P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Majithia heads panel, to report in 7 days
Discharge of Industrial Waste into Streams
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
As discharge of industrial waste into streams water of which is used for drinking has become a burning issue in the state, Punjab government has set up a committee in this regard. Bikram Singh Majithia minister for science, technology and environment will head the panel and submit a report in a week.

Decision to set up the committee was taken at a meeting yesterday by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and other concerned with a representatives of industry from Ludhiana. Recently, Badal government gave notices to the units concerned either to stop releasing toxic effluents into sewers and water streams like Budda Nallah or face the action. But following protest by a senior BJP leader at a function in Ludhiana, notice to units were held in abeyance.

Sources said pollution problem was enormous and immediate solution was not possible. During Beant Singh’s government, the Punjab Pollution Control Board had done a survey and proposed shifting of 250 units outside the Ludhiana city for setting up industrial focal point which was created for this purpose. But sources said influential persons got the plots allotted in that focal point whereas polluting units continued to work in the city.

Most of the dyeing and electroplating units are culprits for toxic pollution. In Ludhaian city, Rs 245 crore has been recommended for new sewer system. However, the authorities concerned are not prepared to allow the release of toxic effluents in that sewer system arguing the treatment plants to be set up as part of the sewer project will not be able to treat toxic chemicals in the sullage. For treating toxic chemicals, separate treatment plant should be installed by the industrial units at their own level and only after cleaning the toxic chemicals, the effluents should be released into the sewer system.

Sources said several industries were small scale and owners of those industries were in capable of installing own treatment plants. Common treatment plant can by installed but this requires cooperation from all industrialists concerned. There are 200 to 250 units identified as highly polluting ones. In fact, toxic effluents released in Buda Nallah have polluted the water down stream.

People of several villages in Bathinda area have been complaining of supply of dirty and toxic water for drinking . High incidence of cancer in theMalwa belt is being associated with toxic content in drinking water. Sub- soil water in Ludhiana and surrounding areas has also become toxic and unfit for drinking. Several times, hand pumps had been painted red in Ludhiana city to warn people against using the water from those pumps for drinking purpose.


PSEB protest mars Badal’s visit
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
Though senior SGPC officials kept on waiting for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal inside the Golden Temple in anticipation of his visit to the place, he returned after launching the beautification and maintenance project of the city road network 10 yards from the gate of Darbar Sahib.

Meanwhile,the local administration had tough time controlling activists of the PSEB Employees Technical Services Union (Rural Circle) who tried to show black flags to the Chief Minister during his visit to Rattan Singh Chowk. They were stopped from proceeding towards the venue.

Talking to mediapersons, the Chief Minister alleged violence engineered by the Dera Sacha Sauda was aimed at creating division in society at the behest of the Central and Haryana governments. “It has been the policy of the Congress government to divide and rule”, he alleged. To a question, Badal said the parliamentarians who indulged in horse-trading should be debarred from voting.

Reiterating his resolve to develop the holy city as a world class tourist destination, Badal said Rs 80 crore would be spent on the project and in 12 months landscaping of the major roads would be done. The project would be executed by the Rohan and Rajdeep company, he added. Besides, Rs 20 crore each would be spent on dry brick flooring in the periphery wards, concrete flooring in various wards, solid waste management project and Rs 11 crore for ornamental tree plantation in the city as part of the beautification project.

The Chief Minister said the government had embarked on modernising the Government Guru Nanak Hospital and Medical College here by spending Rs 130 crore.

Regarding erratic power supply, Badal said efforts were being made to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of power. Later,to a question on the trust vote, Badal said the UPA had won but the democracy had failed miserably.

Earlier, Navjot Singh Sidhu said he would keep his word given to the people of Amritsar at all costs to develop the city into an ultra -modern one.


Board blames NTPC for power cuts
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Prolonged power cuts have made life of urban and rural people miserable and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has been blaming shutting down of three National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plants for bad power position in the state.

The PSEB has claimed daily power cuts were of six hours, consumers say in fact, unannounced power cuts even exceed eight hours a day in certain parts of the state and power fluctuation was also damaging electronic equipment. Prolonged power tripping has hit the industry across the state as it has been resulting in increase in production cost as the industry was forced to depend on diesel generators.

