P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

No raise in wheat MSP, says Akhilesh 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Issuing a veiled “warning” to farmers and companies which are holding back their wheat stocks, union minister of state for agriculture and food Akhilesh Prasad Singh made it clear: There would be no increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 850 per quintal for wheat while the Government of India is to import up to Rs 50 lakh tonnes of wheat.

“I want to make it clear that the Centre will not announce any increase in the wheat MSP or give an additional bonus on it”, the minister said here today. He was accompanied by food corporation of India (FCI) CMD Alok Sinha.

Referring to the reported statement of Punjab mandi board chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, asking farmers to hold back wheat stocks, the minister appealed to the farmers to avoid being misled by such predictions or claims. The government also had to look after the consumers and couldn’t increase the wheat price, he added.

Defending the decision to import wheat and not offer the same price to the India farmer, the minister claimed when the cost of procurement from Punjab and Haryana was calculated with handling and transportation, the difference between imported wheat and Indian wheat was barely 27 paise.

When asked if the announcement of importing wheat due to shortfall was a warning for farmers against holding back stocks, the minister said: “We are not warning anybody but the food security of the country cannot be compromised. The facts were being brought out that the import will be necessity in this scenario and prices in the open market will fall if import is allowed”.

The MSP adequately covers the input costs and all other costs.

The FCI had fixed a target of 150 lakh tonnes of wheat procurement this year and till now only 90 lakh tonnes has been procured. The procurement figures from Punjab are not very encouraging and till yesterday about 60 lakh tonnes has been purchased by government agencies against the projected target of 90 lakh tonnes, he said, while pointing out that in the last season 69 lakh tonnes had been procured in the state.

Akhilesh, who along with Sinha and other FCI officials, later, undertook a tour of the mandis of Punjab, claimed that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, during his meeting with union agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar had promised that Punjab would contribute 90 lakh tonnes to the central pool. Unfortunately this target may not be achieved, he added.

Turning to Haryana, he said the state was on target and would contribute its promised share of 28 lakh tonnes. In the last season Haryana had contributed 22 lakh tonnes. The minister did not blame the entry of private players for this shortfall in procurement, saying that it was beneficial for the farmers.

Replying to a question about cost of producing paddy in terms of power supply and depleting underground water, the minister said Punjab should diversify away from paddy as there is no shortage of it. However, he failed to answer as to why the central government was not clearing the crop diversification programme of the Punjab government.

Nihang leader released 
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 8
The tension in this district following the initiation of war of succession between leaders of two factions of Nihangs owing allegiance to Baba Santa Singh, head, Budha Dal, was diffused today after Surjeet Singh, one of the leaders who was lodged in the jail after registration of a criminal case against him on the complaint of Balbir Singh, another Nihang leader, was released today.

Surjeet was released from the local jail on the orders of the court after the district police authorities moved an application on the same that complainant Balbir and Surjeet had reached a compromise.

Thousands of Nihangs came in support of Surjeet and claimed that the latter had already been appointed as legal heir by Baba Santa Singh in 2005.

Naresh Arora, SSP, said only Surjeet had been released while the other accused in the case were still in judicial custody. He added that Surjeet was released only when Balbir made a written statement that the former was not involved in the attack made on him on April 15.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that under the compromise, it had been decided that Baba Santa Singh would continue to head the Budha Dal sect. Surjeet, who was in charge of the horse wing of the sect before divested of the same power, would enjoy the same status again.


SAD leader Libra cremated with honours
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The mortal remains of Jathedar Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA and senior SAD (B) leader, were consigned to flames with full state honours at his native Libra village today. His son Sonu Libra lit the pyre.

Libra passed away last night following a heart attack. He is survived by a son, a daughter and wife, Surinder Kaur Libra. Earlier, his body was taken to his native village from his residence at Sirhind.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also attended the funeral and placed a wreath on the body of the leader.

Among others who laid the wreaths included Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, former president of SGPC, Bikram Jit Singh Khalsa, Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Harmail Singh Tohra, Dr Harbans Lal,(former ministers), MLA Didar Singh Bhatti, Bibi Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former MLA, DIG Ishwar Singh, DC Sumer Singh Gurjar and Iqbal Singh Media, advisor, on behalf of SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.

A contingent of police presented a salute and fired shots in the air to show respect to the late leader.

The CM, expressing deep sorrow over the death of Libra said he was a dedicated and committed leader of the party and with his demise not only SAD(B), but whole state has suffered an irreparable loss. 


Lives after death; donates eyes
Tribune News Service

Sirhind, May 8
People speak of him as a soft spoken and genial politician and he lived up to their expectations. Kirpal Singh Libra, a former MLA and a trusted aide of former Akali stalwart Gurbachan Singh Tohra, who died of a heart attack last night at his residence donated his eyes to the PGI to live even after his death today.

