P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


PPCC puts off mass contact programmes
Amarinder to continue with campaign tour
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today postponed its mass-contact programme in the state, claiming that party leaders were needed for campaigning in Kashmir, but former Chief Minister and currently party campaign committee chairman Amarinder Singh said he would continue with campaign tour starting on December 8.

Yesterday Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal informed TNS that she had been told by PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee that Amarinder’s campaign tour, which had been adopted at the party’s mass-contact programme, had been cancelled.

Giving the sequence of events, party general secretary and media in charge Raj Pal Singh said the PPCC president had received a call from party general secretary B.K. Hariprasad last evening requesting that the programme be postponed to allow party leaders to campaign in Kashmir.

The party leader said following this, it had been decided to postpone the programme. He also clarified that for the party all programmes stood postponed, adding the PPCC president had two days back adopted Amarinder’s campaign tour as the official mass-contact programme of the party.

When asked about the fate of Amarinder’s programme now, he said, “It is up to individuals on how they react”. Kaypee was not available for comment.

However, Amarinder is in no mood to be cowed down. He told TNS that he would continue with his programme even if nobody came.

He, however, clarified that party leaders and workers would attend the programme and that even campaign committee convener Ashwani Sekhri had assured him that he would participate in the campaign tour.

Amarinder loyalist and Talwandi Sabo legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu also maintained that it was only the PPCC mass-contact programme which had been cancelled and that Capt Amarinder would continue with his five-day programme from December 8 to 12.

Amarinder himself maintained that as chairman of the campaign committee he could draft and finalise the dates for the party’s campaign tour.

He said there was no question of cancelling the programme as it would only help “the father-son duo of Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal”.

He said Sangrur, from where the programme was to be launched, was set to give a massive response to the Congress.

Amarinder said he would also campaign in Kashmir, but only after December 12.


Stampede Deaths
Army passes the buck to admn
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Passing the buck to the district administration for the death of two youths of the border belt during the recruitment rally on December 1, the Army today claimed that the method of recruitment was adopted only a decade ago and it was not 100 years old, as mentioned in the preliminary inquiry, conducted by the district magistrate.

The Army claimed that such a method was adopted with a view to maintain transparency in recruitment.

Addressing mediapersons at Khasa, near here, today, Col Sanjeev Dubey, officiating deputy director-general, Headquarters Recruiting Zone, Punjab and J&K, said it was wrong to blame the Army for the death of the two youths because it had intimated the district administration to deploy adequate number of security personnel about a month ago.

However, he clarified that the recruitment team continued the selection process after the sad and regrettable accidental death by stampede of the two potential candidates outside the entrance to the rally site, only to meet the aspirations of thousands of other candidates who had arrived from distant locations with so much difficulty and at personal expenditure.

He said any postponement of the schedule would have entailed the loss of vacancies to other districts.

However, Colonel Dubey pointed out that the matter relating to the death of two youths in the stampede was under detailed inquiry or review of the Army and the civil administration and necessary remedial procedures will be promulgated in conjunction with the civil administration.

The preliminary inquiry, conducted by district magistrate Kahan Singh Pannu, had indicted the Army for adopting “archaic and inhuman” method of recruiting youths.

To a question, Colonel Dubey said the Army had no funds to give compensation to the family of the youths killed during the stampede.



Capt faces revolt on his home turf
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
Former Punjab Chief Minister and chairman of the campaign committee of the PPCC Capt Amarinder Singh virtually faced a revolt from within the party when a number of senior party functionaries, including his former OSD Harchand Singh Barsat, urged the party high command not to give the party ticket to Amarinder or his wife Preneet Kaur for their alleged “anti-worker” attitude.

More than 150 Congress leaders and workers, including, Barsat, former DCC president, Patiala, R.P. Attri, PPCC general secretary Gurdarshan Kaur, former MP Amarjit Kaur, Banur-based senior Congress leader Seelam Sohi, former Punjab Planning Board vice-chairman R.R. Bharadwaj, PPCC secretary Rachpal Singh Jauremajra and Patiala District Congress Committee vice-president Dhanna Singh Dhunetha held a closed-door meeting at Barsat’s New Mehar Singh colony residence here today.

