P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt to take on power panel
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Feeling embarrassed over the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission’s decision on power subsidy, the Punjab government is in the mood of taking on the commission by confronting it on certain issues.

“We can go to the extent of taking a policy decision to freeze power tariff for a few years to make the commission authorities sit idle”, said a senior functionary of the state government.

What has upset most the political executives of the state government is that the commission even ignored the government’s commitment given in writing to clear all subsidy dues to the tune of Rs 1,361 crore by the due date, February 29.

“We had given a commitment to the commission in writing to clear the subsidy, but commission showed undue haste to pass such an order that caused a lot of political embarrassment to the state government”, said the functionary. As we have decided to pay subsidy dues to the PSEB, we will not challenge this decision of the commission in an appellate court or the Supreme Court.

However, orders passed by the commission against loan recalling and charging of interest on it will be challenged in the appellate court. The PSEB has taken a loan of Rs 4,800 crore from the state government. Of it, Rs 2,300 crore is due for return to the government. However, the commission says the government should not recover the loan and Rs 48-crore interest on it. This decision of the commission would also be challenged before the appropriate authority, he added.

There were many hard questions to be posed to the commission. “We intend to submit a questionnaire to the commission”, he added. The commission had allowed the PSEB to purchase power worth Rs 2,800 crore from other states. However, the board purchased power worth Rs 4,800 crore. How, such a huge increase in the power-purchase bill was allowed?

Moreover, the PSEB had purchased power at a very high cost compared to other states like Haryana. The PSEB has paid about 40 per cent higher price to purchase power from market, said the functionary. Even the Planning Commission raised the question regarding the high price paid by the PSEB to purchase power from market.

“Commission’s at the moment is busy in regulating the state government and it is paying no attention to regulate the PSEB.”

Last year, the PSEB had projected a gap of Rs 4,864 crore in the revenue. However, the commission curtailed the figure to Rs 423 crore. On what basis the commission made such a heavy cut. And, the last year, the commission took a suo motu decision to hike the tariff and worked out tariff details itself. Now, when the PSEB filed its petition, the commission wanted that it should be specific on tariff hike proposals.


Tribune Impact
Centre seeks report on health services
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked the Punjab government to give a detailed report on the health services in the state. In a letter addressed to T.R. Sarangal, mission director, National Rural Health Mission, Punjab, a joint secretary of the ministry, Amarjeet Sinha, has asked the state government to go through the series of articles carried by The Tribune on the issue and send a detailed report to the ministry.

Taking note of The Tribune stories, the National Human Rights Commission had also recently asked the Punjab chief secretary to report on the state’s failure to provide basic health facilities.

However, despite the fact that the issue has attracted so much attention, the reality on the ground remains unchanged. A revisit to the government health sub-centre at Mianpur Changar village today presented almost the same picture as three weeks ago.

This sub-centre catering to hundreds of residents of nearby villages is locked and abandoned. The building was inaugurated to mark 50 years of India’s Independence, but is now in disuse. The main door of the building is locked. Other doors and windows are broken and one can see furniture inside with medicines and some other medical equipments lying on a table. The PHC is fully equipped, but there is no one to man it.

Residents of Mianpur Changar and the two most inaccessible villages in the area - Majri Colony and Tarapur - have no option, but to visit quacks in their villages or walk long distances to reach Khizrabad village. The Government Health Centre in this village is the nearest fully functional government health facility available to villagers.

The residents said no effort had been made by health officials of the district to find out why the PHC is non-functional. Also no effort had been made to find out why the doctor posted at the primary healthy centre at Tarapur village not been visiting the village.

Civil surgeon, SAS Nagar, Dr P.K. Mittal, however, said he had visited the sub-centre after these problems were highlighted. “The health sub-centre is manned by a male multipurpose employee and a woman nurse. Here, the post of the nurse is lying vacant and the other employee’s duty is to tour villages for malaria patients. When he is on tour, he has no option but to lock the sub-centre. It is otherwise functional. We would soon be filling the post of the woman nurse soon,” he said.

