P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Chidambaram for corporate investment in agriculture
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 31
Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram today sought corporate sector’s investment in pre and post agricultural activities and at the same time ensuring that farmers were not forced to part with their land.

In convocation address at the 34th convocation of the Punjab Agricultural University and interaction with reporters, Mr Chidambaram said, the corporate sector could help in value addition hence increase in income of the farmers, which was dwindling.

The Union Finance Minister, congratulating the graduates, said, “an agriculture graduate can be a lamp that will light many other lamps”. He remarked Indian agriculture had reached a plateau in production. “To enhance productivity of farming is the immediate challenge faced by the country today. And we must adapt genetic science to achieve higher production levels”, he said, adding, science and technology must be used to evolve crops resistant to diseases and pests, he observed.

On new investments in agriculture, the minister said “we must change our policies for this to build a system of credit input services, post harvest technology, retail marketing and export”.

Commenting on poverty driving farmers to suicides, the minister said, “to help farmers get out of the circle of poverty we must increase their income through off-farm and non-farm activities”. Skills of an average farmer can be utilised effectively in agro-allied professions like dairy, poultry, animal husbandry, pisciculture, etc. We need to encourage farmers to venture into these activities and provide them with adequate credit and assurance of a market. “For farming to be profitable it must be seen like any other economic activity where the motivating force is profit”, he said.

Mr Chidambaram observed that Punjab had earned a status as granary of India which it rightly deserved. The state has earned this reputation through hard work of its peasantry, foresight of its scientists and policy makers. Praising Punjab Agricultural University for developing new varieties that brought out green revolution in the country, he said the university occupied a “place of pride” among all institutions of the country.

In his report, Dr. K.S. Aulakh, gave a bird’s eye view of PAU activities. He identified two main areas of concern to scientists: one, preserving and protecting for posterity the state’s natural resources, evolving cost-effective technologies and developing high-yielding varieties and hybrids of crops, fruits and vegetables, working for diversification in agriculture and raising production and per unit productivity to meet nation’s food and nutritional needs to match increasing population and two, agro-processing for value addition and help farmers earn more and improve upon their economies and living standards to lead ‘quality’ life. “For this to happen, government policy support in terms of pricing and procurement is imperative”, he added.

At the convocation, 239 degrees were awarded. Out of these, Ph.D. degrees were 51 and in Master’s programmes 188.

The university also honoured nine faculty members for contribution to promote teaching, research and extension.

Merit certificates for excellence in academics were given to 59 students while 19 were awarded gold medals and medals.

A Ph.D. student, Kamal Data, was given prize for essay-writing and oration.


Legal notice to SGPC officials
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 31
Mr Raghbir Singh, secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), issued a legal notice to officers of the SGPC along the Dharam Prachar Committee (DPC) including its president and secretaries here today.

The notice levels charges of complicity for allotting the construction of a VVIP rest house on the GT road, arbitrarily to Siddharth Construction Company last year and seeks disqualification of Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, Mr Harbeant Singh, secretary SGPC, Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary DPC, for a period of five years from holding any office in the SGPC or Gurdwaras under its control.

The notice alleged the construction rates initially fixed were increased unilaterally this year to reward private builders. It alleged the cost of construction initially was kept at Rs 80 lakh, which was likely to go up to Rs 2 crore, allowing major benefit to the contractor. It further alleged the SGPC did not invite tenders through an advertisement in the papers of the region for inviting competitive quotations from contractors.

The notice said the firm executing the project was not even competent enough to handle this big project and added the SGPC did not get proper estimate and architecture plan prior to the execution of the work. It added no proper procedure or norms were followed for allotting work to this contractor.

Listing other charges the notice pointed out the contractor did not deposit proper guarantee money of 2 per cent, mandatory as per the rules, the notice alleged the firm undertaking the project was a very friendly with present officers running the SGPC affairs.

