P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


No power cuts this summer: Ratra
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 5
Believe it or not! There will be no power cuts in Punjab this summer. At least this is what chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board, Y.S. Ratra said here today. “It’s a Herculean effort, but we will try our best to make the summer comfortable,” he added.

With the demand overshooting supply by at least 3,000 megawatts each year, how Ratra is going to pull it off, only he knows. “There is both good and bad news for the power situation in Punjab this year,” he said.

The good news is the Lehra Mohabbat Phase II is functional and producing 250 MW. This means an additional 60 lakh units (lu) is available from this season. “Other than this, we are expecting the fourth unit of the same thermal plant to start production of another 250 MW,” he said.

The bad news is that the demand for power has already shot up by at least 10 per cent than what it was this time of the year last year. “The demand last year ranged between 800 to 1,000 lu per day last year. In the peak season this year when paddy will be sown, we are expecting the demand to go up to 1,700 lu per day,” he said. Adding to the board’s woes this year is that power generation from the board’s hydro projects is down by at least 35 to 40 per cent due to less rainfall.

“For this year we have power banking tie-ups with half-a-dozen states in India to whom we have been supplying electricity through winters. That also accounts for the cuts people faced during winters. Now these states will be giving us our power back to see us through our cropping seasons,” said Ratra.

Other than power banking which Punjab has taken to successfully, the state is also going to demand at least 15 per cent from out of the union power ministry’s central generation share for the months of April and May and another 25 per cent for the months from June to September. “The power ministry has about 1,300 MW in its kitty and if the government presses upon the Centre enough, we might get what we have demanded,” said Ratra.

Punjab also gets its share from BBMB and the Central pool. From all its sources the board managed to have 6,200 MW annually. But with demand going up to 9,000 MW, last year though there were no cuts in summers, the board had to buy electricity worth Rs 5,000 crore.

“I can assure 8 hours of uninterrupted power supply to farmers during the paddy season and industrial cuts would be the last on my list, ” he added.


Justice Jain for campaign against depleted uranium
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
Highlighting deadly effects of depleted uranium, Mr Justice Vijender Jain, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, today urged people of the world to launch a non-violent movement to create awareness on its dangers. Never before in the history of this world has an individual been threatened on account of ecological degradation, he said.

This appeal was made by Mr Justice Jain while inaugurating “National Seminar on Depleted Uranium: Environmental Hazards” here.

It has been jointly organised by the departments of botanical and environmental sciences, human genetics and physics of Guru Nanak Dev University on the university campus.

Talking about India, he said the entire north-western region, including the Himalayas, is affected by depleted uranium. All perennial rivers, originating from the Himalayas, would contaminate the largest and oldest food grain basket in the world.

He said a particle of depleted uranium ingested or inhaled caused one or more than 90 plus seriously debilitating diseases. The half life of depleted uranium was 4.5 billion years, and it could destroy living things and environment.

Mr Justice Jain said the air we breathed was contaminated with depleted uranium and it was killing healthy people over the world.

Mr Justice Jain said despite all technological and other breakthroughs, we still lived in a world where one fifth of developing world population slept with empty stomach every night, a quarter lacked access to even basic necessities like safe drinking water and one third lived in a state of abject poverty. He said despite 9 per cent ecological growth for the past four years, 25 per cent of Indian population lived below the poverty line and 35 per cent was waiting to be literate.

Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, former Chief of the Naval Staff, in his keynote address said the use of depleted uranium in Afghanistan affected the life and the habitants in 1,000 miles’ radius of Kabul, encircling Punjab, Delhi, UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and some parts of Maharashtra. He said India would have to make up its mind and express solidarity with NAM on this issue as it affected the very future of our people.

Vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh said the technology had to be used for the welfare of man and not for his elimination.


Harassment Charges
Medicos meet Sukhbir, seek Punia’s suspension
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
Dr Tarlochan Singh Punia facing charges of harassment from some women post-graduate students was cornered further when scores of students met SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal seeking his suspension and arrest.

