P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rajasansi airport set to expand runway
Vibhor Mohan

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
The Rajasansi International Airport is set to begin the NewYear on an happy note with long-awaited facility of night parking and expansion of runway coming through next week.

As part of the expansion project of the airport, the parking area will be increased from 14,500 sq ft to 41,000 sq ft providing for nine parking bases ensuring the airport figures among the top international airports in the country.

Arun Talwar, airport director, said Air India had also decided to provide “push back” facility at the airport, which would help proper parking of aircraft in the parking bases with proper utilisation of the area.

The private airlines operating from Amritsar will be charged for the facility. This will allow night parking of aircraft so that early morning flights are possible straight from Amritsar. Since aircraft cannot move backwards, a small vehicle is attached to it as part of “push back” facility, he added.

“Once the message on expansion of runway and creation of parking bases goes out, many more airlines are expected to express interest in offering starting international flights from Amritsar,” he said.

The total area of the terminal building will be increased to 31,000 sq m, which will be more than double of the existing area. This will provide adequate space for multiple arrivals and security holds. Besides, the airlines operating from the Amritsar airport will also get more space to run business. The existing terminal was made operational in February 2006.

With the expansion of the runway, the airport can now fulfill its dream of landing a jumbo jet, like the Boing-747. The runway is being extended by 369 m to total length of 3,658 m. The related accessories like the runway lights are also being shifted and modified as per the new parameters.

The Rajasansi airport is already offering international flights to Europe, the West Asia and America, including destinations like Birmingham, London, Bratislava, Kabul, Dubai, Sharjah, Ashgabat, Tashkent and Moscow. On the domestic circuit, the Amritsar airport is linked to Delhi. Airlines have expressed interest to begin more flights on international and domestic destinations and some of the agreements are expected to materialise soon. “In fact, 80 per cent of the flights from Amritsar are international,” said Talwar.


Curbing spread of AIDS
Govt to create awareness, facilities along roads

Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 30
Acknowledging the roads are conduits for the spread of AIDS, the Punjab government will make special efforts to create awareness and provide other allied facilities on all roads to be constructed under the Punjab State Road Sector Project.

The state has secured Rs 1100 crore loan from the World Bank for constructing 1100 km of roads under the scheme.

Sources in the Public Works Department said the project went beyond the conventional aim of construction and repair of road and redressed flaws that plagued drivers.

In the recent years, we have seen incidence of AIDS increasing very much among truck drivers and their helpers. It is cause for alarm and in this context the department has identified the conduits and AIDS awareness campaigns will be a regular feature along such arteries.

The services of qualified NGOs will be sought for this purpose so that counselling could be provided to the drivers. In addition to this, testing centres and access to other services provided by the state AIDS control society and the Department of Health would be made available to the drivers, the sources pointed out.

Besides the social obligations, the government has also made changes in the resettlement and rehabilitation policy (RRPF) with an entitlement matrix for different types of losses. The basic objective being that the affected person should not be worse off after the implementation of the project, the sources added.

Special care has also been taken for the creation of a dedicated road maintenance fund for the long- term maintenance of roads.

The sources said that for the first time in the country performance- based contracts would be given in which the payment to the contractors would be given on the performance of the road and not on the quantity, i.e. the kms constructed.

Training of the PWD staff and computerisation of department systems would make all this possible.

Public consultations have been carried out during the design phase and similar consultation will be planned during the execution phase. Public information kiosks will be placed at the site of the project for the perusal of the people of the area, the sources added.

Prominent roads falling under this project include Ludhiana - Malerkotla road (72 km), Kharar - Landran- Banur (40 km), Attari - Chabal - Tarn Taran (42 km), Kapurthala - Tarn Taran- (46 km), Ferozepur-Zira-Dharamkot (59 km), Chandigarh-Landran -Chunni-Sirhind-Patiala (65 km) and Phillaur-Aur-Rahon-Nagar (33 km).


