P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

Vidhan Sabha probe to put ex-minister on mat
Sarabjit Dhaliwal and Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
A special committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha constituted to inquire into the alleged scandal of excluding 32.10 acres from a developmental scheme at Amritsar will move into a crucial phase tomorrow to look into the role of former local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh in the scam that cost the state exchequer huge loss.

The committee, chaired by parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda, has invited former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh to appear before it tomorrow and assist the committee in exposing the role of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, as it was Bir Devinder who had raised the issue in the 12th Vidhan Sabha.

Bir Devinder Singh has sought the permission of Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in writing. Both Bir Devinder and Jagjit Singh belong to the Congress and are known to be political foes.

It may be recalled that the Privilages Committee of the Vidhan Sabha had tabled a report on the floor of the house during the previous Vidhan Sabha Session on December 18 in which it had recommended the registration of a criminal case against two former employees of the assembly for tampering with the record of the house. The record tampered pertained to the appointment of a house committee into the allegation of land scam at Amritsar.

The report had read, “The Privilege Committee report recommends that former secretary Nachhattar Singh Mavi and under secretary Tara Singh be booked under various provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and their pension and other post-retirement benefits be stopped immediately.”

It is pertinent to point out that it was Bir Devinder Singh who had (through a starred question 1540) sought to know from the then local bodies minister “if a scheme of 188 acre by the Improvement Trust, Amritsar, had been notified under Section 42 of the Punjab Town Improvement Trust Act, 1922, and further if certain areas in the scheme had been exempted ; if so details thereof and reasons for it”.

It may be further mentioned that following the then local government minister, Chaudhari Jagjit Singh reply, it was alleged in the house that the minister was involved in embezzlement of over Rs 100 crore. If the committee finds the former minister guilty, it could become a major embarrassment for the Congress in the Budget Session of the house, where the Congress is planning to corner the SAD-BJP alliance for what it calls “failure in providing proper governance”. 


Keep watch on ex-terrorists, DGP tells officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Punjab DGP N.P.S. Aulakh today asked his officers to keep a close look on the activities of ex-terrorists, who were either out on bail or acquitted.

In the recent past, the role of such elements had been noticed in the sporadic incidents of terrorism in the state.

The DGP, who was addressing the monthly crime review meeting, further directed the SSPs to depute a gazetted officer for effective physical checking of all gunmen attached with VIPs on security duty. The arms of the gunmen should also be checked, and in case of absence of the gunmen or any laxity, stern action should be taken immediately and a fortnightly report sent to the ADGP/Security. The issue of use of firearms in marriage parties also cropped up and the DGP said action should be taken in case of any violation and the firearm license should be cancelled.

The police has also decided to formulate a five-year strategic police plan and annual police plan as envisaged in the new Punjab Police Act, 2007, for modernisation and upgradation of the infrastructure.

Special emphasis will be on identifying police priorities based on inputs to be sent by district SSPs in consultation with public. Aulakh said the Government of India had chalked out an ambitious plan of Rs 2,000 crore for the next five years for providing financial support to the states to upgrade their police infrastructure. This was in addition to the already existing modernisation plan of the ministry of home affairs.


Sikh missionaries communists of Panth: Giani Iqbal Singh
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 13
Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, today dubbed Sikh missionaries as “communists of the Sikh Panth”.

Again challenging the supremacy of Akal Takht, Giani Iqbal Singh alleged that the English word “supreme,” used by Sikh missionaries for Akal Takht, was the root-cause of the current problem faced by the Panth. He said as a matter of fact no Sikh institute could claim itself being “supreme temporal authority” because Guru Granth Sahib is supreme for the Sikh community.

Taking a strong view, Prof Suba Singh, principal, Sikh Missionary College, said Giani Iqbal Singh should consult some psychiatrist. He said the Sikh missionaries and missionary colleges had done great service to the Sikh Panth and Jathedar Iqbal Singh had no right to use derogatory words for them. However, the Jathedar, Patna Sahib, alleged that the Sikh missionaries had been instrumental in dividing the Sikh community due to their “radical approach”. He said as per the Sikh traditions, all five Takhts were equal.

