P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



City Centre Scam
VB restrained from arresting firms’ officials 
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 4
The Delhi High Court has restrained the Punjab Vigilance Bureau and Delhi police from arresting five top functionaries of Delhi-based company Today Home Infrastructure Ltd and its subsidiary named as co-accused in the Ludhiana City Centre scam.

The five officials of the two companies include vice-president Vinay Subhikhi, general manager Sunil Sharma, director Gulshan Kumar Gambhir and Anil Sobti.

Justice Reva Khetrapal issued the direction in two orders passed on March 28 and yesterday, respectively, on two petitions by the company and its subsidiary Today Hotel Ltd (THL), newly appointed Punjab Additional Advocate-General K.K. Khurana said.

In the first order passed ex-party by the court on March 28 at the time of taking cognisance of the company’s first petition, it was said “no coercive step” be taken either by the Vigilance Bureau or the Delhi police against the company officials. The ex-party order was passed while issuing notices to the Punjab Government and other respondents.

The court, however, improved upon its direction in the second order passed yesterday when Khurana and former additional solicitor-general K.K. Sud marked their appearance for the state. The court directed that the officials of the two firms would not be arrested till the investigation was complete and their houses and the premises of the company would not be raided till then. The court, however, directed that the officials of the two companies would make themselves available to the VB for questioning whenever called upon.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government took objection to the company invoking the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court and argued that the case fell in the jurisdiction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court as the case was registered in Ludhiana.

But company’s counsel argued that since the two firms were registered in Delhi, there was nothing wrong in the Delhi High Court taking cognisance of the matter.

I won’t give directions on Amarinder’s arrest : Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said yesterday he would soon appoint chief parliamentary secretaries from among the SAD-BJP MLAs.

He had recently appointed three chief parliamentary secretaries. The total number of chief parliamentary secretaries was expected to go up to 13 or 14, he added.

“I will give representation to all communities, including dalits and Hindus, while appointing chief parliamentary secretaries,” he added. Besides, the chairpersons of the committees to be set up on trade, industry, etc, would be named soon. “ The committee headed by the chairperson in the rank of cabinet minister will decide the kind of industrial policy to be framed in the state”, he said.

Asked about the arrest of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he said he would not give any instructions to the police in this regard. “ The law will take its own course in this regard. I have no powers to get anyone arrested, punished and acquitted”, he said.

Asked about the arrival of Amarinder Singh, he said he had no information in this regard. “ If I had any information, I would have gone to receive him”, he said jokingly. Asked about B.I.S. Chahal, Badal again said in a lighter vein that he might come along with Amarinder Singh.

The chairpersons of market committees and various government undertakings would also be appointed soon.

He was happy that wheat was selling above the minimum support price. “ It is good that private companies are offering prices higher than the MSP to farmers”, he added. “ I will urge the union government to further increase the MSP of wheat.”

He said the first priority would be given to filling the vacant posts of teacher in schools and doctor in civil hospitals and dispensaries. Later, recruitment would be made in other departments, he added. About the atta-dal scheme, he said he was committed to fulfilling that promise.

Speaking about the vice- chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Badal said he had asked the VC to open a particular gate of the university as it was a demand of the people of a locality adjacent to the university. “I did not make any angry comment”, said Badal.


CM urged to scrap notification
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 4
Senior Vice President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Daljit Singh has asked Panjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take immediate steps to scrap the notification of previous government under which the fertile land of farmers was forcibly acquired and given to big industrial houses.

He reminded the CM of his electoral promise wherein he had promised that if his party was returned to power he would cancel the notification. Not only this the government would make a policy under which the agricultural land would not be acquired by the state without the consent of farmers and in case it was acquired for some public works, the affected farmers would be compensated at the prevailing market prices.

He pointed out that the Congress regime had acquired about 376 acres of land near Barnala for a project being set up by Trident industries. State machinery was used to oust the protesting farmers.

The SAD (A) had raised its voice against this injustice to farmers through a long agitation during which its top leadership, workers and farmers suffered the wrath of police. They were beaten up, put in the jails and false police case were registered against them, he added.

