P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


30 lakh tonnes of wheat lie in open
State also faces paddy stocking
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Punjab, which has 50 per cent of the country’s buffer stock of both wheat and paddy in its territory, is facing a severe problem of stocking the ongoing paddy being procured in the state with 30 lakh tonnes of wheat lying in the open.

According to food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, there is about half of the 72 lakh tonnes of wheat lying in the state. He said with the movement of foodgrains out of the state continuing to be slow, there could be a global shortage if any problem occurred making wheat lying in the open.

Kairon said at the present slow rate of movement of foodgrains out of the state, the state would be left with the same amount of wheat and paddy in October next year. He said the state had requested for the movement of at least 4.5 lakh tonnes of foodgrain every month, but the increase in procurement from the 105 lakh tonnes last year to around 125 lakh tonnes, which expected to be procured this year, could necessitate a movement of 6 to 7 lakh tonnes every month.

He said the Centre had not given a comprehensive storage facility to the state and recently the state had been asked to hire spaces for a period of three years.

Meanwhile, the Food and Civil Supplies Department is also involved in a Rs 4,400-crore payment dispute with the Food Corporation of India (FCI). This dispute has arisen due to lack of proper maintenance of balance sheets over the past five to eight years. The minister said this year’s balance sheet was in the making and the balance sheet of the past two years would take around four to five months.

Kairon said the department had now computerised all payment centers and linked them to the mainframe so that this problem did not occur again.


FCI not procuring its share, says govt
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Extremely slack procurement of paddy by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) seems to be adding to the woes of the state government, which has already stepped up pressure on its procurement agencies as well as senior bureaucrats to ensure that all paddy arriving in mandis is procured without any hitch.

The indifferent attitude of the FCI towards paddy procurement is frustrating the state government, which wants it to pick its allotted share of 10 per cent of the entire paddy arrival in mandis in the state. Till now, the FCI has procured a little more than 2 per cent of its allotted share amounting to around 22,000 tonnes.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said the FCI share in procurement in the state had been decreasing over the years. He said earlier the FCI used to have an allotted share of 35 to 40 per cent, and was now pegged at 10 per cent. Claiming that the meagre procurement on the part of the agency was adding to the state’s woes, he said the FCI had the requisite storage capacity.

FCI officials, however, claim that high moisture content of 19 to 20 per cent as well as unwillingness of the millers themselves to lift paddy from the agency is responsible for the low procurement. “We insist on a moisture content of only 17 per cent as per laid down regulations, but if the state agencies are willing to procure paddy with more moisture content we cannot do anything about it,” they said.

FCI senior regional manager (SRM) Sarvjit Singh said the FCI was simply not getting paddy because millers themselves did not want to follow the FCI procurement procedure and were happy taking paddy from state government agencies. The SRM said according to FCI norms, paddy was procured and shifted to its godowns. He said following this, the millers had to lift the paddy from the godowns at their own expense after submitting rice of an equal amount in advance.

Sarvjit said this blocked the working capital of millers as the state government agencies were carrying paddy to the mills at their own expenses and not demanding rice in advance. The FCI expects the procurement to improve slightly in the coming days.


Khangura flays SAD-BJP for delay in procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The SAD-BJP government has come under a sharp criticism over the issue of the smooth procurement of paddy during the current season. The latest in the series to take on the government, Jassi Khangura, Congress legislator from Kila Raipur, has written to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal saying that the government has failed to plan effectively for this kharif paddy procurement season.

Khangura had told the Chief Minister, “I have just visited several mandis in my constituency and met farmers waiting for as long as eight days for the acceptance of their harvest. Most shockingly I noticed the return of the ‘manji’ (cot), which farmers are again carrying to the mandis to rest their tired bodies, while officials fiddle, fumble and harass, something that we had not witnessed in all 10 harvests of the last administration”.

The Congress legislator further said deputing principal secretaries to the districts to resolve issues was an abject admission that this administration had completely failed to get its act together in time.

“This is most surprising in the context of your often proclaimed love for the interests of the Punjab farmer”, Khangura’s letter read. He has asked the Chief Minister for an explanation about the “procurement mess”.


Book Raj for sedition, demand Purvanchalis
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 22
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNC) president Raj Thackeray might have got interim anticipatory bail today in different cases filed against him in connection with the assault on candidates appearing for a railway examination on Sunday, Purvanchalis-migrants from UP and Bihar here today upped the ante against him and demanded that he should be booked on the charge of sedition.