He added that the rural dispensary situated at Tarapur village was under the zila parishad. “The zila parishad has to ensure that the doctors are present and other employees are doing their work. The health department cannot ensure attendance of doctors in rural dispensaries,” said Dr Mittal.


7 die as truck collides with Tata Sumo
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Duggan (Sangrur), February 22
A pall of gloom descended over this village, about 10 km from Sangrur, today morning when villagers came to know about the death of seven persons of the village in a road accident.

The accident occurred last night on the Sangrur-Patiala road near Channo village, about 40 km from Sangrur, when a truck on its way to Bhawanigarh from Patiala side and a Tata Sumo going to the Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, had a head-on collision.

In the accident, six occupants of the Tata Sumo were killed on the spot, while five others sustained serious injuries, of whom Raju Singh later died at the Government Rajindra Hospital.

The deceased have been identified as Gurmail Singh (35), his wife Inderjit Kaur (32), his brother Raju Singh, his wife’s sister Sinder Kaur (41), Sapinder Singh (32), Roop Singh (40) and driver of the Tata Sumo Jaswinder Singh, alias Jassi (29). The injured persons were admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital.

Relatives of deceased Inderjit, a patient, were taking her in the Tata Sumo to the Government Rajindra Hospital for treatment when the mishap took place.

However, Inderjit’s two-and-half-year-old son escaped unhurt in this accident. The Bhawanigarh police has registered a case against the truck driver under Sections 279, 304-A, 337 and 338, IPC. However, the truck driver had fled from the scene.

Meanwhile, the bodies of the seven deceased persons after postmortem examination reached the village today.

Six deceased, all Dalits, were cremated at a mass cremation at a cremation ground in the village, while one deceased Jaswinder Singh was cremated at another cremation ground in the village.


Seechewal succeeds where admn fails
Stops toxic water flow from tanneries
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Nahal (Jalandhar), February 22
It took barely 15 minutes for residents and a dera team today to stop the discharge of toxic water from the local tanneries towards their villages. The district administration had failed to take up this task for the past many years despite repeated representations.

Carrying out an exemplary eco-drive for the welfare of over 70 villages falling along the Kala Sanghian drain, a dedicated workforce of environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal blocked a portion at Nahal village here by creating a barrier across the points from where the untreated waste from surgical and leather complex was being released via several low-lying outlets.

The baba and his kar sewaks stepped into the dark, smelly slur to put in sacks full of soil into the drain and create a barrier, thereby checking the discharge into the drain that further leads to Chitti Bein, Sutlej and Harike headworks. Water treated by an under-capacity treatment plant was, however, allowed to flow into the drain.

The drive was executed so smartly that the baba even managed to hoodwink the administration that, too, had reached the spot trying to apparently pressurise him against carrying it out. The officials were taken away for a round along the drain by the baba’s followers on the pretext of showing them various such outlets, when the exercise began.

Earlier, ADC (G) S. S. Marar and SP (city-I) S. K. Kalia tactically tried to convince him from taking the step. The baba’s followers, however, failed to budge, saying that the DC had already been informed about the plan almost 15 days back through a memorandum.

Seechewal later said the kar sewaks would stay at the site and ensure that the barrier was not lifted till the time the tanners, municipal corporation and industries stopped flow of untreated water into the drain.

He pointed out that the carcinogenic elements flowing into drain were being consumed by residents of Malwa region and Rajasthan, who got drinking water supply via feeders from Harike headworks. Asked what if the water overflowed due to the barrier, he replied, “Let it enter the leather complex and make the tanners realise the gravity of the situation”.

Tanners stood there helplessly watching the exercise. Avinash Chander, chief parliamentary secretary of health, also owns a tannery in the complex. Amandeep Sandhu, chairman of Punjab Leather Federation, said the problem would get resolved after another treatment plant would be set up in the complex.

