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Dilution of poll promises: Cong to take on SAD
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Adopting a tough stand against the ruling SAD-BJP combine, the Punjab Congress today made it clear that it would take on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for any dilution of or deviation from promises he had made in his party’s poll manifesto and for stopping any development work initiated by the previous Congress regime.

Leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, accompanied by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Shamsher Singh Dullo, hosted a luncheon meeting with party MLAs here, where she demanded “Badal should resign on moral grounds and allow a fair trial against him. It is the only case of its type where a chargesheeted Chief Minister is heading the home department and also the prosecuting agency -- the vigilance bureau”. Amarinder Singh reiterated that the case should be shifted outside Punjab where Badal would have no influence on its investigation and trial.

Amarinder Singh made it clear that the ruling party would be asked to explain how it had diluted the “cheap atta and dal” promise which originally said it was for all people of the state. Now it had been modified to have only a section of the people as its beneficiaries. Also, in the past few days Badal had changed his stand on scrapping section 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, he said.

Bhattal added that the Congress would question the SAD on the issue of recruiting teachers on the basis of an interview whereas the SAD manifesto was committed to a transparent policy. She said the process adopted by the Congress was fair and should be followed. She demanded compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre for farmers whose crops had been damaged due to rain.

Bhattal alleged that Badal was being a hypocrite. On the one hand he was saying “ there will be no vendetta politics” while on the other Congress workers were being browbeaten at the grassroots level. Also, groups that had extended support to the Congress were facing the ire of the Akalis. Giving specific instances, Amarinder Singh said incidents had occurred in Barnala and Budhlada which showed that the SAD was trying to threaten Congress workers. Defending Jasbir Singh Dimpa, defeated Congress nominee from Beas, Amarinder Singh said: “We all know he has not fired a single shot. However, the SAD is hell-bent on harassing him. Badal should take me on and not my MLAs or other Congress leaders”

Replying to a question whether this politics of confrontation was actually launched by him five years ago, Amarinder Singh said: “We only investigated corruption cases and there was no confrontation”. He went on to add that the matter of investigating Rs 3,500 crore worth of assets of Badal had been sent to the enforcement directorate which had already procured a letter rogotary for investigation. The charge sheet filed in a Ropar court was just for the assets in India.

At the meeting MLAs also moved a resolution thanking Congress president Sonia Gandhi for appointing Bhattal the leader of the CLP. Amarinder Singh moved the resolution and Lal Singh seconded it. Amarinder Singh made it clear that Sonia Gandhi had taken him into confidence before appointing Bhattal. The party has appointed Rana Gurmit Sodhi as the chief whip of the party while Lal Singh was appointed general- secretary of the CLP.

 

Amarinder behind Cong defeat: Bitta
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 15
In a significant development which could trigger a crisis of sorts in the Punjab Congress, Maninderjit Singh Bitta, chairman, All India Anti-Terrorist Front, while dubbing former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as a " leader of terrorists" claimed that attempts made by the latter to implement the Khalistan agenda turned out to be the main reason for the defeat of party candidates in the recently held Assembly elections.

Not only this, the other reason which caused irrevocable damage to Congress in the Assembly poll was the fact that Capt Amarinder Singh also made attempts to create a wedge between Hindus and Sikhs to push forward his own agenda, Bitta alleged.

Talking to mediapersons, he said that the Congress did not taste defeat because of the fact that the country was witnessing rising prices or the party high command did not play its role effectively or the then state unit president Shamsher Singh Dullo did not put in the requisite hard work but it lost power because of acts of omission and commission of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Maninderjit Singh Bitta demanded that a CBI probe should be launched to find out the fact that how a section of police officials managed to amass huge wealth during the chief ministership of Capt Amarinder Singh.

He also demanded that CBI should also probe the reasons behind the fact that how 300 terrorists were residing in Punjab during the Congress rule.

Lashing out at Capt Amarinder Singh, Bitta alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh got party ticket for that person who was related to one of the assassins of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

He added that by defeating that candidate, people of Punjab had proved that they were no buyers of the Khalistan agenda.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh also supported those elements who were involved in the killings of innocents in the state.

Maninderjit Singh Bitta also alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh got Navjot Sidhu, MP, and a renowned Punjabi singer Daler Mehndi implicated in false criminal cases.

To a query, he said that at present he was not interested to jump into active politics but if the party high command tried to promote Capt Amarinder Singh in its organisational set-up, he would jump into the political arena. 

 

5 languages, 130 minutes as 113 members take oath
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Five languages, including Urdu and Sanskrit, along with the official languages of Punjabi, Hindi and English, were used by 113 members of the 13th Punjab Vidhan Sabha to take the oath of affirmation at the opening session of the House that lasted a little over 130 minutes here this afternoon.

The oath-taking ceremony conducted by pro tem Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon was not without its aberrations and noticeable deviations.

