Land Acquisition for Chd-Ludhiana Rail Track
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, March 26
"We are being offered 12 to 20 lakh per acre, whereas the market rate is between Rs 40 lakh to even over 1 crore in 40 villages that fall in the land for the rail line," said Swaran Singh of Barwal village, summing up the anger of the farmers.
Flanked by sarpanches, panches and political leaders, Swaran Singh, general secretary, SAD-Badal, said all residents of 40 villages affected by the acquisition would stage dharnas akin to famous Akali morchas if they were not paid full market rate of the acquired land.
The Centre is acquiring land on the basis of collector rate (on which the registration of land is executed). The registration price is always less than the market rate. "It is far below the market rate, even if we add 30 per cent extra compensation to the price along with 12 per cent interest of one year,” rued Manjit Kaur of Rampur village.
Then there are concerns of those farmers whose land would be partitioned by the railway line passing in between. Barjinder Pal Singh of Katani Kalan village said special compensation should be given to such farmers who would have to invest double resources to cultivate land on both sides.
With the farmers in agitation mood, the much-delayed rail line project, whose survey was held way back in 1968, may be held up further.
Agitated farmers also minced no words at a meeting with the Railways and the district administration officials here today that they would resort to agitation to avoid suffering such huge losses.
It was their first meeting with the authorities. The meeting was called to discuss the rate of acquisition of land. DC Sumer Singh Gurjar sounded quite optimistic about reaching an agreement with the farmers.
"We have sent the concerns of the farmers to the state and central governments. A number of elected and former MLAs have also taken up farmers’ cause. I am sure the farmers would be given rates as per the market rate."
The farmers, however, said that they would part with their land only when they get the cheques as per the market rates. He and other farmers even offered to buy land in Ludhiana as per the prevailing collector rates, which were far less than the market rates.
Swaran Singh has also demanded that the farmers should be given all compensation in one cheque instead of first cheque of the 80 per cent amount and second later.
The railway line has been completed till Morinda. The second phase of completing it till Sahnewal will be started only after all land is acquired.
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 26
In fact, the PAC, which submitted its report in the House at the fag-end of the Assembly’s budget session that concluded yesterday, has admitted “the committee feels inordinate delays in furnishing replies sought by it, is indeed a matter of profound concern because such delays or dilatory tactics hamper work of the committee defeating the purpose of the committee to ensure financial accountability”.
All party MLAs in the House are members of the PAC headed by Harminder Singh Jassi, a senior Congress MLA. The PAC’s main task is to ensure compliance of audit reports that point out irregularities, misappropriation and frauds in government departments and of the observations appearing in reports of the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) of India and reports of the committee.
However, the PAC is taken for granted by most of the departments. For instance, there was audit paragraph regarding family welfare programme in a CAG report for 1999-2000. The report was presented in the House on June 21, 2002. The department was supposed to submit the reply in three months, that is in September, 2002.
The reply to that audit paragraph was not received by the committee till February 19, 2008, the day the chairman of the committee finalised the draft of the general report to submit it in the budget session. Obviously, the committee had recommended strict action against officers responsible for not sending the reply to the committee.
There was another paragraph on the Health Department in the CAG report of 1999-2000 regarding inflated figures shown by many senior medical officers of sterilisation cases. The committee had directed the authorities to take strict action against the SMOs cheating the government by submitting inflated figures of sterilisation cases. However, the department authorities concerned have not submitted any detail of the action taken against the SMOs to the committee till date.
Upset over the conduct of various state government departments, the committee in its report has stated “the committee should not be reduced to the level of just issuing reminders to get information for which the government departments were duty bound”.
The committee has sought the submitting of replies in stipulated period. Strict disciplinary action should be taken against officers concerned and criminal proceedings launched against officers involved in cases of misappropriation of huge sums, materials etc.
Kharar, March 26
This came up at a recently held SAS Nagar district-level meeting wherein officials disclosed that many sarpanches were not willing to start the project, fearing that their successor would take credit of launching the scheme.
The scheme has been drafted to help solve the drinking water problem in all affected rural areas.
SAS Nagar has been included in the first batch of the project. The basic objective of the water scheme component under this project is to ensure 70 lt of water per day per person in rural sector.
The villagers are supposed to contribute 10 per cent of the total cost of infrastructure. Many villages facing acute water supply have lapped up the project. Till now 20 villages of SAS Nagar, including two from Majri block, eight from Dera Bassi block and 10 from Kharar block, have already deposited their share.
However, many sarpanches are not confident of winning the elections and are reluctant to start schemes in their villages.