As per his last wishes his family members contacted the PGI authorities after he died on Monday. The PGI team went to his residence and took his eyes.

He was born in 1942 in Libra village near Khanna. He did his schooling was from Yadavindera Public School and graduated from Government Mohindera College, Patiala.

He took keen interest in sports. He played hockey up to the university level. Since his father was a leading transporter, he joined his family business.

In the early ’60s he came close to Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra and started his political career. In 1965, he was elected as an MLA and became a close confidant of Tohra. He also held the post chairman Punsup for about two years from 1997 to 1999 during the previous Akali government. He was the founder member of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Education Trust, Fatehgarh Sahib, in 1993 and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College was established at Faehgarh Sahib that year.

He served Mata Gujri College as honorary secretary for about 23 years, and the Sikh Educational Society, Chandigarh, as member and made a significant contribution to the development of the colleges. H was also chairman of the Dasmesh Sports Club, Fatehgarh Sahib. 


Canadian firm submits project on pilot-training institute
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
A Canada-based company here today submitted a proposal to the Punjab government to set up a pilot-training institute in the state.

The company has eight institutes of pilot training and technology in Canada and other parts of the world. It has some NRIs as its promoters, it is learnt.

A delegation of the company gave a detailed presentation to finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal in his office here. Sources said Manpreet Singh had taken up the issue with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Several youths from Punjab go abroad, especially to Canada and the US, every year to get training as commercial pilots in the absence of such a facility in the state.

The sources said the company would be given the go-ahead within three days by the Punjab government to set up the institute and take up the matter further with the director-general of civil aviation and other authorities concerned in the union government.

The training schedule of the institute will have to be approved by the union ministry of civil aviation and the director-general of civil aviation for the grant of the licence of commercial pilot to the trainees, it is learnt.

The company has assured the state government that it will make a huge investment to set up the institute. It has only sought hangars, which are available at various civil aviation clubs, from the state government for the parking of its planes and training purposes.

At one stage, Punjab was the most popular place to train commercial pilots.

It had the best civil aviation clubs at various places. Even the late Sanjay Gandhi, son of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, use to come to the civil aviation club at Patiala to take tips in training as a pilot from the late Karminder Singh, a close relation of Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister.

When Karminder Singh was alive, Punjab’s civil aviation clubs trained several local youths as pilots. In fact, the world’s best airlines used to recruit pilots trained by him.


3 Forts
Tourism Dept asks govt for control 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
The Department of Tourism has urged the government to hand it over the three historical forts in Bahadurgarh in Patiala district, Ludhiana and Sultanpur Lodhi forts. These are presently in possession of the Punjab Police.

The Bahadurgarh fort, 10 km from here, houses the commando training centre of the Punjab Police.

Principal secretary, tourism, Geetika Kalha while talking to The Tribune said the government had been urged to shift the police establishments in the said forts to alternative places. Once the forts come in control of the Tourism Department, they would be opened to public.

She further said a proposal had been made to resolve the row over the heritage hotel being brought up in Rajinder Kothi in Baradari Gardens of Patiala. The hotel is being brought up by the Neem Rana group of hotels. People have been protesting that they will not be allowed to use the road passing in front of the hotel. The company officials constructing the hotel have been urged to leave a 5-foot passage for pedestrians.

On the remaining portion of the road they would construct their boundary wall. This would keep the road open for the pedestrians while it would be closed to vehicles.

Once the row is resolved amicably, the company will submit its plans to the local corporation for approval. She denied the charges that she had any relation with one of the promoters of the Neem Rana hotel group.

She also stated that the Department of Tourism had decided to promote Patiala, Anandpur Sahib and Amritsar as tourist destinations. In Patiala the department of tourism is going to take over Maiji Saran (inn) that is presently in possession of CIA police staff. The tenders for renovating the building while keeping its old architecture intact had already been moved. The department intends to develop a restaurant there.

Rajindra tank, Virasat Bhavan and Sheh Mahal are other building that the department will be renovating.

The National Institute of Sports (NIS) has also given approval to the connecting of some of its gardens with Sheh Mehal.

Meanwhile, minister for tourism Hira Singh Gabaria held a meeting with top officials of the department regarding the ongoing development projects in the city.


Electronic media call off boycott of govt

Chandigarh, May 8
The electronic media of Punjab has withdrawn its call to boycott all Punjab government functions after the government assured it that any case involving a journalist will be investigated by an officer not below the rank of DSP. This decision was taken at a meeting between the representatives of the state government and the members of the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists (CPUJ).

