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ZP Polls
SAD sweeps Tarn Taran, Nabha
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 27
The ruling SAD has won all nine Zila Parishad zones in this district for which the results were declared today. In the rest of the zones, its candidates have already been elected unopposed. The first-time formed Zila Parishad after the formation of the district in 2006 has 17 zones. The SAD candidates declared elected today are: Gurinder Singh (Brahmpura), Chanchal Singh (Chohla Sahib), Lakhbir Singh (Naushehra Pannuan), Harjit Singh (Pakhoke), Ranjit Singh (Khadoor Sahib), Gulzar Singh (Kallha), Dalbir Singh (Goindwal), Darshan Singh (Sursing) and Harjinder Kaur (Palasaur).

Nabha: Akalis made a clean sweep by winning all four seats of Zila Parishad zones in Nabha subdivision counting for which took place on Tuesday. From the Dulladi zone, the grandson of Akali leader and former Cabinet minister Raja Narinder Singh won by a margin of 1,773 votes. Gurbaksh Singh Sibia won the Mallewal seat for the SAD by defeating Congress candidate by a margin of 1,919 votes. From Mandaur (reserved) Zila Parishad seat, Charanjeet Kaur defeated Jaspal Kaur of the Congress by 873 votes. Harinder Pal Singh Tohra, grandson of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, pocketed the Challella seat with ease. From Nassupur (Samana) Zila Parishad seat, Gurpreet Kaur won with a margin of 7,342 defeating Balwinder Kaur of the Congress. 


Akalis win 2 more Sangrur seats
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 27
By securing victories in Anadana and Rogla ZP zones of the district today, the SAD has captured 19 out of the 21 seats of Sangrur ZP. One seat each has been won by a Congress candidate and an Independent. The votes of these two zones were counted today.

The ADC-cum-returning officer (RO) for ZP elections Indu Malhotra said in Rogla zone SAD candidate Sukhjinder Singh defeated his nearest rival Gurtej Singh of the Congress by a margin of 2,722 votes. In Anadana zone, Makhan Singh of the SAD defeated Wakil Singh of the Congress by a margin of 4,724 votes.

In Bhullan and Mahasinghwala zones of Anadana block Panchayat Samiti, both seats were captured by SAD candidates. In Bhullan zone Nafe Singh of the SAD won after securing 1,184 votes. In Mahasinghwala zone, Pal Singh of the SAD won by securing 1,516 votes. He defeated Atma Singh of the Congress, who got 1,159 votes.

Additional district electoral officer Harnek said in the Sunam block Panchayat Samiti’s Karrial zone, Shish Pal Singh of the SAD emerged victorious, while in Rogla zone of Sunam Samiti Hardev Singh, also of the SAD, emerged victorious. 


PSEB to join online power exchange
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala , May 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) may meet power demand in paddy season by balancing power needs by enrolling a member of the online Power Exchange Platform being promoted jointly by the Financial Technologies India Limited (FTIL) and the Power Trading Corporation (PTC) Financial Services. The exchange was being set up as per the Central Power Regulatory Commission (CERTC) guidelines and likely to be operational in a week. The exchange will enable the PSEB and other member state boards and corporations to buy and sell electricity online on a daily basis.

By utilising the exchange services, the PSEB and other organisations, dealing with power generation and management, will be able to balance their power needs as they can sell or buy power online with the help of the exchange as per daily requirement. For example, if the PSEB needs extra power for state farmers in the paddy season starting from June 15, it can bid online and get power in shape of 24 hourly power blocks.

Top board officials said the PSEB would be required to quote the quantum of power requirement or that of surplus power with it for sale on exchange by 10 am daily. The PTC would then compile the quantum and rates and submit these to the online exchange. The online exchange, in turn, would process all bids received and inform members, buyers and sellers about the quantum available with it along with the market clearance price of power by 3 pm the same day. This way, the PSEB or any other member could order for extra quantum of power in the shape of 24 hourly power blocks for the next day or next week, thus warding off emergenices.

The PSEB has already signed an agreement for sale and purchase of power through the exchange and the PTC will be acting on behalf of the PSEB for online power trading. On its part, the PTC will be making spot payments and open access charges or commission to the exchange on behalf of the board which will be reimbursing the expenditure to the PTC in seven days of purchase.

Apart from this, the PTC will train PSEB officials in operating the online exchange and also advise the board on the power sale and purchase on the basis of its daily requirements. “It is a matter of just one week. After that the exchange will be operational for the PSEB. We do not expect any major power crisis in the paddy season for being a member of the exchange, operations of which were going to take off in a week,” said a senior PSEB official.


