P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rs 400 crore released for atta-dal scheme
Tribune News Service

Khidkianwala (Muktsar), April 2
The Punjab government has released Rs 400 crore for the department concerned for implementing the atta-dal scheme for the poor, a promise made by the ruling SAD-BJP alliance on the eve of the Assembly elections.

Disclosing this at a function organised here today, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the SAD-BJP government was committed to fulfilling all the pre-poll promises made with the people and hence funds for the same were being arranged.

The ruling SAD-BJP alliance has been facing severe criticism from the Congress and other political outfits for the inordinate delay in implementation of its atta-dal scheme. The SAD-BJP alliance has promised that immediately after the formation of its government in Punjab, the poorer sections of society would get wheat flour at the rate of Rs 4 per kg and pulses at the rate of Rs 20 per kg.

However, implementation of this scheme has been delayed by the Punjab government for reasons best known to the functionaries concerned.

Manpreet Singh Badal pointed out that not only this, the Punjab government had also released Rs 34 crore for making arrangements to eradicate waterlogging, which had gripped various parts of Muktsar district due to apathetic attitude of the previous Congress government during its five-year rule.

He said apart from spending Rs 34 crore, the Punjab government had decided to revive all tubewells installed along the banks of the Sirhind feeder canal so that waterlogging could be tackled by checking seepage from it. He claimed that waterlogging in Muktsar district would be eradicated within three months.

The finance minister pointed out that the Punjab government had also initiated the process of raising a loan to the tune of Rs 1200 crore from the World Bank to make arrangements for providing clean drinking water to the people of the state. He added that new waterworks would be set up apart from carrying out the repair of existing waterworks to make them more efficient.

Referring to the budget, he said the Punjab government would make provision for enough funds to raise the standard of education and health services besides improved power generation to make agriculture more viable and profitable.

While disclosing that the total debt liability of Punjab was around Rs 55,000 crore and the Punjab government had to pay Rs 4000 crore as interest, he said if the tax collection arrangements were revamped, the state could earn Rs 1000 crore to Rs 1500 crore in addition to what it was earning now.

The Punjab finance minister, who visited a number of villages of Gidderbaha subdivision, said this village would be made a model village of Punjab.


Ousted students enter Pbi varsity forcibly
VC alleges non-cooperation by administration
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 2
The tussle between vice-chancellor of Punjabi University Swaran Singh Boparai and his detractors gathered heat today. About a hundred students ousted from the university by the VC in the past few years today forcibly entered the campus raising slogans.

The police, which was called by the university authorities to maintain peace, remained a mute spectator. The students entered the campus raising slogans against the VC and held a meeting to discuss their future strategy.

The vice-chancellor when contacted alleged that the local administration was not acting against the former students who were trying to vitiate the academic atmosphere of the institution. The court had stayed all kinds of protests within 300 metres of the university gate.

The registrar of the university has written to the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP for checking illegal entry into campus. However, the police did not take any action in the matter.

“I have talked to the Chief Secretary on the telephone and apprised him of the situation. He has promised to get back to me within two days,” the VC said.

When asked if he perceived the persistent protests as a government move to pressurize him into submitting his resignation, the VC said: “I have not been given any such indication. However, if the local administration still fails to act against the protestors, I will be forced to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court to maintain peace on the campus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the protesters who are being supported by local SAD leaders, have threatened to continue their agitation till the VC is ousted. They said they would once again block the university gate on April 4 to demand the VC's ouster.

The sour relations between the VC and the present government also became evident during the recent syndicate meeting. All the seven government representatives on the university syndicate walked out of the meeting over the contentious issue of appointments carried out in the recent past.

The protestors have also been alleging that many illegal appointments were made in the university by the present VC by relaxing essential qualifications despite the fact that many eligible candidates were available.

Sources here said the struggle between the VC and the government might end up in court.


BJP SC Morcha for arrest of VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 2
The SC Morcha of the BJP has demanded the immediate arrest and interrogation of the vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, Swaran Singh Boparai, for alleged violation of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.

Balwant Rai, state general secretary of the SC Morcha of the Punjab BJP, alleged that Boparai was humiliating and mentally torturing SC employees of the university and deliberately violating the reservation policy of the government, which came under the ambit of atrocities against SCs and was a non-bailable offence under the Act.

