P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Chief Khalsa Diwan
Dhillon elected education panel secretary
Complaint of dean (colleges) pending with Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, principal, Khalsa College of Education, has been elected secretary, education committee of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, despite the fact that the petition of his predecessor, Mohinder Singh Dhillon, dean (colleges) is still pending with the Jathedar, Akal Takht.

The dean (colleges) in his complaint had informed Jathedar, Akal Takht, that he was illegally removed as secretary, education committee, on the pretext that he had not organised education conferences in the past five years.

However, Charnjit Singh Chadha, president of the diwan, said the principal, Khalsa College of Education, had been unanimously elected as the secretary. “With the nomination of seven members of the diwan and induction of five others (two graduates and two scholars from educational institutes and one from a Sikh institution), the formation of the committee stood completed.

In his petition the dean had alleged that secretary (honorary) Bhag Singh Ankhi was not taken into confidence before his unceremonious removal. However, Chadha claimed that the dean was removed as per the constitution of the diwan. He claimed that Ankhi and Dhillon did not attend the two meetings of the diwan which led to the latter’s sacking. He had also claimed that Dhillon had failed to organise the education conferences within the stipulated period as per the constitution of the diwan. Chadha said he had informed Jathedar, Akal Takht, about the proceedings in which Dhillon was removed.


Ghaggar channelisation from Oct 1
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
Irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon today directed the Drainage Department to start work from October 1 on the channelisation (strengthening of embankments and widening of the Ghaggar) of the 22-km-long stretch of the rivulet (from Khanauri to Makror Sahib village in Sangrur district) and complete the same in four months. The work would be completed at a cost of Rs 84 crore, sanctioned by Nabard, he added.

The minister issued these directions to the department during his visit to Chandu village (near Khanauri) where a 120-foot wide breach had occurred a couple of days ago. The minister also visited the site of the breach and heard the grievances of the affected villagers. Area in charge of the SAD of Lehragaga Assembly constituency Prem Singh Chandumajra, Patiala deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal, Sangrur ADC (development) Harnek Singh and chief engineer, drainage, also accompanied the minister.

Talking to The Tribune on phone, the minister said the delay in the start of work on the channelisation was due to the fact that land owners, whose 670 acres were to be acquired, had sought land and not cash as compensation.

He further said panchayats had already passed resolutions to give their lands to the farmers and now the file of this case was lying with the secretary, Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats.

Sekhon further said the water passing capacity of the aqueduct at RD-460 at Khanauri would be increased to 25,000 cusecs from 14,000 now.


Illegal colonies thrive in Ludhiana
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
The clout wielded by promoters of illegal colonies mushrooming in and around the city has become one of the major stumbling blocks in initiating any action against the violators.

Such colonies not only add to haphazard growth, but the exchequer also loses out lakhs in the form of revenue and processing charges.

Taking a tough stand against promoters carving out illegal colonies in violation of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995, the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) had recommended action against 384 defaulters but action has been taken against only 168 of them.

Sources said the colonisers manage to slow down the investigation process by the police and there is an even greater delay in presenting the case in the trial court. This can be gauged from the fact that no progress has been made in 216 cases so far. In addition, there are 81 cases where PUDA had directly moved the courts on their own.

Interestingly, no person has been ever convicted in cases registered over the past many years. Delaying tactics adopted by the violators and playing on the loopholes in the law are used to elude punishment. Scores of colonisers are carrying on their business, though they are facing legal action.

In fact, the lax laws and the alleged dithering attitude of PUDA and the newly formed Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority encourages the violators to flout the law with impunity. Flush with money minted by selling plots over many times the value of the land, they ensure that things work to their advantage, the sources added.

The sources said the approval for colonies up to 10 acres is granted by the senior town planner. For carving out a colony, the promoter has to deposit about Rs 4 lakh per acre in the urban areas and about Rs 3 lakh in the semi-rural and rural areas. The coloniser has to pay an additional development charge of Rs 3 lakh per acre for areas in the city limits. A processing fee of Rs 5, 000 per hectare is also charged by the authorities, the sources added.

Experts point out that the colonisers exploit a major flaw in the Act of 1995 wherein provision for registration of case has been recommended but no ban on any construction activity on the plots of the illegal colony during the pendency of the case has been stipulated. The people who buy it can even get the land or plots registered in their name. Hence, the promoters openly sell the land or plots without any fear of the law, they added.