Talking to The Tribune, state president of the Purvanchal Vikas Mahasabha (PVM), Sachidanand Singh, said an FIR of sedition should be registered against Raj as his acts were amounting to an attempt to attack unity and integrity of the nation.

Welcoming the statement of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in which he had criticised Raj Thackeray’s acts, the PVM chief said nearly 30 lakh Purvanchalis settled in Punjab were agitated over the MNS’s violent acts against North Indians.

Earlier, PVM activists took out a motorcycle protest rally from Avtar Nagar here in the morning. The activists burnt the effigy of Raj and raised slogans against him.

Following which, the protest rally went towards the district administrative complex (DAC) where the activists submitted a memorandum to additional deputy commissioner S.S. Murar on the behalf of the president.

Among other demands mentioned in the memorandum, the PVM sought a ban on the MNS and at least Rs 10 lakh as compensation for the family of Bihar’s Nalanda district applicant Pawan Kumar who had been killed at Andheri in Mumbai following the attack by MNS workers on the examinees from North India.


Raj’s statements threat to nation’s integrity: Shankracharya
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 22
The statements of Raj Thackeray, president of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), are a threat to the nation’s integrity and there is a need for taking steps to resolve the issue peacefully in Maharashtra.

Stating this to the media here today, Swami Nishayananda Shankracharya, Acharya of Puri Peeth, said the terror let loose by workers of the MNS against immigrants in Maharashtra was dangerous for the country as it could vitiate the peaceful atmosphere. Terming the present developments in Maharashtra as unfortunate, he said this was due to the decline in moral and social values in society for which no political party could be blamed.

Shankracharya, who is in the city to deliver a religious discourse at the Nirmal Vedant Ashram, said the country belonged to every citizen and everyone had the right to live peacefully at a place of his choice.

Stressing on the need for adopting traditional social values, he said political leaders were only interested in vote-bank politics and the least interested in serving the society. He added till society failed to adopt traditional social and moral values, peace could not be established in the country.



6 PCS officers’ promotion cleared following SC order
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 22
Decks have been cleared for the promotion of six Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers to the IAS following an order passed in this regard by the Supreme Court today.

Gurminder Singh, an advocate, who represented the PCS officers in the Supreme Court, told The Tribune today that the apex court had modified the orders issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 24, April 3 and April 10 and had directed the authorities concerned to promote the six PCS officers, whose names were recommended by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on February 25 to the IAS. The officers are Balwinder Singh Multani, Prabhjot Singh Mand, A.S. Miglani, M.R. Aggarwal, Harbhupinder Singh Nanda and Deepinder Singh.

Gurminder said the apex court had directed the state government authorities concerned to implement the order regarding the promotion of the six officers in three weeks and send the names to complete the necessary process.

The apex court has also vacated the stay on reversion ordered by the high court in case of respondents to the SLP filed by the six PCS officers. The state government has also been directed to fill another 10 vacant posts of the IAS. These 10 posts are of promotion quota and to be filled by promoting eligible PCS officers. The government has been told to complete the process in three months.

Meanwhile, sources in the PCS cadre said there was a possibility of reversion of some of the IAS officers to the PCS cadre after the implementation of the order issued by the Supreme Court today.

“Though there will be no immediate reversion of some of the IAS officers to the PCS, it was possible in due course when 10 other vacant posts of the IAS officers will be filled by promoting PCS officers. Some of the IAS officers promoted earlier from the PCS cadre had become junior following the revised seniority list of the PCS cadre released by the state government. However, due to litigation, the process of promotions and demotions remained held up.


300 immigrants return, feel cheated by agents
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Pathankot, October 22
Mahesh Kumar (name changed) of this city made his parents sell their assets to arrange Rs 7 lakh to be paid to a travel agent so that he could go to Greece for better prospects. Before he could reach his dream destination, he was caught by the police in Gini Kanakari city of West Africa. He returned to India after taking money from his parents.

Rakesh Kumar (name changed), a resident of a neighbouring town, was not so lucky. When he came back home after two and half years of torture and starvation in that city, he found his wife had left and his parents had disowned him.

The only brother of seven sisters, Rakesh, who had come under heavy debt, has been taking treatment from a psychiatrist.

About 18 youths of this area, who have come back after facing harassment and inhuman treatment from travel agents and in different jails in foreign lands, have been pressing the police to arrest the travel agents who had cheated them.

