P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



I have proof of CM’s corruption: Sukhbir
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 21
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Sukhbir Badal today claimed that he had concrete proof of corruption against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, which would be revealed in the coming months, adding that the SAD would take immediate legal action against him after coming to power.

He said this while addressing a press conference here prior to a meeting with party workers over preparations of ‘Sampooranta Divas’ at the Haji Rattan Gurdwara.

Mr Badal said unlike Capt Amarinder Singh who could not prove his charges of corruption against members of their family, the SAD would see to it that corruption cases against him were taken to their logical conclusion.

He alleged that the Chief Minister had been stashing ill-gotten money in Dubai.

He questioned the government decision on extending incentives to real estate developers in the state when they had not been offering housing amenities to the people at subsidised rates.

He termed the mega projects as mega loot and alleged that there was massive corruption in all such deals, including the one signed with Reliance.

He said the SAD would extend incentives only to industries that could generate employment for Punjabi youth.

He said the SAD would form a youth development board after coming to power, through which the youth could play a key role in formulating policies for themselves.

The SAD leader announced that they would tie up with foreign universities to facilitate the study of professional courses for the Punjabi youth.

He said they would ensure proper infrastructure for the Baba Farid University and the Punjab Technical University.

He added that model schools equipped with modern amenities and trained staff would come up in all blocks in the state for providing quality education in rural areas.

He said about 1.5 lakh posts lying vacant in government schools and hospitals would be filled on a permanent basis.

He said they would also identify disciplines in which sportspersons from Punjab could excel and rope in world-class coaches to train them, adding that a Punjab institute of sports would be set up.

On the Gaganjeet Barnala case, he said the party chief had given a statement on the issue and it would not be correct to speak on it till the investigation was over. He claimed that the SAD would not suffer due to the formation of the third front.


Pak lifts ban on kar seva
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
After a gap of three months ‘un-declared’ ban on ‘kar seva’ of Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib Gurdwara and Chuna Mandi gurdwara Lahore (the birth place of Guru Ram Dass), the Government of Pakistan today allowed the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Sikh babas to resume construction work there.

A nine-member delegation led by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president Shiromani Akali Dal, New Delhi today left for Lahore to resume the ‘kar seva’, which had come to a standstill since Pakistan had not given visas to Sikh babas.

Talking to reporters before leaving for Pakistan Mr Sarna hoped that the ‘Kar Seva’ of the sanctum sanctorum of Chunna Mandi Gurdwara would be completed before the birth anniversary of Guru Ram Dass this year.

Construction of a gurdwara at Janamasthan Guru Ram Das, Lahore, had come to a standstill due to the expiry of visas of followers of Baba Jagtar Singh Kar Seva Wale, who with the support of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), was constructing the Sikh shrine.

Located in the biggest and the busiest cloth market of Pakistan (in Lahore), Chunna Mandi, construction of the building of gurdwara started in September 2004.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, executive committee member of the DSGMC, would camp in Pakistan to supervise the ‘Kar Seva’. The fourth Sikh master guru Ram Das had spent first seven years of his life at Chunna Mandi where Maharani Nakain, a wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, built a shrine to celebrate the birth of her son Prince Kharrak Singh. The building was built more or less like Harmandar Sahib. The Singh Sabha Lehar also started from this place.

Replying a question, Mr Sarna said that the golden palanquin which was taken from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib last year was likely to be installed in the sanctum sanctorum of Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib at an appropriate time.

However, Baba Gurmit Singh of Kar Seva Wale clarified that there was no pilferage of gold, used for preparing the gold palanquin got prepared by the DSGMC. He said the donations collected from the devotees during the Nagar Kirtan from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib had been handed over to the “Dera” of Jagtar Singh.

The Kar Seva of the Serai and ‘ holy tank’ at Nankana Sahib would also be completed in a stipulated time .

To a question , Mr Sarna alleged that former presidents of the DSGMC, Mr Avtar Singh Hit and Mr Parlhad Singh Chandok, had misappropriated funds during their tenure. A probe has been ordered by a fact-finding committee.

Vet pharmacists suspend vaccination 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 21
Veterinary pharmacists of the state today declined to carry out field work till the state government agreed to their demands. The pharmacists at all sub-divisional head quarters returned the vaccination and artificial insemination kits to the sub-divisional headquarters as a symbol of protest.

The protesting pharmacists were alleging that they were being forced to do the work of doctors but were not given due authority. Due to the shortage of veterinary doctors, pharmacists were forced to carry out artificial insemination and vaccination of cattle in the state.

