P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dept to deal with unemployment soon, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Kalma Mor (Nurpur Bedi), September 8
The state government will soon set up an employment department to deal with the problem of unemployment. The department will initially conduct a detailed survey in the state, categorise them as per their specialisation and skill centres will be set up at block level to update skills of unemployed and place them in jobs.

‘No interference, please’
While addressing the gathering on the occasion, the Anandpur Sahib MLA openly asked BJP senior leader Madan Mohan Mittal not to interfere in his constituency. He said this in the presence of the 
Chief Minister.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said this while addressing mediapersons here today. Badal was here to honour members of the family of 34 persons who died in the Tarn Taran railway accident during the Dharam Yug Morcha.

Badal added that in order to provide better education facilities to the rural poor students three schools would be opened at each block level. Also adarsh schools would be set up in each constituency. He claimed that all the community health centres would be packed with the requisite machinery. He announced a grant Rs 50 lakh for Nangal constituency.

Anandpur Sahib MLA Baba Ajit Singh demanded government jobs for one member of each family. Avinash Rai Khanna, MP, stated that that the Railways had cleared a project to connect Anandpur Sahib and Amritsar. He announced a grant of Rs 20 lakh for development of Nangal area. Chief parliamentary secretary Nand Lal, former minister Madan Mohan Mittal and Tara Singh Ladal and SGPC member Gurinder Singh Gogi also addressed the function. 


Free power subsidy to be Rs 2,548 cr
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
For the past two days, the Punjab government has been holding meetings to respond to a letter written to it by the state electricity regulatory commission to provide Rs 2,548 crore during the current fiscal year to it if the government wants to continue free power to the farm sector and poor sections of society.

State to purchase power
Our Correspondent

Nabha, September 8
State cooperative minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh has said: “ The World Bank has sanctioned a loan of Rs 2,300 crore to be disbursed among farmers at a nominal interest rate for purchasing agricultural tools and constructing houses.”

The minister said this while laying the foundation stone of a social welfare centre being built by the local Social Welfare and Cultural Club.

The minister, who reached the venue two hours ahead of the schedule, surprised everyone, including organisers. He said, “The government has cancelled its plan to construct a thermal plant here. Arrangements have been made to purchase electricity worth Rs 3,000 crore.”

He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for building the social welfare centre. 

The commission, sources said, had proposed an average increase of 9 per cent in the power tariff for the current fiscal year.Of this, 12 per cent increase is for the farm sector, 7 per cent for the industrial sector and 8.4 per cent for the domestic sector, it is learnt. The tariff rate has to be fixed for the farm sector to tabulate the subsidy. However, as power is provided free of cost to the farm sector, any increase made in the tariff for this sector will have to be paid by the government.

Sources said as no final decision could be taken at the meetings held so far, another meeting would be held on Monday to clinch the issue. The sources said the commission had calculated subsidy worth Rs 2,119 crore for giving free power to the farm sector and poor sections for the current fiscal year. Out of Rs 2,119 crore, the power subsidy bill for poor sections was in the range of Rs 119 crore. Besides, it has calculated subsidy dues worth Rs 429 crore against the state government of the past two years. The government would have to foot a bill of Rs 2,548 crore to the PSEB as subsidy for the farm sector and poor sections.


Kaka all set for second innings
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 8
Bollywood superstar of yesteryear Rajesh Khanna, also known as Kaka, here today paid obeisance at the Golden Temple to seek blessings for his “second innings” in the film industry with the release of his forthcoming film “Kash…Mere Hote.”

“I have signed a total of eight films, of which three are on the floor. Even if I am able to get half of the love that my fans had showered on me in the past, I would think that I’m still in the reckoning,” he said.

The first superstar of Bollywood belongs to Amritsar and spent his childhood in his ancestral house in Gali Tiwarian. “I am a son of the holy city. Whenever people of my birthplace have called me, I have rushed to be with them. I have fond memories of the city and since I have come here after a long time, I’m reminded of the days before I moved out,” he said.

