P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


BSF to recruit women
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 14
The Border Security Force (BSF), from January 1, 2008, begin recruiting women as officers and constables BSF director-general A. K. Mitra, who was in the city to preside over the conference of the force, today said decks had been cleared after the government asked them to recruit women against existing male vacancies in the force.

“Due to lack of women staff, there are problems in frisking women in the border villagers and at present we had no option but to ask the sarpanches to help us on a day- to -day basis. But it was an ad hoc arrangement, he pointed out.

“We were interested to recruit women, but due to certain problems, including their safety in far- flung and remote border areas and suitable accommodation, the recruitment of the women could not take place,” he added.

On narcotic smuggling, the DG revealed the Punjab border was the most sensitive in this context and to prevent it they had gone in for force multipliers like the Battle Field Surveillance Radar (BFSR) having a 20 km to 25 km range and Long Range Reconnaissance Advance System (LRAAS). These gadgets cost Rs 2 crore each and had been installed on the sensitive stretches of the border, he revealed.

On the modernisation of the force, Mitra said they had been allotted 990 thermal imaging cameras, which gave clear image of any movement, by any living being in foggy weather as well as at night. As many as 350 cameras have been so far procured by them and a majority installed on Punjab to keep a check on drug trafficking from Afghanistan, he added.

Mitra revealed there were 4300 vacancies of constable, including 1900 of this year and 410 vacancies of assistant commandant (AC). Of these, the Union Public Service Commission had already selected 53 AC’s, he said. 


SAD(A) ‘fateh march’
Mann arrested, freed on bail 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 14
President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann along with party’s general secretary Jeet Singh Alloarkh and other leaders and workers was today arrested from the main bus stand here when he was about to start his party’s ‘Fateh march’ from there.

The call for peaceful march by the SAD (A) at all district headquarters for today was given to counter today’s Punjab bandh called by certain Hindu bodies in protest against the installation of portrait of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale by the SGPC in Central Sikh Museum.

Due to police bandobast the SAD (A) workers and leaders could not march through the town and the bandh call did not evoke any response as all bazaars remained open in the town.

Mann today reached the bus stand here on a scooter from Balian village, 7 km from Sangrur. He completed his 7 km journey by wearing a blanket around his body so that no policeman could recognise him.

Arrival of Mann at the bus stand came to the notice of the police when some workers of the SAD (A) started raising slogans in favour of Mann. Policemen, led by Sangrur DSP Pritpal Singh Thind, gathered around Mann and other SAD (A) leaders. Later, Mann along with Alloarkh and other leaders and workers of the party was arrested by the police under Section 188 of the IPC and 107/151 of the CrPC.

Mann along with 51 leaders and workers of the party was today produced under Section 188 of the IPC in the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) here who granted bail to them on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 2,000 each and fixed January 22 next date of hearing. While under Section 107 and 151 of the CrPC they were produced before the Sangrur SDM who discharged all of them.

DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said the police today arrested 76 leaders and workers of the SAD (A), of which 24 had been given bail by the police under Section 188 of the IPC while 52 had been produced by the police in the court and before the SDM here today.

Talking to the media at the bus stand, Mann termed the “Fateh march” of the SAD (A) was successful. He also criticised the Badal government for arresting the peaceful marchers of his party. He also said during SAD-BJP regime atrocities were being committed in on minorities, like Muslims, Sikhs and Christians in the state. 


Fiscal matters: Coordination panel meets, sans outcome 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
A meeting of the SAD-BJP coordination committee was held here this morning. Members of the committee refused to give any information regarding what was discussed at the meeting. However, BJP president Rajinder Bhandari said the meeting remained inconclusive. Many of those who attended the meeting said “ as session of the Punjab Assembly is around, we cannot make any disclosure with regard to the fiscal matters discussed at the meeting”.

Talking to a group of media persons, he said, only the Excise and Taxation Department put up its presentation with regard to tax revenue collection so far and the possible tax revenue scenario by the end of current fiscal year. Bhandari said the officers concerned had been told to provide more detailed information to enable the political leadership to decide on resource mobilisation. He said more inputs were required to reach conclusion on various fiscal issues confronting the state.

