P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM unfolds plan for a developed Bathinda
District to have international cricket stadium, AC bus stand, flying club and cancer hospital
Bhanu P. Lohumi & Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 14
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today unfolded an elaborate plan for the overall development of Bathinda, asserting that the district, once known as a backward area, will become the most developed area of Punjab in the next three years.

In the city to inaugurate a housing complex, he said the Bathinda Development Authority was already in place and a blueprint had been prepared to take care of sewerage, solid waste management and other basic problems of the town. Flyovers would be constructed at all railway crossings here to ease traffic congestion and the Centre would be approached to provide a terminal for civilians at the Bathinda airbase of the IAF. The terminal would also facilitate the setting up of a flying club, he added.

Stressing the need for greater public-private participation in social sector, Badal called upon big business houses to contribute at least 2 per cent of their income to supplement the efforts of the government to provide all basic amenities to the underprivileged section, specially in providing them with proper shelter, food, health care and education.

The Chief Minister said the government had prepared a scheme to provide a school each in every constituency for providing quality education to students of poor families.

Urging the business community to contribute for setting up these schools, Badal said around 90 families had already agreed to contribute under the scheme.

Badal also referred to the three lakes of the city for making them tourist spots. He had discussed the possibility of introducing “shikaras and houseboats” at these lakes with his Jammu and Kashmir counterpart.

An international cricket stadium is coming up in Bathinda, which would be the best cricket stadium in the country and declared that work on it would be inaugurated next month.

The Chief Minister allayed fears that the main bus stand at Bathinda would be shifted. He said an air-conditioned bus stand, with a sprawling commercial complex, would come up at the present location.

Keeping in view the high incidence of cancer in the region, the government proposed to set up a major cancer hospital in the city, he added.

Working president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal said top-class infrastructure would be provided to Bathinda, which is the focal point of Punjab and borders Haryana and Rajasthan. Several development schemes have been implemented to provide connectivity in the region.

Badal said asking for grants to boost development was the right of a state and that it was the duty of the central government to give aid to the states. Punjab was making huge contribution to the central kitty in form of income tax, wheat and other services and if a meagre 10 per cent of it was ploughed back into the state, it would give a boost to development here, he added.

Greeting the Muslims on the occasion of Id, the Chief Minister said all communities should celebrate all festivals. “While having a firm belief in our religion, we should also respect the other religions.’’

Badal also demanded a minimum price of Rs 2,750 per quintal for cotton, adding that it was necessary to save cotton growers from distress. He said the matter would be taken up with the union government.

He claimed that the Punjab government had asked for Rs 1,200 per quintal as the minimum price for wheat but the Centre had raised it only up to Rs 1,000 per quintal.

The government is importing wheat at Rs 1,600 per quintal and as such the minimum price of Rs 1,200 per quintal for local farmers is fully justified, he said. Bathinda MP Param Jeet Kaur Gulshan and other dignitaries were also present.

Badal’s gesture to Bhundar’s family

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal visited Sardool Garh village, near Bathinda, to offer his condolences to the family of Balraj Singh Bhundar, former national general secretary of the SAD. He attended the bhog ceremony of the Akali leader.

He presented a cheque for Rs 1 crore from his discretionary fund to Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Balraj’s father, to construct a degree college in memory of his son. He said all 17 ministers of Punjab would contribute Rs 10 lakh each for the college from their discretionary funds while the chief parliamentary secretaries would contribute Rs 5 lakh each.

Sukhbir Singh Badal and his mother Surinder Kaur Badal announced the construction of a school in the village at a cost of Rs 20 lakh.


Expired soft drinks for Badal

Taking serious note of carelessness on the part of the authorities concerned in allegedly supplying expired soft drinks to be served to the Chief Minister and other guests at the inauguration of a housing colony, the district Health Department will take action against the suppliers of the soft drink.

According to sources, during the inspection of eatables to be served to the dignitaries and guests, the department found that the expiry dates of the soft drinks had lapsed. The department seized the bottles.


SAD hits back at Bhattal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Launching a counter attack on Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said Punjab had suffered financially and politically because of an anti-Punjab stance taken by Congress leaders from time to time.

Taking on Bhattal, SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra said instead of highlighting Punjab’s contribution in the national food pool and on other fronts, Bhattal was trying to prove that it was the union government which was helping the state. He said Bhattal should realise that compared to Punjab’s contribution in the development of the country, the Congress governments at the Centre had been denying it due financial help.

Chandumajra said instead of speaking for Punjab,Congress leaders from the state were always busy in praising the central leadership of the Congress. Had the Congress governments at the Centre and Punjab shown even little interest for the development of Punjab, the state would have not slipped from No. 1 position to fifth place, he said.

“It was because of SAD leaders like Parkash Singh Badal that Punjab was marching ahead”, he said.

