P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


3 killed, 18 hurt in water boiler blast
Manish Sirhindi/Bhushan Sood

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 24
Three workers were killed and 18 suffered severe injuries after a 28-tonne water boiler exploded, apparently due to excessive steam pressure, here this morning. Two factories were damaged in the blast.

The blast occurred at the factory of R.P. Alloys and Forgers Ltd at around 8 am when workers were trying to start various machines in the factory. A huge metal piece of the boiler fell on the sheds of an adjoining factory, Modern Steel Industries, resulting in injuries to seven of its workers.

Though some workers sustained multiple fractures due to the impact of the blast and the sheds in the adjoining factory collapsing under the weight of the metal piece, many received burns. Two workers were reported to have received 100 per cent burns. One of the workers suffered spine injury and was reported to be in a critical condition.

The injured were taken to the local Civil Hospital where doctors referred seven of them to the DMC. The two workers, who died on the way to the hospital, were Ramesh of Rai Bareily and Hasan of Bihar. Karamraj died at the DMC in the afternoon.

Senior functionaries of the district administration, including DC Ashok Kumar Singla and SSP Kaustubh Sharma, reached the spot and supervised the rescue operations in which fire brigade also took part.

The deputy commissioner has asked the Amloh SDM to conduct an inquiry into the incident while the police would carry out investigations at its end.


House passes Budget, Appropriation Bill
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
While the Punjab Assembly passed the Budget (2008-09) as well as the Appropriation Bill, allowing the government to pay Rs 31,568.59 crore from the consolidated fund, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal replying on the Budget in the House announced to create a new corpus fund of Rs 50 crore to boost research in agriculture sector, besides enhancing allocation of funds for some other proposals. The corpus fund that will be part of the annual plan would be kept at the disposal of Punjab Agricultural University.

Manpreet, who repeatedly urged the Opposition to have a common economic agenda, enhanced the allocation in the plan funds from Rs 30 crore to Rs 50 crore for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and for industrial focal points from Rs 23 crore to Rs 50 crore for upgrading infrastructure. He said with the raised allocation of Rs 50 crore for the rural employment scheme, the state would be entitled to get Rs 450 crore from the Centre to implement this scheme in all districts. However, no cap has been put on the allocation and it could be further enhanced in due course, he added.

Allocation from the budget has been increased to Rs 15 crore to provide medicines for civil dispensaries and hospitals in the state. Likewise, allocation in the plan has been increased to Rs 50 crore for upgrading the infrastructure in the industrial focal points. For border area a special allocation has been made of Rs 2.38 crore to build two bridge near Valtoha.

For judicial complexes the allocation has been increased to Rs 35 crore and for police university Rs 2 crore has been earmarked besides Rs 1 crore for providing better infrastructure at the memorial at Hussainiwala.

Manpreet said a provision of Rs 320 crore had been made for the atta-dal scheme during the next fiscal year and Rs 2,200 crore for free power to farm sector and certain poor sections. He said though no allocation had been made in the Budget to implement the report of pay commission but certainly money would be arranged when required.

He said he was enjoying his job of minister and would not run away from the duty given to him by the Chief Minister. “I have accepted the challenge to restore Punjab’s glory and pride that has been pricked for a while because of its economic decline. I am sure I will surmount the challenge,” he said. Manpreet’s father Gurdas Singh Badal, who came to the House after 31 years, was also present in the Speaker’s gallery.

“In fact, the Union Government, which takes away 70 per cent of the total tax revenue from the state by way of income tax, corporate tax, services tax, discriminates with Punjab by giving just 1.29 per cent share from it,” he said.

He said he had slashed the committed expenditure from 80 per cent to 67 per cent and put the state on path of fiscal correction.


A homoeopathy medicine: Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Branding the budget as a homeopathic medicine, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said neither it was good nor harmful for the health of the state. As the election code of conduct was not in force, she said the finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal should present a new Budget in the House to fulfil the promises made to the people.

