P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal suspends 13 engineers

Chandigarh, September 12 
In an unprecedented move to ensure quality control in the public utilities, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today placed under suspension 13 engineers of the PWD (B&R) and Punjab Mandi Board for poor quality of roads following an inquiry report submitted by the technical adviser to the Punjab government, Lieut-Gen B.S. Dhaliwal (retd), who headed three-member committee comprising the chief engineer-cum-director (quality control), PWD, and the director, quality control Punjab Mandi Board.

Disclosing this here today, Chief Minister’s media adviser, Harcharan Bains said the Chief Minister had directed the committee to thoroughly probe into the matter and fix accountability of the erring officers/officials involved in the poor quality of road construction.

The committee had recommended to get the Ajnala-Ramdass and Amritsar-Dhandbir Road constructed through the PWD B&R and Naushera Pannuan-Lohe ke Kalan through Mandi Board Banga-Garhshankar road constructed under the Pardhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna repaired by the ccontractors oncerned within two months at their on risk and cost as per the indemnity bond submitted by them at the time of the allotment of work.

Bains said the officers/officials placed under suspension included, executive engineer Sarbjit Singh, sub-divisional engineer Parmjit Singh and junior engineer Ajay Kumar, for the poor quality of surfacing of Ajnala- Ramdass and Amritsar-Dhandbir Road. Likewise executive engineer V.K. Dhir, sub- divisional engineer Major Singh, junior engineer Ashok Kumar and executive engineer Ashok Lakanpal (retd) of the Mandi Board for the poor quality of Naushera Pannuan-Lohe ke Kalan road. Similarly executive engineers Arun Kumar and Ashdeep Singh, SDO Tarsem Raj and Junior Engineer Rajinder Singh had been place under suspension for the braking of Banga-Garhshankar road. — PTI


Heroin in Devotional Material
Sleuths scan accounts of publishers, kin
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12
It was after three-months surveillance by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) that its sleuths made a seizure of 4.8 kg heroin concealed in devotional material dispatched by M/S Chattar Singh-Jeewan Singh on September 10. The dispatch was sent to Canada’s Payal Video Company through a private courier.

Now, the DRI is busy scanning the bank accounts and export transactions of the publishing house and the members of the publishers’ families.

Sources said the consignment of devotional material, including CDs/DVDs of Gurbani, were booked for Canada on the basis of a self-declaration by the publishers. The publishers have constructed a centrally air-conditioned hotel in the vicinity of the Golden Temple. The name of the hotel, “Hotel CJ” (Chattar-Jeewan), has been derived from M/s Chattar Singh-Jeewan Singh, who had pioneered the publication of Guru Granth Sahib since 1875. The bank accounts of the hotels are also being scrutinised by the DRI sleuths. Earlier, director of the house, Harbhajan Singh, had said that there was deep-rooted conspiracy to frame them in a “false case”. He claimed that the team of the DRI and Customs had failed to recover any objectionable material during the raids, simultaneously conducted at three places belonging to the publishers.

Meanwhile, SGPC president Avtar Singh asked the state government to make arrangements for taking all Birs from lying in the publishing house to the office of the committee. He has taken up the matter with the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, and asked for “exemplary punishment” to the publishers.

American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chairman and president Dr Pritpal Singh and Yadvinder Singh, respectively, have said an emergency meeting of the committee was being convened in which a call for social boycott of the publishers would be given.

It is learnt that Rabjeet Singh, publisher’s sons who was taken into custody along with his brother, and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, former Jathedar Akal Takht, were together in the US in connection with the recording of the “katha” of Guru Granth Sahib.

The publishing house remained locked today. Its director Harbhajan Singh claimed that they would emerge clean after the investigations.


Capt in UK; says he will return to take on Badals
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Refuting claims that he had “fled” the country to evade arrest under graft charges, embattled former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today vowed to return to take on the ruling SAD-BJP alliance and “take the battle to its logical conclusion” 

“Wait and be patient, I am coming back to take on you and take the battle to its logical conclusion,” the 66-year-old Congress leader said in a statement from London. Capt Amarinder Singh had flown to the UK last evening hours after the state vigilance bureau filed a case against him in connection with irregularities in a land deal in Amritsar.

“It had come to my notice that some people are trying to create an impression that I had gone to London in the aftermath of the so-called House committee report on the so called charges of corruption against me and others,” he said.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he had travelled to London legally after getting due permission from the court. He said he had taken prior appointment with the doctors in London and a check-up had been necessitated because of his “failing health”.
Moreover, the Congress leader said, he wanted to be fit before the campaign for the parliamentary elections intensified.