Chandumajra said this in response to Bhattal’s statement yesterday that the SAD-BJP government in Punjab was surviving on the financial support provided by the Union government.

He said the fact was that the union government was surviving on the support provided by states like Punjab. There would be chaos all around and the Union government would fall flat if states like Punjab did not make adequate contribution to the national food pool. The Union government should be thankful to the SAD-BJP government, which was providing free power and other facilities to the farm sector to produce foodgrains for the national pool, he added.

He said the union government survived on the taxes collected from the states. Through various administrative and political measures, the Union government was denying even the rights provided to states by the Constitution, he added.

He asked the Congress leaders to name a single contribution made by the Congress ministers in the Union government from Punjab.

“Punjab was being given even less than its financial share from the Central schemes meant for all states and approved by the Planning Commission”, he said. Instead of doing any favour to Punjab, the Union government was treating it indifferently, he added. Punjab Congress leadership should explain to the people of the state why the Union government was not giving adequate share to Punjab from Rs 25,000 crore kept for the development of agriculture sector by the Union government, he said. 


Bathinda cries for night bus service
Most people, who miss the last bus, depend on train service which is available at night
Bhanu P. Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 14
Bathinda, heartland of Punjab's cotton belt, may boast of the biggest Railway junction of the north, but it lacks a proper public transport system.

It may sound strange but is true that last bus from here for Patiala, Chandigarh and Delhi leaves at 7.15 pm, while the last bus for the industrial town of Ludhiana is available at 7.45 pm.

The commuters are put to great inconvenience and left in the lurch as outgoing buses are not available in the night and the bus stand, which hums with activity during the day, wears a deserted look in the evening.

There is silence at the bus stand during the night as the morning bus service starts only at 4.15 am. There is no dearth of buses during daytime and buses are available after every 10 minutes for Ludhiana, while the frequency of buses for Chandigarh and Patiala is after every 15 minutes.

No buses are available even for nearby places like Barnala and people are forced to wait at the bypass and thumb passing vehicles for a lift.

Amar Deep Singh, a businessman from Ludhiana, said, "I always try to leave before 7 pm, but sometimes it is not possible and I am compelled to wait for hours.''

Most people,who miss the last bus, depend on train service which is available at night, but the train takes a long route, hence, more time. Catching a private bus from the bypass is the only way out of Bathinda at night, but the services are irregular and uncertain, lamented a local resident.

The night bus services were discontinued in Punjab when during terrorism, but were resumed when the situation turned for the better. Interestingly, while night bus services were restored in areas like Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar,areas most hit by terrorism, Bathinda still awaits it.

Iqbal Singh, general manager, PRTC, Bathinda region, claimed there was no demand from people for night buses. "We can consider starting the night bus service if there are reasonable number of regular passengers,"' he added.

However, local people dub it an excuse for not starting night bus service and rue apathy of the authorities.

Twenty years have passed and normalcy has returned to Punjab, but travelling during night continous to be on the wishlist of people. Only private cars and taxis are seen making way on the highway, while the common man waits on the road for sunrise.


Rationalise subsidies, says Darbari Lal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
The growing dissention between leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) over the rational economic policies will lead to economic disaster in the state.

Stating this in a press note here today, Darbari Lal, former deputy speaker, said it was not wise that a non-rice eating state should subsidise electricity bill worth Rs 4,000 crore annually on paddy farming just to keep the vote bank intact, thereby paving the way for the economic upheaval in the state.

Endorsing the views of state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal that the BJP’s present lust for subsidies on electricity in the urban areas would lead to bankruptcy of the state, Darbari Lal rued that the minister had not been given the free hand to improve the financial health of the state.

Darbari Lal urged the state government to evenly spread the burden of taxation over rural and urban residents of the state.


Mann criticises govt apathy towards Gurjant’s family
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Behman Jassa Singh (Bathinda), October 14
Shiromani Akali Dal (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann today alleged that the government was showing indifference towards family members of Gurjant Singh, the dismissed cop who set himself and members of his family on fire. “No official has ever visited his family members to express grief,” Mann said.

The SAD (A) leader, who was on a visit to the village to meet the family members of Gurjant Singh, also criticised the ruling party in the state for its apathy and said it was merely conjuring up mirages for the public.

Also among those who visited the village was Jagjit Singh Joga, CPI leader. The occasion was the bhog ceremony of Beant Kaur, Gurjant’s daughter, which was held at the village gurdwara today.

Joga, who is also a member of the action committee, said the incident took place in the presence of policemen. He demanded that a case of custodial death be filed against the policemen concerned. “The state government should pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the victims and Rs 1 lakh as medical expenses incurred on the treatment. The government should also provide jobs to Rampal Kaur and Sukhpal Kaur, daughters of Gurjant,” he added.

