P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

Funds for cooperative credit 
Punjab protests to FM on meagre sum
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Punjab has lodged a strong protest to the Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram against what it describes as discrimination in the allocation of funds for the cooperative credit restructuring in the state.

Whereas the certain states have been given liberal allocation of funds for this purpose, Punjab has been allocated only Rs 82 crore. Cooperation Minister Kanwaljit Singh, who has met Chidambaram, has urged him to do justice to Punjab. Andhra Pradesh has been given Rs 3,000 crore, Gujarat Rs 1,600 crore. Even Haryana has been allotted Rs 600 crore. In all Rs 20,100 crore have been allocated to various states.

“ We had asked for Rs 544.15 crore from the union government for the revival of cooperative credit structure”, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Punjab was given no representation on the Vaidyanathan committee, which was set up by the union government to allocate funds. “ I have written a strong letter to Chidambaram urging him to look into the matter,” he said.

For the revival of cooperative credit structure, Punjab needs Rs 211.36 crore for the one-time settlement of cooperative loans, Rs 198.78 crore for one-time assistance to Punjab agriculture development cooperative banks and Rs 134 crore to offset the loss to be suffered for providing crop loans to farmers on 7 per cent during the next five years.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said Punjab’s cooperative sector was being “punished” by making meagre allocation of funds. Punjab’s cooperative institutions, especially banks, had performed better compared to other states, which had been provided with liberal allocation of funds, he said.

More over, Punjab’s cooperative banks had been advancing loans to grow foodgrains such as wheat and paddy required for the national food security. And compared to Punjab, states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra had been growing commercial crops such as sugarcane and cotton etc. “ Logically speaking states like Punjab, which make a huge contribution for the national food security should get top priority in the allocation of funds from the union government,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh. 

Lab attendants’ recruitment
Violation, says probe 
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
An inquiry by a senior police official into the recruitment of lab attendants by the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) authorities in 2000-2001, has established that there was a blatant violation of norms. The complaint about the scam was lodged by Lalit Mohan Sharma, lecturer, GZSCET.

Gautam Singal, the then DSP, who conducted the inquiry into the recruitment scam of nine lab attendants, has recommended the registration of criminal case under various sections of IPC and prevention of corruption Act against 14 persons, including the then Principal Narinder Singh, deputy registrar Gurdeep Singh and head, department of mechanical, H. S. Randhawa for their alleged involvement in following flawed procedure in recruitment of laboratory attendants.

Lalit Mohan Sharma in his complaint lodged on April 3, 2007, had alleged that forgery, cheating and fraud was committed by the authorities concerned to recruit their own favourites as lab attendants in the college, ignoring the meritorious candidates.

SSP Nau Nihal Singh established the fact that there was a scam in the recruitment of lab attendants in the GZSCET and said that some persons concerned had raised an objection against the inquiry conducted by Singal before it was completed.

Interestingly, Principal Narinder Singh and Gurdeep Singh, who have been found guilty in the scam by Singal, are facing another criminal case for their alleged involvement in making bunglings in the recruitment of lecturer in the GZSCET in 2000-2001.

Official sources said that Singal had categorically mentioned that appointments of the lab attendants were made by adopting unlawful and questionable methods in which the possibility of hidden considerations, underhand dealings and pressure from influential quarters could not be ruled out.

The inquiry report also mentioned that the authorities concerned initially did not mention in the advertisement for the recruitment of lab attendants that a written test would be conducted for it.

The authorities concerned suddenly decided to hold a written test for the recruitment. Interestingly the authorities concerned gave the printing order for only 1,134 answer sheets despite the fact that 1,559 candidates had applied for the post.

Not only this, glaring anomalies and irregularities in awarding marks on the answer sheets of different candidates were noticed during the scrutiny of copies of answer sheets produced by the complainant.

Meanwhile, information gathered by TNS revealed that efforts were being made by some influential persons in the ruling set-up to hush up this matter as one of the candidates, who was selected in violation of norms, was kin of a senior Sikh leader.


Shell blast
2 minors among 3 killed
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 3
Tragedy struck the family of Gulab Singh here this afternoon when his 20- year-old son and two minor grandchildren died in a blast at his Ram Nagar house on the outskirts of the city today. According to police sources, Sonu, son of Gulab Singh, who was working with a scooter parts factory, carried home a shell which he spotted along the road on his way home for lunch. He tried to hammer it and it exploded, killing his brother Gurpreet and two children — a 7-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy — of his sister, who were visiting them.

Such was the intensity of the explosion that Gurpreet and the children died on the spot. Gulab Singh, his wife Gurmeet Kaur and Sonu were injured and taken to hospital. Sonu has been referred to the PGI as his condition is critical. 

Some functionaries of the police and the civil administration rushed to the spot and supervised the rescue operation. 

