P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Farmers’ Loans
Rs 986.82 cr to be waived
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Under the loan waiver scheme for farmers announced by the Union government, Rs 986.82 crore will be waived in Punjab. The Union government has estimated that Rs 71,000 crore will be waived across the country and Punjab’s share in the total amounts to just 1.4 per cent.

“Bank officials have told me that 3,32,872 farmers will benefit from the loan waiver scheme,” said Ramesh Inder Singh, chief secretary, Punjab. After holding a meeting with bank officials here today, the chief secretary said he had been told that Rs 986.82 crore would be waived in case of Punjab farmers, including Rs 634.56 crore of small and marginal farmers and Rs 352.62 crore of the farmers who had got 25 per cent relief on repaying 75 per cent of the loan amount that was due against them.

In the meeting held under the chairmanship of the chief secretary, representatives of the RBI, NABARD and other banks were present.

The number of small and marginal farmers to benefit from the loan waiver scheme is 1,79,160 and the number of others is 1,53,712. The banks concerned will issue certificates to farmers concerned by June 30 regarding the amount of loan to be waived off in case each of them.

Earlier, banks had estimated that Rs 867 crore will be waived off in Punjab. However, as the RBI issued fresh guidelines on June 25 asking banks to also cover defaulter dairy and poultry farmers under the loan waiver scheme, the figure has now gone up to Rs 986.82 crore.

Although all financial liability under the loan waiver scheme should be borne by the Union government, the state cooperative banks will have to suffer a loss on account of interest of the period between the cut-off date fixed by the Union government and the actual date of loan waiving. The Union government had announced to waive off the loan amount that was in the books till February, 2008. However, actually the loan is to be waived off on June 30.

The Centre has not committed to pay interest on the loan money that remained in the accounts of defaulting farmers from February end to June end. Sources said Cooperative banks in Punjab would have to bear a burden of Rs 55 crore on account of interest in case the Centre does not reimburse the interest money of this period.

Meanwhile, sources said the Chief Minister would soon go to Delhi to meet the finance minister and urge him to give some relief, at least waive off the interest, of farmers who were honestly repaying their loan as they should not suffer.

Cooperative banks have reported to the state government that now as defaulting farmers have the benefit of the loan waiver scheme, the honest ones were also reluctant to repay their loans. Because of this, recovery of loans has gone down by 10 to 15 per cent.


2nd explosives haul in a week
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, June 27
In a second major haul of explosives within a week from the region, the Jagraon police has recovered 34.5 kg of explosives from three residents of Moga, suspected to be the activists of “Khalistan Zindabad Force”. They had got special training in Pakistan during their visit to the country as part of a jatha.

Besides the explosives, the police has recovered an improvised mobile phone which could to be used to trigger a blast. It was akin to the one used in the Shingaar cinema blast.

IG Sanjiv Kalra said this afternoon that the explosives, packed in gelatine sticks and powder form, were similar to those used in Jaipur serial blasts earlier this year. A team of the Rajasthan police visiting Jagraon confirmed this.

He said DIG Ishawar Singh and SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar were on the trails of the gang that planned to wreak havoc in the region.

The police has been on high alert after the seizure of 18 passports of Punjabi youths from two youths along with 24.5 kg of explosives from near Akhara village on June 17. The police suspected the arrested youths were either running an illegal emigration racket or it was a camouflage to send youths abroad for training terrorist activities.

The IG said the three persons arrested today were Amrik Singh of Parwana Nagar, Moga, Daljit Singh of Krishan Pura Moga and Sarabjit Singh, alias Sokhu, of Sardar Nagar, Moga. Amrik was the owner of a crockery shop, Daljit a tempo driver while Sarabjit was a tailor.

The IG said DSP Detective Satnam Singh, inspector Gurmeet Kaur and sub-inspector Tehal Singh arrested the three on the Dangian link road, Kaunke village, while they were travelling in a Tempo Trax (No. CH-03-S-0230) along with the explosives, packed in a suitcase.

The explosive material bear the mark of Super Power-90 Solar Explosive Limited, Chak Doh Bazar Gaon, Nagpur district.

