Bhattal penetrates Capt’s citadel
Patiala, March 30
Capt Amarinder Singh has been saying that Bhattal was playing a “friendly match” with the SAD-BJP government.
Coming out of her seemingly self-acquired shell and reserved stance, of late, Bhattal, who descended on the city for the first time today after being cleared of an old case pertaining to Rs 20-lakh bungling charges, Bhattal asserted: “I have not become the PPCC chief on my own. The party high command, particularly AICC chief Sonia Gandhi, has made me the party president. Those who are not cooperating with me are, in fact, insulting the party high command.
“People can say anything but as the PPCC chief, I respect one and all. It is for the AICC to take any action in this regard.”
Asked about Amarinder’s allegation that she was “hobnobbing” with the SAD-BJP government, Bhattal said various issues were taken up jointly by the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) and the PPCC. So, if the former Chief Minister had any reservations or objections, he should have talked on the party platform.
Bhattal expressed her dissatisfaction over ‘silence’ of Capt Amarinder Singh on the union Budget. “It would have been better if he had praised the budget,” said Bhattal.
Interestingly, in what was seen as Bhattal’s effort to strengthen her base in Capt Amarinder Singh’s stronghold, a large number of Congress leaders, once known for their proximity to him, turned out to welcome Bhattal in a big way as her cavalcade reached the statue of Sewa Singh Thikriwala. Former Patiala mayor Vishnu Sharma, former Punjab minister Lal Singh, former Patiala senior deputy mayor Kabir Dass, Gurjit Guri and Gurdev Punia welcomed Bhattal.
Vishnu Sharma, who claimed he was supported by 19 former councillors, was first to reach the venue to welcome Bhattal who reached three an hour behind her scheduled arrival at 9 a.m. “Bhattal is our leader and she commands all respect,” said Sharma.
Denies taking Badal’s help
Bhai Rupa (Bathinda), March 30
Bhattal was here to attend the bhog ceremony of Gurinderjeet Singh Kukku, a grandson of a former President of India late Giani Zail Singh. She condemned the SAD-BJP for attempt to gag the Press. About the incident, which took place in Bathinda on March 25, she sought the suspension and punishment to accused six police officers.
She termed the boycott by mediapersons of the Chief Minister a shameful incident for the Chief Minister.
‘My fight is against govt, not Capt’
Tribune News Service
Rajpura, March 30
Speaking to mediapersons during her brief stay here, Bhattal said there were no disputes between her and the former Chief Minister.
Expressing happiness over her exoneration by a court in an case of misappropriation of funds, Bhattal said ultimately truth had prevailed.
Bhattal said the SAD-BJP alliance in the state had failed to implement any of the poll promises. She added that a wider section of the society was feeling cheated by the state government as the ruling combine had failed to implement its election manifesto.
She said the Congress was playing a positive role as the Opposition party in the state Assembly and its MLAs were always raising their concern against wrong policies being adopted by the government.
Truth has prevailed, says Bhattal
Chandigarh, March 30
In a statement issued here today, Lal Singh, Pratap Singh Bajwa, Tej Parkash Singh, Ishar Singh, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Kewal Singh Dhillon, Rana Kanwar Pal Singh, Darshan Singh Brar, all MLAs, former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, Tarlochan Singh, Malkiat Singh Dakha, Raj Pal Singh and Parminder Singh Pinky, all general secretaries, have congratulated Bhattal.
Amritsar, March 30
In the communiqué to the PM, SGPC president Avtar Singh called for the immediate intervention of the government of India, as it was a highly sensitive matter involving religious Sikh sentiments.
The historic body armour is kept in the Southeby museum, UK, where it is planned to be auctioned on April 9.
Meanwhile, Avtar Singh has also urged representatives of UK-based Sikh organisations and management committees, who gathered here for the inauguration of Guru Gobind Singh NRI Yatri Niwas, to approach the UK government in this regard. He also urged them to approach the government for handing over the other related historic Sikh relics, including Guru Gobind Singh’s plume and Kohinoor diamond.
The Yatri Niwas was handed over to the SGPC during a special function here today.
Harbhajan Singh Shergill, chairman, Shri Guru Gobind Singhji NRI Trust, UK, while detailing about the sarai said it took two and half years for the construction of 66-room niwas at a cost of about Rs 4 crore.
