P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


PPCC makes last-minute bid to scuttle Capt’s tour
Meeting called in Delhi, Bhattal rebuts Amarinder
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Efforts to postpone Punjab Congress Campaign Committee chairman Capt Amarinder Singh’s campaign tour starting tomorrow from Sangrur reached a crescendo today with the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) announcing that a meeting of the committee had been called in Delhi tomorrow. Simultaneously, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal declared that “real” Congressmen should remain in discipline.

Amarinder, however, refused to budge from his stand to go ahead with his campaign tour, which had already been postponed earlier by the PPCC.

Talking to TNS, Amarinder said he had talked to senior leader Prithviraj Chauhan regarding the meeting of the committee scheduled for tomorrow and that the latter had given the go-ahead to him to continue with his campaign tour.

In a drama-filled day, PPCC media in charge Raj Pal Singh disclosed that a meeting of the committee had been called in Delhi tomorrow and that Amarinder, Bhattal, PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Campaign Committee convener Ashwani Sekhri, besides other senior leaders had been invited.

Earlier in the afternoon, Bhattal disclosed that “real” Congressmen should remain in discipline and that attending a rally of an “individual” party member (former legislator Arvind Khanna) would only lead to fissures in the party. This means senior leaders could keep away from the meeting even though Amarinder loyalist Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu told TNS that the committee convener Ashwani Sekhri would participate in the programme.

Bhattal also upped the pressure against Amarinder saying this was not the right time to level allegations against anyone as the latter had done against her. She claimed that she was not playing any “friendly match” with the Akalis and that she too could say a lot against those who were “friends” with the BJP. She also tried to give an impression that she was different from Amarinder saying, “I cannot stand on the road and get garlanded. I have visited each the every affected party worker’s residence even while a big leader who stays in Delhi ‘and the hills’ may have kept the campaign tour according to his convenience due to his court hearing on December 13”.

She also gave the impression that she was in charge by saying no one should frame individual programmes and that only collective programmes should be formalised after due discussions. She said she would now request the PPCC president to frame a new campaign tour after the end of elections in Jammu and Kashmir on December 22.

Bhattal also claimed that Kaypee had done the right thing of postponing the campaign tour of Amarinder and that even party Punjab in charge Mohsina Kidwai had maintained that it was the prerogative of the PPCC president to take such decisions.

The CLP leader had a parting shot for Amarinder, saying, “None can think he is supreme. The party is above him and you all know the fate of those who have thought otherwise”.

Meanwhile, Ashwani Sekhri has cancelled his scheduled tour with Amarinder after receiving a message from the All-India Congress Committee that he should come to Delhi tomorrow to attend the meeting of the committee.


Language blues hit bureaucracy
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The impact of the use of Punjabi language in all official work has hit the Punjab bureaucracy full blast. While the Gurmukhi script is already flowing like the punj aabs (five rivers) out of government file notings and meeting minutes, many bureaucrats are now wondering if they should even sign in Punjabi!

A senior IAS officer of the state was busy “trying out” his signatures in Punjabi. “It looks odd to sign in English when the noting is written in Punjabi,” he said.

While this bureaucrat seemed to have used up around 10 pages practising his signatures in Punjabi, there are others who are getting down to an even more tedious task: Writing the self-appraisal part of their annual confidential report (ACR). “I sent the self-appraisal in English to my boss whose office sent it back saying that this entire material be sent in Punjabi. This is absurd. The ACR files will later go to the government of India. How will people working there read Punjabi?” wondered a PCS officer.

For the officers from outside the state, the good old steno is proving to be the saviour. “I call for my staff almost 10 times in five minutes while writing a longish noting. I have finally procured a Punjabi-English office words dictionary for the office to refer to,” said a South Indian officer with the Punjab government.

But then even the Punjab de puttar officers are finding it difficult to find Punjabi translation for certain words which are routinely used in files. “For example, take the word ‘computer’. How will you replace it with a Punjabi word? And the words ‘police’, ‘fire brigade,’ can we replace these? We simply use them as such and that is the easy part. More difficult is to translate words like ‘meaningless’, ‘redundant’ and ‘conspicuous’,” pointed out an officer.

