P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Kidney Donation to ADC
Donor disappears, family moves court
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 1
Members of the authorisation committee, who had cleared the case of kidney donation by an unrelated donor to the additional deputy commissioner (ADC), are in a fix even as the parents of the prospective donor have filed a case in the civil court, alleging that their son was lured by the ADC to donate his organ without their knowledge.

Earlier, the committee, headed by deputy commissioner, Tarn Taran, Khushi Ram had claimed that the case had been cleared with the consent of the donor and his father after telling them the post-operative complications, which could even lead to his death.

In their petition, the parents of Sunny, the prospective donor, have alleged that their son is missing from home. They have even alleged that the police pressurised them against going to the media and court.

Charan Das and Suman Rani said they were shocked after their neighbour told that Sunny was donating his organ to Kirpal Singh, ADC, Tarn Taran.

Rubbishing the charges of the family, SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh said the police had nothing to do with all this. He said the family had lodged a complaint regarding the disappearance of Sunny, which they would present before the committee during its next meeting on October 3. Further action would be taken on the recommendation of the committee, he added.

Charandas, who is a “dholi” (drum beater) by profession, said he could not continue his profession as usual due to illness. He said Sunny used to work at a tandoor and had told them before disappearing that he was going to Delhi for work. They said they wanted their son back and would not allow him donate his kidney at any cost.

When asked whether he was presented before the committee, he answered in the affirmative, while adding that he was not aware of the proposed transplant of his son’s kidney.

Advocate Vishal Gogna, who is providing free legal assistance to the family, alleged that the consent of the parents was not taken for the kidney transplant to Kirpal Singh, who was not even a distant relative of theirs.


MoU signed for Punjab Di Train
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The state government today signed an MoU with the ministry of railways to start a luxury tourist train, Punjab Di Train, in the state. The MoU was signed in the presence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, union minister of tourism and culture Ambika Soni and minister for tourism and culture, Punjab, Hira Singh Gabria.

The MoU was signed by principal secretary (Tourism) and chief executive officer of the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board Geetika Kalha and executive director of the Railway Board Ashok Kumar.

Badal said with the start of this luxury train, the unexploited tourism and travel potential in the state would get a further boost. The success of this venture would certainly encourage such other projects, offering world-class tourist packages and making travel in India a truly incredible experience.

The Chief Minister urged the railway minister to defer the Punjab’s share of Rs 20 lakh per trip of the luxury till the entire project becomes economically viable. Yadav assured Badal the state government’s share towards this project would be deferred for the next three years and also promised to start the train within a year, saying that the train would be manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala.

Kalha said the proposed train would cover popular destinations in North India, including Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh, Dharamsala, Patiala, Kurukshetra, Agra, Delhi and Jaipur in its seven-day itinerary. Its coaches would be equipped with 5 star facilities.

Chairman of the Railway Board K.C. Jena said these trains were the most comprehensive tourist package the industry had to offer today. A shining example was the Palace on Wheels operated by Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) in association with Indian Railways.


Mutations in Back Date
Disputed land ‘exchanged’ many hands
Chitleen K. Sethi/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Even as financial commissioner (Revenue) Romila Dubey has marked an inquiry into the execution of mutations of over 500 acres of prime land in Mullanpur Garibdass, sources pointed out that the “shares” of the said piece of land had already exchanged many hands over the years.

While the scope of the current probe was limited to the mutations that were executed in the back date by the naib tehsildar, Majri, the sources added that there was a need to find out how shares of this piece of land, which had been under contention for over 20 years, had been exchanging hands. Sources in the village pointed out that an SDO-level employee was also involved in facilitating the sale and purchase of these shares.

It has come to light that the naib tehsildar of Majri block wrote a letter to the district revenue officer (DRO), SAS Nagar, asking him for directions to execute the mutations on September 12. However, the mutations of the land in the name of its proprietors had been executed by the naib tehsildar on September 5. The DRO brought the matter to the notice of Dubey, who marked an inquiry to find out how and under what circumstances the mutations were executed.

The village panchayat claims ownership of the land stating it is shamlat land. Some other persons belonging to the Choe Reclamation Society and the Anjuman Choe Society in the village have been fighting the panchayat claim with the contention that the land is private and belongs to them. A division bench of the High Court ordered in favour of the societies.