However, they did not have any authority for the same. In case some wrong was committed, the pharmacists were penalized for it. In many states, pharmacists had the designation of Veterinary Life Stock Inspector. Veterinary pharmacists of Punjab had also been demanding similar designation from the state government so that they could carry out field operations legally. The state government had also promised to start a diploma course in veterinary science and animal husbandry.

The government had agreed to their demands in principal due to which the pharmacists had postponed their dharna earlier. But the implementation was being delayed inordinately. The state president of veterinary pharmacists Gurbax Singh Sidhu while talking to The Tribune said their decision to suspend the work of artificial insemination in the state would continue till the government fulfilled their demands.

The pharmacists would also organise a dharna at Morinda, the home town of animal husbandry minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, on September 1.

The suspension of vaccination and artificial insemination work by pharmacists is likely to hit the campaign of the state government against foot and mouth disease. 


Reunion for woman separated before Partition
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
Bashira, nay Lajwanti (80), who was separated from her family before Partition, reached her ancestral town, Ramdass, about 50 km from here, today.

There was a mood of festivity in the town when Lajwanti met her near and dear ones after fighting a legal battle for five years.

The tragedy in the life of Lajwanti, then a resident of Ramdass village, started in 1947. She had gone to visit her kin at Samtota village in Fasilabad district, little knowing that the boundaries of the country were being redrawn. Soon after, the Partition took place and Lajwanti got trapped in land that was designated as Pakistan. She was separated from her three sons, who were now in Ramdass village, but now in a different country.

She spent her entire youth and old age in Pakistan as Bashira, hoping to cross over to India to meet her family in India. She worked as a maid to make her both ends meet as years flew by.

The re-union at Ramdass presented a unique emotional scene. Youngsters touched her feet when she entered a room. Mr Swarn Dass, son of Lajwanti, said it was like a dream come true that his sister had come home. Tears welled up in the eyes of both Lajwanti and her relatives in the border town.

Earlier ,it took a long time to get visa for India. However, she managed it with the help of some generous Pakistani people. However, when she got the visa for India in 2001, it was for Damtal in Himachal Pradesh. She then waited for five years to visit her own town in Punjab.

Mr Gautam Cheema, district police chief, Majitha, said Lajwanti was allowed to visit her town after completing all police verifications .

Initially, she was sent to Palampur, where she put up for a few years. However, she came in contact with her family. The sons of Lajwanti , however, had managed to bring her to Damtal. However, the authorities in Himachal Pradesh did not allow her to enter Punjab as she did not have the relevant documents.


Woman alleges harassment for raising voice 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 21
Ms Prem Sharma, a resident of Kashmir Avenue, has alleged that she is being harassed unnecessarily by a group of private builders and a politician following her complaint against encroachment of a plot earmarked for a community centre and a park in area.

The 67-year-old rued the day when she filed the complaint. She said one day a constable came to her house and asked her to appear before senior police officials.

When contacted, Mr Manminder Singh, SP (HQ), said no pressure was being put on anybody and the case would be decided on merit.

Ms Prem Sharma alleged that a plot belonging to one Dwarka Dass Seth was acquired under the T.P. Scheme number 53 under the Punjab Municipal Act 1911 in 1978. Mr Seth expired in 1988.

However, about two decades later grandsons of Mr Seth filed a civil suit in 2000 for acquiring the land.

She said the plot was meant for community centre. However, she claimed that private builders under the political patronage were trying to construct houses on the plot.


SAD plea to PM on Sikh doctor issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The SAD has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take the issue of racial discrimination in Saudi Arabia seriously and ensure that a Sikh doctor, Charanjit Singh, working in Athria Medical Centre, Riyadh, is relieved by his employer and allowed to return to India at the earliest.

The request was made in a letter, addressed to the Prime Minster, by party’s secretary general and former Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today.

Mr Dhindsa said Dr Charanjit Singh, who had been taken to Saudi Arabia by a company, Al-Hammadi Establishment, for hospital operations and management, was pressured to shave off his hair and stop wearing turban.

On his refusal, his passport was seized and the doctor was not being allowed to return to India.

Meanwhile, SAD secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema talked to Abdul Haseeb, Manager (Personnel) of the company concerned in Saudi Arabia, on the telephone and conveyed his concern over the issue and feelings of the Sikh community.

“According to Haseeb, the company is willing to send Dr Charanjit Singh back, but it wants the doctor to not mention the humiliation and racial discrimination he had faced at the hands of hospital authorities in Al-Wajh in his resignation letter,” said Dr Cheema.

“Though he (Haseeb) himself admitted in his conversation that the incident has happened in a hospital in Al-Wajh, where he was first appointed as a surgeon,” added Dr Cheema.


Mann holds CM, Badal responsible for foeticides
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 21
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), while giving a call to like-minded parties to launch a war against the evil of foeticide, held Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and former Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the same menace.

Mr Mann, who alongwith hundred of workers of the party staged a dharna in front of the court of District and Session Judge to lodge a protest against foeticide. While addressing the rally, he alleged that foeticides were taking place under the nose of the Chief Minister, it indicated the intelligence agencies and the Health Department of the state were sleeping over it.

Mr Mann, who submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through District and Session Judge, alleged that Mr Badal had promoted foeticide by making Bibi Jagir Kaur the president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) despite the fact that she was involved in the murder of her daughter and her unborn grand daughter.

He added that Mr Badal also participated in the cremation of daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur. He said post mortem examination of Bibi Jagir Kaur's daughter was also disallowed.

He said by allowing a meeting to Bibi Jagir Kaur, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who was aware of all happenings, had indicated that he had forgiven her for her misdeeds.

Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, national general secretary, Jathedar Harbhajan Singh Kashmiri, president, city unit of the party and Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president, Kisan wing of the party, also addressed the rally.



MC chief denied entry at behest of MLA, EO 
Our Correspondent

Nabha, August 21
Unruly scenes were there at the Municipal Council here when its president Pawan Kumar Garg raised slogans against local MLA Randip Singh, Executive Officer of the Municipal Council Surjit Singh, the police and the local administration for not allowing him and his supporters to get inside the council building. The MLA and Mr Garg belong to the ruling Congress party. Today was the day of no-confidence motion against the council president.

Mr Garg sat on a dharna outside the locked gate of the council buliding raising slogans against Nabha MLA and Infotech Chairman Kaka Randeep Singh. He was later joined by Mr Ramesh Singla, ex-MLA, Jasdeep Singh Nikku, brother of Kaka Randeep Singh, Bibi Satinder Kaur, mother of the Randeep Singh , Gurdialinder Singh Billu and his supporters.

The council has a strength of 21 councillors — 15 belong to the Congress and six to the opposition.

At the time of the formation of the council, it was decided by the Congress that every senior councillor would be given a chance turn wise to be the president of the council.

Now it was the turn of Mr Garg but senior councillors are building up pressure on him to resign but he refused. So other 14 Congress councillors gave a memorandum to the executive officer for a no-confidence motion against him. The executive officer when contacted on telephone said that he got the memorandum on August 4 and on August 17 it was decided by him and the president that a meeting be held today on August 21 at 10.30 am.

He said that no councillor reached the office till time so he moved a resolution to the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Patiala, regarding the postponement of the meeting. He added he had information that five-six councillors were sent outside Nabha today by the president.

On the contrary Mr Garg refuted the allegation. He alleged today he reached the council’s office at 10 am and found barricades on approaching roads by the police and the police had locked the MC office at the behest of executive officer and the local MLA. He added he had the support of 11 councillors which was mandatory to run the business of the council while the strength of 14 councillors was required for a no-confidence motion. He said if had the meeting been held, the motion against him would have failed. He said the in coming elections he would work to defeat Randip Singh, MLA.

Mr. Gurdial Billu, political adviser to former Minister Raja Narinder Singh reached the spot and he alleged that the executive officer had given today’s proceedings to MLA Randip Singh. Giving another blow to the local MLA, his mother Bibi Satinder Kaur, a senior Mahila Congress leader and his younger brother Jasdip Singh Nikku also condemned the incident. 


CM spared Brar ire
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, August 21
Firebrand Congress leader Jagmeet Brar today looked to be in a compromising mood as he desisted from saying anything against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

He showered praise on the Chief Minister instead for ensuring smooth procurement of agricultural produce during the last four years.

Mr Brar accused former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh of resorting to unethical methods and indulging in corrupt practices.

Mr Brar was here to preside over a function organised by the management of the Guru Nanak College.

He honoured Prof S.P. Anand for distinguished service in the field of education.


AISSF memo to Jathedar

Amritsar, August 21
The All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) presented a memorandum to the Jathedar of Akal Takht as part of the ongoing second gurdwara sudhar lehar, seeking reformatory steps, here today.

