Output likely to cross 145 lakh tonnes
K S Chawla
Ludhiana, April 1
The wheat production in Punjab is expected to cross 145 lakh tonnes this year despite the loss caused by the untimely rains and hailstorm. Nearly 1600 purchase centres have been set up in the state for the purpose.
The Union government has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat at Rs. 750 per quintal with additional bonus of Rs 100 per quintal. The farmers will not get less than Rs. 850 per quintal, according to officials of Punjab Food Supplies Department.
The department officials are hoping that the marketable surplus this year would be to the tune of 95 lakh tonnes. The official agencies hope to procure about 90 lakh tonnes of wheat.
Last year the arrivals in the mandis were to the tune of 81.50 lakh tonnes.
With the grant of bonus of Rs. 100 per quintal, the farmers are not expected to withhold the produce as was reported last year.
The farmers could withhold the produce last year with the alleged connivance of some private traders who made contracts with the farmers while the crop was still in the fields. The wheat prices in the state have been rising during the past few months and those who had kept the wheat stocks with them could get better price for the same. The present wheat price is quoted at Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1150 per quintal in the mandis.
The officials of the State Food Supplies Department are confident that the prices of wheat will not witness rise till the lean period which starts from December to March.
The traders are also likely to make purchase of wheat from the market this year too. The traders had purchased as many as 11.50 lakh tonnes of wheat last year.
Meanwhile, the officials of the State Food Supplies Department have denied the reports that the corporates will not be allowed to purchase wheat from mandis of Punjab. They explain that there is no such ban on the purchase by companies. The Union Government has simply asked them to disclose the stocks of wheat with them up. Nor is there any ban on the movement of wheat from one state to another.
The Centre has asked the state governments if they want to impose any restrictions on the purchase or movement of wheat they can do so to keep the prices under check.
However, the Punjab Government has not put any such restrictions, according to official sources. The major foodgrains players of the corporate sector are Reliance, Adani, ITC and Cargil.
The Tribune has learnt that these companies make direct contracts with the farmers while the crop is in the fields. They also allegedly indulge in evasion of market fee and other state taxes. Besides these corporate companies, the official agencies involved in the procurement of wheat are FCI, PUNSUP, MARKFED, PUNGRAIN, Punjab Warehousing Corporation and Punjab Agro.
Manpreet clarifies on Rs 100-cr package
Chandigarh, April 1
He said while speaking at the annual sports award function of Panjab University yesterday, he had said “these institutes need money and we will make provisions for them”.
He was reacting to a news item, “Rs 300 cr for 2 varsities, medical college”, appearing in these columns today. Educational institutes top the priority of the government, but to say that a specific allocation had been made, was wrong, he said, adding the process of fund allocation had not even been discussed so far.
Police recruitments: Mandatory training given go-by
Chandigarh, April 1
While Police Rules say it is mandatory for every new recruit to undergo nine-month training before he or she is allotted regular duties, the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India makes startling revelations.
Not only this, the report also indicts the Punjab Police for serious irregularities, including unauthorised diversion of the staff, continuing police posts without sanction and non-recovery of pension contributions and leave salary contributions.
The report says there are 133 constables in Muktsar, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, and Majitha, Ropar police districts, the 9th and 27th battalions of the Punjab Armed Police, the 4th and 5th India Reserve battalions and in the office of the Superintendent of Police ( Telecommunication), who joined the force between March,1993, and May, 2006, have still not undergone mandatory induction training.
Equally startling is that even those working in the commando battalions have not undergone special training. The CAG report says 13 commandos who joined the 4th battalion of commandos between August, 2000, and January, 2005, were without special training.
Another important point made in the report is that contrary to instructions, services of 48 police officers working in the offices of the SSP of Muktsar,Ropar and Batala; the Commandant of the 13th Punjab Armed Police Battalion,the Additional Director-General of Police (Jalandhar),the General Reserve Police (Patiala), and the Punjab Police Academy (Phillaur) were utilised in offices other than their places of posting, but they drew their salaries from their parent offices.These violations were noticed in a special test check of records of some offices between July, 1999, and March, 2006.The Finance Department has put a complete ban on deputing of officials at any place other than where the sanctioned post exists.
