Trust authorities have rendered them homeless without providing them any compensation.

The irony of the anti-encroachment drive of the Municipal Council is that while the slums have been removed, an illegally constructed liquor vend over the land has not been touched.

"I have already talked to senior leaders of the party, including local MP Vinod Khanna. They have promised to take up the issue of slum dwellers with the higher authorities. I will also meet the SSP and DC to protest against the registration of the case," he said.

The Improvement Trust on February 8 had razed about 60 slums on the Pathankot-Dalhouise bypass. The land on which the slums had come up was prime. The trust plans to develop it commercially. Leaders of the opposition, including Mr Ram Lal, have been demanding that the uprooted slum dwellers, most of whom are landless Dalits, should be given 2 marla plots under Central schemes.

The administration had, however, maintained that the slum dwellers had been removed through proper legal procedure. They had been issued three months notice after which the anti-encroachment drive was launched.


Patiala Heritage Festival
Basant celebrated to mystic music
Rubinder Gill

Patiala, February 11
Mellifluous strands of our vast sufi and bhakti music range set a melodious opening tune at the Patiala Heritage Festival here today. The warm tidings of the ‘Basant’ were celebrated as strains of mystic music wafted around in the air.

The tempo at the devotional music section was set by Dr Gurnam Singh, followed by Gurinder Harnam Singh from Delhi. Famous Nizami Brothers, Ghulam Shabir Nizami and Ghulam Waris Nizami, rounded it off with their traditional verve and gusto at the harmonious setting at the Old Moti Bagh Palace, which now houses the National Institute of Sports.

Gurmat Sangeet, bhajans of Meera and qawwalis showcased styles of our composite culture. The Basant raga-based renderings of transcendental music was started with Dr Gurnam Singh, performing kirtan in the raga in accordance with parameters set by the Sikh gurus.

Dhrupad-based ‘Dekh phool phoole, aaham tayag tayage’ by Guru Arjan Dev was sung in Basant Purv thaat, followed by Shudh Basant and Basant Hindol. ‘Holi kine sant sev’, another shabd by the fifth Guru, and ‘Ram ras piya re’, by Bhakt Kabir were also rendered besides the Waheguru Dhun.

According to the Sikh tradition, Raga Basant is a must during kirtan between the period of Maaghi and Hola Mohalla. Dr Gurnam Singh is the founder of the Department of Gurmat Sangeet, Punjabi University, Patiala, and has been conferred the Shiromani Raagi Award by the Punjab Government. A true inheritor of the Gurmat tradition of music, he was accompanied on traditional instruments — rabab, toos and the saranda — popuralised and invented by various gurus .

Gurinder Harnam Singh brought alive Meera’s devotional ache as she beautifully rendered ‘Dus binn mujhe toh kuch na suhave, tarp-tarp mar jaon re’, putting the audience in a trance. Her soft, clear voice, easily dipped and rose with emotion as she sang with control and candour.

Nizami brothers, of the legendary Sikunderabad Gharana, brought a vigour and the amalgamation of the Hindu and Sufi Muslim traditions with their qawwalis. Darbari Aastana singers, they are associated closely with the sacred shrine of the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi.


Aspirant cops allege bias
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
Even as a large number of youths are queuing up for application forms for 675 posts of constables in the Punjab police, a section of the aspirants today alleged that cops were being favoured in the disbursal of forms.

Talking to The Tribune, Balkaran Singh of Chak Fateh Singh Wala village said: “I’m standing in the queue for the past three hours and I have seen about 10 policemen taking over 20 forms for their relatives straightaway from the counter.” He said he had always aspired to be in the police force and the Punjab police’s first recruitment drive in the past over one decade presented him a rare opportunity to fulfil his aspiration. “But, if this is the scenario in disbursal of forms I wonder what will happen in the recruitment process,” he lamented.

Another aspirant, Sukhmandar Singh of Burj Mansa village, said he too was waiting for his turn since 11 in the morning. “Though there isn’t much rush for the forms today, some cops were directly heading to the counter to get the same thus causing delay in the disbursal of forms to us,” he averred.

Meanwhile, sources attributed the unprecedented rush witnessed for taking the forms in the past few days to lack of employment avenues and opening up of Punjab police’s door to recruitment after 14 years.