Mr Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad, president, AISSF, led the participants, including leaders of various Akali factions and gave the memorandum to an official of the Akal Takht secretariat in the absence of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti. — OC


BJP youths protest over power crisis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Protesting against the Congress-led Punjab Government, state BJP youth wing activists today lodged a protest over the prevailing power crisis by holding lanterns and hand-held fans outside the Punjab BJP office here.

The symbolic on-counter sales of lanterns and fans attracted some attention.

State BJP youth leader Vineet Joshi said the ongoing power crisis was the worst in the history of the state. The state government had no answer to the worst-ever power crisis, added Mr Joshi.

All cities in the state have been reeling under power cuts ranging from 8 to 12 hours.


Communist leaders hold dharna

Amritsar, August 21
Communist leaders led by Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, district secretary, CPI, today held a dharna in front of Chheharta police station in protest against police inaction to arrest the persons responsible for an attack on a councillor of the party, Ms Parveen Kaur. — OC


Company to produce computer professionals
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Services

Chandigarh, August 21
Logging on to curriculum of development in Punjab, US-based information technology giant Outline Systems Inc. has developed a programme for producing computer professionals in the state.

To begin with, the company with at least four offices in the US and two in India will pick up two students right after Class X and sponsor their education till they pass out from Yadavindra Engineering College at Talwandi Sabu.

In all, the company — with headquarters in New Jersey and regional offices in Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware and Washington DC, besides Gurgaon and Chandigarh — will sponsor the education of these students for six years.

The only criterion is that the students should be from economically weaker section of society. They should have the will to succeed “and contribute to the development of the nation in general and the state in particular”.

In the city on a short visit to the company’s regional office in the Punjab Engineering College on land provided by the UT Administration, the organisation’s Vice-President (Sales) Ramanjit Singh Multani says they are also working out the modalities for providing more such scholarships to the deserving students studying in institutes in and around Chandigarh .

“The intention is to help so many meritorious students belonging to this part of the region. Basically they have the will and the capacity to succeed, but have little or no financial backing for the realisation of their dreams,” he says. “In the absence of adequate resources, most of them drop out of schools and other institutes for earning their daily bread with the sweat of their brow, instead of landing up with quality jobs after completing their studies. A large number of them do not even wait to complete their Plus-Two.”

As such, the company hopes to reduce the financial burden involved in the education of these students by sponsoring them right after they pass their Class X examinations till they earn their degrees from the engineering college.

In the US since 1997 after attaining bachelor’s degree in technology from Punjabi University, 32-year-old Multani says: “Another purpose behind sponsoring the scholarships is to make the students aware of the options they have as a choice. So many of them do not even know what all they can do after clearing their Class X examinations. By paying for their studies, we are telling the students: look here’s another option for you”.

Multani is of the firm opinion that the education system here needs revamping for making it more practical oriented. “The need of the hour is to impart practical training to the students right after their matriculation examinations so that they are more responsive and interactive. In the US, the professionals know how to handle the assignments independently as the education there is more practical than theoretical." 


PRTC, Punjab Roadways to add 400 buses
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 21
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) and Punjab Roadways authorities have decided to add 400 buses to their existing fleet.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Transport Minister, said the air-conditioned bus service had already been introduced in Punjab. The bus stands at Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana were being modernised at a cost of Rs 45 crore.

Talking to media persons after flagging off a super de luxe air-conditioned bus service of the PRTC between Patiala and Delhi, Mr Puri said he would also ensure that the buses without valid permits should not ply on Punjab roads. He said he would take a stern action against the violators. Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, was also present on the occasion.

Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC, said the air-conditioned bus, which was introduced on the Patiala-Delhi route today, would provide all comforts to the passengers at cheaper cost.

Meanwhile, a section of the employees union of the PRTC submitted a charter of demands to Mr Puri. The charter said that the Punjab Government must give Rs 35 crore to the PRTC as capital contribution as the government had not given a single penny to the PRTC during the past 13 years, PRTC buses should be exempted from payment of toll tax and parity should be brought in the salary and perk structures of employees of the PRTC and Punjab Roadways.


Beant Singh memorial hangs fire
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
If former Punjab Chief Minister, Beant Singh were alive, he would think twice before sticking his neck out to fight the 'nation's war against terror'.

Eleven years after his death, the Beant Singh memorial and Chandigarh centre for the performing and visual arts, Sector 42, being built in his memory is far from completion. Today, the unfinished memorial building portrays a state of neglect with wild shrubs and bushes surrounding the proposed state of the art building.