While a majority of the Akali and BJP MLAs sought the blessings of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal before or after taking the oath, Mohan Lal was the only one who sought the blessings of the pro tem Speaker also. He was even otherwise noticeable also as he came without a turban.

While Manjinder Singh Kang, who was declared elected from Beas only yesterday, along with Harmit Singh Sandhu (Tarn Taran) and Brahm Mohindra (Samana) could not make it for the ceremony, the remaining 113 members took the oath in languages of their choice.

It started after secretary of the Vidhan Sabha Nachhatar Singh Mavi made an announcement that Nirmal Singh Kahlon would act as the pro tem Speaker before whom members would take the oath. Then he called upon all members starting with the leader of the House Parkash Singh Badal to take the oath as a member of the House under Article 180 (1) of the Constitution amidst the thumping of desks by the treasury benches.

The Chief Minister was followed by members of his Cabinet. And it was Laxmi Kanta Chawla of the BJP who made history by taking the oath of affirmation in Sanskrit. She is perhaps the first-ever member to take the oath in Sanskrit.

After the Cabinet members, it was the turn of women members of the House. When Razia Sultana, dressed in the colours of the National Flag, came for taking the oath, she preferred Urdu.

While Jagdish Sawhney of the BJP and Jasbir Singh Khangura of the Congress took the oath in English, the remaining members preferred either Hindi or Punjabi. From the Congress, Sunil Kumar Jakhar chose Hindi.

There was another round of applause from the treasury benches when Raj Khurana, who joined the BJP leaving the Congress before the elections, came to take the oath. The opposition benches had their share of thumping of desks when both leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and previous Chief Minister Amarinder Singh came to take the oath.

Harpreet Singh (28) of the Akali Dal became the youngest member of the House while the oldest- member distinction is shared by Parkash Singh Badal and Chuni Lal Bhagat (BJP).Both are 76 as per the official records.

While Dinesh Singh of the BJP had to repeat his oath at the instance of the pro tem Speaker, a few others, too, were corrected.

For example, two ex-employees of the Punjab government, former deputy superintendent of police Bishambhar Dass of the BJP and Ajaib Singh Bhatti, an ex-provincial civil service member, of the Congress had to be corrected.

While the BJP MLA was told not to mention his previous position, Bhatti started before the pro tem Speaker even started administering the oath to him.

There was a commotion when the name of Love Kumar Goldy was missed from the list of MLAs from Hoshiarpur as the name of Sant Ajit Singh (Anandpur Sahib) had been called. Ajit Singh Shant (Nihalsinghwala) is perhaps the only physically challenged member of the new House.

MLAs from Ludhiana had to wait till the end.

Since the new House has a fairly large number of first- timers, the attendance in the galleries was impressive. Former Akali Dal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi watched the proceedings from the Speaker’s gallery. Former finance minister Surinder Singla was also seen in one of the galleries.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh along with senior civil servants like B.R. Bajaj, R.N. Gupta, B.C. Gupta, D.S. Guru, D.S. Bains, Geetika Kalha and A.S. Chhatwal, besides additional principal secretary to the Chief Minister Ajay Kumar Mahajan, and new DGP N.P.S. Aulakh sat through the session.

After all present had been administered the oath, the pro tem Speaker adjourned the House till tomorrow morning when a new Speaker will be elected.

 

Dimpa may surrender
Sends CD for filing bail application
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
Even as the Majitha police continued to conduct raids on possible hideouts of Jasbir Singh Dimpa, absconding former Congress MLA on the second consecutive day, reports indicated that he might surrender before the police if he fails to secure anticipatory bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Rajinder Singh Tapyala, a lawyer and close confidant of Dimpa, said that he had sent a CD and file containing reports of the special investigation team and the district police chief, Majitha, to former Advocate-General Rajinder Singh Cheema for judicial remedy.

He said if Dimpa failed to get relief from the court, he would like to surrender since he had full faith in the judiciary. Failure to surrender would create the impression that he was leading an underground life, he said.

It is learnt that the police had raided the houses of close relatives of Dimpa in Adhwalia, Toung, Jalandhar and other districts with a view to nab the former Congress MLA. Tapyala said the police had picked up Vikram Vickey, a domestic help of Dimpa, who was later let off.

The story regarding the rise and fall of Dimpa and his political rival Kang makes interesting reading. The SAD leader, Kang, who has won the Assembly seat for the first time, and Dimpa had plunged into politics when they lost their respective fathers during the peak of militancy in the late eighties.

While Dimpa had lost the first Assembly election to Akali candidate Manmohan Singh Sathiala in 1992 by a thin margin, Kang had lost to Dimpa in 2002 by a margin of more than 6000 votes. Then Dimpa was made chairman of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board. On the other hand, Kang had a stint as chairman of the forest corporation during the previous Akali-BJP government. The animosity between Dimpa and Kang reached a flashpoint when the latter alleged that Dimpa was instrumental in filing vigilance cases against him(Kang).