The sources said in case the land fell under Section 42-A of the East Punjab Holdings Act 1948, amended by the present Akali government, it could not be divided even if private persons collectively owned it.


I was offered bribe at Capt’s behest: Bir Devinder
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 1
Former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh has alleged that he was offered a bribe by a retired Army officer at the behest of the then Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, with a view to prevent him from raising the question of the Improvement Trust’s scam worth 
Rs 100 crore.

It was on this statement that the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, nominated the retired Brigadier, secretary and under secretary of the Vidhan Sabha in the FIR.

Talking to The Tribune on telephone today, Bir Devinder alleged that he was pressurised to remain absent from the Vidhan Sabha when the scam pertaining to the exemption of 32 acres of land from the 188-acre New Amritsar Scheme was to be raised.

He said the retired Brigadier met him personally in the house of his (Bir Devinder Singh) close relative, also a senior retired Army officer.

“I am not afraid of the consequences for sticking to my question raised on the floor of the Assembly,” he said. However, he said by raising the question, he had created history of sorts in the Assembly.

Giving details of the statement recorded by Special Investigation Team of the Vigilance, Bir Devinder alleged that Brig G.S.Khehra (retd) offered him a plot in the Veer Enclave, Amritsar, for remaining absent from the Punjab Assembly. He alleged when he refused to oblige him, Amarinder himself talked to him on telephone to “settle the matter out of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha”. He further alleged that when he refused to oblige Amarinder, the latter threatened him.

He, however, hoped that his party would not stop him from working for maintaining the “maryada” of the House and he would stick to his stand.


Badal prefers Bathinda to Punjab: Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Senior Congress leader and former minister Partap Singh Bajwa has charged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with discriminating against Punjab at large for the benefit of the Bathinda parliamentary constituency alone.

Bajwa, in a letter addressed to the people of the state, said 90 per cent of all new projects, including those with Central funding, were being allocated to the proposed Bathinda parliamentary constituency without any thought to planning, economic feasibility or viability.

The Congress leader said the only logic behind this was that the Chief Minister’s son Sukhbir Badal was SAD candidate from the constituency. He said this was leading to several mismatches. Giving an example, he said the new Central university was being set up in Bathinda even though it had five premier universities, while a backward area like Gurdaspur was crying for an institute of higher learning.

Bajwa said prestigious projects coming up in Bathinda included an international cricket stadium and a new thermal plant in Mansa district, while Majha and Doaba regions did not have any thermal plants.

He said similarly massive upgradation of irrigation facilities, including Dhapali, Bathinda and Phul distributaries, was being done when canals in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar districts were in desperate need of repair, maintenance and improvement.

The Congress leader said it was also noteworthy that no allocation had been made for flood-control measures, which led to recent floods in Doaba and Firozepur districts. Badal was the Chief Minister of the entire state and not Bathinda alone and that Majha and Doaba regions should not be deprived of development, finances and new projects. “This discrimination amounts to the betrayal of the trust reposed in him by people of these two regions,” he added.

Bajwa demanded establishment of a high-powered state development council with equal representation from all regions and the Opposition to serve as a watchdog body to approve and oversee the distribution of funds and projects in Punjab.



Patiala Seat
Candidature fight hots up
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Even as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is holding sangat darshans in various parts of the city during the past fortnight, his party colleagues are trying to impress upon him their candidature from Patiala parliamentary constituency.

Although termed as sangat darshan, the CM addressed corner meetings in all wards of Patiala during the last fortnight with the aim of making a dent in the popularity of former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in the Assembly segment. Akali sources said this was being done to put up a fight against sitting MP Preneet Kaur, who is likely to be the Congress nominee for the Patiala seat.

Meanwhile, intense competition has emerged for the Patiala parliamentary seat amid the SAD ranks even as Badal is keeping his choice secret. What is significant is that cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh has increased his opposition to the candidature of former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra. Capt Kanwaljit is supporting the candidature of Kuldeep Kaur, the adopted daughter of former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Kuldeep is married to former legislator Harmail Singh Tohra and the family is now related through marriage to SAD Patiala district president and former legislator Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur.

This means a definite group has emerged in the SAD against the candidature of Chandumajra who is said to be the personal choice of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Capt Kanwaljit made his discomfort at Chandumajra’s candidature clear during a rally in Patiala yesterday.