The department officials have even tried to make these sarpanches understand the benefits of the project, but to no avail. “If their political bosses teach them to go forward with the project, irrespective of political interests, they might change their minds,” added another official.
Interestingly, in Doaba many NRIs have shown keenness to contribute 10 per cent on their own. But their request has been declined following World Bank’s rule that the entire community needs to contribute for the cause.
The state government had initiated this prestigious project in February. The project on completion after five years would benefit a rural population of 74 lakh. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,280 crore, with the World Bank providing Rs 751 crore and the state government Rs 245 crore. The share of Central government would be Rs 207 crore and community contribution Rs 77 crore.
Panel to draft Panthic code
Amritsar, March 26
A decision to this effect was taken at the Sikh conclave organised by Dal Khalsa here on March 9. Jathedar Vedanti, while revoking controversial edicts pronounced by his predecessor Giani Puran Singh, had directed the SGPC to recommend basic principals and Maryada for issuing Hukamnamas.
While announcing the formation of the committee, Manjit Singh Calcutta, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Harchranjit Singh Dhami, Kanwarpal Singh and Gurdeep Singh Bathinda (all coordinators), in their joint statement said the committee had been constituted to draft a Panthic code to ensure the smooth and judicious working of all Takht Jathedars. They said it would deliberate on qualification, appointment, working conditions, tenure, operational conditions and removal of the Jathedars.
The draft would be circulated among Sikh institutions and groups world over for ratification. All suggestions and opinions will be considered. A series of meetings would be arranged in different parts of state and country to deliberate and examine various facets of the post of Jathedar. The entire exercise would be concluded by March 14, 2009.
They said Bhag Singh Ankhi, secretary of Chief Khalsa Diwan, and Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon from Guru Nanak Dev University had been appointed convener and co-convener of the committee respectively.
Reiterating that Akal Takht was the highest Sikh seat of spiritual and temporal authority, they said the concepts of Sandesh, Gurmata and Hukamnama had become hazed over the years because of the manner in which edicts had been issued in recent years.
“Our fundamental objective is to correct the fault line and make the post of Jathedar independent from all political and administrative constraints,” they added.
Members of the committee are Dr Kharak Singh (Chandigarh), Dr Balkar Singh (Patiala), former vice-chancellor Prithipal Singh Kapur (Ludhiana), H.S. Phoolka (Delhi), Prabhjot Kaur (Patiala), Waryam Singh (SGPC), Saran Singh (former IAS), Jagdish Singh (Amritsar), Prof Gurbax Singh, Surjit Singh Gandhi, Dr Jaswant Singh Neki, former PGI director Sukhdayal Singh (Punjabi University), Roop Singh (SGPC), Narain Singh (Gurdaspur), Harsimran Singh (Anandpur Sahib), Bhag Singh Ankhi and Dr B.S. Dhillon.
Cong infighting reaches Delhi
Chandigarh, March 26
Provoked by the outburst against Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal by former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Bhattal has decided to put across her point of view to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The two leaders are expected to meet later tonight or early tomorrow morning.
When contacted, Bhattal said she was in Delhi to finalise the schedule for district-level rallies to be addressed by senior party functionaries sometime next month.
She said she did not give much importance to the “outburst” by Amarinder Singh, adding that she had appraised the party high command about the issue and now it was for the central leadership to resolve the matter.
She pointed out that during the Pachmari conclave, the Congress leadership passed a resolution that no leader, howsoever senior, should raise any grievance before the media. This was repeated by Soniaji when she said even the members of the Congress Working Committee should not raise issues publicly before discussing them on party platform.
“I am, therefore, going to brief the AICC president about the developments in the state and leave it to her to do what she likes.”
Sources in the Congress revealed that Jagmeet Singh Brar had, at a meeting with Margaret Alva, criticised the “outburst” by Amarinder Singh, saying that such statements should invoke disciplinary action, as they harm the party’s interest.
On the contrary, about 13 MLAs joined Amarinder for breakfast at his sister’s house yesterday. Among other things, he discussed logistics about his proposed rallies that he has announced across Punjab from April 14.
Since both in charges of Punjab affairs, Kamal Nath and Margaret Alva, are accompanying Rahul Gandhi to Karnataka, Bhattal will have to return after meeting Sonia. During her Delhi visit, she also proposes to finalise the dates for Sonia’s and Rahul’s visit to Punjab.
Rahul, it is learnt, is keen to spend three-four days in the state after the harvesting of wheat is over.