Rai also alleged that the BJP SC Morcha took serious note of anti-Dalit activities of Boparai ever since he took over as the VC of Punjabi University.


Jagjit to join Amarinder in appearing before VB
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Former local bodies minister Jagjit Singh says he will join his leader Amarinder Singh in appearing before the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) in the Ludhiana City Centre case.

Rejecting allegations that he has “disappeared” or gone underground, Jagjit Singh claims he has been under treatment in the union capital and is waiting for Amarinder Singh to return from London.

Jagjit Singh along with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief H.S. Hanspal has been charged with cheating and corruption in the city centre case. So far, only two of 19 persons accused in the case have been arrested.

Jagjit Singh says he informed the VB about his trip to Delhi for personal reasons. “There is no question of my leaving the country. Shortly, I will be back to join the inquiry against me,” he adds.

“As the minister of local bodies, I take full responsibility for my actions. I did nothing wrong to put the state of Punjab to losses. I have done my job as per the rules,” says Jagjit Singh in a written statement sent to The Tribune today.

Saying that he came from a family which had been in politics for a long time, he claimed he was a loyal leader of Congress workers. “I am a public man and cannot run away under any threat of pressure from the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government which has registered a case against me while pursuing political vendetta against the previous Congress government.”

He also accused Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of losing his balance of mind. The family of Badal had been charged with amassing huge wealth disproportionate to its known sources of income and was facing trial in court. Now the family was trying to frame us in false cases to harm our political career, alleged Jagjit Singh.

Like Amarinder Singh, Jagjit Singh is also unlikely to move an application for pre-arrest or anticipatory bail. His lawyers, according to sources, have also advised him not to seek pre-arrest bail. Both Amarinder Singh and Jagjit Singh have been advised against taking transit bail on legal advice that they cannot be arrested from outside Punjab until court directions have been issued to that effect.

The sources indicate that after Amarinder Singh arrives from London, Jagjit Singh will travel with him to Punjab and join the investigations.


Probe Amarinder’s marriage, demands Sukhbir
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 2
"The Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should come clean about Capt Amarinder Singh's alleged marriage with a Pakistani journalist Arusa Alam. An inquiry should be carried out in the matter as it is a very serious issue. In fact, the case should be handed over to some investigative agency and facts should be brought out for the public to see". This was stated by SAD acting president Sukhbir Singh Badal while addressing mediapersons here yesterday.

He further added that the issue was grave as it involved a Chief Minister and secondly because Capt Amarinder Singh is a former defence personnel.

Expressing dismay over the state of agriculture in the state, the SAD working president said the Central Government's "negative policies towards Punjab" were responsible for it. If grant from the Prime Minister Relief Fund could be given for relief of tsunami victims or for flood victims of Maharashtra, why did the Central Government not pay heed to the plight of poor farmers of Punjab, who became a victim of hailstorm, which is also a natural calamity.

He said farmers are the backbone of Punjab's economy and the government will ensure that they are not harassed at grain markets and get their dues in time. On the issue of power generation, Sukhbir said the Congress government had failed to add even a single unit to the power generation capacity of the state during its last tenure.

"Our aim is to make Punjab power surplus within the next three years. This year we will produce minimum 900 MW of power by December. Our target of power generation in the coming three years is 3500 MW. It will be 5000 MW by the end of the next five years", he remarked.

He further said Amarinder's government purchased power but "we will produce it. There are coal mines at Chhattisgarh owned by the state of Punjab, which are lying unutilised. We will make use of these mines in power generation for the state welfare."

Later, Sukhbir attended the death anniversary of former SGPC member Joginder Singh Panjrath at Samana. Senior Akali leaders Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Harinderpal Singh Harry Mann were among others present on the occasion.


BJP leader for CBI probe into sale of property by MC
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 2
Ram Krishan Mittal, state vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (local bodies wing) in a letter to minister for local bodies Manoranjan Kalia has demanded a vigilance inquiry into the sale of immoveable property by the municipal council here and improvement trust in past five years.

