P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Shinde justifies move to unbundle PSEB
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, September 22
Justifying the unbundling of the electricity boards in various states, Union Minister for Power Sushil Kumar Shinde said here today that the exercise had prevented power thefts and improved service to the consumer.

Mr Shinde said the disintegration of boards into generation, distribution and transmission companies have done with the sole objective of improving the system and providing power at a reasonable price. We had achieved success in the states where the unbundling of the boards had been done.

The unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) would improve the system. Starting from a technical member down to a junior engineer, all would be responsible and accountable for performance, said Mr Shinde after laying the foundation stone for Hydro Power Training Centre of the NPTI here. It is said to be the first of its kind in India.

However, Mr Shinde did not respond to the question whether the Power Ministry would give more time to the Punjab Government for unbundling the PSEB. On the request of the state government the ministry had extended till December 9 time to complete all formalities for unbundling of the board.

Regarding changes to be made in the Electricity Act-2003, he said as per the promise made by the UPA government, a committee of Union Ministers would be meeting soon to decide the amendments to the Act.

The training centre would be set up at a cost of about Rs 15 crore and was likely to be ready within two years. The project would be execution by the BBMB on 15 acres.

The state would get 1500 MW from a hydroelectric project in Chhattisgarh after its completion as promised by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the minister added. He stated his government was committed to increasing the per capita power consumption from present about 600 units to 1000 units by 2012.

Around 40,000 villages would be electrified this year and another 40,000 in next year. Electrification of all villages in the country would be done by 2009.

Mr Shinde accepted all demands of the BBMB employees, including renovation of their old houses.


Report on reorganisation of districts by Sep 30

Talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the function, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is heading the reorganisation committee, said she would submit the report on the reorganisation of districts and subdivisions of the state by September 30. She said the districts, like Ropar, which had suffered loses after Mohali was made a district, would be compensated for the loss. She requested to Mr Shinde to provide more power to the state. 


Rain hits cotton, paddy crops
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, September 22
Heavy rain, accompanied by strong winds, today lashed Faridkot and surrounding areas resulting in losses to paddy and cotton crops at a stage when they were on the verge of maturing.

Reports of hailstorm in the Abohar-Fazilka belt and strong winds in Muktsar and Mansa have also been received.

This sudden change in weather has come as a big jolt to the farmers whose cotton and paddy crops were in full bloom. While plucking of cotton had already started, harvesting of paddy was also picking up.

Ripe paddy crop has flattened on vast stretches of land in different pockets of these three districts and the strong breeze has led to flower and boll shedding in cotton crop fully laden with bolls.

Though Muktsar and Mansa didn’t receive heavy rainfall, strong winds have anyway caused the damage to paddy and cotton crops.

The Tribune spotted vast stretches of flattened paddy crop in nearby villages of Kotkapura.

The general secretary of the BKU (Ekta), Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri, demanded special girdawari and adequate compensation to the affected farmers.

He said the government should also make sure that the farmers get remunerative prices of their produce lying in the market.

Abohar: The high velocity hailstorm and rain that lashed the rich cotton belt this afternoon affected at least 20 villages in the subdivision. Not only the cotton crop was damaged, but also green fodder fields and kinnow fruit orchards suffered a heavy loss.

Preliminary reports said the worst affected villages included Sayeedwala, Daulatpura, Kandhwala Amarkot, Bhangala, Chakda, Kala Tibba, Bhagsar, Ramsara, Sherewala, Bahawala, Kallarkhera, Dharampura and Khatwa.

Many farmers this evening visited the grain market office of Mr Sunil Jakhar. Mr Jakhar asked the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Mr Jaskiran Singh, to get a survey conducted through the revenue staff.


Govt looking for Judge to head pay panel: Singla
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 22
The Punjab Government is looking for a Judge, already dealing with service matters, to appoint him as Chairman of the Fifth Punjab Pay Commission.

In reply to a question, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance and Health Minister, Punjab, said here today that there was no delay on the part of the government in constituting the Punjab Pay Commission as it was nowadays looking for a Judge, already dealing with service matters, for appointing him as Chairman of the pay commission.

He said the setting up of the pay commission had already been cleared by the Punjab Cabinet while its terms and references were being debated between the state government and employees.

Mr Singla was here today to preside over a meeting, held in connection with the ensuing Punjab visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on September 27 and 28.

