P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Vote for Manmohan, Sarna to Akali MPs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 10
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Paramjit Singh Sarna has urged SAD MPs to shun petty party politics and enhance their global image as nationalists by supporting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s nuclear deal with the USA.

It is a time for the Akalis in general and the Sikhs in particular to rally behind an honest and committed Dr Manmohan Singh whose elevation as Prime Minister had given the community respectability worldwide.

Though the present ruling group in the DSGMC, led by Sarna brothers, has been known for its tilt towards the Congress, the letter of Paramjit Singh Sarna appreciating SAD’s policies and programmes has come as a pleasant surprise to SAD workers. For a long time, Sarna-led group had confronted Parkash Singh Badal not only in the Delhi gurdwara politics but also in the Panthic affairs.

In a letter addressed to all SAD MPs, Paramjit Singh Sarna, reminded the SAD of unfortunate events that the Sikh community had faced in 1980s. “These incidents culminated into Operation Bluestar. The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 presented them in a light completely unknown to them. The patriotism of Sikhs was put under a scanner and the community remained at the receiving end in India and abroad for quite sometime. However, the national forces asserted after sometime and the opinion makers loudly admitted that the Sikhs had been wronged,” writes Sarna in his letter.

He says: “The Shiromani Akali Dal always stands firm for the respectability and prestige of the Panth. A similar situation had arisen at the time of nomination of Giani Zail Singh as presidential candidate by the Congress. Even at that time the SAD played a very constructive, rather commendable role in the national interest in general and Panthic interest in particular by supporting his candidature.”

Sarna has also cautioned the Akalis against those “anti-national forces that are always active in damaging the national and minority interests to establish their so-called nationality to achieve their own vested interests. In the present national crisis, nationalist forces have an opportunity to prove their national, secular and Panthic ideology by supporting the most learned, honest and dedicated visionary statesman, Dr Manmohan Singh, who has established Sikh identity globally. The proposed nuclear deal with the US is beyond any doubt in the larger interest of the country. All of us as a minority community should think and support him to enhance the image of the Sikh community in India and abroad, says Sarna.

The DSGMC chief also reminds Akalis that the Shiv Sena, in spite of being a constituent of the NDA, openly supported Pratibha Patil in the last presidential elections.

“I take this opportunity to appeal to you to consider this very important fact by rising above the party politics by thinking as a national-secular Sikh and extending support to Dr Manmohan Singh in Parliament,” adds Sarna.


N-deal: ‘Cong ignored regional parties’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 10
Regional parties have a grudge against the Congress-led UPA government for not taking them into confidence on the nuclear-deal issue.

Expressing his views, senior Akali leader and state cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh said the UPA did not even once raise the issue with the regional parties such as the SAD, which had been taking stand on issues of national importance.

“The Congress leadership discussed the issue with the Left parties several times. A joint working group was also set up. Several meetings were held. But the Congress did not think it appropriate to hold meetings with the leaders of regional parties to take them into confidence on the issue,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

He said officially, his party had not information with regard to the deal.

“We don’t know what the deal is, how it is in the interest or against the country,” said the minister. “Whatever we know about the deal is all that has come to us through print and electronic media.”

He said the Congress deputed senior officers to brief the Samajwadi leaders on the deal. Prime Minister himself briefed the SP leaders and the PMO immediately issued clarifications on the questions asked by the SP about the deal. But, the Congress leadership did not bother to brief other regional parties. He said the regional parties and its leaders were important players in the country’s politics and they could not be ignored while taking important decisions with regard to the foreign policy and also on the issues such as WTO, etc.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said at the moment, the SAD would not support the UPA government in Parliament on the deal.

“Our party would chalk out its strategy on the deal at a meeting of its core group on July 15,” he said. “We would take a decision that would be in our best political interest.”

As the SAD has eight MPs in the Lok Sabha, its political stand vis-à-vis the nuclear deal and in parliament is being keenly watched by the leadership of national parties. In fact, in emerging political situation at the national level, the SAD can play a decisive role in dislodging or saving the Manmohan Singh government.


Rs 1,280-cr WB-funded water project moves at snail’s pace
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 10
World Bank- funded Rs 1280-crore rural water supply schemet, which is to benefit 3,000 villages of the state, has allegedly failed to take off owing to “lackadaisical approach” of the Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department.

Under the scheme initiated in November, 2006, the World Bank had to fund up to 90 per cent of the expenditure on rural water supply schemes in selected villages while the 10 per cent was to be contributed collectively by each household of the selected villages.

The department had engaged NGOs for creating awareness among villagers about the benefits of project and to persuade them to pay the 10 per cent of the community share, which, roughly came out to Rs 50,000 per village. It was mandatory for each household to contribute its share towards the project so as to ensure involvement of people in the scheme. Except for Hoshiarpur, NGOs were deputed by the department in all other districts.

Though the project was well-conceived irony of the situation was it virtually failed to go much beyond the pilot-project stage with only a fraction of 3,000 villages being covered under the scheme so far. The department had planned to set up 500 water supply projects under the pilot project initiated in 2005. But, even the pilot project, sources revealed, had failed to make much headway with only half of 500 villages having been covered so far under it in three years.

Bikram Singh Majithia, who is rural water supply and sanitation minister, however, claimed most of the water supply schemes under the pilot project had been completed. He further said his department had also completed more than 100 of the 3,000 drinking water projects. He attributed the delay in the project completion to cumbersome process involving clearance of project cases by the Central government to get the money from World Bank. He said a number of NGOs had been working for the project on their own and without their commissioning by the department. Such NGOs had been scrutinised and were being kept at bay.


Bank takes possession of school building
DM orders reopening of school after students’ protest
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, July 10
The State Bank of India yesterday took possession of the building of a government primary school constructed on private land following a dispute over the non-payment of a loan against which the land was mortgaged to the bank. The building was taken into possession during school hours after herded 107 students and four teachers out of it.

The school had been functional in the building for over five decades, claimed local residents. The students staged a dharna at the main door of the school.

Meanwhile, district magistrate Megh Raj ordered the bank authorities to reopen the school. He said: “I have ordered the bank authorities to reopen the school and students will come to the school tomorrow morning in the same building as usual”.

The bank authorities had been asked to acquire the land and building of the rice mill for which the loan was raised. The school land was mortgaged as a guarantee only, he added.

According to the bank authorities, the school land, bearing municipal number B4-4-R-35-54 wasika number 3291 situated outside the Zira gate of the town, owned by local SAD leader Harbans Singh Palla, son of Dalip Singh, was mortgaged to the bank as a guarantee for raising a loan to set up a rice mill. The SAD leader is one of the 15 partners in the rice mill.

The rice mill company, Modern Parboiled Mills Private Limited, Mishriwala, failed to repay the loan of Rs 51,43,087 and interest as assessed on 31/10/2005.

The actual loan amount as on date has crossed Rs 70 lakh, said a bank official.

When the school was started by the Education Department on this controversial land, it was not owned by Harbans Singh Palla. He purchased the land using his political influence from the actual owner about a decade ago. He had been trying to vacate it for the quite some time as its market value has increased to more than Rs 1 crore.

The local residents say Palla had intentionally mortgaged the land to the bank to get it vacated by the bank authorities and he would later get it back from the bank after repaying the loan. 



Trust vote: SAD to support NDA
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 10
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today made it clear that in case a no-confidence motion was brought against the Congress-led UPA government in Parliament on the issue of N-deal, the SAD would stand by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and vote against the government.

Talking to mediapersons after addressing the convocation at the Master Tara Singh College for Women today, Badal said the state government had asked various government departments, including PUDA, local bodies, Improvement Trust etc, to make a list of the lands in districts, which were not being put to proper use. Such government land would either be developed for commercial purposes under the optimum use of land policy of the government, or else would be used for the construction of houses for the poor.

He said the government could not just "throw" its properties like this. "To avoid encroachments, we need to properly utilise such properties which are worth crores of rupees," said Badal, adding that under the programme, 4,500 houses were going to be constructed for the needy and poor in Ludhiana alone.

Side-stepping on the issue of the deteriorating power situation in Punjab, he said the previous government (Congress) had to be blamed for this. "We are trying to do whatever best we can. But it will take time. Before we go, Punjabis would have surplus power," he said, adding that when his government took over, the state was generating 6200 mw of electricity. Various thermal projects initiated at Bathinda, Giddarbaha, Rajpura and Goindwal will add another 7000 mw power in state, he claimed.

The Chief Minister asked the industrialists and residents along the Budda Nullha not to dump industrial effluents and toxic waste in it, which had recently become a reason for the mortality of thousands of fish. "If the practice goes unchecked, it will take its toll on the city population," he said.


Tribune Impact
Scientists to inspect Ghanauli drain
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 10
Scientists of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) will visit the Ghanauli drain following The Tribune report published regarding Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant siphoning ash into wetlands.

Acting on the directions of director of the PSCST, N.S.Tiwana, joint director Neelima Jerath has directed senior scientists to visit the Ghanauli drain and study the area concerned. "The scientists will study the area around. The ash dykes seem to be spilling out ash into the nearby drain and other agriculture land - an aspect that would be monitored," she said.

The PSCST is the nodal agency responsible for managing the Ropar wetlands - an international Ramsar site. The agency is mainly concerned with the conservation of flora and fauna of the wetlands.

Sources in the PSCST pointed out the plant also threw hot water into areas along the wetlands. "Earlier, a number of fish had died due to hot water being added to the wetlands," he added.

Meanwhile, Udham Singh, former block samiti member and member of the Sangharsh Committee, which fights against the problem of fly ash said, "In summer, fly ash spreads all around, posing respiratory problems. We have raised this issue and submitted memorandum to the deputy commissioner, but nothing has been done so far," said Udham Singh, who belongs to Chak Dher village.He added water from Ghanauli drain was unfit for consumption. "Cattle drink this water while grazing and are exposed to poisonous chemicals," he added.


Clash over village land leaves two dead
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Gehri Bhagi (Bathinda), July 10
Twelve persons were booked for allegedly killing two persons Labh Singh (50) of Bathinda and Hardev Singh (40) of Jassi Pau Wali and injuring five others in a clash over land dispute, which took place at Gehri Bhagi village of the district last night.

According to sources, Nachattar Singh and Surjeet Singh, both brothers, had handed over 27 kanals to a firm in Bathinda in lieu of some debt repayment. The firm further gave the land to two parties from whom Santokh Singh of Jassi Pau Wali village reportedly purchased the land. But Nachattar Singh and Surjeet Singh were not ready to give up their possession over the piece of land.

Some days ago, Santokh Singh and his friends had come to the village and cultivated the crop sown by the Nachattar group. Making it a prestige issue, they were waiting for revenge.

Last night, at around 2 a.m. Santokh Singh, along with eight other persons, came to the village in two tractors and a car to cultivate the land again. Soon after receiving the information, someone announced the attack on them from the gurdwara loud speaker.

Later, the excited mob opened fire and also assaulted them with sharp-edged weapons and lathis. In the clash, Labh Singh and Hardev Singh were killed, while five others, Santokh Singh, Subhash Chander, Harbans Singh, Baldev Singh and Jeet Singh received severe injuries.

The police said a case had been registered against Amarjeet Singh, Buta Singh, Budh Singh, Mahinder Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Surjeet Singh, Nachattar Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Mahinder Singh and many unidentified persons of the village Jassi Pau Wali.


Two units of Kotla hydel plant trip 
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, July 10
Two units of the Kotla hydel power plant tripped at 3.15 am today, resulting in the sinking of inner walls of the Nangal hydel channel on which it is built.The inner wall of the channel sank due to sudden high flow of water. A portion of 20 feet length and 15 feet width was reported sunk. The department noticed damage at 5 am only after sunrise.

The power plant has three machines. Two machines produce 24 MW power each, while the third plant produces 27.5 MW of power. The two machines with 24 MW tripped in the morning. While one of the machines was fixed by 6.15 am, the other was being repaired by a team from Chandigarh till evening.

A team, including an XEN, SDO and 30 workers, reached the spot to repair the sunk part.

Sources said loss in lakhs had been incurred due to the incident.

The Kotla hydro-electric power house was established along with on the Nangal hydel channel. These power houses are under the control of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). The water released after generation of electricity at Bhakra is diverted into the Nangal hydel channel from Nangal dam at Nangal. The water in the channel is then used for generation of power at Ganguwal and Kotla, where a sufficient fall in water exists. Both the power houses are practically identical in design and total installed capacity of each power house is 75.5 Megawatts.