Wheat arrivals cross 105-lakh tonne mark
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Punjab has crossed the 105-lakh tonne mark as far as arrival of wheat is concerned. Disclosing this today, Adesh Partap Singh, Food and Supplies Minister, Punjab, told The Tribune that the state was inching towards setting a new record of wheat. He said in 2001-02, the 105.79 lakh tonne wheat had arrived in various markets in the state. And this year, Punjab may cross that figure. “We expect the arrival of wheat for a few more days”.

Adesh Partap said Punjab’s role in the national food security was now being recognised at the national level. Obviously, the state farmers would like to be compensated duly for sending about 100 lakh tonnes of wheat to the national pool.

Meanwhile, Punjab is all set to create a new record of wheat productivity. Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, director, Agriculture, Punjab, said the Punjab’s per hectare wheat production had touched 44 quintals, which is a new record, whereas earlier it was about 42 quintals. He said it was a rough estimate prepared by the agriculture department. In the next few days, exact figures would be available. He said earlier estimate of wheat production in Punjab this year was of 145 lakh tonne, then it was revised to 147 and yet again to 150 lakh tonne. But now wheat production has even crossed the figure of 156 lakh tonne.


I was with Pak PPP leader: Amarinder
Blames Bhattal for ‘defaming’ him
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said he had informed party president Sonia Gandhi in early May that he would not be present during campaigning for the Amritsar (South) bypoll as he wished to conduct Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Makhdhoom Amin Fahim during the latter’s proposed trip to Manali.

Amarinder said in such circumstances, a letter written by only a section of party legislators to Sonia Gandhi regarding his absence from Amritsar besides other allegations did not have any relevance. He also claimed that Pradesh Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was behind “this deliberate move” to defame him.

The former Chief Minister said he had informed Sonia Gandhi that the PPP’s co-chairman wanted to visit Manali as his guest from May 12 onwards for 14 days. “Subsequently, he came down on May 21 and also met Sonia Gandhi on the same day,” he added.

Amarinder is also bitter with his partymen for referring to his alleged holiday with Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam in Manali. “This is the 21st century. Surely a man can be friends with a woman without an ulterior motive. I have so many friends who are ladies,” he said adding, “do you think I am sleeping with all my lady friends”.

He also claimed that a section of people was trying to make fun of his health condition. “I was wearing a collar till two days back,” he said adding it was only now that he was feeling better. “I have been in touch with Sonia Gandhi from Manali and even addressed letters to her from ‘Camp Manali,” he added.

Amarinder claimed that most of the party legislators were in touch with him. “It is only people like Lal Singh and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi who were with me, but are now opposing me fearing a backlash if I come back to power, who are behind this move,” he said adding “what will people like them write”.

The former Chief Minister also claimed that the Bhattal group had dashed the letter against him because an 11-member delegation had met Sonia Gandhi a few days back and apprised her of affairs in the Pradesh Congress. He said the reception received by the delegation, which included Harpartap Ajnala, Sukhi Randhawa, Jugal Kishore, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, S.S. Kathunangal, Dr Mohinder Rinwa and Kanwaljit Singh Lalli among others, had rattled his political opponents.


Singla accuses partymen of belittling YC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Punjab Youth Congress president Vijayinder Singla today claimed that baseless allegations had been made against the Youth Congress (YC) in the state by a section of partymen in an alleged complaint sent to party president Sonia Gandhi.

In a statement here, Singla said YC workers from all over the state were in Amritsar (South) to work for the party candidate despite the Gram Panchayat elections being held concurrently in the state.

He said despite the work done by the YC in the constituency, which was there for everyone to see, politically motivated allegations had been levelled against him that he was seen only in the newspapers. Singla is a supporter of Amarinder, who was instrumental in his appointment as Youth Congress head. He also claimed that the allegations only served to embarrass him and he would take up the issue with the party leadership .


Sud for watch on anti-yoga drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Medical education minister Tikshan Sud has demanded a global watch on the activities of Catholics, who he says are “denigrating the ancient yoga through a systematic campaign”. Reacting to the studies conducted by Catholic priests suggesting that yoga can attract bad souls in the body of the person practising yoga, Sud said Catholics, who were worried over the increasing popularity of yoga in the West, had started the campaign to degrade yoga.

The BJP leader said the UPA government at the Centre should have objected to the campaign through diplomatic channels as it was an attack on ancient Indian science, hurting the feelings of Indians. 


