P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



State Assembly
Akali Dal stalls proceedings
Exemption of land from acquisition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
A protesting Shiromani Akali Dal today stalled the proceedings of the Punjab Assembly, demanding that a special committee of the House be set up to probe allegations against the Minister for Local Government, Mr Jagjit Singh.

A cross-section of MLAs alleged that 32.10 acres of prime land located along the Amritsar-Jalandhar National Highway was wrongly exempted from acquisition to benefit private builders and cause a loss to the state exchequer.

The land was exempted against existing rules and was valued in excess of Rs 100 crore, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Congress MLA from Kharar, said while raising the matter in the Assembly. The land was part of a 188-acre scheme of the Improvement Trust of Amritsar and was exempted despite repeated resolutions of the Trust against such an exemption, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said.

Taking note of this figure of Rs 100 crore, Capt Kanwaljit Singh of the SAD demanded that the Speaker should set up a committee saying ‘‘it was a serious matter,’’ especially since the matter had been raised by the Treasury Benches against the Government, he added.

Amidst the ensuing pandemonium, the Akalis stormed into the well of the House and refused to heed to the words of the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, who asked them to take their seats. First, the Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes and seeing the slogan shouting Akalis said the adjournment would be for one hour.

When the House resumed its proceedings, the Speaker asked the Opposition benches to bring a motion on the constitution of a committee of the House in this context. The Akalis, knowing that such a motion would be defeated on the floor of the House as the Congress was in majority, demanded that the Speaker himself announce the setting up of a committee.

The Akalis also turned down a suggestion by the Speaker to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Questions and References. Later, the Akalis told mediapersons that agreeing to send the matter to this committee was meaningless as this committee looks into unreasonable delay in giving replies to question raised in the House.

After rejecting the suggestion of the Speaker, the entire Opposition led by its Leader and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, again stormed into the well of the House and shouted slogans against the Government forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the second time, this time till tomorrow.

Earlier, while speaking on the matter in the House, Mr Badal said the present government's biggest issue after assuming power in the state was corruption. ‘‘Even the Chief Minister had himself claimed that if any case of corruption was reported to him he will not hesitate to order a CBI probe into it,’’ said the veteran Akali leader. ‘‘The exemption granted by the Minister for Local Government was a clear case of corruption,’’ Mr Badal asserted.

Originally, the question on exempting this land was raised on February 22. Mr Bir Devinder Singh had wanted to know the norms for such exemptions and the Speaker asked the Minister to supply the norms to the House. The matter was taken up today.


Tussle on between two senior Congress leaders
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
A tussle has began between two senior leaders of the ruling party — Chowdhary Jagjit Singh and Bir Devinder Singh. Hardening his stand against the Local Bodies Minister, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, the Congress MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, said today that he would pursue the issue of exemption of 32 acres of land worth several crores from a development scheme of the Amritsar Improvement Trust to a logical end.

Speaking to a group of mediapersons outside the Punjab Vidhan Sabha complex, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the State Government had suffered a loss of Rs 300 crore because of the exemption of the land from the scheme. The net worth of the land at present was Rs 150 crore. And after developing the land for a housing scheme, the Government would have earned Rs 450 crore by selling plots, he added. ‘‘Obviously, the land has been dropped from the scheme to benefit private parties’’, said Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

It is not the first time that such a fight has broken out between the two leaders. Earlier also, Mr Bir Devinder Singh had taken on Chowdhary Jagjit Singh.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that the Improvement Trust had opposed the taking out of the land in question at Thanakot village on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road from the scheme. In fact, the Improvement Trust authorities argued their case strongly for retaining the land in the scheme that was originally spread over 275 acres. However, later it was slashed to 188 acres. The scheme was notified by the Government in 2004. Even the Local Bodies Department had given its approval to the Scheme.

The Improvement Trust authorities had argued in a letter written to the Local Bodies Department that as the scheme had already been notified, the 32 acre of land could not be exempted from the scheme in any case. As the land was vacant and free from any construction, there was no provision to drop such land from the scheme.

The Trust authorities also held that the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority had issued no licence to the private parties concerned to develop any project on the piece of land. So, the PUDA could not ask the Trust to drop the land from the scheme.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that if there was no foul play in exempting land and everything had been done in a free and just manner, then Chowdhary Jagjit Singh should accept his plea for setting up a Committee of the House to probe this issue.

However, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, said that there was no need for an inquiry as no wrong had been committed by exempting the land. Speaking to mediapersons separately, he said that all allegations and assumptions regarding the dropping of the land from the scheme are without any basis However, when asked if there was nothing wrong with the exemption granted, then what prevented him from opting for an inquiry by a Committee of the House into the whole affair, he said that ‘‘if the Government wanted then it can order the inquiry’’.


500 waterworks face power disconnection
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 28
Water supply to about 500 villages in the state has come under threat as their fund-starved panchayats have failed to pay the electricity bills of their waterworks.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has to recover about Rs 10 crore from these panchayats.

In the event of power supply to these waterworks being cut off, water supply in these villages was bound to get affected and with the summer approaching the crisis could be worse.

These were among the 876 waterworks that the Congress government had handed over to their respective panchayats under its programme to empower the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

These waterworks also owed Rs 1.25 crore to the Canal Department. Sources attributed the problem to non-payment of water bills by the consumers to their respective panchayats.

However, the sources said the waterworks under the Public Health Department were not facing much problem on this front.

The sources said 50 per cent of the waterworks in Bathinda and Mansa districts were given to the panchayats. In both these districts, out of 96 waterworks under village panchayats, 58 were defaulters.

While 51 waterworks in Bathinda owed Rs 24.87 lakh to the PSEB, seven waterworks in Mansa had to pay power dues of Rs 8.21 lakh. Sources said the board also had to recover Rs 3.54 crore from waterworks falling in various districts of western zone.

The Bathinda circle owed a total payment of Rs 33.08 lakh, Faridkot Rs 1.08 crore, Ferozepore Rs 84.11 lakh and the Muktsar circle Rs 1.28 crore. The worst situation prevailed in Talwandi Sabo block where 30 out of 37 waterworks were under panchayats.

On the other hand, the waterworks receiving water supply from the Canal Department were yet to pay their dues to it. The scenario could be gauged from the fact that 120 waterworks owed Rs 60 lakh to the department.

Sources said the sarpanches had already made it clear to the government that they could not manage waterworks. Many of these waterworks were in bad shape and required frequent repairs for which the panchayats didn’t have funds.

The sources said the panchayats didn’t have any means to recover water bills from the consumers and added that factionalism in these villages also posed a hindrance in the recovery of water dues.


Relief to promoters of PUDA-approved projects
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
Promoters of projects approved by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has finally something to cheer about. In a major relief to scores of big colonisers, the Punjab Government has clarified that the Department of the Town and Country Planning (T&CP) was the "competent authority" to accord technical approval to the building plans falling within the municipal limits.

The clarification by the Department of the Local Bodies (DLB) has come in the wake of the T&CP and DLB working virtually at cross-purposes regarding the approval of the PUDA-approved projects. An order of the Principal Secretary of the DLB says that there was no need to deposit external development charges (EDC) for these projects to the civic bodies.

However, now the promoters of these projects would only have to deposit the scrutiny fee for the approval of the building plans to the civic bodies, sources said here today.

The Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, which comes under the jurisdiction of the DLB, had recently shot off notices to at least five PUDA-approved colonisers terming their constructions as "unauthorised". The notices had urged the colonisers to stop the construction as the T&CP was not a "competent authority to accord technical approval to the building plans, falling within the municipal limits."

The notices had come in for severe criticism from the builders, who argued that both the departments were working at cross-purposes. In fact, when the licence is granted by the Senior Town Planner of the T&CP, which is the competent authority, the builder was required to deposit the external development charges (EDCs) and develop and maintain the colony for a period of five years.

Besides, the competent authority charges the scrutiny fee for granting sanction to the building plans on the said layout plan of the area. The clarification would go a long way in setting the anomaly right and help avoid the duplication of work by the departments, Mr F. S. Nagra of the Zirakpur Promoters and Builders Association, said here today.


People-friendly Budget, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today hailed the Union Budget and termed it as people friendly and growth oriented. On the other hand, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in a separate statement, described the Budget as ‘‘a blueprint for the benefit of the rich, with no concrete policy or proposal for the uplift of the poor, the farmers and the unemployed’’.

The Chief Minister in a statement said the Budget speaks for the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) firm commitment to put the Indian economy on the ‘‘fast track’’ of overall socio-economic development.