A closed-door meeting was later conducted by the DC in which the Punjab Pollution Control Board was reportedly given a 15-day notice to identify the polluting units. Officials of the MC were also asked to check discharge of sewage into the drain in one month.

Seechewal declared that a similar obstruction would be created across a drain at Jamsher on March 31 in case the industries in residential areas around there did not stop the release of waste. He said the height of the barrier at Nahal village would also be raised in case the board failed to act.


AISAD names candidate for Amritsar bypoll
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) has decided to field its candidate from the Amritsar (South) Assembly constituency where byelection has been necessitated due to the death of sitting SAD MLA Raminder Singh Bolaria.

Disclosing this to the media here today, president of the party Jaswant Singh Mann said the party had unanimously decided that Satnam Singh Kanda would contest the coming byelection with the support of like-minded parties to defeat the candidates of the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress.

The SAD-BJP combine is yet to announce its candidate for the bhog of Bolaria falls on February 24.

Mann said the AISAD would continue its struggle to dislodge the Badal family from power and restore Sikh traditions and maryada.


Sikhism: Tarlochan flays govt, SGPC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Former chairman of the National Minorities Commission and member, Rajya Sabha, Tarlochan Singh has criticised the Punjab government and the SGPC for trying to “narrow the ambit of Sikhism for their vested interests of controlling admissions to educational institutions by characterising them as minority institutions”.

Tarlochan Singh was reacting to an appeal filed by the Punjab government and the SGPC before the Supreme Court against a judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court saying the Sikhs were not a minority community in Punjab.

In a statement here on Wednesday Tarlochan Singh said by denying voting rights to the Sehjdhari Sikhs in the SGPC elections, the community had already shown the door to Sindhi Sikhs and members of the Udaasi sect.

Now by saying the Radhsoamis, Namdharis and followers of Baba Dyalji were not part of the Sikh community, the community was being narrowed further.

He said vested interests were narrowing the confines of a religion founded by Guru Nanak Dev just to seek admission to education institutions. Earlier, the SGPC used to claim that the Sikhs in the world number over two crore. But the new stance of the SGPC would reduce the population of the Sikhs in the world to mere 50 lakh. This would create a grave crisis for the community at the world level in future.

Tarlochan Singh said the Arya Samaj and the Sanatan Dharam had conflicting principles, but both were Hindus. Similarly, Catholics and Protestants and Shias and Sunnis followed different principles, but were called Christians and Muslims, respectively. It was unfortunate that leaders of the Sikh community were not willing to accept members of various Sikh sects as Sikhs.

Describing the issue as “political,” he said before going to the Supreme Court, the SGPC and the Punjab government should have consulted intellectuals and legal experts as well as taken the MPs into confidence so that the issue could be raised in Parliament. 


A Tribune Impact
Balwinder to get Rs 25,000

Tarn Taran, February 22
The Health Department has decided to give Rs 25,000 under the health insurance scheme and also announced to bear all treatment expenses of Balwinder Singh, whose condition had deteriorated after undergoing vasectomy operation at a Government Health Centre.

The matter was highlighted today by The Tribune from Tarn Taran.

Amrit Kaur, civil surgeon, while talking to The Tribune here today said the department had decided to give the amount to Balwinder immediately. She further said Balwinder was a diabetic and had come to the Civil Hospital for vasectomy, but the doctors denied to admit him and later he went to Kairon hospital for the operation.

The civil surgeon further said the department would enquire into the matter and take action in case of any negligence on the part of any doctor. She added that the department had started treating Balwinder at the local Civil Hospital. 


Farmers lead the way
Create forest cover, reap rich dividends
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Khera Bet (Ludhiana), February 22
While forests in the country are crying hoarse over the hapless plundering by humans, this village along the Sutlej, in a unique endeavour, has converted the entire land into a thick forest. It is worth mentioning that one of the biggest villages in Punjab, with over 3,900 acres of land, started afforestation more than two decades ago.

