P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

VC finds salvation in GM seeds ?
Sidhu Damdami
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
The solution to the crisis facing the Punjab agriculture sector lies in genetically modified (GM) crops, contract farming, purpose-oriented agro research and such varieties of crops, which require less watering.

Spelling out his mantra for salvaging the rapidly deteriorating agriculture sector, the new Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, Dr. Manjit Singh Kang, said that PAU would shortly start research to develop varieties of genetically modified crops.

In an exclusive interview with this writer at the PAU campus in Ludhiana, the internationally known expert in genetics and plant breeding said he would probe the possibilities to develop such a high-yielding variety of paddy, which would require less irrigation. For this revolutionary purpose, domestic stock of plant germplasm would be used. If necessary, even germplasm available in foreign countries would be used. Help would also be taken from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in the Philippines, which have a tie-up with PAU, said Dr Kang.

Expressing grave concern over the depletion of underground water table, Dr Kang said it was necessary for the farmers to be persuaded to go for crop diversification and late planting of paddy. It was also necessary to provide them alternative varieties of crops which are low on water requirement.

Describing the environmental controversy related to GM crops as the one based on unfounded fear; Dr. Kang stated, ‘this disinformation’ about GM crops started from the failure of a limited experiment done on butterflies. Later it was found that butterflies died not because of GM feed but due to the overdose of the feed.

Openly recommending the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Punjab, the VC said that the successful experiment of Punjab farmers with Bt. Cotton has already proved the point.

Favouring co-operative, contractual and corporate farming in Punjab, he said, PAU would be open to collaborate with private companies on such research projects. To recharge its funds, the university would also take up research work outsourced to it by private companies.

Expressing concern over the critical financial health of the university, he maintained that PAU being a state university is to be mainly funded by the government. However, for this purpose, he is also in favour of knocking on the doors of international financial institutions, including the World Bank. There are also plans to get some research projects sponsored by PAU alumni spread all over the world. Some offers have already come in, he added.

Commenting on the existing state of affairs in his alma mater, where he has returned after spending about four decades in Louisiana State University, US, Dr. Kang said, the number of students has gone down. The connection between the students and the faculty has also become weak. A sense of complacency and fatigue is palpable on the campus.

Citing an example, he said, even the advisory printed in the annual university diary to guide farmers on farm operations like use of fertilisers, insecticides, pesticide etc, has not been updated for the last 2-3 years. “The people at the university need to be made excited to work. To start with, I have already asked the department heads to formulate three and five years plans on the basis of SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats)”, he stated.

When PUDA turns blind eye to violations
Farmers left landless 
Real estate businessmen mint crores
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 7
By acquiring and exempting land for developing Phases IV and V of Urban Estate in this town as per its whims and fancies, the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has left a number of farmers landless. On the other hand it has allowed a section of real estate businessmen to mint money by developing colonies over the land.

Though the land exemption scam came to surface after the then deputy commissioner K.A.P. Sinha made inquiries into this, neither the previous Congress government nor the present SAD-BJP alliance government led by Parkash Singh Badal has taken any action to set the things right.

The apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned led to a situation where a considerable number of land owners turned out to be landless farmers and a section of real estate dealers became rich overnight by developing colonies over the exempted pieces of land.

Darshan Singh, whose entire piece of agriculture land has been acquired by the state and Centre while making land acquisition for setting up cantonment and Phase II and III of Urban Estate by PUDA, said, “I have been struggling hard to save my house, which falls in A category, as PUDA has acquired it.”

He alleged that the entire process of acquisition and exempting pieces of land for Phases IV and V by PUDA was carried out by violating norms.

A section of land owners pointed out that PUDA had been acquiring their houses after getting the site plans of the same sanctioned from the authorities concerned. They added that they had approached Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this regard and were ready to pay development charges. They also demanded that an inquiry should be made as to how the land acquisition and exemption was done.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the Punjab government in its first notification issued a few years ago earmarked about 240 acres for acquisition to develop Phases IV and V under residential scheme. After some time it issued another notification in which PUDA exempted about 48 acres from the entire area comprising 240 acres. Seven acres were also exempted when it announced the award in lieu of land acquired by it for development of the two phases.

A section of real estate dealers managed to purchase the exempted piece of land measuring 48 acres and developed residential colonies over the same by getting these sanctioned from the state Town Planning Department.

M.P. Arora, assistant chief administrator, PUDA, Bathinda, said land acquisition and exemption had been done much before he took over the charge. He added that the rules did not permit to exempt the houses, which had been acquired at the stage when the award was announced. He said that those affected could approach the court to get any type relief. 


Colony at Kotli village
Builder violating Forest Act
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

A housing colony, RV City, is coming up at Kotli village along the Pathankot-Amritsar national highway No. 15, near Pathankot
A housing colony, RV City, is coming up at Kotli village along the Pathankot-Amritsar national highway No. 15, near Pathankot. A Tribune photograph

Kotli, (Pathankot), May 7
Throwing all norms to the winds, a politically well-connected builder has been constructing a housing colony at Kotli village along the Pathankot-Amritsar National Highway No. 15 in violation of the Indian Forest Conversation Act, Indian Forest Act and the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), Act, 1995, right under the nose of the authorities concerned.

The developer has been constructing the housing colony, RV City, on a piece of land without seeking permission for an approach road from the Forest Department. The company,RV Reality and Projects Limited, has constructed a ‘kuchcha’ link road through a forest-protected land without obtaining permission from the department.

Moreover, the company has not been complying with the norms laid down by the PUDA Act, 1995, at the construction site.

The builder has also not sought permission for laying the approach road from the forest-protected land, thus, endangering a large number of fully-grown trees and other vegetation on the main entrance of the colony.