Tributes paid to Pt Nehru
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
At a function organised here today, Punjab Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal paid rich tributes to the first Prime Minister of India, late Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, on the occasion of his 44th death anniversary. Describing him as a great visionary, Bhattal said the temples of modern India, Bhakra Dam, Hirakud Project, Bokaro and Bhilai steel plants, were tributes to Nehru’s genius. She said the path and harmony as enshrined in the principles of ‘Panchseel’ laid down by Pandit Nehru were still relevant.

Others present on the occasion included Mohinder Singh Gill, former PPCC president, Avtar Singh Brar, MLA, Braham Mohindra, MLA, Tarlochan Singh, Parminder Singh, Raj Pal Singh, general secretaries, Krishna Mittu, PPCC vice-president, Basant Singh, former MLA, Gurkirat Singh, Pritpal Singh Bishanpura, OSD to the PPCC president.


Mehraj: Heart with Capt, vote for Akalis
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Mehraj (Rampura Phul), May 27
This village whose “heart” is with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and which calls his son Raninder “avda munda”, the ancestral village of the Sidhu clan of the former Patiala royals gave a majority to SAD-supported candidates in the eight of its nine Panchayats.

While three Panchayats of Kotha Malluana, Kotha Pipli and Kotha Himmatpura were declared in favour of SAD candidates unanimously earlier, counting in the remaining six Panchayats has seen Akalis romping home in five. The Congress has, however, given a fight in all five Panchayats with three of them Patti Sandli, Patti Karam Chand and Patti Sol seeing four Congress candidates being elected Panchayat members against five of the SAD.

The villagers attribute Congress’ loss to the fact that the former Patiala royal family did not take any interest in the election process. Even though the villagers are Akali-minded, they have become a personal vote bank of Capt Amarinder Singh due to the extraordinary largesse extended to them by his during his reign. “We are with Amarinder and not the Congress,” says a resident Gurmeet, adding that since there was no call from “their leader”, people voted according to their personal equations.

Another important factor was the fact that the keys to the further development of the village are with the SAD. Amarinder pumped in Rs 20 crore for various development projects in the village that is more of a ‘kasba’ with a population of around 20,000. These include a milk-chilling plant, a skill-upgrade centre, a kisan training centre and a computer-training center. The village even has pucca cement sidewalks that definitely is a first for rural Punjab, says Amarinder loyalist and former Market Committee chairman Devinder Singh.

However, some major projects lie unfinished. The sewerage as well as water supply system, on which Rs 6 crore has been spent, still remain incomplete and are causing sanitary problems in the village. The 30-bed hospital has lost an X-ray as well as ECG machine each. The boundary wall of the girl’s stadium remains incomplete and the mobile dispensary is no longer working.

“We would definitely like all these things to get back on track”, say villagers even though they do not have much hope from the Akalis, who, they claim did nothing for their village during their earlier rules.

However, this time around there is a political need for the SAD to break Amarinder’s hold on Mehraj as the village’s votes tilted the balance against former minister and SAD candidate Sikandar Singh Malooka, who lost the Rampura Phul seat to the Congress even though he was leading in most other areas of the constituency.

Mehraj, with its own sizable votes as well as those of the Sidhu “bhaichara” of Capt Amarinder Singh’s family could also make an impact on the Faridkot and Bathinda seats. Though the Akalis have made an impact in the village, they still have a long way to go as former Chief Minister’s renewed ties with the people of Mehraj will take more than a Panchayat election to break.


Eco-tourism destinations in the state explored
Eco-tourism to be part of development steps
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
The Punjab government has decided to integrate the state’s infrastructure development initiatives with eco-tourism. A preliminary meeting in this regard, chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, was held today to explore various eco-tourism destinations in the state and develop a mechanism for its integration with institutions of infrastructure development.

The meeting was attended by media advisor to the CM Harcharan Bains, principal secretary, Tourism, Geetika Kalha, secretary, PWD (B&R), Karan Avtar Singh, managing director, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, and special principal secretary to the CM Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, special principal secretary to the CM K.J.S Cheema and additional principal secretary to the CM Gagandeep Singh Brar. Besides, representatives of World Tourism Organisation, team leader Richard Batchelor and environment expert Jay Blakeney, who has been engaged in finalising the Punjab Tourism Master Plan, also attended the meeting.