What provoked Barsat and other Congress leaders to put up a banner of revolt against the former Chief Minister, it was learnt, was the alleged oft-repeated “indifference” shown to them by Amarinder and his wife MP Preneet Kaur.

The workers and leaders, who participated in the meeting, formed a 21-member working committee led by Barsat.

The committee passed three resolutions. One of them was that they would be meeting the party chief Sonia Gandhi and acting PPCC chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee with a request to not allot party tickets either to Amarinder or his wife Preneet Kaur in the future.


DGP orders shifting of 840 cops from border
Congress to move court
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 5
At the time when all department concerned have been increasing vigil on the international border, apprehending a threat from anti-India elements operating from Pakistan, the director-general of police (DGP), Punjab, has ordered the shifting of about 840 police personnel from four border districts to other districts.

Official sources said the DGP had ordered that 190 constables and 20 head constables each from Gurdaspur, Batala, Majitha and Tarn Taran border districts must be shifted to Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana and other districts of Punjab under its rationalisation of forces policy.

The police chiefs of these four districts, which share the international border with Pakistan, had started preparing the lists of those police personnel which would be shifted to other districts with the posts.

Though senior police officials of these four districts, when contacted, refused to make any comment on this move, it came to light that they were never consulted while such an order was being issued.

They said, “We are left with no option but to implement the order of our superior”.

Ashwani Shekri, convener of the state election campaign committee of the Congress and former minister, while strongly objecting to such a move, said the party would start agitation against it shortly.

He added he would also approach the court against the dilution of security arrangements in border areas.


CM pays tribute to Baba Fateh Singh
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Badiala (Bathinda), December 5
The state government today observed the 36th death anniversary of Sant Baba Fateh Singh, pioneer of the present Punjab, at a state-level function held at his native village Badiala in Bathinda district.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, along with other dignitaries of the ruling SAD, marked his presence and paid tributes on the occasion.

In his address, Badal hailed Sant Fateh Singh for his social commitment and help rendered to others.

He said the Sant had always given equal importance to all religions and also contributed for the betterment of schools and colleges in the region.

The Chief Minister mentioned that it was because of his efforts and sacrifice that the demand to create a Punjabi state was accepted.

But he expressed regret that the Central government had forgotten his sacrifices and had been discriminating with the state in all manners.

Opposing the Centre’s plan to set up a Federal Intelligence Agency, Badal said, “Instead of imposing its own agency, it will be better if the Centre releases funds and provides training to states for the development and strengthening of their intelligence structures.”

Speaking about development schemes, Badal said all municipal councils in the state would soon be allotted sufficient funds. The A-class MC would be given Rs 3 crore, while B and C categories would get Rs 2 crore and Rs 1 crore, respectively.

He said the Centre should release funds for the development of the state, irrespective of the party ruling in the state.

He flayed the Union government, saying the “so-called” development schemes which the Centre had been publicising was of no use to people.

He said Punjab, with its own efforts, had now crossed the first stage of development, but the Centre had still been offering only those facilities which the state did not require.

“If the Union government wants to support and develop the state, it should launch schemes according to the needs of the state, not the useless ones,” Badal added.

Lashing out at the “failure” of the NREGA scheme, Badal said, “As no one is ready to work at a daily wage of Rs 100, so the fund lying on this account is going to lapse.”

Condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Badal urged all to unite to curb such shameful incidents.


Board leases out Patiala bus stand for Rs 27 cr
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) has achieved success in re-negotiating the bid for leasing out the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) bus stand at Patiala and finalised the lease amount at Rs 27 crore.

Earlier, Spirit Global had been the lone company to bid for taking the PRTC bus terminal on lease for a period of 90 years for Rs 7 crore.

After receiving the bid, the PIDB had decided to re-negotiate with the company and has been successful in making the company agree to a lease amount of Rs 27 crore.

“We are empowered to re-negotiate lone bids according to our Act and did so,” disclosed Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, managing director, PIDB, while talking to TNS.

He said the Board’s standing consultants, Infrastructure Leasing and Finance
Services (ILFS), had found the new bid put up by Spirit Global after the
negotiations as “reasonable”.