Tall thick foliage of poplar trees gives a perfect jungle-like setting to the houses located in the middle of the forest along the river. The plantation started wayback in 1984. Today, more than 90 per cent of the village adorns thousands of tall poplar trees. A majority of the remaining land bears the impression of recently felled trees or small saplings which have just started to grow. The area under the forest cover also has wheat growing under its shade.

Harmohanjit Singh, a farmer, said afforestation was started by Capt Rattan Singh in 1984. He said, "A couple of farmers began a year later. However, a majority of the villagers thought we (tree growers) don't work hard in the fields which is why we are growing trees. However, when we harvested the trees in 1990 and got the returns, the whole village joined the drive. Capt Rattan Singh worked out the finances and also helped the farmers getting finance from the bank".

Ranbir Singh Sidhu, president of the PAU Tree Growers Association, said, "A farmer gets about Rs 50,000 for the trees in an acre. Farmers need to be patient for the first five years of the plantation. The villagers have the trees cut through rotation which ensures definite income every year. Less water consumption, better green cover and higher returns for farmers are the biggest attraction for the tree crop".

The villagers are receiving regular guidance from the Department of Forestry and natural resources at Punjab Agricultural University. Dr Avtar Singh, senior silviculturalist at the university, said, "During our visits here for the past more than 20 years, we are associated with the growth, care and marketing of the trees. "

Tehal Singh, a former sarpanch, said, "Forest cover is also a big gain to labourers in the village. The workforce is sought by the farmers from all over the state and because of their expertise a worker earns more than Rs 400 per day as against approximately Rs 100 earned by a common labourer.”

Fateh Yab Singh Sandhu, treasurer of the association, said, "The government has till date not implemented the Marketing Act, 1998, for the forest produce forcing farmers think about quitting the tree growing exercise. Farmers are paid peanuts and the ultimate gainers are those who sell plywood and other finished products".


Facing scorn, misery unitedly
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, February 22
Determined to fight a life full of scorn, rebuke and misery, a small group of HIV positive widows from rural Punjab has taken to a path that may prove to be a major initiative in making people living with HIV/AIDS self-reliant, fight stigma and show a ray of hope to others.

The blessings of Gurus appear obvious in the formation of Punjab’s first self-help group of HIV positive women, who joined hands earlier this week here at this historic town that gave birth to Khalsa, the baptised Sikh over 300 years ago.

“We look at the formation of this self-help group as a rebirth. Our group wants to be financially self-reliant so that we can tell our relatives that we are no longer at the mercy or doles of relations for travel to a medical centres or to buy emergency drugs”, says Avtar Kaur, democratically elected president of the Bhai Ghania Self-Help Group.

Counselled by a local NGO, Ambuja Foundation, these 12 initial members will save Rs 50 each for three months. Out of the Rs 1,800 thus collected, they will open a bank account with Rs 500 and keep the remaining Rs 1,300 to be loaned to members at a nominal interest of 2 per cent. “Hopefully this amount will grow as more people join the group”, says group member Satinder.

The NGO runs drop-in centres at Ghaunala on the Ropar-Kiratpur road and on the premises of the Bhai Ghania Gurdwara opposite railway station at Anandpur Sahib. It has identified about 80 HIV positive persons living in a radius of around 60 km. “As the word spreads, more people show their willingness to get networked”, says project director Mohinder Singh.

The self-help group not only aims at providing financial support to its members, but also acting as an extended family. “After my husband’s death, my father-in-law tried to rape me. When I resisted I was thrown out of the house. For many months I was not allowed to meet my children. Only recently, this group of HIV positive people accompanied me to my in-laws and confronted them. Seeing so many people come to my support, my children were allowed to come with me”, says Harbans Kaur (name changed) of Heerpur village. The group gives each other moral support besides making others feel cared and wanted in the absence of their own families abandoning them because of prevailing myths about HIV/AIDS. The network includes two married couples, whose marriages were on the rocks after one spouse discovered that the other was not only infected, but had passed on the virus to them. But, with counselling and support, they have decided to face the odds together.

