P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dera row
Cases against Sikhs
Vedanti’s ultimatum to Haryana govt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
Jathedar, Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti has asked the Haryana government to withdraw all fabricated cases registered against Sikhs who had been spearheading campaign against Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

After meeting a jatha of Sikhs from Haryana, Jathedar Vedanti said it was unfortunate that many Sikhs had been implicated in fake cases with regard to protest against the dera chief.

He said in case the Congress government in Haryana did not assuage the hurt feelings of the Sikh masses, then it should be prepared to face the consequences.

The delegation included many Sikh women whose husbands have gone underground following crackdown on those who have been fighting against the dera.

A joint memorandum submitted by the Sikh sangat from Ratia, Behabalpur (Fatehabad), Audhan, Ghukanwali (Sirsa) asked Jathedar Vedanti to give reasons as to why the “gurmatta” on the conclave at Ratia was withdrawn .

The delegation said since they had spent huge funds on preparations for the conclave, they urged the jathedar to direct the SGPC to make the payments in this connection.

The jathedar told the delegation that they should involve SGPC members from Haryana so that a joint fight could be initiated against the dera chief.


End row, CPI asks govt, Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 21
The Communist Party of India (CPI) today asked the Badal government to convene a meeting of all parties, religious leaders and intellectuals to build public opinion for settling Dera Sacha Sauda row amicably.

A member of the national executive of the CPI Dr Joginder Dayal said here today that Sikh extremists, after the emergence of the dera issue, had become more active in order to regain their lost ground in the state.

Dr Dayal also appealed to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, to initiate steps to end the social boycott of the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda.


‘Stop boycott of dera followers’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
Hardev Arshi, former MLA and senior leader of the state unit of the CPI, today said the social boycott of followers of Sirsa-based Sacha Sauda sect should be brought to an end as it had been affecting the social fabric of the society.

Arshi said the Constitution did not allow any section of society to socially boycott any one and, hence, the boycott of followers of the dera was wrong.

Arshi said instead of solving the dera row, both the Akali Dal and the Congress had been trying to earn mileage out of the issue.


Badals’ Assets Case
Vigilance Bureau under Congress was
not a holy cow

Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Vendetta is a very convenient bogey to raise when facts are not exactly on one’s side. Crying hoarse over political animus these days, the Congress leaders seem to have forgotten the role played by the Vigilance Bureau during their regime.

Going by the latest twists and material on court’s record in the disproportionate assets case against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Badal and wife Surinder Kaur, it appears that the previous regime had left no stone unturned to make out a case against Badals.

Top sources in the Vigilance Bureau reveal that that the then commissioner of Income Tax, Bathinda, had written a letter to the then chief director, Vigilance Bureau, (dated February 28 and bearing no CIT/BTI/CB/2005-06) in which he had clearly asked the Vigilance director to provide “supporting evidence”, on the basis of which S.K. Srivastava, a private accountant deputed by the Congress government, had come out with an analysis report alleging income tax evasion by Badals.

The letter was highly critical of the modus operandi adopted by Srivastava. It said the agricultural income of Parkash Singh Badal (Rs 43,15,136) was claimed to be based on Mandi and agricultural experts’ assessment, yet no opinion of the said experts and no Mandi records were enclosed with Srivastava’s report. The IT commissioner had written a letter earlier also (dated January 25, 2006), clearly stating that there should be some material on record with the assessing officer to have reasons to believe that income chargeable to tax had escaped assesssment. The letter unambiguously stressed that there was no such material in the report of Srivastava.

Importantly, the valuation reports by the IT department regarding three main properties of Badals, Orbit Resorts, Balasar farmhouse and Sector 9 house in Chandigarh, clearly contradict the report by Srivastava. The valuation report of Balasar farmhouse puts the assessed value of the property at Rs 1,24,75,000, which is importantly even less than the investment declared of Rs 1,25,47,660.This means the income tax department found the value of the property to be even less than the book value.

Similarly, in the case of Orbit Resorts at Gurgaon, the valuation was put at Rs 79,12,29,591, while the declared value was Rs 79,17,33,588. In this case, too, the book value (the investment declared by the assessee) exceeded the valuation by IT department. Significantly, nearly Rs 52 crore had been taken on loan from Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Punjab and Sind Bank for investment in the Orbit Resorts. In the case of Sector 9 house also, the declared value or Rs 1,22,41,979 was more than the assessed value by the IT department, which put the figure at Rs 1,13,23,831.