Khanna avoided a direct comment on the possibility of his contesting the next MP’s election from Amritsar on Congress ticket. He, however, said he was a Congressman and took pride in this fact.

There was a stampede-like situation as a large number of fans and passers-by mobbed Khanna when he arrived at the Golden Temple around 2 pm. Some of them had been camping there since 11 am, the scheduled time of arrival of the cast of “Kash…Mere Hote.”

Khanna was accompanied by actor Sneha Ullal and newcomer Kumar Sahil. Sneha said she had some good films coming up. Khanna’s wife Dimple Kapadia also features in the film, along with Johnny Lever. The two could not make it to Amritsar today.

The film is being directed by B.H.  Tharun Kumar.


Polio drops must for Haj pilgrims
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 8
The local administration here has failed to inform the general public regarding the recent decision of the Saudi Arabia government regarding polio immunisation for their visa clearance. According to information, the Saudi Arabia government has made it mandatory for Haj pilgrims to undergo polio immunisation to get their visas cleared for Haj. Although the letter has been sent by the local administration to senior medical officers of the Civil Hospital to ensure that all Hajis were given polio drops, no advertisement has been published to make the general public aware regarding this.

SDM Jaspal Singh today said they had deputed SMO Badri Dass of the local Civil Hospital to get the vaccination from the government.

The All-India Haj Committee had already issued letters to all state Haj committees on August 31 regarding the same. The flights for Haj are scheduled to start from November 11 and as per the Saudi government letter, the vaccine should be given six weeks before that. So the local administration has only about 15 days to implement the orders.

On the other hand, seats for Haj pilgrims from Punjab have also been increased by the committee. Earlier, 383 seats were allotted to the pilgrims of Punjab, but now these have been increased to 585.

Being the only Muslim-dominated city of Punjab, most of the Haj pilgrims are from Malerkotla.


BJP workers pour out heart to Sood
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 8
A large number of BJP workers today vent their ire before forest minister and senior BJP leader Tikshan Sood who was here to attend a Vana Mahotsava function organised at Tungwali village. The workers included office-bearers of the district unit of the party.

Eco tourism centres
Budhlada, September 8
Forest minister Tikshan Sood said today that the government had decided to set up eco tourism centres in the state.

Sood said four sites had been identified to set up such centres with the help of World Bank. According to the new forest policy of the government, about 15 per cent area in the state would be brought under the forest cover by the end of 2017. — TNS

They told Sood at the local circuit house that they had to depend on the assembly segment in charge appointed by the ruling SAD for getting a work done from a government department.

In the matters related to the development of the area, they were never consulted by the authorities concerned. They felt they were being treated as second-class citizens under the rule of their own party in Punjab.

Sood, when contacted, said he had spoken to the deputy commissioner and the SSP, Bathinda, to give due honour and recognition to the BJP workers. Though the SAD-BJP leadership was of the view that there should be coordination among the rank and file of the two parties, he was of the view that every BJP worker should be given individual recognition by the authorities concerned.


Mann to approach EC
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 8
The SAD (Mann) today decided to approach the Election Commission to formally rename the party as the SAD (A). This decision was taken during a meeting attended by all office-bearers and members of the party.

Simranjit Singh Mann had got his party registered with the Election Commission in the name of the SAD (Mann) in November 1989. The party leadership said today that since the organisation was popularly know as the SAD (A), so it had been decided to seek fresh registration. 


10 pc seats for rural students in law varsity
For treating female foeticide as murder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 8
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today termed female foeticide equivalent to murder. He called upon the judiciary and lawyers to ask the National Law Commission to recommend amendment to provisions of the Indian Panel Code (IPC) to equate female foeticide with murder.

He was presiding over a seminar on “Family law: Problems and Perspectives” organised by the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL) at Central State Library here today.

Showing concern towards poor students from rural areas, Badal asked the chancellor of the RGNUL to make special provision for the reservation of seats in the university. Badal pointed out that only 4 per cent of rural students pursued studies at the university level.