The entire group has consciously decided to make their HIV status known so that they are an inspiration for the other HIV positive groups. 


Power cuts plague border industry
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 22
The state government’s recent decision of two-day power cut has put the industry in a piquant situation due to the prevailing power scenario. The worst affected are the agro-processing units which require regular power supply to run units.

Exporter K.R.S. Sobti, lamented power woes had hit the export-oriented agro- rice industry in the region. He said in case power situation remained dismal it would hit growth of industry. He said parboiled units of the rice industry required continuous power supply and the two-day-long power cut in a week would hamper export schedules .

Sobti pointed out the government must ensure quality and uninterrupted power supply to allow the industry which had suffered immense damage during militancy.

Meanwhile, Gunbir Singh, president of Amritsar, CII, said the government was committed to giving regular power to industry.


Inside Babudom
Politics over ACRs 
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
In what could indicate the lack of administrative control over the bureaucracy and the police in Punjab, the annual confidential reports (ACRs) of several IAS officers have been pending for more than three years and for more than one year in the case of IPS officers.

The reports are pending despite the fact that the union ministry of personnel wants ACRs to be completed in time i.e. within a few months of the year having ended.

In some cases ACRs of 2004-05 have not been submitted to the government. The ACRs of 52 IAS officers for the year ending March, 2007, have not been submitted. This means the ACRs of around 33 per cent of the total 149 IAS officers are yet to be submitted to the government.

The ACRs are used for empanelling officials at the Central government level and to have access to the performance of an official. An ACR is initiated by the officer himself and this is then accted, downgraded or upgraded by his or her senior. Sources in the government said nobody knew how the work of officers was being assessed.

Today, perceptions of political masters matter and the assessment carried out by senior IAS officers or their juniors hold no weightage. It is the loyalty of an officer to a politician that is given weightage in the ACR.

This glaring lack of control of administration over the bureaucracy came to the fore after Kamal Anand of the Sangrur-based People for Transparency, procured information under the Right to Information Act on the functioning of the government.

The sources said everybody knew that completion of an ACR, a sensitive document in the government, was being treated casually. Various reminders to the authorities concerned had not yielded anything.

Take a look at this. Among the IAS officers, the total backlog of ACRs for the year ending March, 2007, is 192. This backlog is over the past three years or more. The sources said the pendency of ACRs had become more of a norm in the past few years. Last year the total pendency of ACRs stood at 209.

Among the IPS officers, 115 were to submit their ACRs in 2006-07 and 27 of these ACRs were never received by the government. However, in the IPS cadre, the pendency is lesser than in the case of the IAS officers. No ACR is pending beyond one year.


PCS Recruitments
Secy, UPSC to chalk out modalities
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
There is finally hope of Punjab overcoming the nine-year-old stalemate over recruitments to the provincial bureaucracy. Chief secretary R.I Singh is scheduled to meet member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on Monday to chalk out the modalities so that the apex recruitment agency in the country takes over the role of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) to induct officers for the state.

After the cash-for-jobs scam in which many Provincial Civil Service (PCS) posts, both Executive and Judicial, were allegedly sold for a cost, Punjab has seen no induction of new officers leading to an acute shortage. There is a shortage of 100 or 150 PCS (executive) officers alone, besides the shortage in other allied services had reached an unprecedented level, affecting the functioning of the state government.

Punjab had written to the UPSC to hold a test for recruiting officers at various levels. Initially, the UPSC sent back a query asking if the rules permitted Punjab to hand over the recruitment process to this central agency. Subsequently, Punjab amended rules to enable UPSC conduct the written test and interview and supply the names of the selected candidates to the government.

For the past many months, the UPSC has been non-committal in the matter and even did not respond to the government’s reminders. Finally, on February 25, the chief secretary will meet the members of the UPSC.

Various employees association have been pressing the government to enhance the retirement age of from 58 to 60. The state government does not want to get the recruitment of new officers conducted by the PPSC because the members owe affiliation to different political parties and the government feels that the selection may not be fair.


Bathinda to have hotel institute
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab government has decided in principle to set up a state-of-the-art Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) at Bathinda to provide academic facilities in the diverse fields of hotel management, catering, nutrition and hospitality.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today morning. It was also decided in the meeting to get the Institute of Hotel Management Catering and Nutrition Society, Bathinda, registered forthwith so that the funds to the tune of Rs 10 crore, to be received from the Indian government, could be transferred to the society for the timely implementation of the project.

Board for Language Dept

The government has constituted the State Advisory Board for the Language Department, Punjab, comprising 32 members from Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu literature and languages, media and eminent personalities. Disclosing this here today, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education and languages minister, Punjab, said 16 more members had been included by virtue of their designation and offices.


Women’s entry into temple 
Chawla to mobilise public opinion 
Tribune News Service 

Amritsar, February 22 
After priests of Baba Balak Nath Sidhpeet (Deotsidh), HP, disallowed Laxmi Kanta Chawla, health minister, to pay obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, she has decided to mobilise public opinion against this age-old tradition.

Chawla said it was unfortunate that women were still facing male chauvinism though the President of India was a woman.

She asked if the priests would stop entry of the President of India into the temple if she visited this place?


Farmers seek cancellation of criminal cases
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
Seeking a high-level probe into the alleged one-sided action against farmer activists involved in a clash with shopkeepers during a bandh call here a couple of days ago, various farmer organisations, in a joint statement, have urged the administration to cancel the criminal cases registered against them.

While four farmers were injured, one of them seriously, in the clash, the police registered a case under Section 307, IPC (attempt to murder), against the farmers, including the old among them.


High Court
PUDA told to prefer needy
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Making it clear that investors and speculators were required to be discouraged, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to ensure preference to the needy.

The ruling by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, comes on a petition filed by one Ashok Kumar. The petitioner had failed to deposit the entire amount for a plot allotted to him, even after lapse of several years.

Dismissing his petition, the Judges observed: There is huge demand amongst other people of Punjab for plots developed by PUDA. It is only the needy persons, who acquire the plots for their own habitat, and pay the instalments in time.

They should be given preference to such allotments, instead of a person, who was allotted a plot in the year 1999 and did not deposit the outstanding amount on account of instalments till August 6, 2003, when the allotment was cancelled.

Thereafter, he specifically sought time from the appellate authority by giving an undertaking that he would deposit the amount within one day and when he failed to deposit the same, he started making lame excuse of not receiving the order till June 7, 2006.

The judges added if preference was not given to the genuine, “the plots will not go to the needy persons, and it will go to persons, who take these as investment ventures and speculate thereon.”.

Appearing before the Bench, counsel for the petitioner had earlier assailed the findings of PUDA additional chief administrator on the ground that the order passed on May 17, 2006, was sent to him only on June 7, 2006. As such, it could not be complied on time. He contended on May 19, 2006, the petitioner deposited Rs 99,600 and was now willing to deposit the entire amount with interest.

After going through the record, the judges ruled: No relief can be granted to the petitioner. The petitioner was never interested in depositing the amount. The theory put in by counsel for the petitioner that order dated May 17, 2006, was communicated to him on June 7, 2006, is without any basis. There was no need to communicate the said order to the petitioner as on May 17, 2006, the petitioner himself had undertaken before the additional chief administrator that he might be given one-day time so that the remaining amount might be deposited.

PCS seniority issue

The High Court today asked Punjab chief secretary to take a final decision on a communiqué for recasting the seniority list of PCS (executive branch) officers in accordance with an apex court judgment. IAS officer-cum-Mohali’s deputy commissioner Harjit Inder Singh Grewal has filed the petition.

In his petition placed before a High Court Division Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, Grewal had earlier sought directions to the Union of India and the state of Punjab through the chief secretary to finalise the seniority list of 1979 PCS officers (executive Branch) “as had been done in the case of persons of batches junior to the petitioner”. In a representation annexed along with the petition, he had added recasting of the seniority list should be carried out in the light of a Supreme Court judgment in Ajit Singh Janjua II matter, and Punjab government circular dated October 23, 2000. The petitioner had added that he might be deemed to be appointed as IAS on December 14, 1995, and assigned the year of allotment as 1990. Disposing of the petition, the Judges added: Respondent, chief secretary Punjab, is directed to take a final decision by passing a speaking order on the representation within two months of receiving the order’s copy.

Entrust cases to Lok Adalats: PIL

In public interest litigation, a Gurgaon-based advocate raised the plea for entrusting cases arising out of land acquisition proceedings to Lok Adalats, instead of the courts.

In his petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, advocate Rup Lal Aggarwal argued the states of Punjab and Haryana, besides Chandigarh Administration, had been acquiring land compulsorily invoking provisions in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894; Punjab Town Improvement Act, 1922; along with Punjab Regional Town Planning and Development Act, 1995, for various purposes. Subsequently, the awards were announced and appeal against the award preferred before the collector etc.

The litigation had increased due to rapid urbanisation and continued inflow of rural population into the cities leading to increased acquisition of the land. The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia issued notice of motion for April 24 to Punjab and Haryana, along with Chandigarh Administration and respective legal services authorities.


Board goes on anti-copying drive
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 22
The Punjab School Education Board launched a statewide anti-copying campaign here today. Advertisement on buses, posters in schools and other public places and media campaign would motivate students and their parents in this connection.

Dalbir Singh Dhillon, chairman of the board, during a press conference held here said this campaign would motivate parents and society to help them curb this menace. He said in recent past copying cases had increased, especially in rural and border areas of the state. “If we reach out to the parents with this message, I believe that half the battle would be won,” he added.

He further said strict steps had been taken to check copying during examination. Special flying squad had been constituted. He said the district education officers had provided the list of qualified and honest examination staff to be posted at examination halls. The board had appointed a superintendent and supervisors at examination centres. He further said instead of school staff services of principals and lecturers of different colleges had been taken for checking the menace. He said special flying teams had been formed for border areas.

Dhillon said the district administrations had been asked to impose Section 144 CrPC in and around examination centres. The board had also decided to introduce re-evaluation of answersheets of senior secondary examination from this academic session. He said services of some private companies would be hired for preparing and distributing certificates and detailed marks cards of class V. He added that an independent website of the board was ready and it would go online before March 31. 


Travel agent held for duping Hoshiarpur resident 
Sandeep Yadav
Tribune News service

New Delhi, February 22
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police has arrested a Pitampura-based travel agent Blawinder Singh in a case of cheating a Hoshiarpur resident Sarwan Singh of Rs 16 lakh.

Balwinder Singh had promised Sarwan Singh’s son Amarpreet Singh, a USA visa and a job there in return of the amount. Balwinder not only failed to deliver what he had promised but also did not return the money. The travel agent was taken on a two-day remand by the EOW after he was produced in the court.

Resident of Pawen village in Dasayu tehsil Sarwan Singh is still awaiting the return of the amount that he paid to the travel agent.

According to Rupinderpreet, younger son of Sarwan, his father had paid the travel agent drafts of Rs 15.45 lakh and about Rs 50,000 in 2001. In return Balwinder was to arrange for a job and a USA visa for Amarpreet, who was a chemical engineer. However, even after a lapse of six months Balwinder failed to arrange for the visa.

When the family contacted the travel agent he asked them to wait for another few months as the USA had made the visa scrutiny strict. “But even after another six months he could not keep his promise. As a result we asked him to return our money. After lots of calls and personal visits Balwinder gave us a cheque of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh in 2003, but both bounced”, told Rupinderpreet.

The family refrained from taking a legal action for quite sometime. However, the family finally lodged a complaint with the EOW, Delhi, in 2007 under Sections 406 and 420, IPC. 


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