SSP Bhullar said the module was working at the instance of Jalandhar resident Surjit Singh Mahal, based in Hamburg, Germany.

Manjit and Gurbhej arrested last week had revealed they were working for Gurmeet Singh, alias Bagga, also based in Hamburg, Germany.

The preliminary questioning of the accused has revealed that they had visited Pakistan a number of times and got training in handling of explosives.

Their main targets were vital installations including, defence sites, railway properties, oil dumps and crowded places. The gang has links across the country and abroad.


Mine explosives reaching terrorists

The 60 kg of explosives in two seizures of 34.5 kg and 24.5 from five suspected terrorists in Jagraon was either stolen from mining contractors in Gujarat, Rajasthan or pilfered from their respected companies.

The blast material was manufactured in Nagpur for mine explosions by a legal company for supply to mining companies. The police believes the big quantity of the explosives recovered from the suspected terrorists, suggests large-scale stealing of the material.

Earlier, explosives, like RDX, were smuggled by Pakistan-based agencies into India through Rajasthan, Punjab or Jammu and Kashmir border.

“Our investigation and examination has pointed at the local supply of the explosives. We cannot disclose much at this juncture but a police team was on the job,” said Jagraon SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.

The recovered explosives had the mark, “Super Power- 90 Solar Explosive Limited village Chak Doe Bazar Gaon in Nagpur district”. The detonators were manufactured in the village Peddakandukur, Vadagiri, Gutta Mandal, Nalsonda district (Andhra Pradesh).


Badal wants to cross over to Pak with foreign minister in copter
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has made a request to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allow him to fly over to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) from Dera Baba Nanak (India) in a helicopter, along with foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, during the latter’s proposed visit here tomorrow.

Though media advisor to CM Harcharan Bains has expressed hope that they (Badal and Mukherjee) are likely to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib to pay obeisance at the Sikh shrine in Pakistan, yet intelligence agencies are of the view that it is not possible in the prevailing situation. There is a long procedure to get the nod by the government of Pakistan to enter the air space of the other country.

If the statement of the CM’s media advisor is to be believed, the crossing over to Gurdwara Kartarpur by a helicopter will create a history of sorts.

The defence minister is coming to Amritsar to inaugurate the passport office tomorrow. Bains said there was a proposal that the defence minister, along with the CM, would visit Dera Baba Nanak sector from where they might cross over to Pakistan.

Though the Chief Minister, SGPC and SAD had been requesting the Prime Minister for the corridor linking Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur) with Gurdwara Kartarpur by constructing a corridor, yet Indian intelligence agencies had opposed this idea keeping in view the hostile riverine area across the Ravi. Both countries have not yet held preliminary meetings on the much-talked-about Kartarpur corridor issue.

The Tribune was the first paper to highlight that the government of Pakistan was ready to construct 1.5 km-long corridor on its side in 2000 to mark the Yatri year. Since then, members of the Sikh community have been making demands for the construction of the corridor.

The Kartarpur Sahib shrine is located on the western bank of the Ravi. The gurdwara was built by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, ruler of Patiala state. During 1947, when it was still under construction, Partition took place and work was stopped. The gurdwara became dilapidated. In the recent past, new minarets were constructed and a facelift was given to it.

The PGPC had also written to the Akal Takht Jathedar to take up the matter with the Indian government so that it could allow Sikh pilgrims to visit the shrine without any hassle.



Cheema refutes Dasuya MLA’s charges
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 27
Member of the political affairs committee of the SAD Sampuran Singh Cheema has refuted all allegations of BJP MLA of Dasuya Amarjit Singh Sahi that appeared in The Tribune on Thursday regarding the election of the chairman of the Block Samiti, Dasuya.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Cheema said he along with former minister and Congress leader Romesh Chander Dogra never proposed the name of Balkar Singh for the post of chairman of the Block Samiti during its election on June 24, as he was neither a member of the samiti nor he participated in the close-door election.

Balkar Singh was an official candidate of the SAD and had secured seven votes of the party and three of others.

Sahi had succeeded in getting four votes of the SAD, three of the BJP and three others, including his vote as ex-officio member of the House, for his supported candidate Des Raj Singh.