The Chief Minister assured the university management all possible assistance to make RGUNL one of the premier institution in legal education.

Later, Badal handed over Rs 80 lakh cheque to Sukhpal Singh Sidhu, sarpanch of Sidhuwal who had donated 50 acres of shamlaat for setting up of the RGNUL campus, for development projects in the village.

Earlier chief guest Justice Arijit Pasayat, a judge of the Supreme Court of India, said children were the worst victims of family disputes resulting from domestic violence, divorce and problems of the deserted wives and abandoned children by NRIs.

He pointed out that breakdown of marriages on flimsy grounds ruined not only families but also disintegrated society at large. In a lighter vein he remarked, “If the trend of divorces continues like this in our country, the day is not very far when the spouses will prefer anticipatory divorce petition to seek divorce on the pattern of anticipatory bail”. He said this was happening due to the lack of tolerance and ego which must be sacrificed for the sake of the future of children who were innocent.

Justice Ashok Bhan, also a judge of the Supreme Court, was the guest of honour.He underlined the need of changing the mindset of people to create public opinion against these social evils because law alone could not change society.

He said the erring doctors, nurses and even parents involved in female foeticide should be put behind bars, as they did not deserve mercy. He lamented that Punjab and Haryana were the worst affected states in terms of declining female sex ratio. Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court and chancellor RGNUL Vijender Jain accepted the request of the Chief Minister and announced the provision of reservation of 10 per cent seats for poor students from rural areas in the law university. He said the plight of deserted wives by NRI husbands was grim and 25,000 such cases had been reported so far in Punjab.

Vice-chancellor, RGNUL,Gurjeet Singh highlighted achievements of the university.

Justice Pasayat released a souvenir on the subject brought out by RGNUL and presented to the first copy to the Chief Minister.

Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, Justice Rajive Bhalla and Justice M.M. Kumar, judges of Punjab and Haryana High Court, presided over the technical session.

Advocate-general H.S. Mattewal, District and Sessions judge, Patiala, Inderjit Singh Walia, judges of District Courts and senior civil and police officers attended the seminar.


Radiotherapy unit proposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, has submitted a proposal to the union government for setting up an oncology wing and radiotherapy unit at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot, an area where the number of cancer patients is very high.

Jagjit Puri, secretary, medical education and research, has requested Dr Naresh Dyal, secretary, health and family welfare, union government, to approve the project at the earliest. The project will also be beneficial for the people of the Ganganagar belt of Rajasthan.

Wagah renamed Attari border

On the recommendation of the Punjab government, the government of India has changed the name of the Wagah border to the Attari border with immediate effect.

This was stated here today by an official spokesman of the state government.


A project to connect Sri Guru Ram Das international airport at Raja Sansi and the Golden Temple by monorail and building world class infrastructure for the proposed Mohali international airport are highlights of Asian Development Bank project plans.

A high-powered team from the bank led by Ludwig G. Rieder, along with Gurmeet S. Rai and Aurobindo Ogra, here today met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. They discussed the salient features of the proposed projects. The bank officials sought detailed reports of the projects in the next 10 days. 


They went with green dreams, but returned dejected

Ludhiana, September 8
At least 70 Indian workers, who returned from Kuwait to Ludhiana, have accused their employer of fraud and harassment. All of them were employed with the Sahar Al-Raola trading company through agents in New Delhi and Chandigarh.

The workers, moslty masons, carpenters and mechanics, had shelled out between Rs 90,000 and Rs 1,50,000 to work for the company. They were promised handsome salaries between Rs 15,000-20,000. However, they got a pittance of this promised amount.

“The agent sent me on a working visa. I worked for two months, after which they gave us 20 dinars ($5.62). When we asked for more money, they beat us up,” said Bindar Bandra, a mason from Jalandhar.

Jeevan Ram, a metal mechanic, was shocked to hear that the company he worked for did not exist.