Mittal told reporters today morning 23 measurement books (MBs) that reportedly had gone missing from the council spoke of gross misappropriation in development projects. The municipal engineer and his subordinate had confirmed the MBs were not given to them since December last. There were complaints that a drinking water tank raised by the Lions Club Greater outside the Ghantaghar in 1996 was razed to ground last year to facilitate encroachment by a tenant of the council and the action was supervised by a Congress councillor. The council had not passed any resolution for the demolition. The material was neither given to the NGO nor deposited in the council stores.

Raising a significant point Mittal stated in the letter that the clock tower installed at the Ghantaghar by the British regime in 1898 was reportedly removed by the council under pretext of replacing it by an electronic clock. Whereabouts of the clock were no known and no replacement was carried. The council, he said had also dismantled a major portion of the abandoned military hospital to expand the Nehru park but mystery shrouds the material collected following the demolition of boundary wall and other structures. A Congress councillor also personally supervised the demolition, he alleged.

Pointing fingers on the sale of property by the local bodies during last few years here Mittal regretted the improvement trust tried to develop Lala Lajpat Rai Market by removing the oldest government primary school complex but only five shops had been constructed there. The trust had failed to develop the only residential colony behind the Maharana Partap market in Nai Abadi. Ninety- per cent plots had no boundary walls even as the Congress-led government had made a hike in the development and site plan approval fee. This, he said, needed revision. He urged the SAD-BJP government to exempt residential accommodations up to 1500 square feet and educational institutions run by religious and social organisations from water and sewerage charges. The PWSSB and the councils/corporations should be asked to refrain from charging interest or penalty on the unpaid bills, he suggested.


Subdivision status for Lehragaga
Tribune News Service

Leheragaga, April 2
In response to a demand by a senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra, who had unsuccessfully contested the election from the Lehra Assembly constituency recently, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced subdivision status for Lehragaga.

Lehragaga will now be the sixth subdivision of Sangrur district. The new subdivision will reportedly have 42 villages of the Lehragaga sub-tehsil.

Addressing a public rally at the New Grain Market here, the Chief Minister promised to the gathering that formalities to grant subdivision status to Lehragaga would be completed in the first meeting of the Punjab Cabinet. He also announced the setting up of a 50-bedded hospital in Moonak for residents of the Lehra Assembly constituency. He also said the state government would spend between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 40 lakh on improving conditions of the Lehragaga hospital.

Badal also assured people that work on the Ghaggar project would be taken up on a war-footing.He also announced that a provision would be made in the budget for giving Rs 50,000 each to youth clubs. He also said three boards for the welfare of trade and industry, one for traders, second for the heavy industry and the third for medium and small-scale industry would be set up this month. Every board would have 11 members and a chairman with the rank of a minister.

The Chief Minister said chairpersons of state boards and corporations would be appointed in a month. He also laid the foundation stone of Guru Teg Bahadur Marg at Lehragaga. This would pave the way for a direct link between Delhi and Amritsar via Lehra.

Earlier, Prem Singh Chandumajra held rebel SAD candidate Giani Naranjan Singh Bhutal, the family of Inderjit Singh Jeji and "Premis" of the Dera Sacha Sauda for his defeat in the assembly elections. He also presented a chart of demands to the Chief Minister. Punjab PWD Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa also addressed the gathering.


Toll tax sparks protest in Hoshiarpur
Highways blocked for over two hours
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 2
Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad along with other affected people, including private bus and truck operators, staged dharnas and blocked vehicular traffic for more than two hours today on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road at Chagran, on the Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road at Bassi Daulat Khan and on the Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar road at Singriwala bypass in protest against the imposition of toll tax on BOT roads from Balachaur to Dasuya and from Hoshiarpur to Tanda by private companies.

Later, SDM Pritam Singh intervened and the blockade was lifted.

It is worth mentioning that daily traffic jams on the BOT roads have become a regular feature as three toll plazas at Mazari (Balachaur), Nangal Shaheedan (Hoshiarpur) and Mangarh (Dasuya) have come up on the Balachaur-Dasuya road and at Lachowal on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road. The state government had recently strengthened and widened the Balachaur-Dasuya and Hoshiarpur-Tanda roads on BOT basis under a 17-year agreement and has authorised these companies to charge and recover toll from the users of these roads.