Sahi had divided the SAD in the Block Samiti, alleged Cheema. He added that by giving the press statement, he had tried to tarnish his image. He was a loyal soldier of the SAD and always followed the decisions of the party.

Cheema clarified that he had never supported the Congress nominee in Assembly elections and always campaigned for Mahant Ram Parkash Dass, BJP-SAD candidate, in the past.


Chinks in Pathankot Cong
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 27
Differences in the Congress unit of this area came to the fore yesterday when one of the party candidates complained to party president Sonia Gandhi against a union minister and a section of local leadership, alleging attempts to sabotage his victory chances.

Subash Wadhera, a Congress leader, who is contesting the elections from ward number 4, alleged that certain party leaders had been supporting his opponent.

He said that he had been given authorisation by the party leadership to contest on party ticket. However, a section of the party leadership gave similar authorisation to his opponent from the same ward. He had been denied the party symbol and had to contest as an independent candidate.

He has also approached Marget Alva, in charge, Punjab affairs, and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, PPCC chief. Six Congress workers have been contesting as independent candidates from ward numbers 4,19 and 32 after all of them were issued authority letters to contest as party candidates by the party leadership. 


Hans’ 3 kin in fray
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 27
Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans is known for his melodious songs but nowadays he is in news for some other reason. His two brothers-in-law and one sister-in-law are contesting the Kapurthala Municipal Council (MC) elections on SAD ticket.

Hans’ elder brother-in-law, Paramjit Singh Pamma, an advocate, is a candidate for ward number 27 whereas his younger brother-in-law Sukhwinder Singh Sukha is in the fray from ward number 26. Pamma’s wife Shaminder Kaur is trying her luck from ward number 25. Paramjit Singh’s elder sister is married to Hans.

Pamma, who is national general secretary of the Youth Akali Dal, is trying his luck for the third time in a row. Talking to The Tribune, he said he had joined the SAD after winning the MC elections as an independent in 1998. He had been vice-president of the Kapurthala MC for about two years before his election as its president in 2000-01.

He won the 2003 elections on SAD ticket with a huge margin. Shaminder is in the fray for a second time consecutively. She defeated her nearest rival with a huge margin in 2003. On the other hand, Sukha is a greenhorn.

Pamma said: “We do not ask Hans to campaign in the MC elections in their favour as these elections are generally fought on personal contacts. Further I am of the view that being a singer of international repute, he should stay away from petty politics”.


MC Polls
Symbol changed fourth time
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 27
Returning officer for local Municipal Council elections Kirpal Singh, additional deputy commissioner, yesterday changed the election symbol of Bimal Kumar for a fourth time in violation of the directions of the election commission. He is contesting the elections from ward number 6.

Bimal Kumar at the time of nominations had been allotted “Drum” as his symbol on June 20. The next day, after he produced the authority letter of the BJP, the officer changed the symbol to “Lotus”.

On June 24, the officer rejected his claim to the “Lotus” symbol and allotted him “Goat”. Bimal objected to it and his supporters staged a dharna in front of the office of the officer following which he was allotted “Star”.

The symbol-allotment process did not end here. The officer yesterday withdrew “Star” and ordered him to use “Goat” as his election symbol.

The candidate has alleged that officer changed his symbol frequently at the behest of a senior bureaucrat, who is the brother of a candidate contesting the elections against him.

However, Kahan Singh Pannu, district election officer-cum-deputy commissioner, said he would recommend action against the officer as the symbol could not be changed during the election process.


Youth leaders expelled
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 27
Dinesh Kumar Parocha and Nirbhai Singh, both leaders of the youth wing of the SAD, were today expelled from the party. District joint secretary of the SAD youth wing Happy Goyal said they were contesting the municipal council elections against the official SAD candidate from ward number 20 here.


Poison still flows in Buddha Nullah
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
Thousands of residents of about 30 villages in Ludhiana continue to be affected by toxic effluents discharged into the Budda Nullah from nearby electro-plating and dyeing units.

