P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Investment to create 20 lakh jobs: Amarinder
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 9
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said that mega projects in the state would garner investment worth Rs 1 lakh crore by the end of this year and this would create 20 lakh employment opportunities.

Inaugurating the Master Tara Singh Auditorium at the Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College here, the Chief Minister highlighted the achievements of his government and lashed out at Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal for “lacking in vision” for the state’s development.

“We want Punjab to move forward in the 21st century while their (SAD) thinking will take us back to the 18th century,” he said.

Capt Amarinder Singh said SAD “had problems” over the state government organising functions to mark the anniversaries commemorating milestones of Sikh faith. Taking a dig at the SGPC, he said the organisation was not properly performing its role to celebrate the occasions marking significant days in Sikh history.

The Chief Minister said it was the state government’s duty to celebrate all such occasions and recounted the steps taken to observe days marking dates completing hundreds of years of significant events in Sikh history.

Blaming the Akalis for policies that led to militancy and turmoil in the state in the eighties and early nineties, he said contentious issues could be handled using legal means. Citing example of the legislation by Punjab Assembly abrogating water sharing accord with neighbouring states, he said there was no need of “morchas.”

Justifying his decision to provide Rs 1500 crore power subsidy to farmers in the state, he said an economist would not understand the rationale behind the move but it involved human aspect. “The increase in MSP has been far less than the hike in cost of agricultural inputs,” he said.

Capt Amarinder Singh said monsoon had “failed” in some parts of the state but the government had been able to provide at least eight hours of power to rural areas.

The Chief Minister said the state government will set up a memorial for freedom fighters of Punjab at Chandigarh.

Paying tributes to Master Tara Singh, he said the leader provided leadership during tough times. “We must remember what he did for the people of Punjab and the country,” he said. The Chief Minister said a statue of the late leader will be installed at Amritsar. He honoured some people associated with Master Tara Singh.

Speakers including Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Harvinder Singh Sarna, SAD Delhi president Paramjit Singh Sarna and Sikh Mission International chairman Manjit Singh Calcutta lauded the leadership provided by Master Tara Singh to the Sikhs and people of Punjab.

In her remarks, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the impressive auditorium was not only a gift to the college but to Delhi University.


PUDA move to acquire residential land draws flak
Vacant land dropped from scheme for Urban Estate
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
Residents of Guru Gobind Singh Nagar and its nearby localities are up in arms against PUDA move to acquire 192.6 acres of land for developing Urban Estate Phases IV and V while leaving out a vacant chunk of land adjacent to their houses.

In a plea to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, Munder Lal Sharma, Darshan Singh Dhillon and other area residents said PUDA had first intended to acquire 240.20 acres of land through its notice published on October 11, 2004.

Following this, land mafia tried to persuade farmers having assets in the area to sell their land by offering double the price of what PUDA would offer them.

They alleged that when their efforts did not yield results, the land mafia connived with some PUDA officials and got 47 acres of land dropped from the scheme.

They further alleged that mafia also got a private colony approved on the land left out of the scheme. They claimed that while the mafia was selling plots in the newly carved out colony at high rates, PUDA was left with 192.6 acres of land, which comprised 300 houses.

They said a large number of residents in the area had got their site plan approved by the MC, besides getting legal power and telephone connections. Stating that they had limited resources, the residents pleaded that their houses be spared from acquisition.

The residents also sought a probe into the leaving out of 47 acres of land from the scheme.

PUDA ACA Ajaib Singh Bhatti said he could not comment on the matter and added that the official who had heard objections under Section V could explain the reason behind leaving out the 47 acres of land.

On approval of a private colony on the land, he said it was the job of the District Town Planning and PUDA had nothing to do with it.


Kandahar hijacking: summons to former CMs, 5 others
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 9
The special designated anti-hijacking court of Inderjit Singh Walia issued summons to seven persons, including former Chief Ministers, on Friday in a case relating to the hijacking of flight no: IC 814 which, while on its way from Kathmandu to New Delhi, was hijacked to Kandahar on December 24, 1999.

Apart from summoning the former J&K Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and a former Delhi CM, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, the court has issued summons to the J&K Inspector General of Police (IGP), Superintendent of Tihar Jail, a representative of the Pakistan Consulate, Police commissioner of Delhi and the Chief Executive of the Kandahar Airport Authority.

The court has issued the summons of a plea made by Mr H.V Rai, defence counsel of two of the accused — Yusuf Nepali and Dalip Kumar Bhajel. Mr Rai had moved an application asking for summoning of these persons “to establish that the hijack was planned by the Government of India.”

According to Mr H.V Rai, Superintendent of Tihar Jail had been summoned to verify records pertaining to Umar Sheikh, Maulana Masood Azar and Mohammad Zargar — all three alleged terrorists who were exchanged for the IC-814 passengers.

Mr Rai added that he wanted to prove that the Indian Government had followed no legal formalities while releasing the three terrorists.

The next date of hearing has been fixed for September 15.


Inside Babudom
DFO not posted back despite CM’s orders
Infighting in Department of Forest
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, September 9
There seems to be no end to infighting in the Department of Forest over the posting of Division Forest Officer (DFO), Garshankar. The IFS officer, Mr Harbhajan Singh, has not been posted back as DFO, Garshankar, despite orders in this regard from the Chief Minister and the Department of Personnel.

The DFO Garshankar, Mr Harbhajan Singh, was transferred to Phillaur about two months ago. The Deputy Commissioner, Nawashahar, Mr Krishan Kumar, however, wrote to the Chief Secretary, Mr KR Lakhanpal, against the transfer saying that the said officer was carrying out his duties honestly. He was handling certain sensitive cases of encroachments over forest land. His transfer at this stage would demoralize honest officers.

In response to the letter from the Deputy Commissioner, the Chief Secretary wrote to the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister also agreed with the facts presented by Deputy Commissioner, Nawashahar, and wrote to the Personnel Department giving his assent for canceling the transfer of Mr Harbhajan Singh.

The Department on June 25 wrote to the Secretary, Forest, that the Chief Minister has given permission to cancel the transfer of Mr Harbhajan Singh.

However, till date the Department of Forest has not allowed Mr Harbhajan Singh to join back at Garshankar. Incidentally, Mr Harbhajan Singh is the only IFS officer serving sensitive territorial wing of the Kandi forest area comprising Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts.

To stop Mr Harbhajan Singh from joining back, some persons lodged a complaint against Mr Harbhajan Singh with the higher authorities. The compliant was made in the name of Darshan Singh, a panch of Mehengrowal village in Hoshiarpur district.

However, Darshan Singh has now given a counter affidavit. In the counter affidavit, a copy of which is available with The Tribune, Mr Darshan Singh has alleged that he has not made any complaint against the DFO, Garshankar. Complaint in his name seems to be fabricated by some ad hoc promotees of the Forest Department who want to stall the posting of Mr Harbhajan Singh back at Garshankar.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, while talking to The Tribune, said that he would give a police complaint against the fabricated complaint filed against him.

“I would demand forensic examination of handwriting on the complaint. I suspect that certain low-ranking department officials, who are holding the posts on ad hoc basis, have fabricated a complaint against me to stall my posting back at Garshankar despite Chief Minister' orders,” he said.


Unscrupulous elements devise new ways of
power theft

Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9
A trader of Sangrur district, running a big poultry farm, was found stealing power from the electricity transformer by changing the neutral wire with the phase wire and thus slowing down the meter without tampering with the same when the mobile metering test squad (MMTS) of the enforcement wing of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) carried out checking of the premises in the recent past.

In another case, a rice mill located at Doomwali village in Muktsar district and owned by a trader having political backing was found taking direct supply from the transformer by connecting a special cable.

In yet another case, an industrialist of Bathinda district was found stealing power from the transformer by connecting direct wires.

These are not isolated incidents as the enforcement wing, which has been trying to detect more cases connected with the theft of electricity by pressing its 43 MMTSs into service, have found that out of a total number of 56,000 power connections, which were checked, irregularities were detected in about 22,000 power connections.

The enforcement wing has already been detecting people stealing power by tampering with meters after breaking seals and getting the new seals fixed, putting heavy magnets on the meter to slow down its speed and passing the neutral wire from the meter instead of phase wire to stop its functioning. The enforcement wing has also detected cases where unscrupulous traders have been stealing power by laying underground wires from their premises to the electricity transformers.

What has become a major source of worry for the authorities is the fact that unscrupulous consumers have been finding new ways and means to steal power and thus have been causing a huge financial loss to the PSEB.

Official sources said so far the PSEB had earned more than Rs 31 crore from unscrupulous consumers as penalties were imposed upon them following detection of case of power theft.

The sources said the penalty to the tune of Rs 10.35 lakh was imposed upon a rice mill of Doomwali village, a penalty of Rs 9 lakh was imposed on a poultry farm in Sangrur and an industry in Bathinda for their alleged involvement in the theft of power.