“Long power cuts have thrown life out of gear. These have even rendered inverters useless as they require long charging time. Electronic gadgets worth crores like computers, EPBAXs, inverters etc. are getting damaged by power tripping ranging from twice to as many as 10 times. The life of such equipment is shortening considerably. the Industry was being simply edged out of competition as production cost has increased manifold for industries have to go for costly diesel to generate power ,” said State Bank of Patiala director Ashwani Gupta.

The PSEB authorities, however, hold sudden tripping of three NTPC-operated power generation units at Singrauli (500 MW), Unchahar (210 MW) and Rehand (500 MW) in Uttar Pradesh after June 20 responsible for power cuts. Moreover, two of the three (each of 60 MW capacity) turbines at the Mukerian hydel project remained operational for the BBMB allegedly relased only 3,500 cusecs of water for the Mukerian grid for more than a month. “It is a different matter that the unit has got water supply enhanced to 6,000 cusecs and we are able to run the second turbine from today itself. We were informed the Singrauli power unit-1 would be set in order from July 8, but, it remains inoperational till date. Not only this, the Singrauli power unit-III went out of production on July 20 while, the promised commencement of power at Unchahar unit was yet to get materialised and it is expected to get in order from July 19,” said a PSEB spokesperson.

Sources in the PSEB pointed out unlike in the past, the PSEB was not getting power from usually rain surplus states like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu this time for shortfall of rainfall there. Similarly, states like Gujarat, Madhya Pardesh and Maharashtra were not contributing to the northern grid. “Due to this, the PSEB cannot resort to alternative measure of overdrawing. The available power frequency at the grid was lowest at 49 hertz due to which, overdrawing option has been rendered impracticable. If we overdraw power at this juncture, we have to pay Rs 10 per units against Rs 2 to Rs 4 a unit in normal situation,” said a senior PSEB official.



UPA win defeat of communal forces: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Leader of the Opposition in Vidhan Sabha and president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today termed the winning of confidence motion by UPA government on Tuesday as defeat of opportunistic and communal forces which were out to derail the economy and progress of the country.

She said the trust reposed by the majority of members of Parliament in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA government led by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi reflected the sentiments of public which was well aware of the energy needs and power security, whereas the BJP and its allies, including the SAD had scant concern for this vital factor and had only one objective of destabilising the government which was acting in public interest.

She claimed defeat of unholy alliance of the BJP, Left and the BSP which had got together to dislodge the UPA government, had exposed their motive.

Meanwhile, former Congress minister Gurbinder Singh Atwal said Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi were well wishers of Punjab and they had done lot for the state. He said Punjab and several other states were facing power crisis and it would deepen in years to come. He said the Union government had taken a wise step to set up nuclear power plants to add to various sources of power generation. Country could not depend on coal-based thermal plants for ever as coal stock was dwindling every day.


Groupism in SAD over sarpanch’s election
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 24
Factionalism in the Shiromani Akali Dal came to the fore as a group wanted postponement election of sarpanch in Mallunangal village in the border belt of Ajnala. Five panches belonging to one faction of the SAD and the Congress today made a joint representation to minister for rural development and panchayats Ranjit Singh Brahmpura who directed the deputy commissioner to hold the elections as 
per rules.

The group had pointed out presiding officer Balwinder Singh under the influence of the other group had been dilly -dallying to hold election for the post of sarpanch. They alleged as per the government instructions to hold the polling on July 19 but after passing the necessary resolution the officer adjourned the meeting to July 22. But on that Balwinder again made a false excuse and avoided to hold the election.

The panches also made a presentation to DC Kahan Singh Pannu who has directed DDPO Harsha Chinna for the compliance of his orders and hold the election at the earliest and allow the panches to elect their leader without any interference.


Badal raps Kalia over pollution
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi, July 24
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has advised industrialists to desist from further polluting environment as severe water, air, noise and soil pollution has already crossed alarming level in the state. Badal was addressing a gathering at the ongoing eight-day programme to mark the eighth anniversary of cleansing (kar sewa) of holy Kali Bein here.

Badal said the industrialists should be aware that the untreated water they discharged into rivers was being used for farming purposes in Malwa and Rajasthan and. Further the untreated sewage discharged into rivers was also one of the major causes of water pollution in the state, he added.

Turning to local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, Badal said: “Kalia ji, tuhade doven mehkame pollution phaila rahe ne (both of your departments are causing pollution)”.

He candidly said his Cabinet colleague probably was not taking strict action against the polluting industrial units due to the fear of losing their votes.

Appreciating efforts of the chairman of the Ek Onkar Charitable Trust Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, Badal said “Babaji showed us the way how we can save our environment”.

Earlier, Baba Seechewal said treatment plants should be set up at the earliest in Jalandhar and Ludhiana and treated water should be used for organic farming as being done in Sultanpur Lodhi and his Seechewal village. 


Six die in Tarn Taran accident
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 24
Six persons were killed and 12 injured, three of them seriously, when a combine harvester hit a private bus near Naushehra Pannuan here today. The seriously injured were taken to the government hospital in Amritsar while others were admitted to the local civil hospital. The private bus (PB-08-AP-0297) was going to Amritsar while the combine harvester was going to Sarhali when the accident took place. The driver of the harvester fled from the scene.

The deceased have been identified as Bikramjit Singh (32), a gunman of the local deputy commissioner, Harinder Singh (32), Rohit Puri (19) of Harike and Kuljit Singh, alias Kala (20), both students of IELTS, Surinder Singh (45) of Sarhali and Manoj Kumar a migrant from Bihar.

Those injured include Baljit Kaur, Jaspinder Kaur, Bhagwant Kaur, Nikka Singh, Mohinder Kaur, Jaimal Singh, Harwant Singh, Harjit Kaur, Mohinder Kaur and Daljit Singh. Jaspinder, Bhagwant and Nikka Singh were referred to the Amritsar hospital. The police has registered a case under Sections 304 A, 279, 337, 338 and 427 of the IPC at the Sarhali police station. Deputy commissioner Khushi Ram and SSP H.S. Chahal visited the spot.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced an ex gratia grant of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 each for the injured with serious and minor injuries respectively. He offered condolences to the members of the bereaved families. He directed the deputy commissioner to ensure the injured were treated free of cost.


Couple alleges torture by son
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
A US-based NRI couple, Raghbir Singh Grewal and Manjit Kaur, has accused their son of forcibly taking possession of their property worth crores of rupees in Ludhiana after beating them and keeping them in illegal confinement. The elderly couple alleged that their son, Surinder, had also threatened to “eliminate” them.

Demanding justice, the couple told media persons here today that they had filed a complaint with the NRI cell of the Punjab police and the same was forwarded to SSP Ludhiana. Uncertain about the fate of their complaint, the couple has also reported the matter to the US embassy and sought its intervention.

Narrating their tale of woes to the media, Grewal said he and his wife reached India on July 4 and were staying in their house in Ludhiana. With tears flowing from their eyes, they said their problems started early this month when they told their son that they wanted to permanently settle down here and were not interested in going back to the US because of health reasons.

“We never realised that our decision will upset our son so much,” they said, adding that he was apparently agitated on possibilities of being denied the huge rental income of Rs 22 lakh, which he was getting by managing their properties on their behalf.

They alleged that on July 17, Surinder came to their residence along with his wife Nisha and servant Lalli. “They hurt us by hurling bricks on us,” he said, while showing his bloodstained shirt and broken spectacles. He also claimed that Surinder threatened them to leave the country or face dire consequences.

Grewal further alleged that after some time, his son along with a group of about five persons, came back and locked them in the house. However, the next day they somehow managed to escape and reached Chandigarh and on advise of friends, lodged a complaint with the DIG, NRI cell.

Efforts to contact Surinder for comments proved futile as his mobile was “not reachable”.


NRI woman fights for her son
Accuses in-laws of forcibly keeping the child with them
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
A Canadian NRI woman, Dupinder Kaur Hundal, whose infant son was forcibly taken away by her in-laws, has filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking quashing of FIR registered against her on the complaint of her in-laws, an influential Lapoke-based family related to a former Rajasansi MLA. The FIR was registered on July 4 in the Lopoke police station against Dupinder for abandoning her child under Section 317 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Taking up the petition today, High Court Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal issued notice of motion against the state. The court also issued notice for stay on further proceedings on the FIR. The case has been adjourned to August 20.

Dupinder’s father-in-law Jagir Singh Aulakh’s brother Veer Singh is a former MLA and his son Rashpal Singh is SHO of the Lapoke police station.

Dupinder got married to Jatinder Singh Aulakh in November 2006 and had a son, Aviraj, on September 2007, who was born in Quebec, Canada. On March 30 this year, Jatinder died in an accident and Dupinder came here to attend his last rites.

It is alleged that on June 22, a day before Dupinder was to fly back to Canada along with her son, she found him missing from her room. Her father-in-law said the child had gone out with his grandmother Davinder Kaur. But when they did not return till late night, she was told they would not let Aviraj go with her.

When she objected, they asked her to leave and allegedly threatened to get false cases registered against her. She reached Delhi and immediately lodged a complaint with the Canadian High Commission. She also faxed her complaint to SSP Majitha and SHO Lapoke, alleging that her son had been forcibly kept back by her in-laws. On reaching Canada, Dupinder filed a habeas corpus petition in the Punjab and Haryana Court to secure the release of her nine-month-old son from the custody of her in-laws.


Corruption Case
Prior arrest notice to Virk, Preneet, Raninder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Punjab's former Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh's wife-cum-member of parliament Preneet Kaur, their son Raninder Singh and state’s former Director-General of Police S.S. Virk won’t be caught by surprise.

Acting on their pleas, Justice H.S. Bhalla of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the issuance of a four-day advance notice in case they were to be arrested. Similar orders were passed on the anticipatory bail pleas of Capt’s former media advisor B.I.S. Chahal and two others.

The orders in Virk’s petition for blanket bail have put the vigilance bureau in a hot spot. Justice Bhalla ruled the bureau had acted in a hasty manner while taking Virk in custody and the entire action reflected vindictive attitude.

“Before I part with this order of mine, I would like to observe that earlier arrest of the petitioner in a case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the vigilance bureau, Punjab, took place in a hasty manner,” Justice Bhalla ruled.

Referring to the previous orders on Virk’s plea, Justice Bhalla asserted: “A finding was recorded that it is the manner of arrest from which mala fide action of registration of a case and vindictive attitude of Punjab government, is evident.

It was further observed that the arresting team had failed to give any information to the Delhi police or a local magistrate. The factum of the arrest of the petitioner was concealed; nor was a local magistrate approached for transit remand”.

Justice Bhalla also observed no case had been registered against Virk since the passing of previous orders in December 11 last year. As such, the question of a fresh case being registered did not arise.

“The petitioner is now posted as DGP Maharashtra and has deep roots in the society. Therefore, to my mind, the ends of justice would be met in case a direction is issued to the State of Punjab for a limited period that in the event of the petitioner being arrested in a case to be registered against him, a notice of four days in writing shall be served on the petitioner by the arresting officer.

However, the order shall operate for a period of 60 days from today.

In case, no case is registered during this period, the order passed by this court shall become inoperative,” the Judge said.

As the bail applications of Preneet Kaur and others, including co-accused Chetan Gupta and Sanjiv Sharma, came up for hearing, state counsel informed the court they were, at present stage, not required in any case.

Taking on record her statement, Justice Bhalla directed the issuance of advance notice and asked the petitioners to cooperate with the investigating officer. They were apprehending arrest in the recently registered corruption case at Patiala by the vigilance bureau.


After 4 years, FIR against Bibi Jagir Kaur quashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Nearly four years after the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Bibi Jagir Kaur was booked for allegedly flouting orders issued by Anandpur Sahib's district magistrate banning the gathering of five or more persons, Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, today quashed the first information report.

The court had already stayed further proceedings and had ordered stay on her arrest.

Bibi was booked by the police on the allegations of raising slogans in Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's favour after a case was registered against him.

The prosecution had claimed that she was part of a mob, even though the district magistrate's orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were in force.

In two petitions filed before the High Court, she had earlier sought pre-arrest bail and quashing of the FIR registered in the case on December 1, 2003, at Anandpur Sahib police station under Section 188 of the IPC. She had also sought directions for the cancellation of all subsequent proceedings.

Claiming to have been implicated, Bibi had stated the allegations contained in the FIR were false. In any case, the police had no jurisdiction to file challan in the matter.

Seeking pre-arrest in the matter, she had added that non-bailable warrants had been issued due to her non-appearance.

Operation of order stayed

Less than three months after the High Court directed Punjab vigilance bureau to register a case in Ludhiana-based Marriott hotel case, the Supreme Court has stayed the operation of the order

An Apex Court Bench of Justice B.N.Aggarwal and Justice G.S.Singhvi also issued notice on the special leave petition filed in the matter. Taking suo motu cognizance, the High Court had directed restoration of the land from public use, even if it meant pulling down the hotel, constructed illegally on the land.

The hotel is run by BVM Builders and Promoters Pvt. Ltd. Challenging the High Court orders, it was contended “single Judge” has no power to call for record of his superior court and decide it by exercising suo moto powers.

The regular second appeal was pending before the first Division Bench, which is a court superior to the court of a “single Judge”. By passing the order, the “single Judge” disposed of the appeal pending before the Division Bench.


Mealy bug scare in Malwa
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 24
Mealy bug, a pest, has again become a source of worry for the farmers of Malwa. In some villages in Bathinda and Muktsar districts, farmers were seen spraying pesticides on cotton plants to prevent attack of the bug.

Jagtar Singh, a farmer of Jodhpur Romana village in Bathinda district, said, “We sowed cotton two months back. The plants have not even grown properly, but the pest has attacked.”

“This is the first spray of profenophos, a pesticide, which we use to keep crop damage under check,” he added.

Mealy bug is not a new phenomenon for farmers in Malwa. According to agricultural experts, with the introduction of Bt cotton, the earlier problem of bollworm had decreased. But mealy bug, which was a secondary pest earlier, has now become a primary one.

Because of mealy bug, the growth of the cotton plant is stunted and the cotton bolls remain small in size. Moreover, it sucks the sap of the plant.

As per the Agriculture Department, the crop was sown on 6.48 lakh hectares in Malwa last year. The authorities presume it would decline this year. The reasons given are high MSP for paddy and last year’s severe problem of mealy bug attack.

Director, Regional Station, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Bathinda, G.S. Buttar said, “Due to frequent rain this season, the pest has arrived. Though the problem is not serious right now, farmers must take precautions.”

As a precautionary measure, the PAU authorities advise the use of pesticides like carbaryal 50 WP, thiodecarb 75 WP, profenophos 50 EC, quinalphos 25 EC, acephate 75 SP and chloropyrephos 20 EC, which can be used by rotation.

Buttar informed the university and other NGOs had been carrying out a mealy bug awareness campaign in the region.


Rape in Police Post 
Rights panel seeks report from SSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) taking suo motu notice of a news in a daily of the rape of a woman asked the state government through the SSP Amritsar to submit a report on it .

The news said a married woman of of Aakash Avenue here had alleged she was raped in police post located on the Fatehgarh Churian bypass road late on Tuesday night. She was called to the police post late at night by inspector Santokh Singh, post in charge. She stated she was being framed in a false case of theft of a mobile phone.

The woman has given a complaint to police officers in this regard. It is also alleged while she was under sexual assault by some unknown person in plain clothes, the police post in charge inspector Santokh Singh and others stood guard. SP (HQ) Surinder Singh has confirmed the complaint has been received. SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh has stated yet the allegations had not been proved. An FIR has been registered and investigation was on to ascertain the truth.


Former SHO Bajwa booked again
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 24
Former station house officer (SHO) Yadwinder Singh Bajwa, already facing trial in a murder case, has been booked again on charges of remaining absent from election duty.

A 65-year-old man said to be a Congress supporter was allegedly beaten to death by then Dharamkot SHO Yadwinder Singh at Kokri Vehniwal village in Moga district allegedly at the behest of some SAD workers on the day of voting for panchayat elections on May 13.

A police party led by the said SHO raided the house of the nephew of the deceased old man to arrest him but he fled away. Later, the police went to his uncle’s house and started beating him with sticks, alleged a family member. When the old man fell unconscious, the police party, including the SHO, fled from the spot. After this incident, the SHO remained absent from duty for many days.

Now, with the intervention of the state Election Commission and the district administration the police has registered another case against him under Section 134 (1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.


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