P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Cut in salary
March by Ranjit Sagar dam employees
Chander Parkash & Bharat Bhushan Dogra
Tribune Reporters

Pathankot, August 26
Employees of Ranjit Sagar dam led by the Sanjhi Action Committee, today held a march to protest against fanancial loss being caused to them by Punjab government by making ‘illegal’ cut in their salary.

The employees, members of nearly 21 unions struggling under the umbrella of the Sanjhi Action Committee, went through main bazaars of the city and announced to intensify their agitation if Punjab government failed to accept their demands.

They announced to hold a conference at Shahpur Kandi site to pressure the state government stop harming their interests.

Politicians of all hues, elected representatives of rural and urban bodies and representatives of various trade unions will be involved in the conference.

The leaders alleged Punjab government had started denying payment of retirement benefits to a large section of employees attaining the age of superannuation, on the pretext that it (Punjab government) had been making recovery of the amount paid to them in the shape of special increments during their service career.

About 1500 employees, who had retired in three years, had been leading miserable life as the state government had not paid them retirement dues.

They feel left in the lurch as the state government had adjusted the money, which they were entitled on retirement, against money which the state government claimed to recover from them.

Punjab government had also started a move to make cut ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,500 from the salary of working employees by denying them annual increment on the pretext that employees had already been getting special increments.

They added rising prices had been causing difficulties to them to make ends meet and cut in salaries would prove fatal.

They claimed Ranjit Sagar dam employees were given special increments to compensate them for taking up dangerous job while executing this project.

About 300 employees had died during the construction of Ranjit Sagar dam, which had fetched Rs 4,000 crore to Punjab government in the shape of power generated by it.

They said when the Sanjhi Action Committee reached a compromise with then Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar in 1996, it was agreed all benefits of the employees would continue.

They were harassed despite Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal having assured the committee leaders that no cut would be made in the salaries of the employees.

They added the committee had held eight meetings with Badal so far.

They alleged Badal had also cheated them by denying them one more special increment, which he announced in the presence of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on March 4, 2001 at a function at Ranjit Sagar dam site.

They have decided to oppose these moves of state government.


Move to divest panchayats of shamlat land
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
There is strong pressure on the ruling alliance in Punjab to make changes in legislation pertaining to shamlat land owned by panchayats.

The move, initiated by some ruling party politicians to benefit their loyalists, is looking at the possibilities of divesting the panchayat ownership of the village common land and distributing this land to loyalists.

Though the move was initiated with an eye on land in villages around big towns and cities, the changed legislation is looking at the possibility of amending the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act.

If the move is successful, it will defeat the very purpose of the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992, that makes the Panchayati Raj institution a mechanism for effective governance at district and sub-district levels.

As a majority of the revenue of the panchayats comes from renting of shamlat land, depriving the panchayats of their land will financially cripple them.

Panchayats will no longer be able to act as effective institutions of local self-governance without independent source of revenue.

The Punjab government in a magnanimous gesture towards the Scheduled Castes and Vimakut Jatis, including Bajigars, announced on Friday that shamlat land under their occuption would be transferred to them free of cost.

As a result there are reports that villagers in Punjab have started extending area of shamlat land under their illegal occupation overnight.

Punjab’s rural development and panchayats minister Ranjit Singh Brahampura justified this by saying that poor families, who had already constructed houses on shamlat land, were suffering from humiliation as they were facing eviction threats under the Punjab Panchayats Raj Act, 1994.

“Besides such families were also debarred from contesting the panchayat at elections due to the unathorised/illegal possession on the shamlat land under the Panchayat Act, thus not enjoying fundamental rights in contesting the elections”.

In 1997, under the reign of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the state government issued a notification appointing DD and PO as collector to remove illegal possession, encroachments from panchayat land, to cancel the auction of shamlat lands not done as per rules.

Shamlat is the only major source of revenue for panchayats. Besides, shamlat makes resources accessible to the whole community of a village and to which no individual has exclusive property rights.



Denied siropa by SGPC
Amarinder Singh gets warm welcome, predicts
‘mid-term Assembly poll’
Varinder Walia & Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 26
Elated at the reception during the road show in the border belt, here, Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister and chairman of election campaign committee of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee today predicted that the days of the “SAD-BJP” state government were numbered.

“We will win all 13 Parliament seats in the state” and consequently the present state government would fall under its own weight thereby paving the way for the mid-term Assembly polls”, he said.

The crowd and cavalcade of vehicles led to frequent traffic jams in Amritsar city, causing inconvenience to public. His cavalcade was stopped at various places in Amritsar district and people threw rose petals to accord him warm welcome.

Amarinder Singh took rest many times during the road show and while paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir due to low blood pressure. He could not board the Delhi-bound Shatabdi due to this reason.

Escort hospital doctor were called for check up of the former CM and Tripat Bajwa, a former Congress minister.

Meanwhile, Amarinder Singh said he would meet Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan
Singh tomorrow along with the MLAs and senior leaders of flood-affected areas
for a “special package”.

To a question, Amarinder Singh said he would urge the PM to contest Lok Sabha election from Amritsar constituency. He said the candidates for the Lok Sabha election would be announced well in time.

To a question, the former CM said the PPCC and central government won’t interfere in religious affairs of the Sikhs.

He said the Congress would welcome any decision taken on the wishes of the Sikhs of Haryana so far as separate gurdwara committee for Haryana was concerned.

The former CM said love and affection given to him by the residents of Punjab had showed the state government failed on all fronts and wanted the Congress .

Critcising SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh said that it was
unfortunate t he failed to get himself baptised despite appeals made by the
senior Akali leaders.

He said it was against the tradition of the SAD that it had elected non-baptised person as its chief.

He also criticised the SGPC for unceremonious removal of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as Jathedar Akal Takht.

However, veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta flayed Shiromani Committee for denying siropa to Amarinder Singh.

He said the mats in parkarma of the Golden Temple were also removed by the SGPC, minutes before the visit of Amarinder Singh.

However, Sukhwinder Singh Patti, a pro-Congress SGPC member persuaded SGPC officials to allow the former CM to have a cup of tea in the Information Centre.

The former CM was accompanied by his MP wife Preneet Kaur, son Raninder Singh and brother Malwinder Singh.

His cavalcade arrived near Amritsar bypass by 11.30 am where Sukhbinder Singh Sukhsarkaria, Om Parkash Soni, both sitting MLAs, Sawinder Singh Kathunangal, Tripat Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Harpartap Singh Ajnala former MLAs, Harminder Singh Gill, general secretary, PPCC, and Gurjit Aujla welcomed them.

Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu MLA Talwandi Sabo, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, MLA Bholath, president Punjab Youth Congress Vijay Inder Singla, Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa were also present during the rally.


Natural Calamities’ Funds
SAD flays Cong on white paper demand
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 26
Flaying the Congress for its demand of issuance of white paper on utilisation of natural calamities’ funds in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has questioned the locus standi of the Punjab Congress saying it should have instead sought river-water share and more share in Rs 72,000 crore Central farm loan waiver.

The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee had urged the Punjab government to issue white paper specifying utilisation of Central funds issued to Punjab from time to time for dealing with natural calamities.

Kaypee’s demand had come in the wake of flash floods which had devastated most parts of Punjab, but has opened a can of worms with the SAD indicating that the previous Congress government had also utilised or diverted such grants for “development” of Punjab and that the party had no right to question the SAD-BJP government on the issue.

“We wonder why the Congress always takes an ‘anti-Punjab’ stance rather than talking in favour of Punjab, its development and its people. There are so many important issues which should have been raised by the Congress with the Centre in the past. Instead of seeking unnecessary details, it should have asked the Centre to give Punjab’s share in the river waters. The Congress should have urged the centre to provide Punjab with its own capital,” said the SAD (Badal) general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra.

“Where was the Punjab Congress when the Centre had waived farm loans to the tune of Rs.72,000 crore but had given a meager share of Rs.700-800 crores to Punjab? Kaypee, unfortunately, was seemingly following footsteps of old Congress leaders and the party’s ‘worn out’ policies. The funds, a part of which might have even been released during the previous Congress regime, could have been utilised in development of Punjab, like building of schools etc,” said Chandumajra.


MLA for completing process of panchayat polls
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 26
Samana MLA Brahm Mohindra said here yesterday even after four months the government had not completed the process of panchayat elections.

Mohindra said by not holding elections to a number of panchayats, the government was acting against interests of people. For first phase of election polling took place four months ago.

The MLA said formalities of the panchayat elections were normally done in a week.

He said there was discontentment among people over the government’s inability to hold elections to remaining panchayats. The Rashtriya Gramin Rozgar Guarantee Yojna was to be implemented in the state for this reason only, as panchayats managed it, he added.

He alleged the government was interfering in the working of panchayats.


Rape, murder bid on Dalit woman
LJP’s march against police
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 26
The Lok Janshakti Party’s state unit today organised march against the police here for adopting callous attitude to alleged rape and attempt to murder of a Dalit woman panch of Samalsar village.

Dalit woman Rajwinder Kaur abducted, raped and attempt was also made to
murder her on August 2 evening by the sarpanch and his two colleagues of the
same village, alleged Kiranjit Singh Gehri, president of the LJP who was leading
the protest march.

He alleged requests were made to the SSP, the DSP concerned and the SHO to register a case against the culprits but none heard it.

Instead, a simple case under Sections 341 and 323 of the IPC was registered against them, he said.

Nirmal Singh Rajeana, vice-president of the LJP alleged the police was not registering the case due to influence of some politicians of the ruling party, who were enjoying friendly relations with the sarpanch.

The LJP office bearers and workers gathered in the town hall and then marched to the mini-secretariat. They raised slogans against the SSP, the DSP and the SHO.

The woman accompanying the protesters alleged the doctors, who conducted her medical check-up in the civil hospital, were trying to hide the facts.


Jalandhar may have special NRI court soon
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 26
At a press conference on proposed special Lok Adalat in Jalandhar on August 30, district and sessions judge Gurdev Singh hoped the district might get special NRI court soon.

Gurdev Singh said Punjab and Haryana High Court had asked him to furnish a list of pending cases connected to NRIs.

While NRI police stations had been set up in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Ludhiana, districts NRI courts were still to be set up.

Meanwhile, Gurdev Singh said the cases relating to NRIs were already being disposed of on priority in Jalandhar courts.

He added, “73,000 cases are pending in courts in the district, whereas eight sanctioned posts of judge were vacant.”

The special Lok Adalat is simultaneously being held at Nakodar, Phillaur, Nawanshahr and Balachaur on Saturday.


Fake Currency Seizures
Funds to fuel terror: Intelligence agencies
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
The seizures of fake currency in the past fortnight have set intelligence agencies in Punjab speculating about the renewed attempt to channel funds for terror activities in the country.

According to sources, there has been rise in fake currency seizures this month with the first seizure of Rs 9 lakh in fake currency taking place on August 6 at Rasoolpur village near Tarn Taran.

The seizure was made by the Counter- Intelligence and state’s Special Narcotics Cell leading to the arrest of Darbara Singh of Ban Tara Singh village under Khalra police station area.

The sources said following this there were two more seizures in the same sector. On August 16 the 48th battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) seized Rs 10 lakh in fake currency at Narli village under Khalra police station.

Two labourers, who had been engaged to bring back sacks of pears from the fields of Dayal Singh situated across the fence on the border, were caught bringing back the fake currency.

The police is probing whether the farmer was also involved in the racket and has arrested two persons Bikker Singh and Jindu in the case.

In the third seizure the BSF men recovered Rs 9.98 lakh in fake currency from the fields of Swaran Singh of Daunke village in the same sector.

The recovery made it clear anti-national elements were throwing the money across the border and their cohorts on this side were hiding it at predestined places before it could be transferred further.

In the fourth recovery Kashmir Singh alias Sodhi of Ammiwal village under Makhu police station in Ferozepur and Hazur Singh of Sarhali village in Tarn Taran were arrested with Rs 1.45 lakh in fake currency.

Agencies feel the fake currency entering the country from Pakistan could be for terror activities and have started probe into whether the money was sent for any particular “assignment”.

Besides this they feel money could also be supplied to smugglers as incentive as the drug trafficking in heroin has increased following bumper poppy crop in Afghanistan.

Preliminary investigations have revealed the notes are also sold off in the market to destabilise the country’s economy.

While most of the recovered currency was in Rs 500 denomination and of good quality, what was disturbing was that now fake currency in Rs 100 denomination was also being smuggled into the country from Pakistan.

The sources said the Special Narcotics Cell in one of the seizures recovered Rs 90,000 in Rs 100 denomination.


Bihar Governor hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 26
R.L. Bhatia, Governor of Bihar, today received bruises on head as his cavalcade and the escort vehicle were got involved in an accident on way to Rajasansi airport.

Doctors said his condition was normal. The escort vehicle hit a car coming from opposite side, while Bhatia’s car hit the escort vehicle.

The gunman and the driver in the escort vehicle were, however, injured and admitted to Guru Nanak Dev hospital. Family sources said Bhatia was fine.


Rs 300 cr for better grain markets
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Ghanaur (Patiala), August 26
Rupees 300 crore would be spent to upgrade 14 grain markets in the state , said Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board.

Lakhowal was here to attend a function on Sunday . He said 25 per cent of the cost would be borne by Nabard. Rupees 22 crore was being spent to upgrade local vegetable market.

Lakhowal said state’s first model fruit and vegetable market would be set up by
spending Rs 35 crore.

It will be computerised and have CCTV cameras. He said 44 mandis of the state would have new sheds and platforms.

A laboratory to test quality of cement has been set up at Kisan Bhawan, Chandigarh. Lakhowal said Rs 200 crore would be spent on the laying 1700-km roads in rural areas.


Ex-soldiers unhappy with pay panel report
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 26
Dharam Singh, president, the Rashtriya Raksha Dal, Punjab, today said the Sixth Pay Commission and review committee report had failed to meet aspirations of the defence personnel and ex-servicemen.

He said the commission and the committee had not taken into consideration major issues of one rank, one pension, separate pay commission for the defence forces and inclusion of members from defence forces in pay commission.

Other issues were status of officers and civilian officers and higher retirement age for soldiers as most of them retired between 35 to 45 years of age.


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