Death of thousands of fish at Harike recently, has once again provoked the hapless villagers to ask the government to look into the matter. "It is a classic case of now or never. I hope we do not meet the same fate as the fish,” said Swara Singh Garcha, resident of Bet.

Mere paperwork by bureaucrats, promises by politicians, noises by environmentalists and directions by different courts have failed to provide any reprieve to the affected villagers. Besides consuming vegetables and grains grown on toxic waste, the villagers have to bear the foul smell.

The villages along the nullah include Beniwal, Ballipur Kalan, Ballipur Khurd, Khehra Bet, Noorpur Bet, Buraj Lambra Basaimi, Birmi, Phagla, Malakpur Salempur, Gaunspur, Waran-Hara, Hambran, Mohi, Chak, Dakha and Issewal.

Travelling along the nullah from Haibowal to Gamnewal, where its waters enter the Sutlej, one can see piles of polythene picked out from the nullah by cranes at different places. Lambardar Mahinder Pal Singh said, "I don't know what good the cleaning will do in case the nullah waters are left unclean. The huge piles of dirty polythene, along the nullah, are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes and flies."

Jagjit Singh Lambra, sarpanch of Buraj Lambra village since 1972, showed water from a tube well at Noorpur Bet village. The water from the tube well dug up at 60 ft looked dirty and had a foul smell.

Jagjit said, “Farmers have to regularly change their underground pipes because the metal gets corroded because of the acidic water."

Sukhjinder Singh, farmer, said: "Everybody cannot afford deep tube wells. A large number of villagers in the area are suffering from stomach ailments and other infections because of the poor quality of water. Not more than 5 per cent of the population in the area can afford deep tube wells for clean water at home. The rest continue to consume polluted and infected water. Interestingly, the deep-bore hand pumps, set up by the government for community use, generally get installed in houses of the rich and the powerful. Villagers demand that such deep water pumps should be installed at village gurdwaras".

A senior government official associated with submitting information on the nullah to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, requesting anonymity, said: “I am associated with reporting to the High Court regularly. I can only say the entire work is a mere eyewash. It will continue to have no meaning unless the dangerous industry effluents are stopped. The poison of the industry continues to enter the nullah.”

He said, “There have been positive results as far as stopping the sewerage water entry into the nullah at various points goes, however, nothing concrete has been done to stop the industry effluent.”


Dead fish in Abohar water
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, June 27
Hundreds of fish were found dead as the old municipal waterworks received fresh supply of canal water today. Similar reports were received earlier from Choohriwala Dhanna village and Diwankhera where contractors felt that their rivals had mixed poisonous contents in the ponds which they had taken over for fish farming. But later experts opined that contaminated canal water had proved fatal for thousands of fish.

Just last week, officials of the Water Supply and Irrigation Departments in Sriganganagar had confirmed that supply of contaminated water from the Harike headworks through Bikaner (Gang) canal had left more than 3,000 fish dead at the Sadhuwali head on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road. They had advised panchayats not to store the poisonous canal water in the ponds and drinking water reservoirs, sources confirmed.

As per information, the Irrigation Department had suspended water supply following breaches in the Malukpura and Panjawa subcanals in the subdivision on Saturday night. It appears that water released today carried poisonous contents due to unchecked discharge of chemical waste by the Ludhiana-based industrial units and surplus sewerage water of the Buddha Nullah in the Sarhind feeder.

Farmers in this region had been raising a hue and cry over the supply of highly contaminated “black water” since April last. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had formed a high-level committee to deal with the problem, but the situation has further aggravated, as today’s incident indicated.


Goindwal Land Acquisition
Company gives Rs 162 cr for payment to farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
A private company, GVK, which will set up a 600-MW thermal plant at Goindwal, has handed over Rs 162 crore to the Punjab government to make payment to farmers whose land has been acquired for the plant. Around 1,000 acres have been acquired for the project.

The company is set to start work in August and farmers are to be paid around Rs 16 lakh per acre in lieu of acquisition of their land. Sources said the district authorities had been told to complete the job at the earliest.

GVK has the intention to increase the capacity of the plant further after three years. The issue of setting up the plant at Goindwal is hanging fire for the past several years. In fact, the project was approved when the SAD-BJP was in power from 1997-2002.