State to set up toll-free call centre for NRIs
MoU for welfare of Punjabis signed with Ministry 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Punjab will have 24-hour toll-free call centre for live and on-the-spot redressal of problems and grievances of the Punjabis settled across the globe. The centre, a bilingual facility in Punjabi and English, comes as a follow-up of the decisions taken during the NRI Sammelan held in Chandigarh and Jalandhar in January this year.

Harcharan Bains, media adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said in addition to the call centre, the NRI-specific official website of the state government would also function as back-up for the government-to-NRI interaction.

About 70 lakh NRIs of Punjabi origin are settled in different parts of the world, with Canada, the UK, the USA, Malaysia, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain and some countries in the West Asia being the favoured destinations.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in the government of India for putting in place a structured mechanism for the welfare of Punjabis going to or already settled in different countries across the world. The MoU was signed in the presence of the Chief Minister with chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh and K. Mohan Das, secretary, Ministry of Overseas India Affairs, representing the state and the Union governments, respectively. Although the major thrust of the MoU is at creating awareness among the Punjabis about problems faced in migration and employment-related issues, one of its key clauses concerns imparting vocational skills to aspiring emigrants.

Short-duration skill-training courses will be organised keeping in mind country-specific demand for skilled workforce from Punjab. The MoU also provides for a stepped-up co-ordination between Punjab and the Central government on legal aspects of migration from the state. It also seeks a joint initiative for setting up help centres for solving immigration related problems at various airports and for providing emergency documentation in case of loss of passports abroad, said Bains.

The MoU lists the broad outlines of the programme for training prospective emigrants at identified training centres through three tracks, namely training through the centres of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Private Partners and recognised non-government organisations and the state government. 


‘The Rise of Khalsa’ makes it to NY Film Festival
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 27
“The Rise of Khalsa”, a documentary directed by Jagmeet Samundari, a passout of Panjab University, has been selected for screening at the New York International Film Festival to be held in Los Angeles slated for July this year. The documentary will be screened in New York later this year.

Confirming the development, Samundari on his visit to surrounding areas in the district recently said he was finalising the locales for his forthcoming documentary on Guru Gobind Singh.

He said, “I received a message from the organisers regarding the screening of my film, ‘The Rise of Khalsa’, at the film festival from July 17 to 24. The review of the selection panel reads, ‘Very good overall’. This film is about Sikh religion and its struggle against the Mughals in India and how the Khalsa panth was founded from the Sikh religion”.

After passing out from Panjab University with masters in mass communication, Samundari shifted base to Mumbai in 2000. He worked as an assistant director with Ajay Devgan’s father, Veeru Devgan, in “Hindustan Ki Kasam”.

He also acted in a number of teleserials, including “Aap Beeti,” “Awaaz” and “Sab Gol Maal Hai”.

Samundari said,“During the process of exploring different avenues in the entertainment industry, it struck me that Sikhism could offer a wide range of subjects for exploration, under the camera. Besides learning at the individual level, there are less-discussed aspects about the religion which I wanted to explore”.

“The Rise of Khalsa” throws light on the formation of the Khalsa Panth, beginning from its historical perspective to the announcement of its establishment by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The message from the US makes a special mention about the choice of locations, historical re-enactment and image quality of the picture.

Produced by Baljit Mankku, the documentary is comparable to the standards of the Discovery channel.

The script links history to the present. 


SAD, Cong workers clash, 10 hurt
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 27
Around 10 persons were injured in post panchayat election violence at Chhappar village, near here, late tonight. Five of the injured were shifted to a multi-speciality hospital at Ludhiana.

The village turned into a cantonment as some Congress workers, when surrounded by SAD activists, opened fire on them. Activists on the both sides were injured in the clash. Tension had prevailed yesterday when Shanti, a Congress activist, had allegedly attacked supporters of a SAD candidate during the polling.

Though a clash was averted due to police intervention yesterday, the activists of both parties clashed this evening. Amandeep Singh, a youth activist of the SAD, was attacked by some unidentified assailant around 9 pm, following which a large number of his sympathisers gathered around the house of Congress leader Malkit Singh. 


7,930 panchayats have SAD sarpanches
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today claimed registering a big win in panchayat elections held yesterday. President of the party Sukhbir Singh Badal and secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema today said results of 12,081 panchayats had been declared. Of these, in 7,930 villages sarpanches and panches supported by the SAD had won the election. Eelctions in 508 villages were put off due to malpractices and complaints. Total number of panchayats in Punjab is 12,698.

SAD leaders claimed the Congress lost in the panchayat elections badly. Its sarpanches and panches had won only in 2,077 villages. The BJP supported sarpanches and panches had won in 930 villages.

Whereas in 780 villages, sarpanches and panches had been elected belonging to other parties, claimed the Akali leaders.

Cheema said the SAD had strengthened position at the grassroots level. First the result of the Amrtisar byelection proved this point and now the panchayat elections had done it. He said the SAD had been working hard to consolidate its position at the village level its stronghold for decades. 


Hostile witnesses spoil corruption cases
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Most of the corruption cases end up in favour of the accused, as a large number of witnesses or complainants turn hostile. It has become a common practice where a large number of corruption cases are lost by the prosecution or Vigilance Bureau because the person who lodges the complaint turns hostile. A perusal of copies of judgment of orders, pronounced in corruption cases in the past three years, sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the office of the SP, Vigilance, Ludhiana, brought this fact to light.

An official in the office of the SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Ferozepur (where five public servants were acquitted by courts in corruption cases during the past three years), has revealed that the Vigilance SSP has taken a serious note of government witnesses turning hostile in corruption cases.

The information revealed that Sita Ram Goel, SO, District Social Welfare Office, Ferozepur, Ashwani Kumar, clerk, Treasury Office, Ferozepur, Balwant Singh, superintendent, BDPO office, Moga, Deeepak Rai Garg, GA to deputy commissioner, Ferozepur, and Tarlochan Singh, inspector, Food and Supplies Department, Fatehgarh, and Malik Singh, ADO, Moga, are the government servants who turned hostile in the said five cases, leading to the acquittal of the accused officials.

Only in one of these five cases, the state is considering to file appeal. However, there is a silver lining in the matter also. The Vigilance Department has sent recommendations to the heads of departments of all those hostile witnesses to take disciplinary action against them.

The information was sought by advocate H.C. Arora. According to the information received, Abdul Sakur, estate officer, Punjab Wakf Board, was acquitted by Special Judge, Rupnagar, on July 11, as the judge observed that “the demand and acceptance can be in the presence of complainant and shadow witness, but both of them have not supported the case of the prosecution and stated that the accused did not demand or accept any illegal gratification from the complainant”.

No appeal has been filed so far by the state against the accused in this case.


High Court
Civil judge seeks quashing of sack orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Dismissed from service, Civil Judge (Junior Division) has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for seeking the quashing of orders, whereby, the extreme penalty was imposed on him.

The petition, placed before the high court Division Bench of Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Rakesh Kumar Jain, was admitted this morning. Civil Judge Kulwinder Singh Dhaliwal is facing the allegations of continuously knocking at the door of a woman judicial magistrate in a drunken state in August 2003. He is also facing the allegations of creating scene in a Rajpura hotel after consuming liquor.

In his petition against the high court and the State of Punjab, Dhaliwal said he was innocent; and the contentions raised by him had not been considered at all, while imposing the penalty.

He added the impugned order has been passed in pursuance to inquiry proceedings conducted in violation of statutory provisions of the Punjab Civil Service (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970.

Amendment of writ plea

Amending the writ petition previously filed by him to challenge the orders placing his services under suspension, inspector-general of police Rajinder Singh yesterday said the state government had denied central deputation to him on the pretext that the law and order situation in Punjab was grim.

In his petition, placed before the Division Bench headed by Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, Rajinder Singh quoted the state government’s communications: “We cannot spare officer at this juncture, as law and order situation is grim and extremists/terrorists are regrouping.”

He added the state government had placed his services under suspension to mount pressure and to discourage him from pursuing the petition challenging the move to promoting other officers of his batch.

Taking up the amended petition, the Bench issued a notice for August 29. The state, on that date, is expected to argue on the issue of maintainability of the petition.


Sangrur lad makes it to Chemistry Olympiad
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 27
Local boy Anupam Dev Goel has won laurels for his state by being selected for the International Chemistry Olympiad to be held in Hungary in July this year. His selection came after he gave an outstanding performance at the orientation-cum-selection camp held at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mumbai, from May 16 to 26.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Anupam’s father Achhvinder Dev Goel, a pharmacist with the Punjab Health Department, said Anupam along with three other students would now represent India in the Olympiad to be held at Budapest, Hungary. Students from 70 countries would participate in the event.

Anupam, who secured 92.4 per cent marks in CBSE Class XII (non-medical stream) exams this year, was given a special merit award for overall outstanding performance. He also won a gold medal and a cash prize of Rs 11,000.


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