P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


LS Elections
Amarinder to launch campaign after Diwali
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Former Chief Minister and convener of the Congress Campaign Committee Amarinder Singh, in his first public appearance after return from London, said here today now he is “here to stay (in Punjab) till Lok Sabha elections”.

“I have not been bogged down by legal cases after my expulsion from the House, though the Akalis wanted to do this, and we will start the campaign soon”, he said.

Here today to address reporters at the Chandigarh Press Club, he said, “If Badal (Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal) could go to get his hip joint fixed, why couldn’t I be away for my treatment? I am right here and will stay among the Congress workers till the polls”.

Accompanied by some sitting and a few former MLAs Amarinder Singh said Congress campaign in Punjab would be launched after the Dussehra and Diwali festivals.

“Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state has rejuvenated the Congress workers and the 7500 workers who have faced political vendetta at the hands of the SAD-BJP government are all waiting to “teach their political foes a lesson”.

Doubting free and fair elections in current political atmosphere in the state, “where the Akalis were targeting Congress workers”, he said he would meet the Election Commission of India and seek deployment of the Border Security Force (BSF) and thev Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Punjab for polling.

He alleged the SAD-BJP government ‘has not deployed senior superintendents of police (SSPs) in seven districts, where junior officers from the Punjab Police who have promised to help the Akali’s in the poll have been given acting charge. We will tell this to the Election Commission. The Akali’s had their way in the Municipal Committee elections, but we will not let them succeed this time”.

Amarinder Singh alleged SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had sent his youth brigade - the Students Organisation of India (SOI) to states like Bihar to learn booth- capturing and rigging the polls.

“Congress workers are ready to foil any such attempt”. The NSUI and also the Youth Congress under Vijay Singla was being revamped to face the SOI, he added.

Supporting “subsidies”, Amarinder Singh said, “It is duty of every government to look after people, especially the 13 lakh families below poverty line. Subsidies and free power to them must continue”.

He claimed offering Tatas to set up the Nano project in Punjab. But after short-listing Punjab, the company for some reason chose Bengal.

He accused the SAD-BJP government of cancelling projects approved by his government leading to flight of industry from Punjab and demoralising investors.

He refused to comment on his expulsion from Punjab Vidhan Sabha.


Violation of land allotment rules
Pvt schools to face action
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Punjab government has decided to take to task private schools in the state violating land allotment rules.

Land on subsidised rates to educational societies was allotted by the government asking these to enrol certain percentage of students from poor families.

However, it has come to light a majority of these schools have not followed the
allotment rules.

Director-general (Schools) Krishan Kumar has written to these school societies seeking information on poor students on their rolls.

“These school have been asked to give names of the students, the classes
they are studying in and their addresses to cross - check the information,”
said Krishan Kumar.

The first set of this letter was sent to 15 schools in SAS Nagar district yesterday. These included schools run by the Mata Ajit Kaur Memorial Education Trust, the Cheema Educational Charitable Trust, the Smart Kids Educational Society, the Love Walk Educational and Welfare Society, the Sandhu Educational Trust, the Doon International Society, the Green Field Public School, the Jahangir Singh Memorial Educational Society, the Genius Educational Trust, the Shishu Niketan Model School, the Global Education Society, the Anchal Educational Society, the Hemkund Educational Society, the Riverdale Educational Society, the Agarwal Educational Trust and the Pooja International School.

Krishan Kumar said over the years many educational societies had been given large pieces of prime land on concessional rates.

One of the conditions of allotment was that these schools should have 15 per cent of their students from yellow cardholder families or from poor families. These students would not be charged any tuition fee.

“However, I have reasons to believe that most schools have not followed this condition and poor students do not have access to quality education, against the claims of these schools,” said Krishan Kumar.

“We have asked for a list of such schools in the rest of the state from PUDA, so that similar information can be sought from them,” he added.

A recommendation would be made to the government to resume the land or penalise the violators of the allotment rules.