On the other hand, Prof Suba Singh said as per Sikh history, Akal Takht had been the target of Mughals and other invaders as they wanted to smash the supreme temporal authority of the Sikhs. No other Takht had faced such attacks, he said.

He has also said edict once issued from Takht Patna Sahib, including rejection of Nanakshahi calendar, could not be withdrawn. He, however, added that the five Sikh high priests could discuss the matter relating to the Sikh maryada, Nanakshahi calendar in the forthcoming meeting at Akal Takht next week.

To yet another question, the Jathedar said the meeting regarding summoning of Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee, was still pending because he (Romana) had sought adjournment of the meeting of Sikh clergy on health grounds. He said Romana in his capacity as president had no right to place Jathedar under suspension.

Meanwhile, Giani Iqbal Singh said Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, would be visiting Takht Patna Sahib to pay obeisance on February 16 .

Giani Iqbal Singh today gave a “clean chit” to Diljit Singh Bedi, a former assistant secretary, SGPC. He said he had learnt that the “objectionable pictures” of Bedi, published in a section of the press, was with his second wife. He saidthere was no harm in keeping a “second wife” without giving divorce to the first wife. 


Another eyewitness points finger at Tytler
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The appeal of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh to witnesses of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to come out and depose against those involved in the riots has encouraged many people to “ignore threats to their lives by the accused” and express their desire to become witnesses in courts. Surinder Singh, a granthi in a Delhi gurdwara, has sworn in an affidavit that he saw Member Parliament Jagdish Tytler leading mobs of people, who were killing Sikhs and burning their properties.

Surinder Singh, who used to live in the staff quarters of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj and is now the head granthi at Gurdwara Majnu ka Tilla, had filed an affidavit before the Nanavati Commission looking into the Sikh carnage. But under “threat and pressure from Tytler, I did not appear before the commission”, he told the media in the presence of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) president Karnail Singh Peermohamad.

In a new affidavit, copies of which were made available to the media, Surinder has alleged that he was an eyewitness to the killings in Delhi on November 1 outside Gurdwara Pul Bangash, where he saw “Jagdish Tytler inciting the mob saying that the Sikhs should be killed and gurdwara be set on fire”.

The granthi from Delhi said the first statement that he made before the Nanavati Commission against Tytler was absolutely correct, but since Tytler had put pressure on him and got his signatures on blank papers, which he later produced before the commission, following which I remained helpless”.

He said he had approached the Chief Minister of Delhi and the Prime Minister against Tytler’s threats, but to no avail.

“Now, following an appeal of Akal Takht, I have decided to ignore the threats of Tytler and expose the truth. In case I die, Tytler should be held responsible for it”, he stated in the affidavit.

Narrating the incidents he saw in 1984, Surinder Singh says, “On October 31, at around 8 p.m. some miscreants burnt the car of Gurcharan Singh Grover, who had come to pay obeisance at the Pul Bangash Gurdwara near Azad Market. Soon, we heard that his house had been burnt. Gurcharan Singh and his family stayed in the gurdwara all night. The next morning, a large mob attacked the gurdwara, led by Tytler. Badal Singh, a sewadar, was burnt alive and many others like Thakur Singh were killed.”

Late that night, Muslim neighbours saved the survivors. Subsequently, Tytler went to his house and got some blank papers signed from him by force.

The first person to make such a statement was Jasbir Singh, who is currently in California. He was followed by many others, including Surinder.


Badals at it again
Blame Centre for state’s problems
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bhai Rupa (Bathinda), February 13
“The attack by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) men on north Indians is a threat to the national unity,” Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said this here today. Addressing a public meeting here, he urged the people to mark their presence at the “insaaf rally” to be held at the Ram Lila ground in Delhi on February 26.
SAD president Sukhbir Badal seeking blessings from his father chief minister Parkash Singh Badal
SAD president Sukhbir Badal seeking blessings from his father chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at a function in village Bhai Rupa on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Malkiat Singh

SAD president Sukhbir Badal was also present on the occasion.

Lashing at the Centre for the alleged discrimination against the state, both Akali leaders said, “The Centre wilfully neglects Punjab. Farmers of the state are groaning under a debt burden of Rs 26,000 crore, but the state has no direct means to pull them out. So we have been seeking help from the Centre,” the CM said.