Woman attempts immolation
Alleges police harassment
Gurbaxpuri /P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, December 30
Feeling humiliated allegedly by the police, a woman of Chohla Sahib under Sarhali police station in Tarn Taran district set herself ablaze yesterday. With over 80 per cent burns she was shifted to government-run Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here today from the Tarn Taran Civil Hospital. Her condition was stated to be critical.

Harjinder Kaur (35) had a dispute with her mother-in-law and relatives Hansa Singh and Partap Singh living in an adjoining house. She had visited Chohla Sahib police post in this regard which elicited little response from them, it is alleged. Disappointed, she approached Tejinderpal Singh, station house officer (SHO) of Sarhali police station who again marked her case to same chowki in charge and assistant sub-inspector Kulwant Singh promising he would now “handle” the case properly.

Enraged over this, Kulwant Singh and Hardeep Singh, head constable, allegedly rebuked her and took her two nephews, Ranjit Singh and Charan Singh, into custody, besides humiliating her.

Suffering humiliation at the hands of the police, she went home and set herself ablaze after pouring kerosene on her body. Family members alleged that even after the incident no police official came to record the statement of the victim.

P. K. Rai, district police chief, said the deputy superintendent police (DSP), Goindwal, had been entrusted the probe of allegations made by the family against the chowki in charge and the munshi. He added that as per her statement to a magistrate in the hospital, she did not mention harassment by the police.

Rai said Harjinder had a dispute with her mother-in-law who had allowed her grandsons (sons of her daughter) to live with them. Hansa Singh and Partap Singh, the grandsons, allegedly slapped her and one of them had been caught by the police, he added. A case had already registered in this regard a few days back. Again a quarrel happened between the two parties for which she again went to the police chowki for taking action.

Amarjit Singh Ansal, CPI leader, sought dismissal of accused policemen, besides suspension of the SHO, Sarhali, for not performing duty responsibly.


‘Oblivion of Persian language will leave void in Sikh history’
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
No efforts are being made to rescue the Persian language from its forced oblivion and there is need for the textual study and theological analysis of poetical works of Bhai Nand Lal, a Persian scholar.

Prof Balkar Singh expressed these views at the 28th International Conference of Persian teachers organised by Guru Nanak Dev University which ended here yesterday. He said Persian sources had been important for the researchers of Sikh history. He further added that Persian writings of Bhai Lal were absolutely in tune with the Sikh spirit, which provided the key to unlock the spiritual secrets and mystical flights of Sikhism through his poems.

Giving brief historical facts about Bhai Nand Lal, Balkar Singh said he was one of the 52 poets in the court of Guru Gobind Singh. Son of Diwan Chajju Ram, mir munshi or chief secretary of the Governor of Ghazni, Bhai Lal in a short time acquired great efficiency in Persian and Arabic languages.

After the death of his parents, he decided to return to Multan where he married a Sikh girl, who used to recite Gurbani and knew Gurmukhi. Leaving his family behind, he left for Anandpur Sahib and received Guru Gobind Singh’s blessings. After staying at there for some time, he left to serve as mir munshi under prince Mauzzam (later to become Emperor Bahadur Shah), due to an acquaintance of his father, named Wasif Khan.

Aurangzeb wished to convert him to Islam because he had so beautifully interpreted verses of the Koran. Fearing persecution, Bhai Lal and his family left for the northern India. Leaving his family in Multan, he once again came to stay with Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib in 1697. Later, he returned to Multan where he opened a school of higher education in Persian and Arabic.

Professor Singh said Bhai Lal’s seven works in Persian poetry included Diwan-e-Goya, Zindgi Nama, Ganj Nama, Joti Bigaas, Arzul Alfaaz, Tausif-o-Sana and Khatima, and Dastural-Insha, besides three in Punjabi. 


Looking Ahead — 2008
Fund-starved state has too many problems on hands
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
Significant improvement in VAT collections during the last quarter notwithstanding, the Punjab government will have to take some unpleasant and hard decisions not only to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development but also to put the economy back on the road to recovery.

The SAD-BJP government has been caught in a quagmire situation as it has to nurse to recovery not only its state Electricity Board, look after the fiscal health of virtually sick local bodies and fund-starved panchayats, generate funds to re-vitalise its education and health care departments, besides roping in big players for upgrading roads, bridges and flyovers.

