P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Transfer policy announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , April 13
The SAD-BJP government has announced its transfer policy.

Under the new policy, the government has issued guidelines for general postings and transfers of its employees for 2007-08.

A government spokesman said the transfer orders would be issued from April 15 to May15. However, transfers in the education department would be done between June 1 and June 30. In the case of the departments of cooperation and food and civil supplies, transfers would be done from July 1 to July 31.

Transfers would be kept to the barest minimum and be made against vacant posts except where the transfers were justified on administrative or compassionate grounds. Employees, whether gazetted or non-gazetted, who were due to retire within the next two years, would be allowed, as far as possible, to continue in the same district or at the same station of posting till retirement.

In the case of couples, a husband and wife serving at one station would be kept there for five years. Thereafter, they would be transferred as per the policy. Even in cases where the wife was in government service and the husband in private employment, the same rule would be applicable. Efforts would be made to post unmarried girls and widows at stations suitable to them, as far as possible.

In the case of handicapped and visually challenged employees, the government would post them as per their convenience. They would be posted at stations nearest their homes. A sympathetic attitude would also be adopted while posting or transferring a government employee or officer whose child was mentally challenged. Efforts would be made to post them at places of their choice.

Three years and five years, respectively, would be treated as the minimum and maximum periods at a particular place of posting. In the case of employees transferable within the state, particularly group 'A' and group 'B' officers, no employee would be allowed to serve in one district beyond a period of seven years during his entire service. Within a particular office, seats where the nature of work was sensitive such as extensive public dealing, establishment, monetary sanctions, etc would be clearly defined and the maximum period of posting at such seats would be two years.

With regard to premature transfers, that is the transfer of an employee before the completion of a minimum of three years of stay, it was clarified that these would not be ordered except under rare circumstances of punishment or clearly spelt out administrative reasons. The employees or officers who were posted in the border areas, bet and kandi areas would remain there for a minimum period of two years, he added.


Nine members for 1,900 complaints: Welcome to PSIC
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The figures first. Ever since it began functioning in December 2005, the Punjab State Information Commission (PSIC) has received a total of 1,854 cases. Of these, 316 were appeal cases and 1,538 complaint cases. The total number of cases disposed of by the PSIC till April 11 was 834, leaving a total of 1,020 cases pending.

There are nine members, including the chief information commissioner (CIC), who are dealing with these complaints.

Compare this number to the total number of Judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court - 33, including the Chief Justice, at last count - given the task of deciding a mammoth two lakh-plus pending cases and one feels the difference.

In Haryana, the two information commissioners - CIC G. Madhavan and information commissioner Meenaxi Anand Chaudhry - took over on November 1, 2005, and May 9, 2006, respectively.

Since its inception, the commission has received a total of 1,495 complaints, including appeals. Of these, 1,203 were disposed of till March 31 and 292 are pending.

For Punjab, where the government never shows any urgency when it comes to appointing judicial officers to fill large number of vacancies, which in turn leads to harassment of the general public, the Right to Information Act came as a godsend.

On October 11, 2005, former state chief secretary Rajan Kashyap was appointed the state’s first chief information commissioner (CIC). However, he started taking up cases only in December 2005 as there was no infrastructure.

On May 17, 2006, Kashyap was joined by four new state information commissioners - former bureaucrats Rupan Deol Bajaj, P.K. Verma, R.K. Gupta and technocrat Surinder Singh.

Thereafter, just before the Amarinder Singh government bowed out, four more information commissioners appointed by it assumed office on January 25, taking the total strength of state information commissioners, including CIC, to nine. The new information commissioners were Lieut-Gen. P.K. Grover (retd), Ravi Singh, Kulbir Singh and P.P.S. Gill.

Had the previous government managed to have its way, it would have filled all 11 posts with retired bureaucrats or others.

Punjab, sources say, has the highest number of information commissioners among all states across the country. Maharashtra and Gujarat, both bigger in size and population, have less number of information commissioners, while neighbouring Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are making do with just two and one information commissioners, respectively.

“The office of PSIC was turned into a place for providing employment to retired bureaucrats, etc, by the previous government. How otherwise can a government justify employing nine persons to handle less than 1900 complaints?” wondered an officer.

The perks of office that accompany ones appointment to the PSIC could be one of the reasons. While the CIC is entitled to pay and perks of a Supreme Court Judge, the post of information commissioner is equivalent to the chief secretary to the government.