Announcing a new scheme, the CM said, “Youngsters will be selected on a trial basis and farm equipment and tractors provided to them on loan with 30 per cent subsidy.”

“When asked about the contradiction in the statements made by Sukhbir and finance minister Manpreet Badal over octroi, he said that nothing had been decided.

He laid the foundation stones of a 66 kV grid, an Adarsh School at Dialpura Bhai Ka village in the district, a sub-tehsil complex at Bhagta town and for widening of link roads at Bhai Roopa village. He also inaugurated a 66 kV grid and a school at Maluka village. 

Maintain peace, CM to people

Chandigarh, February 13
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today appealed to the people of Punjab not to allow miscreants and enemies of peace disturb communal harmony in the state. Referring to the unfortunate incident of desecration at Phagwara yesterday, Badal said he had already directed the authorities concerned to go into the causes of the incident.


Beating up of BJP worker
Khanauri SHO sent to Police Lines
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 13
In a case of alleged beating up of a BJP worker and Khanauri iron merchant Ashok Kumar on February 1 by Khanauri SHO Rulda Singh and some other policemen, Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh today initiated disciplinary action against the SHO and shifted him to the Sangrur Police Lines.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone this evening, the SSP said though disciplinary action had been taken against the Khanauri SHO but a departmental inquiry against him was still in progress. Meanwhile, a three-member team of the Punjab BJP headed by former minister Balramji Dass Tandon today visited Khanauri. On the occasion district BJP president Jatinder Kalra was also present.

Tandon said they had met the BJP and the SAD leaders and workers at Khanauri and held talks with them. He said this happened for the first time that the BJP leaders had complained to the BJP high command that certain SAD leaders had organised a dharna in support of the SHO.

Tandon also said though the SHO had been removed from Khanauri, but he had been sent back to Khanauri as SHO after two days under pressure from the SAD leaders.


SAD-BJP’s Feb 26 rally a stunt, say Cong leaders
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 13
Criticising the SAD-BJP combine government for taking political benefit from farmers and industrial package issue, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Congress leaders, in joint statement today termed the February 26 SAD-BJP rally as a stunt.

The two leaders said the SAD-BJP government had no right to hold a rally on these issues, as it was their government which gave tax holiday to neighbouring states leaving Punjab. Sukhbir Badal was then the union industrial minister when the package was announced to neighbouring states, they added.

They flayed minister Bikram Singh Majithia for making baseless statements on the farmers issue. They said the SAD-BJP had no moral right to speak on farmers issues.

It was the government of Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister, which terminated the water Act in the Assembly, an issue which Parkash Singh Badal, has exploited for more than three decades and never dared to implement whenever he came to power, they alleged adding that it was the UPA government, which had raised the MSP of paddy and wheat.


Transport Nagar ‘waste of public money’ 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 13
The Transport Nagar conceived to decongest Ropar from vehicles has proved to be a waste of public money. Crores of public money was spent by the Ropar Improvement Trust on the infrastructure for the nagar, but not even a single transporter has moved into the facility.

The facilities like cemented roads, shops, streetlight, glow signs and parking places are covered with elephant grass now. Most of the streetlights installed here have been stolen or destroyed and other infrastructure has been decayed.

The nagar was conceived here more than a decade ago by the Trust authorities. Since then crores have been spent on its development by the Trust without proper planning. An inquiry into the amount spent on the nagar in 10 years can turn out to be another scam.

The purpose of constructing the nagar has also been defeated as most of the trucks in Ropar are still parked along roadsides leading to traffic congestion.

The Trust executive officer said they had repeatedly written to the police to make truck operators park their vehicles in the nagar. However, nothing has been done due to which the facility lies unutilised.

Deputy commissioner B. Purusartha who is the present administrator of the Trust, said a new scheme was being sent to the government to put the facilities at the nagar into use. A proposal had been mooted to rehabilitate the shopkeepers who would be displaced due the widening of the Chandigarh-Kiratpur highway in the nagar.

Local leaders have also supported the move of the administration to rehabilitate the uprooted shopkeepers in the nagar.

Dr R.S. Parmar today met the DC along with the affected shopkeepers.