However, sources said the officers concerned had been asked to put up concrete proposals with regard to resource mobilisation and withdrawal of freebies should be put up for discussion at the meeting of the Punjab Cabinet on Sunday. The Cabinet meeting has been called to approve the bills and other issues to be taken up during the session of Punjab Assembly beginning on December 17.

The Taxation Department has been asked to pull its socks up to check the tax evasion. It has already asked its officials posted in the field to conduct inspections at places suspected to be major sources of revenue leakage.

Sources said lack of political will was making the political leadership of the state dither on taking any worthwhile decision. “Almost entire political leadership, except one or two leaders, of the SAD and the BJP is convinced that hard decisions will have to be taken to achieve high growth rate on the development front in the state but required courage is not being shown to clinch the issue”, said a policy maker.  


Farmers to shell out more for tubewell connections
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
Farmers waiting for tube well connections in Punjab will have to shell out more as they will have to arrange for transformers, cables and even electricity poles, thanks to the new Own Your Tube well (OYT) Scheme launched by the Punjab State Electricty Board (PSEB) to give “relief” to the farmers.

As many as three lakh farmers had applied for tube well connections as per the OYT scheme launched in July. But their dream could turn into a nightmare as in place of about Rs 25,000-30,000 per connection, they would be forced to spend more than Rs 1 lakh if they wanted to get a connection.

“The PSEB has reformulated the existing policy and decided that the prospective consumers can arrange material and carry out the works on their own as per the policy of the board. The registration fee of Rs 25,000 deposited by the applicants shall be refunded by the board,” said PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra.

But practically the farmers will be made to shell out more or at least Rs 1 lakh per connection if they wanted to get a new power connection. Sources in the PSEB pointed out that under the new scheme each of the farmer would be required to procure one transformer per connection, apart from arranging for other costly materials like cables and electricity poles.

The work, according to the PSEB authorities, should be approved by chief electrical inspector and carried out by the contractors also approved by him. “Since a transformer can cost around Rs 20,000, he shall be spending around Rs 1 lakh for one connection. This way the relief that the existing security amount of Rs 25,000 will be refunded turns out to be a mere eye-wash. If this is not enough, farmers will be required to purchase transformers from certain selected or approved suppliers. The material will be inspected by the board,” said a PSEB official.  


Nepotism taking roots in SAD, says Maheshinder
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, December 14
Agreeing that nepotism has taken its roots in the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's political rival Maheshinder Badal yesterday said the Chief Minister had sidelined the senior Akali leadership to bring forth his son Sukhbir Badal as the next prospective Chief Minister of Punjab.

"Leaders like Sukhev Singh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Capt Kanwaljit Singh and even the much deserving Manpreet Badal could easily step into the Chief Minister's shoes if Badal desires so," Maheshinder said here.

Maheshinder, who gave a scare to Badal as a Congress candidate in the last Assembly poll, said he doubted whether it was the CM or his son who was now running the show in the state.  


Govt body to decide on land acquisition cases
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 14
Punjab farmers will get 80 per cent share in the value enhancement of their land following acquisition by government agencies. This share would be given to the land owners in the form of developed residential, commercial or industrial plots with cash compensation too.

To work out modalities of this ‘kind and cash for land’ compensation scheme for individual government projects that entails acquisition of land, the Punjab government is likely to set up single land acquisition authority to consider every land acquisition case separately.

This and other options available to the government for finalising the land pooling scheme were considered at a meeting chaired by chief Secretary Punjab Ramesh Inder Singh yesterday.

“The Punjab cabinet will take the final decision on the proposed land pooling scheme and other options for acquisition of land. The options with the government regarding the implementation of the scheme would be sent to the Cabinet by financial commissioner revenue Romila Dubey,” said Ramesh Inder Singh.

The Gujarat model was mooted by a team of officers who had visited the state. Their report had pointed out in Gujarat land for public purpose was not acquired under the Land Acquisition Act but undertaken by appropriate authorities at the local level.