Inquiries made by this reporter revealed that majority of the information commissioners hold court for just two days every week. Most of the court work is finished before lunch hour. The fact that each information commissioner costs the government at least Rs 1 lakh per month seems to have been completely missed.

It is learnt that in order to reach out to the common man at the grass-roots, the PSIC has recently decided to hold hearings at the district and tehsil level. It has been decided that every commissioners would hold hearings in the field at least twice every month. Also, from June 1 onwards, the CIC and the information commissioners will hold court singly only.


Airport project: Landowners keep their fingers crossed
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Sahnewal, April 13
“We will see” is the response of people living in and around this city following the decision of the state government to upgrade the domestic airport here to international one.

A cross section of the people, including villagers, whose land is likely to be acquired by the government to expand the existing infrastructure, told TNS that they were adopting a wait-and-watch policy as it is too early to comment right now.

"Look at what happened to Halwara. The previous government tried its best to push the project, but what actually happened. The hopes of people of that belt of cashing in on the boom in real estate and the resultant air traffic were dashed to the ground, Kartar Singh, a resident of Nandpur, which adjoins the airport, pointed out.

Many others, like Swarn Singh of Jugiana, feel that the airport could have been nerve centre of Punjab had the successive governments shown some interest in promoting it. Ludhiana is centrally located and is the industrial hub of the state. The potential is unlimited, but politics has been its undoing as leaders wanted to promote their own projects for obvious reasons, he added.

Investigations into land deals in the vicinity of the airport over the past few months reveal that no major purchases have been made. Since the area is already highly industralised, the cost of land is over Rs 1 crore per acre. Rumours of senior bureaucrats and politicians striking benami deals in the vicinity of the airport are also making the rounds.

People belonging to villages around the airport area have small landholdings and are in no hurry to sell their land to real estate agents. The only activity is the haste with which the realtors are running after the farmers, who have sold their land, to get the deals registered.

Sources in the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which runs the establishment, informed that the airport had been established in the late ‘70s on about 130-acre area, but has not witnessed much traffic due to various reasons.

The airport is fully operational, but is equipped to handle only small aircraft like Avros and ATRs. To make it fit for an Airbus, the runway will have to be extended from the present 1,400 feet to over 5,000 feet. The tarmac too needs so be repaired since it has not been repaired for the past many years, they said.

At present, the airport receives chartered flights which average one a day. Most of the flights fly in businessmen and their associates from Delhi.


Fire near Sukhbir’s press meet
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 13
Two cars parked near the venue where acting president of SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal addressed a press conference here this afternoon caught fire under mysterious circumstances, much to the panic of residents of the locality and embarrassment of policemen deployed at the venue.

However, a major tragedy was averted when a section of residents of the local Aggarwal Colony and volunteers of NGO Sahara Jan Sewa managed to put out the fire and prevented the gas cylinder, fitted in one of the cars, from exploding.

Sukhbir, who has been touring various parts of the Malwa region, was addressing the press conference at the house of Sarup Singla, who contested Assembly elections as party candidate from Bathinda.

Harwinder Singh Virk, SHO, said a case would be registered after investigation into the matter. He claimed that both cars were parked at a place that fell outside the security zone, comprising of 200 m radius.

He said preliminary investigations revealed that one of the cars, belonging to a resident of Kotkapura, developed short circuit and collided with another car fitted with gas cylinder parked nearby. Both cars caught fire which was brought under control.

Naresh Arora, SSP, Bathinda, said the matter was being investigated. He claimed that the cars were not parked in the VIP area. He also ruled out any foul play in the incident.


10-year-old in handcuffs
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 13
In a clear violation of Supreme Court directions, the Jalandhar police handcuffed four minor accused while taking them to the local Civil Hospital for medical examination before producing them in a city court on Thursday afternoon.

Shockingly, the accused included a 10-year-child Ranjit, a resident of Bihar. The other three minors who were handcuffed were Bihar residents Sarwan Kumar (16), Santosh (16) and a UP resident Rajesh (17).

They were brought in a police vehicle (PB 08-AE 6061) to the Civil Hospital for medical examination at around 1.45 p.m. and were kept there handcuffed for about one-and-half hour.

When asked if they got permission to handcuff the accused, head constable Jarnail Singh, leading the five-member police team, pleaded not to publish a report about the incident.

He said they had handcuffed them so that they could not flee.

The other four members of the police team were head constable Satpal, constables Sanjiv Kumar, Ramesh and Hansraj.

Interestingly, a doctor on duty at the Civil Hospital at that time slapped one of the accused when the policemen told him about their crime.