He further alleged that there are reports that the Chief Minister, through its senior leaders, was once again compelling the farmers to hand over their land to the same industrial group. If this was true, then it spoke volumes of the double speak by the CM and his party.

He claimed that such a step was against the interests of the farmers and cautioned the CM that in case he went ahead their party would be forced to launch a state wide agitation.

He clarified that his party was for the rapid industrialisation in Panjab but since the farmers were the back bone of the economy of the state, their interest cannot be ignored or harmed by anyone.


IPS officer who quizzed Akalis fears arrest 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 4
In a surprise move, T.P.S.Sandhu, an IPS officer, posted as AIG (CID), who had interrogated many former Akali ministers during his stint as S.P. (Vigilance Bureau), in connection with corruption cases during the Capt Amarinder Singh’s regime, has applied for bail, fearing arrest due to political vendetta.

The AIG (CID) alleged that Vigilance Bureau sleuths conducted raids to arrest him at the behest of Akali leaders. He said his leave had been cancelled and the VB could arrest him before April 12. He, however, said he was ready to join investigation.

However, the VB in its reply told the court of Archna Puri, Additional Sessions Judge, that no raid had been conducted on the house of the AIG. The VB also clarified that there was no inquiry pending against the petitioner.

The application for bail has come close on the heels of the apprehensions expressed by Gurinder Pal Singh Grewal, Inspector-General, GRP, who feared action by the SAD-BJP government for levelling serious allegations against senior Akali leaders.

The petitioner feared that he might be arrested for non-bailable offences. The petitioner, T.P.S. Sandhu, said that he had applied for the bail on the ground that the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing a public rally at Beas on March 8, had openly threatened to take action against him (T.P.S.Sandhu) who had 'tortured' Manjinder Singh Kang, a former chairman of the Forest Corporation, during his stint as S.P.(Vigilance).

The petitioner claimed that during the Congress regime, he was responsible for investigating criminal cases against former Akali ministers, including Sewa Singh Sekhwan , Rattan Singh Ajnala (at present an Akali MP) , Manjinder Singh Kang, a former chairman of the Forest Corporation, Suchha Singh Langah and Nirmal Singh Kahlon (now Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha). The challans were also presented in the above said high profile cases. He alleged that these cases had earned the wrath of the Akali leadership.

The IPS officer, in his petition claimed that during his career as a police officer he had a stint as SSP, Ferozepore, and Kapurthala and no complaint was lodged against him.

"The cases investigated by the petitioner were based on documentary evidence and conducted on merit. In most of the cases, much evidence has already been recorded.” The AIG assured that he would not abscond and would join any enquiry or investigation.” He sought directions under Sections 438 CrPC to admit the petition for bail in the event of arrest.” In case of registration of criminal cases, notice be given to him before arresting him to grant him an opportunity to approach the court, he said After hearing the counsels, the court fixed April 5 as the next date of hearing.


SAD MLA joins anti-VC protest
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 4
After the unceremonious exit of the PAU vice-chancellor, the VC of Punjabi University, Swaran Singh Boparai, could be next in the firing line of the present government.

The SAD today came out in the open against Swaran Singh Boparai. Sitting MLA of the party Virsa Singh Valtoha today joined the protesters blocking traffic on all gates of the university to demand the ouster of the vice-chancellor.

It is for the first time that a sitting MLA of the ruling SAD has openly joined the protest against the vice-chancellor. Earlier, former SAD minister Ajaib Singh Makhmailpur and a former SS Board chairman had joined the protest against the vice-chancellor. Government representatives in the university syndicate also walked out of the meeting held on the university campus today.

The vice-chancellor, however, has reacted strongly to the pressure being exerted on him. He today revoked the registration of two research scholars who were allegedly trying to disrupt classes in the department of psychology.

When contacted at his office, the vice-chancellor said he received a complaint from a female lecturer in the department of psychology that two research scholars, Jaspal Singh and Jatinder Kumar, were forcing their way into the department of psychology to disrupt the classes. The lecturer was pushed aside when she tried to stop the students.