As per the figures supplied by the PSEB, 27 cases of power theft were detected where a penalty of Rs 1 lakh or more was imposed on the unscrupulous consumers. In one case, the authorities imposed a penalty of Rs 2 crore when a furnace industry located in the Sirhind-Khanna area was found stealing power.

The sources said the PSEB authorities had also managed to earn Rs 4 crore in the shape of penalties imposed on those who had been stealing power under the garb of using power for agricultural purpose. Out of the 19,000 agriculture power connections, which were checked by the MMTSs, about 10 per cent were found indulging in power theft.


Dullo differs with CM over Left alliance
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
Contrary to the stand taken by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh towards the left parties, the Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, once again appealed to the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to join hands with the Congress to defeat the communal and divisive forces.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Dullo maintained that in case the left parties join the third front, they would indirectly support the “communal and divisive forces”. He regretted that these parties had aligned with the Third Front which constituted of the pro terrorist elements also.

Mr Dullo refused to comment on the stand taken by the Chief Minister, who is opposed to alliance with the left parties. The PCC president maintained that it was important that the secular forces joined hands to defeat the communal and divisive forces.

The PCC president said that the memorial of late Beant Singh at Chandigarh was being redesigned. He regretted that while the Akali government had ignored the memorial, even the Congress governments. had not shown any interest.

However, Mr Dullo hastened to add that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh had great regards for Mr Beant Singh and he was taking personal interest to ensure that the memorial came up very well. He said, it would be developed at the pattern of Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi in New Delhi.


Senior Congress leader joins SAD
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) received a shot in the arm today when a senior Congress party leader, Mr Kulwant Singh Chohla, former Chairman, Block Samiti, Chohla Sahib, along with his many supporters, joined the party under the Leadership of Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, MLA and senior vice-president, SAD.

Mr Chohla had been in queue for the Congress party ticket from Naushehra Pannaua. He remained Sarpanch of Chohla for many terms. The family o Mr Chohla had been associated with the Congress party for the past about 50 years.

Mr Chohla, while addressing newsmen, said he was feeling suffocation in the Congress due to its policy of ignoring party workers and for the corruption prevailing in the administration.

A function in this regards was organised at Chohla Sahib. Others who spoke on the occasion include Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, former president, SGPC and Mr Gurbachan Singh Karmuwala, executive committee member.


Punjab economy in shambles, says Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Lalru, September 9
Joining issue with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, over his claims of Punjab being the number one state in the country, the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today alleged that Punjab economy was in shambles with unemployment assuming alarming proportions.

“The economic growth rate in Punjab is a dismal 2.4% as compared to the national growth rate of 8.2%,” the senior Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) leader said, picking holes in Punjab Government’s claims. He was addressing a Dalit chetna rally here today.

The SAD general secretary alleged that on account of the “lop-sided” policies of the Amarinder Singh Government the vocational educational had been given a “step-motherly” treatment with a result that the unemployment was on the rise.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh urged the Central Government to treat political and economic relations with Pakistan separately. Good economic relations with Pakistan could go a long way to benefit the Punjab farmers as their produce could reach the vast Arab world market.

Expressing concern at the spiralling prices of the essential commodities, the SAD leader alleged that both the Central and the state governments had failed to check the prices, which had made the lives of the common man miserable.

The former minister informed that the election manifesto committee of the SAD-BJP alliance would meet on September 16 when the relief measures to the Dalits and other weaker sections of society during the February 2007 elections would be formalised.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included Mr Jasjeet Singh Bunny, general secretary of the youth wing of SAD, Mr Surjit Singh Garhi, member of the SGPC, Mr Neter Singh Nabha, vice-chairman of the National Balmiki Sabha, and Mr Bhupinder Saini.

Meanwhile, over 50 workers of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party joined SAD.


Bhattal panel holds meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Various issues relating to the welfare of Punjab employees were discussed at length at the first meeting of Cabinet subcommittee headed by the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, here today.

The final report of the subcommittee will be given to the Council of Ministers after the next meeting.

Mr D.S. Kalha, Principal Secretary, Finance, and Mr G.K. Singh, OSD to the Deputy Chief Minister, also attened the meeting. The Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla the Public Works Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Lal Singh, and the Local Bodies Minister, Ch Jagjit Singh, here also present.


Rally against NCERT books

Chandigarh, September 9
Senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party will participate in a rally to be held at Ambala tomorrow in protest against certain NCERT books in which objectionable references have been made to saints and Gurus. — TNS


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