P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Police ‘illegally’ occupying PWD rest house
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 12
Controversy seems to be surrounding the PWD rest house in Bathinda. According to information , the rest house, that belongs to the PWD Department, was handed over to the Police Department for use by the then I-G Bathinda zone.Even after the I-G’s transfer from here, the building has not restored to the PWD, nor any rent has been paid for its use. The building continues to be in the possession of the police and now houses the office-cum-residence of the DIG Faridkot range.

As per records I-G Rajinder Singh had availed himself of this rest house for use as office-cum-residence when his office was shifted from Faridkot to Bathinda. At that time, the DIG’s office used to function from a PWD (B&R) building. The office was later shifted to a PUDA building.

As per information the accountant general, Punjab, imposed a rent of Rs 50 lakh for the use of this building. Earlier too, the audit department had imposed rent of Rs 29 lakh for the use of the building.

Sources said the PWD Department has not recovered the rent so far. Sources in the PWD department said the AG, Punjab had mentioned rent of Rs 50.5 lakh in para number 5 of the audit report 2007-08, for the period from May 14, 2005 to August 31, 2007.

As per information the word “unauthorised” has been used by the AG Punjab in para number 5 of the report to describe the use of the building. Of the total amount, Rs 21.54 lakh has been imposed as rent from September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007.

Records say, the SP, Bathinda, had booked the guest house from May 14, 2005 to May 21, 2005 for the then I-G Bathinda zone. The booking was textended to May 27, 2005. The PWD Department had informed the chief engineer, (buildings) about the ‘unauthorized’ possession on May 20, 2006 through letter number 897. The letter concerned was also sent to the additional DC, Bathinda also. The DC further informed the chief secretary, Punjab, about the matter.

The then IG not only lived in the guest house, but also renovated it. The Bathinda Police Department reportedly spent Rs 5 lakh on renovation.

The PWD executive engineer, Bathinda zone, issued a letter to higher officials about the renovation work of the building vide letter number 6948 dated December 18, 2006. It was further mentioned in the letter neither the renovation of the IG’s office was reported, nor prior permission sought for its use as office. As per the rules, no renovation work can be initiated without the prior permission of the department concerned.

PWD secretary Karan Avtar Singh said on telephone from Chandigarh, “The guest house is in the possession of the Police Department, but I have no idea about the rent.”

Superintendent engineer, PWD, Bathinda, A. K. Singla said, “The AG Punjab has imposed the rent and a letter has been sent to the department concerned.”

DIG, Faridkot range Jatinder Jain could not be contacted despite attempts. His office informed he was away in Chandigarh for a meeting.


Economic instability staring at state: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 12
Holding the “misrule” of Akalis responsible for alleged fiscal mismanagement, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said Punjab was virtually standing on the brink of economic emergency.

In the same breath, she not only repeated her rhetoric of political vendetta against Congress leaders and workers by the SAD-BJP government but also targeted Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, finance minister Manpreet Badal and SAD working president Sukhbir Badal.

“Earlier, Badal Sahib merrily kept saying that the fiscal state of Punjab is very good, but now he and his finance minister have adopted an entirely contradictory stance. They have started saying that the state coffers are empty. Badal is a mature person and he should not change his stand frequently. Actually, the state has lost its financial stability. The government is almost bankrupt. This is all due to wrong policies of the SAD-BJP government,” alleged Bhattal while talking to mediapersons after addressing a political rally here today.

Training her guns at Sukhbir, she lamented, “ The Chief Minister is pushing Sukhbir as the next Chief Minister. Rather, Sukhbir is untiringly projecting himself as the future Chief Minister. Instead of indulging in such acts of personal gains, the Akalis should think of development and fulfil the promises made by them to the people. Not only people, SAD workers have got demoralised to such an extent that a number of them are joining the Congress,” she said.

She was accompanied by senior Congress leaders, including acting PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, former Punjab ministers Lal Singh, Surinder Singla, Brahm Mohindra and Avtaar Singh Brar, former PPCC chief Mohinder Singh Gill, Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla and former Patiala mayor Vishnu Sharma.

Interestingly, Bhattal made an apparent unity bid when she came out in favour of Amarinder Singh and Bharat Inder Singh Chahal. “The Akalis are resorting to political vendetta against Amarinder, whereas he had not done so. Nobody, including Chahal, should be subjected to inhuman treatment,” asserted Bhattal, who welcomed Maan Singh, a former Punjab AIG, into the party fold.

