P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM dares Badal for debate in Assembly
Verka to have college, stadium
Tribune News Service

Verka (Amritsar), September 11
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said that his government was ready to debate with the Akali Dal on the development issue on the floor of the Assembly during the coming Special Session, slated for September 14 and 15.

Addressing a pre-election rally, here , Capt Singh said the entire proceedings of the debate on the “development and progress” during Badal's regime in comparison to this government would be televised to enable the people to know the ground realities that who had brought glory to the state and who was responsible for the decay of its economy.

“Let voters of the state judge by themselves the performance of the Congress government and of the Badal government”.

He said he was ready to extend the session to 20 days instead of fortnight as demanded by Badal provided he had something tangible to discuss.

Training guns at Badal, Capt Singh said everybody knew how Mr Badal built his vast empire. "Once the apex court vacates the stay as the case is on hearing stage right now, then this case will come up for trial in the lower court and will be heard on the day-to-day basis as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. "It is only a matter of time and he cannot escape the trial at any cost", he asserted.

He said Parkash Singh Badal, who claimed himself to be the messiah of farmers, did nothing for their welfare rather than exploiting them.

Capt. Singh said the investor-friendly climate in the state had garnered investments worth Rs.83,000 crore which would provide tremendous employment and these investments would cross the mark of Rs.1 lakh crore by the end of December, 2006, with an employment of 20 lakh jobs.

Capt. Singh said the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had sanctioned Rs 3,150 crore under the scheme of the Urban Renewal Mission Programme for Amritsar . Out of which Rs 971 crore had been released for the execution of various projects under this scheme.

Capt. Singh announced a Government College for Boys at Verka to be set up over 10 acre land donated by residents of Verka. The Improvement Trust of Amritsar had already sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the construction of the college. Besides, he also announced Rs 9.63 crore for the sewerage system in the town. Later, he laid the foundation stone of sports stadium in Verka at a cost of Rs.50 lakh and inaugurated the fourth tubewell to augment the water supply for 5,000 people of the area.

Earlier, the Chief Minister announced to name Kathunangal-Majitha-Fatehgarhchurrian-Ramdas as Baba Buddha Marg as a mark of respect to the prominent religious figure of the Sikhism.

Chief Minister announced Rs 2 crore for the sewerage system in the Ramdas town. Besides, he also promised to release funds for the setting up of girls college. He also announced to release the tubewell connections to 300 consumers across the bank of the Ravi on priority. 


Bhattal differs with CM
Poll pact with other parties
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, September 11
Living up to her reputation of following an independent line in the state Congress politics, the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said today that the issue of having alliances with the other political parties for the February 2007 Punjab elections was still open and would be decided by the party high command.

Talking to reporters after inaugurating a 66 KV sub-station at Jaula Khurd village, near here, Ms Bhattal said the issue would be decided in due course by the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi. Ms Bhattal’s statement assumes significance as both the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, had reportedly gone on record saying that the Congress was not “interested” in having an alliance with other parties, particularly the Left parties.

Scoffing at the claims of the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) that the party was set to form the next government, Ms Bhattal asserted that the Akalis were “misleading” the electorate to gain power by hook or by crook. However, the electorate had seen the SAD-BJP “misrule”and would never let it be repeated.

Accepting the challenge thrown by the senior SAD leader and MP, Mr Sukhbir Badal, the Deputy Chief Minister, said the Punjab Government was ready to extend the coming Assembly session if the development issues were discussed by the Akalis.

Development and peace issues would be the main poll planks of the Congress in the elections, Ms Bhattal said adding that the SAD-BJP alliance had no agenda for the coming elections. Meanwhile, the sub-station, built at a cost of Rs 2.75 crore, would cater to the needs of 14 villages. A customer care centre with telephone number 01762-294262 has also been installed for the quick redressal of complaints.

Those present included the Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, and Mr H.M. Jain, Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj and Mr J.S. Sekhon, Members of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).


NRI’s dream to own home turns sour
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, September 11
Settled in the USA for the last 15 years, Mr Sukhdarshan Kumar Sharma returned to buy a home at Gidderbaha, his birthplace, so that his kids get attached to their roots. But his dreams turned sour when a local businessman from whom he bought a house reportedly duped him.