“I was to be sent to a certain Al-Fahad Travel and Tour Company. On reaching Kuwait I found that the company did not exist. They made me do menial work, like sweeping, scavenging and carrying load around the work site,” he said.

“If we refused, they would whip us with belts. They would force us to work at gunpoint, saying that at 5 dinars ($1.5) bullets were too cheap for them to give a second thought to shooting us dead,” he added.

Those who returned said the Indian Embassy in Kuwait failed to provide any kind of assistance. They said they would file police complaints against the company’s agents, both of whom had reportedly gone missing.

Millions of semi-skilled and unskilled labourers from across India migrate to Gulf countries every year and most of them are absorbed in the construction sector, which is enjoying a boom in the oil-rich nations. — ANI


Khalsa Heritage Project
Govt yet to select agency for designing exhibit gallery
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, September 8
As the stipulated period (December) for completing the Anandpur Sahib Khalsa Heritage Project is nearing, the state government is yet to decide the agency that will design an exhibit gallery and museum of this coveted project.

The project,the foundation stone of which was laid in 1998, ran into rough weather with a plethora of fund crunches before the consortium of five banks came to its rescue in 2004.

Out of the Rs 48 crore sanctioned by the Central government, the Anandpur Sahib Foundation has already received Rs 13.72 crore. The consortium of banks, led by Punjab National Bank, had so far released Rs 48 crore out Rs 100 crore sanctioned for it. The Congress government had claimed to complete the project by September 2004 to coincide with the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.

Earlier, the National Institute of Design (NID), Hyderabad, has conducted a study on Sikh history. It has been decided to showcase Sikh history from the period of Guru Nanak Dev's birth to the constitution of Misl in the sect. However, with the construction work near completion, the government is yet to decide which agency should be roped in to design the interiors. One more agency, A.B.Design Habit from New Delhi, has emerged as a strong contender for visualising the gallery and the museum.

Sources in the department pointed out that NID, Hyderabad, had urged the government to sanction the payment in advance, while A.B. Design Habit has agreed upon taking the payment during the course of work or after it gets completed.

Boston-based architect Moshe Safdie, who happens to be the project designer, had during his earlier visit apprised the Chief Minister of completing the project by February, 2009.

The heritage project, when completed, will be one of largest interpretive historic museums in the world with over 5,000 sq m of the exhibit area. The museum is inspired by Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

However, chief executive officer of the foundation D.S.Kala was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.


Dhindsa gives Rs 30 lakh to 25 panchayats
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sandaur (Malerkotla), September 8
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa will in the Lok Sabha seek Rs 1,400 minimum support price (MSP) of wheat.

Dhindsa was here today in connection with the distribution of development grants worth Rs 30 lakh among panchayats of 25 villages of the Sherpur Assembly constituency. Besides Dhindsa, executive committee member of the SGPC Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, former MLA Gurcharan Singh Dirba and district president of the SAD Rajinder Singh Kanjhla addressed the gathering.

On the deletion of names of all those Sikhs whose names had been included in the “black list” by the Central government, Dhindsa said the Union government had told them cases of all “blacklisted” Sikhs (who had shifted to various foreign countries during militancy in Punjab) would be reviewed as Law, Home and Foreign ministries were involved in this issue.


Villagers reject MLA’s offer

Abohar, September 8
Farmers today turned down a mediation offer from former BJP MLA Ram Kumar Goyal and insisted on solving the problem arisen over the sharing of canal water in “their own way”. Warring factions of farmers continued the dharna near the “jhaal” of Jandwala Hanuvanta village, near the inter-state border, in this subdivision. Earlier, senior subdivisional administrative and police officials had tried to intervene.

Some residents of Gumjal, Panniwala Malha, Kallarkhera and Jandwala Hanuvanta villages, in a memorandum faxed to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the chief engineer (Irrigation) today, sought their intervention to avert a clash. — OC


Women prisoners in pitiable condition

Gurdaspur, September 8
Scores of women are living pitiable lives in different jails of the state and a majority of them are behind bars even after their punishment period is over. There are many families in jails and their children are deprived of education and other facilities in the absence of their parents, disclosed Amarjit Kaur Bhullar, member, Punjab Women Commission, Chandigarh, who visited the Gurdaspur jail here on Thursday.