Later, he said most of the shops in the nagar were vacant due the high price fixed by the Trust. The Trust authorities are demanding a reserve price of Rs 6,000 per sq yd for shops in the nagar.

“At Patiala recently, the shopkeepers displaced due to the widening of roads were allotted shops at a price of Rs 1,250 per sq yd. We are demanding that shopkeepers to be displaced here also should be given shops at concessional rates. The shopkeepers here are willing to pay Rs 3,000 per sq yd. We have also submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Chief Minister,” he said.

By putting the decaying infrastructure into use, the government can decongest the traffic in Ropar and recover a portion of amount spend on it over a period of time.


Toll: Charging of ex-servicemen stayed
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 13
The Gurdaspur civil judge (senior division) has issued stay orders to Rohan Rajdeep Tollway’s Limited on charging toll on the Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road from ex-servicemen and their families in violation of the Ministry of Surface Transport guidelines. The case will now come up for hearing on February 21.

The court had earlier directed the company to establish its claims till February 13 in this regard.

Seeking permanent injunction and restrain orders to the company and its agents from charging the toll from the ex-servicemen, Col (retd) Dharam Singh, president of the Rashtriya Raksha Dal, and three ex-servicemen of Gurdaspur have moved the the court of Sangeet Pal Singh, civil judge (senior division) in this regard.

The complainants have claimed that the Ministry of Surface Transport has exempted them from paying the same. They have also said that while the Ministry of Surface Transport had exempted the ex-servicemen, Ramesh Chand, toll manager of Rohan Rajdeep Tollways Ltd and based at Mangarh on the Dasuya-Hoshiarpur, road continues to charge them.


Study on kinnow for anti-cancer properties
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Horticulture Department is initiating a study to check if a natural compound found in kinnow can be used for treating cancer patients and help in lowering cholesterol in the blood.

The department has approached the Punjab Farmers Commission to either have a collaboration with the PGI or some other national-level institute to examine and study if limonene available in kinnow is useful for treating patients. The volume of limonene is of the same amount as vitamin C in the fruit.

The plan to conduct the study has come from Gurkanwal Singh, deputy director horticulture-cum nodal officer for citrus plantation, Punjab. He has based his plan on the findings of the US-based Agriculture Research Service.

Gurkanwal has contacted researcher Gary D. Manners, who is based in California, in this regard. Manners and his team have demonstrated that humans can readily get limonene from citrus each time they consume the fruit.

However, if the study proves that limonene is useful for treating the patients, it may be a boon for kinnow growers. Limonene can be extracted from peels, seeds and other processing leftovers. Presently, these leftovers, called citrus molasses, are sold as a low-cost ingredient. However, technology permits that these chemicals can be extracted from citrus molasses and used to fortify foods or beverages.

However, Manners has suggested to Gurkanwal Singh that until tests on humans are not conducted, limonene cannot be certified as an “anti-cancer” agent.


Probe into delay in secy’s reinstatement 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Coming down heavily on the state of Punjab and other respondents for “tardy and callous attitude to a genuine grievance”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered an inquiry into the delay in the reinstatement of a panchayat secretary after he was acquitted in a criminal case.

Pronouncing the directions in an open court on Gurdaspur district-based Jagmohan Singh’s petition against the state, the director of rural development and panchayat department, and two other respondents, a High Court Division Bench, comprising Justice Rajive Bhalla and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, also asked them to fix responsibility in the matter.

Seeking directions to the respondents to reinstate him as panchayat secretary following his acquittal in a criminal case, the petitioner had earlier contended that he was compelled to move the court as he was not reinstated despite repeated representations to the authorities concerned.

Going into the background of the case, counsel for the petitioner B.S. Baath had stated that Jagmohan Singh was dismissed from service after he was convicted in a criminal case. But he was acquitted vide order dated February 2, 2004.

Taking up the matter, the Bench observed: “During the pendency of the present writ petition, the respondents realised their mistake and reinstated the petitioner on December 13, 2007. Pursuant to the order, a reply by way of an affidavit of Bahadur Singh, deputy director (land department), department of rural development and panchayats, has been filed.

