P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bumper crop ‘saves’ govt billions of dollars 
Sukhbir seeks farmers’ share
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to pass on to Punjab farmers Rs 13,000 crore saved in foreign exchange due to record wheat procurement for the Central pool from the state. This amount, he said, was the difference between the price paid to Punjab farmers and what the Centre was to spend on wheat import.

"This is no presumptive figure either. Union minister for agriculture Sharad Pawar had to buy wheat from the international market to ensure food security for the country as the Centre apprehended drop in production and procurement in the country," said Sukhbir Singh in a letter to the Prime Minister, adding that the country should have a national policy on agriculture.

Backing his demand with figures, Badal said wheat procurement from the state this year had already crossed the 10 million metric tonnes mark and the final figure could be even more than 13 crore quintals. For this, the government had paid Punjab farmers only Rs 11,500 crore. This works out to saving of over Rs 13,000 crore for the Centre at the prevailing international prices. India had imported wheat for southern states earlier this year at Rs 1,800 per quintal.

Accounting for the overheads, the price comes to Rs 2,000 per quintal whereas Punjab farmers got half that price for the wheat for the national kitty, said Sukhbir.

The SAD president further said Punjab farmers had a claim on the money saved through bumper crop and procurement in the face of depletion in the land and water resources. “The Punjab farmers have surprised everyone with unprecedented production. But this,” said Badal, “cannot go on forever. Punjab needs to replenish and rejuvenate its irrigation system and preserve the fast-dwindling health of its soil. Massive inputs are also needed for agricultural research for techniques to improve production without extra burden on arable land.” For all these reasons, said Badal, it was imperative that the money saved through the toil of the farmers be used only for the betterment of the farming.


Revision of Minimum Wages
Labour bodies to hold march
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 19
The All-India Hind Mazdoor Sabha (AIHMS), along with CITU and AITUC, will jointly organise a march in Chandigarh and demonstration before the residence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for not revising the minimum wages of the workers working in 60 Scheduled Employments in Punjab under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

State president, AIHMS, S.D. Kapur stated today that the march would be held after May 22, the date for which would be announced.

"The wages of the workers were revised with effect from January 1, 2001, by the then SAD-BJP government (notification SO 71/CA II/48/S 5/2000). As per rules and practice, the minimum wages were required to be revised after five years or 50-point rise in the consumer price index, whichever is earlier. Since then, more than seven years have passed and the consumer price index risen to 124 points," said Kapur adding that the leaders of the above-said labour bodies had several meetings with the state labour and employment minister, but only assurances were given, and nothing had materialised so far.

There were 40 lakh workers in the unorganised sector in Punjab, of which 53,000 were members of the state unit of the AIHMS according to various state government agencies. Similarly, more than 35 lakh workers were its members in the country. The Central as well as state governments had formulated various schemes for the welfare of labourers , but none implemented, he lamented.

Condemning the Union as well state governments for the failure to control the rising prices of essential commodities, Kapur said the rate of inflation was all- time high and the necessities of life had gone out of the reach of the common man, particularly labourers and salaried persons. 


Cong Legislators’ Resignations 
War of one-upmanship between Bhattal, Capt
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The calling of resignations from Punjab Congress legislators has become as much a war against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as well as between PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

According to party sources, the Bhattal group put forward the idea of the en masse resignations to show their leader’s supremacy in the party as well as to browbeat legislators who support Amarinder.

It was with this intention that all legislators were called to Amritsar and asked to submit their resignations to Bhattal. With the issue being that of oppression let loose by the SAD, legislators had no reason to demur and most submitted their resignations. Most Amarinder loyalists from the Bathinda belt had to fall in line though two of them, including Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, have resisted pressure to fall in line even though they have promised to go with the PPCC.

The Bhattal camp, which is aware that nothing will come of the exercise except some more publicity when Bhattal goes to Delhi to hand over the resignations to the party high command, however feels it has achieved supremacy in the party through this move. However there could be some bottlenecks with afew senior leaders taking exception to this strategy. This can be gauged from the fact former minister Brahm Mohindra, who is anti- Amarinder, has also not submitted his resignation till yet.

Bhattal is also not clear how many resignations have arrived till yet. “I do not know the numbers”, she said when asked on this score, but went on to say nearly all legislators had handed over their papers. She however did remember Amarinder and Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu had not handed over their resignations till yet. She said the resignations, besides proving complete solidarity in the party on the issue, had also served to highlight the injustice meted out to it at the hands of the SAD. She however refused to comment on Amarinder’s reaction to the call for resignations; only saying the people knew who were their real sympathisers.

However with Amarinder criticising the move, it may backfire on the PPCC as it will now hand over a hot coal to the party high command, which will not know what to do with it. As forwarding the resignations to the Punjab Governor or the Assembly speaker is not an option, there is little mileage the party can derive by taking the caravan to Delhi as planned after May 22. 


Polling, not needed in Chak Holgarh
Villagers have faith in one family 
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, May 19
The gram panchayat of Chak Holgarh village has never seen a poll since Independence for the panchayat is elected unanimously. The post of sarpanch has been in a single family for these many years.

Niranjan Pal Singh, principal of Khalsa School at Anandpur Sahib, is a former sarpanch of this village. His mother Nirmal Kaur is the present sarpanch as the village was reserved for women candidates.

The gram panchayat has two villages, Chak Holgarh and Sahota. During early 1950s, a single gram panchayat governed five villages. The total population of both villages is around 1,000 with 210 voters at Chak Holgarh and 144 voters at Sahota.

The village boasts of metalled roads and cemented drains. It has a primary school and the nearest primary health care centre is in adjoining Agampur village. Natives of these two villages are mainly Rajputs and other population comprises of Sikh community.

This year some people had raised their voice for getting elections conducted, but they did not succeed in practising their franchise. Sources said the sarpanch’s family left no stone unturned that gram panchayat gets elected unanimously.

Similarly, the gram panchayat of village Lakher last witnessed polling 31 years ago when it was included into gram panchayat of three other villages. With a population of around 1,200, it has 414 voters. This village, too, was declared reserved for women. The women sarpanch’s son Gurbachan Sing Lakher said the post of sarpanch had not been from one family, unlike Chak Holgarh village.

He opined: “When village’s development has been going on a steady pace, people here think that there is no need to opt for the process of elections. It is better to sit together and decide unanimously.”


Security reviewed for Panchayat polls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The Punjab government has geared up the security and law and order machinery in the state to ensure the peaceful conduct of the ensuing Gram Panchayat elections and bye-election for the Amritsar (South) Assembly constituency in a free and fair manner.

Reviewing the security arrangements in a high-level meeting R.I. Singh, chief secretary, said conducting elections in more than 12,000 panchayats peacefully was a gigantic task and a major challenge for the Punjab Police. He expressed confidence that the Punjab Police would stand up to the challenge. He further said the resources of the state police should be optimally utilised to ensure conduct of these elections in a way that it should become an example for other states to emulate.

Briefing the security arrangements for these elections, Punjab DGP N.P.S. Aulakh said that elaborate security arrangement had been made throughout the state with a special emphasis on sensitive areas. He said he had already convened a meeting of Zonal IGs, Range DIGs and SSPs to review the security arrangement and directed them to maintain law and order at every cost for ensuring the completion of this democratic process in a most orderly and fair manner.

He further said besides the general elections duties, the field officers had been directed to strengthen patrolling and laying of nakas on important and vulnerable points.

He assured the chief secretary of undertaking effective security and preventive measures for the smooth, fair and peaceful conduct of these elections.

Our Ferozepur correspondent adds: Deputy commissioner Megh Raj said today that for the gram panchayat elections in 10 blocks of the district, 22,088 nomination papers had been received, out of which 2,279 had been rejected. He said in view of a large number of nomination papers, more officials were being deployed. 


Face electioneering, Bir Devinder to Capt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 19
Lashing out at former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for his statements from his hill resort, chief spokesman for the PPCC Bir Devinder Singh said the former should face the heat and tumble of the electioneering in the state.

He said: “The resignations were the solemn expression of solidarity with the people of the state who had been under attack by the ruling alliance during the panchayati raj elections recently”.

Commenting on the remarks of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, Bir Devinder Singh said they had failed to understand the powerful hidden message of the resignations, which exposed the malpractices and misuse of official machinery to suppress the sane voices for democracy.