He thanked the Union Government for announcing a special grant of Rs 100 crore for Punjab Agricultural University as a ‘‘ centre of excellence’’ for its commendable work in agriculture research and development. He mentioned that this special grant was a part of the special development package of Rs 2040 crore which the State Government was pursuing.

He also welcomed the announcement of treating the food processing industry as a priority sector for bank credit. The creation of a corpus of Rs 1000 crore for refinancing loans to food processing, agro processing, infrastructure and market development would give a boost to diversification of agriculture in Punjab.

Meanwhile Mr Badal said the Budget was anti-poor, with the average farmer, average trader and average entrepreneur feeling badly let down. The hike in service tax is clearly anti-growth and will hit the middle rung of the population the most, said Mr Badal in a statement. The employees too had been totally neglected.


Godrej asked to pay up or return land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The Empowered Committee of the Punjab Government, at a crucial meeting here today, approved seven new mega projects in the state with a promised investment of about Rs 1245 crore. The meeting also decided to inform Godrej and Boyce Company to either pay a sum of Rs 18 crore or return 30 acres of land it has in its possession in Mohali.

The suggestion to Godrej is part of a quid pro quo deal. The Government had sought an enhancement in land costs from Godrej. This had accrued as compensation of land acquired by the Government had been jacked up through court decision. The offer will be made to Godrej officially, senior functionaries confirmed to The Tribune here tonight.

Godrej had wanted to sell off the land on its own which was opposed by the Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC). The matter had been referred to the Empowered Committee.

An Industrial Park for Fashion Technology has been approved for Mohali with an investment of Rs 260 crore and having employment potential for 5000 persons.

A spokesperson of the Punjab Government said the committee approved three manufacturing projects to be set up in Patiala, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur districts, respectively, with an investment of Rs 750 crore and would generate employment for 3400 persons. Besides this, the committee also approved six multiplexes in Moga, Batala, Kapurthala, Ferozepore and Sangrur districts and one hotel project in Amritsar.


‘100 ultras listed as living under assumed names’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 28
The Akal Federation today revealed names of certain hard-core militants were living under assumed names after having been declared ‘dead’ during the Badal government.

Releasing the list, Mr Narain Singh, president Akal Federation who was earlier was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Burail jail-break case claimed that he had proof to corroborate his claim.

He claimed that he had sent an open letter to Then Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal from the Security Jail, Jalandhar on March 2, 1997 ( He had got a receipt of the same from the CM’s office), divulging the names of the former militants who were used as ‘police cats’ at that time. After admission by DGP , S.S.Virk that there were at least 300 persons who still were being used as ‘cats’, he should be arrested for indulging in extra-constitutional activities.

He said the UNO would be approached in this case. He alleged that both Mr Badal and his successor, Mr Amrinder Singh were ‘sailing in the same boat’ for using ‘police cats ‘ to eliminate militants.

Mr Kulwant Singh alias Sarpanch of Lohgarh who was shown killed in 1990 worked as ‘police cat’ for Nawan Shahr police.

Jagdev Singh Happy who was arrested and then shown dead in an encounter on October 8 in 1990 was used by the Jalandhar police.

Another militant Jarnail Singh , a resident of Haryana village (Hoshiarpur district) was with a senior police officer of the district posted in Chandigarh.

Sukhdev Singh Rana, who was involved in four murder cases was sent to Russia then made to ‘infiltrate’ into the rank and file of the Babbar Khalsa that led to the arrest of Jagtar Singh Hawara, main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case.

The Akal Federation alleged that Dr Sohan Singh, case head of the Panthic Committee was actually caught from Nepal alongwith other militants. While Dr Sohan Singh was shown arrested from Mohali others were shown arrested from other places.

Mr Narain Singh gave a long list of militants who later were used by the police to fight militancy. 


Mann against USA providing nuclear technology to India
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 28
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) (A), urged the US President George W Bush, who is visiting India on March 1, not to provide nuclear technology to India keeping in view alleged enmity between Hindus and Muslims. He said neither Sikhs nor Muslims had been taken into confidence while declaring consensus on nuclear policy by the UPA Government. He apprehended nuclear technology would be used to suppress the Muslim country which would crush Sikhs in the conflict of Hindus and Muslims. The SAD (A) will submit a memorandum to President Bush during his visit to India or would fax it to him.

