P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Proposal to set up media corporation rejected
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
For a while the Punjab Finance Department has rejected the proposal to set up a media corporation. The Punjab Public Relations Department had mooted the proposal for setting up the corporation.

The proposal to set up the corporation was rejected following a detailed discussion between the senior officers of the Public Relations Department and the Finance Department. Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal was also present at the meeting, it is learnt.

Badal said as a full-fledged Public Relations Department existed already to handle publicity and public relations of the state government, the setting up of the corporation was not justified.

Moreover, the past experience of setting up of corporations, most of which had become defunct, was a bitter one. Badal said in the past many years approval had not been given to set up any corporation except in cases where revenue flow to the proposed corporation was assured beyond any doubt. He said the state was supposed to utilise money for development works and it had no extra money for setting up bodies like a media corporation.

At the moment, the Public Relations Department is facing a huge shortage of professional staff to handle publicity- related matters of the state government. Several districts are without regular public relations officers. And at the state headquarters, the situation is even worse. In fact, the Public Relations Department has been handling the publicity of the state government with meagre resources for the past several years.

For the corporation, it was proposed by the Public Relations Department to generate income from the commission of the advertisements to be released by the government to various newspapers and TV channels. The plan was to release all advertisements through the corporation headed by a managing director and operated by a chief executive officer. It had sought Rs 1 crore as seed money to launch the corporation, it is learnt. The Public Relations Department had estimated that it would generate a revenue of Rs 9 crore from the commission on advertisements.

The planning was to recruit serving and retired journalists on contract basis to write press notes especially with regard to the development projects to highlight the performance of the state government in the print media. Besides, there was proposal to engage consultants and experts to handle audio-visual jobs required for publicity. In fact, certain journalists were approached by the Public Relations Department for the job a few days ago. Besides, some young professionals were to be recruited on contract basis to handle the job of public relations and to develop a better rapport with media establishments to ensure better publicity for the state government.

Sources said the Public Relations Department would try once more to get the proposal cleared from the Finance Department. The matter is expected to be taken up with the Chief Minister in this regard, it is learnt.

However, those opposed to setting up of the corporation are of the opinion that the Public Relations Department was better suited to handle the publicity of the government. It only required well-qualified professionals in its ranks to handle publicity-related matters.

Moreover, journalists prefer direct interaction with decision-makers.


Cong to go on offensive in MC poll
Ambika Soni to launch campaign
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Congress has named union ministers Ambika Soni and Pawan Bansal as its campaign managers for the coming municipal elections in Punjab where the “politics of vendetta being pursued by the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government” will be the main poll plank.

“ Soni will launch the Congress campaign from Ludhiana on August 3,” says leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, maintaining “we will use the civic elections to jam the anti-Congress tirade of the SAD-BJP government.”

Talking to The Tribune here this evening, she said Soni would campaign in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar in the first phase and be joined by Bansal later.

Besides the “politics of vendetta being pursued by the ruling alliance, we will also fight vigorously the cases of government employees who are being hunted, attacked and tortured. The case of the DDPO of Gurdaspur is a glaring example of the state-backed witch-hunt in which the assailants are still to be apprehended,” she said.

“We know the ruling alliance will use all means, fair or unfair, to win the civic elections. We are going to give it a tough fight. The Congress is fully united,” added Bhattal, revealing that at certain places, including Moga, where some byelections are to be held, the ruling alliance had been resorting to coercive methods for forcing Congress candidates to withdraw or retire from the contests.

Interestingly, while Bhattal says that Soni would launch the election campaign on August 3 in Ludhiana, the Punjab pradesh Congress committee announced the launching of the election campaign in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala from tomorrow.

Dullo has directed party MPs and MLAs, both past and present, besides other office-bearers of the PPCC to start campaigning for the party candidates in their respective areas from tomorrow.

All senior Congress leaders from Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur will campaign in Amritsar. Those from Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr will make Jalandhar their campaign headquarters.

For Ludhiana, senior party leaders from Barnala, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Fatehgarh Sahib, Moga, Muktsar, Mansa, Mohali and Ropar have been asked to start working for the party candidates.

Senior leaders from Patiala, Sangrur and Bathinda will campaign in Patiala.