He reiterated the Congress’ demand for the deployment of paramilitary forces in the Amritsar (South) constituency.


Sangrur Pingalwara
A haven for destitutes, physically challenged
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 19
With the admission of three mentally retarded/mentally upset persons to the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, here a few days ago, the number of destitute, mentally retarded, physically challenged and ill persons, besides some children, has risen to 216.

Given the cleanliness and other facilities, the branch of the society is a haven, especially for the destitute, physically challenged and mentally retarded persons. The three new inmates are from Dhuri and were got admitted to the Pingalwara branch by an NGO, the Sahara Jan Sewa Samiti. These persons met the Samiti members near the Railway station, roaming without care of themselves.

President of the samiti Vinod Seth said they had got admitted 12 retarded persons to the Sangrur Pingalwara branch from Dhuri till now.

These three persons (two women, one man) were destitute, retarded and unaware about themselves when brought them to the Sangrur Pingalwara for treatment and care. One woman (55) is not able to tell her destination though she says her name is Anuradha and is a resident of Delhi.

The other woman (50), who says her name is Marri, is almost insane as she abuses everyone and even tried to beat up a sewadar of the Pingalwara. The man (40) who says his name is Balbir, sometimes says it is Balram. He is from Uttar Pradesh as per his version. When he was brought to Pingalwara here, he was upset and not in a position to stand, but now he talks properly and wants to go back to Dhuri. Chief administrator of the local Pingalwara branch Tarlochan Singh Cheema said they had started treatment of the three new inmates.

After treatment they would try to know about their families and reunite them with them as the Pingalwara had already done this in many cases. He said 108 persons, mentally retarded and physically challenged etc, had already gone back to their homes from the Pingalwara after getting treatment here.


Sangrur needs drive on new ration cards
1.55 lakh cards more than 5 years’ old
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 19
More than 1.55 lakh ration cards, being used by consumers of the district, are more than five years’ old. This whopping number of consumers awaits issue of new ration cards, mandatory under the rules.

This information has been prepared by the office of district food and supply controller in response to a question raised by district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra at a meeting of the district grievances redressal committee in April.

Kalra had stated no special drive had been launched for preparing new ration cards for the past about 10 years in the district.

The office has stated that the district requires 1.25 lakh blank ration cards. It has also disclosed that there are more than 3.86 lakh ration cards in the district, of which more than 2.30 lakh ration cards are less than five years’ old. Kalra alleged in case of the ration cards as old as 10 years, many card holder families had either moved place or members of certain families had died. But, their names continued to exist on the list of the food supply department. Commodities, like kerosene, were being issued every month to the ration depot holders against such consumers.

He has demanded a high-level inquiry into the matter.


Patti resigns in protest
Replies to show-cause notice
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 19
Kashmir Singh Patti, president, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), today resigned under protest and sent a reply to the show-cause notice to the chief secretary, Punjab.

Hitting out at Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for instituting an inquiry at the behest of his cohorts, Patti described the notice served on him as “totally illegal and unwarranted”. He said it would not be in the interest of judicial dignity and propriety to continue as president of the SGJC and added that he had decided to resign in the larger interests of the Sikhs and democratic principles enshrined in the Gurdwara Act, 1925.

In his seven-page reply, Patti has raised certain objections to the notice saying he was performing the judicial functions as per the provisions of the Gurdwara Act, 1925, and the Indian Constitution. The bureaucracy had no power to institute any inquiry against him and added that it was a judicial function and the inquiry could only be conducted by the high court. He said the inquiry was politically motivated and against judicial principles.

Patti questioned the motive of the inquiry and pointed out the judgments of various high courts as well as of the Supreme Court of India which had clearly defined the SGJC as a court which was under the supervisory control of the high court under Section 227 of the Constitution of India. He said the inquiry had been instituted against him because he was appointed by the previous government.

In January 1999, he was also removed from presidency of the SGJC by Badal and the matter was referred to the Supreme Court which laid down certain judicial principles regarding the functioning of the SGJC. Later, he was appointed a member by the previous government and was elected president unanimously.