Besides officers, Congress leaders from various parts of the district participated.

When asked about the proposed recruitment of 1,100 more doctors in the rural area health centres, Mr Singla said the Cabinet had already cleared the proposal regarding appointment of doctors.

Now the posts would be advertised by the Director, Rural Development, Punjab, soon to appoint doctors through the Zila Parishads, he added.

With regard to special package for Punjab from the Prime Minister  during his ensuing visit to the state, the Finance Minister said he did not know about it, so he could not say anything about the same.

Regarding state repression on the agitating employees and unemployed youths, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, etc, the Finance Minister said when they would disturb the peaceful meetings of the Chief Minister or other leaders, then the police would have to interfere.


Expedite process to select vets, says CM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 22
The Chief Minister has asked Chief Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal to expedite the process of selection of veterinary graduates as service providers in veterinary hospitals of the state.

He took a serious note of the delay in the selection process, stating that veterinary services were not available to livestock farmers in view of the non-availability of trained veterinary doctors in hospitals.

A meeting of Finance Minister. Surinder Kumar Singla, Rural Development Minister Lal Singh, Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, Chief Secretary Lakhanpal, the Financial Commissioner, Animal Husbandry, and Vice-Chancellor of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University D.S.Bains, has been fixed for September 26 to finalise the issue.

The faculty of the veterinary university has expressed regrets for the incident of canecharging and maltreatment of veterinary students during the kisan mela at PAU yesterday. 


SAD condemns use of force against girls
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will release its manifesto two months ahead of the Assembly elections. However, it will continue its mass-contact campaign by holding rallies throughout the state. This was stated by SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal while talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Ravinder Singh, senior vice-president of the district unit of the SAD at Rasoolpur village, about 28 km from here, today.

Mr Badal condemned the brute display of force by the police on girl protesters of the newly set up Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, yesterday. The Chief Minister should have listened to them and remove their doubts. Unemployment was a serious problem of the country. If came to power, the SAD would prepare a plan to provide employment to almost all educated youths in state.

The former Chief Minister said party ticket for the coming elections would be given to almost all sitting MLAs. However, some changes could not be ruled out. 


Kidnapper turns out to be ISI agent
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 22
A three-year-old child, who had been kidnapped by Pakistan national Kalid Parvez from Bari Brahmana village, near Jammu, was rescued by his parents today. Khalid had come to India just on a one-day visa to witness the Mohali cricket match between India and Pakistan about a year ago and had since been staying in the country illegally.

The child was rescued after his parents caught the kidnapper from the local railway station this morning while he was buying biscuits form a shop.

Child’s father Mohamud Deen, who is head constable with the Jammu and Kashmir police, told The Tribune that the kidnapper had been staying as a tenant in their house here for the past six months. On September 18 he fled from the house along with his child.

He kept on making ransom calls to them demanding Rs 2.5 lakh. The parents, however, kept tracing his calls. His calls led them to the railway station.

The parents of the child handed over the kidnapper to the railway police, which traced the kidnapped child.

Meanwhile, personnel from the Division No. 2 police station tried to take the kidnapper from the railway police station into their jeep. The railway police officials, however, prevented them from taking the accused in their custody.

Both the Punjab police and the railway police officials informed their higher authorities about the episode. The SP, Pathankot, and the SP, Railways, from Jalandhar came to the spot to resolve the issue. A long meeting between the railway police and the Punjab police authorities was held at the railway police station over the credit for the arrest of the kidnapper.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, said the kidnapper was a Pakistani spy. He belonged to Narowal district of Pakistan. He stayed in Ludhiana and in parts of Jammu and Kashmir during his illegal stay in the country. He was suspected to have been supplying information regarding the movements of the Indian Army to the Pakistan authorities.

The railway police has registered a case of kidnapping against Khalid.


Shiv Batalvi auditorium awaits completion
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 22
It has been 26 years since the construction of an auditorium in the name of famous Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi, who belonged to the area, started at Batala.

However, the building is still incomplete, allegedly due to the apathy of government and district authorities much to the chagrin of the fans of the famous poet.

Till date about Rs 42 lakh have been spent on the auditorium. The amount spent included Rs 15 lakh given by former MP Bhupinder Singh Mann.

Even after this, only the building of the auditorium has been completed. The entire internal furnishing is still pending.