Another strong candidature, which has emerged, is that of Punjab Rice Millers’ Association president Tarsem Saini. This has come about due to the necessity of attracting the Hindu vote bank in the Patiala segment. 


Badal plans to rid Patiala of flooding
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 1
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that to tackle floods in the city, a massive plan involving the Jacob drain and Chhoti Nadi was being drawn. Since the project involved the Railways, he would be speaking to railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

This was stated by Badal at the local Aviation Club after inspecting the Chhoti Nadi and the Jacob drain, before flying to Delhi.

Managing director of the Punjab State Sewerage Board Pradeep Chowdhury accompanied the Chief Minister. Badal asked Chowdhury to accompany him to Delhi where he is slated to meet Yadav.

The Chief Minister also asked officials of the Sewerage Department to prepare a master plan in consultation with Patiala divisional commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia to tackle flooding of the town.

The Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, despite being elected MLA from Patiala seat, had done precious little for the betterment of the town, which after even light showers got flooded.

Local leaders and officials, including Prem Singh Chandumajra, Surjit Singh Rakhra, Kirpal Singh Badungar, Surjit Singh Kohli, Harmail Singh Tohra, Ajitpal Singh Kohli, Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, Vikas Garg, deputy commissioner, were also present at the club.


Massive soil erosion in Gurdaspur
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 1
Come monsoon or pre-monsoon rains, followed by flash floods, residents of villages bordering Pakistan in Gurdaspur district are the worst hit. Flash floods, which occurred in the Ravi, Ujh, Tarnah, Beas, Jalalia and Bagh in the past four months, have caused soil erosion and changed the socio-economic status of the affected people.

Apart from causing severe loss to the standing wheat, paddy and maize crops, soil erosion has also left a number of “already-poor” farmers landless as their small landholdings were flooded by the rivers.

Though the authorities claimed that as flash floods in these rivers were unexpected they could not take preventive measures, the affected farmers alleged that each time they were left at the mercy of the rain god because no measures to check soil erosion were taken by the department concerned.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that hundreds of acres of fertile land had been washed away by these five rivers in the past four months. At certain points, the river was so wide that it became impossible for the farmers to reclaim their land despite the fact that the water level had receded.

“We have become landless within a few hours. Now we don’t know what to do as we have lost our only source of earning a livelihood,” said a cross-section of the affected farmers of Simbal Skol village situated at stone’s throw from the zero line of the India-Pakistan border.

Residents of Anial, Palah and Simbal Skol villages of this district have also moved applications to the authorities for taking steps to check soil erosion in their respective areas.

Official information revealed that soil erosion had taken place at Simbal Skol, Palah, Kot Bhattian, Balotar, Sarota, Barota, Dhanwal, Bamial, Anial, Muthi, Kajla, Gullelra, Bianpur, Chechian, Kishanpur, Fatta Kuhle, Samrai, Makora, Adian and Ganie Ke Bel villages. In certain pockets, the soil erosion was so heavy that a loop was formed up to the international boundary and fencing wire.

A senior functionary of the department pointed out that they failed to take protective measures whenever flash floods occurred because they were not given required money by the state government to carry out essential civil works for the same purpose.

DC Gurkirat Kirpal Singh had given Rs 1.9 crore under natural calamity funds. About Rs 4 crore had been sanctioned by the Drainage Department to execute work in various rivers to stop soil erosion and shield the civil population from the floods. The civil works would be executed in October 2008. 


Info commissioner notice to SSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Punjab State Information Commission has issued a notice to the SSP Vigilance, Amritsar, for non-compliance of the Right to Information Act.

The commission has asked for a response from the SSP on a complaint of a Gurdaspur resident. The complainant had written to the Vigilance Bureau requesting for an inquiry against an official of the Municipal Committee, Dinanagar, Gurdaspur.

“It was a signed complaint but no action was taken by the bureau. After several months of my complaint I applied under the RTI Act wanting to know if any action had been taken on my complaint. But, for the past two months no response was received following which we appealed to the commission,” said Rajiv Sharma, son of Gauree Dayal Sharma, the complainant.

The SSP (VB), Amritsar, has been asked to respond with the action taken report on the complaint by October 3. 


Freedom fighter status for morcha activists sought
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 1
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has sought freedom fighter status for those who had participated in morchas launched by the SAD(A) before the partition of India, including Jaito Morcha, Guru Ka Bagh Morcha, Nankana Sahib and Morcha of Panja Sahib.

In a press statement here on Tuesday, Mann said it was unfortunate that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had failed to treat activists of Akali morchas at par with freedom fighters though he became CM for the fourth term. He said Namdharis had been enjoying the status equivalent to freedom fighters.


Bhattal seeks succour for flood-affected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Incensed by non-redressal of problems of the flood-affected people in the state, the leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has shot off a missive to the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), urging him to take up the issue with the Punjab government.

“Although the Congress party has repeatedly requested a discussion on remedial measures adopted by the government, and a white paper on the same was also sought in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the SAD-BJP government has failed to do so fearing exposure of its shortcomings,” she has written, after touring flood-affected villages in her constituency.

Copies of the letter have also been sent to the Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.


Seven mist chambers for producing quality seedlings 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Punjab Forest Department will establish seven mist chambers at Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ropar, Moga, Phillaur and Bathinda to promote the production of quality seedlings using clonal technology.

Disclosing this here today Tikshan Sud, forest minister, said to improve the tree planting stock in forests and farmers’ fields, the department was all set to produce over 10 lakh clonal seedlings of fast-growing and economically important tree species such as eucalyptus, shisham and drek.

Rs 20.16 cr for housing project

A housing project for Rs 20.16 cr for the construction of 720 dwelling units for slum dwellers in Rajpura has been sanctioned by the Central Sanctioning Committee at its meeting held on September 30 in New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by Kiran Dhingra, secretary, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, government of India. The meeting was attended by P.K. Mohanty, joint secretary, HUPA, D.S. Negi, director (NBO), representatives from Planning and Finance Department, D.S. Bains, principal secretary, Local Government, and others. 


Bhai Ghanya Health Insurance Scheme launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Punjab today launched the Bhai Ghanya Health Insurance Scheme, which will cover the hospitalisation costs of 6.5 lakh beneficiaries comprising members of cooperative societies as well as its employees.

Launching the scheme here today, cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said members would now avail of health insurance at a nominal cost of Rs 1,246 per one member and Rs 2,000 only for a five-member family. He said the insurance cover was of Rs 2 lakh and that all top hospitals in Chandigarh and Punjab were covered under the scheme.

Capt Kanwaljit also disclosed that members would be given cashless service at the hospitals under the scheme which would be run by the National Insurance Company.


Govt stays recoveries from rice millers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Punjab government has stayed recoveries to be made from rice millers on account of differential cost of custom milled and levy rice bags for the years 1997-98 to 2000-01 on the request of rice mills.

Instructions have been issued to the district controllers that till final decisions are received from the government of India, the millers will be required to deposit Rs 2.25 per quintal on account of the differential between 1 per cent acquisition cost of 1 quintal of paddy and 1 per cent of MSP. The agencies would retain Rs 6.75 per quintal allowed by the Centre and a benefit of 1 kg paddy per quintal would be passed on to the millers.


Kin not handed over body for unpaid bill
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 1
The CMC hospital authorities allegedly took away the body of Najjar Singh, who succumbed to injuries day before yesterday, soon after the postmortem examination this evening.

The medical superintendent of the CMC, Dr Komal Massih said: “Bill amounting to Rs 2.18 lakh has not been paid by the family of the deceased patient and that is why we have not released the body.” “The police took the body for a postmortem examination and returned it after it was conducted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the deceased alleged harassment by the police and the hospital authorities. Satpal, Sarpanch of Katani village, said: “They are poor peasants. However, the family managed to collect around Rs 1 lakh, but the hospital authorities refused to accept the amount.”


High Court
District forum chiefs appointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The stand-off between the Consumer Commission and the State of Punjab is over. The state has finally appointed presidents of District Forum.

As the matter came up for hearing, Punjab Advocate-General H.S. Mattewal produced before the Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Suriya Kant a notification.

Through the notification, retired district judges B.S. Mehndiratta, K.K. Bali, L.N. Sharma and P.C. Sharma have been appointed presidents of District Consumer Forums at Mohali, Barnala, Tarn Taran and Muktsar.

Earlier, the Department of Consumer Affairs, along with Food and Supplies Department, had conveyed it to the president of Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission that the government could not make appointments of the four candidates recommended by the Statutory Selection Committee. 


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