These companies had completed the task in less than a year as against the prescribed period of two years. The official notification of installation of toll plazas had been advertised as March 1, 2007, following which transporters, including private bus operators, started an agitation before these toll plazas. On the intervention of the district administration, contractors on these toll plazas agreed to charge Rs 60 per day from private buses and trucks for crossing each plaza up to March 31. The district administration had also sent various representations of truck and bus unions and some local NGOs to the secretary, PWD B & R, Punjab, for settlement of the dispute.

Meanwhile, leaders of local NGOs and private truck, bus and taxi operators have constituted a ‘sangarsh committee’ to pressurise the state government to lift these toll plazas.

The Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiarpur called a meeting of members of the committee to settle the dispute on March 31, 2007. But, when no relief was announced, the members staged a walkout from the meeting.

The DC had constituted a five-member committee headed by the ADC and SP (Headquarter), DTO, and DDPO would be its members. The Executive Engineer, PWD (B & R) will be the convener.

The ‘sangarsh committee’ has also given a bandh call for April 6, 2007. Bharat Bhushan Verma, spokesman of the committee, said the committee demanded a CBI probe into the Rs 46 crore subsidy given by the state government for construction of these BOT roads and chopping of thousands of trees worth crores on either side of the raod.

Meanwhile, the panchayat of Boothgarh has started charging Rs 30 per vehicle as toll tax from those vehicle owners who had been diverting their vehicles from the state highway towards their village for bypassing the toll plaza.


Bank provides finance to honey farmers in Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Yes Bank has launched a unique concept for the financial inclusion of small honey farmers in northern India. The bank is not just providing finance for working capital to these farmers, but has also made a buy- back arrangement for the honey they produce.

The deal is a pioneering loan involving the use of structured trade solutions to help provide financing for small honey farmers in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, said Somak Ghosh, president, corporate finance and development banking, Yes Bank.

Talking to TNS here today, he said, “Bee keeping is mainly done by poor families who sell honey to supplement their income. These small farmers sell honey to large honey manufacturers, who in turn clean and filter the honey for sale in domestic and export markets. Most of these honey farmers have no association with banks and they rely on rural money lenders who use their local influences to exploit the farmers, charging dramatically high rates of interest - as much as 36 per cent to 60 per cent per annum”.

Yes Bank created a structure whereby credit risk was transferred from the actual farmers themselves to the stocks of honey kept in warehouses.

“The first stage of the Rs 15.75 crore deal, required the bank to get a buyer for the honey. Yes Bank enrolled Doraha-based, Kashmir Apiaries Exports (KAE), which is now the largest honey processor and exporter of honey from India, for buying back the honey. As a buyer, KAE extended a purchase commitment at a pre-determined price for the honey, providing Yes Bank with greater credit enhancement for the commodity,” he said.

The honey farmers first bring their produce to carefully selected warehouse premises, and deposit this with National Collateral Management Services-Yes Bank's appointed collateral management agency. The collateral manager then assesses the quality and quantity of the commodity, monitors the stocks and issues storage receipts to the farmers. The ownership of the honey remains with the farmers. The stock receipts are submitted by the farmers to KAE, acting as managing and collecting agent, and loan documentation is completed and sent to Yes Bank, with a minimum purchase commitment for a base price. Yes Bank then releases the loan funds equivalent to 70 per cent of the collateral value on the same day direct to the farmers.

Up to six months after the issuing of the loan, farmers can either repay the loan directly to Yes Bank by selling the stock to KAE, or they can choose to sell the stock to a higher bidder, and repay the bank.

This deal has helped over 2,000 farmers, providing individual loans of an average of just Rs 22,500. The facility provided farmers with immediate access to credit facilities at reasonable interest rates at 11 per cent per annum. The farmers were able to obtain higher selling prices for their honey stocks. In turn, KAE was able to increase its sales turnover from Rs 37.80 crore in 2005, to Rs 86.85 crore in 2006, becoming the number one Indian exporter of honey, said Jagjit Singh, chairman of KAE.


Badal does not ‘know’ Captain’s address
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said since he did not know the address or whereabouts of his predecessor Amarinder Singh, he could not reply to his letters. Otherwise he would have liked to write back to him.

When asked during a function here on Saturday as to why he did not reply Capt Amarinder Singh’s letters, Badal remarked, “I do not know his address, otherwise I would have replied properly.”