Mr Mann was addressing a press conference at Canal Rest House here this morning.

Referring to the Virsa Sambhal Sammelan organised under the patronage of the Damdami Taksal at Sirhind, Mr Mann criticised proceedings of the Sammelan and alleged that the Sant Samaj had tried to change the basic concept of Sikhism.

In Sikhism Sangat and Sri Guru Grant Sahib were supreme. Dera heads were not recognised in Panth and they had no place in Sikhism. Sikhs were not bound to follow their guidelines.

He criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, Mr Dhian Singh Mand, Mr Jaskaran Singh etc. for their participation in the Sammelan.

He said that the SAD (A) would take disciplinary action against its Vice-President Mr Dhian Singh Mand and general secretary Jaskaran Singh for participation in the sammelan at the meeting of general secretaries of the SAD (A) to be held at Ludhiana on March 2.

To a question, Mr Mann said that in the present set up, the Director General of Police was superior to that of the Chief Minister and the Governor. He said that Government should find out whereabouts of the militants who were shown dead in police record but were alive and were rehabilitated in other names. He said that after registration of a case against any police official, he had to be suspended and after his conviction from the court, he had to be removed from service. But this procedure was not followed in cases of those police officials, against whom FIRs were registered and were convicted by the courts. There were many militants like Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi who were registered dead in police record but were actually alive and were enjoying the support of police high ups in state.

Referring to the acquittal of all nine accused in Jessica Lall murder case, Mr Mann said that judiciary was being governed by the executive wing of the government. He pointed out the elevation of Delhi Additional Sessions Judge who acquitted all the accused in this case.

Mr Mann said that Dalits were being crushed under the corrupt rule of Capt Amarinder Singh’s Government He specifically quoted the recent examples of many Dalits who were tortured even in judicial lock up by the police.


SAD(L) plans dharna offensive
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal (L) is going to start a series of political activities in the state to educate the people about 'beoparikarn', 'parvarikarn' and 'moneykarn' of the politics by both Congress as well as the so-called representative party of the Sikhs —SAD(B).

The people would be asked to unite on one platform against these evils so as to create pressure on politicians to continue politics as a service to society.

The party would organise a dharna in front of the Parliament in New Delhi on March 10 followed by a series of dharnas at all district headquarters in the state.

The said dharnas would be held to protest against the import of wheat, and to press forth demands like increase in the minimum support price (MSP) upto Rs 850, waiving of farmers loans, concessions to farmers on the pattern of sick industry, said Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said the government was purchasing 5 lakh tonne of wheat from foreign countries at a rate of Rs 900 per quintal, where as paying Rs 650 as MSP to Indian farmers.

He said when the imported wheat would reach India, the wheat of India farmers would already be there in mandis, so it would adversely affect the purchase of wheat and rates would come down. He said if the Union Government gave the MSP of Rs 900 per quintal to Indian farmers, they could produce more wheat and it would become surplus and the country could export.

Mr Chandumanjra said the Indian farmer was under debt and committing suicides. He demanded concessions for farmers on the pattern of the sick small-scale industry.

He said his party would also impress the government to give Rs 5000 as unemployment allowance to youths as well as to create more avenues for employment.

He said following dharnas, political conferences would be organised from March 16 in the state.


SAD(A) for prosecution of soldiers involved in killing of Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD-Amritsar) has urged the president of India seeking prosecution of the armymen involved in the killing of innocent Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir.

The SAD (Amritsar) raised this demand in a memorandum submitted to the President of India through the Deputy Commissioner here. Before submitting the memorandum, activists of the party led by Mr Iman Singh Mann, son of party president Simranjit Singh Mann marched in the city in protest against the killing of Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Iman Singh Mann told reporters that the party had demanded that after court martial of guilty army men they should be tried in the civil courts under the supervision of an international observer. The trials should be held on the pattern being adopted to try former Iraq President Mr Saddam Husseain.

The SAD(A) has also urged the President to give directions to the Army chief and commanders of Army units in Jammu and Kashmir to stop killing of innocents in that state by army men.

Expressing concern at spread of caste-based culture in the Army, Mr Mann said that it was duty of the Centre to ensure safety of Sikhs living in Jammu and Kashmir. He added Sikhs did not migrate from Jammu and Kashmir despite the state facing terrorism.

Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, general secretary, SAD (A) said that the party also demanded human rights commission for military and Paramilitary forces. Killing of members of minority community was a matter of serious concern and it should be handed over to the minority commission for action against the same.


Rafi contemporaries honoured
Pawan Kumar

Kotla Sultan Singh (Amritsar), February 28
The SAD-BJP organised a cultural memorial function at the native village of legendary playback singer Mohmmad Rafi, here today.

Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, who was present, among others, announced a grant of Rs 21 lakh for the development of the village and the Majitha constituency.

Without speaking much about the singer, Mr Sidhu, in his typical style, lashed out Congress leaders for neglecting the development of the Majha region.

The BJP MP, Mr Dara Singh, along with others, honoured some of the contemporaries of Mohmmad Rafi, including Bakshish Singh Samra, Kundan Singh Samra and Gurbax Singh Gill.

Earlier, the Mohmmad Rafi Memorial Society, led by actor Hardip Gill and his wife Anita Devgan, organised a day-long mela here on February 26.


EPF scam case to be re-examined
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 28
The EPF scam case against 21 officials and a contractor of the Ropar Thermal Plant would be re-examined by the Principal Secretary (Home), Mr P.K. Verma. An assurance in this regard was given by Mr Verma after the DGP (Vigilance), PSEB, Mr Lalit Bhatia, met him.

Mr Bhatia admitted that the Principal Secretary had given him assurance to re-examine the case.

Mr Bhatia was peeved at the decision of the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, to withdraw the case against 21 officials and contractor R.S. Sodhi.

In a demi-official letter written to the Principal Secretary, Mr Bhatia stated that it was shocking that Mr Virk had agreed to the proposal for the cancellation of the case. The matter was serious and action should be taken against the erring police officials. The government should also inquire into the professional misconduct of the police officials.

An FIR was registered on behalf of the General Manager, thermal plant, under Sections 406, 409 and 120(B), IPC, against Sodhi and his accomplices on charges of swindling more than Rs 50 lakh from EPF accounts of labourers working in the plant.

The inquiry into the case was earlier marked by the then DGP to the ADGP (Crime). On the basis of the inquiry conducted by the ADGP, the then DGP directed the SSP, Ropar, to submit a challan against 14 engineering wing and seven finance wing officials. The crime wing also informed the PSEB (Vigilance) that the directions in this regard had been sent to the SSP, Ropar.

However, in contravene to the orders of the former DGP the Ropar police submitted a cancellation report in a court in 2004.


Vote on motion of thanks today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
The conclusion of discussion on the Governor’s address and vote on the motion of thanks would be carried out tomorrow in the Punjab Assembly.

This was originally scheduled for today. But the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, said, “I have received a communication from the Chief Minister that it will not be feasible for him to attend the session as he is indisposed." The discussion will be held immediately after question hour.

The Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), had addressed the Assembly on February 20.


Enforce ban on cow slaughter: dera chief
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 28
The chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has criticised the government for not strictly enforcing the law on the prevention of cow slaughter.

Normal life came to a halt for more than five hours as thousands of devotees converged at the new grain market on the outskirts of the town today to attend the function. Special counters were set up at the railway station and the bus stand to guide devotees coming from neighboring areas.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, vice-president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Surjit Jyani, state president, BJP Kisan Morcha, Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, and Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary, were present, among other dignitaries.


Mansa observes bandh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
A near-complete bandh was observed today in Mansa city over the issue of a sub-way under the railway line that passes through the middle of the city. Even medical shops remained closed in the city.

For the past several years, residents of Mansa had been urging the State and the Central Government to provide a subway under the railway line. However, their demand has not been met so far. People face lots of problems there because the railway crossing remains closed for most of the time. There is high frequency of rail traffic on the Bathinda-Delhi rail line that passes through Mansa. That is why, residents there are asking for the construction of the underpass.

Dr Harmanderjit Kaur Joga, who along with other eminent citizens has set up a struggle committee to get the demand for the subway accepted, told The Tribune on the phone from Mansa, that former member of Parliament from Bathinda, late Bhan Singh Bhaura, had allocated money from the fund which was at his disposal.

She said that residents had started an indefinite dharna near the railway line in support of their demand of the subway. Large number of people today marched to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. They submitted a memorandum to him in this regard. 