Both Dimpa and Kang had clashed many times after they joined active politics. The latest clash was on January 29 when an Akali worker was killed in the firing by Congress workers.

A case was registered against Dimpa, his two brothers, Harpinder Singh Rajan ( who is now behind bars) and Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP (Traffic), Chandigarh, and others.

Earlier, on February 23 last year, Kang was gheraoed by Congress workers during the Ajanala byelection. The worst clash was witnessed at Chakk Bala village, 2 km from the Pakistan border, where a mob had chased Akali workers and candidate Amarpal Singh Bonny, and Manjinder Singh Kang but he was later rescued by Jasbir Singh Dimpa, the then Congress MLA, himself.

Now the police has launched a manhunt to nab Dimpa who once ruled the roost in the border belt.

 

Saini’s posting as VB chief to be challenged
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
In what can be the first indicator that the Congress would play the role of an effective opposition, some party leaders are filing a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the posting of IG Sumedh Singh Saini as Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) director by the new SAD-BJP government. They will also challenge the removal of the previous chief director Izhar Alam, who is now DGP (Prisons).

On March 8, the government had, for the first time, posted an IG-level officer to head the VB.

The petitioners will also challenge the legality of the order passed by the Badal government to post seven Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers of the rank of SP in the VB.

The writ in this regard will be filed in the High Court Registry tomorrow and it is likely to be taken up for hearing on Saturday, which is a working day in the High Court this week.

Former Punjab advocate-general R.S. Cheema is likely to appear for the petitioners in the High Court.

In their petition, the petitioners are also alleging that the recent transfers and postings with regard to the VB are an attempt by the Parkash Singh Badal-led government to subvert the statutes and basic principles of natural justice. The transfers, it is alleged, are a violation of the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act, 2006.

Section 24 of the Act says that the chief director of the VB would be appointed for a term not less than two years and he would not be transferred out except with the approval of a committee comprising the chief minister, the chief secretary and the chief vigilance commissioner.

Moreover, all transfers - DSP-level officers and upward - can be done only by a three-member committee headed by the Chief Minister, the VB chief director and the chief vigilance commissioner.

The present government, it is pointed out, did not follow the set procedure while transferring the chief director, who can only be an IPS officer of the rank of not less than the ADGP rank. While posting Saini as VB director, it did not post a senior officer as chief director.

Incidentally, the petitioners are referring to the recent judgement of the Supreme Court in the police reforms case (Prakash Singh) as well as an earlier case filed by Vineet Narain.

They are also referring to the ongoing proceedings against Saini in a Delhi High Court in a case where three persons went missing after being allegedly picked up by the Punjab Police.

The present government has already decided to abolish the Punjab State Vigilance Commission, which is headed by former High Court judge Amar Dutt. In this regard, it is also bringing a Bill in the ongoing Vidhan Sabha session to repeal the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act, 2006, by bringing a Punjab State Vigilance Commission Repeal Bill, 2007.

 

Revised transfer policy for teachers on cards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked the school education department to formulate a revised transfer policy for teachers in schools so that students were not put to any inconvenience, especially due to the mid-session transfers.

A spokesperson of the government said the decision on having a revised transfer policy was suggested at a “brain-storming” session with the top brass of the state administration to work out a plan for setting up Adarsh schools in each block of the state to provide quality education in the rural areas.

Setting up such schools was one of the pre-poll promises in the SAD-BJP's manifesto. Badal said these schools would be set up in villages in a phased manner for the rural students among the Scheduled Castes and BPL (below poverty line) families.

The finance department has been asked to find out ways to generate a regular source of revenue in terms of education cess imposed on every bottle of liquor.

Badal also asked the secretary, School Education, to examine the feasibility of part funding of this prestigious project with the finances of the Punjab School Education Board.

Badal also asked the school education department to tie up with private educational institutions to ensure admission to the underprivileged and bright students on a concessional or free basis.

 

Depts heads told to probe cases 
Embezzlement during Congress rule
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
The Punjab government has instructed heads of various government departments to look into cases of alleged embezzlement during the previous Congress regime.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, Member of Parliament and acting president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said here yesterday whosoever was found responsible for the misappropriation of public money would be dealt with according to law. The Shiromani Akali Dal was not in favour of pursuing a vindictive policy and its aim was to work for the development of the state as people had reposed faith in it by voting it to power, he added.

To a question on officials fleeing to foreign countries, who held plum posts in the previous government, Sukhbir Badal quipped he did not know why they were doing so as the state government headed by Parkash Singh Badal had not launched any action against them. They must be involved in some irregularities during the past five-year rule of the Congress government in the state, he said.

On the coordination between the SAD and its partner the BJP he said both had understanding and had resolved to solve problems of the common man reeling from price rise of essential commodities. He said the SAD-BJP government had started working to fulfil promises made to people.

On the filling of vacancies in various government departments, including Health and Education, the MP said the Chief Minister had also issued necessary directions to various departments for providing information on the vacancies so that these could be filled.

Sukhbir Badal was here to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple after being appointed acting chief of the SAD. Though the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had erected a special stage to honour him, he skipped the function saying he had come to Harmandar Sahib as an ordinary Sikh.

 

SGPC calls emergency meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
Agitated over the move of the Haryana government to constitute a separate gurdwara committee, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Avtar Singh Makkar has decided to call an emergency meeting of its executive body to discuss the next course of action.

The SGPC chief described the move as 'direct interference' of the Haryana government in internal matters of the Sikh Panth. He said the SGPC was formed under the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, passed by Parliament. He said after deciding the matter in the proposed executive committee meeting, a resolution would be passed in the general budget session, proposed to be held on March 30 at Teja Singh Samundari Hall here.

He warned that the SGPC would also move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the “arbitrary and unjust” move of the Haryana government. Coming down heavily on the Congress government, the SGPC chief said the party had lost the election in Punjab due to 'unwanted interference' in the internal affairs of the Sikhs and it would meet the same fate in Haryana too. He said it was a matter of surprise that the party which considered itself to be secular had promised Sikh voters of Haryana a separate gurdwara committee in its election manifesto.

The SGPC chief said he had already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to direct Haryana to desist from forming a separate committee. He said he had personally met Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Harmohinder Singh Chatha, a minister of Haryana in this regard.

Giving a historical background of the SGPC, Avtar Singh said Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, clearly provided that the SGPC constituted under the provisions of part III of the Punjab Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925 shall be an inter-state body corporate and only the union government could issue directions or enact a law in this regard. He said the provisions of this Act were mandatory and binding on successor states i.e. Punjab, Haryana and Himchal Pradesh.

The Nehru - Tara Singh pact of 1959 also mentioned that only the government of India was entitled to make any amendment in the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925.

To a question, Avtar Singh said that reports about change of guard in the SGPC were “incorrect, baseless and a figment of imagination.”

 

Curbing drug trade first priority: Aulakh 
Tribune News Service

N.P.S. Aulakh
N.P.S. Aulakh 

Chandigarh, March 15
Curbing the availability of narcotics in Punjab will be the first priority, said director-general of Punjab police N.P.S. Aulakh after taking charge here today. In a chat with mediapersons after joining duty, Aulakh said narcotics was ruining the youth of the state. The easy availability of drugs had to be curbed. When told that reports had been received that Punjab had become the hub of the drug trade, Aulakh said: “ We will curb it”. Since he has worked in the Border Security Force as special DG, he is well aware of suspected cross-border drug trade routes.

He gave an assurance that he would strictly adhere to the rules regarding the prevention and detection of crime and general police administration .

A 1972-batch IPS officer, Aulakh replaces R.S.Gill, who has been posted as DGP-cum-director, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur.

In a brief ceremony held at the Punjab police headquarters here, outgoing DGP R.S Gill handed over charge to the new incumbent. Other senior police officers were also present.

Aulakh also presided over a high-level meeting to discuss the law and order situation in the state.

 

Left parties deplore police ‘savagery’ at Nandigram 
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 15
The CPM-led West Bengal government is under fire from four major Left parties of Punjab for the incident of police firing at Nandigram. Expressing their anguish over the police ‘savagery’ at Nandigram, these parties have decided to oppose the anti-people policies “being implemented in the Centre, in West Bengal and other states.” As many as 15 innocent persons have fallen prey to the police bullets and dozens others got injured at Nandigram.

“This brutal incident goes to prove without doubt that the Left front government in West Bengal is bent upon implementing the dictates of the forces advocating the imperialist globalization and is resorting to high handedness and other oppressive steps to uproot poor peasants from their only means of subsistence under the garb of acquiring lands for industrialization. It shows that CPM leaders are not only using the police for this heinous crime but, as per press reports have also brazenly hired anti-social elements for forcibly evacuating people from their homes and hearths,” said leaders of the four Communist parties, including secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPM Mangat Ram Pasla, CPI (ML) secretary Rajwinder Singh Rana, president of the All India Forward Block, Punjab, V.P. Saini, and RSP secretary Avtaar Singh Janjua.

Going a step further these leaders said," Since the installation of the Buddhadeb as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the state government has totally gone astray and is acting as a willing tool in the hands of Indian monopolists and their foreign collaborators. It had perpetrated police repression first at Singur and now in Nandigram simply to acquire even the meager holdings of poor peasants.