Sources in the Forest Department revealed that the developer had even felled a few trees to make way for the colony. As per the records with the divisional forest officer, Gurdaspur, the authorities of RV Reality and Projects Limited have not sought any permission. The sources also alleged that the company had felled a few trees “obstructing the approach road" illegally after tampering with the actual tree-count, marked by the department.

PWD (Central Works) officials, however, claimed that the RV City was granted permission for laying the approach road from the highway side after they received an application through PUDA. The coloniser was directed not carry out any construction activity within 100-foot of the main road.

Marketing manager of the company Ashok Talwar when contacted claimed that all formalities had been completed before the construction work started.

He further claimed that clearance from the PWD and the forest departments were also obtained.


Chahal’s property
Vigilance team visits Lohgarh village
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 7
A two-member team of the state Vigilance Bureau today again started collecting details in connection with the landed and other property acquired by media advisor to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, in Bathinda, Mansa and Sirsa district of Haryana.

Though, senior officials of the bureau, to whom TNS spoke, remained tight-lipped and refused to make any comment, reliable sources said the Vigilance team visited Lohgarh village in Sirsa district where Chahal had reportedly acquired a big piece of land under some factitious name.

SSP, Vigilance Bureau, M. S. Dahiya, when contacted said he had no information about the visit of a Vigilance team to this area. He added that local vigilance bureau office had not sent any such team.

The sources said the team also visited Mansa and different villages of the district to dig out more information in connection with the different properties acquired by Chahal in his own name and in the name of his family members. The team also tried to collect information from the Mansa-based district transport office in connection with the details of a transport company being run by Chahal under factitious name.

Though Chahal was supposed to appear in the High Court in connection with a case, he had been avoiding the same by claiming that he was being treated in a foreign country.

The sources said the Vigilance Bureau, which had been working in secretive manner as far as the collection of data in connection with the property of Chahal and his family members was concerned, was trying to be on strong footing before proceeding against him.

The team, which went to Lohgarh village, could not get any information in connection with the property of Chahal, which was located in that village from any official agency. But, members managed to collect enough information by inquiring about the same from the residents of that area.

The sources said the bureau had already collected information in connection with the landed property of Chahal located in the Bhagta Bhai Ka area of this district and petrol stations at different places in the state. 


MHA starts process on Virk’s suspension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Even as the Punjab government today made it clear that it was keeping its legal options open on the matter of the controversial reversion of former DGP S.S. Virk to his parent cadre of Maharashtra, the union ministry of home affairs has started the process to take a decision on the suspension of Virk.

The MHA could revoke the suspension or accept the same. Sources confirmed that the MHA had also sought the comments of the Punjab government on the petition filed by Virk in the MHA saying he was facing political vendetta. The reversion of Virk or his joining in his parent cadre does not mean that the suspension stands revoked automatically. The MHA will have to record reasons for its decision.

Virk was suspended by the Punjab government on April 4. The MHA is supposed to ratify the same or reject the plea of Punjab.

Punjab lodged a strong protest when Virk rejoined duty in Maharashtra on April 27 as the MHA had ended his deputation period prematurely. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had made it clear that the MHA should not have allowed Virk to join duty as he was under suspension pending an inquiry. Badal today confirmed that all options were open.The government would consider all aspects before taking any legal recourse.


Tribune Special
PSEB unbundling: Badal govt seeks 6-month extension
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Not prepared to court any controversy at this stage with regard to the unbundling of the Punjab state electricity board (PSEB), the Badal government has approached the union government to seek six months’ extension to initiate power reforms in the state.

Earlier, the previous Amarinder Singh government had got a number of extensions from the union power ministry to avoid power reforms. While granting the extension earlier, the union government had asked the state government to carry out power reforms in the state by June 9. However, nothing had been done in this regard in the past six months because of the assembly elections.

The Badal government, formed two months ago , has now sought six months’ extension to handle the sensitive issue of power reforms which were earlier opposed by board employees. Recently, a team of senior officers of the PSEB had visited Gujarat to study power reforms. The same team is expected to visit Andhra Pradesh soon. After visiting Andhra, the team will submit a report to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with regard to the steps required to be taken for initiating power reforms.

Sources today said the Gujarat government had adopted the best model on power reforms and had achieved tremendous success in slashing line losses, curbing power theft, reducing overhead costs and improving the transmission and distribution of power. The board’s team, which visited Baroda, Mundra

and other places, was impressed by the power distribution network there.

In Punjab, line losses and the incidence of power theft are very high. The PSEB’s distribution system, which is prone to the large-scale theft of power, also requires a major overhaul. Sources said the PSEB team that visited Gujarat had studied all three aspects--- power generation, distribution and transmission---to prepare its report. Compared to Punjab, the Gujarat power board has a larger distribution network and generates more power but has half the number of employees.

Meanwhile, the PSEB’s subsidy bill for giving power to farmers, the Scheduled Castes and backward classes at subsidised rates or free of cost is expected to touch Rs 2,400 crore. Before coming to power, Badal had also promised to give 400 units of power free of cost to each SC\BC family without laying down any precondition. The PSEB has also not filed its annual revenue requirement petition yet for political reasons. The petition should have been filed by November 30 last year and new tariff rates implemented from April 1 this year. However, the PSEB continues with the old tariff rates. The PSEB, in fact, has become a pawn in the hands of whichever party is in power. 


Bhutan ready for poll, says Ladhar
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 7
Bhutan is ready to conduct the parliamentary elections in 2008 to switch over from monarchy to democratic government.

Sangrur deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar made this observation while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He participated in the national parliamentary mock poll held in Bhutan on April 21. He was part of the team sent there by the Election Commission to observe the mock poll.