Sand mafia has free run in Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
As the sand and gravel mafia continues to have a free run in various parts of the state, the Punjab government authorities have become a silent spectator to the loot of the state’s precious wealth.

Gangs, which have the support of influential politicians, remove sand and gravel unauthorisedly from various rivers, rivulets, nadis and choes in the state. “ Only at a few places are sand and gravel removed legally from the mining areas”, said a senior functionary of the state government.

In his budget estimates, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal had pegged the revenue at Rs 200 crore from this sector. But it appears that his estimates will go haywire as the authorities have not even started doing their homework to generate adequate income from this sector.

Not a single meeting has been held so far of the cabinet subcommittee set up by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to have a policy framework for the proper auction of all sand and gravel mines in the state. Members of the subcommittee are Manoranjan Kalia, industry minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, cooperation minister, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, rural development minister, and Manpreet Singh Badal.The mines wing is a part of the industry ministry in the state.

Asked about the generation of revenue from sand and gravel, Kalia admitted that Rs 200 crore could be easily generated from this sector.“ If sand and gravel mines are auctioned properly, there is scope for generating revenue of several crores of rupees from this sector”, he said. Asked why a meeting of the subcommittee had not been held, he said there was a case regarding sand mining in the Supreme Court and a decision on it was awaited.

The sand mafia in fact poses a big threat to concrete works like bridges and stone pitching done to protect the banks of rivers from erosion. Sources said sand was recklessly taken away from near the foundations of bridges, endangering the pillars. The mafia uses JCB machines at certain places to remove sand.


Harassment of Doctors
CM assures IMA of action
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Amrit Sethi, president, Indian Medical education (IMA), Punjab, yesterday said Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal had assured a delegation of the organisation that the state government would issue instructions to district police chiefs to bring unnecessary harassment of doctors to an end.Sethi said the Chief Minister gave this assurance to the delegation when it met him at Chandigarh. The delegation had raised the issue connected with the registration of criminal cases against doctors under Sections 304 and 304-A, IPC, in the cases relating to accidental deaths in hospitals.

He added that the Chief Minister had also assured that henceforth no doctor would be arrested under these sections of the IPC without the completion of inquiry into that case by a competent authority.

Sethi said the Chief Minister had also assured them that the Punjab government would consider the issue connected with the imposition of VAT on nursing homes and hospitals sympathetically.

He added that the IMA had informed the Chief Minister that the IMA had been providing free treatment to poor rural patients under the Aao Gaon Chalen scheme.


Dealers’ body opposes move to hike tax on petrol, diesel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
While the Punjab government authorities have begun the process of issuing an ordinance to amend the VAT Act to raise the prices of petrol and diesel, the state Petroleum Dealers’ Association has opposed the move saying it will not only have an adverse effect on petrol station owners, but also hit the sale of petroleum products.

After the issuance of the ordinance, the petrol price will go up by 91 paise per litre in the state and the diesel price by 16 paise. This was officially disclosed yesterday. And with the increase in the prices of petrol and diesel, the financial burden on the people of the state will be about Rs 100 crore.

Opposing the move, J.P. Khanna, president of the association, said the price of petrol in Punjab, after Maharashtra, was the highest in the country. In fact, VAT on petrol was 31 per cent in Punjab which was perhaps the highest in the country. In Haryana, it was 20 per cent, in Chandigarh 22 per cent and in Himachal Pradesh 24 per cent, said Khanna. Whereas the price of petrol in Punjab was over Rs 47 per litre, at most places in Haryana it was Rs 43 per litre and in Chandigarh Rs 44 per litre.

Khanna said because of the high percentage of VAT on petrol, its sale had gone down from 5,660 metric tonnes in 2001 to 4,260 metric tonnes per annum in 2006. With the increase of 91 paise in its price, it would go down further, he said. “ In actual terms, Punjab’s treasury is a loser because of the high price of petrol. The sale of petrol should go up keeping in view the arrival of thousands of new vehicles every year in the state, but it is going down,” he said.

There were about 2,400 petrol and diesel pumps in the state. The owners of petrol stations in Ropar,Mohali, Patiala, Mansa, Sangrur, Bathinda and other districts sharing boundaries with Haryana and Chandigarh were already a facing crisis because of the low price of petrol in Haryana and Chandigarh as compared to that in Punjab. The owners of fuel pumps in these districts would be hit further following the increase in the price of petrol.