Setback for Congress
6 councillors, MC chief join SAD
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Dera Baba Nanak, August 1
Seven elected Congress councillors of the local Municipal Council, including its chief Prem Sagar Gupta, joined the SAD here today.

This is the first instance when councillors of a Congress-led Municipal Council in the state have shifted loyalties to the SAD, expressing faith in the people-friendly policies of the Badal government.

The Congress councillors joined the SAD in the presence of Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, who was here to conduct elections for the post of vice-president of the civic body.

Out of 11 members of the council, seven joined the SAD while the rest did not turn up at the venue. The councillors who have joined the SAD are Vijay Laxmi, Mohinder Pal, Daljit Singh Josh, Amarjit Kaur, Baldev Singh and Tarlochan Singh. Vijay Laxmi was elected vice-president of the civic body.

Sarpanch of Thertherke village Surjit Singh, a Congress worker, also joined the SAD.

Kahlon presented siropas to the councillors joining the SAD fold.

Talking to The Tribune, Kahlon said doors of the SAD were open to those willing to join the party. The action of the Congress councillors in joining the SAD meant that the Congress had lost faith at the grass-roots level.

The speaker said being a historical town, Dera Baba Nanak would be developed on a priority basis. “Developing the town No.1 town of the state would be real tribute to Guru Nanak Dev”, he added.

The state government had released a sum of Rs 7.5 crore for the subdivision under the Border Area Development Scheme besides Rs 125 crore for various developments works, he said.


Sidhu ran PPSC in an autocratic way: Report
Sealed communications reveal members were ignored
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The report by a three-judge committee on Punjab Public Service Commission selections (executive branch and allied services) clearly suggests that Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, former PPSC chairman, had assumed autocratic powers and manipulated the system to the hilt.

Perusing 12 communications sent to Sidhu by aggrieved members of the PPSC, which were in sealed cover and opened before the committee only, the panel, comprising Justice J.S. Khehar, Justice Viney Mittal and Justice Surya Kant, found that Sidhu was being repeatedly informed that he was running the affairs of the commission in an autocratic manner.

Importantly, the said communications revealed that the selections conducted by the PPSC were not based on a fair procedure established in accordance with the law.

The panel took special notice of a communication by G.I.S. Bhullar, former member of the PPSC, in which he highlighted that members of the commission were not being taken into confidence at all.

Bhullar’s letter, dated September 9, 1998, states without mincing any words: “ You (Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu) with malicious intentions did not allow the commission to meet as a body in the interviews and discharge its duties as a body.”

In fact, in yet another letter by Bhullar, it was alleged that Sidhu had even replaced the telephone system of the commission and replaced it with a new one so as to tape-record, intercept and overhear the conversation of the members.

The panel also noted, on basis of investigation by state government’s officers, that Sidhu had usurped the role of appointing paper setters and examiners. Incidentally, Sidhu had amended the Rule 17-b of the PPSC to assume unfettered powers.

The most damning revelation in the report, on basis of statements of conduits R.S Gill, Jagman Singh and Vigilance investigation, was that “money was collected from at least 40 identified candidates with the reciprocal assurance by Sidhu that they would be selected”.

The candidates (direct recruitment to PCS executive branch), mentioned in the report, are: Kuljit Kaur ( paid Rs 70 lakhs through conduit R.S. Gill), Jeevan Kumar (paid Rs 60 lakhs through R.S. Gill), Deepak Arora (paid Rs 65 lakh through R.S Gill. Importantly, Arora’s father and R.S. Gill were colleagues), Amarbeer Singh (paid 51 lakh , delivered directly at Sidhu’ residence in Sector 10, Chandigarh) and Bharat Bhushan (paid Rs 45 lakh through R.S.Gill).

Importantly, in the case of Kamal Kumar, Sidhu allegedly himself demanded Rs 50 lakh though the candidate was on selection list. The money was delivered in two installments at Sidhu’s residence in Sector 10, Chandigarh. Three more candidates, Randeep Singh, Sukhwinder Singh Brar and Kanwarjeet Singh, paid Rs 42 lakh, 40 lakh and 12 lakh, respectively, through R.S. Gill only.

In addition to aforesaid candidates, some candidates were selected through nomination through two batches of the years 1994 and 1996. The said process of selection was made entirely through interviews only. In this case also, the report inferred that bribes were paid without impunity. Also, at least seven candidates selected to allied services paid kickbacks

The report stated that Sidhu’s mother Pritpal Kaur, who reportedly fled to USA, too was allegedly associated with the misdeeds in the process of selection.

The panel showered praise on G.P.S. Bhullar, Vigilance officer, for his “ free and frank assistance” to the committee. It asked the state government to ensure his availability in the court when the matter would be taken up on the judicial side.


Beant Case
Baldev Singh’s parents feel ‘cheated’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
Preferring not to comment on the verdict of the court delivered yesterday on killers of late Chief Minister Beant Singh, the parents of Baldev Singh, MLA, who had died in the bomb blast, lamented that their life had become hell due to the “apathetic” attitude of the Congress.

“We have been undergoing a sentence of sorts as we are finding it difficult to arrange two square meals after the death of our son”, said Gian Singh and Kartar Kaur, the elderly parents of the deceased MLA.

“Due to the apathetic attitude of the Congress, which formed the government in Punjab, we have become beggars despite the fact that the same party made one son and one daughter of late Beant Singh ministers”, they alleged.

With tears rolling down their cheeks, they said despite tall promises made by the then Chief Minister for taking care of their family, two of their sons were still unemployed and had been doing menial jobs to keep the kitchen fires burning.

Baldev Singh, who was elected MLA from the Pakka Kalan Assembly segment of the district on

Congress ticket in 1992, was killed along with late Beant Singh in the bomb blast on August 31, 1995. The Punjab government gave employment to the widow of Baldev Singh as she was nominated as naib tehsildar.

A few years ago when Capt Amarinder Singh was Chief Minister of Punjab, Gian Singh, who has spent his life as a Congress worker, threatened to commit suicide publicly to lodge his protest against the blatant neglect of their family by the Congress government. However, the Congress government pressed the crisis managers into service and stopped him from taking any extreme step by promising him that they would be taken care of well.

“How can we be happy over the fact that killers of our son have been punished by the court when we are facing starvation? We are more concerned about the extreme poverty that our family has been facing instead of the fact that who is being punished and who is not,” said the parents of deceased MLA.

They added that it would have been better for them if they had also died along with their son so that they would not have seen such days where every moment was painful for them.


Now, Rs 6-lakh loan weighs on Naseeb’s mind
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Jhingran Kalan (Kurali), August 1
Naseeb Singh, the man who walked free after 12 years of imprisonment in the Beant Singh assassination case, wants to bury the past and start life afresh. He is now ready to fight another battle, repay the Rs 6-lakh loan his family had taken to contest his case.

“It’s been 12 long years and we had limited resources. We borrowed loan on odd interest rates from various commission agents (arthtiyas) of the village to see our father walk free with his head held high with dignity,” said his son Harmanjit Singh, who tends 7-acre family’s farm in the village.

Since Tuesday, villagers and relatives, have been frequent the house of Naseeb. “We always knew that Naseeb is innocent. A God-fearing person like him can never be involved in such a heinous crime,” said 75-year-old Bisheshar Singh, his childhood friend.

He recalled that the day Naseeb was taken into police custody, whole village got converted into a police cantonment.

“It had virtually become impossible even to go out of nature’s call. The police framed Naseeb and he ended up spending 12 golden years of his life for no fault of his,” Bisheshar added.

Naseeb’s 90-year-old mother died while he was in the jail. He had missed birth celebrations of his granddaughter, whom he dotes on. “I cannot make up for the last time. But, I am immensely thankful to Almighty for answering my prayers. I last came on parole on my daughter’s wedding in 1998.

“The village has changed, its demography has changed. But the love and affection of villagers has withstood vagaries of time. It is enough for me.”

He added that it was a kind of “tapasya” for his wife, who stood by him through thick and thin.


Minister turns commoner for a day
Travels by bus to know what it’s like
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Commuters travelling by buses on the Chandigarh-Patiala route this morning were in for a surprise. The transport minister, Master Mohan Lal, chose to have a first-hand experience of state-run buses, problems faced by commuters and also facilities or lack of these. It was his version of a “sangat darshan”, that too a mobile one.

Master Mohan Lal boarded ordinary buses to talk to commuters. After getting off a bus at Banur, he told reporters that he would write to all MLAs and ministers to travel by ordinary buses once a month to have a feel of problems faced by the common man.

He boarded a Punjab Roadways bus from Chandigarh and asked passengers about their problems. A young boy, Akash, suggested that seats in buses should be more comfortable “like the ones in buses of neighbouring states”.

An old man, Hazara Singh, waiting for a bus told the minister that Zirakpur, despite being among the fastest developing towns, did not have bus shelters. He immediately called up N.K. Sharma, president of the municipal council, regarding the issue. Later, he promised bus queue shelters on the Chandigarh-Patiala and Chandigarh-Ambala roads.

The minister boarded another bus and talked to students before checking tickets of passengers and told officials accompanying him to provide for more leg space in newer buses. He said a loan of Rs 47 crore has been arranged to buy 300 new buses.

“The biggest problem we face is the paucity of funds,” the minister told reporters.

At the Rajpura bus stand, the first major station, there was hectic activity as the minister not only sought public suggestions but also went about checking waiting rooms, toilets and ticket counters.

The surprise visitor in the form of transport minister came as a bolt from the blue for local bus stand officials who were literally on their toes. As discrepancies and shortcomings were pointed out then and there, the officials were made to record and revert back to the minister's office on follow-up.

Earlier in Chandigarh, the minister called up the office of the UT administrator to complain how pornographic books were being sold at the ISBT here. Photo


Cong fears rigging, protests to EC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab Congress apprehends rigging in the municipal elections and has demanded that paramilitray forces be called in. The party also protested with the Punjab state election commissioner against the issuance of ration cards for the atta-dal scheme.

Addressing a joint press conference here yesterday, leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo said it had been observed that identity cards pertaining to atta-dal scheme were being issued in the cities and it was a violation of the model election code of conduct. The commission has been asked to intervene.

The Election Commission should curb the government machinery from helping the ruling party in these elections. For free and fair elections the staff for these elections should be appointed from outside the districts concerned. The leaders alleged that the SAD-BJP combine was using its enforcement agencies to harass the sympathisers and voters of the Congress.

Congress candidates were being threatened by police officials with false cases. The party leaders said delimitation of municipal wards in all corporations had been done without following the criterion of consulting or asking for objections from all recognised political parties, which was against the ethics of giving fair chance to everybody.

It has also been noticed proper procedure for enrolment of voters has not been followed in the revision of electoral rolls.


Ward No. 13 unlucky for Congress
Its only candidate withdraws

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

SAD-BJP candidate Kanika Sharma from Ward No 27 during the MC election campaign in Patiala on Wednesday.
SAD-BJP candidate Kanika Sharma from Ward No 27 during the MC election campaign in Patiala on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala August 1
In a setback to the Congress, its party nominee from Ward number 13 Harjinder Kaur today withdrew her nomination papers. Since there was no covering candidate, the Congress now has no candidate from the ward.

Congress leaders, including Patiala MP Preneet Kaur and Samana MLA Brahm Mohindra are alleging that police officials were threatening Congress candidates. The police officials were threatening to register cases against Congress candidates in case they did not withdraw their papers.

The Congress candidate has withdrawn her papers under pressure of the local administration, the Congress leaders have alleged.

Today being the last day for withdrawing the nomination papers, 72 candidates have withdrawn their nomination papers. This has left 241 candidates in the fray for 50 municipal corporation wards of Patiala.

The nomination papers of seven other candidates were rejected due to discrepancies in application forms.

SAD is also facing rebellion in certain wards. Gurmeet Kaur Brar, president of ladies wing of Patiala, has filed her papers as independent candidate.

Meanwhile, Preneet Kaur has started campaign today. She held many corner meeting and met the voter appealing them to vote for the Congress.

However, none of the major leaders of SAD has yet visited the city. The campaign of the SAD and BJP is in the hands of local leaders. The former MLAs Surjeet Singh Rakhra and Surjeet Singh Kohli are handling the campaign of SAD. The BJP campaign is being led by the local leaders. Senior leaders are likely to start campaigning here in coming days.


Atwal protests over names for MC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Former Congress MLA Gurbinder Singh Atwal and now general secretary of the PPCC today lodged a protest with Janardhan Dwivedi, in charge of party affairs in Punjab, saying the panel of prospective candidates for the coming Ludhiana municipal corporation elections was prepared and submitted without consulting or confiding in all factions.