Situated at Mai Sewa Bazaar, every room in the sarai consists of modern facilities, besides having parking facilities for 30 vehicles in the basement.
He said the rooms would be allotted after seeing the passport of NRIs at nominal rent of Rs 300. Avtar Singh also honoured Shergill and other members of the trust with siropa.
Govt to talk to Centre
Dhanaula, March 30
In reply to a question here today, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal further said he would also take up the matter with the PM at the party level. He said only the Central government could play an effective role in this matter as it belonged to a foreign country.
Badal was here today to participate in a function at Gurdwara Gurusar Patshahi Nauvin, organised in connection with the 12th death anniversary of Sant Baba Jagat Singh. Besides Badal, MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Punjab PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, an executive member of the SGPC Sant Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula and a former MLA Gobind Singh Longowal also paid tributes to the Sant.
Badal said the Punjab government would ensure an 8-hour power supply daily to tubewells during the ensuing paddy season. He added that the government had already made arrangements in this regard. Regarding Mohali International Airport, Badal said the government had already started land acquisition process for the airport.
Badal expressed regrets for the misbehaviour done by the police with the anganwari workers at Bathinda some days ago. He said a magisterial inquiry had already been ordered to do justice in this case.
Badal promised that the Punjab government would grant the Pay Commission’s benefits to its employees.
Centre clears Sahnewal, Bathinda airports
Ludhiana, March 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal told reporters at a function here today that the Centre had cleared the Sahnewal and Bathinda domestic airports project. He said flights might begin in three months time.
Ludhiana was demanding an airport for boosting trade. The city is well connected by road and rail, and a dry port also exists here. However, the absence of an airpot hindered the swift movement of traders, especially international.
Badal said Bathinda too was developing fast and it needed more airports. Air travel will save lot of time, besides decongesting rail and road traffic.
Referring to the acquittal of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in a corruption case, Badal said, "There is no political interfernece in the investigation of any case either to help or punish anyone."
Badal held that the UPA government responsible for the rising prices of essential commodities.
CM for global movement to preserve Punjabi
Chandigarh, March 30
Addressing men of letters of Punjabi who called on him to felicitate him on the Punjab government's decision introducing Punjabi as compulsory subject in all schools in the state and enforcing it as medium of official communication Badal declared the government would not wait till the next session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to implement decisions on the use of Punjabi in all government and semi-government offices and introduce it as compulsory subject in schools. An ordinance to this effect will soon be issued, he told the writers and intellectuals.
Harcharan Bains, media advisor to the Chief Minister, Badal also announced an endowment fund to introduce health insurance scheme for needy and aged Punjabi writers and intellectuals.
He also announced Rs 5 lakh each for the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (Sekhon), the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha and the Punjabi Sahit Academy, Ludhiana. Badal also asked the writers to prepare a proposal for the grant of Rs 25 lakh for the renovation of Punjabi Bhawan at Ludhiana, said Bains.
Badal asked Punjabi writers to constitute a seven-member committee to prepare blue print for greater interaction between the government and writers and intellectuals for the promotion and preservation of Punjabi culture and language.
Punjabi poet Surjit Pattar, novelist and critic Jaswant Singh Kanwal, story writers and journalist Gulzar Singh Sandhu and Mohan Bhandari hailed the government to enact legislation on the use of Punjabi language in schools and government offices. They urged him to get Punjabi due status in Haryana, Himachal , Rajasthan, J&K and Delhi, said Bains.
The meeting lasted an hour and was attended by minister for cultural affairs Hira Singh Gabria and Bains. Writers Gurbhajan Gill, Kirpal Kazak, Prof Anup Virk, Baljit Balli, Principal Perm Singh Bajaj, Dr Guriqbal Singh, Dr Kuldeep Singh Dhir, Dr Sarvjit Singh, Ravinder Bhattal, Mrs Sukhwinder Amrit, lyricist Inderjit Hasanpuri, Prof Jaswinder Singh and Dr Surjit Singh called on the Chief Minister.
Rs 200 cr for roads in border villages
Gurdaspur, March 30
Criticising Amarinder Singh, Majithia said development in border districts - Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Tarn Taran - was hit during the Congress regime. Amarinder hardly took any interest in promoting tourism and trade in these districts.
