P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Wordy duel between CM, Badal in House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
A wordy duel between the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, marked the passing of the Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s Address in the Punjab Assembly today. Motions moved for amendments to the Governor’s Address by the Opposition were rejected by the Treasury Benches.

While the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Badal, confronted Capt Amarinder Singh with his (Congress) party’s manifesto and the “failure” to fulfil any of the major promises made in it, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state was marching ahead in leaps and bounds and had become the most preferred destination for investment in the country. The Captain focussed mostly on development projects and what his government did in the past four years in the state. However, Mr Badal’s speech was loaded with political punches directed against the ruling party. Besides personal allegations, the House witnessed moments of tension and also retorts between the two leaders. The House saw several interruptions by MLAs when Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Badal spoke.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that in the past four years he had put the economy of the state back on the rails. The state’s growth rate, which was only 2.41 per cent in 2001-02, was now 5.39 per cent and during the next financial year it would be 6.4 per cent. The government had decided to increase the allocation of funds for the Punjab Nirman Project to Rs 600 crore. The fiscal deficit, which was Rs 4959 crore during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government, had come down to Rs 597 crore. The revenue deficit had come down to 3.83 per cent from 5.33 per cent. Committed expenditure on salaries had come down to 97.62 per cent from 118 per cent.

He said the state would become self-sufficient in the next three years because of the projects initiated by his government. At present, the gap between demand and supply of power was about 2,300 MW. The government had planned to add 7,000 MW to the state’s power generation kitty in the next three years. Of this 2,700 MW would be allocated from its thermal plants by the Union Government.

He said the state had attracted investment of Rs 56,273 crore during his government’s tenure and it would reach to Rs 1 lakh crore by the end of this year as major industrial houses such as Tatas, and the Reliance Group were keen to set up projects in Punjab. He justified the investment in townships by big builders. Because of this reason, the prices of agricultural land had gone up in Punjab, gearing up the process of capital formation in the state. He said there was a significant increase in the state’s revenue because of the implementation of VAT and a better excise policy.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the previous government led by Mr Badal remained confined to panchayat-level politics and did nothing to take Punjab forward.

He said his government was committed to pursuing the corruption cases against Mr Badal and others. It was not political vendetta against Mr Badal but the law taking its own course.

Earlier, Mr Badal said the Amarinder Singh government had wrecked the state. The health services were in a shambles, the education system had collapsed, police atrocities had become the order of the day and corruption was widespread. Referring to the Sukhi case, he said it was potentially an explosive issue. Not a single unit had been added to the power kitty of the state. Punjab had slipped to the fifth place from the first position with regard to the per capita income.

The government deceived farmers by making false promise regarding giving free power to them. They had to wait for four years to get free power from Capt Amarinder Singh.

Traders were also treated in a similar way. Octroi had not been abolished yet, though a promise was made. No promise made to Dalits and employees had been kept. Not a single person had been given a job in the state and members of the Punjab Public Service Commission and the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board had no work to do.

Reading out from a copy of the ruling party’s manifesto, Mr Badal made an attempt to prove the party wrong on its claims regarding the fulfilment of 63 of the 65 promises made in the manifesto during the last Assembly elections.


Hooda turns up at Assembly
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, turned up to watch the proceedings of the Punjab Assembly during the discussion on the Governor’s Address and Motion of Thanks here this afternoon.


Mohali to be 18th dist from April 13
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
It is official now. Mohali will start functioning as the 18th district of Punjab from April 13, at the time of the Baisakhi festival in this region.

This was announced today by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the floor of the state Assembly. However, Capt Amarinder Singh refrained from making an announcement regarding the setting up the Greater Mohali Development Authority. He also announced the creation of two new subdivisions — one with headquarters at Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district and the other with headquarters at Patran in Patiala.

For the past four years, the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, had been pursuing the issue of giving the status of district headquarters to Mohali to give a boost to development in this region with the objective of attracting industries such as IT and electronics. The Chief Minister assured Mr Bir Devinder Singh in the House that he was also examining the proposal regarding the setting up of the Authority.

Capt Amarinder Singh said Dera Bassi, Kharar and Mohali subdivisions would be part of Mohali district which was expected to be named Ajit Singh Nagar. After the approval of the Council of Ministers, a notification would be issued regarding the creation of the new district. The Union Government’s approval will also be sought in this regard, it is learnt.

Sources said that there would be a hurdle in including certain villages of Fatehgarh Sahib district and the Banur area of Patiala district in the new district. The government was earlier given legal advice that it was not possible for it to include these villages of Fatehgarh Sahib district and the Banur areas because of the restriction imposed by the National Delimitation Commission with regard to the altering of the boundary of any subdivision till the finalisation of the report on the delimitation of Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

However, sources in the commission said the report by it regarding the delimitation of various constituencies in Punjab would be handed over to the Union Government by the end of this month. After that the Punjab Government would be free to include any area from Fatehgarh Sahib and Banur in the new district.

As the state government is expected to issue the notification regarding the new district in the first week of April, it can include any area in the new district without any legal hassle.

Responding to a question raised by Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, Congress MLA from Anandpur Sahib, regarding the pruning of Ropar district, Capt Amarinder Singh said that he would try to compensate this district by including some areas from other neighbouring districts. Mr Sharma had stated that the Ropar district had been reduced to just a small territory by excluding certain areas from it to form first Fatehgarh Sahib district and now Mohali district.

The Chief Minister did not make any announcement regarding the setting up of the Notified Area Committee at Nayagaon. Sources said that the declaration to be made in this connection had been held back for the time being because of certain legal hassles for the removal of which the Union Government had been approached.


Mohali to be ultramodern police district
Prabhjot Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Policing in the new district of Mohali will be on ultramodern lines, says the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk. All police stations in the district will have computer connectivity.

Talking to The Tribune here this afternoon, Mr Virk said the Police Department would be ready to take control of the new district on April 13, Baisakhi day. Though the number of police subdivisions would be three — Mohali, Kharar and Dera Bassi — the number of police stations might be almost double the present strength.

At present, Mohali has three police stations.

A meeting of senior officials of the department was held today to discuss the modalities for policing the new district. Mr Virk, who presided over the meeting, said the district would have an ultramodern police lines with facilities like a parade ground, playfields, an administrative block, residential a block and a wireless centre. The new police stations proposed for Mohali district include an all-woman police station, CIA staff and a special economic offences Cell with the status of a police station.

Mr Virk said since the new district would have borders with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, the Mohali police would have to put up special checkposts at inter-state border points.

Mr Virk said in the new district emphasis would also be laid on regulating inter-state vehicular traffic. The location of new police stations, police posts and checkposts would be in accordance with the density of population in each pocket of the new district. For traffic management, the existing roads, the proposed roads and the volume of traffic on them would be taken into consideration.

Mr Virk said another meeting of the police chiefs of both Ropar and Patiala with senior officials of the department would be held tomorrow to finalise the plans.

Since the new district would get three police subdivisions from Ropar, it would form a part of the Ludhiana range and not the Patiala range.

Another area of focus for the department would be controlling and checking inter-state and inter-district crime. Since Mohali would be a model district for showcasing it to the world as an IT destination, planning would be aimed at meeting the policing needs for the next 10 years with provision for expansion and addition for a further period of 10 years, Mr Virk added.


House panel to probe exemption to colonisers
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Following yesterday’s pandemonium in the Punjab Assembly, the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, today announced the formation of a committee of the House to probe the exemption granted in land acquisition to private colonisers in Amritsar.

A committee to probe allegations against a member of the House, that too a Minister, or former Ministers, is a rare occurrence. The scope of the committee, on a demand raised in the House, has been expanded to look into similar exemptions granted during the tenure of the Shiromani Akali Dal-led government in Punjab.

