P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Set up own capital, Capt advises Haryana
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Shahkot (Jalandhar), November 16
Asserting that Chandigarh was the capital of Punjab, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today advised Haryana to set up its own capital. Besides, he made it clear that Punjab would not give even a single drop of additional water to Haryana.

“For Punjab, Chandigarh has come as a replacement for Lahore. Himachal has made Shimla its capital. Haryana should also set up its own capital,” said Capt Amarinder Singh, who addressed a Congress rally here today.

Responding to queries on Haryana's persistent demand for more water from Punjab, the Chief Minister said, “Haryana is already taking water from the Yamuna through the Tajewala headworks. How much more water does it need? We will not give even a single drop of extra water to Haryana than its existing share under the current arrangement. In fact, we have no spare water for Haryana.” He added that the water table of Punjab was dropping at the rate of 3 ft per year. At this pace, Punjab would get converted into a desert within 25 years. The greenhouse effect was resulting in melting of glaciers at a comparatively faster speed. So, there would be a serious water shortage in times to come, he said.

Capt Amarinder Singh was accompanied by senior Congress leaders, including minister Avtaar Henry, former minister Umrao Singh, Col C.D. Singh Kamboj (retd), Chairman of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, and former ministers Brij Bhupinder Singh Lally and Jasbir Singh.

On the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Punjab, the Chief Minister said the former was likely to come between November 24 and 30.

“The Prime Minister is coming regarding a number of projects like the Halwara airport and handing over of the Gobindgarh fort to the civil administration; the transfer of Chandigarh has not been a subject of discussion between the two of us,” said the Chief Minister. He said the Punjab Government was in the process of effecting recruitment of 7,000 more BEd teachers in the state. "We have ensured the recruitment of 70,000 persons, whereas the Akalis had recruited 32,000 persons during their five-year rule," claimed Capt Amarinder Singh.

Enthused over the presence of a large number of young supporters in the rally, the Chief Minister said: “Your presence shows that the youth is with us and it wants to change the face of Punjab, which had been spoiled by the Akalis, particularly Mr Parkash Singh Badal and company.”

Earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh inaugurated a 33-bed community hospital at Lohian. He also accepted a number of demands of people of the area, including laying of a new road and a new water and sewerage scheme for Shahkot, cleaning of the Kali Bein rivulet and setting up of a stadium at Shahkot. He also accepted a demand for setting up a college at Shahkot.

Mr Avtaar Henry, Punjab Minister for Industry and Environment, urged the Chief Minister to give concession to people falling in the Above Poverty Line (APL) category by extending wheat to them at a rate of Rs 6 per kg.

Mr Umrao Singh, Chaudhary Darshan Singh, a former chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr Vijay Inder Singh Singla, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, and Mr Brij Bhupinder Singh Lally also spoke.


ANTI-CONG SLOGANS: Commotion was created in the pandal for a few moments as a small group of unemployed pharmacists and computer teachers raised anti-Congress slogans. Interestingly, for some time they raised slogans in favour of the Congress in their bid to stay put in the pandal, but as soon as the Chief Minister started speaking, they started shouting, "Congress murdabad". However, the Chief Minister reacted calmly and said:”Eh koi navin gall nahin. Punjab sarkar khali postan to zyada taan nahin bhar sakdi”

TRAFFIC BLUES: A lot of inconvenience was caused to commuters on the Nakodar-Moga road as the traffic was diverted by the police through link roads. Vehicles were not allowed on the road for some time.

ENTHUSED WORKERS: Scores of enthused young Congress workers were seen roaming on their motorcycles fitted with Congress flags. The Chief Minister said he had never seen such enthused youngsters during his 37-year-long political career.


Farmers to get market price for land
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
After facing flak over its lopsided land acquisition policy, the Punjab Government is to make changes in the process of acquiring land from farmers and also ensure payment at the market price for it.

The policy has two major aspects. First, to determine the market price and, second, to establish whether the land is required for public purposes or not.

The immediate requirement is of 413 acres for knowledge city in Mohali which will house national institutes of repute. Besides, another 800 acres is required for Halwara airport and 300 acres for setting up a terminal adjacent to the airport in Chandigarh.

The changes are being brought about in the existing pattern of calculating the value of land which does not take into account the dynamics of the current market value and puts the farmer at a loss. The classic example is of Mohali where land prices in real terms now vary between Rs 4 crore and Rs 5 crore per acre, while the acquisition price is much lower.

The new policy will lay down the criteria and formula of acquisition for all categories - be it industry, government projects or SEZs - of land required for urban development. Under this, all land acquisition proposals involving plots of 25 acres or more will have to be referred to the state-level Land Acquisition Board. The Financial Commissioner, Revenue, heads this. The board will decide the rate to be given to the farmer. The old system of going by the average price of three years of sale deeds will be done away with. The board will arrive at the market price which will be more in tune with reality as the price of land is going up in the state, confirmed top government officials.

Cases of land that is less than 25 acres will be referred to the district-level land acquisition committee. This will have the area MLAs and the MP on the board besides district officials.

Also, the government is seriously considering a proposal to make farmers shareholders in projects which are being set up in areas near cities. This will ensure an income for farmers when the project, for which their land is acquired, is ready. Also, the policy will touch upon what kind of land should be acquired.The two committees will assess whether the land being acquired is meant to be utilised for public use or not.

A top official told The Tribune that all possible aspects of changing the land acquisition system to make it suitable for farmers will be presented before the Council of Ministers scheduled to meet tomorrow. Also, the council will decide a crucial case of allowing special land acquisition of 413 acres by the state in Mohali for handing over to the Union Government. The council will decide the rates to be given to the farmers. The entire chunk of land will be handed over free of cost to the Union Government as Punjab’s contribution to the project.

The major projects for which land is to be given in Mohali are the Indian Institute of Science, the National Institute of Biotechnology, the National Institute of Nanotechnology, the biotechnology park and the Indian Institute of Public Health. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has laid the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Science.The biotechnology park was to be originally located at Dera Bassi.


Farmers block traffic over land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
Members and activists of the Kirti Kisan Union blocked traffic for about two hours near Badrukhan village on Sangrur-Barnala road today. They were protesting against the acquisition of 376 acres of farmers’ land by the Punjab Government and the arrest of hundreds of farmers who protested against this. The land has been acquired for the Trident Group in three villages, Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sangherra (near Barnala). The protesters also raised slogans against the state government.

Mr Dhanna Singh Bhattiwal, district president of the union; Mr Darshan Singh Killa Bharian, Mr Nazar Singh Fauji, Mr Pargat Singh, Mr Gurmail Singh Chhiniwal Khurd, all leaders of the union, and Mr Gurmukh Singh Mann, state general secretary of the Punjab Students Union, addressed the protesting farmers.

Almost all speakers condemned the Punjab Government's policy regarding the acquisition of fertile land forcibly to benefit the multi-national and local companies. They said the acquisition of fertile land would ruin the farmers who would be left with no alternative but to find jobs in factories. They said the arrest of the farmers would have no effect on their agitation.

The union leaders said a group of arrested farmers was observing hunger strike in the jail in protest against the 'anti-farmer' policies of the state government. 


HC order on hoardings flouted
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 16
The way politicians and traders put up hoardings of various events on roundabouts and main roads it seems that the Municipal Council is not bothered to launch a crackdown against these violators of the high court’s orders. A businessman, who is reportedly, is seeking SAD ticket from Bathinda constituency today put up a number of hoardings at various points in the city.

A day after The Tribune carried a report on hoardings of ‘vikas yatra’ erected on the city and two busiest roundabouts and the GT road the MC authorities only succeeded in cleaning up the Hanuman Chowk, where it had put up a notice prohibiting display of hoardings or posters. On the other hand, at the Fauji Chowk, where three hoardings were still in place, businessman Saroop Chand Singla put up a hoarding greeting SAD leaders. The roundabout also had banners of Mr Singla who is hosting a dinner tonight to mark the fourth anniversary of his shop. His list of invitees, includes SAD general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal, Bathinda MP Bibi Paramjeet Kaur Gulshan, senior SAD leaders Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Sikander Singh Malooka. Mr Singla’s hoardings were also spotted near the mini-Secretariat and Barnala byepass where the function was scheduled to take place. Huge welcome gates with hoardings of former CM Parkash Singh Badal on both sides were also erected on the Bathinda-Faridkot road. Interestingly, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Bathinda, dissociated itself from a welcome gate put up on the Mall road in the name of the IMA and its office-bearers, said theirs was an apolitical body and they had nothing to do with it.

They got it removed in the afternoon. Deputy Commissioner, Rahul Bhandari said it was illegal and he would issue a notice to the MC authorities asking them as why action should not be initiated against them for the contempt of court.

He said, he would also take up the matter with the Director, Local Bodies. When contacted, Municipal Commissioner N.S. Walia said though he was out of station, he had ordered removal of all such hoardings. The MC EO, Mr Kamal Kant, said the organisers did not seek permission from them before erecting the hoardings.


Cager shot at in college brawl
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
A promising national-level cager and a BA-III student of Government Mohindra College was shot at by a group of students outside the college campus here today.

Harjinder Singh Binny, who was to join an inter-university camp on the Punjabi University campus here this evening, was shot at in the abdomen by some students owning allegiance to a rival group in the morning.

Two students, Sandeep Singh and Jaideep Singh, have been arrested, while two more, Harinder Mal and Jaskaran Bhau, are at large.

A case has been registered under Sections 307, IPC, and the Arms Act at the Kotwali police station against the four and 10 others.

A few days ago, one of Binny’s accomplices, Mangal, had allegedly entered into confrontation with some students led by Jaskaran Bhau and his associate Harinder Mal.

In an attempt to settle the score, Bhau and Mal today asked Binny and Mangal to come out of the college campus on the pretext of striking a compromise.

However, when Binny, a boarder on the college campus for his association with the sports wing of the university, reached a shop near the college complex, he was allegedly attacked with swords and other sharp-edged weapons by Bhau and Mal.

To save their lives, Binny and Mangal rushed inside their room on the college complex but were again confronted by Bhau and other assailants.

After a verbal duel, the assailants shot at Binny in the abdomen.

Binny, who had represented Punjab in the National School Games, was taken to the Government Rajindra Hospital, where his relatives, including university basketball coach Manmohan Singh, arrived.

Binny, who is also a member of the university team that won the gold in the All-India Inter-University Netball Championship held on the university campus two years ago, was being operated upon at the time of the filing of the report.

The incident has come as a setback to the university, as Binny is a key member of its basketball team for the forthcoming north zone inter-university basketball meet slated to be held in Kurukshetra in the first week of December.

Mohindra College has gained notoriety for its violent incidents in the past. This is second such incident in the college in just a few weeks.

Recently, college Principal D.I.S Brar was brutally attacked by some outsiders on the campus.


PMT muddle: Contempt proceedings against Registrar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
The PMT-2005, conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University last year, still haunts senior professors and officials of the varsity even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court has initiated proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act, 70/71, on the basis of the public interest litigation (PIL), filed by Dr Raghbir Singh, a senior Reader and Senator of the university.

As per the notice, the court has directed Dr R.S. Bawa, university Registrar, to appear in the court on December 4 in person or through counsel to answer the charge and to file an affidavit at least seven days before the said date in support of his defence, if any.

The university had conducted the second PMT-2005 test on June 30 last year and the results were declared on July 2. The candidates who appeared in the test were allowed to inspect their answer seats for transparency and satisfaction on the payment of Rs 2,000.

On the perusal of answer sheets, some students found that the answer key on the basis of which their answer sheets had been evaluated was wrong for 20 questions. Thereafter several other representations of this nature were also made by the students of the university.

Realising the shortage of time and that the doors for admission to professional institutions would be closed, they preferred to file the writ petition in the High Court.

In the course of hearing, the court found veracity and correctness in the allegations made by the candidates in their representation. The High Court while disposing the writ petition inter alia issued directions for taking appropriate action against those who were responsible for the PMT mess.

However, when contacted, Dr S.P. Singh, former Vice-Chancellor, claimed that all eight experts were exonerated by the Syndicate on the basis of the recommendations made by its committee. However, all four paper setters were debarred for entire life.

The names of eight experts included Dr Pushpinder Kaur, wife of Dr Jai Rup Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.K.Bedi, Dr Kulwant Singh Thind, who has proceeded on a long leave to Canada after the PMT muddle, Dr M.S. Hundal, Dr R.K.Mahajan , Dr A.K.Thukral, Dr Renu Bhardwaj and Dr Anish Dua.

The court had directed the university authorities that entry should be recorded in the service record of the experts concerned.

However, despite the clear and unambiguous directions of the court, the university authorities have not taken any action till now.


Sukhbir dares CM to debate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The general secretary the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today challenged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to a debate on mass support on a common platform.

Mr Badal even offered to give him time at an SAD rally if the Chief Minister agreed to a debate on the issues of governance, corruption and development and to discuss what people really expected from their government, gimmicks or governance. For five years, Capt Amarinder Singh had been running away from a face-off with the SAD. All these years, the SAD had challenged him to “measure his strength against ours” at a face-to-face at any place or time and on any issue of his choosing, Mr Badal added.


2 ex-PMs to attend SAD rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana November 16
Two former Prime Ministers and a few former Chief Ministers of various states are likely to participate in the SAD rally at Moga on December 8, to mark the 80th birthday of party Chief Parkash Singh Badal.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Badal disclosed that former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Inder Kumar Gujaral besides former Chief Ministers of Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Om Prakash Chautala, J. Jayalalitha and Chanderbabu Naidu would attend the rally at Moga.

The SAD supremo asserted that the rally, "Unlike the sarkari rally of the Congress, would be the people's rally". He stated that the Ludhiana rally organised by the Congress was aimed at misleading people by creating an illusion as if the party (the Congress) enjoyed massive support.

Meanwhile two senior advocates, Harish Rai Dhanda and Iqbal Singh Gill, today submitted a representation to the Election Commission of India demanding the announcement of election dates and imposition of the code of conduct to prevent the "blatant misuse of state machinery by the Congress".


Chaos marks MC meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
The general house meeting of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation witnessed pandemonium today. SAD and BJP members raised slogans against the Punjab Government after the chairman of the corporation, Mr Sunil Dutti, proposed that the corporation thanked the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for helping the local body in carrying out phenomenal development.

They alleged that the government had not provided any funds for development of Amritsar. The funds with which development had been carried out had been generated by selling properties of the corporation. The government was not even willing to give the share of the corporation in the excise duty. The excise duty was released to the corporation after a case in this regard was filed in the court by the BJP MP from the area, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu. The government has not done anything for Amritsar and the House should flay it for this, they alleged.

The protest of the SAD/BJP members, however, seemed to be just a ritual. Most of them had not gone through the agenda circulated among them regarding the development works worth crores to be carried out in the city. None of them raised any objection regarding the items in the agenda but raised their voice and threw speakers on the floor while posing for photographs for mediapersons.

They stormed into the well of the House for a few minutes till the photos were clicked and then moved out.

The result was that the Congress-dominated House, without deliberating on any of the items, passed the agenda with a voice vote.


“More transparency needed in poll process”
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, former member of the Punjab Medical Council and patron of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association today alleged that the process of the election of members of the Punjab Medical Council to the council was not adequately transparent and needed improvement.

In a press note issued here today, he said that neither any notice to file nominations for the elections was made known to all the voters nor ballot papers had reached all members so far despite the fact that there were 14209 eligible doctor voters, who were supposed to elect three out of nine candidates in the fray and process of casting of votes for electing three members would come to an end on November 29.

Dr Randhawa appealed to the voters to elect medical professional of integrity to the Punjab Medical Council.


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