P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


GND University Foundation Day Function
Call to follow teachings of Nanak
P.K. Jaiswar and Ashok Sethi
Tribune reporters

From L-R: HK Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune, Justice Syed Afzal Haidar, former law minister of Pakistan, along with other dignitaries during a function held to mark the GND varsity foundation day on Monday
From L-R: HK Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune, Justice Syed Afzal Haidar, former law minister of Pakistan, along with other dignitaries during a function held to mark the GND varsity foundation day on Monday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Amritsar, November 24
Researcher of Guru Nanak and Baba Farid’s philosophy of universal brotherhood, Justice Syed Afzal Haider, a judge of Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan, said the time had come to forget bitterness and spread the message of love, peace and harmony in the globe as preached by Guru Nanak Dev and Baba Farid.

He was speaking on the 39th foundation day function of Guru Nanak Dev University here today. He said on his visit to Amritsar, paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and visiting the Jallianwala Bagh was like a pilgrimage for him. Justice Haider, who has transliterated Sukhmani Sahib and other Sikh scriptures in five languages, said Guru Nanak respected all religions. He said the Pakistani government had initiated efforts to establish a Baba Nanak International University to provide free education to students irrespective of caste and creed as enshrined in the Sikh religion.

He said Shaheedi Diwas of Guru Arjan Dev and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev were celebrated with piety in Pakistan and the Pakistan government had issued a stamp on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. The first Sikh Anand Karj Act was passed in Pakistan due to the efforts of Justice Haidar. This Act was drafted and implemented by him.

H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune, said there was a whiff of fresh air in India-Pakistan relations and both countries had desired positive steps leaving the bitter past behind.

He said he had experienced the trauma of Partition and witnessed two wars between the two neighbours and it was difficult to understand why people killed each other without a personal feud, but only on the basis of births in different religions.

He said corruption, criminalisation of politics, caste and religion were the causes behind conflicts. He said in the era of meltdown, spiritual values and message of Guru Nanak had a great relevance.

He said GND varsity was established with a message of love and peace, besides spreading Guru Nanak’s preaching, spiritual message and fundamentals. However, there would be no development without science and technology. He said advanced technology and research should be applied for the development of people and to end poverty from India and South Asia.

He said Punjab was the land where the 10th Guru sacrificed his sons, but our politicians were sacrificing the country for the sake of their sons.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur, former pro vice-chancellor of the university, said Guru Nanak Dev never recognised or challenged the identity of any individual. The vision of Guru Nanak was universal.

Prof Jai Rup Singh, welcoming the speakers, said GND university was committed to spread the message of Guru Nanak.

He also honoured Justice Haider, Mr Dua and Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur with mementos. Dr Pushpinder Kaur, wife of the VC, also honoured Begum Silvi Khurshid and Mrs Dua with shawls.


Honour and Gratitude to Battle Heroes
Amended scheme unlikely for kin of pre-’99 martyrs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Despite attempts to amend the Punjab government’s policy of honour and gratitude to enable kin of all battle casualties to be eligible for government jobs, relatives of defence personnel who sacrificed their lives before 1999 may not be covered under the scheme.

According to a recent notification of the Department of Personnel, procured through the RTI, it has asked the Department of Defence Services Welfare to amend only the clauses related to post- January, 1999, cases. Such an amendment will not bring the pre-1999 battle casualty cases under the Honour and Gratitude Scheme and will only result in status quo since all battle casualties post- January, 1999, are already covered under the gratitude scheme.

The present gratitude scheme for kin of battle casualties only covers those who were martyred post-January 1999. The scheme, which came into force after the Kargil operation, was proposed to be amended so that all relatives of battle casualties could be covered under it.

Cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who also looks after defence welfare services, had on demand from relatives of martyred defence personnel written to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to broaden the definition of battle casualty from the earlier one of having been killed in battle or operations against an external enemy to cover all casualties, including deaths in counter-insurgency operations. All casualties declared as such by the Ministry of Defence were proposed to be covered under the amended scheme.

Capt Kanwaljit had also pointed out that he did not agree with the Department of Personnel which felt that only group B, C and D posts should be offered to dependent family members of the deceased. He said the dependents should be offered appointments commensurate with qualifications.

Relatives affected by the move said the Department of Personnel should have itself amended the definition of ‘war hero’ in the policy as it had proposed in a letter ID No 11/114/99-2PP1/8014 dated 27/06/2000 to include the cases of winners of gallantry awards. The proposal said the government could include any other category of awardee for the purpose of providing employment to the category of war heroes, as may be notified. They said only by ensuring a similar amendment to the definition of war hero would the government be able to bring pre-1999 casualty cases within the ambit of the policy.