Meanwhile, the state government has made an interesting offer to farmers whose land has been acquired. The government will not charge any stamp duty on the land purchased by farmers with the money that has been paid to them in lieu of the acquisition of their original land at Goindwal.


CM mourns Manekshaw’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today mourned the death of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw who died yesterday in Tamil Nadu.

In a condolence message, Badal said the Amritsar-born Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw symbolised the rare blend of courage and potential on the one hand and astute and humane approach to the issues concerning the soldiery on the other. The Chief Minister lauded the Manekshaw’s role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War for the liberation of Bangladesh that forms an outstanding chapter in the history of military campaigns all over the world.

Meanwhile, MP and president, SAD, Sukhbir Singh Badal also mourned the death of the legendary Army Commander Field Marshal Manekshaw.


Sidhu for visa centres in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
Vociferously supporting the voice raised by residents of the region, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu has said the opening of the passport office will prove to be a boon only if the government agrees to open visa consulate here.

Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, while talking to the media here yesterday, said though he welcomed the opening of the regional passport office, he would strongly advocate that the governments of India and Pakistan made a reciprocal gesture by starting visa centres to facilitate the easy travel assess to both countries. He said traditionally Amritsar and Lahore had been twin cities with strong cultural and commercial ties and it was imperative that both separated Punjabs be given equal opportunities to grow with hasslefree travel to explore business opportunities across the Radcliff Line.

Taking up the issue for Sikh devotees, Sidhu said even the bus service between the holy city and Nankana Sahib faced a bleak future as the government had issued strict guidelines which required security vetting of all passengers, unlike the people who travelled between Delhi and Lahore.


Badal to take up issue with Pranab
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
The state government will take up the issue of opening of visa centre at Amritsar with the Central government and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee who will be coming here tomorrow to inaugurate the passport office.

This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while talking to mediapersons during a sangat darshan programme at the Amritsar south constituency late in the evening today.

He said the opening of a visa centre in the holy city would ease the problems of people of the state, especially Sikh devotees who wanted to pay obeisance at various holy Sikh shrines, including Nankana Sahib, in Pakistan. They otherwise had to visit New Delhi for seeking visa .

Meanwhile, the CM announced a Rs 174 lakh and Rs 290.95 lakh package for development works, including street lighting, cement flooring of roads, repair of sewerage etc in ward Nos. 36 and 38, respectively.


Misuse of Official Vehicles
Now, PSIDC chief under fire
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) is in news for all wrong reasons these days. After the family spat of managing director Anuraag Verma was splashed over various media platforms, it is now the turn of PSIDC chairman S.S Channy to face the firing line. Members of the staff and the union have alleged that Channy has been misusing official vehicles and raised questions over his functioning.

The PSIDC Karamchari Union has shot off a letter to industries minister Manoranjan Kalia highlighting the gross inefficiency in the running the corporation, which is accumulating losses amounting to several crores each day.

The chairman, in particular, has been pin-pointed for misusing at least four official vehicles, including two Ambassadors, a Maruti SX4 and a Toyota Corolla. He has been charged of violating norms like not filling log books and appointing drivers on an ad hoc basis so that the irregularity goes undetected.

Officials in the PSIDC have, however, rubbished these allegations saying that it is merely an attempt by some union members to get Channy transferred. The union has also refuted the letter written by manager (admin) L.K. Singla to secretary personnel S.S Rajput, saying that the chairman and the MD were using only one car each. The letter was written in response to a query made by the Department of Personnel on the orders of the Chief Minister to check misuse of vehicles.

Sources in the Industries and Commerce Department confirmed that the minister had received the complaint, but said the allegations were yet to be verified. Action would only be initiated after that, the sources added. It is learnt that the government is trying to ascertain the petrol and diesel bill of the corporation.

The union has further alleged that even after having sold nine properties in January and March, 2008, for Rs 21.78 crore, the PSIDC management is yet to secure approval of the board of directors. In addition, the PSIDC is yet to effect recovery of an aggregate principal amount of Rs 415 crore on its equity investment of Rs 216 crore in 112 cases and the loan of 199 crore in 178 cases.

