P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dullo against free of cost land to Reliance
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 21
In contrast to publicised opinion of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, chief of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has expressed disagreement with any move to grant free of cost land to Reliance India or any other business house. The Chief Minister recently stated that the Punjab government would give land to the RIL free of cost.

Meanwhile, Mr Dullo also sought to stand by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh by maintaining he was satisfied with the performance of the CM and the government and that he would give 101 out of 100’ marks to the CM if he is asked to rate the government performance.

Reassuring people of Punjab and dispelling apprehensions regarding allegations that some shady deals were taking place, Mr Dullo asserted that nothing would be allowed to be done by the government, which went against the interests of the state. “I don’t agree with any proposal which advocates grant of free land to the RIL or any other business house, even as, all of us want to invite big industrial houses to come to Punjab so that the state makes progress.

But, I am very clear if the government goes wrong any moment, we will not hesitate to oppose any such step.

I, however, feel that there is no need to seek any clarification from the CM on the Reliance issue as nothing has happened. From practical point of view, the RIL has just made a request for the grant of a piece of land. Nothing has been done beyond this movement so far, so, all clamour over it is unjustified. That is why Mr Jagmeet Brar and the three ministers have been served notices.

They also raked up the issue and issued statements without verifying facts and situation. I also want to make it very clear that indiscipline would not be tolerated in the party and action be taken against people irrespective of their positions in the government,” said Mr Dullo, who, heard to grievances of Congress workers at a meeting here today.

Mr Dullo, who, was accompanied by confidants and senior Congress leaders including Mr Santokh Singh Chaudhary Mr Bobby Sehgal Mr Tejinder Bittu, Mr Rajinder Singh Johl, Mr Arun Walia and Mr Sanjay Sehgal, denied that he was being bypassed in certain matters. “Nothing is done without me as far as the party is concerned. I am satisfied with his performance,” said Mr Dullo.

Referring to the party’s poll plank in Assembly elections, development was the main issue. We will go to people and tell our achievements and that we want to make Punjab No. 1 state in India.

As far as selection of candidates is concerned, ability to win would be the main criterion and it is not necessary that if someone is an MLA he would be getting a ticket too. Regarding the position of organisations of the Congress, Mr. Dullo admitted that though there were some weak points, but, still these were being encouraged.

Asked if the PPCC would be reorganised in near future, Mr Dullo said. “Need is there to reorganise the party and it will be done. I have conveyed it to the high command.”


BJP seeks CBI probe in Punjab ‘land deals’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged ‘‘land deals’’ in Punjab, Bhartiya Janata Party's General Secretary, Mr Arun Jaitley, today said the BJP would hold rallies across the state to spread its message that the ‘‘Punjab Government was the most corrupt of all state governments and was providing disastrous governance’’.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Jaitley was flanked by the Punjab BJP chief, Mr Arvind Khanna, and the cricketer-turned-MP, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu. Mr Jaitley, who is the party in-charge for Punjab, said he was here to discuss issues relating to the forthcoming elections in Punjab.

Launching what was clearly the first salvo in the pre-election build-up, Mr Jaitley alleged ‘‘the land mafia and the liquor mafia had been sustaining the ruling party in Punjab’’. Actually the creation of a liquor mafia was one of the ‘‘achievements’’ of the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh, said Mr Jaitley. He went on to allege that corruption had been institutionalised in Punjab.

On the allotment of lands to industrial houses, he was asked if he was referring to the controversy-ridden allotment to Reliance Industries Limited. Mr Jaitley replied:‘‘There is much more than what meets the eye and I am in favour of an inquiry for all such deals in which industrial houses had been allotted lands’’.

On the recent controversy over a letter reportedly written by jathedars of the five holy takhts of the Sikhs warning that the RSS was showing false concern for the Sikhs and it was actually ‘‘anti-panth’’, Mr Jaitley said, ‘‘ We have been hurt as the RSS is a very patriotic organisation and we are sorting out the matter’’. He, however, said the party would contest the elections in alliance with the SAD.


Four-laning to swallow 25,000 trees
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Beas (Amritsar), May 21
The work to cut about 25,000 trees has been going on a war footing to pave way for the Rs 280-crore four-laning of the Amritsar-Jalandhar road that would swallow the rich ‘roadside forest’.