While the Police Rules prohibit any alteration in the number of police stations and outposts without the sanction of the government, the Muktsar police had seven police posts (Panniwala, Kabarwala, Bhai Ka Kera, Doda, Bus Stand,Muktsar, Lakhewali and Killianwalli) and one police station (Bariwala) operational between 2001-02 and 2005 without any prior sanction.
Coming to another test-check, the CAG report says that a contribution of Rs 26.81 lakh on account of pension and leave salary in respect of police personnel- seven to 23 -who were on foreign service or deputation with the Municipal Corporation were not recovered.
Another starling revelation is the failure of the Punjab Police to recover dues from the states to which its reserve battalions were sent. Test checks revealed that 3118 personnel were sent to different states between 2002 and 2005. Of the total claims of Rs 5.48 crore, claims of only Rs 85 lakh were raised and only Rs 63 lakh were recovered.
No claims were raised against Bihar (Rs 2.34 cr),Uttar Pradesh (Rs 16 lakh), Chhattisgarh ( Rs 45 lakh) and Chandigarh ( Rs1.68 crore).
Besides, an amount of Rs 1.92 crore was pending recovery from Senior Aerodrome Officer, Sahnewal, for the deployment of 122 police personnel for duty at the aerodrome.
VC, govt at loggerheads over appointments
Patiala, April 1
The government representatives included secretary, higher education, Narinderjit Singh, director, languages, DPI colleges, and principals of government colleges. The secretary of education said all agenda items regarding the budget of the university were passed unanimously. The agenda regarding the appointments was initially kept pending. “We were of the view the agenda was quiet exhaustive and needed to be studied,” he said.
However, at the end of meeting the university authorities once again tried to take up the agenda regarding the appointments. “We decided against taking up the matter and left the meeting,” he said.
Spokesperson of the university BS Sandhu admitted the government representatives had left the meeting. They had some reservations regarding the appointments made in the university. When they left the syndicate meeting, the agenda was passed with majority vote.
Vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai was not available for comments.
Meanwhile, protesters demanding the ouster of the vice-chancellor continued agitation even yesterday. They gathered near the meeting venue of the syndicate and raised slogans against the vice-chancellor.
The protesters have been alleging that large-scale political appointments were made by the vice-chancellor recently in violation of the rules. On the complaints of the protesters the government had decided to defer the agenda regarding the appointments.
SAD leaders have been participating in the agitations demanding the removal of the vice-chancellor.
Probe into high-rise buildings likely
Amritsar, April 1
NGOs and city planners have said that the sky-rise buildings would result in traffic chaos in the vicinity of Golden Temple, The Mall, Ranjit Avenue and Lawrence road in the coming days.
The new government is contemplating to order a high-level probe into the change of land use in alleged connivance of Municipal Corporation and Improvement Trust.
A number of residents of Kabir Park, opposite Guru Nanak Dev University, have approached the local district administration against the violation of the recently constructed six-storey building. The building, which originally belonged to Gurvinder Singh Mammanke, Chairman Improvement Trust, Tarn Taran, was later raised to six-storey.
Mammanke claimed that the building’s height was raised from when his wife transferred it to some other person.
A senior government official pointed out that under the Commercial Shopping Complex scheme in posh colony, the owner of a plot (366 sq yards) is allowed to raise the buildings up to 50 ft, while many of the builders have raised the buildings up to seven stories.
Surprisingly, the Local Bodies Department has written a letter to the government to raise the height of the building from 50 ft to 65 ft but without inviting any objections from the residents of the area. So much so that the provision of underground parking had been used for commercial activity, while the vehicles were parked outside the buildings.
According to official norms, a building with less than 500 sq yards plot is required to go up to the height of 37.5 ft with the provision of water tank and other provisions.
The SGPC has also raised objections to the construction. The building has made this area more congested, which will affect the free flow of thousands of visitors who come here daily. It will cause harassment to the visitors.