In a memorandum to Sukhbir, Patiala-based post-graduate students of the 2005-08 batch of the Government Medical College claimed that after some women students had alleged harassment by Punia, the doctor had been shifted to the DRME’s office at Chandigarh which they claimed was a “prize posting and not punishment”.

The students said Punia, who was head of the anaesthesia department of the medical college here, should be suspended and arrested.

The memorandum claimed that Punia had also been facing similar charges earlier also. He was accused of harassing students in 1996 following which he had been shifted from the Rajindra Hospital and Medical College.

The students said the doctor despite indulging in “immoral activities” managed to stay put in Patiala.

The students claimed that it was only now that some students had mustered courage to pin the doctor down on harassment charges. Earlier, the students were cowed downed by Punia’s threats.

Meanwhile, the Junior Doctors Association (JDA) has taken up cudgels on behalf of the affected students.

The JDA complimented the students for “exposing” the activities of Punia.

The students said if no action was taken against Punia, they might take up the case with the Women’s and the State Human Rights Commission.

The students urged Sukhbir Badal to take exemplary action against the erring doctors who the students said be arrested. 


Subsidy on drip irrigation raised to 75 per cent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Punjab government has decided to raise the subsidy on drip/sprinkler scheme for irrigation to 75 per cent from 50
per cent for farmers in the state.

Punjab agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah said today this system of irrigation was economical and also useful for all crops, including fruits and vegetables except paddy.

Drip irrigation is a modern technique which consumes less water, helps check depleting watertable. Under the Drip Irrigation Scheme, subsidy on farm water storage tanks will also be given up to 50 per cent or maximum Rs 1 lakh.

The minister added this modern technique was beneficial to farmers in many ways. It needed less fertiliser, labour and power and gave more and quality yield.

The minister appealed to farmers to go for the drip and sprinkler modern technique of irrigation and have the system in their farms from firms recommended by the Soil and Water Conservation Department.


Bhattal seeks relief for rain-hit areas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, its general secretary Parminder Singh Pinki and president of the Bharti Kisan Union, Balbir Singh Rajewal in separate statements have urged the state government to immediately order the special girdavari in areas hit by hailstorms, thus causing damage to wheat and other crops.

Bhattal said each affected farmer should be given Rs 5,000 per acre as compensation.

Rajewal said reports of heavy damage caused by hailstorm had come from Kotkapura, Faridkot, Makhu, Ludhiana, Muktsar and adjoining areas. He said crops had been hit severely in 10 villages near Pir Mohammad in the Makhu area.

Likewise, report of hailstorm had come from Chowkiman-Mullanpur belt in Ludhiana district. He has urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to immediately order special girdavari.


Advani apologises to Dang
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
Former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani today apologised to veteran Communist Party of India leader Satya Pal Dang on the phone for referring him as “late” in his memoir “My Country, My Life”.

It was a pleasant surprise for Dang when he received the call from “someone” who told him that, “Mr Advani wants to talk to you”. After a few minutes, Advani told Dang that he was sorry for the mistake he had committed in his political biography by referring to him as “late”. On this, Dang said, “It is all right Mr Advani since every human being is bound to make some mistakes in life”.

Advani made the call to Dang after reading the news item published in The Tribune: “I am still alive, Mr Advani: Dang” a couple of days ago. In Chapter 7 of the book, Advani has written: “As the late Satya Pal Dang, an Amritsar-based Communist leader whom I admire for his courageous campaign against Khalistan, has said in his book ‘Terrorism in Punjab’ ....

Meanwhile, Advani continues to receive flak from Panthic leaders for the chapter of his book: “The trauma and triumph of Punjab”. Taking a serious view of the title of the chapter, veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta said Advani tried to eulogise the Army Operation in June 1984 by writing “triumph of Punjab”. He said the well-meaning persons of the world had described the Army action against the Sikhs as a “Himalyan blunder”. He said the “half truth and biased views” of Advani would rub the salt on the wounded Sikh psyche.

“What is worse, Advani has described the Anandpur Sahib resolution of the shiromani committee, passed in 1973, as secessionist document while it had been a poll plank of the Akali Dal since then”, he added. He said it was unfortunate that Advani had written that the BJP was against the formation of the All-India Gurdwara Act.


Burney for exposing those spreading hatred
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 5
Member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee Ansar Burney emphasised the need to expose the forces which exploit feelings of people of Pakistan and India for creating hatred against each other.

Burney was in Nangal Choran village, 20 km from here, today to congratulate family members of Kashmir Singh, who recently joined his family after 35 years in various jails of Pakistan and was released with the efforts of the former.

Addressing villagers, Burney said there was no enmity between both neighbouring countries, but some unscrupulous elements were trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere for selfish ends.

"I will make any sacrifice for serving the suffering humanity and continue my struggle to get liberated innocent persons still in jails," he said.

Burney emphasised on giving due respect to all persons in both countries. After meeting Kashmir Singh and his family, he was very happy and felt at home and was meeting his kin. Love and affection by Kashmir Singh's family and people of India was unforgettable for him.

Lauding Chief Minister, Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal for taking up the issue of getting released 49 prisoners in jails of the country, who had completed their sentence, with the Union government, Burney hoped that both governments would remove all obstacles from the borders for free movement of people.

Minister for public relations, Punjab, Bikramjit Singh Majithia presented a cheque of Rs 10 lakh to Kashmir Singh and his wife Paramjit Kaur issued by the state government for the construction of a house.

Announcing a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the development of Nangal Choran, Majithia said the process had been initiated to provide a government job to Kashmir Singh's son as announced by the Chief Minister.


Incident which turned Burney into rights activist
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), April 5
A human rights activist for over three decades Ansar Burney, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee, on Thursday disclosed the incident which made him espouse the cause of those suffering and turned him into a human rights activist.

Overwhelmed by emotions, pain and sentiments of families whose members are in prisons in India and Pakistan, Burney spoke about his repeated arrests in Pakistan in his youth.

He said, “I was a student activist in the country. There was martial law in the country and the police booked me for violating orders. They accused me of addressing a gathering which was prohibited in those days. Though I was not at fault as I was out of Karachi, where I was booked, yet I was sent to jail.”

“After imprisonment of eight months, I was released and days later was arrested again. Jail was never painful for me as I had come across the plight of those in jail. Whenever somebody expressed his painful experience to me, it made me help him out,” he added.

“Once I was sitting under a tree in the jail and a bearded person, saintly in appearance, came to me and asked whether I knew why I had been arrested and sent to jail so frequently. I was not aware of the reason, but the person opened my eyes when he encouraged me to help the needy.”

“Since that day, I left politics and opted to help people fight for their rights.”


Patwaris to go on 3-day leave from April 15
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 5
Revenue patwaris will go on leave en masse for three days from April 15.

With the exception of April 15, 16,17, April 12 to 20 comprise Saturdays and Sundays and official holidays. Taking three days’ leave, the patwaris will not attend work for nine days.

Dalbir Singh, president of the local unit of the Revenue Patwar Union, said they were aware that people would be put to hardship, but they had taken this decision with a heavy heart. “We have been protesting against the step- motherly treatment of the department, but to no avail,” he said.

He said one of their major demands was the alleged dictatorial attitude of the director, Land Records (DLR). “We have been raising some issues, but no step has been taken to redress our grievances. Our members have staged dharnas in the past, but the government has not initiated a dialogue with us,” he pointed out.


CBI probe into flow of narcotics sought
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
Baldev Singh Sirsa, general secretary, SAD Amritsar (Presidium), has written a letter to union home minister to demand a CBI inquiry to investigate the flow of narcotics into Punjab.

Sirsa has alleged that there have been a series of cases recently which point to political patronage to the drug mafia. He rued that the police crackdown is limited to only the drug peddlers.


Moga sex scam accused told to appear on May 3
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
An accused in the Moga sex scandal case, sub inspector Raman Kumar, was produced in the CBI court here today, along with other accused Paramjit Kaur, Mandeep Kaur, Bhupinder Singh and Amarjit Singh.

In one of the cases filed by the CBI under FIR No. 30, special judge, CBI, H.S Madan, listed the next date of hearing on May 3.


Harpreet Murder
Warrants issued against accused
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
Sessions judge Inderjit Singh here today issued warrants against Harpinder Singh, an accused in the murder case of Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief’s daughter Harpreet Kaur.

The judge issued the orders after the accused Harpinder failed to appear before the court today. The judge also granted exemption to two other accused in the case, who also failed to appear as they had to attend to the ‘barsi’ of their elder. Three witnesses who were present in the case could not be examined as the accused were not present in the court. Their examination will be on the next date of hearing, i.e. April 11.


Baba Farid varsity to conduct PMET
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
While Baba Farid University of Medical Health and Sciences has been authorised to hold the Punjab Medical Entrance Test (PMET) for the current year, the director, Research and Medical Education, has been appointed as appellate authority in case of any dispute with regard to admission, fee in government medical and private medical institutions, including dental, ayurvedic, homoeopathic colleges.

Secretary, Medical Education, Jagjit Puri said in case of admission against management and minority quota seats in private medical and other related colleges, the institute concerned would have to intimate the date and time for admission at least two weeks before the date of admission and the admissions made by any institute on its own without giving due notice to the government and the university would not be treated as legal. All institutes would have fixed admission dates in such a manner that these should not clash with other institute and the university would have to ensure that.

Entire admission process, including interview with the aspirants for admission, will have to be video recorded.The forms for management quota seats will have to be made available on the website of the university. The institute shall be bound to accept the form and issue the receipt. In case of refusal by the institute concerned, the form can be sent to the chairman of the admission committee or university by giving details of refusal in the forwarding letter.

The government has taken these steps following reports that managements of some of the private medical,dental and other such colleges were resorting to unfair means and admitting students through the backdoor.

The fee will be chargeable from students on annual basis and not for the entire course period (five years) in advance in one go. At most the students can be asked to furnish surety bond and bank guarantee that they will be liable to pay the balance fee for the whole course in case they leave the institute midway.

The fee will have to be refunded or adjusted if a candidate shifts from one college to another in the subsequent counselling on operation of the waiting list. If the fee is not refunded or adjusted, within 15 days, the institute concerned will have to pay bank interest as well as penal interest to the students concerned.

Puri said hostel fee and security advance for private institutes had also been fixed by the government.

The vacant seats of CBSE quota, if surrendered by the director-general, Health Services, New Delhi, to the Punjab government on or before September 15 of the corresponding year will be filled by the general category candidates based on their PMET merit. Any NRI seat remaining unfilled will be shifted to the general pool in government colleges and to management quota in private institutes. Seats remaining vacant in reserve category in government and private institutes will transferred to the general pool.

The university will have to provide registration number to all candidates once duly admitted.


Kanungo sent to police remand
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 5
The police has arrested Badrukhan village kanungo Deepak Kumar, alias Banti, in a case of the purchase of luxury cars on fake names and addresses through bank loans and sale of these at low prices after getting registration papers of the vehicles prepared from the office of the registration authority. The case was registered by the Sunam police on August 27 last year under Sections 379, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B, IPC.

Police official Ashok Mohan said this evening that the kanungo had been arrested the previous day in connection with the case registered on August 27 last at Sunam. He said the qanungo was produced in a Sunam court which remanded him in police custody for two days.

On August 28, 2007, at a press conference, Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh stated that the police had arrested three residents of Sangrur.

These persons were in this profession for one year and had sold 16 to 17 cars in the town by bringing the same from big cities. He had also said the police had recovered four vehicles, including Skoda car, Ford Fiesta car and Innova vehicle, from them.


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