“The explanation, furnished in the affidavit, that there was some confusion as to the petitioner’s name in the order passed by the additional sessions judge, acquitting the petitioner, is a lame excuse and even if correct could not have taken three years to resolve”.

In their detailed order, the judges added: “Such a tardy and callous attitude to a genuine grievance speaks ill of government efficiency. Delays in governmental action lead to claims for interest, unnecessary burdening the public exchequer”

Before parting with the orders, the judges ruled: Consequently, though the writ petition has been rendered infructuous by the reinstatement of the petitioner, the respondents shall hold an inquiry into the delay in reinstatement and fix responsibility in respect thereof.


Gurbani contract violates Gurdwara Act: Society
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Referring to the reply filed by the SGPC, intervener Guru Nanak Universal Brotherhood Society has claimed that entering into an exclusive contract to make Gurbani a tool for earning profit for television networks and for the committee was illegal.

The society claimed that the contract also violated the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. Society chairman Dr Malkikat Singh Rahi said the reply concealed more than it revealed.

He claimed that the total amount from the contract ran into crores of rupees. It was evident from the fact that the SGPC was spending Rs 50 lakh annually, while as per the scheme prepared for internal management of the Golden Temple it could spend only 5 per cent of the income on education.

The submissions were made before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the resumed hearing on a writ petition by Tata Sky seeking directions to Zee TV to provide on reasonable payment the facility of Gurbani relay from the Golden Temple.

The Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia directed the SGPC to file an affidavit.

Pardon of 3 convicts challenged

In a petition filed before the high court, directions have been sought for quashing a notification issued by the Punjab government regarding the grant of pardon to three Barnala district residents convicted on murder charges and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The petition was filed by an aggrieved party, which claimed that the persons pardoned were subsequently released from jail vide the notification.

The petitioner, Rajinder Pal Singh of Mehal Kalan in Barnala district, submitted the notification was against the very spirit of natural Justice, especially as their appeal against the conviction was pending for further hearing before a high court Division Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice S.D. Anand. The petitioner has alleged political consideration as the prompting factor for the pardon.

After hearing the matter, the Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Sigh Ahluwalia transferred the case to the Bench of Justice Goel and Justice Anand.


AG gets notice in seniority case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Taking up a petition filed by 38 Punjab Police personnel, including inspectors and sub inspectors, against the state of Punjab, the DGP and 352 other respondents in a seniority case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a notice of motion to the state Advocate-General for February 20.

In the petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, Inspector Krishan Kumar and 37 others had sought directions for quashing orders of the deemed date of confirmation, deemed date of promotions as ASIs, and the deemed date of promotions as Inspectors of the 352 respondents.

Directions were also sought to finalise the tentative seniority list on the basis of the date of regular appointment as ASI, besides treating them as senior to the respondents.

Giving details, the petitioners had contended that they were all inspectors and sub inspectors, directly recruited in the Punjab Police as constables and head constables in 1990 and were confirmed in 1992. Yet, the 352 respondents recruited in the police service as constables and head constables, and were promoted on officiating basis, had been given the deemed date of promotion as sub inspectors and inspectors prior to the petitioners even though they were senior. 


Youth’s Murder 2 held, one gets police remand
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 13
After a protest by residents at Lehragaga yesterday, the police has arrested two persons allegedly involved in the murder of 23-year-old Sukhwinder Singh of Lehragaga. He was murdered with sharp-edged weapons a couple of days ago at Lehragaga.

The residents in protest against the non-arrest of the accused had yesterday blocked traffic and staged a dharna for about five hours at Lehragaga. They had lifted the dharna when SP (headquarters) Gurdeep Singh Pannu reached the dharna site and assured them that the accused would be nabbed in 24 hours.

When contacted over the phone today, Lehragaga DSP Tarun Rattan said Jatinderpal Singh and Baljit Singh had been arrested in this regard. He further said Jatinderpal was today produced in a court at Moonak, which remanded him in police custody for two days. 


Notice to Punjab over couple’s release
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a notice for March 10 to the state of Punjab and others on a petition filed by Amina Bai of Burj, in Kutch district of Gujrat, seeking directions for release of her son Ahmed and daughter-in-law Seema, now lodged in a jail at Amritsar.

The girl belongs to Karachi, while the boy had crossed over to Pakistan from Kutch. They were arrested at the Wagah border and sent to jail while the boy was returning to India after hearing about the death of his father.

In her petition before Justice Nawab Singh of the High Court, she claimed that they were not released despite completion of their sentence on December 23, 2007. She has also prayed for directions to appropriate authorities to grant them Indian citizenship. She has prayed that the matter be considered sympathetically as she was alone and her son wanted to look after her.


Tax on Entry of Goods into Local Areas
Govt simplifies payment mode
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
In just two months since its imposition, Punjab has managed to earn Rs 80 crore monthly revenue through the Punjab Tax on Entry of Goods into Local Areas Act. Seeing a good tax compliance, the Excise and Taxation Department has now decided to simplify the payment mode for the tax.

Talking to The Tribune here yesterday, additional excise and taxation commissioner Neel Kanth said the government had notified that entry tax could be paid through par cheques and submission of Form 36, wherein the payment could be made in 48 hours. Ever since the Act was notified on November 21, 2007, the mode of payment of this tax was only through cash or bank drafts.

“The alternative modes of payment have been introduced to simplify the procedure for trade and industry, which was finding it difficult to wait at entry points in the state and submit the tax before they could take the goods. In spite of the reservations of trade and industry, the collections have been quite promising and an average of Rs 80 crore per month has been collected,” he said.

Trade and industry in the state have been against the imposition of the tax, alleging that its implementation was leading to restriction on trade, commerce and similar activities throughout the country. A 4 per cent entry tax has been imposed on iron and steel, including scrap, dyes and chemicals, sugar and yarn. They allege that the imposition of this tax has seriously affected the routine functioning of industry and also led to a considerable hike in prices of sugar, iron and steel in the state. With as many as 35 entry points in the state, industrialists were peeved at the fact that they would have to give either drafts or cash for payment of tax at each entry point.

However, the government says the tax is just an advance collection of VAT which will not only safeguard the interests of local industry, but also check the leakage of tax revenue.

Meanwhile, general manager (Taxations), Glaxo Smithklime, R.C. Gupta has suggested that since the payment of the entry tax is eligible for input tax credit under VAT, its payment be allowed to be made on a monthly basis along with the VAT payments.


Wood-based units exempted from NOC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Punjab government today exempted wood-based industries from the condition of NOC from district magistrates, benefiting 6000 such units in the state.

Forest minister Tikshan Sud said the state government had obtained permission for licensing 6,000 wood-based units from the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) constituted by the Supreme Court.

The Punjab Forest Department has, therefore, decided to withdraw this condition in public interest with the concurrence of the CEC, finding this condition vague, unspecific and impracticable, the minister added.

He said all district forest officers had been directed to issue licences to existing wood-based units (approved by CEC) without insisting NOC from district magistrates.

The minister said besides providing huge relief to these units, the decision would give boost to employment generation in these units.


Freight Corridor
Industrialists back Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 13
Industrialists from Amritsar and Jalandhar here today came together to endorse Amritsar MP Navjot Sidhu’s demand for the extension of rail freight corridor from Ludhiana to the Attari border.

Blaming the Centre for giving step-motherly treatment to the industry of the border area, industrialists said they were being deprived of the corridor even though industry in the area had prospects of touching new heights if free trade begins with Pakistan.

Industrialists from Amritsar and Jalandhar declared to observe a bandh tomorrow to press for the demand.

Addressing a press conference, Sidhu said contrary to the very definition of a freight corridor being end-to-end, it was not being extended beyond Ludhiana. To add to it, bureaucrats are misleading industrialists with the argument that the 150-km of the area adjoining the corridor would also benefit from it even though this applies to the regions on the sides of the corridor and not beyond it, he alleged.

Earlier, Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, managing director, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, held a meeting with officials of different departments and asked them to come up with a plan for providing better facilities to people of Amritsar in a week’s time.

On being quizzed by industrialists on his failure to get an SEZ developed in Amritsar, Sidhu said the Centre was to be blamed for this, as it had banned the acquisition of more than 5 acres of land.

“If the BJP government comes to power at the Centre, I promise you that a notification for the SEZ would be issued within 15 days,” he said.


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