He further said a ceremony would be organised on October 30 to pay respect to the departed members of Gurjant’s family. Members of the action committee would also meet deputy commissioner, Bathinda, to hand over a memorandum. Joga also threatened that the protest could take a serious turn if the demands were not met.

Rampal Kaur, 20-year-old daughter of Gurjant, also accused the police force. “The mishap took place because the cops raided the house,”she alleged.

She also declared her intention to continue the fight for a fair probe into the case.


Id celebrated with fervour
Badal skips function; Dhindsa announces Rs 25 lakh for Idgah
Tribune Reporters

Malerkotla, October 14
Extending greetings to the Muslims on Id-ul-Fitr at the Idgah here today, Punjab PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, on behalf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, announced a grant of Rs 25 lakh for the development of the Idgah, but Badal’s absence on the occasion raised many questions. Dhindsa also announced the construction of an overbridge on the Raikot railway level crossing, at a cost of Rs 15 crore, at Malerkotla.

Meanwhile, thousands of Muslims offered Namaz-e-Id with religious fervour and enthusiasm at the local Idgah. Besides Dhindsa, Punjab jails minister Heera Singh Gabria and area in charge of the SAD of the Malerkotla Assembly constituency Chaudhary Abdul Gaffar also offered Id greetings to the Muslims at the Idgah. Id-ul-Fitr was also celebrated in various villages adjoining Malerkotla.

About the reasons behind the cancellation of Badal’s visit here nothing could be stated, but some locals attributed the cancellation of his visit to the factionalism in the local SAD unit, as every SAD leader was expecting that the CM should visit his house and hold a press conference there.

It seemed that Badal’s visit was cancelled today morning, as the helipad had been kept ready even today for the landing of his chopper. However, the helipad wore a deserted look as officers had come to know that the Chief Minister was not coming. In anticipation of Badal’s proposed visit, heavy police arrangements had been made in the town.

On the other hand, Gaffar said the CM’s programme to join Id celebrations here was for October 13. About Badal not joining the celebrations here today, he said the Chief Minister had some prior engagements. 


Rs 3 crore for development

Moga, October 14
The District Planning and Development Board released over Rs 3 crore under various developmental schemes in its meeting held here yesterday.

Transport minister Mohan Lal, who is also the chairman of the Board, said in all Rs 326.91 lakh would be spent in the current financial year. He said over 30,000 new pension beneficiaries would be added to the current 41,109 pensioners.

Besides, he said, rural pensioners would henceforth receive pension from banks just like in urban areas. — TNS


‘Punjabi jutti’ makers allege exploitation
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 14
The traditional ‘Punjabi jutti’ has withstood the ravages of time and still continues to be the hot favourite of people of all ages. As the Parliamentary committee on industry and commerce, headed by Kansi Ram Rana, visited the traditional ‘Punjabi jutti’ (traditional Punjabi footwear) makers in Patiala, the artisans vented their grudges and alleged they were deprived of profits owing to exploitation at the hands of traders.

A large number of artisans rued they were being paid peanuts for the hard labour they put in making this traditional foot wear as there was no government protection to their trade or art.

Chandi Devi, an expert in weaving patterns with golden thread, said “We are exploited artisans. As there was no government protection to their tradition, we hardly earn Rs 100 per day despite the hard and skilled labour put in the job.”

The members of the Parliamentary committee said they will submit their report regarding improving the condition of traditional foot-wear makers in the Parliament.

“We are of the view that the state government should market the traditional footwear at government retails outlets so that the producers get better price of their labour. Besides, a course should be started in the ITI’s for protecting the traditional art of footwear,” a member of the committee said.

The committee members also said they had visited other Punjab districts including Abohar, Fazilka and Muktsar. However, at almost all the places, the financial condition of the traditional artisans involved in the trade was not good. The government would also be urged to allow the artisans to display their products in trade fairs on their own.

Amardeep Singh, the presidents of the trader association, said since the Punjabi traditional foot wear was made by artisans manually the government should exempt VAT over them as their have to compete with the machine made foot wear in the market. Equal taxes make them inviable in the market as labour component in production of traditional shoes was much higher, he added.


Tributes paid to Bhai Jasbir Singh
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 14
Rich tributes were paid and a ‘gurmat samagam’ organised on the occasion of the death anniversary of Panth Rattan, Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale, here today.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Avtar Singh Makkar, president SGPC were among those who participated in a day-long event. Panth Rattan title was conferred on Bhai Jasbir Singh posthumously in August this year by Jathedar and the SGPC for his charitable and social contribution to humanity in general and Sikhism in particular.

Bhai Jasbir Singh established Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib (C) Eye Hospital Trust at Sohana in 1983. Since its establishment, over 30 percnt of total surgeries for poor patients are done free of cost every year. The hospital’s eye and multi-speciality wings are operating on a no-profit no-loss basis.

Apart from Giani Jaswinder Singh (Granthi Sri Harmandir Sahib), Gen R.S Chhatwal of Baru Sahib, Bhai Harvinder Singh, Giani Iqbal Singh (Jathedar Sri Patna Sahib), Giani Tarlochan Singh (Jathedar Sri Kesgarh Sahib), prominent raagis performed kirtan throughout the samagam. The Sadhana channel arranged live telecast for viewers.

The secretary of Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib (C) Eye Hospital Trust, Sohana Gurmeet Singh, disclosed that large number of followers from various corners of the country and abroad converged on this occasion. He said the eye hospital has expanded to a multi-speciality hospital with its branches at Sohana, Khanna and Sirhind. 


Private paddy purchasers in quandary over bonus
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 14
Private paddy purchasers in Punjab are shelling out more by paying farmers bonus of Rs 50, as well as incurring tax on the same amount. There is confusion amongst private purchasers in the absence of any government specification regarding whether they are entitled to give bonus or not.

These private players have been forced to pay this bonus owing to stiff competition. "The government has not specified whether we have to pay bonus of not. Moreover, if we pay bonus to farmers, are we entitled to tax exemption on the same or not?" asks general secretary of the Punjab Rice Millers' Association Vishnu Mittal.

The MSP of paddy is Rs 675. As per Mandi Board rules, private purchasers have to give at least Rs 5 more than the MSP. Added to this, farmers are also being paid Rs 50 bonus per quintal and the purchase stands at Rs 730 per quintal.

A visit to the Kharar grain market revealed that the amount paid by the private purchaser is being entered in government records as the MSP plus bonus. It is pertinent to mention here that vide its notification released on Saturday, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution has stated that incentive is over and above MSP and would be fully exempted from tax.

"We have not got any government notification about private purchasers. As of now, we are making entries as per the amount they are giving to farmers. If at later stage, government exempts them too from the tax, we would reimburse their money," said DFSC, Mohali, Rupinder Pal Kaur.

Meanwhile, Mittal added that the association would take up the matter with minister of food and civil supplies, consumer affairs and information and technology Adesh Partap Singh Kairon tomorrow.


‘Lift ban on export of non-basmati rice’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 14
Supporting the case of rice exporters, the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the nodal agency for monitoring rice export, on Friday pleaded with the government of India to immediately lift the ban on the export of non-basmati rice.

APEDA urged the government to review the decision relating to the export of agriculture commodities and take a consistent long-term view that would promote major investment in value addition in agriculture produce and make exports more viable.

It was felt that it would be difficult for Indian exporters to regain the markets lost to competitors. It was stated that the government might also consider the present scenario wherein the total export of non-basmati rice was only around 4 million tonnes, which was about 4.5 per cent of the total production. 


Kandi likely to get ayurvedic varsity 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14 
The committee constituted under the chairmanship of S.K. Mishra (former advisor, ministry of ayush) to prepare a master plan for the establishment of an ayurvedic university at Hoshiarpur, is ready to submit its plan and there is a possibility that Kandi would get a university in near future.

This was revealed by Jagjit Puri, secretary, medical education, Punjab, here today.
The plan is ready and committee is scheduled to submit it by tomorrow, Puri said. In case the government approves the plan, 12 ayurvedic colleges and one homoeopatic college would be affiliated with the varsity, said Puri. 

The villagers have offered 18 acres of land for the site. Puri, who was chief guest at a seminar held by medicos from the All Saints University of Medicine (ASUM), Aruba, said an ayurvedic college is already running in a 66-acre land in Hoshiarpur and the university would further give a boost in that direction. 

US-based doctors Gurmit Singh Chilana and Jagmohan Singh Sidhu were present on the occasion. They had visited Chandigarh and Punjab for a tie-up with medical institutions to provide clinical rotation in US-based hospitals, as well as give the medical students there a similar opportunity, especially in the fields of alternate medicine. 

According to Gurmit Singh Chilana, director, clinical affairs and admissions, ASUM, there is a severe shortage of doctors in India and the USA and looking at the growing trends towards alternate medicine in European countries, Indian doctors can meet the demand squarely. 

Jagmohan Singh Sidhu, a renowned pathologist in the USA and associate dean at the ASUM said the USA is facing acute shortage of doctors and by 2020 it would require about two lakh doctors, he informed. 

Referring to the emerging trend in the USA, where alternate medicine is also being extensively used, Sidhu said Indian doctors have better success rate and future doctors would be required to be well-versed with various ayurvedic, unani, homeopathy treatments as well as knowledge of yoga, which is becoming a part of holistic treatment abroad. 


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 |