What these figures convey is that instead of tax evasion or hiding of property, there was in fact overstatement of the value by Badals.This valuation reports have been recently placed before the Ropar court, which has admitted them as genuine.


Mix and Match
SAD to employ Mayawati’s formula in MC poll
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Taking a cue from the Mayawati brand of secular politics, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) may field Muslim, Christian and Hindu candidates in the elections to four municipal corporations in the state.

Stating this here today, general secretary of the party and in charge Ludhiana affairs, Balwinder Bhunder said the party would choose the candidates on their "winnability" factor irrespective of their religion.

He, along with senior leaders of the SAD including MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MLA Hira Singh Gabria, Harish Dhanda, Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, began the process of selecting candidates by conducting interviews of hundreds of applicants.

A huge rush of applicants was witnessed on the first day of the three-day interview session. More than 1000 applicants reached the Circuit House, the venue of the interviews.

Sharanjit Dhillon said sitting municipal councillors may be preferred over others and there would be no special quota for any category. The SAD rode high on secular politics with a Hindu candidate, Harish Rai Dhanda, winning the seat on the party ticket from Ludhiana West.

He was preferred over many Sikh candidates. The move paid dividends. The party plans to achieve the same in the MC elections too.

Bhunder and Dhillon said the SAD-BJP has no differences over the sharing of the seats. "We would divide seats on 50:50 ratio. Only four or five seats remain to be finalised” they said.


Punjab Civic Elections
Sharad Pawar’s party to go it alone
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has decided to go it alone in the August 8 Punjab municipal elections in a bid to make its entry in the state's civic bodies.

"We cannot tie up with our traditional rival Congress, and SAD, as the latter was BJP's alliance partner," NCP general secretary and party in charge for Punjab T.P.Peethambaran Master told The Tribune here today.

Master, who is on a tour of the region in connection with organisational matters, claimed that over the years the party set-up had been put in place in Punjab and Chandigarh.

In certain parts of the country, the NCP was on a revival path, Master said, adding that in Meghalaya, where the party was the main opposition under the leadership of former Lok Sabha speaker P.A.Sangma, it was set to wrest power in the January 2008 assembly elections.

Similarly, in Gujarat, a number of BJP MLAs are likely to join the party ahead of the assembly elections in January, he claimed.

Demanding the constitution of the assembly for Chandigarh on the Delhi pattern, Master asserted that Punjab and Haryana should have their own capitals as the "temporary arrangement" of Chandigarh being the joint capital of the two states could not continue indefinitely.

Moreover, under the present system of governance, the UT administrator wielded enormous powers, which bode ill for the growth of the democratic institutions, he stated.

Coming down heavily on the Chandigarh Administration on the demolitions being carried on in the slums and colonies, the NCP leader said the party would start a "mass agitation" to oppose the demolition and framing of a rehabilitation policy for the poor.

The administration should come up with a uniform and transparent anti-encroachment policy, targeting encroachments both by the rich and poor, he added.


Invalid votes embarrass SAD-BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The ruling SAD-BJP combine is feeling a little embarrassed to find that its valid votes in support of NDA-backed candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat were less than the combined strength of its MLAs (68) in the Punjab assembly. In the assembly, there are 49 SAD MLAs and 19 of the BJP.

Valid votes in support of Shekhawat from Punjab were found to be only 66, two less than the combined strength of the SAD-BJP in the assembly. The SAD-BJP combine also enjoys the support of four independent MLAs.

Keeping the support of these independents in view, the SAD-BJP combine should have got 72 votes polled in support of Shekhawat. However, to the combine’s embarrassment, only 66 votes were found valid in support of Shekhawat from Punjab and six were invalid.

On the other hand, the votes of all 44 Congress MLAs in support of UPA candidate Pratibha Patil were found valid. The Congress was able to cast 45 votes in support of Patil from Punjab.The Congress has 44 MLAs and an independent MLA is also supporting it.

Asked in this connection, Daljit Singh Cheema, political adviser to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said a few MLAs were not able to cast their vote properly. Because of this reason, six votes were declared invalid.