Paradoxically, the CPM is opposing such coercive measures in other states, but, is resorting to the same in West Bengal and is also supporting the UPA government, the initiator of the anti-peasant SEZ phenomenon. This exposes the double standard of the party derailed from its ideology of the working class. We appeal to people, particularly, working class to see through this treacherous conduct and to determinedly oppose these policies at all levels."

 

Accused tehsildar sacked after 14 yrs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Justice finally has caught up with tehsildar Hansa Singh, who was dismissed from services by the government recently. He was found guilty of conniving with a person who sold off 96 bighas (20.2 acres) of forest land in Bharatgarh village of Chamkaur Sahib tehsil, in 1993, when he was posted as a naib-tehsildar there.

The matter came to notice in 1995 after which the Vigilance Department registered a case against him. However, the government ordered a departmental inquiry in July 2004, after 11 years. By that time he had been promoted tehsildar.

The inquiry was headed by a retired IAS officer. The inquiry found him guilty holding that he had knowingly let the land to be sold off thus causing loss to the state. He had kept not only his seniors in the dark, but also had misled them making out as if he had done it at the behest of his seniors.

The inquiry found he had misled the Deputy Commissioner seeking his guidance on the matter, but without letting him know that the land belonged to the Forest Department. The DC, who obviously did not know about the exact nature of the case, had in a routine ordered to act according to the rules. This, the inquiry found, was done deliberately by him to make out that he had DC’s orders for effecting the registration and mutation.

Meanwhile, he had pleaded the department could not hold a separate inquiry when the vigilance was already inquiring about his case. His plea was rejected and the inquiry report was accepted.

A case for the termination of his services was submitted to the Punjab Public Service Commission which ordered his dismissal. 

 

House maid alleges police harassment
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
A case of alleged physical and mental harassment of a poor woman by the local Civil Lines police has come to light. This case has come only within a week of the statement issued by Chief Minister Punjab Parkash Singh Badal in which he had clearly announced that no woman would be brought to police station for investigation.

However, the SHO Jagjit singh Walia while clarifying the incident has rebutted the charges of harassment said that the police had simply called the woman to the police station regarding a complaint submitted by Navdeep Singh of Green Avenue on March 12.

The SHO said that Navdeep Sigh in his complaint had alleged that the woman, Joginder Kaur, a resident of Kale Pind had alleged stolen Rs 15,000 from his house.

Rebutting the charges of theft, Joginder Kaur said that she was working as a domestic help in the house of Navdeep Singh for the past several years. She alleged that women of the house allegedly indulged in gambling and had lost Rs 15,000 and to save themselves from their husbands,they had put the blame on her.

Joginder Kaur while talking to the media alleged that she was called to the police station yesterday and was given electric shocks and other third degree torture. She said her son, Sunny, who is studying in seventh class was also picked up by the police, who asked her to admit the crime. She alleged that she was again called to the police station this morning for interrogation.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents of Kale Pind gheraoed the police station and raised slogans against the SHO for harassing and torturing the woman.

Jagtar Singh Karampura and Amarjit Singh Asal, district secretaries of the CPM (Punjab) and CPI, respectively, while deploring the incident demanded that the SHO should be suspended immediately.

 

DC’s intervention settles toll row for time being
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 15
With the intervention of Mr D.K.Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, here the dispute between the transporters of build, operate transfer (BOT) roads, the Balachaur-Dasuya and the Hoshiarpur-Tanda and owners of toll plazas for charging of prescribed toll for passing toll plaza on every trip, has been solved for the time being.

Mr Tiwari convened a joint meeting of both parties, following the blockade of traffic and dharna by truck operators and activists of the Sanatan Mahavir Dal and the Rashtriya Vikas Party at Lachowal toll-plaza, last evening, which lasted two hours.

After negotiations, the authorities of toll-plazas have allowed the transporters who ply their vehicles daily on these BOT roads, to pay one-time toll at each toll plaza for 24 hours up to March 31, 2007 to avoid confrontation.

Both parties have submitted representations to the Deputy Commissioner in this connection for deciding the issue.

Mr Tiwari said he had sent the representations to the Secretary, PWD (B&R), Punjab, for the settlement of the dispute for ever. He said the owners of the toll-plazas had strengthened and widened the above said roads on a BOT basis under Article 5.1 (a) of the Concession Agreement read with Section 40 of the Punjab Infrastructure (Development & Regulation) Act, 2002, for which they had made an agreement for 17 years with the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board. All toll-plazas came under the purview of the Secretary of the PWD (B&R) who was the final authority to settle such disputes.

Meanwhile, Mr Sanjiv Walia, Chairman, Punjab Anti-corruption Board of India, Mr Bharat Bhushan Verma, president, Rashtriya vikas Party and Mr Vikram Kumar, President, Aditya Vahini Punjab, sent representations to the Chief Minister, Punjab, through the Deputy Commissioner today, in which they demanded that toll plazas. be removed. 