Other than the Gujarat model, the Cabinet will now consider the ‘kind and cash for land’ formula suggested by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority under which the landowner would get 80 per cent of the value enhancement accruing from the development of the acquired land. The rest would go to the agency acquiring the land.

On hypothetical basis, the GMADA worked out that out of one acre, 1900 square yards of land is developed for residential purpose, 242 square yards is commercially developed and 242 square yards is utlised for institutions. On an average Rs 1.35 crore needs to be spent per acre for development. The net estimated receipts after development would be Rs 2.8 crore. This implied the value enhancement after development is Rs 1.45 crore per acre. This would be shared between the owner and the agency in 80:20 ratio to compensate the landowner.

It was proposed the landowner would be given a 500 square yard developed residential plot, 121 square yards of commercial plot and some cash compensation per acre of land.

The farmers have however agreed to the acquisition of land for essential services like roads, airports, bus stands, defence etc. under the existing land acquisition process.


Badal gives Rs 100-cr cheque to Sidhu 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Announcing formation of committees in every district to listen to complaints of SAD workers, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said he would ensure “respect” and “proper attention” for every worker. He was addressing party workers at the inauguration of the SAD office in Chandigarh today.

Badal presented a cheque of Rs100 crore to Navjot Singh Sidhu for overall development of Amritsar. Many leaders including Surmukh Singh Chabbal, Master Tara Singh, Gopal Singh Kaumi, Tara Singh Thethar, Surjit Singh Barnala, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Sant Harchand Singh Longwal, Jathedar Achhar Singh, Sant Baba Fateh Singh, Jathedar Pritam Singh Gojra, Teja Singh Akkarpur and Udham Singh Nagoke were honoured Namita the architect of the building and her son Vishal along with Harinder Singh Khalsa were also honoured for the completion of this project. 


Pak issues land acquisition notices for varsity 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14
The government of Pakistan has issued land acquisition notices to lease holders for acquiring 2,500 acres for setting up an international university after the name of Guru Nanak at Nankana Sahib.

The land was allotted in the name of Guru Nanak by Rai Bular Bhatti, a contemporary of the first Sikh master and a devout Muslim, who had become his disciple.

Today, Nankana Sahib Estate consists of about 16,962 acres, mainly leased to farmers and residents of Nankana Sahib. Almost all houses there are built on the property donated by the Bhatti family.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh had also allotted 2,000 acres in the name of Guru Nanak at his birth place.

The ancient revenue records that the entire land of Nankana Sahib given to Guru Nanak by Bhatti measures 757 murabas (approx 18,750 acres) and is now controlled by the Evacuee Trust Property Board of Pakistan (ETPB) and is leased out to the residents of Nankana Sahib.

According to Manmohan Singh, leader of the Sikh-Muslim Federation, the ETPB had directed the farmers to vacate their land shortly so that construction work of the proposed university could be started.

Manmohan Singh said that Lt Gen (retd) Zulfikar Ali Khan, chairman of ETPB, was keen to fulfill the demand of the Sikhs by setting up Guru Nanak International University. Apart from other academic works, the proposed university would have a comparative study centre on Sikhism, other religions and various languages of both sides of Punjab.

The Pakistan authorities have already got possession of 300 acres at Nankana Sahib for setting up the university while the rest of land would be acquired in due course of time. 


Sena-called bandh fails,16 SAD(A), Sena activists held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14
The bandh, call for which was given, by the Shiv Sena Hindustan (SSH) fizzled out as shops and business establishments remained open here today and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the district.

The police had taken preventive steps due to bandh call of the Shiv Sena Hindustan and ‘Fateh’ march by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar). The police also laid special nakas at Chowk Mehta in the city ,considered to be a stronghold of the Damdami Taksal.

District police chief Kunwar Vijay Pratap singh said the police had arrested 16 activists of the SSH and the SAD (A) as a preventive measure.

The administration had also imposed ban orders under Section 144 Cr. P.C. at strategic points of the city, including office of the Municipal Corporation and the deputy commissioner’s office and the police in riot gear was kept ready for any untoward incident in the city. 


Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 14
SGPC president Avtar Singh has announced the appointment of Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, principal, Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, as director education for SGPC-run colleges and other educational institutions in Amritsar.

The headquarter of the director will be in Mohali. He will be responsible for coordination with the universities of Punjab and the Punjab School Education Board.

Avtar Singh said the director would also be responsible for administration and management of these institutions and establishment of new schools and colleges in and outside Punjab to provide excellence in education and inculcate values of Sikhism among students. 


Nayagaon: HC asks Punjab ADGP to probe assets of cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Refusing to “shut its eyes” to the allegations and counter-allegations levelled by two senior IPS officers Sanjiv Gupta and Sumedh Singh Saini in the Nayagaon land grab case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Punjab’s additional director-general of police (ADGP), law and order, to submit a report on assets acquired by police and non-police officers in and around Chandigarh.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Justice Ranjit Singh of the high court asked the ADGP to lay emphasis on Nayagaon, Zirakpur, Mohali, Kansal and the Koraran area. The judge added: “It would also need investigation to see as to what is the source of acquisition”.

The directions were issued after Gupta sought the court’s permission to withdraw the application he had moved for becoming a party in the matter. Gupta expressed strong apprehension about attempt by Saini to involve him in one case or the other with an aim to steal a march over him in the advancement of his service career. Both the officers are batch-mates. Appearing on Gupta’s behalf, advocate Navkiran Singh said the request to withdraw the application was being moved as the matter was being looked into by an ADGP.

Media told to exercise restraint

Accepting an unconditional apology tendered by the executive member of the Banur Truck Union, Amrik Singh, in a contempt of court case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the media to exercise caution, particularly while reporting sub judice matters.

Amrik Singh was sent to judicial custody by the high court on Thursday for allegedly using derogatory remarks against the court. As the case came up for resumed hearing before the Bench comprising Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Rajive Bhalla, counsel for Amrik Singh placed on record an affidavit containing unqualified apology for all omissions and commissions. The union also stated in the affidavit that they would never interfere in the transportation of goods of the petitioner company. In case of dispute, the matter would be settled amicably.

Taking up the affidavit, the Bench discharged the notice to Amrik Singh. Before parting with the case, the judges added that they expected members of the media to exercise utmost caution while publishing statements in the newspapers. Action was initiated against Amrik Singh after a counsel apprised the court about the recorded conversation on mobile phone reportedly between him and media persons.

Punjab seeks change in order

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab has sought directions for recalling, amending or modifying the orders passed in the Moga sex scam.

A division Bench comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Harbans Lal, reserved orders in the matter. 


CAT stays chargesheet against Sandhu
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has stayed the chargesheet issued by the Government of India against B.S. Sandhu, who was on deputation as income tax adviser, Punjab, in 1992. Sandhu is in a fix as the Punjab government is not relieving him from his post here while the Centre is not extending his deputation.

Sandhu was selected for the Indian Revenue Service in 1981. Punjab government created the post of deputy commissioner, Income Tax on May 21, 1982 to which Sandhu was appointed on June 8, 1992. He was relieved from the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance and joined the said post in Punjab.

Initially, Sandhu was appointed to the said post till February 28, 1993. Later, his deputation was extended every year from 1993 to 2001. Meanwhile, Sandhu was promoted to the rank of commissioner, Income Tax, in 2001. Several letters were exchanged between the officials of the Centre and the state government, wherein the state kept asking for extension of Sandhu’s deputation while the Centre laid stress on him being relieved from the post.

While the Punjab finance minister explained to the Centre the urgency to retain the applicant on deputation, the Government of India served a chargesheet to the applicant on March 1, 2006.

On May 8, 2006, the state wrote a letter to the union finance minister, requesting the Centre to withhold the chargesheet against Sandhu.

In the meantime, the Punjab government made an offer to the applicant to permanently absorb him in service if he was willing. Sandhu submitted the representation to the chief secretary, requesting the state to drop the chargesheet against him.  


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