The Congress regime had done away with the process of allotment of land to educational societies at concessional rates and started auctioning it.



Development: ‘Majha being discriminated against’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Congress leaders of the border belt today criticised the state government for marginalising the Majha region, especially Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts, for overall development.

The Congress leaders said while Majha had been in the forefront opposing invaders, for sacrifices for country’s freedom, suffering in wars yet the state government had failed to nurture it properly due to political reasons.

It deserved greater consideration from government but not getting, they alleged.

Former minister and, MLA from Kahnuwan Partap Singh Bajwa and other senior Congress leaders from the region , in a joint press note here today alleged in a year and a half the region was marginalised in respect of new schemes and release of funds for projects.

Civic amenities in Amritsar and towns like Jandiala, Tarn Taran, Patti and Ajnala are poor. “Why have all these anomalies in development escaped eyes of these ministers and MPs”, Congress leaders asked.

They sought resignation of all SAD-BJP ministers from Majha for failing to protect interests of the region.

In addition, they demanded all projects originally allotted to the area brought back and liberal funds for development of Majha.

Senior Congress leaders, including Bajwa , Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Sardul Singh, Sukhdev Singh Shahbazpuri, all former ministers, Major Rajbir Singh Ajnala, former chairman, Punjab Livestock Board, Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lally Majithia, president DCC (Rural) Yoginder Dhingra, ex-president, DDC (Urban) Navdeep Singh Goldy, Youth Congress leader, Amritsar (South), and Tejpreet Singh Peter, ex-vice - chairman, Punjab Infotech said it was due to alleged directionless policies of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

They sought liberal funds for development in the border areas. Expressing surprise over “studied silence” of the MLAs , ministers and other senior leaders of the ruling party from the region for ignoring Majha, they asked “Why are ministers and MLAs from the ruling combine not raising voice against this discriminatory attitude of the Badal government?”

Roads in the border areas need repair. The entire belt needs upgrade of rural health facilities. Irrigation facilities in ‘chosen areas’ were being improved, they alleged.


‘Congress trying to divide people on regional lines’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Akali ministers Bikram Singh Majithia, Gulzar Singh Ranike and MP Rattan Singh Ajnala yesterday accused the Congress of trying to divide Punjab on regional lines by propagating one region in Punjab was getting more funds for development.

On the accusation of Congress leaders that Malwa was getting more projects than that of Majha and Doaba, the SAD leaders described this as a policy of the Congress leadership to divide Punjab on regional lines.

They termed the accusation baseless, politically motivated and highly misleading.

Ridiculing the Congress leaders for indulging in petty politics for personal gains, the SAD leaders accused them of scuttling efforts of the SAD-BJP government to ensure overall and balanced growth of the state.

The SAD leaders said Congress leadership was getting rattled due to development drive of The SAD - BJP government.

The leaders said the SAD-BJP government in its last tenure executed projects of Rajasansi international airport and Pushpa Gujral Science City at Kapurthala.

They urged Congress leaders to play the role of "constructive opposition".


Ambika to raise issue of border villagers
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Attari tourist complex upgraded

Located in a sprawling area of 1.25 acres, Aman Umeed Tourist Complex at Attari check post has been provided with a restaurant, bar, fast-food counter, three shops and rooms with attached washrooms, travel desk/information counter, craft display corner, ATM chamber and a parking area.

Attari, October 7
Recent spurt in terrorist activities in the country is a major threat to the tourist industry and there is a need for launching a global fight against terrorism.

Ambika Soni, union minister for tourism, stated this after inaugurating the Aman Umeed Tourist Complex, upgraded at a cost of Rs 1.60 crore, here today.

Soni said even though no foreign tourist had been hurt in the recent bomb blasts, their security was a major concern for the country.

She said they had urged states and union territories to strengthen the police and intelligence network.

The minister said the government would not dispose of the loss-making tourist complexes and hotels being run by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation.