On a complaint of the lecturer, the registration of the research students has been revoked. “It is unfortunate that even female staff and students of the university are not feeling secure on the campus now,” he said.

He also accused the local administration of failing to stop the protesters from disrupting peace on the campus despite court orders. “I have personally talked to the deputy commissioner and SSP Patiala for stopping the protesters from entering the university. However, no action was taken. The Chief Secretary had also told me that he would get back to me today. I am still waiting for his response.”

“The way the sitting MLA was participating in the protest was really detrimental to the interests of the university. Some persons who are eyeing the post of vice-chancellor are behind the protests,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, some students and faculty members who formed the joint action committee, today once again blocked traffic on the main gates of the university. The entire staff of the university remained stranded at the university gate till 12 pm as they were not allowed to enter the university. Policemen deputed at the spot remained mute spectators.

The protestors kept on raising slogans against the vice-chancellor while demanding his ouster.


‘Marjivde’ force to protect Cong men: Bhattal 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 4
The Congress will create its own 'marjivde' (sacrificial) force to protect the lives and property of partymen in the Gandhian mode in case the state government continued to commit excesses on them, said Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, leader of the opposition, here today.

Expressing concern over the excesses committed by SAD workers on Congress workers, Bhattal warned the Akali government that in case vendetta and excesses on their party workers did not end, the Congress would be forced to protect the dignity and property of its workers through Gandhigiri. She said for this, the responsibility would lie with the SAD government in the state. She said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had specifically asked her to personally visit the aggrieved families, who had simply supported the Congress in the last Assembly elections, and share their moments of grief.

Lashing out at Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for unleashing political vendetta, Bhattal said he should not indulge in double speak and rather seriously fulfil his commitment given on the floor of the House that no vendetta or excesses would be committed on opposition workers. She said if SAD wanted to take any revenge it should come in direct confrontation with leaders of the opposition party and not ordinary party workers. She said though the state government had announced assistance to the aggrieved families, it should also provide job to a member of the kin of the victims of the political vendetta and book the guilty who were getting VIP treatment from the police.

Commenting on the poor law and order situation in the state, she said it was for the first time in the history of Punjab that the Director-General of Police had to apply for anticipatory bail and the vice-chancellor of an autonomous institute of higher learning had to seek police protection as the present government had unleashed a reign of terror.

Expressing dismay over the misinformation campaign launched by Badal that the Congress had left the coffers empty, Bhattal said the Congress government had left behind a surplus of Rs 836 crore in the treasury. She said the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had waived a loan of Rs 3762 crore and helped the state to tide over the financial crunch. This had been done by the Congress government for the welfare of the people of the state as the SAD-BJP combine had failed during their last tenure when Atal Bihari Vajpayee and I.K. Gujral were in power.

Bhattal said the present Akali government was being supported by the BJP’s crutches and it would fall on its own as it would not be able to fulfil the promises made to the electorate.


Kanwaljit felicitated

Rajpura, April 3
Cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh today reiterated the commitment of the SAD-BJP government to the overall development of Punjab in the general and the Banur-Rajpura belt in particular.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh was speaking at a felicitation ceremony organised in his honour at Manakpur village, near here.The government was committed to the implementation of the SAD-BJP alliance in letter and in spirit, he said.

The construction of the Dashmesh Canal was high on government agenda. — TNS


Ruckus at Bhattal’s conference

Amritsar, April 4
Congress workers created a ruckus at the first-ever meeting organised to welcome Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, leader of the opposition, in their bid to show the strength of their respective leaders here today.

Though Bhattal repeatedly asked the partymen to maintain calm so that she could address the press conference at Circuit House, party leaders and supporters continued to disrupt the media interaction. A senior leader, preferring anonymity, said the Congress leaders had failed to learn a lesson from the recent drubbing in the assembly polls. — TNS


Chandumajra SAD gen secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Working president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Sukhbir Singh Badal has appointed Prem Singh Chandumajra as general secretary of the party.

Chandumajra had been recently appointed a member of the political affairs committee of the party. 


State Round-Up
All employees to be covered under gratuity law
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Employees and workmen of the Punjab government, who were not hitherto covered under the existing Payment of Gratuity Act, will be now be covered under that law.

The state government has agreed to bring an amendment to the central act to extend the benefit of gratuity to all employees. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today.

The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, applies to factories and other establishments employing 10 or more persons and on the completion of five years of service, the employees are entitled to the payment of gratuity at the rate of 15 days’ wages for every completed year or part thereof in excess of six months.

However, certain categories of employees, including teachers, were not hitherto covered under the provisions of the act. The finance department had agreed to the proposal. However, the payment of gratuity shall be the liability of the employer and there would be no financial liability on the state exchequer.

Restore tubewell connections

Conceding the long-pending demands of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Chief Minister Badal today announced the restoring of the tubewell connections of farmers which were disconnected during the Congress regime and also waiver of the outstanding arrears on account of the payment of bills for tubewell connections.

A joint deputation of the kisan unions had called on the Chief Minister here and apprised him of the attitude of the previous Congress regime which tried to curb their peaceful agitation seeking the fulfilment of justified demands.

Taking part in the deliberations, Badal said he had already directed the drainage wing of the irrigation department to desilt water channels to ensure that the water reached the tail- ends. He also asked the department to maintain registers with the SDOs/executive engineers concerned to ensure adequate supply of water to the farmers and fix responsibility in the case of any lapse.

Badal also directed the police department to investigate the cases pertaining to maltreatment and excesses against the workers of various kisan unions.

Badal also promised to provide the best possible medical treatment to the persons who sustained injuries during the agitation and also financial assistance.

Sangat darshan at CM’s house

The venue of the sangat darshan, in which Chief Minister Badal meets the general public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday every week in Chandigarh, will be shifted to the Chief Minister’s official residence in sector 2 here. The Chief Minister will be available there from April 12 onwards.

For the present, the venue of these meetings will be Punjab Bhavan, sector 3, from 4 p.m.to 5.30 p.m.


CLU Cancellations
Officers kept  CM in dark 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Were the approvals with regard to the change of land use (CLU) given to the promoters of certain mega housing projects cancelled by the officers concerned at their own level without informing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who holds the portfolio of housing and urban development?

Reports indicate that the Chief Minister was not informed with regard to the cancellation of the CLUs. He came to know about the cancellation only yesterday. Responding to a question asked in this regard yesterday by The Tribune, Badal had stated: “ I am not aware of the level at which this decision was taken”.

“ I have not taken this decision. No file in this regard was presented to me” he said.

When reminded that he was in charge of the department and the file must have been put up before him for decision, Badal said emphatically that he had not dealt with the file.

Sources told The Tribune today that at a meeting of officers and others concerned held yesterday on the issue of the cancellation of the CLU approvals, Badal virtually blasted the officers.

The sources said the decision regarding the cancellation of the CLU approvals was finalised at the department level without showing the file to the CM. Last week the department had issued letters to the promoters about the revocation of the CLU approvals. The revocation of the CLUs virtually amounted to cancelling the mega projects.

It is a fact that the no-objection certificates ( NOCs) issued by the Punjab Pollution Control Board to the mega projects were revoked on February 15, after two days of the polling for the Punjab assembly, through an order by M .S. Sandhu, secretary, department of science, technology and enviornment . Though the polling was held on February 13, on February 15 Amarinder was the CM. The PPCB had acted an order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

However, the decision to cancel the CLUs was taken during the Badal government. The sources said it was taken in the last week of March.


Hospitals to have cancer OPDs
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 4
In a significant move, the Punjab government has initiated steps to set up cancer OPDs in different hospitals so that the deadly disease could be detected at an early stage.

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the Punjab government had decided to set up cancer OPDs in government-run hospitals of the region as cancer had been acquiring alarming proportions.

Manpreet Badal, who was addressing a function organised by a private organisation in connection with the inauguration of its 25- bed hospital at Bhalaiana village of this district, said the cancer OPDs would carry out initial examination of suspected cancer patients.

For the past one decade or so, cancer has been spreading its tentacles in the Malwa region, particularly in rural areas, and authorities concerned have not been able to find out the exact reason. Even Mandour village in the home district of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh witnessed 21 deaths due to cancer in a period of four years.

Research carried out by the PGI, Chandigarh, and other institutions on directions of the previous Congress government had pointed out that people were acquiring the disease due to consumption of polluted water. Water being supplied to people in rural and urban areas was being polluted due to the overuse of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers.

In the past few years, districts like Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, Muktsar and Faridkot of Malwa region hit the headlines after a number of residents died due to carcinogenic diseases. Apart from it, a significant section of the population belonging to the middle class has been heading for Bikaner for treatment. The other cancer hospitals located in Punjab have also been receiving a number of patients from Malwa region.

Manpreet Badal said the SAD-BJP alliance government was committed to providing best medical care to people and hence a significant hike would be made in the budgetary allocation for the health sector in the current financial year. 


Committed to ending graft in police dept
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 4
To make the police people friendly, the department has started police-public meetings and launched a campaign against the criminals, drug-peddlers and eve-teasers in the district. This was stated by SSP Nilabh Kishore while addressing a public meeting at Tarkhan Majra in the district today.

The SSP said the police was for the protection of lives and property of people. He would work for making all police chowkis, police stations and the offices of senior officers corruption free and a transparent working there.

Pamphlets having cell numbers from the SSP to munshis of the respective police stations were distributed among the gathering. He urged the people that if anyone demanded bribe from them, they must tell him on cellphone.

No woman will be called to police station. Corruption starts from the Munshi level at police stations. From now on Munshi will not deal with the public rather senior officers would do the job, the officer added.


Yoga camp from April 30
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
"Yoga acquires a prominent place in our traditions. The yogis and saints adopted yoga for communication with God and to attain salvation. In India, the spiritual way has been dominant and the materialistic trend has been discouraged but the body has always been acknowledged as a medium for spiritual faith. Sublime soul and sound mind only rest in a sound body", observed Mahant Atmaram at a press conference here today.

Praising yogic scholar and founder of the Patanjali Yog Peeth, Haridwar, Swami Ramdev, the mahant said Swami Ram Dev had rightly interpreted Patanjali by saying that yoga was not escapism but a righteous living. He had pledged a disease-free world through a scientific approach to yoga, ayurveda and had been curing nearly two lakh patients per month across the globe. He has now decided to organise a camp especially for the people of Patiala and surrounding areas, including special sessions for students and prisoners. The camp is dedicated to Baba Magni Ram. The camp is to be held at Polo Ground, Patiala, from April 30 to May 5 from 5 to 7.30 am with evening sessions for the students, jail inmates and oppressed people.


Theatre show dedicated to Dilgir
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 3
The 67th monthly garden theatre programme of the local National Theatre Arts Society was held today. It was dedicated to Punjabi dramatist Harcharan Singh on his first death anniversary and to H.S. Dilgir, a prominent person in the field of mass media and drama.

The programme saw shabad singing by Surinder Kumar, a disciple of raagi Jaspal Singh, folk songs by Kamaldeep Gill Timmy and baby Manmeet Kaur.

A comedy play, “Goongi Vohti”, a Punjabi adaptation of English play “The dumb wife of cheap side”, was staged. It was directed by Rajesh Sharma.

Inaugurating the programme, former technical member of the PSEB S.K. Anand lauded the efforts of society in introducing fresh talent in the field of arts. The chief guests of the programme were Dr Simarjit Singh Saini, a heart specialist, and his father B.S. Saini, president of the Jan Hit Society, Patiala. 


A clarification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , April 4
Reacting to a news-item, “Sex test threatens girl child in North”, carried in these columns on February 20, the counsel for Dr J.S. Rommana of Rommana Ultrasound Centre, The Mall, Bathinda, has asserted that his client has not issued any statement on the wide prevalence of sex determination tests in Punjab.

In a communication to The Tribune, the counsel has added that his client has in his possession a complete video-film of the conference at which the statement was alleged to have been made.

Claiming that the newspaper correspondent had on his own reported the same, the counsel has added that “publishing a statement which was never made amounts to (the commission of a) wrong act.”