Shiv Kumar was born on July 23, 1936, at Bara Pind Lohtian in Shakargarh tehsil of Punjab, now in Pakistan. His father, Pandit Krishan Gopal, was a Patwari. After the Partition his family moved to Batala.

Shiv did his matriculation in 1953 from Punjab University. He went on to enroll in the F.Sc programme at Baring Union Christian College in Batala.

Before completing his degree he moved to S.N. College, Qadian. It is here that he began to sing ghazals and songs for his classmates. Shiv never took the final exams he needed to pass to receive the degree.

The Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, when contacted, said initially the effort to raise the auditorium was started by the general public. People collected donations for the purpose but the amount was not enough to complete the auditorium. Thereafter the amount was received from the MPLAD fund of Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann.

Now a proposal has been sent by the local MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Ashwani Sekri, to provide grant for the completion of the auditorium from the Punjab Nirman Fund.

If the grant was received the auditorium would be completed, he said.

Members of a fan club of Shiv Kumar Batalvi said they mooted the proposal to bring up the auditorium at Batala. The auditorium would help sustain the cultural and literary activity in the area and that would be a true tribute to the poet.

The recent move of the Batala Municipal Council has further infuriated the admirers of the poet who have been demanding the completion of the auditorium.

The council has decided to pass a sewerage pipe through the complex of the auditorium. The council authorities have dug the land in the complex for laying the sewerage line.

Admirers of the poet said the auditorium was being brought up by a trust headed by the SDM, Batala. The council authorities should have taken the permission of the trust before laying the sewerage line through the auditorium.

The council authorities chose to lay the sewerage line there just to please a few persons who did not want the drain to pass in front of their establishments. By passing the sewerage line through the place, the council authorities had shown scant respect for the revered Punjabi poet, they alleged.


Experts discuss steps to raise wheat output
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 22
The Union Government is concerned over the stagnation in wheat production and is keen on raising it to meet the growing demand.

The Planning Commission held a meeting in Delhi last week in this regard which was attended by Vice-Chancellors of selected agricultural universities, officers of state governments, wheat experts and economists. The meeting held with Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chairman, Planning Commission, in the chair was a follow-up of the presentation to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on September 5 by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation of the Union Ministry of Agriculture.

It was decided during the presentation that the Planning Commission would have an interface with experts and wheat-growing states.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Planning Board, and Dr J.C. Katyal, Vice-Chancellor, Chaudhry Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, were among those who participated in the meeting. Besides, senior officers of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh also attended the meeting.

It was revealed during the meeting that wheat production had been stagnating around 70 million tonnes for the past five years and the year 1999-2000 was the only year when the country witnessed the highest wheat production of 76.37 million tonnes. During the past few years, a marginal decline had been witnessed. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh together account for 66.1 per cent of the total wheat production.

It was also revealed that the current food production of the country — 210 million tonnes — was just sufficient to meet the domestic needs, besides some quantity for export. To meet the needs of the country, 5.5 million tonnes of wheat was being imported. The requirement of wheat is estimated to be 74.8 million tonnes and rice 102.9 million tonnes. The requirement of coarse cereals is estimated to be 19.2 million tonnes and pulses 16.2 million tonnes in 2011-2012.

Dr Aulakh said here today that the emphasis at the meeting was to tap potential areas of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to enhance wheat production. It was also felt that there was not much scope for increasing the production of wheat Punjab and Haryana.

Participating in the discussion, Dr Aulakh said Punjab Agricultural University was tackling the situation from several research angles. The major quantum jump in wheat production was made possible by release of PBW 343 which had made a significant contribution to the agricultural economy.

Dr J.C. Katyal, Vice-Chancellor, Haryana Agricultural University, observed that in order to make good the losses in wheat productivity, there was need for promoting autumn planting of sugarcane under the wide-bed planting system with wheat (or crops like mustard, chickpea) as intercrop.

It was felt that the production of wheat could be increased by increasing the area by about one million hectares in Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal because of suitability of agro-climatic conditions, irrigation infrastructure and crop practices.

At another meeting organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, it was decided that farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh would be given financial support in the shape of Rs 5 per litre for diesel for timely sowing of wheat, said Dr Aulakh. 


Akal Takht moved over songs at SAD rally
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 22
A senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has urged the Jathedar, Akal Takht, and the President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), to take action against those leaders, who allowed a couple to sing vulgar songs on the premises of the gurdwara of Harpalpur village for gathering crowd for a rally of Mr Parkash Singh Badal yesterday.