The sources said about 20,000 forms had been sold out in six districts of the Bathinda zone in a week. These districts were provided 3,000 forms each in the first phase. Bathinda district sought more forms to cope up with the demand. As per an estimate, the Punjab police would receive 50,000 forms for these posts from Bathinda zone only.

On the other hand, the staff engaged in the distribution of forms said one of the counters was for the policemen only, but they were allowing commoners to get the forms from it also to deal with the rush. They admitted that they were giving forms to cops and they need not stand in queue with others, as there was a provision of separate counter for them. 


Bindra’s jatha leaves for Pak
Neeraj Bagga

Wagah, February 11
With the motive of lifting the morale of the Indian team who lost the Test series and the first ODI to arch rivals Pakistan, as many as 167 cricket enthusiasts left for Pakistan here today to witness the third ODI to be played at Lahore on February 13.

Among the fans was the president of the PCA, Mr I.S. Bindra, who had a twin purpose of going to Pakistan. Apart from seeing the match, he will attend the meeting between cricket associations of two Punjabs (India and Pakistan) to be held on February 12 in Lahore.

He informed that the motive of the meeting was to find more avenues between the two boards for the development of the game in the region.

He said frequent matches between the two states would work as a launch pad for players to prepare themselves for the bigger events.

Besides, he felt that cricket, considering its following in the two neighbouring nations, had tremendous potential to remove rancour.

A cricket fan, Shruti, from Delhi was elated over the prospects of seeing her favourite stars in action from close quarters.

She said it was for the first time that she would visit Pakistan. She said she enjoyed the thrill generated from close contests between the two countries, who had over five decades of acrimony. In addition, she desired to savour the famous delicacies of Lahore.

Amazingly, Rajinder Kumar of Delhi, who possesses 10 years visa for the UK, was refused visa for Pakistan while his friend Yogesh Gandhi proved lucky for the third time to go to Pakistan.

Another aficionado, Ms Madhu from Delhi, wanted to see the monuments and old city of Lahore of which she had heard a lot from her grandparents. She said the match was an excuse to see the city.

A local resident, Mr Manmohan Ahuja, preferred to cross over to Pakistan on foot keeping in view the high fares.


8 passenger trains cancelled
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 11
The Railways today cancelled eight passenger trains to provide extra coaches to special trains which were being plied to facilitate the candidates appearing in the Railway Recruitment Board examinations.

Railway sources said today that 3JMP/4JMP Jalandhar-Pathankot passenger trains, 1JRJ/6JRJ Jalandhar-Jejon passenger trains, 341/342 Firozepur-Delhi Express trains and 1ABP/6ABP Amritsar-Batala-Pathankot trains had been cancelled till further orders. The sources also said that the timing of few trains in the Firozepur divison had been rescheduled for tomorrow.

Under the rescheduled timing, the 4650 DN Amritsar-Darbanga Express train will leave from Amritsar at 2 pm hours and the 8102 DN Jammu-Moorie Express from Jammu Tawi at 3 pm hours instead of their scheduled departure time of 11.30 am and 2.05 pm, respectively.

The sources also said three special trains were also being plied from Amritsar to Patna, Amritsar to Raipur and Jammu to Howrah to facilitate the candidates appearing in the examinations.


Torch march by rly staff
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 11
Members of the Northern Railway Employees Union organised a torch march last evening to press their demands. Hundreds of railway employees gathered at the Pathankot railway station late in the evening. Carrying torches in their hands, the employees carried out a march through the town raising slogans against the Union Government.

The employees demanded that the Union Government should immediately constitute the 6th Pay Commission. The recommendations of the running allowance committee, 2002, should be scrapped. The new pension scheme should be abandoned. The government should fill five lakh vacant posts of the Central Government employees. The houses of the railways employees, that were in dire straits, should be repaired. New staff should be recruited to run the new rails introduced in the past two years.

The leaders alleged that the Union Government was sacrificing the interests of the employees in the country. The pension scheme that was the best social security scheme in the country had been abandoned for the new recruits. 


Social worker Dhuria dead
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 11
Mr Rakesh Dhuria, founder president of Yuva Beopar Mandal here, died today. The 50-year-old firebrand worker, breathed his last at his residence in Nai Abadi locality at 4 am, family sources said.
He had led many agitations against victimisation of traders and faced court cases. All shops in the main bazaar remained closed today.