He claimed he had a scheduled meeting with the editors and publishers of his book on the history of the Punjab from 1839-1849, which he had completed recently and was in the printing stage.

“It is matter of few days only, let them wait as I am coming back to take them head on,” Capt Amarinder Singh said referring to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. — PTI

Naveen S. Garewal adds: Capt Amarinder Singh’s close aides at Patiala said: “He told the court that he would like to visit London from September 10 as he had been invited by an NGO — the Umeed Foundation — to be the chief guest for a fund raiser on September 24. Besides, he also wanted to meet the publisher of his forthcoming book titled “The Last Sunset — Lan Boltomley”, the sources said.

In his application before the court, Amarinder had also stated that he suffered from low-blood pressure and had sought appointment with a team of cardiologists and his personal physician in England.


‘There can’t be 2 punishments for ex-CM’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 12
Raising legal questions, Umrao Singh, former minister for parliamentary affairs, Punjab, today said there could not to be two punishments given to Capt Amarinder Singh for what was being described as his “indictment” in a land scam. He said Capt Amarinder Singh had been given two punishments in one case. First, he had been expelled as MLA of the Punjab Assembly and secondly a case had been registered against him in the same matter.

Giving instance in support of the arguments advanced by him, Umrao said Parliament had expelled 11 MPs in the cash for questions scam, but no case was got registered by Parliament against them. He said there could not be two punishments for one “offence”.

Raising other question, he said it was not clear under what rule the motion was moved against Amarinder, whether it was a substantive motion or some other motion. He said it was also not clear whether notice was given to the member concerned (Amarinder) and also circulated among members in the House before moving the motion to expel him. He said giving of the notice to the member concerned was a must for moving a motion against him or her. That notice had also be circulated among members of the House.

Referring to the “Practices and procedure of Parliament”, a book edited by Dr Subhash C. Kashyap, Umrao said action could be taken against a member of the House for his or her misconduct. But there should be definite proof to prove the misconduct. Action could not be taken on the basis of any assumption and conjectures, he added.

Umrao said he had contacted the Vidhan Sabha staff to ask under what rules motion was moved against Amarinder and whether proper notice was served on him. “I did not get any proper answer to my queries from officials concerned,” he said. He said usually for moving the motion against any member, seven days notice had to be given to him or her. The notice period could be curtailed to some extent by the speaker, he said.

A member had to be informed what motion was to be moved against him and he had to provided with the copy of the motion, said Umrao. “Whether such procedure was followed in the case of Amarinder, it was not clear yet,” he said.

Umrao said what had happened in the past three days would weaken the democratic structure of the country.

Disagreeing with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s assertion that the House was supreme, Umrao said rules and procedures and the Constitution under which the House functions were supreme. He said though the House was supreme, it had to function as per the rules and procedures and the constitution governing it, he said.


Botched-up Foreign Tour
Manpreet had file, Kalha tells speaker
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Finance secretary D.S. Kalha today appeared before Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon and submitted a written reply to him, saying that the latter’s foreign visit could not be cleared in time because the file was with finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal.

The speaker was forced to cancel his trip to Malaysia to attend the Commonwealth Parliament Conference in the first week of August for financial clearance for the visit was delayed. Kalha submitted a one-and-a-half-page note to the speaker regarding the entire case.

The speaker, who had insisted on a written reply on the issue when Kalha had appeared before him earlier, said the decision in the matter would be based on the reply. The next date of hearing in the case has been fixed as September 25.

Earlier, the issue cropped up in the Vidhan Sabha also with Congress legislator Makhan Singh demanding that Kalha be summoned by the House and censured for failing to clear the Speaker’s file in time.

Meanwhile, there is a trend among SAD-BJP legislators as well as those of the Congress to make more use of the breach of privilege clause. SAD legislator Virsa Singh Valtoha told The Tribune that there was a need to make the House strong and ensure bureaucrats did not take it casually or lie blatantly while answering questions.

Legislators had urged the speaker to form committees, saying that they were not getting justice from bureaucrats. SAD legislator Balbir Singh Bath claimed that the deputy commissioner, who had replied to the question raised by him, had given “misleading” information to the House.



Sukhbir fires posers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal today unleashed a barrage of discomforting questions against Capt Amarinder Singh and said the former Chief Minister should come clean on the facts revealed in the House Committee report on the Rs 360-crore corruption.

Sukhbir asked: “Is it Amarinder’s case that a Vidhan Sabha can act only when his own party happened to be in a majority ?”