Earlier, addressing the gathering at Amar Ashram, she said Sonia Gandhi was scheduled to visit the state in the first week of December. “The venue and date is to be decided,” she said.

Kaypee, Lal Singh, former ministers Brahm Mohindra and Jasjit Singh Randhawa, MP Preneet Kaur, Singla, Hardyal Kamboj, MLAs Nirmal Singh and Kaka Randip Singh also spoke.

Earlier, Congress leaders presented her Rs 11 lakh as party fund.


Rs 900 cr outstanding, yet more subsidy on power
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Where is the money for additional power subsidy that the ruling SAD-BJP combine, added to the burden of its dwindling resources ? Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced to provide fresh subsidy to offset the power tariff hike even as the government, in the past three months, has not paid a rupee to the Punjab State Electricity Board on account of existing subsidies.

The Punjab Government announced its please-all move tonight even as a sum of Rs 900 crore is the outstanding payment the government has to make to the PSEB on account of existing subsidy to various sectors like agriculture, Dalit families and others. “For the past three months no money has been given to the PSEB as part of subsidy payment package agreed upon at the start of the fiscal in April this year,” well- placed sources in the government said today while adding that the fresh subsidy will have a severe impact on the financial health of the PSEB.

The PSEB on its part has been writing to the government that payment is overdue and it should be released. The PSEB needs the money for its day-to-day operations and expansion plans. About Rs 2,500 crore is the power subsidy bill for this fiscal and this includes Rs 400 crore as arrears of last year. The money was being paid in monthly instalments till July this year. The revenue earnings of the state dropped and Punjab had to do some fiscal management on an emergent basis. The payment to the PSEB was the among the first casualties.

This morning the SAD-BJP coordination committee met and recommended that the Rs 292 crore subsidy be given to offset the hike. The BJP had raised the issue of power tariff hike for domestic areas. It had said it was not against giving free power to the farm sector but was against raising the tariff for others. Actually the BJP wanted a level-playing field for urban and rural consumers but due to political compulsions could not say anything about free power to the farm sector. Hence the slug-fest between the two parties ended up in adding to the subsidy bill that could drag the state into an financial abyss.

The question is “do we have the money to subsidise to this extent”, asked a senior functionary. Nowhere in India a subsidy has been offered for domestic consumers other than a fixed number of free units of power given to Dalit families.

In an era when subsidies are being phased out and criticised by economists as a retrograde step, the Punjab Government, which provides free power to agriculture sector, is burdened with debts and high salary bills. So much so that close to 80 per cent of all earning of the state is going to pay-off salaries, pensions and servicing long-term debts. The need of the hour was to impose some tariff on farm sector and not add to the subsidies. Already suggestions are being made to have direct and targeted subsidy for farmers who produce foodgrains like wheat and paddy instead of having free power for all farmers who are not even contributing to the national foodgrain pool. 


Banks to distribute social security pensions
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 12
The beneficiaries of the social security schemes in the state will get their pensions and grants through banks in future. Minister for social security and technical education Swarna Ram today said this while talking to newsmen here today. He was here to chair a meeting of the District Planning Board.

The minister said the decision was taken as he had received 1,500 complaints regarding the existing system. In the existing system beneficiaries were being distributed pensions through officials of the department or village panchayats. Pension holders had been complaining of difficulties in getting pensions through the said officials.

Now, beneficiaries of the schemes would be able to open bank accounts for drawing pensions with just Rs 5. The distribution of pensions through banks would stop the misuse of money meant for the welfare of poor, he said.

The minister further said the district administration had been directed to help the poor beneficiaries in opening the bank account. Officials of the Department of Social Security had also been directed to organise camps at all block and sub-division levels to make the beneficiaries aware about the schemes available.

During the meeting of the board the minister, who is its chairman, assured members that the grants would be distributed as per the requirement of the area rather than political considerations.

Members of the commission expressed concern over the poor condition of the Ropar-Morinda road. To save toll on the Kurali railway overbridge most of the heavy traffic was using the abovesaid road, damaging it in the process.

The members also demanded the repairs of Ropar-Anandpur Sahib, Bela Taprian roads. They also demanded installation of deep tube wells in Nurpur Bedi area and repairs in the lift irrigation scheme at Nangal. Directions were also issued to the officials of various departments to settle the audit objections and submit the utility certificates within one month.

Ropar MP Sukhdev Singh Libra, MLAs Charanjit Singh Channi, Sant Ajit Singh and Ujjagar Singh Wadali, ADC (G) V. Pursarth were among others present in the meeting.