An official spokesman said deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal, the ADC and the SDM visited the family. They assured the family of all possible help, including the supply of medicines from the District Red Cross Society. 

The deputy commissioner said he would take up the matter of granting compensation with the government. 

The police sources said samples of the shell had been collected and would be sent for examination. They suspect it could have been a bomb which may have been abandoned by someone after taking the scrap. 


Rains lash Bathinda, Gurdaspur
Low-lying areas flooded
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
The heavy rain, which lashed this region for about one hour today, has flooded the low-lying area of this town affecting normal life of residents.

While it has brought much-needed relief to the farmers, as the downpour is beneficial for the growth of cotton and paddy crops. The heavy rain has also brought momentary respite from the heat, as there is a considerable fall in the temperature.

Paras Ram Nagar, Powerhouse road, Sirki Bazar, Shant Nagar, Mall road, Ajit road, Goniana road and Amrik Singh road have come under knee-deep water. The water has also entered into hundreds of dwellings in the low-lying areas of the town.

To deal with the situation, the local municipal corporation authorities, with the help of sewerage board, had pressed about 20 pump-sets into service to drain out the water from the low-lying areas at the earliest. The senior functionaries of both these departments started making repeated rounds of the city after the heavy rain started flooding the low-lying areas.

Meanwhile, officials of the state agriculture department pointed out that today’s rain would be fruitful for the growth of cotton and paddy crops, as it had come at an appropriate time. They added that if the rain continued for few days more, there was possibility that it could increase the cotton and paddy yield.


Beas, Ravi level up
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 3
The heavy downpour has brought misery to residents of low-lying areas in different parts of the district.

The continuous heavy showers, which started early this morning, disrupted normal life putting people in a hardship.

Knee-deep water accumulated in streets and roads in Gurdaspur, Batala, Quadian, Dinanagar, Pathankot, Sujanpur and other townships in the district.

The water-level in the Chakki, Beas and Ravi rivers and their tributaries, besides other seasonal rivulets and choes, had also risen endangering human lives and property along their banks at certain places.

Rainwater also accumulated in electricity sub-station located on the Dhangu road in Pathankot raising danger of short-circuits.

Over half-a-dozen families located near the Saili Kulian locality in Pathankot have already shifted to safer places, along with goods and livestocks.

Families living in areas declared as danger zones by the administration have also started shifting to safer areas.

The local civic body and the administration are using earthmovers to drain water accumulated at roads at different places. 


Sukhbir for further empowerment of MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Working president of the Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Singh Badal today called for the further "empowerment of legislators and the institutionalisation of their role in the governance of the state."

Sukhbir Badal expressed unhappiness over the "derecognition of the crucial role of MLAs under successive Congress regimes" and said that the MLAs were the only wing of any government directly accountable to the people. "Successive Congress governments deprived the legislators of their legitimate role and importance and this trend needs to be reversed," he said.

In a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the SAD working president also suggested a series of measures to increase the participation of the legislators in the process of "development of the state and the delivery of justice to the people."

One of the suggestions pertained to the constitution of high-powered department committees, each comprising five to 10 MLAs, to assist the ministers in the implementation of pro-people policies and schemes of the government. These committees should hold monthly meetings with the ministers and their department heads, said Sukhbir Badal.

Sukhbir Badal urged the Chief Minister to make an official provision for “training packages” tailored to the needs of the MLAs for an effective interface between the government and the people. The training could include procedure and rules of governance and the allocation of resources, delivery of services, etc. These could be organised in collaboration with the IAS training academy at Mussoorie and other reputed institutions.

He demanded mobile phones for the legislators and said that a full-fledged legislators’ office complex with separate secretarial assistance should be set up at the state headquarters.



‘Govt diluting PPSC powers’

Mansa, July 3
Punjab Youth Congress chief Vijay Inder Singla today accused the SAD-BJP government in the state of undermining the powers of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) by writing to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for conducting the exams to recruit various state cadre officers.

Singla, who was here to urge the youths of Punjab to vote for Taj so as to bring it into the list of seven wonders of the world, alleged that by writing to UPSC to recruit PCS officers for Punjab by conducting the exams, the state government had tried to reduce the powers of PPSC, which was an autonomous institution and derived its powers from the constitution. — TNS


Copies of two dailies burnt 
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 3
Activists of about six Sikh organisations burnt the copies of two vernacular dailies today for allegedly publishing exaggerated news.

They were protesting against the controversial news which appeared in a Hindi and a Punjabi daily with regard to a July 1 incident in which windows of a vehicle carrying Dera Sacha Sauda followers were allegedly smashed by some Sikh activists at a railway crossing at Dagru village.

The Sadar police station, under which the area falls, registered the case against unidentified persons late in the night on the day of the incident.