The Chandigarh Administration is not the only one responsible for the delay, the Congress party and the Punjab Government who have a role to play in ensuring the early completion of the memorial too have been indifferent. It is just the family of the former Chief Minister, who has been observing his death anniversary -every August 31- here, accompanied by a handful of loyalists. The Punjab Government proposed a meeting last year to discuss speeding up of the project, but it is yet to take place. Meanwhile, the cost of the project has escalated from initial cost of around Rs 12.26 crore to over Rs 21.96 crore, taking the memorial becoming a reality more distant.

Over the past few years, the family and Congress workers from Kotli and Payal areas of Ludhiana district have been observing the death anniversary of Beant Singh without the participation of the government or the party high command. Each year the demand of completion of the memorial is taken up on Mr Beant Singh's death anniversary, but it is forgotten the next day. The Punjab Government is now keen to speed up the project in view of the ensuing state elections, but the file for summoning the meeting of the governing body of the trust is awaiting directions from the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F Rodrigues(retd) who is chairman of the governing body.

As per the agreement, the memorial project that started in 1997 was to be completed in 18 months. Later it was said that the first phase of the Beant Singh Memorial was expected to be completed in December, 2003. Initially, the project cost was put at Rs 12.26 with the UT Administration share pegged at Rs 2.26 crore and release of land for the purpose.

The Punjab Government was to contribute Rs 10 crore taking the total project cost to Rs 12.26 crore. But the Punjab Government has released only three instalments of about Rs 2 crore each in 1998, 2002 and 2004.

Punjab stopped paying up during the Shiromni Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP regime on the plea that it had no money to spare. Since, there was no grant being released by the Punjab Government, the UT Administration kept on putting in money to keep the project going and has so far contributed Rs 11.59 crore. On the memorial, a sum of Rs 9.30 crore has been spent so far. The Chandigarh centre for the performing and visual arts will cost another Rs 12.23 crore, which is apart from the Rs 21.96 crore to be spent on the memorial.

Interestingly, the Punjab Chief Secretary had written a letter to the U.T Administration in August, 2005, a few days before the 10th death anniversary of Beant Singh, expressing a desire to hold an early meeting to discuss issues concerning the Construction of the Beant Singh Memorial. But the meeting is yet to take place. It is, however, expected to be held sometime later this month. The 16-member Beant Singh Memorial Society Trust formed in 1996 has also not held any meeting in the recent past.

The Chandigarh Administration has, meanwhile, started building a convention centre adjoining the memorial complex. This complex will house a library and a conference hall. The administration has earmarked nine acres of land for this centre and is expected to cost Rs 40 crore.

This centre will have a multi-use convention hall with a 1,200-seating capacity and a smaller 150-200 capacity hall. A 125-room capacity hotel is also being planned to make the convention centre self-contained. In addition, restaurants and an exhibition area have also been proposed.


Protesting staff seek Rs 1000 interim relief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 21
Hundreds of employees of various government departments hold rally and demonstration in Hundreds of employees of various government departments, including health, education, public health, and veterinary, under the banner of the Punjab Mulazam Sangharash Committee (PMSC) today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) here against the “anti people” policies, like privatisation of the state government and “indifferent attitude” of the state government towards demands of the employees.

The protesters also took a round of the various offices in the DC office complex and held a demonstration. They also took out a protest march from the DC’s office to the traffic lights chowk, near main bus stand here, where they also blocked traffic for 15 minutes. The protesters also submitted a memorandum, of demands, to the Deputy Commissioner.

Addressing the protesters Mr Swarnjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh Dhanaula and Mr Jarnail Singh, all district conveners of the PMSC, asked the government to scrap the 11th Schedule of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution to prevent 29 government departments from going into the hands of the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

They also asked the Punjab government to revive 80,000 posts abolished by the state government, and appoint persons on a regular basis in place of contract appointments. They also urged the state government to regularise the services of all daily workers part timers and ad hoc employees.

Mr Tarsem Lal, district secretary of the Democratic Teachers Front Punjab; Mr Jugraj Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Khokhar, Mr Amrit Garg and Mr Sikandar Singh, all leaders of the employees, also asked the Punjab government to grant promotional scales to the employees after four, nine and 14 years of service, Rs 500 per month medical allowance and pending bonus of eight years. They also demanded jobs on compassionate ground for family members of the deceased employees. They asked the state government to set up fifth pay commission and give Rs 1,000 per month as interim relief to the employees. 


Punjab agrees to give land
for Chandigarh airport expansion

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
While Punjab's proposal to set up an international airport at Halwara is hanging fire, the state government has agreed to give land for the expansion of the airport in Chandigarh.

The expansion proposal includes a new runway for big planes and a modern cargo facility.

