P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Monitoring work of admn secys, dept heads 
Bar chart system introduced 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
With an objective of keeping a watch on the performance of various administrative secretaries and heads of department with regard to the progress of work on various projects and programmes, the government has decided to introduce the “bar chart” system.

Under this system, deadlines will be set up for completing each phase of all major projects and programmes and the officers concerned will be told that they should ensure the completion of the each phase by due date.

According to sources, most of the administrative secretaries and heads of department have been found wanting as far as effective handling of various projects and programmes is concerned.

The sources said that chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, who held a lengthy meeting this morning with various administrative secretaries to review the progress of various projects and programmes, told them to prepare the bar-chart of each project. The measure would ensure the constant monitoring of project at various administrative and execution levels.

The Excise and Taxation Department told the chief secretary that there was an increase of 11 per cent in the collection of VAT so far compared to the corresponding period of last fiscal year. The Taxation Department was given the target to enhance VAT by 25 per cent by the end of the fiscal year. However, it will not be feasible in any case. The department argued that it had not enough staff to supervise and manage the VAT collection.

The Revenue Department informed that the land pooling policy case had been sent to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Under this policy, farmers, if they agree, could be made stake holders in the projects to be set up on their land.

The government is keen to enact a law to make the use of CFL electric lights mandatory in Punjab. By doing so, a lot of electricity can be saved. A deadline will be fixed for various government departments and municipal committees to switch over to CFL lights. In due course, even domestic consumers can be asked to switch over to these lights.

The district collectors of Mansa and Patiala will soon announce awards to acquire land for setting up two thermal plants at these places.

The Housing Department has been told to complete the master plans of all important towns at the earliest.

A request to use the airport at Sahnewal and Bathinda for civilian purpose has been sent to the Ministry of Defence. Besides, proposal has been prepared to fully activate flying clubs at Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala. A new flying club will be set up near Bathinda Oil Refinery where 25 acres is available for this purpose, it is learnt. The PIDB has been told to remove bottlenecks being faced to build a ring road around Ludhiana.


Loan Payment Default
Ex-servicemen may lose ancestral properties 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
A Damocle's sword is hanging over as many as 121 ex-servicemen, including 27 widows, who have defaulted on money lent by the Punjab Finance Corporation (PFC) 20 years ago and the latter has warned them to return it by January 31 or their ancestral properties will be attached.

These ex-servicemen are among the 680 who borrowed money from the PFC under the the Self-employment for Ex-servicemen Scheme (SEMFEX) in 1988 for starting transport business post retirement. Their business failed and they were not able to repay the loan.

Over the years, 22 ex-servicemen have died, but the loan has stood on their widows. These ex-servicemen belong to Gurdaspur, Sangrur, Patiala and Ludhiana districts out of which 56 are settled in Ludhiana alone. The principal amount which was Rs 1.3 crore in the district has been compounded to Rs 23 crore.

Now the PFC has threatened them to pay back the amount with compounded interest otherwise their ancestral properties would be attached.

The Indian Ex-services League has taken up the matter with defence services welfare minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh. League president Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd), said the ex-servicemen, who had defaulted owing to failed business were ready to pay back the principal amount, but they were not in a position to pay back the amount with compounded interest.

They had taken up the matter with the government in 1999 when the Akalis were in power.

Colonel Dhillon added that 500 ex-servicemen had paid back the loan as they were successful in their business. As many as 59 had sold off their properties and paid back the money but the rest 121 were still caught in the debt trap.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said when he took up the matter as Finance Minister during the Akali regime, the government changed hands when it was to be implemented. ''I will take up the matter with the the finance minister again,'' said the minister. 


Defaulter SI’s family misbehaves with PSEB men
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 25
Family members of defaulter Punjab police sub-inspection (SI) Sukha Singh allegedly misbehaved with two PSEB employees who had gone to his house in Friends Colony to disconnect his power connection yesterday evening.

Sukha was suspended from his post of Bhogpur SHO as a drug smuggler had been nabbed coming out of his official residence a few months back, but later his suspension was revoked. Now he is posted at Jalandhar Police Lines.

Narrating the incident, PSEB Xen Y.P.S. Bath told The Tribune that two assistant linemen (AL) Joginder Singh and Madan Lal went to Sukha’s house to disconnect his power connection as he had not paid bill for over six months and Rs 38,000 was due against him.