President of the CPUJ Vinod Kohli said in a press note that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. During the meeting, Punjab media adviser to Chief Minister H.S. Bains assured the CPUJ members that the state government gave a lot of importance to cordial relations with the media.

Besides Bains, deputy commissioner of Jalandhar A.S. Pannu was also present. The boycott call was given in the wake of the Jalandhar incident where a few journalists were booked by the police a few days back. — TNS


Focus on empowerment of farmers: Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Emphasising the need for increasing collective endeavour for imparting a new dimension to the agriculture economy, the Punjab Governor and UT administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today asked FICCI and EUROGAP to play a pro-active role for giving a major boost to crop diversification programmes, initiated by the Punjab State Farmers Commission in collaboration with Punjab Agriculture University and other state agencies.

At a meeting with technical director-EUROGAP E.N. Sunder, Maj-Gen T.V. Manoharan (retd) of FICCI and G.S. Kalkat, chairman, Punjab State Farmers Commission, Manjit Singh Kang, vice-chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, and representatives of other state agencies at Raj Bhavan here today, General Rodrigues called upon them to work out holistic packages for farmers and to focus on their empowerment through progressive and supportive policies.

General Rodrigues said with a view to providing a professionally-managed marketing structure to the farmers of the region, the Chandigarh administration had undertaken a ground-breaking initiative of setting up a modern terminal market for food and vegetables in Chandigarh, provided with all modern facilities of cold storage, state-of-the-art testing/certification lab and provision for food processing unit.

He said the project, to be fully functional in the next 15 months, would cater to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Properly graded and packed produce would be exported to other countries directly by the farmers by eliminating the middleman and leading to value addition on agri-produce. 


Political vendatta
Congress vs SAD-BJP
Cong MLAs may form group against ‘govt repression’
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, May 8
Perturbed over ‘increasing government repression’ against Congress leaders and workers, young Congress MLAs are contemplating forming a group.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Bholath in Kapurthala district Sukhpal Khaira has said he would participate in the rally, which is being organised by Congress MLA Gurpreet Kangar at Rampura Phul in Bathinda district tomorrow.

While former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will be participating in the rally, PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo and Congress legislative party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal are not likely to turn up at the rally. Dullo has expressed his displeasure publicly over the way the rally is being organised by Kangar. “I am going to attend the rally being organised by Kangar as he has invited me,” said Khaira, who is known for his proximity with Capt Amarinder Singh. Addressing a press conference here today, Khaira said he had not got any phone call or instructions from Dullo against attending the rally.

“We feel that the government repression against Congress workers and leaders is increasing with the each passing day. So, a group of young Congress MLAs, including me, are contemplating forming a body to fight out the government repression. I have been forced to think about the move after I had been implicated in a false case recently. We don’t want to create groupism, but still we want to defend ourselves,” said Khaira.


Bhattal meets CM on ‘false’ cases 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The leader of the opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, yesterday led a delegation of Congress leaders to meet the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, here and alleged that false cases were being filed against Congress workers and demanded that the SSPs be told not to act in a partisan manner.

The CM assured Bhattal that he would inquire into all such cases in which allegations were being levelled that excesses had been committed. Bhattal raised the matter of how cases were filed against the family of Rana Gurmit Sodhi and MLA from Barnala Kewal Dhillon, among other cases.

Bhattal was accompanied by Kewal Dhillon, Avtar Singh Brar and Amrik Singh. In a way, Bhattal’s visit revived a healthy tradition of interaction between the ruling party and the opposition. 


BJP reminds Amarinder of political threats during term
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab unit of the BJP yesterday criticised former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and reminded him of the threats he handed out to his political opponents during his five-year tenure.

The people of Punjab had not forgotten the threats Amarinder Singh issued to SAD and BJP leaders during his tenure, Punjab BJP chief Rajinder Bhandari said at a press conference here. He was refering to the repeated accusations of the former Chief Minister that the SAD-BJP government was pursuing a policy of “political vendetta”. Amarinder Singh was trying to shift the attention of the people from the productive work that the Punjab government was pursuing, he claimed. The autocratic and arrogant style of the former Chief Minister was fresh in the minds of the people.

Unlike Amarinder Singh the present Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was easily accessible and was a seasoned politician who knew the pulse of the people, Bhandhari added. He advised the former Chief Minister not to ''shed crocodile tears'' and indulge in ''loose talk''.

Questioned about the proposal on the Deputy CM, Bhandari reiterated that the issue was very much on the BJP agenda, as the BJP had 19 members in the state assembly. The ball was in the court of the SAD, he quipped while denying reports that his party high command was not inclined to accept the Deputy CM’s post. 


