P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Remembering Bhagat Singh
Seechewal for inquilab against poverty
P. K. Jaiswar/Tribune News Service

Narli (Tarn Taran), September 29
Exhorting people for the need to usher in another inquilab (revolution) against poverty and environmental degradation, Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, the noted environmentalist, said it was the need of the hour to launch a movement as was done by martyr Bhagat Singh against the British Rule.

Seechewal, who was here to celebrate the 101st birth anniversary of the great son of the soil at his ancestral village situated just a few metres of the Indo-Pak border. Addressing the gathering he said poverty and environmental degradation were two grave issues and it was the responsibility of the general public for launching a mass movement to pressurise today’s government to take urgent steps for weeding out poverty and environment pollutions. He assured all possible help for the development of the village.

Speaking on the occasion, Kirandeep Singh, Bhagat Singh’s nephew, echoing the sentiments of Baba Seechewal, said they would launch this movement from their village by developing it as a model village to be followed by others. He opined that Bhagat Singh dreamt of a Punjab that was progressive and prosperous where the environment was healthy. He wanted people to be sensitised to rise above vested interests for larger public good.

Meanwhile, this sleepy village was humming with activity to mark the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The whole village, especially his ancestral house, the government senior secondary school, gurdwara and various streets were lit up with fluorescent bulbs by Punarjyot that is working under the aegis of the Spring Dale Educational Society to strengthen the cultural roots of Punjab.

Earlier, in the week-long celebrations organised to mark this mega-event, a series of programmes culminated with the light-and-sound programme “Narli lights up” and a play, “Main Punjab Bolda Haan,” by eminent theatre director and Shiromani Natakkar, Kewal Dhaliwal. During the celebrations, a two-day free eye camp and a general medical camp was organised by a team of the Lions Club members from the UK. The foreign delegation donated Rs 4 lakh for the development of the village. 


Kalpana Chawla Education Trust
Institute flouts AICTE norms
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
“The path from dreams to reality does exist. May you have a vision to find it, the courage to get on it and the perseverance to follow it”, this was the message from Kalpana Chawla six days before her tragic death.

The vision of this distinguished astronaut, the official website of the Kalpana Chawla Memorial Educational Society (KCMES) says, was the inspiration that inspired the members of the society to establish five colleges of engineering and technology at Banur-Tepla road, village Shambhu Kalan, tehsil Rajpura, district Patiala.

But it apparently appears that the caretakers of this group are leaving no stone unturned to fleece students and virtually ‘staining’ the name of the great astronaut.

Lately, the KCMES has managed to attain the ‘approval’ from the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) despite the fact that the group does not comply with basic facilities like drinking water, what to talk of complying with the ‘stipulated norms’ prescribed by the state for running educational institutes.

Ironically, the last date for granting the ‘approval’ was fixed for June 30, 2008 by the AICTE, but how the group managed to get it after three months of the deadline, is also questionable. Secondly, the PTU counselling schedule has already lapsed and experts say all admissions for the session 2008-12 will now be done ‘illegally’.

Investigations by the Tribune team revealed that the society never got the site plan approved by any competent authority. Till date, no application has been moved by the society in this regard and in that case the building stands unauthorised to run the educational institute. No permanent connection of electricity has been sanctioned by the Punjab State Electricity Board and there is no provision for sewerage or drinking water at the site. The land and building equipment has been mortgaged by the Sector 16 branch of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) against the standing loan of Rs 17.51 crore and all accounts of the Trust and college has been seized.

S.C. Gupta, chairman of the Society, on persuasion admitted that the land of the institution had been mortgaged by the PNB-16, and the site plan had not been approved. The group falsely claims that Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with leading companies/organisations like NASA, Dell, SONALIKA, HP, HDFC, CSIO, NITTTER, ICICI, are under “active consideration”.

Interestingly, the chairman told that he in turn wrote to the AICTE that the process should be stalled for some time as they were not in a position to furnish the required formalities.

Meanwhile, SP Singh, regional director, AICTE, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

Updating of the official website is a mandatory condition as per the AICTE norms, but till date the site of the KCMET www.kcmedu.com displays wrong information, offering 60 to 100 seats vacant for all streams including some unapproved courses like MCA, MBA, B. Pharma, BBA, B.ED etc.

As per a letter issued by the AICTE, the approval has been granted for Computer Science/Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electric/Communications/ Information Technology only.


IAF air show enthrals border residents
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 29
It was a different day for residents of this border town and its adjoining areas today with the otherwise clear sky here being dominated by sound of Surya Kiran and MiG aircraft as they performed aerobatics.