Miraculous escape for 2 families
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 28
About 15 persons of two families of a 150-year-old three-storey dilapidated building had a miraculous escape when its front portion collapsed here today.

Located in the serpentine narrow lane, Kaddan Wali Gali, near Bombay Wala Khoo, in the Walled City, the families have been living on rent in the building belonging to Asha Rani.

Meanwhile, the civil and police administration had a tough task to persuade the families to come out of the unsafe house.

Taking risk, Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM, entered the house and convinced the families to rush out of the house.

The two families feared that they would lose the occupation of the house once they came out of it.

Mr Gurwaryam Singh said the house had already been declared unsafe but neither the owner nor the tenant tried to repair it. 


Troops show preparedness for nuclear warfare
Our Correspondent

Somewhere in the western Sector, February 28
Simulated conditions were created for training the troops to handle nuclear biological and chemical warfare somewhere in the western sector today.

Wearing special clothing ensuring protection from nuclear and chemical troops in the modern day conflicts, which are going to be of short duration and the battles would be fought with all intensity, the Army had been trained to prove their mental and physical superiority to achieve the motto - fight to win. Amidst shouting of slogans Bole so Nihal and Har Har Mahadev, the troops under nuclear and biological attack fought brilliantly to capture the initiative was the highlight of the mock exercises involving the Panther Division of the Vajra Corps in pursuit of operational excellence.

A spokesman of the fighting division said highly motivated troops, professionally trained synergied the force to ensure all-round victory. He said historical battles had hardened the troops responsible for the operations in the highly developed terrain of Punjab.

He said operations in the plains of Punjab were replete with artificial and natural obstacles including canals, ditch cum bunds, dhussi and built-up areas. The spokesman added crossing and clearing of these hurdles require definite incisive techniques and training, which required clock-like precision.

The troops are equipped and trained to handle military operations in built-up areas where troops slither from helicopter to secure important objectives in depth besides fighting to mopping up the areas with the help of air force, mechanized forces, artillery etc.


Talwara Rock Garden fails to attract visitors
Bipin Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Talwara: Even after two years of its establishment, Rock Garden in Talwara township here has failed to attract visitors, thanks to the authorities of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Talwara township, which boasts of developing Phase-I after clearing Sector 4 from illegal possession of some highly influential persons.

After removing many dwelling units in Sector 4, the “garden of waste” is being developed by the BBMB over 20 hectares under the guidance of Nek Chand, creator of Rock Garden in Chandigarh.

Though the authorities claim to have started proper utilisation of the board's land after removing encroachments, however, members of different unions of the BBMB employees alleged that senior officers had been using Rock Garden as a tool for minting money. Leaders of these employees unions alleged that the senior officers in the management had been allotting various types of work to contractors on higher rates despite using board’s own manpower.

They also alleged that the management had failed to develop the garden even after spending huge sums of money in the past two years.

A visit by The Tribune team to Rock Garden revealed that some of the creations made from the sanitary goods waste were damaged. A museum “Wonder drift woods” collected from the Beas had been lying in a deplorable condition with many items broken, including a glass of the main door of the museum.

The fountains had gathered moss. The unfenced lawns had virtually turned into a grazing ground for stray cattle. In the absence of any guard, Rock Garden has been proving a safe hideout for drug addicts and others.

When contacted Mr N.K Jasrai, Chief Engineer (Beas Dam), BBMB, Talwara township, denied the allegations. He, however, made it clear that Rock Garden was still in a developing stage. Mr Jasrai also added that the department had deputed keepers and guards for proper maintenance of the garden.


Students burn effigies of Bush
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 28
In protest against the visit of Mr George W. Bush, President of USA, to India tomorrow, activists and members of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) today burnt the effigies of Mr Bush at Sunam, Mastuana Sahib and Sangrur.

The students of local Government Ranbir College held a rally and raised slogans against Mr Bush. They burnt the effigy of Mr Bush at the main gate of the college.

The students of the ITI, Sunam, also held a rally and burnt the effigy of Mr Bush.


SGPC chief gives Rs 5 lakh for sangeet bhavan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 28
The President of the SGPC, Jathedar Avtar Singh, said his sole motto was to serve the cause of the "panth" and made an announcement of Rs 5 lakh for the construction of Gurmat Sangeet Bhavan as the two-day celebrations of Gurmat Sangeet Utsav ended at Punjabi University here today.

