P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Budget Allocation
FM pumps in 100 pc energy
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Conscious of the fact that Punjab cannot achieve much in terms of agriculture and industrial growth in the absence of energy availability, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal has increased the allocation to the energy sector by 100 per cent over the last fiscal. Almost 35 per cent of the plan size, the proposed outlay for energy has been pegged at Rs 2,204 crore.

Badal told the Vidhan Sabha that the second phase of the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant would be commissioned by June, adding another 500 MW. He has put aside Rs 1,765 crore for strengthening of the transmission distribution system against Rs 778 crore during 2007-08.

The finance minister told the House that he had become the most unpopular person in the state for being an accountant attempting to revive the poor fiscal health.

Giving details about the expenditure he proposes to make for improving the energy sector, he said Rs 200 crore would be spent on the renovation and modernisation of phases III and IV of the Bathinda thermal plant, Rs 10 crore for its phase I, Rs 63 crore for completion of the Lehra Mohabbat plant, Rs 43.5 crore for modernisation of Bhakra power house, Rs 50 crore for Mukerian hydel phase II, Rs 45 crore for Shahpur Kandi Dam and Rs 2.47 for other renewable energy programmes.

He promised to provide an additional Rs 100 crore to the industry as subsidy, apart from the Rs 150 already provided. The industry would get Rs 23 crore for improvement in existing infrastructure and creation of new focal points. “Some help coupled with a UNIDO-assisted new industrial policy will help and facilitate industrial growth and investment,” he told legislators, who listened with rapt attention to his hour-long speech.

Presenting his second budget, Manpreet said, “Productivity and profitability of agriculture must be addressed upfront in order to ensure nation’s food security. Productivity has stagnated in the absence of scientific breakthroughs in new high-yielding varieties. On the other hand, per farm household debt in Punjab at Rs 41,576 is the highest in the country, more than three times the all-India average of Rs 12,585.”

To sustain and diversify agriculture the budget allocates Rs 48 crore for pilot projects, Rs 100 crore under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, Rs 60 crore under the National Horticulture Mission, Rs 5 crore for citrus cultivation, Rs 7 crore for PAU, Ludhiana. An overall outlay of Rs 172.66 crore has been proposed under crop husbandry while Rs 12.50 crore has been given for soil and water conservation.

Irrigation gets an outlay of Rs 350 crore. This will be used for extension of phase II of Kandi canal at a cost of Rs 50 crore, construction of the Shahpur Kandi dam with Rs 8 crore, rehabilitation of the first Patiala feeder and Kotla branch at a cost of Rs 50 crore, rehabilitation of the Bist Doab canal system with Rs 5 crore, conversion of the Banur canal from non-perennial to perennial system at a cost of Rs 20 crore, minor irrigation through tube wells at a cost of Rs 15 crore.

Another Rs 59.61 crore have been provided for flood control operations, Rs 12 crore for hydrology project and Rs 5 crore for Sri Dashmesh Canal irrigation project.


Budget provides bima yojna to BPL families
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Opposition on budget

  • Except Urdu couplets, there is nothing in the budget. There was no substance. It is an exercise in futility: Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly
  • Disappointing and hollow budget in terms of future growth of the state. No focus on industry: Kewal Singh Dhillon, Congress MLA and industrialist.
  • Directionless and escapist budget: Rana Gurjeet Singh, Congress MP and industrialist
  • Lacklustre budget with nothing to inspire: Sukhpal Khaira, Congress MLA.

Chandigarh, March 17
Fulfilling its social sector responsibility, the budget for the 2008-09 fiscal has provided for the introduction of Janshree Bima Yojana (a government of India scheme) in 2008-09 for providing an insurance cover of Rs 75, 000 for accidental death and Rs 30,000 for natural death through LIC for the below poverty line (BPL) families.

Stating this in his budget speech, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the Centre and the state would share the premium of Rs 200 per annum per family equally. The government remained committed to the responsibility towards the weaker sections of society and disadvantaged groups who are being helped through a Dedicated Social Security Fund funded by a 5 per cent cess of electricity duty and a 3 per cent additional stamp duty on urban land transactions.