Pointing out many shortcomings in the budget, she said there was nothing in it to promote industry. As the state government had failed on the law and order front, industrialists were not showing any interest to invest in the state, she added.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Congress MLA, said Punjab had been left far behind by other states. Sunil Jakhar, Congress MLA, said the land ceiling should go. Kuldeep Singh Bhattal, another Congress MLA, said there was nothing for poor sections in the budget. No promises made to media people had been fulfilled.

Though almost all Opposition leaders praised Manpreet Singh Badal but they criticised his budget proposals.

Others who took part in the budget debate included Surjit Jiani, Dalbir Singh, Randeep Singh Nabha, K. D. Bhandari, Anil Joshi, Charanjit Singh Channi and Iqbal Singh Jhunda.


Heroin Smuggling
Cong rocks govt boat in House, walks out
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The Congress left no opportunity to embarrass the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in the Vidhan Sabha over the arrest of a senior leader of the Youth Akali Dal for smuggling heroin. As the issue rocked the House, the Congress demanded a thorough debate on the issue. But with no assurance coming from the Speaker on the allocation of specific time for the debate, the Opposition staged a walkout.

Just at the beginning of zero hour, Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal pointed out that the arrest of Parshotam Singh Sondhi by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence with 23 kg of heroin was a serious matter that required a thorough debate. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal got up and assured the House that law would take its course in dealing with the guilty.

Unsatisfied by the reply, the Congress legislators led by Bhattal again demanded from the Speaker time for a debate on the issue. While he tried to persuade the Opposition to sit down and let the House proceed further, local bodies and industries minister Manoranjan Kalia got up and asked why the Congress did not demand a similar debate when a Congress councillor of Jalandhar was arrested for kidnapping and demanding a ransom of Rs 1 crore recently.

Sukhpal Khaira of the Congress asked for special discussion on heroin smuggling. At this point Brahm Mahendra, also of the Congress, demanded an assurance from the Chief Minister that the probe into the case would not be influenced.

At this point, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla told the House that all people involved in the drug trade were enemies of the state and should be dealt with seriously.

But the Congress legislators who were in no mood to listen and walked to the well of the House, raising anti-government slogans and demanding time for a debate. But when Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon did not relent, they staged a walkout. However 10 minutes later, while the call attention motion was in progress, they returned.

During question hour cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh in reply to a question by MLA Sarabjeet Singh Makkar stated that the government had reversed the decision of the previous government of selling the 13 loss-making sugar mills in the state. He said that no mill would be closed and a proposal was being submitted to the cabinet for allocation of Rs 865 crore for their revival.


Dairy Farming
Govt to import germplasm
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Value addition is not just the mantra in the IT sector. To give a new lease of life to the dairy sector, the Punjab government has decided to replenish the exotic dairy stock by importing germplasm of high-yielding varieties.

Officials in the government informed TNS that a global tender had been floated for importing one lakh semen doses of very high genetic level. The idea is to get semen of bulls whose daughters had averaged 11,000 lts of milk in one lactation, with average fat of more than 3.5 per cent in milk.

“These semen doses will meet the immediate requirements of the dairy farmers of Punjab, who have been demanding imported, superior germplasm from advanced dairy countries in Europe, Canada, USA or New Zealand,” said principal secretary, Animal Husbandry, S.C.Aggarwal.

To maintain the future supplies of semen, the department has also invited tenders for the import of 200 embryos of Holstein Friesian (HF) breed. These embryos will be placed in local surrogate mothers, which will give birth to calves having 100 per cent exotic blood in them. “The male calves from these will be sent to state semen stations which will then process the same and take care of the future demand of state dairy farmers for high genetic potential germplasm,” said director, Animal Husbandry, B.S.Sidhu, while adding that tenders for both were due to open on April 7.