The aerobatics and formations by these aircraft enthralled the residents, sometimes even sent chill through their spines as the aircraft performed barrel rolls, loop, splits, inverted runs and the Surya Kiran signature pattern.

Thousands of people, including schoolchildren, who came from this town and its surrounding villages to watch the air show at the local Air Force station, were spellbound when MiG-21, 23, 27 and MiG-29 aircraft carried out the tango, delta, charlie, India cut, star burst, barrel rolls, hollow diamond, alfa cut and heart-and-cupid performances.

The air show was also witnessed by civil and police officials of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. A large number of sarpanches of the villages of the Gurdaspur district were also present. The show was organised here to educate people on environment safety and motivate the youth to join the force.

The show was inaugurated by Lieut-Gen Vinay Sharma. Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore S. S. Soman and chief administrator of the Air Force station, Group Capt B.B.P. Sinha were present.

A tea party was also organised for the dignitaries and visitors.

The display began with the gleaming Surya Kirans aircraft, painted in red and white, flying in to make their “Vic” mark. So precise was the tuning between men and machines that there was no room for doubt or error.

Surya Kiran pilots were led by their Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Joy Thomas Kurien. Parajumping by troopers, also known as Guards, from the Mi assault helicopters, was another spectacle.

The pilots of the Surya Kiran team interacted with the schoolchildren and shared their experience with them. They motivated the students to choose the Air Force as their career.

Surface-to-air missiles were displayed for the public.


Mutations in back date, probe ordered
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Financial commissioner (Revenue) Punjab, Romila Dubey has marked an inquiry into the execution of mutations of over 500 acres of prime land at Mullanpur Garibdass, a village near here. The mutations, according to sources, were allegedly executed “in the back date”.

The land has been under contention for the past 20 years. While the village panchayat claims ownership of the land, stating it is shamlat (village common land), some other villagers have been fighting the panchayat, claiming that the land is private.

The land costs over Rs 1000 crore and is said to have been sold to an influential politician of Haryana. Sources, however, add that some Punjab big-wigs close to the Haryana politician also have a stake in the land. A senior legal functionary of the state government has also been taking a keen personal interest in the case.

After decades of legal battle, a bench headed by the former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Vijender Jain ruled in favour of the individual proprietors on July 15 this year. Following the High Court orders, the proprietors who had been fighting the battle as members of the Choe Reclamation Society requested the revenue officials of the district to determine their share in the land.

The naib tehslidar Majri block wrote to the SAS Nagar DC asking him for directions to execute the mutations.

It is learnt that the DC also brought to the FCR’s notice that the panchayat had filed a petition in the High Court seeking review of the July 15 order and had requested the government not to change the land records till the decision of the review petition.

Chief secretary Punjab Ramesh Inder Singh is said to have asked the Department of Rural Bodies and Panchayats to assist the village panchayat to fight the case in the High Court. A sum of Rs 5 lakh has also been given to the gram panchayat to pay for the expenses of the litigation.

The panchayat also moved the court of the SDM Kharar for a stay of the mutations.


AISAD ‘peace delegation’ to leave for valley on Oct 17
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 29
Taking a step forward to contribute its bit to the ongoing peace process in Jammu and Kashmir, a “peace delegation” of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), headed by Prof Jaswant Maan, will march to Srinagar from Amritsar on October 17 after offering prayers at the Golden Temple.

The delegation, comprising senior AISAD leaders Bharpur Singh Balbir, Kashmir Singh Patti, Manjit Singh Taran Tarani, Gurinder Pal Singh Dhanaula, Hardip Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Maloya, will stay in the trouble-torn valley for about a week.

During its stay in the valley, the delegation members will interact with a cross section of Kashmiri Muslim, senior leaders and office-bearers of the “Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti”. Besides, the AISAD leaders, according to Maan, were also scheduled to hold parleys with the J&K Governor N.N. Vohra.

“Our delegation will reach Srinagar on October 18 and we will hold discussions with a cross section of people so as to ensure that peace descends on the valley. We are in touch with all said leaders and all of the them are positive about our proposed initiative,” said Maan while talking to The Tribune. Apart from discussions with Kashmiri leaders, the delegation will attend a Sikh convention being held at Taral on October 19. Taral subdivision has about 40 Sikh-dominated villages.

Meanwhile, the AISAD has decided to contest from the Patiala seat in the forthcoming parliamentary polls “in its bid to defeat those forces, particularly, the SAD (Badal) which, had joined the secular mainstream”.


Toll tax relief for journalists?
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 29
In what could prove to be a big relief for mediapersons, in case the proposal takes shape of reality, the state government has decided in principle to exempt toll tax charges to the accredited and recognised journalists of Punab. The relief will however be depending upon the decision of the Punjab cabinet where the proposal will be taken up, disclosed Punjab CM’s media adviser Harcharan Bains.

During an interaction with mediapersons, Bains said he could relate to the professional hardships and hazards of the mediapersons as he himself had worked as a journalist. 



Backward Classes Board to be set up
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 29
In a bid to attract Backward Classes of Punjab to its fold, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said the state government was in the process of setting up a board for the welfare of Backward Classes under his chairmanship.

Meanwhile, Badal and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal have virtually kick-started the party’s poll campaign by urging people to get ready for the Lok Sabha polls and vote for the SAD to push the “anti-Punjab” Congress to the wall.

Sukhbir, however, made it clear that the party had not decided on prospective candidates for the Patiala Assembly bypoll (in case it falls vacant) and for the Patiala Lok Sabha seat as yet. Sukhbir also assured the Backward Classes that his party and the SAD government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring their all-round welfare.

The proposed board, with Cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabria as its vice-president, will have the task of ensuring justice and a level-playing field to these classes as far as government jobs are concerned, apart from implementing welfare schemes effectively.

Addressing a massive state-level public rally of the Backward Classes here today, Badal said the proposed board would also ensure clearance of the backlog of reserved posts within a time-bound frame. Badal also declared that the rights of ownership of 40,000 acres of government land, which they had continuously been tilling over the past 10 to 15 years, would soon be conferred on different communities belonging to the Backward Classes.

The government would soon bring these proposals to the Cabinet for a final decision in this regard. The CM also assured that the state government was going to recommend the case of the Gadria community to the government of India for its inclusion in the Scheduled Caste list on the pattern of the Rai Sikhs.

Addressing the gathering, Sukhbir asked the members of the Backward Classes to organise themselves in the form of committees, with a membership of 20 to 30 representatives from different communities, in each block and district across the state to strengthen the Backward Classes wing of the party.

Sukhbir said the SAD-BJP had always accorded priority to the welfare of lower strata. He accused former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for hardly sparing 5 minutes for these hapless people during his tenure of five years. He said: “Whereas, despite his old age Parkash Singh Badal never missed an opportunity to interact with urban and rural people, particularly the down-trodden classes,” said Sukhbir.

In his address, the president of the Backward Classes wing of the SAD, Gabria said the party and the state government would soon chalk out a joint strategy to devise schemes for the welfare of these classes.


Combine harvester answer to labour woes
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 29
With the problem of labour shortage staring them in the face, farmers of the Malwa belt have been pressed to use combine harvesters to reap paddy.

During a random visit to villages of Bathinda and Muktsar, The Tribune team found a number of combine harvesters moving in paddy fields. On being asked, farmers were instant to reply about its use: “It is a hammer, which we use to crush the most irking problem of the region, ‘prudish attitude’ of the farming labourers”.

Sukhmander Singh of Kothe Chet Singh Wale village, who has sown paddy on 36 acres, said: “This machine man would charge around Rs 600-700 per acre for reaping the crop and then the machine would itself put the grain in a trolley, which we move along with it.”

“One and only fallout of the machine is that it leaves straw around 1 foot of height, which we will have to cut by another ‘reaper’. The ‘reaper’ owner will again charge Rs 200-300 per acre, even after that there will be stubble, which will have its roots in soil. If we do not destroy the stubble, the drill machine for sowing wheat will not be able to move on the fields. To get rid of the problem, we will opt a simple and traditional method: Stubble burning”.

When asked about the ban over burning of stubble in the open and the emphasis of Agriculture Department to use “rodavators” for the purpose, he said: “As the ‘rodavators’ are not common, its owner will charge around Rs 1,000 per acre, which the low MSP of paddy can’t permit.”

Avtar Singh, the owner of a combine harvester, was also not happy with the remuneration. He said: “I have been running the machine for the past 19 seasons. The price of diesel has been revised number of times, but the charges for the machine service are still somewhere around that we used to charge seven years ago.”

He said the machine could move in 14 acres in eight hours and the fuel consumption of this 105 horse power machine is 10 litres per acre. He mentioned that capacity and consumption both varies with the brands of machine. Jaswinder Singh, another farmer, said: “Earlier, we were using this machine for reaping wheat but due to the shortage of labour we have been forced to run the machine in paddy fields also. Taking benefit of the problem, migrant labourers, who had been charging around Rs 1,000 per acre during the past season of paddy sowing, had revised the rate to Rs 1,800-2,000. So it can well be imagined that now at the time of reaping, how much would they charge.”


De-addiction drive yields results
Anjali Singh Deswal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 29
The experiment of DIG Jitender Jain to make Behman Dewana village addiction free, which was considered a paradise for addicts of the Malwa belt, has yielded positive results. One year was completed on Saturday when Jain adopted the village and launched a vigorous de-addiction drive in the area.

Before the drive, almost every household in this village suffered from addiction of some kind, liquor, medicines, poppy husk and more. The DIG had come up with the idea after observing that Bathinda and its surrounding villages were affected by this problem. So, he thought of starting de-addiction camps. He, along with some social workers, doctors and NGOs, was able to treat around 150 patients free of cost.

“My father was knee-deep in drinking and it had taken away our peace. Daily brawls were a common scene and he was losing his land also due to addiction. We could not concentrate on our studies and our performance was deteriorating. But, I am thankful to Jain who made efforts to de-addict our village,” said a teenage girl from a patient’s family.

The home secretary and the DGP had also visited the village to motivate the sufferers to get away from addiction. Loans for rehabilitation were provided to those who got cured.

“I was 15 when I started consuming drugs and liquor. I remained affected for 75 years. Now, I have been cured through this camp and I am thankful to everyone concerned for making this concept such a huge success,” said 90-year-old Gurdev Singh of Chughe Khurd. Apart from de-addicting, computer courses, sewing centres and technical training were provided to the village folk.

“Behman Deewana was once famous for sports, but the glory was overpowered by drugs and alcohol. I thought of getting the youth back on the right track and utilise their energy for development. Bathinda being in close proximity to Rajasthan falls prey to all kinds of drug abuse. Things like poppy husk etc comes to Punjab from Rajasthan through Bathinda and the youth here have an easy access to it. De-addicting our district and the state is not a one man’s job.” Everyone had to contribute his bit, said an elated DIG over his achievement.

It was announced that after Behman Deewana, Jain had decided to adopt Dyon village to keep his de-addict Bathinda mission going. He had also launched a website <http://www.drjitendrajain.com> to carry the mission ahead.


Ambuja plant gets biomass from villages
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 29
The Ambuja Cement plant is utilising biomass for its captive power plant at the unit. Use of biomass has brought respite for villagers around, who find it difficult to manage agriculture waste and stock it.

The plant is presently using 24 types of biomass at its captive power plant, which has installed capacity of 30 MW. Presently its generating 28 MW for Ropar plant and 4 MW for the Bathinda-based Ambuja plant.

This biomass is collected from villages of Ropar, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala and other districts. It includes biomass, rice husk, cow dung cakes, sunflower stems, maize cobs, sugar mills waste etc.

“The Bangaru tribe in Haryana is known not to take care of bio-waste and the same thing has now become a boon for them. We are getting biomass from them,” said Balbir Singh Rana, deputy general manager, captive power plant, Ambuja Cement. The biomass is procured through five to six agents who earn around 7 per cent commission out of each transaction.

Ambuja started using biomass for its captive plant in 2004. During four months of 2005, the plant drew 100 per cent power from the biomass and utilised around 75,000 tonnes of biomass.

“After we started the innovative projects, many other industrial units came up with captive power plants and, as a consequence, the need for biomass increased. Being an unorganised sector, there is no control over the price of biomass,” said Rajesh C. Kothari, senior vice-president and unit head.

The captive power plant meets the need of the adjoining cement-grinding plant. The plant officials claimed that this was the only kind of power plant in the country that utilises agricultural waste for power generation. The company aims at replicating this model at its other plants in the country as well.


Kidney to ADC
Panel calls docs of Mohali hospital
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 29
The authorisation committee has called doctors of Silver Oak Hospital, Mohali, for the third meeting scheduled to be held here on October 3. The committee has received a report from the SSP (Amritsar city) casting doubts on the antecedents of the hospital and its doctors.

DC, Tarn Taran, Khushi Ram, who also holds the charge of Amritsar district, has said the meeting will discuss the case afresh.

In the report submitted to the civil surgeon, the SSP has said it is up to the committee to verify any other angle, including the possibility of monetary considerations in this regard.

The SSP has alleged: “As per the police record some of the doctors of the Mohali hospital are facing trial in an Amritsar court. It is also informed that some recent transplants done at this hospital have been found against the rules and guidelines ”.


PWD B&R faces staff crunch
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 29
About 40 posts of SDO and 150 posts of junior engineer (JE) have been lying vacant in Punjab PWD B&R. Due to this the department has been facing a shortage of staff to get development works done in various parts of the state.

In reply to a question, Punjab PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said here today that he had already written to the state government to fill the posts. He said the vacant posts would be filled when the government would grant approval to do the same.