This would leave the state poorer as far as its tree cover is concerned. The four-laning is proposed to be completed within 30 months by a private company on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is likely to lay the foundation stone of the four-laning project during his proposed visit to Amritsar next month to mark the 400th martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev.

The shrinking tree cover is a matter of concern to ecologists as well as environmentalists. They have expressed concern over the stripping of the roadside green cover that will be difficult to compensate in the next 10 years. While there is little scope to replace the old trees with new saplings due to the paucity of land on the roadside, the Forest Department has proposed to make alternate arrangements of planting trees at Serai Amanat Khan and canal sides.

A visit by The Tribune team revealed that a massive exercise of felling tree has been in progress on near Beas that falls in Amritsar forest division with hundreds of workers cutting the trees with big axes.

The sources said the four-laning from Verka to Jalandhar would be completed in the first phase while it would be extended to Wagah in the second phase. It is learnt that out of about 25,000 trees, at least 11,000 would be felled in the Amritsar forest division (from Beas to Verka).

It may be mentioned here that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced the four-laning of the road to mark the bicentenary celebrations of the Coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. However, Dr Manmohan Singh had recently announced the completion of four-laning during his recent visit to Amritsar to mark the flagging off Amritsar-Nankana Sahib Bus.

Divisional Forest Officer Mahanvir Singh, while giving details of the proposed felling, said the National Highways Authority had deposited the required amount to the department for the trees, which would face the axe. He said the department would make all out efforts to provide forest cover by planting 1.50 lakh trees in the forest division in lieu of the trees being axed.

Earlier, the Ministry of Environment and Forest had raised certain objections regarding the cutting of trees depleting of roadside forest. The ministry had proposed for acquiring separate land for the four-laning, without disturbing the existing GT Road. However, the state government had reportedly showed its inability to construct the new road for want of finances.

It is learnt that more trees would be axed when Amritsar-Pathankot and Amritsar- Mehta roads would be widened in future.


CM’s cousin, niece die in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Aman Kaur, 33, a cousin of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, died in a road accident near Dhanaula Mandi in Sangrur District yesterday. Her daughter, Anahat Kaur, (8) , was also killed in the accident. The family was going to Abul Khurana village in Muktsar district to attend the bhog ceremony of a relative. The mishap took place as the car in which they were travelling collided head-on with a truck.

Aman Kaur was the daughter of a former MLA and well-known human rights activist, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, who is a maternal uncle of Capt Amarinder Singh. The mother of the deceased was late Daljit Jaijee, a former IAS officer, who superannuated in 2004.

The Chief Minister expressed profound grief over the tragic loss and visited the home of his cousin in Phase II, Mohali today. Rajmata Mohinder Kaur, mother of the Chief Minister also visited the residence of the bereaved family in the morning to express condolences.

Later, the Chief Minister also attended the cremation at the cremation ground in Sector 25, Chandigarh, and laid wreaths on the bodies. Mr Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, husband of the deceased, lit the funeral pyres of his wife and his daughter.

The Media Advisor to the Chief Minister, Mr B.I.S. Chahal, also mourned the untimely death of Aman Kaur and her daughter and expressed his condolences.

Prominent among others who attended the cremation included a brother of the Chief Minister, Mr Malwinder Singh, his wife, Ms Harpriya Kaur, the President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajara, the Secretary, Institute of Sikh Studies, Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian, the Chairman, Sikh Educational Society, Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Mr B.R. Bajaj, the Secretary, Irrigation, Ms Kusamjit Sidhu, and retired IAS officials, Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj and Ms Shyama Mann.


Quota politically motivated: Jaitley
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Arun Jaitley, has alleged that the UPA government’s proposal to provide reservation for the OBCs was “politically motivated” and aimed at “dividing the nation”. He however, refrained comment on what is his party’s stance on providing reservation.

He said” “We are not against social justice, but do not subscribe to the theory of the government as this is aimed at dividing the nation and not helping the OBCs”.


Controversy engulfs source of Kali Bein river
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, May 21
With the Kali Bein river gaining importance due to the forthcoming visit of the President, Mr A.P.J. Adul Kalam, here, a dispute has arisen at its place of origin.

The source of the Kali Bein is located in the form of a “bauli” (a water-logged place where water erupts from the ground) at Dhanoa village in Mukerian subdivision of the district.