All set for Hola Mohalla
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 11
The district administration is all geared up for making arrangement for the annual Hola Mohalla fair to be held between March 10 and March 15 in Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib here.

All senior officials of the district have been entrusted with work to arrange for basic facilities like shelter, transport and medicine.

The SDM, Anandpur Sahib, Mr B.S. Sekhon, has been appointed as mela in charge.


Judicial custody for 3 in SMS case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
A local court today sent three persons to judicial custody till February 25 in the case of an objectionable SMS relating to a religious personality. Those sent to judicial custody were Malkit Singh, Jagjit Singh and Inderjeet Singh, alias Bablu.

The police had also rounded up two advocates in the matter, but they were released due to lack of evidence against them.

Meanwhile, the District Bar Association decided to abstain from the work indefinitely to protest against the “illegal detainment” of two lawyers. They demanded that a case of wrongful confinement be registered against the guilty police officials. 


Woman nabbed with heroin worth Rs 3 cr
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
In a startling narcotics seizure case, a 40-year-old Amritsar-based woman has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for reportedly possessing 3 kg of heroin worth about Rs 3 crore in the international market.

The woman has been identified as Sukhpreet Kaur, wife of Jagdish Kumar, a resident of Sultanwind in Amritsar.

Though the Jalandhar police was tightlipped about the arrest, highly- placed sources revealed that she was nabbed by a team of the NCB, Chandigarh, at around 2.30 pm as she was coming out of the railway station in the cantonment.

Sources pointed out that the NCB was on the trail of the woman who was said to be one of the top operatives of an international narcotics network with its roots across the border. The team achieved success in arresting the woman after it learnt that she was coming from Kota in Rajasthan to Jalandhar by train.

A trap was laid at the railway station, from where she was nabbed. She is supposed to have revealed details about the Amritsar-based recipient of the consignment and the NCB team is on his trail. 


Jailer, 3 guards arrested
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 11
Mr Chimna Ram, Jailer, and three security guards, Mr Jitender Kumar, Mr Krishan Lal and Mr Madan Lal, posted at the Nohar jail in the neighbouring area of Rajasthan have been arrested for facilitating the escape two notorious criminals, sources said. All were produced in a court, which remanded them in judicial custody today. The jail staff had sought to propagate that Baljinder Singh, alias Badshah, and Jagdish Bawri, had scaled the boundary wall to escape from jail on January 27 but the SP, Ms Vineeta Thakur, had not only rejected it but suspected that the jailer and others conspired with the culprits.

Mr Shyam Sunder Mishra, DIG (Jails), had investigated the case. The staff reportedly revealed during interrogation that the jailer had asked the security guard on duty at the main gate to take drinking water in a pitcher. The gangsters escaped from the same gate within five to seven minutes.

Baljinder Singh had served as a special police officer (SPO) with the Punjab Police during the black days of terrorism. He later indulged in crime and emerged as a powerful leader of an inter-state gang. Jagdish Bawri was known as his second-in-command. The gang had reportedly confirmed, during interrogation, involvement in more than three dozen incidents of bank robberies, murders, roadside looting and other crimes committed in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, police sources claimed.

Badshah and Bawri were considered responsible for an ambush of a police party that was escorting two under-trails to Dhaulpur last month.


4 die in truck-bus collision
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 11
Four persons, including two women, were killed and 22 injured when the TATA-407 truck (PB-12B-3779) that they were travelling in collided head-on with a bus (PB-07-3779) of a private transport company at Badesron near Garhshankar on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road, 38 km from here, this afternoon.

According to Mr Jagmohan Singh, DSP, Garhshankar, two persons died on way to the hospital and two succumbed to their injuries at the local Civil Hospital.

Three deceased have been identified as Gurdial Singh, Mohinder Singh and Gian Kaur. They all belonged to Naushera Majha Singh (Gurdaspur).

The identity of a deceased woman was yet to be established. The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital, Garhshankar, from where Ravinder Kumar, Parvinder, Beeto, Jagjivan and Jagjit Singh were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Eight injured were shifted to the Civil Hospital, Daha Kaleran (Nawanshahr), while one woman and a child were discharged after giving them first aid.

He said the occupants of the ill-fated truck were going from Naushera Majha Singh village to Chandigarh to attend a Nirankari samelan (congregation). The bus was coming from Nawanshahr to Hoshiarpur.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, DC, Hoshiarpur, said he had sent Additional Deputy Commissioner, along with other officials, to make arrangements for providing free medical treatment and help to the injured. Suitable help would also be provided to the kin of the deceased.


Farmer commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 11
A farmer hailing from Tarewala village committed suicide after being duped of his land by a person from whom he had taken a loan.
Sources said Nachhatar Singh, father of the deceased, had taken a loan of Rs 6 lakh from Mukhtiar Singh of Moga, for sending his grandson abroad.

In lieu of it the latter had got some documents signed by him. Later, Mukhtiar got the land transferred to some ther name. When the deceased, Sukhpal Singh, came to know of fraud he consumed some poisonous substance to commit suicide.

The police has booked Mukhtiar Singh and both his sons in this connection. 


Degrees conferred upon 800 DAV students
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
Postgraduate and graduate degrees were conferred on 450 postgraduate and 350 graduate students at the Dayanand Vedic College (DAV) convocation held at the college auditorium today.

The Governor of Manipur, Mr Shivinder Singh Sidhu, delivered the address on the occasion. The function began with the recitation of vedic hymns from the Yajurveda and lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the chief guest. The top honours went to gold medallists, Simmi Chawla M.Sc II (Maths), Vatika Sharma M.Sc II (Zoology), Jaspreet Kaur M.Sc II (Physics), Jasleen Kaur M.Sc II (Punjabi), Gurjeet Kaur M.A II (Hindi), Bharti Sharma M A (Sanskrit), Poonam Preet B.F.S.T - IV, and Ritika Gupta M.B.A -IV.

Addressing the convocation, the Manipur Governor thanked the regimen and spiritual guidance provided during his student days at Arya Schools. “The synthesis and character building provided by the Arya schools has stayed with me throughout my life,” he said. Education must be the pathway to progress, success, empowerment, and employment, he added.

A journal of Research Political Science and college magazine, Ravi, were released by the chief guest on the occasion.


Teachers to be recruited within 3 months
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 11
The state government has started the process of recruitment of ETT and B.Ed teachers.
The advertisement for recruitment will be issued within a week and the process completed within three months.

The state government has decided to construct sports stadia equipped with modern facilities at the block level.

This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Fisheries and Sports, while talking to mediapersons at Bassi Pathana today.

He had come to preside over the annual prize distribution function of Sant Namdev Kanya Mahavidyalaya.

He said the government had formed a 21-member committee to study problems being faced by sportsmen and sportswomen and suggest means to sort those out.

He said the government had initiated schemes to increase the income of farmers and they had been provided loans, advanced technology, guidance and marketing facility to start ancillary units like fish farming, diary farming and poultry farming.

Addressing the students, Mr Kang called upon them to get ready for tough completion ahead.

He stressed the need for providing education and facilities to girls.

He said the Centre and the state government had started schemes to promote the cause of education of the girl child.

He called upon girls to raise their voice against social evils like dowry, female foeticide and drug addiction.

He announced a grant of Rs 51,000 for the college.

The students presented a cultural programme.


Traders granted refund
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 11
Under the Punjab VAT system the Excise and Taxation Department, Sangrur, has granted refund of Rs 3.34 crore to 94 traders of this district so far during the current financial year.

This was stated by Mr K.V.S. Sidhu, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Sangrur, during an interaction with the representatives of the traders and industrialists here yesterday.

Mr Sidhu further said the Sangrur Excise and Taxation Department had taken steps for the speedy disposal of VAT refund applications. He said the procedure of refund under Punjab VAT had been simplified as refund of any amount could now be granted by the AETC. Earlier powers to grant the refund of more than Rs 10 lakh up to Rs 20 lakh were under the purview of the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner and more than Rs 20 lakh under the purview of Excise and Taxation Commissioner, he added.

Mr Sidhu assured the traders and industrialists that in future also the VAT refund applications would be disposed as soon as theses were received by the officials of the department.

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