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Economy: Capt targets Centre
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 2
Targeting the Centre for having discriminated against Punjab for over 55 years, the SAD has sought financial and administrative autonomy within the framework of the Constitution. Minister for cooperation Kanwaljit Singh has asserted that the “Sikhs have their own identity” and that the SAD would welcome any move for an amendment to Article 25 of the Constitution. He was here to participate in a function at the DAVIET College here

“The issue of the central-state relations has been revived with the setting up of the Justice Punchhi commission by the Centre. The SAD is of the view that the country cannot attain full-scale development till the states get more administrative, political, social and financial rights. Instead of giving powers to states the Centre has been usurping their powers one by one while responsibilities of the states, like giving employment to people, have been spiralling. We want a national debate on central-state relationships,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh while talking to mediapersons here today. He was accompanied by aides and party leaders, including MLA Jagbir Brar.

“The Centre adopted such policies which were responsible for the slow down of the state’s economy despite the fact that Punjab’s contribution to the Central food kitty has been more than 60 per cent. An example of this is that the Centre waived a loan of Rs 17,000 crore of Maharashtra but at the same time no waiver came for Punjab. Similarly, the 12th Finance Commission accoreded Rs 3,000 crore to Punjab whereas it gave Rs 10,000 crore to Himachal Pradesh,” said an anguished Kanwaljit.

He accused the Centre of favouring certain states. “The Central government tries to impose its philosophy on states. Whosoever falls in the line gets the reward,” he said.

He said the SAD was going to take up the matter with other regional parties so that pressure could be built for getting more powers for states. aAsked whether the SAD’s alliance partner would share the same view on the issue, Kanwaljit quipped, “We are working under a common minimum programme.” The cooperation minister said the tax base was shrinking in Punjab. “There is a Rs 2,000 crore VAT leakage per annum and paddy-wheat production has gone down by 20 pc,” he said.

 

Security of VIPs costs Punjab Rs 100 cr
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Personal security guards of the Punjab police, who are flaunted more as status symbols, are costing a huge sum to the state exchequer.

About 6,000 policemen have been deployed just for security duties protecting VIPs and some self-proclaimed VIPs.

It costs a whopping Rs 75 crore per annum just for paying salaries to these men.

Add the cost of the vehicles like Maruti Gyspsies and the daily fuel expenses, the cost touches Rs 100 crore per annum in state that is struggling to generate revenue.

Out of the 72,000 strong police force, about 9 per cent of them are on this job alone.

Security personnel have been attached with leading politicians, small time local leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP and the Congress, police officers, religious leaders and self-styled godmen.

A senior police officer said most of the people did not want to leave the security. However, in the recent past the police had started refresher courses in handling weapons for such people who are deployed on security duties.

Also a rotation system has to be worked out to avoid complacency.

The number of such persons could be easily halved. Else how can security be given without any proper assessment of threat perception? Or can the threat perception change of a district level leader after a change in the government?

Sources in the police said there was constant pressure from people to seek more men in the name of security.

Mostly, the security men were used as drivers or to run errands and show-off muscle power and create a needless impression in public. A committee was to assess the threat perception before allowing any security.

Despite the best efforts of the Punjab police to prune security and related paraphernalia, the thirst to have security guards remains a priority on the list of those who have to announce that they have “arrived”.aIn the past few months, request have been coming from residents. One such request was from person, whose nephew had been shot dead by militants more than 16 years ago. A couple of men from Jalandhar even claimed that they were under threat from across the border.

 

Granthis’ Row
SGPC chief dissolves selection panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 2
In a surprise move SGPC chief Jathedar Avtar Singh has dissolved the high powered selection committee for appointing granthis of the Golden Temple.

The SGPC chief has also postponed the crucial executive committee meeting of the SGPC slated for September 4, reportedly on the intervention of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The development is the result of sharp differences between the SGPC chief and Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, over the former’s move to appoint NRI granthis for the Golden Temple.