Officers added that all quasi-judicial work that is undertaken by them is now being done in Punjabi. “If the orders passed by us have to be challenged in the High Court, then the petitioner ends up spending time and money in translating the orders into English so that it can be produced in the High Court,” said another officer.

But not all are suffering from Punjabi language jitters. Some senior officers, including some ‘very senior’ ones, are still using English in official work. “If these officers wish to lead by example, then it is not a good sign. In fact, a noting in English and that too in the green pen sticks out like a sore thumb on a page full of Punjabi,” said an officer.

“I am trying my best to change. But I cannot help think in English. When I translate my thoughts into another language, I feel the essence of message has been lost,” added an officer who continues to use English.


Badal announces flats for ’84 riots victims
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has announced residential flats for victims of 1984 riots. This was a long-pending demand of the riots victims. Badal was in the city today to attend a function of riots victims.

At the function, hair-raising tale of Gurcharan Singh (42) of Mohali came to light. He had been set ablaze during the riots in Delhi when he was driving a truck. Rioters threw a burning Gurcharan into his truck and left him to die.

His neighbour Harminder Singh Kohli came to his rescue. He was taken to the ESI Hospital where he remained admitted before being finally brought to Mohali by his brother.

For the past 24 years, Gurcharan, who was 18 when he became a victim of communal violence, has been bedridden. He is somehow surviving with the help of his brother and family.

He was brought to the function by Harminder in an ambulance. Badal promised Gurcharan that he would direct the authorities concerned to prepare his red card. SGPC president Avtar Singh announced monetary help of Rs 50,000 for him and said he would ensure his treatment at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, from tomorrow.

Kohli said the family was too poor to even arrange for Gurcharan’s two square meals and treatment from a local doctor.


Sect to plant 30,000 saplings on GT Road
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, December 7
To provide green cover on a 42-km stretch of the GT Road from Amritsar to Beas, the head of the local Kar Sewa Sect will plant more than 30,000 saplings on both sides of the road.

Baba Sewa Singh told The Tribune here today that he had decided to take up this ambitious project as considerable damage was being caused to environment. More than 25,000 trees had been cut to lay the GT Road between Amritsar and Beas.

Baba Sewa Singh had planted about 1 lakh trees on seven roads connecting various areas with Khadoor Sahib, besides providing steel cages to protect them from stray animals.

Commenting on the completion of Nishan-e-Sikhi, Baba Sewa Singh said the eight-storey building would be completed soon as seven storeys had already been completed. Advanced training would be provided to students from poor sections for various competitive competitions, including PCS and IAS, and other professional courses.

Listing achievements of Baba Gurmukh Singh Uttam Singh Senior Secondary School, he said more than 17 students had been selected by dental, nursing and engineering colleges of the state. He said H.S. Phoolka, senior advocate in the Supreme Court, had shown keen interest in providing coaching to the students by engaging expert tutors from Delhi.

Commenting on the future programmes, Baba Sewa Singh said he had decided to provide training to the students in religious music. They were providing coaching to ambitious hockey players from the region and the under-15 team of the school had secured second position in All-India Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament held in October, besides winning various competitions in athletics and other sports events.


Even govt, Guv fail to rein in ‘erring’ council registrar
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Punjab government’s professed fight against corruption sounds quite hollow, especially with officials like Parveen Kumar Bhardwaj, registrar, Punjab State Pharmacy Council, continuing in office despite being indicted on several counts, including financial irregularities by a departmental committee and the police. Finding him prima facie guilty, the committee recommended his removal. Despite two government orders, he refuses to budge, allegedly at the behest of a politician.

Following complaints of fake registrations, misuse of funds, financial irregularities and illegal appointments, minister for medical education and research (MER) Tiksham Sud instituted an inquiry against Bhardwaj. The four-member committee that submitted its report on September 5 indicted Bhardwaj of irregularities and directed that the registrar should be sent on leave pending further probe and all record seized.

This report continued to gather dust in the minister’s office for two months. Finally, on November 14, additional secretary, MER, N.S Bath issued an order (8941-52) saying that in view of the charges against him having been proved prima facie and the Punjab Vigilance Bureau also finding him guilty, Bhardwaj was repatriated to his parent department (Punjab Health and Family Welfare (HFW), where he earlier worked as a pharmacist. The order further recommended that the parent department should take up with the Vigilance irregularities committed by him.