More HIV infected at Ludhiana, Amritsar
Chandigarh, April 1
According to the results of the latest mapping of HIV prevalence in various Indian states by NACO, 20 states have shown high-prevalence areas, a sign that the epidemic is more widespread than was previously thought. NACO has disclosed that as many as 163 districts in 20 Indian states have high prevalence, belying earlier beliefs that the real threat from HIV was in some southern states and parts of the northeast.
In order to reach a sizable number of HIV positive, NACO has increased its Art centres to 120 from 56 during the second phase. During this phase of NACO’s tirade against HIV, only 56000 people were treated at these centres. NACO’s third phase that starts in April, 2007 will concentrate on curbing the epidemic and aim at providing a comfort to the HIV positive.
Studies on HIV patients in the west suggest that a HIV-positive person typically contracts full-blown AIDS in 5-10 years. NACO proposes to spend about Rs 8000 annually on each of the patient selected for free treatment.
The third phase of NACO which will be spread over the next five years till 2012 proposes to streamline the blood transfusion system across the country with special emphasis on checking unauthorised blood banks.
According to NACO, in the high prevalence areas in northern India include New Delhi and Chandigarh. In Punjab, Ludhiana and Amritsar districts have shown high prevalence of HIV population, while in Haryana it is concentrated in Jhajjar. Rajasthan’s Jhalawar and Ganganagar also fall in the “A” category.
Incidentally, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have no high-prevalence district, according to statements issued by NACO’s Director General Sujatha Rao.
Resumption of train hailed
Amritsar, April 1 In a statement issued here yesterday, Billa said the train, which had been introduced for the convenience of devotees going to Jammu to pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi temple, was discontinued four months back.The train was started during the tenure of Ram Vilas Paswan as the union railways
minister. A delegation of the AIHSS had met Vinay Kumar Singh, deputy general manager of the Northern Railway in this regard on February 8. The railway authorities had said the coaches of the train were needed for the trains carrying passengers for the Kumbh
Amritsar, April 1
In a statement issued here yesterday, Billa said the train, which had been introduced for the convenience of devotees going to Jammu to pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi temple, was discontinued four months back.The train was started during the tenure of Ram Vilas Paswan as the union railways minister.
A delegation of the AIHSS had met Vinay Kumar Singh, deputy general manager of the Northern Railway in this regard on February 8. The railway authorities had said the coaches of the train were needed for the trains carrying passengers for the Kumbh mela.
Breakfast at Chandigarh, lunch in Jalandhar, dinner in Lahore, literally
Ludhiana April 1
Talking to The Tribune, during their brief stay on the outskirts of the city today, the rallyists said they were overwhelmed by the response they got from the people of the countries they had visited so far. The rally which started from Dhaka, on March 15 has already passed through Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and India.
"Wherever we went we got warm welcome”, remarked Lt Col Kulbir Singh Chauhan, leader of the Indian team. He said, in Lahore and Islamabad which they touched, people seemed to be more forthcoming. "For a while we thought we were in our own country and in our own land with same language, same culture, same ambience and same kind of people", he said.
Similar experiences were shared by rallyists from other countries like Tony and Priya Dias, a Bangla Deshi couple. They said, they had found people in Pakistan and India very warm and affable. "It was too difficult to say bye to them and I wished we could make our stay longer", remarked Priya while speaking about people with whom they interacted at Lahore and Amritsar.
"I tell you frankly, I am still not able to make out whom did I meet and where, because people spoke the same language and wore similar dresses", she admitted about her confusion in differentiating between people from Lahore and Amritsar. But, she added, still there is the border guarded round the clock dividing people.
There are about 100 participants in 27 vehicles participating in the rally. Members from Afghanistan, which joins SAARC tomorrow, will be joining the rally in Delhi on April 3. From there it will proceed to Mumbai for onward journey to Sri Lanka. From there the rally will move to the island nation of Maldives and they will conclude their rally on April 14 in Male with a message of peace, harmony, progress and trade.
Birth affidavit preparation drive
Sangrur, April 1 More than 150 birth affidavits of non-school going children of illiterate and poor people of the society were prepared on the first day. Later the same were handed over to the parents of the
children. President of the club Rakesh Aggarwal said many children could not get admission in the primary schools as their poor and illiterate parents did not have their birth certificates as due to poverty they preferred to give birth to their children at home and the untrained midwives did not send information about the birth of the child to the Registrar, Birth and death.