Activists of the Gurmat Parchar Committee, SAD (A), Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) and (Grewal) groups participated in the protest.

Gurpritam Singh Cheema of the Gurmat Parchar Committee in a memorandum to the deputy commissioner stated that whenever the state committee of Dera Sacha Sauda came here a controversy got created. 


Martyr’s bust at cremation ground resented
Tribune News Service

Baghapurana, July 3
Citizens of this sub-division, nearly 25 km from Moga, have been peeved at the placement of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s bust at the cremation ground.

Dharminder Singh of the local Shaheed Bhagat Singh Club said that they were not against temporary placement of the statue at the cremation ground. However, long and undesirable delay was sending a wrong message to masses. He said the bust should be placed near an educational institute so as to motivate the future generations.

The bust was earlier placed at Shaheed Bhagat Singh chowk in this tiny town. However, after renovation of the intersection a new bust was placed and the old one was shifted to the cremation ground. Around the new bust at the intersection a private bank has created a mini park.

Though many residents had raised voice against the placement but they were told by the authorities concerned that the bust would be shifted to a suitable place later.

When contacted executive officer of nagar panchayat Sukhjinder Singh Sidhu said that he has been just transferred to the place. “As the matter has been brought to my notice I would visit the place on Monday and would take necessary steps accordingly,” he added. 


Land Acquisition
Farmers’ body celebrates SC verdict
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 3
The Kissan Hit Bachao Committee celebrated here today as the Supreme Court upheld the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court against forcible acquisition of land by the Punjab government.

Sweets were distributed and there was rejoicing at the dharna site of the committee in Sohana, here today. The committee had been protesting against the forcible acquisition of land by the Punjab government in different parts of the state. The dharna had entered its 1,143rd day today.

D.P. Singh Baidwan, convener, said the committee had been raising its voice against the forcible acquisition of land and as such a case had been filed in the High Court which had granted a stay on the acquisition process. But the decision had been challenged by the Punjab government in the Supreme Court.

Baidwan said the government had promised that it would implement the land-pooling scheme in the state for the welfare of the farmers. He said the committee was waiting for the announcement of the scheme. If the scheme protected the interests of the farmers, it would be welcomed and the dharna would be lifted, Baidwan added. 


Punjab govt to expand forest area
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 3
The Punjab Government is making serious efforts to expand the area under forests in view of global warming and environmental balance being created by the rising pollution. This was stated by forest minister Teekshan Sood at a press meet, organised by the Mohali Press Club, here today.

Sood said environmental imbalance was increasing due to the reduction in the land under forest area.

The minister said the government planned to increase the forest area to 15 per cent from the present 6.3 per cent. Sood said 98 lakh saplings would be planted during the current year. 


5 citrus estates to be set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab government today ordered the setting up of five citrus estates to bring over 18,000 acres in 400 villages in the state under citrus cultivation in 2007. This will be the most ambitious diversification project ever undertaken in a single year with a deadline of just 30 days.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting here approved the conceptual plan and outlay of the project, which comes under the state government’s horticulture mission.

The estates would be set up in the citrus-growing area of Tahliwala Jattan, Abohar, Badal, Hariana and Hoshiarpur.

In another significant step, the government decided to provide subsidy on drip irrigation up to 70 per cent of the total cost incurred by the farmers.

This is part of the government's new approach to shift the agricultural focus from water and soil-depleting crop patterns and encouraging non-conventional farm activity, including large-scale citrus cultivation.

As many as 73 citrus farmers from the state attended the meeting.


The Chief Minister today put in place a comprehensive plan to encourage women in self-employment ventures through micro-credit schemes of various rural banks and NGOs.

Speaking after a presentation by Sneh Lata Kumar of the rashtriya mahila kosh, a national credit fund for women, the Chief Minister said the dependence of women on male members of the family had to be made a thing of the past in order to make them self-reliant.

Quoting the success of the Bangladesh model for women empowerment in a poor country, Badal said that Punjab must focus on involving regional rural banks in such schemes.

Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the Chief Minister, asked the mahila kosh to evolve a special model for a state like Punjab.

ITI upgradation

The state government today decided to upgrade Shaheed Bhagat Singh ITI at Khatkar Kalan as a centre of excellence for chemical research.

The government also sanctioned Rs 15 crore for the purpose and set in motion the process of recruitment of 780 instructors. The recruitment process will be completed by August 10.

An orientation-cum-training programme for potential emigrant workers will also be started at this centre.

These decisions were taken at an official meeting chaired by the Chief Minister here. 


Raid on gurdwara
SAD(A) demands action against SHO
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 3
The seizure of some religious books by the district police from the library of a gurdwara at Talwara village has kicked off a controversy here. The SAD(A) is now demanding registration of a case against the SHO under whose supervision the raid was conducted.