 

PSEB to buy power from Kerala plant
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
To tide over the acute power shortage in the state in summer, the PSEB is planning to buy power from the Kerala-based National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant. The board is planning to buy about 150 MW of power from the plant at a cost of about Rs 7.25 per unit that includes Rs 6.80 per unit as generation cost and the rest wheeling charges.

Besides, the board might have to purchase power from private traders, Power Trading Corporation, and from power houses in northern-eastern states.

The board would then have to supply power procured at such high price at subsidised rates to domestic consumers and free for tubewells.

However, even that might not give full reprieve to the board from power shortage. As per PSEB sources, generally there is an 8 per cent increase in load every year. However, over the last one decade, even one unit of power has not been added in the state.

Sources here said that the new Chief Minister had directed the board officials to make arrangements for minimum cuts in the coming summer. The new secretary, power, Suresh Kumar, is going to hold a meeting with all the technical heads of the board to take stock of the power situation.

The Punjab can save a fortune if it completes the Shahpur Kandi project. The state can generate 168 MW extra hydro-power from the project. Besides, it can attain an optimum level of 600 MW generation at the Ranjit Sagar project during peak hours.

 

Takht Hazur Sahib set to get facelift with medicinal plants
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

 D.S. Jaspal
D.S. Jaspal

Chandigarh , March 15
Venue for the tercentenary celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib’s consecration and Guru Gobind Singh’s ‘parlok gaman’, Nanded in Maharastra is all set to get a facelift with medicinal and other plants grown with the advice of a senior Punjab IAS Officer.

For the purpose of receiving “useful tips” from Punjab’s Financial Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary, Information and Public Relations, D.S. Jaspal, the organisers have already invited him over. Approximately three-million pilgrims from across the world are religiously expected to visit Takht Sachkhand, Sri Hazur Sahib Gurdwara, Abchalnagar at Nanded for the celebrations scheduled to be held next year.

Mr Jaspal has given his consent for the project. He has already “cloned” trees associated with the Sikh Gurus in this part of the region and has also been involved in the pictorial documentation of 48 Sikh shrines named after native species of trees in his book “Tryst with Trees - Punjab’s Sacred Heritage”.

Giving details, the sources in the Punjab Government assert Mr Jaspal has been invited by the Takht Hazur Sahib Trust for advising it on landscaping and beautifying the environs of the gurdwara.

In a communication to Mr Jaspal, Maharashtra’s Director-General of Police-cum-Chairman of the Gurdwara’s Administrative Committee Dr Parvinder Singh Pasricha has asserted: “I understand you have developed clones of Dukh Bhanjani Beri and are making clones of other trees associated with the Sikh Gurus…. We would also need some useful tips on landscaping and enhancing the greenery in the city”.

He has further asked Mr Jaspal to advice them on raising medicinal plants around the gurdwaras in the city and has requested him to visit Mumbai along with Hoshiarpur’s Conservator of Forests Harsh Kumar “as he has taken good lead under his dynamic leadership”.

The DGP has added that the trust has also undertaken projects from improving the infrastructure and its connectivity with other “major cities”. The gurdwara complex has been re-developed. Besides this, the Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan and a museum have been constructed.

Elaborating on the importance of the city in Sikhism, the sources assert Nanded is one of the four “high seats of authority of the Sikhs”. Tenth and the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, had held his court and congregation in the city now included in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

He had left for heavenly abode at Nanded and his ashes were buried in the gurdwara on the side of the river Godavari . The Sikh mythology says the Guru rose to heaven from Nanded, along with his horse Dilbag.

The prime-time celebrations will begin with Takht Snan or holy bath on October 24 next year. Diwali will be held the next day followed by a procession on October 26. The Gurta-Gaddi or inception of Guru Granth Sahib will be celebrated on October 27 followed by ‘parlok gaman’ on October 30 next year.

 

Bridge over Chaki in a month
Tribune News Service

Mirthal (Pathankot), March 15
After The Tribune highlighted grievances of residents of over 60 villages that had been cut off from the district headquarters following washing away of a pantoon bridge on Chaki rivulet near here, the local administration today swung into action.

The local administration with the assistance of the PWD today started work for its reconstruction.

Sources in the department disclosed that Gurdaspur deputy commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh directed the Pathankot sub-divisional magistrate Surinder Mohan Sharma and the executive engineer, construction wing of the PWD, R.S. Bains to visit the site personally. He also sought a report on the loss in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune, Bains claimed that flood had caused partial damage to the pantoon bridge. More than 100 wooden sleepers had been recovered from downstream while the rest would be located after the water level recedes.

He said the pantoon bridge would be reconstructed in a month. Meanwhile, the administration has introduced boats for ferrying locals from Mirthal-Abadgarh to Jandi-Meerpur village in Dina Nagar area free of cost.

 

National conference at SLIET today
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 15
A two-day national conference on "Design, dynamics and manufacturing" will be organised on March 16 and 17 at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal.

Assistant professor and convener of publicity for the conference Dr H.K. Sharma said today that a large number of eminent personalities from reputed organisations of the country, besides delegates from abroad, would take part in the conference. The changing technologies, materials' processing methods, production techniques and management practices would also be explored at the conference.

Researchers and delegates from different parts of the country will present about 100 research papers at the conference.

 

Pet project of Amarinder in jeopardy
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
The heritage hotel of former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh is in jeopardy. The project, located in Baradari, the green area in the heart of the city, is facing public acrimony.

Recently, the private company that had taken about 4.32 acre of prime land worth crores from the previous government for construction of the hotel, had barricaded the area. This had stopped traffic on the Sheranwala gate to the Leela Bhavan crossing road.

Daily morning walkers, who faced difficulties, and political parties protested against the stoppage of passage. The BJP had demanded the ongoing construction in the area be immediately stopped and the road be widened again.

However, today morning, the passage was opened for the general public and all the barricades were removed. Sources available here told that the barricades were removed on the directions of higher functionaries of the government.

BJP district president Anil Bajaj, in a press note, said the state government has done a commendable job by opening the Baradari Garden roads to the public.

Many social and cultural organisations of Patiala had petitioned the new chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal, against barricading of the Baradari area, following which, verbal orders were issued.

When asked about the status for the heritage hotel, deputy commissioner Patiala D.S. Grewal said anything about it could only be said by the government.

The commissioner, Patiala, has already issued a notice to the company constructing the hotel against any construction activity till detailed plans were submitted to the local bodies.

Minister for cooperation Capt Kanwaljit Singh had also stated that the government would review the project.

Convener of the Culture and Heritage Conservation Society of Patiala Manjit Singh Randhawa, while talking to The Tribune, said they appraised the chief minister about the case. He assured all help in protecting the heritage building and archaeological record that has been displaced from the Rajindra Kothi where the hotel is being planned.

Many other social organisations of the area also welcomed the decision. However, all officials remained tight-lipped about the development.

Legal experts are of the view that the land was allotted to the company for a heritage hotel project by a cabinet decision of the previous government and the present government cannot revoke the agreement. It can, however, just revoke changes made by the executive in the original plan.

 

Dang seeks health insurance for ragpickers
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
Former MLA Satyapal Dang today urged the municipal corporation to issue free identity cards to ragpickers working within the municipal limits of Amritsar besides introducing a health insurance scheme, for which the entire premium should be paid by the corporation.

In a letter to additional commissioner, municipal corporation, Kirpal Singh, Dang said since the ragpickers were living in poverty, the matter should be treated as urgent.

He quoted the thesis of Kiran Sidhu of Guru Nanak Dev University and Rabinderjot Dhillon of Khalsa College, Amritsar, which have thrown light on the condition of ragpickers in the city.

 

Demands of arhtiyas accepted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Accepting the main demand of the Federation of Arhtiya Associations, Punjab, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced to issue licences to kutcha arhtiyas by market committees on a permanent basis, doing away with the practice of renewal after every three years.

Presiding over a meeting of the federation at Kisan Bhavan here, Badal thanked the federation and the rice millers’ association for their unstinted support to the SAD-BJP alliance during the recent assembly elections. Badal said his government was alive to the problems of the arhtiyas and promised to address these on priority.

 

Seminar on female foeticide

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 15
Society for the Development of Poor and Needy People, in collaboration with Nehru Yuma Kendra, organised a seminar on female foeticide at village Khera in the district. Sant Baba Ajit Singh Ji Hansali wale was the chief guest, while P.H. Vaishnav, former chief secretary of Punjab and chairman SOSVA presided over the function.

Vaishnav appreciated the efforts of the society in creating awareness of this social menace. Mamta, president of the organisation, said her organisation has initiated various social welfare programs. — OC

 

Sangat darshan revived

Chandigarh, March 15
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced the revival of the sangat darshan programme in the state.
The move is part of the government’s plan to get first-hand information about the problems faced by the common man and their on- the-spot redress. Badal will hold a programme in the Lambi constituency on March 17 and 18. TNS

 

Missing boy returns

Amritsar, March 15
Karan Gupta, son of a local trader who had been missing since March 13 returned home today evening. Earlier, the family suspected that a former migrant servant of the house had kidnapped him.
According to the police authorities, Karan had gone to Delhi after borrowing money from his friends. — OC

 

Daler case: Next hearing on April 2
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
The hearing of a case, involving singer Daler Mehndi, in the additional district and sessions court, Patiala, has been adjourned till April 2.
Yesterday, the judicial magistrate summoned Daler for framing of charges against him. The singer, however, filed a revision petition against the summoning in the court.