Sources said that though environmental and other clearances had been given by the authorities for setting up the international airport at Halwara in proximity to the airbase there, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry was sitting on the final clearance of the proposal. After dropping the move of setting up an international airport at Laddowal, the Punjab Government had sent an alternative proposal to set up such an airport near Halwara. In fact, the alternative proposal was virtually an expansion of Halwara airbase by creating the facility for the landing of civilian aircraft. The Union Government, which had accepted the proposal, is moving slowly on the project.

Though Punjabis are spread the world over, Punjab has no airport of international standards. This has impeded the growth of the state.

The Airport Authority of India , through the UT Administration, had sought 300 acres from Punjab for the expansion of Chandigarh airport and the provision of the cargo facility there. " We have accepted the proposal as it will be in the interest of the state to give land for the expansion of the airport", said a senior officer of the state government.

The sources said the cargo facility would be built in Punjab's area and be under its control. The revenue generated from this facility would be collected by the state government.

The expansion of the local airport is required for the export of vegetables and fruit from this region to European countries and also for supply to other parts of the country. Already, the UT Administration has planned to set up a modern vegetable market, including the grading facility, cooling chambers and conveyor belts, in Makhan Majra village.

It is not clear whether the cost of land to be acquired for the expansion of the airport will be borne by the Punjab Government or will be paid by the Airport Authority of India. The current market price of land on the periphery of the airport is in the range of Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore.

The Punjab Government has also been providing the cargo facility at Raja Sansi Airport, near Amritsar. It has earmarked Rs 20 crore, which it got from the Union Government under the National Horticulture Mission, for this facility. Even Reliance Retail Limited is keen on setting up its own cargo facility near Amritsar. It has plans to induct its own cargo planes to transport vegetables and fresh farm produce to other parts of the country.


Bharat Nirman Campaign launched
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, August 21
The National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) Act is a bold step and at least 34,000 poor persons from rural areas of the district have been provided 100 days of employment in an year under the Act.

This was stated by Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Transport and Commerce K.P.S. Rana here after inaugurating the Bharat Nirman Campaign launched by the Press Information Bureau today.

He lauded Union minister Ambika Soni for getting the scheme implemented in the district.

Mr Rana said the programmes under the scheme could be made successful with the involvement of the people at the grass-root level.


CM mourns Ustad’s death

Chandigarh, August 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today expressed grief over the death of Ustad Bismillah Khan.

In a condolence message, the Chief Minister said Indian classical music had been deprived of a shehnai legend. The people would remember his outstanding contribution to the promotion of our rich cultural heritage. — TNS


Ministers want officials of choice in departments
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Weeks after the allocation of new portfolios, the ministers in Punjab whose departments have been changed have asked Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to reshuffle Principal Secretaries and Director-level officials of their new departments.

Requests from ministers have been pouring in ever since the portfolios were changed on July 27, said an official source in the Punjab Government.

Almost all ministers want officials of their choice in their new departments. The ministers claim that this change is necessary as they enjoy a good rapport with certain officials, who in turn understand what needs to be done in their respective departments.

However, the Chief Minister has been advised not to go ahead with large-scale reshuffle, as elections are round the corner.

Time is “too short” for new Principal Secretaries to work on full steam, contend officials.

By conservative estimates, the Election Commission will impose the model code of conduct at least one month prior to voting, which is scheduled for February next year, leaving around five months of effective functioning of the government.

However, the ministers have their own viewpoint. They fell that change is a must.

Not wanting to be quoted, a minister says adjustment with officials is needed. “If someone is saddled with an officer who adopts delaying tactics on one account or the other, the department will suffer,” the minister adds.

He feels that this kind of attitude is unacceptable, as elected representatives are accountable to people.

Sources say the Chief Minister may agree to some demands of his colleagues and a few “adjustments” in transfers may happen.

This can range from a few changes at the Director level to shifting of a couple of Principal Secretary-level officials.

Interestingly, some ministers who want a change have officials in their departments who enjoy a reputation of being upright or those who follow the rule book.

The ministers also want the Chief Minister to extend the last date of transfers for employees from August 31.

The last date has already been extended once — from July 31.

This demanded may not be accepted as transfers started in April and the process cannot be an endless one, says a senior functionary. 


Aulakh for hike in farm research investment
VCs’ meeting with President Kalam
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August, 21
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr K.S. Aulakh, emphasised the need for investment in agricultural development during the meeting with the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam last week.

The President, during his visit to the state on August, 17, held a special meeting with the Vice-Chancellors of the four universities of Punjab.