Police sources said a case under the Immigration Act had been registered against Jagtar Singh, Bittu and Kiran Minhas, travel agents, on the complaint of protector of immigration, Indian Embassy in that country at the police station, division No. 2 here on October 11.

The victims said four illegal immigrants of Punjab had died of starvation.

They added that the agents had cheated 350 youths of Punjab by taking lakhs from them to send them abroad with assurance of employment, but left at the mercy of the police of different countries.

They said most of these victims had returned to India after facing hell in foreign lands.

Harpreet Singh, SP, said efforts were on nab the culprits.


Shortage of DAP fertiliser to end soon: Chief secy
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 22
There will be no shortage of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser in the days to come in the state as the Punjab government has made arrangements to procure 5.50 lakh metric tonnes of the required DAP for farmers.

In reply to a question here today, Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said the DAP fertiliser would be available to farmers in required quantity for sowing wheat as five trains of DAP were arriving daily in the state.

The chief secretary was on a tour to the district today to inspect the procurement of paddy. He visited the grain markets of Sangrur, Dhuri, Sirhind and Amargarh and conducted a check on the spot there.

At Amargarh village, the chief secretary found two bags of paddy underweight. So he ordered the district mandi officer to issue a notice to the arhtiya, before initiating necessary action against him. In the Dhuri grain market, he asked an inspector of Markfed to hold the auction of paddy of a farmer.

Ramesh said there was no problem in paddy procurement as payment and lifting of the procured paddy were being done in time. However, he admitted there was some problem in the procurement due to more moisture content in the paddy during the past few days.

Regarding filling of vacant posts of PCS officer, the chief secretary said the process to fill about 60 posts was already in progress. The chief secretary favoured recruitment of the PCS officers on an annual basis.


Tribune Impact
Acid Attack on Dalit Woman

Human Rights panel seeks report from SSP
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 22
Taking a suo moto notice of the news item, titled “Accused throws acid on rape victim”, that appeared on the front page of The Tribune on October 15, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked its ADGP (Internal Vigilance Cell) to investigate the incident.

Talking to The Tribune on telephone, Justice R.S. Mongia, chairperson of the PSHRC, said he had also asked Ashok Bath, SSP, Moga, to furnish a detailed report on this incident latest by December 18.

The three accused - Soni, who had sexually exploited the victim four months back, and two of his associates Nita and Jita- had allegedly poured acid on her on October 14. The victim is presently undergoing medical treatment in the Civil Hospital here.

Earlier, the PSHRC had also summoned a report from District Magistrate Satwant Singh Johal regarding the sexual exploitation of the woman. Acting immediately, the DM submitted the report to the rights panel. The next hearing in this case is December 16.

Following the intervention of the rights panel, the then SHO of the police station (rural) G.S. Bhullar had been removed from post and sent to the Police Lines. Besides, a departmental inquiry had also been initiated against him, which is still in progress. Even the SDM in his magisterial probe had indicted the SHO of gross negligence in delaying to register an FIR in that case.

Meanwhile, social activist Navneet Kapoor has approached the commission with a complaint against police officials who he alleged were protecting the culprits in the sexual harassment case. The next hearing in this has been fixed for December 16.

Now, in the case of acid attack, the victim had alleged that the police first tried to protect the culprits, but later realising the sensitivity of the incident a criminal case under Sections 326 and 34, IPC, was registered against them. A couple of days after this, Sections 3 and 4, SC/ST Atrocities Act, 1989, were also added.

SHO of the police station (rural) Jasbir Singh too was removed from post and sent to the Police Lines after doctors confirmed that injuries were ‘corrosive,’ possibly caused by acid.

On the other hand, the victim had alleged that the doctors were not properly taking care of her, as a result of which, infection had gripped her injuries. An official of the Health Department, while denying the allegations, said they had changed the doctor who was attending her and she was being provided better health care.


Manpreet bans gifts on Diwali
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 22
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal yesterday directed officers and others concerned of his department not to accept any gift from anyone on Diwali. He has instructed senior officers of his department to tell officials working in their respective offices to abide by the order regarding gifts.

Manpreet has issued an order to the senior officers telling them that accepting of gifts is illegal. In case any official in the department is found accepting gifts, action will be taken against him or her. Manpreet has sent copies of his order to principal secretary finance and administrative secretary planning for its implementation in letter and in spirit. Wishing all a happy and prosperous Diwali, Manpreet said Diwali was a festival of lights. Officers and others holding public positions should maintain its purity and spirit and refuse to accept gifts.

