P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

New transport system for 5 cities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved a new transport system on the Indore pattern for Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda and Patiala cities.

Briefing mediapersons on the decision taken at the council meeting, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that under the new transport system, the main bus stands would be shifted out of these cities. From the bus stand, people would travel to their destinations in the city in local buses. As the main bus stands were located in the centre of most cities, the movement of buses had created big problems in traffic management.

Capt Amarinder Singh said there would be no recovery of project-related allowances from the staff who were posted at the Ranjit Sagar Dam and Shahpur Kandi projects and later shifted elsewhere. Surplus staff at these projects were posted at other places. The project-related allowances of such staff would also be restored.

The state government would sign an MoU with Jurong International Consultancy, an undertaking of the Singapore Government, for planned development of the area that fell within the jurisdiction of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority. The Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, would visit Singapore to sign the MoU, it is learnt.

The council approved the waiving of penal interest on interest-free loans given under the Punjab draft industrial policy, 1973, and the Punjab Industrial Policy, 1978.

It also okayed the transfer of land for the construction of the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Nutrition, Punjab, in Boothgarh village in Mohali. It also gave approval for the transfer of 10 kanals to the Punjab Tourism and Development Corporation’s tourist complex, Pinkcassia, at Ropar in lieu of a structure of the Surajmukhi Tourist Complex at Khanauri that was given to the Irrigation Department for the purpose of a flood control room.

The council also cleared a proposal regarding an increase in the salary of computer teachers from Rs 4,500 to Rs 7,000 per month on a contractual basis and of village chowkidars to Rs 700 per month from Rs 600 with retrospective effect ( January 1, 2005).

The upgradation of Nangal sub-tehsil to the level subdivision in Ropar district was also cleared. The subdivision would consist of two kanungo circles-Nangal and Naya Nangal- 20 patwar circles and 92 revenue villages.

A proposal was also approved regarding the collaboration of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University with the University of Saskatchewan and Purdue University for undertaking research in the fields of veterinary diagnostic imaging, equine medicine, surgery and reproduction, animal biotechnology, animal breeding and nutrition, scientists and graduate student exchange, meat processing and cost-effective dairy and poultry farming.

A proposal regarding the revival of 18 posts of Subdivisional Engineer (Civil) under the direct quota in the PWD (B and R) was also approved. The council also okayed the creation of new posts and the filling of vacant posts in the Cooperation Department and apex cooperative institutions and the creation of posts for the office of the Punjab State Vigilance Commission. 


Small Is Big — II
Lending a helping hand to people
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 17
If you thought loan disbursement was its key activity, the Lambra-Kangri Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society is doing much more than that. It has catalysed people into civic initiatives. That is, don’t wait for governments to act. Get down to helping yourself.

The society runs classes for girls to train them in fashion designing, beauty parlours and making of pickles and jams, besides organising seminars from time to time for village youth, women and farmers on subjects of their interest.

The society runs a kisan club, provides them with seeds and saplings of lemon and kinnow, besides fertilisers and organic manure.

Each of the six help groups of women set up by the society has an earmarked fund of Rs 80,000. Besides, women contribute Rs 100 each themselves to the fund. From the collection made by women and the funds earmarked by the society, any women can avail a loan for some productive purpose, for instance to buy a buffalo or a sewing machine, or to open a beauty parlour. They get loan to buy furniture and other household items too.

Harbans Kaur has got a loan to finance the education of her daughter who is doing MBA. A self-help group of women has given a Rs 3,000 loan to Pardip Kumar to set up a barber shop in the village. The society accepts deposits also. Some good-hearted people have also donated money to it for serving social causes.

With the help of students, it repaired a 17-km-long potholed road. Besides, in collaboration with certain organisations, it holds medical check-up camps every month. Teams of specialist doctors come from Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar also. The society never forgets to help victims of major natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods. Needless to say, these four villages have remained free from heinous crimes for a long time. Of the 18 power generators owned by it, 16 have been given on rent to various banks.

Mr K.S. Pannu, secretary of the Farmers Commission, who has patronised this society since 1999, says “In the society, we have devised measures to help small farmers and to stop them from wasting money on tractors and implements as these are not viable for them. Renting out implements for agriculture purposes is part of such a scheme.” He said the cooperative movement had the strength to change the face of Punjab's economy.

The Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, Mr Vishwajeet Khanna, said there were about 300 such multipurpose cooperative societies doing well. “We are keen on doubling their number soon. Such societies will be encouraged to take dealership of motorcycles and other automobiles of various makes, home appliances, and to install petrol and diesel pumps," he adds. While the dealers’ commission would be retained by these societies, the retailers’ commission would be passed on actual buyers who would be benefited as they would get the goods at a lesser price.

In fact, the Lambra-Kangri society has bought a piece of land at Bullowal where it will set up an cooking gas agency and a gymnasium. “Such a venture would create jobs for our boys,” says Mr Charan Dev. He said their first target was to provide opportunities to the youth and women in villages to start self-employment ventures. Mr Paramjit Singh needed a loan of Rs 10 lakh to buy a truck. “We provided him the loan and now he is returning an instalment of Rs 28,000 every month to the society,” he adds. The society extends a helping hand to everyone interested in doing something. Mr Manohar Singh, a Dalit, was given Rs 25,000 to buy a modern sewing machine.


Erring poll staff face tough action
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Election Commission of India will take serious note of any official or worker deputed for election work who is found guilty of dereliction of duty or negligence during the ongoing revision of the electoral rolls and the making of voter identity cards ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab.

Such officials will be dealt with in the strictest way, the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, Mr Sundaram Krishna, said here today.

All complaints received were taken seriously. He gave a few recent examples in which action had been initiated against erring officials. In Bodiwala Pitha village in the Fazilka constituency a complaint had been received that 46 votes had been incorrectly listed. An inquiry officer deputed by the SDM deleted only 24 names, holding that the others were correct. Following a fresh complaint, another inquiry officer was deputed, who held that the remaining 22 names had been included in the poll rolls correctly.

On the receipt of yet another complaint, the SDM deputed a third inquiry officer, who upheld the application of the complainant and recommended the deletion of the remaining names.

The SDM visited the village. Disciplinary action had been initiated against the first two inquiry officers as well as the booth-level officer for having failed to perform election duties.

In another case, three booth-level officers in Kapurthala district were placed under suspension last week for being absent from duty when photographers arrived to start the work of preparation of the voter ID cards. Four other supervisors in the same district had been given show-cause notices by the Deputy Commissioner. Similarly, a few booth- level officers in Nawanshahr district had been placed under suspension and disciplinary action initiated against them for dereliction of duty.

Mr Krishna also gave the example of an incorrect complaint. He said a person had complained from the Beas constituency alleging that Bal Sarai Khurd village did not exist and 1,978 persons had been listed as voters there. A senior officer from Chandigarh was sent to look into the matter urgently.

An on-the-spot inquiry revealed that the village did exist, with a gram panchayat having been constituted through a government notification in May, 2003. The inquiry officer also visited the houses in the village to satisfy himself that the voters listed resided there.

Mr Krishna said all complaints could be sent to the area SDM, the DC or the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, through a letter, fax or e-mail. 


Vigilance unable to move plea
FIR against Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh November 17
Even on the second day, the Punjab Vigilance could not file its application for cancellation of the first information report (FIR) against the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in a local court due to certain legal hitch. By the time the public prosecutor submitted the application in the court of the District and Sessions Judge, it is too late.

Now, the application would be submitted tomorrow. Sources in the court revealed that in the morning there was confusion about the court in which the application had to be filed.

The case pertains to alleged misappropriation of Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund during Mrs Bhattal’s brief tenure as Chief Minister. The main allegation against the one-time beta noire of the present Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is that she misused her position to fraudulently withdraw Rs 20 lakh from the fund in the name of non-existing beneficiaries.

Now, the vigilance Department has found the receipts were authentic.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal today declared that the Punjab government’s decision to withdraw the ongoing corruption case against the Deputy Chief Minister would be reviewed when the SAD-BJP alliance formed a government in the state. The role of officials involved in the hush-up would also be closely scrutinised and ‘no one will escape the long arm of the law and the eye of justice’, the party asserted.


Paper mills don’t care two hoots for PPCB
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chaba (Amritsar), November 17
Farmers and residents of villages around Chaba are being denied the basic human right to drinking water. The ground water in the entire area has got contaminated due to untreated industrial waste being released into the Chohal drain by paper mills.

Residents of the area allege that allergies, jaundice and other diseases have spread in the area due to the contamination of the water. Air pollution caused due to stagnant untreated waste is causing respiratory problems.

Industrial waste is still being released into the drain despite the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) authorities recommending the closure of industrial units spreading untreated waste in the area. The Executive Engineer, PPCB, Amrtisar, Mr G.S. Majithia, in a letter to the board authorities on November 6, has again ordered the closure of Narindra Paper Mills and Charan Kamal Card Board and Paper Mills (both units situated in the same premises) that are allegedly spreading pollution in the area. However, no action has been taken.

Farmers from the area have been sitting on a dharna for the past three months, demanding that discharge of industrial effluents in their area be stopped. Today also they blocked traffic for about two hours on the Amritsar-Taran Taran road to register their protest.

The farmers alleged that their crop in the area adjoining the polluting units got destroyed due to the industrial effluents of the paper mills.

The district administration ordered a survey to asses the damage to the crops of the farmers. The loss to the crop was assessed at about Rs 1.4 lakh. However, till date no compensation has been awarded.

Mr Majithia said the paper mills were releasing untreated industrial waste into the Chohal drain. Due to violation of pollution norms, they recommended the closure of the mills. The mill authorities, however, presented themselves before the Chairman of the pollution board and demanded a time period of four months to install a treatment plant for their industrial waste in April this year.

“However, they have not installed the treatment plant as yet due to which now once again we have recommended the closure of the unit,” he said.

The mill authorities were not available for comments.

Asked about the deterioration in the quality of ground water in the area, Mr Majithia said he got the samples of checked from the Civil Surgeon, Amritsar. In his report, the Civil Surgeon had reported that there was no contamination in the ground water in the area, he added.

The Tribune has in its possession the report of the Civil Surgeon. The Civil Surgeon’s office got the water samples tested from Bacteriology Laboratory in Chandigarh. However, real problem in the area is of chemical contamination. Sources said the ground water in the area up to 100 ft was chemically contaminated.


NRI alleges fraud by Ludhiana developers
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 17
Another case of cheating has surfaced following the publication of a news report in the columns of The Tribune on November 15, "Developers con Manmohan kin".

This case also involves the same group of developers in Ludhiana. Mr Balbir Singh Tanda, an NRI settled in Norway, said he was also a victim of the developers, Vikas House Building Company Private Ltd. Mr Tanda is visiting India and is putting up at Nakodar at present.

Giving details of the case he said he had purchased two plots from the developers in Ludhiana, one 500 sq yard in 1997 in Shaheed Sukdev Nagar (F-148) and another 272 sq yard in 2000 in Leisure Valley (87), South City, near Punjab Agricultural University.

When he went to take possession of the land he came to know that the Shaheed Sukdev Nagar plot had been sold to someone else and the South City plot was with the "original" owner.

He said the plots were registered in his name in 1998 and 2003, respectively. Registration documents show him as the owner of the plots. Recent 'jamabandhis', (dated November 2, 2006), also show him as the owner of the plots.

He said the 40 ft road shown in front of the Shaheed Sukdev Nagar plot at the time of its sale, however, did not exist now. Despite representations to the SSP, Ludhiana, the IG, Jalandhar, the DGP and the NRI Sabha, Punjab, nothing had been done in this regard, rued Mr Tanda.


‘Lavish show’ by SAD ticket aspirant 
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 17
Mr Saroop Chand Singla, an aspirant for SAD ticket for Bathinda Assembly constituency, last night put up a “lavish show of strength”, an instance of how “money power has dominated the Akali politics”.

Organised to mark the fourth anniversary of his shop, the function apparently aimed at putting forth his claim for the Assembly seat before the Akali leadership. List of invitees included SAD MPs Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bibi Paramjeet Kaur Gulshan and senior Akali leaders Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Sikander Singh Malooka.

Two marriage palaces on the Barnala byepass were booked for the programme and an open invitation for “Preeti Bhoj” (dinner) was extended to all the city residents. Over 50 cooks prepared dinner for 10,000 people and four screens were put up at both palaces to facilitate clear picture of the dais to people.

Impressive firework was displayed just before the arrival of the Akali leaders. A private security agency was hired to manage crowd at the venue. About 24 buses were dispatched to nearby rural areas to ferry villagers. A folk singer and some band parties entertained the crowd, while the SAD’s flags dotted Jeet Palace where the dais was erected.

The adjoining palace witnessed a rush of people, which included Mr Singla’s acquaintances, SAD workers and others who were “merely cashing in on the open invitation”. There was chaos, as people shoved each other to lay hands on food items.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukhbir Badal impressed with the gathering assured Mr Singla to “convey his sentiments to the party high command”.

On the other hand, Mr Bhunder said it was a national phenomenon and nobody could deny that the money and muscle power dominated present day politics irrespective of the parties. Mr Ved Parkash Gupta of the Punjab Human Rights Committee said: “A day will come when party workers sans money bags would not even dream of contesting elections.” 


Preneet douses rebel fire
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 17
The ward number 32 poll politics took a dramatic twist when a “rebel” candidate, Mr Ashok Vadera, who was contesting against Mr Anil Kumar Mangla, official nominee of the Congress party, today announced his support for the latter.

The Municipal Corporation elections at the ward no 32 are scheduled for November 19.

The earlier elections, held on October 28, were annulled by the State Election Commission after it received the reports of booth-capturing and assault on a polling officer. The commission also found about 1,000 votes to be bogus.

Mr Vadera announced his support to Mr Mangla at a press conference held here after MP, Patiala, Ms Preneet Kaur, went to his house today morning and advised him not to go against the official nominee of the party.

Mr Vadera, who jumped into the fray after he was denied party ticket, started giving sleepless nights to the local Congress leadership as he commanded huge following in the ward number 32.

He also enjoyed support from a minor section of those Congress leaders who had been handling most of the affairs in the party and in government offices.

However, on the day of the polling on October 28 when a section of local Congress leadership, opposed to the candidature of Mr Mangla, came to know that Mr Mangla was heading for a sure victory, they allegedly indulged in booth capturing and spoiled the show.

The booth- capturing, bogus-voting and thrashing of polling staff, allegedly by a section of Congress leaders, also caused embarrassment to those leaders who mattered most in this home town of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Vadera, who was presented before the mediapersons by Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Municipal Corporation (MC), said he had taken the decision to support Mr Mangla as he was a true congressman.

He added that he had not taken this decision under any pressure or offer.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Ms Preneet Kaur had instructed all the Congressmen, including local leadership, not to indulge in any sort of malpractice on the day of polling.


BJP postpones rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 17
“Succumbing to the pressure” of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the district unit of the BJP yesterday postponed its rally from November 18 to 20 here. It has also turned the show-of-strength rally for the Sangrur Assembly seat into a rally to expose the alleged “anti-people” policies of the Congress and pose a challenge to the Congress in the Malwa belt in the coming Assembly elections.

The November 18 rally was planned by the district unit of the BJP to show its strength in the Sangrur Assembly constituency to stake its claim to the seat while sharing seats with its alliance partner, the SAD.

In its columns yesterday, The Tribune had published a news story, “BJP rally for Sangrur seat unfortunate: Dhindsa”. This statement was given by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, while talking to The Tribune on Wednesday.

Mr Dhindsa had not only termed this rally by the BJP as unfortunate but had also described it as “not a good sign for the SAD-BJP alliance”. He had stated that such a step by the BJP could adversely affect both parties in the elections.

Sources said the BJP high command was under tremendous pressure of the SAD to cancel this rally.


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