An upward revision of change of land use (CLU) charges as well as collector rates for landed property had in the beginning of the year worked as a damper for investors in real estate. There was a big slump in real estate after its boom that continued for a couple of years during the previous Congress government.

Though the government had relented and reviewed some of its earlier decisions besides announcing some concessions, the real estate is yet to pick up the pace it had been maintaining in the previous years. One of the deterrents has been the collector rate for registration of land deals, which are still on the higher side keeping the middle rung investors away from the state.

Major issue facing the state is a decision on subsidies. A state, which produces electricity worth Rs 15,000 crore annually and loses 40 per cent (though official figure is 24 per cent) of its generation in transmission, a huge subsidy — say around Rs 2500 crore — sounds untenable. The state also buys power during peak farm seasons worth Rs 4,500 crore annually.

Interestingly, the Board raises bills for supply of power worth about Rs 10,000 crore annually and revenue generated from supply is about 90 per cent of the bills issued. Now the government is finding itself caught in a web on whether to continue with present power subsidies or take some unpalatable decisions, which, in any case, cannot be delayed for long.

Another area of concern has been the deteriorating fiscal health of local bodies. After the abolition of octroi, no sound measure has been announced to fund development projects and augment civic amenities in the towns. One alternative of levying a cess on VAT collections though proposed by the previous Congress government was never implemented. This year when the SAD-BJP government expects its VAT collection to touch Rs 6,000 crore, a 10 per cent levy would generate 600 crore, which would be more than enough than what the civic bodies generated through octroi. But now the government cannot delay its decision because of diminishing resources available with the local government bodies.

Since the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009 is the time when general elections could be called. No government worth its salt can afford to announce series of direct or indirect taxes in an election year. Though the SAD leadership may even consider levying new taxes, its alliance partner, BJP, jubilant at its successes in Gujarat and Himachal, and becoming hopeful of wresting power at the Centre, would not approve of any such hard measure.

Equally gigantic task is funding the agricultural diversification plans. Without outside funding or loans, the state has no monies available to it even to see implementation the plan the Chief Minister launched with fanfare in the kandi area some weeks ago. For citrus cultivation alone the state would need huge funding at the introductory as well as subsequent stages.

Bringing in outside players to undertake various infrastructure development projects on turnkey basis may be a suitable alternate choice. But then the state has to attract players who invest in mega projects.

A review of the dal-atta scheme also looks inevitable. Instead of continuing with policies of appeasing one section or the other, the state would do well if it focuses more on infrastructure development besides promising people reliable and sufficient civic amenities, good and quality supply of power and water and a transparent governance.


Punjab Arts Council
Constitutional amendment sparks a bitter row
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
Punjab Culture Department’s move to amend the 29-year-old constitution of Punjab Arts Council responsible for promotion of culture in the state has invited sharp criticism from heads of two of the three culture akademis working under the council.

At the heart of criticism is not the fact that constitution is being amended but that the five-member committee constituted for the purpose has no artiste on board. None of the presidents of three Punjab akademis - sangeet natak, lalit kala and sahitya -- is a member of the committee supposed to prepare a draft of the amendment, which is admittedly ‘redundant’.

Among committee members are Swaran Singh, principal secretary, cultural affairs, Punjab; N.S. Rattan, vice-president, Punjab Sahitya Akademi; Rajpal Singh, secretary-general, Punjab Arts Council; Seema Bhalla, secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi and SM Kant, vice-president Sanget Natak Akademi.

“Such a committee should have had artistes to discuss important issues. Otherwise it will be a futile exercise,” says Dolly Guleria, president, Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi. She along with Shiv Singh president Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi are planning to meet Punjab Chief Minister to complain against the culture department’s decision to shift the offices of their akademies out of Chandigarh to Punjab. They say the decision is against the council’s 1979 constitution which states that akademi offices must work from Chandigarh.