According to relatives, the Department of Personnel had only asked the Defence Welfare Department to make a list of operations to be included in the policy. This they said was against the very spirit of the policy, which aimed to cover every casualty irrespective of the operation, involved.

Some affected persons have also appealed to Capt Kanwaljit to intervene to ensure that miscarriage of justice was not carried out and the amendments proposed by him effected to ensure their welfare. 


LS Polls
Ex-director (health) eyes BJP ticket from Hoshiarpur
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 24
While Punjab technical education and industrial training minister Swarna Ram has reportedly conveyed to the BJP high command his reluctance to contest the Lok Sabha election from Hoshiarpur (Reserved) seat due to ill-health, several others are keen for the BJP ticket for this seat. It is speculated that the SAD may ask the BJP to get Ferozepur, Ludhiana or Anandpur Sahib seat in place of Hoshiarpur this time.

Sources said Punjab Khadi Board chairman Vijay Sampla and former Punjab health director Dr T.C. Malhan were seeking the BJP ticket for 
Hoshiarpur seat.

While Sampla recently was accommodated as Khadi Board chairman, Dr Malhan is state president of one of the front organisations of the party, the BJP’s medical cell.

Dr Malhan joined the BJP a few months after his retirement as state health director in 2001. Having remained state general secretary of the BJP’s medical cell for several years before becoming its state chief, he served for 10 years as PCMS officer in different parts of Hoshiarpur district, including Mukerian, Dasuya and Mand Mandher.

One thing in favour of Sampla and Malhan is that they both belong to the Ravidass community having considerable population in the Doaba region.

Besides the BJP, the SAD has announced two candidates- deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and Hans Raj Hans from reserved seats of Fatehgarh Sahib and Jalandhar, respectively. Atwal belongs to the Mazhabi Sikh community, whereas Hans is from the Balmiki community. So, Sampla and Malhan’s claim on Hoshiarpur seat is considered strong.

Besides, PUDA’s chief administrator Som Parkash is also reportedly interested to contest Hoshiarpur LS poll on BJP ticket. However, he refused to comment on this saying he was still in service and would retire after six months.

At present, a former state BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna is LS member from Hoshiarpur seat, which was general last time. Khanna refused to say anything on the speculation that the BJP might exchange Hoshiarpur seat with any of Ferozepur, Ludhiana or Anandpur Sahib.

Anyhow, the BJP high command is keeping its cards close to its chest regarding its third LS candidate from Punjab, whereas it had already made it public its two sitting MPs Navjot Sidhu and Vinod Khanna would re-contest from their respective Amritsar and Gurdaspur LS seats, respectively.


PTU sans regular vice-chancellor
Search panel to meet today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 24
For the past six months, the Punjab Technical University (PTU) is without a regular vice-chancellor. According to official sources, a search committee that was set up by the government will meet tomorrow to shortlist the names of three candidates suitable for the appointment. Last week a meeting of the committee was held, but it was postponed because one member did not come.

At present, Tejinder Kaur, principal secretary (Technical Education), is officiating as the vice-chancellor of the university. She visits the university once in a week to deal with official matters. However, the varsity needs a full-time vice-chancellor to deal with day-to-day affairs of various institutions affiliated to it.

The Punjab Unaided Technical Institutions Association met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently and requested him to appoint the vice-chancellor immediately.

However, it appears that PTU is not on the priority list of the Chief Minister as he is occupied with other political matters.

The association says examinations of various courses are to start next month and after that admissions for various courses will be made. Without a regular vice-chancellor, the institutions affiliated to it will face a lot of problems.

A person with extensive administrative skills and experience is required to be appointed as the vice-chancellor of the university. At present, the university’s administrative wing is being run from a temporary campus.

For making it a high-profile university, there is a need to build its academic structures as well as its examination systems.


Justice Haider discovers 80 more shlokas of Baba Farid
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 24
Pakistan’s former law minister Justice Syed Afzal Haider, a judge of the Federal Shariat Court, Islamabad, has discovered about 80 shlokas (hymns) of Baba Farid, the first Punjabi poet.

The shlokas, discovered from different primary sources and folklore are in addition to his (Baba Faird’s) hymns enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib.

Justice Haider’s wife Begum Silvi Khurshid Faridi is a direct descendent of Baba Farid.

