P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


March against Dera Sacha Sauda chief 
Akal Takht ex-Jathedar picked up, freed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 7
The police picked up a former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode from his residence situated at New Hardayal Nagar locality today.

Crackdown on radical Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
The police today raided houses of several radical Sikh leaders in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts, including Gurjatinder Pal Singh Bhikhiwind, a presidium member of breakaway group of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) in wake of the proposed Khalsa March to be taken in countryside of Salabatpura (Bathinda) on February 10.

Talking to The Tribune from an undisclosed place , Bhikhiwind alleged that a large number of policemen raided the house at his native village Bhikhiwind (Tarn Taran) and allegedly misbehaved with the family members . So much so his brother , a Dean in the University of Ontario who is currently in India was taken to Amritsar by the police . However, his NRI brother was let off after preliminary investigation .

On the other hand , Bhai Mohkam Singh , a spokesman for the Damdami Taksal and convener of the Khalsa Action Committee and Kanwarpal Singh , secretary general escaped from the preventive arrests because they had left their respective houses. 

Rode was detained for several hours reportedly in connection with the proposed protest march of the Khalsa Action Committee towards Salabatpura Dera in Bathinda district on February 10.

Talking to The Tribune soon after his release, Rode said several policemen led by CIA staff in charge inspector Harinder Singh swooped on his house around 5a.m. He was taken to the office of the CIA staff at Patel Chowk.

“After keeping me there for several minutes, I was taken to some other place where SP (D) PS Parmar was present.” Rode said. “I was asked about the route of the proposed march and other related things about the march.” “After detaining me for several hours, the police dropped me at my house”, he added.

When contacted SSP Arpit Shukla denied that Rode had been picked up and detained for some hours. He was just called at the CIA staff office and later allowed to go, he added.

One of Rode’s supporters Baljit Singh Brar, editor of daily Aj Di Awaj, informed about the police action to the President, the PM, some SC and HC judges and the Punjab Governor by sending e-mails and SMSes.

Within a few minutes, M.P. Singh, secretary to Governor S.F. Rodrigues, called Brar up and inquired about the incident. Later, Rode was released.


Bittu held, ex-envoy Khalsa under house arrest
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 7
Three days before proposed march by the Khalsa Action Committee to Salbatpoora against Dera Sacha Sauda head, the Punjab Police in an early morning swoop today arrested radical leader Daljit Singh Bittu from Ludhiana besides putting Harinder Singh Khalsa, former ambassador to Norway and ex-chairman, National SC-ST Commission, under house arrest at his residence in Barrewal here.

Several other leaders and activists of the Khalsa Action Committee were also arrested and sent to jail in judicial custody. Bittu was sent to jail till February 14.

Police officials said action had been taken against them apprehending law and order problem due to the scheduled march to Salabatpoora.

SSP R. K. Jaiswal said he had been arrested under Section 107/,151 of the Cr PC. Others taken into custody were Darshan Singh, general secretary-SAD(Amritsar) (Panch Pradhani), Hardeep Singh , Palwinder Singh, Harpal Singh Cheema.

Harinder Singh Khalsa said he was put under house arrest after he refused to accompany a police team that knocked at his door early today.

He said the march was peaceful aiming at urging the Punjab government to ban entry of the Dera head into Punjab. However, the police action had proved the Badal government was helping growth of such deras.


Annual Plan: State ninth in per capita outlay 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Though Punjab has been boasting that it is among the leading states in the country as far as per capita income is concerned, it is at the ninth place as far as the per capita outlay in the annual plan is concerned.

Andhra Pradesh is a leader state in the country in the spending of per capita annual plan funds. The size of annual plan is a clear indicator of the development process of any state in the country. If per capita spending of plan funds is high that means that the state concerned is developing at a faster pace.

