P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Promises galore by Sukhbir Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 13
Sukhbir Singh Badal, working president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), today listened to the problems being faced by residents of the town and made a commitment not only to remove these within a time frame but also announced that the Punjab government had sent a proposal to the human resource development ministry for setting up a central university here. 

Sukhbir Badal, who came here from Muktsar after participating in the Maghi Mela celebrations, convened a meeting of a cross section of the local residents to acquaint him of the problems.

He told the TNS the SAD-BJP coalition government proposed to beautify all towns of Punjab, but emphasis was being laid on Bathinda which had become the focus of big industry. He said a number of beautification schemes for the town were in the pipeline and by end of the year the people would feel the impact, as the town would be developed into a model city.

He said a central inspection team would visit here within a fortnight to examine the setting up of a domestic terminal that would enable regular flights of civil aircrafts to Delhi and other places. An academy to train pilots would be established near Talwandi Sabo near here.

Sukhbir Badal laid emphasis on cleanliness of the town and asked K.K.Yadav, municipal commissioner, to take steps for outsourcing the cleanliness work. About 50,000 trees would be planted within the town to make the city clean and green. The entry points to the town would be beautified.

Responding to the problem of chimneys of the thermal power station causing pollution by emitting fly ash, he said that steps would be taken to rectify the hazard.

He said that work on the setting up a modern hospital here either by Ranbaxy or the MAX group would begin within the next five months. Responding to the demand of the participants, he said that a de-addiction centre would be established in view of the growing tendency of addiction in the Malwa region. Residents of the areas across the rail line brought to notice of Sukhbir Singh the peculiar problems, including absence of sewerage, proper drinking water supply and lack of LPG agency, faced by them.


Vacant PCS posts to be filled through promotions
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 13
With the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) declining its offer to recruit PCS officers, the Punjab government is now planning to fill vacant posts in the cadre through promotion. Chief secretary, Punjab, Ramesh Inder Singh said today at Anandpur Sahib that the government would soon promote officers from BDO and tehsildar cadre to fill the posts of PCS officer. 

The government has been reluctant in carrying out recruitment of PCS officers through Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) as it is headed by S.K. Sinha, a close confidant of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Owing to this in the recent past the government had written to the UPSC to carry out recruitment of PCS officers on its behalf. However, the UPSC declined the offer, citing their busy schedule.

After failing to recruit officers directly the government is now contemplating filling the posts through promotions from allied services. The Punjab government has failed to carry out direct recruitment of PCS officers since the Ravi Sidhu recruitment scam. Due to failure of government to recruit PCS officers directly for the past many years a large number of candidates have lost the opportunity to try their luck at getting recruited into the state’s premium service. They have been demanding that the tests for PCS recruitment should be held batch-wise so that over-age candidates could also get a chance.

The chief secretary while responding to a query said the recruitment in government departments except that of police would be carried on a three-year contract basis. The state was not in a position to provide government jobs to every one in the present scenario, he added.

He was at Anandpur Sahib to review the progress of various development projects here. He also paid obeisance at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib and was presented a siropa by priests there. He was accompanied by deputy commissioner, Ropar, A.K. Sinha, ADC (general) B. Pursartha and SDM, Anandpur Sahib.


Unfair Immigration Laws
Punjab-origin MP takes up case in Canada
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Gurbux Singh Malhi, a Canadian MP of Punjabi origin, has moved a motion in the House of Commons in Canada seeking an amendment to immigration laws in that country to prevent fraud in marriages. Malhi said several cases have been reported in which young men and women from India got married to youth in Canada with the sole purpose of getting immigration.

Once these persons reach Canada they walk out of the marriage. In some cases a few Indian girls reached Canada but never went to their husbands home.

People have been talking about such cases in the Canadian society and this is eroding trust in the institution of marriage. People in Canada have been cheated, homes have been shattered due to a lacunae in the existing laws.

Malhi, who is a five-time MP from the constituency of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, is in India these days. He spoke about the proposed motion to The Tribune. He said the motion, if accepted, will bring in change in the immigration law in Canada. Under the existing law a person living in Canada can sponsor his or her Indian spouse.

But in case a fraud is committed then the person with Canadian citizenship is barred from a making out fresh sponsorship for a period of three years. This prevents the Canadian from re-marrying. However, the Indian man or woman, who actually comes to Canada on a sponsorship and commits a fraud, can sponsor a second spouse from India any time.

Under the motion proposed by Malhi, the Indian youth going on marriage sponsorship should not be allowed to sponsor someone else for a period of five years on arriving in Canada. It may be debated in the next three-four months from now, he said. If passed, the new law will prove a deterrent to people who want to reach Canada by hook or by crook.

Malhi said in case fraud is proved, the laws in Canada provide for deportation. He also said he had taken up with the Canadian government the issue of high refusal rate for visitors visa.