He visited the site of Gurmat Sangeet Bhavan, under construction, and appreciated the initiative taken by the university with regard to Sikh philosophy and traditions, calling it a torch-bearer. He promised all help to the university

The valedictory session was presided over by the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai. Other present on the occasion were Jathedar Balwant Singh, Nandgarh, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Bibi Jasbir Kaur Khalsa, SGPC member, Jathedar Surjit Singh and Mr Shivdev Singh.

Bhai Sikandar Singh Bagrian shed light on the evolution of classical music in his comparative study of Gurmat Sangeet and Hindustani classical music.

Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh congratulated the university for the overall welfare of the community as well as upliftment of the educationally backward area of Talwandi Sabo.

Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian presented a brief account of deliberations of the academic sessions and performances of two days while Dr Gurnam Singh, Head, Department of Gurmat Sangeet, shed light on the various activities and extension programmes of the Gurmat Sangeet Department. 


High Court
Notice issued in Ludhiana city centre case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 28
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 17 on a petition filed by Baldev Singh and another person, who were original owners of a portion of land that the Ludhiana Improvement Trust has earmarked for a city centre.

In their petition filed through advocate Rajan Gupta, the petitioners have claimed that their land was acquired in 1978 for public purpose.

They have claimed that they were not paid compensation also.

Last year, the petition says, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust entered into a contract with a private company - Today Homes, New Delhi - for setting up of the Rs 300-crore city centre.

The project, spread over 25 acres of prime land in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Ludhiana, has been mired in controversies, particularly the one relating to alleged irregularities in grant of contract to Today Homes.

Saying that they had challenged the acquisition of their land earlier also, after which the High Court had told them to make a representation in this regard to the government, the petitioners have stated that their plea was not allowed by the trust.

Claiming that rules are being violated in the entire process pertaining to the city centre, the petitioners have said that as per the land utilisation rules, not more than 4 per cent of the area can be used for commercial purposes.

However, in this case, the area is much more. In order to facilitate the construction of the city centre, the width of a road has almost been halved, while a school site has been removed. Also, land of a park has been included in the site for the city centre, the petition alleges.

During preliminary hearing today, Mr Rajan Gupta told the court that no public purpose would be served by the project.

After hearing him, the Bench of Mr Justice J.S. Narang and Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall issued notice of motion for March 17.


Engineer jailed for 3 years in bribe case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 28
Mr G.S. Gill, Special Judge, CBI, Punjab, today sentenced P.K. Verma, Commander Works Engineer (CWE), Military Engineering Service (MES), to three years' rigorous imprisonment (RI) after holding him guilty of taking bribe from a contractor in lieu of making him payments of his outstanding bills.

Apart from this, Mr Gill has also ordered that the convict would also be liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000.

Mr R.L. Negi, Senior Public Prosecutor, CBI, who participated in the court proceedings, while talking to The Tribune, said that Mr Verma was caught red-handed by a team of CBI on June 23, 2000, while he was demanding and accepting the bribe from the contractor, Mr Paramjit Singh.

He added the accused had demanded and accepted a bribe of Rs 5,000 from Mr Paramjit Singh for the purpose of effecting payments against his (Mr Paramjit Singh) two outstanding bills for Rs 45,000 and Rs 85,000 which had been pending since November, 1999. These bills were connected with the earlier contracts awarded to Mr Paramjit Singh by the MES.


Lawyers rue shrinking of district
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 28
The lawyers of the District Bar Association, Fatehgarh Sahib, today held a meeting and strongly condemned the decision of the government to include 11 villages of the district in the proposed SAS Nagar district.

Mr Amrardeep Singh Dharni, president of the District bar Association, said the people of the district had already been demanding inclusion of Khanna and Samrala areas in the district to make it a full-fledged district but instead of accepting their demand, the government decided to make the district smaller by taking away 11 villages.

He said the bar association would launch an agitation in this regard and also supported the demand of Ropar Bar Association and District Bar Association, Patiala.

He added that this decision adversely affect the reputation of the government and demanded more area for the district.


Punjab farmers bowled over by Pak basmati rice
Seed screened, purified by PAU
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 28
Pakistan’s superior quality basmati rice has acquired new name “Shabnam” and Punjab farmers have adopted this variety in a big way.