But, Bhardwaj refused to step down and continued to make appointments and conduct regular business. He even travelled to Sangrur and addressed a press conference on November 18 as registrar of the council. Vide orders (No. 9086, November 20, 2008) Dr P.P.S Kooner, joint director, MER, was asked to officiate as registrar till a regular appointment was made.

However, on November 21, 2008, after Dr Kooner submitted his joining report, Bhardwaj summoned members of the council and got Dr Kooner’s joining report rejected by the president, Punjab State Pharmacy Council (one V.P Dogra, who runs Dogra Medicos in Jalandhar and is a nominated president) with a noting on the joining report, saying, “I reject the illegal and unreasonable joining report immediately and order that P.K Bhardwaj continues to work as registrar as before”.

Appalled by the utter disregard for government orders, secretary, MER, Rakesh Singh on December 2, 2008, forwarded another order (No. 9231-43), this time issued by the Governor of Punjab to Bhardwaj, citing the earlier relinquishment order dated November 14, 2008, saying that he had been repatriated to his parent department in public interest and Dr Kooner was to officiate as the registrar from the time of his earlier orders. Bhardwaj refused to obey this order too and is still continuing after getting this order rejected by the president of the council.

Sources in the council said Bhardwaj was acting under patronage of a politician who was part of the government. It was further alleged that Bhardwaj’s appointment itself was illegal and arbitrary, as he did not qualify to be appointed as a registrar while working as pharmacist.


‘Sikh bodies involved in Kanishka blast’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation, in its final report on the Kanishka blast, has concluded that more than 12 activists of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) were involved in the conspiracy and the blast while approximately 50 persons had knowledge about the blasts in Narita, Japan, and on Air-India Flight 182 in which 329 persons were killed about 23 years ago.

Rights body chairman Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) said a number of persons, including police officers and Sikh militants, had trusted his team and disclosed to it startling facts about the involvement of the ISYF in the blast.

The report added though at least 12 persons were directly responsible for planning and executing the Kanishka blast, punishment so far had been given to only one person. The major reason for this miscarriage of justice is that though two organisations, the Babbar Khalsa and the ISYF, are responsible for the crime, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was under pressure to proceed only against BKI activists. Deliberately wrong information was given about “L.Singh” and “M.Singh”.

And the main person behind this conspiracy, Lakhbir Singh Brar, was made a confidential informant and his statement was recorded in Pakistan. The statement matches with the expert advice of M.K. Dhar given to the RCMP to charge Malik and Bagri. The best evidence in this case was the audio and videotapes of the confessions of Talwinder Singh Parmar, but those were never made public nor used in the trial.

The report further alleged that those were destroyed or erased. Audiotapes recorded by the CSIS, intelligence agency of Canada, were destroyed/erased on the instructions of activists of the Babbar Khalsa and huge bribe was allegedly given to CSIS officials. Several persons have confirmed this fact, the report alleged.

The tapes would have also revealed their own agents working, along with activists of the BKI and ISYF.

The frontline leader of the ISYF reached Canada in April 1985. They were constantly in touch with the Indian Embassy and officers of the Intelligence Bureau. At the same time CSIS was just established and working in coordination with the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing of India. The CSIS was an infant organisation then. In May 1985, Lakhbir Singh Brar approached Talwinder Singh Parmar and made a plan to blow up trains, bridges and buildings in India and sought help to execute such destructive plans in India.



LS Poll
AISAD warms up, forms team for alliance talk
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 7
Bracing up for the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll, the All India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), headed by Jaswant Singh Maan, has formed a four-member team for holding alliance-related negotiations with like-minded political parties.

The party is is also trying to project its ‘Hindu face’ by inducting veteran social worker with a Congress background Nanak Chand Goyal as its vice-president, who would also be member of seven-member parliamentary board of the party.

The negotiation team, comprising senior party leaders Talib Singh Sandhu, Manjit Singh Tarantarni, Nanak Chand Goyal and Shamsher Singh Maloya, was likely to complete its task by month-end.

According to sources, the party leadership would be announcing its candidates from Punjab on December 14, which, incidentally, was also being celebrated as the foundation day of the “original” Akali Dal, formed in 1920, by the party.