Some villagers want to construct a gurdwara at the place. They are maintaining that the place is associated with the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev. They have alleged that the revenue officials have tried to decrease the importance of the place by changing the status of the Kali Bein river, emanating from Dhanoa village, as a drain in papers.

A move has been initiated to protect the persons who have encroached upon the river land, they allege.

Sources, however, told The Tribune that the Kali Bein used to be referred as a drain in the revenue papers earlier also. The former SAD-BJP government, however, changed its name in records as the Kali Bein river.

However, when the present government took over the reins of the state, its status once again changed to that of a drain. However, the change has evoked protests from a section of people.

Another section, however, maintains that a temple already exists at the place. It should be given importance in case something is brought up near the “bauli” that is believed to be the source of the Kali Bein river.

Due to the dispute, the SDM, Mukerian, Mr Gill, has recommended that the place should be checked by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). In case the ASI finds the place to be of any historical significance, the land should be handed over to the organisation for upkeep.

Due to the forthcoming visit of the President, the government has already started removing the encroachments from the river bed.

The Deputy Commissioners of Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala have already visited Dhanoa village to discuss the kind of importance that can be given to the place of origin of the Kali Bein.

The depleting ground water level has dried up the original source of the historically significant Kali Bein river. Elders remember that the water level in the “bauli” was so high that a large volume of water used to flow from it and gush into the river. The flow of water increased further during monsoons.

However, in the last two decades the water level in the “bauli” has gone down. The “bauli” no more contributes any water to the historic river.

The water level in this natural source has gone down by about 10 feet. Due to the indiscriminate use of water in the last two decades, the water level in the entire area has gone down about 20 feet.

The authorities now pump water into the Kali Bein river from the Mukerian hydel canal. After starting from Dhanoa, it moves parallel to the Beas through the plains gathering water from the surrounding areas for about 170 km.

It has also played an important role in forming fertile plains by bringing down large sediments during floods. The river culminates in the Beas at Ahlikalan village, about 
10 km short of Harike Pattan.


HIV case: SDM summons nursing home owner
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 21
The SDM, Mr Jaskiran Singh, has summoned the proprietor of a private nursing home here on Tuesday to clarify his conduct in declaring a youth HIV positive. The youth had tried to commit suicide on getting such a report, family sources said.

Scores of residents of Thakur Abadi here lodged their protest at the nursing home by shouting slogans. They submitted a complaint to the SDM under signature of Ms Nainki Devi, mother of the affected youth. She said that someone had requested her son, Lalit Kumar (22), a social activist, on May 19 to donate blood for his relative admitted to the private nursing home located near the Civil Hospital here. Her son donated blood but was called by the in charge of the nursing home next day to tell him that the blood test found him HIV positive and hepatitis B infected.

The doctor reportedly threatened the youth that his case would be referred to the Health Directorate at Chandigarh. Lalit reportedly rushed to his house and tried to commit suicide but timely intervention by the family saved his life. He was taken to Sriganganagar yesterday for fresh tests at a renowned lab. The lab report refuted the observations made by the local nursing home.

Lamenting that the findings and conduct of such a poorly equipped nursing home could have led to loss of a life, the deputation urged the SDM to initiate stern action against the doctor.

A complaint was faxed to the state government separately, demanding that such kind of quackery should be banned.


Power generation hit at Ropar thermal plant
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 21
The power generation at the super thermal plant of 1260 MW capacity in Ropar today came to a halt when its all units, each of 210 MW, shut down due to surfacing of a fault in the Ropar-Gobindgarh 220 KV transmission line.

With this, the state suffered 30 per cent loss in its power supply, causing power crisis in many rural and urban areas.

PSEB sources said due to failure in the transmission line, parts of Ropar, Ludhiana, Gobindgarh, Chandigarh and Mohali were affected. The exact cause of the fault in the transmission line had not been ascertained yet.

Out of the six units of 210 MW capacity each, the four units of thermal plant tripped at about 4 pm, while two units had already been shut down, one due to less demand of power while another for an annual maintenance, said the official sources.

With the closure of the four units the state suffered a loss of 200 lakh units.

When contacted, the General Manager of the thermal plant, Mr N.K. Arora, said out of the four units, which were shut down, the two units had become functional till 6 pm while another two units were likely to become operational till late night.


