P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Credit limit for farmers raised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
Punjab will have an integrated marketing system for all products of Verka and also grains and packaged vegetables produced by Markfed besides fresh vegetables while the credit limit for farmers has been increased.

The loan limit has been raised from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh for every acre while the maximum limit has being enhanced from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh announced these measures after taking charge as Punjab cooperation minister.

It was decided that branch managers of the cooperative banks would be held responsible if loan disbursement was delayed beyond 15 days after sanction. The processing of loan applications and the reimbursement of loans would be constantly reviewed and audited and sanction procedures simplified.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh added that an integrated marketing organisation would be set up to look into all aspects of marketing, including quality of production, branding, image building and selling of all products being manufactured by different cooperative organisations, including Markfed and Milkfed. When asked by reporters how he planned to take on the might of companies like Reliance or Bharti that had entered the retail market, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said: “ We will have a plan. Let me settle down”.

The concept of marketing skimmed cow milk, which is fat free, will be taken up on an experimental basis in urban areas in Punjab. It had been decided that Milkfed would promote commercial dairies around important cities and milk plants. Milkfed would also hire a professional consultant to examine in depth the entire range of operations related to procurement, production, marketing and finance in order to come up with a workable plan to turn around the remaining loss-making units and increase the profitability of others. This would be done during the coming financial year.

The minister said the government would introduce the Self- Supporting Cooperative Societies Act, which was passed in the last Vidhan Sabha and had now gone for presidential assent.

The Sanjivni Healthcare Scheme, which was launched last year to cover members of the cooperative societies and had benefited over 18,500 patients with a pay-out of over Rs 35 crore last year, would be continued and its scope expanded to include landless persons during the coming financial year also. It would now be named as the Bhai Ghanaiya Sehat Seva.


Coop loans to farmers to be simplified: Capt

Patiala, March 13
The process of providing loans to farmers through cooperative banks will be simplified.

Directions are being issued to all cooperative banks to simply the procedures for giving loans to the farmers.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said this while talking to The Tribune here today. He was here to preside over an agriculture fair organised by Punjab Agriculture University in village.

He also met the cooperative department officials of the Patiala division. Keeping in line with the clean governance stance being adopted by the new government, he assured the employees of the department that there would be no political transfers of cooperative employees. He also directed the employees to not gather at the spots he visits. They would be summoned if required, he added.

About the elections for the cooperative bodies of the state, the minister said the situation would be reviewed in the near future. The minister further said the farmers of state would be compensated for the loss of crop due to inclement weather. A special survey had already been ordered in Patiala and Mohali districts in this regard. tns


Dimpa’s disappearance: 8 cops suspended
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Beas , March 13
The Majitha Police today suspended eight cops attached with Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Congress leader on charges of ‘dereliction of duty’ after his (Dimpa’s) sudden disappearance from the constituency.

SSP Majitha Lok Nath Angra has also written to Amritsar district police chief to take appropriate action against the security guards who were supposed to be with Dimpa till the completion of the election process.

The security men suspended include Jagdish Raj — Sub inspector, Parmjit, Charan Singh, Kewal Singh, Wassan Singh and Shashpal Singh — all head constables, Vikramjit Singh and Baldev Singh — both constables of the Majitha Police . However, the Amritsar Police has not taken any action against an ASI Dalbir Singh, head- constables , Devinder Singh and Balwinder Singh and a Constable, though the SSP Majitha has written to his Amritsar counterpart for action against them.

After polling on March 11, Dimpa left the constituency without informing the police, leaving his body guards behind for an undisclosed destination. It is learnt Dimpa had taken refuge outside Punjab since he feared arrest after the Beas election on the basis of two cases registered against him including killing of an Akali activist on January 29 here.

Meanwhile a younger brother of Dimpa, Harmanbir Singh Gill, S.P. (Traffic), Chandigarh, has applied for anticipatory bail in Punjab and Haryana High Court. Earlier, district and sessions judge, Amritsar had dismissed the bail application of Dimpa, his brother and eight others.

Mr Kulwinder Singh Thyara , DSP, Baba Bakala confirmed suspension orders had been issued to eight security personnel of Dimpa including a Sub Inspector .