The DC said the mock poll had been conducted by using four colours - red, yellow, blue and green - in place of election symbols. These colours had been presumed as symbols of the four parties. All parties also released their fictitious election manifestos.

He said during the mock poll, the yellow party secured the maximum votes. The yellow colour is associated with the royalty of Bhutan.

He said the mock poll was an exercise to make the people aware about the election process.


SAD victimising Cong workers: MLA
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 7 
"Congress workers of my constituency are in a state of terror.They are being beaten up by political opponents framed by the police at the behest of SAD leaders", Nabha MLA Kaka Randip Singh stated this to mediapersons here today.

He said Harbans Singh, sarpanch of Raisal village, and his brother Karamji were put behind bars on the "trumped up" charges of attacking and pulling the beard of Karnail Singh Matorra in the administrative complex.He said Harbans was not even present at the place of the incident mentioned in the FIR registered against him.He said the police had acted hastily just to appease a high-profile SAD leader without even looking into the facts. 


Senior leaders invite PPCC’s wrath
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Without naming former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh or any other senior leader, a resolution was passed here today at meeting of the office-bearers of the Punjab Congress condemning those party leaders who had directly or indirectly criticised national general secretary of the party Janardhan Dwivedi.

The meeting of the office- bearers was held here today under the chairmanship of the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee( PPCC), Shamsher Singh Dullo. The PPCC sources said comments against Dwivedi, who is in charge of party affairs in Punjab, had appeared in a section of the Press.Those comments were attributed to a certain senior Congress leader, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, at the meeting, the previous Amarinder Singh government came under a sharp attack. Without mincing words, various speakers, including president of block and district units of the party criticised the Amarinder Singh government for treating the congress workers “ shabbily” during its five-year tenure. Some of the officer-bearers said at the meeting that they were treated badly when the Congress was power in the state and were facing the same treatment from the SAD-BJP government.

Certain speakers said the Congress should follow the foot prints of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and should not become victim of five star culture being promoted by rich and famous in the party. Obviously, this observation was made against Amarinder Singh, who had recently held a press conference in a five star hotel here. Office-bearers said that Punjab Congress Bhavan should be focal point of all party activities and not five star hotels.

As the political situation is emerging the Congress in the state, it appears its various factions led by different leaders are on collision course.

The party is facing a clear division in ranks of its top leaders. Old leadership of the party have not digested the entry of certain new faces, who owe their allegiance to Amarinder Singh, in the party. “ Most of these leaders have come from Akali ranks and have promoted the same culture in the Congress”, said a senior Congress leader of the party.

Meanwhile, Dullo said that the Congress party had nothing to do with a rally being organized by Congress MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar at Rampura Phul on May 9.

Dullo said that it was an individual effort of Kangar and he had not taken the party into confidence before announcing the rally. “ There is a system in the party for organizing such rallies and he had not followed the same”, he said.

“ I am visiting all those places from where excesses or reports of registration of false cases against congress workers had come”, said Dullo.

He said that even Kangar had not talked to Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in this regard. “ I have checked up with Bhattal and she told me that Kangar did not talk with her on the issue of organizing the rally at Rampura Phul”, Dullo claimed. “ I will not take part in that rally”, he said.

He said that he had instructed the party workers to unite and lodge their protest with all officers concerned against the excesses being committed by the SAD-BJP Government.

“I have also collected reports regarding excesses and would take up the matter with authorities concerned”, he added. “ I have told party workers to meet the SSPs, deputy commissioners and SDMs at various places to lodge protest against excesses.


Supply atta-dal from today, says PYC
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 7
Accusing the Badal government of playing with the sentiments of lakhs of innocent poor on the atta-dal issue, the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) today asked the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to start the supply of atta and dal at cheap rates from tomorrow if he wanted to fulfill his poll promise.

Talking to The Tribune today, president of the PYC Vijay Inder Singla further said the Badal government in the name of survey was deceiving the poor of the state because as per the on-going survey about 17 lakh families had reportedly been identified to cover them under the atta-dal scheme.

Singla said the on-going survey to cover more poor should continue. 


State Round-Up
Work to begin on 4 railway overbridges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The Punjab government has given clearance for the construction of four railway overbridges (ROBs) at Mansa, Maur Mandi, Malout and Abohar at a cost of Rs 40 crore.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh announced this at a meeting of the executive committee of the Punjab infrastructure development board (PIDB). He said the construction work on the ROBs would be started within a month and be completed by the end 
of 2009.

Referring to the city bus service to be started in Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar on a public- private partnership basis at a cost of Rs 1.47 crore, he said it should be expedited.

The chief secretary also said that the government would shortly take up the project of reviving and upgrading the flying clubs in the state. The modalities would be worked out by PIDB and the department of civil aviation, Punjab, would execute the plan, he said.

Demand for SEZ

Minister for information technology, Punjab, Adesh Partap Singh pleaded the case of the state government for establishing a special economic zone (SEZ) at Goindwal Sahib.

The minister conveyed this to a central government team on SEZs led by union commerce secretary Gopal K. Pillai during its visit to Punjab. Kairon said that no land acquisition would be required because about 250 acres belonging to the PSIC was lying idle which could be used for this purpose.

New calendar released

A calendar published by the Punjab government was released today. It is dedicated to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. The calendar, which has photographs of the martyrs, has been published to coincide with the 100th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh falling on September 27 this year.

Information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia released the calendar.

Special cell on Central schemes

The Punjab government will soon open a special cell at the state headquarters to pursue various schemes with the central government. It will be under the administrative control of a senior IAS officer, said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during an informal interaction with mediamen in his office here today.