Justice Haider said here today that the book, “Kook Farida Kook”, in Gurmukhi script, containing the new shlokas of Baba Farid was being published in Lahore and would be released in India and Pakistani soon. The path-breaking research on Baba Farid would also be transliterated into Roman, Urdu, Persian and Shahmukhi scripts.

Earlier, late Prof Pritam Singh, a recipient of President and Bharatiya Sahit Academy awards, had established that Punjabi language is more than 700 years old. Prof Pritam Singh dedicated his research on Baba Farid to Justice Haider and his wife, Begum Silvi Khurshid. His (Prof Pritam Singh’s) research, “Search of the original Baba Farid of Guru Granth Sahib”, had also challenged the research by European and Indian scholars who believed that the hymns of Baba Farid were actually authored by Sheikh Brahm (Ibrahim). It was Farid, the second, whom Guru Nanak Dev met on two occasions.

Justice Haider also corroborated the research of Prof Pritam Singh. To a question, Justice Haider said the new shalokas of Baba Farid would compel Punjabi scholars to start afresh research on Baba Farid.

About his earlier works on Sikh literature, Justice Haider said it was due to the blessings of Sikh Gurus and Baba Farid that he occupied top positions in Pakistan.

“When I wrote a book on Guru Nanak, I was picked up as law minister,” he said. He was also excited that the chaddar ( rumala) brought from the samadh of Baba Farid by him was accepted by the head granthi of the Golden Temple. It was for the first time that the SGPC authorities, in a goodwill gesture, placed the chaddar on Guru Granth Sahib.

Baba Farid was born on the first day of the month of Ramzan in 1173 in Kothiwal city near Dipalpur in Punjab. Now it is called Pak Pattan. The ancient name has been recorded as Ajodhan. The city existed during Alexander’s invasion in 326 BC. 


Politicians ‘favoured’ promotion of cop
‘DGP Bhullar misused powers’ 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
A head constable was appointed assistant sub-inspector (ASI), without undergoing a mandatory six months' training.

Certain head constables alleged that then DGP M.S. Bhullar misused his powers and exempted head constable Lakhwant Singh from training and appointed him ASI on the recommendation of then Congress ministers.

A copy of the letter issued from the office of the Congress minister and recommended by the then senior-most police official on March 28, 2003, exempted the cop from the mandatory six months' training and appointed him ASI direct is with The Tribune.

In the letter, the minister had stated that the cop was working as personal security of his younger brother for 14 years. "I strongly recommend that this official be promoted to the post of assistant sub-inspector. He may be granted exemption from interdepartmental course," stated the letter.

The senior-most official signed the letter, giving his approval for it, paving the way for the cop to be promoted ASI.

The head constables not promoted for 20 years alleged nepotism by the department’s officials. They alleged that promotions during that time were being given on political consideration and not on merit.

They have demanded probe either by the Vigilance Bureau or the CBI into the matter.

The head constables added that the Punjab Police rules were flouted blatantly by the department as no reason had been given to exempt the cop from intermediate school course.

"If such recommendations will be considered by the higher-ups, every politician will get his or her staff promoted," said a head constable.

A senior official said senior officials had misused their powers and numerous cops had been promoted on the recommendations of the politicians.

A head constable demanded a probe to find out how many policemen had been promoted by the department on the recommendations of various politicians.

"It is really demoralising for us. I am working as a head constable for 20 years and not been promoted. Do I need the recommendation of a politician to get promoted ?" he questioned.



Cheema selected for youth leaders’ programme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Senior Punjab youth leader Amardeep Singh Cheema has been selected by the Union ministry of sports and youth welfare to visit Japan to participate in a training programme of young leaders who will become nation builders in future.

The aim of the programme is to develop abilities of these leaders through experience and learning skills and acquiring broad range of knowledge about the system and activities in youth development.

This highly specialised programme is administered by Japan International Cooperation Agency commissioned by the Government of Japan from November 25-December 12.

Cheema, who has recently been appointed member of the advisory committee on youth programme by the government of India, has major contribution to latest sports policy that was highly appreciated by the ministry.

Recently, his initiative on vegetable export from Amritsar airport to the European Union and West Asia for generating large-scale employment generation and development of border areas has been appreciated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has deputed the horticulture commissioner of India to expedite the process. 


I visited Bhattal’s house only once, says Ramoowalia
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 24
President of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) Balwant Singh Ramoowalia has taken a strong notice of the statement of Opposition leader in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and Congress MLA from Lehragaga Rajinder Kaur Bhattal that Ramoowalia is keen to get support from the Congress in the Lok Sabha (LS) elections and for this purpose he has met her about 10 times, but every time she had told him that any decision to this effect would be taken by the Congress high command.