Though Dimpa is not in Beas, the police continues to guard his residence. However, security in charge of Dimpa’s residence has also been placed under suspension.

On the other hand, the district administration has made elaborate security arrangements at the Pheruman College, Rayya where counting of votes would be held tomorrow. District Election Officer, Kirandip Singh Bhullar said the BSF had been given security of ‘inner cordon.’

The fate of Dimpa and Manjinder Singh Kang, an Akali candidate had been sealed in the EVMs. It is believed Dimpa would come back to Beas only if he wins the election or he gets bail from the High Court.


Mass copying goes unchecked in Amritsar district
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 13
Mass copying in the Plus II exams of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) goes unchecked despite elaborate arrangements made by the board for checking the menace in this border belt.

A visit to Dashmesh Senior Secondary School, a government-aided school in Kotla Sultan Singh, ancestral village of famous yesteryear singer Mohammad Rafi, by The Tribune team here today saw that hundreds of people had gathered at the back of the school complex. They were busy preparing small slips containing solved answers of the physics paper to send these to students appearing for the exams. The “helpers” were scaling the boundary wall with impunity and many of them could even be seen sitting in the playground of the school itself.

Though the district magistrate had banned the gathering of people in or around the school complex where board exams are being held by imposing Section 144, IPC, that too was being violated with impunity. Even the policemen deployed at the centre by the district administration were either helping the students or remained mute spectators.

When contacted, Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa, vice-chairman, PSEB, said flying teams had been constituted to raid various educational institutes in the district, and wherever they came to know about incidents of mass copying, they cancelled the paper at that particular centre.

According to sources, the students who appear in exams engage the services of private teachers of the particular subject by collecting money among themselves. The teachers charge Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 for solving the question paper which is either supplied to them by the peon of the school or questions are sent to them through SMSs on mobile phones. The teachers stay out of the school, generally near the rear boundary wall. And after solving the paper, these are photocopied and then supplied to the students, again through the peon.

The parents of the students also help them in this regard by making contacts with the superintendents and invigilators. Mass copying in the rural belt of the district remains an annual exercise and the Education Department has failed to check the menace. The main sufferers are the hard-working students who have put in labour for the whole year and are disturbed by the noise created by the movement of the people around the centre.


Sidhu charts agenda for Amritsar’s growth
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, March 13
Taking centrestage of Amritsar politics once again cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu today assured the business community that Special Economic Zone (SEZ) would be implemented at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s initiative.

Addressing his first press conference after his re-election in the Lok Sabha, Sidhu said it was unfortunate that the previous government had nullified the prestigious SEZ project despite the Prime Minister’s announcement of setting up this mega industrial project.

Charting out the agenda for the restoration of the economic glory of the holy city, he said he would in consultation with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and other political representatives draft the new industrial policy for the state.

He said he would give priority to getting a special economic package for the beleaguered industry in the border areas of the state on the lines of concessions given to Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. He said the thrust of the industrial policy would be to create avenues for power generation.

He assured the business community that the SAD-BJP government would simplify the VAT system which has been a bane for small traders.

Lashing out at the previous government for discontinuing the payment of hardship border allowance of Rs 2500 per acre to the farming community in the border areas, Sidhu said he would raise their voice at the highest level to restore this allowance to the peasants who had braved many difficulties.

The BJP MP said the National Highway Authority had been facing many hurdles in implementing the four-laning project from Jalandhar to Amritsar.

He said engineers of the private company which had undertaken the construction had alleged that the government was not expediting the pending issues like relocating the high tension cables besides awaiting the clearance of the forest department and removal of encroachments which were delaying the work. He said that he would ensure that these clearances would be provided and the work on the "killer road" could be completed by March 2009.

Sidhu said a passport office would soon be functional in the holy city as he had already instructed the passport authorities to immediately look for a suitable office. A collection centre would be set up to ease the problem.

With regard to the Amritsar International Airport, Sidhu said he would ensure more allocation of funds for making this international air terminus as one of the throbbing economic centre of the state. He said that the GDP growth of the particular region depended upon the efficiency of its airport system.


Inderjit Kaur new Mexico representative
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
The government of New Mexico (USA) has appointed Bibi Inderjit Kaur as representative and ambassador to India.

The appointment was make by Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson on March 6.