Though Jathedar Vedanti had sent two missives to the SGPC chief to include the names of Jathedars of Takhts Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib in the selection committee, the latter did not respond for obvious reasons. It is believed that the matter was reported to the Chief Minister and Sukhbir Badal.

Jathedar Vedanti also holds the dual charge of granthi, Golden Temple. Had the selection committee cleared the fresh appointments, he would have been relieved of the additional charge. The head granthi, Golden Temple, Giani Gurbachan Sing, who heads the selection committee, was also on extension and could have been removed after the fresh appointments.

 

Trident Pact
Farmers block rail traffic for 4 hours
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, September 2
Led by state president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan, hundreds of farmers, including women, blocked rail traffic for four hours at Lehragaga railway station in Sangrur district today in protest against the non-implementation of an agreement held between farmers of three villages (Sangherra, Dhauala and Fatehgarh Chhanna) and the Trident Group.

According to the agreement, 70 per cent above the acquisition price was to be given by the Trident Group to the farmers, whose 376 acres had been acquired in three villages near Barnala by the state government for the Trident Group.

AMRITSAR: On a call given by the Bhartiya Kisan Union, scores of farmers stopped trains on the Amritsar-Jammu railway line near Kathunangal and also blocked traffic on the Amritsar-Pathankot road for nearly three hours.

The protesting farmers were demanding that the state government should implement the agreement reached with farmers’ unions under which their loans and arrears of electricity bills were to be waived off to save debt-ridden farmers in the state, which had driven many of them to commit suicide.

BARNALA: At Khudi Kalan village, farmers under the leadership of senior vice-president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Jhanda Singh Jethuke also blocked the rail traffic against the non-implementation of the Trident-farmer agreement.

TARN TARAN: Farmers blocked traffic for two hours on Sunday by organising a dharna on the main Amritsar-Ferozepur road near Rasulpur village ,6 km from here. The dharna was in support of the rail-roko call given by the BKU(Ekta) against the state government.

Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu,convener, Kisan Sangarash Committee, condemned the state government for not implementing the issue resolved in the accords reached between the state government and the farmers organisations.

 

Dera-village tussle: 3 held
Tribune News Service

Mor Karima, September 2
A month-old tension between Mor Karima residents and followers of the Talwandi Khurd village-based followers of the Sant Bhurri Wala Dera reached a flash point today, three days short of an all-religion function at the dera.

While the police arrested three residents of the village who were also members of the Savita Action Committee, the villagers registered their protest by staging a rally and blocking traffic on the Mullanpur road.

Those arrested include Gurmail Singh, sarpanch, and Darshan Singh Khalsa and Ranjit Singh.

Savita, a woman of the village was allegedly molested and beaten on the dera premises on July 25, triggering a strong protest. 

 

Punjab Agro godown raided
Embezzlement worth lakhs exposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
A team of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau yesterday raided the Punjab Agro Food Grain Corporation godown at Bhadson, Patiala, and found material stocks worth Rs 18 lakh missing.

Other than the discovery of the missing stocks, the team also laid bare many administrative irregularities in the running of the godown.

According to DSP Vigilance, Patiala, Anil Kumar Sharma, the team began inspection today and found that items like wheat packaging bags (bardana), tarpaulin used to cover the stocks, fumigation sheets and wooden racks worth at least Rs 18.5 lakh are missing from the godown. These were listed in the stock list given to the team before checking commenced.

Sharma said the godown in-charge was Kavita Walia who had taken over from Suraj Bhan who claimed to be a peon at the godown. “Suraj Bhan told us that the earlier in-charge Baljit Singh, while leaving, left the charge of the godown to him, and he in turn, gave it to the new incumbent. He told us that he was once even given the charge of the inspector for a day to make purchases from mandis,” said Sharma.

Sharma added that Walia was earlier in-charge at the Sanaur godown where she was charge-sheeted by the corporation for financial irregularities worth Rs 27 lakh.

The team also found out that the corporation paid Rs 7600 per month to the godown officials for employing a watchman. “But instead of using the whole amount, the officials here have employed two watch men and pay them Rs 1600 each. Where is the rest of the money going?” wondered Sharma.

Counting and weighing of wheat bags has also started and is likely to be completed in the next few days. “From the first stack of wheat bags that we have checked, we have discovered about a 100 bags missing,” he said.

A few days ago, the bureau team, led by SSP Vigilance, Patiala, Shiv Kumar, had reported that at least 15 per cent of the wheat stock at the Nabha godown was rotting after exposure to rain. The team had also discovered over 400 quintals of wheat missing from the godown. Wheat-packaging bags (bardana) and other material worth over Rs six lakhs was also found missing.

The Bureau’s Patiala team had earlier arrested three Markfed employees including district manager, Patiala, on charges of pilfering wheat meant for the atta-dal scheme from the agency’s godown at Banur.

 

Boparai in thick of another row
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
Another controversy regarding the donations collected for the neighbourhood campuses of Punjabi University, Patiala, has come to the fore.

Two donors Hardev Singh and Kewal Krishan, both residents of Rampura Phul, have given affidavits that they had given donations for the construction of campuses of the university in their town but till date have not been issued any receipts for the same.

The Forum for Education Action and Reform (FEAR) has demanded an inquiry into the donations collected for the construction of a campus at Rampura Phul. It has been alleged that the donations worth Rs 40 lakh were collected and given to the university authorities at a function presided over by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur on May 31, 2005.

However, the amount was never deposited in the university accounts. It is being alleged that the amount was handed over to a Congress ticket aspirant from the area to give him credit for the construction of a new building of the university.

Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai said residents of Rampura Phul donated TPD College to the university along with campus land comprising 53 acres. When the university took over the college there were just 350 students in it. However, after the university took over the strength of students increased to 1,200. A need was felt for a new campus. A local society collected donations and constructed the new block of the neighbourhood campus. The university had nothing to do with the collected donations. In fact the private society spent more than Rs 40 lakh on the construction in the campus, he added.

 
 


RDX seizure no threat to peace: CM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 2
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that there was no threat to peace in the state. Reacting to the seizure of RDX on the eve of his visit, Badal said such incidents were quite isolated and these should not be viewed as any threat to the peace in the state.

In an informal conversation with reporters after inaugurating an exhibition on environment at the PAU, Badal said, “The very fact that RDX and other material were seized before it could be used for any damage speaks volumes as how alert the police is.” He congratulated the Ludhiana police. Asserting that the state was peaceful, he asked the people to maintain peace and communal harmony.

The SSP, R.K. Jaiswal, who was also present, said it was too early to conclude as what the intentions of the people carrying the RDX were. He said it could not be said whether he (Chief Minister) was the target.

The Ludhiana police had taken adequate security measures at the PAU. Multiple security checks were conducted at the entrance points. Moreover, Badal was surrounded by multiple security rings. 

 

Talks with J-K police on smuggling soon
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 2
To check and prevent the increasing terrorist attacks in various parts of the country besides smuggling of narcotics and arms, inter-state meetings of senior police officials were being held regularly.

Stating this to the media here today, N.P.S. Aulakh, DGP, said the next meeting of senior police officers of the state would be held with their Jammu and Kashmir counterparts soon. Answering mediapersons queries about last night’s seizure of RDX from Ludhiana, he categorically stated that Punjab was safe.

He said the state government would construct a Punjab police bhavan in Chandigarh for facilitating officers and employees of the department who have to appear in courts with regard to various criminal cases. He said the state government had purchased 1 acre from the Chandigarh administration at a cost of Rs 4 crore. He said the first instalment of Rs 1 crore had been given by the government and construction would start soon.

The DGP said a special pay commission cell headed by the IG, police headquarters, had been established in which representation would be given to each cadre for removing disparities in the pay and allowances of officers and employees.

He refuted allegations of politicisation of the department. However, when his attention was drawn to the various false cases registered against Congress workers during the recently held MC elections, he said that he had no knowledge about such cases.

