P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM seeks Rs 544-cr farm package
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today demanded Rs 544-crore farm package as debt relief for farmers and decentralisation of the planning process.

“No debt relief on the basis of the Vidyanathan Committee Report or Vidharba-like package has been given to farmers of Punjab. A sum of Rs 544 crore has been requested from the Union Government,” the Chief Minister said while addressing the 52nd National Development Council here.

He said low farm prices, rising input costs and inadequate increase in productivity were responsible for the problems of acute agrarian stress.

The rural debt stands at Rs 26,000 crore - Rs 7,800 crore from commercial banks, Rs 6,200 crore from cooperative banks and Rs 12,000 crore from moneylenders.

The immediate problem is not that of access to credit, but the unbearable burden of payment interest and repayment of loans, he said, adding, “we propose to enact a law for providing relief from rural indebtedness”.

He said the procedural rigidities deprived Punjab of access to many national programmes and demanded unconditional allocation of funds for development.

“The Government of Punjab is of the firm view that all Centrally-sponsored schemes, relating to subjects allocated to states under the constitution, must be done away with and funds released may be unconditionally allocated to states under the Gadgil formula,” the Chief Minister said.

“Relatively-developed states like Punjab are virtually excluded from accessing most of the national programmes because of the procedural rigidities and availing norms, which are fixed solely with an eye on the least-developed states,” he said.

He also stressed that the state’s international border was not only volatile but least industrialised. Due to fiscal incentives available in the neighbouring states, industrialisation of these areas had receded further.

He asked for fiscal incentives for four border districts on a par with Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

Amarinder Singh requested the Centre to extend the access controlled expressway from Ambala to Wagha, to construct Ludhiana-Chandigarh expressway, extend gas grid to Punjab and a dedicated freight corridor, if not to Amritsar, at least to Jalandhar.

The railway stations of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar need be modernised.

Two national highways - Ludhiana-Ferozepore (NH 95) and Dabwali-Fazilka (NH 10) - which meet the norm of four-laning needed to be upgraded by the Centre.

He said state proposed to create four investment and manufacturing regions at Mohali, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Bathinda.

“At least one such region in Punjab may be taken up for funding by the Centre in the 11th five year plan,” he said.

He suggested the need for creating a venture capital fund at the national level for promoting agri-business.

“Provision of Rs 500 crore earmarked for national horticulture mission during 2005-06 is too meagre, which needs to be enhanced to fully accommodate the requirements of funds for shifting from the traditional to horticulture crops,” the Chief Minister said.

He asserted that the current definition of BPL (blow poverty line) families excluded the state from access to centrally-sponsored schemes/programmes.

He pleaded for redefining BPL families for a group of states having like social, economic conditions so that relatively little better developed states could also march forward on the path of development.


SEZ: Unfazed Punjab wants some more
Chitleen K Sethi

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 9
Notwithstanding the ongoing controversy surrounding the granting of special economic zone (SEZ) status to industries across the country, the Punjab Government has forwarded three more proposals to the Government of India for the grant of the SEZ status to certain sector specific industries in the state.

Delhi-based Lark Projects intend to set up a sector- specific SEZ for electronic hardware and software, including Information Technology Enabled Services on 30 acres in Landran village, SAS Nagar. The company is offering to spend Rs 540 crore here.

Chandigarh-based Sukham Infrastructure Limited has proposed to set up an SEZ in Mohali related to IT and IT-enabled services. The company has identified an area of almost 29 acres in Sector 66 Mohali out of the 220 acres of mega IT Park. The company intends to spend Rs 1602 crore on the project.

M/s Abhishek Industries propose to set up an SEZ at Barnala for producing home furnishings. The company intends to use over 350 acres and invest Rs 750 crore on the project.

During a meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Secretary, it was decided that the three projects be recommended for approval by the Union Government.

With the recommendation of these three projects, the total number of such proposals pending with the Union Ministry of Industries and Commerce has gone up to almost a dozen.

In Punjab, the Centre has, in principle, approved the SEZ status only for Quark City Mohali and Ranbaxy Mohali. The other proposals pending include a textile SEZ at Ludhiana, the DLF projects in Amritsar and Ludhiana, an IT project in Dera Bassi and two other projects of Quark, among others.

The Punjab Government had notified the SEZ in August last year. Following a recommendation by the state government, the proposals are studied by the Union Ministry of Industries and Commerce and first given a nod in principle, following which a proper approval is granted.


Backward class leaders come under one umbrella
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 9
In the meeting of its governing body held here today, the Backward Classes Sangarsh Committee (BCSC), Punjab, has decided to field its candidates from Kharar, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Mukerian, Garhshankar, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Amloh segments for coming Assembly poll.

The committee would finalise more segments for fielding its candidates shortly.

Mr Kehar Singh, president of the BCSC, told mediapersons that members of the committee, who were holding offices in various political parties, had resigned even from the primary membership of their respective parties and had pledged to work round the clock for the upliftment of Backward Classes by getting implemented the Mandal Commission report.

He said he too was holding the office of secretary, PPCC, and had resigned from it. Similarly Thekedar Ranjit Singh, president of Kirti Samaj Wing of SAD (B), Mr Tarlok Singh, senior vice-president of the city unit of SAD (B), Hoshiarpur, and Mr Charanjit Singh, Congress president of local ward No. 18, had resigned from their posts.

All the above mentioned persons were present on the occasion and confirmed the decision.

Mr Ranjit Singh said he had not only resigned from the Kirti Samaj Wing but also dissolved the same under protest.

He said that on the assurance of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, chief of SAD (B), that due representation would be given to Backward Classes in his party, All India Kirti Samaj unit was merged with SAD (B) on June 7, 2002. But Mr Badal had totally ignored BCs which led to the dissolution of Kirti Samaj Wing of SAD (B).

Mr Kehar Singh claimed that Mr Tajinder Singh Jhalli, president of BAMSAF, had also joined the agitation of the committee to fight against those political parties which had exploited Backward Classes for their selfish motives.

He further claimed that 52 per cent of the total population in state belonged to BCs and without their support none of the political party would come in power.


Singla back in Congress
Our Correspondent

Nabha, December 9
Political equations in Nabha constituency have got a new twist with Romesh Singla, a former MLA from Nabha and All-India Youth Congress President, joining the Congress party. Mr Singla had joined SAD (B) in 2004.

With this move, the Congress has added another party ticket aspirant to the present MLA Kaka Randip Singh while SAD (B) has a lone candidate in Raja Narinder Singh, former MLA from Nabha and a Cabinet minister. In this scenario, the Congress, in order to avoid division of votes among various ticket contenders, may field an outsider.

Today, Mr Singla’s residence, which is usually deserted, was packed with his loyalists and he was busy answering congratulatory calls. The Congress party flag was fluttering atop his bungalow in place of the SAD flag.

A few days ago, he had been on the verge of joining the Congress but was evasive to queries regarding the subject. It is said that his entry was delayed because of the opposition of PPCC President Shamsher Singh Dullo.

“I am going to fight and win, as all things are in my favour. I have worked very hard and meticulously and this gives me an edge over other candidates,” Mr Singla said. Getting the status of a district to the erstwhile princely state of Nabha would be on top of my poll manifesto, he added.

Mr Singla evaded questions on his chances of getting the party ticket.

Raja Narinder Singh said he was happy over Mr Singla leaving SAD and that he would pray for his success. Kaka Randip Singh said that Mr Singla’s return would definitely be a boon for the party in the coming elections.


Cong ‘yatra’ to harness youth power
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 9
A ‘Yuva Sankalp Yatra’ was today organised by the Punjab Youth Congress to celebrate the birthday of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. It was led by Mr Ashok Tanwar, president, Indian National Youth Congress (INYC), here today.

Mr Tanwar, while talking to mediapersons, said the rally was organised to reach out to the young people of the state and to make them aware about the projects taken up by the state and the Central governments for the state.

He said workers of the Punjab Youth Congress would cover the yatra in 45 days and take the opinion of the people regarding the policies of the government.

The INYC president said they would also take stock of the ground work undertaken by the party workers in the state and would assess the performance of the leaders, following which a report would be submitted to the party high command.

He said the ‘yatra’ had been started to celebrate the birthday of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Tanwar said the field work done by youths in various district blocks would be taken note of and he would urge the high command to promote them by giving them tickets for the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Congress party workers gathered at the Congress Bhawan and cut the cake to celebrate the 60th birthday of Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Addressing the party workers, Mr Yoginder Pal Dhingra, district president of the party, said Mrs Sonia Gandhi had strengthened the party at the grassroots level and had ensured the participation of the youth of the country by giving them due representation in the Lok Sabha.


Conference to woo OBCs
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 9
The Other Backward Classes (OBC) Department of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) organised a conference at Chabal township, 16 kilometers from here today.

Mr Gurinder Pal Singh, chairman of the department, was the chief guest on the occasion. Mr Gurminder Singh Rataul, Chairman, local Market Committee (MC), Prof Gurvinder Singh Mammanke, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bittu, Chairman, MC Khadoor Sahib, Mr Lakhbir Singh Rataul, local district chairman addressed the gathering.

They appreciated the state government for the policies made for the welfare of the Backward Classes. The leaders called on the Backward Classes to canvass in favour of the Congress party during the Assembly elections.


Construction near Golden Temple resented
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 9
Mr Avtar Singh, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has expressed great resentment over construction of a multi-storeyed commercial building on the Ghanta Ghar side, which is affecting the beauty of the Golden Temple.

The SGPC president said the commercial building being constructed by the Improvement Trust would not only affect the glory of the Golden Temple but would also hamper the Galiara Yojana.

The SGPC president asked the Improvement Trust to stop the work otherwise the Sikh Sangat would be forced to take action against the trust and officials concerned.


Preparations on for ‘rail roko’ stir
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 9
The BKU Ugraha today held a meeting at Chathewala village to discuss preparations for the nine farmer bodies' forthcoming ‘rail roko’ agitation on December 13.

Addressing a gathering of the union activists, district BKU chief Shingara Singh Mann alleged that the Trident group had forcefully taken over farmers' land in Dhaula, Sanghera and Fatehgarh Chhana villages.

He said the farmers’ bodies would not rest till restoration of land to them. He lamented that the government had not extended any relief to the farmers who lost their lives during the agitation.

A play - "Mein Phir Awanga" was also staged after the meeting.


Bus hits motorcycle, rider killed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 9
A private bus hit a motorcycle, killing the rider on the spot. Radhika , a resident of Chandigarh, who was on the pillion, was injured.

Sources said the speeding unnumbered bus allegedly hit the motorcycle (PB 05B 5580 Temp 2006) near Balluana, 15 km from here, on the Malout-Abohar (NH 10) road.

Mr Gurdarshan Singh, son of Mr Baltar Singh, a resident of a nearby village who was travelling by the same bus, said he requested the driver of the bus to stop and rescue the victims but he sped away. The passenger then informed the Sadar police here on the phone.

The body of the victim was taken to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here by the [patrol police. The condition of the woman was stated to be serious. The victim was identified as Lakhbir (25), son of Ganga Jal, an employee in the Punjab State Electricity Board, a resident of Nai Abadi here.

Family sources said Lakhbir Godara and Radhika, daughter of Mr Vinod Kumar, a resident of Sector 15, Chandigarh, were employed at the Chandigarh office of a leading mobile company.


Hardcore criminal arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 9
In a major breakthrough, the police today claimed to have arrested a criminal who had more than 50 criminal cases slapped against him.

Addressing a press conference, Patiala SSP, Parmod Ban said the police set up a naka, during which a criminal identified as Babu Ram of Ludhiana was asked to stop his car.

The police recovered stolen goods and after investigation it was revealed that he was the same person who was wanted in 58 cases registered against him at various places in Punjab.

The police also recovered 43 tolas of gold worth Rs 4.50 lakh from his possession. He would be produced in the court tomorrow.

In another case, Mr Ban said a smuggler, Gurwant Singh, had been arrested from the Sanauri adda today. A sum of Rs 4 lakh was seized.


Man’s body found on railway track

Phagwara, December 9
Bhangra artiste Jaskaran Singh, alias Jassi, has died under mysterious circumstances and his decomposed body was found lying in 27 pieces on the railway track near Saprod on the Phagwara-Jalandhar railway section today.

The Railway Police had to work hard to collect the pieces of the body from the track. Jaskaran Singh, organiser of the ''Gabroo Bhangra Group'', had gone to attend a cultural programme on his scooter before his death, his family members said. The scooter was still untraceable. The body has been sent for the post-mortem examination. — UNI


Engineering students threaten to disrupt examinations
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 9
About 50 students of the Amritsar College of Engineering and Technology at Mannawala threatened to continue the strike against the management of the college for not allowing them to appear in the exams to be held from December 16.

The parents of the students today said that the teachers held a meeting yesterday to resolve the issue after a list of about 50 students prohibited from appearing in the exams was displayed yesterday.

They said the faculty and the management remained adamant on their decision and closed the college till December 16.

They said that they requested the Principal and the Managing Director of the college to allow their wards to appear in all the papers in the forthcoming examination but the college management remained adamant on their decision.

They said their wads had to suffer as the college had not provided teachers for two or three subjects for which they had to take private tuitions.

The management was allowing them to appear in only those papers for which they had not provided teachers.

It was for this reason that they had to miss classes due to which their lectures fell short.

They urged the management to allow the students to appear in all the papers saying that if they were not allowed to appear in the exams, they would boycott the internal examination. Besides, they would not allow the management to hold the examinations starting from December 16.

The Principal of the college, Dr H.N Chandravat, refuted the claims of the students and said that only two or three students, who had been detained, had been raising hue and cry. He said the college was closed to allow the students sufficient time for preparing for their exams.


Workshop on patenting at Ryat institute
Tribune News Service

Kharar, December 9
With growing need for information technology, patent related awareness and security mechanism in modern day scientific and industrial enterprises have become as indispensable as cyber security or other safety measures. With this dominant theme in mind experts dwelled upon the various aspects of patenting in a workshop organised by Rayat and Bahra Institute of Engineering and Biotechnology in Sahauran near Kharar here today.

A large number of faculty members of various technical institutions, colleges and industrial establishments of northern India participated in the workshop. The workshop was sponsored by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) and Patent Information Centre (PIC) with the help of Technical Information, Forecasting and assessment Council (TIFAC).


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