Sangrur, April 1
More than 150 birth affidavits of non-school going children of illiterate and poor people of the society were prepared on the first day. Later the same were handed over to the parents of the children.
President of the club Rakesh Aggarwal said many children could not get admission in the primary schools as their poor and illiterate parents did not have their birth certificates as due to poverty they preferred to give birth to their children at home and the untrained midwives did not send information about the birth of the child to the Registrar, Birth and death.
Gadar Party veteran turns 101
Bilga (Jalandhar), April
Though wizened, the verve in his voice still rings conviction. He will turn 101 on Monday. The namesake of Bhagat Singh was born in the same year as the martyr.
When a The Tribune team today visited his house at Bilga village, near Nurmahal, he was recuperating from stomach infection. His eldest son, Kulbir Singh, who is settled in the UK, was taking care of the grand old man. He said in the past four days his condition was critical, but today there was some improvement.
As one listens to his talk, one can watch emotions quickly changing on his wrinkled face.
"I have seen many ups and downs in my life, but I still get excited about my birthdays. This is a special day for me at this age also," says the centenarian.
He elaborated on his fight against the Britons, the ordeal he faced and now the disillusionment with the present set-up.
"Corruption has become a way of life, nay, a philosophy of life and the evil is not confined to bribery but it encompasses nepotism and selling one's conscience for achieving personal benefits. The freedom fighters and revolutionaries had never thought that politicians would practise money-oriented politics and official misconduct.
The youth should take the lead in protecting the glory of the motherland. To ignite the felling of altruism and devotion, the younger generation should be taught patriotism," he opined.
Baba Bilga had migrated to Argentina for greener pastures. It was Baba Ratan Singh, a leader of the Gadar Party, Baba Teja Singh Swatantar and Ajit Singh, an uncle of Bhagat Singh, who recognised his inner fire. Thus Baba Bilga had the honour of becoming the active member for raising a banner of revolt against the Union Jack in Argentina.
Later, he went to Moscow to complete his graduation. From there, he returned to India in 1934 to propagate party activities. He was the editor of Lal Dhindora, a newspaper brought out by revolutionaries.
He was imprisoned several times and lodged in different jails.
After Independence, he spent most of his time at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, Jalandhar, for keeping alive the contribution of the Gadarites during Independence. At present, he is the president of the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Society.
Sangrur MC passes budget
Sangrur, April 1 During 2007-08, the MC will earn Rs 4.72 crore through VAT in lieu of octroi, Rs 4 crore through the sale of properties, Rs 1.25 crore through different sources, Rs 80 lakh from excise duty, Rs 66 lakh from water supply charges, Rs 31 lakh from house tax collection, Rs 20 lakh from rent teh bazari and Rs 11 lakh as sewerage charges. On the expenditure front,the MC will spend Rs 7.94 crore on the development of the town and payment of bills under various heads, Rs 3.80 crore on establishment expenses.
BJP municipal councillor Jatinder Kalra tabled a proposal to earmark Rs 12 lakh in the budget for the
Sangrur, April 1
During 2007-08, the MC will earn Rs 4.72 crore through VAT in lieu of octroi, Rs 4 crore through the sale of properties, Rs 1.25 crore through different sources, Rs 80 lakh from excise duty, Rs 66 lakh from water supply charges, Rs 31 lakh from house tax collection, Rs 20 lakh from rent teh bazari and Rs 11 lakh as sewerage charges. On the expenditure front,the MC will spend Rs 7.94 crore on the development of the town and payment of bills under various heads, Rs 3.80 crore on establishment expenses.