AISAD has made it clear that it would be contesting from 110 parliamentary seats across the country, especially in the areas where Sikhs had “considerable presence or influence”.

“The negotiation team has been asked to do its job with an open mind and it was already planning to hold parleys with senior leaders of parties such as the BSP and Congress,” said party president Jaswant Singh Maan and AISAD’s media adviser Sham Singh, while talking to The Tribune.

The party aims at re-uniting Sikhs, scattered across the India in small groups, creating one lakh jobs every year for the growing army of unemployed youth and resurrecting the “Panthic agenda", allegedly abandoned by different Akali factions.

By putting the four-member team in place, the AISAD has sought to convey a strong message that it was a party based on the ideology of equality and was keeping its door open to all sections of the society. The team members represent different dominant communities like Talib Singh Sandhu (Jat Sikh), Manjit Singh Tarantarni (Arora Sikh), Nanak Chand (Hindu) and Shamsher Singh Maloya (Dalit). Nanak Chand, according to Sham Singh, has been asked to consolidate the party’s base in the Malwa and Doaba belts, having a dominant Hindu population.


Rigging alleged in Punjab Youth Cong poll
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
Voting for the organisational elections of the Punjab Youth Congress was stalled for about two hours here today as supporters of one of the contestant accused the other group of rigging the election. The returning officer, Rakesh Rana, suspended the polling for some time following noisy scenes by supporters of Terinder Bansal, who was contesting for the post of block president.

His supporters alleged that they were not allowed to cast their votes on various pretexts, whereas those handling the election appeared aligned towards the Jassi group.

However, when contacted, Rana denied such allegations and claimed that only those voters whose photo was pasted on the voter list or those who carried some proof of identity were allowed to cast their vote.


Plan to provide 100 pc water supply in 131 cities
Harbinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
The state government has embarked upon a three-year-plan to provide 100 per cent water supply and sewerage in the 131 cities of the state at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 crore. Besides, Amritsar would be developed at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore to become the number one city in the country. In addition, sewerage water treatment plants would be set up in each city.

This was stated by Baldev Raj Chawla, chairman, the Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB), during a meeting held with local municipal councillors, PWSSB officials and prominent citizens here late on Saturday.

At present, 86 per cent of the urban areas are getting regular water supply while 59 per cent have proper sewerage system in place.

Chawla further said an estimated sum of Rs 241 crore would be spent to improve the water supply and sewerage systems in Ludhiana.

Similarly, Rs 125 crore would be spent on Bathinda, Rs 47 crore on Jalandhar, Rs 28 crore on Gidderbaha, Rs 14 crore on Talwandi Sabo and Rs 13 crore on Sunam. Besides, an expenditure of Rs 1.21 crore would be incurred to set up a water supply system in Majeetha.

The agencies allotted with these jobs had been instructed to complete the works within the time-frame i.e. three years, he said.

The PWSSB has launched a special scheme to save water as about 20-30 per cent of water goes waste in urban areas. He said there was an immediate need to stop this wastage considering the poor groundwater-level, which poses a serious threat to the state.

To ensure that the scheme was a success, the board sought the help of the NGOs, MPs, MLAs, workers of all political parties and members of local bodies.

Meanwhile, K.S Nagla, chief engineer, the PWSSB, and M.L Bansal, superintending engineer, the PWSSB, said there was a plan for incurring an expenditure of Rs 107 crore to provide water supply and sewerage system besides treatment plants at the eight municipal councils in Bathinda district - Bhucho, Rampura Phul, Goniana, Sangat, Raama, Maur, Kotfatta and Talwandi Sabo.

They said in Bathinda, a sum of Rs 95 crore would be spent on water supply and Rs 30 crore to set up a sewerage water treatment plant.


Business worth Rs 200 cr in 5 days; Pak items a big hit
Ashok Sethi

Activists of the Shiv Sena in police custody for protesting the participation of Pakistani traders in Punjab International Expo in Amritsar on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Amritsar, December 7
The International Trade fair turned out to be a huge success as the exhibition managed to do a business of worth Rs 100 crore, while another Rs 100 crore was negotiated during the five-day fair which concluded here today and the process has started to work for further business ventures to the tune of Rs 50 crore.

Pakistani exhibitors were literally a hit with local people as they registered a record sale of more than several crores from the sale of traditional items, including Oynx, textiles, spices and other items. More than 1.6 lakh people participated in the mega event under strict security surveillance provided by the local police.

Punjab health and family minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who presided over the valedictory function of the expo today, said organisers of the show, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have assured to organise similar fairs annually and the dates for the next year’s had already been announced. She said the exhibition would be held in the holy city from December 2 to 6 in 2009. The state government would soon take a decision to set up an exhibition-cum-trade centre to promote traditional business and encourage traders to showcase products.

Chawla said after this exposition the traditional shawl and textile manufacturing industries were all set to rejuvenate as queries worth more than Rs 50 crore were sought only in these sectors. She said Amritsar was not only a historical or religious city, but also an industrial city having textile, paint, machine tools, rice, fans, bangles, artificial jewellery and traditional handicrafts industries to ensure the overall development of the border belt.

Shiv Sainiks held

The Sadar police took more than 20 leaders of Shiv Sainiks into preventive custody as they tried to march towards the Punjab International Expo which concluded this evening.

Earlier, the Shiv Sena Sangharsh Committee led by Sukhdev Sandhu held a peace march and raised slogans against the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the ISI for involvement in the recent Mumbai terror attacks in which about 200 persons lost lives, besides injuring 600. They also burnt the Pakistani flag.

The police team, led by DSP Ranbir Singh, arrested main leaders as Shiv Sainiks tried to block the traffic on the busy Amritsar-Lahore GT Road. — TNS


Misuse of fertilisers rampant
Services of soil-testing centres not being utilised
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
Punjab has been witnessing rampant misuse of fertilisers with heavy overdose. More than 95 per cent farmers are not even making use of the 65 soil-testing centres all over the state to know composition of soil and the right mix needed for better yield.

Experts say the problem lies either in not using the right fertiliser needed or an overdose of any of the important elements viz potash, potassium or nitrogen.

The soil-testing centres, Markfed and Punjab Agricultural University, are located all over the state. Each subdivision has at least one soil-testing laboratory. The laboratories are basically centres which can work out ideal crop-care charts for farmers with necessary information on fertiliser requirement based on the soil texture. Farmers are known to be merely adding quantity of fertilisers without bothering about quality.

Farmers expressed doubts about the genuineness of reports compiled at the testing centres. "In a farmer’s publication recently, a story talked about contrary reports that a farmer received for getting his soil tested at two different centres of the government and another one at PAU. Two reports showed the soil as absolutely misfit for any crop, while the other report showed it to be perfectly fit,” Jatinder Singh Aulakh, a farmer, said.

The land terrain of the state is broadly divided into three zones: sub-mountainous, central and south western. The sub-mountainous range is most unprepared because of continuous rains which take away the clay, silt and sand components, along with it minerals. So a regular testing is needed. The central zone is comparatively better with good contents of potassium and sulphur. The south western zone is sandy and the soil contains sodium carbonate and white salts. The quality of water here is not very good.

Dr Kuldip Singh Sandhu, a senior extension specialist in the Soils Department of PAU, said a majority of the farmers were ignorant about the correct soil requirements of their fields and went on adding fertilisers without any need. “DAP, in normal conditions, once a year during winters is sufficient, but they do it in summers as well, which has the potential to cause an imbalance in the soil”, he said.

Sandhu said, “Besides availability of fertilisers, it is also important that right techniques are employed while growing any crop. Instead of using zinc spray, it is ideal that the metal should be mixed in ground. Urea harms the seed if it comes in direct contact. Iron component can be sprayed in the field”.

Manmohan Singh Sidhu, a farmer, said, “We are hearing that rice straw did not have any impact on the crop grown on the uncleared field for straws. I have a different experience and I find that the crop in the uncleared field was definitely affected. I have also heard about the changed carbon-nitrogen ratio affecting the crop”.


State all set to host mega health event
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Punjab is all set to host the 68th annual conference of the Association of Surgeons of India from December 25. The five-day mega event will be held in Ludhiana and is expected to have over 4,000 surgeons from across the world.