Meanwhile, a senior Punjab government official, on condition of anonymity, while admitting to the gross misuse of vehicles by bureaucrats quipped: “Next time you see a lady driving a Maruti SX4 or a Toyota in Chandigarh, chances are that she is the wife a senior bureaucrat who has been officially given the car.”

The secretary personnel of the Punjab government had earlier this month sought information about the vehicles that are being used by officers. The result, to say the least, is appalling. Some officers have six to eight vehicles running for them, including cars and two-wheelers.


PSEB to make video CDs of installed transformers
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala June 25
Bogged down by the identification of about 4,500 bogus test reports and installations of un-inspected transformers in its Own Your Tube well (OYT) scheme, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has directed its officials to make video CDs of transformers installed at tube wells of Punjab farmers.

An enquiry into issuance of bogus test reports and installation of un-inspected or repaired transformers under the PSEB’s much publicised and suspended OYT scheme was being conducted by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB).

The PSEB authorities found that not only that un-inspected transformers were installed, but, instances had come to light where repaired transformers with fake seals and forged inspection reports had been sold and installed in Punjab.

PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra disclosed that though 31,252 transformers had been inspected by the board, but, interestingly 35,787 reports had poured in from the field which, implied that about 4,500 un-inspected transformers had been installed in the state.

Ratra has directed that all transformers installed under the OYT scheme be inspected by joint teams comprising enforcement, technical, audit and distribution officials. Ratra has also directed the officials to make CDs of individual transformers bearing consumer’s name, account no., and location code of transformers and one copy of such CDs should be maintained by respective chief engineers and enforcement staff for centralised monitoring.

“The OYT scheme shall remain suspended till further orders. Applicants whose test reports have been received and installation found in order would get their tube well connections without any delay. Applicants to whom demand notices have been issued should get connection after the paddy season. They need not apply for extension in the demand notice period as the demand notices already issued under the OYT scheme shall remain valid upto January 31 without any extension fee,” said Ratra.

The PSEB chairman, who has reviewed the OYT scheme, has advised applicants not to get fleeced by unscrupulous contractors and dealers for purchase of poles, conductors, and transformers. “It will lead to malpractices as genuine material is not available in the market,” said Ratra.

Going by its experience in the implementation of the first phase of the OYT scheme, the PSEB has decided that for the release of tube well connections under the OYT scheme in future, transformers, other material and equipment will be provided by the PSEB itself at the cost of OYT applicants. 


‘4,235 transformer not inspected’
Ratra seeks probe
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officers have detected about 450 locations in the state issuing fake test reports and installing un inspected transformers under the Own Your Transformer Scheme (OYT), which was suspended in the month of May following the reports of corruption.

The chairman of the PSEB Y.S. Ratra has ordered the senior officers for inquiry into the whole affair. He said the strict action would be initiated against officers of the board, if anyone found involved in illegal practices under the scheme. He said under this scheme, in future transformers and other materials for the release of tubewell connection would be provided by the board.

The scheme will remain suspended till further orders, he added. Ratra also assured that such applicants, whose test reports had been received and installation found in order, would get the tubewell connection without any delay. 


Non-payment of Pension
Pb human rights body seeks report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Taking note of non-payment of pension to 16 lakh pensioners, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the state government through chief secretary, finance secretary and secretary, social security, child and women development, Punjab government, Chandigarh, to give a report on the matter.

The PSHRC took suo motto notice of a news report that appeared in a national daily. According to the report there are about 16 lakh such pensioners in Punjab, who have not been paid their meagre monthly pension for the months of March, April and May, 2008 by the Social Security Department of the Punjab government, so far.

The article mentioned that the state exchequer was empty and up to July, 2008, there was no likelihood of its payment to these pensioners. It is also stated that the Chief Minister has asked the concerned state authorities to take remedial measures.


Union rues anti-employee stance of govt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab Non-Gazzetted Employees’ Organisation, a pro-BJP union that has the full backing of the RSS, today said the SAD-BJP coalition government in the state had adopted an anti-employee stance.