No representative of organisations like the seva dal , the mahila Congress, the youth Congress and the scheduled castes department was consulted before preparing this panel. Atwal said the records of all applicants should be summoned.


Truckers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
Hundreds of truck operators today blocked traffic near the Hanuman Ji Chowk here to lodge their protest against the forcible possession of the premises of the Truck Operator Union by a section of people allegedly with the support of the Akalis.

Though deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari sent the SDM and the SP (City) to hold negotiations with the protesting truck operators to lift the blockade, the truck operators continued with their agitation till the filing of this report.

The trouble started when a section of people, including a senior Akali leader of Bathinda, elected Deepinder Singh as president of the union by declaring that the union had been indulging in goondaism and harassing traders. They also announced that Balwinder Singh Bahia, who did not own any truck, would be the chairman of the new body.

The protesters alleged that a section of Akali leaders were trying to grab the land belonging to the union, worth hundreds of crores of rupees, by fielding their own man as president of the new body in an illegal manner. They also alleged the forcible occupation of the union was carried out with the consent of those, who mattered most in the state government.

Earlier, Kuldeep Singh, president of the union, resigned from the post last night. The truck operators today elected Pritpal Singh their new president. However, after some time, the Akali leader announced that Deepinder Singh would be the president of the union and Balwinder Singh Bahia chairman.

The protesters said they would continue their agitation till they got justice.

Sarup Chand Singla, who unsuccessfully contested the last Assembly elections as an SAD candidate, said the new body had been formed to conduct the affairs of the union for a month and after that proper elections would be held.

He alleged that a section of the union functionaries were indulging in goondaism and had been harassing the traders.

He denied that a piece of land, which was in possession of the union, was being grabbed by anyone.


Bus stand a victim of credit politics
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, August 1
Not allowing the Congress to take credit for setting-up of a new bus stand in the town, the SAD-BJP government has decided to re-inaugurate the local bus stand.

Revealing the plans, Punjab transport minister Mohan Lal here today said chief parliamentary secretary and local BJP legislator Raj Khurana would inaugurate the bus stand soon.

Speaking to mediapersons, after paying a surprise visit here, the minister said the bus stand would be inaugurated after August 15. Incidentally, the bus-stand had been inaugurated by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur December last year.

The minister, who was on an unscheduled visit to the town, took notice of the fact that buses, rather then halting at the bus stand, stopped at Gagan Chowk. He immediately summoned the SDM and asked him to assure that all buses halted only at the bus stand.

He said the state government would soon buy more buses that would be added to the existing fleet of buses of the state transport. He said all efforts were being made to make travelling easier and comfortable for the public.

Earlier, the minister visited Zirakpur bus stop and interacted with the people waiting for buses there. He listened to the grievances and assured them that all possible steps would be taken to solve the problems being faced by them.

Many passengers told the minister that there were no sheds and toilets at the bus stop and the people were subjected to many hardships. Mohan Lal told the people that he would soon take up the matter at an appropriate level to resolve the issue.


Govt to auction fancy vehicle numbers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
In a significant move, the Punjab government has decided to auction fancy numbers of transport vehicles to generate more revenue.

Official sources said the procedure for the auction of fancy numbers for registration of transport vehicles had been drafted by the state transport commissioner (STC), Punjab, and had been sent to the authorities concerned for action. A notification was expected to be issued within two weeks by the state government.

The sources added that the Punjab government froze the allotment of fancy numbers to the applicants in the first week of July 2007. The step was taken to devise a new policy to generate more revenue that could be pumped into the state’s development.

The officials concerned floated the idea when they came to know that 0001 number of Anandpur Sahib fetched Rs 1.75 lakh when it was auctioned, the sources said. They were of the view that fancy numbers could do wonders in big cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala.

R. Venkat Ratnam, state transport commissioner, while confirming the fact that all fancy numbers for transport vehicles would be auctioned henceforth, said all formalities would be completed within two weeks and auctions would be held at appropriate places.


8-year-old goes missing
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
Rohit, the eight-year-old son of a junior engineer (JE) working with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was reported to be missing since Sunday evening.

According to the police, Rohit, a Class I student of Saffron City Public School, Sirhind, left his house on July 29 afternoon to play with his friends, but did not return.

Rohit’s father Shiv Shankar Lal told the police that his son Rohit alias Sonu, was last time seen around 5 pm by a shopkeeper near his residence. He stated that the family was living in PSEB colony on G.T. Road, Sirhind.

Meanwhile, not ruling out the possibility of kidnapping, the police has registered a case under Section 365 of the IPC and started investigations.

Shiv Shankar said he and his family members had made every effort to trace Rohit but in vain.


Abandoned baby girl finds home
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 1
A state government employee posted in Muktsar district today formally adopted an abandoned female child. A sub-committee headed by SDM N S Brar okayed the legal formalities. Emotions ran high as Kiran Jain, wife of a social activist, sobbed while handing over the baby, nourished by her for the past eight days, to Gurvinder Kaur, wife of Gurlal Singh, in the subdivisional complex here.

The couple had no child even after 17 years of marriage. The newly born female child was last week found at the entrance of the famous Nav Durga Vaishno Mandir in the Nai Abadi locality here around 11.50 pm by a volunteer of an NGO, Nar Seva Narayan Seva organisation.

After getting her medically examined, Pawan Jain, a member of the NGO, had taken the responsibility of nourishing the baby till its formal adoption by any needy couple. The NGO had saved another female child last month that was abandoned near a sub-canal at Daultapura village in the subdivision. A Mumbai-based childless couple had adopted her.


Hans’ book released
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 1
Renowned Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans’ book ‘Kuli Nee Fakir Dee Vicho’ was released at a simple function at Punjab Press Club this evening.

Based on his articles published in Punjabi daily Ajeet, its editor Barjinder Singh Hamdard formally released the book in the presence of distinguished writers and intellectuals.

Edited by senior journalist Arjun Sharma, the book contains as many as 23 articles and eight famous songs sung by Hans in his melodious voice.


Cases against BKU workers
DMs told to submit report

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab government has directed all district magistrates in to submit reports on the withdrawal of criminal cases registered against leaders of the Bharti Kisan Union( BKU) at various places in the state in the past years The DMs have been told to submit reports after examining the reports submitted to them by the district attorneys and district police chiefs.

The state home department has written in this regard to all DMs. They have been told to submit the reports in a week The Punjab Police chief has also been asked to take steps in this regard and to inform the government accordingly.

Cases against a large number of activists of the BKU were registered during the past four or five years. Before the Assembly elections SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal had given assurance to various factions of the BKU if voted to power, it would drop criminal cases against all BKU activists.

Sources said there were cases against about 200 BKU leaders. And mostly these cases are in Bathinda, Mansa, Barnala, Sangrur and Amritsar districts. All factions of the BKU have been pressing the Badal government to drop these cases.


All set for atta-dal scheme launch on Aug 15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will launch the atta-dal scheme in Ludhiana on August 15.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said all arrangements had been completed to launch the scheme on the scheduled date. Earlier the chief secretary held a review meeting with officials of various departments. A total of 13.21 lakh blue cards have been prepared. The distribution of the cards will be completed by August 8.

However, in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Jalandhar, where elections are to be held, the distribution of the cards will be started after August 8 and completed by August 15.

Power supply

The state government today claimed to have set a record of providing 1,606 lakh units of power in a single day to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the farming community during the paddy season.

A spokesman of the government said that during the current paddy season the farmers’ demand for adequate power supply was met without any scheduled power cuts or regulatory measures on any category of consumers.

About 10 per cent more electricity was available from thermal units as compared to last year’s supply due to annual maintenance carried out in time. Besides, adequate rain and snowfall kept the hydro power plants running.

Vigilance bureau cases

The state vigilance bureau, during its ongoing campaign against corruption, nabbed four gazetted officers and 30 non-gazetted officers in 34 cases in June and July.

Two criminal cases were registered last month in which two GOs and six NGOs were involved. Special courts had convicted 10 accused in five corruption cases.


Threat letter raises tempers in village
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 1
An anonymous letter, cautioning certain Sikh activists against bringing back dera followers to the Sikh fold, raised tempers at Dina Sahib village in Nihal Singhwala subdivision, near here, today. However, timely police intervention kept the situation under control.

The situation seemed to be going out of control after follower of Dera Sacha Sauda Harpreet Singh of the village was to be rushed to the hospital following his suicide bid yesterday. A section of the villagers claimed that Sikh activists suspected him of writing the letter.