In the case of diesel, he said, 8 per cent VAT was charged in Punjab. It was the lowest in the country. And on 8 per VAT, surcharge and octroi were also charged. By adding surcharge and octroi, the tax percentage became 10.8 in Punjab. And with the increase in its price by 16 paise per litre, the tax percentage on it would touch 13 as against 12 per cent charged in Haryana. Therefore, as far as the sale of diesel was concerned, it would go up in Haryana and decrease in Punjab.

In Punjab about 23 lakh kilolitres of diesel was sold in 2006, he added.


Now, Rai Sikhs seek share in governance
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, August 18
Rai Sikhs, buoyant over the grant of SC status, the Bill which was passed in both Houses of Parliament recently, are now demanding representation at various levels of the governance. The community which has over 8 lakh population in this border state had been clamouring for grant of the SC status at par with Sikribands since 1959. Since that time, the issue had been raised umpteen times at the state and Central levels, but due to procedural wrangles or lack of initiative, the issue was delayed.

The Schedules Castes were first notified in 1950 as per provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution of India, which was modified from time to time as the number of requests were received for inclusion of synonymous communities. Now with the passage of the Constitution (Schedule Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2007, which has been sent to the President for formal approval, the long-pending demand of Rai Sikhs has been fulfilled. However, they are now demanding their piece of cake at various levels of the party hierarchy and governance.

President, All-India Rai Sikh Mahatm Sikribands Welfare Association, Lashmir Singh Rai, while talking to The Tribune stated that the Rai Sikhs wielded a lot of influence in border districts of the state, especially Ferozepur, where they had over 3.5 lakh strong votes.

General secretary Rajinder Pal Singh said the present government should give them representation while allocating chairmanships of various boards or adjust them in some other capacity so that they could help their community.

Expressing gratitude to the UPA government for passing the Bill, another prominent Rai Sikh leader Hansa Singh said the grant of Schedules Castes status to Rai Sikhs would ameliorate a lot of hardships as they would now be entitled for reservation in jobs, educational institutions, shagun scheme, allotment of free land for houses, scholarships and other welfare schemes.


Shaheed Bhagat Singh
Centre gives nod for centenary celebrations
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
The Central government has in consultation with the state government decided to celebrate the birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh from next month. A comprehensive plan has already been chalked out to give celebrations a wider canvas involving youth, freedom fighters and people from India and Pakistan. These people will gather on one platform to get the first hand glimpse of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

According to sources, a few rounds of meeting were held in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Amritsar to chalk out a programme. Functions will be organised on September 27 and September 28 in the holy city to kick start a year-long commemorative programme. Prominent dignitaries led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his cabinet colleagues, chief ministers and veteran freedom fighters from all over the country will take part in a rally to be held on September 28. More than 1 lakh people will be mobilized to pay homage to the martyrs.

The government also plans to organise a rally near Wagah check point on September 27. It plans to bring in 3,000 children from various schools in the state as well as from neighbouring states to take part in the function. Pakistanis have also been asked to take part in it. It also plans to rope in a few film stars and artists of national fame to present a patriotic show.


Police to focus on curbing smuggling
Our Correspondent

Phillaur August 18
After curbing terrorism, the Punjab police has diverted its focus to curb crimes like smuggling, drugs, fake currency, cheating by fake travel agents etc.

As part of this drive, DGP Aulakh initiated the "Seminar on the Provisions of SAFEM (FOP) Act 1976 and NDPS Act 1985" at Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, yesterday.

While DIG, Ludhiana, Ishwar Singh welcomed the participants, SSP Anita Punj read the welcome address and Archna Ranjan, competent authority and administrator, New Delhi, in her inaugural address told the participants that asset forfeiture of drug traffickers was a strong tool in the hands of the police to punish and prevent drug traffickers.

R.P. Meena, IG, Border Range, presided over the morning session in which the lecture on the "Latest trend in smuggling, especially through Punjab” was given by Dheeraj Rastogi, joint director, Revenue Intelligence.

Rajiv Ranjan, ACP, New Delhi, delivered a presentation on the NDPS Act 1985 and case studies and Priya Sahu, joint commissioner, New Delhi, gave a meaningful presentation on financial investigation net worth analysis method and techniques.

PPA, Phillaur, director Chander Shekher gave away mementos to the guests.