Seminar lays stress on changing democratic system
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 21
The existing parliamentary democratic system in India is not viable as it benefits only 20 per cent persons of the total population of the country. Besides, the existing system has also failed to fulfil the promises made to the people in the past about six decades. In the light of these there is a need to change the existing system with a new form of democratic system.

These views were expressed by Mr Dalbir Singh, Deputy Editor, Punjabi Tribune, while delivering the keynote address at a seminar on “Electoral Reforms”, organised by the Lok Bhalai Party, SAD (Amritsar), SAD (Longowal) and CPI at a marriage palace here today.

Favouring the “Janapad” system (election and removal of representatives by the people), Mr Dalbir Singh said there was a fault in our electoral system that we could choose our representatives but could not recall them.

Mr Hardev Singh Arshi, a former CPI MLA, suggested some electoral reforms to strengthen the existing parliamentary democratic system. Some of which were delimitation of constituencies once in 10 years, 33 per cent reservation for women, issuance of multi-purpose card in place of voting card, same voter list for all elections from local level to Parliament, holding of Assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously, etc.

Among others who also gave their views included Mr Baldev Singh Mann, secretary general of the SAD (Longowal), Dr A.S. Mann, district president of the medical wing of the Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (Amritsar), Mr Nirmal Singh Gharachon, SGPC member. 


Talks on gas pipeline begin today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 21
An eight-member Indian delegation led by Mr N.S. Srinivasan, Secretary, Petroleum and Gas, today crossed over to Pakistan to participate in a meeting of the high-level working group on Indo-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline. The meeting would be held in Islamabad on May 22 to 24.

According to sources, this crucial meeting between India and Pakistan had been planned to provide the initial impetus to the many significant issues which would form the basis to secure the gasline crucial to the Indian economic development.

However, Mr Srinivasan refused to dwell at length the proposed agenda for talks but it was reliably learnt that the Indian delegation seemed to be optimistic to iron out the differences between the two nations. The gamut of talks was expected to cover some of the important aspects, including its economical feasibility report. Pakistan is expected to give assurance on laying the pipeline.

The fate of the $ 4 billion trans-Pakistan gas pipeline, to energise India’s power hungry industrial sector with Iranian gas, seems to hang in the balance after increasing US pressure on the participating countries to abandon the project.


CPM threatens protest against police
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 21
CPM activists yesterday threatened to lodge a protest against the Majitha police for allegedly failing to register a case against Narinder Singh and his two sons, Palwinder Singh and Dalwinder Singh, who beat up and injured Savinder Singh of Sufian village and his two daughters over a land dispute. Savinder Singh is a brother of Narinder Singh and has some land dispute for the past three years.

In a press conference here, the aggrieved family alleged that a prominent Congress leader was pressurising the police for not registering a case, while the accused was threatening them again and again. Savinder alleged that deputations led by Communist leader, Mr Ratan Singh Randhawa and Dr Gurnam Singh, met Mr Gautam Cheema, SSP, the DSP of Ajnala and the SHO of Ramdass police station, but of no use.

Dr Gurnam Singh and other Communist leaders threatened to lodge a protest in front of Ramdass police station if the police failed to take any action against the culprits.

However, Mr Cheema, when contacted, said the police was to register the case against the accused. But it was Savinder Singh who withdrew his complaint stating that the compromise was being worked out between them. The SSP said Savinder Singh, however, started blackmailing his brother and tried to extort more money from Narinder Singh. About medical reports, Mr Cheema said the doctor had written that it could be self-inflicted injuries.


DOT centres to help check TB
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 21
To tackle TB in Punjab in an effective manner, direct observation treatment (DOT) centres will be made an important part of a majority of private hospitals and nursing homes associated with the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab.

An effort to this effect is being made by the IMA, Punjab, with help of the state health authorities.

Medicines provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under the ongoing national TB control programme will be routed to the proposed DOT centres by the IMA. The special feature of these proposed centres is that anti-TB medicines will be administered to patients at these centres by the doctors themselves.

The modalities of the proposed DOT centres are being finalised by the state health authorities and the IMA. 


Youth murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 21
A youth was brutally murdered last night allegedly by the family of a girl whom he had married against the wishes of her parents. Nine persons, including brothers of the girl and three women, have been booked on a charge of murder.

According to sources, the deceased, Sikander, a resident of Amrik Singh Road, was having an affair with a girl hailing from Jogi Nagar. Later, both of them got married in a court and the girl returned to her home. When the girl’s family came to know about their marriage, nine persons, including her two brothers and three women, attacked the youth in his home. They reportedly attacked Sikander and his father Brahm Prakash with iron rods, injuring them.

While the former succumbed to his injuries at a private hospital, the latter was undergoing treatment.


Minor dies after ‘rape’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 21
A minor girl died near Rajpura railway station after she was allegedly raped by a ‘sadhu’ late last night. Her body was found near a godown situated near the station.

The victim, along with her mother and minor brother, was sleeping at the station after coming to the town from Delhi yesterday in the afternoon. The mother of the victim, who is a flower-seller, got up late in the evening and went to fetch water from a nearby tap. When she came back, she found that her daughter was missing.

Police sources said today that at about 11.30 am it received an information that the body of a minor was lying near the godown. The parents of the victim also reached the spot and identified the body of minor as their daughter’s. The sources said a sadhu, who was lying on the railway station, had been missing since the victim disappeared.

Mr Tara Singh, in charge of the police post, General Railway Police, Rajpura, said it was too early to make any comment that the victim had been raped. A post-mortem examination on the body had been conducted and a case could be made out only after the report was received.


Pawar assures govt help for veterinary varsity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Union Agriculture Minister Mr Sharad Pawar has assured all-possible government help to the newly established Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) in the state, informed Punjab Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, who called on Mr Pawar, along with Secretary, Animal Husbandry-cum-Vice-Chancellor, GADVASU, DS Bains, last evening.

Mr Kang thanked Mr Pawar for his support in setting up the vet varsity in the state. He stressed that in order to focus on animal husbandry sector, need was felt to set up this university.

Moreover, many states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh had already taken lead in setting up such universities. There was great scope of veterinarians in foreign countries and this course was job oriented.

Mr Kang said that the vet varsity had put up a proposal for seeking World Bank assistance for development of indigenous livestock. The major components of which were holistic buffalo development, conservation and proliferation of Sahiwal cattle, development of goat for milk and meat purposes and comprehensive health cover to minimise losses through disease outbreaks and deficiency diseases. The proposed project would cover at least three veterinary universities of the country, including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu that would collaborate with GADVASU to make joint proposal for the World Bank assistance. Mr Kang said that Mr Pawar had assured that he would back this project during his meeting with the country representative of the World Bank.

Mr Kang and Mr Bains also discussed with the Union Agriculture Minister to provide a suitable and appropriate package to the poultry farmers of the Northern States who were badly affected due to the outbreak of bird flu in Maharashtra.


Private aided college staff’s DA merged
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 21
Thousands of college teacher, serving in the private aided colleges of Punjab, feel jubilant over the Punjab Government’s decision of merging 50 per cent DA with their basic pay, though it was done after a long struggle by the teaching and non-teaching staff of these colleges.

Stating this today, Prof P.K. Sharma, recently re-elected secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), Punjabi University, said the Department of Higher Education, Punjab, in its letter dated May 19, 2006, written to the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, had issued orders for the merger of 50 per cent DA with basic pay for the teaching and non-teaching staff of the private aided colleges. In the light of this letter, the benefit would be applicable from April 1, 2004, while the arrears would be paid in two annual installments, he added.

Prof Sharma also disclosed that a deputation of the PCCTU office-bearers, led by Prof. H.S. Walia, newly elected president, had a formal meeting with P. Ram, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab, recently, regarding the PCCTU’s demands and issues. He said the deputation found the attitude of the Principal Secretary very positive.

Prof Sharma said the PCCTU was hopeful that the Punjab Government would implement shortly the decisions of granting HRA to the staff of private rural colleges, continuation of 95 per cent grant-in-aid to private aided colleges and relaxation of condition of refresher courses up to December 31, 2005, for teachers.


Workshop on foeticide
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 21
A one-day workshop on “PC and PNDT Act for legal and social activists for better outcome” was organised by the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab, Chandigarh, the Voluntary Health Association of India, New Delhi, and the Population Foundation of India, New Delhi, jointly at Shivalik Public School here on Thursday.

Dr Harinder Rana, Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, was the chief guest and Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the workshop.

The workshop aimed at studying the “Nawanshahr model” with regard to curbing female foeticide so that it can be replicated in other parts of the state. 

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