Daler’s council is contending that his summoning should be quashed. The Patiala police that booked the singer, had twice filed discharge applications seeking removal of charges against him.

Though the police filed discharge applications, the judge took cognisance of an application by a complainant in the case and ordered his summoning for the framing of charges.

The council, citing Supreme Court authorities, said till additional evidence comes up, the singer cannot be summoned.

The arguments on the case could not be completed today and the hearing was adjourned till April 2.

I am not Punjabi: Daler

Though he might be the heartthrob of Punjab youth, yet famous pop singer Daler Mehndi does not consider himself a Punjabi. While talking to The Tribune here today, he said, “I am not a Punjabi at all. I am a Bihari as I belong to Patna.”

“My connection with Punjab is the language. I had never even visited Punjab earlier. It was only due to the case filed against me by the Punjab police that I was forced to visit the state,” the singer added.

 

DC assumes charge

Muktsar, March 15
The Punjab government has appointed Vikas Garg as new Deputy Commissioner of Muktsar today. After taking over his charge, Mr Garg held a meeting of senior district officers. — TNS

 
 

NRI couple robbed

Bathinda, March 15
Two unidentified youths snatched bag of an NRI couple today at Ajit road locality, which contained Canadian dollars, Indian currency, passports and bank credit cards.
Baljit Brar, a Canadian based NRI said she was travelling with her husband when suddenly two scooter borne youths pounced upon them and snatched their bag. Despite the fact that cops reached the spot after the couple informed the police control room. TNS

 

GND varsity to give thrust to research
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
To promote research and quality higher education, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) has earmarked 44 per cent of its Budget of Rs 107.19 crore for the improvement of infrastructure of teaching, allied teaching and research departments. The university has created research development fund for this purpose and Rs 3 crore had been transferred to this fund from the reserve fund of the university.

A decision was taken unanimously by the university Senate meeting here today. The House approved the Budget estimates for 2007-08 showing a deficit of Rs 1288.52 lakh. Additional provision of Rs 5 crore has been made for research to provide financial assistance to the various departments and teachers for undertaking quality research work.

To further improve the infrastructure of departments, library books, faculty development etc., a provision of Rs 1.50 crore has also been made in the budget estimates for 2007-08.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh told members there would be committed expenditure of Rs 107.19 crore. Total revenue receipts of the University and Maintenance Grant from the Punjab government would be Rs 7102.17 lakh. After taking into account plus balance of Rs 2328.39 lakh, there would be a deficit of Rs 1288.52 lakh.

The VC said the university would spend 43.63 per cent of budget on teaching allied teaching, research and improvement of education; 22.74 per cent miscellaneous departments and health services; 13.22 per cent on general administration; 4.83 per cent on conduct of examinations; 3.73 per cent on the construction of buildings and 11.85 per cent on the payment of dearness allowance etc. He said Rs 5 lakh had been provided for scholarship, books, study material for disabled and other poor students.

The VC told the House that 55 research projects were under way for which financial assistance of Rs 6.68 crore plus US $ 13000 was provided by AICTE, DAE, DRDO, ICAR, ICSSR, INSA, the Ministry of Environment and Forest, UGC, CSIR, DBT, DST, ICMR, IIT, Inter University Consortium, NSC and National Botanical Research Institute. In addition, proposals for research projects had already been sent to the UGC and other funding agencies.

The Vice-Chancellor said 19 research schemes undertaken by the various departments of the University would continue for which Rs 5.40 crore had been earmarked. A special budget provision of Rs 2 crore had been made in Financial Year of 2007-08 for networking of the teaching departments branches of the university and to provide Internet facility with each computer.

To encourage maximum participation of faculty members in national and international conferences, seminars and workshops, an additional budget provision of Rs 10 lakh had been made in addition to the grant to be provided by the UGC. He said Under Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship Scheme for SC candidates, the UGC had sanctioned Rs 27 lakh to 15 candidates of the university.

He informed members that the UGC had approved the continuation of the centre with Potential for Excellence in Sports Sciences at the University for one year up to March 31, 2008 with grant of Rs 6.30 crore. He said that the Sikh Human Development Foundation, USA had sanctioned 35 scholarships with a maximum amount of Rs 18,000/- per student for the students studying in the professional courses in the departments of the university and its affiliated colleges.

 

Polytechnics’ youth festival starts
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 15
The annual youth festival of government polytechnics of Punjab and Chandigarh commenced at Government Polytechnic here today. More than 40 colleges across Punjab and Chandigarh are taking part in the three-day meet which was inaugurated by Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari.

The inaugural function was attended by principals of almost all polytechnics of Punjab and Chandigarh.

In the cultural events held on the first day, Kuldeep Singh of GP, Bathinda, stood first followed by Inderjeet Singh and Jagpreet Singh of GP, Khoon Majra, and GP, Amritsar, respectively. 



 


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