Announcing this here on Thursday at a press conference, Dr Kuldip Singh, professor of surgery at Dayanand Medical College (DMC), said, “This is the largest health event of the country. Ours is the second largest body in the world and it is after 40 years that such a major event is being organised in Ludhiana. The last surgeons’ conference of this magnitude was held in Chandigarh in 1969”.

Dr Kuldeep Singh, organising secretary for the conference, added that the Chief Ministers from Punjab, Haryana and Himacha would be present at the conference. More than 500 papers oration and guest lectures would be presented. All past presidents of the association and all eminent surgeons of the county, numbering more than 70, would participate in the conference.

“The Medical Council of India and the Punjab Medical Council will give 20 credit hours to those registered medical practitioners who will attend the conference,” said Dr Kuldeep.

Dr Kuldeep said the theme of the conference was “Innovations in surgery and their applications”. “Special focus will be on the latest surgical techniques in laparoscopic, laser and robotic surgeries. A live operative workshop has also been organised,” said Dr Kuldeep who is also the secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Endoscopic Society.

Dr Kuldeep said more than 40 experts from the USA, the UK, Hong Kong, Germany, Japan and Pakistan were expected to take part, including world renowned surgeons like Prof John Hunter, Prof G. Poston and Prof Irving Taylor.

The conference will take place in DMC and Punjab Agricultural University. However, some nearby places, including farm houses in Jalandhar, will host special sessions for the visiting surgeons.


Power engineers oppose govt interference in postings, transfers
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 7
The executive committee of the PSEB Engineers Association has condemned the direct involvement of the state government in postings and transfers of engineers, thereby delaying the promotions of officers in the process.

Association members said the approval of each office order from the state government was unprecedented in the history of the PSEB. They added that the Board was fully empowered and competent to decide service matters of its employees, including promotions, posting and transfers.

The executive committee criticised the Board management for surrendering its autonomy and allowing interference of the state government in its everyday functioning. The engineers demanded regular promotions of officers against vacancies each month and framing of a transfer policy to regulate the postings and transfers of officers.

The association said the Board was unable to post suitable engineers even against specialised posts and many officers reporting after availing leave had to wait for a month or more to get posting orders.

The committee also expressed anguish at lopsided material procurement policies of the Board. The release of new connections to domestic consumers was held up for the past more than a year due to the non-availability of the PVC and other minor items. Such a situation promoted illegal use of electricity by consumers.

The association said it was intriguing that although costly items like transformers, poles, conductor etc were available, petty items like black PVC, angle iron etc were not available. It demanded total review of material procurement policy of the Board.

Association president H.S. Bedi said the state government was pushing the Board into a serious debt trap which would prove suicidal for the economy of the state. The association demanded regular payment of advance subsidy as calculated by the Regulatory Commission from the state government. The committee also urged the Board management to shelve all such project which were not commercially viable having long pay back periods.

Bedi said on the one hand the Board was finding it difficult to pay salaries to its regular employees, and on the other hand it was continuing to employ retired engineers causing demoralisation of the engineering cadre. It was decided to hand over a resolution signed by all 2,000 engineers demanding the removal of all reemployed officers to the Chief Minster of Punjab and the Board management.

The committee resolved that in case the state government and the Board management failed to address the above issues in a time-bound manner, the engineers would resume its agitation

Meanwhile, the newly elected executive body of the PSEB Engineers’ Association unanimously re-elected H.S. Bedi as president, S.C. Chabba senior vice-president and Bhupinder Singh general secretary. Other office-bearers elected were K.S. Mann vice-president, Rakesh Gupta secretary, finance, Gursharanjit Singh organising secretary, Jaswant Zafar secretary, publication, J.S. Suchu, Harjinder Singh, Anil Vij, Sikandar Singh, H.C. Kamboj and Sanjeev Sood joint secretaries.


Mumbai terror attack blot on UPA govt, says Badal
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, December 7
The Mumbai terror attacks are a blot on the face of the UPA government, said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today. Badal, who was here to attend Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Jathedar Tarlochan Singh’s son’s wedding, added that the Centre did not heed to the warnings issued by intelligence agencies.

Reacting to Capt Amrinder Singh's statement of the Badal family not contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Bathinda, he said the Captain was trying to save the last command.