An anonymous letter, written in Punjabi, was found from the house of Paramjit Singh of the same village on July 30. He has been actively participating in the movement for bringing back the Sikh dera followers to the Sikh fold.

SSP Davinder Singh Garcha said he directed SHO Nihal Singhwala police station to hold an inquiry into the matter. He said reason behind Harpreet’s suicide attempt was a dispute with his father.


Sidhu opens cargo terminal at Rajasansi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 1
The Rajasansi International airport needs a larger chunk of additional land for its proper expansion. For this, the Air Force station, which is spread on both sides of the airport, could be shifted to one side only.

This was pointed out by MP Navjot Sidhu after inaugurating the International Air Cargo Terminal at Rajasansi Airport here today. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has outsourced the cargo centre Jac Air Services Private Limited.

“The airport needs between 1,000 to 2,000 acres of land for its due expansion, considering the way air traffic has increased in the past few years. I would take up this matter with the Department of Civil Aviation and the state government,” he said.


High Court notice to all Punjab MCs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice for November 12 to Punjab and all municipal corporations (MCs) of the state.

The notice came on a PIL asserting that the Punjab government has no power to exempt water and sewerage charges of houses built on plots, having area up to 125 sq yd, particularly when the financial position of the municipalities is very weak.

The petitioner, Naresh Ghai, submitted that that such charges as well as house tax should be levied by having three-dimensional GPS photos from the satellite. He also averred that the government had no power to exempt the interest and penalty on above charges as well as house tax not paid up to March 31, 2007.

In the second PIL filed by Ghai, the court issued notice for November 12 to Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Union of India and Press Council of India, in which the petitioner submitted that the union government and the Press Council should lay down standards as to minimum print-font size for publishing public notices in the newspapers.

The petitioner said that many of such notices were too small to read and illegible and were being given in newspapers which were not published in the language of the notice, which being invalid might create legal complications.


Akali worker booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
Close on the heels of the arrest of a youth Akali leader for possessing heroin, another Akali worker, Jasbir Singh, alias Jassa, an alleged close associate of a senior Akali leader, has reportedly been booked by the Phagwara police, falling under the Kapurthala police district, in robbery, theft, fraud and forgery cases and under the Arms Act.

The police recovered more than a dozen stolen vehicles and forged documents from him and his gang members. The Phagwara police has reportedly arrested him in the case.

However, the senior Akali leader denied any relations with Jasbir Singh, a resident of Sudhar Rajputa village under Amritsar (Rural) police.

The Phagwara police has booked him under Sections 392, 379, 420, 465, 462, 468 and 120-B, IPC, and Sections 25, 54, 59 of the Arms Act. The police in its complaint stated that the accused were members of an interstate gang operating in Punjab and nearby states. The gang was involved in looting and snatching of vehicles on gun-point and sold them after forging documents.


Two cops held for robbing traders
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Morinda, August 1
Two cops, posted with the escort motorcade of Ludhiana SSP vigilance Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, have been arrested for stealing Rs 3.5 lakh from Shimla-based businessmen, here on July 30.

Businessmen Bhanu Verma, Rajan Aggarwal and Pankaj from Sanjoli in Shimla were travelling to Ludhiana in their Maruti car when the three cops - Harmesh Lal, Harpal Singh and constable Riaz Masih - intercepted them at Lucky Dhaba, three kms from Morinda.

The businessmen were carrying Rs 3.50 lakh in cash.

"The cops said they wanted a lift to Ludhiana as their vehicle had broken down. Though we told them that there was no room for them, they forced their way into our car. We dropped them at Clock Tower Chowk in Ludhiana at around 12.30 am. When we reached our relative's place at Haibowal, we discovered that the cash was missing," said Verma. The trio then returned to Morinda and traced the cops.

The Morinda police then arrested Harmesh and Harpal and recovered the money from them.


Lovers commit suicide
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
Following opposition to their marriage, lovers allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison at the Mandi Gobindgarh bus stand late last night.

According to the police, the family elders were against their marriage since the two were distant relatives. As the couple began to vomit, people at the bus stand gathered around them but none come forward to help. A team of police officials reached the spot and rushed the two lovers to a nearby hospital. Both died soonafter.

The girl was identified as Shimpi (22) of Khanna and the boy Sunny Singh of Raghomajra in Patiala.

The police has registered a case.