In a statement issued here today by secretary of the LBP Navdeep Singh Gill, Ramoowalia said he had not visited Bhattal’s house 10 times. However, he had once visited her house when she called him to breakfast in February 2008. At that time she was president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. On that occasion when he showed his interest to contest the Ludhiana LS seat, Bhattal herself offered him Sangrur seat by saying that a Central leader of the Congress wanted to contest from Ludhiana, so you contest from Sangrur as the Congress had no candidate for Sangrur seat, Ramoowalia added.

Ramoowalia further said the Congress was in dire need of an alliance partner in the LS elections in Punjab as in 2004 both Communist parties were with the Congress, but now the main agenda of both Communist parties was to defeat the Congress. Besides this, the Central Congress leadership was also worried as the followers (voters) of Dera Sacha Sauda were in a state of despair towards the Congress this time. Congress workers and lower level leaders of the Congress of Sangrur district were of the view that only Ramoowalia could defeat the Shiromani Akali Dal, 
he added. 


Development will be key in Delhi polls: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Punjab Congress Legislature Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said thousands of projects had been launched and completed during the tenure of the present Congress government in Delhi and people would not be ‘misled’ by the stirring of emotional issues by the BJP.

In a statement here, Bhattal, who has been campaigning in Delhi, said she had visited Moti Nagar, Hari Nagar, Tilak Nagar and Rajouri Garden Assembly seats and found that there was absolutely no sympathy of the people towards the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and were likely to completely shun its candidates.

She appealed to the party workers and leaders to work hard and rise above any sort of factionalism. She said the sole aim of all of them should be to work for the victory of the party in the Assembly and forthcoming parliamentary elections. Pradesh Congress secretary Onkar Saini disclosed that after campaigning in Delhi, Bhattal would campaign for party nominees in Rajasthan. 


Hindu jatha leaves for Pakistan
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 24
A 110-member Hindu jatha, including 25 women, today crossed over to Pakistan by the Samjhauta Express to have dip in the holy sarovar of Katasraj temple in Chakwal district.

Led by Shiv Pratap Bajaj of the Sanatam Dharam Sabha in Yamunanagar, the jatha is on an eight-day visit to Pakistan and will return to India after visiting other holy shrines, including the Krishna Temple in Lahore, on December 1.

Earlier in the morning, the jatha had gathered at the Durgiana Temple where members of the Durgiana Management Committee, led its president Harnam Das Arora, general secretary Sat Pal Mahajan and finance secretary Ramesh Sharma honoured them with siropas.

Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, while appreciating the Pakistan government for issuing visas to the devotees without any delay, said this was the first time in the past 30 years that such a step had been taken to liberally issue visas to Hindu devotees to visit Katasraj.

He said the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi had issued on-the-spot visas, while earlier it took around four to five days. He said the two governments should make the issuing of visas time-bound so that devotees could pay obeisance at their shrines on a particular day.

Billa urged India and Pakistan to increase the number of visas to 500 so that more and more people could visit Hindu shrines in both countries. He said this would also help in removing the hatred in the minds of people of the two nations who otherwise were having misconception about each other.

The AIHSS president said if the Pakistani government allowed them to do kar sewa at Katasraj, he was prepared to take men and material in batches to develop the holy kund at the historical shrine. He said various Hindu temples in Pakistan, including the Hinglaz Temple in Baluchistan and the Panch Mukhi Hanuman, Sai Baba and Iskcon temples in Karachi, were in a deteriorating condition and needed immediate repair. He urged the Pakistan government to give liberal visas to Hindus so that they could visit the holy shrines located there.


Union home secy leaves for Pak
To hold dialogue on terrorism, drug smuggling
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 24
Madhukar Gupta, Union home secretary, today left for Pakistan to hold dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart on confidence-building measures, including international terrorism, drug smuggling and inadvertent crossing of border by innocent people between India and Pakistan.

Gupta said India and Pakistan were concerned over the threat of terrorism which had afflicted parts of the world and drug trafficking which had assumed horrific dimensions. He added that he would take this opportunity to dwell at length with Pakistani home secretary to suggest stringent measures to counter terrorism and drug smuggling.

Reviewing progress of the proposed integrated check post hanging fire for over two years, he denied that international trade from the land route would be shifted to Ferozepur border in case the government failed to acquire land for building modern integrated check post at the Attari/Wagah check post.