The demand for setting up a committee had come from the Congress MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, and also the Akalis, who wanted a probe into the exemption granted to a 32.10 acre complex of private colonisers in Amritsar. They had demanded that a committee should be set up to probe the allegations against the Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Jagjit Singh. Yesterday, the Akalis had stormed into the well of the House on two occasions forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today demanded in the House that the committee should also probe the exemptions granted by the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-led government to three other colonisers under the same scheme and in the same area. The SAD had then left out 62 acres from being acquired by the Improvement Trust, Amritsar, the Chief Minister said. He informed the House that the Improvement Trust had started off to acquire 272 acres in 1996 but the plan was shelved. This scheme was revived during the SAD-led regime, which then exempted Amarjit Enclave, Mohan Vihar and Doctors Society. The Congress regime exempted Veer Enclave, which measures 32.10 acres.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, agreed to “ any kind of probe” and demanded “ that all land that had been exempted from acquisition anywhere in the state must be probed”. The scope of the committee and its terms of reference will be announced later. Members of the Treasury Benches and also the Opposition will be on board.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh had said that the land was worth more than Rs 100 crore and such an exemption had caused loss to the state exchequer.


State not to opt for online lotteries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Punjab will not opt for online lotteries fearing the misappropriation of funds, the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, informed the Punjab Assembly here today. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has also turned down a scheme to have online lotteries and advised the states against it.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the state would soon have a policy to promote organic farming.

The House was informed by the Minister of State for Social Welfare, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, that no money could be released for the construction of dharamshalas for the Scheduled Castes.

Also, no funds had been released by the state for the construction of houses for the poor under the Indira Awas Yojna in the past two years. The Minister for Rural Development, Mr Lal Singh, said an allocation of Rs 3.85 crore was made during the last financial year while an allocation of Rs 6.92 crore was made in this financial year.

Replying to a separate question on free power, Mr Lal Singh, who is also the Power Minister, said the government would consider providing free water in kandi areas where farmers had to pay for water drawn from tubewells sunk by the Punjab Tubewell Corporation.

The Minister for Animal Husbandry, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, informed the House that 2,217 posts were vacant in the Veterinary Department.

Meanwhile a habitat centre has been approved for Mohali and tenders for it have been invited, the Minister for Housing, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, said. The building was scheduled to be completed within one year and would cost Rs 4.28 crore.


Nod to international airport at Halwara
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
The Union Government has given its nod to the Punjab Government’s proposal to set up an international airport at Halwara, near Ludhiana. This was stated today by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the state Assembly.

The Centre had been sitting on the proposal of setting up the airport in Punjab for several months. Earlier, the state government had submitted a proposal to set up the airport at Laddowal, near Ludhiana. However, that proposal did not find favour with the Union Government.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that the airport at Halwara, which was at present an important airbase, would also have the cargo handling facility. In absence of any airport of international standards, Punjab had been facing a big problem of connectivity with the main cities in India and abroad.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Planning Commission had accepted the state government’s proposal for a special package worth Rs 2,040 crore for various development activities in Punjab. This had been forwarded to the Union Government for the necessary action.

Making some important announcements in the House while speaking on the Motion for Thanks on the Governor’s Address, Capt Amarinder Singh said that the state government would set up an international business school in association the with Thapar Group. The motion was passed by voice vote though the Opposition opposed it.

An economic corridor between Mohali and Ludhiana would be set up. Special emphasis would be laid on building “high-speed” roads between the two cities to facilitate the movement of passenger and goods traffic. He said work on six-laning the Ambala-Jalandhar and Ludhiana-Chandigarh roads would start in April and be completed by March next year.

He said the National Institute of Science to be funded by the Union Government would be set up in Jalandhar. The government would establish an education commission of experts for reforms in the education sector in the state. He reiterated the setting up of a law university near Chandigarh and a national institute of biotechnology near Dera Bassi.

He said the state government would soon pass an Act with regard to Punjab rural indebtedness. He also announced a proposal to pass the Punjab self-supporting cooperative societies Act. Sources said that the draft of the Act regarding the rural indebtedness was ready. It had been examined by experts. However, its contents were being kept secret. The sources said that it would be presented in the House a day before its last sitting in the second week of this month.