At present, Punjab has the highest per capita production of milk. It is accounting for almost 10 per cent of the total production of milk in India. Dairy farmers of Punjab are rearing animals on commercial lines as is being done in Western countries. They have the tendency to keep fewer animals with high production potential so as to maximise their profits.

However, experts feel that it is time to further increase milk potential in the state and upgrade the local livestock by introducing new germplasm from advanced dairy countries. In fact, the state government had earlier imported semen from New Zealand in 2002, which was utilised by the year 2006-07. Officials say that the progeny of this semen has shown very high milk production. In the recently held dairy show at Ludhiana, a cow gave 45.3 kg of milk to win the trophy for highest milk production. Since dairy farmers of Punjab are having increased propensity to keep better yielding animals, the only way to increase them further is to cross them with better genetics so that their offspring can produce more milk.

Officials said at present India was not having many bulls which had dam’s production or daughters’ average of more than 10,000 lts. Punjab had only three bulls with production of more than 10,000 lts. But these were not sufficient to meet the demand of the dairy farmers of Punjab, thus the need to import the germplasm.


Pension, Relief to World War II POWs
‘UK govt initiates process’
K. S. Chawla

There were 32,000 POWs on the Western front in World War II. The British government had stopped pension of all ex-servicemen who had disability of 20 per cent or below. The Government of India had also stopped the pension of the ex-servicemen who had disability of 20 per cent or below.

— Lt-Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd), Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab and Chandigarh, chief

Ludhiana, March 24
The Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom, has initiated a process to provide pension and compensation to prisoners of war (POWs) of World War II. Lt-Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd), president of the Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab and Chandigarh, stated this here yesterday. He said the UK’s Defence Department had started collecting information regarding prisoners of World War II.

Colonel Dhillon said gunner Banta Singh, a veteran of World War II, received a letter from Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, UK, who informed him that there were difficulties regarding claims of former members of the Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artiliery and it had been necessary to gather information from other government agencies at home and abroad.This had proved to be a time-consuming business, although necessary to ensure payments were made to serving former POWs.

Colonel Dhillon in his letter to Sir John Modonel of the Defence Ministery has sought to know the quantum of compensation to POWs on the Western front. He has written: “Please let me know when the motion is being taken up in Parliament. I am sure similar action is afoot for Pakistan, Bangladesh, Caribbean and South African POWs."

Colonel Dhillon had taken up the case of POWs of World War II who were denied ex-gratia compensation after the formation of Pakistan and India. He had also gone to the UK and discussed the matter with British members of Parliament who had raised the issue in Parliament. The UK government then had promised to look into the compensation issue.

Colonel Dhillon revealed there were 32,000 POWs on the Western front in World War II.

He said the British government had stopped pension of all ex-servicemen who had disability of 20 per cent or below. According to him, the government of India had also stopped the pension of the ex-servicemen who had disability of 20 per cent or below. He urged the government to restore pensions of such disabled ex-servicemen.


Postponement of Panchayat Poll
CLP pats its back
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) held here today placed on record efforts of the CLP in seeking the postponement of panchayat elections in Punjab till May 15.

The CLP, that met under the leadership of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, felt that the ruling SAD-BJP alliance was planning to hijack the panchayat elections, depriving a very large number of constituents of the right to participate in the panchayat elections.

The CLP said it had demanded the postponement of the elections because there were largescale discrepancies in the voter lists prepared for the panchayat elections and voter lists were not made available to the public, mandatory under statutory provisions.

Besides, the roster for reservation for women and Schedule Castes etc has been followed arbitrarily and the spirit of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution was not followed. Also, as the peak harvest season is from April 1 to 15, the farmers would be busy harvesting crop and bringing it to the market along with other farm workers.

The CLP justified its demand saying examinations of all college and university students were held in this period. Thus, the educated youth were also being deprived of their legitimate role in the formation of gram panchayats, samitis and zila parishads.


Quarrying auction cancelled amid protest
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 24
Officials of the Punjab Mining Department cancelled quarrying auction for 56 sites in river beds in Gurdaspur district amid protest and tension here today.