About new recruitments in the department, he said 1,000 constables had been recruited while there were about 1,500 vacancies. 

 

Suicide
Woman judge seeks justice
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 2
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Ramesh Kumari, a resident of Phillaur and posted at Barnala, has been seeking "justice" as the police has failed to present a challan against the three accused who abetted her younger brother Manoj Kumar (33) to commit suicide here a year ago.

Ramesh Kumari and Ram Lal,sister and brother, respectively, of the deceased have alleged that their brother Manoj, who married a girl belonging to general category, used to be harassed by his colleagues Arun Goel, Nishan Singh and Jagmohan Singh due to this inter-caste marriage.

They added that their brother could not bear the humiliation and ended his life by hanging himself in his room on September 6,2006. But some police officials, including the then SSP, Jalandhar, and the present DIG, Jalandhar, were reluctant to pursue the case “to shield the accused due to their  own interests”.

They said the police registered a case under Section 306,IPC, on September 7,but did not add the provisions of the SC/ST(Prevention of Atrocities) Act,which later was added on the intervention of ADGP (Law and Order) Chander Shekher in December, 2006.

They alleged that despite the legal opinion of the district attorney(Legal), Jalandhar, the police could not take steps to present the challan. The first death anniversary would be performed here on September 4.aThey also alleged that the DIG, Jalandhar, had ordered reinvestigation of the case only to help the accused.

 

Amritsar Development Authority
Sidhu underplays his non-inclusion
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 2
BJP MP Navjot Sidhu here today sought to underplay his non-inclusion in the Amritsar Development Authority. Sidhu said he was happy that Chief Minister himself was now heading the Amritsar Development Authority, for which he had been trying hard ever since he was elected. He hoped that this would give impetus to developmental works and things would materialize much earlier than planned.

Sidhu, who was interacting with media persons, said he was committed to the city’s development and did not need a tag to work for the people of his constituency. “I’m the local MP and therefore committed to ensuring overall development of the city at a fast pace,” he added.

“The fact that the Chief Minister is heading it lends credibility to the project. I have earlier announced that it will take two years to change the city’s face but now this will happen sooner than later,” he said.

“From the day I took over as the MP, city’s development has been my prime concern. For achieving this, development authority was needed and I was ready to take over its responsibility. But, the fact that the Chief Minister has accepted, it is even better and we cannot question his decision,” he said.

Sidhu said he had worked out a seven-point agenda for the authority, which he would discuss with the Chief Minister. “I have already discussed the key development issues for the city with Sukhbir Badal and will now give feedback to the Chief Minister as well,” he said.

The agenda includes proper cleanliness with an effective garbage disposal system, regular drinking water supply, drainage system on the lines of Chandigarh to make sure there is no water logging on streets and laying of world-class roads with over bridges and streetlights.

With an aim to make the city self-reliant, there was a need to develop it as a tourist hub by upgrading the existing infrastructure, taking electricity wires and communication cables underground. Besides, steps need to be taken for revival of the city’s dying industry by setting up SEZs and IT parks.

 

Three hurt in accident
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
Three persons, including two women, were injured when a car (HR 09A 8104) rammed into the footpath grills on the busy Fountain Chowk-GPO road this evening.

According to sources, Harnek Singh was driving the car at a high speed when suddenly it went out of control and hit the footpath. One of the injured has been identified as Deepak, an accomplice of Harnek Singh, while two women, who were on a Kinetic, sustained minor injuries.

 

Cable War
2 workers kidnapped, beaten up
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
The cable war that has been on in the city since the change of government in the state today turned ugly when two workers of CCO Cable Network were allegedly kidnapped and beaten up by rivals.

Narinder Kala, one of the injured, was admitted to Amar hospital with multiple injuries and a facture in the leg. Talking to mediapersons, he alleged that at about 12.30 past midnight while he was going home after work, he was kidnapped, was taken to the office of Patiala Today network and beaten up with baseball bats.