Arsenic content in groundwater
Task force to submit report within 3 months
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
After the Punjab State Human Rights Commission took cognisance of a news item “Punjab groundwater becoming more toxic” carried in these columns on June 6, the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Patiala, has asserted that a detailed study for assessing arsenic in groundwater is being carried by a task force.

In a detailed communiqué to the commission, the board has stated, “The task force shall carry out detailed study for assessing the occurrence and the geochemistry of arsenic in the groundwater of the state.”

The task force shall also study the cattle health, contamination of milk and meat products as well as the effect on crops. Remedial measures and the future course of action will also be suggested.

The Pollution Control Board has added in the letter that the force would submit its report within three months to the state chief secretary. It has further added that services of an expert can be availed “as a special invitee for drawing specific conclusions.”

After going through the communiqué and other related documents, the commission, comprising chairperson Justice R.S. Mongia, along with members Justice R.L. Anand, B.C. Rajput and K.K. Bhatnagar, ruled that in this case, cognisance was taken by the Full Commission on the basis of a news item appearing in The Tribune dated June 6.

Report in this connection was called from the chief secretary to government, Punjab, Chandigarh, vide order dated June 6. In pursuance of the order, the Pollution Control Board has sent a communication dated September 29 enlisting the steps being taken by it.

The commission concluded that the commission has gone through the contents of the letter and is of the opinion that the board has taken serious steps to tackle the problem. In these circumstances, the commission would like to close the proceedings with the expectation that the state government and the board would continue making efforts to see that the groundwater of the state is not polluted due to arsenic or toxic material.


Give power subsidy to poor: Mann
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today demanded that the state government should extend power subsidy to the unemployed and poor sections of society across the state.

Speaking to mediapersons, party president Simranjit Singh Mann stated that it was unfortunate the government had decided to provide power subsidy to the urban areas. He said that only the agricultural sector in the state was in need of subsidies as the input costs for agriculture had shot up in the past and cultivation was no longer a profitable occupation.

Mann said the party would organise a rally at Hussaniwala border on November 19 to press upon the governments of India and Pakistan to open this border. Another rally would be organised outside Burail Jail on November 28 to seek the release of Sikhs languishing in various jails, who have not been convicted in any case. 


Put intelligence agencies on high alert: Bitta
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 12
The Central government should put on high alert its intelligence agencies across the country in view of the disturbed conditions in neighbouring Pakistan, besides thwarting any attempt of the disruptive forces to disturb peace in the country.

Stating this to the media here today, Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) said General Pervez Musharraf in order to continue his rule wanted to divert the attention of the people, who had been protesting against his autocratic rule.

He claimed that Musharraf would not hold elections in January as promised.

Bitta said Pakistan’s ISI could encourage disruptive forces to create disturbance in Punjab. He said the Central government should hold an enquiry as to who gave the permission to Parvez Elahi to move freely in Punjab, along with Arusa Alam, in spite of the visa restrictions. He said the union government should take steps to check illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

He added that the Congress should severe its ties with Karunanidhi, who was allegedly involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. 


Grievance Panel Meeting
3 MLAs, MP walk out
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 12
The first grievances committee meeting of the district had MLAs and MP, Ropar, grousing. Three MLAs, including Ujjagar Singh Wadali, Sant Ajit Singh and Charanjit Singh Channi and MP Sukhdev Singh Libra, walked out of the meeting with the grouse that they were not extended the invitation by the district administration for attending the meeting.

Sources here said the meeting was scheduled just after the district planning board meeting. The district administration announced the names of the newly nominated members at the meeting and told others to go out. The said politicians took it as an offense that their names were not announced as members of the committee and walked out. The district officials tried to persuade them, but in vain.

When contacted on phone, Libra said, “They better mend their ways or I will write to the Chief Minister,” he said. The MLAs also had the same grudge.

The ADC (G) V. Pursarth said they could never think of offending the elected representatives. Their names were not announced as they were considered to be de facto members of the committee. The matter had been sorted out with the elected representatives and such a condition would not arise in future, he added.

District president of the Congress Ramesh Dutt Sharma, who is also a member of the grievances committee, however, expressed regret at the behaviour of the SAD MLAs and district administration. He said if the MLAs and MP had any grievance they should have aired it at the meeting rather than walking out. The district administration should also have observed the protocol, he added.

Meanwhile, at the meeting it was decided that each member of the grievance committee would be entitled to submit three complaints in a month. He would have to submit it in writing in the first week of a month. 


