P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Leaders assemble amid tight security
Sant Samaj protest peaceful
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 19
On a call given by the Sant Samaj, a large number of religious leaders from across the state today gathered at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib following the ending of the ultimatum given to the state governments today.

The sants under the banner of Sant Samaj held a meeting at Dewan Todar Mal hall on the gurdwara premises during which prominent Sikh leaders criticised chief of the dera Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

The leaders assembled here amid elaborate security arrangements by the district police. Forces from other districts were also called in to ensure law and order. The police had arranged tear-gas guns, besides anti-rioting squads were also deputed at various places. Parking of vehicles along the Fatehgarh-Mohali road was also banned by the forces, which deflated the tyres of vehicles already parked there. Radical Sikh leaders were videographed by the police during their stay in the district. The convoy of over 150 vehicles was escorted by the police up to the district border.

Following the meeting, the gathering of religious leaders and their disciples offered ardas at the gurdwara and moved towards the state capital. On their way they halted at Gurdwara Sri Jyoti Sarup to pay obeisance. A number of radical leaders, including SAD (A) senior vice-president Daljit Singh Bittu and Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwar Pal Singh, were also present at the meeting.

Speaking to the mediapersons before leaving the district, chief of Damdami Taksal and president of Sant Samaj Harnam Singh Khalsa said the Sikhs had already given enough time to the governments of Punjab and Haryana to take action against the Dera chief. He called upon the religious leaders to press upon their demand of arresting the Dera chief in a peaceful manner. He said in case no action was taken in this regard, the samaj would decide the next line of action.


Survival At Stake
PSEB facing Rs 6,279-cr loss
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is running into crores of losses. Officially available facts and figures prove this fact. The board’s accumulated loss at the end of current financial year was Rs 6,279 crore.

During the 11th Five-Year Plan ending in 2011-12, the estimated accumulated loss of the board will be Rs 14,732.79 crore. That means the total loss of the board by the end of 11th plan will be in the range of Rs 21,000 crore.

As the board’s bill to purchase power to meet the paddy season demand is increasing, so do the board’s losses. The power purchase bill was Rs 2,433 crore in 2005-06 and it went up to Rs 4,388 crore by the end of last financial year. The board’s loss during 2006-07 was almost equal to additional amount spent by it on buying power during 2006-07 compared to the previous fiscal year.

Startling about the board is facts and figures with regard to its total revenue, availability of power for sale and line losses. Despite the availability of about 10 per cent of additional power for sale to the board during 2006-07, the increase in its revenue was only about 4 per cent.

For instance the availability of power for sale to the board in 2005-06 was of 24,469 million units (MUs) and in 2006-07 about 26,574 MUs. The increase was about 10 per cent in 2006-07compared to earlier fiscal year. However, increase in the total revenue was about 4 per cent. And there was 10.3 per cent increase in power tariff also in 2006-07.

And increase in line losses was only 0.80 percent. Increase in the revenue should match with the increase in availability of power for sale when the increase in line losses was negligible. However, that is not happening. Why? Firstly, because of the power supply to agriculture sector at a subsidised rate is hitting the board hard. Secondly, board is suffering greatly from lack of internal efficiency.

More startling is the fact that 45 lakh power customers were paying from their pockets to provide subsidised power to 9 lakh tubewell connection holders in agricultural sector in the state. One unit of power cost 328.46 paise to the PSEB in 2005-06. Against the per unit cost of 328.46 paise to the board, the commercial sector paid to it 447.60 per unit, public lighting system paid 425.90 paise per unit, small power sector 342.45 paise, medium and large power supply sector paid 384.28 paise and 369.64 paise, respectively and bulk power supply sector paid 376.56 paise per unit to board. That means the board sold power to these sectors after charging certain percentage of profit per unit.

Domestic sector was given power at 290.67 paise per unit. Return to board from power supplied to the agriculture sector was only 217.21 paise per unit because the state government had provided about Rs 1,400 crore to the board for providing power to this sector free of cost in 2006-07.

In fact, board has to buy power for supply to the agricultural sector at a very high cost from outside sources. It costs above Rs 5 per unit, say official sources, because it has to be bought during June and July when the demand for power goes up in the entire country due to summer. Though all other sectors, except agriculture and domestic sector, buy power from the board at a higher rate than the average cost of per unit, but even then board is suffering huge losses.

Will the board survive a loss of Rs 21,000 crore by 2011-12 on its account books that is question on which Badal government should ponder over seriously?