Per capita spending of plan funds in Punjab is Rs 2085 whereas in Andhra Pradesh it is Rs 4002. During the current fiscal year, the size of annual plan of Andhra Pradesh is Rs 30,500 crore and Punjab’s Rs 5,111 crore.

Even Chhattisgarh is better placed than Punjab in spending per capita funds on annual plan. Chhattisgarh’s per capital outlay of plan funds for the current year is Rs 3558 and its total plan size is Rs 7,414 crore. Chhattisgarh is placed second in the country in per capita plan expenditure.

Karnataka’s per capita outlay in the annual plan during the current year has been Rs 3365 and Gujarat’s Rs 3158. These states were placed on third and fourth spot respectively in the country in per capita spending of funds. Haryana with per capita outlay of Rs 2507 has been placed on fifth place and Jharkhand, Tamilnadu and Kerala on 6th, 7ths and 8th places, respectively.

Punjab has not decided yet what will be size of its next annual plan. Sources said the political leadership wanted that plan size should be in the range of Rs 6500 crore. However, lack of resources has become a big hurdle in enhancing the plan size to Rs 6500 crore. In fact, Punjab has not even money to implement fully the current annual plan.

And to fund the annual plan of a size of Rs 6,500 crore, it will require to mobilise resources worth Rs 3000 crore. Sources said the Punjab government would be entering in the next fiscal year with a carry forward liability of Rs 1,800 crore of the current fiscal year.


Dept withdraws concessions to labour societies
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 7
The department of local governments has withdrawn concessions to labour societies across the state. As per the new directive, labour societies would now be treated on a par with other contractors working for the department.

Earlier, labour societies used to get preference in the allotment of contract. They also did not have to deposit earnest money while bidding for contract.

Sources in the department said that the decision had been taken, as many fake labour societies were operating in the state. As per rule, a labour society is a group of labourers coming together to form a body to compete against private contractors.

However, many persons, including local politicians, have formed fake societies to derive benefits meant for labourers. The members of such societies are fake and have almost never worked as labourers. The labour societies should keep muster rolls for making payments to their members. However, in case of fake labour societies, no muster rolls are maintained. Such society holders are actually acting as contractors but getting preferential treatment as labour societies.

The decision of the government to withdraw benefits has also led to rift between the union of labour societies at Ropar.

Many labour societies have bid for contracts in the Nangal municipal council as individuals in the recent past. However, in their competition, the union of labour societies also entered the fray.

The affected labour societies are now crying hoarse. They are alleging that elected members of labour societies union have flayed rules. They have used to union funds for bidding for the contracts. The union funds are meant for the welfare of labour societies and not bidding for contracts. But the office-bearers of union have used the funds against the interests of labour societies.

The union was also now trying to split the contract taken from the municipal council. While they are offering small works to other labour societies, profitable works are being kept for office-bearers.

The affected labour societies have also complained to assistant registrar, labour societies, against the move of their union to bid. They have alleged that union of labour societies has no legal entity for bidding for contracts.

The assistant registrar, labour societies, has issued a show cause notice to labour societies union to explain as to how they have used collective funds for the bidding for contracts. The matter is also generating political ramifications, as some of political leaders are alleging that office-bearers of union belong to opposition party.


PSEB Privatisation Issue
Agriculture workers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 7
Activists and leaders of various farmer and agriculture workers’ organisations today staged a dharna in front of offices of executive engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) at Sunam and Dirba in protest against the proposed privatisation of the PSEB.

They also sought the abolition of the contract system in the PSEB and scrapping of the Central Electricity Act 2003.

Activists and leaders of farmers and agriculture workers’ organisations, including Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ugrahan, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, and the Khet Mazdoor Union, led by district finance secretary of the BKU (Ugrahan) Darbara Singh Chhajla, staged dharna at Sunam. At Sunam, state president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Punjab Kisan Sabha leader Bhupinder Singh Sambar, Khet Mazdoor Union leader Balwinder Singh Jhaloor, and the PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC) leader Jagdev Singh Bahia addressed the dharna. They asked the government not to initiate steps for unbundling the PSEB.