No-confidence motion
MC meeting deferred amidst high drama
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 8
High drama was today witnessed outside the Bassi Pathana Municipal Council office where Congress workers, led by Dr Harbans Lal, former MLA, and SAD-BJP workers raised slogans against each other.

The timely intervention by a police team, led by DSP D.S. Rana, saved the situation from taking an ugly turn. The supporters of both groups had gathered as president of the council Amita Tangri had called a meeting of the councillors to consider no-confidence motion against her. But the meeting was postponed on the ground that no observer was deputed by the administration for the meeting.

MLA Didar Singh Bhatti objected that Amita could not preside over the meeting as no confidence was being considered against her and rather some government officer could have been deputed. He also mentioned the letter of DC Alak Nanda Dayal by which he had sought clarification from the council that under which laws the observer had been demanded.

Moreover, executive officer of the council was also absent, whose presence was must.

Though all eight councillors belonging to SAD-BJP alliance, led by Bhatti, were present at the venue of the meeting, they did not sign the proceeding register. The four Congress-supported councillors remained absent from the meeting.

Talking to the mediapersons, Bhatti said the meeting had been postponed as the person against whom no-confidence motion was to be considered could not preside and no observer was appointed.

Amita said all as the opposition did not have sufficient number of councillors to pass the no confidence they adopted unfair means to postpone the meeting.

Dr Harbans Lal alleged highhandedness by SAD MLAs, who he said had threatened the MC president and snatched proceeding book from her.

SDM Poonam Deep Kaur was also present outside the venue of the meeting, when contacted she said she was there not as observer but as duty magistrate to supervise law and order situation.


BPL scheme
Bectors Food denies receiving wheat from FCI 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The promtors of Mrs Bectors Food Specialities today denied the company was involved in any wheat subsidy scam and had not received wheat from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) under the below povert line(BPL) scheme, rather the wheat was supplied to them as part payment for the biscuits they made for the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations.

At a press conference here today Ajay Bector,Akshay Bector and Anoop Bector - the company’s promotors said they were approved vendors for the WFP to supply fortified biscuits internationally. Fortified biscuits are high- nutrition biscuits supplemented with soya flour and vitamins for malnourished population in poor countries.

“TheWFP invites tenders from time to time from its approved vendors and the lowest bids are accepted. Terms of payment against the tenders generally are against the release of wheat through the FCI , which either is processed at flour mills as wheat cannot be used for the manufacture of biscuits, or is sold in the open market. The quantity of biscuits to be supplied to the WFP and quantity of wheat to be released against the same are mentioned and filled in the WFP tenders,” said Anoop Bector, manainging director, Cremica Agro Foods .

Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board Ajmer Singh Lakhowal had alleged Cremica was supplied 30,000 metric tonnes of wheat at subsidised rate of Rs 4. 15 a kg for manufacturing bread and biscuits under the WFP programme. However, the company sold the wheat in the open market for Rs 9. 11 a kg, he had alleged. The company, however, claimed today it had received only 4201 metric tonnes of wheat last year and this wheat was against the supply of high nutrition biscuits to various states in the country under various government schemes. It also claimed the wheat received from the WFP through the FCI against biscuits was at a pre-determined price and not at subsidised price of Rs 4.15 per kg. It said at the time of filling of tenders the expected price realization of wheat was taken into consideration.


State round-up
3 modern market terminals to be set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
In a move that could transform agricultural marketing in Punjab, the state government will set up three market terminals with global linkages and high-tech infrastructure in the public-private partnership mode in Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Muktsar district at an estimated cost of over Rs 500 crore.

The move will provide the facility of direct access to the growers of fruit and vegetables in Punjab and is likely to lead to a production boom besides checking the decline in the water table. These terminal markets will be equipped with the facilities of cold chain, grading centre and online marketing access.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting under the chairmanship Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of officers of the union ministry of agriculture here today. It was decided at the meeting to set up four wholesale markets of fruit and vegetables to ensure better marketing support and logistics to the growers. The latest equipment would be imported under the pilot project to be fully funded by the government of India under the national horticultural mission.

Five existing citrus development centres in the state would be strengthened by creating the cold store facility.

Pilgrimage circuit

The department of tourism and cultural affairs today said that a pilgrimage circuit was being planned at an estimated cost of Rs 9.20 crore. Out of this amount , the central government’s share was Rs 8 crore and the state's share Rs 1.20 crore. The places to be covered would include Anandpur Sahib, Kiratpur Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Muktsar, Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal, Khadoor Sahib, Baba Bakala, Sri Hargobindpur, Dera Baba Nanak, Batala, Amritsar, Rauza Sharif (Fatehgarh Sahib) and Devi Talab (Jalandhar).