D.S. Jaspal, secretary, transport, when contacted said the new bid was more in consonance with the relative value of the property -- 14 acres of land, on the outskirts of the city where the new bus terminal will come up.

The new model put in place for the leasing out the Patiala as well as the Bathinda bus terminal (which earlier attracted a bid of Rs 32 crore) is different from the one adopted to lease out the Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana bus stands.

Dr Sandhu said in the case of both Patiala and Bathinda bus terminals, the aim was to ensure world-class infrastructure, which could be maintained by the builder himself over a long time period.

He said under the terms of the agreement, the builder would pay five per cent of the bid amount to the government every year.

He said this amount would also increase by five per cent every year, adding if this was added up at a rate of Rs 32 crore (Bathinda bid), the builder would have to cough up Rs 2,583 crore in the year 2583 (the 90th year of operation).

According to sources, the commercial component in the case of both Patiala and Bathinda bus stands was much more and the bidder was encouraged to build quality infrastructure, as the property would be with him for 90 years.


Patiala jail a death zone?
More inmates die here than in all the state prisons put together
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
It’s the jail of the living dead. The ‘hellish’ conditions at Patiala central jail can be gauged from the fact that the number of prisoners who have died here in last ten years surpasses the total figure of prison deaths in all remaining jails of the state.

Replying to a query sought by an advocate HC Arora under the RTI Act, the government disclosed that as many as 60 inmates have died in the Patiala jail in the last decade, while the collective count of the remaining jails was 53.

According to the data provided by the information officers of jails, four deaths took place in Jalandhar central jail (the data for only last two years was available here, as the entire record of the jail was gutted in January 2008 riots).

While four inmates died in Gurdaspur jail, the toll in Bathinda was 22. The figures for the remaining jails are as follows: Ropar 1, Hoshiarpur 2, Sangrur 12, Kapurthala 3, Nabha (maximum security jail ) 1 and Ludhiana ( women jail) 3.

The information also reveals that as many as 42 prisoners who died were lifers (those who were sentenced to life imprisonment).

Also, 41 prisoners who died were those who had been sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years or more.

One prisoner facing death sentence also died in Patiala jail. The remaining 19 were those prisoners whose sentence was for a lesser period.

Thus, a conclusion can be reached that a longer duration of sentence speeds up the death of prisoners.

As many as 19 such prisoners, who had been sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years or more, or those sentenced for life, died during the first two years in jail.

Describing the condition at jails in Punjab as pathetic, president of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission justice R.S. Mongia said, “One of the prime reasons for poor living conditions is the overcrowding in jails. As a result, even the basic facilities like food and cleanliness become a luxury. It adversely affects the health of the inmates.”

In Faridkkot, the prisoners are housed in a dilapidated building which can crumble anytime, said Mongia, adding that government was least bothered about the state of affairs in prisons.


Panel to look into villagers’ complaint
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 5
Acting on a complaint made by district president of the BJP and member of the district grievances redressal committee (DGRC) Jatinder Kalra, DGRC chairperson and Punjab education minister Upinderjit Kaur today formed a four-member committee, 

Comprising Sunam SDM, Sunam DSP, district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) and Jatinder Kalra, it would look into the matter, mentioned in the complaint regarding pucca encroachments on a small dirty nullah at Mehlan village, near Sunam, by some villagers.

Kalra urged the minister at DGRC meeting today to remove encroachments without any delay. These encroachments had been made by owners of about 35 houses.


Rs 118 cr to be spent on Sakki Nullah
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
The state government is going to launch an ambitious project of de-silting and relining of the Sakki Nullah falling in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts at a cost of Rs 118 crore under the Centre-sponsored flood management scheme.

As no major repair work has been undertaken during the past 60 years, more than 76,000 acres of land get submerged during the rainy season every year, besides affecting the lives of more than 1.25 lakh people of more than 500 villages.

Out of the Rs 118 crore, the state government will spend Rs 34 crore, while the rest of the funds will be provided by the Centre.

Irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, while talking to the media here today, said tenders for the 152-km-long nullah, which starts from Swailpur village near Dinanagar and goes up to Lodhi Gujjar village in Rajasansi, had already been invited and the work would be allotted to the contracting party on December 19.