When told that he could always reply through the media, he said there were so many things that could not be made public.

On the allegations of the witch-hunt and vindictiveness, Badal said, “Can I jail anyone?...Not at all.”


Minister: Vacant posts to be filled soon
Our Correspondent

Unemployment is a great challenge before the state. The SAD-BJP government will not act in a revengeful manner.

— Kanwaljit Singh

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 2
The government will fulfil all promises made with the employees by the SAD in its manifesto. This was stated by minister for cooperation Kanwaljit Singh while addressing the 32nd convention of the Punjab State Karamchari Dal here today.

The minister said unemployment was a great challenge before the state. All vacant posts in various departments would be filled soon. The SAD-BJP government would not act in a revengeful manner, he added.

Appreciating the role of the Punjab State Karamchari Dal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the organisation had always stood by the SAD.

State president of the Karamchari Dal Hari Singh Tohra said there were 42 lakh unemployed youths in the state while the employment department claimed it to be 4.5 lakh.

He demanded that like doctors, engineers, officers and teachers, they should be given the 4-9-14 scale.

The age of retirement for class III employees should be 60 on the Central Government pattern, he added.

District president of the organisation Sucha Singh Railon, former minister R.S.Cheema, Zora Singh, Ashok Tulani, Kulbir Singh Saidkheri were among other who addressed the convention.


New DCs for Jalandhar, Tarn Taran
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The Punjab government ordered postings and transfers today.

Jaspal Singh will be special secretary, higher education and languages; Karam Singh goes as deputy commissioner, Tarn Taran; Krishan Kumar will be the chief administrator, greater Mohali development authority; Bhawna Garg goes as deputy commissioner, Nawanshahr; Ajeet Singh Pannu will be now deputy commissioner, Jalandhar.

Manisha Trighatia becomes ADC, Jalandhar; Rajat Agarwal goes as ADC, Muktsar; Arshdeep Singh Thind will be the new SDM, Nawanshahr; and Varun Roojam goes as SDM, Malout.

Kulbir Singh has been moved to the post of ACA, PUDA, Jalandhar. Amarjit Paul will be the new SDM, Phagwara. T.N. Passey goes as SDM, Baba Bakala. Pritam Singh Johal is the new ADC/ADC (dev), Nawanshahr. Gurtej Singh goes as SDM, Rajpura. Indu Malhotra becomes SDM, Payal. Gurlovleen Singh will be the new SDM, Jagraon, and Ashwani Kumar goes as SDM, Mukerian. Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal has been posted as SDM, Samana. Baldev Singh goes SDM, Tarn Taran. Babita becomes AETC, Jalandhar; Gurpreet Singh Khaira goes as SDM, Kapurthala; and Jaspal Mittal will be the new SDM, SAS Nagar.

Zora Singh is the new SDM, Patran; Jaspal Singh becomes SDM, Malerkotla; Raghbir Kaur has been posted as SDM, Kharar; Amrit Kaur Gill is the new SDM, Ludhiana (West); Tarlochan Singh Bhatti goes as SDM, Shahkot; Gurmeet Singh becomes SDM, Khadoor Sahib; and Jagwinderjit Singh Grewal goes as SDM, Ludhiana (East).

Further, Anupam Kaler has been made the new AC (general), Jalandhar; Dalwinderjit Singh is the SDM, Bhulath; Rishi Pal Singh has been posted as SDM, Gidderbaha; and Moneesh Kumar will be the new SDM, Amloh.

Iqbal Singh Sandhu is the new SDM, Phillaur; and Rahul Gupta goes as joint commissioner, municipal corporation, Jalandhar. Sukhjit Pal Singh has been appointed estate officer, PUDA, SAS Nagar; Gurjit Singh is the new SDM, Mansa; Jagdish Chander Bhatia goes as SDM, Moonak; and Kuldip Singh Chandi becomes SDM, Sultanpur Lodhi.


Home Guards leave for poll duty
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 2
More than 250 Home Guard jawans left for Uttar Pradesh to perform election duty. A spokesman of home guards association said that they had to wait under the railway shed at Fazilka for two days before boarding the train.

The association, at a state-level meeting held here last week, had urged the government to pay Rs 200 as daily meal money in advance. The Home Guards said they were leaving for the UP Vidhan Sabha duty without getting wages for the last month.