The finance minister stated that the allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Castes had been increased by 28.85 per cent from Rs 1,330 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 1,792 crore for the current fiscal. This includes Rs 40 crore for the marriage grant at the rate of Rs 15,000 under shagun scheme, Rs 5 crore for the construction of Ambedkar Bhawans, Rs 18 crore for attendance scholarship to SC primary level girls, Rs 15 crore for construction of houses for homeless, Rs 5 core for construction and repair of dharamsala, Rs 5 core for new courses for vocational training to SC students, Rs 10 crore in form of grant-in-aid for the purchase of schools bags, uniform, shoes etc, Rs 1 crore encouragement award for SC girls for pursuing class XII education and a pre-matric scholarship for OBC students with an outlay of Rs 4 crore.

Badal said an insurance scheme started with a voluntary contribution of Rs 1,000 per month from the salary of members of the Cabinet, chief parliamentary secretaries, parliamentary secretaries, and Class I and II officers has resulted in the ‘Punjab State Relief to Poor, Needy and Destitute Fund’.

The budget also envisages a sum of Rs 30 crore for the Department of Employment Generation wherein schemes would be worked out to enhance the skill and competency of the students through training in courses relating to livestock, construction, textile industry, vocational education, introduction of more courses in polytechnics, Institute for Pilot Training, training in retail and overseas placements.

Similarly Rs 329.82 cr have been allocated for school education wherein Rs 75 crore is for Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan , Rs 75.64 crore for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Rs 10 cr for the implementation of EDUSAT project, Rs 49.45 cr for the extension of Information and Communication Technology project, Rs 10 cr for the augmentation of school infrastructure from the education cess.


Loan waiver: Include us, small farmers to govt
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Insisting on their inclusion in the loan waiver scheme, small and marginal farmers who have taken loans from money lenders, blocked a road in Sector 17 here today for over an hour even as the Punjab government presented the budget in the Assembly.

Though the rally was schedule to start at 11 am, protesters began assembling near the Parade Ground in Sector 17 since early morning. Representatives of seven farmers organisations under the aegis of the Karza Mukti Sanjha Sangarash Morcha wanted to take out a march towards the Punjab Assembly, which brought the Chandigarh Police on its toes. It tried to persuade them to go to the Sector 25 rally ground, but the leaders refused to budge.

The police then called anti-riot force at the cricket stadium chowk and put up barricades there. At 2 pm the farmers begun their march toward the Matka Chowk. The police finally managed to persuade them to stop at the stadium chowk. The agitating farmers staged a protest there leading to a blockade. Traffic was diverted while the Sector 17 ISBT-bound passengers bore the brunt of the protest as they got caught in it. Long queues of vehicles were seen on roads leading to the stadium chowk, which led to traffic jams even at Sector 34 and Kisan Bhawan chowks.

Senior officials of the UT administration, including additional deputy commissioner Inderjit Singh Sandhu, SP (city) S.S. Randhawa and illaqa magistrate Navjot Singh Sandhu, reached the spot. The protest ended at around 3:15 pm when the OSD to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal came there to take the memorandum.

Representatives of the Kirti Kisan Union, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), Punjab, Kisan Sangarash Committee, Punjab Kisan Union and Bharti Kisan Union (Krantikari) said the state government was not serious in protecting farmers from money lenders. Hardev Singh Sandhu, Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Buta Singh Burj Gill, Ruldhu Singh Mansa and Satnam Singh were among those who addressed the gathering. They demanded that the loans from cooperative societies should be waived.


Sarabjit: Residents express solidarity
Sanjay Bumbroo and Gurbaxpuri

PM urged to intervene
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Punjab Assembly today unanimously passed a resolution requesting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the case of Sarabjit Singh, to be hanged on April 1, with the Pakistan government. Members of the Assembly said the Pakistan government should be immediately contacted to get the death warrant revoked.

Bhikhiwind, March 17
Residents of this border town to express solidarity with family members of Sarabjit Singh, on death row in Pakistan, organised a dharna here today.

BJP leaders Sadanand Chopra and Raj Kumar Sharma and SAD leader Arjan Dal Kalsi urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convince Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to show magnanimity and benevolence towards Sarabjit, as he had shown in the case of Kashmir Singh. They emphasised that this gesture on the part of the government of Pakistan would strengthen normalisation of relations between the two countries and generate goodwill on people-to-people basis.

Meanwhile, Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit, from New Delhi said she had met Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary, in this regard who had assured her to take up the matter with his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister.

Dalbir Kaur said revelations that he was a spy made by Kashmir Singh, who was recently released by the Pakistani authorities, had complicated their case. She said people across the border were also annoyed at the repatriation of the body of a cricket fan, who had come to India to watch the match in 2005 and had overstayed his visa limit.