The four minors were arrested on Tuesday on the charge of stealing gold by using chemicals on the pretext of polishing jewellery.

Two other minors Mintoo (11) and Kundan (17), both residents of Bihar, were arrested along with the four accused from Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar by the police division No. 4 after a tip-off. All six accused were living in Basti Dansihmanda. However, the kingpin of the gang, Badri, reportedly managed to flee.

Meanwhile, a city advocate K.K. Arora said: “The SC passed a judgement in 1996 saying that no accused can be handcuffed while producing him in a court or taking him to hospital for his medical examination.

Investigation officer (IO) Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Jagjit Singh could not be contacted despite repeating attempts.

When contacted, SSP Arpit Shukla said he would verify the incident.


Reprieve for Amarinder Singh
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 13
Capt Amarinder Singh’s visit to London soon after the swearing in of the new members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha was variously interpreted by the media. Initial reaction was that Amarinder Singh had “escaped” to London to prevent his immediate arrest by the Parkash Singh Badal government. Amarinder Singh’s own explanation was that his medical check-up was long overdue and he had to consult his physicians in London. The rumours of the search of Moti Bagh Palace and Amarinder’s protégé Bharat Inder Singh Chahal’s residence indicated that the government was too eager to catch its “culprits”.

There were fissures in the Congress party as well. It is too well known that neither Shamsher Singh Dullo nor Rajinder Kaur Bhathal had any sympathy for Amarinder Singh. They tried to present Amarinder’s visit to London in a bad shape. But Amarinder Singh’s interaction with the media from London on the phone set the records straight. His repeated assertion that he was prepared to face the consequences for any of his actions while in government presented him in a heroic mode.

This even made the Badal government look at their action against the former Chief Minister and his colleagues afresh.

As a matter of fact, the Badal government does not want to cede even an inch to Amarinder Singh on the political front. It was in view of this that the search warrants for the Moti Bagh Palace made to the court was withdrawn.

On the other hand, the reluctance of Dullo to permit his men to go to Delhi to receive Amarinder Singh on his return brought into focus the hostility that the outgoing PPCC chief nursed against Amarinder Singh. This could have had a direct affect on the political scene in Punjab.

On his return, Amarinder Singh has shown that he is not prepared to concede any political space to his adversaries within the Congress. He has met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and apprised her of the state of affairs of politics in Punjab. Through this meeting Amarinder Singh is reported to have ensured her support in his fight against Parkash Singh Badal.

Meanwhile, it can be said with certainity that Dullo and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal have not acted wisely to keep Congressmen united in an hour of crisis. After all, they all have to face allegations being thrown on them by the Akalis.


SAD to probe defeat in Malwa region
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 13
Sukhbir Singh Badal, acting president of SAD, has said the party has launched an exercise to find out the reasons which had led to the poor performance of its candidates in Malwa region in the recently held Assembly elections.

Addressing a press conference here today, Sukhbir said after finding out the reasons the party would remove its shortcomings so that it could perform better in future in this region.

Information was being collected from each Assembly segment so that it could be known that which factors played crucial role, he added.

He said the party had also initiated efforts to convince the people to buy agriculture land in neighbouring Rajasthan.


‘Shingara Singh is not massacre eyewitness’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
The fact finding report of Guru Nanak Dev University that has been sent to Rashtarpati Bhavan has concluded that Shingara Singh is not an eyewitness to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919.

The development may embarrass the local administration too which had arranged a meeting of Shingara Singh with Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, President of India, during his visit to the national memorial in 2003. After honouring Shingara Singh, Dr Kalam had directed the state government to make arrangements for recording the 'eyewitness account' in a book form. He was also given Rs 25,000 as first installment of a grant sanctioned at the behest of Dr Kalam. However, the promises of payment of the rest of the financial aid and job for one member of his family were never honoured. The then PWD minister Partap Singh Bajwa was also directed to ensure naming of the road leading to his house after him.

The fact-finding report was compiled by Dr Harish Sharma, a Professor in the Department of History. He had held a detailed interview with Shingara Singh. According to Dr Sharma, the report had pointed out that the facts about the Jallianwala Bagh massacre being given by Shingara Singh did not corroborate the historical facts. While Shingara Singh claimed that the Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred at 11.15 a.m, the actual time of firing on innocent Indians was 5.15 p.m.

The GNDU team claimed that Shingara Singh had been giving conflicting statements about his age and time of the firing. Dr Sharma said he had sent two reports to the Rashtarpati Bhavan, as directed by the President of India.

Shingara Singh had claimed that he was the sole survivor of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and was wounded in the firing on April 13, 1919. He also claimed that the memories of the massacre were still fresh in his mind.

The old man had also claimed that he had sustained a bullet injury on his right arm during the firing. While talking to TNS Shingara Singh said he had also had a chance to meet Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Struck with a paralytic attack, Shingara Singh could vividly recall pre-Partition days. Giving details of the massacre to Dr Kalam, he had told that he, along with four friends, had gone to Jallianwala Bagh to listen to the speeches of freedom fighters on that fateful Baisakhi day. While his three friends had died in the indiscriminate firing, he managed to sneak out. He was also a witness to people jumping into the well to save themselves.

However, the report of Dr Sharma states that Shingara Singh had failed to name the freedom fighters who were delivering speeches before the firing. “He is totally blank about the historical events that took place before and after the incident”, the report added.


Tributes paid to Jallianwala victims
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Rich tributes were paid to martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre on the 88th anniversary of the incident with a large number of politicians and representatives of social and religious organisations thronging the memorial today.

At the stroke of four in the evening, the time when British troops had fired at innocent persons assembled to protest against the Rowlett Act on Baisakhi Day in 1919, hundreds of people who had assembled in the Jallianwala Bagh observed a two-minute silence.

A contingent of the Punjab Police presented guard of honour to the martyrs.

Wreaths were placed on the memorial on behalf of President of India, Prime Minister, Governor of Punjab, Punjab Chief Minister and other national and state leaders.

Laxmi Kanta Chawla, health and family welfare minister, Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, K.S Pannu, Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar and S.S Srivastva, SSP, Amritsar, also paid tributes to the martyrs.

Floral tributes were also paid by leaders of different political parties and other social organisations, freedom fighters and senior citizens.

Meanwhile, leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Shamsher Singh Dullo marched to the Jallianwala Bagh to pay tributes.


Countering deras
SGPC office at Takht Damdama Sahib
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
In a significant move, which could give a new twist to the religious political scene of Malwa region, the SGPC today opened its sub-office of its Dharam Parchar wing on the premises of Takht Damdama Sahib.

Though Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, who formally inaugurated the office, claimed that the office had been opened to fight against social evils, including drug addiction and female foeticide, a section of eminent Sikh scholars dubbed this action as a move to stall the increasing influence of “deras” over the people, particularly Sikhs, of the region.

A section of Sikh scholars pointed out that though the SGPC was urged a number of times to open an office in this historical town, no action was taken by it. It was only after the SGPC came to know that Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda was opening branches all over the region, it opened the office, they added. The dera played a crucial role in the recently held Assembly elections and facilitated the Congress to score victory on a number of seats.

Meanwhile, Jathedar Makkar said the office had been opened so that a movement to promote and preach Sikh religion could be run smoothly.

He said the SGPC had written to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for making arrangements to include Takht Damdama Sahib into the area limits of Talwandi Sabo. 


Wetland authority proposed for Punjab
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The regional convention on wetland conservation concluded today with experts proposing to set up a wetland authority for Punjab. The proposal comes in the wake of increasing desecration of wetlands in Punjab, which has three internationally-protected Ramsar sites, Kanjli, Ropar and Harike. Besides, it has four valuable wetlands.

Over the past, the natural wetland area in the state has been on rapid decline, with local farmers reclaiming the land for agricultural and other purposes. A major chunk of land has been reclaimed by private land holders who don’t have a stake in wetland conservation.

Citing the example of Chilka wetlands in Orissa that won India a special recognition at the international Ramsar convention in 2002-2003, experts said the local populations needed to be integrated into the preservation efforts.

“At Chilka, locals are the beneficiaries of the increased fishing potential. The potential was raised by solving Chilka’s peculiar problem of sedimentation by providing a channel at the mouth of the lake. Such examples need to be replicated in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir. In Punjab, Harike has long suffered on the count of pollution and water hyacinth. It is time to evolve a comprehensive policy to develop the site,” said S. Kaul from the ministry of environment and forests.


SSP asked to file report in harassment case
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Taking note of a complaint regarding harassment by workers of a political party the Punjab Human Rights Commission has asked for a report from SSP, Majithia, in the case.

A resident of the Baba Bakala area of Amritsar, Naresh Kumar, had made a complaint against Jugraj Singh and others. He had alleged that he had reported the matter to the police but no action had been taken because Manjinder Singh, MLA from Beas, was helping Jugraj.