Likewise, a “freedom trail” had been envisaged depicting the country's freedom struggle. The places would include Nabha, Jaito, Malerkotla, Khatkar Kalan, Ferozepore, Aliwal, Ferozeshah, Misriwala, Mudki, Sabraon and Faridkot town.


To provide quality technical education the the Punjab government has decided to develop the four polytechnics at Anandpur Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi, Muktsar and Rahon in cooperation with the private sector and with the help of the Punjab infrastructure development board.

Swarna Ram, technical education minister, today signed a memorandom of understanding in the case of three of the polytechnics.

The MoUs were signed with Guru Teg Bahadur charitable health and education awareness society for the ones at Anandpur Sahib and Sultanpur Lodhi while the one at Muktsar will be in partnership with the Adesh foundation.

The minister said the land for these polytechnics was donated to the government by the village panchayats.

It would continue to remain the property of the government. The case of the polytechnic at Rahon would be taken up separately later.

The private bodies would take the polytechnics on lease for a period of 33 years.

Health policy

The Punjab government will soon formulate a health policy on the pattern of the national policy to upgrade the health delivery system in the state.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister here last evening.

Badal asked deputy chairman of the state planning board J.S. Bajaj to prepare a blueprint to upgrade the infrastructure in the state medical institutions and hospitals to provide the best possible services to the patients, especially the poor. 


Bridegroom fails to turn up for marriage
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 8
The joy of Puneeta, a young girl of this town, knew no bounds when she was engaged to Rahul, a local youth, a few months ago.

However, the dreams of Puneeta were shattered today when her would-be bridegroom did not turn for the marriage after her parents failed to meet the demand of dowry raised by Rahul and his brothers.

Daughter of a rickshaw puller, Puneeta, who was on cloud nine today - the day of her marriage - went into a state of shock after she came to know that Rahul and his family had refused to bring the marriage party to her house as her parents had failed to give Rs 20,000 as dowry.

Her father Suresh Mandal has moved an application with district police chief Naresh Arora in this regard. He said he had made the arrangements by spending a significant amount of money. He added that apart from hurling insult upon him and his family, the bridegroom and his kin had also caused monetary loss to him.

Police sources said the investigation had been launched on the application moved by Suresh and action would be taken as per the investigation report. 


Ban on Fashion TV sought
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 8
Malerkotla cable operators are airing Fashion TV despite the ban imposed by the Indian Government.

The government has banned Paris-based Fashion TV, saying some of the channel’s programmes lack decency and are likely to affect public morality.

Being a Muslim-dominated city, residents demanded immediate attention from the administration regarding the airing of the 

President of the Malerkotla Welfare Association Munish Jindal in a press conference here said cable TV operators were airing the channel with programmes such as “Midnight Hot” that show skimpily dressed models.


Charge distribution
Row among PSEB members
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala May 8
The distribution of charge among the newly-appointed members of the 
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has created a row. S.C. Sabarwal, member, Transmission, who was allegedly 
posted at the behest of the BJP, the alliance partner of the SAD, has been given a raw deal in the allotment of work by PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra.

Though the members of the board were appointed a few days ago, charge among them was distributed by the chairman today.

While the other two members of the PSEB, including member, Distribution, J.S. Sekhon and member, Generation, G.S. Sra have been given charge of nine chief engineers each, Sabarwal has been given the charge of just two chief engineers.

The two chief engineers who have been posted under Sabarwal include chief engineer, transmission lines, and chief engineer, protection and maintenance. Sources here said, it was for the first time that such unequal distribution of charge had been made among the members of the board.

The chief engineers, sub station and SO&C had always been under member, Transmission.

It was for the first time that they had been put under member, distribution they said.

Chairman Ratra, when contacted, said it was his prerogative to allocate the work.

When asked about the alleged row over the unequal distribution of work among the members, he said, earlier there were just two members and the work was distributed among.

Sabarwal, when contacted, said he had conveyed his views to the chairman.

The distribution of charge among the members of the board is being perceived as a snub by the SAD to its alliance partner BJP.

The sources said the BJP had forced the SAD to appoint the third member in the PSEB. Earlier, there were just two members of the board.


Nanakshahi calendar may kick up fresh row
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 8
The Nanakshahi calendar may kick up a fresh controversy in the coming days since Takht Hazoor Sahib is determined to hold the tercentenary celebrations of “Gurgaddi Divas” of Guru Granth Sahib on October 30 next year as per the traditional Bikrami Samant. However, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee will celebrate the same on October 20 as per the Nanakshahi Calendar.

Jathedar, Patna Sahib, Iqbal Singh has also given his consent to celebrations as per the Bikrami calendar.

Though all five jathedars, including Sikh high priests of Takhts Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib have been meeting at Akal Takht to decide various Panthic issues, they have failed to reach a consensus over this issue. Interestingly, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee have decided to celebrate the event as per the Nanakshahi Calendar.

While talking to The Tribune, Jathedar Iqbal Singh agreed that all Sikh clergy must hold a meeting to evolve a consensus on the issue.


School trust chief claims majority
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 8
The ousted chairman of BGS School, Piara Singh, has challenged his ouster from the school. SGPC executive committee member Tek Singh Dhanula took the control of the school a few days ago.

Claiming that he still enjoyed the support of trustees of the school, he said today that five of the eight trustees supported him.

Addressing mediapersons here, he said: “As per the trust constitution, the head of Baba Gandha Singh Dera will be the chairman of the trust.

There is no provision of resignation in the constitution. So the question does not arise about tendering my resignation from the trust.”


Unemployment cuts short promising career
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Unemployment claimed the life of a national-level handball player who allegedly committed suicide at his house in Dasmesh Nagar, Haibowal, last night. Twentyseven-year-old Avtar Singh, member of the twice national champion handball team, was in dire straits as he could not get any job. He had taken the examination and tests for the post of constable in the Punjab police the selection for which had been delayed.

Sohan Singh, a daily-wage earner and father of the deceased, said his son was in depression for not finding a lucrative job. He was struggling to arrange two square meals for his family. He was quite agitated at the treatment meted out to a player of his calibre.

Avtar was taken to the DMC Hospital after he allegedly consumed celphos tablets. But, he could not be saved. He is survived by aged parents, wife and three sisters.

Sports fraternity of the region turned up in large numbers at his cremation. They criticised the system where players like him had to kill themselves after failing to make both ends meet. General secretary of the Punjab Handball Association Teja Singh Dhaliwal said the step taken by Avtar should shake the government out of his slumber in providing employment to the players like him.

He began his sports career in 1994 from the school level and had regularly represented the sub-junior and senior national handball since 1996. 


Policy on mega projects to be reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab government has released Rs 45 crore for improving the infrastructure at various industrial focal points in the state. Meanwhile, the government has decided to review the policy with regard to mega projects. After the review, sources said, a report in this regard would be prepared by the chief secretary for the state cabinet.

Under the mega projects, 99 multiplexes were approved by the previous government. Letters of intent have been issued in the case of 30 multiplexes. The sources said many mega projects were approved for those companies which had not even bought land to set up the projects.

The previous government had claimed that it had brought investment of Rs 1 lakh crore to the state through the mega projects. However, an investment of only Rs 10,000 crore has been made so far in these projects.


Bundh to tame Ghaggar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
The Punjab government has decided to construct an earthen bundh along the Ghaggar river in the Samana area on the Punjab Haryana border. The 22-km bundh will be constructed at a cost of Rs 84 crore.

This was stated by minister for irrigation Janmeja Singh Sekhon here today.

He said around 60 villages of Patiala district faced flood threat, especially during the monsoon. The bundh would divert flood waters towards the main river in Haryana.

The project has been cleared by the centre water commission. The Nabard has sanctioned a loan for the project and the work on it would start within next three months, the minister added.

Water was not reaching the tail ends of canals in various parts of the state. This had led to the farmers in those areas being relied more on tube-wells for irrigation.

The government had sanctioned Rs 5 crore for clearing the drains. A survey in that connection would be done.

Another project worth Rs 1,300 crore was being planned for increasing the capacity of UBDC, Sirhind and Bhakra main line canals. The distributaries of the canals would be widened, he said.

The minister visited the Hansi-Butana canal that has been constructed by the Haryana government. He said the canal had been constructed without taking the commission and the BBMB into confidence. It had been constructed without considering the interests of farmers of Punjab in the areas along the Haryana border. Besides, it also posed flood threats in the areas near Samana.

The minister disclosed that the commission had given permission to the Punjab government for the construction of the Dashmesh canal.


Septuagenarian couple helps families reunite
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
The zeal to work has no age bar. Even at the age of 78, O.P. Gupta, a former administrative officer of the Thapar Institute of Engineering, along with his wife Harjeet Gupta, continues his work to resolve disputes and bring separated families together.

Being founder members of the first women cell of the Punjab police at Patiala since 1991, both Gupta and his wife have brought many families together while working as honorary councillors.

Gupta says they are shocked at the increasing numbers of cases of family disputes coming to them especially among the newly married.

Drug abuse among youths is the major reason for dispute among newly wed couples these days. In over 80 per cent of the cases filed with the women cell, drug addiction is the major reason.