He asked Amarinder to come clean whether or not the records of the Trust were tampered with to change the agenda and carry out the Rs 360-crore land sell out? If that was the case, why and under whose pressure was the decision unconstitutionally shelved by tampering with the record of the most august and highest seat of democratic authority ? Who ordered the tampering, with what aim and for whose benefit ? Sukhbir wanted Amarinder to tell people of Punjab. 


Inside Babudom
State officer may get top Central police job
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The chances of a Punjab-cadre officer getting back to head a Central police organisation have brightened following the empanelment of A.P. Pandey, director-general, Vigilance, Punjab State Electricity Board.

Pandey, who headed the Punjab Vigilance Bureau during the previous Congress regime, is a 1974 batch officer. It is this batch from which 14 officers have been cleared for empanelment for the appointment of DGPs of CPOs in the coming months.

Last time a Punjab officer headed a CPO was Sarabjit Singh, who was the director-general of bureau of police research after serving the earlier SAD-BJP government in Punjab as director-general of police. Before Sarabjit Singh, it was Gurbachan Jagat, who superannuated as director-general of the Border Security Force. Incidentally, Gurbachan Jagat did not get a chance to head the Punjab police, though he led the Jammu and Kashmir police before being appointed the BSF chief.

Gurbachan Jagat has been the only IPS officer in the past two decades who rose to head the Union Public Service Commission.

Interestingly, there are 67 officers of the 1974 batch, of which only 14 have been cleared by the Prime Ministers’ Office for filling any top position in CPOs in the coming months.

Also cleared for empanelment for the post of DGP in CPOs are the police chiefs of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. The present CBI chief is of Himachal Pradesh cadre. Pandey, on elevation as DGP, was posted to head the Vigilance wing of the Punjab police.

In Punjab, N.P.S. Aulakh, who belongs to the 1972 batch, was special DGP BSF, before the state government recalled him to head the state police.

Punjab has Rajdeep Singh Gill of the 1973 batch as director-general of police-cum-director principal of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy at Phillaur. Other than A.P.Pandey, the DGP (Prisons) in Punjab, Mohammed Izhar Alam, is also a 1974 batch officer.

Going by the gradation list, at least six top posts in central forces are likely to fall vacant in less than a year. Besides, the police chiefs of seven states, even an additional director of the CBI of the Tamil Nadu cadre are unlikely to move on central deputation. The additional director of the CBI is also superannuating this year. The chances of A.P. Pandey getting the top post in central forces will depend on the Punjab government that has to relieve him from his present posting.


Central funds: Notice to 12 DEOs
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
In an unprecedented move, the Punjab government today issued show-cause notice to at least dozen district education officers for non-utilisation of the Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyaan (SSA) funds.

A large portion of the funds (in crores) received from the Government of India over the past six years have remained untilised and the money was stocked away in banks. Sources added that the possibility of misutlisation of the interest on these amounts by various level officials could not be ruled out.

Director-general school education-cum-project director SSA Krishan Kumar has asked these DEOs (elementary) to explain why the funds released to the district education development committees (DEDCs) have not been used for various civil works that were to be carried out under the scheme.

In many districts, works like the construction of new school buildings, construction of additional rooms, toilets, drinking water facilities etc have not been taken up despite the funds for these works having been received by these committees years ago.

Even the amounts kept aside for training workshops of teachers are lying unused in banks.

Confirming that show-cause notices had been sent to the DEOs this afternoon, Krishan Kumar said the DEOs had been asked to respond to the notice within the next three days, failing which proceedings would be initiated to charge-sheet them.

It is also reliably learnt that other than the DEOs, various deputy commissioners who chair the district education development committees are also being pulled up by the government for not holding meetings to release the funds to the village-level committees.

Other than the current financial year when the utlisation of funds has already crossed over 150 per cent, during the past years, the utilisation has been as low, dipping to 46 per cent in 2003-2004.

In 2002-2003, the total SSA plan, which was sanctioned by the Government of India was Rs 142 crore, out of which over Rs 114 crore was released. Only Rs 66 crore out of this amount was spent. Since the first instalment of the money given by the GoI remained unutilised, the next instalment was never released.

In 2003-2004, out of the total sanctioned plan of Rs 200 crore, Rs 95 crore was released and only Rs 44 crore spent. The rest of the sanctioned amount lapsed.

In 2004-2005, more than 150 per cent utlisation of funds was done but again in 2005-2006, only Rs 118 crore out of the released amount of Rs 195 crore was spent. That year the GoI was to give the state over Rs 225 crore, but the rest of the sanctioned amount lapsed due to non-utlisation.

In 2006-2007, almost 100 per cent of the released amount of Rs 155 crore was utilised, but in 2007-2008, 85 per cent of the grant was used. On the flip side, while more than Rs 600 crore has been spent from 2002 to 2007, there was till recently no monitoring system in place to ascertain if the money shown as spent was actually used for the purpose. 


Give info on seized contraband, police told
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 12
Denial of information about the status of contrabands seized by the police on the plea that it was a departmental secret has landed the police in the soup. The State Information Commission has asked the department to provide the information to a Ludhiana-based organisation immediately and appear before the commission.

Satnam Singh, president of the local Universal Human Rights Organisation, had asked the Public Information Officer of the DGP to provide him information on the status of contrabands, like opium, poppy husk, heroin and smack, seized since 1985.

He wanted to know what the police had done with these contrabands. He had sought the information in March. The IG (HQ)had said the information couldn’t be given as it came under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005. 


Farmers for Rs 226 as cane price
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 12
Cooperative sugar mills have neither cleared farmers’ Rs 57 crore dues nor has the Badal government revised the price of sugarcane even six months after the end of crushing season. The next crushing season is to start in six weeks from now.

Official sources said the government was yet to fix the sugarcane price for the last year. After Capt Amarinder Singh’s regime, the price of sugarcane had not been revised, it is learnt. Expecting revision of price, farmers had supplied sugarcane to mills in the last crushing season, but the state government failed to take a decision in this regard.

Meetings of the Punjab Sugarcane Advisory Board had been convened several times to discuss the price and related issues but these had to be cancelled due to change in the programme of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The last meeting of the board was scheduled for August but was cancelled because the Chief Minister left to tour the flood-hit areas.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, a farmer leader and member of the board, said it was disappointing cane price was not been revised last year also and it might not be revised for the coming season. There seems no urgency to clear dues of farmers who had supplied sugarcane to cooperative mills in last crushing season from November to March. He said new crushing season would start most probably in November, but the government was yet to fix a meeting of the board.

Rajewal said the board had many representatives of private sugar mills and farmers’ representation was not much. He said private sugar mills had earned huge profit due to steep rise in the price of sugar in open market. But, when it comes to revision of sugarcane price, they had always opposed it. He said sugarcane was the best alternative to traditional paddy-wheat cycle. “At present, only 90,000 hectares is under sugarcane whereas 4.5 lakh hectares is required to provide sugarcane as raw material to 21 cooperative and private sugar mills in the state”, said Rajewal.

He has urged the Chief Minister to convene a meeting of the board. He appealed to the government to fix Rs 226 per quintal as the price of sugarcane. “Production cost of sugar in Punjab was just Rs 1,400 per quintal and it was sold between Rs 1,700 and Rs 2,000 per quintal by some millers. A profit of Rs 200 or Rs 300 per quintal after excluding overhead charges makes a strong case for fixing the cane price above Rs 200 per quintal”, he added. 


Consumer Forums
Members shortlisted, await appointments 
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Punjab government has been sitting over the files even though the names of the candidates to be appointed at the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums in Punjab were sent two months back.

The four forums - Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Barnala and Mohali - for which the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission sent the names of three candidates, are yet to start functioning.

The government had recently given permission to erect three new forums in districts of Tarn Taran, Barnala and Mohali for which the names had been proposed. The commission also selected the names of candidates in Ludhiana that has been working without president for months now. Interviews for the post of president were held and the names for the same were forwarded to the authorities concerned in May, but no appointments have been made as yet.

Other forums where the posts of judicial members are lying vacant are Mansa, Ferozepur and Jalandhar. The interviews for appointments for available posts are likely to be conducted this month. The interviews for the consumer forum in Mansa would be conducted on September 25, while for the forum at Jalandhar, the interview is expected to be held in October.


Akali leader shot dead
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
Three scooter-borne miscreants shot dead Akali leader Darbara Singh Seona at his welding shop near No. 21 railway crossing here this evening.

Seona, earlier an active member of the SAD (Amritsar), had defected to the SAD (International). His wife Jaswinder Kaur was a former SGPC member.

Two of the scooter-borne miscreants, who came from the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib side, fired indiscriminately at 60-year-old Seona from a revolver. While one of the bullets pierced his neck, the two hit him in the chest. An injured Seona tried to hit back at the assailants with a hammer.

Seona was rushed to the Rajindera Hospital, but he died on the way.


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