"The SAD and BJP have announced names of four candidates in Punjab for the Lok Sabha elections, while there is no trace of the Congress government in the state so far," he said.

During his visit at the Khalsa Heritage Complex, he said the Punjab government, on priority basis, would complete all developmental works initiated at the birth place of the Khalsa, Sri Anandpur Sahib. The complex would be dedicated to the people of Punjab on Baisakhi, he added.

He also instructed officials to take care of the beauty of the adjoining mountains. Officials were directed to complete sewerage and drinking water projects at the earliest so that no part of the city should not be bereft of the basic facilities.

Prominent leaders Gurinder Singh Gogi, Parminderpal Singh Binta, Baba Ajit Singh, Jathedar Ujagar Singh Badali, SDM Arvinderpal Singh Sandhu and ADC Arshdeep Singh Thind were present at the occasion. 


Varsity centre attendant ‘embezzles funds’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 7
As embezzlement to the tune of lakhs of rupees allegedly made by an attendant working in the local Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University regional campus has come to light, the authorities concerned have written to the SSP, Gurdaspur, to register a criminal case against the accused.

R. S, Bawa, registrar, GND varsity, while talking to TNS today, said a formal application had been moved to the SSP for registering a criminal case against Sukhjinder Singh, who was working as an attendant in the regional campus and involved in the embezzlement of funds. He added that a retired audit officer had been appointed as an inquiry officer.

Though the embezzlement came to light on December 3, the varsity authorities moved an application to the SSP to register a criminal case only yesterday. Sukhjinder was closely related to a functionary of GND varsity and was allegedly having the strong backing of a member of the ruling alliance of Punjab.

However, Bawa claimed that a formal application was moved to the SSP yesterday only as the university authorities were working out the quantum of money, which had been embezzled by Sukhjinder.

Sujan Singh, coordinator of the campus, said Sukhjinder had filled an amount of Rs 1,21, 760 in a cheque belonging to the campus instead of filling Rs 17,060. He added that Sukhjinder, who was working on contract basis for the past four years, had been absenting himself from the duties ever since the embezzlement came to light.

He added that he had asked the managers of two different banks, where the campus holding its accounts, to freeze the same so that Sukhjinder could not withdraw more money in case he carried blank cheques signed by the official concerned of the campus.

He said as there was no clerk to handle the bank accounts, Sukhjinder used to fill the cheques in his own handwriting and go to banks to withdraw the amount.


Eight more AC buses by Dec 10
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 7
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) will add 60 buses, equipped with the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning facility, to its fleet by March-end.

Of these 60 buses, four buses have already been put on different routes in the state and another eight buses will start plying by December 10.

Only 10 per cent more fare will be charged for journey by these buses. Advance booking facility will also be started for these buses by March with the help of a website www.busindia.com being developed by the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings, Delhi, said transport minister Master Mohan Lal.

Master Mohan Lal, who flagged off buses on three new routes and also issued appointment letters to dependents of deceased employees of the PRTC, also issued appointment letters to 45-daily wage workers whose services have been regularised by the PRTC after 25 years. The ceremony was also attended by principal secretary (Transport) D.S. Jaspal and PRTC MD Manvesh Singh Sidhu.

The performance of the PRTC, according to Master Mohan Lal and D.S. Jaspal, has improved considerably during 2007-08 in comparison to 2006-07. The PRTC has earned Rs 9.48 crore operating profit in the fiscal year 2007-08, compared to Rs 2.03 crore of 2006-07, thereby registering an increase of Rs 7.45 crore.

A modern automotive and driving skills institute was being set up at Mahuana village in Muktsar district by the Punjab government as a joint venture with Tata Motors . The PRTC was the nodal agency for setting up of the institute. This will provide employment opportunities to youth of the state by providing specialised training. The training will be imparted in the fields of motor mechanic, refrigeration and air-conditioning, painting, diesel mechanic, electrician, welder, electrical trades, apart from heavy duty driving and for plying the off-the-road vehicles like bulldozer, cranes, etc, said Master Mohan Lal.


Land transferred to vet varsity
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today formally handed over the papers of transfer of 10 acres of government land at Kaljharani near here to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary University (GADVASU), paving the way for setting up a regional research and training centre that was expected to transform the economy of the farming community.