Hitting back at Badal, he said he was being targeted by levelling false charges against him and purpose was to humiliate him under a conspiracy. He said the notice was issued beyond the provisions of law and, thus, unwarranted .

Patti said he was never involved in the judicial process and said many times orders of the commission go against the SGPC and its office-bearers.

He said to conduct any inquiry in the information office of the Golden Temple complex was something basically wrong. He denied all allegations against him in the notice and asserted he had performed his duty with honesty, integrity and dignity and without favouring anybody at any stage.


Badals, SGPC members to perform langar sewa for 2 days
Rs 900 cr to modernise Asr, says Sukhbir
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 19
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), along with the Badal family and SGPC members from Muktsar and Bathinda, will perform “langar sewa” at the Golden Temple here for two days after the crucial Amritsar (South) byelection.

The Badal family and SGPC members from the Malwa heartland will also clean the Parkarma and the Guru Ram Dass langar building. They will bring ration for langar with them. Similarly, SGPC members and senior leaders from other regions will follow suit in rotation.

The SAD president stated this here today. To make Amritsar a modern city of the world, the government will spend more than Rs 900 crore through self-finance scheme.He said the prime government land encroached on would be auctioned and the proceeds spent on the overall development of the city. Sukhbir said one of the biggest business centres of the state would be developed in Amritsar on the 40 acres of Dr Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital.

This centre would include a five-star hotel and a shopping mall. He said after creating the City Centre at cost of more than Rs 300 crore, Rs 700 crore would be spent on 100 per cent sewerage, safe drinking water and making all grain markets of Amritsar district modern. He claimed that the venture would provide employment to more than 10,000 persons. Electricity wiring of Amritsar city would be underground, he added.

In a lighter vein, Sukhbir said he had done MBA from the USA and knew how to run the state like a profit-making company.

The SAD chief evaded a question on the statement of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, given in the USA, in support of a separate Sikh homeland,.

To a question, he said to promote tourism in Amritsar, the government would make a circuit of heritage buildings so that a visitor stayed here for at least two days. 


‘Raped’ woman takes off clothes in protest against police inaction
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, May 19
A middle-aged Dalit woman, Paramjit Kaur of Ghal Kalan village, who had been making rounds of the police station for the past few days to get an FIR registered against two persons of her village who allegedly thrashed and raped her, removed her clothes near the city police station to lodge a protest against the high-handedness of the police this afternoon.

In a semi-nude state, she tried to move towards the SSP office, but was overpowered by policemen on the road. A passer-by persuaded her to wear the clothes.

The women police did not turn up on the spot even as the police station was just 50 metres from the spot. Late in the evening, Sarabhjit Singh, SHO, said after taking a legal opinion from the district attorney, the woman was arrested under Sections 189 and 294 of the IPC. She would be produced before a local court tomorrow.

Meanwhile, district magistrate Satwant Singh Johal has ordered a magisterial probe into the causes that forced the woman to take the extreme step.

On the directions of SSP Ashok Bath, the SHO of the police station (Rural) Gurvinder Singh Bhullar registered a criminal case against Shinder Singh and Sonu, who allegedly raped the woman, under Sections 376, 324 and 120-B, IPC. However, no arrest was made till the time of the filing of the report.

Paramjit said it was certified from the medical report conducted by the doctors in the Civil Hospital last week that she was raped and thrashed brutally. But the police was dilly-dallying in registering a criminal case against the alleged guilty persons, she added.


Vaccine institute may face closure
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The Punjab Veterinary Vaccine Institute, state’s only vaccine-producing institute on the Punjab Agricultural University premises at Ludhiana, faces closure following a notice from the drug controller-cum-licensing authority, Punjab, for failure to renew licence for over two years. The Punjab government has written a letter to the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) pleading to allow it to continue producing the vaccine sans the licence.

The government, that failed to realise that the licence of the institute had expired over two years ago, was told by the CDSCO to stop production of vaccines in February and again in May this year. The deputy director in charge of the institute was also warned by the organisation as well as the chief drug inspector to cease operation failing which all concerned would be liable to penal action.

Following yet another warning on May 9, financial commissioner, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, S.C. Aggarwal has appealed to the CDSCO to allow it to continue producing the vaccine failing which the disease had potential to wipe out the state’s livestock.

Sources said the centre run through the Department of Animal Husbandry on the PAU campus had been issued notices repeatedly to upgrade infrastructure and get its licence renewed.

Though the Punjab government recently overhauled its manufacturing capabilities, failed to get the licence renewed. Aggarwal said the renewal of licence had already been applied for, but the issue delayed due to procedural matters.

Finding vaccine-making inadequate, the CDSCO had asked the institute to upgrade facilities and re-apply for affiliation/accreditation to get the licence. Aggarwal, however, refuted shortcomings in the manufacturing.


Patiala coolest as temperatures fall sharply

Chandigarh, May 19
The maximum temperatures dropped sharply across Punjab and Haryana today, by up to 15 degrees at some places, after rains lashed the region.

Patiala, which was lashed by 28 mm of rain, was the coolest place in the region recording a high of 24.6 degrees celsius, which was 15 degrees below the normal range.

Karnal in Haryana also had a pleasant day recording a similar high at 24.8 C, down 15 degrees, after receiving 3 mm of rain, the Meteorological Department said here.

Ambala also received light rains and the maximum there dropped to 25.9 C, 14 degrees below normal. Hisar was cooler by four degrees at 36.9 C. The maximum at Amritsar dropped by a degree to settle at 38.4 C.

Among other places to be lashed by rains were Sonepat, Panipat, Balachaur, Ropar and Phagwara. Chandigarh had a pleasant day as overcast conditions prevailed throught the day and light showers lashed the city. The maximum here fell by eight degrees than normal to settle at 30.2 C.

The Met Department attributed the sudden change in weather to a Western Disturbance over north Pakistan adjoining J&K. An induced Upper Air Cyclonic Circulation also lay over Central Pak, with an upper air trough that ran through north Rajasthan and Haryana.

The Met has forecast that light to moderate rain or thunder showers will occur at a few places in Punjab and Haryana over the next two days while hail storm or thunder squall with wind speed exceeding 45 kmph is also likely to hit isolated places in the region. — PTI 


Chd Airport
Govt wants Haryana to share bill
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The Punjab government has written to the Centre asking it to direct the Haryana government to pay its share of the money spent on the acquisition of land for Chandigarh International Airport, if it wanted to be its part.

Punjab has already paid about Rs 450 crore to the farmers whose land was acquired for the project. Haryana, that is supposed to hold 50 per cent share in 49 per cent equity, will have to foot half the bill incurred on payments to the farmers. Besides, more money will be required to link the airport to the Chandigarh-Ambala national highway through 8 lane bypass in south of Zirkpur. Farmers will have to be given market rate for the land to be acquired for the bypass.

“At least, Haryana will have to share the expenses on the road to be linked to the Ambala road from the airport,” said a senior officer.

There is a plan to link the airport via eitht-lane roads from three sides. One road will connect the airport to the Ambala highway. Second will link it with Chandigarh along the rail track. And the third will be from Kharar-Landran to the airport. 

“We have completed all formalities with regard to the airport. And now the ball is in the court of the union civil aviation ministry that is to set up a special-purpose vehicle and a joint venture to launch the project.”


HIV, Hepatitis Cases
What is being done for 72 cops, HC asks Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants to know what the Punjab government is doing to release funds for the treatment of police personnel suffering from HIV and hepatitis virus in the border district of Tarn Taran.

Not satisfied with the move to release funds to two petitioners, a high court division Bench of Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain today ruled it was enlarging the scope of the petition to cover other policemen suffering from the maladies.

As the matter came up for hearing before the Bench, the state counsel, after receiving instructions in the regard, said funds to petitioners Sucha Singh and Balbir Singh would be released by May 20.

After taking on record the statement, the Bench observed: “The counsel for the petitioners has put on record a list of 72 police officers, who are suffering from HIV, hepatitis C and B etc, and they are also waiting for the funds to be released.

“Taking the larger interest of these police officials into consideration, we enlarge the scope of the petition and direct the state to respond in form of an affidavit as to what action is being taken to release funds to the remaining 70 police officials”. The case would come up for further hearing on May 26.

In their petition, the two police officers had earlier claimed that at a routine medical check-up carried out recently by the government agencies it was found that the viruses had infected as many as 178 police personnel. Out of the total, 72 had been identified as “critical”.

The two had sought directions to the state DGP, the IG (Amritsar border range) and other respondents “to provide immediate financial assistance”. Help was also sought for policemen suffering from hepatitis C, B and HIV.

The petitioners had asserted that the treatment of these diseases was expensive. Quoting an example, they had contended that Rs 3.30 lakh was required for treating hepatitis C. Elaborating, they had asserted that each injection was costing approximately Rs 14,000. In all, as many as 24 injections had to be administered.


Consumer Panel 
Punjab sends another name for reconsideration
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The state government has sent name of a second member of the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for reconsideration.

This came to light when the state government placed on record an affidavit in response to public interest litigation filed in the high court on the issue of shortage of members in the commission.

The affidavit was filed by Gurtej Singh, joint secretary, Punjab; department of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, in response to a PIL by advocate H.C. Arora.

The affidavit stated that the term of a member, Jasbir Kapoor, has been extended for another five years as member of the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and it has been issued vide the government endorsement.

But the appointment of Budhi Chander Parkash, second member of the commission who retired on February 1, has been referred to the selection committee for review.

It is, however, learnt that the ministry has taken the objection to the selection of the other member and if appointed, he shall have tenure of about two years prior to his retirement.

Names of the two candidates were recommended by the statutory committee comprising Justice S.N. Aggarwal, president, Punjab State Commission; law secretary and principal secretary, food & civil supplies and consumer affairs department.

However, the Punjab government failed to clear the appointments expeditiously. The division bench has adjourned the matter to July 3 for further hearing.


Prohibited bore weapons are not so forbidden in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
If reliance is to be placed on a list annexed to a writ petition, as many as 156 high and mighty in the state have been granted prohibited bore arms licences.

The list, furnished before the Punjab and Haryana High Court Division Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, by Kirpal Singh Randhawa says most of the licence holders are police officers, retired Army officers and even politicians.

Randhawa is deputy chairman of a human rights organisation and is also a witness in the case involving the abduction of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra.

Besides this, Randhawa is also an “eyewitness” to the illegal cremation of bodies by the Punjab Police. In his petition, Randhawa is seeking directions to the Union of India and the state of Punjab for the issuance of a licence for a prohibited bore gun for the purpose of self defence.

He has claimed that licenses have been issued to the influential in Punjab, even though they do not fall in the categories to which the same can be handed over. The list, he has added, clearly shows the Union Government is not following any policy for the issuance of prohibited bore arms licence.

Removal of RO sought

In a petition, Balbir Kaur and 12 others from the villages of Bhattalan, Kaleke and Jawandha Pindi Gurusar in Barnala district have sought the removal of the returning officer for refusal to receive their nomination papers for the gram panchayat election to be held on May 26.

The petitioners, through counsel Mansur Ali, alleged the returning officer (RO) simply refused to accept their nomination papers on May 16, since they were known opponents of the ruling party in Punjab. Had the RO received the nomination papers, it would have been difficult for him to reject the same under Section 11 of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Institutions Act, 1994, as the same were complete in every respect, the petitioners have added

Elaborating, the petitioners said the main reason behind the RO’s refusal to accept their nomination papers was that six of them hailed from the native village of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

They have added the action of the RO was aimed at ensuring the victory of the ruling party candidate in these three villages. Taking up the petition, Division Bench of Justice K.S.Garewal and Justice Daya Chaudhary issued notice for May 21 to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

Delimitation of wards challenged

Six members of the Malerkotla municipal council today challenged the delimitation of wards notified by the state of Punjab on March 4. Directions have been sought directions to quash the same.

Petitioners Kewal Krishan Jindal and five others have contended the total number of wards of the council have been increased from 29 to 31, which necessitated the delimitation. However, the respondents did the delimitation in gross violation of the prescribed rules, the petitioners have stated.

As per the law, the variation in population of various wards cannot be beyond 10 per cent, whereas in certain wards this variation is about 60 to70 per cent. The petitioners also alleged in one ward the number of voters is more than the population, which only confirms the figures have been manipulated to suit certain candidates.

Judicial officer suspended

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has placed the services of a judicial officer under suspension, while withdrawing the work from another.