He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would lay the foundation stone of the project near Harad Kalan village in Ajnala sector, on December 11.

Sekhon said the state government had also sought the approval of the Army authorities for building 30 bridges on the nullah for facilitating the movement of people in the remote border region.

The minister further announced that the work of strengthening the banks of the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej falling in three districts of Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Amritsar at a cost of Rs 135 crore would be started by March next year.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Punjab Field and Workshop Workers Union submitted a memorandum to the minister for the regularisation of workers who have been working with the department for over 20 years on daily wage basis.


Pre-medical entrance test on time: VC
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
Dr Shivinder Singh Gill, vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, today said the pre-medical entrance test (PMT) for admission to medical colleges in Punjab for the next session would be held on time.

Speaking at the inauguration of the dialysis unit at Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, near here, Dr Gill said he was aware of the delay in admissions to the medical colleges this year because of delayed holding of the PMT examination.

Dr Gill said he would ensure that the PMT was held on time this year so that students did not face any harassment with regard to admissions to medical and dental colleges.

Dr Gill lauded the initiative of the Gian Sagar Educational and Charitable Trust in setting up the medical college with all modern amenities and state-of-art technology. He hoped the hospital would emerge as a foil to the PGI, Chandigarh.

He said there was an urgent need to set up colleges of paramedical sciences so that there were enough trained medical professionals available.

He said medical colleges must strive to produce thoroughly professional and competent medical specialists and paramedics.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh, vice-chairman of the Trust, Harnam Singh, president of the trust, Dr A.S. Sekhon, principal, Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, also spoke.


PSEB to promote CFLs in big way
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) chairman Y.S. Ratra on Wednesday said as per instructions of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Board had started an ambitious plan to promote CFLs to save substantial power in the coming years.

Ratra said the Board had instructed heads of various distribution zones to promote the use of CFLs by putting banners outside each collection centre, distributing pamphlets, taking help of village panchayats and organising at least one energy conservation function in every distribution circle.

He further said implementation of the above programme had already been started and villages such as Dhurkot Charat Singh Wala (Moga), Ahata Badni Singh Wala (Moga), Darbar Sahib Muktsar, Ghudani Kalan, Doraha (Ludhiana), Sunam (Sangrur), Jagatpura (Patiala), Fatehpur (Patiala), Jasowal (Patiala), Jeeta Singh Wala (Moga), Khamano (Ropar), Mohali (Ropar), Sahnewal (Ludhiana), Badal (Faridkot), Malerkotla (Sangrur), Kiratpur Sahib (Ropar), Zirakpur (Ropar), Santemajra (Ropar), Jahangir (Doraha), Fatti (Kartarpur-II), Murar (Hamira), Joginder Nagar (Bhulath), Daulewal (Begowal), Golden Temple (Amritsar) and Kahlawan (Kartarpur) had achieved 100 per cent CFL status.

Ratra appealed to domestic, agricultural and industrial consumers to replace all ordinary lamps with CFLs at residences, tubewell kothas and industries upto March 31, 2009 which would help in peak load reduction and give relief from power cuts.

He disclosed that if all domestic consumers switch over to CFLs, the estimated saving of power would be 1,300 million units and additionally 600MW of peak load could be reduced.

He further observed that if AP consumers also replaced their ordinary lamps at tubewell kothas with CFLs, then additional saving of power would be 400 million units and further peak load reduction would be 200MW.

He said with a view to achieve these targets, PSEB was going to start awareness campaign through radios, TVs and print media.

Paper reading contests in schools had already started and suitable prizes were distributed to winning students.

A state-level energy conservation function is also being organised in border zone, Amritsar, on December 14 in which people of the region shall be educated about importance of energy conservation.


Lecturer dismissed for ‘plagiarism’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University yesterday dismissed a lecturer of Regional Centre, Jalandhar. The university stopped four increments of a Reader and debarred him from headship for four years.

The Syndicate also debarred a senior teacher of Punjabi University, Patiala, from examination duties. He was guide of the lecturer dismissed on charges of plagiarism.