While Sukha was not present at his house, his family members allegedly misbehaved with the AL and prevented them from performing duty, said JE Gulshan Sehgal, adding that they also forcibly kept their bicycles at their house.

At this, the AL informed their seniors. Subsequently, PSEB officials, led by SDO of Maqsoodan sub-division Ashok Verma, including JE Gulshan Sehgal and additional assistant engineer (AAE) MC Sharma, reached Sukha’s house.

Xen Bath said Sukha’s power connection was disconnected and AL’s bicycles were taken back.

Bath said SDO Ashok Verma had already brought the matter to the notice of Jalandhar SSP Arpit Shukla. In a letter to Shukla, Verma requested him to direct Sukha to pay the PSEB arrears at the earliest.

While Sukha could not be contacted, SSP Shukla said he did not remember whether he had received such a letter. However, he said, had the letter been sent to him, the same would have been forwarded to SP (HQ) Satinder Singh for proper action.


Turban Issue
SAD-BJP conveys Sikh sentiments to Sarkozy
Tribune News Service

Majitha, January 25
The SAD-BJP alliance here today claimed to have conveyed the sentiments of the Sikh masses on the contentious issue of sporting of turbans by Sikhs in France to the visiting French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Acting SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said BJP leader L.K. Advani met Sarkozy this afternoon in New Delhi and raised the turban issue with him, highlighting the religious sentiments of Sikhs attached to the turban.

“Advani elaborated at length that ignoring this issue would hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs all over the world. The solution lay in allowing Sikhs in France to wear turban in keeping with the Sikh tenets,” he said.

Sukhbir said the former deputy prime minister had also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the same issue so that India could put explain the sensitivity of the issue to the French government.


Turban: Mann lodges protest in Gwalior
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
President of the SAD (A) Simranjit Singh Mann, today chose Gwalior to register his party’s protest against the French Government.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone after submitting a memorandum to the District Magistrate of Gwalior and officer in-charge of the Gwalior air force base, Mann said his party had chosen this base to draw the attention of the Union Government to the fact that France, which had declared itself to be a secular country, had impinged upon the right of the Sikhs to wear their religious, cultural and historic headgear, turban, in schools.

The memorandum is addressed to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


Sukhbir says no to hot seat
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Mattewal (Amritsar), January 25
Sukhbir Badal, acting chief of the SAD, today put speculations about succeeding Parkash Singh Badal as Chief Minister at rest by announcing that his father would complete the term.

He made this announcement in response to a claim of advocate-general of Punjab Hardev Singh Mattewal in his speech today at this village in Majitha Assembly constituency that Sukhbir would soon be elevated to the hot seat.

Sukhbir was in the Majitha constituency on a foundation-stone laying spree. He laid these for more than 16 projects worth Rs 37 crore, including four power grids, besides setting up a Krishi Vigyan Kendra and polyclinic in some villages of the constituency.

He said he, along with Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, and other members had decided to move a call-attention motion to take up the issue in the next session of Parliament to press the Centre for the extension of the freight corridor up to Attari. 



RTI Rules
Panel issues notice to Punjab
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
In response to the activists raising objections over the RTI Rules, notified recently by the Punjab government, a full Bench of the Punjab Information Commission has issued notice to the Secretary of Administrative Reforms department asking it to reply to the issues raised in this regard.

A complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act had been filed on the issue by Capt Navdeep Singh, a high court lawyer, in which it had been averred that Punjab RTI Rules 2007 framed by the state government were in direct contravention of the Act.

The rules, circulated to all departments recently, make seeking information a tough call and complicate the process for obtaining information, which was detrimental to the interest of the public and defeat the purpose of the act, the complainant contended.

The state government rules provide reasons of rejection, which go beyond the Act, according to the complaint. Form--E of the Punjab Rules provides that information requests can be rejected on grounds that the information was available on department’s website, information was already available in published material and the identity of the information seeker was not satisfactory.

The Punjab government had further notified that RTI requests could only be made in on a prescribed form, a stipulation, which contravened Section 6 of the Act under which RTI requests could be made on plain paper or electronically.