“The trend has emerged only in the past about five years. Most of the youths facing problems in life take to drugs. They start troubling their wives and families that leads to split. We have suggested to the authorities concerned to engage professional psychologists to deal with such cases,” he says.

Gupta is also the president of the Rotary Club, Patiala midtown. He says he intends to devote his time and energy to bring families together. Every successful case in which the family reunites gives me eternal joy and sense of achievement, he adds.


No violation of Constitution: Mattewal
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Even as the Supreme Court has issued notice to Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, on a PIL alleging violation of the constitutional provisions relating to the strength of his ministry, the advocate-general, Punjab, H.S. Mattewal, today maintained that the ministers’ appointments were in accordance with the Constitution and there was no violation in any manner .

Talking to The Tribune on the issue which has attracted a host of petitions, both at the apex and high court levels, Mattewal said:” No rule has been flouted by the Punjab government. There is no violation of the 91st amendment to the Constitution of India.”

He also clarified that the advocate-general’s office was yet to receive the apex court notice.

On being reminded that even the issue of the chief parliamentary secretaries’ appointments had attracted PILs, Mattewal said these posts had been part and parcel of the country’s democratic structure for a long time.

“These posts existed even prior to the framing of the Constitution. In fact, there was a debate that these posts were required to train newly appointed legislators in the business,” he said.

Referring to the Himachal high court order, Mattewal said even that order had not termed the posts of parliamentary secretary as illegal per se but questioned the process of their appointment.

“In our case, we have well-framed rules governing the appointment of parliamentary and chief parliamentary secretaries. So, there is no question of flouting the constitutional norms,” he asserted.

The Supreme Court had yesterday issued notice to Chief Minister Badal on a petition filed by Virendera Kumar, a retired principal from Himachal Pradesh.

In the PIL, it was alleged that while constituting the council of ministers, Badal had appointed 18 ministers, which was a higher number than 15 per cent of the total strength of 117 members of the Vidhan Sabha.

The PIL had alleged that the aforesaid appointments were in clear violation of Article 355 of the Constitution, as provided by the 91st amendment, which had put a cap of 15 per cent on the strength of the ministry in bigger states.

Incidentally, there are a couple of PILs in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which have challenged the appointment of the chief parliamentary secretaries by the Badal government.


high court
Notice to ministry on missing youths
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to the union ministry of external affairs, the ministry of home, the state of Punjab and others on a petition related to the issue of 37 Spain-bound youths who went missing in November, 2004.

The public interest litigation, filed by the all-India forum for national reconciliation, sought directions to the above-mentioned respondents to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing youths.

The petition alleged that these youths fell prey to unapproved, self-proclaimed travel agents, who defrauded them and exploited them by promising greener pastures abroad.

It was submitted in the petition that the 37 youths were taken away by the travel agents allegedly to Spain in October and one of them, Charanjit Singh, contacted his family on the telephone from Mali (North Africa) on September 27, 2004.

Jagjit Singh case

The high court today adjourned the hearing in the Ludhiana city centre case, in which former local bodies minister Jagjit Singh has sought anticipatory bail, to May 15, 2007.

The hearing was deferred so that some documents could be put on the court’s record.

A Ludhiana court has issued non-bailable warrants against the former minister following the registration of a vigilance case against him.

During the previous hearing, the high court had asked the state counsel to produce all records related to the case before the court and fixed the hearing for today.


Amendments to industrial Act in offing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The additional solicitor-general of India today informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the union ministry of labour and employment was considering amendments to provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act related to the appointment of presiding officers of the labour courts.

The statement was made by additional solicitor-general Daya Chaudhary during a resumed hearing on a PIL filed by H.C. Arora.

The PIL sought directions to the union of India to review the provisions of sections 7 and 7-A of the act.

These provisions relate to the appointment of presiding officers of the labour courts and tribunals.

The proposed amendments might result in young lawyers, having 10 years of practice, being appointed to these courts and tribunals. 


Chowki staff suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
Following a number of complaints regarding a nexus among the police and the smugglers operating in the Anngarh area here, SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh suspended the whole staff of the Gate Hakima police chowki late last evening.

The district police chief, who paid a surprise visit to the chowki, turned it into a full-fledged police station by appointing fresh staff.

The SSP said the step was taken to break the nexus among the police and the smugglers.

The Anngarh area, situated on the outskirts of the walled city, is one of the most infamous areas for drug peddling and illegal liquor distilleries. Almost every household was allegedly involved in manufacturing of illicit liquor there.

The SSP patrolled the walled city on a bicycle to gather ‘information’ about the crime and other related problems.He said the department would soon establish two police stations in the Maqboolpura area on the GT Road and at Verka on the Batala road. Around 150 persons lost their lives due to drug consumption in the area in the past two decades, earning the name “locality of widows”.


5 officers transferred; Mansa district gets none
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
While the Punjab government today ordered the transfer and posting of five officers, a good number of important posts have not been filled in Mansa district yet.

Tejveer Singh has been given additional charge of special secretary, planning, vice R.L. Mehta, who has been posted as director, small savings, and ex officio special secretary, finance. Satwant Singh has been posted as additional secretary, welfare of SCs and BCs, and Chander Shekhar Talwar as commissioner of the municipal corporation, Jalandhar.

Dharam Pal has been posted as commissioner of the municipal corporation at Bathinda. Meanwhile, sources said that there were only two PCS officers working at the district headquarters at Mansa against various posts of these officers. The post of district transport officer at Mansa is vacant. The post of district officer for the removal of grievances is also vacant there.

The posts of SDM in the two most important subdivisions of Mansa have also not been filled yet. The sources said there were no SDMs at Sardulgarh and Budhlada subdivisions. And there is no one posted as additional deputy commissioner (development) in that district. The post of drug inspector has never been filled there. 






Ex-minister’s kin injured in dispute
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 8
Two sons and a grandson of former minister Chaudhary Satya Dev were injured in a land dispute in the family at Choohriwala Dhanna village, near here, today. All were admitted to the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital.

Parminder Singh, SHO, Khuikhera, said Parkash Chand Malhetia, a former chairman of the market committee, and his son Manjit Kumar had been booked on the complaint of Dalip Kumar Malhetia, son of Chaudhary Satya Dev, who was minister in the Akali-Jan Sangh government in the eighties.


Policeman commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh, May 8
Avtar Singh, a head constable posted at Kumano police station, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself with ceiling fan.

Sources here said when Avtar Singh did not come out of his house today constable Amar Singh peeped through the window and found him hanging.

The door of the house was broken and the body was taken out. The sources said the head constable was in depression due to family or financial problems. About three years ago he had attempted suicide but was saved.

Recently, he allegedly raised money for sending his son abroad that might have pushed him in debt trap, the sources added.

SSP Nilabh Kishore reached the spot. The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC. The body was handed over to his family members after the postmortem examination.


Rs 7.03 lakh looted from Goraya bank
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 8
Robbers looted Rs 7.03 lakh from the branch of Canara Bank at Goraya this afternoon.

Phillaur DSP Harpreet Singh Benepal said five robbers carried out the robbery.

Two of them entered into the bank and picked up a quarrel with bank managar Rewati Raman and gunman Pritpaul Singh.

The robbers raised an alarm, calling their accomplices for help. The other three barged into the bank and one of them fired at a windowpane.

The robbers asked bank cashier Vivek Ranjan to hand over the cash to them.

He gave them Rs 3.03 lakh. However, the robbers snatched the keys of the strongroom from him and took away Rs 4 lakh from it.

They beat up the bank staff and locked them in the record room before fleeing from the spot, the DSP said.

The bank employees said one of their customers, who had also been locked by the robbers in the record room, had a mobile phone.

He informed one of his relatives about the robbery who
rescued them.


Punjabi varsity pacts lend ‘wings’ to students’ career
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
Punjabi University has signed MoUs with three foreign universities under which Punjab School of Management Studies (PSMS) students will get a chance to visit these universities to attend workshops, summer internship programmes and the like.

According to information, nine PSMS students visited Kutztown University, Pennsylvania last year, whereas 12 students got a chance to visit Kutztown University and 10 students visited Wilkes University, Pennsylvania, so far this year. Another batch of 20 students would be visiting Grand Valley University this month.

Jatin, a student who would be visiting Grand Valley University, says summer internship programme with foreign universities will gain him professional experience to help his career grow. “Such programmes provide students a platform to understand and compare trends in various economies”.

Bhupinder, who is all set to go to Grand Valley University, says “We could have chosen from tens of other countries but the US attracts us the most. This is so because doing business with India is of great interest for the US MNCs and we want to learn more about it first hand”.

“PSMS has gone one step ahead and offered an opportunity to complete our summer trainings with foreign companies,” he adds.

In first phase of implementation of the MoU, Dr S.K. Bansal, head, PSMS, and Dr A.S. Chawla, dean resource mobilisation, visited Kutztown University last year.

Dr Bansal says, “To keep up with global standards of education the department had taken this initiative which has the support of vice-chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai. He said to become competitive at global front future managers need to think a step ahead. Such exchange programmes give clear picture to the students about foreign economies and how business is prospering in developed nations like the US.”


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