BJP municipal councillor Jatinder Kalra tabled a proposal to earmark Rs 12 lakh in the budget for the
SGPC chief 'denigrated' Takht
Amritsar, April 1 Dr Pritpal Singh alleged that the SGPC chief, Avtar Singh, had 'denigrated' the institution of Akal Takht by bringing the resolution in the general house without consulting Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht or 11-member committee, constituted by Sikh clergy on Nanakshahi
calendar. SGPC chief Avtar Singh had sought the approval of the general house to change the date of martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur that clashed with the Gurpurb (birthday) of Guru Nanak Dev on November 24 as per the Nanakshahi
calendar. The new date for the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur has been fixed as December 15, while Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev will remain unchanged, as per the resolution. —
Amritsar, April 1
Dr Pritpal Singh alleged that the SGPC chief, Avtar Singh, had 'denigrated' the institution of Akal Takht by bringing the resolution in the general house without consulting Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht or 11-member committee, constituted by Sikh clergy on Nanakshahi calendar.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh had sought the approval of the general house to change the date of martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur that clashed with the Gurpurb (birthday) of Guru Nanak Dev on November 24 as per the Nanakshahi calendar.
The new date for the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur has been fixed as December 15, while Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev will remain unchanged, as per the resolution. — TNS
Abduction: Case filed after 3 weeks
Tarn Taran, April 1
The police sources said here today that the tantrik has been identified as Sucha Singh, while the other accused are Leefa, his wife, and Shindo his follower.
The father of the abducted girl, a labourer, in his complaint to the police has alleged that the tantrik abducted his 14-year-old daughter when he along his wife had gone to market. The police sources told that the tantrik had been living here for the last about two years back and had been exploiting people.
He told that his daughter often used to go to him for some mental problem.
He tried his best to approach tantrik through his missionaries but failed. At last, he approached the police and a case was registered.
Both the tantrik and the family of the girl were living on rent in the Sangal Basti area in Patti. Police sources said that many female followers used to visit the tantrik, who was popular in the area as he believed to treat mentally challenged persons.
Tarksheel Society, in a statement issued here today, has cautioned people not to be misled by the false claims of tantriks that they can solve their mental problems.
Permission to fell trees violates SC directions
Hoshiarpur, April 1
The SC directions on a petition say, “private forest is forest”. The court also has passed directions that forest workings should be carried out in accordance with the norms approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF). Contrary to a MOEF-approved felling policy of the Punjab forest department, the government has decided to issue permits to farmers for felling trees after March 31.
Punjab forest minister Tikshan Sud had claimed that plans were being prepared for allowing felling to the villagers.
As per the plan of the government, the department has been accepting applications seeking felling of trees till August 31 every year. The divisional forest officer (DFO) of the area concerned grants permission by December 31. In exceptional cases, the DFO can issue permits up to February 28 / 29 provided seekers forward applications till January 31.
Permitting felling of trees after February 28 / 29 will be a violation of the management plan of the department as well as the SC directions. Foresters, however, maintained that the PLPA was the main restriction imposed on the landholders besides a channel for conserving the green cover in the state. According to the latest report of the Forest Survey of India, in spite of huge expenditure by the forest department, the state had lost one third of its cover in the past few years.
Expressing concern over the decline in forest cover,honorary wildlife warden, Hoshiarpur, Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa said, “If we are gradually losing the forest cover then I think amendments in the PLPA will make felling more easy for the common man. Letting villagers cut trees will prove disastrous in future”.
Toll on BOT roads: Sangharsh panel members walkout of DC’s meeting
Hoshiarpur, April 1
Later, on the revelation of the DC that contractors of toll plazas who had widened and strengthened the four-laned Balachaur-Dasuya and Hoshiarpur-Tanda roads on the BOT basis under Article 5.1 (a) of the Concession Agreement read with Section 40 of the Punjab Infrastructure (Development & Regulation) Act 2002, would charge prescribed rates approved by the government on all toll plazas strictly as per 17-year agreement with the government from April 1, 2007, the private bus and truck operators who were hit by these toll-plazas and also participating in the meeting also walked out.
At the meeting the DC told the participants he had constituted a five-member committee headed by the additional deputy commissioner, SP (H), the district transport officer, District Development and Panchayat Officer, the executive engineer, PWD (B&R) will act as the convener.
Later, deputy commissioner D.K. Tiwari told mediamen the said committee would ascertain the facts and figures from the bus, truck, taxi and three-wheeler operators about losses suffered by them following the imposition of toll on these BOT roads.