Up in arms against the government notification of auctioning quarrying sites when the case was pending with the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the bidders raised protests and abstained from bidding. Despite repeated offers by the mining officials, the bidders opposed the bid calls.

A high drama was witnessed when 98 bidders, a majority of them close associates of leaders from the SAD, Congress and BJP, entered the site after depositing Rs 50,000, along with the certificate of approval, and turned down the bids. Bidders associated with political leaders from Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab took part in the auction. It was virtually a show of politicians-cum-mining mafia.

The associations of the stone crushing units from the three states even pooled their money to get the quarries, yet the opposite parties objected to it, forcing the mining officials comprising Manmohan Singh, Sushminder Singh and Chander Dev, all joint directors of the Mining Department, and D.S. Sandhu, general manager, mining, Gurdaspur, to cancel the auction.

Carrying currency notes in huge gunny bags and steel boxes, the armed bidders and their musclemen kept the local police personnel on their toes. Pathankot SP Harpreet Singh and DSP (City) Karamjit Singh were seen deploying policemen at strategic points to avoid any untoward incident.


Many heads may roll
Varinder Walia /Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 24
Many heads may roll in the coming days with the Directorate Revenue Intelligence (DRI) starting a scan of the phone book of Akali leader Parshotam Lal Sondhi, who was nabbed with 22.3 kg of heroin yesterday.

Talking to The Tribune, joint director of the DRI Dheeraj Rastogi said the government was planning to send a special missive to the Canadian government to trace the link of the drug cartel running in India involving influential persons and criminals. He said the involvement of Punjabis settled in Canada in the narcotics trade could not be ruled out.

Rastogi said Sondhi did not seem to be a first timer in the trade. His interrogation would definitely lead to the kingpins of the racket. He said they were verifying the antecedents of the Akali leader and his possible associates, who could be operating in tandem with the Punjabi diaspora across the world. They were hoping to catch the big fish involved in the racket, he added.

Rastogi said Amritsar had become the transition point for drugs smugglers as 265 kg of heroin worth Rs 265 crore in international market had been seized in the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, smugglers of Amritsar and Lahore have maintained cordial relations with each other. Interception of their telephonic conversations by intelligence agencies makes an interesting study. They would talk of well being of the relatives of their Pakistani counterparts too. As part of the national efforts to check drugs trade, the Indian government had installed an electrified fence along the border areas. However, drugs smugglers modified their strategies to push the contrabands across the border.

With the DRI making recent seizure of heroin, the police and intelligence agencies at the international airport here have been put on high alert.


CJ for people’s movement against female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 24
Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain has called for a movement in the state to tackle female foeticide. He said the problem of female foeticide in Punjab was the ‘jagirdari’ system which prevailed in the country for 200 years.

Though the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test (PNDT) law exists to check female foeticide, it can be implemented effectively only with the cooperation of people.

The Chief Justice was speaking at a seminar on ‘Girl child also has right to live’ organised by at Ambekdar Bhavan here yesterday.

Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, was also present. She favoured a separate government department in the state to deal with problems of women. Such offices should be set up at the tehsil level. Women should also be empowered economically for which policies be made to give them bank loan at reasonable interest rate.

Minister of health Laxmi Kanta Chawla said the number of girl children getting killed was more than those killed in accidents in the state. Women should be given reservation in every field to strengthen them financially and improve their position in society.

Hoshiarpur MP Avinash Rai Khanna, who provided funds to organise the function, said the government should take harsh steps to stem female foeticide.

Advocate-general, Punjab, H.S. Mattewal praised the Chief Justice and Chief Minister for feeling concerned about the female foeticide problem in the state.

DC, Ropar, B. Purusartha and civil surgeon Ropar Arjan Singh were among the speakers.

Thirtysix women were honoured for excellence in different fields. Those honoured included Usha R. Sharma, secretary, Animal Husbandry, Kavita Singh, SDM, Ropar, Shruti Singh, SDM, Chamkaur Sahib, Shashi Prabhi, SSP, Nawanshahr, Paramjit Kaur, ASP, Ludhiana, Rekha Mittal, District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, Gurpreet Randhawa, Additional District and Session Judge, Ropar, Priya Sood, Additonal Civil Judge, Senior Division, Nawanshahr, and Navjot Sohal, Additional Civil Judge.


Police most questioned under RTI Act
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The Police Department is the focus of public scrutiny in the state under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Approximately 62 per cent of the total applications under the Act pertain to the functioning of the department.

The Police Department is among 47 departments listed by the state Information Commission.

The annual report of the commission, tabled in the Vidhan Sabha recently, showed that the DGP received as many as “6,259 requests seeking information,” till the end of December, 2006. The department next in the line for requests seeking information under the Act is PUDA, which has been marked merely 219 applications.

The police statement has said: “The state received more than 6,200 requests under the Act till the end of 2006. Information was ‘denied’ in 144 cases while it has been adequately furnished in the rest of the cases.

“An analysis of the complaints revealed that more than 90 per cent of the complaints pertained to procurement of inquiry reports. These inquiries were not a part of the case file. Hence, a heavy demand”.

The wings of the government that have received more than 100 applications seeking information on different accounts include DC, Ludhiana (198); DC, Hoshiarpur (119); DC, Bathinda (118); Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana (117); and Punjab Mandi Board (106). The number of applications received by the rest of the departments totals only 2,929.


Search at Sondhi’s house likely today
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 24
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is likely to unseal Youth Akali Dal general secretary Parshotam Lal Sondhi’s house and three shops located at Arjun Nagar here tomorrow.

Talking to The Tribune, DRI joint director Dheeraj Rastogi said sleuths could not unseal the house and shops today due to shortage of staff.

Rastogi said Sondhi’s accomplice Surinder, alias Bittu Atwal, of Samipur village in Jalandhar was still at large.Meanwhile, Sondhi was remanded in 14-day judicial custody.

SAD for public boycott

District president of the ruling SAD Gurcharan Singh Channi has said anti-social elements like Sondhi should be publicly boycotted. Law should take its own course and he should be given exemplary punishment, he added.


Virk case transferred to Mohali
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 24
The disproportionate assets case filed by the Punjab government against former DGP S.S. Virk was transferred today to special judge, Mohali, by district and sessions judge, Ropar, Rekha Mittal.

The government had submitted a challan against Virk in the Ropar district and sessions court on March 20. While the challan against Virk was submitted, the charge against co-accused in the case would be filed in a supplementary challan, the sources here said.

In the challan the former DGP has been accused of amassing property beyond his known sources of income. The trial of the case will now take place in the court of special judge, Mohali.

All corruption cases against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his family and other SAD leaders by the previous

Congress government have also been transferred to Mohali. Since all cases were registered at the Mohali police station of vigilance, the jurisdiction of these cases was now with the special court at Mohali.


CM all praise for Sanjivani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
On the occasion of World T.B. Day today, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal lauded the pro-active role of Sanjivani, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in fighting the deadly disease.

Addressing the function after releasing a souvenir of the NGO, Badal exhorted the NGOs, voluntary and social organisations to follow into the footsteps of Sanjivani. “Until TB is controlled, World TB Day won’t be a celebration. But, it is valuable opportunity to educate the public about the devastation TB can spread and how it can be controlled”.

Dr Pawan Sharma, project director of the NGO, also spoke.


Three officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The Punjab government today transferred three police officers with immediate effect. Charanjit Kumar, assistant commandant 7th battalion, PAP, Jalandhar, has been shifted as SP, (headquarters), Ropar. Vipin Chaudhary becomes SP, CM’s security, Chandigarh, and Malwinder Singh, SP, (detective), Tarn Taran has been posted assistant commandant 13th battalion, PAP, Chandigarh.


Badal’s assurance to bazigars
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today assured the Bazigar Sewa Dal that members of the Bazigar community would soon be bestowed upon the ownership rights of houses.

Addressing a gathering of the bazigar community at the SAD office here, Badal said the government would soon find ways to allot 5-marla plots for the construction of houses for those who did not have any land for the purpose.


High Court
Gram panchayat poll: Hearing on May 7
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed May 7 as the date for further hearing a writ petition challenging Punjab ordinance vide which the mode of election to gram panchayat had been changed from direct to indirect.

A High Court Division Bench of the Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh adjourned the hearing on the petition filed by residents of Majri block on the Chandigarh-Majri road after counsel for the state of Punjab submitted that the writ petition had become infructuous as an Act had replaced the ordinance of February 16.

However, counsel for the petitioners said the state reply to the writ petition had not been provided to them. Following this, the Bench ordered the copy to be made available to the petitioners’ counsel and adjourned the hearing.

Notice of motion

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Sabina, today issued notice of motion for March 31 to the Punjab home secretary, police chief and others on a writ petition filed by former minister Sucha Singh Chhotepur for restoration of security cover.

In his petition filed through counsel B.S. Bath, the ex-minister contended the security was available to him for over two decades because of threat to his life from militants.

Chhotepur was an independent member of the previous Punjab Vidhan Sabha and a Cabinet minister in Barnala ministry. He was targeted by terrorists twice.

Plea dismissed

A petition for initiating inquiry and registration of criminal cases for “anti-national activities” of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti was today dismissed as withdrawn.

In the petition taken up by Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh, former Punjab Police head constable Jaswant Singh had sought action on the grounds that tributes had been paid in the state Assembly to Jagjit Singh Chauhan, a Khalistan ideologue, who died sometime back, and for installing the portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Sikh museum at Golden Temple, Amritsar.


Problems galore at Shaheed Udham Singh College
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Shaheed Udham Singh Government College, Sunam, 13 km from here, has been facing shortage of regular lecturers for the past several years. The college authorities have to appoint guest faculty lecturers, to whom salaries are given from the PTA Fund.

Not only the posts of lecturer, but also the post of principal has been lying vacant for the past more than one month. Principal Kulwant Kaur has been transferred to Government College, Sangrur.

However, it has been learnt that the authorities have appointed someone to the post and he is expected to join soon.

According to information, there are 33 sanctioned posts of lecturer. At present, the college faculty has six regular lecturers, besides 12 part-time ones, whose job has been protected by the Supreme Court till the PPSC recommends names of candidates to be appointed on regular posts.

The college has been appointing guest faculty lecturers to overcome the shortage of lecturers. These 15 vacant posts include posts of lecturer of English, Punjabi, Sanskrit, economics, commerce, geography, physics, chemistry, zoology, botany and political science.

Thirtythree posts of lecturer were sanctioned when the student strength of the college was 400. Now, despite the student strength reaching the 1,100 count, the number of sanctioned posts of lecturer remains the same.

Many posts of non-teaching staff have also been lying vacant. These include one post of librarian, six posts of laboratory staff and three posts of Class IV employee.


Ban on Early Sowing of Paddy
Admn launches campaign in Amritsar dist
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
The district administration today launched a campaign to educate farmers of eight blocks of the border district not to sow paddy before the stipulated time.

DC Kahan Singh Pannu flagged off a fleet of vehicles to different parts of the district to spread the message of late sowing of paddy to save water. He said the district administration had ordered a ban under Section 144, Cr PC, and violation of the ban would be punishable as per law. He said last year this campaign had its effect and the peasantry adhered to the sowing schedule and sowed paddy after May, while transplantation would start in the middle of June.

Pannu said this project had been undertaken under the public-private participation module and the Centre had allocated large funds to promote basmati varieties which consumed less water and made it possible to arrest depleting underground water level.


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