P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab to give bonus if Centre refuses to compensate farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Punjab Government will give bonus to farmers who sold wheat to private traders if the Union Government refuses to compensate them.

This was made clear here today by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He said there were farmers in the state who sold their wheat to private traders at a price ranging between Rs 651 and Rs 670 per quintal. The records of such sales were available with officials of the Punjab Mandi Board in different grain markets.

Such farmers were required to be compensated because other farmers who had sold wheat to government agencies had got a price of Rs 700 per quintal which included Rs 50 as bonus given by the Union Government on April 21.

" I have requested the Union Government to also give bonus to the farmers who sold their wheat to private traders. In case the Union Government does not concede my request, the state government will compensate such farmers," he said. " If any farmer had sold his wheat at Rs 670 to a private trader,the state government will give him Rs 30 per quintal to compensate for the loss suffered by him by selling the wheat at a price lower than Rs 700", said the Chief Minister.

On April 21, the Centre had announced Rs 50 as bonus over and above the minimum support price of wheat( Rs 650 per quintal) to farmers who had sold their wheat to government procurement agencies. This year, private traders have bought substantial wheat stocks in Punjab.

He said he was not aware of any move by the Centre to transfer Chandigarh to Punjab. " Chandigarh belongs to Punjab and I want that it should be transferred to the state", he added. He said the Punjab Government had no objection if Haryana wanted the setting up a separate High Court for it.

When told that important posts in Chandigarh were with either officers of the Haryana Government or UT-cadre officers, Capt Amarinder Singh said that he would try find out the real position in this regard. Asked about the creation of the UT cadre in Chandigarh by the Union Government, violating the Punjab Reorganisation Act through which 60 per cent of the employees were to be posted from Punjab in the Chandigarh Administration, Capt Amarinder Singh said that he would get assessed the numerical strength of Punjab employees in the UT Administration.

When asked whether the number of Punjab employees in the Bhakra Beas Management Board had declined, he said he would get the issue examined. He said that compensation had been given to all 1984 riot-hit families in Punjab. He said the Shiromani Akali Dal had been instigating certain leaders of the affected families.

Asked about the implementation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders regarding the shifting of schools from residential areas, he said the Punjab Government had decided to approach the High Court again on this issue to inform it about the difficulties coming in the way of shifting such schools. He said that because of the shifting of such schools, the number of students who would be affected would be very high. There were about 7,000 such institutions.


Punjab hikes sugarcane price
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Punjab Government today increased the price of sugarcane by Rs 10 per quintal. At a meeting held here , the official price of sugarcane has been jacked up to Rs 125 per quintal from Rs 115.

It will be binding on the cooperative and private sugar mills to give at least Rs 125 per quintal to cane growers. However, if any private mill wants to give more than Rs 125 per quintal , there will be no restriction on it in this regard.

The government also dropped the proposal to privatise certain cooperative sugar mills.

The BKU( Rajewal) had sought a hike in the sugarcane price to Rs 150 per quintal. It had advanced the plea that last year certain private sugar mills had given up to Rs 160 per quintal.

As the price of sugar in the international prices is going upward, the cooperative sugar mills could earn a huge profit by buying sugarcane at Rs 125 per quintal and selling sugar at Rs 2,100 per quintal, which is the prevailing market price. However, at the beginning of the cane crushing season in October-November this year, the sugar price is expected to go up to Rs 2500 per quintal.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who presided over the meeting, specifically asked the Agriculture and Cooperation Departments to draw up a policy for the revival of certain sick cooperative sugar mills and enhance the area under sugarcane in the state as a part of the diversification of agriculture programme.

The Chief Minister stressed the need to produce ethanol as a byproduct from molasses for mixing up to 5 per cent in petrol. The limit to mix ethanol in petrol is expected to be increased to 10 per cent by the Union Government. He said that Brazil was mixing ethanol up to 27 per cent without any technical modification in automobiles.

And there were vehicles being run solely on ethanol in that country. He envisioned the setting up molasses-based ethanol refinery in Punjab in collaboration with a Brazilian company as the ONGC was already establishing such a unit in India.


2 killed, Sarpanch among 3 hurt in firing over land
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
Two persons were killed and three, including a Sarpanch and former District Youth Congress president, sustained bullet injuries in the alleged cross-firing over a piece of land at Devi Dass Pura village, near Jandiala Guru, today.

The injured have been rushed to the government hospital.

The Majitha police arrested two persons allegedly involved in the firing.

It is alleged that one of the warring groups had hired the services of a gangster to take possession of the disputed land. The case in this regard is pending in the local court. The bone of contention is six acres of land, which was reportedly sold by the different family members to the two warring groups. Both the groups had been accusing each other of ‘‘fabricating the land documents’’.

Earlier, the Excide and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardool Singh Bandala, and other senior leaders of the area had brought about rapprochement between the two groups.

The deceased have been identified as Mahanvieer Singh of Amritsar and Devinder Singh of Verka town. Both are from the group of Sarpanch Rajdeep Singh who was injured in the firing incident.

The other injured are from opposite group. They are Sukhwinder Singh Chhindu Pehlwan and his brother Satnam Singh.

The SSP, Majitha, Mr Gautam Cheema, said the culprits might be arrested shortly even as raids were being conducted.

Both the warring groups of the village had a dispute over six acres of agricultural land. They had agreed not to harvest the wheat crop till the final decision. However, when Mr Rajdeep Singh and his supporters reached the spot to harvest the crop, the opposite party led by Sukhwinder Singh Pehlwan, his brother Satnam Singh and their armed supporters reached there and allegedly opened fire.


PSEB grapples with rising cases of power theft
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
In spite of intensification of efforts by the Enforcement Organisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) against unscrupulous consumers indulging in power theft, cases pertaining to power theft, faulty metering and unauthorised extension are on the rise.

To compound the problem, the Enforcement Organisation, headed by an officer of the rank of Chief Engineer, has come across novel methods of power theft being adopted by consumers, thus making detection even harder.

Information supplied by the PSEB revealed that around 42 squads comprising senior executive engineers and assistant executive engineers and nine directors had been working round the clock to curb the menace.

Chief Engineer, Enforcement, Ashok Rajput said during 2003-2004, they carried out inspection of 1.07 lakh power connections, out of which 35,000 cases related to power theft, faulty metering and unauthorised extension were detected.

The PSEB managed to collect Rs 58 crore from the erring consumers by imposing penalty on them.

These cases shot up to 48,000 during 2004-2005 after inspection of 1.44 lakh power connections. The PSEB collected Rs 73 crore by imposing penalty.

During 2005-2006, around 1.5 lakh connections of different categories were inspected and 50,000 cases of wrong metering, power theft and unauthorised extension were detected.

The PSEB collected Rs 80 crore in the shape of fine imposed on such consumers.

Interestingly, a Sirhind-based steel furnace was found indulging in theft of power by using a remote-controlled equipment installed on the PSEB meter to control the consumption. A penalty of Rs 2 crore was imposed on the consumer.

In at least 74 cases, the PSEB imposed a penalty ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh on consumers, he pointed out.

Information gathered by the TNS revealed that theft cases were on the rise as consumers had developed novel ways of stealing power.

The use of magnet, remote-controlled electronic gadgets, naked joints of power cable and earth wire were the chief ways employed by consumers to steal power. Even some manufacturers had brought out some instruments in the market to facilitate power theft.

Mr Rajput said to overcome this problem, members of the Enforcement Organisation had been equipped with high-tech gadgets to detect all sorts of power theft.

He added that electronic meters were being installed that could reveal the time and date of these being tempered with.

Information in connection with different methods of power theft was also being collected.

He said during April, the Enforcement Organisation had produced good results, as it had detected a large number of such cases and imposed penalty of over Rs 6 crore.


NRI quota seats in medical colleges doubled
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Punjab Government today doubled the number of seats that will be available in medical institutions under the NRI quota. This will cut into seats that would be normally available to other students. NRI seats are available for a high fee that is several times more than what is charged from other medical students.

The Council of Ministers that met today approved an amendment to the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of admission, fixation of fee and making of reservation) Act, 2006, that has paved the way for doubling of NRI seats. This covers medical, dental, homoeopathic and ayurvedic colleges.

Following today's amendment, the NRI seats shall be taken out of the domain of the management quota of medical colleges.