He said the step would help the state government ensure better and effective communication with the centre for the prompt clearance of schemes and programmes pending with different ministries.

He also asked the home secretary to prepare a blueprint for the construction of two model jails at Faridkot and Kapurthala.


Atta-dal scheme put off again to Aug 15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The launching of the atta-dal scheme in Punjab, which will be in fact the wheat-dal scheme, has been further postponed to August 15 .

Earlier, the Badal government had promised to launch the scheme by Baisakhi in April. However, later it was postponed to May 15. Today, the government said that the scheme would be implemented from August 15.

Under the scheme, poor families, enlisted during the ongoing special survey ordered by the state government, will be given wheat (not atta) and dal at a subsidised price. While wheat will be provided at Rs 4 per kg, dal will be supplied at Rs 20 per kg. The promise to give atta-dal at subsidised prices was made by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal before the assembly elections.

Badal held a meeting with the deputy commissioners and other officers concerned here on the implementation of the scheme. Sources said nearly 18 lakh families, about one-third of the total population of the state, were expected to be eligible under the scheme. The government had stated that it had earmarked Rs 800 crore for this scheme. However, keeping in view the number of families to be covered , the government may have to spend up to Rs 1,300 crore on the scheme.

Recently, the Badal government had directed the deputy commissioners to conduct a fresh survey of the poor families to be covered under the scheme.

The survey has been completed. Lists of the beneficiaries will be finalised by May 31 after hearing objections, etc, it is learnt. Random checking has been ordered to find out whether beneficiaries are genuine or not.

Sources said that after May 31, the Punjab food and supplies department would require six weeks’ time to issue special identity cards to the beneficiaries and also for their linkage to the public distribution system.

The state government has procured 6 lakh tonnes of wheat for the purpose.The requisite quantity of dal is also being procured through the state trading corporation.This process is likely to be completed within 45 days.

Meanwhile, ridiculing those who had been accusing the government of backtracking on the scheme, Chief Minister Badal said these people had little idea of the logistics and other details of the scheme. "Let it be understood once and for all, there will be no going back on the scheme, whatever the cost. We will complete the complex preparatory process at the earliest possible", he said.

Badal said the state government did not want to limit the scheme to only those covered under the rigid below the poverty line (BPL) criterion laid down by the union government. It was with this in mind that the eligibility criterion was relaxed to include those with an annual income of up to Rs 30,000. To broadbase the application of the scheme, the government had ordered a fresh survey. The government felt that it was better to take a few more weeks to implement the scheme than to implement it in haste only in the case of a small number of BPL families.



Misuse of ISI mark
BIS conducts raid on Barnala firm
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
A firm in Barnala was among 23 firms raided by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as part of its countrywide enforcement raids against misuse of ISI mark.

According to BIS, the raided firms were found misusing ISI mark without a valid licence from it on items of mass consumption, which include packaged drinking water, gas stoves, plywood, PVC insulated cables, HDPE pipes, GLS lamps, switches and sockets, UPVC conduit pipe, waterproof cement paint, flameproof enclosures, etc.

Seven raids were conducted in Delhi, three in Uttar Pradesh, one each in Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Daman, two each in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and three raids in West Bengal, a press note from the BIS said today.
In Punjab, the raid was conducted at M/s Poly Plastics, Barnala, which was found misusing ISI mark on HDPE pipes with “Kohinoor” brand name, the press note claimed.

The chief vigilance officer of BIS A Dhul said the violators were liable to be punished with imprisonment up to one year and/or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both and forfeiture of seized material.

Dhul said the bureau would soon launch legal proceedings against the “violators” and further intensify its raids against firms misusing ISI mark as these spurious household products are a serious threat to the safety and health of the consumer.

He also appealed to the public to give information about any misuse of ISI mark to BIS which would further help them in taking action against the misusers.


Amritsar city development project reports hang fire 
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Two days after Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal “approved” the Rs 3,150-crore Amritsar city development plan, the fact that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is yet to be submitted to the Union Government does not help matters.

Punjab has been lagging far behind in implementing the partly Centre-sponsored project.

The DPR, which is mandatory to make the Government of India pool in its share, had been delayed for more than a year.

Yesterday’s approval only reflects that Punjab Government has agreed to pay up its share of money for the projects. While the Union Ministry of Urban Development had approved the Amritsar city development plan in September 2006, the previous Congress regime had failed to get the important DPRs drafted. This resulted in Punjab not getting any funds even as other states took the lead and began with their projects.

It is being felt that without submitting the DPRs and getting the same approved by the Union Urban Development Ministry, yesterday’s approval would hold no meaning on the ground. Officials say the “approval” was required for the project to start in a state.

The municipal corporation is supposed to prepare the DPR and no action has been taken despite the Union Ministry of Urban Development crying hoarse over the issue. Sources say the government now intends to engage private consultants in order to speed things up.

More than a year ago, Amritsar and Ludhiana were selected along with 61 other cities across the country under the Jawharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) programmes. However, these Punjab cities have lagged behind.

The website of JNNURM gives a detailed account of the status of the Amritsar and the Ludhiana projects. The Ludhiana project costs Rs 2,053 crore.

The Centre was supposed to fund 50 per cent of the Rs 3150-crore Amritsar project. The state government and the municipal corporation were to fund 20 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. This means that about Rs 1,575 crore would have to be borne by the state.

Punjab, mostly due to its own doing, has not got a single paisa for the Ludhiana project while a sum of Rs 22 crore has been released for a part of the Amritsar development project, i.e., water supply, sewerage and sanitation projects.

The DPRs are required for the Rs-2567 crore mass raid transport system and elevated road project, for the Rs 105-crore tourism projects and the Rs-120 crore housing projects.