She said they had decided to outsource the managements of these hotels.

It would not only help in wiping out the losses but also maintaining the old heritage hotels in the country.

Promising to raise her voice along with other MP for providing compensation to the farmers whose land fall across the border fence in the next session of Parliament starting October 17, Soni said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had assured her that all help would be provided to Punjab.

She claimed that Central government had never discriminated against any state.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said there was need for a comprehensive national scheme for the people living 10 to 15 miles along the border as they had suffered due to Partition and during two wars with Pakistan.

He said the state government had initiated a plan for seed farming on 1,200 acres, including 900 acres across the fence, which would help in the economic uplift of the people living near border.


Here Ram and Ravana co-exist
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
A 25-feet-high permanent statue of Ravana right next to a 150-year-old temple of Lord Rama in Payal village in this district proves that syncretism is still not an alien concept in this country.

Painted in pink and black, the statue of Ravana with its 10 heads and 20 arms stands tall next to the Ram temple. Unlike thousands of temporary effigies of Ravana that are burnt every year on Dushehra in various parts of India, this statue enjoys a special status.

It might appear unusual but it is true that the villagers are one in worshipping Ravana who is locally called Mahabali Ravana.

They seem to believe that the middle path is the best when it comes to abiding by the binary code of good and evil in Hindu mythology.

On the day when the victory of the good over the evil is celebrated all over the country, the people of Payal village, too, light some crackers on the statue's head but without causing any damage to the idol.

Once the ceremony is over, the legendary king, who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, is offered liquor and goat blood, another customary practice that has failed to change course over the years.

While narrating the story, Pandit Pramod Rai Dubey said, "The temple was constructed by my forefather Shahi Hakim Achru Ram Dubey to fulfill the wishes of his father Birbal Das Dubey who had renounced the world in dejection as he was childless even after two marriages. But he returned home after getting the blessings of a saint in Hardwar, who asked him to build a Rama temple and construct a statute of Ravana in front of it."

Members of the Dubey family, who own the temple, come and stay here for ten days during Dushehra to perform the rituals.

Pandit Dubey told The Tribune that the attempts to destroy this structure in the past had proved futile and whoever tried to do so had an unpleasant experience. Ultimately, they ended up reconstructing the idol, he added.

Recounting another incident that occurred in 1974, Krishan Kumar Tandon, an octogenarian from the village, stated a political party had dismantled the statue.

The villagers staged a protest and forwarded a complaint to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on whose orders the statue was reconstructed in a week's time.

"Every villager, both young and old, feels secure in the presence of this idol as it has become central to our lives. Moreover, it is the intellect that we look up to whenever we are in front of Ravana's idol," Tandon said.


Why Punjabis are obese?
Study to identify genetic cause
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
The Department of Human Genetics, Guru Nanak Dev university, and the Care Well Heart and Multi-specialty hospital here will study genetic cause of obesity among Punjabis in northern side of the country.

The UGC project- Genetic Research Study for Obesity in Punjabis from north India is first of its kind in this part of the country, to find out alarming incidence of heart ailments, diabetes and hypertension.

Dr A.J.S. Bhanwar, Prof, Department of Human Genetics, and Dr Rohit Kapoor, a heart specialist and diabetes consultant and medical director of Care Well said according to recent WHO reports, Punjab had maximum percentage of obese people in the country.

Incidentally women were more prone to obesity. There was no genetic research on this growing phenomenon in the country.

Dr Kapoor said the research had been started as India had emerged as number one diabetic country in the world and more so among Punjabis, due to their socio- economic pattern and robust lifestyle.


Students from Gidderbaha visit Tribune office
Tour organised by Manpreet Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Over 160 students from rural government schools in Gidderbaha visited The Tribune office and printing press here this morning.

The students were accompanied by Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal.

Their visit to The Tribune is part of the three-day educational tour organised by the finance minister for the “young achievers” of his constituency.