Awaiting recognition from the central government under the seed Act, The All-India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) and its Punjab unit have already written to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take up the matter of recognition with the Union Agriculture Ministry of certification of Shabnam as basmati as it meets the definition of basmati as its parentage has been identified as per existing norms.

Vice-President of the AIREA K.R.S. Sobti, who has been fighting the cause of shabnam said it was the ideal paddy crop to be adopted for diversification. He said Punjab’s soil and agro-climate were best suited for the crop, code named as RYT 2660 by Punjab Agricultural University PAU.

This crop was first released to Punjab farmers for Kharif season 2003 by the Department of Plant Breeding at PAU Ludhiana. It was developed by the Regional Rice Research Station Kapurthala. This high-yielding rice variety already had created a niche in the markets of Europe and other countries and has been recognised by the Union Ministry of Commerce for export.

Giving background of the seed, Mr Sobti said in 1998 progressive farmers Mr Surinder Singh and Kuldip Singh, both brothers, during a pilgrimage to Pakistan got two kg seed of super basmati. This super turned out to be a promising potential for Punjab farmers. As word about the seed spread the scientists at the PAU visited their Barindpur village in Kapurthala in 1999 and was handed over 5 kg bag of seed by the farmer-brothers.

At the PAU under the guidance of Research Director, Department of Plant Breeders Dr G.S. Nanda worked on the seed of super basmati for three years. Through scientific selection and screening the seed was purified. Satisfied at the seed trials PAU scientists distributed shabnam seed to farmers at the kisan mela in 2003. Mr Sobti said in 2005 more than 30, 000 tonnes of super basmati was made available to millers of the state, which was a quantum jump of the crop grown in 1200 hectares of the state.

Predicting bright future for the crop Mr Sobti said Kharif 2006 season is expected to cover more than 10 times super quality. Farmers, millers and exporters were delighted at the cultivation of super basmati and it was expected to capture price points between the cheap Pusa variety, an expensive tradition basmati, and would help increase profitability.

Indian and Pakistani farmers on both sides of the border have become agriculture allies as far as basmati cultivation was concerned. This is for the first time that Pakistani seed has found formal recognition in India. Traditional basmati seed (370) also found way into Indian fields after the 1965 war when large tracts of basmati-growing fields in Sialkot and Sargodha were under Indian occupation.

The variety is the star of exports of basmati from Pakistan and similar in shape but cooks better. However, the central government has not been allowing export at this variety as it is not recognised as basmati under the Seed Act.


Blind murder case solved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 28
Dispute over smack led to the brutal killing of a notorious criminal, Lucky, alias Lukas, known as “Lucky chor” in the area. The police has arrested another notorious criminal, Mohan Pal, alias Monu, who was out on bail allegedly in the second case of murder.

The district police chief, Mr R.P.S. Brar, addressing a press conference here today, said the police had been able to solve the blind murder of Lucky whose headless and limbless half burnt body was found in a garbage dump in the Putlighar area. Giving details of the case, the SSP said Monu had hired a person whose identity had been kept secret. He said, according to preliminary investigations, Monu was nabbed during routine checking and found to be in possession of 200 gm of smack and on sustained probe, he admitted to have got Lucky killed through his friend.

The SSP said, Lucky was also involved in seven criminal cases, including five attempts to murder in the Islamabad and civil lines areas of the city.

Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP (City), conducting the probe into the case, said Monu had hired another addict and his friend and offered to give him 200 gm of smack, which was later seized from him. He said the deceased had snatched 5 gm of smack from Monu and also beaten him up.

The accused had decided to take revenge of the humiliation and hired another drug addict to get rid of Lucky. Later when Monu was informed about the killing, he immediately reached the spot and severed his head and limbs and dumped the body in the garbage.


Centre to run M. tech, MBA courses
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur February 28
The regional campus of Guru Nanak Dev University here would now offer five-year M. tech and MBA courses to the students from the next academic season. Mr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, made an announcement in this regard at the regional campus. He also said efforts were being made to run bio-technology courses at the centre.

He was here today to inaugurate the boys hostel built at a cost of Rs 2 crore. The hostel can accommodate 200 students.

The Gurdaspur and Jalandhar regional centres of the university would be developed as mini-universities in the coming years. The centres would be allowed to run need-based courses in their respective areas.

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