Markfed manager, two others booked
Tribune News Service

Banur, August 1
The police has booked the district manager of Markfed here and two more employees for allegedly trying to dispose of damaged fertilisers.

District manager H S Bains, junior assistant Naseeb Singh and field officer Tarlok Kumar have been booked on charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy and relevant sections of the Fertiliser Act.

A team led by chief manager Bal Mukand Sharma had visited the godown yesterday to probe the allegations. The three were booked today on a complaint by Sharma. The police said no arrest had been made so far.

“No fertiliser, damaged or otherwise, can be dumped without the prior permission of the agriculture department,” explained SHO Jagbir Singh.

The Markfed MD has also ordered a departmental inquiry into the matter.

Yesterday, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) had demanded a probe into the allegations, threatening stir.


Schools providing quality education
Punjab for one-time investment
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
For setting up 117 schools for providing quality education, one in each Assembly segment, the Punjab government has decided to expand the scope of the Punjab Education Development Board by making amendments to the relevant rules and regulations. Education cess is collected through the board.

As a follow-up action with regard to a meeting held on Monday with big industrial houses for setting up such schools, the state government has decided to set up the institutions in the public-private participation ( PPP) mode.

While land will be provided by the village panchayats and local bodies concerned, the state government will make a one-time 60 per cent financial investment in such schools. The financial contribution by industrial houses will be 40 per. However, the management of these schools will remain with the industrial houses. An industrial house will be free to hand over a school back to the state government.

Giving information in this regard, chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh on Tuesday said as far as the management of these schools was concerned, the industrial houses would enjoy complete autonomy. He said certain industrial houses had urged the government to hand over a certain number of existing government schools to them for providing quality education.

The availability of good teachers for these schools was an area of concern for the government. “We will have to provide training to teachers to improve their skills and efforts will have to be made to improve the syllabi of B Ed institutions”, said Ramesh Inder Singh. Teachers with a good academic record will be ready to serve in urban areas, but what about schools set up in remote areas?

Industrialists have also suggested the setting up of quality hospitals in the PPP mode in Punjab. A suggestion in this regard has come from Analjit Singh of Max India Limited.

Meanwhile, the government has prepared a programme for improving the employable skills of Punjabi youth. The DGP has been asked to utilise the facilities at Jahan Khelan and other places to train 10,000 youth for private security services. There is a huge demand for such youth as most of the companies are availing the services of private security guards.

“We would also like to give some sort of certificate to such youth”, said Ramesh Inder Singh. For manning security at big malls and multi-storeyed residential and commercial buildings, highly professional and fully trained security guards were needed.

The union government has given Rs 25 crore for 10 industrial training institutes to start new skilled programmes for youth to enable them to get jobs in a free market. To train drivers for operating modern machines, Maruti Udyog Limited, Tatas and Leyland have offered to set up driving schools in Punjab. There is a huge demand for skilled drivers abroad to operate freight carriers.


Fee for private medical, dental colleges hiked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab government today issued a notification enhancing the fee for private medical, dental, ayurvedic and homoeopathic colleges in the state.

For the MBBS course, the fee has been raised to Rs 1,15,000 per annum. Earlier, it was Rs 1 lakh. For the BDS course, it has been raised from Rs 55,000 to Rs 63,250 per annum.

For ayurvedic and homoeopathic courses, it has been jacked up to Rs 40,250 per annum. There will be no change in the fee structure as far as the NRI quota seats are concerned.

The department of medical education and research had proposed an increase of 50 per cent in the fee structure.

For the MD and MS courses, it will be Rs 2,99,000 per annum and for the basic MD and MS courses, Rs 2,01,250 per annum. For the PG diploma course, the fee will be Rs 2,30,000 per annum and for clinical MDS Rs 1,72,750 per annum.


Colleges to boycott counselling
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 1
Private (self-financed) medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges of Punjab have decided not to participate in the counselling for admissions to MBBS, BDS and BAMS courses to be conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences at Amritsar from August 2.

Irked over the failure of the state government to rationalise the fee structure of private medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges to a realistic level, the Punjab Private (self-financed Medical/Dental/Ayurvedic Colleges Association took the decision at a meeting at Dayanand Medical Colleges here today. It said at the prevailing fee structure, the private colleges would not admit students for the next academic session.


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