The Badal government has been claiming to add 5,000 MW of power in the next five years to existing available power to the PSEB from its own projects, share from central sector projects and common pool of BBMB of about 6,100 MW.

For the transmission and distribution of 5,000 MW of power, which the Badal government wanted to add, the PSEB would have change its entire transmission and distribution system that is even not capable to bear the existing load of 6,100 MW and collapses repeatedly during the peak load hours. Changing of the distribution lines will require investment of several hundred crores.


Fraud case
Market Committee chairman booked 
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 19
The Nathana police has registered a criminal case against Teja Singh Dandiwal, a senior Congress leader and chairman, Market Committee, Bhucho Mandi, for his alleged involvement in committing a fraud by attesting the wrong documents pertaining to a piece of land situated in the district.

Police sources said Teja Singh and one other accused, Prem Kumar, tried to grab a piece of land by attesting wrong documents pertaining to a piece of land owned by Har Kaur.

By attesting the documents, Teja Singh established the fact that Har Kaur was not married and, hence, died issueless. By doing so, the accused managed to get the land owned by Har Kaur transferred in the name of persons known to him and later the same piece of land was sold off to some other person by the accused in connivance with his known persons.

However, Har Kaur was married at Jaitu Mandi and had seven children. When the police enquired into a complaint moved against Teja Singh, the fact came to light.Teja Singh had done so despite the fact that he personally knew Har Kaur and the details connected with her.

The case was registered under Sections 420, 467 and 120-B,IPC, at Nathana police station. Raids were being conducted to nab the accused. 


State Round-Up
Minister for common marketing of crops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
Cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh today underlined the need for evolving a common marketing in the shape of a “mega food park” in the cooperative sector for effective marketing of processed foods, fruits and vegetables and also other high-value crops.

This move will ensure a proper platform for marketing produce. The minister was at a meeting of the cooperation department convened here to review the presentation made by representatives of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services, New Delhi, regarding setting up of the “mega food park” under the scheme of ministry of food processing industries.

A five-member task force has been formed to prepare the action plan.

Blast victim: Probe ordered

The secretary, medical education and research, Jagjit Puri, has ordered a probe into the death of a blast victim in Amritsar on Monday. The director medical education and research (DMER) will conduct the probe.

Puri said on Tuesday that in case of any negligence in the death of the victim in the hospital, strict action would be taken against the erring staff. He also directed the DMER to send the report by June 20.

Study on flora and fauna

The state government has decided to get a scientific and comprehensive study on the short-term and long-term impact of global warming on the flora and fauna.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of forest and wildlife officers presided over by Tikshan Sud, minister for forest and wildlife. The state would be the first to get this study done on the impending danger of global warming.

SAD’s student wing dissolved

The Students’ Organisation of India (SOI), the student wing of the SAD, dissolved its organisational set up on Tuesday. With this, the wings of the SOI at Punjabi University, Patiala; Panjab University, Chandigarh; Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar; Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar; Lovely University, Jalandhar; Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; and its wings in all government and private educational institutes were dissolved.


Bhattal collects copies of FIRs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
Leader of the opposition in the Punjab assembly Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has drawn up a list of about 100 cases relating to attempt to murder or causing grievous injuries registered against Congress activists in various parts of the state in the past three months.

Bhattal said she had got copies of the relevant FIRs. “ We will submit the copies of the FIRs in the Punjab Assembly to confront the Badal government on the issue of political vendetta.” She said the FIRs had been collected only in certain cases. Otherwise, there were hundreds other cases registered against Congress workers alleging the commission of minor offences by them.

Bhattal said a file of FIRs would be prepared and sent to the Chief Minister, the state police chief and the Punjab human rights commission. She said atrocities and excesses against Congress workers had not stopped despite a promise made in this regard by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

She said Congress MLAs had been asked to help party workers fight the cases registered against them.


‘Excesses’: Khaira for judicial probe 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
Congress MLA from Bholath Sukhpal Singh Khaira today demanded the setting up of a judicial commission to probe alleged excesses and false cases registered against Congress leaders and workers in Punjab during the past 100 days of the SAD-BJP government.

He claimed that the law and order and constitutional machinery had collapsed in the state. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s response to these police excesses had been one of a “convenient liar”, alleged Khaira.

The MLA alleged that Akalis chopped off an ear of Congress worker Naib Singh in the police station itself. There had been planned assaults on the Congress cadres in the state.


House razed
Chief parliamentary secy clarifies
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 19
While reacting to news item “House razed: BSP memo to DC” published in these columns today, Mohinder Kaur Josh, chief parliamentary secretary, refuted all the charges levelled by the BSP against her son and husband.

She said her son and husband neither forcibly took possession of the house and a plot of Chhindo nor beat up Chhindo and her son. Chhindo had already sold the land in dispute. Josh claimed that the land adjoining to Chhindo’s plot had been in the possession of her family since 2001.


Rahul Gandhi’s b’day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 19
The Punjab Youth Congress celebrated the 37th birthday of their young dynamic leader, Rahul Gandhi, here today. President of the youth Congress Vijay Inder Singla distributed notebooks and sweets at Bal Niketan, Lahori Gate and villages of Shermajra, Bhunerheri, Sanour and Jogipur. Vijay also reminded the people of the sacrifices made by the Gandhi family.

He added that Rahul Gandhi was trying to fulfil the dreams of his father Rajiv Gandhi.

Sharanjit Singh Jogipur and Sanjeev Sharma, presidents of the District Youth Congress (Urban and Rural), were also present on the occasion.


2 wholesale shops raided
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 19
On a tip-off about sale of spurious desi ghee in Sunam, a three-member team of the health department, comprising district health officer Dr K.C. Goyal, a medical officer Dr R.N. Gothwal and district food inspector Kanwaljit Singh today raided two wholesale karyana shops at Sunam and seized 311 litres of reportedly spurious desi ghee from both shops.

Sangrur civil surgeon Dr S.K. Bansal today said the department had got a tip-off that some wholesale karyana merchants were selling “spurious desi ghee” in Sunam.

On getting this information a three-member team had been formed and a decoy customer had been sent to a wholesale shop Baljinder and Company, Sunam. The decoy customer bought 18 litres of desi ghee at a rate of Rs 112 per kg. The normal market rate of desi ghee was more than Rs 170 per kg, civil surgeon added.

The civil surgeon said the team had seized 158 litres of desi ghee of ‘Sarthi’ trademark from Baljinder and Company, and 153 litres of ‘Keshav’ trademark from Jain Trading Company, Sunam. The civil surgeon further said the seized desi ghee would now be produced for custody orders in the court of CJM here tomorrow. 


Work for underprivileged, says Rodrigues 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today called upon the members of the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) and the industry to involve actively in various human resource development programmes.

Addressing the 29th annual function of the LMA here, General Rodrigues said: “The youth has to broaden their vision and competence to make Punjab a vibrant and resurgent state.”

He emphasised the need for a performance audit and analysis of the policies and programmes in different sectors of socio-economic growth to enable the state to take corrective measures by identifying shortcomings and inadequacies.

“We have the knowledge, competence and technology relevant to our needs, manufacturing capacity, raw material and marketing scope for our products and the need is to develop our potential holistically and move ahead with faith and confidence.

It is a matter of record that our people abroad have made their mark with their intelligence and achieved excellence in different areas despite non-availability of any support system. There is no reason why we cannot perform better in our own land, when we have all resources available at our disposal,” he said.

He stressed upon the need for addressing the concerns of the less privileged. He emphasised that the corporate sector must come forward with various programmes to invest in their development.

General Rodrigues presented LMA awards to Anand G. Mahindra, vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra Limited; H.S. Sidhu, executive director and general manager, Ludhiana Stock Exchange; and Monica Malhtora Kandhari and Sonica Malhotra, both from MBD group.


Same-sex couple ties knot
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 19
A same-sex couple of Batala has got ‘married’ against the wishes of their parents.

Baljit Kaur (21) and Rajwinder Kaur (20), residents of Hasanpura Kalan and Hassanpura Khurd villages, respectively, in Batala subdivision of the Gurdaspur district, told mediapersons here today that they had left their homes about 15 days ago and got married at Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir against the wishes of their parents.

Baljit said that they had been trying to convince their parents about their relationship for the past one and a half year but in vain. She said an Army officer had helped them at Katra in solemnising the marriage.

Baljit, who introduced herself as the husband, said that they had to take this extreme step as they did not want to be separated from each other.

The couple was now planning to go abroad. Baljit said a friend Sanaa in Toronto was helping them to get the visa and was also helping them financially.

Baljit said at present they were living in Chandigarh and would soon file papers in a court for registering their marriage. Both of them urged their parents to accept them as husband and wife and to allow them to live peacefully.


Ask me first, Vedanti appeals to Sikhs

Amritsar, June 19
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti today appealed to the Sikh masses and various Panthic organisations to take his consent before launching any programme to protest against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh.

Jathedar Vedanti said in his appeal that blasphemous acts of the Dera chief had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community all over the world. He said there was a need to maintain unity in the Panth and to be cautious against the conspirators, who were trying to create fissures in the unity of the Panth. — TNS


Sikh jatha to leave for Lahore on June 21
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 19
A 269-member Sikh jatha, led by Baldev Singh, member, SGPC, will leave for Lahore on June 21 to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Harbeant Singh, secretary, SGPC, said today that the list of the devotees had been sent to the central government for visa and other formalities. He asked the devotees to contact the SGPC office on June 20 to get their passports.

He said the jatha would reach Nankana Sahib on June 21, Gurdwara Panja Sahib on June 23 and Gurdwara Dera Sahib on June 27. The devotees would also visit Gurdwara Rori Sahib and Gurdwara Kartar Sahib. The jatha would return to India on June 30. 


Sangrur MC lacks record of projects
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 19
It is a matter of concern that the local municipal council does not have proper record of many roads in the town.

This came to notice when the council, in a reply to an application filed by a resident under the RTI Act regarding the status of the road, said it had no history of the road. In reply to another application, it stated that it had no entry of the road in the maintenance register.

Talking to The Tribune, general secretary of the Association of People for Transparency Kamal Anand said as per his information the council had not maintained proper record of majority of the roads so the association today filed an application with the council seeking record of all roads, streets and drains in the town to bring transparency in the development projects.

He said the local government department had directed the municipal bodies in 1993 to maintain registers of the development projects from 1988.

When this reporter contacted an official of the council, he admitted that there was no record of about 40 per cent municipal roads. He said the council had the record of only main roads while it had no record of the roads constructed in streets and mohallas.


2 coaches derail

Bathinda, June 19
An Ahmedabad-bound goods train, loaded with rice, coming from Jaitu in Faridkot district, met with an accident near Nahianwala level crossing here today.

The accident occurred when the Bathinda-Ferozepore section of the railway line caved in, resulting in the derailment of two coaches of the train. — TNS


Farmers await labourers
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, June 19
Farmers in the state are finding it hard to even cultivate the paddy crop this season as the number of labourers coming from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have dwindled.

Farmers from various parts of the state can be seen making a beeline outside the Rajpura railway station in order to get hold of migrant labourers arriving here. Some of the farmers are camping at the railway station for the past couple of days in hope of hiring them. Harkesh Singh, one of the farmers from Mehbobpur village, said he had been coming to the railway station twice a day to hire the labourers, but had not been able to hire anyone in the past two days.

To cultivate one acre four labourers are needed. Many farmers with acres of land have not been able to get even a single labourer this sowing season. Brothers Harjinder Singh and Narinder Singh, who own 20 acres at Sural Kalan village, said even as the pre-monsoon has hit the region and the season was ripe to sow the paddy, they had not been able to cultivate their land.

The reason being given for this shortage is that with the Bihar government starting several development projects in the state and the guaranteed employment scheme of the Union government, most of the labourers have found jobs in their home towns.

Punjabi landlords are reluctant to hire local Dalit labourers as they charge more and their output is less as compared to those from Bihar.

As of today there are at least 40 farmers waiting at the Rajpura railway station, while only five to six labourers are arriving here each day.

With each passing day the farmers are becoming more and more apprehensive about incurring huge losses as late sowing of paddy can lead to low yields. Karamvir Singh of Mardapur village said it was almost impossible to cultivate the fields without migrant labourers. “In case we do not get them, the season can prove to be a disaster for us,” he lamented.


Dist admn gears up to tackle floods
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 19
The district administration has taken all necessary steps, precautions and arrangements to tackle floods, said deputy commissioner Alaknanda Dayal, while presiding over a meeting of district officials, here yesterday.

The DC said flood control rooms would function from July 1 to September 30, adding that boats, tents, tirpals, life-saving jackets and other equipments have been arranged in sufficient numbers.

The DEO (S) and DEO (E) were directed to ensure safety of school buildings and identify unsafe buildings.

The DC also directed all the revenue officers to submit reports about the prospective flood prone areas in the district.

The XEN Drainage, XEN Panchyati Raj, and all EOs were asked to initiate a cleanliness drive of all canals, tunnels, bridges, ponds, so that the flow of water could be ensured.

The DC also directed the XEN PSEB to ensure uninterrupted power supply during the monsoons.

ADC (G) M.R. Aggarwal, DPRO P.S. Kalra, SDMs, revenue officials, XENs and other officers attended the meeting.


Refusal to pay ‘bribe’
Man thrashed, handed over to cops
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
Even as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) bosses are busy making tall claims of an image makeover, the staff down the line seems to be hellbent on perpetuating their culture of greed and callousness. What else can one explain the alleged thrashing of a poor farmer over his refusal to grease the palms of officials of the PSEB.

Narrating his tale of woes, Jasvinder Singh, a resident of Attala village in Patiala district, said his misery started the day he submitted an application to the PSEB for installation of a transformer, given increased load on the supply line to his fields. He alleged that instead of acknowledging his request made in January this year, junior engineer Gurjant Singh, posted at PSEB’s Patran office, demanded Rs 12,000 for the job.

“I am a poor farmer having only four ‘killas’ of land and am already reeling under the debt of Rs 1.50 lakh. Besides, I have children whose education too has been compromised because of my acute poverty. How could I have paid the bribe,” rued Jaswinder.

He ran from pillar to post to get the transformer installed but to no avail. Fortunately, the DC, Patiala, endorsed his application during a public meeting in May and asked the PSEB officials to act on the matter. Following the DC’s order, the PSEB approved the estimate of expenses required for installing the transformer. Meanwhile, Jaswinder Singh deposited the required fee and was eventually supplied some equipment by the PSEB.

But the matter again came before the JE Gurjant Singh who, Jaswinder alleged, bore animosity towards him as he had refused to pay the bribe to him. Jaswinder said he repeatedly requested that his case be handed over to some other official but nothing came out of it. He further alleged that on June 12 when he went to the PSEB office to procure some goods, Gurjant Singh, along with his colleagues, locked him in a room and thrashed him mercilessly. Thereafter, the PSEB officials allegedly handed him over to the police. Jaswinder said he was rescued from the police custody by some panchayat members but the police officials took their signatures on blank papers.

“This is not all. Gurjant Singh, and his colleagues are still threatening me that I will be trapped in some police case for not paying them the bribe,” said Jaswinder.


Fake travel agents’ gang busted, 1 held
Duped six of Rs 58 lakh
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 19
The district police has claimed to have busted an inter-state gang of fake travel agents, involved in swindling of nearly Rs 58 lakh from six locals, by arresting a member of the gang here today.

According to district police chief Davinder Singh Garcha these travel agents had issued forged travel documents and air tickets to many aspirants after extracting lakhs of rupees from them. The police also recovered three passports with fake visas and an equal number of bogus air tickets from the accused.

The arrested has been identified as Major Singh of Tallewal district Barnala while the absconding accused are Sukhwinder Singh of Tallewal, Sanjeev Gupta of Delhi, Karamjit Singh, alias Kala of Ageti village in Patiala district and a resident of Khanna known as Sharma.

Elaborating on the modus operandi of the gang, whose tentacles are spread in different parts of the country, he said that it lured the persons interested in going abroad with the promise of providing them employment and also assured visas to their chosen countries. The gang used to charge Rs 12 lakh for UK and Rs 15 lakh for Canada per person. As per a verbal deal half of the amount was to be paid in India and the remaining after landing on the foreign shore.

On the complaint of one of the victims Balwinder Singh of Bodde Vgaran village, Badhani Kalan police station registered a case against the above mentioned accused under relevant sections. Balwinder had shelled out Rs 8 lakh to go overseas.

Other duped victims include Avtar Singh of Badhani Kalan, Paramjit Singh of Lopon village and Jagjit Singh of Smalsar.

The victims discovered about the fraud when they did not find either their names or the ticket numbers on the list of passengers of the flight, mentioned on the tickets, after reaching at Mumbai airport. 


NRI assaulted, hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 19
NRI Randeep Kaur was allegedly assaulted by deed writer Yadwinder Singh Bedi in the tehsil complex here this afternoon. She was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

According to the police, Randeep Kaur hired the services of Bedi to get the deed of her house registered. She gave some advance money to him.

Later, Bedi demanded more money for completing the work. Randeep Kaur did not agree to his demand and insisted him to return the money. During the altercation, hot words were exchanged and Randeep Kaur was injured.


Award for Pbi varsity professor
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 19
The India International Friendship Society, New Delhi, had selected Dr Sukhdarshan Singh Khehra, professor of law, Punjabi University, for the coveted 'Shiksha Rattan Puraskar' for his services in the field of education, official sources disclosed, here today. The award will be presented on July 7 at a function being organised by the society.

Dr Khehra is presently director, Punjab School of Law, Punjabi University. He has also remained in charge of Punjabi University Law Centre at Faridkot from 1978 to 1983.

Dr Khehra has several publications to his credit and has participated in various national and international conferences, the sources said.


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