P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Pawar assures CM on paddy procurement
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 20
Union Agriculture and Food Supply Minister Sharad Pawar has said that keeping in view the problems faced by the farmers, the ministry will strive to prepone the onset of the paddy procurement process in the state and initiate government procurement from September 25, instead of October 1.

Though paddy growers have not been facing any problem so far as private traders are already in the market to offer them lucrative price ranging between Rs 680 and Rs 700 per quintal, which is well above the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 650, they apprehend that private traders will not be able to handle the sudden arrival of huge quantities of paddy in the market in the last week of September.

This may lead to distress sales by farmers towards the end of the month, they feel.

A group of farmers, including, sarpanches and panches from various districts of Punjab such as, Moga, Ferozepore and Faridkot, led by Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), and Mr Avtaar Singh Brar, a veteran Congress leader and former Punjab Minister, today met the Chief Minister and apprised him of their concerns about the possibility of distress sale of paddy in the coming days.

The Chief Minister took up the matter with the Union Agriculture Minister on the telephone and the latter extended certain positive assurances to the former on the issue, it was learnt.

"Mr Sharad Pawar has said that he will spare no effort to prepone the start of procurement of paddy from October 1 to September 25. He has promised to take up the matter in the Union Cabinet in a day or so and get a nod for it," said Mr Parminder Singh, who is also a spokesman of the PPCC.


Punjab seeks early procurement of paddy 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
The Punjab Government today made a request to the Union Government seeking an advancement in the date for procuring paddy. Punjab wants that paddy should be procured by central agencies from September 25 onwards and not the earlier decided date of October 1.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, spoke to the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, this afternoon and requested him to allow the procurement of paddy from an earlier date as already 4.10 lakh tonnes of paddy had arrived in the mandis across the state. The matter will go the Union Cabinet for ratification as it will have minor financial implications. Bonus of Rs 40 per quintal will also have to be paid from the date the official procurement starts. Separately, the Chief Minister, while talking to mediapersons, said he was hopeful that the matter would be approved.

Also, the strict conditions imposed by the ministry like allowing only 3 per cent breakage in grain for procurement would be relaxed. “It is not possible to achieve that level”, the Chief Minister said. Last year the central agencies were allowed to lift paddy that even had 8 per cent damage.

The Chief Minister will also be speaking on the issue of a new agriculture initiative during the Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave in Naini Tal on September 23 and 24. Other than seeking diversification and a support price for cash crops, the Chief Minister said he would also seek a remunerative price for wheat production as the input cost had risen manifold. The country was importing wheat at a higher cost, he added.

On being asked to comment on allegations by SAD MLAs that the Congress deliberately got them suspended during the just-concluded session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the Chief Minister said: “Look at their behaviour on the floor of the House. It was against all norms and they deserved the suspension”. On being asked if any rapprochement was offered to the suspended MLAs, the Chief Minister claimed: “They ( the protesting SAD MLAs) sent feelers and we asked them to apologise to the Speaker. However, there was no response”. Also, he added, Mr Parkash Singh Badal could have walked out of the debate on development after delivering his speech.

On the demands of employees like having a promotional scale after every four, nine and 14 years of service, the Chief Minister said “the matter has not been shelved. We can introduce an ordinance at any point of time to announce benefits for the employees.”

Also, the Central Government had approved a grant of Rs 230 crore for Amritsar under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. 


Power meters not to be shifted outside units: Bhattal
Panel to submit report on staff demands soon
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Bangan (Sangrur), September 20
On the pattern of domestic electric meters, no power meter will be shifted out of the premises of the commercial or industrial units in the state.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Irrigation and Power, Punjab, said here today that she had prevented the PSEB authorities from doing so.

Earlier, on September 1 at Banarasi village, near Khanauri, Ms Bhattal had told mediapersons that she had withdrawn the orders regarding installation of electricity meters outside the houses of the domestic power consumers.

Ms Bhattal was in Bangan village, near Moonak, of her Lehragaga Assembly constituency to preside over a public function. Ms Bhattal told the gathering that two bridges over Ghaggar, one at Chandu-Bushehra village and the second at Handa-Karrail villages, would be built soon at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore. She handed over a cheque for Rs 5.5 lakh to the village panchayat for carrying out development works.

With regard to the Cabinet Sub-Committee’s recommendations on demands of lakhs of state government employees, including promotional scale after four, nine and 14 years of service, interim relief, enhancement in retirement age from 58 to 60 years, Ms Bhattal said the committee had not decided so far on the demands. Its next meeting was slated for September 25 and it would submit its recommendations to the Cabinet by September 30.

To seek a special economic package for Punjab from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his ensuing visit to the state, the government was working out the modalities of a special economic package. The government would present its case regarding waiving of loans of farmers before the Prime Minister, she said. The state would also seek a special package from the Prime Minister for waiving the loans of the farmers and executing development works in the state.

Ms Bhattal promised the people of the area that the main bridge on the Moonak-Tohana road, which had been closed for the vehicular traffic due to its dilapidated condition, would be opened for traffic soon. She would get the repair work on the bridge started today.


Punjab to control fee in private schools
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
The free run being enjoyed by private schools in Punjab is about to end. The state government is set to impose a mechanism to control the fee being charged by these schools and the teachers being employed besides the payment of wayes to them. Also, a provision to link the fee of schools in proportion to the available infrastructure will be incorporated in a law.

47 teachers chargesheeted

A total of 47 teachers in the border areas of Ferozepore district were today chargesheeted for being absent from duty while 45 were issued show-cause notices for turning up late for duty. Eighteen inspection teams of the Education Department had conducted a surprise check in 245 schools in the border areas yesterday. Twenty non-teaching staff members in these schools have also been chargesheeted.

A copy of the draft Bill in this regard has been circulated among academicians, private schools, Vice-Chancellors and leading intellectuals for their comments.

It will be called the Private School Education Regulation Bill, 2006. Senior functionaries said that in all probability the law would be introduced within the next three weeks by issuing an ordinance. The issue of underpaid or under-qualified teachers will be addressed in detail. The schools will be made responsible for the security of the child. Broad contours of the fee structure will be laid down and regulated accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government, in another important development, has issued instructions that the 17,000 schools functioning in residential areas will not be closed down immediately. A high-level committee headed by the Chief Secretary has been formed. To speed up matters, the Secretaries in the Urban Development, Local Bodies and School Education Department have been made its members. This will identify land in the urban areas that will offered to these schools after fixing the reserve price. Since it is a sensitive and complex issue, efforts are being made on a war footing to offer land to most of these schools.

To ensure that children studying in these schools do not suffer during the transition period, adequate arrangements are being made in government schools. The students will also be offered the option of available schools to carry on with their studies. The Punjab Government has made it clear in the instructions that none of the 17,000 schools will be closed down. However, schools in unsafe buildings will face closure and the Deputy Commissioners have been asked to take the necessary action. Sources said it was not possible to close down these schools in one go as nearly 3 lakh students were studying there.

In March the Education Department issued an advertisement in newspapers informing parents that private schools functioning from residential areas had been debarred from carrying out admissions. This had created a furore across Punjab as the studies of children would have been affected.


Amarinder to inaugurate Kisan Mela today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 20
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will inaugurate the two-day Kisan Mela at Punjab Agricultural University tomorrow.

Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Fisheries and Tourism Jagmohan Singh Kang, accompanied by Director of Extension Education S.S. Gill, today inspected various venues, which the Chief Minister will visit at the mela. The SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, and the Secretary, Punjab Tourism, Mr Jagjit Puri, were present.

Dr Gill said at the mela the PAU would honour three progressive farmers: Mr Gurmeet Singh Sohi of Nathamalpur village, Ropar District, with “Parvasi Bharti Safal Kisan Purskar-2006”; Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon of Doraha with “Sardar Daqlip Singh Dhaliwal Yadgari Memorial Award-2006; and Mr Jagraj Singh of Rao Ke Kalan village in Moga with “Ujagar Singh Dhaliwal Purskar-2006”.

Vice-Chancellor of the university Kirpal Singh Aulakh would preside over the inaugural function, whereas Capt Amarinder Singh would release a book, which is a compendium of success stories of all farmers whom the PAU had honoured or awarded.

Besides, he would also release other publications, containing PAU brochure, profiling university and thumb nail sketches of its four constituent colleges.

Talking about Punjab agriculture and farmers, Dr Aulakh said the mela was being held at a time when the economic condition of agriculture was far from rosy, farmers were under debts totalling as much as Rs 24,400 crore.

The PAU endeavoured to evolve crop production and protection technologies that would enhance per unit productivity, enabling farmers to switch over from high volume, low value agriculture to high value and low volume agriculture. 


Cong women workers exchange blows
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 20
The local Congress Bhavan today virtually became the battlefield for two warring groups of women leaders of the party following appointment of district president of the Mahila Seva Dal. It all happened in the presence of senior national and state leaders of the party.

In a no-holds-barred clash, the hairs were pulled, clothes torn and abuses hurled. The trouble started when the past president of the dal, Ms Madhu Khanna, and her supporters started raising slogans on her unceremonious removal and appointment of the new incumbent.

The all-India organising secretary of the party and state chief of the Congress Seva Dal, Ms Gursharn Kaur, had reached here to appoint a new president of district Mahila Seva Dal. A large number of supporters of both groups had assembled in the bhavan.

When Ms Gursharn Kaur announced the name of Ms Kamlesh Rani as new president of the Dal, a verbal duel took place between both groups over raising of slogans by supporters of the past chief of the Dal. Soon leaders of both factions pounced upon each other. Children of the women leaders also exchanged blows.

The city Congress president, Mr Joginder Paul Dhingra, and other leaders of the party left the venue as soon as the scuffle started.

Mr O.P. Sareen, state chief of the Seva Dal and general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress described the incident as “shameful and most unfortunate”. He said the Dal was a disciplined wing of the Congress but it had brought disgrace to the party.

However, Ms Gursharn Kaur claimed that she had appointed Kamlesh Rani as district president of the Dal. She said Ms Madhu Khanna was its self-styled chief and was never appointed to the post by the party high command. She said she was surprised to see the nameplate of Ms Khanna at the Congress Bhavan. The matter would be brought to the notice of the party high command, she added.


Badal questions clean chit to 4 Cong leaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
Questioning the legitimacy of the clean chit given to the four Congress leaders in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha yesterday, the Shiromani Akali Dal, president Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said here today that even this would not save the tainted leaders from being prosecuted in the court of law.

“In fact, contrary to the intent of the Chief Minster, decks have now been cleared for a judicial intervention into the cases of corruption against four leaders who had been indicted by the Lok Pal. Now that the motions of a discussions had been gone though, there was nothing to stop the resumption of the case in a court,” said Mr Badal in a statement here today.

The SAD chief alleged that the suspension of opposition members from the House had been masterminded by the Chief Minister merely to facilitate a free passage to the clean chit to the tainted leaders. 


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |