P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


After Floods
Stagnant muddy water takes toll on milch cattle
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Bhaoana (Kapurthala ), August 28
More than a fortnight after floods played havoc in 12 villages of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga and Ferozepur districts, milch cattle have fallen prey to contaminated water accumulated in these villages. The industrial waste that got mixed with the flood waters has aggravated the problem.

Moreover, shortage of green fodder has forced villagers either to shift cattle out of the flood- hit areas or let thes4 roam on their own.

Mortality rate of livestock has increased in these villages. The floods have also resulted in reduction of milk yield to a large extent in 10 days. The animals are forced to take stagnant water and decomposed fodder in the villages.

According to veterinary doctors, the milch cattle have been coming with problems like anorexia, indigestion, fever , foot and mouth disease and diarrhoea . The veterinary camp, organised by the government in foold-hit villages, has been witnessing OPDs ranging from 250 to 300 animals per day.

The variation in temperature and absence of healthy fodder with muddy water have crippled the veterinary health care in the villages. Veterinarian Dr Ramesh Kumar, said health of over 4000 milch cattle had been affected in this area due to floods. He claimed nearly 12 animals had died due to anorexia, indigestion and infections, recently.

A visit to villages of Bharoana, Shahwala, Tibbi, Takia, Andresha, Meerpur, Fathewal, of Kapurthala district, Giddarpindi, Darwal, Usufpur, Mandala, Naseerpur, Wara Jodh Singh of Jalandhar and Manumachi, Shanwal, Jogewal and Laluwal of Ferozepur district revealed neck-deep stagnated water was still there thus putting hundreds of villagers to a great hardship.

Villages like Tibbi, Takia and certain others were still marooned in stagnated water forcing a majority of the villagers to shift to the camps in village gurdwaras.

Owner of 85 cattle, Bhan Singh, a farmer of Bharoana village claimed the eight cows, including two buffaloes have died in two days in the village. The villagers have no green fodder for animals. The straw and husk, which they stored for emergency has also decayed, he claimed.

Though certain youth clubs and NGOs have been supplying green fodder for the animals but that too was insufficient for the animals, added Som Nath of Tibi village.

Similarly 15300 OPDs , with an average of 400 animals everyday, have been registered till date by the veterinarians in Giddarpindi village after the foods wreaked havoc in the area. The ailing animals were showing signs of diseases like foot and mouth claimed a veterinary doctor in the village.


State not free to utilise CRF on its own: CS
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab government has rubbished the allegations of the Congress over non-utilisation of the State Calamity Relief Fund (SCRF) saying that the fund cannot be utilised by the state at its will as the same is guided by several directives. The directives are outdated and need amendment to match ground realities. Punjab has been pressing for an amendment of the rules governing the use of the money.

Speaking to The Tribune, the state chief secretary, Ramesh Inder Singh, who is the ex-officio Chairman of SCRF, said that a wrong impression has been created about Punjab failing to use the funds. “The fund is created with annual grants from the Centre, but there are strict guidelines on how this money can be used” he said.

Citing an example, he said that the SCRF provides that wherever the entire crop has been destroyed, only Rs 1400 per acre can be paid as compensation from this fund. Punjab has announced a grant of Rs 5000 per acre. The remaining Rs 3400 is being borne by the state. Similarly, if floods or some other natural calamity destroys a house made of concrete, a mere compensation of Rs 25,000 can be given out of this fund.

The Congress had yesterday levelled serious charges of inefficiency and negligence against the SAD-BJP alliance.

The chief secretary said that Punjab urgently needed Rs 3000 crore to repair the dhusi bandh from the dams all the way downstream, but this money has to be given in the form of a grant by the Union government. Punjab has repeatedly pleaded with the Centre to release grants for flood prevention.

The entire controversy was raised by a comment by Prabhanshu Kamal, joint secretary, ministry of home affairs (disaster management), who after visiting Punjab along with his team said that Punjab had failed to utilise the Rs 1646 crore lying in the SCRF, but is seeking Rs 500 crore grant from the Centre.

As per the terms of reference, SCRF can only be used for meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to victims of cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst and pest attack.


Auction spells death for 1,600 trees
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
Nearly 1,600 trees may be axed here with PUDA deciding auction of nine acres of old courts complex and tehsil here.

According to former forest officer-turned-environmentalist S.S. Chana, 1,600 trees, including rare species of old medicinal and environment- friendly trees, are waiting to be felled in the sessions courts, old courts and tehsil office under the Optimum Use of Government Vacant Land policy in the city. PUDA auctioned old sessions courts land in December amid protests by environmentalists.

Another 3.6 acres of old courts complex will go under the hammer on September 5. The date of auction of tehsil office land in Chaura bazaar is yet to be decided.