Giving a notice for July 4 the commission has sought a report from the SSP, Majithia.

The commission has maintained that on examining the allegations made in the complaint, it had been found that a prima facie case is made out against the accused for proceedings under Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, and the complaint should be registered as a case.

Surinder Kumar Billa, president All-India Hindu Shiv Sena had threatened to stage a dharna at Hall Gate in case the Akali government failed to provide protection to the families.


Mandira Bedi must apologise, says SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Spelling more trouble for actor-turned-cricket-show anchor Mandira Bedi, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has taken a serious view of her ramp show with a tattoo depicting “mool mantra,” a religious symbol of the Sikhs, and has demanded a public apology.

SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh said Mandira had tried to hurt Sikh sentiments by organising a similar programme in the past as well and what she had done this time needed to be condemned.

He added that though every Sikh chanted the “mool mantra” on a daily basis, her display of the religious symbol as a tattoo on the back of her neck was unfortunate and it called for a public apology.


SGPC team may drop visit to UK
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
The four-member SGPC team is unlikely to go to UK to participate in the auction of the 150-year-old bust of Maharaja Duleep Singh. The auction is proposed to be held on April 19. Wide-spread criticism of the decision to send the team has reportedly lead to this decision.

It is learnt that the SGPC has authorised UK-based Baba Mohinder Singh of Nishkam Sewa to participate in the proposed auction. The bust may be purchased on behalf of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation.

A section of Sikhs, including certain SGPC members, had opposed the move to send a four-member team to the UK.


Restore NPA, demand docs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The senior Punjab Civil Medical Services Doctors Association yesterday presented a memorandum of demands to state health minister Luxmi Kanta Chawla.

They said the notification should be amended and the NPA restored to the senior doctors at the earliest.

The implementation of dearness pay and the resultant NPA on the central pattern had been denied to the PCMS doctors. It should be implemented, the association demanded.

The association said transfers and postings should be governed by a rational policy, which should be adhered to. Also, the age of superannuation of PCMS doctors should be raised to 62 years on the central pattern, said Y.C. Markan, president of the association.


Plan to restore forests

Patiala, April 13
For the first time the department of wildlife has prepared management plans for reserve forests in Patiala division. The plans have been sent to the Chief Wildlife Warden for approval. Patiala forest division has seven reserve forest areas extending from 200 to 1,000 hectare. These, include Moti Bagh, Bonoredi, Bhadson, Gurdialpura, Mehas, Dosanj and Ash Ban (located in Sangrur). Most of these reserve forests are former hunting grounds of the erstwhile rulers of Patiala state.

The DFO wildlife, Patiala, said management plan of Ash ban had been approved and approval of rest of the reserve forests areas is in pipeline. The management plans would help in proper management of the reserve forest areas, she added. — TNS


Family donates woman’s body
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 13
Keeping aside the traditional attitude, rural folk have started opting to the new waves of science age. Family members of a deceased woman, Pushpa Devi, have donated her body to Government Medical College, Faridkot.

Vipin Gupta, son of the deceased, runs a medical shop at Bhadaur. He said in order to serve humanity her mother took the decision to donate her body to medical college for research purposes. And, according to her desire, they had handed over the body to the medical college authorities, he added.

Applauding the initiative, Megh Raj Mitter, president of the Tarksheel Society, Punjab, said it was for the first time that a woman of this area had taken such a decision.


Cable thieves strive on police ‘laxity’
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 13
The frequent incidence of theft of BSNL’s underground telephone cables in Sangrur is a matter of great concern for the telecom authorities here as during the past six months the thieves had reportedly stolen cables for more than 20 times from different places in the town.

Sources in the BSNL said about eight times telephone cable had been stolen from DC’s residence road, five times on a culvert on Mehlan road, four times near local Mahavir chowk, three times on Dhuri road and two times on college road here. The police had been informed about these thefts, but no one had been arrested so far.

Due to the theft hundreds of telephone subscribers have to suffer for days, as after the cutting of cable the BSNL takes one to three days to restore the network. The thieves steal the telephone cable to extract copper from it .

BSNL officials are of the view that though the cable was in small quantity in majority of the cases, the loss was heavy on account of revenue collection, labour charges, besides inconvenience to hundreds of subscribers.

General Manager, Telecom, BSNL, K.K. Sarangal said the cable had been stolen every time from the spot where either the road widening work or the construction of a bridge was in progress. He said as the thieves could not be traced the theft was still continued.