The DC said in the larger public interest none would be allowed to obstruct roads for disrupting vehicular traffic in the name of agitation.
Contractors had strengthened and widened abovesaid BOT roads in less than a year against prescribed period of two years. Official notification on the installation of toll-plazas was advertised in March 1, 2007, following which transporters including private bus operators started agitation blocking roads and staging dharnas near these toll-plazas. On the intervention of the district administration, contractors on these plazas agreed to charge Rs 60 each per day from private buses and trucks on each plaza up to March 31. The district administration had sent various representations of the truck and bus unions and some NGOs to the secretary PWD B&R, Punjab, for the settlement of this dispute.
Meanwhile, the District Sangharsh Committee at a meeting here this afternoon gave a call for Hoshiarpur bandh on April 6. Bharat Bhushan Verma, a spokesman for the committee, said a CBI probe was also demanded into Rs 46 crore subsidy given by the government for the construction of these BOT roads and felling thousands of trees worth crores on either side of the roads.
He said Hoshiarpur district already was declared backward due to topographic condition and lack of industry. Imposition of toll will further burden poor people of Hoshiarpur district especially farmers of Kandi.
Quack dupes AIDS patients
Patiala, April 1
One such quack, Rachpal Chama, popularly known as “Vaid”(traditional practitioner in Ayurveda), who is practising in the Arya Samaj area of the walled city, was busy attending patients when contacted today. He claimed: “I have treated many AIDS patients. The mixture of herbs I have generated, resurrects the immune system of AIDS patients fully, healing them.At least five acute AIDS patients from Gujarat have been fully cured after taking my medicine. There are a lot of AIDS patients from Patiala who are regularly coming to me for taking medicine for AIDS. Lots of AIDS patients come from the Nabha area and villages near the barrier. I have informed the district health authorities about the prevalence of AIDS patients in those areas”.
“The patients in the initial stage take three to four months for full treatment, while the patients in the last stage take about nine months”, he claimed.
Rachpal charges about Rs 1,500 per week from the AIDS patients taking medicine from him.He said gold and diamond dust is used in preparing these medicines.
The civil surgeon, Patiala, when contacted, declined any knowledge about someone who was selling herbal cures to AIDS patients in the district. “There is no certified cure of AIDS till date. If someone is claiming that AIDS patients are being fully cured and their immune system has been resurrected, he is duping the patients” he said.
The Department of Health would collect samples of medicine being distributed to AIDS patients and send them to appropriate laboratory for test, he said.
The sources said the quack started his business about seven years ago. Reports in certain papers regarding his claims of treating AIDS patients attracted many others.
Rachpal also claims to have cured cancer patients who were rejected as last stage cases by leading hospitals of the country.
He says he gives free medicine for sugar,TB and jaundice patients while money is charged from patients of AIDS, cancer or kidney ailments.When asked the source of his medicine, he said, “I roam about in the hills to collect herbs that are used in my medicines”.
Debt-ridden farmer commits suicide
Bathinda, April 1
Police sources said Jagtar,who was the only son of his family, was found dead near the tubewell motor in his farm by another farmer whose land was located adjacent to the 6-acre land owned by the deceased.
The sources added that Jagtar visited his farm yesterday morning on the pretext of irrigating his field.The deceased consumed some insecticide which was already lying in the tubewell motorshed.
When the family members of the deceased came to know that Jagtar had consumed poison, he was immediately rushed to nearby hospital where he was declared “brought dead”.
Harbans Singh Riar, SHO,Rampura Phul police station,while confirming the suicide committed by Jagtar Singh, said the deceased had pledged his piece of land holding to raise loan from a private person. Apart from it, the deceased was also supposed to make payments of the loan which he had taken from a bank.
He pointed out that family members of the deceased claimed that Jagtar was facing psychological problems after he failed to make arrangements to repay his loan running into lakhs of rupees. He said a case had been registered.
Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on the village of the deceased as he has left behind a young widow, a four-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.
The villagers have demanded that the deceased widow should be given a government job and all loans owned by Jagtar Singh should be waived by the state government.