Narrating his woes to The Tribune today, Mr Sharma said he was enthused at the idea of owning a house at his native place.

He came across Kashmiri Lal, a businessman, and his son Manish Kumar, who showed him their property measuring 10 marlas and expressed their willingness to sell it off.

Believing them, the NRI agreed to purchase their property and an agreement of sale was executed on March 17. The deal was finalized for Rs 65.6 lakh and he made a payment of Rs 15.6 lakh to Kashmiri Lal in the presence of Manish Kumar.

He said the father-son duo signed the agreement of sale and went on to state that sale deed shall be executed on or before June 17.

They also assured that they will hand over the possession of the said property at the time of execution of sale deed. Mr Sharma said June 16-18 being holidays, he appeared before the Sub-Registrar, Gidderbaha, with the balance consideration for the execution of the sale deed and expenses required for its attestation on June 15 and June 19, but Kashmiri Lal didn't turn up.

"When I enquired I came to know that the said property was lying mortgaged with a bank," he charged.

In his plea to the DIG, Ferozepore, he said on being approached Kashmiri Lal and his son clearly stated that they had no intention of executing the sale deed and also threatened him with dire consequences.

Mr Sharma further alleged that at the time of showing him their property, they had claimed it to be spread over 10 marlas, but in fact it was built on 8 marlas. He rued that initially he was very excited to return to India after long, but after being duped of his hard-earned money he was a disillusioned man now.

Acting on his complaint, a case has been registered against Kashmiri Lal and Manish Kumar under sections 406, 420, 506 and 34 of the IPC at Gidderbaha police station.


Maryada violation: DSGMC panel chief resigns
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has suspended its granthi and blacklisted two Sikh missionaries for violating Sikh maryada of Anand Karaj at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj.

Meanwhile, Mr Tarsem Singh, chairman, Dharam Parchar Committee of the DSGMC, has resigned from his post, owning responsibility of the violation, though according to him he tried his best to prevent the unsavoury situation yesterday .

As per convention, the bridegroom walks ahead of the bride and circumambulates the Guru Granth Sahib amid recitation of hymns. However, in this case two circumambulations were taken in the traditional way while the bride walked ahead of the bridegroom in the remaining two. This led to chaos and the entire wedding party was divided into two warring groups.

However, Mr Tarsem Singh tried to pacify the groups.

The DSGMC has constituted a three-member committee to probe the matter within seven days.

Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, president, DSGMC, alleged that SAD was behind the violation. However, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, former president of the DSGMC, New Delhi, said he would take up the matter with the Jathedar, Akal Takht.

The two missionaries who have been blacklisted are Mr Vir Bhupinder Singh of the USA and Mr Surjit Singh of Gurmat Parchar Sabha. The suspended granthi is Giani Jai Kishan Singh.


PSEB suspends 26 employees
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 11
The tug-of-war like situation has arisen between the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the power men here as the board has en masse suspended the services of 26 employee leaders. The employees' organisations have decided to fight it out on the issue.

The fight began last year on August 25 when the board allegedly suspended five employees for not performing their duties properly .The employees started their agitation under the banner of AITUC, an employees' organisation. Mr Dalip Singh, Deputy Chief Engineer (DCE) of the local circle, had had suspended the services of 26 employees, most of them being leaders of the agitating organisation.

Mr Dalip Singh said here today that he had suspended the services of the agitating employees as they had allegedly used rough language and had pressurised officials to reinstate services of the suspended employees.

Hundreds of power men here organised dharna today in protest against the en masse suspension. They marched in the town and submitted a memorandum to the SDM regarding their demands.

The employees' organisations have declared to fight on the issue till the end. Whereas, Mr Dalip Singh, DCE, while talking to this reporter said he would appeal the board to terminate the services of these employees for their alleged bad behaviour. 


Forest Dept keen on acquiring more land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, will celebrate the ‘wildlife week’ in the first week of October at Harike and Abohar sanctuaries.

During this period entry to all dear parks and also the Chattbir Zoo in Patiala will be free. The department today launched its quarterly newsletter named ‘Savage Voice’ and it will be edited by Mr Dharminder Sharma, Field Director, Chhatbir Zoo.

The coloured newsletter will disseminate information on wildlife issues in Punjab with a focus on the zoo.

The first issue has some interesting facts about animals. For example it tells that the dolphin sleeps with one of its eyes open.

It may be mentioned that the wildlife wing of the department has been revamped with the posting of a full-time Chief Conservator of Forests.

Meanwhile, the process to implement the National Wildlife Action Plan 2002-2016 is under way. The plan recommends that every state should have at least 10 per cent of its area under the protected area (PA) network. Punjab presently has an area of 0.63 per cent under the PA network.

Therefore, in order to have the requisite area under the PA network, a total area of 20,000 hectare falling in the districts of Amritsar, Ferozepore, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Ropar, having the potential to be converted into a PA, is being identified.

The department has also prepared a biodiversity conservation and management plan under the Punjab Afforestation Project.

This will deal with issues like crop damage by wild animals, fencing of protected areas, animal-population management and strengthening of protected area network. The project was prepared with the help of a private consultant.

At the Chhatbir Zoo, complaint and suggestion boxes have been installed. Landscaping has been improved and more seating arrangements have been provided in the lawn in front of the elephant enclosure.

A new incinerator for hygienic disposal of dead bodies of animals is going to be installed shortly.

The zoo will get new animals that are shortly arriving under the animal exchange programs with Delhi Zoo, Mysore Zoo, Ahmedabad Zoo and a zoo in Tripura.

Also some projects to be started shortly are the animal adoption scheme, a toy train, a conference hall, a souvenir shop, a snake house and a nocturnal house.


Centenaries and Punjab politics
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 11
Politicisation of the SGPC is hot news these days. The splinter Akali groups have started a consistent campaign in this regard. They are in the process of forming a shadow SGPC to highlight the maladies that have overtaken the SGPC. They allege that there is no function or celebration and no positive work being done by the SGPC except that which serves the political interests of Akali supremo Parkash Singh Badal. It all started with the celebration of Khalsa tercentenary in 1999 at Anandpur Sahib. At that time it was SAD — BJP Government in Punjab with Mr Parkash Singh Badal as Chief Minister. A group of the Akali Dal opposed to Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra influenced Mr Badal and coerced him that in these celebrations Jathedar Tohra would remain in the limelight. Therefore, it was necessary to sideline Jathedar Tohra. Moreover they thought that the Government was doing much in these celebrations and the Chief Minister should not look to be playing second fiddle.

Consequently, Mr Badal made up his mind to oust Jathedar Tohra and blatantly prepared the ground for the same. The Sikhs on the whole thought that Jathedar Tohra had been wronged. He was thought to be too intelligent to toe the line of Mr Badal. As a result Bibi Jagir Kaur was elected SGPC president and the total initiative for the Khalsa tercentenary went into the hands of Mr Badal and the government officials. Jathedar Tohra, too held a modest show at Anandpur Sahib where he started the campaign of spitting venom against Mr Badal. The government and the SGPC marshalled all resources to make the celebrations glamorous. But all this did not help Mr Badal to return to power in the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2002.

While out of power, Mr Badal has only one thing to think of — to return to power in 2007 and for that he is leaving no stone unturned to use all the resources at his command which includes the SGPC.

The Khalsa tercentenary was followed by six more centenaries. At all these functions organised to celebrate the centenaries, the tone and tenor of speeches delivered by the Akali leaders demonstrated their anxiety to return to power.

If the Akali Dal tried to politicise the religious functions, the Congress government did not lag behind. In most of these centenary functions, the Punjab Government organised state level functions and launched development programmes as well. Dr Manmohan Singh participated in the function of Guru Granth Sahib centenary of Harmandar Sahib and besides declaring development schemes for Amritsar, he announced the establishment of a National Institute of Guru Granth Sahib Studies at the Guru Nanak Dev University.

Captain Amarinder Singh remained active in all these functions and announced economic packages for places like Chamkaur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib and he declared Tarn Taran as district, meeting the long standing demand of Majha area. All in all, the centenary celebrations were completely politicised by both major political parties of the state. Who gets the mileage will be seen only after the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections in February, 2007.


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