President of the Punjab unit of the BJP Rajinder Bhandari said:“ I do not see any foul play in the polling of votes in support of Shekhawat.” The votes of nine MPs were also found invalid, he said.


People will play role in state’s development: CM
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), July 21
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said people would be involved in all development works being carried out in the state.

Addressing a function organised in one of the eight villages, where the Chief Minister held sangat darshans today, he said one of the priorities of the state government was to make the bureaucracy more accountable and sensitive towards the problems of the people.

Badal today visited eight villages in Lambi Assembly constituency. He held sangat darshan programmes at Kandu-Khera Dhani Telian, Bheeti-Wala, Tarmala, Khema-Khera, Bhai-Ka-Khera, Balauch-Khera and Mahni-Khera villages. The Chief Minister distributed grants worth Rs 1 crore under various welfare schemes at these villages.

He said he would ensure that the paucity of funds should not hamper timely completion of development works.

At Khema-Khera village, on the demand of people, the Chief Minister directed the department concerned to complete all modalities with regard to giving possession of 5-marla plots allotted to various Scheduled Caste families within one month.

Badal also asked the BDPO of the area to conduct an on-the-spot survey and assess the damage to the houses of poor and SC families caused by heavy rains and grant immediate compensation to them. He said a camp would also be organised on July 24 for the settlement of old-age pension cases at Khema-Khera village.


Tribune Impact
DCs told to assess jail conditions
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Acting on The Tribune reports on the conditions prevailing in jails across the state, the Punjab State Commission for Women has directed all deputy commissioners to take stock of the situation and stem the rot.

In a letter sent on July 17 to administrative heads of all districts, principal secretary Punjab Sarvesh Kaushal, posted as member secretary of the women’s commission, has asked all DCs to immediately convene a meeting of the officials concerned and carry out a proper assessment of the infrastructure and manpower requirements therein.

The orders have been passed with the specific purpose of determining the level of facilities available for women inmates of jails and providing them the care they require and deserve. The directions, interestingly, cover not just jails but also juvenile homes, destitute homes and other such institutions in the district where girls and women are lodged in improper conditions.

Kaushal has specified in his orders that all DCs should carry out a thorough inspection of the jails and homes and prevailing conditions therein for ensuring proper boarding, lodging, healthcare, hygiene and security of women lodged there.

Letters sent to DCs are accompanied by a set of The Tribune clippings on the subject concerning the abject state of women prisoners, both undertrials and convicts lodged in Punjab jails.

The letter states, “The news reports on the subject provide shocking insight into the prevailing conditions, particularly with regards the women lodged in jails over the state. I take this opportunity to invite your personal attention to the matter.”

The Commission has forwarded a copy of this letter to B.C. Gupta, principal secretary, department of home affairs and justice, for information and necessary action, while also posting DGP Prisons Punjab Mohd Izhar Alam on the matter.

The issue, it may be mentioned, is under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had taken a suo motu notice of the reports on the issue and asked the Punjab government to submit its reply in a proforma, explaining its position on the counts featuring in the news items.

Jail superintendents have already sent their respective replies to DGP Prisons. Sources say that the consolidated reply, to be submitted to the high court shortly, is in the process of being compiled. Hearing on the case was deferred on July 17, for which the court had earlier issued notices to the government.


Dera Baba Fattu Shah row: 2 held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 21
In a joint press conference here this afternoon, leaders of various Hindu organisations criticised the district administration for its alleged relaxed attitude towards activists of the Ambedkar Sena, who were responsible for alleged disrespect to Hindu deities at the Dera Baba Fattu Shah Bibi Sahiba temple of Sri Ramshevar Mahadev, Rahimpur.

Meanwhile, DC D.K. Tiwari said an impartial investigation by the police into the entire episode was under progress which would be completed within the next two or three days.

Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP(H), said the police today arrested Lal Chand and Ram Bhajan, both of Mohalla Rahimpur, for pelting stones on the police at Dera Baba Fattu Shah on the night of July 11. Some more arrests were likely to be made soon, he added.

They gave the government an ultimatum to take action against the culprits by July 25.


17-year-old girl’s life hangs by thread
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, July 21
Seventeen-year-old Monney of the local Fetehgarh Churian Road is hanging between life and death.

Belonging to a poor family, she is suffering from a congenital heart disease and needs major heart surgery urgently. She is currently under treatment at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

Saroj Rani, the worried mother, while talking to The Tribune said initially Monney was under treatment of specialist doctors in Amritsar who referred her case to the PGI, Chandigarh, and AIIMS in Delhi.

The operation to repair one of the four valves of the heart would cost more than Rs 1 lakh . The doctors advised an immediate operation before it was too late.

Saroj made appeals to various NGOs and philanthropists to come forward to save her daughter’s precious life. Earlier, the family had to return to the city as it was unable to raise the requisite amount needed for the operation.

Ashok, the father of the girl, is a labourer and it is difficult for the family to make both ends meet. Monney has one brother and two more sisters in her family.

Father Roby, chairman, United Christian Forum for Human Rights, Punjab, who is helping the family, said he had given Rs 22,000 for the cause. He said as the amount required for the surgery was high, more money was needed. He appealed to the people and various organisations to come forward to help the poor girl whose condition was deteriorating.


GND varsity dean lodges protest with Vedanti
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
The ongoing controversy of the Chief Khalsa Divan today took another turn when dean (colleges), Guru Nanak Dev University, Mohinder Singh Dhillon lodged a formal complaint with Jathedar, Akal Takht, against his removal as secretary, education committee, allegedly in violation of the directive issued by Akal Takht.

Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, principal, Khalsa College, will replace Mohinder Singh Dhillon, dean, colleges, Guru Nanak Dev University.

In his petition, Dhillon told the jathedar that he was elected as member of the education committee by a resolution passed by the committee in its meeting held on September 6, 2001. He was also allowed to operate the bank account of the committee. He alleged that secretary (honorary) Bhag Singh Ankhi was not taken into confidence before his (Dhillon’s) unceremonious removal.

However, Charnjit Singh Chadha, president of the divan, claimed that Dhillon was removed as per the constitution of the Divan. He claimed that Ankhi and Dhillon did not attend the two meetings of the divan and finally a formal meeting sacked him (Dhillon) through a unanimous decision.

He said Dhillon was sacked since he had failed to organise education conferences within the stipulated period. Chadha said he had informed Jathedar, Akal Takht, in this regard.

Dhillon alleged that Chadha had also informed the bank not to permit him to operate the accounts of the committee.


BJP to stop trains in protest
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 21
The BJP unit of Ropar, under stewardship of BJP MP and former president BKP Punjab Avinash Rai Khanna, will stop trains at Bharatgarh railway station 25 kms from here tommorow.

The party workers will be protesting against the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) and railway officials for not opening the unmanned railway crossing for general public and will stop trains on the route starting from 8:30 am.

Railway crossing near village Kharota, around 1 km away from Bharatgarh, was unmanned before railways handed over its keys to the officials at BBMB to facilitate them to pass through, whenever required. However, the villagers of around 15 villages in surrounding village Kharota do not have an access to cross this railway crossing.

"Consequently, these poor villagers are left with no option but to take a longer route. This means that to cover a distance of 1 km, they have to go all the way traveling more than 10 kms for the same. Imagine the plight of hundreds of these people who have to daily commute to grain markets, schools and hospitals," said Khanna.

He claimed to have taken up this matter with the railway officials, BBMB and union power ministry, apprising them of the issue. "But all the pleas and applications fell on deaf ears. At last we have been left with no option but to stop trains and put the passengers at unease. We has asked for a peaceful solution, which has not been provided so far," he said.

Meanwhile, the local Congress MLA Rana Kanwar Pal Singh has condemned this move of Khanna and termed it a political stunt.

He said Khanna is trying to gain political mileage out of the issue.


Intach satisfied with restoration
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
INTACH has expressed satisfaction over the remodelling done at the historic Baradari at Ram Bagh gardens.

The convener of INTACH Punjab, Dr Sukhdev Singh, said here today that the entire team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) made a presentation to him with regard to the restoration work being undertaken by them at Ram Bagh gardens.

He said that a lot of hue and cry was made by certain local NGOs and individuals with regard to the demolition of the Baradari few days ago.

He said that the team, which had brought down the structure brick by brick, had explained that they had to take this unsavoury decision as the structure was in its advance stage of withering and the roots of an old tree nearby was causing damage to the Baradari.

The experts explained that it was done in a hurried manner without consulting local conservationists.