Amarinder had been creating bitterness between leaders of the Congress, the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal for five years. The cricket match between political leaders of different parties has ended the “era of bitterness” due to efforts of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.
Though the SAD and the Congress differ on ideologies, he lauded opposition leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal for cooperating with Badal for participating in the match and setting an example of “cordial relations”.
The minister claimed Rs 200-crore plan was in the offing for strengthening road network in the villages of border districts. Supporting the demand raised by the Chief Minister with union home minister Shivraj Patil, Majithia said the farmers owning land across the barbed fence on the Indo-Pakistan border should be given compensation of Rs 5,000 per acre annually.
The government has taken up the issue of four-laning of the Amritsar-Gurdaspur-Pathankot highway with the Prime minister.
Sukhbir waits under tree for 3 hours
Gurdaspur, March 30
The SAD president had been to Langah to pay tributes to Kartar Singh Langah, uncle of Punjab agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah, who died a couple of days ago. Sukhbir said he had to fly back to Bathinda to attend another bhog ceremony and left for Dhariwal after 10 minutes.
Accompanied by Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, MLA, Qadian, Badal reached Dhariwal and waited for his chopper under the shade of a jamun tree for over 3 hours.
While the SAD president was waiting for the chopper, the police cordoned off the area restricting the entry of any person, including journalists and other political leaders inside. He later preferred to go to Amritsar by road.
The Gurdaspur DC said the chopper failed to take off from the Amritsar airport after it did not get signal due to busy air route.
Punjab water supply and sanitation minister Bikram Singh Majithia, chief parliamentary secretary Jagdish Raj Sahni, Gurcharan Singh Babehali, MLA, Gurdaspur, Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, MLA Qadian, Capt Balbir Singh Batth, MLA Srihargobindpur and various other Akali leaders of the area participated in the ceremony.
Kansa stream diversion illegal: Mann
Chandigarh, March 30
He said around 1985, UT constructed a road linking the villages of Khuda Ali Sher and Kaimbwala and diverted the Kansa stream to the Sukhna Lake through a channel along the newly constructed road. It was unlawful, he added.
“We believe that this usurpation of the Punjab waters is a demonstration of disregard that the union government has shown to the rights of Punjab as per riparian laws.”
The fact the diversion of the stream had the approval of successive governments “speaks volumes of the malfeasance of the bureaucracy and their masters.” Most of the land in the village has been bought by bureaucrats and politicians. “Even the bed of the stream has been encroached upon by influential persons”, said Mann.
He said Singapore firm of Jurong had zoned the area of the Kansa stream in Kansal as institutional or residential area. It seemed that the firm had not made efforts to ascertain whether the land is available for these purposes or not.
He said Kansal village could have developed its own reservoir, which, besides providing water in the dry season, could serve as a recharge of ground water as well as a sanctuary for migratory birds, adding to the environment of the village as well as Punjab.
Mann even filed an objection with GMADA pointing out flaws in the master plan of Nayagaon.
Mann said there was no trace of the Kansa stream in the master plan. He has urged the government that the stream be preserved by opening the blockage towards the east of the village and Kansal farmers should be compensated by the UT for diverting Punjab’s water.
World Punjabi Conference
Chandigarh, March 30
He also laid the foundation stone of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Bhawan to be built at a cost of Rs.5 crore and announced a grant of Rs 25 lakh for its construction. Going back to history, he recalled that a Muslim saint laid the foundation stone of Sri Harmander Sahib and its four doors symbolised secular values. He exhorted the scholars and writers who had come from over 20 countries, to support
Kuldip Nayar, veteran journalist, in his keynote address on “Punjab ’s Identity in the Global Context” emphasised the need to inculcate a sense of pride in owning ‘Punjabi’ as our first love. He said, “One should not be diffident in speaking the language”. Expressing his concern for the language, he quoted from a UNESCO report that Punjabi language was one of those languages, which faced a threat of disappearing in the next 50 years. “Ironically Punjabis settled abroad speak and teach Punjabi in their homes whereas affluent Punjabi families in India seem less enthusiastic”, he averred.
He advocated that the Assemblies of India and Pakistan end hostility by asking for forgiveness from each other thereby attempting to improve relations between the two countries. He also suggested setting up of a museum on the aftermath of Partition, which would remind the masses of the consequence of divisions.
During the inaugural session many eminent persons including Jaswant Singh Kanwal, S.S. Noor, Surjit Pattar, Dr. K.K. Talwar, Amrik Gill, Dharminder (in absentia) Dr. Rawail Singh, C.R. Moudgil, Pammi Bai, Dr. J.S. Bajaj, H.S. Hanspal, Kuldip Nayar, Harjinder Kaur and G.S. Sidhu Damdami, editor, Punjabi Tribune were honoured.
Earlier, Dr R.C. Sobti, vice-chancellor, in his welcome address informed that the university had completed its 60 years and solicited Chief Minister’s support for the university. He also announced the setting up of a chair on ‘Kuka Movement’ and informed that the university would do its best to propagate the concept and philosophy of Sikh religion to the world.
H.S. Hanspal, former MP presented Rs. 1 Lakh for the conference and called for carrying out research into the role of Punjabis in the struggle for independence.
H.S. Mattewal, advocate general Punjab explained the symbolic meaning of the concept of Panj Piaras. Dr J.S. Bajaj emphasised the need of inculcating love for the language right from the formative stages.
Violence due to curbs on drug smuggling: Jail suptd
Jalandhar, March 30
Sidhu said the violence in the jail erupted for the same reason as in January this year.
The jail superintendent said: “I had come to know that drugs were being thrown inside the open premises of the jail from across boundary walls, adjoining a busy road. The friends of some inmates used to throw packets of drugs inside the jail at a particular time during lockout (bandi khol),” he added.
Sidhu said he deputed jail staff and nambardars along the wall to check the smuggling of drugs in the jail. It worked.
Earlier, then acting jail superintendent Sat Pal had given the same reason for violence by jail inmates on January 7. He had even said: “Conniving with the prisoners, jail staff had been facilitating smuggling of the drugs and mobile phones inside the jail”.
Meanwhile, Sidhu admitted the jail was overcrowded and there were 1,303 inmates in the jail against its capacity of just 525. However, he said the overcrowding had nothing to do with today’s violence.
NHAI official hears grievances of traders
Pathankot, March 30
Bajaj heard grievances of 250 traders. He said the NHAI had been operating for the convenience of people by regulating traffic and not for creating problems.
He said problems of the traders would be taken up and technical aspects of road construction would be looked into. He said the Railway overbridge on the Jalandhar-Jammu highway in Damtal was the main bottleneck in regulating vehicular traffic and re-aligning the road.
Traders had given a representation to Ashwani Kumar who took up the issue with the NHAI. They complained that their trade had been affected because of ongoing four-laning of the highway.
Agencies doubt claims on Sekhon’s death
Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 30 The security agencies say they don’t have any intelligence inputs about the death of the wanted terrorist. According to sources, the sudden revelation of Sekhon’s death could be aimed at transferring his property to the next of kin. Meanwhile, chairman of the SAD (Amritsar, Panch Pardhani) Daljit Singh Bittu announced to commemorate his death anniversary in future. Sekhon's mother Gurnam Kaur, alias Bebe Thakri, said the family had come to know about his death through news items published in two vernacular, daily Ajit and Hamdard. Though a few radical leaders attended the bhog, they were not allowed to address the gathering.
Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 30
The security agencies say they don’t have any intelligence inputs about the death of the wanted terrorist. According to sources, the sudden revelation of Sekhon’s death could be aimed at transferring his property to the next of kin.
Meanwhile, chairman of the SAD (Amritsar, Panch Pardhani) Daljit Singh Bittu announced to commemorate his death anniversary in future.
Sekhon's mother Gurnam Kaur, alias Bebe Thakri, said the family had come to know about his death through news items published in two vernacular, daily Ajit and Hamdard. Though a few radical leaders attended the bhog, they were not allowed to address the gathering.
Tributes paid to Sikh warrior
Hoshiarpur, March 30
Speakers at a function held to pay tributes to Sikh warrior Baba Baghel Singh at his native village Hariana, about 15 km from here, urged the Chief Minister to keep his poll promise by abrogating the clause.
A convention was organised at the village gurdwara built in memory of the Sikh general, who is credited with the unfurling of the Nishan Sahib atop Red Fort in 1783 on this day, marking the rule of Sikhs over Delhi.
Leaders of the Dal Khalsa extolled the military and political qualities of Bhai Baghel Singh.
President of the body Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib delivered the keynote address. He said the present political leadership in Punjab did not offer any role models and therefore it was the need of the hour to honour Sikh generals of yesteryears.
Convener of the Khalsa Action Committee Bhai Mohkam Singh warned the government against “danda-raj” in the state. He condemned the brutality unleashed on anganwari workers in Bathinda two days ago.
Power cheaper by 3.5 pc from tomorrow
Patiala, March 30 The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) had increased power tariff in September last year. Though the tariff has been increased from April 1, it came into force from September 1. The average increase for the whole year is 4.90 per cent. However, as the tariff is to be recovered in the remaining seven months, after annulisation it will become 8.4 per cent. The tariff was raised in September last after a gap of almost two years. The PSEB has left the matter for tariff revision entirely on the
Patiala, March 30
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) had increased power tariff in September last year. Though the tariff has been increased from April 1, it came into force from September 1.
The average increase for the whole year is 4.90 per cent. However, as the tariff is to be recovered in the remaining seven months, after annulisation it will become 8.4 per cent. The tariff was raised in September last after a gap of almost two years.
The PSEB has left the matter for tariff revision entirely on the PSERC. — UNI
Bansal is Sutlej Club gen secy
Ludhiana, March 30 Arvind Malhotra won the post of finance secretary for a second consecutive time. Sarabjeet Singh Tunnu defeated T.S. Thapar with a margin of 234 votes for the post of mess secretary while Sanjay Kapoor was elected cultural secretary. Simarjit Singh Nota was declared sports secretary.
Ludhiana, March 30
Arvind Malhotra won the post of finance secretary for a second consecutive time. Sarabjeet Singh Tunnu defeated T.S. Thapar with a margin of 234 votes for the post of mess secretary while Sanjay Kapoor was elected cultural secretary. Simarjit Singh Nota was declared sports secretary.
Three-day mela to boost organic farming begins
Nabha, March 30
Surinder Singh, director, Kheti Virasat, addressing the farmers said apart from the Uttaranchal Organic Board, ICCOA and National Centre for Organic Farming, Ghaziabad, other such organisations from Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were showcasing their produce.
He explained that the commonly used pesticides remained active in the environment for years in the original form or as byproducts and posed a serious threat to the health of livestock and humans. He said pesticides killed people, damaged nervous system, caused cancer and reproductive disorders. Harmful chemicals entering foodchains were associated with mental retardation, cleft lip and palate and other life-threatening abnormalities in neonates.
He expressed displeasure that despite ban, several fertilizers and pesticides were available in abundance in the domestic market. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kuwait had disallowed use of Endosulphan and Lindane was banned in a major part of the globe, but India was using it because of vested interests of its marketers, who were playing havoc with the health of people.
In India, the Janhit Foundation, Meerut, and some other organisations were focusing on the elimination of the use of Lindane and Endo Sulphan from agriculture practices.
The foundation was advocating a complete ban on these pesticides and inclusion of these in the list of banned Persistant Organic Pollutants (extremely toxic substances with proven harmful effects on human and animal health).
Earlier, inaugurating the mela, ADC Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said extensive use of the pesticides was a cause of concern for everyone. He said though powerful pressure lobbies of fertilizer and pesticides producers were trying to derail the crusade of the Kheti Virasat by filing lawsuits, no pressure could match the united one from the farming community. He said it was heartening to know that organic produce was getting much better price in the open market.
Arunesh Kausher, chief parliamentary secretary, Food Supplies, Punjab, appealed to the farmers and the NGOs to make organic farming a jan andolan.
He said immediate steps were required to stop the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides and added that the government would soon announce a new policy to boost organic farming in the state. He assured of all possible help to the NGOs working in this field.
A play depicting the harmful effect of deforestation and use of pesticide was staged on the occasion, along with the expert-farmer meeting and a series of lectures on various topics.
Teenager runs over two migrants
Amritsar, March 30
The deceased were identified as Dhimru Gupta and Dharmendra Kumar, both residents of Bihar. The incident took place at Rattan Singh Chowk.
The police has taken Inderjit, a resident of Taylor Road, into custody .
The police said the boy took out the car without the knowledge of his parents and could not hold the steering wheel while driving and ultimately ran over the victims who died on the spot.