Dr Aulakh told The Tribune here today that at present only 0.8 per cent was being invested on research and development of agriculture at the national level. This should be enhanced to 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent which was invested in advanced countries, Dr Aulakh told the President. Dr Aulakh stressed that without adequate financial support, research in agriculture would not make much progress.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, told the President that there was shortage of well qualified technical faculty in the University. This was because the university was not able to make salaries comparable with the salaries offered by the industry. The industry was attracting good and meritorious personnel, the President was informed. Dr Jai Rup Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, also listed the details of the programmes being offered by the GND University.

The President appreciated the efforts of Punjabi University in providing urban facilities to the rural areas with the establishment of the engineering college in the rural area of the state by Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University.

President Kalam in his address to the Vice-Chancellors spoke of his proposal to set up one hundred PURA clusters (provide urban area facilities in rural areas).

The President also called upon the Vice-Chancellors of Punjab universities to consider the creation of virtual university by networking the universities which will enable maximum utilisation of the core competence of the individual university and enrich the students with quality knowledge.

Emphasizing on the need for developing global human resource, Dr Kalam observed that at present India had 540 million youth under the age of 25 which would continuously grow till 2050. Keeping this resource in mind, the universities and educational systems in the state should create two cadres — a global cadre of skilled youth with specific knowledge of special skills and another of global cadre of youth with higher education to take up research and leadership roles. These two cadres will be required not only for powering all sectors of our economy, but also to be a reservoir of knowledge for the rest of the world?

The President appreciated Punjabi NRIs who had made substantial contribution in the spread of education and technical education by launching various projects in Punjab.

The President said the Vice-Chancellors of the universities in Punjab and the Government might like to harness such trends of service from overseas Indians for reinforcing the existing university system for higher level of capacity building.


Rs 4.25 lakh looted from villager
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 21
Two looters on a motor cycle (PB-46E-1493) snatched Rs 4.25 lakh from a person here last evening. The police has registered a case under Sections 382 and 34, IPC, in this regard.

However, the mobile phone set of one of the looters fell down while escaping.

According to the information collected, Mr Jagmit Singh of Cheema Kalan village (Patti), along with his cousin Jagjit Singh, was going back on the motor cycle after collecting the amount from Mr Salwinder Singh of the local Guru Teg Bahadur Colony.

When they reached near Kakka Kandiala village, two persons came on a motor cycle and stopped them near the rail line. They threatened them with arms, snatched the amount and fled away. While escaping the mobile phone set of one of them fell down.

Mr Navjot Singh SHO said the looters had been identified and would be nabbed soon. He said the police parties had raided certain places to nab them.


Absconding kidnapper commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Batala August 21
Kulwinder Singh, an accused in a kidnapping case, who fled from police custody has committed suicide by consuming poison.

The family members of Kulwinder allege he committed suicide due to pressure exerted by the police.

Kulwinder was caught by the police on charges of kidnapping a child from Sajaewal village. He was allegedly caught red handed and the kidnapped child was recovered from him.

Kulwinder was then sent to Gurdaspur central jail where he fell ill and was transferred to the civil hospital. He fled from the hospital and was absconding till he committed suicide two days ago. The SSP, Batala, suspended the cops responsible for guarding Kulwinder in hospital.

The family members of the deceased said the cops picked up Kulwinder's brother Balwinder Singh on a petty charge of stealing the bicycle of a child. Balwinder was tortured in custody and pressured to give the whereabouts of Kulwinder.

Kulwinder, who was in hiding, attempted to end his life. He was discovered in an unconscious state by some villagers who shifted him to hospital. He later died in the hospital.


Fake currency recovered; 6 held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
In a major breakthrough, Majitha police has arrested six persons involved in manufacturing of counterfeit Indian currency and recovered Rs 10 lakh along with computer, scanner and printer.

Disclosing this to mediapersons here today, Mr Gautam Cheema, SSP Majitha, said that the accused had been identified as Mohinder Singh, a resident of Valtoha, Kulwant Singh, a resident of Loh Chab (Gurdaspur) at present living at Daduana Chowk Jandiala, Basant Singh, a resident of Manak Pura, (Patti), and Mandip Singh of Chabba now at Guru Amardas Nagar (Amritsar). Their interrogation led to the arrest of Kashmir Singh, a former Sarpanch of Kotla Sadar, and Baldev Singh of Chattiwind Lehal.

The district police chief disclosed that the accused used to pose as members of special anti-crime bureau of Punjab and used to defraud innocent people showing the identity card of anti-crime bureau.