The form prescribed by the government seeks answers from RTI applicants on 9 questions before it could be processed by the PIO concerned. The Rules also expect all information seekers to first browse the website of the concerned department before information was sought from it and prohibit the dissemination of information under the RTI if it was already available on the internet.

The commission directed that before coming up with a reply on the complaint, the Secretary Administrative Reforms should apply its mind and consider the points raised in the complaint, especially portions inconsistent with the act. 


Clergy rejects Patna Sahib’s edict
Vedanti refuses to summon Giani Iqbal Singh 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 25
The Sikh clergy, at its emergency meeting here today, rejected the controversial “hukamnama” (edict) , pronounced by Sikh high priests of Takht Patna Sahib, challenging the “maryada”( Sikh tradition) and Nanakshahi calendar , approved by the SGPC and Akal Takht .

However, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar Patna Sahib and Deputy Jathedar of Takht Hazoor Sahib were not invited to attend the meeting. Though Jathedar Vedanti was under tremendous pressure to summon Giani Iqbal Singh for challenging the maryada and the Sikh calendar, yet he refused to oblige them on the plea that it would set a wrong precedent. Jathedar Vedanti said though Bhai Ranjit Singh and Prof Darshan Singh - both former Jathedars had also challenged many decisions of the present set of Jathedars, yet they were never summoned at Akal Takht.

The Sikh high priests described the controversial edict of Patna Sahib as “misleading” which amounted to create division in the Sikh Panth. The “gurmata”, passed at today’s meeting said Giani Iqbal Singh had no right to take arbitrary decisions pertaining to the entire Sikh Panth.

The next meeting of high priests has been fixed for February 5.

Meanwhile, Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, DSGMC, has criticised both Giani Iqbal Singh and Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee, for taking “hasty decisions”. 


Tillers to be made land owners
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 25
The Punjab government has decided to make tillers land owners. The government land on which tillers have carrying out farming for decades will now be allotted in their name.

Deputy commissioner, Ropar, A.K. Sinha gave this information while talking to newsmen here today.

He said in Ropar 26 such tillers had been identified. The allotments letters for 76-acre government land they had been tilling for long would be issued to them at the Republic Day function tomorrow by the minister food and civil supplies Adesh Pratap Singh.

Besides, students, sports personnel and others who have excelled in their respective fields will also be honoured at the function.


‘Girl child should be welcomed’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
“The girl child should be welcomed in a family in the same way as a male child,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, minister of cooperation, Punjab, while inaugurating a symposium on “Girl Child - A Fight for Dignity”, organised by Panjab University Centre for Adult, Continuing Education and Extension, here today.

Voicing his concern about the declining sex ratio of female babies, especially in Punjab, he said in most cases, it’s a woman who is the enemy of another woman in the form of a mother-in-law who forces to abort the girl child.

He announced a new scheme “Mai Bhago Istri Shakti Yojna” being launched in the state for empowering women, which will involve them in production, marketing, leadership, and social work.

Prof R.C.Sobti, vice-chancellor, in his presidential address, said that the status of women has improved to some extent during the past decades as far as their education and employment is concerned, but a majority of them did not enjoy the status equal to men.

Shantha Sinha, chairperson, National Council for Protection for Child Rights, in her keynote address, highlighted that girl child is perceived as a liability to the family and the rejection starts even before her birth.

Dr Sween, director, Centre for Adult, Continuing Education and Extension, PU, said the objective of the symposium was to involve students, teachers and extension workers to mobilise people in rural and urban areas and inculcate values for the girl child so that she is considered an asset to family and the nation.

A panel discussion was also organised on the theme and the panelists were Dr Oshima Raikhy, Elizabeth Hogen, deputy director, US AID in India, Shantha Sinha, Anupam Gupta and Dr Sherry Sabbarwal from the Department of Sociology.

Meanwhile, the status of women study centre has been raised to that of a full department of the PU to work out strategies for improving status of women.


Condition set for chemist shops in civil hospitals
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 25
With the aim of providing medicines at lower prices than market rates to patients, the state will offer shops in all civil hospitals to private players and NGOs following competitive bidding of lowest rates among them.

Health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla informed this at a state-level function held to observe anti-leprosy day at Nirog Bal Ashram at Kotkapura, near here, today.