They called for the reinstatement of those PSEB employees who had been terminated for taking part in agitation and writing off debts of farmers and agriculture workers.


Training camp for Cong legislators
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Following a dismal performance by newly-elected Congress legislators in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during the three previous Assembly sessions, the Congress has decided to hold training classes for these legislators at a training camp headed by former Speaker Kewal Krishan. The camp has been made mandatory for all first time legislators, who the party high command feels need to be educated about the rules and procedure of business in the house.

Kewal Krishan will be assisted by another former Speaker Harnam Dass Johar and two former Deputy Speakers Bir Devinder Singh and Nasib Singh Gill. The first class will be held on February 17, two days before the Budget Session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha starts. Other senior Congress leaders, who are not a part of the current house have also been asked to come forward with their suggestions to ensure that the Congress legislators are full prepared to face the house.

Confirming the move Congress President and Leader of the opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said “The objective of the camp is to be prepared on all fronts so that we can catch the SAD-BJP alliance on their repeated bluffs on the floor of the house and at the same time act as a responsible opposition”.

She said that during the previous assembly sessions it has been observed that new legislators are generally clueless about rules and procedures. So in order to help these first timers get familiar with the protocols and procedures we are going to give them a crash course that apprises them of the functioning of the assembly, which is all laid down in written rules.

After the last assembly session, during a joint lunch hosted for the reliance alliance and the opposition by Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, it was suggested by some old hands that the speaker should initiate such an initiation camp for all legislators. But since the idea has not moved any further, the Congress has picked the idea to empower its own legislators.


Seizure of Panther Skins
Notice to wildlife officials
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 7
The ways things are in the department of forest it seems the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. Higher officials in the department of wildlife have no knowledge about two sensitive cases at Hoshiarpur.

Former DFO, Hoshiarpur, RR Kakkar had claimed to have recovered panther skins and sambar anklars last year from alleged poachers. However, the higher authorities of department of wildlife have no knowledge about the cases.

Sources in the department said the chief wildlife warden had issued show notice to present DFO, Hoshiarpur, as to why details of cases had not been provided to him.

After the notice, forest officials at Hoshiarpur started searching for files pertaining to the said cases. However, till date they have no recovered any record. In addition, forest officials also do not have any knowledge about the recovered panther skins or sambar anklars.

The present DFO, Hoshiarpur, Swaran Singh, when contacted admitted that a show-cause notice had been received from the chief wildlife warden. He said after receiving the notice he tried to search files and material pertaining to the case but failed to locate them. The report regarding it would be sent to the chief wildlife warden.

Panther is protected under schedule-1 of the wildlife protection act and is an endangered species. Anyone found possessing the skin is liable to three years imprisonment. After per the law the DFO after recovering the panther skins should have informed the chief wild ife warden within 24 hours. The recovered skins should also have submitted to higher officials of the department of wildlife so that they could have been sent for examination to appropriate laboratories for assessing their originality. Panther skins, as per the act, are state property and should have been destroyed after completing the formalities in the case. The wildlife higher officials’ information about the priced catch of panther skins is limited to stories carried in newspapers. They have now issued show-cause notice to lower officials on the basis of newspaper reports.

Sources said the panther skins might be lying in police custody. However, until the skins are got verified by higher officials of the wildlife department from appropriate institute or laboratory, it would be difficult to establish charges of poaching against the accused. 


Facilities, Efficiency
Govt transport ‘can’t match private operators’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 7
Punjab transport commissioner R. Vanketesh Ratanam today said Punjab Roadways and the Punjab Road Transport Corporation could not compete with private bus operators in efficiency and facilities.

Ratanam, was here for issuing 'tokens' to operators of private trucks, buses and maxicabs for hassle-free movement of vehicles, said public transport undertakings (PTU) were losing out to private transporters in competition. Lack of facilities and inefficiency are two key areas where improvement was needed, he pointed out.