Amarjit Kaur was accompanied by her husband, former editor of Punjabi Tribune, Singhara Singh Bhullar. — TNS


Pack of six adds Panther punch to Chhatbir 
Tribune News Service

Banur, September 8
Kinnar could have done without this journey. At his growling best, the 10-year-old panther, one of the six new possessions of the MC Chhatbir Zoological Park, is not making any bones about his uneasiness.

Kinnar and five other leopards arrived at the park this morning from the rescue and rehabilitation centre at Shimla. And while the others are either sleepy or munching away at buffalo bones, Kinnar chose to give photojournalists some good shots of an angry young panther.

“He is actually not that young. Panthers survive for less than 20 years in captivity and in the wild their average life span is only about 18 to 14 years. You could say he is middle aged,” said Dharminder Sharma, Filed Director of the park.

With the arrival of six panthers their total population in the park is now nine. “The new arrivals are three pairs. Kinnar got his name from Kinnaur, the place from where he was rescued. His other male companion Teju is also 10 years old. The female panther Shalu is seven years old and was rescued from Theog. The oldest among the group is Bina a 14-year-old female panther from Solan.

“The youngest couple is of Mangal and Manju. Both were born in captivity at the Rescue and Rehabilitation centre at Tuti Kandi, Shimla. Manju is Teju’s daughter,” said Sharma.

Visitors will, however, have to wait for at least three weeks before these are brought out for display. “We will observe them for this time and during this quarantine period they will also be tested for various diseases, added Sharma. 


Drugs godown raided
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 8
A joint team of officials from the state drug control authority and Health Department has raided a drugs godown located on the Bhatti road here and seized a huge quantity of medicines.

Keen Healthcare, which allegedly stored drugs in the godown, used to sell drugs without licence. The team seized 37 kinds of medicines and took samples of around 50 medicines to check their genuineness.

When the checking started at the godown last morning, mediapersons were not allowed inside the building. 


IT conference concludes 
Tribune News Service

Rupnagar, September 8
The two days second national conference on information and emerging technologies concluded at the IET, Bhaddal campus, on Saturday.

The second day of the conference started with lectures by Dr H.K. Sardana, a scientist from the CSIO, on image/signal processing and pattern recognition and J. Virmani, assistant professor, IET, Bhaddal, on medical image analysis for disease diagnosis. It was followed by different technical sessions. More than 35 institutions from all over India participated in today’s session. Participants who presented research papers and attended the session along with the IET, Bhaddal, were from  Hindustan College of Science and Technology, Mathura, GFEC, Hyderabad, DUIT, Karnal, DRDO, Banglore, NV Patel College of Pure and Applied Science, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, and various colleges from all over Punjab.


Lakhowal seeks Rs 900 MSP for paddy
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 8
While demanding Rs 900 per quintal as the minimum support price (MSP) of the paddy, Punjab Mandi Board chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said today that the state government had already written to the centre regarding the enhancement in the MSP of paddy. He said he had sought time from the Union agriculture minister in this regard.

In reply to a question Lakhowal said the Mandi Board had not received any information from the Central government with regard to the fixation of the paddy MSP for the current paddy procurement season. However, they had received information from the economic and statistical adviser, Government of India, who had informed them that the paddy was priced at Rs 675 per quintal plus Rs 40 as bonus for the current paddy season, he added.

Lakhowal, who also happens to be the BKU (Lakhowal) president, said they wanted linkage of the MSP with wholesale price index to improve the financial health of the farmers. He also said they were not against acquisition of land, but it should be for construction of government hospitals, colleges, roads rather than handing it over to the multi-national companies.

Lakhowal also stated that the Mandi Board would set up six modern grain markets at a cost of Rs 259 crore and first such grain market would come up at Ludhiana with the cold storage facility. 


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