Reproductive Health Needs of Adolescents
Mohali, March 26
Tilak Raj Sarangal, secretary, health-cum-mission director, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Punjab, stated this at a state-level workshop organised in the state Institute of Health and Family Welfare here yesterday.
He said the six districts were Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Bathinda and Sangrur. By 2010, all health institutions in the state will be covered under the programme.
Addressing the participants, Sarangal said adolescence (10-19 years) was the period of rapid physical growth which marked emotional, sexual and psychological changes in a child. Habits and behaviour picked up during adolescence had life-long impact and proper guidance was required to ensure good development and growth of an adolescent. Many adolescent boys and girls were sexually active, but lacked information and skills for protection. They had simple but pervasive crucial reproductive health needs like menstrual hygiene, contraception, safety from sexually transmitted disease and HIV etc, but communication gap existed between parents and other adults.
He said keeping in view specific needs of adolescents, the ARSH programme of the NRHM planned to raise awareness among this section regarding sexual and reproductive health issues, provide adequate health counselling and services for them and build a supportive environment to address their sexual and reproductive needs through the provision of Adolescent Friendly Health Services (AFHS).
Dr S.P.S. Sohal, director, Health and Family Welfare, said adolescents constituted nearly 22 per cent of the population and, therefore, ARSH had been taken as key strategy of the RCH-II programme under NRHM, which was to address the issues related to reproductive and sexual health and create favourable health seeking behaviour to achieve the objectives like delaying age of marriage, reduction in teenage pregnancies, lowering the incidence of RTI/STI/HIV etc.
He said all community, secondary and primary health centres of the six districts would provide special services for adolescents along with other routine services. This included services like contraceptive condom programming, management of menstrual disorders, menstrual hygiene, RTI/STI prevention, education, counselling services as well as immunisation of adolescent mothers.
The workshop was attended among others by doctors from PGIMER, representatives from Nehru Yuva Kendra, teachers, and representatives of NGOs, mass media officers and senior officers from the Punjab Health Department.
Depts unmoved by VB indictment
Mohali, March 26
Known for his unflinching financial honesty and uncompromising streak, Saini ,as VB head, spelt doom for corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
A year later, the picture that emerges is quite different, if not almost the opposite. In lieu of criminal prosecution, the bureau recommended disciplinary action in at least 27 cases of corruption that it investigated. What to speak of initiating action as desired by it, no department has even bothered to reply to the bureau.
One case forwarded by the bureau to the chief secretary, Punjab, names a senior IAS officer Jagjit Puri, current director, medical education and research, while another recommends action against former cabinet minister Harnam Das Johar. Yet another points to the culpability of the additional chief administrator, Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority.
Some other recommendations relate to Vikramjit Singh Bajwa, district transport officer, Gurdaspur, Harsimran Singh, tehsildar, Ropar, Rajinder Singh, tehsildar, Gurdaspur, Dr A.C. Sood, a senior medical officer, at Hoshiarpur and another doctor B.S. Walia of the ESI Hospital, Amritsar.
Known as the “either-or” cases in the corridors of the bureau, these have been investigated by the bureau and inquiry reports forwarded to the departments concerned, asking them to either take action on their own or give the go-ahead to the VB to lodge FIRs. The departments have been sitting on the reports. Some of these reports were sent almost six months ago.
The recommendation regarding Harnam Das Johar, for example, was made in August last year, while that relating to Jagjit Puri was sent on November 1. Another inquiry relating to the Central Cooperative Bank, Daduhana, Amritsar, recommending action against its officials was sent in September last year.
Instead of booking the indicted persons itself in view of departmental inaction, the Bureau is content with sending reminders, preferring bureaucratic niceties to action.
Other investigations conducted by the bureau indict officials of the Punjab Agro Food Grain Corporation deployed at its godowns at Bhadson and Nabha, officials of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation, Patiala, an inspector with the Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation, Amritsar, PUDA officials in Taran Taran and MC officials in Doraha. All these cases are also languishing for want of departmental response.
The fact that so many departments of the government have remained unperturbed by the VB reports shows that other than high-profile cases like those involving former Chief Minister and former DGP, the VB is proving to be a toothless tiger. Interestingly, no punitive action has also been initiated against the departments for their indolence in dealing with these cases.
Between the VB and these departments, for the common man, however, assurances of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to deliver good honest governance remain a distant dream.
Functions in countries visited by Guru Nanak
New Delhi, March 26
Guru Nanak Dev visited several countries in the West Asia to spread his message of worldwide brotherhood during the late 15th century and early 16th century. During his travels, the Sikh prophet visited Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. He was born in Nankana Sahib, now in Pakistan.
Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh had raised the issue on March 19 with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who told the House: “…Wherever Guru Nanak Devji visited, whichever country it was, our mission should commemorate because Guru Nanak and his message should be conveyed through an appropriate mechanism.”
Tarlochan Singh has, meanwhile, thanked the minister in writing and has raised one more issue.
Tarlochan Singh, who is former chairman of the National Minorities Commission, had pointed out that the embassies hold Iftaar parties during Ramzan, and in the same manner, the embassies in the countries visited by Guru Nanak should invite scholars to create goodwill. The MP claimed that Guru Nanak was perhaps the only non-Muslim who was allowed to go to the Mecca. A place in his name exists in Baghdad and so does one in Bangladesh.
Tarlochan Singh said he had also suggested to achieve better relations with Pakistan. The government of India may allow every Pakistan national born before 1947 in the present territory of India to visit his or her ancestral place. Such persons may be allowed a temporary permit of a few days to bring their children along with them. The pre-Partition generation was fast fading away and they have a desire to visit their ancestral homes. Similarly, the Pakistan government should be requested to reciprocate for all Hindus and Sikhs born before Independence in this regard.
BSF jawans get new-look uniform
Attari, March 26
“The look reminds us of what BSF Rangers mounted on camels wear for the Republic Day parade. The look makes a better style statement and is a welcome change from the previous dress code. It has been the topic of discussion among us for the past few days,” said a jawan.
“Since only one lot of uniforms was received two days back, some of the jawans still are in old uniform. This, in fact, gives people a chance to make a comparison between the two as now they are getting a taste of both sets,” added another jawan.
The 25-minute Retreat ceremony attracts a large number of tourists from India and abroad. The ceremony is carried out with soldiers from India and Pakistan performing the flag march. There is excitement in the air and playing of patriotic songs on both sides charges the atmosphere.
The audience coming to watch the ceremony has already started expressing a liking for the new look. “It makes BSF jawans look much more noticeable and adds to the performance every evening. Most of my friends posed with the jawans to get a colourful picture clicked,” said Ritu Dhawan from Kaithal in Haryana.
BSF Commandant H.S.Dhillon said there was no change in uniform as the basic colour scheme of red, blue and golden remains the same.
The new colour scheme, with more golden, is usually worn for the Republic Day parade and the change might be temporary, he said.
‘Pursue Sarabjit case with new Pak govt’
Amritsar, March 26 Stating this to the media here today, Dalbir
Kaur, sister of Sarabjit, said her brother had already suffered a lot due to the dilly-dallying attitude of the central government. She said had the present and the previous governments at the Centre pursued the matter seriously, her brother could have been released many years
ago. Dalbir Kaur was in the city to participate in a protest rally organised by the Sher Khalsa Youth Sports Club in which people from all religions
participated. Dalbir said the government should continue its efforts with the newly formed democratic government in Pakistan for the release of her brother. She has already secured travel documents to cross the border.
Amritsar, March 26
Stating this to the media here today, Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit, said her brother had already suffered a lot due to the dilly-dallying attitude of the central government. She said had the present and the previous governments at the Centre pursued the matter seriously, her brother could have been released many years ago.
Dalbir Kaur was in the city to participate in a protest rally organised by the Sher Khalsa Youth Sports Club in which people from all religions participated.
Dalbir said the government should continue its efforts with the newly formed democratic government in Pakistan for the release of her brother. She has already secured travel documents to cross the border.
Padamjit asks PSEB to relieve him on March 31
Chandigarh, March 26 Known for his honesty, integrity and simplicity, Padamjit Singh was retained as advisor by the PSEB for his competence, especially in the system management. Talking to The Tribune this morning, he said, “I have requested the PSEB authorities not to give me further extension after March 31. I want to concentrate on some other work.” Though he belongs to Delhi, he intends to settle in Patiala and work in the power sector. “There is a lot of work to be done in society,” he added.
Chandigarh, March 26
Known for his honesty, integrity and simplicity, Padamjit Singh was retained as advisor by the PSEB for his competence, especially in the system management.
Talking to The Tribune this morning, he said, “I have requested the PSEB authorities not to give me further extension after March 31. I want to concentrate on some other work.”
Though he belongs to Delhi, he intends to settle in Patiala and work in the power sector. “There is a lot of work to be done in society,” he added.
SGPC to go through film scripts
Amritsar, March 26
Meanwhile, SAD (Amritsar) secretary-general Bhai Ram Singh today formed a fact-finding committee to look into the violation of the Maryada during shooting of “Sadiyaan” at the Golden Temple.