On losses of the public transport undertakings in the state, he said there were complaints private operators indulged in unhealthy competition by charging lower fare that cut into revenue of PTUs.

Also the PTUs were not issuing monthly or other concessional passes, which result in loss of revenue. He said new buses would replace 50 per cent of the fleet in due course.

On private tourist buses plying from areas like Sri Ganganagar in Rajsthan and Abohar via Bathinda, Ratanam said it was illegal and a law enforcement problem.

He said the PRTC had a fleet of 1,000 buses while the Punjab Roadways plied 1,500 buses daily.

He said there was a plan to start night bus service in the region and hoped some positive action would follow shortly.


For DRME office, Kakkar hospital still transplants kidneys
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
For the director research and medical education (DRME) office, Ram Saran Daskishori Lal Kakkar Charitable Hospital (RSDLKCH) and certain hospitals, which have been in the eye of a storm due to multi-crore kidney scam in the past, are still in the business of human organ transplant, though their licence for doing such operations had been cancelled by the state government.

This gives the impression that the left hand does not know what the right is doing. The information has been sought by the department, on behalf of the DRME, from eight hospitals of the state, including the RSDLKCH, following a missive from the central government, thereby putting the department in a fix.

However, Dr J.S. Dalal , DRME, said he had sought explanation from the officials concerned for sending the letter to the RSDLKCH despite the fact that it had already been banned from performing kidney transplant. He, however, confirmed that the licence of the hospital for the transplant of human organs had been cancelled a few years ago following a kidney scam. He said the department neither put up the file nor sought any permission to send communication to the eight hospitals for seeking information on kidney transplant.

He said the information was required by the central government to reply to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha .

The missive of the DRME asked the hospitals to send particulars of the donors and donees in each case of transplant conducted by the hospitals after its authorisation by the appropriate authority. The information was also sought regarding setting up a mechanism whereby donor/donee were furnished on a quarterly basis by the hospitals performing transplant.


Minister finds staff missing
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 7
A surprise raid by minister for social security Swarana Ram this evening found a majority of the staff of the social security department at the Ropar office missing.

Sources said the minister raided the office of the department at Ropar at about 4.30 p.m. in the mini-secretariat here.

In the raid, the CDPO Ropar Ajit Kaur Multani was found absent from duty along with her official driver. Clerk Nirmala was said to be on leave. However, she was marked present in the attendance register.

The movement register of the office was also missing.

Santosh Virdi, a senior assistant present at the office, did not have any knowledge about the missing employees.

The minister said the missing staff of the office had been called to Chandigarh tomorrow to give explanation.

He said more such raids would be conducted across the state to check absenteeism in government offices.


Takht Patna Sahib Jathedar puts off meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
An important meeting to be held at Takht Shri Patna Sahib tomorrow has been postponed by Jathedar Takht Patna Sahib Giani Iqbal Singh today. Talking to The Tribune on the telephone Giani Iqbal Singh said they had received a telegram and a fax of advocate Mohinder Singh Romana in which he had shown his inability to appear before the Sikh clergy at Patna Sahib due to ill health. He said Romana had also requested to adjourn the meeting.

Giani Iqbal Singh had summoned Romana on February 8 on the charge of approaching the media. Romana had placed Jathedar Patna Sahib under suspension for challenging the Sikh Maryada.


7 Jalandhar jail warders shifted out
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 7
As many as three head warders and four warders have been shifted from the Jalandhar central jail to different prisons of Punjab.

Head warders Kulwant Rai, Ram Kishan, Bhupinder Singh and warder Balbir Singh, Daljinder Singh, Navesh Kumar and Kuldeep Singh were transferred on the directions of Director General of Prisons Mohammad Izhar Alam, said jail superintendent Gursharan Singh Sidhu while talking to The Tribune.

To a query, Sidhu said head warders and warders had not been shifted outside Jalandhar on the basis of the magisterial inquiry conducted by ADC S.S. Marar after jail violence on January 7 but they had been transferred on the basis of a report of a secret inquiry conducted by jail authorities before violence.

These head warders and warders had been identified as supplying mobile phones and drugs to some inmates, he said, adding that was why they were now transferred. 


Consumer forums hit by staff shortage
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The shortage of staff in consumer disputes redressal forums in various districts of Punjab has affected their functioning. Six forums in Punjab are dysfunctional due to a few members. If there is president in one forum, members are not there and vice versa.

The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Nawanshahr is not functioning for the past one year.According to sources, there is only member of the forum in Nawanshahr due to which the work here has come to a standstill. The forum in Nawanshahr has not been functioning since February 7 last year, while the one at Gurdaspur is not functioning since June 3, 2007.

The functioning of all consumer forums is under the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which runs from a shop-cum-office. The commission had written to the state government to inform it about the six forums that were not functioning.

The districts where the forums are not functioning are Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Sangrur, Kapurthala, Ferozepur and Ludhiana. The forums in Sangrur and Kapurthala have a president, while the ones in Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Ferozepur and Ludhiana have only one member.

According to sources, the matter is pending with the state government, as the members are to be selected by the government.


School-Forest Dept row over violation of PLPA
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Badhani (Dhar), February 7
The Punjab Forest Department and the management of Dalhousie Public School, Badhani,have locked horns over the violation of Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900.

Replying to notices issued by the divisional forest officer, Gurdaspur, to the school management for violating the Act by constructing school buildings without obtaining clearance certificate from the department, the school management has issued notice to the Forest Department.

While the forest authorities have asked the school management to get its buildings regularised by adopting the mandatory procedure of the department in 45 days.The school management claims that the Forest Department was not competent to issue such notices to the institution.

School director P.S. Garewal claimed the school premises had been constructed after obtaining all mandatory permissions from the departments concerned. He claimed the Forest Department was not the competent authority to issue notices under Sections 4 of the PLPA.

Since the issue was related to the Revenue Department how could the Forest Department issue notices in this context to the school? questioned Garewal.

Moreover, the school management has also constructed an over-head bridge across a defence road, Mamun to Udhampur, thus violating defence guidelines. The road belonged to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and presence of an over-head-bridge on it may not be appropriate from security point of view.

The school director, however, claimed to have obtained permission from the engineering section of the BRO in Sambha in Jammu and Kashmir in 2003.

Though the Forest Department has been issuing notices to violators of the Act in Dhar Block despite that the construction activities are on in the area.

Scores of buildings (educational institutions, residential and commercial) have come up along the Pathankot-Dalhousie road in Dhar Block where the Section 4 of the PLPA has been imposed since long.

The department has issued notices under Section 4 of the PLPA to the PWD (B and R) for violating the Act, Rewati Raman Mahajan for constructing BDS College at Kot, Sai group of colleges at Badhani, Vishav Ranjan for constructing huge house at Tikka Surah, Hara, Sulakhan Singh for constructing a poultry farm at Darang Khud, Charanjit Singh for constructing a house at Panlada apart from Dalhousie Public School.

Divisional forest officer Chaman Lal said the Sai Group of colleges and Rewati Raman Mahajan have applied for permission from the department while the case of other violators had been sent to the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India, for sanction of persecution.


Fish Farming
Govt support, proper marketing needed
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ghalib Kalan(Jagraon), February 7
Fish farmers of Punjab have sought government relook into fisheries in the state. Except seed money, the government has no follow-up plans on support to fish farmers which can be cited as the biggest factor hindering fish farming since 1967.

The number of farms has gone up only up to about 5,500 compared to nearly 3,000 in 1967. Giving figures, S.M.Dogra, consultant with the Organic Council of Punjab, said there was very poor support at a later stage from the government. People are given cash incentive in the beginning, for seven years. The ponds require money for cleaning up so small farmers abandon the farms, making way for fresh entrants and the cycle continues.

The government figures put the total area under fish farming in the state at 1,000 hectares and the number of individual units at 7,500. Darshan Singh Sayal, director, state fisheries, said, "Punjab is not a excess fish producing state. So a processing plan was not feasible at the moment. The state also gives subsidies at a later stage for cleaning up ponds on certain conditions. The state is also faced with cases of subsidy money being used for purposes other than farming".

The director said, "Fisheries in the state was all set for a major change, particularly in light of the forthcoming the saline fish project identified in waterlogged areas of Muktsar, Mansa, Faridkot and Bathinda, with Australian government’s collaboration.”


Six-year-old raped, killed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 7
Rape and murder of a six-year-old daughter of a migrant labourer was reported at Garhshankar police station today. The accused is an employee of victim’s father and lived in the Jhuggi with the girl’s family.

According to information, Deepak son of Sagli Pal, who belonged to Khaprana, district Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh) had been working in a roadside treacle refinery of victim's father, who hails from Jailasa, in Muzaffarnagar district, at Satnaur village.

Deepak allegedly took the girl to fields and after raping murdered her and threw the body into a ditch near a well in fields of Kashmir Singh son of Moti Ram, of the same village.

When he saw his daughter missing, he started a search for her. Her body was found in a ditch and it was established she was raped and killed by the accused. Deepak was handed over to the police and booked.


Youth held with smack
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 7
Qadian police on Thursday arrested Amarbir Singh son of Joginder Singh of Golden colony Qadian and seized 8 gm of smack from his possession.A case under Sections of the 21, 61, 85 NDPS Act was registered.


Chill brings warmth to hosiery units
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
For hosiery manufacturers, the prolonged biting cold has virtually proved a boom in Punjab. This winter, in fact, has proved a golden period for them. There has been a record growth of 35 to 50 per cent in the main hosiery industry.

“ Manufacturers have not seen such a boom in the hosiery market in recent years”, says Vipin Handa, former general secretary of the readymade hosiery manufacturers association. As cold wave this winter has hit even the coastal towns like Mumbai, Kolkata and down in the south places like Bangalore, and Munnar in Kerala, there has been huge demand for woollens from those places.

“ In the early ’90s, Russians were big clients of Ludhiana hosiery industry. However, industry faced recession after the Russians turned their back on the Ludhiana industry”, said Kamal Setia. “ However, this year has proved different”, said Setia.

The cold wave has changed the philosophy of the hosiery market. “ Usually, as per the existing market logic, customer or consumer is considered king. However, in hosiery business this time it was supplier who behaved like king”, said a retailer who had to, like many others, wait for two weeks to get stock from hosiery production unit.

“ Besides exhausting old stocks of two years, most of the manufacturers even faced problems to meet the growing demand for jackets, pullovers, long coats, sweaters and jerseies”, said Sunil Dutt, who manufacturers and supplies woollens to Jammu and Kashmir. “ Because of the snowfall, there was huge demand for heavy woollens in the Kashmir valley this time”, said Dutt. From all hill states, demand for warm clothes this time was on the higher side because of heavy snowfall.

Manufacturers usually stop production in November. However, this time it continued till December because of the persisting demand for jackets and other material. “ For summer, the manufacturers have started preparing T-shirts and other stuff about a month late. Whether manufacturers will be able to cope with the demand for summer clothes, it remains to be see”, said Setia.

“ We will have to jack up the manufacturing capacity during the next season keeping in view the prolonged current winter season”, said Shyam Bansal.

“ We also expect similar boom next winter”, he said. Manufacturers usually handover the left over stock to organizers of sales in January at 50 per cent rebate. However, this time, there was no pressure on them for such a huge rebate. Most of the manufacturers offered rebate 15 to 20 per cent keeping in view the persisting demand for warm clothes in the market.


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