There are reports that Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to do “something very special” by getting the rural indebtedness Bill passed in the House. The sources said that with the passing of the Bill, the system of moneylending by commission agents to farmers would be streamlined. Only those payments to farmers would be considered valid which were made by cheque by commission agents.


SGPC wants list of youths killed by police cats
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 1
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh today appealed to the government to release the list of the innocent youths killed by the rehabilitated terrorists (cats) so that parents of such victims stop search for their “missing” children.

He was in the city to attend a function organised at Guru Nanak Engineering College on the completion of 100 days in office.

Talking to reporters, he said the government should also release the list of the ‘cats’ who carried rewards on their heads and the names of the police officers rehabilitated the terrorists and pocketed the reward money. Many police officers were also given out of turn promotions, he pointed out.

He said the human rights image of the country had taken a beating in the eyes of the international community. Not only this, extra-judicial measures adopted by the government during those days also dealt a blow to the judiciary and democracy in the country, he added.

The SGPC chief warned that in case the government did not release the lists they would compile it on their own and raise the issue before the human rights forum of the United Nations. The rehabilitation policy had demoralised the youth of the state and this was one of the reasons they were turning apostate, he added.

Commenting on the programmes of the committee, he said that they had started the Amrit Chhako- Singh Sajo campaign in which 1. 25 lakh youngsters would be baptised by this year end. So far 40, 000 youngsters had been baptised. A majority of the Sikh outfits and the Sant Samaj were helping in this exercise, he revealed.

The idea was to baptise all Sikhs in the country to check drug abuse, he added.

Efforts are also being made to streamline and upgrade facilities at the institutions managed by the SGPC and for greater coordination a post of director was also being created, he added.


Punjab farmers’ suicides not related to debt alone, says study
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
"It would be unfair, unjust and untruthful to say that the pressures of farming are such, so as to lead a person to commit suicide. At the same time, farming does not yield sufficient income to meet important social and personal expenditures and this often leads to crisis. But there is no evidence it leading to suicide," said Dr M Rajivlochan at Panjab University here today.

Reporting from a micro-study conducted by him for the Yavatmal district in the cotton-producing belt of Maharashtra, Dr Rajivlochan pointed out that even though widely believed, there were reasons extraneous to debts that have led to suicides.

"Present-day farming is essentially a debt-based activity. Almost 90 per cent of the farmers in this region are indebted. In fact, there were cases where the person who had committed suicide had no debt whatsoever. Debt could be one of the many factors but not the sole factor and in many cases not even one of the major factors," he said.

"In fact in Yavatmal with the information spreading in villages that debt-related suicides might lead the family to get compensation, undue importance started being given to this fact," he said, adding that over 40 per cent of the reported suicide cases had been examined as part of this study.

"Ever since Durkheim did his path-breaking work on suicides we know that only those commit suicide who are depressed beyond hope, without much social support or those who wish to sacrifice their all so that others may benefit. The Punjabi farmer has neither given up hope, even in the face of the great adversity nor does he wish to sacrifice himself at the altar of food-production," he added.

"The Yavatmal rural society, like any other, is caught in a scissors crisis, wherein the cost of technological inputs into farming continues to sky-rocket while the price of agricultural output has fallen drastically. But despite such economic pressures, farmers constituted less than 10 per cent of the total number of suicides committed during the past 10 years. The number of agricultural labourers and housewives who committed suicide was far more than that of farmers," he said.

Illness and expenditure on the marriage of daughters were the more important reasons. In fact, in as much as 65 per cent of the cases where a farmer had committed suicide, he was actually doing well in his farm-related activities.

All his income, however, was being eaten up by his own illness or that of someone else in the family. A complete absence of government medical facilities, the rapacity and cupidity of doctors, both private and government, was what pushed him over the brink, said Dr Rajivlochan. Chronic alcoholism worsened the situation.

