P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Threat to blow up Golden Temple
SGPC, security agencies on high alert
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 4
The SGPC authorities and the police are on high alert following alleged threat of ‘blowing up’ the ‘Golden Temple’ with a bomb, purportedly given by Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Though the authorities here are of the view that the letter sent in Hindi seemed to be a mischief, by someone, yet they did not want to take chances. The letter claimed to have been written by ‘Karim Ansari’ of the LeT .

District Police chief, S.S.Srivastva believed that it was the handiwork of some mischievous person who wanted to create panic in the holy city . He, however, said that security around the Golden Temple had been strengthened. Mr Srivastva said that similar letter had already been received by the SGPC a couple of months ago . He said both letters might have written by the same person who could not properly spell out LeT . The threatening letter has been written on a simple paper , without any letter head.

Manager Darbar Sahib, Harbhajan Singh said the ‘mischievous letter’ was sent a blue envelop. Mr Iqbal Singh Khanna , media adviser to the SGPC chief said that the letter reads that the Golden Temple, Raghunath temple in Jammu and Amritsar’s Railway station would be blown up on October 6. The LeT’s letter also threatens to blow up the Vaishno Devi Temple on October 8.

Mr Khanna said that the police has a been informed about the ‘threatening letter ‘and strict vigil being kept on all the entry and exit points of the Golden Temple, keeping in view expected rush of devotees near Divali .

The task force of the SGPC would also be on high alert round the clock and it had been directed to keep a vigil on the suspect persons.

Now it is a big challenge to identify the person playing mischief with the SGPC and local administration time and again.

Though the SGPC received the letter last week yet information regarding this was given to the police today.

Sikh leaders, however ,feel that no true follower of Islam could think of harming the shrine, foundation of which had been laid by Sain Meean Mir-a Muslim seer . The writer of the letter must be insane or mischievous they believe.


Preventing dengue MC style!
Turns blind eye to garbage, overflowing sewers
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 4
It seems that the health department and the MC authorities in the constituency of Punjab Health Minister are simply relying on disseminating precautionary measures against dengue among people to prevent the dreaded disease's outbreak while turning a blind eye to maintaining cleanliness in residential areas.

The Tribune team today found that while the authorities are sensitizing people on dengue's symptoms and preventive measures against it, heaps of garbage, overflowing sewers and stagnant water dot localities like Awa Basti, Sanjay Basti, Amarpura Basti, Guru Nanakpura, Lal Singh Basti, apart from residential areas on Naruana road and Surkh Peer road.

Karamjeet, along whose home flows an open drain in Awa Basti, said: "All vegetable vendors throw their leftovers in this drain and we clean it up ourselves every morning. No MC staff visited here either for cleaning it or for fogging to check growth of mosquitoes."

She rued that her three daughters are down with fever, one of whom was lying on the cot. However, she didn't approach any doctor and was unaware of the cause of their illness.

Jeeto, a woman in her 60s, said nobody told them about the threat of dengue.

Mohan Singh, a tailor residing in the locality, said: "The open drain passing along their colony, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, has made their life a living hell."

Rajbir Singh, a resident of Sanjay Basti, said the authorities had made a public announcement and had also disbursed pamphlets regarding dengue, but no anti-mosquito spray or fumigation was carried out in their locality.

Joginder Singh of Amarpura Basti lamented that mosquitoes were breeding at fast pace in their colony and people were falling sick. He said a 'chhapar' in the middle of their locality was triggering the growth of mosquitoes.

The state of cleanliness in Guru Nanakpura was equally bad, while heaps of cow dung and garbage were spotted in Lal Singh Basti and Surkh Peer road.

When contacted, the Municipal Commissioner, Mr NS Walia, said they were already on the job and many of these localities needed special attention due to their proximity with 'chhapars'.

He said they had released oil in both the 'chhapars' yesterday and added that they had deployed more staff for maintaining cleanliness in these areas.

The CMO, Dr Maninderjeet Singh, said fogging was being carried out by the MC, which had already chalked its plan for the entire city. He said they were also sending teams to schools to sensitize children on preventive measures against dengue.


No case of dengue in Patiala
Control room set up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 4
The situation in Patiala is under control with no suspected or confirmed case of dengue having been reported so far.

The district health authorities disclosed this after a meeting was held at the office of the Civil Surgeon Patiala to review the latest situation of dengue and for the prevention and control of dengue fever.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, Civil Surgeon, who presided over the meeting which was attended by the Health Officer, Municipal Corporation Dr. Yadvinder Singh Banga, and programme officers of Civil Surgeon Office, said 14 teams from the anti-larva unit were regularly visiting their respective areas to spray larvicidal in the city.

Health material was being distributed to people to educate them about dengue and its prevention. Senior medical officers of PHC/CHC/Civil Hospitals had been directed to setup control rooms at their headquarters to monitor the situation 24-hour emergency services were being maintained at all health institutions.

A close liaison is being made with Rajindra Hospital and private hospitals to review the situation, he said.

Dr Banga said regular fogging of melatonin was being carried out in the city. Dusting of BHC/DDT was being done at all garbage collection point. He appealed to general public to cooperate with the department to maintain cleanliness and general sanitation. He also urged the public to stop dumping polythene bags and cow dung in sewerage pipes to avoid blockage.

The control room had been established at the Civil Surgeon’s Office in Patiala and its phone no is 0175-2211619.


State out to please political VIPs
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
Industries owned by three leading political families of Punjab stand to collectively benefit by crores of rupees that should have rightfully gone to the state exchequer. The government is bending backwards and is to allow concessions up to Rs 45 crore.

Serious objections posed by the Accountant-General (AG) notwithstanding, the agenda to allow this “special dole” will be placed at a meeting of the Project Approval Board (PAB) scheduled for tomorrow. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, heads the PAB

The Punjab State Industrial Development Board okayed the benefits for these industries in January. However, officialdom has decided to send matter to the PAB for approval.

Interestingly, the waiver has been done under the one-time settlement (OTS) scheme that had lapsed on June 30, 2004. The OTS was launched to recover some portion of the Punjab Government’s money which was invested in defaulting industrial units.

In one case, Brahma Steyrs, a company held by the family of Mr Ravi Inder Singh, leader of the SAD (1920) and former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, is to be given time till June, 2007, to clear its debts. The permission granted “in principle” by the PAB for the financial closure of the agreement expired on June 30, 2005. Meanwhile, in August this year the AG sent a stinker saying “ it was an undue favour to the company”, adding that the PSIDC would lose about Rs 27 crore of its investments.

Another beneficiary is Harpratap Steel, owned by Mr Gurinder Singh Kairon, son of a former Chief Minister. The PSIDC held an equity stake in the company. The company owed Rs 13.77 crore to the PSIDC. As a settlement, the PSIDC agreed to take only Rs 3.77 crore while waiving the rest of Rs 10 crore. Mr Kairon paid up the money in February.

In December last year the empowered committee of the government allowed the company to sell its land in Mohali to a private company, Globus Developers, for a whopping Rs 146 crore without bothering to get the share of the PSIDC out of that deal. The AG has said the agreement between Mr Kairon and the PSIDC was “defective”. About Rs 10 crore was sacrificed. The AG has asked how the share transferred in the name of Globus was delivered to Mr Kairon and not to Globus. Also, a question has been raised regarding the waiver of stamp duty. For 20 years Mr Kairon’s company sat on 15 acres of prime land in Mohali and did not start any project. Shockingly, the original financial collaboration agreement between Mr Kairon’s company and the PSIDC signed in 1985 had no clause to recover the PSIDC’s money if its partner did not start production.

Another beneficiary is Abninav Cotspin, owned by the family of the Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Ashwini Sekhri. The PSIDC in January this year accepted the one-time settlement and agreed that Abhinav Cotspin could repay Rs 2.97 crore as the settlement sum while Rs 7.80 crore was “sacrificed”. The PSIDC did not encash any of the cheques Mr Sekhri presented to the PSIDC as the compromise agreement was not signed. Meanwhile, the Board of Industrial and Finance Restructuring declared Abhinav Cotspin as a sick company. Sources opined that the OTS policy was silent on companies declared sick by the BIFR. Also, Mr Sekhri applied when the OTS had lapsed in June, 2004 and on the date of his application the BIFR had not declared Abhinav Cotspin as a sick company.


Central package for state farmers on anvil, says CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 4
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today said that a financial package from the Centre to remove rural indebtness was on the anvil.

Speaking to media persons after the inaugural ceremony of the Patiala Polo Season — 2006, where he dropped in unexpectedly, the Chief Minister said that the package was being worked out by the Prime Minister. He also said that a package for giving an impetus to industry in the border areas was also being worked out.

He said that the condition of farmers in Punjab could not be compared with that of farmers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The economy of Punjab farmers, he said, revolves around arhtiyas as well as cooperative banks, whereas farmers of Vidarbha were totally dependent on ordinary moneylenders

The chief minister also flayed the recent statements made by Congress leader Jagmeet Brar that the Punjab Government was not fully prepared to put up the state’s case in front of the Prime Minister and the Union Government for compensation to farmers, stating that the Congress leader was not clear on what he was trying to say.

He said the Punjab Government had made a strong case regarding rural indebtness of the state farmers and that he and his cabinet colleagues met the Union Agriculture and Union Finance Ministers several times. The matter was also raised by him during the recent Congress Chief Ministers Conclave in Nainital.

On the issue of dengue, he said that all hospitals in the state were on high alert. He said that the exact figures on the number of cases in the state were not available as symptoms of other diseases were being misinterpreted by patients for dengue.


BKU to oppose auction of farmers’ land
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 4
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) leaders today stated that they would oppose the auction of 600 debt-ridden farmers’ land by various agricultural banks in Malwa belt.

Union leaders -Joginder Singh Ugraha, Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan and Jhanda Singh Jethuke, said while the state government’s claims of a relief package for Punjab’s farmers from the Centre fell flat, its “attempts to take away the farmers’ land under one or the other pretext had exposed its anti-farmer policies”. They alleged that the government was acquiring fertile land of the farmers for big companies like Trident, Reliance, DLF and Nahar Group in the name of mega projects besides issuing orders of auctioning land of farmers. They said the Centre was doing injustice to the state’s farmers by keeping them out of the recently announced rehabilitation package despite being aware of the rising cost of inputs and declining returns in agriculture. The union has also given a call to the farming community to gherao bank officials arriving in their villages for the auction of any farmer’s land.

They claimed that the massive protest by nine farmer bodies on September 13 had forced the Congress government to rethink on acquisition of the farmers’ land as well as formulating a new law on non-institutional loan. They said key issues facing the farmers would be discussed in a meeting of these bodies in Ludhiana on October 14.


Vets protest in front of Singla’s house
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 4
Activists of the Veterinary Pharmacist Union, Punjab, staged a dharna outside the office of the Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, before lodging their protest in front of the residence of Punjab Finance and Health Minister Surinder Singla here today.

Addressing the protesters, the district union president, Mr H.S. Chahal, said they would hold a protest rally in Morinda, the constituency of Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang on October 29.

He said they would also gherao the Prime Minister during his next visit to Punjab. The protesters were demanding the filling up of vacant posts of pharmacist in 1,362 veterinary hospitals and 1,478 veterinary dispensaries in the state.

Their other demands included renaming of their designation as veterinary and livestock inspector, continuation of diploma in veterinary sciences at GADVASU and generation of promotional avenues for them.

Mr Ajit Singh Sidhu of the union said if their demands were not met, they would intensify their stir in the coming days.


Molestation: no student deposes before inquiry officer
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 4
The Magisterial Probe into the alleged molestation of girls by the police during a function of Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh last week seem to be fizzling out as none of the ‘aggrieved’ student appeared before the Inquiry Officer today.

On the scheduled day of the probe today, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mohinder Singh Kainth, waited for the students but no one turned up. Even none of the Veterinary doctors appeared before him. However, the ‘accused’ Punjab Police officials were present before the Inquiry Officer.

Mr Kainth in a statement to the media said the students and the doctors were duly informed through the Dean of the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

He said the students, doctors or any other person wishing to be heard on the issue can make a statement before him on October 9.


MLAs told to be careful
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
Ministers and MLAs of the Congress in Punjab have been asked to be extra careful in view of the growing trend of sting operations. Sources said yesterday that the intelligence agencies had given inputs to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, with regard to a possible attempt by the Opposition to trap any gullible minister or MLA of the ruling party in a sting operation.

Two sting operations by a TV channel in recent days had put the state government in deep trouble.

However, the government has the apprehension that such sting operations can also be organised by some Opposition parties by hiring professional private agencies.

Ministers and MLAs have been told by the ruling party to spend maximum time in their constituencies and to concentrate on the ongoing development works. They have been asked to utilise the development funds in a proper and transparent manner.


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