Nabha godown source of nuisance for residents
Rajnish Sharma

Nabha, July 10
The district Food Supplies Department’s godown on the Cinema Road, is unsafe not only for employees but has also become a nuisance for residents near it.

It is in a residential area, and during paddy or wheat season, queues of trucks are seen on the stretch of road.

Jagdish, a resident, said loaded trucks create nuisance for the residents and dust and husk from the trucks get collected in houses and chokes drains.

He added heavy vehicles damage the roads leading to the town. Residents had demanded to shift this godown to some other place on the main road. Weevils and other pests on stored grain create mess in houses, they lamented.

Residents said the land should be given to PUDA for constructing some residential colony.

The godown is in the form of storage bin, spread over 1.5 acres. It is meant for storing one lakh bags of paddy or wheat. Such bins were constructed in 1965 in major towns of Punjab with grants from the World Bank. The bins in Nabha were declared unsafe and an order was passed in 2000 to dismantle these but nothing has happened so far. Ironically, the department has also constructed some of its offices under these unsafe bins.

An official of the department said the PWD (B&R) was in charge for the maintenance and repair of these bins, but it was not doing anything.

On the contrary, the PWD (B&R) officials said their department had nothing to do with the bins. They said the department was not responsible for the maintenance or upkeep of the bins.


Govt to be strict with polluters: CM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 10
“Time is not far when humans will perish like fish because of toxic discharge into wetlands through drains like Budda Nullah.”

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal stated this here today while addressing industrialists and public after laying stones for several development projects.

Reacting to a report in The Tribune on Budha Nullah how the 20-km stretch of the drain cleaned by kar sewaks and P. Ram Committee was again filled with effluents discharged by various industries, Badal stated the government alone could not do much for the problem.

“If we have to check this menace, then people should launch a mass awareness campaign ,” he remarked.

The government would be very strict with the polluters. “Anybody, be it an industrial unit or a government agency, would be punished for polluting the waters,” he added.

Badal said his Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhra Raje met him on this issue yesterday. She complained the canal supplying potable water to residents of her state had been polluted.


Time to smash terror camps in PoK: Bitta
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 10
Chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta today demanded Army action against all terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) and a ban on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed.

Alleging both Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed and her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had links with the Pakistan’s ISI and terrorists, he demanded a high-level inquiry to probe their activities.

Bitta said the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul should be a wake- up call for the Indian government, In view of the attack, the government should make fresh efforts to get Pakistan declared as terrorist state. Indo-US nuclear deal, he said was beneficial for the country. 


Bittu wants Centre to return Sikh reference library books
Tribune news Service

Amritsar, July 10
The SAD (Amritsar) Presidium will move the international court if the Centre fails to return the books of the Sikh Reference Library of the Golden Temple, which were allegedly taken away by the Army and the CBI during Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Presidium chairman Daljit Singh Bittu said here today though the SGPC had taken up the matter with the Centre, but it did not pursue it forcefully. The celebration of the tercentenary of Guruta Gaddi Divas would have no meaning if the committee did not make fresh moves in this connection.

Bittu said the party would launch a relay fast near the Parliament House from July 20 to press the government for the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Amendment to Article 25 (2)(B) that refers to Sikhs as part of the Hindu community and return of the historical Sikh books.


Notice to Gill in Khalra case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 10
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice for September 9 to Punjab former DGP K.P.S. Gill in the Khalra abduction case. The notice was issued by a Division Bench headed by Justice M.M. Kumar during the resumed hearing on a petition filed by Paramjit Kaur Khalra, the wife of eliminated human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra. She was seeking directions to the CBI to probe the involvement of Gill in the matter.

The petition was filed over 12 years after Jaswant Singh was abducted from his residence before being eliminated. In her petition, Paramjit Kaur had asserted “hard evidence” had come on the trial court record about the then former DGP Gill’s involvement. As such, appropriate order be issued to the CBI to further investigate the conspiracy angel and the involvement of Gill in abducting, illegally detaining, torturing and murdering Khalra.

Describing Gill as the “main accused”, she had stated that the results of the investigation should be presented before the CBI court so that “he can be brought to justice”. She had added that Gill had “escaped” due to partial and incomplete investigation.