“After I started bleeding, they took me to a private clinic in Raghumajra where I was given first-aid. However, since my leg was fractured, I was taken to Malerkotla and then brought back to Patiala and abandoned on a road near Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahiba.”

Narinder named Vikas Puri, Safaras Khan, Sudershan, Neeta and Rajesh among those who had assaulted him. Another CCO Cable Network worker Mahesh Kumar was also beaten up. He has been admitted to Rajindra Government Hospital. The police is yet to register a case.

The CCO Cable Operators allege most of their business has been taken over by the rivals, who are allegedly supported by the ruling party. The network’s managing director was picked by the police in an old case registered against him in March this year.

Families of CCO Cable Operators held a protest march to the office of the deputy commissioner and also lodged a complaints regarding threat to life and property with the police.

However, the police remained unmoved.

Before the state elections, CCO was the biggest network in Patiala comprising at least 100 cable operators. Patiala MP Preneet Kaur had also alleged that the ruling party is trying to take over cable business in the state systematically.

 

Regiment observes Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
To pay tributes to soldiers of 1-Armoured Division Signal Regiment (AREN) who laid down their lives for the country, and to commemorate their 67th Raising Day, the regiment held a function, here yesterday.

Lt Gen Y.S. Panwar, Commandant, MCTE, laid a wreath at the War Memorial, Cenotaph, and thereafter addressed officers of the regiment.

A host of senior officers, including Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen K. Balram, PVSM (retd), who had commanded the regiment during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, were present on the occasion.

Raised on September 1, 1940, the regiment has actively participated in several operations, including World War II. The regiment also boasts of wrestlers who have won laurels at the international level, including Naik Kanhiya Lal, who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship.

 

Missing boy's body found
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, September 2
The body of Tarunvir, who had gone missing inexplicably after the car in which he was travelling with his friends met with an accident near here, was today fished out from the the Narwana branch of the Bhakra main line near Lacharu Khurd village.

The body was taken to Rajindra hospital where a panel of doctors conducted a postmortem. Sources in the police said reasons leading to his death could only be ascertained after the postmortem report.

Tarunvir had gone missing on August 25. Initially, it was suspected that he may have fallen into the Narwana branch. Later, the Rajpura police registered a case against his three friends who had accompanied him on charges of kidnapping him with “the intention of killing him”.

Akshay Tyagi, Rahul and Vishnik Bhan sustained injuries in the accident. The three came under the police scanner after those who had pulled the boys out of the car stated that there were only three persons in the car at the time of the accident.

 

Farm Subsidy
Power panel awaits govt order
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) is awaiting the government’s response on the sum of subsidy to be given to the farm sector.

The commission has completed the exercise of fixing new tariff for the power supplied by the power board.

Last month, it heard objections of public on new tariff proposals. The commission had suo motu taken the initiative to determine the annual revenue requirement( ARR) of the PSEB and fix the new tariff accordingly.

The new tariff order to be announced by the commission shortly, will become take effect from September 1, it is learnt.

“ We have completed the exercise and are awaiting the response of the government on subsidy to be given to the farm sector and to Scheduled Castes. As we get the government’s response in writing, we will announce the new tariff order”, said a senior officer of the commission.

For the last year( 2006-07), the government had committed a subsidy of Rs 1,900 crore for agriculture and poor sections of society to the PSEB. However, the subsidy bill for the last year is likely to go up to Rs 2,300 crore. Sources said the commission was expected to direct the state government to clear the dues worth Rs 700 crore related to subsidy and interest etc of previous years.

The amount of subsidy likely to be committed for the current year for the farm sector and poor sections of society by the state government will be about Rs 2,500 crore. In fact, subsidy amount, which was only about Rs 400 crore in 1997, is increasing every year. Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, has been pressing for capping the subsidy, if it is not be withdrawn till the financial stabilisation of the board.

The commission has worked out the gap of Rs 123.44 crore for the year 2007-08 in the ARR of the PSEB. For covering that gap, the commission has proposed to increase 1.40 per cent of the existing tariff across the board except common pool consumers. Since the Rs 123.44 crore need to be recovered from connection holders in the balance period of current year, the proposed increase of 1.40 per cent would become 2.40 per cent following its annualisation for the remaining period.