While condemning the action of Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, former Akali minister and Bibi Gurdev Kaur, member, SGPC, for pressing the couple singer to sing vulgar songs to fetch sizable crowd for the rally, Mr Gursewak Singh Harpalpur said he would approach the Sikh Judicial Commission for ensuring punishment for the guilty.

Mr Harpalpur, in a written statement, has alleged that the couple was allowed to sing in front of the Durbar Sahib. The action of the two leaders had breached the sanctity of the Gurdwara and they should be punished as per the religious norms, he said, adding that Bibi Gurdev Kaur should be suspended from the SGPC membership.

Mr Harpalpur, who had been active in the All-India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF) for years together and remained in jail, alleged that Mr Mukhmailpur did not go to Durbar Sahib to pay obeisance as he (Mr Mukhmailpur) went away after addressing from the stage during the rally.

He said the gurdwara committee and members of the Khalsa Youth Welfare and Sports Club would observe a repentance day and organise an akhand path.

Mr Mukhmailpur while claiming that Mr Harpalpur was not a member of the party, denied the singers sang vulgar songs. The rally was organised about 500 yards away from the gurdwara and singers sang religious songs only. He said Mr Harpalpur was levelling allegations against him as he contested Assembly elections against him as AISSF candidate in 1991, which were aborted later on.

Mr Avtar Singh, husband of Bibi Gurdev Kaur, while talking to The Tribune on behalf of his wife, said Mr Harpalpur was not allowed to speak in that rally. Out of frustration he was levelling allegations against the Akali leaders.

Mr Avtar Singh urged this correspondent that it was an issue connected with the village only and hence should not be published in a newspaper.


I have right to put questions to CM, says Sidhu
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
“I am not a child but a Member of Parliament elected by nearly 15 lakh voters from Amritsar, one of the most important cities in this part of the country”, said Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, while reacting to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s statement that both Mr Sidhu and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal were just “balungras”( kittens).

He said it was every citizen’s right to ask questions from the Chief Minister of the state on any issue bothering him or her. “ I ask questions to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Home Minister, and other senior Ministers in Parliament. They have never told me that I am a child and should not ask questions”, said Mr Sidhu.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Sidhu said the Chief Minister should not run away from holding a debate on the issue of the City Centre scam in Ludhiana by arguing that “ I am too junior to him”. Mr Sidhu said the Chief Minister was trying to sidetrack the issue by not answering the questions raised by him.

He said if there was no scam, why had a Vigilance inquiry been ordered. He also asked why the Ludhiana Improvement Trust was dissolved and an administrator appointed “Why was the power of attorney annulled? Why was the objection raised by the Principal Secretary overruled by the Minister after one week? Why were the terms and conditions changed from time to time to the suitability of the builder? Why was the builder allowed to construct the basement, etc, if the site plan had not been cleared by the government authorities concerned? Why have only junior functionaries been kept within the purview of the inquiry and not the Minister concerned?”

These were the questions which the Chief Minister should answer, he added. 


Krantikari party to contest all seats

Chandigarh, September 22
The Rastriya Krantikari Samajwadi Party will contest all seats in Punjab during the coming Assembly elections in the state. This was decided at a meeting of the party at Kisan Bhavan here today. It was presided over by Mr Kameshwar Nath Pandey, president of the party’s Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh units. It was also decided that the party would not enter into a pact with any other outfit for fighting the elections.

The party will organise a rally in Punjab next month. The rally will be called the “garibi hatao kranti rally”. The main agenda of the party is to fight corruption. 


Protesting SAD workers rounded up
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 22
As many as 12 workers of the Akali Dal (Badal) and a SGPC member, Gurinder Singh Gogi, were today rounded up by the police while they were staging a protest to prevent the Minister for Local Government and Labour and Employment, Mr Jagjit Singh Chowdhary, from going around the city.

Akali workers had gathered at the old bus stand demanding a CBI inquiry into the city centre scam which allegedly involves Mr Jagjit Singh along with other ministers. They also demanded their resignations.


Prof appointed on US board of nutrition

Patiala, September 22
Dr M.S. Sohal, Professor (Nutrition), Department of Physiotherapy and Sports Sciences, Punjabi University, has been appointed on the Board of Nutrition of American Clinical Nutrition, Tucson Arizona, USA, according to a press note issued here yesterday. — TNS


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