P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Punjab set to hike MLAs’ pension
Increase in limit for house, car loans also on cards
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
A hike in the pension of Punjab MLAs is on the cards. Besides, there will be an increase in the limit of loans for building a house, purchasing a car, etc.

Sources said the state Finance Department had cleared the proposal to increase the pension of the MLAs who would get elected the second time. The proposal in this regard was mooted by the Department of Parliamentary Affairs. The sources said that after examination of the proposal by the Legal Remembrancer, it would be placed before the Council of Ministers for approval and introducing amendments to the existing law in the coming session of the Punjab Assembly. However, in case a Bill in this regard could not be presented in the Assembly, the increases could be made by issuing an ordinance after the session.

In fact, drastic changes will be made in the eligibility criteria for pension. The sources said that at present an MLA who had served a full term of five years was entitled to a pension of Rs 5,000 per month. However, it had been proposed that any person who is once elected an MLA will be entitled to pension regardless of the fact whether he or she remains a legislator for two days, two years or the full term of five years.

Any person who is elected an MLA for the second time will be entitled to an increase of Rs 2,500 per month over and above the basic pension of Rs 5,000 per month. There will be no condition relating to the completion of the term. At present, for MLAs elected the second time, there is a provision for an increase of Rs 500 per month for every year in excess of five years. The sources said that for MLAs elected the third time, the same pattern of further increase of Rs 2,500 per month would be followed.

The annual liability of this provision will be in the range of Rs 45 lakh.

In Punjab, an MLA gets a tax-free salary and allowances in the range of Rs 25,000 per month. And then he is entitled to TA and DA plus reimbursement for fuel to the tune of Rs 1,25,000 per annum. According to an estimate, the monthly expenditure from the state exchequer on an MLA is about Rs 70,000.

The sources said that the limit of the house-building loan for MLAs would be enhanced to Rs 25 lakh from the existing Rs 10 lakh and the car loan limit to Rs 10 lakh from Rs 6 lakh. The proposal in this regard had also been cleared. Besides, travelling allowance for MLAs (own car) will be increased to Rs 10 per km from existing Rs 6 per km, it is learnt.

A proposal for providing laptops to all MLAs by spending Rs 85 lakh has also been okayed. The sources said that almost all MLAs had shown willingness to have laptops.


Sukhbir doles out promises, blasts CM
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 5
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary of the SAD(B), addressed four rallies during his whirlwind tour of the district today. While talking to The Tribune after paying obeisance at Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib, he unfolded his party's agenda if voted to power.

He made it clear that he was not a candidate for the post of Chief Minister and would not contest the Assembly election, but at the same time clarified that if party high command entrusted him any responsibility, he would not shun it.

He said the SAD(B) would form alliance with all those parties who wanted to defeat the Congress. Mr Badal asserted there was no difference between the BJP and the SAD(B) over sharing of seats.

He claimed that due to the tooth-and-nail opposition and pressure of the SAD (B) MPs in Parliament, the Prime Minister had to increase MSP by Rs 40.

He said when SAD(B) MPs were giving dharna in front of Parliament in scorching heat, Capt Amarinder Singh was enjoying in Dubai.

Mr Badal said people of the state were sorry to know that he had been declared the No 1 Chief Minister by the India Today where as he had proved to be the worst CM the state had ever witnessed.

He said the SAD (B) did not give much importance to any survey conducted by agencies but from the response of the people, it was clearly written on the wall that they were sure to form the next government.

He said that if voted to power, the SAD (B) government would give pension worth Rs 400 to every old person without any formality, 'Shagun' scheme would be revived under which Rs7500 would be given, Dalit families would be given free power upto 400 units and education to girls belonging to poor families upto university level would be given free.

Mr Badal further said to promote education "Adarsh schools", with capacity of 5000 students, would be opened in every block to provide quality education.

He added that on the pattern of NIS, Punjab, more such institutes would be opened and services of foreign coaches would be availed. Mr Badal also promised that a 'Beopar Development Board' would be constituted and its chairman would be appointed from among traders having Cabinet Minister's rank and all programmes, policies etc of traders would be formed by board. VAT and 'inspector raj' would be abolished.

In the very first meeting of cabinet, 1.5 Lakh youths would be recruited in various government departments, he added.

Addressing rallies at Bassi Pathana, Sirhind, Naulakha and Amloh towns of the districts, he lashed out at Capt Amarinder Singh and leveled various allegations against him and his government.

He said they had to identify asli (real) and nakli (bogus) Chief Minister. He compared in detail the rule of Mr Parkash Singh Badal with Capt. Amarinder Singh.

Mr Badal said Mr Amarinder Singh was a liar and was used to making false claims in media.

He asked where were mega projects worth Rs 60,000 crore through which two lakh youths had been given employment.

Mr Badal stressed that he would continue to expose his misrule and won't rest till he was voted out of power.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, said the SAD (B) would expose the CM during Assembly sessions on September 14.

He dared the CM to bring a bill, waiving loans given to farmers and Dalits, to the tune of Rs 30, 000 crore and if he did not introduce the bill, the SAD (B) won't allow him to go out of the Assembly.


Assistant warden suspended
Students’ unrest at GND University
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
Succumbing to the pressure of agitating students, who observed Teachers' Day as “black day” by observing complete strike on the second consecutive day here , the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr Jai Rup Singh, today placed the assistant warden and the nurse, who were on duty on September 3 in the girls hostel, under suspension.

The Vice-Chancellor also transferred his Personal Assistant, Mr Manjit Singh, to the Establishment Branch of the university. He has been working in this capacity for the last 10 years.

Expressing his concern over the incident of the illness of a hostel resident, he said the university would bear all expenses for her treatment. He also announced that the students who took the girl to the hospital would also be honoured.

The Vice-Chancellor said a high- powered committee had been constituted to look into all aspects of the incident that took place on the night of September 3. He said the security staff which was posted at the girls hostel and on the main gate on that night had also been transferred.

Though the Vice-Chancellor made frantic efforts to pacify the students by announcing a number of relaxations , yet the students sought the immediate suspension of Dr Renu Bhardwaj, warden, and Mr S.S.Chhina , Security Officer, for the unsavoury situation that arose following the denial of timely medical aid to the girl student .

The Vice-Chancellor said besides upgrading the medical facilities at the varsity hostels, appointment of a medical officer in each hostel, Wi-Fi and fibre cable Internet facilities would be ensured. He addressed students of all teaching departments of the university at Dasmesh Auditorium.

The Vice-Chancellor said from the next session all students would be provided with a brochure having detailed information about admission schedule, departmental examinations, vacations and the rules and regulations meant to be followed by students at the time of admission. This information would also be made available on the university website. The Vice-Chancellor further assured the students that the university was committed to provide hygienic conditions in hostels.

All hostels would be equipped with Aquaguards, looking glasses, and electric points to charge mobile phones. He said the maintenance work of hostels had already started and would be completed shortly. The Vice-Chancellor said the medical facilities would be upgraded in the hostels very shortly and a medical officer would be appointed for all hostels.

To meet emergency, a lady medical officer in the girls hostel would be available for two hours daily. The university would also appoint assistant wardens in each hostel.


Jobless B.Ed teachers go begging in protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
While activists of the Unemployed BEd Teachers Front today went begging as a mark of protest against the state government policies, jobless art and craft teachers observed Teachers Day as black day here.

The unemployed BEd teachers first converged at Teachers Home from where they took out a “begging rally” that culminated at the mini-secretariat.

Addressing the protesters, the district president of the front, Mr Jagmail Singh, said even as a large number of schools were functioning without adequate staff, the state government had failed to fill 40,000 posts of teacher. He said the quality of education in government schools had gone down due to the government’s “indifferent attitude” towards education sector. The protesters were seen begging while the rally passed through main areas of the city.

He said the state government had “forced them to resort to begging”. He warned the government that if posts of teacher were not filled soon the ruling party would have to pay a heavy price in the coming Assembly elections. He said they would hold a state-level rally in Chandigarh on September 14 when the Congress government’s last Assembly session would begin. He said they were taking out ‘Jaago’ in villages and district headquarters to organise people to join their protest.

On the other hand, unemployed art and craft teachers from Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepore districts also gathered in the city and observed Teachers Day as black day. Holding black flags and banners in their hands, they took out a protest march to mini-secretariat where they indulged in intense sloganeering against the state government. They also unveiled their plan to hold a massive protest in Chandigarh on September 14. Protesters from both the unions blocked traffic in front of the bus stand for about half an hour.

Sangrur: At least 100 unemployed B.Ed teachers, including women, observed Teachers Day as ‘black day’ here today.

Under the banner of the Berozgar B.Ed Adhyapak Union and the Berozgar B.Ed Adhyapak Front, they took out a march here, wearing black badges, carrying black flags and raising anti-government slogans.

They blocked traffic at the traffic lights chowk near the main bus stand for some time and held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

They demanded the filling of vacant posts of teacher on a regular basis, enhancement in upper age limit to 42 years for recruitment of teachers, preference to highly qualified teachers during selection and appointment of B.Ed teachers in primary schools.

Computer teachers working in government schools, under the banner of the Punjab Computer Teachers Union, also observed ‘black day’ by wearing black gowns.


Re-employed teachers not paid salaries
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 5
School teachers who have been re-employed by the Punjab Government have not been paid their salaries for the past three months.

The Governor, Punjab, in an ordinance issued on May 23 this year had ordered that the teachers retiring at the age of 58 years would continue their services till the end of the session in March next year. The move to re-employ retired teachers was aimed at continuing studies of the students in educational session. The teachers were to be relieved from service after the expiry of the education session.

Every month nearly five teachers are retiring in elementary and high schools in the district. They are being re-employed but not been paid the promised salary. Sources here said the salary to re-employed teachers had not been paid due to lack of communication between the departments concerned.

Teachers while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the treasury authorities had not received any direction regarding their salaries. So their dues were not being released.

The government should issue clear directions to the departments concerned regarding the payments to be made to re-employed teachers, they demanded.

The re-employment of teachers had created other problems also. Some of the principals and headmasters had also been re-employed. They are still continuing as principals and headmasters.

The teachers, who were to succeed them through promotions, are alleging that the retired teachers had been re-employed only for teaching purposes. They cannot continue on administrative posts and enjoy drawing and dispersing powers. The teachers have also given a representation regarding the problem to the respective district education officers.

The District Education Officer (Secondary) here Mr Som Raj Saini, when contacted admitted that there was an ambiguity regarding allowing the principals and headmasters to continue on their administrative posts even after retirement. A clarification regarding it had been sought from the Secretary, Education Office. However, till date no reply had been received and retired persons were continuing on the post of principals and headmasters.

On the issue of non-payment of salaries to re-employed teachers, he said their payments would be released soon.


Brar on firm ground after revocation of supporters’ suspension
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The political standing of Mr Jagmeet Brar has got a boost with the suspension of his four staunch supporters from the Congress being revoked by the party’s disciplinary action committee here today.

Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath, Chairman of the DAC, in a signed statement, said the suspension of Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Mann and Mr Ripujit Singh Brar from the party has been revoked with immediate effect. All these four leaders are staunch supporters of Mr Brar. They were suspended a few months ago for violating the discipline of the party. In fact, these leaders had been suspended for making critical remarks and observations regarding the functioning of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The DAC has recommended to the party high command that no action is required to be taken against Mr Vijay Sathi and Mr Manjit Singh Jhalbutti, two members of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Cases of both these leaders, who are also firm supporters of Mr Brar, had been referred by the party high command to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee for taking a suitable action. According to sources the DAC had stated in its recommendation that Mr Sathi and Mr Manjit Singh had satisfied it (DAC) by filing their replies and there was no need to proceed against them.

Mr Chatrath said the suspension of four leaders had been revoked following an assurance from each one of them to maintain party discipline and to approach the PPCC chief in case of any grievance rather than going to the media for ventilating their anguish or any difference of opinion with any senior functionary of the party.

Disciplinary proceedings against two Punjab Ministers and one Chief Parliamentary Secretary are still pending with the DAC.

Sources said before revoking the suspension, Mr Chatrath discussed the issue in detail with the president of the PPCC, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. Mr Chatrath said Mr Dullo had accepted the undertaking given by the four leaders and okayed the overturning of their suspension. There are reports that the AICC general secretary, Mr Janardhan Dwivedi, has played a significant role in getting the suspension of Mr Brar’s supporters revoked.

Immediately after the Payal function, which was organised to pay tribute to late Beant Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab, a subtle change in the political alignments in the party has begun. A special invitee to the Congress Working Committee(CWC), Mr Brar, appears to be inching closer to Mr Dullo.


Ministers to meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab Council of Ministers’ meeting tomorrow will be crucial for employees and farmers. Also the council is slated to give its consent for turning the ordinance on the Punjab Vigilance Commission into a bill for formal approval in the coming session of the Vidhan Sabha on September 14.

Though nothing is on the formal agenda relating to the employees’ demands and rural indebtedness, informal discussions are on in this regard. The Chief Secretary will be making a presentation on the financial implications if all demands of the employees are met. The council will also be informally briefed on the pending issues of farmers.


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