Genuine cases are being rejected. Visa has been refused even to people who wanted to visit Canada to attend the marriages of their children.


Residents celebrate ‘Dhian di Lohri’
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 13
Residents celebrated Lohri in a big way in the town. Main function took place in college ground. Punjab Police ADG Shashikant was the chief guest of the "Dhian Di Lohri-2008" organised on the initiative of Paramjit Singh Sahouli, national president, Youth Akali Dal 1920 and Lok Gayak Kala Manch president Amar Singh Amar and Punjab Rural Sports Council chairman Paramjit Singh Khatra.

Artistes, enthralled the audience with their melodies. Songs describing the relations of daughters with their parents, femicide and other related topics remained the preference of the singers in the musical extravaganza.

Lyricist Dev Tharikewala, SP (Headquarters) Harinderjit Singh Sidhu were also present on this occasion.

Addressing the audience, ADGP Shashikant admitted there was flaw in the law in dealing with persons facilitating femicide but appealed to people to wake up and to start a crusade against this evil.

He said society could easily visualize the consequences of widening gap between the male and female population.


PSEB privatisation not soon: Kanwaljit 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 13
Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh has ruled out the possibility of privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board in near future.

Inaugurating a library in memory of his father late Dara Singh , advocate, in the District Court complex here today, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the government had planned thermal plants for generating power to meet the growing need in the state.

He said the plans for the thermal plants had been approved by the Centre and its different ministries and it was the duty of the Centre to ensure adequate coal supply for these although payment was to be borne by the PSEB.

He admitted that the PSEB was facing a resource crunch.

Earlier, addressing a gathering of lawyers in the central library the minister said the judiciary had an important role to play in upholding human values and ensuring justice for all in the society.

He said that judiciary was a pillar of Indian democracy and the Punjab government would fulfil its responsibilities towards the judiciary.

He announced a grant of Rs 6 lakh for the Bar association.


BJP working committee to meet tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The BJP will hold a two-day working committee meeting here from Tuesday, a senior party functionary said here today.

Besides working committee members, district presidents and general secretaries, MLAs, MPs, ministers and former ministers have also been invited for the meeting.

“The meeting will be chaired by BJP president Rajinder Bhandari, while BJP’s Punjab in charge will also attend the meeting”.

The main agenda of the BJP working committee will be to discuss the working relation of the party with (SAD). The meeting will also discuss and prepare a strategy for the forthcoming elections to municipal committees and the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

The issue of the appointment of chairmen of boards and corporations will also come up during the meeting and the party is likely to finalise on names to be put forth to the SAD for appointment after the committee of Captain Kanwaljit Singh and Manoranjan Kalia decides the issue of appointments.


Sikh’s Deportation
Canadian minister hits out at supporters

Toronto, January 13
Canadian public safety minister Stockwell Day has criticised the Indo-Canadian supporters for resisting deportation of a failed refugee claimant Laibar Singh.

Twice they have stopped police attempts to deport him. He had entered Canada on a false passport five years ago and was currently sheltering in a Surrey gurdwara after exhausting all legal avenues.

Stung by their non-cooperation, the minister said though Laibar might be in a mall or a gurdwara; he was not entitled to stay in Canada any more and would be deported.

Hitting out at the gurdwara management for sheltering him, Stockwell said: “There are a few and there are rare circumstances across the country where places of worship are used as sanctuary. There is no law that actually provides for that. When people are defying a removal order they are in defiance of the rule of law.” He urged the Indo-Canadians to cooperate. — IANS


Community Lohri for girls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
While most people are celebrating Lohri to welcome their newly born sons, a substantial number of people are celebrating Lohri for their daughters.

But one of the most welcome steps this festive season is that people of Fazilka are jointly celebrating tonight what they call “A Lohri to fight the darkness”.

Organised by Rakesh Nagpal, editor of a local newspaper “Sarhad Kesri”, the function that started earlier tonight and will go on till late in Fazilka is celebrating the birth of all girls born last year.

“It is a community Lohri and more than 100 families have registered, while the actual presence is much more”, according to Navdeep Asija, a Fazilka resident and a scientist at the IIT, Delhi.

The families of the new-born baby girls and their families are celebrating the festival with achievers and personalities of Fazilka in what has been termed as “Kanya Samman community Lohri”.

As per 2001 census, urban Fazilka has sex ratio 909:1000, which is much better than most parts of Punjab. 


State to act tough with non-users of Punjabi in offices
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 13
The state government is seriously considering making amendments in the Punjab State Language Act to ensure the use of Punjabi language in the government offices at all levels. It will also initiate harsh steps against non-users of Punjabi language in office work.

In reply to a question here yesterday ,MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said while making amendments, a clause to punish those officials who would not use Punjabi language in official work, might be added in the Act.

Dhindsa was talking to mediapersons after attending a state-level Punjabi literary and cultural quiz contest as the chief guest.

The contest was organised by the Language Department, Punjab, at the Government Raj Senior Secondary School for Boys here today. A Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar Om Parkash Gaso presided over the function. Director, Language Department, Punjab, Avtar Singh Hadd welcomed the guests.

Dhindsa said the Badal government was committed to ensure the implementation of use of Punjabi language in the government offices at all levels, but bureaucracy was a hurdle in the use of Punjabi language in a proper manner in offices.

Earlier, addressing the gathering he said he had talked to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to ensure the use of Punjabi language in offices by taking harsh steps. 


NABARD aid to check waterlogging in Malwa
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Hundreds of villages in Punjab’s Malwa region, which have lost productivity to waterlogging turning fields barren, may become fit for cultivation following the intervention by NABARD and other agencies.

However, the scheme will initially benefit the villages in and around the Chief Minister’s home district, also the worst affected by waterlogging.

According to sources, the scheme has been approved following the Chief Minister’s intervention. NABARD has agreed to fund the project to tackle waterlogging in 330 villages in and around Muktsar, Malout and Gidderbaha. The main cause of waterlogging in the area is said to be water seepage from the canals passing from the area.

These villages have been identified as the most affected after a survey the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) in the Ministry of Water Resources. Though the CGWB has also identified four districts of Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot and Ferozepur having problem of salinity, and Ludhiana, Faridkot, Bathinda, Sangrur, Jalandhar and Amritsar having excessive fluoride, the board with financial help of NABARD has decided to deal with waterlogging.

According to sources in the Punjab Irrigation Department, the project of dealing with waterlogging will be implemented by the Irrigation Department. A sum of Rs 299 crore to be spent has been cleared by NABARD. A meeting in this connection was held at Muktsar on Friday. It was presided over by secretary, Irrigation, Suresh Kumar and also attended by S.K. Goel, chief engineer (Canals) and officers of the CGWB, who have worked out various modalities.

At the meeting it was disclosed that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wanted the work on the project to start soon.. It is expected the work will begin before the end of the current financial year and be completed in three years.

The Punjab government has also decided to appoint a superintending engineer in the Drainage Department to oversee the work. He will be headquartered at Muktsar. A project to reduce waterlogging started by Badal during his previous tenure was stopped by the Congress government after it came to power. In fact, after allegations of financial irregularities in the earlier project, the Congress government handed over the probe into the allegations to the Punjab Vigilance Department, where it is pending. Officials say waterlogging is caused by lack of repair in the Indira Gandhi canal and the Bikaner canal passing through the area. 


After violence, Lohri celebrations in jail
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 13
A week after violence in central jail here inmates celebrated the Lohri festival in an open ground in front of the gurdwara and the temple this afternoon.

Actually in an effort to regain lost reputation due to Monday violence, the jail authorities had made arrangements for Lohri celebration in the jail.

On this occasion, newly appointed jail superintendent Gursharan Singh Sidhu distributed packets of peanuts (mungphalis) and `reoris’ among the prisoners of the barracks located around the gurdwara and the temple.

Convict in a murder case Rajinder Singh said the situation had returned to almost normalcy in the jail after the Monday’s violence.

Sidhu said usual Art of Living camps would also be restarted within a day or two to de-stress the prisoners. 


Seminar on Indian diaspora
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development here is organising a two-day academic conference on “Indian Diaspora : Migration and Development with Focus on the state of Punjab”.

The conference is scheduled to be inaugurated by Governor of Punjab Gen S.F. Rodrigues tomorrow.

A large number of experts from various fields like economics, sociology, politics, media, culture, art and literature from India and abroad are expected to participate. 


Rs 1 cr ransom paid to get youth freed
Police wanted victim to lodge FIR of snatching
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 13
Police officials reportedly forbade family members of a kidnapped youth to lodge FIR of abduction and persuaded them to get a case of snatching of valuables registered.

Neither the victim nor any member of his family said anything on record fearing any police `action’, however some persons closed to kidnapped youth Gagan Micky narrated the entire incident.

Gagan,son of a coloniser, was kidnapped from Jandiala village by five masked persons on Wednesday morning.

The kidnappers called family members to demand ransom of Rs 5 crore but they did not inform the police about kidnapping at that time fearing threat to their son. Later the deal struck for Rs 1 crore.

On directions of the kidnappers,Gagan’s family members boarded a Delhi- bound train and threw a bag containing the ransom amount out of train near a Rajpura bridge, they said adding, after getting the ransom money the kidnappers released the youth who reached his house on Thursday night.

Instead of filing an FIR of kidnapping, the police persuaded them to get the case of snatching of a mobile phone, pistol and some cash registered on Friday.

When the incident came to notice of reporters the police registered another case of kidnapping on its own on Saturday, said police sources.

The SSP the DSP and the SHO did not respond to calls.


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