Efforts on to plug breach in Ghaggar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
Work is advancing on a war footing to plug the 120-feet breach that had occurred in Ghaggar rivulet near Chandu village in Sangrur district and had threatened to flood scores of nearby villages.

This was stated by irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon while commenting on the latest status of the breach on his return from Sangrur after inspecting the ongoing work there. He was accompanied by senior Akali leader and SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra.

It is pertinent to mention here that 50 per cent of the breach had been plugged by the drainage department officials yesterday using sand bags and iron nets. Water gushing out from the breach had submerged standing crops of Theri, Andana, Baopur, Chandu and Banarsi villages, all located in the immediate vicinity of the breach.

Sekhon added that once the breach was plugged, latest by today evening, water flow in Ghaggar would be increased to 25,000 cusecs from the present flow of 15,000 cusecs. He admitted that due to the breach, 2001 acres of agricultural land had been flooded, damaging standing crop in 500 acres of land either completely or partially.

He added that Nabard had sanctioned a loan of Rs 85 crore to construct pucca bandhs on the Ghaggar at various places including Banur, Khanuari, Patiala and Dera Bassi. For this purpose, land would be acquired from farmers and later, they would be compensated by giving adequate land at other places.

He said every year thousands of acres of land is flooded due to overflowing of Ghaggar and this issue had already been raised by former union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament. Sekhon added that the embankment on the 22 km stretch, starting from Khanauri village to Kurail in Sangrur district, would be strengthened. For this, details with Nabard had already been worked out.

Sekhon said a check dam to regulate the flow of water would be constructed near Banur shortly which would enable farmers to get water for entire year.

Giving statistics, Sekhon added that last year, 59 per cent of the agricultural land was fed by waters from the irrigation department and this, now had been increased to 65 per cent.

On the occasion, Chandumajra added that had the previous regime, led by Amarinder Singh, completed the Ghaggar project in time, flood waters would not have wrought havoc in such a big way as they are doing now.


Stone for 66 kv substation laid
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal laid the foundation stone of a 66 kv substation at Nandgarh Ghudda in this district here today. The land for the substation has been given free of cost to the Punjab State Electricity Board by the panchayat of Nandgarh Ghudda. As per the PSEB norms, a direct urban feeder would be provided to these villages from this substation.

Manpreet Badal said in order to meet the projected demand of 11,000 mW by 2011-12 many new projects had been initiated. He said the 5,000 mW GHTP project at Lehra Mohabbat (stage-II) would be commissioned by year-end.

He complimented the management, engineers and officials of the board for creating a record by meeting the maximum demand of 1,606 LUs without having to impose any power cut.

J.S. Sekhon, member (distribution), PSEB, stated that the proposed 66 kv substation would be constructed at a cost of Rs 1.74 crore, which included the cost of laying of the 8 km transmission line.


Missing student recovered from Fatehgarh Sahib
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 18
Eighteen-year-old Jagrup Singh alias Bunty, a resident of Kharar, who had gone missing on August 17, was recovered by Fatehgarh Sahib police from Kalyan village near Patiala.

SSP Fatehgarh Sahib, Nilabh Kishore, said Bunty had taken a high dose of some intoxicant, probably opium, and was not in a state to give any statement. “He was found at his maternal grandparents’ place. He is not in a state to give any statement and hence, has been sent back to his grandparents’ place," Nilabh added.

Bunty, a student of Class XII at local Khalsa Senior Secondary School, had gone missing on August 17. His motorcycle was found abandoned on Kharar-Fatehgarh Sahib road near Chunni village.

Bunty had left home at around 1:30 pm after a brief quarrel with his family over some matter of money and had been loitering around with his cousin.


Cultural extravaganza
Tribune News Service

Students and teachers of Vishwa Karma Training Institute during a function organised in Patiala
Students and teachers of Vishwa Karma Training Institute during a function organised in Patiala on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Patiala, August 18
The Vishwakarma Mandir Committee, Lahori Gate, organised a colourful function in the premises here today.

Charanjit Kaur Grewal, wife of deputy commissioner of Patiala, and the chairperson of the District Red Cross Society, presided over the function.

On the occasion, a cultural programme was presented by the students of the sewing and computer training centre, which is being run in the premises under the management of this committee.

Grewal, secretary of the Child Welfare Council, and other office-bearers of the Red Cross Society, appreciated the efforts of the committee for running this training centre for the needy students who can not pay hefty amounts of fee elsewhere.

The chief guest, while speaking on the occasion, assured the committee members and students of all possible help for the welfare of the society.

Surjit Singh Rupal, president of the society thanked the guests and the participants.


Local holiday on Aug 20
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, August 18
On the occasion of death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, Sangrur Deputy Commissioner S.R. Ladhar today announced a local holiday on August 20 in Sangrur district. This holiday has been declared under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instrument Act 1881.

BARNALA: V. K. Ohri, DC, Barnala, has declared holiday in the district on August 20. In a press note issued here on Saturday,the DC has said all schools, colleges, government and semi-government offices and corporations and board offices will remain closed on that day to mark the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. — OC


PSEB recruitment scam hearing on Aug 28
Tribune News Service

Rupnagar, August 18
The court of special judge G.S. Saran has fixed August 28 as the next date for hearing in the PSEB recruitment scam after the state failed to file reply today.

On August 2 two of the accused, the then deputy director (education) Pavittar Pal Kaur and private secretary to the then PSEB chairman Amar Singh had filed an application in the court, challenging the charge sheet.

The court had asked the state to file a reply to the application on August 18, which it failed to do.

Similarly, another accused Om Parkash had filed an application seeking summoning of the head of the recruitment committee of the board but the state failed to file a reply in this context, too.

Meanwhile, no proceedings were initiated in the corruption case against former PPSC chairman Ravi Sidhu.

The court had fixed the next date for hearing on September 1 and 8.


LIC told to pay Rs 50,000 to widow

Sangrur, August 18
The local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, headed by its president M.D. Sharma, has directed the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India to pay Rs 50,000 along with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of repudiation (i.e. September 30, 2005) till realisation to Kartar Kaur, widow of Darshan Singh, resident of Punanwal village in Dhuri Tehsil (Sangrur district).

The forum has also directed the LIC to pay Kartar Kaur a sum of Rs 3,000 as compensation for mental tension and harassment and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses. — TNS


Order on Bittu’s bail reserved

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 18
Fatehgarh Sahib Additional Sessions Judge today reserved for August 20 the orders on the bail plea filed by SAD (Amritsar) senior vice-president Daljit Singh Bittu.

Police had arrested Daljit Singh Bittu on July 22 in connection with a sedition case registered on May 31 against him and his associates. They were accused of raising provocative slogans during a protest against dera chief. — UNI


Relief for Trident-hit farmers

Chandigarh, August 18
The Punjab government today decided to release the relief among farmers who had been agitating against the acquisition of their land by the Trident group in Barnala.

A Punjab government spokesperson in a press note released here today said families of two farmers who lost their lives during the agitation had been paid Rs 5 lakh each while 34 others who sustained injuries had been given compensation worth Rs 25,000 per head.

About the withdrawal of cases against the agitators the spokesman said the Chief Minister had already directed the principal secretary (Home) to expedite action on the issue. The DM concerned had been asked to process the cases for withdrawal. — PTI


College panel election put off to Aug 19
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 18
Controversy over the election of local DAV College Managing Committee, an offshoot of Arya Samaj, here under which 12 schools and colleges function, has started between two rival groups.

Former MP and member of DAV College Managing Committee Kamal Choudhary reacted to the postponement of the election to August 19, by the group governing the body.

Talking to reporters here today, Kamal Chowdhary said postponement of the election at the11th hour indicated the group governing the committee affairs had lost majority in the house of 22 members including two ex-officio members.

He claimed the support of 12 members in the house and keeping in view their defeat, they had postponed the elections without reason.

‘Present governing body has committed various irregularities in the accounts of the committee and to cover up these they have gained more time now by postponing the election." he alleged.

He demanded holding of the election under the supervision of the district magistrate.
President of the managing committee Davinder Mohan Sharma explaining the reason of postponement of the election said a sizeable number of members in written request had demanded the postponement due to tension among them as Kamal Chowdhary who was a member of the Political Affairs Committee of the ruling SAD and had cordial relations with its state leadership, could exploit them to win over the election by hook or by crook.

He had also sent written to the deputy commissioner and the SSP, to get the election held under their supervision and protection 10 days ago. But both these officers did not respond to his request. His group was not affiliated with any of the political party and under these circumstances there was no option except to postpone it.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |