P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rs 25,000 cr development plan unveiled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Punjab government today announced 75 projects, including expressways crisscrossing the state, flying clubs, super-specialty hospitals, ring roads and five-star hotels under a Rs 25,000-crore plan.

Disclosing this here today while presiding over a meeting of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said besides an expressway from the international airport in Mohali to Phagwara (Rs 2,200 crore), an expressway around Mohali (Rs 2,300 crore) and a ring road around Amritsar city (Rs 2,500 crore) would be undertaken under the plan.

Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Energy has proposed to construct a four-lane Pathankot-Ajmer expressway at a cost of Rs 8,630 crore. The Reliance Group has already deposited Rs 21.58 crore as bank guarantee to the PIDB for the 340 km expressway corridor, starting from Pathankot and ending on the Haryana-Punjab border on NH-10.

It will reduce the distance between Pathankot and Ajmer by 200 km. The project is expected to be completed by June 2011, according to the chief secretary.

Ramesh Inder Singh said amongst the projects, which would be implemented in two to three years, included air-conditioned bus terminals at Mohali, Patiala and Bathinda, hotel management institutes at Mohali and Sirhind, five- star hotels at Amritsar and Bathinda, a habitat centre and IT tower and a sports complex at Mohali. The PIDB also proposes to spend Rs 400 crore on upgrading , beautification of urban road networks and cityscaping of Amritsar, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Mohali.

The board has also proposed to construct rail overbridges in Ludhiana, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Nawanshahr, Mansa, Dhuri, Amritsar, Sunam and Tarn Taran by April 2010. Two greenfield super speciality hospitals, one at Mohali and other at Bathinda, at a cost of Rs 100 crore each would be completed in the next couple of years.


Police chief orders probe into ‘missing’ gunman
He is in Mumbai police custody for firing on Sikh protester
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Punjab police DGP N P S Aulakh today marked an inquiry to the Additional DGP, Armed Battalion, to ascertain whether the state police had received information that the official gunman of Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi was under arrest in Mumbai since nearly one month for firing on a Sikh protester during the visit of Dera Sachha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh there.

The DGP, when contacted, said the Additional DGP had also been directed to check why action was not taken on the issue in case information was not received from Mumbai police in the matter.

Makhan Singh, a gunman of Jassi whose daughter is married to the Dera chief’s son, is at present lodged in the Arthur Road jail for shooting at Sikh protester Balkar Singh during the Dera chief’s visit to Mumbai on June 20.

The news of his arrest has not been disclosed to the public till now despite the fact that the Sant Samaj and other organisations are protesting against the incident in Chandigarh and other parts of the state since then.

The DGP said the force faced a problem in ascertaining the movement of its personnel when they were deployed for protection duties. He said in case the protected person chose to send them elsewhere, it was difficult for the organisation to keep check of their movements.

He said moreover the number of people having gunmen was huge. However, he said, the Punjab police was in the process of evaluating a system whereby it would be able to check misuse of gunmen.

He said stringent norms, which called for strict action in case of any misdemeanour, were being laid out.

Makhan Singh, who had been serving with Jassi for some time, is otherwise attached with the 5th Commando battalion of the Punjab Armed Police at Bahadurgarh.

His parent battalion came to know about his being missing only after Jassi reported that the gunman was missing from duty after he had been arrested in Mumbai.


Teachers not allowed to meet secy
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The police had to be called today as teachers from various parts of the state gathered in front of the office of the special secretary, Education Department( Schools) in the Punjab mini civil secretariat here.

Teachers had grievance against the government regarding transfers to far away places. They urged the authorities concerned to cancel their transfer orders and to post them at the nearest possible place of their native places. Many of them tried to rush into the office of the special secretary to get their voice heard.

Recently, the state government ordered the promotion of large number of masters as lecturers. After promotion, they were posted out from government high schools to senior secondary schools.

Many of the lecturers said they were not asked choice of place for posting before ordering transfers. They say vacant posts of lecturer were available at places near to their earlier place of posting. However, now many of them have been posted from one district to other district.

Many masters had also similar grievances. They urged the authorities concerned to review transfer orders and post them at a place near their towns and villages. Most of the teachers said the transfer orders should have been issued at the district education officer level.

The DEOs had better understanding of vacant posts and regarding ordering transfer of teachers concerned to fill such vacant posts.

The police had tough time to stop teachers wanting to meet the authorities to inform of the problems faced by them.


Fissures in GND varsity teachers’ body
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 28
Differences in the Guru Nanak Dev University Association (GNDUTA) came to the fore when its president, Dr Devinder Singh, wrote a letter to his colleagues, highlighting certain burning points of the varsity teachers.

The letter of GNDUTA president read, “It is after a long gap that I am communicating with you on issues which need immediate attention. Such issues should have been communicated to you much earlier. However, my colleagues in the executive have kept me preoccupied with technicalities resulting in wastage of precious time”.

The president said he had been fighting virtually single-handedly while the association work has been brought to a standstill.

He alleged that a few of his colleagues have been using their influence with the vice-chancellor to gain “personal benefits”, resulting in the common demands being relegated to the background.

It may be mentioned here that other office-bearers of the GNDUTA do not support the president due to “differences” on most of the issues.

Having failed to elicit the support of his colleagues, he referred to the demands of the teachers of the varsity.

He alleged that Dr Daljinder Singh’s extension had been rejected because of personal biases of the people who matter in the present set-up. He alleged that technicalities were thrown up for rejecting his legitimate claim.

In view of the urgency of the matter, the issue was discussed in the general house of GNDUTA where it was unanimously resolved that the matter would be taken up with the VC for a favourable decision. He, however, alleged that when the matter was taken up, heated discussions took place.

The missive of Dr Devinder Singh further said that Dr Rajni Verma, head, department of law, had been suspended by the university on trivial grounds. In view of the seriousness of the issue, the matter should have been taken up with the VC on a priority.

The GNDUTA president said that in view of the “non-performance” of the association and “failure” of his colleagues to fight for the teachers’ cause, including revoking the suspension of Dr Rajni Verma, it is the need of the hour to make the association functional.



Ranjan Ranjit bowls over Punjabis
Akali leader Calcutta to honour her
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 28
Member of Parliament Ranjan Ranjit, who is better known as the wife of Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, in Bihar has won the hearts of Punjabis all over the world after criticising the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on the floor of Parliament during the confidence vote.

After she was honoured by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee for her speech in Parliament, many Sikh organisations from Punjab are vying with one another to honour her.

Veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta said an impressive function would be organised in Amritsar to honour Ranjan, who quoted a hymn from a Sikh scriptures to counter Shiromani Akali Dal secretary-general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in Parliament.

It was after her speech that many Punjabis, especially Sikhs, came to know that she is the daughter of a former Sikh priest of Bihar originally belonging to Jalandhar.

Secretary of the All- India Congress Committee Iqbal Singh, who is also in charge of Bihar state, said Ranjan was a great orator and had been doing social service in her state. The AICC secretary, who also belongs to Jalandhar, said she would be honoured by Punjabis in her home town, Jalandhar.

Talking to The Tribune on telephone, Ranjan said she was still a baptised Sikh though she married MP Pappu Yadav, who is in jail. She added she recited hymns from Sikh scriptures everyday.

Ranjan, who belongs to the Lok Jan Shakti Party ( LJSP), was elected MP from Saharsa (Bihar). She says though initially she was opposed to joining politics “but when my husband was implicated in a case, I was compelled to join politics.”

Daughter of Ripdaman Singh Raina and Narinder Kaur Raina, Ranjan Ranjit (her actual name is Ranjit Kaur) married Pappu Yadav on February 6, 1994, as per Sikh rites - a condition laid down by her family.

She said being a baptised Sikh, she could not tolerate the criticism of Manmohan Singh, a Sikh PM, by the SAD. The SAD had lost a golden opportunity to support the first Sikh Prime Minister, she added.


Mealy Bug Attack
Farmers, experts worried; ICAR starts
awareness campaign
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 28
Sir Ratan Tata Institute and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) have started awareness campaign on mealy bug in 300 villages of Punjab. About 250 more villages in Bathinda, Faridkot and Muktsar districts will be adopted by PAU for which funds will be provided by the state government.

Besides, Abohar and Khuiya Sarvar blocks in Ferozpur district, Rampura Phul and Nathana blocks will be adopted by the Agricultural Department, Punjab for awareness on mealy bug.

Causing worry to farmers and experts, mealy bug (pest) has started appearing on standing ( three feet) cotton crop in many cotton producing areas of state.

Despite best efforts, the PAU experts have failed to generate awareness among the farmers, who adopt "negligence" while dealing with the bug which destroyed about 5 to 7 per cent of their produce last year.

Dr AK Dhawan, senior entomologist , PAU, said the state was going to spent Rs 80 lakh on the pest management.

"All 1600 cotton producing villages in Punjab will be covered by next year with scout guide monitoring", he said adding affected districts needed measures to manage the pest. Dr Dhawan said prevailing weather was favourable for the multiplication of this pest and eradication of weeds was essential.

"Heavy build-up of pest will be difficult to wipe put", warned Dr Dhawan. Another expert Dr N.S.Malhi, director, Extension Education PAU said the panchyats should make the farmers aware for mass eradication of weeds to reduce the damage.

The cultivation of jowar, bajra and maize as barrier crop can help migration of this pest to cotton crop.

Since unrecommended hybrid/varieties were more prone to mealy bug attack, these should be monitored regularly. Precautions must be taken to prevent the build-up of this pest.

He advised the farmers not to use insecticides for the control of the pest at early stage as it could result in new pest problems on cotton.


Contaminated Water
Cases of hepatitis, typhoid, jaundice and
unfulfilled promise
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
Two months ago, a hope was generated in the water-borne disease-hit Malwa belt when Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal announced here that in three months safe drinking water would run in the taps of every household.

It went up in smoke with a large number of patients suffering from hepatitis, typhoid and jaundice reporting in government hospitals and private clinics these days.

The situation was the worst in the villages around the town where contaminated canal water is used for drinking .

However, the authorities and the Health set -up were insensitive to the problem of the masses in the Malwa region where people drink tap water with a sense of dread.

As many as 42 cases of typhoid have been reported in the district hospital alone in the past few days. Twelve cases of jaundice were detected last month at Baba Jeet Singh Nagar.

More than 18 persons suffering from hepatitis-A have been detected at Podipura village, near here, health officials said.

Among the worst-affected localities the railway line where incidents of jaundice and typhoid have been reported are Parasram Nagar, Parshuram Nagar, Partap Nagar and Jogi Nagar. These diseases have also been reported in Model Town, Civil Lines, Patel Nagar and Kamla Nehru Colony.

Dr Kasturi Lal, district health officer, claimed the situation was not alarming and the disease had not taken epidemic shape.

He said the drinking water supply was potable, but it was getting contaminated due to leakages in the pipes that criss-cross through drains in the town.

However, a visit to the water treatment plants near the Rose Garden and Model Town, revealed insanitary conditions around the main reservoirs.

The Centre was concerned about the quality of water, particularly in the Malwa belt. Union minister for water resources Saifuddin Soz said the quality of drinking water here was a cause for concern.

Recent tests following the increase in the number of cancer patients in the areas around here have indicated the presence of harmful mercury, metals and chemicals in drinking water.

Presence of 13 harmful chemicals was reported in blood samples of people dependant particularly on ground water.

Residents of Faridkot and Abohar were scared of drinking tap water. A large number of fish were recently found dead in the canal that is the main source of drinking water to these towns.


Baba Seechewal on Kalam’s suggestion
Stop dumping filth into water bodies
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 28
Rivers would become clean when discharge of sewage and industrial waste is stopped into these.

Chairman of the Ek Onkar Charitable Trust Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal stated this in reaction to former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s suggestion to him and his team to work to clean the Yamuna in Delhi.

Dr Kalam at a function in Sultanpur Lodhi on Sunday lauded cleaning of Kali Bein by the trust.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had made similar request to Baba Seechewal at a function on Thursday to make Budda Nallah in Ludhiana clean as it was responsible for polluting Sutlej, contaminated water of which was being drunk by residents of neighbouring state Rajasthan and Malwa region in Punjab.

Baba Seechewal said ` When Badal asked me to clean Budda Nallah, I stated there is need to clean not only Budda Nullah but every polluted water body.’

Baba Seechewal further said ` Cleaning any water body is insignificant till municipalities, industrialists and pollution control boards stop discharging effluents into it.‘

`Every river, including Ganga, Yamuna, Sutlej and Beas will become clean, if the governments check discharging of dirt into it.’ Baba Seechewal said. `I will keep on raising my voice for purifying all water bodies.’

The Baba said municipalities should set up sewage treatment plants to treat domestic dirt and this treated water should be used for organic farming as was being used in Sultanpur Lodhi.

Also industrialists should set up effluent treatment plants (ETPs) for treating sludge from their industries, he added.


Paralytic Sikh faces deportation
Daughter, son in penury, fear he may die here
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 28
While disabled Laiber Singh, who spent over a year in a Sikh temple in Vancouver, has been facing threat of deportation by the Canadian authorities, his jobless teenaged daughter and a son are left to fend for themselves in a two-room house at Sohal Khalsa village near Nakodar with no source of income.

The Canadian authorities have been pressuring Laiber, who entered Canada in 2003 as a political refugee, to return to India.

A section of Sikhs in Canada has been opposing his deportation saying paralytic Laiber was not likely to get the medicare he has been getting in Canada.

Laiber’s daughter Pinki (20) and her brother Kamaljit Singh (18) have pleaded Laiber’s deportation would add to his woes and he would not be able to survive here due to the Dalit family’s status and lack of proper medicare in India.

Everything was fine for Laiber, a farm worker at Montreal where he had gone as illegal immigrant with a dream to support his four children in India, till a stroke left him paralysed , bed-ridden and confine to a wheelchair in 2006. It was a setback for his family in India which was dependent on him for livelihood.

Meanwhile, to avoid deportation Laiber took shelter in a Sikh temple in Abbotsford last year with the help of friends.

The Canadian government, however, finally decided to deport him on December 10, International Day of Human Rights - after rejecting his pleas and ignoring protest by Sikhs who wanted the Canadian government to be liberal to one suffering from paralysis.

Over 1,000 people gathered at the Vancouver international airport to stop his deportation and the Canadian authorities decided to send him to a Sikh temple in Abbotsford, where he has been since then.

“How will we get medicare for our father with meagre resources?” questioned Pinki over the telephone.

Pinki has been striving to make meet ends meet by stitching clothes in the village, while her brother Kamaljit studies in plus II in a charitable school with part of his fee remitted.

Pinki’s elder sister is married in Kot Karar Khan village, while her younger had to live with an aunt at Bhalana village due to Pinki’s inability to support siblings. “Even help offered by my father’s sympathisers stopped six months ago.

Vancouver-based journalist Gurpreet Singh had mustered support for him through write-ups and radio. We face penury,” said Pinki adding none of relatives was able to rescue us.

“I feel my father should be allowed to stay there as he has been getting some medical aid,” said Pinki.


PSHRC gets report on release of Pak national
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has received a report by speed post from Anil Kumar, director, Ministry of Home Affairs, (Kashmir division), New Delhi, today in the case of Pakistani national Muhammad Usman, alias Abu Samad, wherein his early release was sought.

However, the report from the Financial Commissioner Home J&K, civil secretariat, Srinagar, has not been received.

The commission had received a complaint through e-mail on June 23 from advocate Ansar Burney, chairman, Ansar Burney Trust International (Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights), requesting for the early release of Pakistani national who was allegedly confined in the district jail, Sangrur. As per the e-mail, the Supreme Court of India has acquitted Muhammad Usman Sheikh.

In a report sent by the director, Home Ministry, it was mentioned that the Supreme Court in its order dated September 28, 2007, after quashing the FIR against Mohd Usman Sheikh had observed: “The chief secretary, State of Jammu and Kashmir is, accordingly, directed to see that recommendation is made to the Central Government for deportation of Mohd Usman Sheikh in such a manner so that communication is received by the home secretary, Government of India, by October 31, 2007.”

The commission asked the Financial Commission Home Jammu and Kashmir may inform the commission as to whether the aforesaid directions of the SC have been complied with or not.

The registrar of this commission may also address the registrar general of the Supreme Court of India as to what is the latest status of the case.

It further asked for the details of the order that was passed by the Apex Court on December 14, 2007.


Sale of Wheat, Rice
State to bypass FCI
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Highly surplus in wheat and rice, Punjab is preparing its independent foodgrains strategy. It is exploring the possibility of marketing wheat and rice to food-deficit states instead of being dependent on the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

“Now when the country is facing a foodgrain crisis, the FCI and the Union government are going all out to lift wheat and rice stocks from Punjab, but when the foodgrain situation becomes comfortable, both the FCI and the Centre turn their back towards the state,” said a foodgrain strategist.

Punjab this year contributed about 106 lakh tonnes of wheat to the national pool, which amounted to about 66 per cent of the total production, 155 lakh tonne, in
the state.

This shows that the state has the capacity to consume only 50 lakh tonne of wheat, whereas the remaining stock remains surplus for marketing.

Punjab only consumes about 5 per cent of the rice produced by its farmers. This year Punjab contributed 77 lakh tonne of rice to the national pool. In fact, already 75 lakh tonne has been given to the national pool.


IIT to be functional in state soon
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 28
The state will have an institute of technology. S.P. Oswal, chairman, Vardhaman Group of Industries, who is on the board of directors, IIT Delhi, said yesterday.

Oswal said the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry had given the responsibility of Punjab IT to IIT Delhi. The state government has assured 500 acres for the IT in Ropar district.

The IIT will start functioning in a rented building, being arranged by the state government, said Oswal.

IIT Delhi has decided to appoint director for IIT Punjab and recruitment of faculty and other staff will start soon. The institute will have 100 students to begin with.


5 die, 6 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 28
Five persons, including two women, were killed and six injured when a Tata Sumo vehicle (PB-08N-1163) collided head on with a truck (PB-07M-8605) on the Tanda-Sri Hargobindpur road, 40 km from here, today.

The deceased have been identified as Sahib Singh, Harbans Kaur, Jaspal Singh, Chanan Kaur, all of Bharath village, and Chanan Singh, of Bithwan. All injured have been admitted in civil hospital, Tanda

According to police sources, the occupants of ill-fated Tata Sumo were coming from Sri Hargobindpur side to Tanda.


High Court
Residential colonies, multiplexes told to keep away from hazardous industries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Residential colonies and commercial establishments in Punjab will maintain a minimum distance of 250 m from hazardous industries.

A decision to this effect, taken by the state government, was communicated to the Punjab and Haryana High Court this morning in a public interest litigation.

The amended guidelines, issued in this regard, have been notified by the government on July 25.

Finalised by a high-level committee headed by chief secretary R.I. Singh, the guidelines make it clear that residential colonies and commercial establishments like shopping malls and multiplexes will have to maintain a “minimum distance of 250 m” from the hazardous (maximum accident hazard) industries.

The distance will be measured from the source of pollution and the hazard in the industrial premises.

“This new notification will not have an overriding effect on any Act/rules/orders of the union government/state government which prescribe a distance of more than 250 m from such source of hazard…,” it adds.

The orders issued by the state government, pertaining to stone crushers, rice shellers, brick kilns, cement plants, grinding units, hot mix plants and other industries will remain operative and unaffected by this new policy.

The new rules state “concept of walk to work is being encouraged world wide”. In case of knowledge-based industry like electronics and IT parks, buffer distance between the industry and residential colonies may not be a necessity as there was no discharge of any type.

The colonisers will have to maintain a minimum buffer of 15 m in form of broadleaf trees towards the air polluting industries.

This will be included as a clause both by licensing authorities of housing department as well by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). The varieties of the trees to be planted will be decided in consultation with the Forest Department.

In order to resolve dispute regarding measurement or other related issues, the state government has constituted an inspection committee comprising the PPCB chairman, the chief inspector of factories, chief town planner or the nominees of these officers and a nominee of the Department of Industries.

Non-cadre officers can be posted on cadre posts

The Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today allowed Punjab to appoint non-cadre police officers on the cadre posts as senior superintendents of police in Amritsar rural, Ludhiana rural and Mohali districts for operational reasons till November 6, the next date of hearing of the case.

The direction was issued on a contempt petition filed by an NGO, Resurgence
India. It had sought suitable punishment to the state for “willful disobedience and deliberate violation".

The petition was filed after the high court had directed the state to transfer “non-cadre officer” from the “cadre posts” of the IPS.

Anticipatory bail plea dismissed

Justice Sham Sunder today dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of PUNSUP regional manager Darshan Singh Mann in a corruption, cheating and forgery case.

The Ludhiana-based manager, along with co-accused, has been accused of dishonestly misappropriating 60,308 paddy bags stored in a rice mill in the district.

Justice Sham Sunder ruled it was not a fit case in which pre-arrest bail should be granted to the accused. “Instead of discharging his duties of supervising properly, the accused, along with the co-accused dishonestly misappropriated 60,308 bags…. The petition is dismissed.

Suo motu notice

The Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today took suo motu notice of a communique written in Urdu by 14 convicted Pakistani prisoners in Patiala Central Jail.

They were seeking the release of wages since 2003. A notice to Punjab has been issued for September 8.

In February, Mohammed Iqbal and 13 others said they were awarded imprisonment ranging from 10 to 15 years and asked for directions to the jail authorities to “make the payment of our monthly wages from January 2003 to 2007” as per jail manual.


Depinder’s father-in-law deposes before HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Deposing before the court, Jagir Singh Aulakh, father-in-law of the Canada-based NRI woman Depinder Kaur Hundal, today submitted the reply to the habeas corpus petition filed by her in the Punjab and Haryana Court seeking release of her 10-month-old son, also a Canadian citizen, from the custody of her in-laws.

Depinder’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.

It was alleged in the reply that Depinder had indulged in a blatant misrepresentation of facts and the entire application was nothing but twisted and distorted version of the truth.

It was further mentioned that the petitioner was more concerned with her oath
as a Canadian citizen, that was to be taken on June 27, for which she left her
child behind.

However, Depinder alleged that her in-laws refused to let Aviraj go with her to Canada. When she objected, they asked her to leave and allegedly threatened to get false cases registered against her.

On July 4, the Lapoke police registered a case against her for deserting her child on the basis of a complaint by her in-laws.

This was despite the fact that before leaving India on June 23, she had informed both the Canadian High Commission and the Majitha police about the circumstances under which she was forced to go back without her son.


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