She said the goal of the state government was welfare of the destitute and subsidised medicines would be a nice step towards this direction. She said contractual shops would be offered to those who promise to sell medicines at lower rates than prevalent in the market.

Complaints regarding the sale of medicines near civil hospitals at exorbitant rates had led to this step.

Nearly 150 doctors would be recruited through the state service commission by the end of March. She said the procedure was going on and after approval from the Cabinet, it would be forwarded to the service commission.

An exhibition highlighting causes, symptoms and cure of the disease was also organised on the occasion. 


History comes full circle
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 25
Sikh history seems to have come full circle! The marriage of the son of Baba Ram Singh, former chief of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, who was born at the time of Sikh-Nirankari clash on April 13, 1978, was solemnised at the site where the tragedy, in which 13 Sikhs were killed, took place 30 years ago.

The marriage of Dr Jassa Singh, son of Dr Sant Parkash Singh Dhillon (son of Baba Ram Singh) was solemnised without dowry.

It may be mentioned here that after the “Rain Sabai Kirtan” of the Jatha, on April 13, 1978, Baba Ram Singh had to go to hospital where his daughter-in-law Sarbjit Kaur was admitted following labour pains. Had Baba Ram Singh not gone to the hospital, the tragedy of April 1978 could have been averted.

Members of the Jatha and Damdami Taksal, who were part of the jatha which faced bullets of the Nirankaris, were honoured at the function. The present chief of the Jatha Giani Baldev Singh, who was an eyewitness to the Sikh-Nirankari clash, said today’s marriage was a great event in the Sikh history as the child, whose birth coincided with the Sikh-Nirankari clash, opted to perform his marriage at Gurdwara Shaheed-Ganj, raised in memory of 13 Sikhs killed in the clash.


‘Awas-Parwas’ organised
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
Delivering the keynote address at the programme “Awas-Parwas”, organised by the district education office (secondary), at a government senior secondary school here, president of an NGO, Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum, A.S. Mann said there was nothing wrong in going abroad, but one should understand that dollars in foreign countries could only be earned by working very hard in the fields, restaurants and factories etc there.

Among others who took part in the discussion on the topic included Rajinder Kumar, Harnek Singh, Shashi Bala, Davinder Singh, Ram Kumar and Jagjit Singh, Parminderjit Kaur, all teachers.


Police medals 2008 awarded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Two Punjab cadre IPS officers, Anil Kaushik, ADGP, Security, and Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, Patiala Range, have been conferred the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service.

Fifteen others will be awarded the Police Medal for meritorious service. They are: Harpreet Singh Sidhu, Gaurav Yadav, Kuldeep Singh, Lashkar Singh, Mohinder Kaur, Gurjit Singh, Brahma Nand, Kulwant Singh, Sarabjit Paul, Lal Mohd, Inderpal Singh, Gian Singh, Bachittar Singh, Major Singh and Joginder Ram. 


Capt’s plea not heard due to roaster change
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Less than a fortnight after Justice Rajesh Bindal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court referred Punjab’s former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s plea for blanket bail to the Bench of Justice Ranjit Singh, the latter declined to hear the matter due to changed roaster.

As the matter came up for hearing, Justice Ranjit Singh directed it to be placed before the appropriate Bench as per the roster of the court.

Justice Bindal, on January 15, had directed it to be placed before Justice Ranjit Singh after the former Chief Minister’s counsel R.S. Cheema told the court that the matter had been part heard.

Amarinder Singh had earlier moved the high court, seeking directions for the grant of blanket bail to him, in view of what he termed as politics of vendetta unleashed against him by the Akali-BJP government since it came to power in March this year.

Gurdwara controversy

A 1975 matter culminated with the Punjab and Haryana High Court holding that Gurdwaras Padshahi Naumi Dhamtan and Gurdwara Bunga Dhamtanian near Patiala railway station are “interconnected” and of the Sikhs. A controversy had erupted over three decades ago, when the matter with regard to ownership was taken up before the high court.

The appeals were filed in the year 1975 and had been initially decided by a Division Bench of high court comprising Justice G.R. Majithia and Justice S.S Garewal, who had rendered a differing opinion in the matter. Subsequently, the matter was referred to third bench of Justice T.P.S. Mann, who gave a decision in favour of SGPC.

The issue of ownership was raised by Mohunt Gurmukh Singh. Punjab advocate-general H.S. Mattewal, handling the legal affairs of SGPC, said the Gurdwara owns substantial property worth crores of rupees in the Patiala itself, which would now be put into service of Sikh masses.

Tarn Taran murder case

Taking up the petition for a CBI probe into a murder in Tarn Taran, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice T.P.S. Mann, today issued a notice of motion to the state of Punjab and others for March 27.

In his petition against the state of Punjab, the DGP, Tarn Taran SSP and another respondent, petitioner Buta Singh of Bhattal tehsil in Tarn Taran had earlier contended that on April 3, 2006, his son Charanjeet Singh was murdered while in sleep by three unidentified youth. They also took away cash from the house. An FIR in the matter was registered on the same day at police station Sarahali on the complaint of Charanjeet’s wife Sarabjeet Kaur.

Subsequently, on December 19 last year police personnel came to the petitioner’s house and arrested Sarabjeet Kaur for murder, the petitioner contended. 


Status quo on memorial gate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Issuing notice of motion to Punjab and other respondents, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice K.S. Ahluwalia today directed maintenance of status quo on a petition against encroachment on the road leading from National Highway No. 1 to Nabha via Tarkhan Majra-Bhadson in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

The petition filed by Ravinder Singh Sandha has referred to a news report mentioning that a memorial gate at Tarkhan Majra was being constructed in memory of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

He has said the construction in close proximity to highway is being made in an illegal manner and will cause great inconvenience to public.


Cold, depleting soil nutrients worry farmers
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Khanna, January 25
Extreme cold, coupled with lack of soil nutrients, has upset farmers in several parts of the state, who are worried about suffering huge losses.

According to experts, the wheat crop, which has been struggling against the vagaries of nature in the rabi season, is also losing on the nutrients front.

Soil, especially in the Malwa belt, is not providing elements like manganese and magnesium to the crop due to which the wheat crop is turning yellow.

As per an estimate, the wheat producers are likely to lose Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per acre, while the vegetable growers would be able to harvest only 20 to 30 per cent of the total crop sown.

Experts said the accumulation of toxic wastes and other salts due to the irrigation of fields with polluted water was aggravating the problem.

Ravinderpal Singh Gill, a farmer in Faridkot segment, said a large portion of the wheat crop sown on his 16-acre farm had started turning yellow. When he consulted soil experts, they told him that the crop was not getting proper nutrients and suggested spray of additional nutrients on it.

Gill said this could increase the cost of agricultural inputs.

Though the farmers who had sown early-sowing varieties of wheat might escape with limited losses, those who opted for late-sowing varieties are a worried lot.

Nijjar Singh, a farmer from the district, said variation in day and night temperature during the initial days of the winter season and the extreme cold conditions prevalent now had affected his wheat crop cultivated on 11 acres.

Even though the union agricultural ministry is expecting the wheat production to touch 75 million metric tonnes mark this year, farmers in the state, who are a major contributor to the national pool, are not very enthusiastic about these figures due to unfavourable weather conditions and the depleting soil nutrients.

Vegetable growers are also a worried lot this year and are expecting to suffer losses up to 70 per cent. Narinder Singh, who cultivates potatoes, capsicum and cabbage on his farm, said that weather had played spoilsport with the farmers this season, as the frost and cold would reduce vegetable production. 


Virk’s suspension extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab government has reviewed the suspension of former DGP S.S. Virk and has decided to extend his suspension. The decision was taken yesterday at a high-level meeting. This comes a few days after the Punjab and Haryana High Court while ordering a fresh inquiry into the allegations against Virk refused to hand over his case to the CBI.

Meanwhile, Virk’s plea in the Central Administrative Tribunal challenging his suspension will come up for hearing on January 29. The Government of India is scheduled to file its reply. Virk was suspended on April 4 last year. The original suspension was for three months. The government after carrying out a review in June last year extended the suspension. As per civil service rules the state government has to periodically review suspension of officials. Without an extension in suspension, Virk will have to be be reinstated on his job.

The details of the report in this regard will be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for nformation, a senior officer confirmed. The extension in suspension does not come as a surprise as the Punjab government had made its stand clear when it opposed the transfer of the Virk’s case to the CBI. Virk is a 1970 batch officer and will retire in 2009. 


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |