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Tribune Impact
Punjab extends consumer panel member’s term 
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
After sitting over the names of candidates to be appointed against vacant posts in the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for two months, the Secretary, Food and Supplies, has finally cleared the extension of Jasbir Kapoor for another five years.

The commission had interviewed a few candidates on March 10 and sent its recommendation to the Punjab government’s Department of Food and Supplies on May 13. Jasbir Kapoor’s name was also recommended for extension of her term by the statuary committee comprising Justice S.N. Aggarwal, president of the commission. However, the Punjab government failed to clear the appointments.

Thereafter a news report on the issue was published in The Tribune that was followed by a public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate H.C. Arora in the high court.

The working of the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, would have come to a standstill if the tenure of the member of the commission was not extended.

Another member, Budhi Chander Parkash of the commission had already retired on February 1. According to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1987, the president could not pronounce orders alone in the absence of other two members. Thus it would have affected the functioning of the commission.

Taking the matter seriously, the high court issued a notice to the Punjab government. Acting swiftly, the Punjab government had issued requisite orders for the extension of the said member for another five years. The message was given to the president of the commission telephonically also.

An appointment letter was also received in the state commission last evening. It is, however, to be noticed that the state commission’s work came to a halt for a day on May 16, as the intimation of Jasbir Kapoor’s extension was not received well in time.


Gram Sabha Polls
Speaker’s son accused of paper-tampering
Bipin Bharadwaj
Tribune News Service

Dera Baba Nanak, May 17
Ongoing confrontation between the Nirmal Singh Kahlon and Gurpratap Singh Khushalpur groups took a serious turn when their supporters lodged allegation and counter-allegations against each other here today.

The Khushalpur supporters alleged tampering with the nomination papers of their men by assistant returning officer (ARO) and the Dera Baba Nanak tehsildar at the behest of Ravikaran Singh Kahlon, son of Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon. They held a protest in front of the scrutiny centre

Gurpratap Singh Khushalpur, who is general secretary of the Youth Akali Dal, alleged that Ravikaran and election staff took away the files containing nomination papers of the contestants for the Gram Panchayat elections last evening from the offices of the municipal council and the agriculture offices with an intention to tamper with them.

Holding files of nomination papers, the ARO reached the office in a car (PB-02AH-4870) having red beacon atop it and displayed the scrutiny list of members. Khushalpur alleged that the officer concerned rejected more than 200 candidates belonging to his group on the direction of Kahlon.

He alleged the police manhandled women who protested the highhandedness of the Kahlons.

Akali leaders, including Jagdeep Singh Chandu Nangal, Daljit Singh Dhera, Kanwaljit Singh Khushalpur, Pritam Singh Rajeke, and Bakshish Singh Basantkot, have filed complaints with the state election commissioner and the district electoral officer-cum-deputy commissioner, Gurdaspur, but to no avail, he lamented.

Denying allegations, Ravikaran said the Khushalpur group had been levelling false allegations against him.

The ARO said he was not aware of the fact that the red-beacon vehicle he used belonged to the Kahlons.


Leader throws out 14 nomination papers 
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 17
Files of 14 nomination papers, submitted to returning officer (RO) Shakti Kumar for Sunam (Cluster-II) area by candidates for the post of panch for the Bir Kalan village panchayat, were allegedly thrown out of the a window by a prominent Congress leader from Sunam yesterday. These were picked up by persons standing outside the room, who later fled from the spot.

Sangrur DC V.K. Ohri said he had received information about this incident from the RO, so he had asked Sangrur SSP to register a case against Aman Arora (Congress leader from Sunam) and Rajinder Singh Raja (District Youth Congress president) in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone, Shakti Kumar, RO, said at about 3.30 pm Raja came to his office and started levelling allegations on him and his co-workers that they were helping a particular party. Raja insisted on obtaining nomination papers, but he (RO) declined to accept as time was already over. At this Raja threatened him and called Aman on the mobile phone.

The RO said after coming to his office Aman also started issuing threats to him and threw files of 14 nomination papers (after picking the same from table) of Bir Kalan panchayat out of the window. He said he had written to the Sunam police in this regard and also informed the DC.

Sunam DSP Joginder Singh said a case had been registered against Aman, Raja and others under Sections 353, 186, 506, 380 149 and 171-F, IPC, and Section 134. He said two persons, namely Bhola Singh and Jagraj Singh, residents of Bir Kalan village, had been arrested. 


Cong to begin Save Democracy march today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Save Democracy march will be launched from Muktsar by the Congress tomorrow. The march will end on May 19 at the Jallianwala Bagh. Besides Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar, the first leg of the march from Muktsar to Tarn Taran will be led by five freedom fighters. Its final leg will be led by PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal from Tarn Taran to the Jallianwala Bagh.

The march will pass through Badal village, native village of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Starting from Muktsar, it will pass through Kotkapura, Badal, Lambi, Sarawan Bodla, Lakhewali and Doda Kauni villages. It will then proceed towards Patti-Tarn Taran via Mudhki and Sarhali.

Brar said special jathas of Congress activists had been invited for taking part in the march. He added that all sorts of measures and methods were used by the SAD in the Block Samiti and Zila Parishad elections to demolish democracy in the state.

He stated that violence was most pronounced in the Lambi area where Congress leader Mahesh Inder Singh, a contestant in the last Assembly elections against Badal, was also made a target.

Brar said the SAD won elections by creating an atmosphere of terror all around.

“However, as now incontrovertible evidence of violence against the ruling party has come from BJP ministers, who are part of the state government, it has reduced the so-called of victory of the SAD in the elections to a farce,” Brar said, adding, “One can imagine the level of violence from the fact that BJP leaders had to troupe to the Chief Minister’s residence to protest against the murder of democracy in the state.”

He declared that his party could not be a silent spectator to such violence and winning of elections at gunpoint. He also said a similar situation was seen during the Panchayat elections and it was believed that nomination papers of the Congress activists were not being accepted under one pretext or other so that they were no able to take part in the elections.

“We cannot allow this to happen. We are prepared to fight a prolonged battle for the restoration and saving of democracy in the state.


Kharbanda in ‘self-exile’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
Even as the PPCC has lodged a fresh complaint against chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, municipal committee commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda has decided not to come back to Amritsar till the Amritsar byelection. The commissioner is at present in Hyderabad in connection with a training programme.

The transfer of deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu has dampened the spirit of the local administration and the officers don’t want to earn the wrath of the CEC by obliging the ruling party.

Though the home district of Kharbanda is Jalandhar, the PPCC, in its complaint, has alleged that he be transferred because Amritsar is his home district.

Talking to The Tribune from Hyderabad, Kharbanda said the charges that he was a classmate of mayor Shavet Malik had no base. He had done Engineering (Civil) while Malik did his graduation in Electrical Engineering from Thapar Engineering College, Patiala, he clarified.

Regarding the allegations of carrying out development works in the Amritsar (South) Assembly constituency despite the election code, Kharbanda claimed that he was away to Hyderabad after the announcement of the byelection. “This is a second time that I have gone to Hyderabad for training”, he added.

DC Pannu goes on leave

Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu, who has been transferred on the instructions of the Election Commissioner, has proceeded on leave till the end of this month.

According to sources, the DC has not been served any notice by the Election Commissioner nor was the state government taken into confidence before seeking his transfer out of Amritsar. The sources further said Pannu had been transferred in the midst of bypoll for the Amritsar (South) constituency to be held on May 22. The transfer of a senior IAS officer without giving proper information and nature of complaint against him has been described as a wrong practice on part of the election commissioner.


Sukhbir backs Nihang leader Balbir Singh
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
Denying misunderstanding or differences between the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and alliance partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal asserted the two outfits had been working like one party for over 20 years.

Meanwhile, Sukhbir apparently backed Baba Balbir Singh, head of the Budha Dal, during his visit to the Dal headquarters, Bagichi Baba Bamba Singh, along with SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra. Nihang leader Baba Santa Singh’s sister Kishan Kaur also came out in Baba Balbir Singh’s support in the presence of the SAD chief and said Balbir Singh had served Baba Santa Singh for over 25 years. The SAD chief also said there was no “parallel Budha Dal” for the SAD. Sukhbir assured the Nihangs that security would be provided to Baba Balbir Singh.

“Don’t think there are differences between the SAD and the BJP. The two political outfits have been working as one party for over 20 years. People who create differences should note one thing, why the two parties have been going along for so long? It is due to mutual understanding only. We have directed our respective cadres to work for common programmes and achieve common goals. We have also come out with a coordination network. There were only stray incidents of discord at grassroot level during the Zila Parishad polls and that too because polls had come too early. We had no problem in case of over 95 per cent seats and there was no chaos,” said the SAD chief.

The SAD chief said, “See the results, how people have supported the combine. Contrary to projections by vested interests, I have not been interfering at any level. The SAD is not contesting the forthcoming Panchayat elections as a party.These are being contested by people as the SAD believed in democracy,” said Sukhbir, who also visited the house of SAD leader Surjit Singh Rakhra here and mourned the death of Rakhra’s mother Jaswant Kaur last week. Sukhbir’s mother Surinder Kaur Badal also visited the Rakhra family.

On whether he would replace his father as CM, Sukhbir quipped, “I cannot reach the level attained by Parkash Singh Badal.”

Nihang chief Baba Balbir Singh expected more than 20,000 Nihangs to attend the bhog of Baba Santa Singh at Chauni Nihang Singhan here on May 18.

Meanwhile, members of the World Sikh Intellectual Council, headed by senior Akali leader Baldev Singh Balluana, paid tributes to Rakhra’s mother at a meeting here.


We’ve enough proof against CS: Cong
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
Chief spokesman for the PPCC Bir Devinder Singh, in a fresh complaint to the chief election commissioner (CEC), has said his party had enough proof that the chief secretary met SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal in Amritsar in violation of the election code.

He said the Congress could produce witnesses, who had seen the chief secretary entering the Amritsar’s hotel.

The PPCC has urged the CEC to seek details from the SAD regarding the helicopter it had allegedly hired to ferry its leaders to Amritsar for electioneering for the byelection.


Don’t succumb to political pressure, DGP tells force
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab police chief today cracked the whip on SSPs in an attempt to ensure violence-free elections to the Gram Panchayats on May 26.

The SSPs, who attended a meeting at the police headquarters here, were told in unambiguous terms by DGP N.P.S. Aulakh that there would be zero tolerance for any laxity shown in reacting to incidents of violence during the polls, according to sources.

The sources disclosed the DGP, who is under fire from the opposition because of poll violence, today made it clear to the SSPs that in case they were subjected to any political pressure from any side they should bring it to his notice immediately. The field officers had been directed to reach the spot immediately in case of any violent activity. The DGP said a departmental inquiry into Tarn Taran violence could have been avoided if senior officers had reached the spot immediately.

It was also decided that similar measures would be undertaken during the Amritsar (South) Assembly byelection on May 22.

Meanwhile, sub-committees were formed to look into the issue of out-of-turn promotions given to police personnel ranging from head constables to DSPs during the past several years. The sources said according to the rules, the department was bound to mention the achievement of the personnel in case of an out of turn promotions. This was allegedly not done in many cases. The sub-committees, which will be headed by SP-level officers, will prepare a list of all such promotions.


Coop societies to sell goods on CSD pattern
NRIs’ deposits to be accepted under a special scheme
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 17
“Given the present scenario of the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, cooperatives have to play a major role in the faster development of Punjab. For this, cooperative departments need to co-exist with the corporate world to mutual benefit each other,” stated Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh, while inaugurating a national seminar on the “Cooperative movement in socio-economic development in South-west Asia”, organised by Punjabi University’s Centre for South-West Asia Study at the university here yesterday.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said, “Abject poverty, illiteracy, insurgency, unemployment and poor social services are posing a challenge for us. Market economy, on the other hand, is causing concentration of wealth instead of equitable distribution, thus, disturbing the balance.” In the absence of proper help from the cooperatives, the poor, especially farmers, have to suffer at the hands of moneylenders in the unorganised sector.

He disclosed that the Cooperative Department had planned a special scheme under which it would accept deposits in the form of term and fixed deposits from Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), giving them adequate interest return on their capital. In turn, this capital would be loaned to needy farmers and members of the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Socieities on a nominal interest rate. The department had chalked out a comprehensive plan to computerise all Primary Agriculture Cooperative Socieities (PACS) and interlink them through the Internet.

He said they would improve the condition of the farmers by providing cheap consumer goods at rates much less as compared to the market on the pattern of the CSD. Farmers would also be given agricultural tools at a nominal rent rate to reduce their expenditure.

Vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh, in his presidential remarks, said with the advent of free market economy, the gap between the rich and the poor was increasing beyond proportion.

Programme coordinator of the centre and dean, Academic Affairs, Sucha Singh Gill said the cooperatives should follow a people-centric model by removing bureaucratic hindrances. Sukhpal Singh from IIM, Ahmedabad, registrar of the varisty, S.S. Khehra, and R.S. Ghuman also spoke on the occasion.


Turban Row
Probe ordered; parents to move court
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 17
Sangrur deputy commissioner V.K. Ohri today entrusted an inquiry to additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Indu Malhotra to probe a matter with regard to forcing Hindu students to wear turbans by the Akal Academy, Cheema, about 15 km from Sunam. The ADC will submit her report in two to three days.

The inquiry was ordered on a representation submitted to him here today by a deputation of parents of Hindu students and representatives of Hindu organisations of Cheema Mandi.

The deputation reportedly told the DC that their wards had been told to wear turbans, or else they could leave the academy.

Talking to The Tribune today, the DC said the deputation had met him for the first time in this regard and an order had been ordered. On the basis of the inquiry report, suitable action would be initiated, he added.