The ASI team visited the site yesterday said that, at present, they are working to restore old historical sites and monuments in the Ram Bagh gardens for which they are expecting a grant of Rs 2.5 crore from the state government.


90 pc trucks ply overloaded in state
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 21
Nearly 90 per cent trucks in Punjab ply overloaded on roads with the state transport authorities turning a blind eye to the growing menace.

The practice of plying overloaded vehicles, particularly trucks, on the roads is in violation of a November 2005 Supreme Court directive and the Motor Vehicle Act, 1989.

The SC directive clearly stipulates that overloaded trucks should not only be made to offload by the transport authorities, but a fine should also be slapped on such vehicles to curb the dangerous practice.

If a six-tyre truck can legally carry a maximum weight of up to 9 tonnes, it generally carries a load of up to 30 tonnes. Similarly, if a 10-tyre truck can carry 15 tonnes of load legally, it was carrying goods weighing up to 35-40 tonnes, sources in the transport industry and the state transport department said.

The sources said there were about one lakh trucks in Punjab. On an average 40,000 of these remained on the road daily.

The problem of overloading, according to some transporters, had assumed such proportions that out of these 40,000 trucks about 35,000 trucks were plying overloaded.

On the other hand, it was learnt, travelling by road has become safer in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, where the state governments have taken stern steps to curb overloading in the aftermath of the Supreme Court direction. A number of weighing scales have been put at important nakas on all leading roads.

If a truck was overloaded, the weighing scale would stop working, alerting the checking staff. The Punjab transport minister, Master Mohan Lal, had recently visited Gujarat to assess the working of such weighing scales.

“The biggest problem emanating from overloading of trucks was that such vehicles become unsafe and rather dangerous for other vehicles plying on the roads. Moreover, there are no yards for dumping of overloaded goods during checking”, said Vinay Bublani, a senior PCS officer who has been secretary to the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), Jalandhar.“Transporters had earlier initiated a practice to check overloading of trucks on their own but now it has been given up due to lack of initiative on the part of the state transport authorities.


Reserved posts
Special teams to check implementation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Gulzar Singh Ranike, minister for Welfare of Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes, has issued directions to the secretary, Welfare, to form special teams to check the implementation regarding clearance of backlog in the filling of vacancies for Scheduled Castes and backward classes.

The minister said it had come to his notice that certain departments, boards and corporations were not filling the vacancies and not maintaining the roster register properly.

He said the team should conduct surprise raids and submit a report on the irregularities found to the minister.

The minister also said strict action would be initiated against erring officers.


Zaffarwal suffers chest pain
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Khalistan ideologue Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, lodged in the Central Jail here in a case of sedition, complained of breathlessness and chest pain but could not be brought to the the Civil Hospital due to non-availability of police guards.

Central Jail sources said the jail doctor had referred him to hospital for a thorough check up. A request was sent to the city police for police security, according to the proceedure. However, the police could not provide the guards today.

The sources said Zaffarwal’s condition was stable and he may be taken to the hospital tomorrow.


‘Rs 527 cr for atta-dal scheme’
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 21
State transport minister Mohan Lal has said the atta-dal scheme was all set to be introduced from August 15.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said the government had completed all formalities and more than 14 lakh families, living below the poverty line, had been identified. He said a sum of Rs 527 crore had been allocated for this purpose.

The minister said the SAD-BJP alliance would sweep the Municipal Corporation election which was to be held on August 8.


Poisonous gases taking toll on farmers
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Seven persons have died in the state in the past few days due to the emission of poisonous gases like carbon monoxide during farm operations, particularly while operating tube wells and motor pumps.

According to the figures collected by Punjab Agricultural University, four persons have died in Ferozepur district, two at Ranipur village of Phagwara subdivision and one in the Wadhala area of Jalandhar district.

The university has warned the farmers of Punjab not to enter into the tube well or motor pump complex without taking due precautions.

They said due to the prevailing weather conditions, gases like carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide are present in wells. So the farmers should check the gas with the help of kerosene lamp before entering the pit.

If the kerosene lamp goes off, the gas is present in the tube well. Charan Jeet Singh Pannu and N.K. Chhuneja of PAU, who are working on minimisation of accidents in agricultural operations, visited the site of the accident at Ranipur village and advised farmers not to enter the well without verification of poisonous gas.

The farmers were explained about the procedure to apply for financial compensation for the victims of accidents in agricultural operations.