Amarinder absent at rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 12
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal almost surprised the Congress rank and file by staging a show of strength in the stronghold of Amarinder Singh, whose absence from the rally raised many a eyebrow in political circles.

It is probably for the first time that a senior Congress leader has spearheaded such a congregation of party rank and file here. Amarinder, however, was reportedly busy attending to his ailing mother Mohinder Kaur, who has been admitted to the PGI in Chandigarh.

Bhattal spared no efforts to put up a united face of the party. “No, there is no groupism in the party. I appreciate the welcome given to me by Congress leaders at different places. It shows that our party is united,” she said. She, however, did not say a single word about Amarinder’s absence.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur welcomed Bhattal at the local Circuit House and also addressed the Congress rally at Amar Ashram in her apparent bid to send an impression that the Congress was not a divided house. 


Release grant for holy city, Sidhu tells Kalia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu today demanded from local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia to immediately release a sanctioned grant of Rs 100 crore for the holy city.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has allowed the release of the grant with the rider that the money could be recovered as and when the Amritsar improvement trust sells some of its lands.

Sidhu and Kalia actually exchanged heated words this morning after attending a meeting here. Sidhu reportedly told Kalia to hurry up with the money as several development projects were being delayed.

Other SAD-BJP combine leaders were also present at the meeting where the incident occurred. However, both have denied the incident, saying nothing of this sort happened.



Mongia takes over as PSHRC chairperson
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Former Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court, Justice R.S. Mongia, today took over as the chairperson of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission. The post had been lying vacant since Justice N.C. Jain resigned as commission chairperson in early 2006.

Justice Mongia will hold the post for almost three years as his appointment has been made for a period of five years, or till the age of 70, whichever is earlier.

Even after his appointment, a member’s post is still lying vacant. The vacancy has been continuing ever since IAS officer N.K. Arora’s term as a member ended.

In all, the Commission has five members. Only a retired Chief Justice is appointed as the chairperson.

Justice Mongia did his law from Panjab University in 1963 and started practising in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Within a short period, he established himself as a leading constitutional law and service matter lawyer before being designated senior advocate in 1987.

He remained standing counsel for bodies like the Punjab Khadi and Village Industries Board, Chandigarh Housing Board and Guru Nanak Dev University before being elevated as a High Court Judge on June 15, 1990. He was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court on June 4, 2001, and retired after a year.

In January 2005, he was appointed president of the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and demitted the office on June 9 this year after the completion of his tenure.


‘I want to see trees dad sowed in Kapurthala’
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, November 12
The love for their family members and their places that got separated during Partition is still alive in the hearts of people of both sides of Punjab who long to see the places where their forefathers lived.

Prof Ghulam Rasul Azad, Principal Government College, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, is no different. His father lived in the princely district of Kapurthala. He is here on the invitation of the Sain Mian Meer International Foundation to participate in a Baba Farid Yaadgari Mela at Faridkot.

“Main to har pal yehi dua karta hoon ki ek bar Kapurthala ka visa mile taaki main apne baap de lagaye rukh dekh sakoon (I always pray for a visa for visiting Kapurthala so that I can see the trees sown by my father),” said Professor Azad.

His father, Afzal Rehman, was a peasant. He said today senior citizens felt their parents close to themselves when they visit these places.

Professor Azad said, “I am 60 years old and a senior citizen now. Why can’t the authorities concerned grant me a visa for visiting Kapurthala?” He said he tried a number of times and even requested the authorities in this regard, but failed to get the visa to fulfil his only desire.


The custodians of qawwali tradition

Malerkotla, November 12
The waning charisma of qawwali is being kept alive by a small Muslim-dominated town here. A princely state during the British rule, Malerkotla was founded in 1600 by Sufi saint Baba Haidar Sheikh.

Today, families in Malerkotla continue to serve the musical genre. Eight-year-old Mohammad Subhan is one of the many custodians of the qawwali tradition in Malerkotla.

“I will grow up as a qawwali singer as my ancestors have been brought up in the tradition of Sufi singing,” says Subhan. Javed Irshad Rehmat, grandson of the legendary Haji Rehmat Qawwal, recites the verses of Sufi saints Baba Bulle Shah, Sultan Bahu and Shah Hussain. He belongs to the Amanat Khani gharana (Amanat Khani school of music) from Malerkotla.

His singing might not be appreciated by the younger generation, but he is determined to keep the tradition alive, even though he might have to bring some changes in his qawwalis to suit the modern trend.