Government procurement rates were attractive but in the absence of cash payments, the farmer was forced to take informal loans, usually from kinsmen, at exorbitant rates and risked losing his land to his own brother, cousin or uncle. Farming loans were actually taken for non-farming activities.

Dr Rajivlochan suggested while credit availability to the farmer had to be improved, creation of a Rural Health Insurance Scheme on the lines of that in Karnataka would also go a long way in helping out farmers.

"Moreover, people in villages need to be trained in industrial crafts so that they could earn a non-agrarian livelihood too. He also suggested the creation of neighbourhood support groups to provide peer initiated counselling," he said.


SAD (A) office-bearers face disciplinary action
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 1
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann said his party would take strict disciplinary action against its vice-president Dhyan Singh Mand and general secretary Jaskarn Singh for their participation in the “Virsa sambhal Sikh sammelan” organised by Damdami Taksal and a section of Sant Samaj in violation of the party directive.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Mann said he was upset over the development that senior functionaries of the party had attended the sammelan.

Coming heavily on certain Sikh sants, Mr Mann said they had no locus standi in Sikhism as the Sikhs believed in Guru Granth Sahib and sangat only. He alleged that such Sikh sants had been indulging in violation of Sikh “rehat maryada” and refused to recognise the Nanakshahi calendar.

He asked as to why Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was a “mute spectator” to the developments when such Sikh sants had refused to accept the “rehat maryada”. Mr Mann alleged there were reports that certain self-styled sants were found guilty of moral turpitude.

Expressing surprise on the participation of Mr Avtar Singh, President, SGPC, in the “Virsa sambhal Sikh sammelan”, Mr Mann said he (SGPC chief) should clarify his position in this regard.


Protest against Bush’s visit
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, March 1
While activists of the Lok Morcha, Punjab, are gearing up for protest against US President George W. Bush’s visit to India outside the US Embassy in New Delhi, BKU (Ekta) activists today burnt Mr Bush’s effigy to lodge their protest on the issue.

In a press note issued here, Lok Morcha leaders alleged that the USA was behind the policies of globalisation and privatisation, which the Central and state governments were “pursuing in the name of reforms”. As a result of this, farm subsidies were going down and agricultural inputs were rising, they charged.

“On one hand the farmers are trapped in the vicious cycle of debt and on the other employment opportunities are being taken away from the labourers,” they said.

They alleged that the unemployed were being denied jobs and small traders being ruined. “The government has opened banking, insurance and media for private companies, which doesn’t auger well for the country,” they claimed.

They alleged that decisions of sending Indian forces to other countries were being taken at the behest of the USA. “By siding with the USA on the Iran issue at the IAEA India has spoiled its relations with Iran,” they said.

The leaders demanded that India should cancel all its agreements with the USA in defence and other areas, as they were “anti-people.”

BKU (Ekta) activists today converged at Gole Diggi and burnt the effigy of the US President blaming developed nations for “anti-farmer policies” of the Union and state governments. The union vice-president, Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, and its district chief Shingara Singh Mann addressed the protesters.

Amritsar: Various farmer organisations on the call given by their joint front today burnt the effigy of Mr Bush in protest against the policies of the World Trade Organisation WTO).

Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said the farmer organisations were ready to fight to safeguard their rights.

He alleged that the government under the pressure of the WTO was implementing the policies that would ruin the Indian farmers.

SANGRUR: Activists of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the union, today burnt the effigy of Mr Bush at Traffic Lights Chowk, near main bus stand, here in protest against the visit of Mr Bush to India and “imperialistic policies” of the Bush administration.

The protesters, who gathered at the New Grain Market here, took out a protest march from the market to the Traffic Lights Chowk to lodge their protest against Mr Bush’s India visit. They also raised slogans against Mr Bush and the USA for their imperialistic policies.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Ugrahan said the Indian Government was heading rapidly towards implementing the “anti-people” policies of the Bush administration. He said by importing five lakh tonnes of wheat, the Union Government wanted to ruin the farmers of the country, especially the Punjab.