The counsel has further claimed that the report has not only “lowered” his client’s image, but has also caused “monetary”, “social” and “moral” loss to him.

In another communication, Assistant Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, Dr Indu Bhushan Aggarwal, has stated that she was asked to investigate the matter after the Civil Surgeon took cognisance of the news-item. Dr Rommana’s statement was recorded. He has denied “all the facts as published in the news”.

The Tribune Correspondent adds: Dr Rommana, as a responsible citizen, had expressed concern over the declining sex ratio with special focus on Punjab during an interaction with assorted people, including the media. The intention was not to hurt Dr Rommana’s feelings, but to highlight his concern over the issue of female foeticide.


high court
PIL on cases against public figures dismissed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 4
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed a PIL seeking directions to the Punjab government to refer all cases against public figures, including former chief ministers, former ministers and former MLAs, to the Lok Pal in the first instance and to allow the Vigilance Bureau (VB) to proceed against them only if they were indicted.

Taking up the PIL filed by advocate H.C. Arora, who had also sought directions to restrain the VB from conducting inquiries into allegations of corruption and misuse of office by the former chief minister, former ministers, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla declined the prayer.

Refusing to accept the plea forwarded by the petitioner with regard to its poser as to how a blanket direction could be given, the Bench observed that there were no grounds to interfere as the petitioner had failed to satisfy the court as to under what provision of law the writ was maintainable.

The Punjab Lok Pal Act, the PIL pointed out, was a complete code for inquiring into the allegations of misuse of office and corruption against such public personalities. It is headed by a former chief justice and its proceedings were being conducted in camera. This, in his opinion, would help avoid unnecessary mudslinging and humiliation of public figures during the proceedings before the Lok Pal. Under the previous Congress regime, a number of corruption cases were launched against ex-chief minister, ex-ministers and ex-legislators belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal. The residences of some of them were raided and searched in full media glare and many of them were arrested. All these corruption cases were filed, investigated and prosecuted by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau and as a consequence public interest had suffered as the state government remained engaged against the political rivals, the petitioner claimed. With the change in the government in Punjab in February this year, cases were now being registered against the ex-chief minister and his cabinet colleagues and certain legislators of the Congress party and look-out notices have been sent to all airports for detaining them. The same investigating agency of VB was now investigating cases against its former bosses and the public interest was bound to suffer if the state government remained engaged against the political leaders, the PIL observed.

Stay refused

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today refused to stay the operation of the order of the Punjab government by which it had cancelled the change of land use (CLU) approvals granted to Omaxe India Ltd for its Dera Bassi-located housing project as well as the action of the Punjab Pollution Control Board in withdrawing the no-objection certificates (NOCs) issued for the same. Taking up the petitions filed by Omaxe India Limited, challenging the cancellation of the CLU approvals as well as withdrawal of no objection certificates (NOCs), the Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla issued notice of motion to the respondents for May 28 when some other petitions, including a PIL on the issue, are also fixed for hearing.

In its petitions, Omaxe India had stated that it is developing a housing project worth over Rs 118 crore comprising 660 flats on a 15.35-acres. Out of the total flats, 452 have already been booked and 60 per cent construction stands completed. On March 12, the Punjab Pollution Control Board withdrew the NOC granted to the project and thereafter the CLU permission too was cancelled

Counsel for the petitioner stated that the case of the company was distinguishable from other projects as it was not in close vicinity of any industry. He pleaded that the government and PPCB action be stayed. However, the Bench simply issued notice.


Boy beaten to death
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 4
A 12-year-old-boy identified as Maninder Singh, son of Kulwant Singh, of Jalalabad village under Verowal police station, was beaten to death late last night by a group of 11 drunkards of the same village over a minor issue. Kulwant Singh and his two relatives were injured when they intervened.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302,307 and other relevant Section of the IPC. All the accused are said to be absconding.

SSP Pavan Kumar Rai told this correspondent here today that the accused have been identified as Dalbir Singh, Massa Singh, Ujagar Singh, Gujar Singh, Aman Singh, Shindu, Kaka Shah, Hardev Singh, Surjit Singh and Resham Singh of the same village. The accused were returning after attending a marriage function when the boy and his friends called them drunkards. Thereafter the accused started beating him and he died on the spot. Kulwant Singh, father of the deceased, and his two relatives, Sonu and Goldy, were also attacked and injured. They have been admitted to the rural health centre, Mianwind.


Man commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 3
Harjit Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver of Amar Dass Colony, allegedly hanged himself to death last night.

According to sources, Harjit committed suicide when he was alone at his house. Depression seems to be the reason behind his step, the police said.

Married to a resident of Kala Singha Jodhpur in Jalandhar district over two years ago, Harjit was reportedly living separately from his wife and son for the past few months. Efforts to effect a compromise among them had failed, the police added.


Pbi varsity gets Rs 10-cr grant 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sanctioned a grant of Rs 10 crore for Punjabi University, Patiala. The university has received this amount from the Planning Commission of India through the Government of India.

This special grant has been sanctioned in appreciation of the efforts of imparting technical and professional education by Punjabi University to rural students by setting up its neighbourhood campuses in the rural areas itself.

During the past two years, Punjabi University has established five such neighbourhood campuses,namely Jogga Ralla, Dehla Sehian, Karandi, Jhunir and Rampura Phul in the rural areas of the Malwa region of Punjab.

Swaran Singh Boparai, vice-chancellor, Punjabi University, stated that the amount of Rs 10 crore would be spent on strengthening these neighbourhood campuses only, which had been established by Punjabi University earlier from its own resources. Out of the Rs 10 crore, Rs 2 crore would be spent on the development of each of these campuses.

This is for the first time in the history of universities of the region that Planning Commission, Government of India, has released such a large grant for the cause of spreading education among the rural poor.


2 DAV students awarded gold medals
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 4
Ankush Chhabra and Sarvgunjit Singh of the LRS DAV Senior Secondary School, here have been awarded gold medals by the DAV Managing Committee, New Delhi, for getting more than 90 per cent marks in the CBSE examination. Principal Kusum Khungar said yesterday that the medals were given by the minister for Human Resources Arjun Singh, committee president G.P. Chopra and Swami Sumedha Nand at a function at the headquarters of the managing committee.


VAT collections rise to Rs 5150 crore
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4,
The value added tax (VAT) collection has increased by 11 per cent in the state in the current financial year. As per the initial estimates, the VAT collections this year are Rs 5150 crore against the Rs 4638 crore in the previous financial year.

Additional excise and taxation commissioner Nilkanth S. Avhadi while talking to The Tribune said though the tax collections had increased, the growth in collections has gone down. In the previous financial year, the growth in tax collections was 21.5 per cent. However, this year the growth has gone down to 11 per cent.

He attributed the exponential growth in tax collections in the last financial year to the implementation of VAT. The new system helped plug the loopholes that led to increase in tax collection last year.

He further said that the number of VAT collectors in the state had grown to 1.61 lakh. The sales tax numbers of about 15,000 inactive traders had been cancelled and another 25,000 dealers had been given new numbers.

The basic emphasis of the sales tax authorities in the state was to increase the percentage of people taking bills for purchase of commodities.

Responding to a query, the additional excise and taxation commissioner said there were about 4000 units in the state which had been given sales tax exemption. In the new VAT system, no exemption can be given to any unit. The exemption to the industries had been given under the old taxation system. The units given sales tax exemptions are refunded the tax that is claimed to have been paid to the government.

Such units produce bills with tax authorities concerned as proof of deposit of the sales tax paid.

A large number of units owned by influential politicians took illegal sales tax redemptions worth crores during the stint of the previous government. Some of the units took sales tax redemptions for the units that were declared sick. Though the units were declared sick the turnover of the units on paper was shown to have increased by about 10 times to maximize the sales tax redemptions.

The additional excise and taxation commissioner when asked about such sales tax redemptions said such cases were going on in respective district headquarters.

Finance minister Manpreet Badal during his recent visit to Patiala had also claimed that the state could save about Rs 1500 crore by plugging simple lacunae in the taxation system.


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