“Qawwali consists of Sufi renditions, which is not enjoyed by today’s age group. I doubt that qawwali will ever take that shape again. Young artistes are taking up qawwali singing with new musical instruments. Nowadays, the trend of modern qawwali has picked up and is getting popular. We are bringing some changes, which the new generation will definitely appreciate,” says Javed.

Qawwals of Malerkotla serve the needs of Sufi dargahs (shrines) by creating the atmosphere for a séance.

Although it is not easy to popularise the devotional Sufi music, its exponents are determined to flourish by adopting new means for singing qawwali. — ANI


Folk singers want revival of heritage fests
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 12
To give a boost to tourism and attract foreign tourists, the previous government led by Capt Amarinder Singh started a series of heritage festivals in the state in 2003.

These festivals were started in Kapurthala, Amritsar and Patiala, which showcased the rich cultural heritage of Punjab. But now, Punjabi folk singers feel that the Punjab government should organise such festivals in all cities of the state, especially Bathinda.

These heritage festivals were started one each in Malwa (in Patiala), Doaba (in Kapurthala) and one in Majha (in Amritsar). But Punjab, which is rich in its history and culture, can have more heritage festivals all across the state.

Bathinda, for the last three years, has been organising one of the biggest cultural festivals of Malwa region called the Malwa Heritage Festival. This festival is organised every year with the joint efforts of art lovers and its supported by the local administration in the month of November. This year, it will be held from November 16 to 18 at heritage village Jaipalgarh in Bathinda.

Talking to TNS, Pammi Bai, a Patiala-based Punjabi folk singer feels that the Punjab government should organise such heritage festivals all across the state. “Every single city of Punjab is rich in heritage and to restore it for the generations to come, heritage festivals should be organised in all cities of Punjab. Local talent in all forms should be promoted more in these festivals. The heritage festivals were started with a purpose to promote Punjabi heritage and culture, but now it seems that its just become a government affair and there is less public participation.’’

“Bathinda also has very rich history and it is the duty of state government to organise heritage festival here,’’ Bai said.

Amarinder Gill, Amritsar-based Punjabi pop singer agrees with Pammi Bai. “These festivals are of the people and for the people. But I have seen that less number of local people participate in these festivals. If we want to conserve our tradition and culture, we have to spread it in a big way and it can be done only if we involve more and more local people. More of local talent should be promoted during these festivals.’’


250 Haj pilgrims leave for Delhi
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla , November 12
As many as 250 Haj pilgrims left for Delhi from the railway station here today.

They will, probably, leave for Mecca on Wednesday from the Delhi airport. The pilgrims were seen off by chairman of the Punjab Haj Committee Chaudhry Abdul Gaffar and Malerkotla SDM Jaspal Singh.

Chaudhry Gaffar said just as every Muslim had to perform Haj once in a lifetime, it was also necessary anyone going to Mecca had enough money not only for the pilgrimage, but also for the family behind.

Therefore, a majority of the Muslims go on Haj only after they have fulfilled their family responsibilities. 


Stones of 2 projects laid
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Churian, November 12
Punjab water supply and sanitation minister Bikram Singh Majithia laid the foundation stones of two projects for providing potable water for residents of over half a dozen villages near here. The stones were laid at Dadu Youdh and Kotli Surat Mali villages.

With these projects, scores of residents of villages, including Dadu Youdh, Dhande, Dhilwan, Khera Sultan, Kotli Surat Mali and the surroundings, would get regular water supply.

The minister claimed that Rs 1 crore would be spent to make these projects functional by next year.

The water supply schemes, already under construction in 1,600 villages, would be upgraded and 100 new villages provided sewerage.

The government had a special component scheme of Rs 1330 crore for the uplift of downtrodden sections of the state, he claimed.

Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Nirmal Singh Kahlon, who was accompanying the minister, said the government would spend Rs 137 crore on various blocks, of which Rs 6.5 crore would be spent in Fathegarh Churian.

To provide a smooth road network in villages, Rs 200 crore would be spent on 753-km road in Punjab.

Earlier, the minister participated in a sangat darshan and took up 203 civil and criminal complaints. He distributed cheques (for Rs 15,000 each) among 50 beneficiaries under the Shagun Scheme. 


Mian Mir body opens US chapter
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 12
Harbhajan Singh Brar, international president of the Sain Mian Mir Foundation (SMMF), today opened the US chapter of the foundation to promote the teachings of the great Sufi saint who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple.