Mr Ugrahan said as part of the imperialistic policies, about 375 acres of three villages near Barnala had been acquired by the state government forcibly to hand over the same to an industrialist.

He said the union would not allow the forcible acquisition of land of the farmers any where in the state. He said the party would take out a “flag march” on March 7 at Fatehgarh Chhanna, Dhaula and Sangherra villages to make aware the people about the forcible acquisition of land by the government for industrialists.

Mr Hardeep Singh Tallewal, state organising secretary of the union, Mr Bukan Singh Sadowal, district president of the union, Mr Dalwara Singh Chhajla, senior vice-president of the district unit of the union, Mr Dilbag Singh Harigarh, president of Sunam block of the union, and Mr Balbir Singh Jhaloor, president of the Lehragaga block of the union, took part in the protest.


Sikligirs flee as probe into child marriage ordered
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, March 1
Members of the Sikligir tribe late last night migrated to unknown places as the Tehsildar-cum-Executive Magistrate, Mr M. L. Puri, reportedly recommended in his inquiry report that the parents of the minor brides and grooms be booked under the Child Marriage Prevention Act, sources said.

The families had settled here for the past few years in temporary huts raised near Seeto Road. The parents and relatives, living below the poverty line, of the grooms had arrived from Bahawalbassi village and Balluana of this subdivision on Sunday.

SDM Jaskiran Singh, taking cognisance of the media report, ordered a probe on Monday. The Tehsildar, Mr Puri, asked the SHO of the city police concerned to summon the families involved in the episode. However, fearing trouble, the members of the community started fleeing.

Only Mrs Premo (70), widow of Pada and grandmother of the grooms, could be contacted. She reportedly told the inquiry officer that by marrying minor children, they had maintained the century-old tradition of their tribal community. They had their origin in Rajasthan where child marriage was common. She too was married at six years age but went to her in-laws’ place after becoming an adult.

Asserting that they had not committed any offence, Mrs Premo reportedly said the grooms were minor but their brides would be allowed to go to the in-laws’ houses only after they were 18 years, she added.

Official sources confirmed that the Sikligir families had fled Bahawalbassi and Balluana villages.


Kang writes to Azad on poultry ban
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 1
The Minister for Animal Husbandry Fisheries and Dairy Development, Punjab, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, today wrote to the Chief Minister, J and K, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, and requested him to lift the ban on import of poultry and poultry products from Punjab.

Stating that the bird flu in Maharashtra had put all states on high alert, Mr Kang added that Punjab had increased monitoring and surveillance and the state was completely free from bird flu. Over 1000 samples of poultry and migratory birds had tested negative from the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory, Bhopal, he added.

“Despite the satisfactory situation, the Government of Punjab was shocked to note that the state of J & K had imposed a ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products from Punjab to J and K. Since Punjab is completely disease free, the logic of the ban does not seem to be clear”, stated the letter.

Meanwhile Chief Secretary, Punjab K.R. Lakhanpal would be holding a meeting tomorrow of all Deputy Commissioners, Deputy Directors Animal Husbandry, Civil Surgeons and Wildlife Wardens of Forest Department in order to discuss the preparedness of the departments in respect of bird flu.


Cases of atrocities on SCs to be reviewed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 1
“The conviction rate in cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state has been only 8 per cent since 1989. So it has been decided to review all cases that were cancelled earlier due to lack of evidence etc,” said Mr Naranjan Singh, Chairman of the Punjab State Scheduled Caste Commission.

He was speaking after holding a meeting with district administrative officials here today.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the commission had solved 197 cases this year. He said the aim of the commission was to provide justice to the Scheduled Castes.

“We have been visiting various districts so that the officials of the administration could be made aware of the prevailing laws to protect the rights of SCs. The commission is also meeting representative of the SCs to understand their problems,” he added.


Lawyers’ protest continues
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 1
Protesting against the proposal of the state government to make Mohali a separate district, advocates of the district courts today, again remained struck work. Several political leaders of various political parties expressed anguish at decision.

The Parliamentary Secretary Industry and Commerce and MLA, Nangal, town, K.P.S Rana, along with district Congress president Amarjit Singh Saini, today met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh in this regard. Mr Rana told reporters here the Chief Minister had assured then that the state government had been planning to set-up various industrial units in other sub-divisions of the district so there was no nothing to worry about. Lawyers’ protest continues. On the other hand, the district president of the BSP, Mr Charanjit Singh Ghai, blamed the Chief Minister for taking this step for his party business interest. While addressing a gathering he said that it was strange that all other sub-divisions of the district had been ignored on the development front.


A.K. Dubey is CMD of FCI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 1
Punjab’s former Home Secretary A.K. Dubey has been appointed Chairman-cum- Managing Director (CMD), Food Corporation of India. Orders to relieve him of his present duties were issued today. Mr Dubey, a Punjab cadre IAS officer, had opted for deputation with the Government of India, when he was not selected as Chief Secretary in January.


JE looted, hurt
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 1
A junior engineer was looted by persons armed with knives near Bhukri village here this evening.

Mr Kamal Singh, who worked in Chandigarh, was injured and later his wallet allegedly snatched which contained Rs 10,000 and some important documents. He was going back to his village when the incident took place.

Mr Kamal Singh, who was going on a scooter, was stopped by three motor cycle-borne persons who said that they wanted some petrol.

Later they allegedly attacked him with knives and decamped after snatching the purse. He was taken to the Civil Hospital by members of his family.


Contest for aspiring lawyers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 1
Aspiring lawyers from across the law schools in the country will meet to compete for the National Consumer Law Moot Court Competition, to be held at Rayat College of Law on March 4 and 5.

Prof Paramjit S. Jaswal, Director Principal, Rayat College of Law, said that the teams from all over India were participating. Till date, 30 teams have confirmed their participation.

He further added that the teams from Bombay, Nagpur, Orissa and Benaras were also coming. “Each team would consist of three to four participants, most of them accompanied by teacher, guides,” he said.

The competition will be presided over by Judges of the High Courts, presidents of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, lawyers from the High Court and Consumer Courts and Senior Academicians in the field, he said.

The competition will be inaugurated by Mr Justice R.S. Mongia, Chief Justice (retd) and President Punjab State Commission. Justice A.L. Bahri will be the guest of honour and Justice K.C. Gupta, President UT Commission, will preside over the afternoon session. Justice H.S. Brar, former President of Punjab State Commission will preside over the valedictory function. Justice S.K. Jain will be the guest of honour.


Dashmesh academy: old students
meet to discuss crisis
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 1
Old students of the Dashmesh academy today met on its campus at Anandpur Sahib with a purpose to help it to overcome financial constraints. Members of the Old Students Academy Association passed a resolution to lend help to the academy to overcome the financial crisis it has been going through for some time.

It was decided at the meeting that a committee headed by the old students’ association, Mr Devinder Sandhu, would meet the management and trust.

Besides it, in another joint resolution passed, Mr Sandhu, with the endorsements from other members like Mr BPS Bhullar, transporter of Canada and Mr Harsimran Bal, decided to discuss this matter with Mr Prakash Singh Badal, chairman of Sri Dashmesh Academy Trust, and Mr Harsukhinder Badal, a member of the academy trust.


Non-payment of taxes by Registrar alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 1
Mr Varinder Pal Sharma, Finance and Development Officer (FDO), Guru Nanak Dev University, in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, stated that the Registrar had not paid taxes on non-monetary perks for the past three years.

When contacted, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, denied the allegation.

Mr Sharma said non-monetary perks in the shape of three guards, who remained on guard at his residence round the clock, a cook and a personal attendant were extended to the Registrar. He said accumulative tax on their (employees) pay was about Rs 1.25 lakh annually.

He said it was the moral duty of the Registrar being the Drawing and Disbursing Officer to pay the taxes. He said dues had not been paid since the new law was introduced in 2002-03.

Dr Bawa claimed that he had neither been given any security guard nor personal attendant at his residence.

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