Going into the circumstances leading to the filing of the petition, she had contended that at least two representations were forwarded to the CBI Director for the completion of investigation in the murder case so that Gill could be held accountable, in accordance with law, for his crime.

The CBI, on the other hand, had contended that the petition was devoid of merit and “investigation did not bring out evidence to substantiate the allegations against Gill”.

Even the trial court did not find evidence against Gill. As such, no investigation remains to be conducted in the case in respect of conspirators, the CBI added.

Notice to 2 bodies running institutes

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover on Thursday issued a notice regarding stay while taking up a petition against letters of intent issued by the state of Punjab to two private players for running technical institutes.

The matter will come up for further hearing on September 9. The petitioner had sought quashing of the letters of intent issued on July 1 to Moga-based Shri M.L. Memorial Society and Shri M.L. Memorial Polytechnic. The petitioner stated that the memorial society and the memorial polytechnic had not obtained the change of land use certificate from the state government. The same was required as they were setting up the building on agricultural land. “Even external development charges, licence fee have not been deposited,” it was added.


Farmers hold dharna in front of PSEB office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 10
Farmers from across the state staged a dharna in front of the Punjab State Electricity Board head office here today.

They gheraoed the PSEB head office for hours, following which traffic was hit on the Mall Road.

They were protesting against “anti-farmer” policies of the SAD-BJP coalition.

Balkar Singh Dakauda, president of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), Punjab, said the government was discriminating against them on issues relating to GATT and own your transformer (OYT) scheme. He said under the OYT scheme, there was a nexus among manufacturers, distributors and PSEB employees. Despite this, the government and the board management looked the other way.

He said farmers were under debt and with “wrong policies” of the state government, they could further slip into more debt.

He said by discontinuing the OYT scheme, the PSEB and the state government had not done the right thing, following which farmers were forced to protest in a big way.

Buta Singh, state general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), said the PSEB was fleecing farmers via schemes every year. He added the Board management was using discretion to issue tube well connections to please influential people, but small and marginal farmers were being marginalised.

Other union leaders said the government was barely able to provide six-eight hour power supply to the farmers, while at the same time Parkash Singh Badal was making false promises of providing 24-hour regular power supply to the farm sector.


4 IAS officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 10
The government today transferred four IAS officers.

Surinderjit Singh Sandhu, presiding officer, state colleges and state schools tribunal, has been posted secretary, revenue, with additional charge of presiding officer, state colleges and state schools tribunal.

Jaspreet Talwar, special secretary (finance), has been posted special secretary, finance, and in addition special secretary, tourism.

The services of Hussan Lal, executive director, Punjab State SC Land Development and Finance Corporation and in addition director, Welfare of SCs/ BCs, in addition special secretary (tourism), has been placed at the disposal of the Department of Power for appointment as Secretary, PSEB, Patiala.

Rakhee Gupta Bhandari, director, social security, women and children development, has been posted director, social security, women & children dev. and in addition executive director, Punjab state SC Land Dev. and Finance Corporation and in addition director, welfare of SCs/BCs.


Woman, paramour commit suicide with kids 
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Katar Singh Wala (Bathinda), July 10
A woman, along with her two children and a man, believed to be her paramour, allegedly committed suicide on the railway track near this village in the district here today.

The deceased were identified as Jagroop Singh (32) of Dhapali village, Veer Pal Kaur (27) of the same village, her son Harpreet Laddi (12) and daughter Sumani (7).

Two passenger trains had already run over the bodies before bodies were noticed and taken to the civil hospital for a post-mortem examination.

According to the villagers, the four were sighted near the railway track late last evening. In the morning, a team of railway gangmen informed the station master about the four bodies lying on the rail track.

Volunteers of an NGO reached the spot and found Sumani alive with a severe head injury. But, she died on the way to the hospital. A bottle of pesticide and two mobile phones were found lying beside the bodies.

An analysis of the calls received on the woman’s mobile phone indicates she was married to Gurtej Singh of Dhapali village and reportedly had illicit relations with Jagroop.

According to sources, both had made attempts to elope. This time, the woman was at her paternal Bhodipur village, from where she, along with her children, joined Jagroop. The parents of Jagroop had fixed his marriage with another girl.

In another case, a youth, Gaurav Kumar of Bathinda, who was in his twenties, allegedly committed suicide on platform number 9 of the Bathinda railway junction.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |