Generator users face heat with diesel crunch
Patiala, July 29
It is alleged that oil companies have been pushing their dealers to sell only premium diesel. The supply of diesel to dealers has been allegedly reduced by 15 to 30 per cent as compared to last year.
Since ordinary diesel has virtually vanished from the market, consumers, especially farmers and users of diesel generator sets, have to pay through their nose as they are forced to purchase premium diesel, which is about Rs 3 per litre more than the normal diesel.
Though premium diesel is said be upgraded from ordinary diesel after mixing certain additives in normal diesel at the depot level yet premium diesel is readily available in the market, whereas ordinary diesel is hard to find.
“I spent Rs 30,000 on a diesel generator with the hope to cope with power cuts, but now I am facing a hopeless situation as I am not getting diesel. I have to pay extra Rs 3 a litre on premium diesel when I don’t need the premium product for my generators,” said Ashwani, a city resident.
Gurdarshan Singh, a farmer, said not only was he refused diesel at an outlet, but a board was displayed saying diesel would not be given to those carrying jerrycans.
“We farmers have to carry diesel in cans to feed our tubewells and it means that we will have to purchase only premium fuel only,” he rued.
Monty Sehgal, a Punjab Youth Congress leader and a petrol station owner, said most of the outlets in the state were getting 30 per cent less diesel supply this year.
“It is ironical. Up to last year, certain companies were pressurising petrol station owners to increase diesel sales and had even issued show-cause notices to those not meeting astronomical targets, but now they are pressurising them to go slow as they want to arrest their ‘under-recovery in case of diesel’,” disclosed a petrol station owner.
Punjab Petroleum Dealers’ Association general secretary B.R. Tiwari however said not all oil companies had reduced the supply to their dealers. In case of Indian Oil, the diesel supply had rather increased by 5-6 per cent.
Interestingly, sources in the trade pointed out that though the international crude oil price witnessed a price decrease from $ 147 a barrel to $ 122 a barrel on Saturday, yet one of the oil companies increased premium diesel price on the same day by 30 paise a litre.
“Moreover, sale of branded premium diesel was being pushed by companies as by applying this gimmick they easily come out of the purview of the Essential Commodities’ Act, which is not applicable in case of branded fuel,” confided a petrol station owner.
Film crew visits Rafi’s village
Kotla Sultan Singh (Amritsar), July 29
The film will be shown during the forthcoming 39th International Film Festival to be held in Goa from November 22 to December 2.
Talking to The Tribune, Sinha said he had conceived the idea of making a documentary film on Rafi in 1980 and it took about 28 years to implement it.
He said his team had interviewed Rafi’s son Shahid and a number of actors, singers and music and film directors.
The team had already met Shammi Kapoor, Pyare Lal and Amin Sayani and would be shortly interviewing Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Dev Anand and other contemporaries of Rafi.
However, the team comprising filmmaker Bipin Choubal and cameraman Shanker Patnayak were shocked to see that a modern house had been constructed in place of Rafi’s old house.
A former sarpanch of the village, Gurbax Singh Gill (97), and Kundan Singh (84), who had studied with Rafi till the fourth standard, gave fresh information about his childhood days.
The yesteryear singer’s story reads like a fairy tale: Pheeko, a poor barber’s son, lived along with his five older brothers in this nondescript village, which was Muslim dominated before Partition.
His father Hajji Ali Mohammad was a respected member of the Muslim community. At the time of festivals and marriages, he would cook rice in seven colours. Haji shifted to Lahore in 1935-36 and his family followed him a few months later.
Gurbax said there was a fakir who went around the village every day begging alms in the name of Allah.
In his melodious voice, he chanted, “Khedan de din char ni maen….” Young Pheeko began to imitate him.
This was the beginning of the career of the great singer, who won the hearts of millions with his songs.
His father apprenticed him at his uncle’s hair-cutting salon in Lahore, which was a famous film centre in pre-Partition days.
It was Pheeko’s good luck that a famous music director visited the salon and heard him humming softly.
He found his voice a divine gift and asked him to visit his studio. And, the rest is history. Kotla Sultan Singh village is about 25 km from Amritsar and falls in Majitha police district.
There is nothing on this stretch to indicate that Mohammad Rafi belonged to the village. Only on the outskirts of the village there is a signboard saying “Mohammad Rafi Marg”.
Interestingly, Rafi had written his name on the trunk of a mango tree in the village when he was a child. Before leaving for Lahore in 1935-36 with his family, he told the villagers not to cut it because it would remind them of him.
The tree, however, doesn’t exist today. His close friend, Luddan (Kundan Singh Samra), who studied with him till Class IV, says the memories of their childhood are still fresh in his mind.
Govt ropes in farmers to boost tourism
Chandigarh, July 29
It also aims to serve as a marketing agency for hotels in the state which will be given government approval under a special scheme to standardise facilities for the benefit of tourists. Only a registration fee will be charged for both schemes that will begin shortly.
The department will also offer facilities free of cost to farmers keen on starting tourism ventures on their farms or “havelis” in the state.
Giving information about the scheme, tourism secretary Geetika Kalha said farmers interested in joining the scheme would be required to have a certain set of facilities at their properties.
She said once this was done, the scrutinising committees at the district level would visit and inspect the properties before they are included in the select list of the approved farm tourism properties in the state.
Kalha said farmers would be given basic training on how to deal and interact with tourists and also how to run the facility.
She said they would also be advised on how to make a package for their property. This, she said, could include tractor rides, animal husbandry activities and sight-seeing jaunts to nearby places of interest.
The department will also offer advice to farmers on what they should charge from tourists. “We will give them a bracket but the final price will depend on market forces,” Kalha added.
Regarding the scheme to standardise the hotel industry in the state, the tourism secretary said the aim was to involve the hotel industry in the tourism policy of
She said hotels would be approved and given ratings according to the facilities offered by them to facilitate online and advance bookings.
The scheme also involved constant monitoring with the aim of evolving a
The scheme will also help standardise facilities in Nangal (eco tourism destination), Sultanpur Lodhi-Kapurthala and Patiala-Fatehgarh Sahib (both as religio-heritage destinations), which will be developed as pilot projects under an agreement inked with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Upscale resorts as well as facilities for adventure activities are set to be established at all these places.
Kashmir Singh seeks passport to meet daughter in Italy
Chandigarh, July 29
At a simple function organised here today, Majithia handed over the drafts of the money collected for Kashmir’s family by various NRIs at his initiative.
Majithia said the release of Kashmir Singh was symbolic of a beginning of new era of better ties between the two neighbouring countries.
Kashmir Singh told the minister that he was facing problems in getting passport to visit his daughter in Italy.
She was two and a half years old when he was arrested by the Pakistan authorities. He said the RPO at Jalandhar had expressed his inability to issue him the passport as he had not completed one-year stay in India.
Majithia promised him to take up the matter with the Chief Minister. He said by strengthening trade ties between them, India and Pakistan could emerge as a trading hub of South East Asia having its dominance in West market as well as in the Gulf countries.
Save honour of nation, says Bardhan
Amritsar, July 29 Bardhan was addressing a function here today to observe the martyrdom day of Sohan Singh Josh, who laid down his life fighting the tyranny of the British. The CPI leader said they had announced a nationwide strike on August 20 along with various trade unions, including
the AITUC and the CITU, against the nuclear issue, rising inflation, farmers’ problems and against communal forces that had been dividing the nation. Nine parties, including the CPM, Forward Bloc, Janata Dal (S), INLD, TDP, AGP, and the Jharkhand Vikas Manch, had announced their participation in the strike. Later, talking to mediapersons, Bardhan said the dream of L.K. Advani to hold the reins of the country would never come true as the communal forces would not be allowed to form a government at the
Amritsar, July 29
Bardhan was addressing a function here today to observe the martyrdom day of Sohan Singh Josh, who laid down his life fighting the tyranny of the British.
The CPI leader said they had announced a nationwide strike on August 20 along with various trade unions, including the AITUC and the CITU, against the nuclear issue, rising inflation, farmers’ problems and against communal forces that had been dividing the nation.
Nine parties, including the CPM, Forward Bloc, Janata Dal (S), INLD, TDP, AGP, and the Jharkhand Vikas Manch, had announced their participation in the strike.
Later, talking to mediapersons, Bardhan said the dream of L.K. Advani to hold the reins of the country would never come true as the communal forces would not be allowed to form a government at the Centre.
Boy killed as ‘dera’ chief opens fire
Mehatpur (Jalandhar), July 29
After the death of the boy on the spot, the agitators set afire a Tata Qualis parked in the courtyard and all household goods of the dera.
The police party reportedly reached the spot late. People pelted it with stones leaving five policemen, including SP (headquarters) Satinder Singh, injured.
The eyewitnesses said the trouble started when dera chief Gursharan Singh allegedly made some observations against the Maharishi during his discourse at the dera. Certain listeners asked the baba to take back his words.
However, the baba repeated his remarks which lead to an altercation between him and the protesters.
The baba rushed inside a room and brought out his .12-bore gun. He opened fire at the agitating crowd.
An onlooker, Manpreep Singh, alias Mani, a Class VIII student, was hit in the abdomen and he died on the spot.
The crowd attacked the dera head, forcing him to open fire again in which a bystander, Usha, sustained bullet injuries on her left thigh.
She was taken to the civil hospital, Nakodar. Her condition is said to be stable. Usha said the baba fired at them indiscriminately.
The eyewitnesses said the police party cane-charged the protesters who were damaging the dera property.
It fired in the air and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the agitating mob. Later, the police whisked away the baba along with a woman, a boy and one of his disciples.
Jalandhar deputy commissioner Ajeet Singh Pannu, SSP Pawan Kumar Rai, along with heavy police force, reached the spot and pacified the protesters.
The police seized the gun, a .32-bore revolver, 16 cartridges and other weapons and ammunition from the dera.
A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered against the dera chief. The SHO of the Mehatpur Darshan Singh Randhawa has been placed under suspension and an inquiry ordered into the incident.
Curse of Budda Nullah
Chandigarh, July 29
Minister for environment Bikram Singh Majithia heads the committee. Toxic effluents flowing from Ludhiana’s units into the Budda Nullah and other water streams have been causing health problems in districts like Sangrur and Bathinda.
Sub-soil water has also become toxic. Toxic stuff has been reaching vegetables and foodgrains like wheat and rice from the soil. Badal too expressed serious concern on pollution. The committee met here today and said electroplating units should be shifted away from Ludhiana city.
At the new place, a common treatment plant should be set up on participatory basis by industrialists with help from the Union government as well as by the state government. Besides shifting the electroplating units, no alternative is available.
As far as dyeing units are concerned, it is already located in a few clusters such as Jodhewal, Tajpura, Industrial area: 8-A etc.
The committee has proposed a separate sewer system for these clusters to gather effluents at one place for treatment before releasing these into the main sewer.
Such a system can be put in place with the contribution from the dyeing units concerned and with help from the union and state governments.
The committee has asked the Sewerage Department and corporation officials besides Industrial Department officials to prepare the estimate of works proposed by the committee at today’s meeting. The committee feels treated water can be used to irrigate 40,000 acres.
On August 5, the committee will discuss the expenditure on laying a separate sewer for dyeing units and for separate treatment plants etc and will submit a report to Badal on August 6, it is learnt.
As most of the electroplating units are located in the densely populated areas and in congested streets, it will be huge task for the authorities to make such units shift.
Core groups to solve problems of Kandi, Bet areas
Chandigarh July 29
These would study the ways and means to combat problems related to drinking water, irrigation, power supply and wild animals that had resulted in substantial damage to standing crops, besides harming human life and property in the Kandi and Bet areas.
Presiding over a meeting of the Sub-Mountain and Kandi Area Advisory Council, Badal said these core groups would also comprise the MLAs from the Kandi and Bet areas along with the administrative secretaries of the respective departments to take stock of the situation and suggest remedial measures to overcome hardships.
On the basis of the consolidated report of these core groups to be submitted within a month, Badal mentioned the Centre would be approached for additional funds to tackle the problems in a result-oriented manner on the pattern of the exclusive grants meant for the Border Area Development Programme.
The MLAs from the Kandi area demanded that the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900, should be immediately repealed as it had hampered the growth of these areas because even the basic amenities like drinking water, sewerage, electricity, irrigation, road network could not be provided to the residents.
These MLAs drew attention of the Chief Minister towards widespread devastation caused by wild animals like the blue bull and wild bore and demanded that the inhabitants of the Kandi area be allowed to kill them to save their crops and life.
Revolutionary sans memorial
Amritsar, July 29
The Communist Party of India (CPI) and the district administration have not identified house of Josh in the Islamabad area where Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev stayed in 1928 after killing ASP, Lahore, J.P. Saunders.
The autobiography of Josh, “My Tryst with Secularism,” mentions that he lived in Bara Makan (cluster of 12 houses) of Islamabad.
Born on November 12, 1898, at Chetanpura, Josh passed the middle examination from Church Mission School and did matriculation from DAV School, Amritsar.
Son of a peasant from nondescript border village, Chetanpura (Amritsar), Josh became a noted revolutionary of India’s freedom struggle.
Josh, who waged war against the British regime, even after 61 years of Independence, did not get the deserved place.
In 1921, when the Akali movement started, he joined it and toured villages preaching against the government.
He was arrested for this and tried in the Akali Leaders’ Conspiracy Case and sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment. The total jail sentence of Josh was more than 14 years.
He started an Akali and a leader of the Gurdwara Reform Movement, but later joined the CPI and willed no religious ceremony be performed after his death.
He was cremated in his ancestral house without any rites. His ashes were immersed in the Ravi.
He led the movement to get back the keys of the Golden Temple that had been taken on November 7, 1921, by then deputy commissioner of Amritsar Dunnet.
The incident had come as a bolt from the blue for the Sikh community, wrote Josh. He went from village to village, narrating the Golden Temple key episode.
At that time, he was a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Besides being a companion of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, he was general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal and one of the founder-members of the SGPC, the founder-member of the undivided CPI and general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Party of the undivided Punjab (Partap Singh Kairon, who later became Chief Minister, was his office secretary).
He had a stint as Politburo member and chairman of the Control Commission of the CPI. A statue promised by then Chief Minister Darbara Singh was proposed to be installed at Rialto Chowk, Amritsar.
It has not been done so far. With the efforts of the Josh family and local people and CPM activists, a memorial gate was built in the village itself.
Josh used journalism as major vehicle for propaganda against the British government. He was associated with revolutionary paper “Kirti” (for which Bhagat Singh had worked for three months).
In 1935, when “Kirti” assumed the name of “Parbhat,” once again Josh was its editor and publisher.
Court process halts teachers’ appointment
Devigarh (Patiala), July 29
The minister added that the state government would be filing its reply on the next date of hearing on July 30.
She added that once the court process was over, the teachers would be immediately handed over their appointment letters.
The minister was speaking at a function held at Devigarh to mark the occasion of the 68th Shaheedi Divas of freedom fighter Udham Singh.
She added that efforts were on a war footing to improve the existing infrastructure of school, particularly in rural areas.
Upinderjit added that the state government was sparing no efforts to improve the standard of education in the state.
Speaking on the recruitment of 14,000 teachers, she added that all of them were taken on merit and there was no teacher who had not been recruited on merit.
On the occasion she also gave a grant of Rs 2 lakh to the Kamboj Mahasabha, the organisers of the event.
She also announced the name of the college being built in Devigarh, would be named after Shaheed Udham Singh.
Rs 31 lakh to be spent on physical education college
Patiala, July 29
He said the amount would be spent from the grant of Rs 8 crore, which was given by the Centre recently on the initiative of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for developing infrastructure of government colleges across the state.
He announced a special grant of Rs 1 lakh from his discretionary fund for the college. Dhindsa was speaking to the media after taking part in a sapling plantation drive launched by the local unit of the Students Organisation of India (SOI).
He added that concrete efforts were being made by the state to control pollution. Dhindsa said there was no doubt that the country had achieved a lot ever since it became independent, yet there was no major thrust to save forests, check pollution and global warming.
He warned those who were uprooting trees in the name of commercialisation and added that action would be taken against anyone indulging in such acts.
He praised the efforts of SOI activists and said the youth should take up such drives, which control pollution.
On the occasion, he also appealed to various social organisations to initiate such drives and to create awareness against the phenomenon of global warming.
He added that work would be initiated on a work footing to re-carpet link and other roads in the state.
Seminar on Rajiv Gandhi quality award held
Chandigarh, July 29
Bhupinder Singh, deputy director general, while inaugurating the seminar, said the award was instituted in 1991 by the BIS in its endeavour to encourage the Indian industry to strive for excellence in quality.
The awards, numbering five, one each for large and small-scale manufacturers, one each for large and small-scale service sector and one for “best of all” are given annually to generate interest and involvement of the Indian industry in quality programmes, drive the BIS products and services to higher levels of quality so as to effectively meet the challenges of domestic and international markets, he informed.
Amarjit Singh, director, management systems certification of the BIS, while informing about the programme objectives, said since these awards cover a wide range of organisational activities, need was felt to acquaint and training potential applicants to make adequate preparations at their end before applying for the award.
K.K. Narang, director of the BIS, said these awards not only helped in inducing a healthy competition amongst the industries but also in giving a fillip across the broad spectrum of the industry and service sector in their zeal to outperform each other in providing quality products and services. Rakesh Kumar, BIS director from New Delhi, gave an overview of the award.
Chandigarh, July 29
This is the vital question of law raised by five students in a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Gurleeen Kaur and others have claimed that they have been denied admissions to MBBS course in Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research at Amritsar on the ground that they were either trimming their beards or were plucking their eyebrows. As such, they were not professing Sikh religion.
The petitioners, all minors having passed class XII from schools in Punjab, added they were refused admission on this ground, even though students lower on the merit have been admitted by the institute.
Going into the background of the matter, the petitioners contended 50 per cent of the seats were filled on the basis of merit determined through PMET.
The remaining 50 per cent of the seats are to be filled up from among the students professing Sikh religion. It was under this category that they had applied.
Challenging the refusal of admission, the petitioners contended that directions should be issued to the State of Punjab, the SGPC and other respondents to admit them to the MBBS course for 2008-09 session, even if it meant quashing the admissions of students admitted to the institute, despite the fact that they were lower on the merit.
On the law point, they contended that Amritdharis, Sahajdharis and Keshdharis were included in the definition of Sikhs in the Sikh Gurdwara Act.
Even Sikhs trimming their beard or hair were included. As such it was not open to the college to exclude them.
Taking up the matter, the Division Bench of the High Court of Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Justice Nirmaljit Kaur issued a notice of motion to the respondents for August 11.
Kanwaljit Singh in the dock again
Punjab co-operative minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh is in the dock, again. This time, he has been accused of facilitating the election of his relative as chairperson of Fatehgarh Sahib zila
parishad. In a petition filed before the Division Bench of Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice Daya Chaudhary, Satnam Singh and seven others of Fatehgarh Sahib have sought the setting aside of the elections of the chairperson and the vice-chairperson as it was allegedly conducted by the deputy commissioner concerned under the minister’s political pressure. The petitioners said they waited for two hours at the zila parishad complex on July 25 after a meeting was called, but the deputy commissioner did not turn up. They came to know from the newspaper reports the next day that Rajinder Kaur Salana had been elected chairperson, along with vice-chairman Inderjeet Singh Sandhu. The matter will come up for hearing on September 23.
Punjab co-operative minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh is in the dock, again. This time, he has been accused of facilitating the election of his relative as chairperson of Fatehgarh Sahib zila parishad.
In a petition filed before the Division Bench of Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice Daya Chaudhary, Satnam Singh and seven others of Fatehgarh Sahib have sought the setting aside of the elections of the chairperson and the vice-chairperson as it was allegedly conducted by the deputy commissioner concerned under the minister’s political pressure.
The petitioners said they waited for two hours at the zila parishad complex on July 25 after a meeting was called, but the deputy commissioner did not turn up.
They came to know from the newspaper reports the next day that Rajinder Kaur Salana had been elected chairperson, along with vice-chairman Inderjeet Singh Sandhu. The matter will come up for hearing on September 23.
In a public interest litigation, the plight of 51 foreigners, who have completed their term after conviction, has been brought to the fore. The petition, filed by Amritsar-based advocate Ajay Kumar Virmani, has sought their immediate release and repatriation to their native countries. After the preliminary hearing, the Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today issued notices for September 8 to the Union Home and External Affairs Ministry, Punjab home secretary and the state police chief.
In a public interest litigation, the plight of 51 foreigners, who have completed their term after conviction, has been brought to the fore.
The petition, filed by Amritsar-based advocate Ajay Kumar Virmani, has sought their immediate release and repatriation to their native countries.
After the preliminary hearing, the Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today issued notices for September 8 to the Union Home and External Affairs Ministry, Punjab home secretary and the state police chief.
Chandigarh, July 29
The state government is running the show by giving additional charge of important posts meant for PCS officers in the field.
Shortage of PCS officers is due to non-
The previous Congress government, following the unearthing of “cash for job” in the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), had suspended recruitment to the PCS and allied cadres.
The Badal government had approached the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for this purpose. The UPSC had expressed inability in this regard.
After refusal from the UPSC, the state government had to ask the PPSC to make recruitment to the PCS and allied cadres.
As the government is dithering on this issue, hundreds of aspirants to join PCS cadre, have lost the opportunity over years to make to this cadre.
Meanwhile, two senior IAS officers are due to return to the state from the Central deputation. They are Rakesh Singh and Sudhir Mittal.
In fact, Rakesh Singh has already been relieved by the Union government and is on leave. Sources said he was making effort to stay in the Centre.
As far as Mittal is concerned, he is likely to be reverted to Punjab in September after the completion of deputation.
Some senior Punjab cadre IAS officers are preparing to join the Central government on deputation. Among them are D.S. Kalha, principal secretary, Finance Department.
His name has been cleared by the state government to join in the Union government on deputation. He is awaiting posting there as additional secretary..
Another officer who will go on deputation to the Centre is Karan Avtar Singh. Till recently, he was working secretary, PWD, to the Punjab government.
He will get posting as joint secretary in the Union government. Mukul Joshi, another Punjab cadre officer, is awaiting posting on deputation with the Union government.
‘New dists require more babus’
Sangrur, July 29
Member of the state advisory board of the PSMSU Raj Kumar Arora said here today that the new districts had been created without creating posts of ministerial staff, due to which the old districts had now been facing shortage of ministerial staff.
He claimed that more than 25 per cent of the staff had been shifted to the new districts from the old districts.
Arora said employees were retiring every month but no recruitment was being done against these vacant posts. He asked the state government to fill the posts vacated by retired employees.
Arora also urged the state government to abolish the type test for those clerical employees who were given jobs on compassionate grounds in case of death.
He suggested that in place of type test, the government should impart computer training to these employees on the pattern of the Punjab State Electricity Board.
He also flayed the Punjab Pay Commission for its slow working. He asked the state government to fix a time frame for the commission to submit its report.