The engineers suggested that at least two persons should be present on the site to handle this type of situation as one can use an empty jute bag, bucket or umbrella and move it up and down in the pit to remove the gas.

If the pump is rotated by belt, run the pump idle for 15 minutes and the gas is pushed out. One can also use an exhaust fan, inlet lowered to the bottom of the pit and keep the exhaust fan on the ground surface and attach a PVC pipe to the bottom of it. The carbon dioxide can be dissolved in limewater by pouring it from the top of the well. 


Unlicensed nurseries mushroom
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, July 21
While the Department of Horticulture, during the annual citrus show in the last five years, had repeatedly pledged to take stringent action against unlicensed nurseries in the state, their mushroom growth growth has remained unchecked.

Most of the owners of such nurseries are migrants from other states who had come to Punjab as farm labour. They gradually developed nurseries on hired or purchased agricultural land, a survey reveals.

The Horticulture Department had once conceded that the number of unauthorised, poorly maintained nurseries exceeded 500 in Abohar and Hoshiarpur. These nurseries had not been ensuring virus-free plants or buds.

Farmers, having lost much in growing cotton and sugarcane, were inclined to convert fields into orchards.

The additional canal water supply offered by the Irrigation Department was an added advantage for them.

But the licensed nurseries were unable to meet the demand from new entrepreneurs.

There has normally been six months’ advance booking. This boosted the business of unlicensed nurseries in the region.

Last year 75 per cent of the citrus crop was damaged due to virus, fungicide and partially an unfriendly climate. The previous year had made fruit growers prosperous.

Some owners of unlicensed nurseries from Sappanwali village met SDM N S Brar here last evening to air their grievances against the department.

They said in a signed memorandum that they had been selling fruit plants but faced problems in issuing bills to the buyers as they had not been issued licences even after repeated efforts.

They alleged that some employees of the department had been working as traders. They would purchase plants at Rs 10 and sell them for Rs 20 to the farmers. This was why they were hesitant in issuing licences to many nurseries even though they fulfilled all conditions.


Inside Babudom
Bureaucrats to submit details of tours
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
In what is probably the first scrutiny of expenses incurred on tours by IAS officials and their administrative performance, the ruling SAD-BJP combine in Punjab has summoned the records of the tours undertaken by officers since the new government was voted to power in the first week of March.

Besides asking for records the government, on Thursday, circulated a letter to all middle-level and senior IAS officers asking them to list how many tours-within Punjab or outside- did they undertake since March and what was the purpose of the visit and also what was the outcome, if any. Naturally, the officers are uneasy at the act of the government under the name of accountability.

Well-placed sources said in reality the government had got a feedback that officers were not visiting cities of Punjab to review the working of the departments under them; rather the preferred destinations were the national Capital and other cities in the country and even abroad.

The records of tours and spending have been summoned at the personal intervention of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is keen to have his officers travel within the state to get first- hand knowledge on matters that require attention rather than rely on what is called “file-based” information generated from the field.

The sources said even on visits to Delhi, there was no positive result in several cases. And most such visits may not even be connected to anything in Punjab. Like in the previous regime, a few officers toured the entire country and and a few of them went on several trips aboard, and in certain cases the issues that generated the tours were not even connected to Punjab.

The government has realised that it is the bureaucracy that could either propel the schemes it proposes or fail them. Badal learnt a lesson or two on the slack attitude of the bureaucracy, when, on being elected to power, he realised that several of the development schemes offered by the central government were not being availed by Punjab due to lethargy on part of the officialdom. Notably the urban renewal scheme for Amritsar and Ludhiana running into thousands of crores of rupees was stalled as the basic plan had not even been submitted while other states were at least two years ahead of Punjab.

Badal had issued instructions that all officials have to be in office on time and meet the public as per fixed timings. He had received complaints from people about the inaccessibility of officials and this has triggered off the scrutiny of tours and their outcome. In the Vidhan Sabha, MLAs had often asked the previous Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and now Badal to reign in the bureaucracy and bring in accountability.


Monthly review of SSPs’ performance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
After the Punjab police came under fire for law and order problems in the state, director-general of police N.P.S. Aulakh today made it clear that the performance of all SSPs would be now scrutinised on a monthly basis.

Presiding over a review meeting , Aulakh said that on the 10th day of every month the performance of the SSPs would be reviewed on crime prevention and the detection of crime besides action taken to curb drug smuggling in their 
respective areas.

In turn, the SSPs were asked to ensure a monthly review of the performance of their field officers and replace the inefficient ones at important posts. The SSPs were also asked to ensure that other ranks and non-gazetted officers got their promotions in time. The backlog of promotions should be cleared to encourage the staff.

The police chief asked for a performance audit as it was noticed that officers usually took security personnel attached to them during their previous assignment to new places, creating a shortage of manpower.

He made it clear that the number of security officials should be reduced to the bare minimum to enhance the reserve strength required for meeting emergencies.

Aulakh directed the SSPs of Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Patiala to send details on the separation of the wings dealing with law and order and the investigation of crime. The inspector-generals of zones were asked to personally ensure the completion of ongoing projects of computerisation at police stations .

Meanwhile, H.S. Dhillon, IG, traffic, made a presentation, “Managing traffic a formidable challenge,” showing alarming figures of casualties, increasing density of vehicles on state roads and challenges in the future in traffic management.


Sons murder father
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, July 21
Two sons of Gheri Bander village of this subdivision reportedly murdered their father late last night when they could no longer tolerate the alleged harassment being done by him to family members.

Gurpreet Singh and Toti Singh,brothers, allegedly killed their father Jarnail Singh, alias Jaila, with a sharp-edged weapon and a wooden stick. The father died on the spot. After committing the crime,the accused escaped from the village.

The deceased was allegedly a hard-core addict as he used to consume poppy husk and liquor by spending the money he earned as a farm labourer. Under the influence of the addiction, the victim used to harass family members, including two unmarried daughters.

On Wednesday, the deceased, whose family had been facing extreme poverty, set his house of fire. However, the fire was stopped from spreading by residents of the village.

At this, both brothers, Gurpreet Singh and Toti Singh, lodged a complaint with the village panchayat. The panchayat summoned Jarnail Singh to seek explanation. However, he did not turn up.

Last night when both brothers were returning home, the father met them on the way. All three got into a heated argument, which turned into a scuffle. In the scuffle, both brothers, who were carrying a sharp-edged weapon and a wooden stick, gave a severe beating to their father. Jarnail Singh died on the spot.

Mohinder Singh Ghai, SHO, Talwandi Sabo police station, said the family of the deceased was so poor that it could not arrange enough wood for carrying out the cremation of the body. He said a case had been registered.


Panchayat officer, deputy director attacked
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
District development and panchayat officer (DDPO), Gurdaspur, Ranbir Singh Mudhal and Jaspal Singh, deputy director, Jalandhar, were admitted to a private hospital in serious condition when they were assaulted by 15 armed men today.

Minister, rural development, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who visited the hospital, described the incident as “most unfortunate and unprecedented”. The senior officials had gone to Dera Baba Nanak to conduct an auction of a huge chunk of agricultural land belonging to gram panchayat.

Disturbed over the incident, Brahmpura spoke to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and sought a high-level probe into the incident.

Nirmal Singh Kahlon, speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, denied that the attack was engineered by his supporters. He said it might be possible that the senior officials had “misbehaved” with the villagers.

The senior officials had been receiving threatening calls from certain influential persons belonging to the ruling party against conducting the auction. Brahmpura said a leg and arm of the DDPO was broken in the attack, while one of his ears was chopped off with a sharp-edged weapon.


School staff not paid for 7 months
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, July 21
The Punjab Aided Schools Union has strongly criticised the state government for not having released funds to government-aided private schools for the last seven months.

“The affected persons are finding it difficult to make both ends meet.,” Ravinder Joshi and Gurnam Singh of the union said.

They added that repeated representations to the government had fallen on deaf ears. “Every time we approached the government, they would assure us that the money would be released in a day or two, but it never happened,” the union members said.


Medical courses: Last date for fee extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab government has extended the last date for depositing of admission fee to July 26 for post-graduate degree and diploma courses in medical institutions in the state.

A government spokesman said in case institutes or colleges concerned did not accept the fees, the selected students should submit the fee in the form of bank drafts drawn in favour of the principals of institutions concerned to the registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.

The university may acknowledge its receipt and forward the bank drafts to the respective institutes and colleges. Such students shall be registered by the university as bona fide students.



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