The association had also demanded free bus travel facility, Rs 250 as medical and Rs 100 as washing allowance, cycle allowance, ration allowance and TA\DA during VIP duty for the Home Guards.

It said special allowances should be paid to the Home Guard SPO and policemen also as applicable to employees in other government departments. Full uniform for the guards deployed on election duty in other states, food during journey and Rs 200 as daily meal expanses should also be paid during the period of their deployment there. Besides, they must have Rs 5-lakh insurance cover.


Speaker urged to get statue installed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Pressure is growing on Speaker of the Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee for the installation of a statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in the lobby of Parliament House in Delhi.

On an imitative taken by M.S. Gill, member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, senior ministers like A.R. Antulay, Ram Vilas Paswan and Sis Ram Ola and MPs like Arun Shourie and K. Kasturirangan have given a representation to the Speaker for the installation of the statue in the Parliament complex.

Gill told The Tribune on the phone here today that he had suggested to the Speaker to install the statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh just opposite that of Murasoli Maran in the Rajya Sabha lobby.

“ We are waiting for a reply from the Speaker. In the meantime, we are in the process of getting a bronze statute prepared of Shaheed Bhagat Singh,” he said.


Date extended for depositing arrears
Ashok Kaura

Phillaur, April 2
The Punjab government has extended the last date for depositing arrears of water and sewerage bills besides house tax without any interest up to April 15.This was announced by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Manoranjan Kalia while talking to this correspondent here today. He said earlier the government waived the entire interest on arrears of water and sewerage bills and house tax till March 31, but on seeing the overwhelming response from the people for depositing the arrears without any tax, the state government had decided to extend the date from March 31 to April 15.

Replying to another question, Kalia said the SAD-BJP government was committed to providing drinking water, sewerage and sanitation in the state and all offices of the local bodies department at the tehsil level would soon be computerised in phases to increase the efficiency of the councils.


On a crusade against female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 2
“If our countrymen do not kill a cow, which is considered a holy animal, then why do they not hesitate from killing a girl even before she is born? Is animal life more sacred than a girl’s life?” said Swami Swatantra Nand of The Art of Living while addressing a gathering here today.

The swami said girls had an equal right to live just like the boys. “If the girl child continues to be killed in the mother’s womb, soon a day will come when there are no girls left.”

“The men-women ratio has reached alarmingly low proportions in Punjab. In spite of being considered an unpardonable sin by all religions and stringent legislative measures against the practice, the female foeticide continues unabated due to wrong notions prevalent about the girl child in society”, he said.

Adding that the sex determination tests are the cause of the low sex ratio in the state, the swami blamed the parents and doctors alike for the poor sex ratio.

“Instead of making the people aware about the evil of female foeticide, many doctors promote sex determination tests.

Collective efforts of society, especially the youth, can help curb the problem. “Our society needs to be educated about the importance of girls in the life cycle. Without daughters, our civilisation will come to an end”, he said, stressing the need to form stringent laws against female foeticide.

Swami Swatantra Nand was in town for the “Beti sneh sanjivani yatra”, which was launched on March 26 from Gurdwara Damdama Sahib. It will culminate at Anandpur Sahib on April 13.

The project is supported by the United Nations Population Fund of the United Nations Organisations.


Workers stage dharna

Abohar, April 2
Workers of the Central Institute for Post Harvest Engineering Technology (CIPHET) were joined in staging a dharna today by representatives of the Technical Services Union of the PSEB and PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union.

The dharna, led by CIPHET Workers Union president Lakhvir Singh Bhullar, was planned to press the long-pending demands which included the payment of minimum guaranteed wages and abandoning the contractual employment. Mangat Ram, Harish Chander, Ravi Kant, Ramesh Bharti, Krishan Ghayal and Nopa Ram addressed the workers. — OC


Arguments in Daler case end
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 2
Arguments on the summoning of pop star Daler Mehndi for framing of charges concluded today in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge today.

The defence counsel in the case has challenged the summoning of the pop star on the plea that the police has already filed discharge application of Daler Mehndi as it could not find any concrete evidence against him. Once the discharge application against an accused is filed, he cannot be summoned again in the case till some fresh evidence came up against him in the case, they pleaded.

The counsels for the complainants in the case, including Gurpreet Singh and Shailza Gupta, however, contended that discharge application of the police in favour of Daler Mehndi had been rejected by the trial court due to protest application from complainants.

Though the police filed the discharge application, the public prosecutor in the case submitted before the court that investigation in the case was still on. The prosecution might file a supplementary challan if fresh evidence came up.

They also maintained that the magistrate was not bound by the conclusion drawn by the police.

They also alleged that vital evidence was ignored by the police while issuing discharge application of Daler Mehndi. As per the allegation made by a complainant, Malkiat Singh, Daler Mehndi delivered him a copy of fabricated visa. The visa was sent to the Canadian High Commission for verification. Officials of the commission in their report maintained that the document was not valid. However, the prosecuting agencies did not place the document on record while filing the discharge application.

On the conclusion of arguments, the judge adjourned the hearing to April 18.

Daler Mehndi, along with his brother, Shamsher Mehndi, have been accused of collecting Rs 1.94 crore from the complainants on the pretext of sending them to foreign countries. Daler Mehndi was present in the court today during the proceedings.


high court
NOC revocation by PPCB: Coloniser moves HC
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 2
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and others on a petition challenging the revocation of the no-objection certificates (NOCs) issued to Raglan Infrastructures Limited, Shimla, for its two housing projects at Dera Bassi.

In February, the PPCB had revoked all NOCs issued to promoters of residential colonies following an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard. The High Court had issued the direction on a PIL filed by Dharam Chand and another.

As first reported in The Tribune on March 23, NOCs issued to at least 50 colonisers had been withdrawn following the order. The High Court Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain had stayed the operation of the circular dated January 17, 2006, whereby certain relaxations had been granted to colonisers.

Passing the order, the Bench had asked the chief secretary to inquire and submit a report as to how such an “illegal and unconstitutional” circular had been issued in the first place.

The Bench had observed that all norms had been thrown to the winds by the PPCB. “To say the least, the Board, instead of controlling pollution, is encouraging pollution by relaxing norms,” it has said.

In its petition filed through advocate Anand Chhiber, Raglan Infrastructures Limited has stated that it received permission from different authorities, including the NOC from the PPCB, for two housing projects - Gulmohar City and Gulmohar City Extension - at Dera Bassi.

While all 1014 flats in the first project have been sold, 314 flats in the second project, which has a total of 1433 flats, have been sold. The company has also stated that it had taken loans worth crores of rupees for the projects.

However, the PPCB withdrew the NOC for the second project through an order of March 13 without granting any opportunity to the company to be heard.

The petitioner has also alleged that the PIL filed by Dharam Chand and another was at the behest of the Dera Bassi Industries Association, which feared that due to housing projects coming up in the area, prices of land would shoot up.

Today, after preliminary hearing, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla issued notice of motion for May 28 to the respondents.


Call to provide speedy justice to women

Bathinda, April 2
K. C. Puri, District and Session Judge, here today stressed on the need to spread awareness among the public at large regarding redressal of grievances of women and children and providing speedy justice to them.

He was addressing a meeting attended by the Deputy Commissioner, all Judicial Magistrates in the Session division, civil surgeon, legal aid counsels, superintendent jail, secretary, red cross and other members of the unit.

He said the district authority shall prepare hoardings and information display boards at prominent locations of the district for the knowledge of the beneficiaries to avail services through this unit. Rahul Bhandari, DC, said possibilities of availing some grant-in-aid for implementation of the National Legal Literacy Mission might be explored through some NGO. — TNS


3 ‘criminals’ arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 2
Three persons identified as Lakhwinder Singh, Rajesh Kumar and Naresh Kumar were arrested by the district police in the past 24 hours for their alleged involvement in different crimes, which took place in the past fortnight.

Dr Naresh Arora, SSP, while addressing a press conference here today, said Lakhwinder Singh was arrested for his alleged involvement in snatching a car from a driver, Harpal Singh, with the help of his associate identified as Jatinder Singh, who was yet to be arrested.

He said on April 1, 2007, the accused went to Harpal Singh and hired a taxi from the local taxi stand to go to Tungwali village. When they reached Bhagu village, they snatched the car, mobile and cash from Harpal Singh. One of the accused put a plastic rope around the neck of Harpal Singh, while he was driving the car and the other accused intimidated him by pretending that he was having a firearm in his pocket. The accused also took away the driving licence of the victim.

The SSP said Lakhwinder Singh was arrested on specific information. The car, which was taken away by the accused, and the driving licence of Harpal Singh were also recovered from his possession.

In another case, Rajesh Kumar and Naresh Kumar were arrested for their alleged involvement in snatching a purse, containing valuables and mobile phone, from Baljit Kaur, a non-resident Indian, on March 14. He added that the accused had confessed their involvement in a number of similar crimes during interrogation.


2 killed in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 2
Balkar Singh(40),a resident of Gobindgarh village, near here, was killed and two others were seriously injured when the Maruti Zen car they were using collided with a tractor-trailer loaded with sand and parked on the roadside near Pakki village on the Abohar-Malout road (national highway No.10) this afternoon. The parents donated the eyes of the victim.

Rajender Kumar(35),a farm worker, was killed as the tractor he was driving overturned in the agricultural farm land owned by Krishan Kumar Jakhar at Panjkosi village,15 km from here, today.

He was trying to dismantle a sandy heap at the time of the mishap, family sources said.


Windfall for GND varsity in re-investment
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 2
For the first time, Guru Nanak Dev University earned Rs 3.5 crore by re-investing different accounts through open bid in the presence of representatives of teaching union and non-teaching employees.

According to official figures available with The Tribune, the hostel and other funds of the students such as students’ securities were being deposited in the saving account, earning only 3 per cent. Now this amount has been reinvested at the rate of 9.50 to 10.25 per cent.

Vice-chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh said all members of the 'university-family' ( teachers, officers, employees and students) were taken into confidence before re-investment of the amounts. With proper re-investment of university employees’ provident and pension fund in different banks, the university had gained tremendously.

After a lot of persuasion, the university succeeded in investing the huge amount in different banks at maximum rates of interest such as 9 per cent, 9.15 per cent, 9.63 per cent and even 10.25 per cent, ranging from one to two years. This will provide financial benefit to all the teaching and non-teaching employees of the university.

The break-up of the benefit from different banks include Punjab and Sindh Bank (Rs 89 lakh), State Bank of India (59 lakh), State Bank of Patiala (Rs 1.4 crore), Oriental Bank of Commerce (Rs 33.5 lakh) and Allahabad Bank (Rs 28 lakh).

However, Varinder Pal Sharma, Finance and Development Officer, attributed the gain of Rs 3.5 to the substantial increase in the rate of interest in the past six years.

When asked as to why he kept the huge amount in current accounts on meagre rate of interest, Sharma said that some amount had to be kept in such accounts to meet the contingency or salary bills. He said GND University had been the only university in the country which had been presenting 'surplus budget' for the past more than five years.


Ayurveda teachers seek pay parity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 2
The Teachers Association of Government Ayurvedic College here has demanded implementation of the 4th Pay Commission recommendation for the ayurveda teachers.

In a press release issued here today, the association has alleged that ayurveda teachers are being paid less as compared to their medical and dental counterparts. The professors in medical colleges are being paid a pay scale starting at Rs 18,000, whereas a professor of ayurvedic college is getting pay scale starting from Rs 7200 which is equal to the pay scale of ayurveda medical officer.

The ayurveda doctors are also not been paid non-practicing allowance (NPA). The pay scales and other facilities to the ayurvedic doctors should be at par with other doctors as their basic qualification, period of study and duty are the same.

The SAD/BJP government during its previous stint in power had approved UGC pay scales for ayurveda teachers. However, the notification of the same could not be issued due to imposition of election code.

The Punjab and Haryana high court had also directed the government in July 2006 to decide the case of anomalies.


Teachers to be recruited on regular basis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Punjab education minister Upinderjit Kaur today said that teachers would be recruited against vacant posts on a regular basis and purely on merit.

She said there would be no interview but candidates having higher qualifications than required would be given additional points. They would also get points for extra-curricular activities.

She said there were about 32,000 vacant posts of teacher. These would be filled in about six months. The recruitment process would begin soon, she added.


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