When contacted, a senior police official admitted that no arrest had been made so far in this connection. 


Newborn abandoned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13A two-day-old girl child was abandoned by her parents near   Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib here today. She was found abandoned by devotees who informed the police.

Police officials took the infant to the Rajindra Hospital. Sources said the police was verifying the details of delivery cases in the past two days.


UK MP for developing educational ties
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The splendour and serenity of the Golden Temple had MP and minister for e-governance in the UK, Pat McFadden, astounded. There was no way he was going to miss coming to this region despite being on his maiden visit to India.

“In my constituency in Wolverhampton (near Birmingham) more than 20 per cent of the population have their roots in Punjab. With such deep cultural links it is vital to encourage other aspects like trade, educational and intellectual ties between the two countries,” he said.

While the focus of his trip to India was to share experiences on how both governments are using technology to improve public services, he also stressed on wanting to develop educational ties between young people from both countries.

“There is real interest and excitement about India’s growth as an economic power and to its commitment to educational skills,” he averred.

Using his short time at the British Council, Sector 9, to precision, he spoke at length about the British Council’s “UK-India Research Initiative” where a group of schools in the UK will work with schools in India on varied topics that touch both countries.

“We are keen that students from here and from Wolverhampton work together on a project on climate change under the British Council programme. This is an issue that affects different countries in different ways and what better than to have the next generation work on it,” he said.

In order to understand the Indian educational scenario a little better, Mc Fadden also visited St Kabir’s School in Sector 26.

The day also packed in several meetings with Punjab ministers, specifically in the areas of trade and education, but e-governance is also something McFadden did not ignore. 


Interview was sabotaged: lecturer
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
The controversy over leak of names of experts selected for holding the interview for the post of reader in the department of public administration, Punjabi University, has taken a new turn.

One of the candidates, Renu Kapila, who is a lecturer in the department, told The Tribune that the interview had been sabotaged to scuttle her chances of selection. I was the most suitable and qualified person for the job.

Some of the persons did not want me to be promoted as reader as I would have come eligible for the post of head of department. So, they managed forged signatures of three candidates appearing for the interview and moved an application to the Governor.

The three candidates have given in writing to the university authorities that they had not signed the application, she alleged.

An inquiry should be ordered into leak of the names of the experts.


Private traders missing from mandis 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
Private traders are not procuring foodgrain from mandis in Punjab. The FCI and state agencies have procured 98 per cent of the foodgrain that have arrived in mandis of Punjab till date.

Secretary, food, with the union ministry of food and civil supplies T Nanda Kumar gave this information while talking to newsmen here today. He along with Alok Sinha, chairman-cum-managing director, FCI, and Sarabjeet Singh, general manager, FCI, was here to supervise the procurement arrangements of wheat in various mandis.

While responding to queries from newsmen, the secretary said that government was not stopping any private trader from buying wheat from Punjab. However, the private traders were perhaps not coming to Punjab due to high taxes and lowers prices of wheat in the international market.

In Punjab about 11 per cent tax is imposed on the procurement of wheat. Besides the transportation cost for carrying wheat from Punjab to southern states is also very high. So, the private traders were preferring to buy wheat from Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan.

The price of wheat in the international market has also fallen down. Anyone can now get wheat at sea coast at a price of Rs 1050 per quintal. The buffer stocks of the FCI are also comfortable this year. This year, the FCI has buffer stocks of 50 lakh tonnes. The FCI intends to add another 140 lakh tones. So, the traders are wary of purchasing wheat in large quantities.

He also attributed the high prices of essential commodities in the country to increase in rates of minimum support price and lower production. About the extra profit margins being made by the private traders, he said that was a peril of the free market economy.

“We cannot stop private traders from buying wheat at prices higher than the MSP fixed by the government. If they buy foodgrain at a higher price, naturally they would sell the finished product at a higher price after making their profit”.

When asked about hoarding by traders, he said under the present law there was no restriction on private companies or traders from keeping stocks of foodgrain. The policy of the government was intended at allowing free trade of foodgrain as well as protecting the interests of farmers by ensuring MSP, T Nanda Kumar said.

The chairman-cum-managing director of the FCI, when asked about the unoccupied godowns of the Central Warehousing Corporation while foodgrain were being kept in private open plinths and godowns, said that agreement with private godown facilities would end in next few years. As per the previous agreements, rent had to be paid to private godown owners, irrespective of the fact that the foodgrain were kept there or not. So the FCI preferred to use the private godowns vis-à-vis government facilities.


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