Inderjit Kaur's charge will include speaking on behalf of the state's interest, promotion of the state and acting as New Mexico's official representative at government meetings. 


BJP morcha seeks relief for ruined crop
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 13
In view of the heavy damage to the standing wheat crop due to the rain and hailstorm in several parts of the state, the All-India Kisan Morcha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today asked the Punjab Government to announce compensation to the tune of Rs 10,000 per acre for those farmers whose wheat crop has been damaged more than 75 per cent.

Talking to The Tribune here today, national vice president of the All India BJP Kisan Morcha Satwant Singh Punia further asked the Punjab Government to announce compensation to the tune of Rs 5,000 per acre for 50 per cent damage and Rs 2,500 per acre for 25 per cent damage to the standing wheat crop. He also asked the Central Government to contribute in compensating the farmers as Punjab alone contributed 70 per cent share to the central pool.

Punia said he along with other BJP leaders and workers today visited some villages, including Illwal, Badrukhan, Sohian and Kammo Majra to assess the damage to the standing wheat crop there.

He said he found that in Illwal village standing wheat crop of 10 farmers had been damaged up to nearly 75 per cent by the rain while wheat crop had been flattened partially in some fields in other villages.

He today also met the Sangrur deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar and briefed him about the damage to the wheat and other crops in the villages.

When contacted, chief agriculture officer Bakhshish Singh Chahal said as per information gathered by him from the field staff today no significant damage had occurred to the standing crops in Sangrur and Barnala districts though in some areas crops, including wheat, had flattened partially.

Meanwhile the town today experienced showering of hail for about three to four minutes, besides the rain from morning to afternoon. Due to rain, low-lying areas of the town were filled with water, leading to inconvenience to the locals for several hours.


3 held for attack on SAD supporter
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 13
Three persons have been arrested for allegedly assaulting Bhanu Partap, a member of the village panchayat and an active supporter of the Balluana SAD MLA Gurtej Singh Ghuriana.

The sadar police produced them in the court where they were remanded in judicial custody today, sources said.

The police had booked nearly 12 Congress workers as they had allegedly trespassed on Bhanu Partap's shop carrying sharp-edged weapons.

Not only this,later they allegedly dragged him out of the emergency ward in the civil hospital here on Friday night. Those arrested were identified as Ram Kumar, Sandeep Kumar and Tara Chand.


Brahm hails Bhattal’s appointment
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 13
Former Punjab minister and Samana MLA Brahm Mohindra today hailed the appointment of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as leader of the opposition in the Vidhan Sabha. While talking to The Tribune, Mohindra said that with the appointment of Bhattal as the leader, the Congress, which was the main opposition party in the Vidhan Sabha, would now play the role of a responsible opposition.


Badal to head Ludhiana board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
The Punjab government today appointed the chairmen of district planning boards.

Disclosing this here, a government spokesman said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would head the Ludhiana district planning board. 


Dhindsa heads SAD parliamentary board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
Former union minister and Lok Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has been appointed the chairman of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) parliamentary board.

The appointment was announced here today by Punjab Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Dhindsa is the secretary-general of the SAD.


YC seeks Badal’s resignation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
The Punjab Youth Congress today submitted a memorandum to the Governor , Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

A delegation of the Youth Congress, which was led by Vijay Inder Singla, met the Governor and said Badal was also the Minister for Home, in charge of both the police and the vigilance department as also minister for prosecution. Having been charge-sheeted, it had been more than amply established that there was a prima facie case against Badal and members of his family.

The Youth Congress said Badal had lost the moral, ethical and constitutional right to govern the state in light of the framing of charges of corruption against him and members of his family.


MCI poll process faulty, say doctors
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
Even as the process of holding elections to the Medical Council of India (MCI) has taken off, medical practitioners across Punjab resent the ‘faulty poll procedure’. Less than a week before the commencement of the elections to the highest regulatory body of doctors, these practitioners have asked for an end to the practice of voting through postal ballots.

Four candidates are in the fray from the state. Giving details, Professor of Nephrology at Ludhiana's Dayanand Medical College and Hospital-cum-candidate for the council elections Dr Navdeep Singh (Khaira) says, only one candidate will make it to the council.