She said she was in touch with human rights minister Ansar Burney who had made efforts for the release of Kashmir Singh.

Meanwhile, Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD chief, has sought the intervention of the Prime Minister to impress upon the Pakistan government to review the decision and secure Sarabjit’s early release. He urged the PM to take up the issue with General Musharraf. The SAD chief also urged the Union government to take up the case of Sarabjit as it was a case of mistaken identity and needed to be reviewed with utmost sensitivity.


16 prisoners on death row
Appeals pending
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 17
Mercy plea of Indian national Sarabjit Singh has been rejected and his death warrant received by the Kot Lakhpat Jail authorities in Pakistan. But records of the Punjab jails show that for 19 years not a single death warrant has been issued for any convict.

In the jails of Punjab, nearly 16 prisoners have been awarded death sentence and the reason behind the execution kept pending is that the rarest of the rare crime appeals are lying with the the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In the procured document, it has been mentioned that in the Patiala Central Jail six, Jalandhar one, Amritsar six and Ferozepur three convicts are kept, who have been awarded the capital punishment.

As per information procured from the Jail Department, Punjab, it has been 24 years when capital punishment was last executed in the Bathinda Central Jail.

The last sentenced convicts were Machhi Singh and Kashmir Singh, who were hanged till death on August 14, 1984. Jail authorities said gallows in the jail were in operative condition, but the courts had not issued any death sentence warrant for 24 years.


Kidney Trade Still Thriving
PO’s interrogation leads to arrest of 6
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 17
The chance arrest of a proclaimed offender (PO) and his subsequent interrogation in an NPSA case today led to the arrest of five persons, including middlemen, which established beyond doubt that the kidney scam is still thriving in the holy city.

Much before Gurgaon, Amritsar was the hub of kidney racket, which flourished with the connivance of doctors and officials.

According to district police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, the arrested persons are men of Vickey Bhatia, an absconder in the kidney racket case of 2002.

Police sources said the alleged accused used to lure gullible poor for selling their kidneys to unrelated persons. It is believed that a private hospital in Mohali and other states are still doing kidney transplants.

The police said Surinder Singh, a resident of New Kot Atma Ram who was absconding in NDPS Act, was arrested by the police, and during his investigation he disclosed that he was also involved in the kidney scam.

On his interrogation, five persons, including Ajay Kumar, Raju, Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Muzaffar Nagar, Kala and Gurwinder Singh of Bijnor district, were arrested.

They have been booked under Sections 420, 371 and 120-B, IPC.

The gang members were arrested when they were striking a deal with some prospective sellers of kidneys in a flat near the Jahajgarh area.

The kidney hunters (middlemen and musclemen) would pick up a large number of victims from railway stations and bus-stands. In many cases, the kidney sellers would lose their identity because of the fake name and addresses they would acquire in exchange of easy money in the past. A majority of them landed up in poor health and were kicked out without any penny in their pocket.

In the past too, the beneficiaries of the kidney scam had exploited loopholes in the rules and regulations, which were duly circumvented by the racketeers who produced fake documents to prove the donor and the recipients as part of one family.

During the peak of the kidney racket in 2003, a number of donors had to suffer at the hands of corrupt doctors who treated them shabbily. A couple of donors died as a result of poor post-operative care.


Economic Survey of Punjab
Slowdown in agriculture, manufacturing
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The economic survey of Punjab reveals a slowdown not just in agriculture, but also in the manufacturing sector.

Though there is an increase in gross state domestic product (GSDP) and per capita income, agriculture production and power generation has shown a negligible increase.

The survey, released by the state government today, reveals that the state has grown at a rate of 5.08 per cent during the 10th Five Year Plan as compared to a national growth of 7.77 per cent. The GSDP grew by 6. 32 per cent and the per capita income increased from Rs 28,872 to RS 30,158 in 2006-07.

Receipt from the state’s taxes have increased from Rs 8,989.28 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 9,757.91 crore in 2006-07. However, revenue deficit also increased from Rs 1,240.25 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 1,748.69 crore in 2006-07, which has now come down to Rs 1,429.49 crore.

There has been a marginal increase in food grain production. As a result, the state’s contribution to the central pool for wheat and rice has shown a rapid decline in the past two years. From a contribution of 92.4 lakh tonnes of wheat in 2004-05, the state’s share has dropped to 69.5 lakh tonnes.