Giving details, Mr Cheema said that they had specific information that some persons indulging in supply of fake currency were active in the Jandiala Guru area. During a naka at Canal Bridge at Rasulpur village, police party stopped four persons on two motorcycles. The police recovered fake Indian currency of Rs 8.33 lakh in the denomination of Rs 1000.

Kulwant Singh was the kingpin of the gang and had installed computer, scanner and printer for preparing fake currency in his house while Mandeep Singh was an expert in handling digital computer photography.

The police has seized all the instruments besides Rs 27,000 from the house of Kulwant Singh. The police also recovered Rs 1lakh worth of fake currency from Kashmir Singh and Rs 40 thousand from Baldev Singh.

Further interrogation was in progress and more arrests and recoveries were likely to be made. A case has been registered against the accused under section 420, 489 A, 489B, and 489C IPC at Jandiala Guru police station.


2 held for bank robbery
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 21
The Ferozepore police has arrested two persons in connection with the bank robbery that took place on August 9 in which two unidentified persons had looted Rs 71,100 from the Kundal village branch of Punjab National Bank.

Mr K.S. Gill, SP, Detective, said the arrested persons included the mastermind behind several robberies. Yesterday, the police, acting on a tip-off, laid a trap on the Sito road when it spotted two persons on a Hero Honda motor cycle, which was without any registration number. Getting suspicious, the police team overpowered the two persons, who were identified as Swarn Singh, alias Babbu, son of Subeg Singh, a resident of ward no. 11, Isa Nagari, Makhu, and Binder Singh, alias Binda, son of Gurbax Singh, a resident of Jham ke, Makhu.

The police team recovered one revolver with five cartridges and Rs 25,000, which was looted from the bank.


One killed in mishap

Ropar, August 21
One person was killed and three were injured when a car collided head-on with a Jeep near the power colony here on Sunday. The car driver Amar Singh died on the spot while Yuv Raj, Vivek Chandel and Raj have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar. Later, Vivek and Yuvraj were shifted to a hospital in Mohali. The police has registered a case. — TNS


BEd admissions in 23 colleges stopped
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The Punjab Government has stopped 23 colleges across the state from taking in new students under the BEd course. Orders to this effect were circulated today.

While 21 of these colleges are affiliated with Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, one college each is affiliated with Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Punjabi University, Patiala.

Infrastructure in these colleges was reportedly found to be lacking.


Punjab Agro, PSIEC lock horns over land to RIL
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) and the Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) have locked horns over the issue of recovery of cost of land at Goindwal Sahib from Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

In what seems to be a communication shot off in unwarranted hurry to transfer land to the company, PAIC has asked the PSIEC to recover the original cost as well as the enhanced cost of the land from Reliance. PSIEC, on the other hand, is learnt to have told PAIC in clear terms that the land at Goindwal was allotted to PAIC by the PSIEC and thus it is they who should be asking Reliance for the money.

The almost 170 acres of land at Goindwal had been sold to PAIC by the PSIEC some years ago and is now owned by PAIC. The Cabinet had during its meeting held on June 26, decided that PAIC would first receive the cost of the land plus interest at 3 per cent per annum from RIL and then surrender this land to the PSIEC. The PSIEC would then re-allot the land to RIL without charging any price since the payment would have already been received by the PAIC. The Cabinet had further decided that RIL would not be charged any transfer fee (a concession of Rs 49 lakh) or conversion fee (a concession of Rs 41 lakh).

Reportedly in complete departure from the Cabinet decision, PAIC, however, wrote to the PSIEC stating that “keeping in view the Cabinet’s decision”, PAIC is surrendering its land at Goindwal Sahib to the PSIEC which should now ask the “new allottees RIL” to deposit the money.

Highly-placed sources in PAIC stated that the PSIEC had written back repeating the Cabinet decision pointing out that PAIC had to first recover its price and the enhanced cost from RIL only after which should it surrender land to the PSIEC.

Sources added while PAIC had been in the forefront of grant of land to RIL for its super mega project in the state, the PSIEC had, however, not taken too kindly to transfer of their land to RIL. Other than the 170 acres of land at Goindwal Sahib, the PSIEC would be transferring over 290 acres of its land spread over five focal points in the state to RIL. According to a press note issued by the members of the PSIEC employees union during their recent agitation, the corporation stands to lose Rs 120 crore in the entire transaction.

Meanwhile, the issue of allotment of the PSIEC land to RIL had also come up for discussion at the Board of Directors meeting held today.


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