“Last year, I had promised this tour to all those students who secured very good marks in their examinations. These students have procured more than 70 per cent marks in the last examination and I am keeping my promise,” said Manpreet.

Other than the 160 students, more than 15 teachers from various government schools are also a part of the tour.

These teachers have shown 100 per cent pass percentage in their schools.

The students were shown The Tribune campus and given a brief account
of how the printing of newspapers had changed over the years due to
technological advancements.

Earlier in the day, these students met Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who spent almost an hour with them.

“It was a dream come true. He talked to all of us and encouraged us to bring glory to Punjab and our villages,” said one of the students.

A large number of students from the group had visited Chandigarh for the first time. The students also visited the Vidhan Sabha, Infosys Office in Chandigarh and Dell office in Mohali.

“For students from rural areas this kind of exposure should be an essential part of schooling. I would sponsor one such group at least once an year from now onwards,” said Manpreet, adding that he was working towards making Gidderbaha a fully literate constituency.


Badal voices concern over depleting green cover
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 7
Stressing upon the conservation of forest cover in the Kandi area, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced that the state government was vigorously pursuing with the issue of taking out 57,000 hectare of non-forest areas out of the purview of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900.

The Punjab Forest Department was pursuing the matter with the government of India. He was speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Punjab Forest Complex in Sector 68 here.

Starting off with a concern for the deteriorating air and water quality due to pollution, he said adulteration had taken its toll on people’s lives.

Planting and saving tress instead of uprooting them was the only preventive measure to check pollution.

Advising the forest department to chalk out a strategy to make tree plantation ‘a mass movement’, the Chief Minister said people should be motivated to plant trees around their houses.

He announced special prizes of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for the best green towns
and villages to be selected through a statewide competition organised by the
forests department.

Commenting upon the forest cover, Badal said the state’s area under forests cover had gone to Himachal Pradesh after reorganisation of Punjab way back in 1966.

The forests and medical education minister, Tikshan Sood, also underlined the significance of forests in the present scenario and hoped that the new forest complex to be constructed on the principles of green philosophy would prove to be a milestone in propagating the concept of ‘Green Building Design’ for the preservation and protection of the environment.

The five oval-shaped tower complex, to be built over an area of 2 acre, will cost around Rs 38 crore.

Cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh pointed out that the new forest complex would be instrumental in encouraging masses to adopt the green building technology in order to popularise the concept of clean and green environment.


IARI developed seeds ‘yield more than PAU’s’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) seeds are getting popular compared to Punjab Agricultural University’s, and can hold key to solving stagnation in wheat and rice production in Punjab.

Experts say wheat production is around 42 quintals per hectare while paddy yield is 39 quintals. This has been stagnant for years and no new PAU variety has been able to increase it in recent years.

So wheat and paddy varieties introduced by PAU are losing ground to IARI varieties. No recent PAU wheat variety has been able to get the response the PBW-343 got though PAU has now come out with PBW-550.

In rice, after the success of PR 106 more than 15 years back there has been no variety to match it. Recent PAU varieties, PR 114 and 118, have not been able to command a large area.

IARI varieties of rice, Pusa-44 and Pusa basmati-1, have been a great success. So has been Pusa 1121 which has increased yield of basmati rice by 70 per cent.

Bhagwan Das Gupta, secretary- general of the Young Farmers Association, says though Pusa 1121 was adopted by PAU in the very first year, Punjab is yet to catch up with Haryana, which has adopted it fully.

He said due to this against 48 per cent of basmati sowing of Pusa 1121 in Haryana, the area under this variety was only 5 per cent in Punjab.

This was increasing. He said against 90,000 hectares under Pusa 1121 in Punjab last year, this year this variety had been sown in 4 lakh hectares .

IARI director Dr S.A. Patil said they were ready to cooperate with PAU to increase farmers’ returns. He said the IARI had come out with varieties of basmati Pusa 1401 and Pusa 1460 which were superior to Pusa 1121 and Pusa Basmati-1 in cooking and grain quality.

Dr Patil said Pusa 1460 rice had more aroma and was less chalky compared to Pusa Basmati-1. It was suitable for mechanical harvesting also, he added.

In respect of wheat varieties the IARI has got good response to HD 2733 and 2851 even as PAU’s PBW 343 had completed its life circle, according to IARI senior wheat breeder Dr Bhanwar Singh.

The IARI is witnessing farmers coming to its centre in Karnal and also to Delhi to get the latest seeds.

Dr Patil suggested to chief secretary R.I. Singh to start a similar distribution programme through PAU.


Badal, Seechewal to build synergy on environment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
CM Parkash Singh Badal today stressed the need for building synergy between the state government and voluntary environmentalist movements to launch a decisive war on what he described as “the impending man-made cosmic disaster in ecology”.

Badal has assured his government’s support to individuals, organisations and movements devoted to saving the earth from environmental calamity.

Badal’s assurance was conveyed to the internationally acclaimed environmentalist, Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal during an hour-long meeting the latter had with Harcharan Bains, media adviser to the Chief Minister.


HC clears way for holding festivities in Kotkapura
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
The stage has been cleared for holding two-day Dussehra festival and cultural programme at the New Grain Market in Kotkapura. The festivities are scheduled to start from tomorrow.

Allowing a petition leveling serious allegations against the sub-divisional magistrate concerned, Justice A.N. Jindal of the Punjab and Haryana Court today quashed an order dated September 29, whereby the officer had cancelled the approval earlier granted for holding the festivities.

The petition against the State of Punjab, the Faridkot SDM and other respondents, was filed by Kotkapura-based All-India Hindu Welfare Committee.

In it, the committee had alleged that the officer, it seemed, had passed “the impugned order due to political influence of some local Akali leaders, who were not interested that the committee should celebrate the festival. Due to this reason, the SDM has cancelled the approval earlier granted to the petitioner”.

The petitioner, through president Naresh Sehgal, had added the SDM had not assigned any reasons for the cancellation of the approval.

Taking up the petition, Justice Jindal added: The petitioners would organise the function at the place mentioned in the order dated September 26. In his detailed order, Justice Jindal observed: State counsel, after having a discussion with SDM, Faridkot, disclosed that the cancellation of the approval was effected on the request of the petitioners as they wanted to postpone the function and also that another function is being organised at Kotkapura on the same ground.

“The SDM, Faridkot, vide order dated September 26, had permitted the petitioner to organise the Dussehra festival and cultural programme at New Grain Market, Kotkapura, on the right corner of the gate situated on Bathinda road with effect from October 8 to October 9.

“The order dated September 29 does not reveal if the petitioners intended to postpone it and it also does not disclose as to for what reason the approval dated September 26 was cancelled.

“Under these circumstances, the instant petition is allowed and the impugned order dated September 29 is quashed.”


5 killed as buses collide head-on
Raj Sadosh

Sriganganagar (Abohar), October 7
Five persons, including a driver, were killed and 20 injured when two luxury buses collided head-on near Netewala village, about 10 km from Sriganganagar, on the National Highway No. 15 early this morning.

The private luxury bus, which had left Sriganganagar for Bikaner at 5.45 am, collided head-on with another bus coming to Sriganganagar from Jodhpur.

Certain passengers of the bus coming to Sriganganagar said its driver had asked the conductor to drive as the bus had covered half the distance at Bikaner around 1 am as he was feeling tired.

Those who died on the spot included the driver of the Bikaner-bound bus Deepa Jat and passengers of the other bus Rajinder Lodha and his wife Suman of Bikaner, Jodhpur resident Sawai Singh and Kanpur resident Saurabh Arora.

Most of the injured persons were admitted to the Sriganganagar district hospital. A case has been registered, the police said.


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