Badal vows to stop construction of Hansi canal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today directed the state advocate-general to take all legal measures to stall the construction of the 109 km-long Hansi-Butana multipurpose link channel by Haryana.

Talking to mediapersons here Badal said the state government had already engaged the services of legal experts Venugopal and Harish Salve to pursue this case in the proper perspective. He categorically said that the action on the part of the Haryana government was unjustified and unlawful as it had not even sought permission for the canal from the central water commission and the Bhakra Beas management board.

He said that the Haryana government had also not got approval from the union ministries of water resources and environment and forests.

The Chief Minister reiterated that the state government was committed to safeguarding the interests of Punjab and would oppose the construction of the canal.


Suicide: PSHRC seeks report from govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Taking serious note of a news item “Villagers block highway over suicide owing to police apathy”, which appeared in a national daily on May 5, the Punjab state human rights commission today called for a report from the state government on the matter.

The commission, in its order, said that it was of the prima facie opinion that it was a fit case for examination. A copy of the order was sent to the ADGP concerned and the SSP, Jalandhar.


Fake encounter probe to cover more cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said the inquiry into the alleged killing of innocent persons in the name of militants would not be restricted to just three cases. Rather, its scope would be to find out all such cases.

Once the preliminary inquiry conducted by additional director-general of police J.P. Birdi was over, a judicial probe was not ruled out, said Badal in response to a question by mediapersons whether a police official could conduct an impartial probe.


Panchayat union irked at cut in powers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The Punjab Panchayats Union has raised objection against the state government’s decision to withdraw power from village panchayats to check the functioning of primary schools, dispensaries and other institutions at the village level.

Addressing a press conference, the union leaders led by its president Sukhdev Singh Bareke said here today that, on the one hand, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had been urging the Union Government to give more powers to the state and, on the other hand, his government had curtailed the power of village panchayats to check government institutions functioning at the village level.


Cong councillors on top MC post face heat
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 7
With the change of the government in the state it is the turn of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib and Bassi Pathana municipal councils of Sirhind constituency to see a change at the top level.

Both councils have Congress-backed presidents. Since the change of government both council presidents are feeling insecure and occasionally come to office, which has stalled the development works in both towns.

Sources said both presidents had been conveyed to resign at their own or to face the no confidence move. The hectic political activities have become the talk of the town and people are eagerly waiting for the results.

Amita Tangri president of Bassi Pathana MC will face the no-confidence motion on Tuesday, as 10 councillors, including SAD MLA Didar Singh Bhatti, had submitted the motions against her.

The council has 14 members, including the MLA, and 10 members are required to pass no confidence. The sources said five councillors, including two who had signed the motion, had gone underground and might skip the meeting. If it was so the motion could not be passed.

But SAD faction led by R.S. Cheema, former minister, is making all out efforts to get it passed and have taken the services of local SAD MLA also.

The sources said the councillors were also taking legal advice from a High Court lawyer to get the meeting postponed if the “hiding” councilors skipped the meeting.

Similarly, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib council has Charanjeev Channa of the Congress as its president and he had been conveyed by the ruling party to resign on his own. The sources said earlier he had agreed to resign, but now backtracked.

The council have 18 councillors, including an MLA. Out of this, eight belong to the Congress, seven to the SAD-BJP combine, and three independent, so no-confidence motion is not possible as 13 are required to the purpose.

During the Congress rule, the council president had been facing the opposition from Congress councilors, who are now forcing him not to resign.

Local residents in both towns are of view that with the change of the government the presidents should resign on their own so that development process may not hamper. 


Tiwana elected PCCTU dist chief
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 7
In a unanimous decision prof Sital Singh Tiwana of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, was elected as the president and prof Jatinder Dev of Public College, Samana, as the secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, in a meeting presided over by prof Jatinder Dev of Public College, Samana.

Delegates from Mata Gujri College (MGC), Fatehgarh Sahib, M.M. Modi College, Patiala, Public College, Samana, PMN College, Rajpura, and Khalsa College, Patiala, participated in the meeting. Teachers of MGC Fatehgarh Sahib expressed happiness and congratulated prof Tiwana.

Talking to the mediapersons, prof Tiwana urged the Punjab government to accept their long-pending demands of private-aided colleges like pension And gratuity, withdrawal of the ban on fresh recruitments, HRA for rural colleges, regular release of 95 per cent grant-in-aid to the private-aided colleges etc.


100 surgeons attend workshop
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 7
A live workshop in laparoscopic surgery and gynaecology for surgeons and gynaecologists of North India was held at Parmar Nursing Home, Ropar. More than 100 surgeons of Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi participated in the workshop.

Professor I.C. Pathak, former director and head of department of surgery, PGI, Chandigarh, was the chief guest while Dr Kuldeep Singh, professor, department of surgery, Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, was the guest of honour. Dr Praveen Bhatia from Bhatia Global Hospital, New Delhi, and Dr Marwah from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, were the invited faculty on the occasion.

On the occasion, these renowned laparoscopic surgeons performed live minimal access surgeries using the latest equipments. 


Contests mark 1857 uprising anniversary
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 7
The 150th anniversary of India’s first war of Independence 1857 was celebrated at Scholar Fields Public School here today.

Declamation contest on the lives of eminent freedom fighters was organised by the Golden Youth Club under the auspices of the Nehru Yuvak Kendra. The objective of this programme was to educate the youth about the intrinsic value of freedom and nationalism.

Rajinder Kaur Lard was the chief guest on the occasion and B.K. Behal district youth coordinator of the Nehru Yuvak Kendra presided over the function.

S.S. Chadha, chairman of the school, in his address dwelt upon the history of freedom struggle and also highlighted the role of moderates and extremists in the struggle.

As many as 21 competitors from seven schools participated in the contest, which was conducted in three languages. Among the English speakers, the first position was bagged by Rashabjeet Kaur, Modern Public School, second place went to Pavneet Kaur, Scholar Fields Public School.

In Punjabi, the first position was won by Shamsheer Kaur, Scholar Fields Public School, second place by Harpreet Kaur, Government Senior Secondary School, Civil Lines.

Among the Hindi competitors, Manpreet Kaur, DAV School, Police Lines, got the first prize, Pooja Sharma of DAV Public won the second prize.

Param Partap Singh Dhaliwal, chairman, Golden Youth Club, Col D.S. Chahal, director Euro Kids, Dr Rajiv Sharma, Modi College, Harinder Kaur Chadha, and principal S.S. Sodhi were among others present on the occasion.


High court
Ravi Inder, Rode get HC relief
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to Punjab for July 19 and also directed the arresting authority to grant bail (till July 19 only) to Ravi Inder Singh, five-time MLA and twice speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, former Akal Takht jathedar.

The two were also directed to join investigations, if required, though the court observed that no role had been attributed to them in the case registered under FIR no 159 dated December, 2006, and under sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

The petitioners, in separate petitions ---- Ravi Inder Singh vs State of Punjab and Jasbir Singh Khalsa (Rode) vs State of Punjab, respectively---- had sought directions under section 438, CrPC, that the petitioners might be released on anticipatory bail in case of their arrest in a case already registered or to be registered against them.

The petitioners submitted that on December 23, 2006, the Jalandhar police had arrested Amolak Singh and Paramjit Singh Dhadi and RDX was allegedly recovered from them.

The petitioners submitted that on December 24, 2006, Parkash Singh Badal had made a statement during a press conference that Amarinder Singh, the then Chief Minister, Ravi Inder Singh and Rode intended to eliminate him and his son Sukhbir Badal and the RDX recovered was to be allegedly used for the purpose.

After the Vidhan Sabha elections were over, the Jalandhar police, allegedly on the instructions of the Badals, got production warrants of Dhadi and Amolak Singh and put their arrest on April 25, 2007, the petitioners said.

Dhadi and Amolak Singh had made a statement before the court that the police was pressurising them to implicate Ravi Inder Singh and Rode in the case under FIR no 159, the petitioners alleged.

It was submitted that both of them refused to implicate Ravi Inder Singh and Rode and moved the court on May 1, 2007, seeking directions to the investigation officer/ SHO to stop their alleged torture.

Ravi Inder Singh, when contacted on his cellphone, told The Tribune that he was not aware of the order and was currently in Mumbai.


Notices to Defence Ministry, air chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The high court today issued notices to the ministry of defence, the Chief of Air Staff and the principal controller of defence accounts (P) for September 25, 2007.

The notices were issued by a division bench, comprising Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Justice R.S. Madan, following a petition filed by the All- India Ex-servicemen Welfare Assocation.

The petition challenged the allegedly arbitrary fixation of January 1, 2006, as the date for applicability of the improved pension announced for personnel below officer rank by the ministry of defence.

Pre-1996 retiree master warrant officers and warrant officers, through the association, had moved the court stating that the defence ministry had ordered the implementation of the recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission.

The order, dated June 7, 1999, related to the pension benefits in respect of commissioned officers and personnel below officer rank.

However, the petitioners alleged that personnel below officer rank were not being benefited at all by the recommendations whereas commissioned officers and honorary commissioned officers were getting the benefit.


Order reserved in Dimpa case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved its order in the case of Jasbir Singh Dimpa vs State of Punjab in which Dimpa had pleaded for the grant of anticipatory bail to him.

The petitioner, Dimpa, former Congress MLA from Beas, had moved the court seeking directions under section 438, CrPC, to the arresting officer to release him on bail forthwith in the case registered under FIR no 21 dated January 29, 2007.

The case was registered against the petitioner under sections 302, 407, 148 and 149, IPC, and sections 25/27/54 of the Arms Act at the Beas police station.

The FIR relates to an incident when canvassing was in full swing in Beas for the last Vidhan Sabha elections during which an Akali activist, Dilbagh Singh, was killed.


Fake pesticides: Punjab govt to take strict action 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 7
The government will take strict action against the manufacturers and distributors of fake pesticides in the state. The minister for agriculture Sucha Singh Langah stated this while addressing a press conference at Samana today.

He was reacting to the destruction of crops on 70 acres in Samana due to use of spurious pesticides. The minister said besides taking action against the owner of the unit that had manufactured the pesticide, the government would also award compensation to the farmers for damage to their crops.

Sucha Singh Langah along with the chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board Ajmer Singh Lakhowal was here to inaugurate a grain market constructed in Samana at a cost of Rs 54 lakh.

While speaking on the occasion agriculture experts urged the farmers to sow paddy after June 15. Due to early sowing of paddy about 4,500 litre of extra water was consumed per acre. The cost of that much water comes to about Rs 50,000. With the usage of such a large volume of water, the water level goes down by 70 cm each year. Moreover, farmers on the whole spend about Rs 4,000 crore on lowering tubewells every year, they said.

The minister later said if despite persuasion the farmers continue to resort to early sowing of paddy, then the government would have to take harsh measures. He also accused the union government of failing to provide minimum support price for other crops in the state.

Chairman of the board said the government had ordered a high-level inquiry into the misuse of subsidised foodgrains of the FCI by two confectionary units of Ludhiana. He assured the commission agents that they would soon be allotted plots in the newly developed grain market.