Expressing satisfaction over the movement of cargo carrying trucks of both countries across the Radcliffe Line, he added that the Customs would soon acquire a sophisticated truck scanner for faster movement of goods. He said the Customs had sent requisition and the process was on to fix scanner at the earliest.

The Centre had decided to build cargo terminals with provision of truck scanners, bonded warehouses, truck stands and special cargo carriageways for handling international trade.

The Centre had authorised RITES to prepare a feasibility report for the Rs 120-crore project and the state government was directed to acquire 120 acres on the Indian side of the border for cargo handling facility.

It is learnt that in spite of reminders by the state government through the district administration, the Centre had failed to release Rs 35 crore for the acquisition of land as the government had initiated the process and notified the land. The Centre was yet to provide funds in spite of several visits of Central bureaucrats and ministers.

Today’s meeting was attended by senior officials, including chief secretary, Punjab, Ramesh Inder Singh, besides representatives of the Railways, Customs, the BSF, local police, immigration, district administration and various Central agencies to give the report to the Union home secretary.


PUDA, MC, Improvement Trust play blame game
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 24
The cash doled out by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during a series of sangat darshans held in the town seems to go down the drain as far as the state’s premier urban development agency - Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) - is concerned.

The Chief Minister had last month announced a grant of Rs 250 crore for the development of the town.

However, according to sources, PUDA will impose a cess of 14 per cent on all developmental works that it will undertake in the town. On the other hand, the money collected by the municipal corporations through the sangat darshan programmes is being spent on a war-footing for initiating developmental works.

Interestingly, the Chief Minister, during his speeches at the sangat darshan programmes, had said developmental works in the town would start within 10 days. However, despite the fact that nearly a month has passed, not even a single developmental project has either been planned or initiated by PUDA.

It is pertinent to mention here that Patiala being former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Assembly segment, the Shiromani Akali Dal chief had tried to make a dent in the vote bank of Amarinder Singh by doling out grants worth Rs 250 crore.

The developmental work was to be undertaken by three agencies - municipal corporation, PUDA and the local Improvement Trust authorities. Now, since work has stopped, the municipal councillors are at pains to convince people that the work has come to a standstill because of PUDA.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the work in some wards falling under Samana sub-division, but part of Patiala has started. This is because these wards fall under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation and do not come under PUDA or the Improvement Trust.

Discontent is brewing among municipal corporation councillors since they are answerable to the people who elected them.

A senior official of the Improvement Trust has claimed that the development work in wards allotted to the trust would commence soon and tenders have already been called.

Additional chief administrator, PUDA, Manjit Singh Narang, today said the development authority had sent the case to Chief Minister Badal, who also holds the portfolio of urban development, to accord approval for waiving 14 per cent cess on execution of the development works in the city.

He also said if the Chief Minister approved waiving of the cess, PUDA would follow the decision. He stated that execution of the development works by PUDA had already commenced.


Majithia seeks probe into ‘petroleum scam’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Youth wing patron and minister Bikram Singh Majithia today demanded that the so-called economist-run UPA government should fix the rate of petrol at Rs 25, diesel Rs 15, LPG Rs 150 and kerosene at Rs 5 within 24 hours or remain prepared to face people’s wrath.

Majithia said the UPA government was keeping its eyes and ears shut as crude had dropped from $ 147 to $ 40, allowing unhindered profiteering to multinational oil companies.He said it was the biggest scam in the history of India as India’s rate of petroleum products were the highest in the world in post-meltdown era.

He said it was shameless for the UPA government to think about reducing petrol by Rs 2 per litre instead of Rs 27 per litre, that too was likely to be announced 24 hours before polling to influence the electorate. He said even countries like Pakistan with a tottering economy had already deducted the rate by 50 per cent.

Requesting the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) in this biggest petroleum scam, Majithia said an inquiry by any Central agency would not have credibility. He also urged the voters of Delhi not to leave any stone unturned to defeat the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government so as to provide much-needed relief to the common man.


6 lakh soil samples to be tested: Langah
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Punjab agriculture minister Suchha Singh Langah has said six lakh soil samples will be tested this year after the operationalisation of 66 soil testing laboratories.

In a statement here yesterday, Langah said farmers should get their soil tested and uses fertiliser accordingly. Langah said besides these 66 soil testing laboratories in the state, two laboratories were testing soil at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, eight laboratories under Markfed and one laboratory was being run by NFL.


FCI clears old paddy stock
Manages to rake in neat profit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab regional office of Food Corporation of India (FCI) has managed to rake in a neat profit by sale of its old paddy stock. The corporation has earned a profit of Rs 432 per quintal of paddy sold now.

