P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Flood fury in Gidderpindi
Cross bundhs in Sutlej led to breaches: experts
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 4
Certain cross bundhs in Sutlej caused breaches in it near Gidderpindi village. Sources said a group of engineers sent by Punjab government to probe the breaches, had concluded cross bundhs impeded free flow of Sutlej at some places near Gidderpindi, leading to breaches in embankments of defence bundhs of Sutlej.

Several villages were flooded three weeks ago due to the breaches. In 1988, Sutlej had small breach upstream, at a short distance from Gidderpindi village. This time, it breached near Pritam Singh’s dera, 1 km downstream from the earlier breach .

The five-member committee of engineers, led by a chief engineer (vigilance) of the Irrigation Department has inspected the site. There are five members in the team.

Sources said the team, which has been given 15 days time by Punjab government, would also suggest technical measures to avoid such breaches in future. Sources said the cross bundhs were built to protect human settlements near Sutlej.

“However, these bundhs appeared to be poor engineering decision and need to be removed to ensure free flow of water in Sutlej when it is in spate during monsoon season,” said a senior official.

A member of the Research Institute of Irrigation also accompanied the team to the breach site. The institute will be asked to plan and study models to prevent breaches near Gidderpindi. After studying the models, a decision on the removal of cross bundhs would be taken, said a senior official.


4 hurt in clash between Sikhs, dera followers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 4
Four persons were injured in a clash that took place between Sikhs and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda over the issue of reported “naam charcha” at a house in Bahadurpur village near here last night.

The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said this evening that the victims had sustained minor injuries. Two persons had been discharged from the hospital, he added.

He informed that five to six persons gathered at the house of one dera premi Surjan Singh. However, members of the Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj considered that they had been holding “naam charcha” in the house, so they went there with a view to stopping it. On this, an altercation between both sides took place, which resulted in injuries to four persons.


Empowered panel approves 13 projects
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
The Empowered Committee under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday approved 13 projects in Punjab with Rs 21,278 crore investment and employment potential of 65,000 persons.

A government spokesman said these projects included two manufacturing projects, Nector Lifesciences Limited (Rs 600 crore) at Khanpur village in Patiala district and Tayal Energy Limited (Rs 335.36 crore) at Kotkpura in Faridkot district with investment of Rs 935.36 crore, thereby creating jobs for 2,100 persons.

The two Industrial parks approved include one Rhythm Textile and Apparels Park (Rs 134.56 crore) in Nawanshahr district and another CCI Industrial Estate and Cluster Co-operative Industrial Society (Rs 105.61 crore) in Mohali district with investment of Rs 240.17 crore and generation of 35,000 jobs, the spokesman added.

Three multiplexes of Prime Infrawell Private, Patiala, and Stadia Infrastructure Project Private and two hotel projects of Fantasy Hotels India in Patiala, Jalandhar and Amritsar districts with Rs 791.44 crore investment had also been approved with generation of 1,754 jobs.

He said four projects of Super Mega Mix Use Integrated IT/Industrial Park projects, including VAR Realtors Private , Ludhiana (Rs 4,321 crore), Pravesh Promoters Private , Jalandhar (Rs 10,555 crore), PACL India, Ludhiana (Rs 2,186 crore) and PACL India , Patiala (Rs 2,218 crore), were also approved with investment of Rs 19,280 crore, thereby generating 35,000 jobs.

The committee so far has approved 19 projects in at several meetings with total investment of Rs 11,825.14 crore. The projects sanctioned so far were coming up in Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Faridkot and Panthankot districts and were under various stages of implementation.

With the approval of 14 projects, total number of approved projects had now gone up to 27 with total investment of Rs 3,30,103.91 crore, the spokesman added.


House pays tributes to Ishmeet,
Surjeet, Sam Manekshaw

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Accompanied by 12 legislators, it was former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s entry that provided sparkling touch to otherwise solemn start to the monsoon session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha here this afternoon.

Traditionally, the opening day of the session is devoted to paying tributes to parliamentarians, legislators, freedom fighters and other national personalities who pass away between the two sessions.

Warm tributes were paid, among others, to the star voice of India Ishmeet Singh Sodhi, 145 victims of stampede at Naina Devi temple and 37 victims of recent floods in the state.

The House also paid tributes to former speaker Kewal Krishan, former ministers Baldev Singh Khiala and Sajwar Singh, besides CPM Politburo member Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

Former MP Raghubir Singh Gill, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, industralist K.K. Birla and freedom fighters Amar Singh, Mall Singh, Satya Pal Baghi, Surjan Singh, Nazar Singh, Mohinder Singh, Baja Singh, Bachan Singh and Swaran Singh Munak were
also remembered.



Dera chief must come at Takht: Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 4
Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh has convened a meeting of Sikh clergy on September 19 here in which Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar Patna Sahib and deputy Jathedar Takht Hazoor Sahib have not been invited.

It is reliably learnt the meeting would discuss the Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda controversy afresh. Endorsing the stand of Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Gurbachan Singh said the fresh petition of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, if any could be discussed at the meeting if he (Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh) would appear himself before Akal Takht.

Jathedar Nandgarh had announced he would prefer to resign as Jathedar Damdama Sahib if Sikh clergy would discuss any petition of Dera chief.

Jathedar Nandgarh had told the other Jathedars that the controversial Dera chief could not be pardoned unless he appeared in person at Akal Takht and got baptised.

Jathedar Gurbachan Singh has expressed keenness to resolve the issue of separate gurdwara committee for Haryana.

The proposed meeting may decide to invite the SGPC members from Haryana to find a way out of the controversy.


Letter on deras may put govt in dock
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
An alleged letter by the Punjab Intelligence asking its zonal officers to identify religious deras having political influence, smugglers with vote banks and also Congress leaders who can assist SAD-BJP nominees covertly in the forthcoming parliamentary elections is set to create a storm in the Vidhan Sabha tomorrow.

The letter number 276/305, dated July 10, 2008, and claimed to be written by the ADGP, Intelligence, has been addressed to assistant inspector generals (AIGs) of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ferozpur and Chandigarh with subject matter being the Lok Sabha election 2009.

Congress leader and Bholath legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who released the letter today, claimed it was a follow-up action of the meeting of the intelligence officers held at the head office.

He said the police department had sent proformas under which intelligence reports were to be collected, keeping in view the parliamentary election.

Khaira said information had been sought under objectionable heads with the field officers asked to furnish information on “important smugglers/criminals with vote bank” on page five column fourteen, “important religious deras having influence in the area with name of the ‘dera’ head and his vote bank” on page five column nine and “Congress leaders who can support SAD/BJP candidates covertly”, also on page five column three.

The Congress leader claimed that the present government had rigged elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions and the party felt that it was formulating a well-planned strategy to rig the parliamentary election.

He claimed it also appeared that the government was planning to create disturbances as witnessed during the Dera Sacha Sauda-Sikh clashes in Punjab.

Khaira alleged that the government was likely to engage smugglers and criminals as part of this strategy.

Khaira has, in a letter to the Election Commission, urged it to take note of the illegality and take action against those involved. He also demanded the deployment of central para-military forces during the Lok Sabha elections and strict vigil by central observers.

In a simultaneous development, party Campaign Committee chairman Capt Amarinder Singh has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, informing them of the “SAD-BJP attempts to vitiate the atmosphere of the state”.

Meanwhile, Shashi Kant, who was additional director-general of police, intelligence, when the letter was allegedly written, when contacted by TNS, said, “no such thing had occurred during his tenure in the Intelligence wing”.

He said he had no idea of the letter being claimed to have been issued by his
former office.


Depts drag along with shortage of
1.32 lakh employees

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
There is a shortage of 1.32 lakh personnel in government departments with some of these functioning with a skeleton field staff, causing inconvenience to the public.

The situation is likely to turn worse in the coming years with the government following the policy of abolishing cadre-level posts once an employee is promoted.

The government policy of partially offsetting the problem by going in for contractual appointments is also not a success.

The rate of attrition among such employees is high as those seeking contractual service take up jobs with hope of being permanently absorbed in the department.

The problem is not only at the clerical level where the shortage is around 30 or 40 per cent in most departments.

Take the case of a department like Excise and Taxation, which deals with the public. Its union president Balkaur Singh says against a sanctioned strength of 350 excise and taxation officers (ETOs), only 126 posts are functional.

He says this causes problems with many of them given dual charge of districts. Balkaur Singh says similarly there is a shortage of 133 excise as well as taxation inspectors in the state.

In the PWD Department, the shortage is most at the JE level. As against a sanctioned strength of 1,250 employees, the department is making do with 750 JEs.

The PWD Employees Welfare Front’s head Swinder Singh Lakhowal said there was a severe shortage of junior draftsmen besides clerical staff.

There is also a shortage of around 40 per cent in the secretariat staff here while the Home department and even the Chief Secretary’s branch faced a staff crunch. Many superintendents have been forced to take on multifarious roles.

The Public Relation Department is facing a staff crunch here and more so in its district offices with many posts of district public relation officer being held as additional charge.

Similarly, in the Public Health department, against a total number of 140 sanctioned posts of BDPO, around 35 or 40 posts are lying vacant.

Moreover, most of the BDPOs are functioning without supporting staff and there is also a shortage of panchayat secretaries besides other staff in the department.

Supervisory staff is also in short strength where the government has gone in for contractual appointments. In the case of subsidiary health centres, the government has recruited 1,187 doctors on a contractual basis.

However, there is no supervisory staff to assist in administrative work or check the working of these employees.

Similar is the position regarding the appointment of veterinary doctors (582) who have been attached with the Public Health department.


‘Raise retirement age or face stir’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Punjab government employees have decided to launch an agitation post November 30 in case the government fails to implement its election manifesto promise to enhance the retirement age from 58 to 60 years.

The SAD-BJP had promised to enhance the retirement age of all government employees on the Central pattern.

Punjab Secretariat Service Officers Association president Bharat Bhushan Puri said today the government had failed to keep its promise despite assurances by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal last year.

The employees, who have formed a joint action committee consisting of 14 state employees organisations, demanded that the age limit should be enhanced with retrospective effect from the date the SAD-BJP government took over the reigns of the state.

Action committee leader Swinder Singh Lakhowal said if this was not done people would lose faith in the SAD-BJP leadership.


Babus ‘want’ a twist in proposed airport road
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Trouble is brewing in the Punjab government over the construction of the 200-metre wide road, which will connect Punjab to Haryana and cater to the upcoming Mohali international airport.

The road project has hit a roadblock reportedly due to the “interests” of a top businessman of the state and at least two senior IAS officers who own land in the area through which the road has been aligned.

Sources state that as part of the proposed plan, the land of these biggies stands to be acquired and there is a move to somehow get the proposed plan changed to exclude some patches on the proposed road from acquisition.

Sources added that a minute shift in the proposed alignment would also lead to a major jump in the cost of the land on both sides of the road and these VIPs would benefit immensely from the change.

The businessman, it was pointed out by sources, has a mega project coming
up on this land.

The road is to be constructed by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). The proposed alignment of the bypass has been prepared by the Department of Town and Country Planning.

The plan has been forwarded to departments for inviting objections before the land can be acquired.

While a large part of land for the project has been cleared for acquisition, the 11-km length from Chhatbir village on the National Highway 64 to the point from where the Haryana border starts is under contention.

The proposed plan states that the road would pass through villages of Chhat, Shatabgarh, Nagla and Sanauli going up to Sector 21 in Panchkula, Haryana.

There are three curves on this proposed road. The public works department (B&R), however, has objected to this alignment pointing out that the road should be straight up to Sanauli village as it will save acquisition of over five acres.

PWD officials added that instead of having a new alignment of road towards Panchkula to link the two states, the old Kalka-Ambala link could be used, which would save another 60 acres to be acquired.

However, sources in the town and country planning department pointed out the old Kalka-Ambala road (also called the Mubarakpur-Dhakoli road) was a minor link road and was used many years ago.

If it was widened, the traffic load of the 200-meter road would again fall onto the already crowded Zirakpur-Panchkula road.


Gill for boosting school education
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 4
Expressing concern over the dismal state of school education in the country, Dr M.S. Gill, union minister of sports and youth affairs, has said the Centre and state governments should give priority to the improvement of the school education with modern and effective curriculum.

Addressing the faculty, students and staff of Guru Nanak Dev University after inaugurating the Asia House building here today, Dr Gill desired that the Centre for South-Central Asian Studies of the university should seriously undertake the socio-economic, political and ethnic study of South Central Asian countries.

The minister assured the university authorities of all possible financial assistance to strengthen sports infrastructure in the university. He congratulated the university for its achievements in various fields and also appreciated the eco-friendly environment of the campus.

Highlighting the achievements of the university, Dr Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor, said the university was committed to academic excellence at the international level. To cater to the sports needs of the region, the university immediately needed a synthetic track, velodrome and more facilities in its indoor gymnasium, he added.

The vice-chancellor said even though the university had won National Youth Festival Trophy for seven times in cultural field, the existing auditorium needed improvement.

The university has plans to build another auditorium with a good seating capacity and air-conditioning if the requisite finances were made available by the state and Centre governments.


Teachers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 4
Members of the district unit of the ETT Teachers Union, Punjab, led by its district president Sukhvir Singh, today held a dharna in front of the office of the deputy commissioner here and took out a protest march.

They were protesting against the non-merger of posts of ETT teacher, recruited by Zila Parishads, into the Education Department.

Addressing the protesters, Sukhvir Singh said during the previous Assembly elections, leaders of the SAD and the BJP had made a promise in this connection.


Punjab cops pulled up by HC
Laxity on habeas corpus petitions unacceptable
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that laxity on part of the police in filing replies to habeas corpus petitions was not acceptable.

Taking serious note of the failure of the Punjab police to file a reply to one such petition, Justice Ranjit Singh directed that inaction on part of the officials concerned should also be reflected in their reports.

Justice Ranjit Singh granted the police one last opportunity to file a reply in the matter, subject to the payment of Rs 10,000 costs.

The amount would be personally shared by all responsible for not filing the reply.

He also directed Kapurthala’s senior superintendent of police to remain present in the court on the next date of hearing, in case the reply was still not filed.

Under such circumstances, he would have to explain the reasons behind the failure to file the reply.

The directions were issued on a petition based on a telegram sent to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Baljit of Fatehpur village in Ludhiana district.

He had alleged that on July 8 officials belonging to Banga and Phagwara police stations picked up his relative Kulwinder Kaur without any reason.

Taking up the petition, Justice Ranjit Singh observed: “Despite opportunities, a reply has not been filed. The state counsel has explained the background and also the fact that he has personally contacted Kapurthala SSP, requesting him to file reply.

“Counsel says ASI Goldy Virdi is present and has only come to seek further time for filing a reply. This laxity on part of the police in a writ of habeas corpus cannot be accepted. Here the question is of life and liberty of a person, who allegedly is picked up from house by the police officials. It would be essential to have their stand, whether they have picked up the person or not.”

The case will now come up on September 12 for further hearing.


Anticipatory bail plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Justice K.C. Puri today fixed September 9 for hearing anticipatory bail plea filed by former minister and senior Congress leader Chaudhry Jagjit Singh.

He was apprehending arrest in a case registered by the vigilance bureau at Amritsar under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 420 (read with Section 120-B) of the IPC.

The former minister claimed that he had been implicated in the case because of political vendetta.

The case was registered on the basis of an inquiry report into the construction
of a multi-storey building on a reserved “open belt or green space” measuring 633
square yards.

Chahal case

Justice S.D. Anand of the High Court yesterday issued notice of motion for September 5 on state of Punjab’s petition for recalling an order directing it to give three working days notice to former chief minister’s ex-media advisor B.I.S Chahal, if he was wanted in any case to be registered against him.

The state said the order amounted to blanket bail. No accused could seek anticipatory bail in case which was yet to come into existence.

The order was not in consonance with the law settled by the High Court and the Apex Court in such matters.


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