The original Act passed by the Punjab Assembly in March this year had said that the NRI seats shall not exceed 15 per cent from within the management quota that had been fixed at 50 per cent of the total intake of students.

This had meant if a college had 200 seats, 100 of these could be filled under the management quota. The NRI seats would have been 15. Following today's amendment, the NRI seats shall be 15 per cent of the total number of seats available in a college. This means that a college with 200 seats can now admit 30 students under the NRI quota instead of 15, thus doubling the number of seats.


No headway on selection of vet staff issue
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The proposal to recruit 2,200 employees, including 682 veterinary officers and supporting staff, to run veterinary hospitals and dispensaries failed to get a nod from the Council of Ministers.

Informed source said the agenda to recruit 2,200 employees was put up before the Council of Ministers at a meeting held here today.

However, there was a strong difference of opinion among ministers on the mode of recruitment and also on the employment conditions.

The Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, sources said, strongly argued that vacant posts in the Animal Husbandry department should be filled on regular basis.

He opposed the handing over of dispensaries and veterinary hospitals to service providers as had been done in case of the Health Department where about 1,100 rural dispensaries had been given to service providers.

Supporting Mr Kang, certain other ministers said the system of handing over health dispensaries to service providers had not found favour with people in the rural areas. There was feeling among people that the government was out to deny them quality health services.

Sources said the recruitment proposal in the Animal Husbandry Department was dropped for the time being.

“Only after resolving the issues related to recruitment, mode of running veterinary dispensaries, the agenda in this regard will be put up again in the meeting of Council of Ministers”, said an officer of the Animal Husbandry Department.


BSF asks harried family to vacate bunker
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
The Dalit family faced a fresh problem as the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel asked it to move out of the bunkers in which they had taken shelter for the past five months after their house was allegedly razed by unscrupulous persons near the Khem Karan sector.

Ms Harbans Kaur told The Tribune here today she along with her unmarried daughter and son were forced to spend the night in the open, making them vulnerable to attacks from the influential persons who had allegedly razed their house on the Defence Drain, 3 km from Khem Karan.

She said she had requested the BSF personnel to allow them to live in the bunkers but they refused to entertain her request.

The Majha Ex-Servicemen Human Rights Front president, Col G.S. Sandhu (retd), had on May 3 produced the family members before mediapersons, alleging that they had been mercilessly beaten up by certain influential persons to take possession of the three acres of land which the Dalit family had been cultivating for the past four decades. They were forced to shift to the Army bunker after their three-room set and a cattle shed were razed.

She said they did not know where to go with her daughter and son and who to approach for justice. She alleged that the police had registered a weak case against the accused apparently to help them (accused).


CM’s order to monitor prices of commodities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Showing his concern over the rising prices of essential commodities, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today reviewed the situation and suggested effective measures to check the rice in prices.

He directed the officers concerned to ensure adequate distribution of wheat, rice and other essential goods through the public distribution system (PDS), especially to the economically weaker section.

Capt Amarinder Singh has directed officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department to closely monitor the fluctuations in the price level of the essential commodities and asked them to take requisite steps to protect people from the burden of spiralling prices.

He said he would write to the Union Government regarding substantial increase in the prices of various pulses and other essential commodities which were not distributed through the public distribution system.

The Union Government would be requested to take effective measures to control prices of essential commodities as well as to ensure enough availability of these commodities in the open market to bring down the prices.


Commissioner inspects  revenue offices
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 5
Ms Anjali Bhawra, Commissioner, Patiala Division, today inspected the working of the Revenue Department in the district.

She checked the maintenance of records and also took stock of the project related to computerisation of revenue records. She inspected the revenue offices.

Addressing revenue officials, she called upon them to implement the government-sponsored schemes with dedication, so the desired results may be yielded.

She warned the revenue officials against indulging in corrupt practices. She directed them to visit their respective rural areas and complete their work in stipulated time so that the people may not have to visit their offices repeatedly.

Ms Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, in her address, gave detailed information about the ongoing development projects as well as the achievements under various government-sponsored schemes and pensions.

The Deputy Commissioner told the Commissioner that Rs 803.77 lakh had been released for various development projects in the district.

Mr D.P. Gupta, ADC(G), Ms Hargunjeet Kaur, GA to DC, and other officials were present.


Swami Ramdev fears threat to life
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 5
Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev fears a possible threat to his life. He said he had received several threats through mail and email and he might not live much long. However, he said this would not deter him from pursuing his mission of creating a healthy India by his yogic and spiritual teachings.

Addressing a crowded press conference at the Satluj Club here today, Swami Ramdev said the way he was going he did not expect to live long. “There are so many forces working against me”, he apprehended. However, he refused to elaborate or specify as who his enemies were.


Kar seva at ‘Khuh Bibi Bhani’ begins

Tarn Taran, May 5
Kar seva at an ancient well, known as “Khuh Bibi Bhani”, was launched by Punj Pyaras” here today. The kar seva would be supervised by Baba Jagtar Singh, head of the local Kar Seva Baba Jiwan Singh.

Baba Mohinder Singh Khajanchi while addressing the gathering said the well was built by Guru Arjan Dev in the memory of his mother, Bibi Bhani, for the sangat’s langar.

Baba Mohinder Singh said Rs 80 lakh would be spent on the construction of a gurdwara at the place. — OC


Dhillon is Arts Council chief

Chandigarh, May 5
Renowned industrialist and politician Kewal Dhillon has been appointed Chairman of the Punjab Arts Council. Mr Dhillon has a vast experience in trade, industry and various fields.

Talking to The Tribune Mr Dhillon said he proposed to take the rich heritage of Punjab art and culture to each town and village of the state.

Other office-bearers of the council are: Mr Mehar Singh, vice chairman, and Mr Rajpal Singh, general secretary. — TNS


4 killed in car-bus collision
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 5
Four persons were killed when the Indica car (HR-70-2981) they were travelling in collided head on with a private bus (PB-07F-0279) at Kurala, about 40 km from here, on the Jalandhar-Pathankot road this afternoon.

According to police sources, Amarjit Singh (40), Jagmail Singh (42) and Vicky (22), driver of the car, all from Ludhiana, died on the spot, while Bhagwant Singh (50), a son of Tara Singh of Bhutta village (Ludhiana), succumbed to his injuries on the way to the Civil Hospital, Tanda.


Sukhbir Badal allowed to go to USA
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 5
SAD general secretary and MP Sukhbir Badal was today allowed to accompany his father and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal to the USA from May 13 to June 5 by the Special Court, Judge, Mr S.K. Goel. Mr Badal is to undergo an eye treatment in the USA.

Mr Sukhbir Badal had moved an application to get his passport released that was surrendered before the Special Court in connection with a case of corruption registered against him and his family members by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

The Judge, ordered the release of his passport and directed him to furnish a bond of Rs 5 lakh with one surety in like amount to the satisfaction of the court. He also ordered Mr Sukhbir Badal to surrender his passport immediately after return from the USA.

Mr Badal and his wife Surender Kaur have already been granted permission by the special court to go to the USA for former’s eye treatment.


2 blind murder cases solved
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 5
The Sangrur district police yesterday claimed to have solved two blind murders by arresting some persons, allegedly involved in these killings. Hazara Singh, a resident of Bakhora Kalan village, near Moonak, was murdered outside the village at a deserted place with sharp-edged and blunt weapons on the intervening night of April 20 and 21 last while Nazar Singh, alias Moongi Dass, Mahant of Dera Sidhan, Gaga village, was murdered with a sharp-edged weapon by some unknown person on the intervening night of April 4 and 5 last.

Addressing a press conference here last evening, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Sangrur, said both the blind murders had been solved by a special team, comprising Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, SP (D), Sangrur; Mr Paramjit Singh Goraya, DSP (D), Sangrur, and Mr Ashok Mohan, In charge, CIA staff of Bahadur SinghWala.

Mr Chahal said in the murder of Hazara Singh, his mother Parkash Kaur along with some other persons was involved, as she wanted to give Hazara Singh’s land to her son Gamdoor Singh, who was born to her from Darshan Singh after the death of her first husband Giala Singh. He said Parkash Kaur loved Gamdoor Singh, who is handicapped. Hazara Singh was born to her from Giala Singh.

The SSP said in the murder of Hazara Singh, the police had arrested Parkash Kaur, mother of the deceased, Gamdoor Singh, Murti Kaur, Gurbakhsh Singh, Jasbir Singh and Dharam Pal Singh. The police had recovered an axe from Gurbakhsh Singh and a hockey stick on information provided by Dharam Pal Singh.

In another murder case, the SSP said the police had arrested Ajaib Singh, alias Jaiba, a resident of Gaga village, who frequently visited the dera of Mahant Nazar Singh and reportedly stopped him from indulging in shameful acts at the dera. Mr Chahal said during interrogation, Ajaib Singh confessed to his crime. The police has recovered the sharp-edged weapon, allegedly used in the murder of Nazar Singh.


4 members of looters’ gang arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 5
With the arrest of four persons, the Majitha police today busted a gang of looters and recovered a stolen tractor and a motor cycle from them. The police has registered a case against them at Kathunangal police station here.

The arrested persons include Amarjit Singh of Jahangir village, Gurpreet Singh of Chavinda Kala, Mandeep Singh and Baldev Singh of Amritsar.

Mr Gautam Cheema, SSP, said on specific information about the movement of the gang, the police put up a naka at Ajaibwali village. The accused, coming on a tractor and a motor cycle, tried to run away when the police asked them to stop. However, the police nabbed them.

In the preliminary investigations the accused revealed that they were also involved in two murder and looting cases in Amritsar and Majitha police district. Amarjit Singh was the kingpin of the gang.

Mr Cheema said their several accomplices were absconding and would be arrested soon.


No arrest made in suicide case
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 5
Vikas Jain ( 32), son of Krishan Jain and a resident of Upplan Mohalla near city police station who committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his room, was cremated at the Jamalpura today.

The police has registered an FIR for threatening and compelling a person to commit suicide against three persons, including two home guards, namely Jaswant Singh (Bhao) and Harbans Singh, working with the local police and Babu Satrangi.

In suicide note, Vikas alleged that two persons working with the local police allegedly demanded money from him and said that if he did not pay money to them they would get a false case concerning puppy husk registered against him.


MBA/MCA entrance test on June 4
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) on behalf of the Punjab Government will conduct MET-2006 for admission to two-year MBA course and PAM-CAT-2006 for admission to three-year MCA course in the affiliated institutions of GND varsity, Amritsar, Punjabi University, Patiala and Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar on June 4 (Sunday).

Stating this, Dr. R.K. Bedi, Co-ordinator of the state-level test, said that prospectus-cum-application forms could be had on or after May 16 on payment of Rs. 500 from the city centres of the administrative block of GNDU campus, Rajindra Government College, Bathinda, GNDU Regional Campus, Hardochhani Road, Gurdaspur, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Regional Campus of GNDU, Ladhewali, Jalandhar, GGN Khalsa College Campus, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, Punjabi University, Patiala and Government College, Phase VI, SAS Nagar, Mohali.

Application forms complete in all respects along with demand draft of Rs. 1000 (Rs 750 for SC/ST/handicapped candidates) in favour of Registrar, GNDU, payable at Amritsar must be submitted between May 16 to May 22 from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily at the designated city centres where provisional admit card-cum-roll numbers will be given on the spot.

He said the provisional admit card-cum-roll number could also be had on submission of application forms after May 22 complete in all respects at GNDU, Amritsar, with late fee of Rs. 1000 up to May 29 and with late fee of Rs. 2000 up to June 2.

However, the candidates should submit application forms at prescribed city centres only where they intend to appear for the test.

Neither prospectus will be supplied nor application form received by post or by courier.


Patiala team in finals of NASA contest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
A 13-member Patiala-based team, Arcane Quest, has earned the privilege of making it to the finals of the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) slated to be held at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, from July 15.

The team, which will comprise of two teacher advisers and 11 other members, was one of the eight teams to have made it to the finals of the second Asian Regional Space Settlement Design competition where the members had submitted a 40-page proposal detailing the design of a space colony orbiting around Mars. Based on their performance at the Asian meet, Arcane Quest has now made it to the finals of the meet.

The team comprises of Manish Khandelwal and Pritish Kumar Singh (both teacher advisers), Sahil Arora, Varun Jindal, Karandeep Singh Bal, Varun Aggarwal, K.S. Gill, Mishika Singla, Avan Goel, Dhruv Kalia, Sunit Bawa, Sunny Mittal and Saurav Mehra (all members)

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