Renowned social worker and business tycoon of America, Jess Dhillon, who originally hails from Kairon, a border town in Tarn Taran district, has been nominated president of the US chapter. Dhillon has been authorised to nominate the other office-bearers.

Talking to The Tribune here, Dhillon said the aim of the SMMF would be to promote universal brotherhood, as preached by Sain Mian Mir and other Sufi saints. It would also publish literature on Sufism in different languages, including Urdu, Punjabi, English, French and Hindi.

Sain Mian Mir was a renowned Sufi saint of Lahore. Dhillon said young scholars the world over would be encouraged to do research on his life. The great Sufi saint had a religious bent of mind. As a child, he attentively listened to religious sermons. The US chapter of the SMMF would also construct a Sain Mian Mir Bhawan in California which would be used as a guest house for the visiting Sufis, saints, writers and journalists. The chapter would help complete another bhawan in Lahore, named after Sain Mian Mir.

He said the SMMF would organnise the first international conference on Sufism in California next year where the foundation would also launch its own website shortly.

The SMMF would enroll Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and members of other communities as its office-bearers so that representation is given to all communities of the world.

After schooling in Kairon, Jess Dhillon went to Mumbai for higher education. Dhillon spent his youthful days in Dubai and other countries. Now, he is an American citizen.


DGP for better info network
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Punjab DGP NPS Aulakh today asked his officers to strengthen the existing information gathering network in the field by ensuring close supervision of activities of former terrorists and their sympathisers, who have been acquitted or bailed out.

Presiding over a monthly crime review meeting held here today, the DGP directed the SSPs to sensitise the police force, especially the SHOs of the areas concerned against those elements, who were trying to reactivate themselves.

He also directed that DIGs, SSPs and other gazetted police officers should make surprise visits to the police stations, especially in late hours.

The DGP said in case proclaimed offenders had gone abroad, look-out circulars and red corner notices should be issued in time. 


Minister fitted with pace-maker
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 12
Punjab education minister Dr Upinderjeet Kaur was admitted to a private hospital here after severe decrease in heart rate on Sunday night.

Dr Vijay Mahajan, managing director, Tagore Heart Care and Research Centre, told The Tribune that a pace-maker had been implanted in her heart and her condition was stable.

She is likely to be discharged within the next three or four days, he added.


Website on Dasam Granth
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 12
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has launched a website, Dasam Quest, on the Dasam Granth to help people understand its importance.

Chairperson of the IHRO D.S. Gill in an e-mail to the Tribune here today said the site would help in dispelling the myths and questions that detractors had related to the granth. He said it would also help in neutralising the detractors of the book, especially the so-called missionaries at Faridabad .

He said the people could send their questions, which would be answered accordingly. The website could be visited at <http://www.patshahi10.org>. 


Tourism expert to prepare master plan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Robert Clevendon, a tourism expert of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, today called on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to apprise him about the strategic planning to prepare a blueprint to promote 'river and leisure tourism' in the state.

The Punjab Government has engaged the services of Clevendon to develop Ropar, Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Ranjit Sagar Dam (Shahpur Kandi) and Hari-Ke-Pattan as 'leisure tourism', thereby making optimum use of panoramic beauty on the adjoining banks of the Sutlej and the Beas.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting here to review various tourist projects in the state with Clevendon under the chairmanship of Badal. There is a vast scope of promoting religious, cultural and sport- related tourism in Punjab which has many attractive places and is located in the Shivalik foothills.


Sangrur naturopath gets award
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 12
A naturopath from Bhawanigarh (Sangrur), Dr Harpreet Bhandari, was honoured with the prestigious Mukunda Mishra Nature Cure Award - 2007 some days ago by the Institute of Nature Cure and Yogic Science, Balasore (Orissa), for his services in the field of naturopathy. He is the first Punjabi to have won this award.

Talking to this reporter here yesterday, Dr Bhandari said Mukunda Mishra was a great naturopath. He said naturopathy played a big role in removing and preventing several diseases, from simple cold to cancer. However, only HIV could not be cured with naturopathy nowadays, but research was being carried out on in this field by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, New Delhi, he added.


Havildar dies of cardiac arrest
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 12
Kuldeep Singh (46), a havildar at the Majat police post, died of cardiac arrest while on duty here today.

His colleagues brought him to the Kharar civil hospital after he failed to respond to their efforts to wake him up around 8 am.

He was declared brought dead at the hospital.

Doctors said Kuldeep could have died due to a cardiac arrest. His body was cremated at Ludhiana later in the day.

He is survived by wife, a son and a daughter. His father is a retired DSP.

A native of Amritsar, he had moved to Ludhiana, where he had been living with his family for some time.

He had been posted at the police post over a year ago and had been in service with the Punjab police for the past 22 years.


Preservation of heritage underlined
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 12
Head of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha International, Giani Baldev Singh said the “Amrit Chhako Singh Sajo” and the“Sikh Virsa Sambhal Lehar” movements had evoked an encouraging response across the state.

Addressing a gathering of people at a function organised at Bohru village, he said there was need to value and preserve the rich cultural heritage.


NICS pip Black Elephant
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 12
National Institute Cricket and Sports (NICS) defeated Black Elephant

(MES) Cricket Club, Patiala, by 14 runs in tri-series for the Punjab Today Foundation Club being played at military ground here today. After winning the toss, Black Elephant Cricket Club decided to bowl. National Institute Cricket and Sports scored 157 runs for 7 in allotted 40 overs.

Jasandeep Singh and Bunny Bansal of Black Elephant made 143 runs in 40 overs.

Brief score: National Institute Cricket and Sports, Patiala: 157 for 7 in 40 over (Sahil 41, Ekjot 27, Karan Pathak 13, Vikram 10)( Harmeek Singh 2/33, Amarkant 2/31, Gurtek Singh 1/31).

Black Elephant Cricket Club, Patiala: 143 for 6 in 40 overs. (Jasandeep Singh 43, Bunny Bansal 30 not out, Preet Singh 19, Vikram 2/18, Karan Pathak 1/38). Man of the Match - Sahil of National Institute Cricket and Sports, team Patiala.


It applies even to cases before its enactment: HC 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
In a significant judgement that will benefit accident victims, a three-judge Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that Section 173 (1) of the 1988 Motor Vehicles Act will also apply to cases where accident and award are prior to date on which the 1988 Act came to force, but appeal is filed under it.

The Section 173 makes the deposit of Rs 25,000 or 50 per cent of the awarded amount a prerequisite to the filing an appeal by the insurer or the owner of a vehicle involved in an accident.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Mahesh Grover has also held that the amended Act will not apply to cases where appeals have been preferred under the 1939 Act, but have not been decided when the new Act came into existence.

The judges also ruled that the requirements of Section 173 of the 1988 Act will have to be complied with in cases where claim petitions are preferred under the new 1988 Act, regardless of the date of the accident, which may be under the 1939 Act.

In their detailed judgement, the Bench ruled: “The Motor Vehicles Act is a beneficial piece of legislation intended to benefit the victims of road accidents. The purpose behind the introduction of Section 173 of the 1988 Act, making the deposit of Rs 25,000 or 50 per cent of the awarded amount a prerequisite to the filing of the appeal by the insurer or the owner, and disbursing the same to the claimants as an interim measure, shows that the intention is to afford immediate and instant relief to the aggrieved party to help it to tide over the immediate crisis.”

The Bench added: “Any interpretation of this provision of law, which derails the objective of the 1988 Act, can only be termed as self-defeating…. Every beneficial legislation has to be interpreted in a benevolent manner so as to achieve the intending legislation.”

The judges concluded: “Even if the liability of the insurance company and insured begins with the accident, the appeal and the right thereto fructifies and is determined under the new Act, much like an embryo that germinates and flowers subsequently even though the fusion of cells takes place at an earlier point of time.”

The matter was referred to the larger Bench by Justice Surya Kant for settling the controversy after an appeal was filed by the owner and driver of a “delinquent tempo” against whom an award was passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Sangrur.

At the outset, counsel for the respondents took a preliminary objection that the appeal was not maintainable as the appellants had not deposited Rs 25,000 or 50 per cent of the amount awarded in terms of first proviso to Section 173(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act (59 of 1988).

It is argued that though the accident took place on March 23, 1989, before the amended Act came into force with July 1, 1989, the claim petitions were instituted on different dates in September 1989 after the new Act had come into force.


Raninder not cooperating: Punjab

Chandigarh, November 12
Less than a month after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the issuance of a three-day prior notice to Raninder Singh, son of Punjab’s former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, if he was required to be arrested in any case, the state of Punjab today claimed he was not cooperating.

At the very onset of resumed hearing on Raninder Singh’s petition for the grant of anticipatory bail in any case to be registered by the Punjab Police, state counsel Chetan Mittal said he had indeed joined the investigations, but was not assisting in the probe being carried out by the Vigilance Bureau.

Appearing before a division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice S.K. Mittal and Justice K.C. Puri this afternoon, he stated that Raninder Singh was to be examined regarding certain documents. He added that an application seeking the modification of the court’s interim orders had also been filed, but the same had not been listed. Raninder Singh’s counsel, on the other hand, contended that the petitioner had appeared before the investigating agency on the specified dates. In an attempt to substantiate his contentions, an affidavit was also submitted.

After hearing both the sides, the Bench observed that the petitioner had appeared before the investigation officer on the specified dates, and fixed December 13 as the date for hearing arguments in the matter.

The Bench, on the previous date of hearing, had directed that the petitioner should appear before the Vigilance Bureau on October 22, October 29 and November 5 to join the investigations. The orders were issued after the state counsel, Rupinder Khosla, had contended that the conduct of the petitioner was not appropriate as far as complying with the directions of the court was concerned in the Ludhiana City Centre case, in which he had been given anticipatory bail. 


Doc gets 3-month jail
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 12
The implementation of the PNDT Act in the state got a shot in the arm today with the conviction of Parmod Gupta of Kotkapura in Faridkot district. Gupta had been awarded three months rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 1,000 for possessing an ultrasound machine without getting the centre registered.

S.P.S. Sohal, director, Family Welfare, Punjab, said today that this was the sixth conviction in the state for violation.

The other centres already convicted included Satyam Diagnostic Centre, Amritsar, V.K. Dharni of Ludhiana Clinic and Nursing Home, Khamano, Fatehgarh Sahib, Jagdish Singh Aulakh of Adampur, Jalandhar, Rita Garg of Rajindra Ultrasound Centre, Mansa, and Neelam Kohli of City Diagnostic Centre, Kharar.

Sohal said a total of 97 FIRs/court cases had been registered in the state for various violations of the Act till date.


Youth rapes 3-year-old niece
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 12
The district police arrested a 22-year-old youth for allegedly raping the three-year-old daughter of his elder brother in Ferozepore village today.

According to police sources, Surinder Chinda allegedly took the girl to the fields on the outskirts of the village and raped her. Some locals reached the spot on hearing the cries of the girl.

Girl’s parents were informed, who called the police.

A case has been registered. 


Punjabi varsity penalised Rs 5,000
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 12
The State Information Commission, Punjab, has imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 on Punjabi University, Patiala, under the Information Act 2005. The university has been asked to pay the money to the complainant.

The complainant, Daisy Walia, had sought information regarding list of experts recommended by the ACD of dance department for the posts of lecturer, reader and professor 2003 onward.

The university initially replied that the panel for the selection of teachers could not be named as it came under classified information.

Subsequently, the stand taken on behalf of the respondent regarding information against item No. (IX) had been that the ACD of department of dance had not recommended any list of experts for sessions 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2006-07.

The commission found a shift in the stand of the respondent over the availability of information against the item.

The commission observed that the facts and circumstances appearing in the case left no doubt that the university had failed on its part to provide requisite information.

The commission held that the subsequent stand of the university ran contrary to its initial stand taken on February 5, 2007.

No reasons were ever adduced by the respondent for subsequently taking up a stand, which was inconsistent with the initial stand.


Training programme for PSEB engineers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 12
The Punjab State Electricity Board has started a nine-week-long techno-managerial training programme for 111 assistant engineers recruited this year.

Engineer-in-chief Virinder Singh today said it was for the first time in the history of PSEB that such a programme had been initiated.

The training has been initiated in three batches of 37 assistants engineers (OT) simultaneously at Technical Training Institute, PSEB, Patiala, Engineering Staff College, Hyderabad, and Reliance Energy Management Institute, Mumbai, he added.

The new executives were being prepared to face the challenges posed by the Electricity Act-2003 to perform on ground and improve public services.

The training curriculum will comprise site visits and yoga classes, sources said.

Also, 260 assistant engineers, assistant executive engineers and accounts officers will undergo an interaction training at Hyderabad.

Recently, a team comprising engineer-in-chief (HRD), chief engineer (border zone), Amritsar, and superintending engineer (DS) circle, Patiala, visited Bhiwandi and Surat to study the practices adopted by Torrent Porter, Maharashtra, and Gujarat Discoms to turn around loss-making power organisations into profit-making entities and train 150 senior executive engineers of the PSEB distribution system.

Virinder Singh said the aim of the training was to reduce the present PSEB transfer and distribution losses of 24 per cent to under 15 per cent during next three to five years and improve the working of the PSEB with private sector, he added.


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