 

Woman’s murder case solved, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 2
The local police managed to solve the blind murder case of a woman from Ludhiana with the arrest of four persons here today.L.K Yadav, SSP, Faridkot, formed a special investigation team (SIT), headed by Balwinder Singh Bajwa, DSP, following the recovery of the headless body in a gunny bag in a minor on the Faridkot-Bathinda road in Jaito subdivision yesterday.

The SIT managed to zero in on the culprits, all residents of Romana Ajit Singh village of the subdivision, today. They are identified as Jagsir Singh, Gurjant Singh, Resham Singh and his father Malkit Singh.

Jagsir said he developed friendship with a woman named Nitu, resident of Amarpura Mohalla. As per a plan, they came down to Romana Ajit Singh village where Jagsir, along with his two friends Gurjant and Resham, raped and eventually killed her.

 

Man kills wife, commits suicide

Fazilka, September 2
One person reportedly killed his wife with a sharp-edged weapon and committed suicide at Kandhwala Hazarkhan village of Fazilka subdivision today.

According to a police report, neighbour Baldev Singh on reaching the residence of Balbir Singh, he saw the body of Charanjit Kaur lying in the yard of the house with injuries on her body. All of sudden, there was a gun shot. On entering the room, he saw the body of Balbir Singh lying on the bed. — OC

 

  Three shops burgled
Tribune News Service

Kharar, September 2
Thieves broke into three shops the Gulmohar complex area and stole cash and other goods on Saturday night. The thieves stole Rs 35,000 from a property dealer’s shop, Rs 1,250 from the shop of a electronic goods dealer and some goods from a grocery shop.

The police is investigating the case.

Two held

Miscreants disturbed residents of the Balongi area around 3 am on Sunday.

A group of 30 to 35 youths smashed bottles of cold drinks and glasses of windows of some nearby houses.

The area residents called up the Balongi police.

When the police reached the spot, all miscreants fled. However, it managed to take two of them into custody.

 

National award for two teachers
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 2
Gulwinder Singh, teacher, Government Elementary School, Rasulpur, has been selected for the National Award to be given on September 5 (Teacher’s Day).

Gulwinder Singh received a letter from the Central government’s human resources department yesterday.

He had also received the state award for his administrative skill on September 5, 2003. Sources said five teachers had been selected from the state for this year’s award.

Principal, Government Model Secondary School, Madhopur (Gurdaspur) Narinder Singh has also been selected for this award. The Prime Minister would give away the awards at a function to be organised in New Delhi.

 

 

  Now, better hostels at Pbi varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
Punjabi University, Patiala, has established a new landmark by way of creating spacious hostels for both boys and girls studying in the campus and its regional campuses of Talwandi Sabo and Rampura Phul.

The university and its regional centres will now have the additional capacity to accommodate 2,020 hostellers.

The vice-chancellor, Swarn Singh Boparai, said the dwelling capacity will rise to 2,446 after the construction of a women’s hostel along with two hostels to accommodate visiting sportspersons and students taking correspondence courses.

He said that the yet to be build hostels will ease rush in hostels making the environment conducive for their studies.

As per the plan of the eight-storey structure of the University College of Engineering, the hostels for boys and girls will comprise of 392 rooms each.

The construction of these hostels, which have been completed in a record period of about 15 months, are equipped with the latest gadgets, including internet facility also. 

 

Sonali shines at science seminar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
A state-level science seminar was organised at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Civil Lines, here yesterday. The seminar was inaugurated by Satinderjit Kaur, deputy director, State Institute of Science Education, Punjab.

Sonali Sharma, a student from Gurdaspur district, bagged the first position in a talk on the topic “Global Climate Change and its Impact”. She will now represent Punjab at the National Student Science Seminar to be held on October 5 at National Science Centre, New Delhi.

 


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