The ballots are to be forwarded between March 14 and 29. The Director (Research and Medical Education) Dr Kiranjit Kaur is the returning officer for the elections. The other candidates are Dr G.S. Gill of Jalandhar, Dr N. Dahia also of Jalandhar and Dr Baldev Singh of Ludhiana.

The doctors feel the possibility of the ballot papers getting misplaced in the transition process cannot be ruled out. Otherwise also, the ballot papers do not carry the full credentials of the candidates, making it difficult for the voters to identify the doctors contesting the elections.

Describing the process as undemocratic, president of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMS) Dr Hardeep Singh says the procedure of voting through postal ballots takes the element of objectivity and secrecy away.

There were chances of the candidates stamping and posting the ballot papers in bulk after collecting them from the doctors, he added. He also suggests the holding of direct elections. For the purpose, ballot boxes can be placed in the offices of the civil surgeons at the district-level.

Listing out the issues, he says better service conditions and facilities for the field doctors were top on the agenda of the candidates. Dr Hardeep Singh says the voters should also support the candidate who stands in favour of making a stint in the rural areas mandatory for the doctors and supports adoption of stringent inspection procedures. He says the Rural Health Mission announced by the Prime Minister cannot take off till the doctors opt to work in the rural areas.


PRTC launches airconditioned buses
Tribune News Service

Patiala March 13
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) today launched its Gold Line airconditioned bus service from Patiala. The hitech all-weather airconditioned buses have been launched keeping in view the success of Volvo buses launched by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation and Haryana Roadways.

Minister for transport Mohan Lal today flagged off two buses of the series. Besides, the Gaurav series of buses was also launched. Eight buses of the series were flagged off by the minister.

While talking to The Tribune, the minister said that Gold Line buses would run on the Patiala-Delhi, Patiala-Chandigarh and Chandigarh-Delhi routes. The fare of Gold Line buses would be at par with the Volvo buses.

The Gaurav series of buses would run on common fare. However, they would have improved facilities as comfortable seats and better interior. The PRTC would run 93 buses of the Gaurav series, he said.

PRTC managing director Shiv Dullar Dhillon said that all-weather airconditioned buses would have charging facility for a laptop and mobile phone. The commuters would be provided with newspaper and water bottles on the Chandigarh-Patiala route.

The fare of the Gold Line bus from Patiala to Chandigarh would be Rs 85. However, regular customers could get a pass under which the fare comes to just about Rs 68. The one-way fare on the Patiala-Delhi route would be Rs 380.

Mohan Lal said the scheme of the previous government to privatise Punjab Roadways would be abandoned.

The private illegal buses plying on various routes was the basic reason for the poor occupancy in roadways buses. No illegal bus would be allowed to operate in the state.

Many transporters have complained about the forced sale of reflectors at high prices by certain persons allegedly in connivance with the traffic police.


Increase in govt holidays draws assn’s flak
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 13
The General Category Association has criticised the Punjab government’s decision for increasing the number of state holidays. The association is of the view that an increase in state holidays is not affordable for a steadily growing state like Punjab.

While addressing mediapersons, Rajiv Barnala, association president, stated that the state government offices remain close on 104 days in lieu of Saturdays and Sundays, while 24 declared holidays, 20 casual leaves and two holidays from among 25 reserved holidays and medical holidays could be availed of by state government employees. In totality the government employee could avail about 175 holidays in a year.

This spoke for the volume of hindrance in routine affairs as the five-day week policy created great difficulty for the public for getting their job done.

Meanwhile, Karamjit Bihla, secretary, Punjab State Subordinate Services, prevailed upon the state government to curtail the number of holidays.


Seminar on folklore on March 15

Amritsar, March 13
The School of Punjabi Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) will organise a two-day national seminar on “Folklore and Study of Folklore” from March 15 at Guru Nanak Bhavan.

Satinder Aulakh, coordinator of the seminar, said Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor, would preside over the inaugural session while Surjit Singh Lee, former head of Human Language Department of Punjabi University, Patiala, would the deliver the keynote address on the occasion. — TNS


Guru to be principal secy (PR)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
Darbara Singh Guru, principal secretary to the Chief Minister, is likely to get additional charge as principal secretary, public relations.

An order to this effect is likely to be issued tomorrow.

Guru has served as director public relations, in the past.

Secretary, power, Suresh Kumar, will get additional charge of NRI affairs and employment generation.


Admn secys to supervise damage assessment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
At a meeting of the Punjab cabinet Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today directed the chief secretary to depute administrative secretaries to undertake tours of the districts and supervise the assessment of loss to standing crops by inclement weather.

A spokesman of the government said the cabinet also directed the chief secretary to monitor the assessment of crop damage due to the hailstorms and unseasonal rain in the state. Keeping in view the gravity of the situation, the Chief Minister also urged the ministers to undertake extensive tours in their respective areas to get first-hand information of the extent of damage.

The cabinet approved the Governor’s address for the first session of the 13th Vidhan Sabha beginning from March 15.

It approved in principle the creation of a new division with its headquarters at Roopnagar, which is also known as Ropar.

By another decision, the cabinet approved the raising of the borrowing limit of the Punjab State Electricity Board from Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 11,000 crore under Section 65 (3) of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948.


Prisoner chained to hospital bed
Lalit Mohan and Charu Chhibber

Patiala, March 13
Handcuffed to the hospital bed, 60-year-old Gurdev Singh lies motionless in the general ward of the Government Rajendra Hospital. His sorry state is a clear picture of violation of Supreme Court orders that convicts can’t be handcuffed to the hospital bed without permission from court.

Convicted for chopping off the arm of a man, Gurdev Singh, a resident of Sangrur, is serving his four-and-a-half years’ sentence. He was allegedly brought to Patiala with low blood pressure a few days ago.

High Court lawyer Lakhwinder Singh Sidhu said as per the orders of the Supreme Court in separate cases convicts couldn’t be handcuffed to the hospital bed without permission from court. Only in case of hardcore criminals, the police is granted special permission to handcuff the convicts.

Sources in the police department said if left unchained, convicts tend to escape from hospitals. Citing a very recent case, the policeman deployed on duty with the convict, said: “In the wee hours of Monday, an undertrial, Ramanand, who has been charged with murder, escaped from the hospital. Two officers, who were on duty, have been suspended. To avoid such incidents, it becomes necessary to chain these convicts to the bed”.

Sources here said generally convicts were brought here from subjails of adjoining areas on flimsy medical grounds though there was a government doctor available in jails. The prisoners like Gurdev Singh, with low blood pressure, could be treated at jails.


DSP booked for accepting Rs 50,000
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 13
The district police today booked one of its own deputy superintendent of police on the charge of having demanded and accepted bribe to help the accused in a criminal case go scout-free.

According to sources in the police, DSP Bakhshish Singh was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The sources said that the DSP was allegedly threatening Balwinder Singh of Gujjar village whose son had been booked by the police in a murder case in October last year.

The sources said Balwinder Singh had filed a complaint with the senior authorities of the police department in which he had alleged that the DSP was issuing threats to implicate him in the murder case as the weapon used by his son in the crime belonged to him. Bakhshish Singh had Reportedly demanded a graft of Rs 1 lakh out of which Balwinder had paid him Rs 50,000.

The sources said that there were several cases pending against Balwinder Singh and his son and the DSP had assured them that if they paid the demanded money he would make certain that they were not convicted in the court.


Charges framed against doctors

Bathinda, March 13
Additional district and sessions judge Rajshekhar Attri has framed charges against two lady doctors and two other women under various sections of the IPC and the PNDT Act for their alleged involvement in cases relating to female foeticide.

In a press note issued here today, PNDT cell project officer Sadhu Ram Kusla said that the charges under sections 312, 315 and 120-B of the IPC and section 23 of the PNDT Act were framed against Kamlesh Jindal of Jindal maternity and ultrasound scan centre, Rampura, Laxmi Garg of Garg maternity and nursing home, Rampura, Ranjit Kaur and Kulwant Singh, both residents of Mehraj village of this district. — TNS


Lecture at GND varsity on March 16

Amritsar, March 13
Swami Parthasarthy, who is a member of Prime Minister's National Advisory Council, New Delhi, would deliver a special lecture on "Vision India 2020" at Guru Nanak Dev University on March 16 at 11 am. Professor and dean of faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Dr Paramjit Singh said this lecture was being organised under the programme of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Chandigarh. — TNS


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