Rice sent to the central pool, too, has decreased from 91.1 lakh tonnes to 78.3 lakh tonnes. The share of agriculture in GSDP has declined from 26.27 per cent in 1999-2000 to 20.65 per cent 2006-07.

Though growth has been witnessed in the secondary sector (manufacturing, construction and power sector), the increase is mainly on account of spurt in real estate activities, which is a consumptive sector rather than a productive one.

The state’s secondary sector grew at 8.40 per cent, as compared to 9.46 per cent at the all-India level, and its contribution to GSDP has increased from 22.75 per cent in 1999-2000 to 25.90 per cent in 2006-07.

The survey also reveals that structurally, Punjab’s economy is following a trend that a fall in the share of agricultural sector in GSDP has given a corresponding rise in the tertiary sector, whose contribution has increased from 39.72 per cent to 42.13 per cent.

It also points out the emphasis laid by the state on meeting the demand for electricity. The per capita power consumption has increased from 871 kWh in 204-05 to 968 kWh in 2006-07.

The survey also suggests prudent debt management to restore fiscal health of the state’s economy.

In the agriculture sector, it has suggested that the government lay stress on low water conservation techniques like zero tillage technology, raised bed plantations, agri processing; and cooperative farming. The survey highlights the importance of the services sector, especially in IT and ITeS.


State Concerns
Rising debt, expenditure on police
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
What should cause a major worry for the SAD-BJP government in Punjab is the mounting debt and shooting expenditure on the police.

As per the budget estimates, the debt by the end of the next fiscal year will touch Rs 57,369 crore that will be 278.49 per cent of the revenue receipts and more than 50 per cent of the total gross state domestic product of the state.

The estimated debt for the current financial year is of Rs 52,936 crore and it was Rs 48,344 crore (excluding Rs 3,772 crore of special term loan that has been waived) in 2006-07. Each fiscal year, the debt is going up by about Rs 5,000 crore, putting enhanced interest liability on the state.

During the next fiscal year, the interest liability will go up to Rs 4,817.87 crore, whereas it will be Rs 4,354.75 crore during the current fiscal year. In 2003-04, it was around Rs 3,700 crore.

In the next fiscal year, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal is expecting a share of Rs 2,325.39 crore as tax revenue from various taxes such as corporate tax, income tax, taxes on wealth, customs, union excise duties, services tax etc by the Union Government.

He has budgeted revenue to the tune of Rs 1,870 crore from the stamp duty, whereas for the current fiscal year it was pegged at Rs 2,300 crore and Rs 1,830 crore from state excise (liquor vends), Rs 6,290 crore from VAT, whereas for the current fiscal year it was estimated to be Rs 5,778 crore. Except on the stamp duty front, the state’s performance in enhancing revenue from other sources has remained by and large satisfactory.

The state’s expenditure on the police has been pegged at Rs 1,701.06 crore during the next fiscal year, whereas it was 1,312.10 crore in 2006-07. After education, police is the department on which the state has to make maximum allocation of funds, thus giving credibility to the notion that Punjab has become a police state.

During the next financial year, the transfer of resources from the Centre to the state will be to the tune of Rs 6,507.84 crore. It includes Rs 2,325 crore as share from the central taxes and Rs 4,297.44 crore as grants for various centrally sponsored schemes, central plan schemes, non-plan grants, grants for state plan schemes.


Another ’84 victim points finger at Sajjan
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 17
Another victim of the 1984 riots in Delhi has spoken up for the first time and accused Congress leader Sajjan Kumar of instigating mobs to attack gurdwaras and Sikhs in Delhi.

Harvinder Singh Kohli of Dera Bassi said at a press conference here today that he wanted to become an eyewitness in the case and demanded action against Sajjan Kumar.

Kohli, who broke down several times, said he had lost his father Sohan Singh Kohli and brother-in-law Avtar Singh in the riots. He said he and his mother Jaspal Kaur had got seriously injured. All this created a fear in him and as such he was unable to raise his voice.

He said after he read the story of Gurcharan Singh, a Balongi resident, whose statement regarding the 1984 riots was recorded by the CBI last week, he went to meet him. He said on seeing the condition of Gurcharan, who had become bed-ridden, his conscience compelled him to become a witness in the case. He said Gurcharan was his neighbour in Gulab Bagh Colony, Nawada, Delhi. He said he had seen from his roof that a truck belonging to the family of Gurcharan was set on fire and Gurcharan, who was 17 at that time, was thrown into the it.