The Syndicate banned the entry of the secretary, GND University Non-Teaching, in administrative block for allegedly harassing a girl student of DAV College, Pathankot.

The meeting was presided over by VC Jai Rup Singh, while Dr R.S. Bawa, registrar, presented the agenda. 


2 world trade centres for Mohali, Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
To give boost to trade, the Punjab government will set up two international trade centres at Mohali and Amritsar, which will give a tremendous economic boost to the border state.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD chief, stated this to the media here late last evening after formally inaugurating the five-day Punjab International Trade Expo being organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce.

Sukhbir said the Punjab government would acquire the land for these centres after receiving the project report in this regard from the Chamber.


Contempt of court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The full Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Surya Kant today reserved verdict on initiating proceedings and framing charge under the Contempt of Court Act against Bharat Inder Singh Chahal.

He was the media advisor to the Punjab’s former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. The allegations are he interfered with the judicial process, when the high court was seized of the controversial selection and appointments made by Punjab in 2004 of some sportspersons.

Chahal’s son was among the “beneficiaries” of the selection. He had allegedly asked Punjab sports secretary D.S. Bains against sending to the high court the summoned record of sportspersons considered for the appointments

The high court had, on its own motion, issued notice to Chahal to show cause as to why proceedings be not initiated against him. Counsel for Chahal, before the verdict was reserved this afternoon, asked the court for some more time to argue the matter. But as it was almost 4.25 pm, the Bench did not grant additional time.


Fake Passport Scam
Cop held, sent to police remand
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 5
One more policeman was arrested by the local police in the infamous fake passport scam that came to light here early this year.

The court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) has sent him to police remand till Sunday for further investigations.

Six persons, including Didar Singh, an employee of the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh, Jaswinder Singh, Ranjit Singh and Gurdial Singh, all employees of the Police Department, who were earlier posted in the passport branch here and a few others were booked under Sections 420, 465, 468 and 471, IPC, Section 2/8, Passport Act, and Sections 13 (2) and 88, Prevention of Corruption Act, a few months back.

On November 15 this year, the police arrested head constable Ranjit Singh, constable Jaswinder Pal Singh and postman Om Prakash for their involvement in this scam. Presently, they all are under judicial custody.

SHO of police station (south) Varinder Singh Gill, who is investigating the case, told The Tribune that the prime accused, head constable Gurdial Singh, who was eluding arrest for the past few months, was arrested from Dharamkot last night.

The arrested policeman was produced before the court of CJM Karunesh Kumar,
this evening.

The investigating officer demanded 10-day police remand of the accused policeman, but counsel for the defendant (accused) strongly opposed the police’s demand.

After hearing the brief argument of both sides, the court granted police remand of the accused for only two days.


SDO held on bribe charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
An SDO of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) was arrested by the flying squad of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today.

The accused Avtar Singh working in the PPCB office at Sangrur was arrested for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 25,000 for extending the validity of a pollution control certificate.

The complainant Raj Kumar Chhabra of Rajpura (Patiala) had alleged that Avtar Singh had demanded Rs 25,000 as bribe to extend the pollution control certificate for five years for his sheller at Bhiwanigarh.

The final amount fixed was Rs 18,000 out of which Rs 8,000 was to be given to the accused today at Patiala.

A team of the Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Anil Sharma arrested the accused red handed in the presence of government witnesses and a case has been registered.


Corrupt officers in VB net
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested one gazetted officer and seven non-gazetted officers (NGOs) in seven cases last month and was able to secure the conviction of seven officials in five cases.

Disclosing this here yesterday, SSP-cum-joint director (administration) Harcharn Singh Bhullar said Vigilance officers had registered trap cases, disproportionate assets cases and criminal cases and ensured that suspects do not escape judicial punishment in various courts in the state.

Bhullar added that during the last month the bureau had nabbed eight corrupt public servants, including the DTO, Fatehgarh Sahib, two revenue officials and two police officials, all of whom were caught red-handed while accepting bribes.

As regards the conviction rate, Bhullar disclosed that the special courts had awarded sentence ranging from one year to five years to six non-gazetted officers and one private person in five Vigilance cases.


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