Badal also handed over to GADVASU ownership of the community hall and 12 cattle sheds that were built by the rural development department some time ago. He said the research centre would become functional within three months.

The university has sought additional 10 acres of land for growing improved varieties of fodder.

The project had got delayed for want of clearance to fill the posts of scientists and transfer of land to the university.

The infrastructure of the rural development department was so far lying idle as its transfer to GADVASU was caught in bureaucratic wrangles.

The project envisages socio-economic development of the Malwa region through better meat, milk and fish production.

Amarjeet Singh Nanda, director (research) in the university, said the sheds had space for keeping 250 cattle and 10 different courses would be started for the farmers.

The centre would concentrate on improving dairy production in the area through conservation and improvement of Sahiwal cows, as also on promotion of crossbreed cattle.

A training centre for the rural youth in various aspects of livestock farming, dairy, poultry, piggery and fishery to enable diversification of conventional agriculture would also be opened.

A separate research centre for sheep development will be opened at Talwara by the university.


PCS assn to hold meeting on Dec 9
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 7
The Punjab Civil Services (PCS) Officers Association has called a meeting of general body of association on December 9 to discuss their strategy in wake of alleged vandalism by a group of advocates in the office of the SDM and tehsil at Amritsar on December 1.

The association has pointed out that the advocates had indulged in unlawful act when district administration removed the encroachments made on public land in the district court complex at the directions of the state government.

The district police failed to register an FIR in spite of specific directions given by the district magistrate and SDM.

The representatives of the association met the Chief Minister and chief secretary in this connection, but no step has been taken to book the culprits.

The executive committee of the association today decided to put all the facts before the general body to be held at Amritsar on December 9.

The issue would also be raised at a meeting of All India Federation of State Civil Services scheduled for December 13 at Bangalore.


International coop body chief to visit state
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Ivano Barbaini will visit India in February. He gave this assurance to cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who had extended an invitation to him.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who is leading a high-level Indian delegation to Vietnam, called on him at the meeting of the 8th ICA-AP General Assembly and 5th Asia Pacific Cooperative Forum yesterday. He invited him to inaugurate a national seminar on the revival of credit cooperative structure to be hosted by Punjab.

During the bilateral discussions with Ivano, the minister informed him about the recent initiatives in Punjab in the cooperative sector, with a special emphasis on the financial and social empowerment of women.


RSS takes out ‘mashal yatra’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 7
A “mashal yatra” (torch-light march) was taken out under the banner of the RSS through the local main bazar on Saturday evening in protest against Mumbai attack by terrorists. Participants raised slogans against terrorism and those who could not control terrorism.

The march culminated at the local Barra Chowk after holding a rally there. The leaders not only condemned terrorism, but also criticised those who in place of framing a strong policy to tackle terrorism were indulging in politics.

The marchers were addressed among others by district president of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) Jatinder Kalra, district preacher, RSS, Sushil, and state chief, Sewa Bharati, Vijay.


Possible Indo-Pak war opposed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 7
The New Democratic Party (NDP) at its meeting held here last evening passed a resolution opposing a possible war between India and Pakistan in the light of terrorist activities from Pakistan that had occurred in the country recently.

President of the NDP Dr A.S. Mann said when the nation’s feelings were hurt by the 200 killings in the 26/11 Mumbai attack, how would the countrymen tolerate the killings of thousands of military persons if a war took place. He further said with the war between India and Pakistan there would be a great setback to the efforts of so many peace-loving people of both countries.


Officer cooks arms theft to kill daughter
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 7
Honour killing angle was revealed during investigations into a complaint of a senior commandant of the Home Guards posted here who had stated a service combine allotted to his security guard had been snatched by certain miscreants late last night.

SSP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said here today that commandant Inderbir Singh Johal had complained to the police that a carbine of his gunmen Ajay Kumar had been snatched by two motorcycle-borne youths near fodder market.

The police detained the gunman and carried out a search at the residential quarters of the commandant. It found the carbine wrapped in a polythene bag and concealed behind the boundary wall at the back of the house.

The whole drama unfolded as the police questioned the entire family about the missing carbine and discovered that the commandant wanted to use this weapon to teach a lesson to his daughter and her alleged lover who had remained untraced for the past couple of days.


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