Sikh intellectual G.S. Lamba, Editor of monthly Sant Sipahi, has sought a ban on the shooting of films on the Golden Temple complex. Lamba said filming of a Bollywood movie at the Harmandar Sahib was a highly reprehensible act and sacrilege of the most pious seat of Sikhism.
Rangers’ team arrive
Attari, March 26 The delegation, led by Major-Gen Muhammad Haroon Aslam, left for Chandigarh, where the meeting is scheduled for March 26-29. General Aslam said a host of long-standing issues like peddling of narcotics, human smuggling and better upkeep of the border areas would be discussed at the meeting. “These biannual meetings have proved very helpful in resolving various issues and leading to better understanding between both forces in the past,” he said. He said the issue of the release of prisoners of war (PoWs) was being taken up at the ministry level and a breakthrough was likely soon. Meanwhile, the fate of other prisoners lodged in Pakistani jails could be discussed at the biannual meeting. Asked about the flow of narcotics from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then into India, General Aslam said he did not believe with such allegations.
Attari, March 26
The delegation, led by Major-Gen Muhammad Haroon Aslam, left for Chandigarh, where the meeting is scheduled for March 26-29.
General Aslam said a host of long-standing issues like peddling of narcotics, human smuggling and better upkeep of the border areas would be discussed at the meeting. “These biannual meetings have proved very helpful in resolving various issues and leading to better understanding between both forces in the past,” he said.
He said the issue of the release of prisoners of war (PoWs) was being taken up at the ministry level and a breakthrough was likely soon. Meanwhile, the fate of other prisoners lodged in Pakistani jails could be discussed at the biannual meeting.
Asked about the flow of narcotics from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then into India, General Aslam said he did not believe with such allegations.
Stray dogs kill another sambar
Ropar, March 26 A Wildlife guard arrived at the spot in the evening and buried the animal. Packs of stray dogs have taken to hunting in the Shivalik forest range and are wreaking havoc on wildlife. These dogs recently had killed a large number of wild animals, including sambar, blue bulls, barking deer, monitor lizards and mongoose etc, in forest ranges of Ropar, Garhshankar and Hoshiarpur. Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, honorary wildlife warden, Hoshiarpur district, said these dogs generally fed on dead animals dumped outside villages.
Ropar, March 26
A Wildlife guard arrived at the spot in the evening and buried the animal.
Packs of stray dogs have taken to hunting in the Shivalik forest range and are wreaking havoc on wildlife. These dogs recently had killed a large number of wild animals, including sambar, blue bulls, barking deer, monitor lizards and mongoose etc, in forest ranges of Ropar, Garhshankar and Hoshiarpur.
Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, honorary wildlife warden, Hoshiarpur district, said these dogs generally fed on dead animals dumped outside villages.
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 26
Surrounded by bodyguards, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal reached the District Courts for the hearing. She sat throughout the arguments in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Raj Rahul Garg.
Out of the five advocates who argued today, two represented the complainant, Balwant Singh Dhillon, while one of the remaining counsels was for the accused and the other was the public prosecutor for Punjab.
The four-hour long argument was initiated by the public prosecutor, who had moved the application for the withdrawal of the petition. He stated that there was no provision in the CrPC that gives the complainant the right to speak. Placing on record various judgements, the public prosecutor said, “Only the public prosecutor has been given the powers to withdraw the case even when there is no paucity of evidence.”
Supporting the arguments of the public prosecutor, the counsel for Bhattal stated that a petition could be withdrawn in view of fresh evidence. He added, “If the investigating agency concludes that there is no misappropriation of funds then the complainant has no say in this case.”
Bringing to light the authenticity of the receipts, the counsel for the complainant said, “The receipts are not genuine. The amount of the usage of the funds and the actual money withdrawn do not tally. There were no receipts available when the complaint was filed but were place on record later.”
Another counsel argued on behalf of the complainant. He mentioned about another case of misappropriation of assets.
Irritated by the increasing number of counsels, the public prosecutor averred that the number of counsels for the complainant had not been specified.
Lastly, the complainant, Dhillon, argued saying the receipts showing the utilisation of Rs 20 lakh withdrawn from the Prime Minister’s fund by Bhattal were not genuine.
He alleged that the money had been donated to individuals than any organisation.
Earlier, Dhillon, president of the District Amateur Boxing Association, Bathinda, said the application for the withdrawal of the case that was moved under Section 321, Cr.PC, had been filed in violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, in December 2001 the complainant averred that he didn’t want to pursue the case and was convinced that the accused was innocent. He had also made a request to terminate the embezzlement case.