The trees, as well as many birds, including national bird peacock, babblers, wood peckers, parrots that nest on these trees, would lose the habitat.

The proposal has not gone well with several residents, who have decided to take up the matter with the government. Chana, who has been spearheading a green campaign for many years, said he had written a letter to the chief secretary telling him about the importance of these trees, some of which are 100- year old.

“Many trees on the old courts complex are between 50 year and 100- year old. We do not have so old trees in any other part of the city. These should not be felled no matter what price the government is getting for this land. And what are we passing on to our future generations? Skyscrapers in place of trees?” asked Chana.

Dr Sandeep K. Jain, an animal rights activist of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said: “We do not know where would those birds go after being uprooted from there. The Civil Lines area will be finished without this spot,” said Dr Jain.

“There are several trees like sheesham and peepal that cannot be grown in a short period. These trees germinate in a natural process,” added Dr Jain.


Freedom fighter’s status
Bodies vent ire on DC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 28
Several organisations are up in arms against the report of the district administration denying status of freedom fighters to 489 persons killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on a par with those of freedom struggle.

At a press conference here today, Amarpreet Singh, president, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Youth Front, demanded independent probe into the whole episode and demanded transfer of DC Kahan Singh Pannu.

However, Pannu said he had nothing to do with martyrs’ status to the victims. He said he had just presented facts to the government after the administration dug out and located the file after 87 years. He said it was up to the state government and the Central government to award martyrs’ status to those killed in the carnage as he had only provided the information.

The president said the DC had no right to stay in the land of the martyrs as he was acting like a member of the British administration.

Pannu, replying to the Punjab government on May 2, had mentioned a committee convened by the then provincial government had awarded compensation in 1921 ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 20,000 which if compared with the price of gold on the current prices comes to Rs 20 lakh to one crore.


Five Moga villages sans grassroots democracy
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
Residents of five villages, recently included into the municipal limits of this town, do have not got the right to elect representatives in the municipal council nor has the gram panchayat been constituted despite elections of the panches having been held in these villages in May.

In a notification issued on August 14, the state government extended the limits of the local body by including five villages Duneke, Landeke, Sant Nagar, Kotha Patti Mohabbat and Mehma Singh Wala, besides, some parts of parts of Bughipura and Talwandi Bagherian villages into the council limits. The wards were also notified and revision of the voter list was on .

Reacting to a petition filed by Swaran Lata Jain, wife of local MLA Joginder Pal Jain who was former president of the council, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the state government to hold the elections of the council latest by September 20, this year. She moved the apex court challenging a decision of the high court that earlier accepted an affidavit of the state government promising to hold elections of the council as per the extended limits by revising the voters’ list within four months.

Since, the state government was not in a position to revise the voters’ list in the shortest available time it requested the state Election Commission to hold the elections to the old 31 wards which existed before the extension of limits. The commission had issued a notification to hold the elections on coming September 14..

Unfortunately, the panches elected in the above-mentioned five villages were not administered oath despite holding elections on the pretext that these villages were being included in the municipal limits. However, the people of these villages had now been left in lurch since they had not been given a chance to send their elected representatives in the local body.

The term of the MC expired on March 21, 2008. The draft proposals sent by the elected body were rejected by the Local Bodies Department twice and then after the expiry of term of the council the local administration sent the proposal ‘arbitrarily’ that was considered by the department.

The department had taken the plea the new areas proposed by the elected body (3,375 acres) had more than 50 per cent agricultural area that was not permissible as per the MC Act of the year 1911, there was no proposal of revenue generation, employment opportunities and it had no economic importance.

In the continuing official process, a notification was issued to extend the limits of the council on August 14, without taking into consideration as many as 55 objections raised by the former elected members and the common public.



SAD-BJP captures Sangrur planning committee
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 28
The SAD-BJP alliance today captured the Sangrur District Planning Committee (DPC) by winning all 20 seats of zila parishad, nagar councils and nagar panchayats. The SAD yesterday won all 14 seats, reserved for the elected zila parishad members, while the SAD and the BJP today won four and two seats respectively, reserved for the elected members of the nagar councils and nagar panchayats. Four members will be nominated by the state government to complete the 24-member Sangrur DPC.

Six members were today elected for the Sangrur DPC at a meeting presided over by Sangrur ADC Indu Malhotra. Out of total 190 members of 12 nagar councils and nagar panchayats, 152 members were present at the meeting, while 145 members voted to elect six members of the Sangrur DPC.

Shimla Rani from Khanauri with 129 votes, Sabri Gill from Malerkotla with 128 votes, Amanpreet Kaur from Sangrur and Ghanshayam Kansal from Sunam with 125 votes each, (all SAD MCs), and Pritam Kaur from Sangrur with 124 votes and Rishi Pal from Sunam with 120 votes, both BJP MCs, were elected.

The names of all 14 SAD members of the zila parishad, who were yesterday elected members of the Sangrur DPC, are Sanminder Kaur (Mehlan zone), Preetinder Kaur (Badrukhan), Malkit Singh (Bhutal Kalan), Darshan Singh (Bagrian), Nachhattar Singh (Shadihari), Shamsher Singh (Mangwal), Harinder Singh (Chhajli), Sukhjinder Singh (Rogla), Surjit Kaur (Hambalwas), Gurtej Singh (Basiark), Swarnjit Kaur (Ubhawal), Gurmeet Kaur (Mimsa), Bhagwan Kaur (Kanganwal) and Jasvir Singh (Chaunda).

Meanwhile, the MLA from Sangrur and the district Congress Committee president Surinder Pal Singh Sibia today said due to the SAD-BJP government’s excesses in the elections, the Congress had boycotted the elections for the Sangrur DPC. However, he said, some Congress MCs from Malerkotla today took part in the elections as the decision of the party could not be conveyed to them in time. He also said the Congress would now move court against the elections. 


Power theft
Power board realises Rs 107-cr fine
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is acting tough with power thieves in various parts of the state. In four months, the PSEB authorities have slapped Rs 107 crore fine on power stealers.

Several political leaders and police officials were found to be stealing power in the state. “At present we have political support of the state government to deal with pilfering power’, said a senior officer of the PSEB.

“We are not targeting anyone but not sparing those actually stealng power,” said a board official. “As we had reports of power theft in the police lines, we raided to bring the culprits to book,” the official added. In just four months, collection of Rs 107 crore as fine from power thieves was record in the history of the board. Already, five police stations dealing with power theft cases had been set up and some had already started functioning.

Recently, villagers near Barnala detained a raiding party, and the state government rescued the officials and registered cases against those involved in detaining the PSEB officials. Repositioning of electronic meters outside houses has also helped check power theft to some extent.

In fact, Punjab, where power worth Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,500 crore is stolen every year, has now started following the Gujarat model to check theft of electricity. Sanjay Srivastava, IG, Security and Vigilance, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam, said on the phone, “Cases of power theft have gone down, as we have sent the message in the state of no leniency against those found stealing power.

Besides policemen, we have also involved ex-servicemen in raids to check pilferage of power.”


Rape of disabled: Fresh samples of blood taken
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
A three-member medical team of local civil hospital today collected fresh samples of blood for clinical and DNA tests of a rape victim and five other persons, including two policemen, suspected to have raped her. The girl is deaf and dumb.

On the request of the investigating officer (IO) of the case, chief judicial magistrate Tarsem Lal Mangla asked the medical authorities to take fresh samples of blood in the presence of additional public prosecutor Lakhvir Singh in the court complex because the blood samples collected earlier were not transported properly to the Central Forensic Laboratory at Hyderabad, making it difficult for scientists there to conduct clinical tests on those.

Keeping in view distance between Hyderabad and Moga, the blood samples now would be sent to the regional central forensic laboratory in Chandigarh.

Even as accused Satwinder Singh Sonu, Deepak Kumar Deepu, Lakhwinder Singh Mannu, head constable Paramjit Singh and constable Balbir Singh, who were present in the court, refused to give blood samples for a second time, the CJM asked the prosecutor to ensure that the blood samples were taken in his presence.

The girl was allegedly gangraped on July 28 night . The police claimed having enough evidence to prove the three youths, other than the policemen, had raped her. However, a couple of weeks ago, the victim failed to identify those youths at an identification parade held in the presence of a magistrate in the local jail complex.

Earlier, the victim had identified both policemen.


Law varsity to start distance education programme
Attar Singh
Tribune News service

Patiala, August 28
The Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL) has decided to start Distance Education Programme to impart instruction in law. Dr Gurjit Singh, vice-chancellor of RGNUL, Patiala, said in an interview here today.

He said the Directorate of Distance Education had been established to promote universalisation of the legal profession. Degrees and diplomas in consumer protection law, environment law and international humanitarian law are proposed to be started by the Directorate of Distance Education set up in the university.

He added the students enrolled for the particular degree or diploma would be instructed through research-based material. Teaching and learning techniques would be formulated keeping in view regional differences of the students getting enrolled from various states and nations.

The VC said the university had set up a Bureau of Information for study abroad. It proposed a number of programmes for the exchange of teaching and learning methods between national and international educational institutions imparting legal education.

The bureau also plans to prepare students for qualifying examinations like IELTS and TOEFL, needed to avail international educational services.

“We want our students to be allrounders and excellent researchers in law”, Gurjit Singh said. He added he wanted this university to become a centre for producing journalists exclusively for reporting proceedings of the Supreme Court and the high court.

The RGNUL has established a centre for the advanced studies in criminal law.The centre had started a two-year postgraduation programme (LLM) in criminal law and is all set to enrol candidates for a research degree programme and to undertake other research projects. The VC said the university had entered the third year of its establishment and was all set to become India’s no 1 law school. The university recently organised the 24th moot court competition sponsored by the Bar Council of India. This was the third competition organised by the RGNUL, on the heels of second Lawasia Moot Court competition and the Commonwealth Moot Court competition.

The heritage building of the RGNUL housed in Mohindra Kothi on the Mall has been furnished to meet all academic and administrative requirements.


World Sikh university documentation ready
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
It took nearly four years to complete the documentation required to set up Sri Guru Granth Sahib World Sikh University. During a visit to the site for the university, adviser to Chief Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said today that the documentation had been completed.

“It is one of the biggest projects of the SGPC and would benefit people from all religions”, he said. Representatives of all religions, SGPC president and political leaders would attend the function to mark the inauguration of work on the project by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday. The university will be built on 84 acres and would be a landmark for this historic town.


Editors’ Guild condemns raid on journalist’s house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh August 28
The Editors Guild of India has strongly condemned the highhanded and intimidating action of the counter intelligence wing of Jammu and Kashmir police in raiding the residence of prominent journalist Shujaat Bukhari, Bureau Chief of The Hindu, at Srinagar on Tuesday ( August 27).

In a statement here, president of the guild Alok Mehta and secretary general K.S. Sachidananda Murthy said “ the sleuths searched the house and were apparently looking for separatist leaders Shahbir Shah and Naeem Khan. The family of Bukhari was harassed”. Bukhari was not at home at the time of the raid.

The raid on Bukhari’s residence in the guise of searching for wanted leaders, was also aimed at looking for papers and documents which would have been gathered by Bukhari in the course of his journalistic work. “ The raid is a direct violation of the freedom of the press and the guild demands the authorities to stop such activities which violate the freedom of expression”, they said.


Sachar decries search of NC leader’s house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Former president of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties ( PUCL) Rajindar Sachar has sought action against the officials involved in “ shameful and indefensible action of J and K police searching the houses of N C leader, high police officials, shows an insensitivity of the police authorities cocnerned”.

Sachar, a former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and also former chairperson of the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee on Status of Muslims, said such an action could cause further alienation of people in J and K.

“ That in the name of highly worked up security syndrome the reaction of high police officials to underplay the unpardonable action of their junior police officials is unpardonable”, said Sachar.

“ Shahbir Shah, an Amnesty International ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ is too respectable and open ended worker to be hounded out by police minions of J and K. Such an action can only worsen the situation”, he said.

“ The least to be done is to offer public apologies to the publicmen concerned and officials. I have no doubt that seasoned bureaucrat and Governor of J and K N.N. Vohra will see the delicacy of the situation and order action against the officials concerned”, said Sachar.


Punjab DPI, DEO in dock
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Failure to comply with the high court orders on release of advance increment have landed Punjab director of public instructions (DPI) Jagtar Singh and district education officer (DEO) Niranjan Singh in dock. After holding that deliberate attempt to violate the court orders was apparent, Justice Permod Kohli today directed their summoning through bailable warrants. The two officers have been asked to be present in the court on September 12.

The orders were passed on a petition by Art and Craft teacher Saroj Gupta. She had claimed that the high court had allowed her petition for quashing of an order declining her claim for release of advance increments. But the order had not been implemented. As the matter came up for hearing, the state counsel placed on record a communication from district education officer on decision to move the Apex court against the orders.


Eye camp botch-up
Trust chief refused pre-arrest bail

Moga, August 28
A court here today rejected pre-arrest bail of the chairman of a charitable hospital, where nine persons lost vision after being operated on at an eye camp last month.

Additional sessions judge B.S. Sandhu rejected the plea of Harvinder Singh, chairman of Guru Ramdass Charitable Trust and Hospital, where nine patients had developed infection leading to vision loss after undergoing eye surgery on July 16.

After hearing arguments of both sides, the court rejected the plea noting since the probe was still on into serious allegations against the accused, there was need for custodial investigation. — UNI


Garg is DC Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The government today transferred Muktsar deputy commissioner Vikas Garg as deputy commissioner, Patiala.

Another Muktsar officer, additional deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal, has been promoted deputy commissioner, Muktsar.

Meanwhile, D.S. Grewal, deputy commissioner, Patiala, has been posted as special secretary, home affairs and justice. Manashvi Kumar becomes ADC (development), Gurdaspur, and Varun Roojam goes as ADC and ADC (development), Muktsar.

Some more fresh postings are Dr Abhinav, SDM (Pathankot), Pradeep Kumar, SDM (Sangrur), Amit Dhaka, SDM, (Nangal) and Ravi Bhagat, SDM, (Malout).


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