Official sources told The Tribune that as against a price of Rs 590 per quintal (at which they had procured this paddy in year 2004-05), they have managed to sell it at a price of Rs 1,022 per quintal, thus making a profit of Rs 2.80 crore. Though this paddy was procured by the FCI, around one lakh metric tonnes was later declared unfit for human consumption. This paddy is now being disposed off as cattle or poultry feed.

The corporation plans to dispose off this paddy in small quantities. While 65,000 tonnes has already been disposed off, another 28,000 tonnes will be offered for sale to private parties now. The FCI plans to dispose off a total of 1.14 lakh metric tonnes of this poor quality paddy

The paddy stock has been lying in different godowns of FCI at Moga, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Sangrur for the past four years. This paddy had been procured by the FCI, allegedly without adhering to the specifications laid down by the FCI in terms of colour, moisture content and breakage. Though efforts were made to upgrade this paddy by cleaning it, the quality of the food grain was so bad that it could not even be upgraded mechanically.

This substandard rice had been procured in Punjab by some FCI officials in connivance with private rice millers. It was only after the rice procured in Punjab had reached other food deficit states that complaints about its poor quality forced the FCI top brass to order a CBI probe. Only three per cent of the samples collected were found within prescribed specifications, whereas 97 per cent rice samples were found of sub-standard quality and more than 20 per cent were not even fit for consumption. Since this paddy cannot be sold in the open market for fear that it could be sold as food, only animal feed manufacturers have been invited to participate in the bid. More than 150 government departments in the country that manufacture animal feed, besides a number of private parties, are eligible to participate in the tender process. 


Farm Equipment
Global manufacturers eye Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The huge shortage of farm labour in Punjab during the rabi sowing and harvesting season has now prompted the farm equipment manufacturers to eye the business potential for complete farm mechanisation here.

This is one of the main reasons that global leaders in farm equipment manufacturing like GNA Axles, Grazianno Trasmissioni, Dalsem Hortilcultural, Dana Italia, Delphi TVS, Grimme-Landmaschinenfabrik, are now eager to showcase and offer their state-of-art products in the state. The fact that agriculture sector in Punjab has done exceedingly well in face of the global recession, has also motivated these companies to find a ready market in the state.

Potato ridgers, harvesters and diggers, cereal dryers, belt conveyors, axles, greenhouses, post hole diggers, ploughs, tiller-cultivators , seed drills --- name the farm equipment and global majors from Canada, Italy and Germany are ready to offer their wares to farmers here. All these sophisticated farm machinery, which will reduce manual labour, will be showcased to farmers here during the agro technology fair, Agrotech, being organised by the CII from November 28-December 1.

Says Charu Mathur, regional head of CII, “As we began giving shape to our biennial agri-fair, officials and progressive farmers from Punjab expressed their desire that the main focus be on farm mechanisation that would help them reduce manual labour. With agriculture showing a steady growth rate of four per cent this year, the farm equipment manufacturers, too, saw this as a good business opportunity and have agreed to participate in a big way. As a result, we have increased the space allotted for these companies from one pavilion to two pavilions this year.”

With farmers in Punjab having made a good profit this year, thanks to bumper wheat and paddy production, the money for getting these equipment should not be a problem. The biggest worry for the farmer remains the shortage of farm labour, who inspite of higher wages and incentives offered by the Punjab farmers, are not willing to come to the state. “Though farming in Punjab has always been regarded as over mechanised, but this shortage of farm labour has once again raised the need for having minimal manual intervention in the fields so as to maintain the momentum of crop production. The global majors introducing the best farm equipment in Punjab will prove to be beneficial,” said a senior official in agriculture department, Punjab. 


Loans to PSEB
Probe middlemen’s role, CVC tells bank
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has written to the Vigilance Department of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) requesting it to take a look into the matter of middlemen involved in releasing of loans to Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in its report, had alleged that the PSEB took a decision to raise a loan of Rs 300 crore from a nationalised bank through arrangers and gave Rs 1.62 crore to one A.K. Capitals Private Ltd as commission for the same.

Stating the facts mentioned in the CAG report, an advocate H.C. Arora, complained to the CVC demanding action against the chief manager of the PNB, Mall Road, Patiala. The report alleged that the PSEB took a decision to raise a loan of Rs 300 crore through arrangers and paid a whopping amount of Rs 1.62 crore to a company, A.K. Capitals Pvt Ltd, as commission for the same.

The CAG further observed in its report: “The management stated (June/August, 2007) that the case was kept pending up to August 22, 2005, but the banks showed their inability to give offers. Considering the huge loan amount of Rs 300 crore, the Board should have approached the head office of the bank (PNB) instead of local branch office for prompt sanction of loan. Moreover, it was clear to the Board that the arrangers would arrange funds through the banks and so the Board should have taken up the matter with the bank even after 22 August, 2005.”

The offer of the arranger (A.K. Capital Services Limited), for arranging a term loan of Rs 300 crore at 7.16 per cent payable monthly from he PNB, was accepted by the Board in September, 2005. The entire loan was availed by the Board by January 9, 2006 and arranger’s fee of Rs.1.62 crore was paid on 26.12.2005 to A.K. Capital Services Limited. The CAG, in its report, has observed: “As the Board had already obtained (January 2005) loan directly from OBC on the similar terms and conditions during previous year without any payment to the middleman, the Board should have resorted to the same practice during 2005-2006 also, and especially when the arranger had clearly indicated during negotiations (23 August, 2005), that the loan would be arranged through commercial banks. Non-mobilisation of funds directly from the banks resulted in avoidable payment of arrangers’ fee of Rs.1.62 crore.”

In response to the complaint, the CVC said, “The complaint has been examined and having regard to the nature of the issues raised therein, the same has been forwarded to CVO, PNB for necessary action. The authorities concerned are required to look into the matter and take action as deemed fit.”


Make corrections in NCERT books, says Dal Khalsa
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 24
Asserting that Guru Teg Bahadur was in fact “dharam di chadar” (cover for religion), and not “Hind-di-chadar” (cover for Hindu), the Dal Khalsa urged the Union government to correct all errors and misgivings about Sikh Gurus from the books published by the NCERT.

On the occasion of the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, leaders of the organisation Kanwarpal Singh and Dr Manjinder Singh pointed out that the Ninth Guru sacrificed his life to uphold human rights and religious freedom of the common man.

Dal Khalsa leaders said the Guru attained martyrdom to protect the oppressed class irrespective of their religion and caste. They said most of the Sikh history had been either written by non-Sikhs or under the influence of the ruling elite. They urged the Sikhs to rewrite their history free from outside influence.

The leaders also took SGPC president Avtar Singh to task for backtracking on the resolution of the executive committee way back in 2005 to raise the memorial in the memory of those who tasted martyrdom during Operation Bluestar at Darbar Sahib in 1984.

The substantive issues of the Khalsa Panth are gathering dust in the files stored in the cupboards of Teja Singh Samundri Hall, they said. The successive presidents adopted resolutions, either to rake up issues or subvert the same, but none including the present incumbent has shown any desire to resolve the issues.

It was ironic that the casual and non-serious attitude and approach on various contentious issues by the SGPC had created bad blood within Panthic ranks and files, they added.


Control of TB
Rural doctors to seek SGPC’s help
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 24
The Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA), Punjab, will seek services of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to fight tuberculosis (TB) in rural areas of the state.

Dr Aslam Parvez, RMSA state president, said a deputation of the association, would meet SGPC chief Avtar Singh soon to apprise him of the grave situation of TB in rural areas of the state, to ensure the participation of the SGPC and its leaders to check TB.

Dr Parvez added that the deputation would request the SGPC chief to ask all gurdwaras under its jurisdiction in rural areas to spread information about TB through the public address system in gurdwaras that TB was curable with proper treatment. The RMSA felt if the SGPC helped, awareness about TB in rural areas could be generated faster as rural people paid heed to announcements made from gurdwaras’ speakers.

He said there were 1,200 rural medical officers (working under zila parishads) in the state who were also working to control TB in rural areas, but the involvement of the SGPC would help them detect more TB cases and treat them at the first stage.

Dr Aslam said 2 per cent population of the country was suffering from this disease. Apart from TB, which had been complicated by AIDS, the country was facing a third serious threat in the form of the drug-resistant super bug tuberculosis or multi-drug resistant TB, which was found among TB patients, who left the treatment midway. 


Trust can refuse to confirm auction, rules Court
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that an Improvement Trust can refuse to confirm a site’s auction on the ground that the price fetched by it was diminutive.

The Division Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Jora Singh has also held that the auction purchaser cannot seek a direction to the Trust, compelling it to accept the highest bid given by him.