“The culture ministry wants to enhance the activities of arts council. So it decided to shift the office of lalit kala akademi to Amritsar and Sangeet Natak Akademi to Jalandhar. These will be housed in Virsa Vihar Kendras set up by Kartar Singh Duggal,” says Rajpal Singh, secretary-general, arts council. He adds that Guleria and Shiv Singh were present at the meeting where the five-member committee to draft the constitution was formed. “They should have objected then” he says, while Singh and Guleria claim they are being targeted, adding that the decision to shift their offices would prove counterproductive.

“You can at best have branch offices; how can you shift the main office. Moreover, why has the office of Sahitya akademi not been shifted? Why just us?” asks Shiv Singh, claiming the decision aims to sideline them.

Enquiries however reveal the decision to shift akademi offices applies equally to Sahitya Akademi. It was put on hold when the government found out that Virsa Vihar Kendra, Patiala where it was to house sahitya akademi had been given to north zone Cultural Centre.

Sources in the culture ministry say the akademis have not been working enough in Punjab.

But presidents of akademis also have a point. They haven’t received a single penny from the state government to hold their functions. On one occasion, Guleria had arranged interfaces with some artistes but had to cancel the functions as she had no money to host her guests.


Balwant Singh is state CPM secretary for 4th time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
Prof Balwant Singh was today elected unanimously secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPM for fourth successive term. The election was held in the presence of Parkash Karat,general secretary of the CPM.

Addressing the party delegates after the election, Karat said the CPM was a democratic party which had been holding delegate sessions regularly to elect party office- bearers on due dates. He said there was inner democracy in the party.

Karat said for economic and social development of Punjab, the CPM would launch a struggle on the basis of a charter of demands to be prepared by it. The CPM was for the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and also for giving more powers to the states. He said for maintaining peace and communal harmony in Punjab, the party would try to defeat communal forces.

Other issues to be taken up by the party, include to stop repression on Dalits and women and bring Left forces on common platform.He said the party was committed to opposing the pro-imperialist policies of the union government and make it to follow the independent foreign policy. The CPM was opposed to pressures by the US to make India a camp follower.

Prof Balwant Singh said he would make all efforts to live up to the expectations of the party delegates who had shown faith in him and had elected him for fourth successive term.

Addressing the delegations, a member of the Politburo of the CPM, S.R. Pillay said the party was protecting the secular constitutional structure of the country. Others who addressed the party conference included Prof Balwant Singh, Lehmbar Singh Taggar, Raghunath Singh, Vijay Mishra, Daljit Singh, Bant Singh Namol and Rashpal Singh.

Thirty- three have been elected members of the state committee of the party.


BJP’s win in Gujarat, HP
Danger to minorities: Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 30
President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann today termed the victory of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the recently held Assembly elections of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh (HP) a “danger to the minorities” in the country.

Mann, who was here today, further said the security and religion of the minorities in the BJP- ruled states were under threat and his party was apprehensive that now minorities like the Sikhs, Muslims and Christians would also face attacks on them in HP.

Mann also said on the directions of the BJP, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wanted to withdraw the atta-dal scheme and free power supply to tube wells. He said if Badal really wanted to withdraw the atta-dal scheme and free power supply to tube wells, he should first recommend elections in the state to get a fresh mandate from the people as he had won the elections by making the atta-dal scheme and free power supply to tube wells a part of his election manifesto.

Mann described Benazir Bhutto’s death as “unfortunate”. He said in place of big election conferences in big cities of Pakistan, election speeches by leaders should be made on radio and television. He also said America had weakened President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, due to which administration had also weakened there. He said America should also understand that in Muslim countries like Pakistan “controlled or guided democracy” alone could prevail.

Mann also held the Central and Punjab governments responsible for the smuggling of drugs and arms and ammunition by the mafia into India through the Pakistan border. He said when there was a strong barbed wire on the Indo-Pak border, how could the mafia operate without the connivance of the Central and state governments.


Land Acquisition by NHAI
Owners not paid collector’s rate, 300 suffer loss
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, December 30
Over 300 landowners of this town have suffered loss due to the widening and four-laning of the Jalandhar-Jammu highway by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Land acquisition authorities at Jalandhar and the district administration failed to co-ordinate to evaluate land, to be acquired by the NHAI, for four-laning of the highway.

The land acquisition officer (LAO) declared awards for the land after fixing rate and did not go by the collector’s rates fixed by the Gurdaspur deputy commissioner.

The LAO declared awards for the said land at nearly Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per marla while the collector rate (DC rate) fixed by the deputy commissioner was Rs 4,20,000 per marla for the commercial land along the highway. The deputy commissioner had submitted the rate list to the LAO on a report submitted by the area tehsildar. In his report the tehsildar had also made it clear that the land to be acquired by the NHAI was commercial.

As per records, the NHAI issued a notification for the acquisition of land in 2005 and asked collector rates for the said land from the Guraspur deputy commissioner on January 29, 2007. Following no reply from the DC, the LAO again sent a reminder to the DC on February 20, 2007.

Acting on this, the DC asked the Pathankot sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) to submit him a report after evaluating the land rates from the area. The area tehsildar finally submitted it to the DC who subsequently reported to the land acquisition authorities, Jalandhar.

The LAO declared awards for the said land on February 28, 2007, that is, almost two months before receiving the collector rates of the land from the DC of the area.

The alleged lack of coordination between the land acquisition authorities and the district administration forced the affected landowners to bear loss for none of their fault.

Inquiries from the areas revealed the stretch of the land acquired by the NHAI within the Pathankot civic body limits was totally commercial. The stretch contains shops, petrol pumps, cinema hall, work stations, colleges, industrial training institutions and certain other business establishments, besides chunks of agricultural land.

The NHAI has been making payments to certain affected parties by measuring (272 ft) one marla while one marla is equal to 225 ft as per revenue measurements, lamented owners of land holdings on the Dhaki road.

Rajeshwar Chaudhary, a landholder, claimed that the LAO had fixed rates without considering the DC rates. The affected persons are being paid minimal compensation for their land worth of crores .

The NHAI has made payments to the affected landowners in the Damtal area in Himachal Pradesh and Hoshiarpur district as per the rates fixed by the DCs of the respective areas, added Chaudhary.

Amrit Sagar Prabhakar, LAO, Jalandhar, said the awards were released by his predecessor. He said compensation was being paid to the affected landowners on DC rates provided by the area deputy commissioner. Prabhakar, however, said if any party had any objection regarding the assessment of their land, could petition the land acquisition commissioner.


PCCTU to oppose amendment Bill
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) has taken exception to the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Services Amendment) Bill, 2007, introduced and passed by the Assembly on December 24.

The union’s state executive committee will meet on December 31 in Moga to decide action to oppose the Bill.

H.S.Walia, executive committee member and former president of the union,yesterday termed the Bill as “ill-conceived, purposeless, anti-employee and self-contradictory”.

Walia said the Bill did not stand the test of legal and political acumen as it was against the judgment of the Supreme Court, which formed the very basis of introduction of the amended Bill.

“The Bill aims at amending the existing Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Services) Act, 1974, which was enacted following a long struggle by the PCCTU so that some sort of security cover is provided to the teachers of affiliated colleges and was later amended to include other employees, except work-charged employees,” he said.

The newly-introduced Bill has included a clause that employees not working against government aided posts will not be covered under the Act, thereby implying employees working against unaided posts will have no security of service cover and will be totally at the mercy of the managing committees.

“This is not only anti-employee, but also riddled with too many gaps. For instance, at the time of appointment no such distinction is made and conveyed to the employee. Besides, eligibility conditions are uniform for both categories. The amendment will add to the miseries of employees working against un-aided posts,” he said.

The self-contradictory nature of the Bill lies in the fact objects and reasons of the Bill do not conform to the contents of the Bill. While the objects and reasons make it amply clear that the aim of the Bill is to facilitate the establishment of tribunals for the redressal of grievances of employees of aided and un-aided institutions, the contents of the Bill excludes employees working against un-aided posts from the purview of the amended Act.

The existing Act provides that no employee will be suspended unless disciplinary proceedings against him are contemplated or pending or a case against a person in respect of any criminal offence is under investigation.


Tributes paid to martyr, war widows honoured
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 30
Fifth Balidan Diwas of Capt Navpal Singh Sidhu was observed at his memorial at his village 40 RB, 9 km from Padampur, on the Raisinghnagar road in the Sriganganagar region today.

War widows from different parts of Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh districts were also honoured on the occasion. Navpal had sacrificed his life while fighting terrorists in the Surankot area of Jammu and Kashmir. Wreaths were laid on the memorial by senior Army officers on behalf of BrigA.K.S. Chauhan, Brig Bhupinder Singh and others. Commanding officers Ravi Kumar and Rajinder Singh of Maratha Regiment were also there with good number of officers to salute the great martyr.

Rajasthan agriculture minister Surinderpal Singh, former MLA Radheshyam and district Congress president Prithvipal Singh Sandhu also paid floral tributes.

Navpal’s father Col Agyapal Singh Sidhu (retd) welcomed officials and others who joined the Balidan Diwas function. They also paid obeisance before Guru Granth Sahib during the akhand path.

Navpal’s teacher Ramesh Midha, school headmaster Gurmeet Singh Brar, Jaswant Singh, Satish Goyal, Major Singh Khalsa, Harjit Singh, V.P. Singh, Deepak Nayol, Chiranji Lal Kalra and former sarpanch Harwinder Singh also offered tributes.

The organising committee honoured widows of the Armymen who had sacrificed lives near the international border. Those honoured included Mandeep Kaur, Shakuntala Devi, Ratan Kaur, Krishna Devi, Balbir Kaur, Asoori Devi and Narinder Kaur. A langar was arranged after the function.


Policemen perform bhangra for fitness

Ludhiana, December 30
The image of a typical cop with layers of flab is a major cause of concern and raises questions about fitness in the force. For the Punjab police, it is quite a challenge to persuade these obese personnel to lose weight. But they have evolved a novel way to dispose of some of the adipose by shaking a leg to bhangra during their daily drill.

During a recent routine check-up, it was found that as many as half the police force in the state was afflicted by ailments, including obesity.

“There is no time for rest and their food intake is highly irregular. There is very little time to bite into a morsel or to spare time for the family. So when they work under such difficult situations and are stressed out, their mental and physical equilibrium is deeply disturbed. It is very essential that they are physically and mentally fit,” said Dr D.J. Singh, deputy director, Punjab Police Training Academy, Phillaur.

After honing their skills at wielding the stick and regulating traffic, the “well-endowed” Punjab police in Bathinda has now added peppy bhangra to their daily drill.

A session of the vigorous folk dance is part of the weight-loss programme designed by SSP Naunihal Singh, who was reportedly overwhelmed by the collective fat of his force.

The initiative is already beginning to show results with the 264-odd policemen having shed 2 kg each in two months.

“Our fitness levels have gone up. I have shed more than 2.5 kg. All personnel undergoing the weight-loss regime are totally relaxed. Earlier, they lived under tremendous stress and now they have de-stressed practicing the bhangra, physical exercise and yoga in the early morning,” said Mohan.

Ram, another personnel added, “Policemen will gain relief from several ailments and develop trim physiques. And these smart Punjab police personnel will be spotted even in a crowd,” Singh said.

While more than half of these police personnel were prescribed the bhangra drill, the rest were sent for yoga practice. They were further sub-divided into 12 teams, comprising 22 members each with a gazetted officer at the helm.

It has been announced that a competition to assess the weight loss will be held in February 2008 and rewards will be given to teams who report a substantial loss. Those who don’t will be penalised. — ANI


CTU to curtail bus service in Punjab
10 times hike in special road tax
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
As the Punjab government has hiked special road tax for the buses entering Punjab from other parts of the country the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking( CTU) has decided to cut its operations by 15,000 Km on all important routes in Punjab.

A few days ago, the state government hiked the special road tax to Rs 5 per km from 50 paise per km for buses entering from other states in Punjab. Sources said as the operation of the CTU would become unviable, it had decided to curtail its operations on Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda, Mansa routes. Sources said even CTU bus service from Chandigarh to nearby towns such as Kharar, Kurali, Mohali, Zirakpur would also be curtailed.

Already, Punjab government had conveyed this decision in writing, said sources. The CTU buses have been plying on important routes in Punjab. And there are reports the authorities concerned in Chandigarh may stop the entry of three wheelers from nearby towns in the city beautiful to protest against the increase in the special road tax ordered by the Punjab government.

Earlier, there had been a conflict between the CTU and Punjab government owned Punjab Roadways and PRTC over the operations in the territory of Chandigarh and Punjab. However, the issue was settled on the intervention of the senior officers of Punjab government and the Chandigarh administration. The issue may again flare up because of the special road tax.

The CTU has a large fleet of buses. It has been plying buses in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal etc.


Landowners for award according to new scheme
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 30
Hundreds of landowners, who have been protesting against the acquisition of their land for development of Sectors 76 to 80, have shot back at the Punjab government saying that the government itself had, at one point of time, asked them not to sell their land to private players.

The protesting landowners, who have not accepted the award announced by district administration, recently demanded that they, too, be compensated as per the new land-pooling scheme of the government.

Producing an advertisement that had appeared in newspapers in December, 1996, a few months after the land acquisition notice was issued, convener of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee D.P. Singh Baidwan said the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority had asked the farmers, who owned land in the villages of Mauli Baidwan, Sohana, Lakhnour and Raipur Khurd, not to sell their land as the government was considering to give them compensation on the basis of a “land pooling scheme”.

The farmers who did not sell their land to private players welcomed the land-pooling scheme, which was announced by PUDA that year. However, the announced scheme never saw the light of the day.

“We were taken for a ride by the Congress government led by Rajinder Kaur Bhattal then. Now, we want justice from the Akali government,” said Baidwan.

The 1996 land pooling scheme offered that for each one acre of the land transferred by the landowner to PUDA, he would be given back approximately 1,000 square yards of area in the form of a developed plot. The landowner would have the option of enchasing half the entitlement, which would be paid to him at the reserved price fixed for the area. Possession of the land would continue to be with the farmer till the land was actually required for development.

A new land pooling system for compensating farmers whose land is acquired by the government is under consideration of this government. Other than the Gujarat model suggested by a committee of officers, who had visited Gujarat, the government is also looking at the possibility of sharing 80 per cent of the increase in land’s value after it is acquired. For a typical housing colony, this would mean that the landowner would get a 500 square yard of developed residential plot, a 121 square yard of commercial plot and cash per acre on the land acquired.

Members of the committee had also met GMADA officials to put forth their demands. Sources, however, pointed out that the members of the committee were told that compensating the litigants relating to Sectors 76 to 80 according to a new scheme would not be possible.


WSF to launch Save Youth programme
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
The World Sikh Foundation (WSF) will launch the Save Youth, Save Future programme in four border districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran , Gurdaspur and Ferozpur by the end of January.

Jaswant Singh Mann, president, WSF and the All- India Shiromani Akali Dal, said yesterday a meeting of the apex committee of the party had decided to launch the programme from Amarkot village near Khemkaran sector of Tarn Taran district. He said the UNO, the World Bank, UNICEF, Unesco and other institutions across the world had to grant aid for the purpose.

The WSF, founded in 2002, was engaged in the service of society in the fields of education, health care, social and moral reforms and to re-establish ethical values of life.

Mann said to streamline and organise the programme various committees had been formed and Kashmir Singh Patti, chairman, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, would be the coordinator of the project and Satnam Singh Kanda convener of the Social Reform Committee. Dr Gurbachan Singh Kalsi will be coordinator of the Health-care Committee and Principal Hardip Singh Bajwa convener of the Religious and Moral Education Committee, whereas Gurcharanjit Singh, advocate, and Prof Manjit Singh will be members of the coordination committee.


Gastro Forum, IMA hold seminar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
Patients suffering from hepatitis C and B can be cured if it is detected at early stages. Any delay will cause severe damage to the liver resulting in the death of the patient.