SSP suspends ASI

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), May 7
SSP Naresh Arora has placed ASI Bhag Singh, posted in the local police station, under suspension for registering a case pertaining to causing death due to negligence in a road accident against the person who had died in the same incident.

The ASI was placed under suspension after enquiring into the matter connected with the road accident where the two motorcyclists had collided with each other near the town on May 2. A departmental inquiry had also been initiated against the ASI.

Bhag Singh had registered a case under Section 304-A of the IPC (causing death due to negligence) against Jagjit Singh 15 minutes after he (Jagjit Singh) died in the same accident.

Meanwhile, Kahan Singh, son of Jagjit Singh, has alleged that Bhag Singh had registered a case under Section 304-A against his father out of personal enmity. — TNS


Man held for wife’s death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 7
Kiran Pal Kaur (22), mother of a five-month-old child and resident of the Beer Talab area, was forced to consume poison allegedly by her husband, Jalaur Singh, after she failed to satisfy his demand of a motor cycle.

The police said Kiran was found dead after she consumed poison late last night.

Her husband did not take her to hospital even though her condition deteriorated.

Jalaur Singh was arrested and a case was registered against him on the complaint of her brother.


Travel agent booked
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 7
A Panchkula-based travel agent, Joshep, has been arrested for allegedly defrauding a local tailor, Daljit Singh, on the pretext of sending him to Canada.

Police sources said three of his associates, Raj Kumar, his sister Shalley, and Piara Singh, who were also involved in the crime, were yet to be arrested. All the four accused had taken Rs 6.5 lakh from Daljit for sending him to Canada.

Sources said Piara Singh, who was working as a tailor in Daljit Singh’s shop, came to know about his desire to go abroad. Piara Singh sent one person, Raj Kumar, to Daljit in this regard. Raj Kumar told Daljit that his sister, Shalley, knows a travel agent, Joshep, who could send him to Canada. A deal was struck between Daljit Singh and the accused. Daljit was asked to pay Rs 6.5 lakh to Joshep.

Daljit paid the money in two installments on March 31, 2006, and April 29 besides giving his passport to Joshep. Soon Daljit, who had collected money from his kin and friends, realised that he has been cheated. He lodged a complaint with the police against Joshep, who was later arrested. 


Home Guard,2 others commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, May 7
It was a day of suicides in the district with three persons, including a woman and a Home Guard, reportedly committing suicide in three separate incidents.

One Jagdeep Singh, a Home Guard working with the Punjab police, allegedly shot himself with his service revolver.Though the police maintained that it was an accidental death, as Jagdeep’s revolver went off by mistake while he was cleaning it, those accompanying the deceased to the hospital stated that he had committed suicide. They said Jagdeep was facing financial problems and it was out of frustration that he had killed himself. He was posted at Baja Khana.

In another incident, one Balbir Singh of Rodhi Kapura village committed suicide by hanging himself from the roof of his house. The police stated that he was a drug addict and when he was unable to get drugs, he decided to kill himself. But Balbir Singh’s relatives stated that he was debt-ridden and as he was unable to pay back the loans he had taken, he decided to end his life.

Parminder Kaur, a resident of Kotte Ramsar village, also lost her life by consuming some poisonous substance. The police stated that she was upset at not having a child and was in state of depression for the past few months.


Lifer escapes from house, rearrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 7
Harish Kumar, a resident of Kolian village (Dasuya), who was undergoing life imprisonment in the district jail, escaped from his house where he had gone to meet his ailing mother and children yesterday. He was taken to his house by head constable, Paramjit Singh, and constable, Onkar Singh. Harish Kumar expressed his desire to have meal after reaching home. On this constable Onkar Singh unlocked his handcuffs. While taking meal, Harish went to the kitchen to take helpings from his mother and escaped.

He was rearrested today from a forest at his village. Harish was undergoing life imprisonment following his conviction in an FIR No 71,2004, under Section 302 of the IPC.

The SSP said both police personnel had been suspended and were arrested for negligence in their duty. An FIR had also been registered against them at the Dasuya police station. 


Woman, son held for carrying smack
Tribune News Service

Patiala May 7
The local police has busted a gang of drug peddlers.

The police today claimed that on a tip-off it raided the premises of mother-son duo Dhanwati and Shera near Maria Khalori gate and recovered 40 g of smack from their 

The accused told the police that drug peddlers from Haryana supply them narcotics and they further supplied it in Patiala areas. The police said Gurmeet Singh and Davinder Singh, both of Haryana, who used to supply narcotics in the Patiala area, however, fled.

A case has been registered under various sections of the NDPS Act.


Pbi varsity VC row reaches Akal Takht
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 7
The Punjabi University row has reached Akal Takht. The jathedar of the takht, Gaini Joginder Singh Vedanti, has taken strong exception to the mode of agitation being adopted by members of the joint action committee seeking removal of the vice-chancellor.

A few days ago members of the committee in a protest had labelled the VC as donkey. They had also allegedly tried to tie a turban over the head of a donkey. This had peeved the Sikh high priest. Vedanti in a statement issued to the media has condemned the alleged disgrace shown to the turban. He maintained that while on one hand the SGPC was fighting in France and other foreign countries for getting turban recognised as an integral part of the Sikh attire, on the other hand disgrace was being shown to it here. President of the SGPC Avtar Singh Makkar in a press note issued here has demanded action against the culprits.

Many other Sikh organizations have also demanded that those who have disgraced the turban should be summoned to Akal Takht. Convener of the committee Manjit Singh denied the charges. He said no member had shown any disrespect to the turban.

The jathedar of Akal Takht should have first verified the facts before issuing any statement. We are also ready to plead our case before the takht if summoned for the purpose. He added that the present move was for diverting their attention from the agitation. The committee would, however, continue its agitation, he added. Meanwhile, the university has extended the probation of prof Baltej Singh Mann, head of the Guru Tegh Bahadur National Integration Chair, for six months. He was to be confirmed on the post after two-year service.

While talking to The Tribune Mann alleged that he was being victimised. The VC had given me three commendations in the past two years. I had been given the most vital charge of dean, resource mobilisation. However, when I questioned the VC’s decision to deny me and my wife permission to go abroad, my conduct was being said to be wrong. My probation had been extended in violation of the university rules, he alleged.


Pbi varsity staff leader suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 7
Punjabi University vice-chancellor today suspended convener of the joint action committee and professor, head of the social work department Manjit Singh. The committee under his leadership has been demanding the vice-chancellor’s ouster.

In a press note issued here today the vice-chancellor maintained that Manjit Singh was issued a showcause notice about a month ago. In it he was asked to give clarification about his involvement in various unruly activities in the university. He did not reply to the notice and continued to agitate.

Committee members also violated the court’s order, which restricted them from organising rallies and dharnas within 300 mts of the university gate. Manjit Singh also instigated suspended students to enter the campus.

The vice-chancellor further alleged that by putting turban around the neck of a donkey and taken the donkey all over the campus the agitators have lowered the university’s prestige and that of the Sikhs. He has stated in the suspension orders that such disgraceful act was not expected from a person of the rank of a professor in the university.

Prof Manjit Singh when contacted said the vice-chancellor was not authorised to suspend him. The appointing authority happens to be syndicate and only it can remove a professor. 


‘CBSE contemplating ending exams till class IX’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 7
Manju Mehta, controller examination, DAV Education Board, New Delhi, has indicated that the CBSE is contemplating to end the annual examination system up to class IX. The board is expected to direct the affiliated schools to stop burdening the students with homework, she added.

In her inaugural address at the two-day seminar-cum- workshop on developing question papers for the middle standard at LRS DAV Senior Secondary Model School here today, she said more than 80,000 students would appear in the annual examination this year in the DAV schools all over India. They would be given a question paper of 80 marks and 20 marks would be added from the internal assessment.


College gives memo to ADC
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 7
The Akalis who recently took over the control of the prestigious Baba Gandha Singh Public School now plans by take control of Guru Gobind Singh College (GGSC) at Sanghera also. The college is presently headed by SAD general council member Bhola Singh Virk.

Sukhdev Singh Duphera, Sukhdev Muni, Pritam Singh and Beant Singh, members of the committee, today presented a memorandum to additional district commissioner, Barnala.


Lecture condoning: GND varsity bends rules
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 7
In an unprecedented decision, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, has bent its rules to condone shortage of lectures.

The syndicate, at its meeting held last week, authorised the vice-chancellor to condone 5 per cent of the lecture shortage, which, according to university sources, has no precedent.

As per the university calendar, a student needs a minimum of 75 per cent attendance of the total lectures delivered. The heads of departments (HoDs) and principals have the authority to condone up to 15 per cent of lectures. But now, there would be 5 per cent extra relaxation.

The sources said the rules had been relaxed to favour a son of the VIP, who had failed to fulfil the minimum requirement of lectures.

Certain university teachers, speaking on condition of anonymity, questioned the rationale to give the relaxation by the VC when the HoDs already had authority to condone 15 per cent lectures.

This decision is also being seen against the practice started by the university to send all attendance lists to the dean, academic affairs, on a monthly basis to make sure that no undue relaxation is given by the HoDs.

“Before Dr Jai Rup Singh took over as VC, it used to be the prerogative of the HoDs to condone lectures in case they were convinced that the student could not attend lectures due to sickness, accident or some other problem. But now the HoDs have to strictly go by the rules and cannot condone lecture beyond the set limit,” said a senior teacher.

When contacted, registrar R.S. Bawa said though the HoDs and the principals could condone lectures, there was no provision for the university to relax the shortage of lectures.

Asked if the decision had been taken to favour the son of a VIP, he said he was not aware of any such case.

Most departments have a general rule of 75 per cent minimum attendance, except for a few exceptions like the department of laws, where the norms of the Bar Council of India apply and a student needs only 66 per cent lectures.


Dhaliwal re-instated director-principal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 7
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee today re-instated U.S.Dhaliwal as director principal, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (SGRDIMS), who was placed under suspension on February 3 last year for allegedly indulging in unconstitutional acts.

Dhaliwal took the charge of his office in the afternoon today. The office order issued on behalf of the SGPC chief and chairman SGRDIMS read that Dhaliwal would work as regular director-principal of the institute up to 65 years of his age.

Dhaliwal has been re-instated on the basis of an inquiry report submitted by a three-member sub-committee comprising Sucha Singh Langah, Cabinet minister, Balwant Singh Tung and Kirpal Singh Chug, which exonerated him of all charges.

Dhaliwal was the third principal in a row since the inception of the SGPC-run medical college in 1997 who had been removed unceremoniously. Earlier, Hardyal Singh and Surinder Singh Cheema were not allowed to complete their full terms.

Partap Singh Malhotra, who was officiating as principal of the medical college these days, will now continue as in charge of medical unit II.

Dhaliwal had served as principal for more than five years. He was given extension by the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, after his superannuation. However, while placing him under suspension the SGPC chief had alleged that Dhaliwal had withdrawn his security deposits, amounting to about Rs 52,000, by writing a letter addressed to himself and then allowing the same in the capacity of principal.

Today senior functionaries of the SGPC, including Harbeant Singh, Waryam Singh, Joginder Singh, Mohinder Singh, Roop Singh and A.P. Singh personally handed over the letter to Dhaliwal.


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