P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dried up tubewells throw up water
Timely paddy sowing, good monsoon raise groundwater level
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
In what may bring cheers to environmentalists, the groundwater table has shown a rising trend in the state, thanks to a good monsoon and timely sowing of paddy. Reports of a rise in the water table have been received from all parts of the state with farmers claiming they did not have to dig their tubewells afresh this time.

A number of farmers from different parts of the state, who gathered at a farmer training camp organised by Agriculture Department here today, reported between 1 feet and 5 feet rise in the water table in villages.

Mohinder Singh, a farmer from Accharwal village, near Raikot, said the water table had risen between 4 and 6 feet after this monsoon. “I was thinking I would need a submersible pump this time. But, my old tubewell worked. Things are really looking up. This has become a talk of all villages in the recent days,” he said.

Nirankar Singh Sran, joint director, agriculture (extension and training), who was in the city today, said preliminary reports from all parts of the state have revealed there was an upward trend in the water table that was declining for the past one decade.

He attributed it to the timely sowing of paddy coupled with good monsoon experienced in the region this year. “The farmers listened to us and they transplanted paddy and irrigated the crop as per the schedule given by agriculture experts. The weather gods, too, helped the state and we had very good rains. The result is in front of everybody to see,” he said.

Sran said the blockwise details of water table would be released by the department later this month as a special district-wise survey was under way to calculate the exact details. He said a tubewell in his fields that was at 70 feet had gone dry by the start of this kharif season. “After the rains, it started working. If the survey support the fact, we are really creating a history,” he said.

Make public places accessible to disabled, PWD secy told
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 8
The office of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities (CCPD) in Delhi on a complaint of Ashok Sharma from here has directed the Punjab Works Department (PWD), Punjab, to make all public places in the state accessible for disabled persons.

In a letter to the secretary, PWD (Building and Roads) deputy chief commissioner for persons with disabilities T.D. Dhariyal reminded the secretary: “As per provisions in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (Chapter VIII), all public places need to be made accessible to persons with disabilities for enjoying their rights and entitlements”.

Enclosing a copy of the Act in the letter of September 19, Dhariyal directed the secretary to ensure accessibility of all public places of Punjab for disabled persons.

Dhariyal asked the secretary to send an action taken report (ATR) in this regard to the office of the CCPD by October 24.

The deputy chief commissioner for persons with disabilities also enclosed a copy of the complaint submitted through e-mail on September 14 by Sharma.

In his letter, Dhariyal stated that Sharma had pointed out the difficulty in accessing public offices in the district administrative complex (DAC) of Jalandhar by persons with disabilities. He added that the complainant had mentioned that accessible toilets and reserved parking were also not available for disabled persons.

Copies of the letter were also sent to the Punjab disabilities commissioner and the Jalandhar DC.

The complainant had stated: “The lift in the DAC, Jalandhar, has not been functioning for several months.

Most of the public dealing offices are on the second and third floors of the DAC. The disabled and old persons had been facing problems and could not access the offices easily”.

This act of the administration amounted to violation of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, he added.


Kidney Donation
Now, fake letter creates ripples
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 8
An alleged fake letter of approval for kidney donation by the authorisation committee, headed by the district magistrate, Srinagar, has once again put one of Mohali’s private hospitals and its surgeons in a fix. The case pertains to the transplant of kidney of an alleged unrelated donor of Dhariwal in Gurdaspur to a resident of Jammu and Kashmir.

In reply to a letter of the local police, the district magistrate of Srinagar has stated that neither any letter had been received from the chief surgeon of Mohali’s hospital nor the office of deputy commissioner, Srinagar, had given any approval for the kidney donation in this case.

Meanwhile, a surgeon of Mohali’s hospital was summoned to Amritsar in connection with the case pertaining to the kidney donation to Kirpal Singh, additional deputy commissioner, Tarn Taran. However, the hospital sent its manager, who failed to give any satisfactory reply to the queries of the members of the authorisation committee.

The hospital is already in trouble following a U-turn by the prospective donor, saying that he had agreed to donate his organ in lieu of a job apart from other monitory considerations. Amritsar’s authorisation committee had rejected the kidney-donation case when SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh revealed that the hospital was already facing trials in a court of Amritsar.

Earlier, the police had arrested Raju for submitting a fake affidavit that he wanted to give his kidney to the Srinagar resident out of sheer love and affection. Later, Rajan Puri, an advocate of Amritsar, had been arrested for allegedly working as middleman in a kidney scam.


Govt to give land near Sutlej, Beas to farmers
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Bharoana (Gidderpindi), October 8
The state government will give ownership rights to farmers who are currently tilling government land in the pondage area of the Sutlej and Beas. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced this during a series of sangat darshan programmes at at flood-affected Bharoana and Gidderpindi villages today.

Ownership of more than 6,000 acres in 37 villages of Sultanpur Lodhi tehsil alone will be given to the farmers who will pay the price fixed by the local administration. The money will have to be paid in six instalments, he revealed.

Badal said the government had also sanctioned Rs 14.58 crore to repair the roads and other infrastructure damaged in the floods for the district. This was in addition to Rs 14 crore that has been released for compensation for crop loss, he added. A sum of Rs 180 crore will be disbursed to the flood-hit in various parts of the state, he said.

Reacting to the shortage of the DAP fertiliser in the state, he said he had talked to the chief secretary and the Markfed authorities and they had assured him that the needful would be done in the coming days, he said.

Badal said he had ordered a fresh survey to weed out the undeserving beneficiaries of the atta-dal and old-age schemes.

Talking to mediapersons at Gidderpindi, the Chief Minister said the ownership rights of the land within the dhussi bundh along the Sutlej would also be transferred to the farmers. The modalities were being worked out, he added.

Badal revealed that a separate road bridge would be constructed along the existing railway bridge and land for the purpose was in the process of being acquired from the Railways. A sum of Rs 50 crore had been sanctioned for the purpose and work would start in the next two or three months, he said.

To prevent breaches in the Sutlej, a 4 km long and 20 feet wide bundh would be constructed at the affected site. He said they would not allow a separate setup for gurdwaras but were amenable for a sub-committee to redress the problems of the Sikhs of Haryana.

Regarding the appointment of Vijay Sampla as chairman of Backfinco, who was yesterday not allowed to assume charge, Badal said it was a technical mistake since only a person from the Backward Classes could be appointed to the post. A new person would be appointed soon, he added.



SAD has no facts to counter my claim: Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
Senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa, who has created a political issue by highlighting the alleged discrimination against Majha and Doaba regions, today charged the SAD with using the names of senior Akali leaders to enunciate the views of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the issue.

Bajwa, in a statement here, said Akali leaders were made to mouth rhetoric and jargon to counter him, as they did not have any factual material to dispute his statement. He said statistics pertaining to the whole were “released” by the leaders even as they were silent on the number of development works taken up in the Majha and Doaba region vis-à-vis the Bathinda parliamentary constituency.

The minister demanded that the government come clean on how much money had been spent on new projects or servicing of old ones in the Majha and Doaba regions.

He said the government must also disclose what it planned to spend in these regions. As far as accusing him of regionalism was concerned, he clarified that he was against regionalism but claimed the SAD, which thrived on regionalism, could not accuse him of this bias.

Bajwa said a high-powered mechanism was needed to oversee development and allocation of new projects in the state.


Call to protect forests, wildlife
Our Correspondent

Harike (Tarn Taran), October 8
Forest minister Tikshan Sud on the concluding day of the Wildlife Week function held here today emphasised on the protection of forests and wildlife for the sustenance of life on this earth. R.C. Nayyar, financial commissioner, Forests, presided over the function.

Sud appealed to people to support wildlife conservation to provide safe and peaceful atmosphere to the wildlife. He said by rediscovering the Indus dolphin by the department in the Harike site of the Beas had made the site known across the world.

The minister called on residents, especially religious heads of different kar sewa sects, to help plant trees under the Nanhi Chhaan scheme launched by the government. He said imbalance in the environment was a matter of concern for all and this could be checked only by planting more and more trees.

Baba Sewa Singh, head of Kar Sewa, was honoured on the behalf of the government by the minister for planting trees in 10 years.

Nayyar said the government had initiated a plan on eco-tourism to encourage visit to forest and wildlife areas in the state to increase awareness and sensitivity of the common masses.

Sud also gave prizes to the winners of various competitions organised during the Wildlife Week, 2008. An exhibition of wildlife photographs and paintings was also arranged on the occasion.

Nangal (TNS): The government has ignored wildlife activists during the state-level wildlife week celebrations held at Harike Patan in Amritsar today. None of the known wildlife experts of the state, including honorary wildlife warden, Hoshiarpur, S.S. Bajwa, Nikhil Sanger of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Nawanshahr, and Prabhat Bhatti, director, Jagriti Sanstha, Nangal, were called at the function today.

“This is not a new thing for us. The government has never deemed it fit to include those people in such events who are really working at the ground level,” said Bajwa, known for trapping SDM, Pathankot, Puneet Goel for allegedly hunting two peacocks and four partridges. Bajwa added that earlier Sanger had been working with the government, but the moment he started his own work, he too was disowned.


Manpreet to don olive green
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 8
Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has made up his mind to join the Indian Territorial Army (TA). After former ace cricketer Kapil Dev, Manpreet Singh will be second eminent person from this region to join the TA recently.

“I have given my consent to the Army authorities to join the TA”, said Manpreet Singh. “The authorities concerned will send me necessary documents to me for enrolment in the TA”, said Manpreet Singh, who is above 6 feet and 3 inches.

Manpreet made up his mind to join the TA after he, along with his wife, visited the headquarters of Sikh Regiment in Jharkhand. “I was so much impressed with the discipline, commitment and dedication of the soldiers there that I decided to join the TA”, he said.

There are some politicians who entered into the political arena either after quitting the Army or retiring from it. Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Capt Amarinder Singh, Capt Balbir Singh Bath are some of the examples. Manpreet Singh is perhaps the first politician to join the TA after entering the political arena about 12 years ago.

Manpreet Singh is most likely to be given the rank of Lieut-Colonel or Colonel. Kapil Dev was given a similar rank. Manpreet Singh is also working on a project to provide preliminary training to the youth of Punjab to join the officer ranks in the Army.

“We are in touch with some retired Army officers to give a pre-test training to the youth of the state to prepare them for NDA and IMA physical tests and interviews, etc”, said Manpreet Singh.


Revision of land use charges on cards
Chitleen K. Sethi

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
The Punjab government is set to revise the change of land use (CLU) charges to be paid by owners of industrial plots who want to convert industrial land into multiplexes and industrial parks.

The Industries Department has proposed to reduce the CLU rates as laid down in Industrial Policy 2005. This policy had allowed owners of large industrial plots to convert their non-productive or vacant units into industrial parks, which had residential and commercial component along with the industrial, and multiplexes, which were considered total commercial ventures.

Now it is proposed in case of industrial plots in Mohali which are to be converted into multiplexes, the Industries Department would charge almost Rs 8.9 crore per acre. In Dera Bassi the charges would be Rs 8.7 crore for an acre, in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar it would be Rs 5.6 crore for an acre. For the rest of the state the rate is a little above Rs 1 crore an acre.

In case of an industrial park (which does not fall in the category of mega and super-mega industrial park), the 10 per cent commercial component of the project would be charged at the same rate as has been fixed for the multiplex. For the residential component of an industrial park a plot owner in Mohali would have to pay Rs 1.7 crore for an acre, in Dera Bassi he would have to pay Rs 1.6 crore for every acre, in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar the rate fixed is Rs 1.1 crore for an acre and in the rest of the state this would be Rs 37 lakh .

These rates, which include the external development charges (EDC) and the licence fee, are lower than what had been fixed in the 2005 policy. In 2005 the conversion rate for the commercial component was calculated on the basis of the prevailing auction price. For a multiplex in Mohali, for example, a promoter had to pay Rs 30 crore for every acre as CLU but now it would be Rs 8.9 crore.

The Industries Department justifies the move pleading these rates are more realistic and will encourage people who have vacant plots to invest in alternative projects.

Sources, however, state the rates fixed by the Housing Department are for those who want to start industry in the state using agricultural land where low rates are justified. But there is no justification for giving benefit to those who were allotted industrial land at low rates many years ago and left it vacant. 


Punjab was shortlisted for Nano, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday claimed that Punjab offered to provide all help to Tatas to set up the Nano project here. As Chief Minister, he had met Ratan Tata in Chandigarh, but for reasons known only to him, the company decided against setting up the project in Punjab.

He said this in reaction to allegations by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that Tatas had opted out of Punjab because Capt Amarinder Singh did not show any interest in the project. The then Punjab government offered the company 700 acres of land near Ropar, at Nabha and at Phillaur, though Tatas wanted to set up the project at Mohali.

The company agreed on Ropar after the company team had surveyed all three sites. Punjab also agreed to build a colony at a cost of Rs 300 crore at the project site, which would be leased out, to the company at nominal rates and they also wanted deferment of VAT for 30 years amounting to Rs 600 crore.

He said after negotiations, the government agreed on the land and colony demand but on the VAT waiver the government made it clear that it would be done if the company invested Rs 2,700 crore in the project. However, when the company agreed on an investment of Rs 1,500 crore, the government made it clear that its share would be only one third of the investment, he added. But, despite all this the company preferred West Bengal to Punjab.


NCC Molestation
Complainants were outsiders, claim Army officers
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
While the Army has ordered a court of inquiry (COI) into allegations of an NCC cadet being molested at a camp being conducted at Mahilpur, preliminary investigations have revealed that the complainants were outsiders.

“During preliminary investigations into the matter, we have learnt that the two complainants are not NCC cadets,” a senior NCC officer claimed. “The names they gave do not figure in the nominal roll of NCC cadets in that area,” he added.

Sources said even the addresses they mentioned in the FIR were fake. “When our teams went to the addresses, they found that the girls, who had given their names as Jyoti and Priyanka, did not live there, now making it difficult to trace the complainants,” the officer said.

The alleged incident had occurred on October 3 during a Thal-Sainik Camp being held on the premises of a local college in Mahilpur near Hoshiarpur. There were also reports of a local journalist being assaulted at the camp. The Punjab police had also registered a case concerning both incidents. About 450 cadets, including girls, from colleges in the region are attending the camp.

The COI, ordered by the Army’s Jalandhar Sub-Area, assembled today. An officer of the rank of colonel from Jalandhar is the COI’s presiding officer. Meanwhile, a JCO against whom the allegations were levelled, has been removed from the camp and sent to Jalandhar.

Meanwhile, deputy director general Brig Rajendra Singh, who is in charge of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh NCC directorate, visited the camp site today.


BDPO suspended for misbehaviour
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 8
Ram Lubhaya, block development and panchayat officer (BDPO), here has been suspended for misbehaving with the chairperson of the Block Samiti by the secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayats. A probe into the alleged misbehaviour is to be completed by additional deputy commissioner (Development) Manasvi Kumar.

Deputy commissioner Gurkirat Kirpal Singh had ordered the probe when Lubhaya and chairperson Kamlesh Kumari levelled allegations against each other. Dinesh Kumar Babbu, BJP MLA of Sujanpur, also levelled allegations against Ram Lubhaya for misbehaving with him.

Sources said the BDPO was suspended as the Block Samiti, Pathankot, had demanded his suspension for misbehaviour with elected representatives. They alleged that Lubhaya was maltreating the chairperson. Babbu also took up the matter with ministers apart from the deputy commissioner.

Following the suspension of Lubhaya, employees of the Rural Development and Panchayats will hold a meeting at Ludhiana tomorrow and take a decision against the state government. The employees were feeling agitated that the BDPO was suspended to please a section of the ruling politicians.


Book on body organs released
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 8
A book, “Doctor Massi Dian Kahanian” (stories narrated by doctor aunt), written by a government physician, Dr Harshinder Kaur, in the Punjabi language about the significance of different organs of the human body, was released by Dr Manmohan Singh, a senior IPS officer, at Citizen Vidya Mandir School, Maqboolpura, here today.

Earlier, Dr Harshinder Kaur interacted with the orphans of drug addicts who are getting free education in the Citizen Vidya Mandir School, being run by social activists Brij Bedi and Master Ajit Singh.

Punjabi poet Parminderjit and other critics rated the book as “the best” ever written in such narrative form for children. Among those who were present on the occasion included Master Ajit Singh, Anwant Kaur, Artinder Sandhu, Dr A.S. Padda, Dr Deepti, Mala Chawla and Dr Tejbir Singh.


CM extends Dussehra greetings

Chandigarh, October 8
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today extended warm and heartiest greetings to people of the Punjab on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra.

In his message, Badal said such festivals not only cemented the bonds of communal harmony, universal brotherhood and amity, but also brought joy and prosperity.

Meanwhile, leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has felicitated the people of the state. — TNS


PWD may import bitumen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
Concerned at a repeated hike in the price of domestic bitumen affecting ongoing road construction projects, the Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) is contemplating to allow contractors to import bitumen, without compromising the quality of road construction. Punjab PWD (B&R) minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa today constituted a committee of chief engineers to study the issue and draw terms and quality control measures for the import of bitumen by contractors.

The meeting felt due to the rising price of crude in the international market, bitumen was price being raised every fortnight disturbing the cost estimate of road construction projects.


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