These views were expressed at a one-day seminar “Gastro - Update 2007”, organised here today by the Gastro Forum in association with the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Dr Vinay Ahuja of AIIMS, New Delhi, apprised the participants about the latest techniques available in the country.

Dr S.K. Sarin of GB Pant Hospital, New Delhi, Dr Yogesh Chander and Professor Wig of the PGI, Chandigarh, and Dr Shobhna Bhatia from KEM, Mumbai, were among those who also presented their lectures at the conference.

Dr Harpreet Singh, president, Gastro-Forum, Amritsar, welcomed the guests.


Bid to nab gangsters continues
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 30
Teams from the Ludhiana police were camping in Sriganganagar, near here, for continuing raids to nab two persons. Both were reportedly members of the gang engaged by a Canada-based NRI to kill his father-in-law against a payment of Rs 1.20 lakh, sources confirmed today.

Sub-inspector Avtar Singh, SHO Pawanjit Singh and sub-inspector Devinder Singh from the police division number 7 yesterday carried out raids with the help of the local police in some villages to nab Suresh Kali, a junk dealer and resident of Chunavadh, and Mohit Sonu of 22 GG village, but in vain.

The sources said the Ludhiana police was last week informed by a local citizen that six persons around a Scorpio, parked at the Jamalpur chowk, were discussing a plan to commit a murder.


Contract workers stage protest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
The Field and Workshop Workers Union Punjab (FWWUP) will organise a rally here on January 2 to protest against the state government for failing to regularise the services of daily-wage workers in the state.

Stating this here today, Balwinder S. Chabbal, senior vice-president, FWWUP, said a decision to this effect was taken in a meeting held at the canal office here today, in which workers of the PWD B&R, Public Health, Irrigation and Sewerage Board had participated. Chabbal further announced that protest rallies would also be organised in Tarn Taran on January 4, Baba Bakala on January 9 and Majitha on January 21.


Inside Babudom
Deputation blues for IAS officers
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
In what gives an indication about things to come for bureaucracy in Punjab, the state government has virtually stalled the deputation of two senior IAS Punjab-cadre officers. While one of the officials was seen close to the previous Congress regime and is now “facing the music”, the other one is being held back as the ruling SAD--BJP combine feels his services are required here rather than in New Delhi.

The government of Punjab is holding back the permission to allow Mukul Joshi to go on Central deputation. Joshi, a 1975-batch officer, has been empanelled as secretary, government of India. The Centre has asked Punjab to give it concurrence in allowing Joshi to join in New Delhi but the same has been held back for the past five months with nothing having been recorded on the file, sources in the state government said.

The reason for holding back the deputation clearance, being cited in bureaucratic circles, is the perceived proximity of Joshi to the previous regime when he was the financial commissioner excise and taxation. At present, he handles the department of freedom fighters, which has almost no work and is seen as an inconsequential posting. He could have been easily relieved. Rather, Joshi has been on leave for the past couple of months.

In the case of the second officer, Dilsher Singh Kalha, finance secretary, the government of Punjab has not been able to find a replacement for him to handle his department. Kalha, a 1977-batch officer, has also been empanelled additional secretary, government of India.

To appoint an official as an additional secretary in the government of India, the concurrence of the state is required. A concurrence once sent is valid for six months and the official can be picked up by the government of India.

Professionally, for Joshi and Kalha it is very crucial to work in the government of India at this stage of their careers, explained a source. In case, they have to be picked up for selection as secretary to government of India, then a stint as additional secretary is mandatory or else they will not be empanelled as Secretary. Joshi retires in October, 2011, and this may be his last chance to be in the race of being a secretary, an important accomplishment for an IAS officer.

The same is true of Kalha who retires in October, 2013, and the time to work as additional secretary for him is now.

Like Joshi, IPS officer Rajinder Singh, who is believed to be close to the previous regime, has been trying for a central deputation for the past six month. He has been posted as IG (counter-intelligence), Pathankot, while his juniors call the shots in the police headquarters here.


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