He further told mediapersons that on November 1, 1984, at 8.15 am he had seen Sajjan coming in a beige coloured Fiat, along with four others. There were two trucks full of persons armed with iron rods and wooden planks and Sajjan and others were allegedly instigating them to attack a gurdwara in the colony. Soon three DTC buses full of people also reached the spot. They all attacked the gurdwara and started killing Sikhs.


Traffic blocked to seek Parveen’s release
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 17
Supporters of Parveen Kaur, a resident of the Mata Gujri Sahara Trust Hostel, who was arrested by the Haryana police allegedly for being a human bomb to kill Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, here today blocked traffic for several hours on the Sheranwala Gate Chowk.

Traffic came to a standstill as inmates of the hostel and members of the trust, led by Sohanjit Kaur, chairperson of the trust, blocked the traffic to draw the government’s attention to their demand for Parveen’s release allegedly framed by the Haryana police.

Asserting the girl, who studied in Government Mohindra College here, was innocent and had been arrested by the Karnal police and tortured during interrogation, the demonstrators warned the Punjab government they might be constrained to intensify agitation.

Sohanjit Kaur told reporters that even though Parveen was innocent she had been framed, while four women who had announced at the Sacha Sauda Dera that they were human bombs continued to move free.

Meanwhile, SDM Gurmeet Singh arrived there to accept a memorandum.


Integrated checkpost
Notices to land owners
Ashok Sethi and P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, March 17
The government has issued notices to farmers and land owners, both within the fence area and outside on the border with Pakistan, for setting up a modern integrated checkpost at Attari to facilitate trade with Pakistan.

Enthused by the truck movement allowed by both countries, the government has shown its commitment to acquire 120-acres near the border for constructing the post.

The notices were issued under Section 9 of the Land Property Act, 1894, wherein the land of farmers had been identified in this regard and they were asked to come forward with their claims as the government planned to offer handsome compensation, said Manpreet Singh, land acquiring officer-cum-SDM, Amritsar-II.

He said land to be taken over by the government for construction of the post had been classified into three categories. The category-A land on the main road would fetch Rs 45 lakh per acre, while the land adjacent to the link road would get Rs 24 lakh per acre and land across the fence would get Rs 20 lakh.

He felt that the government would fulfil its commitment as the farmers whose land was going to be taken over for the ambitious project would get fair compensation.


Protest over water crisis
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 17
Some areas, including Piran Wala Gate, Purani Kachehari and Kalidas Basti, of Sunam town, 13 km from here, have been facing serious drinking water crisis for the past two to three days.

Agitated over the non-supply of adequate water, residents of Sunam today gathered in the Piran Wala Gate area and demonstrated there against the council.

Executive officer (EO) of the council Rakesh Kumar said earlier there was problem in the machinery of a tube well of the council which had been removed, but soon after the motor of the tube well got burnt, due to which the existing water problem arose. He said the tube well motor was now lying with the mechanic, who would return it tomorrow after repairing it. He said the water supply would be normal by Tuesday evening in the affected areas.


Moga Sex Scam
Verdict reserved on anticipatory bail plea of Tota Singh’s son
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Justice Mahesh Grover of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved the verdict on anticipatory bail petition filed by Barjinder Singh, son of Punjab’s former minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leader Tota Singh, in Moga sex scam.

It was argued by the counsel for the petitioner that he had been implicated due to political reasons. Also, the petitioner’s counsel asserted Barjinder Singh was fully co-operating with the CBI and was ready to join further investigation as and when summoned. CBI counsel Rajan Gupta, on the other hand, asserted custodial interrogation of Barjinder Singh was required. He also again submitted there was enough evidence against Barjinder Singh.

HC orders CBI inquiry

Acting on a petition, pointing fingers at the Punjab police in the investigation into a murder case, the court directed a CBI probe in the matter. The probe was ordered by a Bench, comprising Justice MM Kumar and Justice TPS Mann, while taking up a petition filed by Ram Krishan Kalash of Chattishgarh. He had alleged that his son was ‘brutally murdered” and police had failed to investigate the case.

In his petition against the State of Punjab, the Director-General of Police and others, the petitioner said on June 6, 2003, he received a phone call that his son Sunil’s body was lying in a government hospital at Abohar. Petitioner said there were injury marks on the body and it was a case of brutal murder. However, no case was registered.

Order to release Rozana editor

Taking up an application filed by the Chief Editor of Rozana Spokeman Joginder Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High has directed his release on interin bail. Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Justice L.N. Mittal of the High Court ruled: Counsel for the petitioner stated that Joginder was only the Chief Editor of newspaper in which the alleged offensive article was published. Issuing notice of motion for July 21, the Judge added: “Meanwhile, the petitioner if arrested in FIR number 58, dated February 26, 2008, under Section 295-A of the IPC at police station Phagwara, or any other FIR related to the article, only shall be released on the interim bail on furnishing bail bonds to the satisfaction of the arresting officer, subject to the conditions specified in Section 438 (2) CrPC.

Joginder Singh had earlier contended he had written a front page editorial after the Punjab Government on March 4 had praised the chief minister using words such as saint politician. This, perhaps, infuriated the chief minister. In this background, cases have been registered against him.


Installation of Electricity Poles
Residents can’t object, says HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a vital judgement, has differentiated between nuisance and inconvenience.

It has also made it clear that inconvenience necessarily does not warrant court’s interference.

Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, in the same judgement, has also laid to rest the controversy on a person’s right to object to the placement of an electricity pole.

The Judge has held a citizen cannot object to the place of affixing the electric poles.

Pronouncing the directions in an open court on a revision petition, Justice Ahluwalia has ruled: “The petitioners before me may have inconvenience, but the very fact that the poles carry electricity and provide public utility does not amount to nuisance.”

The Judge further ruled: “A citizen cannot object as to which place electric poles should be affixed. The electricity department has to ensure that no person suffers any injury.”

Counsel for the Punjab State Electricity Board Kapil Kakkar has stated that the electricity department takes into consideration safeguards, which are necessary for the transmission of electricity.

Disposing of the petition, the Judge added: “Revisional court cannot come to the rescue of the petitioners. The petitioners, if so advised, under the specific provisions of the Indian Electricity Act, can approach the electricity board for the redressal of their grievance. Liberty to that extent is granted.”

Petitioners Gurdev Singh, Gurtej Singh and Jagmohan Singh had earlier moved an application for the removal of the electric poles installed for providing connection to a tubewell. After hearing both the sides on the issue, the SDM of Talwandi Sabo had accepted the application.

The tubewell owner, subsequently, filed a revision petition before the Bathinda additional sessions judge (ASJ).

Accepting the petition, the ASJ ordered the setting aside of the impugned order passed by the magistrate.

Appearing before the high court in revision, petitioners’ counsel contended the Indian Electricity Act permitted an aggrieved person to apply to the electricity board for the removal of the poles.

The expenses were to be borne by the aggrieved person.

Kakkar, on the other hand, submitted the poles were erected in 1994 and till date no untoward incident had taken place.

The court agreed with his contentions before parting with the judgement.


Liquor Vend Allotment
‘Rules bent to favour Chadha group’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, four liquor contractors have alleged that liquor vend allotment rules were bent in Ropar district to favour the Chadha group.

Seeking the quashing of draw of lots for the allotment of vends, the petitioners have alleged Ropar’s Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner allowed “favoured” persons to submit application forms by giving cheques, instead of demand drafts. The draw of lots was held for Ropar district on March 12. The petitioners contended as per their information the Chadha group bagged about 20 licences in Ropar.

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice S.K. Mittal and Justice R.K. Garg, today issued notice of motion to the State of Punjab for March 27.

The petitioners, Mewa Singh and other, had earlier contended that the state had issued an excise policy for liquor vend licences. The policy made it clear that persons applying for the licenses had to attach demand drafts. The petitioners applied for licences for Ropar district. But the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, just to favour Chadha’s “influential liquor group”, allowed about 1300 application forms, even though they had not attached demand drafts.

Quoting the rules, the petitioners said attaching demand draft was mandatory under Rule 36 (6) of the Punjab Liquor Licence Rules, 1956.

Giving details, the petitioners contended a total of 2,700 applications were received for Ropar district. The chances of genuine candidates like the petitioners turned bleak as about 1,300 illegal applications were accepted. Otherwise also, the petitioners and other candidates had to take out cash from their pockets to make demand drafts. As such, they could apply at a very few places.


Driver killed, 17 students hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 17
As many as 17 students of Mohali-based Nursing College were injured while the driver of the bus in which they were travelling was killed in a head-on collision with a Punjab Roadways bus near Khalchian today.

The accident occurred when the bus coming from Amritsar tried to overtake another vehicle. The nursing students were on their way to Amritsar when the mishap occurred. The driver has been identified as Iqbal Singh. The injured students were brought to the local Guru Nanak Dev Hospital.


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