Quoting from the resolution of the executive committee of the SGPC under Section 85 of the Gurdwara Act of 1925 and resolution No 11 of December 19, 2002 had resolved that the secretary has no power to allot work beyond Rs 2 lakh.

Describing the work allotted to the contractor as illegal it said that the SGPC would lose heavily due to the allotment of the work. The notice added the work allotted to the private company be cancelled, as it was illegal besides demanding recover of the payments made along with the interest at the rate of 18 per cent. 


Health Dept, police fail to establish Thind’s identity
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 31
Even after his disappearance for 21 days, the District Health department and the police here have failed to establish identity of Dr Ravinder Singh Thind, a surgeon with government rural hospital, Phuglana of this district. He has been absent from his duty since October 10, 2006, following the arrest of a doctor of the same name of Grewal Hospital at Doraha (Ludhiana) in a case of murder by the Amritsar police on October 9.

It is learnt the District Health department had informed the police in this connection and sent a registered notice to Dr Ravinder Singh Thind to his residential address at Saraba Nagar, Ludhiana, instructing him to report for duty. But the department has received neither any reply from Dr Thind nor has he joined duty till now.

Mr S. K. Kalia, SP (H), Hoshiarpur said here today that the investigation in the case was on The DSP (R) will find out truth soon.

According to the official sources, Dr Thind joined the Punjab Health department on March 4, 1991 as a doctor at Primary Health Centre Ferozshah, of Ferozepore district. He was transferred to his present post and joined the government rural hospital, Phuglana on October 7, 2003. No record of the employee had been prepared with his photograph to establish his identity. Only a relieving chit was given to an employee on transfer for joining the next assignment. Keeping in view the above lacuna, Dr Thind had got arranged made another person to join duty in his place.

The impersonator propagated a false case of serious accident which caused death of his children and wife and his permanent disability due to which he was not able to speak and write. During his stay the impersonator never made any handwritten representation to the department concerned. He always submitted a typed material to the authorities and did not allow anyone to click his photograph even on functions. Neither the District Health authorities nor his colleagues had assigned any job to him due to his disability.

According to his service book, Dr Thind had never taken long leave on account of any accident of his family as claimed by the impersonator.

Sources said the salary was got deposited directly by the department in his saving account No. 56053 in the Agriculture branch of State Bank of India opposite bus stand, Hoshiarpur. However, in the bank account real photo of Dr Thind was pasted. Dr Thind was withdrawing money either through cheques or through automated teller machine.


Overseas leader seeks quota for NRIs in Punjab poll
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
Advocating voting rights for NRIs, Mr Vikramjit Bajwa, a prominent NRI from the USA and vice-president of the Indian National Overseas Congress, today called upon mainstream political parties to spare five seats each for the NRIs settled in India in the February, 2007 Punjab Assembly elections.

The party ticket to the NRIs would go a long way in providing a platform to them to be a part of the decision-making process and raise the issues concerning 1.7 million NRIs in the legislature. As a first step to integrate the NRIs into the national mainstream, the parties, cutting across political affiliations, should spare five seats each in the NRI-dominated districts, including Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

With that end in mind, Mr Bajwa said he had already sent representations to the top functionaries of various political parties, including the UPA chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the BJP President, Mr Rajnath Singh, for bringing a legislation in this regard in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. NRIs of several countries, including China, enjoyed the voting rights back home, he claimed.

The earlier concept of the elderly NRIs returning to their native states for retirement was undergoing a change in the fast-changing socio-economic scenario and the NRIs were returning to their roots in the states like Punjab and Kerala in the age group of 45-50 years for doing business and settlement. This necessitated the voting rights for the NRIs, which all major political parties had promised to bring out, Mr Bajwa claimed.

Mr Bajwa, who is also a prominent Democrat activist in the USA, also made a fervent appeal to strengthen the Democratic Party in the US Congress and the Senate.

The strengthening of the Democratic Party could restore the balance of power in the White House and ensure a comparatively peaceful world.

He regretted that currently there was no representative from the Indian community in the US though it had three Chinese and four Muslims as members. The grant of dual citizenship with voting rights during the Parvasi Divas in New Delhi in 2007 should go a long way in strengthening the political rights of the NRIs, he hoped.


Sarpanch murdered
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 31
Harbhajan Singh, Sarpanch of Kandira village in the Shri Hargobindpur area of the district, was murdered brutally in the Mand area of the district on the banks of the Beas last evening. Harbhajan was a close aide of Mr Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, brother of the PWD Minister, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Sources here disclosed that the Sarpanch was killed by a mob of over 100 people that came from the Kapurthala side. The mob attacked the Sarpanch, who was plying on tractor, with sharp-edged weapons. Harbhajan, as per the post-mortem report, received 26 grave injuries on his body. The sources said the eyes of the deceased were gouged out and grave injuries were inflicted on almost all parts of his body. The Sarpanch was cremated in his native village today.

They said the murder was the result of a long-standing dispute between the farmers of the border areas of Gurdaspur and Kapurthala districts. The custodian land along the Beas on the border areas of both districts had been the bone of contention between Harbhajan Singh and the farmers of the border areas of Kapurthala. Earlier also the warring parties had attacked each other.

Mr Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, while talking to The Tribune, blamed the Bolath police of Kapurthala for the incident.

He added that the main accused in the case was Sohan Singh, an NRI who enjoyed political support. He allegedly led the attackers.


Police finds novel way of catharsis
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Batala, October 31
The Batala police is admitting to its mistakes these days. One of the Sub Inspectors, while admitting to his mistake in front of over hundred colleagues, said he was part of the police party that arrested dreaded terrorist Sukha Sipahi. They arrested the terrorist and his wife. His wife asked for permission to use the washroom. Since the local police did not have women constable it allowed her to go to the washroom unguarded.

It proved to be its biggest mistake. In the washroom the terrorist’s wife destroyed a diary that contained the names and contact numbers of almost all terrorists operating in the area. Had we taken policewomen with us on the raid we could have laid our hands on the vital information, the Sub-Inspector lamented.

Another policeman admitted that he failed to save the life of a soldier who set himself and his child on fire. He also admitted that the incident still haunted him.

The policemen are admitting to their mistakes in special sessions being organised by the SSP, Batala, Mr L.K. Yadav, for the purpose.

The SSP, while talking to The Tribune, said he had started a special programme and joint sessions were organised for policemen. They were asked to share their experience and disclose the biggest mistake of their professional life.

Initially, the policemen were reluctant to join the programme. However, gradually they started participating in the session voluntarily. In one such session held in the training centre of the Batala police lines over 300 staff members participated. They candidly admitted to their mistakes that led to custodial deaths, failure of raids and escape of prisoners.

The sessions had helped policemen in catharsis and feel relieved after sharing their experiences.

Besides, the sessions also helped evaluate the personality and analytical ability of the policemen. While some of the police officers analysed the situation logically others preferred discussing their personal problems even when asked to admit to professional mistakes. It would also help in improving the preventive policing. Generally the emphasis was on reactive policing. “It is efficiency with which the police reacts after receiving information regarding the crime. However, the programme would help cops increase their efficiency in preventing the crime”, the SSP said.

The Batala police has also released a book on handling weapons for the policemen. The book is aimed at preventing accidents caused due to faulty handling of weapons by policemen.


Congress highlights achievements at ‘jan sampark’ conferences
Amarjit Thind & P.S. Batra
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana/Samrala, October 31
On the first day of the jan sampark programme, launched jointly by the Punjab government and the Congress today, three conferences were organised at Samrala, Khanna and Ludhiana.

Mr Lal Singh, Development, Food and Supplies and Jails Minister Punjab presided over.

Addressing the gathering at Samrala, this noon, he said the conferences the Congress would fight elections on the plank of development and welfare of all sections and win.

He said the government had accorded special attention to the welfare of farmers and Mr Amarinder Singh got announced all-time high increase of Rs 100 per quintal in MSP of wheat from the Rabi season from the Centre. It will benefit to farmers by more than Rs 1300 crore.

He said on the purchase of paddy this year, Mr Amarinder Singh also arranged a bonus of Rs 50 per quintal benefiting farmers by Rs 550 crore.

Mr Lal Singh said the previous SAD-BJP Government spent only Rs 431 crore for development during its tenure, whereas the Congress had spent 20 times more, i.e. Rs 9000 crore in past one and a half years.

The Akalis had kept the river water issue burning for more than 35 years just to exploit sentiments of people for votes while Mr Amarinder Singh permanently solved the issue in favour of Punjab.

The state had emerged as the most favoured destination of the corporate sector and mega projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore with a potential of 20 lakh jobs for the unemployed youth would be sanctioned in the state by December this year. The empowered committee on mega projects had approved 231 mega projects worth Rs 86,000 crore.

Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, Mr Bhalinder Singh, president, DCC (R), Mr Jasbir Singh Dhillon, Mr K.K. Sharma, Mr K.L. Seghal, Mr Harpal Singh Dhillon, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Dhillon and Master Ram Rattan were also among the speakers.

Later another conference was organised at Atwal Palace Khanna. It was addressed by Mr Lal Singh and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President, PPCC, besides others.

Mr Dullo said after the jan sampark conference, a Punjab fateh march would be carried out jointly by me and Mr Amarinder Singh.

Mr Dullo asserted the Union Government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh had given Rs 10,000 crore to the state in a period of three years, whereas Mr Badal could get only Rs 50 crore from the NDA government.

Mrs Harbans Kaur Dullo, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Bhalinder Singh, President, DCC (R) also addressed the conference.


BJP leader flays Arjun’s remarks
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 31
Mr R. P. Dhir, former chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana and vice-chairman (Legal Cell), BJP Punjab, has condemned the statement of Mr Arjun Singh, Union Human Resource Development Minister, in which the latter threatened to take action against Saraswati Shisu Mandir chain of schools.

In a press note issued here this afternoon, Mr Dhir alleged that Mr Arjun Singh was biased against patriotic people of this country. He blamed Mr Arjun Singh for derogatory remarks against the Jats in NCERT books. 


Govt misguiding Nangal people, says BJP
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 31
Different political parties today criticised the state government for spreading false information about the cabinet decision to grant the subdivision status to Nangal sub-tehsil. The BJP and SAD termed it an attempt by the government to misguide the people of Nangal keeping in view the coming assembly elections.

The state government informed the press on October 27 that the Cabinet had approved the upgradation of sub-tehsil Nangal as subdivision of Ropar district. Even the next day, the people of Nangal celebrated it and burst crackers and distributed sweets.

The former state food and supplies minister and senior BJP leader, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, said the action of the government had hurt the sentiments of the people of the town by spreading the rumour. The Congress had done this to woo voters keeping in view the assembly elections. He added that they would welcome the decision if the Nangal would get the subdivision status.

While Parliamentary Secretary, Industry and Commerce, and Nangal MLA, Mr K.P.S Rana, said due to some reason the decision was delayed. The CM had assured me to make Nangal as subdivision. The people of Nangal hopeful that the CM will fulfil their demand,” he said.

The Political Secretary (Chief Minister), Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, said the decision to make Nangal as subdivision was under consideration. The final decision would be taken soon.

A Senior vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal, Mr Gurinder Singh Gogi, said instead of Nangal, the party was of the view that Anandpur Sahib should be made district.

Senior Congress leaders revealed that the issue was in the agenda of the council of ministers. But after some cabinet ministers opposed the move to grant the subdivision status to Nangal, the decision in this regard was deferred. 


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