He said the gift business during holy festivals such as Diwali had assumed menacing proportions. In fact, offering costly gifts during such occasions had become akin to bribing officials and others who hold decision-making posts. "There is a need to stop this gift business", he said.


Amarinder foresees coal shortage
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
Visualising coal shortage for Punjab-based power plants, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has sought the shifting of super thermal plant projects of Punjab to Bihar and Jharkhand-based coal mines. He has also demanded a joint nuclear power plant in Rajasthan for power needs of the state.

Punjab has one super thermal power plant (a plant generating more than 1,000 MW of power) at Ropar, while another 1,980 MW thermal plant was inaugurated at Lehra Mohabbat by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on October 2. Two super thermal power plants were to come up at Rajpura (1,320 MW) and at Gidderbaha (2,640 MW) the foundation stones of which will be laid in December and March 2009.

Amarinder said since coal stock was depleting from country’s mines, there might not be sufficient coal for country’s needs, particularly those of Punjab, in near future.

Asserting he had never opposed nuclear power plants as a project for Punjab, Amarinder said he was only against installation of such plant in Punjab for state’s dense population and winds being West-bound.


Now kar sewa for 200-bedded hospital
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, October 22
After kar sewa of Sikh shrines in Pakistan and India, Dera Baba Jagtar Singh has taken up constructing a 200-bedded Rs 100-crore super-specialty hospital, a first of its kind in the border belt.

The Dera persuaded owners of 100 shops and houses to hand over their buildings, constructed on the prime land, which were later demolished to construct a six-storey hospital. African Sikh Milkha Singh donated one acre to the Dera. Baba Mohinder Singh, Dera treasurer, said the hospital was being built on more than 4 acres. He said the Dera had spent Rs 7 crore on the land.

After Tarn Taran was made 19th district of the state on June 16, 2006, to mark the 400th martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, Dera Baba Jagtar Singh took up the social responsibility of building the hospital.

The town was founded by Guru Arjan Dev in 1596. Successive governments failed to provide proper health facilities to its residents. A number of residents of this district had died for want of proper health facilities. The residents have to go to Amritsar or Jalandhar for proper health care.

Dera Kar Sewa, Tarn Taran, has designers, electricians, masons, minakars, naqash, carpenters, welders, motor mechanics, plumbers, engineers, chartered accountants, legal advisers, doctors etc to perform respective duties for the Dera Kar Sewa engaged in the completion of the hospital.

Earlier, the Dera had opened a number of educational institutes, Guru nanak Academy at Pehowa, Haryana , Baba Bota Singh Baba Garja Singh Public School at Chabal road, here where needy students get free education.

The name of the new hospital is Guru Nanak Dev Charitable Hospital to be completed by next year.

The Dera will engage the best doctors and paramedical staff, said Baba Mohinder Singh and paying them attractive salaries.


Depts differ over land use, approval of building plans
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
A serious difference of opinion has once again cropped up between the Departments of Housing and Industries, Punjab. This time it is over the issue of ascertaining who is the competent authority for allowing the change of land use and approval of building plans.

In two strongly worded communications, Housing officials have objected to the notification issued by the Industries Department, where the Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) and Punjab Infotech have been made the competent authorities for allowing the change of land use and approving building plans.

The Housing Department has pointed out that the change of land use is granted by the government under the Punjab Regional Town and Planning Act, 1995, and since the Housing Department is the only administrative department of this act, it is the Housing Department alone which can give change of land use approvals.

The Housing Department has also stated that the approval of building plans is done under this act and the Punjab Municipal Act.

The communication further pointed out that “building plans in respect of the plots in focal points developed by the PSIEC and Infotech are already being approved by the chief town planner, Punjab. “Therefore, there is no need whatsoever to change the laid-down legal procedure.”

The Department of Industries had issued a set of notifications on August 19, 2008, laying down a time limit for the various approvals and clearances required. The notifications had mentioned the PSIEC and Infotech as the “competent authority” for the approval for the change of land use and building plans depending on the location of the project. The Housing Department has also demanded an amendment to this notification.

“We have received the letters from the Housing Dept and are examining the issue. The chief secretary, Punjab, has asked for our comments over the matter and we are in the process of finalising these,” said S.S. Channy, principal secretary, Industries.