The organisation, that held a brain-storming session here under the chairmanship of Mahinder Jain, president of the National Karamchari Maha Sangh, expressed concern over the non-payment of 6 per cent DA instalment to employees of the state government whereas the Union government had given the same to its employees on January 1, 2008.

Uma Kant Tiwari, general secretary of the organisation, said the state government had imposed a ban on the recruitment of employees without any solid reason and owing to shortage of staff in government offices, existing employees had been over-burdened with work.

He said in case the state government was not prepared to make fresh recruitment of employees to fill vacant posts, it should enhance the retirement age to 60 years on the Central government pattern.

Upset over the slow functioning of the state Pay Commission, Tiwari said the commission should give its report by all means till the end of current year. “To implement the recommendations of the commission, the government should make provisions in the budget for the next financial year. The way the commission is working, it will take at least three years to give the report and that is not acceptable to employees,” said Tiwari.


Agro Juices processes 9,500 tonnes of tomatoes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Punjab Agro Juices Ltd (PAJL), which has set up two modern multi-fruit processing projects at Hoshiarpur and Abohar, has processed 9,500 tonnes of tomatoes for Mrs Bector Foods (Cremica) and M/s Punjab Processed Foods during May and June.

M/s Punjab Processed Foods procured over 5,000 tonnes of tomatoes from contracted growers while Mrs Bector Foods procured over 4,500 tonnes. The sudden peak arrivals of tomatoes in early June brought down its market price to less than Rs 2 per kg. But, these companies procured tomatoes at agreed prices, which were higher than the market prices, helping contract growers to have better returns per acre and to stabilise the market.

“The companies are more than satisfied with the quality of product, processing capabilities/efficiencies and the support by the PAJL,” said a spokesman for the unit.

The PAJL units will give a boost to diversification efforts of the government. These have multi-fruit and vegetable-processing capabilities and have earlier processed around 5,500 tonnes of kinnows for Pepsi and Jain Irrigation, amla 1,200 MT, strawberry 50 MT, carrots 400 MT and mangoes 500 MT.


BGIET inks MoUs with foreign varsities
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 27
The local Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering and Technology (BGIET) has signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with three US universities and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok (Thailand).

With the signing of these MoUs, BGIET students will get education opportunities abroad.

Giving this information yesterday, chairman of Bhai Gurdas Group of Institutions Hakam Singh Jawandha said during the first two years of their degree courses, students would study at BGIET and the remaining two-and-a-half years they would study at Wayne University.

With regard to the MoU with Pittsburg University, he said after three years of their degree courses the BGIET students could be transferred to Pittsburg University. After completing a one-year education (training programme) there, students would receive bachelor degrees from Pittsburg University.

Jawandha added that with the Indiana Wesleyn University the BGIET had signed a MoU for an online programme, which would help its students acquire postgraduate specialised diploma in management during their B. Tech. programme. For this, students would go to the Indiana University for one month for training. The MoU with AIT, Bangkok, would help students get postgraduate degree in their respective branches, he added.


Mehna blast: Two Army men booked
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 27
Except for booking two Army men, one of whom dead, in connection with the blast which took place at Mehna village yesterday killing four persons, the police and Army authorities could not ascertain from where the bomb shell came.

After conducting the post-mortem examinations on the bodies, these were handed over to the families of the deceased. Malout DSP M.K. Sharma said: “The accused Army men, deceased Nayak Amar Singh, and injured Naib Subedar Tej Veer have been booked under Section 304-A of the IPC”.

According to the information received from villagers, deceased Mitha Ram (40) was a scrap picker of the same village and was father of four children. Jai Narain (50), a bag maker of Dabwali, is survived by six children and Jaswinder Singh (28), an electrician of Rai Ke Kalan (Bathinda), was unmarried. Pala Ram, the tea vendor, whose one leg has been impaired, was the lone earning hand of his family. He has two daughters and one son.

A cantonment source said the shell was of a rocket launcher, namely HEAT (high explosive anti tank).

Meanwhile, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said: “The case is under investigation and CM Parkash Singh Badal has been looking into it. After the investigation, he will provide financial help to the families of the victims.”


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