The ruling came on a bunch of three petitions filed by Amrit Lal Mahajan and other petitioners against the State of Punjab, Bathinda Improvement Trust and other respondents. The short question of law raised in the petitions was whether the Improvement Trust could refuse to confirm the auction of sites in Rajiv Gandhi Nagar on the ground that the price fetched by it was diminutive. The quashing of a resolution dated May 31, 2006, was also sought.

The Trust had issued an advertisement on May 10, 2006, for the sale of shop-cum-flats and booths by way of auction. Clause (iii) of the advertisement expressly provided the highest bid was subject to the Trust’s approval.

The petitioner, being the highest bidder at Rs.6.5 lakh, deposited 25 per cent of the auction price. However, the Trust passed the impugned resolution, rejecting the auction of three sites on the ground that the price fetched was too less in comparison to the earlier auction.

They also claimed the shop-cum-flats had fetched lesser price. Therefore, it was the seller’s prerogative to cancel the auction in accordance with the terms and conditions.

Counsel for the petitioner countered by saying “once the diminutive price of booth sites has been approved and accepted, there was no reason for the Trust to reject the highest bids”. The Bench, after hearing the arguments, asserted: “We are of the considered view that there is no merit in these petitions. By mere participation in the auction and depositing 25 per cent of the bid amount by the petitioners does not vest any right in them to claim that they being the highest bidder must get the site in question”.

The Bench added: The question whether the highest bid could be rejected by the competent authority has been repeatedly considered by the Supreme Court. The petitioner cannot seek a direction to the respondent Trust compelling it to accept the highest bid given by him.

Quoting the Apex Court, the Bench said: The Government, being the guardian of the finances of the state, is expected to protect its financial interests, which include the right to refuse the lowest tender although the principles laid down in Article 14 of the Constitution have to be complied with. 


Temple Land
HC: Bassi Pathana MC not performing its duty
Saurabh Malik/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has virtually passed strictures against Bassi Pathana Municipal Council for not performing its duty and safeguarding the public interest in a land matter. The strictures by Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia came on an appeal filed by Dera Swami Narainpuri against the Bassi Pathana Nagar Council.

Justice Ahluwalia ruled: This is another case where in the garb of a mandir or a religious institution, land belonging to public institutions like the nagar council is being usurped.

The defendant Nagar Council had earlier claimed that a “gair mumkin mandir” was in the revenue record and was in the possession of plaintiff Dera Swami Narainpuri since December 1, 1953. According to plaint itself, Nagar Council was shown as owner of the suit property

The suit was filed through the temple manager Mahant Ram Puri. The trial court examined the evidence and held that the possession of the plaintiff was over five kanals. After discussing the entire evidence, the trial court held the suit of the plaintiff Dera Swami Narainpuri was partly decreed to the extent that the defendant was restrained from dispossessing the plaintiff from the land, except in due course of law.

The findings of the trial court were assailed by the present appellant before the lower appellate court. Taking into consideration that the temple was in existence over five kanals in dispute, it upheld the findings of the trial court that the possession of the plaintiff was protected over five kanals and the plaintiff could be dispossessed except in due course of law. The Judge observed: Concurrent findings of fact arrived at by two courts below are neither perverse nor against the evidence. Counsel for the appellant, Dera Swami Narainpuri, has failed to formulate any substantial question of law.

Giving details, Justice Ahluwalia observed: Counsel for the appellant stated that documentary evidence has not been appreciated. It was stated that the khasra girdawari was corrected in the name of appellant plaintiff on October 13, 1994. No presumption of truth can be attached to the entries made in the khasra girdawari.

Therefore, in case the plaintiffs have colluded with the revenue authorities to usurp the land, no value can be attached to the same. The municipal council has already not been performing its duty and has not safeguarded the interest of the public by conceding the possession of the plaintiff over five kanals. Hence, there is no merit in the present appeal and the same is dismissed.


3 held for killing watchman
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 24
The Bhawanigarh police today made a sensational disclosure by saying one of the three killers of Bhuban Joshi (25), a watchman of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation’s (PTDC) Chandni Tourist Complex and petrol station at Nidampur village near here, was a salesman of the petrol station.

Bhawanigarh SHO Lakhbir Singh Tiwana said the police today arrested a salesman of the PTDC’s Nidampur-based petrol station Satgur Singh and two labourers of Channo-based Pepsi Food factory Gurjant Singh and Sukhdev Singh. All three accused belonged to Nidampur village.

Interestingly, Satgur Singh had lodged an FIR with on November 10 that some persons had killed the watchman on the night of November 9 and the killers had fled after stealing money from the petrol station. He said though the police had arrested the accused, but recovery of the stolen cash was yet to be made from them.


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