ADC Malhotra said she would invite representatives of the management and parents of Hindu students of the academy to hear their point of view.

Meanwhile, the parents of Hindu students of the academy had decided to withdraw their wards from the academy if the rule was not scrapped. They would file a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday against the academy’s rule, said a member of the deputation and president of Durga Shakti Mandir, Cheema, Rajinder Kumar Leelu.


Ridding Sirhind Canal of Pollution
Badal sets up task force
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday constituted a task force of officers from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology and the Water Supply and Sewerage Board to draw up blueprint for ridding the Sirhind canal of pollution to achieve the objective of “safe drinking water for all”.

Chairing a meeting to review the progress of drinking water and sewerage schemes in urban and rural sectors here, Badal told the state chief secretary to implement the schemes in a time-bound manner. He also directed the secretary, Irrigation, to have the Sirhind canal surveyed afresh with the PPCB to identify the discharge points of sewage, industrial waste and garbage before taking up its cleaning.

The Chief Minister also entrusted the executive director of the council with finalising modalities of the schemes aimed at purifying water, especially in the zones of the state with high-level toxicity due to industrial pollutants and pesticides. He also asked the secretary of the Board to monitor rural water supply schemes by application of reverse osmosis (RO), silver ionisation and ultraviolet techniques .

The CM directed the taskforce to submit the report on the Sirhind canal of first phase in a fortnight and the remaining canals and drains in the second phase in a month. He wanted the Board to check discharge of untreated industrial effluents into rivers. He asked officers to devise methodology to make use of recycled water for irrigation.

The Chief Minister also directed the chief secretary to work out modalities for the schemes to project a demand to the 13th Finance Commission. 


‘Include state under food security mission’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
The Punjab government has asked the Centre to include the entire state in the National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Rice to ensure better contribution to the Central pool of foodgrains as well as long-term national food security.

In a letter to union minister for agriculture Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal mentioned that none of the districts had been included in the programme for implementation of kharif this year. Badal pointed out that the NFSM-Wheat was being implemented in 10 districts for increasing the productivity and production of wheat.

He said though there was contribution to the Central pool from every nook and corner of the state, still there existed a gap in the potential yield and the yield at farmers’ level.


Water Scarcity
PSHRC seeks report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
Taking suo motu notice of a news report carried in Hindi daily, the PSHRC has asked the state government through the DC, Muktsar, to submit report on June 19.

The news relates to acute scarcity of drinking water at Haraj village. The villagers have often seen high-ups in this regard, but so far no solution has been found to the problem. The underground water in this village, being saline, is not fit for drinking.


Recruiting Govt College Principals 
State flouting UGC norms
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17
On the one hand Punjab follows University Grants Commission (UGC) norms for recruiting government college lecturers, on the other it ignores the same in case of recruitment of principals.

In recently advertised posts of principals, conditions laid down by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) are not in accordance with the norms laid down by the UGC in this regard.

According to the UGC guidelines, a person with a master’s degree and 55 per cent marks, Ph D or equivalent qualification and a total teaching experience of 10-15 years is eligible for the appointment as principal of a college.

However, in the advertisement issued by the PPSC, Patiala, percentage of marks has been lowered down to 50 per cent. There is a condition of PhD, but with eight years of teaching experience.

Sources say the condition of eight-year experience is being interpreted wrongly. The PPSC has interpreted the condition as a candidate applying for recruitment should have teaching experience of eight years after doing PhD. But legal experts say if the condition is to be read properly, it means that one should be a PhD along with eight-year service experience in a college to qualify for the post.

Interestingly, there is no condition of PhD for promotion of a college lecturer to the post of principal in the state. However, the UGC has laid the condition of a PhD degree in this regard. In private colleges, there is a condition of having a PhD degree for appointment as principal.

The sources said a few days ago the state government had amended the rules with regards to the qualification for appointment of lecturers. In case of lecturers, the state government has adopted rules framed by the UGC. However, in case of college principals, it is following its own rules.

Various aspirants for the posts of principal have urged the PPSC to follow UGC norms for the recruitment.


Baba Darshan Singh booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 17
Baba Darshan Singh of kar sewa fame and president of the Managing Committee of Bir Baba Budha Sahib has been booked for transferring college land worth crores donated by residents of the area in his own name. The residents had donated the land for the smooth running of the college.

The district police has registered a case against the accused on a complaint of Baldev Singh and Mukhtar Singh of Thatha village. The complainants in their civil writ petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court had alleged that Baba Darshan Singh got the land registered in his name by producing fake documents.

Secretary of the managing committee Hardayal Singh allegedly connived with Baba Darshan Singh.


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