Dhindsa further said he also wanted that the vacant posts should be filled on yearly basis. Keeping this approach in mind, he had recently written to the government to grant approval to fill about 20 posts of SDO and 40 posts of JE in his department. He said besides the posts of SDO and JE, posts of some other cadres had also been lying vacant in his department which would also be filled.

Dhindsa also said some road over bridges (ROBs) on railway level crossings, situated on the national highway at Barnala, Sangrur, Tarn Taran and Rampura Phul etc were yet to be constructed. He said he had already taken up the matter with the Union ministry of road transport and highways to get half share of the construction cost of these ROBs from the Centre.

The PWD minister also said four ROBs on railway level crossings at Chhajli (Sunam), Chullar, Malerkotla and Barnala and one underbridge at Sunam would be constructed soon. He added that NABARD had cleared the construction of 10 roads in Sangrur district.


Goel takes over as Moga trust chief
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 29
Local businessman and SAD leader Yogesh Goel took over as chairman of the Moga Improvement Trust at a simple function here today. The state government had issued a notification of his appointment to the post last week.

Senior SAD leader and former minister Tota Singh, chairman of the Zila Parishad Gurbax Singh Kapure, district president of the BJP Tarlochan Singh Gill and many other local leaders of the ruling parties were present on the occasion.

Tota Singh, while addressing the gathering, said the SAD-BJP was committed to the development of this town and in the days to come the trust would plan new development projects.

Goel said he would work in accordance with the aspirations of the local people and come out with new plans for the beautification of the town, besides carrying out more development works.

Meanwhile, the recently elected 30 members of the local body took the oath at a separate function held on the premises of the municipal council here.

SDM-cum-administrator of the council Lakhmir Singh administered the oath to the members.

Barjinder Singh Brar, son of Tota Singh, who is a candidate for the president’s post of the body, also took the oath.

The election of the president of the local body had been stayed by the High Court along with a few other local bodies in the state. The MC would still have to work under the administrator till the election.


Cheema is Arhtiya Association chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Commission agent Ravinder Singh Cheema has been re-elected president of the Punjab Arhtiya Association, according to a statement issued by the association here today. Cheema was re-elected to his post unanimously after his name was proposed by the association’s Bathinda unit president Jaswant Rai Ballo during a meeting of presidents and delegates of 130 mandis held at Ludhiana yesterday.

Cheema said the association had unanimously agreed that no commission agent would charge more than 18 per cent interest from farmers. Since the agents were paying 14 per cent interest to banks presently, they needed a buffer of 4 per cent to secure themselves. 


Milk plant union elects office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 29
The board of directors of Sangrur District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited unanimously elected Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and director of the union from Bir Kalan zone Khushpal Singh Bir Kalan chairman of the union at a meeting held at Verka milk plant here today. They also elected Harinder Singh from Plasaur zone vice-chairman of the union.

After the elections Punjab PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told mediapersons that Dhuri MLA Iqbal Singh Jhundan had played a vital role in the elections due to which chairman and vice-chairman of the milk plant had been elected unanimously. He said all 12 directors of the union participated in the elections. He expressed the hope that the new team would make the plant a profitable unit.

In reply to a question Dhindsa said no doubt the plant was under heavy debt, but that debt had accumulated over the past several years. He said he would request the state government to waive those loans to enable the plant to stand on its own feet.


174 sports coaches to be appointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
To provide better coaching at the grass-root level to young players, the Punjab government is going to appoint 174 coaches in the near future in the Sports Department, Punjab. 

Punjab sports minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, stressing upon the importance of sports, said the proper coaching would provide an opportunity to the players to exhibit their talent. He said the state government was committed to provide better sports facilities at the village and block levels to improve the standard of sports in the state.


Free entry during wildlife week
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The Punjab government has decided to waive off entry fee to Mohindra Chaudhary Zoological Park, Chhatbir, Deer Park and Bir Moti Bagh, Patiala, and Deer Park and Bir, Bathinda, for visitors from October 3 to 8 on account of the wildlife week.

According to an official spokesman, these parks will remain closed on October 2 on account of national holiday.


SC stays HC order on Chahal
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 29
The Supreme Court today stayed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order disallowing three-day notice to Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, who was media adviser to Capt Amarinder Singh when he was the Chief Minister, prior to his arrest or questioning in corruption cases.

The HC had initially ordered the Punjab government to serve a three-day notice on Chahal before any action, but subsequently recalled this order. Chahal challenged this recall in the Supreme Court, upon which the apex court has also issued notice to the Punjab government.

Chahal, alleging political vendetta, has expressed the apprehension that state authorities were trying to implicate him in ‘false and frivolous’ cases.


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