Activists of the SAD(A), who held a protest here today, submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner, seeking registration of case under Section 295-A of the IPC against the SHO of Fatehgarh Sahib police station Darshan Singh.

Speaking to mediapersons, senior leaders of the SAD (A) Emann Singh Mann and Bhai Mandhir Singh Kang, along with members of the SGPC Ravinder Singh Khalsa and Bibi Surinder Kaur, alleged that apart from religious books related to Guru Granth Sahib, some books related to Operation Bluestar, Damdami Taksal, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and some pictures were seized by the police. They said the action violated the rules as none of the books kept in the library had been banned either by the Punjab government.

The SAD(A) activists stated that the SHO, along with a police party, forcibly entered the gurdwara last evening and took away several books and pictures. They maintained that around 10 policemen came to village yesterday, after which several police parties arrived there and remained stationed in the village all through the day. Around 5.30 pm the SHO came and searched the library, the SAD (A) leaders alleged.


Arms licences of 41 suspended
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 3
Firearm licences of 41 residents of this district that got "fraudulently" issued from licensing authorities in the neighbouring Sriganganagar, have been suspended, district magistrate Bhawani Singh Detha said today. The superintendents of police at Ferozepur and Sriganganagar have been asked to initiate action immediately to seize the weapons issued against these licences. All of them will be served a three-day notice to explain their position.


RTI complaints to be disposed of fast

Amritsar, July 3
Public information officers will go to their respective district headquarters for the disposal of complaints received under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Rajan Kashyap, chief information commissioner, Punjab, stated this to the media here yesterday, after disposing of the complaints received under the RTI Act. He said the commission had formed five benches under nine commissioners who would visit the districts from where a numbers of complaints/appeals had been received .— TNS


Attack of mealy-bug: PAU experts to guide farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
As attack of mealy-bug on the cotton crop has been detected in certain parts of the cotton belt in Punjab, experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, have been asked to visit the areas to advise farmers to tackle the attack.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has instructed the officials concerned to extend all help to farmers to eliminate the attack of mealy-bug.

Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Balwinder Singh Sidhu, said officers of the department had been rushed to various villages. “We have approached farmers in almost all blocks of the Malwa belt to inform them to only spray pesticides recommended by the department. No other pesticide should be sprayed and farmers should also take the bill from the pesticide dealer while purchasing the pesticides”, he said.

Sidhu said farmers had been advised to use a two-pronged strategy to tackle the attack. One was to use chemicals like pesticides and the other was to keep the cotton fields and adjoining areas protected from any sort of weeds. He said various weeds played host to this insect and to break the cycle of attack of this insect, it was a must to remove all sorts of weeds which played a host to it.

He said handbills in Punjabi had been distributed in villages of the cotton belt to educate farmers with regard to check the attack of the mealy-bug.


Fake currency  seized

Patiala, July 3
The police here today seized Rs 5 lakh counterfeit currency from two persons.

The police had put up a naka on te Bhadson road for checking and nabbed two persons hailing from Bihar with fake currency .

The police said Sakander Kumar was carrying fake currency of Rs 1,02000 and Chhote Lal Rs 4 lakh.During preliminary questioning the duo admitted they were smuggling currency from Nepal and planned to circulate this in Punjab. The police has registered a case at Tripuri police station. — TNS



BEd colleges mushrooming in state
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 3
There has been an unprecedented increase in the number of BEd colleges in Punjab in the past four years. Against 23 BEd colleges in 2003 there are 134 colleges now. Of these, however, 93 have temporarily affiliation with Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Punjabi University, Patiala. Some of these do not have proper infrastructure either.

The experts in the field have expressed concern over the haphazard mushrooming of BEd colleges in the state. According to sources, no government aid was given to these private colleges, but still the managements would earn up to Rs 40 lakh in the first year itself.

In 2003 only eight BEd colleges were affiliated with Guru Nanak Dev University, whereas today 28 colleges have got affiliation. Thirteen more colleges have temporary affiliation with the university. Just three BEd colleges were affiliated with Punjabi University in 2003. Now the number of BEd colleges has increased to 55 this year and 44 more colleges have got temporary affiliation.

Same is the case with Panjab University. Only 12 colleges were affiliated to it in 2003 but 51 more colleges have come up in the past four years. Another 36 BEd colleges have temporary affiliation with it.

Tarsem Bahia, one of the senate members, Panjab University, said the government must take necessary steps to stop the mushrooming of BEd colleges. “There are already one lakh unemployed BEd teachers in the state. After a ban on recruitment, the state government has decided to fill just 4,000 posts this year, which means several thousands will still remain unemployed.”

As if it is not enough, the managements have been minting money by providing seats to BEd aspirants from the management quota all these years. According to sources, the students seeking admission in the management quota were ready to pay anything between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for a seat.


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