Judge fights legal battle for reinstatement
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
An additional civil judge (senior division), retired prematurely by the State of Punjab, is fighting a legal battle for his reinstatement.

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, ex-civil judge Satpal has also challenged the registrar-general’s order, whereby, judicial work was withdrawn from him.

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench of the high court, comprising Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Justice Rajan Gupta, has issued notice of motion to the state and the registrar-general. The Bench has also fixed February 18, next year, as the date of hearing of the case.

Claiming that his work and conduct were “very good”, the petitioner added there was no complaint against him and was confirmed vide order dated May 22, 2002.

Patiala District Sessions Judge, under whose supervision the petitioner was initially working, appreciated his work from June 2003 to May 2005 and recorded satisfactory to good remarks in his annual confidential report (ACR).

Similar remarks were entered by Faridkot District and Sessions Judge for his work from April 2005 to May 2008. Going into the background of the issue that ultimately led to his premature retirement, the petitioner said he was directed to expedite the disposal of a rent petition vide an order by the Faridkot District and Sessions Judge.

Complying with the orders, the petitioners expedited the proceedings. The progress reports were forwarded fortnightly.

The opposite party, however, complained, following which, the pending rent matters were withdrawn. Subsequently, the registrar-general, on the basis of the full court decision, passed an order withdrawing the judicial work from the petitioner.

Soon after the withdrawal of work, the registrar-general conveyed to the petitioner “B-average” remarks in his ACR for 2007-08. A representation against the same was filed, which was still pending.

It was added the action of retiring him prematurely was illegal. There was no adverse entry in the ACR, which could have led to the passing of the impugned order.

Moreover, neither a chargesheet, nor inquiry or vigilance proceedings were pending against him. The entire service record was not considered before forming the opinion about his compulsory retirement.


Moga Sex Scam
Bail plea of former minister’s son rejected
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
The special CBI court, Punjab, has rejected the bail plea of Barjinder Singh, son of senior SAD leader and former Punjab minister Tota Singh, saying his custodial interrogation was required in the money extortion scandal surrounding the ill-famed Moga sex scandal.

Interestingly, apprehending his arrest, Barjinder Singh, who, had filed his bail plea in the CBI trial court here under Section 439 of the CrPc in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, allegedly gave a slip to the CBI sleuths even before his application was disposed of by the court.

The court of Special Judge, CBI, Punjab, H.S. Madaan, however, did not issue any arrest warrants against Barjinder despite strong pleas extended by the CBI counsels, including, H.P.S. Verma.

The CBI counsels pleaded that the accused had given an undertaking in the para 21 of his application itself that he was surrendering before the court before hearing of his application by the court.

After listening to defence and prosecution counsels and responding to their pleas, the court, it was learnt, said it was of the view that Barjinder’s custodial interrogation was required but he was already under an interim protection granted against his arrest by the Supreme Court till October 27.

Barjinder had earlier moved the SC seeking bail and the SC, it was learnt, had granted protection against arrest till October 27, but, at the same time, the apex court had directed Barjinder to join investigation and cooperate with the investigating agency, which, in case, was the CBI.

Barjinder Singh, according to the prosecution, was required to be in custody of the investigating agency.

Sources in the court revealed that since Barjinder was apprehensive of his arrest by the CBI, he managed to sneak out of the court room and virtually gave a slip to the otherwise, vigilant looking CBI sleuths immediately after lunch time.


Two sisters injured in acid attack
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, October 22
Two motorcycle-borne youths threw acid on two sisters of Panditawali Gali, while they were going to their respective jobs this morning. According to information, sisters Nidhi Nanda and Jyoti Nanda were commuting on a scooter when two boys riding a motorcycle halted near them and threw acid on them.

Both girls sustained burn injuries. Army jawans, deployed at a nearby check post, heard the shrieks of the girls and took them to the cantonment hospital, from where they were referred to the local Civil Hospital. Dr M.S. Tinna, SMO, Civil Hospital, said both girls were out of danger.

Nidhi is working as a junior advocate with Balwant Singh Sekhon, a leading lawyer, while Jyoti is working in HDFC Bank. Subhash Nanda, father of the victims, said they had no idea why the boys resorted to this kind of dastardly act. While talking to mediapersons, the girls denied having any enmity with anyone.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case against unknown persons and massive hunt has been launched to nab the culprits.


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