The high court sources say the work has been withdrawn as the officer has sought premature retirement. His notice period has been reduced from three months to one.

In the other case, another officer has been placed under suspension following a complaint against him. District and Sessions Judge (vigilance) has been asked to look into the matter.


Admn secys told to route official files via CPSs
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSs) bitter for not being shown official files of the departments concerned, now will have the consolation of being counted among the decision-makers in Punjab.

Administrative secretaries and other senior officials concerned have been directed by the authorities to route all official files to ministers and the Chief Minister through the chief parliamentary secretaries attached to their departments.

There are 14 chief parliamentary secretaries in the Badal government. Of them, 10 belong to the SAD and remaining to the BJP.

Confirming the development, chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said today the directions in this regard had been issued to the administrative secretaries concerned after taking legal opinion in this regard. He said other states like Haryana had also done the same.

Ramesh Inder Singh said requisite additions in the government business rules had been effected to enable the chief parliamentary secretaries to deal with official files.They could go through the files and give opinion on it.

A number of times, the chief parliamentary secretaries had met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh asking them they had become non-entities in their respective departments because files were neither shown to them nor routed through them. Keeping in view this factor, Badal had asked the authorities concerned to do the needful in this regard.

Those opposed to the showing of files to chief parliamentary secretaries say there was no provision in the Constitution of the office parliamentary secretary(ies). The Constitution only recognises Cabinet and Council of Ministers and IAS officers. IAS officers as administrative secretaries or as financial commissioners are supposed to route the files direct to ministers. Though there is no provision in the Constitution, but another layer of parliamentary secretaries have been created between ministers and administrative secretaries that is recognised in the Constitution in which the format of the government is clearly defined. Hence, the institution of parliamentary secretaries has no constitutional basis but a creation of political executives at their own level by making additions in rules here and there.

Though chief parliamentary secretaries put national emblem on number plates of their official vehicles but they are not entitled for it.


State to blacklist erring rice millers
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 19
The Punjab government has assured the Food Corportation of India (FCI) that rice millers who have not delivered levy rice as per stipulations would be blacklisted for the purpose of custom milling in kharif marketing season (KMS) 2008-09.

Punjab principal secretary, Food Civil Supplies, R.P.S. Pawar has written to FCI chairman-cum-managing director Alok Sinha saying instructions have also been issued to conduct special checking of millers to verify paddy stocks purchased by them.

"In this connection instructions have been issued to the field officers to expedite delivery of rice in central pool," he says in the letter of May 14, adding millers have so far delivered 9,11,140 tonnes of levy rice to the Central pool till May 8.

On May 8, The Tribune reported Punjab rice millers had defaulted in delivery of levy rice to the Central pool for the second time in a row. Quoting FCI officials, the report said Punjab millers were yet to deliver five lakh tonnes of rice as part of their levy obligation to the Central pool for 2007-08.

Under provisions of the Punjab Rice Procurement (Levy) Order, 1983, every rice miller/dealer has to deliver fixed percentage of levy share at the procurement prices and as per specifications fixed by the Central government.

During the KMS 2007-08, Punjab millers were to deliver 14.11 lakh tonnes rice to the Central pool under the levy order of 1983 of the Punjab government, but delivered only 9.03 lakh tonnes till May 4. Officials said this would result in a corresponding shortfall in the Central pool and the FCI would not be able to meet its target of 272 lakh tonnes for 2007-08.

During 2006-07 also there was a short delivery of around 2.5 lakh tonnes levy rice by Punjab millers. With 272 lakh tonnes of rice as the target for the central pool, the FCI has procured 232 lakh tonnes during the kharif procurement for 2007-08 from all over the country. The figure is 18 lakh tonnes more than 215.50 lakh tonnes rice procured till May 5 in the previous year.

The FCI hopes to meet remaining shortfall by procuring 24-25 lakh tonnes from Andhra Pradesh, five lakh tonnes each from Orissa and Chhattisgarh, one lakh tonne from Bihar and three lakh tonnes from West Bengal. It also hopes to recover three lakh tonnes arrears from Uttar Pradesh and five lakh tonnes from Punjab. Around 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes is also pending from Haryana millers.


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